DayBreaks for 9/19/18 – Lessons My Dog Taught Me (#???)

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DayBreaks for 9/19/18: Lessons My Dog Taught Me            

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2008:

Lesson: It’s important to try to communicate our love as often as possible.

Oftentimes throughout the day (and night!) Casper (my white boxer) comes to wherever I am at and either stands or sits, looking at me with those large, soulful eyes that are characteristic of the breed.  He is totally irresistible when he does that!!!!!  I can’t help myself…I simply MUST respond to him.  I take his head in my hands, stroke his neck, pat the top of his head, rub his back, scratch his chest…and start talking.

What do I say?  Well, since I can’t speak dog, and he can’t speak English, I just speak to him in my own language…I tell him over and over again what a good dog he is, that he’s a good boy, and more often than not, I find myself telling him, “I love you so much!  Do you know how much I love you?”  I say that over and over and over.  Do you know why?  Because I want to be sure that he KNOWS he is loved and that I’m crazy about him.  Does he understand me?  His soulful eyes leave me wondering if he grasps any of what I’m saying.  I honestly don’t know.  I hope he understands, but regardless, he sure seems to like it!

As I thought about this, I thought about God’s dilemma in trying to tell us how much He loves us.  The analogy isn’t a perfect one, for surely God can communicate in English, Spanish, Portuguese, German or any other language He chooses…but since He doesn’t audibly speak to most of us, He usually communicates His love to us in other ways. 

God’s native language is the language of heaven, while ours is one of the languages of earth.  So God, for thousands of years, attempted to communicate His love to mankind through blessing, through beauty, through a thousand-and-one tender and loving gestures…but we didn’t get it. 

At least, not many got it…until Jesus came and then God could literally take our head in his hands, look us in the eye, and say, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes on Him should have everlasting life.”  Even in Jesus, God’s gestures were the greatest proof of His love – the cross being pre-eminent among them. 

And, I wonder: how many times a day is God trying to tell me in one way or another “I love you so much!  Do you know how much I love you?”  And I wonder, in the same fashion that I wonder if my dog understands my love for him, if I even begin to grasp the ways and times and depth of God’s love and how He tries to communicate it to me.

This much I do know: I will keep telling Casper how much I love him every day.  God keeps telling me, too, if I only have ears to hear it.  And I need to tell those around me how much I love them – and make sure they understand that God loves them, too!

PRAYER: I thank You, God, for my dog and for love.  I thank You that You never tired of trying to show and tell us how very much we are loved.  Give us ears to hear it and hearts to believe it.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

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DayBreaks for 7/13/18 – If There Were No Tomorrow’s

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DayBreaks for 7/13/18: If There Were No Tomorrows

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2008:

I’ve already got plans for tomorrow…and for numerous days after that.  I am sure that you do, too.  It is a normal and very human thing to do.  As far as I know, humans are the only thing on the earth that formulates plans.  My dog may decide he’s hungry, so he gets up and walks over to bury his face in the food bowl, but that’s not planning.  I don’t think that he has ever had a thought like this: “Tomorrow I’ll get up, look out the window, bark at some birds, wander outside and chase lizards for 15 minutes to get exercise, take a nice, long cool drink, and then come in and slobber all over Galen.”  If he had thought such things, that would have been planning. 

My plans for tomorrow are varied.  Some will be just pure enjoyment, others are having to do with duties, and still others may or may not happen depending on how everything else works out and what might come up unexpectedly.  It isn’t necessarily bad to have plans: we’re told in the Proverbs that we should look at the ant and learn to prepare for the storms of life that may head our way – and that requires some planning.  We’re also told not to trust in our own plans, for they are flawed and our ways are not God’s ways.  If our plans for our lives and His conflict, guess whose plan will lose?

So, in planning, we need to always be aware that our plans are subject to Divine review and change.  There are some things, however, that I don’t think God would ever remove from our plans.  Obedience to the first and greatest commandment and to the second greatest commandment are two examples of such things.  Those things are always good – and delight God’s heart. 

Maybe that’s what makes it so sad (and vitally important) to contemplate the question: what if there were no tomorrows?  What relationships in my life would I want to improve?  What disobedience would I seek forgiveness for?  What repentance is needed?  Who would I talk to that I’ve been avoiding because of some silly disagreement or upset in the past?  Who would I want to see one more time?  Who would I want to tell about Jesus before my tomorrows ran out? 

The problem, of course, isn’t really in answering those questions I just posed, but in believing that some day our tomorrows will run out – and we just never know when that day will be upon us, like a lion on a wildebeest.  But, that day will come.  It’ll come for me, and it’ll come for you.  Like the children’s game of hide or seek, that time will come with the words, “Ready or not, here I come!”  And then we’ll be in its clutches. 

Since we don’t know when that day will come, doesn’t it make sense today – this VERY DAY – to begin taking care of some of those questions listed above, to fixing some of the broken things in your life?  What is ONE THING you will do today to start working toward the point that when the times comes that there are no more tomorrows for you, that you won’t leave this world behind with regrets?  You can’t fix it all in one day, but you can fix it one day at a time…as long as you have even just one tomorrow left. 

PRAYER:  Give us wisdom to know where to being to work with Your Spirit to fix up the brokenness we might leave behind if we have no more tomorrows.  Give us the courage to live each moment, let alone each day, as if it were our last.  Put the people on our heart that You have prepared to hear about Jesus, and let us speak His name to them while we still breathe.   In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 4/25/18 – The Surprising Proclamation

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DayBreaks for 4/25/18: The Surprising Proclamation

John 4:25-26 (NIV) – The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”  Then Jesus declared, “I who speak to you am he.

The verses above are taken from the story of Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well in Samaria.  It’s a fascinating story for a variety of reasons.  Jesus, a man, initiating a conversation with a woman.  It wasn’t supposed to happen that way – not in that age.  Jesus, a Jew, speaking to a Samaritan.  It wasn’t supposed to happen – Jews and Samaritans were supposed to hate one another.  Jesus was a rabbi, a very holy man – and this woman was, well, less than virtuous.  She had gone from one relationship to another, and was now living with a man to whom she wasn’t married.  No self-respecting rabbi would strike up such a conversation.

But Jesus wasn’t into self-respect, he was into love and sharing that love with anyone who needed it – and certainly, it would appear that this woman had perhaps mistaken many things for love in the past. 

The most amazing thing, however, about this story, was Jesus’ announcement that he was the Messiah.  As far as we know, this is the very first time that Jesus identified himself this blatantly.  He hadn’t made this kind of proclamation to even his disciples, so why this woman?

I believe he announced himself to this woman precisely because she was the kind of person who needed to know that the Messiah had come.  This woman probably had lost most of her hope for her life.  Her track record this far had not been stellar.  With the first relationship, she probably had hoped that “my life is set and I’m on track for happiness.”  But her heart had been broken.  Then came a succession of more men – and with each one, more heartbreak had come and a bit of hope had died as each relationship died.  Perhaps she wondered, deep in her heart, if there would be any hope for her at all.

And to this hurting, shame-filled, discouraged woman, the Messiah is revealed for the first time.  It was for women (and men) just like this one that Jesus had come.  And in revealing himself to her, hope and possibility were reborn.

Our sins burden us and crush us and destroy joy and hope.  Stop by the well and drink the Living Water that the Messiah gives and you will never thirst again.

PRAYER:  Lord, thank you for revealing yourself to sinners like us.  Renew our hope and open our eyes to what it means that the Messiah has come!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 3/15/18 – Out of My League

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DayBreaks for 3/15/18: Out of My League

From the DayBreaks archive, 2008:

I don’t know how it happened.  But I’m glad it did.  It happened a long time ago – 38 years in August, to be precise.  Somehow, don’t ask me how, but the girl I loved agreed to marry me and we were married on an August day in 1970.  Why she agreed to it I don’t think I’ll ever know.  As the saying goes, “She’s out of my league.”  My wife is smarter than I am, more spiritually attuned to things, a deeper thinker than I am, a much better communicator of many things, she’s filled with a mother’s love and compassion – and she’s far better looking than I am.  Now, can you tell me why she married me?!?!?!  I can’t.

At the recent National Pastor’s Conference, John Ortberg was one of the main speakers (I could listen to him speak all day and night!)  Apparently, he feels that same about his wife as I do.  It seems that we both married over our heads and out of our league.  (If truth be told, I think that’s the case with most of us men…women seem to be far better as a general rule!)  It’s hard to believe that I have had such great “luck” as to have my wife as my partner and friend for nearly 38 years now. 

Can’t the same thing be said about Jesus?  If my wife is out of my league, how about Jesus?  He’s so far out of my league that you can’t even see him from here!  And yet, and yet…if the Bible says anything at all, it says this: “Jesus loves me.” 

My wife is lovely and the most beautiful woman in the world to me, but if I were married to a supermodel, do you know how I’d feel?  I’d be scared out of my mind.  Look at the lives of supermodels or the super-actresses and actors – the “beautiful people”, if you will (as far as the world is concerned).  It seems that if they’re not in rehab, they’re hopping from one lover to the next, from one set of marriage vows to another.  If I were married to a supermodel, I’d always be fearful that she’d find someone more in her league than I am, and that perhaps any love she had for me would grow cold and would be withdrawn. 

Can the same happen with Jesus?  No.  Romans 8:35-39 (NLT) –  Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or are hungry or cold or in danger or threatened with death?  (Even the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”)  No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.  And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels can’t, and the demons can’t. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can’t keep God’s love away.  Whether we are high above the sky or in the deepest ocean, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Is Jesus out of my league?  Absolutely.  (He’s out of yours, too, by the way.)  Is his love for me real?  Look at the nail prints in his hands and feet.  Will his love for me ever be withdrawn or given to someone else with me being left in the cold?  Never! 

PRAYER: The depth of your love is amazing, Jesus!  Thank you for the words of encouraging reminder that Romans records for us – letting us know that you will never turn your back on us, that you will always love us.  May we always see your love engraved on your hands and feet when we are tempted to doubt and become fearful.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 1/19/18: The Testimony of Dirk Willems

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DayBreaks for 1/19/18: The Testimony of Dirk Willems

From They Were Strangers blog, by my friend, Ryan McElvey, January 18, 2018:

He heard a loud CRACK, and seconds later the first cry for HELP echoed across the frozen water. Now, a choice had to be made: continue running for his own safety, or run back across the ice of Hondegat pond?

The year was 1569 and Dirk was being held for “rebelling” against the authority of the Dutch government by rejecting his own infant baptism and becoming re-baptized. He was locked in a residential palace prison which was surrounded by a moat and under guard. Dirk had been in prison so long that he had lost weight. He kept tightening his belt, but if a verdict wasn’t reached soon, he would eventually face a death of starvation.

As time wore on in captivity he began planning his escape by taking cloth rags and secretly knotting them together into a rope. Eventually he was able to make his rope long enough to suspend from the window of his prison onto the moat below. Dirk waited until a day when the moat was frozen, and then he lowered himself out of the window and onto its glassy surface. He shuffled across the icy moat away from the palace as quickly and quietly as he could.

But before he was even out of sight of the palace he heard a shout of alarm from the bulwarks. His escape had been discovered. Looking back he soon saw one of the guards running after him. Dirk continued to run, but he felt like his legs couldn’t move fast enough, and he realized that the meager food rations and sedentary life in prison had taken its toll on his body. With the guard gaining on him Dirk set out across the ice of Hondegat pond, hoping to gain some distance by shuffling over its slippery surface.

Then he heard a loud CRACK, and seconds later the first cry for HELP echoed across the frozen water. Now, he was faced with a choice: continue running for his own safety, or run back across the ice of Hondegat pond?

Had the Lord delivered Dirk from his enemy? Had Dirk now gained his freedom because the Lord had allowed the guard to fall through the ice to his death?

-Or-

Was the Lord giving Dirk the chance to love his enemy in radical obedience by going back to save him?

Dirk knew what he had to do. He turned around and went back. There in the icy hole his pursuer was bobbing in the water, crying out and desperately grasping at the air. In full Christ-like imitation Dirk laid down on the ice, stretched out his arms, reaching out to save his enemy.

But upon saving his enemy’s life, Dirk was immediately taken back into custody and held prisoner in a church tower, from which there was no way escape. Only four days after his recapture Dirk Willems was given the death sentence to be burned at the stake. The story goes that the wind was blowing that day, and because he wasn’t inhaling the smoke, it prolonged his death. His screams were heard from a great distance, but unlike the screams of the guard on Hondegat pond, no one came to Dirk’s rescue.

  1. . .  it seems so long ago, and yet the story echoes across history and we can still hear the cries from the broken ice. Do I love my enemy, or do I see his misfortune as “God’s judgement” on him and as an excuse to leave him behind?

Obviously, loving my enemy doesn’t always have the drama that Dirk Willems experienced, but is my spirit the same as his? What about the co-worker who takes advantage of me? The business that didn’t give me the product or service I paid for? The driver who cut me off? The backstabbing brother in Christ? Do I love in all these situations? Doing good in return for his bad, blessing in return for his curse, praying for those who mistreat me, giving freely to those who take from me?

Why did Dirk Willems go back and save his enemy, only to die for his act of mercy? And why should I love those who do me wrong?

Jesus tells me to love my enemies, because Jesus loves His enemies, even enough to die for them. . . to die for me. To Jesus, I am the guard struggling in Hondegat pond, and He reaches out to save me, only to die Himself.

“For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps. . . When He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but continued entrusting Himself to Him who judges justly.”     (1 Peter 2:21, 23)

PRAYER: Jesus, even though you commanded us to love our enemies, we find it often too much of a challenge to even love our friends as you have loved us. Give us hearts that love as yours does – even for our enemies, that we might be willing to die for them. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 1/08/18 – A Fisherman Extraordinaire

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DayBreaks for 1/08/18: A Fisherman Extraordinaire

From the DayBreaks archive, 2008:

I’ve recently finished preaching a series of messages from 2 Peter 1:1-11 and I’ve really come to appreciate the apostle Peter more than I ever had before.  I have always liked John, and Paul was, without a doubt, an incredible advocate for the Christ.  Peter – well, I suppose that I remembered too many of the stories from my childhood that seemed to emphasize his flaws.  Peter didn’t write a gospel, but he almost did: most believe that the gospel of Mark was a collection of stories that Peter told about living with Jesus for 3 years.  If so (and it is quite likely true that Peter told those things to Mark who wrote them down), it is interesting how Peter presents himself, especially at the beginning:

  • A man who brashly asks to walk on the water, but who was last seen sinking and on the verge of drowning before the Lord lifted him up;
  • We’ve seen Peter pretending to be a ninja when he attacks the high priest’s servant with a sword during the arrest of Jesus – and we learn that his skills as a swordsman aren’t very good because he wasn’t swinging at the ear, but the man’s head;
  • We find him falling asleep in the prayer meeting Jesus organized in the garden of Gethsemane on the night he was betrayed;
  • We see him sputtering lies and nonsense, denying his dearest friend – at precisely the moment when Jesus most needed him as a friend.

Why did Peter tell those true stories?  Because they make Peter easier to trust, to believe in.  And they give us hope, too.  That’s the irony of a humble man: the more he admits his failings, the more likely we are to throw in our lot with him – to like him.  There is, after all, no fool as dangerous as a man who doesn’t know he’s a fool.  But a fool who confesses it and learns from it – ah, there is a man or woman we can trust, for they are learning life’s lessons and gaining in wisdom.

But what Peter doesn’t tell at all is that he became the undisputed leader of the 12.  In spite of all the above, Jesus never gave up hope in Peter.  He saw things in Peter that Peter never could have imagined.  Peter had likely only ever dreamed of taking over his father’s fishing business and being able to put bread and butter on the table for his family.  And then one day, a stranger came along the sea shore and spoke words that stirred Peter’s heart, and Peter accepted the man’s invitation to learn to catch men instead of fish. 

There are many days when I look at my list of failures (and it’s certainly a longer list than Peter’s!) and think that I’ll be lucky if I can get the job as the groundskeeper outside of the pearly gates – forget about even getting inside.  There are times I’ve felt that surely God must be saving the deepest cell in hell for me and Satan.  When I begin to feel that way, I need to stop listening to Satan as he tries to fill my head and heart with discouragement and start listening to Jesus, who whispers to me that he loves me, that all my sins have already been paid for and taken away and thrown into the depths of the sea.  I need to remember that he calls me precious, beloved, his child.  In short, Jesus whispers to me, “Remember Peter?  See how he turned out?  You’ll be no different, because it wasn’t Peter that made himself change – it was me who changed him, and I’m going to do the same thing with you.”

I know that I’ll not be the second-coming of Peter.  But I don’t have to be.  I just have to be who God made me to be, and who He is changing me to become. 

Peter never would have dreamed that he’d preach the first gospel sermon on Pentecost and that 3000 would believe through the words that God gave him to speak.  After he’d denied Christ in the wee hours of Good Friday, he never dreamed he’d have the courage to go to the cross himself and give his life for Jesus (as Jesus had gone to the cross and given his life for Peter.)  By God’s grace, Peter became all that God meant for him to be.

By God’s grace, we, too, shall become what He wants us to be.

PRAYER:  Lord, thank you for your whispers of reassurance that you love us just as we are and that you’re constantly at work to see us become the finished work of art that you intended us to be before we were born.  Thank you for the love that refuses to let us go, no matter how great our failures!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 11/21/17 – A Muddy Foam

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DayBreaks for 11/21/17: A Muddy Foam

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

I like to maintain an even keel.  I think most of us do.  Sure, there are those who are into the extremes: folks who put on a kite-type suit and jump out of an airplane and ride the wind currents coming up off the face of a mountain.  And there’s the other extreme, too: folks who, for whatever reason, are so afraid to even set foot outside of their home that they live as prisoners of their own fears.  But most of us operate “normally” – we try not to get too carried away with anything, thinking that a good balance is what life is all about.  There’s something to be said for that, but I’m not really convinced that it’s all good.

Consider: how would your wife or husband feel about it if you just had neutral or luke-warm emotions towards them?  How would your children feel if you made it a goal in life not to go overboard in truly loving them?  How would your employer feel if you thought your job was okay, but didn’t make every effort to work hard for them?  Chances are you wouldn’t be employed for very long.

How does God want us to live our lives, especially our emotional lives? 

There are many passages of Scripture that relate to this: we are to live sober-mindedly, we are to live peaceful lives characterized by the joy of Christ.  We are to be wary and alert, to test the spirits to see if they’re from God or not.  Sounds rather balanced and reserved, doesn’t it? 

But, I think that there’s an area or two where God wants us to truly go overboard, to cast our caution aside and jump into the deep end of the pool, so to speak.  The first one is in the way that we love God Himself.  We are to love Him more than our very lives if it should come to that.  We are to love Him, not with part of our heart, soul and mind, but with ALL of our heart, soul and mind.  In other words, hold nothing back from this love.  There is no other love like it and there’s nothing better to reserve our love for than for loving Him.  The second one, you can probably guess: we are to love what God loves – goodness, righteousness, holiness…and yes, other people, even our enemies.  It’s far easier to say than to do. 

I like this quote, which I find expresses the feeling I have down deep in my heart about my own poor emotional condition: “I am spellbound by the intensity of Jesus’ emotions: not a twinge of pity, but heartbroken compassion; not a passing irritation, but terrifying anger; not a silent tear, but groans of anguish; not a weak smile, but ecstatic celebration.  Jesus’ emotions are like a mountain river cascading with clear water. My emotions are more like a muddy foam or a feeble trickle.”  – G. Walter Hansenin, Christianity Today

How can we have the emotional passion of Jesus for others and for the Father?  I think that there are probably many possible things that can help us, including praying that God will give us Jesus’ heart for the world, for the lost, for the hurting – to make us compassionate and also capable of true rejoicing.  We also need to learn to see through the surface appearances into the deep realities of eternal destiny and of the human heart so that we can see in others and in situations what Jesus sees in them.  It’s hard to be moved with compassion toward someone who is engaging in blatant and offensive sin, but if we could see them in an eternity without Christ, I have a hunch that we’d all be moved to be more loving and compassionate.  After all, isn’t that how Jesus saw us before we were saved? 

PRAYER:  Father, help us to have the heart that beats with the passion of Christ.  Help us to have the eyes to see past the hurts others may cause us, the offenses we may suffer at their hands, to see them as marred images of what You intended them to be, and to see the reality of their destination if they continue to live without Jesus.  Then, give us the strength to act like Christ towards them.   In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.