DayBreaks for 04/23/13 – Sanctifying the Secular, #2

DayBreaks for 04/23/13 – Sanctifying the Secular, #2

presentNOTE: I am on a missions trip/internship to Africa and will be gone until 5/25.  Please pray for God’s work to go forth mightily, for protection for myself and those with whom I will be working, and for my wife in my absence!  Thank you…I cherish your prayers!  You will be receiving DayBreaks as usual (from the archive) until I’ve returned.

#2: Confine Your Interests to the Present Moment

Which of you by worrying about tomorrow…sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”  (Matt. 6:27, 34)

From Calvin Miller, The Unchained Soul:

Implicit in the idea of peace is an ability to make peace with the world as it is.  Again the paradox arises.  Aren’t Christians out to change their world?  Doesn’t the world need changing?  Isn’t God’s agenda for the individual or the world an agenda of change?  Yes, yes, yes! But when we become so focused on changing the world that our joy is swallowed up in neurosis…when we focus on how things ought to be, the oughtness can be so consuming it steals our peace…We are uncomfortable with the moment.  We live well for how things ought to be but not so well with how things are. 

“One psychological game that destroys our peace is called: What shall we ever do?  Our unhealthy preoccupation with this question is destructive.  But there is a second question that can prompt an equally desperate game: Why did I ever do what I did?  This game is a game of unrelinquished guilt…Christians are not to work at forgiving their past…we are merely to walk away from it.  We must abandon that past which dogs us with an incriminating sense of failure.  It is futile to try and dredge up what God has dealt with, once and for all, at Calvary.  It is not merely futile, it is sin.  When we are saved, our sins are covered in the deepest part of the sea (Micah 7:19), and God posts a sign that says, ‘No fishing!’  We must forget our past for two reasons:

“First, God has forgiven our past, and we must not hold to what God has forgiven.  Making peace with our past is a simple matter of abandoning what God has already healed.  Opening old wounds, even with the scalpel of Christian psychology, may question the value of Jesus’ scars.

“A second reason: We simply cannot change the past.  The writer of the Rubiyat wrote:

“The Moving Finger writes, and having writ, moves on.  Nor all thy Piety or Wit shall lure it back to cancel half a line, Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.”

“The past is prone to roar against our present peace.  But since we cannot change it, we must dismiss it.  We are to abandon it, leaving its roaring behind us.

Only as we meet and walk with Christ in the present moment can we triumph over the secular and threatening past.  This is true of the future, too.  What we cannot change is best left to our forgetting.  What we have not met we must not seek ahead of time.”

Are you living for the moment – leaving the past abandoned and empty, refusing it to have power over you since Jesus has set you free?  Are you so preoccupied for the future that you aren’t meeting the opportunities and demands of today?  Both are wrong.  We can only work to sanctify the secular world around us by being alert TODAY to every moment and opportunity as they arise.

Carpe diem…in Christ!

Copyright 2002 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

Copyright 2013 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 07/11/12 – Plan A is Our Responsibility

DayBreaks for 07/11/12 – Plan A Is Our Responsibility

I recently returned from a trip to India where we spent our time during the day and evenings with many of the Dalit peoples of that country.  If you don’t know who the Dalits are, they are the lowest of the low in Indian society.  They aren’t even officially part of the caste system, but below it.  For hundreds and hundreds of years, they have been told that they have no value other than cleaning up animal or human waste, hauling garbage, etc.  They even believe, based on the Hindu religion, that they have no divine spark within them as those of the caste system do.  They are poor – often desperately so.  We visited the slums where some of them live in the cities of Bangalore, Hyderabad and Mumbai.  But with 250 million Dalits, they are all over the country, not just in the cities.

What is our response to such poverty, injustice and oppression?  It is easy for us to say the problem is too big for us to deal with.  Or it is easy to say that organizations such as the Dalit Freedom Network and Operation Mobilization/India are handling it and taking care of it.  It is easy, very easy, to turn a blind eye to those in need, to people who in far too frequent situations, are occupied with catching their food for dinner (not fish – but rats).  If they fail to catch rats, they may go hungry.  Such is the situation facing the “mushers”, the lowest of the Dalits.  The word “mushar” means “rat eater.”

We might do well to listen to what Tony Hall, former US Ambassador for Humanitarian Issues, had to say about the global food crisis: “There’s over 2,500 verses in the Bible that deal with the issue of helping the poor, the sick, the hungry. God set it up that we are to address this issue and that he works through us. His Plan B? Well, I don’t know what Plan B is. Plan A is the way he set it up.

There simply isn’t a Plan B.  We are it – we are the plan!!!  He intends this problem to be solved through us who have something to give and to share.

Let me challenge you (and myself) now: I understand that not one of us has the funding at our disposal to feed even the 250 million Dalit people in India, let alone all the hungry of the world.  But if every Christian regularly and consistently gave a little, what a difference it would make!  Here’s a suggestion for you: commit to give up one designer coffee a month, just one, and send that money to help feed the poor.  Of course, if you can give more, I encourage you to do so.  But nearly everyone can spare $5 a month.  Give that $5 a month via automatic payment (otherwise you’ll forget!) to an organization that works to deliver food, clean water and protection to the needy of this world.  There are many such wonderful, Christian groups you can choose from.  You know many of their names.  If you need some suggestions, email me.  Or, if you prefer, you can support the work we do at I Am 2 Partners, Inc., committed to providing those necessities for the neediest children throughout the world.  It’s easy…painless…and in giving to help feed the poor and hungry, remember this: you aren’t just feeding some faceless person, but according to Jesus, you are feeding Him in the process!

Here’s where you can give to I Am 2 Partners: http://www.iam2.org/donate.  Others doing great work include Compassion International, World Vision, Samaritan’s Purse, the Dalit Freedom Network, Operation Mobilization and others.  They are all worthy of your support.

Isaiah 58:6-11 (ESV)  –  “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? 8 Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. 9 Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, 10if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. 11 And the LORD will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.

PRAYER: Break our hearts, Lord, teach us to be grateful for your blessings, and to engage fully with your plan to use us to bring relief to the hungry and needy!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 04/17/12 – Loose Him

DayBreaks for 04/17/12 – Loose Him

John 11:43-44 (NLT)
43 (NLT) Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in grave clothes, his face wrapped in a head cloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!”

I think it is accurate to say that my favorite chapter in the New Testament is John 11.  It isn’t a chapter that is full of deep theology but it is a chapter of deep truth and emotion.  It is the chapter where Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead.  Any time that I see a movie of the life of Jesus, that is my favorite scene.  I recently (on Easter) saw a movie about Jesus that has Jeremy Sisto as Jesus, and the scene was great.

That being said, there has always been something about the historical record that has puzzled me, and it is found in the verses shown earlier.  It doesn’t puzzle me that Jesus speaks and even the dead respond.  It isn’t that Lazarus was able to come out of the tomb, even though he was still bound.  What puzzled me was that Jesus asks the bystanders to “Unwrap him and let him go!”

You may recall that in a few short days, Jesus will himself be killed and rise from the dead.  But what happens when he rises?  He seems to pass right through the grave clothes and wrappings, leaving them intact and in place, just “collapsed” when the body left the wrapping behind.  Based on the scene when the disciples arrive there, that seems to be the case.  So why, when Lazarus rose from the dead, was it necessary for someone to unwrap him and “let him go!”?

I wish I knew. I’m not smart enough that I can figure it out.  But I suspect that it may have something to do with Jesus wanting us to learn that he is the one who gives life, but that we have a role to play in unbinding and setting people free.  We cannot provide the life, only Jesus can do that.  But he looks at us and issues to us the command to unwrap those whom He has given new life and to let them go!

PRAYER: Thank you, Jesus, for calling us out of our own death in sin.  Thank you for those who have helped unwrap us and let us loose!  Thank you for inviting us to join in the process of letting the dead free!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

I Am 2 Partners, Inc., just launched their first overseas project: Bright Future Children’s Home in Migori, Kenya, is home to 37 orphans in need of food, clean water and protection.  We are bridging the gap for a six month period until the children can be sponsored.  If you want to participate and help those children, you can either click the Donate “heart” below, or send a check payable to “I Am 2 Partners, Inc.” to: 3678 Creekstone Drive, Norcross, GA 30092.  Thank you!  Donations are deductible.

Donate to Bright Future Children's Home, Migori, Kenya

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DayBreaks for 12/28/11 – When Angel’s Wings Tremble

DayBreaks for 12/28/11 – When Angel’s Wings Tremble

20 Bless the LORD, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word! – Psalm 103:20

Angel simply means “messenger.”  They are, of course, messengers of God, dispatched with words from the Almighty.  When you stop to think of the messages that “angels” have delivered to mankind, some are joyous, some were words of doom, some of encouragement, and others that surely brought terror and dismay.

Have you ever been asked to deliver a message for someone that you’d rather not deliver at all?  I recall times when I’ve had to tell people that they no longer had a job, or that their son had been killed in a hunting accident.  Such messages I would rather not have to deliver ever again.  I don’t like to have to tell such things to people.  And I would suspect that there were times the angels didn’t want to have to deliver a message from God…but who were they to refuse?  (I am on thin ice there theologically – for all I know, the angels always delight in delivering God’s messages…but who knows?  They see to have emotions much like we do – so I suspect that they had thoughts and feelings about the words they were to deliver.)

Frederick Buechner reflected on one such message when he wrote these words: “She struck the angel Gabriel as hardly old enough to have a child at all, let alone this child, but he’d been entrusted with a message to give her, and he gave it. He told her what the child was to be named, and who he was to be, and something about the mystery that was to come upon her. “You mustn’t be afraid, Mary,” he said. And as he said it, he only hoped she wouldn’t notice that beneath the great, golden wings he himself was trembling with fear to think that the whole future of creation hung now on the answer of a girl.”

God has certainly given us humans tremendous opportunity and responsibility, hasn’t He?  To the human girl, Mary, He gave this message.  As a human, I’d wonder if God really knew what He was doing if God had entrusted that message to me to deliver to a virgin teen in Palestine…but Gabriel, I feel certain, understood that God knew perfectly well what He was doing.  Later, Jesus would give an even greater challenge to all His followers when He said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel…baptizing….teaching….”  I wonder, were there angels in heaven that wondered at the wisdom of a plan to reach the entire world with the message of grace and salvation through Jesus by placing that message in the mouth of humans?  Did they wonder if God had some “backup” plan in case we humans failed (as we are so prone to do and as the angels had repeatedly observed on countless occasions)?

God has wrought great things countless times through the weak and unlikely.  He wants to do it with you, too.  And He can, if you will only say “Yes!”

PRAYER: God, when we need hope, let us remember the words of the Alpha and the Omega, who makes EVERYTHING new and stirs hope in our hearts!!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2011 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 12/12/11 – The Far Side of Trust, #9

DayBreaks for 12/12/11 – The Far Side of Despair, Trust #9

From the DayBreaks Archive, dated 11/20/2001:

There is a caution about trust that must be stated in order to be completely fair about the topic.  Sometimes, we can confuse trust with presumption.  Presumption can corrupt trust and it works this way: we become presumptuous when we assign to God the job of doing for us what we should be doing for ourselves.  Brennan Manning gives this illustration of the problem: “One of the wise old birds of the AA fellowship, Father Joe Martin, uses the following illustration: Imagine a man who comes and says… ‘Father Martin, I want to become a great heart surgeon like Dr. Michael DeBakey.  I believe that all power in heaven and on earth belongs to Jesus.  So lay your hands on me and ask Jesus to infuse the knowledge and skill of DeBakey.  Then I’ll start my practice.’  Old Joe blinks in disbelief and says, ‘Son, go to medical school, and after you have finished your residency, specialize in coronary surgery.  Then apply to a hospital, attach yourself to one of the surgical wizards for several years, and maybe in thirty years you will arrive at the premier level.’ 

“Similarly, Father Martin says, picture a guy who comes and says, ‘…I am a hopeless alcoholic.  I’ve been drinking a quart of vodka, a gallon of Chablis, and a case of beer every day for the last twenty years.  I’ve read a lot of the miracle stories in the Bible lately, and I know that Jesus is the master of the impossible.  So pray over me and tell Jesus to set me free from bondage.’  Father Martin responds, ‘I’ve got a better idea.  Go to Alcoholics Anonymous, attend ninety meetings in ninety days, find yourself a sponsor, diligently work the Twelve Steps under his guidance, and read the Big Book every day.  In other words, do the hard work.’”

In short, we expect God to intervene miraculously on our behalf.  “The theological arguments that support an interventionary God are many and varied.  Frequently people report that they have experienced a physical cure or an inner healing.  And yet, as John Shea writes, ‘one brutal historical fact remains – Jesus is mercilessly nailed to the cross and despite the Matthean boast, twelve legions of angels did not save him from that hour.  No cop-out redemption theories that say God wanted it that way explain the lonely and unvisited death of God’s Son.  This side of the grave Jesus is left totally invalidated by the Lord of heaven and earth.  Trust in God does not presume that God will intervene. 

“Often trust begins on the far side of despair.  When all human resources are exhausted, when the craving for reassurances is stifled, when we forego control, when we cease trying to manipulate God and demystify Mystery, then – at our wits’ end – trust happens within us, and the unwanted cry, ‘Abba, into your hands I commend my spirit,’ surges from the heart.”

Trust truly does often begin on the far side of despair when we have reached the end of ourselves (and then some).  Trust doesn’t presume God will intervene (at least not in the ways we may think He should).  God has already done the most important intervention on our behalf.  Anything else will be anticlimactic.  If He’s already done the greatest thing possible for us, why won’t we trust that He’ll take care of the smaller, “easier” things, too?  

PRAYER: Help us to truly trust, and not to presume, upon You!!!!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2011 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 11/22/11 – One Drop Less

DayBreaks for 11/22/11 – One Drop Less

Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ – Matthew 25:37-39

One interesting way to read Scripture and gain new insights is to emphasize different words when we read.  Then, meditate on each word, one at a time, to mine the riches buried in a passage.  I’ve used this technique before, but not in conjunction with the passage above.

I’ve read this story many times, but never using this tool…but what if we stop to think about the seemingly insignificant adverb, “when.”  ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry, or when did we see you thirsty, or when did we see you naked, or when did we see you sick?’  It is interesting that both those in the parable who see, and those who fail to see the needs of those around them ask the same question “When…?”  Also revealing is the fact that those who helped didn’t remember helping, while those who passed by didn’t remember passing by.  The common question that will be asked by both groups on the last day is “When? Lord?”

Mother Theresa once said, “I never look at the masses as my responsibility, I look at the individual. I can love only one person at a time. I can feed only one person at a time. So you begin with one. If I didn’t pick up that one person, I wouldn’t have picked up 42,000. My whole work is only a drop in the ocean. But if I didn’t put the drop in, the ocean would be one drop less.”

It takes a lot of water to fill the ocean.  But it can be filled – one drop at a time.  In this analogy, each act of kindness is a good thing done in love for someone else.  And to the person who receives that drop of water, it is life-giving and life-sustaining.

Find a way today to put a drop into the ocean of need and hurt that surrounds you.  Just as the world is diminished by each act of evil, it is blessed by each act of good.

PRAYER: Jesus, help us be influences of good, not evil this day.  Let us not lose heart because of the size of the task, but let us join in spirit with Your Spirit to help righteousness flourish!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2011 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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