DayBreaks for 11/9/18 – They Barely Make a Noise

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DayBreaks for 11/09/18: They Barely Make a Noise

In the NT is the story of the widow who gave her two mites…a mere pittance, but it was all she had. That story has remained an enduring image throughout the ages. We play favorites. We treat those who give more as if they are the pillars on which the church is erected.

But consider for a moment another image. Jesus, sitting opposite the place where the offerings were put, is observing the people as they make their donations as they enter the temple. He is not alone. Seated with him are the leaders-the Sadducees. It is startling to think of Jesus sitting with those whom he had scorned for their hypocrisy. Remember that as they watch there is no paper money so all of the offerings make a terrible clatter as they roll down this long, horn shaped object and fall into the pool of coins. And here comes this little widow with two small coins worth nothing and she drops them in. They barely make a noise. You can almost see the Temple leaders as they roll their eyes and hope for better results with the next person who walks in the door. Jesus then calls his Disciples over and says, “This poor widow has put more in to the treasury than all the others.” To the Sadducees this woman is a waste of time but to Jesus she is the stuff by which Kingdoms are erected. Thus, at its heart, the story of the widow’s mite is a strong reminder to the kingdoms of this world and a reminder to us that God’s ways and thoughts are nothing like ours.

PRAYER: Lord, I want to be more like this woman and have her kind of faith. Give me eyes to see as you do and value what you value. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/01/18 – Wouldn’t It Be Great!?!?!

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DayBreaks for 11/01/18: Wouldn’t It Be Great?

Here in America, the Mega-Millions lottery hit something like $1.6 billion before someone hit the “jackpot”. Thousands of tickets were being sold per minute as the thought of striking it rich in the lottery reached epidemic proportions. Many were thinking to themselves, “Would it be great if I won the lottery?!?!?” We probably would think, “Yeah, that would be really great!”

Well, maybe it wouldn’t be so great. Not everyone has the same idea of a great time. One person’s wish may be another’s nightmare. Take, for example, the story of three men who were sailing together in the Pacific Ocean. Their vessel was wrecked and they found themselves on an island. They had plenty of food, but their existence was in every way different from what their lives had been in the past. The men were walking by the seashore one day after they had been there for some months and found an ancient lantern. One man picked it up. As he began to rub it and clean it, a genie popped out and said, “Well, since you have been good enough to release me, I will give each of you one wish.”

The first man said, “Oh, that’s perfectly marvelous. I’m a cattleman from Wyoming and I wish I were back on my ranch.” Poof! He was back on his ranch.

The second man said, “Well, I’m a stockbroker from New York, and I wish that I were back in Manhattan.” Poof! He was back in Manhattan with his papers, his telephones, his clients and his computers.

The third fellow was somewhat more relaxed about life and actually had rather enjoyed life there on the island. He said, “Well, I am quite happy here. I just wish my two friends were back.” Poof! Poof! You see, everybody’s idea of a “great time” isn’t the same!

So is it true? Are you perhaps sitting around wishing, “Now wouldn’t it be great …if I won the lottery…if I had my dream house…if I was famous….” As Christians, the people of God, what if instead of wishing for money or fame or success or more “things,” we could just as earnestly wish with all our hearts and souls and minds and strength that we could love the Lord our God and love our neighbor as ourselves?

PRAYER: Our ideas of what would be great for us are ill-formed at best, Lord. Let us trust in your wisdom, but more than anything, let us yearn to know you and love you and our neighbors above all else! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/20/18 – From the Perspective of Years

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DayBreaks for 8/20/18: From the Perspective of Years

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

At the risk of being premature and appearing to be wise and all-knowing, I’d like to share something with you that I think I have finally managed to learn in my 56 years of treading this earth.  Are you ready?  Here it is: life is not about now.  Oh, I know that there are bills that must be paid NOW, there are decisions that must be made NOW, there are chores and responsibilities that have to be met NOW.  Oh, yes…don’t forget taxes that must be paid!

But that’s not the stuff I’m talking about.  I’m talking about important things, things that I just wasn’t emotionally, mentally or spiritually equipped to even begin to grasp until now.  Perhaps it’s because I’m starting a new sermon series about all the things that Scripture talks about as being unseen that it’s just now coming clearer to me.  Still, I’ve struggled to find a way to express it myself, and then I finally ran across something that Elie Wiesel wrote in From the Kingdom of Memory that seems to me to say it perfectly.  (Wiesel, of course, is a holocaust survivor who has written and spoken eloquently about that horrific time in history, and about life in the aftermath.)

Here’s what Wiesel had to say that seemed to put this all into perspective for me: “Well, yes, at the time I was too young to understand that eternity does not exist except in relation to the present.  I was not mature enough to understand that it is eternity which lends this moment its mystery and its distinction.”

We are so preoccupied with living life to the full in the here and now, thinking that it is what is happening to us that gives life meaning and direction.  It is not so.  Surely, it must not be so!  It is what lies ahead that gives our lives now meaning and purpose, for we were not meant to live this life forever.  If the amount of time we spend here on earth versus in eternity is any indication of the relative importance, it is eternity that must dominate our consciousness and our thinking.  We must find the way to do this without abandoning the present, but also without ever making the fatal mistake of thinking that this life is what it is all about.

Have you noticed the context for this passage from 1 Corinthians 13:9-12? – For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

In the context, Paul seems to be speaking, at least partly, of eternity – it is then that we shall see face to face, we won’t be trying to hold on to foolish things of this world any longer.  All that occupies us here, tends to be childish compared to ultimate realities.

PRAYER: God, give us eyes to see this life through the clearer glass of eternity that our priorities and attention is focused on things above and not things below!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

PRAYER: Father, help us choose the things that are beautiful to you and that lead to life! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 1/25/18 – The Rails of Life

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DayBreaks for 1/25/18: The Rails of Life

From the DayBreaks archives, January 2008:

This past Tuesday night when we got back from being with our youth group, I had a phone call waiting on our answering machine.  It was from the mother of a good friend of mine from high school.  I’d not heard this woman’s voice for probably 38 years (could I possibly have graduated from high school that long ago??!!).  She was calling to tell me that my friend, Lesley, who has struggled with cancer for years, is very near the end of her struggle, and that “we’re counting down the days.”  What a contrast to the phone call we received just before going to youth group that night from our youngest son, letting us know that he and his wife are with child – their first.  We were, of course, ecstatic!

As happy as I was and am for our son and his bride, I was crushed by the news of Lesley.  This “girl” (I still think of her as I knew her in high school) has had a difficult life.  Within a few months after we graduated, she was riding in a car when she was struck by a train and severely injured.  It was touch and go to see if she’d live or die.  She was left with some permanent issues from that accident, but she did survive and went on to become the mother of 3 boys. 

When she was first diagnosed with cancer, her husband left her.  He said he couldn’t deal with it.  Eventually, she found another man – a good one – who loved her for who she was and in spite of her cancer, they married.  For years, they fought her cancer side by side.  Now, the end of the fight is near.  Her mother asked me if I would do her daughter’s memorial service.  Such things are the great privilege of a friend and pastor.

As I thought about this situation, in conjunction with the passing of a young girl from our community with cancer, I shared at the youth group last Tuesday night some thoughts about death and loss.  God’s timing, though strange to us, is always perfect.  Little did I know as I stood there with the youth that I’d get to put into practice so quickly the things I was talking about.  We showed a NOOMA video that made the observation that we can choose whether or not we become bitter about life and what happens, and also that we can choose to focus on what we’ve lost instead of what we have.  Good lessons.

Then, on Wednesday morning, I got an email from a DayBreaks reader with an interview from Rick Warren, whose own wife has been stricken with cancer.  In the interview, he talked about life, it’s ups and downs, and how we often think of life as a series of peaks (the good times) and valleys (the bad times) – and how we move from one to the other so often.  But then he went on and made an observation that I thought was really good.  He said that he didn’t see life as peaks and valleys, but more like a pair of train tracks.  One rail is good, one rail is bad, and they run in parallel throughout our life. 

As I considered Lesley’s situation and the impending memorial service, I realized how true the words were from the video and Rick Warren, and how well they fit together.  The train of our life runs on both tracks…the question is, which track are we going to focus our emotions on?  There is always good and bad…simultaneously.  Perhaps that’s why the apostle Paul encouraged us to consider the good things and “think on these things.”  If we don’t, the badness of the other rail can do us in and lead us into bitterness and depression. 

For those of us who are left behind (and today, 1/21/2008, is the 10th anniversary of my father’s passing to glory), we can choose life over death, joyful memories over painful ones, happy times over sad, love and laughter over loss.  We can claim once again and for all time the memories that mean so much to us of those we have loved and lost. 

And one more thing: we can hold with confidence to the truth that God is busy making everything new, restoring all the loss – and that someday, we’ll see that with our own wonder-filled eyes.

PRAYER:  Thank You, Lord, for our friends and family.  Thank You for the hope of all things being made new, and for the ability to choose to see the good and not just the bad.  You are awesomely wonderful, Father!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 1/23/18 – Dust and Clay Pots

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DayBreaks for 1/23/18: Dust and Clay Pots

Genesis 3:19 (NIV) – By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.

2 Corinthians 4:7 (NIV) – But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

It didn’t take God very long after the fall of man in the garden of Eden to reset our perspectives.  Do you remember how Satan had tempted Eve?  He told her that if she ate the fruit that “you will be like God.”  That’s the second lie that Satan told.  The first one was spoken in the same breath when he told Eve: “You shall not surely die.”  Both of those things are God-like, aren’t they?  To not die and to be eternal is God-like, and knowledge is God-like.  And Eve fell for it. 

What was God going to do with this situation?  It seems that one of the first things God had to do was to correct their thinking, in no uncertain terms, about whether or not they were like God.  And He did it partly by telling them in verse 19: “…for dust you are and to dust you will return.”  In other words, “You SHALL surely die.”  God has spoken – and suddenly Adam and Eve fall mute.

The apostle Paul was a bit more tactful, or at least a bit more generous, when he referred to us as clay pots, but the point is the same.  We’re hard and brittle and easily broken and shattered and we turn back into the clay/dust.  It’s vital for us to remember: “God made us from dust.  We’re never too far from our origins.”

As a result, we should live each day as if we will die before the day is out.  That means we should love while we have a chance, we should forgive when time is still with us to do so, we should embrace the wonder and beauty and miracle of life before it is gone.  We’re all familiar with the old saying to “Live each day as if it were your last.”  Wouldn’t we be better served to live each day as Jesus lived the last day in his life?  I have a hunch that if we did, that last day would be far better than we could come up with on our own.

PRAYER:  May this day be precious to us and a day we live for You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/26/17 – A Giant, a Kid, a God

DayBreaks for 7/26/17: A Giant, a Kid, a God

I’m sure you remember the story of David and Goliath. For many, it is their favorite bible story (maybe especially for kids!). I always loved the story as a little boy – I think every little boy who heard it thought of themselves in the role as David!

I recently heard something that I thought was really good and wanted to pass it along. It will come at you in three parts, so let’s get started!

What is the perspective of the world when it comes to this story? Or, one might ask, what was the perspective of the Israelites as they stood there with the monster of a man, taunting them? Their reaction was: He’s too big to hit! Just think of what he might do to me if I were to hit him! He’d squash me like a bug! So, I think I’ll just leave Mr. Goliath alone because I don’t want to get squashed! I can understand that mindset, can’t you? If you’ve ever been faced with a bully, a BIG bully, you know precisely how it feels.

What is the perspective of David? It may have been something like this: He’s too big to miss! I couldn’t possibly miss him if I tried. Why, he’s bigger than my father’s stable! This is a no-lose situation! Let me at him! I think, from the way that David expressed himself, that he was full of confidence.

But, as interesting as both of those are, I think that this next perspective is the one that is the most intriguing. What was God’s perspective? Goliath is too small to matter. Watch what I’m going to do with him through a scrawny shepherd kid. I’ll squash him like a bug.

I like having that kind of God with that vantage point, don’t you?

PRAYER: Thank You for being such a BIG God who sees things for what they really are! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/28/15 – Time-Lapse Sin

DayBreaks for 9/28/15: Time-Lapse Sin

Time-lapse photography compresses a series of events into one picture. The technique can produce some truly stunning images. One such photo was featured in an issue of National Geographic. Taken from a Rocky Mountain peak during a heavy thunderstorm, the picture captured the brilliant lightning display that had taken place throughout the storm’s duration. The time-lapse technique created a fascinating, spaghetti-like web out of the individual bolts.

In a similar way, we tend to think of our sin as isolated, individual events. Though we may perceive it that way, our sin presents itself before the eyes of God differently. Where we see only isolated or individual acts, God sees the overall web of our sinning. What may seem insignificant — even sporadic — to us and passes with hardly a notice creates a much more dramatic display from God’s panoramic viewpoint.

The psalmist was right when he wrote, Who can discern his [one’s own] errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. (Psalm 19:12-13).

PRAYER: We tend to think of our sin as small, harmless dalliances, Lord. Give us insight into how You see our shortcomings! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple. To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.