DayBreaks for 3/23/20: Hallway Through the Sea #3 – Chosen in the Furnace

Image result for blazing furnace

DayBreaks for 3/23/20: The Hallway Through the Sea #3 – Chosen in the Furnace

From Christianity Today, 3/20/20:

Today’s pairing is “Rain, in Your Black Eyes” performed by Ezio Bosso, with a haunting underwater dance/film by Julie Gautier. See the video.

“Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.” – Isaiah 48:10 (KJV)

Day 3. 266,115 confirmed cases, 11,153 deaths globally.

Jesus refers to himself as the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He also says his followers should take up their crosses and follow him. The Way is the way to the cross. The Truth is crucified. The Life is a life of suffering.

Suffering is endemic to the human condition but essential to the Christian life. Christ bids us to die to ourselves. He models suffering for others. We do not run toward suffering for its own sake. Suffering is not good in itself. But in Christ, as we love God and love others, we will suffer, and in suffering, we will understand.

Not long after I broke my neck in a gymnastics accident, I sat in the dark of a movie theater and saw the words of Isaiah 48:10 on the screen. My dreams had been stolen. The rest of my life would be rifled through with chronic pain. Yet a sense of gratitude flooded over me. Perhaps there was some sense to the suffering. Perhaps I had been refined in the furnace of affliction and chosen to serve for the glory of God. Perhaps we all are.

We cannot choose whether to suffer. We can only choose what it will mean for us—whether we will let our suffering heal us and deepen us and teach us things about ourselves and about our God that we would never have otherwise known. Kierkegaard called it the school of suffering. We all attend the school, but we must each choose to learn.

To read the rest of this meditation, click this link:  https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/march-web-only/covid-19-devotional-chosen-furnace-coronavirus.html?fbclid=IwAR308XexkDsZ5xgUIacBLEzhKWJ7oDCyVIsOIg0Ls3-7B95I92ih0PXxA7E

PRAYER: In our suffering, Lord, let us not only find grace and beauty, but be grace and beauty to the world!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Link to Christianity Today’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/CTMagazine/

Link to video with facts, symptoms and prevention tips about coronavirus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AITtaAAAdYc

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 2/05/20 – If You Want to Know God

Image result for knowing Jesus

DayBreaks for 2/05/20: If You Want to Know God

Cancer. Pain. Abuse. Injustice. Racism. Brokenness. We all experience some of these painful things. Based on our experiences, we tend to form a picture of what God is like. When we suffer, intellectual answers about the problem of pain don’t help much because at such times we have broken hearts, not broken heads and we need heart medicine, not head medicine.

You see, the mind believes what it has learned but our heart believes only what it has experienced. And if our lives have been wracked with pain our perception of God is often askew.

Most of our ideas and beliefs about God come from a heart, not head, perspective. When we’re suffering, we don’t look at the facts, check the Scripture or do much thinking. Instead, we draw our opinions about God from the things we experience (good and bad) in our lives. But that’s not what we should rely on. Only one source will do at such times.

If you want to know what God is like, the one sure way is to look at Jesus. As Steve Brown put it in A Scandalous Freedom, “If you want to know how God reacts to people, look at how Jesus reacts to people. If you want to know what God thinks, how he acts and who he is, don’t get with a group of people and vote on it. One doesn’t discover divine truth with an election. If you want to know the truth about God, don’t get a book on theology, listen to a preacher, or even read a book like this one. For God’s sake, go to Jesus.”

The young woman was married with three kids and tons of responsibility and burden. It got to be too much for her so she ran as far and fast as she could from her husband and family to another state and another life.

Her husband eventually found her, called and told her he loved her and their children loved her. But she’d heard it before so she hung up.

Not long after, at great expense physically, emotionally and financially, he traveled to her place where she was living in rebellion, pain and loneliness He begged her to come home and she melted in his arms.

Later, when he asked her why, after begging her on the phone she’d not come home, her answer echoes that of every Christian who has ever rebelled at the pain and ran from the source only to come home:

“Before it was only words,” she said. “Then you came!”

Jesus came to join in our human pain as he was fully human even as he was fully God. If you want to know God, get to know Jesus and see and feel his heart for you, even in the middle of your pain.

PRAYER: Jesus, it is hard sometimes in the middle of pain to remember the truth about you and what you are like. When we doubt the goodness of God, let us see it in your words, actions and face. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 1/24/20 – Marks of Clarity

Image result for clarity

DayBreaks for 1/24/20: Marks of Clarity

From the DayBreaks Archive, January 2010:

There are times in my walk with God when things seem very clear.  But then again, there are times when I long for even the slightest inkling of clarity.  At times my relationship with the Lord is so real and palpable that I can’t help but be overwhelmed with the wonder of it all.  But then again, there are times (if I am to be honest with God, you and myself) when it all seems very unreal and like a sham.  And I find myself pondering from time to time: which is real?  Which reflects the real me and my relationship with God?  Am I only fooling myself when I feel so close to Him that I weep? 

William Cowper was a Christian songwriter of years gone by.  He wrote some of the favorite songs of the church, including the hymns O For a Closer Walk with God, God Moves in a Mysterious Way His wonders to Perform, and There Is a Fountain Filled With Blood.  For a period of time, he lived in a house with John Newton, a converted slave-trader and author of Amazing Grace.  It is interesting how little grace Cowper actually experienced.  For long years he feared that he had committed the unpardonable sin and was hounded by false rumors of an illicit affair.  As a result, Cowper suffered a nervous breakdown, tried several times to kill himself, and was kept for some of his life in a straightjacket in an insane asylum for his own protection.  During the last quarter of his life, he avoided church entirely.

He wrote these word: “Where is the blessedness I knew, When first I sought the Lord?  Where is the soul-refreshing dew Of Jesus and His Word?  What peaceful hours I once enjoyed!  How sweet their memory still!  But they have left an aching void The world can never fill.  Return, O Holy Dove, return Sweet messenger of rest!  I hate the sins that made Thee mourn And drove Thee from my breast.”

There are many who might consider Cowper a prime candidate for the title of Christian hypocrite for his struggles, a man who wrote beautifully and convincingly about things he found hard, if not impossible, to put into practice.  I prefer to think of his hymns as being the real marks of clarity in a very troubled life.  He was the one who wrote: “Redeeming love has been my theme, And shall be till I die.”  Perhaps I am naïve, but I see in Cowper’s struggle my own struggles and in his struggling faith, a reflection of my own.

PRAYER: Father, thank You for redeeming love that loves a wretch like me!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 11/14/19 – It Is Here

Image result for persecution

DayBreaks for 11/14/19: It Is Here

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2009:

All this I have told you so that you will not go astray. They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God. They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. I have told you this, so that when the time comes you will remember that I warned you. I did not tell you this at first because I was with you. – John 16:1-4 (NIV)

Jesus often couched his messages and teaching in riddles or parables that were designed to be understood only by those who had open hearts and eyes.  In what is surely a sad commentary on human nature, not even those who were the closest to Him often grasped what He meant.  But in this passage from John 16, Jesus spoke in point blank terms.  There was no mistaking His message to those who followed Him: “…a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God.” 

We have lived in religious freedom in the United States of America for about 235 years.  What a blessing!  I fear that we’ve come to a point in our country where we no longer experience much religious freedom.  Of course, I’m speaking in relative terms – we have far greater religious freedom than in China where churches are forced underground, or in Muslim countries or even in countries where Buddhism or Hinduism are practices.  In such countries, lives are sacrificed – literally – on the altar of obedience to God every day.  We aren’t there yet in the United States.  I hope we never will be – but such hoping on my part may just be wishful thinking for myself and those I love.  It may be best for the kingdom of God if such persecution were to come to this land. 

Seldom does persecution arrive “full blown.”  There are usually steps and phases – the proverbial slippery slope – where small things are first lost.  Then, if no one notices or raises an alarm, the next step is taken…and the next…and the next, until finally one wakes up to find the persecutor knocking on the door.  Think it isn’t happening here?  Consider this excerpt from “Cross and Culture”, an evangelical blog written by my youngest son, Tim: “Bill McGurn has an excellent article on two “Christian Girls, Interrupted.”  The first girl, Amanda Kurowski, was ordered by a judge to attend public school because, essentially, the judge determined that the girl should be exposed to ways of thinking other than those of her religious parents.  Amanda’s parents are divorced; her mother has primary custody, but her father has been concerned about the effect of home-schooling on her “socialization.” 

“The judge determined “that Amanda is generally likeable and well liked, social and interactive with her peers, academically promising, and intellectually at or superior to grade level.”  Yet due to her “rigidity on faith,” the court concludes that Amanda “would be best served by exposure to different points of view at a time in her life when she must begin to critically evaluate multiple systems of belief and behavior and cooperation in order to select, as a young adult, which of those systems will best suit her own needs.”  In other words, the judge determines, essentially, that she must be sent to public school in order to get away from her mother’s narrow religiosity and be exposed to other worldviews.  Pretty extraordinary stuff.  As McGurn writes, “Just how extraordinary [this line of reasoning is] might best be appreciated by contemplating the opposite scenario: the reaction that would ensue were a court to order a young girl out of a public school and into an evangelical one so she might gain “exposure” to other “systems of belief.”

Religious freedom still exists in America – provided you aren’t a vocal Christian of the evangelical stripe.  Are you ready for the knock on the door?  Will your faith stand the test – or has it already been compromised? 

PRAYER: Lord, we pray for renewal and repentance in our country that we might return to You!  We pray that we would love our enemies, regardless of what they might do to us, that Your kingdom may grow.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/05/19 – Job and His Complaint

Image result for courtroom

DayBreaks for 11/05/19: Job and His Complaint

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2009:

If you have been accused (especially wrongly) of something, you want to face your accusers and try to clear your name, don’t you?  This is one of the key rights we have as individuals in America.  It’s not a new idea that came up only when America was founded, it’s been around for years and years.  Witness Job’s complaint from eons past: Job 9:32 – God is not a man like me that I might answer him, that we might confront each other in court.

Job’s friends had accused him of great and terrible sin.  To their way of thinking, there could be no other explanation for why Job was in such a pickle.  In spite of all that they’d known of Job and observed in his life, they now were convinced that he’d been secretly involved in massive deception and sin.  Who wouldn’t want to face such accusers?  But Job realizes that for them to really know the truth, God would have to be called to the witness stand.  They certainly weren’t going to take Job’s word for it – not when they suspected him of being such a sinner to start with.  (How quickly the good opinion others may have of us can deteriorate if they suspect we’re sinning!) 

So it is that Job issues his complaint about God.  If God were a human like Job (or you or me), we might be able to compel Him to come to the court so we could confront him and clear our name.  Sadly, it is a case we would lose but for the blood of Jesus – and Job knew nothing about Jesus or his future sacrifice. 

Let us not miss the irony that is so heavy in Job’s statement: what Job was longing for became reality when Jesus (God) became a man like me and was put in the court dock.  As Mike Mason wrote, “…in Jesus Christ the Almighty God has become ‘a man like me,’ and moreover a man who by standing before Pontius Pilate and the Sanhedrin has confronted every one of us in court – and yet not, as we may have expected, in His rightful capacity as Judge, but rather as the accused, the prisoner in the dock.  Through this reversal of roles He meant to show us that it is mankind who first condemned God, not the other way around, and that only by faith in Jesus can this condemnation be lifted so that we can be set free.

We “condemned” God first in the garden when mankind decided pleasure was to be preferred over obedience and we’ve been “condemning” God ever since through every act of rebellion that suggests other things are to be preferred over His will. 

So, millennia later, Job’s statement about God was resolved by Jesus’ incarnation.  Humanity put Jesus on trial then to determine if He was who He said He was.  Many concluded he was not who He claimed to be.  But others had the vision to recognize, as did the centurion who watched him die, that “Surely this man was the Son of God!” 

Here’s what may be a scary thought: as a believer, Jesus is on display through your life and actions and words.  What do people see and conclude about Him because of you?

PRAYER: Thank you for becoming a “man” like us so that we could see, hear, touch and thank you that you have made it possible for us to ask you questions through prayer!  Thank you that we do not stand in the court with you as our accuser, but as our friend, defender and Judge!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/8/19 – How Much Longer?

Image result for waiting impatiently

DayBreaks for 10/08/19: How Much Longer?

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2009:

My kids are grown and gone, but I can still recall the family trips and the question that never stopped being asked: “Daddy, how much longer until we get there?” How do you explain time and distance to a 3 or 4-year-old? It is an impossible question to answer. The closest we could come to an answer that satisfied them was “It’s about 3 whiles”. (A while was half of a cartoon show – thus 3 whiles would be about 45 minutes!) Just saying, “A little while” didn’t work, so you had to be precise about how many “whiles” would be required!

Our souls long for the answer to that question, too, don’t they? In Revelation 6:10, the martyrs are pictured under the altar in heaven and they ask the same question: How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?  It is part of our human condition that we must wait – and wonder, “How much longer?” How long will I live with this disease? How long must I struggle with this sin? How long until my son/daughter realizes they are heading the wrong way and come back to God?

In addition to trying to answer our kids’ questions about how long something would take, we’d say, “You’ll have a great time when you get there. Trust me.” In his book, When Christ Comes, Max Lucado talks about our spiritual life in the same way and suggests that Jesus gives us the same answer. He can’t tell us how long or why it should take so long for one simple reason: our minds aren’t capable of understanding it any more than my children could understand my explanations of time and distance, so he says simply, “Trust me. You’re going to love it when you get there!”

How long must you struggle with your health, your life, your problems, your grief and pain? I can’t tell you specifically. Job 14:1 says – Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble.  The most honest answer I can give you is this: you’ll struggle with those things “as long as earthly life lasts”. But those six words are powerful because they remind us that this life is earthly, another life is coming, this life will come to an end and we will reach the destination, and when we get there it will have been well worth the wait.

Then, in heaven we may turn to our Father and ask, “How long will this last?” And His answer will be the sweetest music we’ve ever heard: “Forever, my child, forever!”

Prayer: Lord, how we long to be with you and celebrate your greatness with the saints of all ages, to see you and hear your voice!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/01/19 – The Reason for the Wind

Image result for strong wind

DayBreaks for 10/01/19: The Reason for the Wind

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2009:

I think we often misjudge the Israelites.  When they left Egypt in the beginning, they were headed on a route that would take them toward the coast of the Mediterranean.  Imagine their consternation when God told them to turn around, go back the other way and head towards the Red Sea.  Try to put yourself in their place: they knew the Egyptians would be as mad as a nest of hornets, and now, instead of heading away, they’re heading back towards where they came from!  Noah showed great faith, Abraham demonstrated his faith as did all the patriarchs, but this must rank right along with one of the greatest acts of faith of a large body of believers in all history.  The pillars of cloud and fire were leading them into what appeared to be a death-trap where they would be stuck between the Egyptians and the sea.  Yet they marched on.

The book of Exodus records precisely what happened in Exodus 14:21 – a strong east wind began to blow and it blew all night long, drying out the seabed and piling up the waters for the Israelites safe passage. 

Have you ever contemplated what God did and why?  I mean, He is God…all He would have needed to do was just say, “Waters, part!  Ground, be dry!” and it surely would have been so.  But that wasn’t what God did.  Or, he could have said, “Wind – be a super wind and dry the ground instantly and push the waters apart!”  It would have been far more spectacular, wouldn’t it?  Surely, it would have clearly been seen as the hand of God controlling even the forces of nature.

Gerald Schroeder hit it on the head, I believe, with his observation from The Science of God, when he noted “Of course, the natural appearance of the wind was exactly the intent.  Choices had to be made.  For the Israelites, to trust in the Divine or to surrender to the Egyptians?  For the Egyptians, to follow the Israelites onto the seabed or to retreat?  Had the wind been obviously supernatural, the decisions would have been predictable, and free will would have been compromised.”  Note in reading the story that the wind was so obviously NOT supernatural, that the Egyptians did in fact follow Israel onto the seabed, and only when they were trapped in the waters did they acknowledge the miracle: “The Eternal fights for them.” (14:25)

Schroeder then goes on to make sure the point is clear: “The biblical message: not every extraordinary event in nature is labeled ‘miracle, made in heaven.’  Sometimes we must read between the lines to apprehend its full significance.”

Are you looking for miracles that are so clear that you’ll have no doubt – in other words, something so clear that you’ll not have to act in faith?  God didn’t provide that luxury to Israel more often than not, and I doubt He will for us.  Many miracles go undetected because we are looking for such a huge, supernatural happening that when the wind blows we attribute it to nothing more than fluctuations in air pressure. 

May God open our eyes to the miracles that surround us each day…but give us the faith to act when it seems to be nothing out of the ordinary. 

PRAYER: Forgive our desire and insistence of super-visible miracles and our ignorance of normal, everyday miracles that come constantly from Your hand!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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