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?


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 1/11/18 – Everything Counts All the Time

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DayBreaks for 1/11/18: Everything Counts All the Time

From the DayBreaks archives, January 2008:

Life is chock-full of seemingly innocent little moments of decision.  You’ll make so many decisions today and do so many things that really aren’t very important.  For example: you’ll decide which shirt or dress to wear today – and all things being equal, it really doesn’t matter what you choose.  You’ll decide what to eat (although if you have health problems, that can be important!)  You’ll decide which bank teller to go to, which check-out line at the grocery store.  While we may agonize over which pair of sunglasses make us look the most cool, it’s really nothing more than a trivial decision.  Much of life revolves around trivial things.

But, there are things in life that aren’t trivial at all.  Consider this from the California Southern Baptist (3/2/2000):

“Recently, Dieter Zander, the pastor of the first GenX church in America, spoke at an Evangelism Conference about reaching people in the age of relativism.  He cited a Barna study that asked people to use single words to describe Jesus.  They responded, “wise, accepting, compassionate, gracious, humble.”  Then he asked them to use single words to describe Christians, they said, “critical, exclusive, self-righteous, narrow and repressive.”

“There is a difference between knowing the good news and being the good news, Zander said.  “We are the evidence!  Everything counts—all the time.”

“With previous generations, a strong preacher could give a good message, even if the church was hypocritical and critical and people would still get saved,” Zander continued, “but not anymore.  I’m seeing a change in what seekers are looking for.  Not something they can relate to.  They are looking for a transcendent God.  They don’t want to be entertained they want to be transformed.”

I think Zander had it spot on: “There is a difference between knowing the good news and BEING (emphasis mine, GCD) the good news.”  I realize that in a very real sense, we cannot be the good news.  Jesus came from heaven to give us the good news and be the good news for us!  But, how we act, what we say, even how we think – in a way we can be the good news or the bad news.  Why does the world think of Jesus in such high terms but Christians in such negative ways?  Could it be because we are not being the good news?  Because as the world looks at us, they don’t see Jesus in us at all, but our old sinful, carping and complaining natures? 

Every encounter we have with another human being is loaded with implications for eternity.  Yes – every single one.  What you say, how you act, what we do and even how we think about them matters.  GenX is still seeking a transcendent God, but for them, the proof of His existence is transformed followers of God, people in whom the love of Jesus is perfected by their treatment of others.  It is, after all, what Jesus said would be the one sign of true belief and discipleship.

When you have that casual conversation by the water cooler today – realize it isn’t as casual as it appears.  When you greet the clerk at the grocery store, be the good news personified.  When you come in the door at home at the end of your long and trying day, remember that God expects you to be the good news at home, too.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. (Romans 1:16 KJV)

PRAYER: Father, thank You for sending Jesus, the best news the world has ever known.  Help us to not only know him, but to live like him so the good news may be alive and strong within us.  Help us to realize that as Your children and ambassadors in this world, that everything we do makes a difference all the time.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

PRAYER: God, I know my own sin is enough to kill all the fish in the sea, yet you promise me you have washed me clean and that I am your child. Help us all to being to grasp that simple, yet profound, truth. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 12/15/16 – Dead Man Sitting

DayBreaks for 12/15/16: Dead Man Sitting

From the DayBreaks archive, 2006:

“In October 2005, an elderly man passed away while sitting in his parked car in Melbourne, Australia.  He remained that way for several days before his body was found and identified by city officials.

“After the man’s death, however, and two days before the discovery of his body, a police officer gave him a parking ticket and attached it to the windshield of his car.

“The head of the Maroondah City Council later apologized for the incident, saying: ‘It must be just so sad for the family, and we extend our sincere sympathies to them.’  He added, ‘It is simply a case of the parking officer not noticing.’”  – ABCNewsOnline, 10/21/05

I wonder about this old man.  As he sat in his car, did he feel a squeezing in his chest, a shortness of breath?  A pain inside his head?  Did he know he was staring death in the face?  Or did it all happen so fast that he didn’t even have a chance to think or feel anything?  If he’d felt something, might he not have rolled down a window, opened a door, and called for help?  Not knowing the details of the situation, I can imagine and picture all sorts of possibilities and questions.  But I’m sure that the man would have hoped for help to come.

But to spend too much time wondering about the man is pointless.  What I should wonder about is where everyone else was when this man was dying.  Several days passed as he sat there in the car, stone cold, unmoving.  People must have noticed the car sitting there for several days and a person in it.  Didn’t one of them take the time to go see if the man was OK?  Apparently not.  And the officer who even wrote the ticket may have assumed the man was just sleeping and, being polite, didn’t want to wake him.  I just don’t know, and I just don’t understand.

Is it any different each and every day when I look around me at the lives of those who don’t know Jesus?  They may be sitting in the cubicle next to you, walking through your checkout lane at the store, cashing your check at the bank.  They are there – and they are dying. 

I hope that we will not be as careless and un-noticing as the police officer who saw the car, saw the man, wrote the ticket, but never said anything to the man.  If someone, ANYONE, who had seen this old man in the car had come to him early on, he might have lived.  But they didn’t come, and he died. 

One of my greatest fears about the day of judgment is that some lost person that I knew in this life will look at me on that day as they are being led away and say, “Why didn’t you check on me?  Why didn’t you help me?”

Genesis 4:9 – Afterward the LORD asked Cain, “Where is your brother? Where is Abel?”  “I don’t know!” Cain retorted. “Am I supposed to keep track of him wherever he goes?”

The answer is: yes.

PRAYER:  May we have Your passion for the lost.  Give us Your eyes to see their future possibilities, both for glory and for horror.  May we be moved by Your Spirit to keep track of one another at all times and in all places.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 4/07/16 – The Gospel According to You

DayBreaks for 11/07/06: The Gospel According to You

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2006:

There’s a sweet old story translated for man,

But writ in the long, long ago –

The gospel, according to Mark, Luke and John

Of Christ and his mission below.


Men read and admire the Gospel of Christ

With its love so unfailing and true.

But what do they say and what do they think,

Of the Gospel according to you?


‘Tis a wonderful story, that Gospel of love,

As it shines in the Christ life divine,

And O, that its truth might be told again,

In the story of your life and mine.


Unselfishness mirrors in every scene,

Love blossoms on every sod,

And back from its vision the heart comes to tell,

The wonderful goodness of God.


You are writing each day a letter to men,

Take care that the writing is true,

‘Tis the only Gospel that some men will read –

That gospel according to you.  (Author Unknown)

 As I sit in my study and contemplate this poem, I’m forced to consider a very disturbing question.  It brought me face to face with the passage that Paul wrote in Galatians 1:9 – I will say it again: If anyone preaches any other gospel than the one you welcomed, let God’s curse fall upon that person.  What does the “gospel according to you” say?  How well does it resemble the “gospel according to Christ” – the one he lived – day in and day out?  We may have our moments of brilliance when we shine like stars in the universe for the glory of God, but we also have our moments (far too many!) when we’re mired in the pig-pen beside the Prodigal.  

So the question of the day is simply this: if someone were only to observe my life, what conclusions would they reach about Christ?

PRAYER:  Lord, let us be alert to the gospel that our lives are writing and may we be faithful carriers of the story and nature of Christ!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple.  All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 9/07/16 – The Man Who Came Back to Life

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DayBreaks for 9/07/16 – The Man Who Came Back to Life

John 12:9-11 (NLT) – When all the people heard of Jesus’ arrival, they flocked to see him and also to see Lazarus, the man Jesus had raised from the dead. Then the leading priests decided to kill Lazarus, too, for it was because of him that many of the people had deserted them and believed in Jesus.

Lazarus had become a spectacle and a curiosity piece overnight. His instant fame wasn’t because of something he’d done, but because of something that had been done to and for him. In some ways, it’s not that different from the Kardashian’s – I’ve yet to figure out why they are famous – what have they ever done to deserve all that attention?  But I digress…

Even though Lazarus hadn’t done anything to warrant the attention – he got it. After all – how often would someone have a chance to look at a man who was dead (and not just for 30 minutes, but four days!!!) and perhaps even to get to ask him some questions about his experience. I would have had tons of questions!

But there was a problem – he’d caught the attention of not just the masses, but the religious leaders had taken notice, too. I wonder: what because of Lazarus? The leaders succeeded in killing Jesus – did they make good on their plan to kill Lazarus, too?  Perhaps they didn’t kill him because once Jesus rose and the rulers were in a tizzy because of it, they may have forgotten about Lazarus. Perhaps they thought if they killed him and he rose, too, that it would only make matters worse so they decided to leave him alone.  Or, perhaps Mary, Martha and Lazarus moved to some obscure location and lived out the rest of a normal life. What we do know is they wanted to kill because he was a powerful part of the Jesus story and a walking witness – without even speaking a word! 

All those things don’t really matter – but what does matter is that those who are friends of Jesus are at risk if they lead/help others to believe in Jesus. Lazarus did. His life was a testimony to the reality of the power of Jesus as the Son of God.

All over the world there are brothers and sisters who are part of the Jesus story, too, who are risking their lives every day just because they are living testimonies of the reality of who Jesus is. Are you praying for them daily? Am I?

And what does my being alive say, if anything, about Jesus? Will anyone ever want to kill me because of the testimony of my life?

PRAYER: God, I confess that my first instinct is to count the cost of what something I might do for someone else means to me and my wishes and my goals and my “place”! Help me to know when it is right to count the cost and when it is right to simply say, “Here I am, Lord, send me!” In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.


DayBreaks for 5/03/16 – We Have to Go Out

DayBreaks for 5/03/16 – We Have to Go Out

From the DayBreaks archives, May 2006:

A horrible storm was battering the coastline of Oregon.  The rain was falling sideways, the winds were shrieking and the oceans were angry, punishing the shore with every breaker.  Everything was battened down to ride out the storm when the distress call came in to the Coast Guard.  A ship was in trouble – foundering under the onslaught of wind and wave.  

The call stirred up controversy among those at the Coast Guard center.  The decision: send out a cutter to attempt a rescue.  One young Guardsman, concerned about with wisdom of going out to attempt a rescue in such terrible conditions, approached the ship’s commander before they boarded and suggested that it was crazy to go out in such weather – it was just too dangerous.  He suggested the very real possibility that they might not make it back.  

The commander, a veteran of years in the Coast Guard, turned and looked at the young guardsman and said, “We don’t have to come back, but we do have to go out.”

That attitude is sterling, and it is the attitude that we, as believers, should have for the cause and the glory of the cross.  We may not want to, we may feel that it’s too “stormy” outside – but Jesus didn’t ask his disciples to “Wait for excellent conditions before going out to be fishers of men.”  No, he didn’t even hint at that.  In fact, if anything, he tells us over and over again not to be concerned about our earthly lives – they’re nothing more than a mist, a flower that blooms and then is gone, but eternity has much greater significance and meaning and eternal destinies are the things that should occupy our attention – not earthly happenings.

The martyrs are the joyful band of those who “went out” but didn’t come back.  Yet when we see them at the end of time, they are surrounding the very throne of God because they “loved not their lives even to the point of death.”

How long has it been since you’ve “gone out” to rescue someone?

PRAYER:  Lord, give us courage.  Quell our fears of what mankind can do to us.  Fuel the fires of our heart to rescue the perishing and to have the courage to go out, even if we don’t come back.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 4/7/16 – Take it and Play It

DayBreaks for 4/07/16 – Take It and Play It

You may not know the name, but Fritz Kreisler was one of the world’s greatest violinists. His first violin was made from a board, strings and a cigar box. When he was four, he was given a child’s violin and he proceeded to stun those around him by playing the Austrian national anthem in perfect pitch and rhythm. His talent was a God-given gift – he rarely practiced after the age of twelve.

Kreisler was, by all accounts, a very generous man, and though he made a very good living, he gave a lot of money away to worthy causes, leaving himself with a much less comfortable living than he could have had.

Being a maestro on the violin, he knew a good instrument when he saw one. One day he was with a dealer of fine instruments when he was shown a truly extraordinary violin that Kreisler desperately wanted. Not having the funds with him, he went home and in some period of time managed to put together the funds necessary to buy the instrument.

He hurried back to the dealer with great anticipation and excitement, but when he arrived, he was dismayed to learn the violin had already been sold to a collector. Not willing to let the violin go, Kreisler got the name of the collector from the dealer and went to visit him in an attempt to convince him to sell Kreisler the instrument.

Much to his dismay, the collector refused, saying it was the prize possession of his collection. After multiple attempts to talk the collector into selling, Kreisler saw the resolve in the man and said that if the man wouldn’t sell the violin, would he be willing to let Kreisler play it once before he left. The collector agreed and Kreisler took the violin and began to play.

The music that flowed from the instrument and the musician was unlike anything the collector had ever heard before, and deeply touched, he said to Kreisler, “I have no right to keep it to myself – you take it and play it for the world.”

Do you see how this relates to our life as believers? Jesus has something that is precious to him…so precious that he died for it…and he has put it in our hands and said, “You have no right to keep this to yourself.  Go, give it to the world.” What is it that he has given us? It is the most beautiful music the world will ever hear – it is the love song of the Creator who became flesh, died for us and rose for us – so that anyone who believes can have eternal life.

It is a love song too good and too beautiful to keep to ourselves. Will we play the love song for the world?

TODAY’S PRAYER: Jesus, let us carry the love song you died to write to the world! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.