DayBreaks for 1/04/19 – The Passing of the Shadow

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DayBreaks for 01/04/2019: The Passing of the Shadow

From the DayBreaks Archive, 01/05/09 (modified):

Whew.  The holidays are now over.  It is a bittersweet feeling, isn’t it?  On the one hand, I love the excitement and joy of the holidays, and the chance to share that with family, loved ones and friends.  I love the Christmas carols and was surprised to find some of them playing in the malls this year. I love the bright lights and colors, and yes, the nuts and chews of Christmas from See’s Candies!

But it isn’t long and the holidays that have been so long awaited are over and done with.  The family has returned to their own homes and gone back to work, the Christmas decorations have been pulled down and boxed away for another year, the candy is gone (thank goodness!) and the Christmas carols and tree have been tucked away for 11 months.  And – I’m tired. 

As I was reflecting on this one day, I was watching our old dog, Rainie.  She’s 12 years old now and she’s clearly winding down.  She walks with a strange, stiff gait because of some arthritis in her hips, and if you look into her eyes, they are not dark and clear – they are milky and a bit subdued.  She is afraid, or in a bit too much discomfort, to hop up on the bed as easily as she used to.  Now, at night, when she comes back into the house, she will whimper and whine before even attempting her leap of faith up to the top of the mattress.  And she huffs and puffs a lot more than when she was younger.  It saddens me to see this happening before my very eyes and to be powerless in the face of the inexorable march of time.  And then I realize, I am on the same march, head down as I trudge the pathway before me.

The passing of the holidays and the winding down of life have parallels that can teach us.  We start out exuberant, full of excitement and energy.  We hurry here and there because the world is so big and there is so much to see and do and we don’t want to miss a moment of it.  But then, as with Christmas, the holiday is over before you are even fully aware that it has begun.  Old friends and family are no longer around.  We find ourselves more fearful of running around too far from home, and we also whimper and whine as we rise or recline on our bed.  Not to mention the eyesight. 

This is the way of all flesh.  This is what makes our God and His promises so precious – He does not grow old, tired, and weary.  He doesn’t get cataracts.  His bones don’t ache and generate the whimpers that accompany old age.  And He promises us that the day will come when we will be like Him in that regard.  We try to imagine a life without any sort of pains or sadness and we cannot grasp even the tiniest crumb of that reality.  But we do long for it.  The life we so longed to live when we were younger has been spent somehow, somewhere – like a shadow passing in the night, soundlessly and quickly, not even leaving footprints behind.  Hold on to the fact that the shadow is passing, but it isn’t passing from daylight to darkness, but instead the shadow is passing to daylight, from earth to heaven, from mortality to immortality, from death to life.  And there shall be no more weeping.

PRAYER:  Lord, life often feels like both a blessing and a burden.  Thank you for the promise that you will make our joys even greater than anything we have experienced in this lifetime, and that you will remove our sorrows eternally.  Thank you, that Jesus “is the life!”  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 11/16/18 – Stay In School

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DayBreaks for 11/16/18: Stay in School

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2008:

In New York’s East Harlem is a dilapidated old school for inner-city kids.  The buildings are in horrible shape – it looks like it could fall down at any time, and for the most part, the morale had fallen to even lower levels of repair than the buildings.  This is one of those schools that statistics paints with a dark and dismal picture for the students who attend there.  Within 3 years, most of the 6th graders there would have dropped out of school and become gang-bangers, or would be actively engaged in selling drugs or selling their bodies as prostitutes.  A great many would wind up in prison.  If history were to hold true to the pattern, most of these kids didn’t stand a chance.

But one day, a millionaire by the name of Eugene Lang was asked to speak at the school.  He accepted the invitation, and as he stood before the audience of 6th graders, he knew the grim tale of the statistics.  He’d begun his talk, but suddenly stopped.  He put down his notes on the podium and looked out at his audience, his heart filled with compassion.

With his voice and heart breaking, he said, “Stay in school.  Stay in school, and I will pay the college tuition for every one of you.”

The result: over 90% of the 6th graders present that day wound up graduating from high school and went on to college.  One young boy who was present that day described that transformational power this way: “I had something to look forward to, something waiting for me.  It was a golden feeling.”

Would it have been easier for the kids to drop out?  Sure.  But would it have been better?  Of course not.  Peter, Paul, Jesus, the Holy Spirit – all encourage us to stay in Christ’s school throughout our life.  There is something waiting for us far better than a college education or a career in law or medicine or business.  There is LIFE that awaits us – a glorious life far beyond anything we can conceive of.  We just need to stay in school.  Jesus has paid our tuition to heaven.  The debt has already been covered.  Will we accept it?

Prayer: Father, for Jesus and His payment on our behalf, we praise You.  For hope that keeps us afloat, we thank You.  For the promise of a better life, we exalt You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/12/18 – The Fallacy of Powdered Christians

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DayBreaks for 9/12/18: The Fallacy of Powdered Christians

You might remember comedian Yakov Smirnoff. When he first came to the United States from Russia he was not prepared for the incredible variety of instant products available in American grocery stores. He says, “On my first shopping trip, I saw powdered milk–you just add water, and you get milk. Then I saw powdered orange juice–you just add water, and you get orange juice. And then I saw baby powder, and I thought to myself, “What a country!”

Smirnoff is joking but we make these assumptions about Christian Transformation-that people change instantly at salvation. Some traditions call it repentance and renewal. Some call it Sanctification of the believer. Whatever you call it most traditions expect some quick fix to sin. According to this belief, when someone gives his or her life to Christ, there is an immediate, substantive, in-depth, miraculous change in habits, attitudes, and character. We go to church as if we are going to the grocery store: Powdered Christian. Just add water and disciples are born not made.

Unfortunately, there is no such powder and disciples of Jesus Christ are not instantly born. They are slowly raised through many trials, suffering, and temptations. One might wonder if it is worth the struggle, but that won’t be a question we even contemplate once we step out of this world into the next.

PRAYER: Jesus, let us be patient with you and with ourselves in the transformation. Keep us from despair and discouragement on the journey home! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 3/19/18 – Fit to Stand in White Robes

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DayBreaks for 3/19/18: Fit to Stand in White Robes

From the DayBreaks archive, 2008:

Power.  How we are fascinated, yet sometimes revolted by it.  We are a species fascinated by power.  We woke up this morning in a world infatuated with it, and yet also a world where many are terrified of it.  Power will be exercised today in your home, in your school, on the playground, in courts, businesses, hospitals, in the halls of political power.  Some will use their power this day to abuse and mistreat other human beings – lording their power over them in the cruelest ways possible.  Others will use their power to feed hungry bodies, comfort broken souls and hearts, to dig wells to quench thirst.

To the human eye, it appears that evil is winning.  Good seems to be on the scaffold, while evil sits enthroned in the hearts of men and spiritual beings throughout the universe.  Our very own experiences reveal the persistence of the power of evil.  One must question (especially at times when we are suffering from the slings and arrows of evil) what will rule the day.

In the first century, if a boxing announcer had been present during the trial of Jesus, he might have said something like this: “In this corner, the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, the undefeated, invincible, indomitable Roman Empire!  And in the other corner, a Galilean carpenter in his first professional fight, Jesus of Nazareth.”  It appeared to all present to be no contest.  No one was betting on Jesus.  Rome and their mighty army looked to be a sure winner.  Even Satan, hidden from view, appeared to heavenly forces to be on the edge of yet another victory over righteousness and holiness.  But things aren’t always what they appear to be…

There is wonderful power in the Cross of Christ. It has power to wake the dullest conscience and melt the hardest heart, to cleanse the unclean, to reconcile him who is afar off and restore him to fellowship with God, to redeem the prisoner from his bondage and lift the pauper from the dunghill, to break down the barriers which divide [people] from one another, to transform our wayward characters into the image of Christ and finally make us fit to stand in white robes before the throne of God.” John Stott, The Preacher’s Portrait 

There is a power far beyond anything this world has understood or seen.  That power was unleashed at the cross.  It is a power that can change blackened hearts, not just dark actions.  It is a power that can dump guilt and shame into the depths of the sea, never to surface again.  It is the power that can make people like us – sinners all on a great magnitude of scale – “fit to stand in white robes before the throne of God.”  Believest thou this?

PRAYER: We fall before your cross in wonder that such love exists.  May we never deny the power of the cross.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 1/10/18 – God Help the Fish

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Image courtesy from iStock photo.

DayBreaks for 1/10/18: God Help the Fish

When you think of it, we all like fairy tale stories in one form or another. We like stories of frogs becoming princes, of ugly ducklings that become beautiful swans and the down-and-out who rise above adversity yet remain kind, compassionate and humble.

Sam Houston was the first president of the Republic of Texas. It’s said he was a rather nasty fellow with a checkered past.  Later in life Houston made a commitment to Christ and was baptized in a river. The preacher said to him, “Sam, your sins are washed away.”  Houston replied, “God help the fish.”

We see similar stories throughout the Bible as ordinary people, often very poor and outcast, who come to a special relationship with God or Jesus. The woman at the well, the woman taken in adultery, Saul of Tarsus, Zacchaeus and others are all examples. We are uplifted by their stories.

Yet, each and every believer in Jesus is like the pauper who becomes a prince or princess. We have to go through a process much like Sam Houston did – of being convicted of our estate (it must become clear to see!) – before God dresses us in the finest of robes, puts shoes on us, gives us his ring and reinstates us to a place in His own house.

How do you see yourself? You may not feel like the prince or princess just yet, but once your sins have been washed away, you are no longer what you previously were. You are a child of the King and you are growing to look more and more like him with each passing day, week, month and year. The day will come when you will stand beside him in glory, look in the mirror and see both his and your reflection, and will be amazed at how alike you are!

Hang tough! Persevere! Trust Him! He will finish the work he has started!

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 11/20/17 – In Due Time

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DayBreaks for 11/20/17: In Due Time

NOTE: Galen is traveling…again.

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

“Somewhere over the rainbow, bluebirds fly, somewhere over the rainbow, why then, oh why, can’t I?”  Every heart carries dreams and hopes and ambitions.  I’ve always wanted to be able to fly (without being in an airplane.)  I know other people who have dreamed of sailing the south Pacific or climbing some of the earth’s tallest mountains.  Others dream of being a police officer, astronaut, explorer, singer, dancer or actor.  Hopes and dreams are an essential part of life. 

In Discipleship Journal, Carole Mayhall tells of a woman who went to a diet center to lose weight.  The director took her to a full-length mirror.  On it he outlined a figure and told her, “This is what I want you to be like at the end of the program.”  Days of intense dieting and exercise followed, and every week the woman would stand in front of the mirror, discouraged because her bulging outline didn’t fit the director’s ideal.  But she kept at it, and finally one day she conformed to the longed-for image.  – Daily Bread, August 8, 1990

For a long time, as a child, I wanted to be either a brain surgeon or astronaut.  When I started off to college, I was torn between pursuing a career in medicine or in ministry.  For over 25 years, I did neither, although I took classes that could have led in both directions.  The thrill of holding someone’s physical life in my hands during surgery was intoxicating.  The adventure and wonder of flying through space to the moon caught my imagination. 

What we dream of and long for help to shape what we actually become.  That’s partly why Scripture says “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”  (Phil. 4:8)  We’re also told that we are what we think about in our hearts.  We’re told what our vision should be: to lock our eyes on to Christ and to become like him.  Pretty heady stuff, when you think about that one!

The absence of dreams (a vision and focus for life) can be equally serious: we can wind up just drifting along and one day we bump into shore and we are something that we never wanted to be, stuck somewhere in a place we never wanted to be.  God wants more for us, for you, than that. 

I have been out of high school now for a staggering 47 years (as of 2017).  Even if I’d pursued a career in medicine, I would have been out of college for 35 years or so.  Are there days when I still wish that I was a neurosurgeon or astronaut?  Yeah, there are.  But they’re a lot less frequent now.  Here’s what I want to be when I grow up: I want to be Christ-like.  It is hard to imagine that such a thing is possible, but Peter says it is in 2 Peter 1.  2 Corinthians 3:18 (NIV) says: And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Like the woman in front of the mirror who saw the shape of what she wanted to be gradually became the shape she actually was, let us all fix our eyes on the perfect Image, the exact Image, of God.  And in due time, if we don’t grow weary, we will take on that Image to His everlasting glory.

PRAYER:  Jesus, it’s hard to believe that we could come to look like You.  Help us to keep looking at You and to You, our perfect example.  May we regain what we were meant to be that we have lost through sin.  Help us to be patient with ourselves, even as You patiently shape us.   In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 6/13/17 – The Amazing Extent of Dirt

DayBreaks for 6/13/17: The Amazing Extent of Dirt

From the DayBreaks archive, 2007:

I don’t know about where you live, but unless you live in one of those “bubbles” or a clean-room environment in a medical or scientific lab, well, there’s just dirt everywhere.  I remember when the first floppy drives came out…they were very large (much larger than the 3-1/4” ones later on) and didn’t hold much data.  The company I was working for was quick to add them to our products for backup purposes (this was before CD’s, etc.), and we struggled with them because even a tiny speck of dust could cause the disk drive heads to crash and ruin data.  The introduction of Winchester disk technology was a real boon to the computer industry, because they used sealed disks that dirt couldn’t get into.

How I wish that my mind was of Winchester technology!  It seems that the “dirt” (not the material kind, but the sinful kind) gets into my mind way too easily.  And, just like the dirt in your kitchen, it’s hard to get out. 

In his book, Hearing God, Dallas Willard contemplates this problem and how the dirt of the world that gets into our mind can hinder our hearing of God.  What, for example, is your first reaction when you hear a siren passing by?  When you have car trouble, how long does it take before you take the matter to God?  Does our mind spontaneously return to God and His things when it’s not intensely occupied with things of work or school?  After all, the needle of a compass returns to true north…and if God is our “true north”, our minds should turn to Him, too.  Our answers to those kind of questions could be an indicator to us of how our mind is so firmly entrenched in false ways.

He notes that we’re still so very much like the world of Isaiah’s days (55:9-10): We wait for light, and lo! There is darkness; and for brightness, but we walk in gloom.  We grope like the blind along a wall, groping like those who have no eyes; we stumble at noon as in the twilight, among the vigorous as though we were dead.

Why is this the case?  Willard suggests: “This is all because our minds – perhaps our very brains – need to have the false thoughts and habits washed out of them.  They so badly need to be washed that we rarely understand what life would be like if they were cleansed, and many of us do not even sense the need for cleansing.”

Remember when your mom talked about washing your mouth out with soap?  Maybe it’s time that we pray fervently that our Father will wash our minds out with the Spirit!

Romans 12:2 (NIV) – Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 8:5-6 (NLT) – Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit.  If your sinful nature controls your mind, there is death. But if the Holy Spirit controls your mind, there is life and peace.

PRAYER: Father, thank You for the washing that leads us to cleansing.  We ask you today to wash our minds, for we give you permission to make them over in whatever way you see fit.  Take the dirt out that so easily contaminates us.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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