DayBreaks for 1/16/19 – When the Wine Runs Out

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DayBreaks for 01/16/2019: When the Wine Runs Out

The world famous Nobel Prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway was a person who went for it all. A newspaper reporter, ambulance driver during WWII, involved in the Spanish Civil War, friend to bullfighters as well as authors–he did it all. And, when he did it he did it to the fullest. In a manner of speaking he enjoyed the wine of life. But there came a day when the wine of joy ran out.

Carlos Baker records it in his biography of Hemingway in this way: Sunday morning dawned bright and cloudless. Ernest awoke early as always. He put on the red “Emperor’s robe” and padded softly down the padded stairway. The early sunlight lay in pools on the living room floor. He had noticed that the guns were locked up in the basement, but the keys, as he well knew, were on the window ledge above the kitchen sink. He tiptoed down the basement stairs and unlocked the storage room. It smelled as dank as a grave. He chose a double barreled shotgun with a tight choke. He had used it for years to shoot pigeon’s. He took some shells from one of the boxes in the storage room, closed and locked the door, and climbed the basement stairs. If he saw the bright day outside, it did not deter him. He crossed the living room to the front foyer, a shrine-like entryway five feet by seven feet, with oak-paneled walls and a floor of linoleum tile. He slipped in two shells, lowered the gun butt carefully to the floor, leaned forward, pressed the twin barrels against his forehead just about the eyebrows and tripped both triggers.

What are you going to do when the wine runs out? Hemingway turned to the easy way out, but it was the way out to what? He turned to a gun to deal with his pain. I would rather turn to Jesus and godly friends to help me through the pain. I hope you will, too.

Prayer: Father, in your children’s pain, let us feel your presence and love as never before and give us the wisdom and strength to run to your arms! Help us remember that the pain is only fleeting and that joy comes again in the eternal morning. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

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DayBreaks for 1/08/19 – The Power of a Timid Prayer

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DayBreaks for 01/08/2019: The Power of a Timid Prayer

From the DayBreaks Archive, 01/05/09:

It was 1992 and Derek Redmond, a 26-year old Briton, was running in the race he was favored to win in the Barcelona Olympics: the 400 meters.  He’d already passed the early qualifying rounds and was running in the semi-finals.  About half-way through the race, he collapsed onto the track, with agonizing pain in his right leg.  His hamstring was torn – his Olympic dream was gone.

As the medical personnel drew near, he raised himself to his feet, and with agony on his face, began hopping toward the finish line, about 200 meters away.  He later said that it was “animal instinct” that made him do it.  His coaches came running to him, but he pushed them away…and kept hopping in a crazy attempt to cross the finish line. 

By the time he got to the stretch, a large man with a t-shirt that said, “Have you hugged your child today?” and a hat that advised, “Just Do It!” had pushed his way through the crowd and somehow managed to get down onto the track.   It was Jim Redmond, Derek’s dad. 

As the tears of pain and disappointment flowed down Derek’s face, his dad said to him, “You don’t have to do this.” 

“Yes, I do,” Derek responded. 

“Well, then, we’re going to finish this together.”  And so Jim wrapped Derek’s arm around his shoulder and helped him hop and hobble toward the finish line.  By that time, security reached the two, and as Derek buried his face in his dad’s shoulder, they stayed in Derek’s lane all the way across the finish line.  The crowd was on their feet, first cheering, then weeping openly as the father and son finished the race together. 

In analyzing this story, Max Lucado pointed out: “What made the father do it?  What made the father leave the stands to meet his son on the track?  Was it the strength of his child?  No, it was the pain of his child.  His son was hurt and fighting to complete the race.  So the father came to help him finish.

“God does the same.  Our prayers may be awkward.  Our attempts may be feeble.  But since the power of prayer is in the one who hears it and not the one who says it, our prayers do make a difference.

In the Biblical story, the father who intercedes for his dying son simply says, “I believe.  Help my unbelief.”  In that instance, the disciples had failed to cast out the demons that plagued the son, and the father was now trying Jesus to see if he could help.  “IF you can help…” was even how the father put it.  Jesus diagnosed the situation and said that this kind of demon only comes out through prayer.  Notice: in the entire encounter, the only prayer offered was that of the doubting father: “I believe, help my unbelief.”  Jesus didn’t stop and pray.  Yet the demons left.  It was at best a very timid prayer, but an honest one of agony and desperation. 

Never underestimate the power of your prayers – even when you are uncertain.  The Father responds to the pain of his children!

Prayer:  Jesus, thank you for joining us in the race of our life.  Thank you for hearing even our most doubting and timid prayers.  Thank you, Father, for responding to the pain of your children.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 11/28/18 – God’s Bizarre Carpentry Shop

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DayBreaks for 11/28/18: God’s Bizarre Carpentry Shop

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2008:

Romans 8:28 (NASB) – And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

My daughter can do macramé – you know, that weird bit about cutting and folding a sheet of paper so that it resembles a swan or some other animal.  I have to admit, while she’s in the process of taking the piece of paper and beginning to fold it, I can’t start to imagine what in the world she’s making.  As she folds away in a meticulous fashion, I remain confused.  It isn’t until the end of the process that I can see what she was making, but I couldn’t begin to replicate what she’s done.

In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul had this to say (chapter 4:16-17, NIV): Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

Our first reaction to verse 17 is to think that Paul has totally lost his marbles.  “Light and momentary troubles”?  Are you kidding me?  Try telling that to the mother of a special needs child who requires 24-hour care, day in and day out.  Try telling it to the young man in the wilds of the hills in Afghanistan, or to his wife who struggles to raise 3 kids without his presence.  Try telling it to the person who has once more been diagnosed with cancer – after having beaten it once.  “Light and momentary,” you say?  Harumph. 

But Paul nonetheless claims it is so.  How can he say that?  Well, he says that, in God’s bizarre carpentry shop, that it is those very troubles that are achieving for us an eternal glory that outweighs those very trouble.  The word for achieving in the Greek means, “to make possible”, “to bring to pass.”  Paul says, that somehow (and this is way beyond me!), that our troubles from this earth will make possible our eternal glory.  I think it works like this: what is earthly must be torn down and removed so what is heavenly can start to be built.  It’s like tearing up a bad street to create a new paved one – until the old is torn out and removed, the new can’t be put in place.  And the troubles we have in this world are designed to encourage us to let go of this world and its attractions so that new, eternally glorious things can be put in their place. 

Oh, and one more thing.  Paul says the troubles are “light”, from the Greek, elaphros, which means “easy to bear.”  They are easy to bear only when we keep our perspective.  What is here is light (not of much weight) and temporary (of short duration).  What we await is an eternal glory that “outweighs” them (the glory is HEAVY, but not a burden) – and eternal.  Here’s Paul’s point: not all the troubles of this world are of greater weight nor longer duration than the glory of heaven.  That’s a perspective worth keeping!

Prayer: Lord, we don’t understand how You do it, but we thank you that our earthly troubles make possible our eternal glory.  The next time we are distress and in deep trouble, may we remember Paul’s perspective, and lean hard into eternal things!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 6/16/17 – Places You Never Knew Existed

 

DayBreaks for 6/16/17: Places You Never Knew Existed

From the DayBreaks archive, 2007:

On June 4, I was blessed (for the second year in a row!) to participate in a fund raiser for a nearby mission that provides shelter, training, food and spiritual guidance to many who have lost their way in life.  They do a great work, and each year they do a fundraiser that is called Extreme Golf.  On that day, those of us who have signed up to raise pledge money, go out and run around a golf course like crazy people, with the goal of playing 100 holes of golf in 8 hours or less.  What a thrill!

But now (this was written on 6/6), I have been reminded of lessons I learned last year during this event:

FIRST: Sometimes people hurt in places you never knew existed.  My body has aches and pains right now that I didn’t have on early Monday morning before the event.  It’ll continue that way for a few days, I can tell.  People all over hurt – and the greatest hurts aren’t in the physical body, but in the heart and mind of humanity.  Perhaps the greatest hurt of all is hopelessness – when people have been so beaten down that they have given up any idea of it ever getting better.  That’s when many are willing to finally accept Christ because they have learned that nothing else works.  But unless we’re on the lookout for signs of pain in people (wincing and groaning have been my signs the last few days!) we will likely pass by them not even realizing they’ve been beaten.  But heaven have mercy on us if we know they’ve been beaten and pass by anyway.

SECOND: Pain is good.  It is a reminder that we are alive and not dead.  Dead people feel no pain.  We shouldn’t give up on people who are in great pain.  They’re still alive and pain can lead to changes. 

THIRD: Pain is also a reminder that we are to become like Him in His suffering.  I don’t think that is specifically referring to physical pain, but that may be a part of it.  Paul, in Philippians 3:10 put it this way: I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death…  In our hurts, suffered for the cause of God, we become like Christ.  And God certainly knows how much I need more of that!!!!

There is pain all around you.  There is pain on the golf course, in your school, in your work, in your family – and yes, in your church.  The world is awash in pain.  All we have to do is open our eyes and see it.  Will you take the risk of joining Christ in his sufferings for the world?  You don’t have to travel to India or the Congo or Peru, all you have to do is open your heart and eyes, and you’ll see it.  The question is: what will we do about it?

I’m eager for this event to come around again next year.  May I be as eager to bear pain for Him all year long.

PRAYER: Father, let us become like Christ – willing to bear any burden, to carry any suffering – for the privilege of becoming like Him in His death, so that we may also attain unto His resurrection.  Help us to be sensitive to the pain of others and do all we can to point them to the One who can, and will, heal all hurts some glorious day.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 6/08/17 – Non-remembrance of Things Suffered

DayBreaks for 6/08/17: Non-Remembrance of Things Suffered

From the DayBreaks archives, June 2007:

We wrestle with various problems related to forgiveness.  The willingness to forgive is the first one.  Sure, we know what Scripture says about forgiveness: that we must forgive because we’ve been forgiven, that our forgiveness is to be “70 x 7” (meaning without number).  Yet we hold our hurts close to our hearts, cooing over them, turning them first one way and then another to dissect the wound from every possible direction – while all the time letting the pain build and fester like a pus-filled wound.  We actually nurture our hurts when we do this.

But inevitably, when you get right down to it, we all know we are supposed to forgive.  I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve had Christians say to me, “I know I have to forgive them,” (strange how that’s always still in the future tense, isn’t it?) “but that doesn’t mean I have to forget about it!”  I think they’re wrong.  Seriously wrong. 

I understand that as humans, God didn’t seem to give us the ability to literally block out a part of our brain and the memories it contains.  (Although, I’m not sure about that – repressed memory seems to be possible, indicating that it is a capability that does exists at least to some extent in the human brain.)  Scripture says that when God forgives, He forgets and will not hold those things against us any more, than He throws our sin into the deepest sea.  To the Jewish mind, that meant that they literally became invisible, for in that day and age, no one could travel to the bottom of the sea to see what lay there. 

Miroslav Volf, a brilliant Christian philosopher and theologian, was driven from his former home in Croatia (the former Yugoslavia) some time back after being arrested for being a Christian under the hostile regime that was there at the time.  He witnessed and suffered horrible things.  He is now the director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture.  He is a man who knows a lot about wrongs suffered and how to deal with them.  Here’s what he wrote in his book, The End of Memory: “But that is exactly what forgiveness does! For herein lies the essence of Christian forgiveness: On account of his divinity, Christ could and did shoulder the consequences of human sin; so the penalty for wrongdoing can be detached from wrongdoers. And since on account of his humanity Christ could and did die on behalf of sinners, they, in effect, died when he died; so guilt can be detached from wrongdoers. When we forgive those who have wronged us, we make our own God’s miracle of forgiveness. Echoing God’s unfathomable graciousness, we decouple the deed from the doer, the offense from the offender. We blot out the offense so it no longer mars the offender. That is why the non-remembrance of wrongs suffered appropriately crowns forgiveness.”

He continues with this line of thinking: “When can we forget the wrongs committed against us?  In a sense, forgetting is given to us as the gift of a healed relationship.  It’s a gift of the new world, which God gives us.  Then we can not remember.  And then our experience is like a person who is sitting in a concert hall and listening to a wonderful piece of music.  Even though just two hours ago she was experiencing hell at her job, she’s taken up into that music.  It’s not that she tried to forget so that she could be in the music; it’s that the music took her out of the remembrance of the past.  God gives us the gift of a healed self, healed relationships, and a reconstituted world, and then we can not remember.”

I pray that we will learn to let the music of the concert of God’s love and forgiveness create that new world in our hearts so that we can no longer remember that which we’ve forgiven and endured.

PRAYER: Father, cleanse our hearts from the hurts we harbor, the forgiveness we fail to extend, the pain we refuse to release.  Instead, fill them with the music of Divinity on high that echoes the very forgiveness and forgetting that characterizes Your own heart.    In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 5/26/17 – A Proof of the Truth of Love

DayBreaks for 5/26/17: A Proof of the Truth of Love

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2007:

Tears.  Sorrow.  Grief.  Three words that we hope don’t come anywhere near us, for when they do they are always unwelcome visitors.  Would that life were always full of joy, happiness and laughter!  That is, after all, how God intended for life to be, and how it will someday again be for those who love Him! 

In the meantime, we are awaiting that revealing and dawning.  And as the ocean is full of water, so our lives are full of tears.  It doesn’t take much for me to cry.  I am sometimes embarrassed by my readiness to cry, wishing that I were more stoic, that perhaps things didn’t affect me as much.  Those are usually times when I am in a public situation, sometimes in the pulpit, or at the beside of a person in great pain and facing death. 

What can you say to someone who is crushed, broken hearted by loss or some great sorrow?  I know I struggle to find words.  They do, too.  They may be crying, and yet they still seem to be able to say, “I’m sorry for crying.”  I usually am quick to assure them that tears are not bad.  Jesus cried.  And I tell them that tears are a part of the language of love, for if we did not love, we would not weep with loss.

I found it interesting that my oldest son, Doug, was reflecting on this the other day in his blog, when he wrote: “Perhaps sorrow like this can be a kind of gift, too.  It is at least proof of the truth of love, and hope is never far from love.” (Doug Dalrymple, 5/10/07, The Scrivener)

The sorrow that produces weeping is a gift, for it reveals what is in our hearts, and if nothing else, surely it must be proof of the truth of a love that may have even gone unexpressed in happier times. 

Let your tears flow when you need to cry.  They are part of God’s heart, too.

PRAYER:  Lord, may we join in the weeping that comes from your heart for this broken and bloody world of darkness and loss.  May we weep unashamedly because of the love that you put into our hearts for You and those around us.  And may we also weep for our brokenness.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

 

DayBreaks for 1/02/17 – Out of Egypt We Are Called

DayBreaks for 1/02/17: Out of Egypt We Are Called

After trying everything else, Shelly was present for her first Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. Skeptical and listening half- heartedly at first, the words of Martha caught her attention. Martha told the group, “I just knew that I could handle alcohol and my other problems on my own, but I couldn’t. Seven years ago I came to my first A.A. meeting and since that time I have grown as a person beyond anything I could have ever imagined.”

Martha exuded confidence and depth. She spoke of a power “higher than I,” the God of Jesus Christ, and the way in which God now lived at the center of her life. Her words oozed with sincere encouragement and concern. Most of all, Martha exhibited a thankfulness which words could not express. Shelly, who came to the meeting doubtful that anything she would hear would change the way she felt or thought, made her way to Martha when the meeting was over. “I want what you have,” Shelly told Martha, “I want what you have.”

Shelly wanted the compassion and depth and hope which Martha knew, but she may not have realized fully how Martha came to know those things. Martha learned compassion from a time of deep personal suffering. She acquired spiritual depth from hours of praying when there was nowhere else to turn. She discovered hope by taking one step at a time because “one day at a time” was too much to be expected.

Shelly said, “I want what you have. Where do I get it?” And Martha told her, “It comes from being right where you are and doing just what you are doing.” Martha went on to tell Shelly the oddest story about learning compassion when we are hurting, and learning love when we are excluded, and learning hope when we are helpless. In short Martha said that it is out of Egypt that we are called.

Many symbols could be used for times of suffering-Egypt, darkness, a flood, a storm-but no matter the symbol, they represent something that is not fun but painful. Everyone has had suffering in their life to varying degrees. Some seem to suffer very little while others suffering defies comprehension.

Perspective is so important because it determines how we will deal with suffering in ourselves or others. If we can come to truly realize that our homes are not ours, our bodies are not ours, even the air that we breathe isn’t ours (it ALL belongs to Him), then when bad things happen to us we can realize that it isn’t directed against us personally and that the God who charted our course in some heavenly hallway knew all those things would happen and are part of a plan beyond our comprehension.

Someone once said that when we are in the midst of the raging sea of life storms and wonder why, that it is perhaps then that God whispers to us: “It is because your enemies cannot swim.” In other words, it is a safe place for us even though it may be uncomfortable. Indeed, the God who leads us into the storm not only can cause us to swim in it – but even to walk atop the waves. He’s done it before. He can do it for you. And with Him, you are safe.

PRAYER: Help us to have a kingdom perspective when you call us out of Egypt to face struggles. Let us look to you in the midst of the storm. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen Dalrymple.