DayBreaks for 6/28/18: I Could Have Been Free

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DayBreaks for 6/28/18: I Could Have Been Free

From the DayBreaks Archive, June 2008:

Dr. Ramesh Richard was the final speaker at Promise Keepers in Fresno.  He talked about living a Godly legacy, and he told a story about a man in Alabama who was imprisoned for a crime and given a life sentence.  The man had been wrongly convicted but was in jail serving time.  Over the course of the years while he was in prison, he tried three times to escape but was recaptured each time.  Finally, after many years had passed, the original conviction was overturned.  However, in Alabama, there is a law that says that if you are serving a life sentence and have tried 3 times to escape, that you are automatically sentenced to another life sentence.  As the man said after learning about this law: “I could have been free if I hadn’t run.” 

When a prisoner attempts an escape and goes on the run, they don’t usually end up finding the one-armed man that was guilty of the crime (remember The Fugitive?).  They usually end up getting caught and more time is added because of the escape attempt.  As attractive as running may seem, it is costly.  In the case of the Alabama man, it may cost him the rest of the years of his life.

Think about that in a spiritual light for just a moment.  What usually happens to men and women when they have committed some sin?  Do they typically come running to God or do they run from Him?  There is a part of us, like Adam and Eve demonstrated in the garden, that runs from God when we have done something wrong.  And you know what?  That is exactly the WRONG way to run.  Instead of running from God, we should run to him and take the discipline He has to give us.  Instead of running and trying to pretend that nothing is wrong, we need to be in His Presence, heads bowed and seek His forgiveness.  Then we can be free, but not until. 

Perhaps you’ve been running from God.  Moses tried to run from God with his excuses about why he wasn’t the man God wanted.  Jonah tried to run from God and found that he couldn’t find freedom in that direction.  Perhaps you are running from His calling for your life.  You’ll never find freedom as long as you are running.  Perhaps you are running because of sin that you don’t want to face up to because you’re afraid the discipline will be more than you can bear.  It won’t be.  God disciplines, yes, but He loves you and will not break you (Isa. 42:3): A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice…  Perhaps you are running from making a commitment to the Lord and giving Him your life.  What a tragedy it will be when someday you stand before His throne and say to yourself, “I could have been free if I hadn’t run.”

PRAYER:  Let us run to You, Lord, and cast ourselves on Your great mercy!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 6/27/18 – Buying an Occupied Field from Prison

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DayBreaks for 6/27/18: Buying an Occupied Field from Prison

From the DayBreaks Archive, June 2008:

The year was 586 B.C. and Jerusalem was being threatened with obliteration.  Eleven years earlier, the Babylonians had sacked the city and led the cream of the crop of the residents away into captivity across 700 miles of scorching desert.  In the intervening years, those left behind in Jerusalem grew restive, then began to plot how they might be able to throw off the yoke of Babylonian rule.  The people believed that if they could only get Egypt to fight with them, then they’d be freed…at least from Babylon.  So, Egypt agreed to help. 

When the Babylonians heard of the plot, they were very angry, and their army again marched against the city.  Egypt turned tail and ran, realizing they would be defeated and had nothing to gain in the looming fight.  Israel stood alone against the full fury of Babylon. 

Jeremiah, the prophet of God, was in prison.  He had been falsely accused of conspiring with the Babylonians and the people of Jerusalem were tired of hearing his preaching about their need of repentance.  One day, while imprisoned, Jeremiah’s cousin, Hanamel, showed up and asked Jeremiah if he’d buy Hanamel’s field that just so happened to be located in Jeremiah’s home town of Anathoth.  Jeremiah didn’t waste one minute – but counted out 17 shekels, had a deed drawn up and set aside for safe keeping.  Oh, and there’s one more thing you should know about this strange deal: at the time, the army of Babylon was camped on the very property that Hanamel was trying selling to his cousin, Jeremiah.  Jeremiah knew that, but bought the land anyway.

As far as we know, Jeremiah never set foot on the land he’d bought, never built upon it, neither planted nor harvested any crop from that land.  Jeremiah, when he bought it, had no idea if he’d ever be a free man again.  So, what possessed him to buy this piece of property?  God told him to, and that was all Jeremiah needed.  Jeremiah knew and understood something that everyone else seemed to have forgotten: God is as good as His word.  And God had said that the Jews would one day buy fields and build houses and raise crops, that those who were exiled would return.  Jeremiah believed those words, and he acted on the hope that beat in his heart.

Why?  Jeremiah, unlike the rest of the people in Jerusalem, had hope.  He wasn’t filled with wishful thinking.  One key difference is that hope results in action while wishful thinking is just that: sitting and thinking.  Jeremiah wanted to participate in the plan of God for His people and by buying the field, he gave wings to his hope – and gave hope to many others who witnessed this strange man acting in a strange way, as if saying, “I know the Babylonians are on the land, I know I’m imprisoned by my own people and I don’t know if I’ll ever be set free, but I know God and I want to be part of His unfolding plan for His people.”

Hope acts.  Hope is infectious.  Hope won’t let us sit still when we see God at work.  How’s your hope?

PRAYER:  God our Father, in a dark age fill our hearts with hope like Jeremiah’s and let us realize that You are at work here, that though the enemy may be camped against Your church, that Your plan will not be defeated for the world, for the church, or for us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/25/18 – The Nature of Reality

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DayBreaks for 6/25/18: The Nature of Reality

From the DayBreaks Archive, June 2008:

What is faith?  The fundamental aspect of faith (biblical or otherwise) is the confidence that we hold either in a thing (such as the brakes on our car to be able to stop the car), faith in a person (I believe that my friend is as good as his word), or faith in the truth of a statement (the sun came up today).  We live our lives everyday through placing our faith in things, people or the truth of a statement.   We believe the food we eat is not tainted nor poisoned, that the water we drink is not going to harm us, that a husband or wife will be there for us when we need them, that the laws of physics that control the motion of the heavenly bodies, the braking of our cars and the rules of thermodynamics will be as true today as they’ve been shown to be in the past. 

What does that mean in everyday life?  It is evidence that we believe faith is as good as the object (thing, person or proposition) that faith holds.  We don’t think twice wondering if the engineers who designed our cars made powerful enough braking systems.  Astronauts on the shuttle don’t wonder if there’s enough fuel in the tanks to get them into orbit. 

But, somehow, when it comes to God, we’re told that there is no such Reality.  If you can’t see it, touch it, taste it, smell it or hear it with one of the 5 senses, then you cannot know if it is real – therefore, it must be rejected.  Really?  Have you ever tasted guilt?  Heard anguish (not the manifestation of it, but anguish itself?)  When is the last time you saw love walk past on the sidewalk?  Have you seen gravity itself?  We have no problem believing such things exist, even though we can’t test them or touch them. 

When it comes to spiritual things, people have bought lock, stock and barrel into the ungodly idea that knowledge about anything beyond the physical world is impossible – therefore, it is mythological at best.  Do some myths come true?  Perhaps, from time, to time.  But knowledge about the unseen is mere speculation.  So, to placate those who hold beliefs in the Supernatural, they would tell us that what is important is for people who are inclined to believe in such things, it is the fervency of their belief that is more important that the object of their belief. 

John, the apostle, didn’t seem to agree, nor did Paul, Peter or any of the other men and women of faith who believed in a reality that was Unseen.  As J.P. Moreland put it in The Kingdom Triangle: “Reality is basically indifferent to how sincerely we believe something….As far as reality is concerned, what matters is not whether I like a belief of how sincere I am in believing it, but whether or not the belief is true.”  I could sincerely hope a gondola cable will hold me, but how fervently I hold that belief doesn’t make the cable one bit stronger.  What matters it the strength of the cable, not the strength of my belief in it.  I may never get on the gondola if I don’t belief it is strong enough to hold us up, but my belief matters not one whit one way or the other to the cable.

God is Reality.  He is the GREAT Reality…whether I choose to believe it or not.  Jesus doesn’t need by belief so that he’ll become strong enough to save me.  He’s already strong enough.  My faith should be in Him – He is to be the object of my faith.  That’s the bottom line on Reality.

PRAYER: Almighty God, You Who made a world of reality and who lives in a universe of reality, open our eyes to see that You are the One Reality with which we must all ultimately deal, and by which we will all ultimately be confronted.  Don’t let us be deceived, nor let our friends and family be fooled into thinking that what matters is whether we really believe in something.  Let us believe it You, for You are true.  You are the only reality that can save us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/19/18 – The Trust Fall

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DayBreaks for 6/19/18: The Trust Fall

There are moments when people take my breath away with something they say or do. I experienced one of those moments just yesterday and thought I’d share a bit of it with you.

I have subscribed for some time to the Twitter account of Taya Kyle. If that name isn’t familiar to you, she was the wife of Chris Kyle, the Navy Seal, author and the subject of the movie, American Sniper. If you don’t know the story, he survived several tours of duty as a Seal sniper in the middle east. When he finally left the Seal team behind forever, he came back to his home state of Texas and his family and began to get involved in helping other veterans who were struggling with ghosts of what they had witnessed – and perhaps what they had done.

One afternoon he was meeting at a gun range with one such veteran who took one of the guns and shot Chris, killing him, leaving Taya behind with their little children. To say Taya has had a difficult, heartbreaking time is an understatement.

Yet, this is what she wrote on Facebook both in memory of her husband on Father’s Day, but also to draw our hearts closer to the greatest Father of all and to make us ponder our relationship with Him:

I remember when our kids asked what a trust fall was. Chris lifted them on the high counter in our kitchen and told them not to look back but trust he would catch them as they fell backward. They were terrified and couldn’t/wouldn’t do it. I don’t blame them, it would have been terrifying for anyone. The more they didn’t trust, the more frustrated Chris got. Had he not shown them at every turn how much they could trust him? Did they not know how much he loved them?

I wonder if this is not how God feels when we, His children, do not trust Him. Do we not know the world may hurt us but He will not? Do we not see how many times and how many ways He has loved us and been there for us? Do we not know how the world may hurt us and actions have consequences but His love is solid and true and He will always want what is best for us?

Here’s what took my breath away and made me ponder my own level of trust: DO WE NOT KNOW THE WORLD MAY HURT US BUT HE WILL NOT? What a profound question! I believe that, I truly do, but if God asked me to show my trust, how would my trust fare? How would yours?

PRAYER: God, forgive my lack of trust. I know better, but I am weak and fearful when I should be strong and unafraid. Help me! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/16/18 – Can’t You See?

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DayBreaks for 4/16/18: Can’t You See?       

From the Perimeter worship bulletin (this forms an introduction to a series of sermons and DayBreaks from the book of Habakkuk that I’ll share in the coming weeks):

“Can’t you see, oh can’t you see, what that woman, she been doing’ to me? Can’t you see, can’t you see, what that woman, Lord, been doing’ to me?” – lyric from the Marshall Tucker band

It was a question the Marshall Tucker band asked in the 1970’s. Waylon Jennings asked the same question. More recently, the Zac Brown band asked it. The writer is upset because his woman left him, and did not say goodbye. He is at the point of despair. He is “…gonna take a freight train, or find a hole to craw in” because he has no relief. He is asking why the Lord can’t see his misery, or that he’s been “done wrong.”

Have you ever felt that way or asked the question, “Can’t you see, God?” I have asked the Lord that on numerous occasions. It seems funny as I write it, that I would actually ask the omniscient God if he can see. The gentle but firm reality is that he can see. I am the one who cannot see. He may not be telling me what he does see. Be assured that he sees. Sometimes in our frustration at life’s situations, we want to be all knowing and all seeing. Something has not been granted to us, and so we ask, “Can’t you see?” Underneath that question we add a corollary, “Won’t you deal with what I see?”

There is a problem with doing that. Because we don’t fully see, we may not know how to tell him the right thing to do. A word picture may help. Sit with your back to a window, then try to recall everything that is outside the window. You may be a few things correct, but birds are flying, leaves are falling, and the sun is rising. Things change and often they are in your blind spot, where you cannot notice them. God sees all, all of the time. One pastor put it this way, “We may have a point of view, but God has view!”

So, this week…we wonder if you can praise the Lord for having view, resting in the fact that he has it, he sees it, and he knows just want needs to be done. Yes, he knows “what that woman (or man) been doin’ to you”, so there is no need to take a freight train!

PRAYER: God, sometimes we think we see and understand better than you do. Keep us from this foolish way of thinking and help us learn to trust you and your vision above our own! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 3/13/18 – The Diagnosis

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DayBreaks for 3/13/18: The Diagnosis

From the DayBreaks archive, 2008:

HAVERFORDWEST, England – A boy from Haverfordwest, England, can hear on one side for the first time in nine years after a cotton wool bud suddenly popped out of his ear. Jerome Bartens, 11, was diagnosed deaf in his right ear when he was two, causing him to struggle in school and strain to hear the TV and friends, Britain’s Daily Mail reported.  But when playing pool with his friends in a church hall Jerome felt a sudden pop. And out of his right ear came the tip of a cotton wool bud that had been wedged in for almost 10 years. “It was just incredible — his hearing returned to normal in an instant. He was cured as suddenly as he became deaf. I had always suspected Jerome had stuck something in his ear when he was little and that was causing the problem. But the doctors and hearing specialists said it was wax and he would probably grow out of it,” said Jerome’s father, Carsten Bartens. “I am amazed they didn’t spot something as obvious as a cotton wool bud.”  

Every now and then a story like this comes along and we are both fascinated and puzzled at the same time.  I’m very happy for this young boy!  It is one of those “feel good” stories that you hear about.  But I’m also puzzled that the boy could have had this problem for so long and all the specialists and doctors he’d been to had never discovered the problem. 

There are, as usual, lessons to be learned:

FIRST: don’t put your trust too much in the “learned and wise” in this world.  They are still just humans, fallible as can be.  They can be very persuasive, because we give them the benefit of the doubt because of their “knowledge”…and quite frankly, knowledge seems to equate to power in today’s world.  It always has been that way, I guess.  But our knowledge is limited.  We may pretend to know more than we really do so that we have more power, but that’s a dangerous game to play.

SECOND: there are lots of things that can cause deafness – and that’s true spiritually as well.  The Word is replete with comments on how we don’t hear God (usually meaning that we don’t seek to understand what He’s saying and then refusing to obey it if we do).  Biblically, hearing usually implies action as well.  A loud noise, a Q-tip, ear wax, various diseases – all can cause physical deafness.  There are many causes of spiritual deafness, too: pride, willful rebellion, illicit pleasures and passions that we don’t want to have to give up, anger, lack of a forgiving spirit – the list is almost as long as Psalm 119! 

Having the right diagnosis is important.  When it comes to your life and how you should live it, whose diagnosis are you putting your faith in?  A self-help book (even one bought at a Christian bookstore?)  The words of a friend?  The words of a pastor/minister/priest?  If you do, let me suggest you’re putting your diagnosis and treatment plan in the wrong place.  Put it in the revealed Word of God and His Spirit.  If the diagnosis anyone else gives you doesn’t match with those two things – reject it and keep seeking! 

Jesus stands at the door and knocks.  We won’t open if we can’t hear him. 

PRAYER: Our eyes and ears deceive us, Lord!  We want easy answers and seek diagnosis of our lives and condition in all the wrong places, putting trust in those who don’t deserve our trust.  Heal us, O Lord!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 2/23/18 – An Everyday Mystery

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DayBreaks for 2/23/18: An Everyday Mystery

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2008:

Choosing.  How difficult it is, and yet how often we do it!  How many decisions have you made already today?  You decided whether or not to get up when the alarm went off, or to hit snooze a time or two.  You decided what you would wear.  You decided what you would eat, or if you would eat, for breakfast.  You decided (whether you thought about it or not) on the route you’d drive to work, school or wherever you were going.  You decided where to park, how fast you’d drive, whether or not to pass or honk at someone who irritated you.  You decided what you’d listen to on the radio.  You decided what to read in the paper.  You decided if you’d take your lunch or buy it.  Chances are you’ve already made thousands of little decisions already today – and your day is just getting started.

Someone has said that practice is what makes perfect.  We know, of course, that there’s a smidgen of truth in that sentiment – with practice we DO get better (hopefully!)  But we don’t get perfect through practice regardless of the old saying.  The only way we ever get perfect is by God changing us in eternity into Christ’s likeness.  We can make progress until then – but perfection?  No, definitely not.

But if we are to get better with practice, have you ever stopped to think about why it is that we so seldom choose what is best?  It’s nothing new to the 21st century, of course.  It’s been going on since the beginning of time, and humanistic thinking aside, we aren’t getting better at it throughout the millennia.  Adam and Eve were given an entire garden by God and told that they could eat of any tree in the garden – except one.  And which one did they choose?  The ONE.  Jonah had the choice of going to Ninevah or the other direction – so he high-tailed it away from Ninevah.  Saul/Paul could choose to persecute Christians or to let them be.  Judas could have not betrayed Jesus, be he did.  Perhaps you could have chosen to remain faithful to your spouse but you chose unfaithfulness instead.  Drugs, alcohol, greed, thievery, murder, lying – all spring from the well of choice.  See what I mean when I say we’re not getting better at it? 

I’m convinced that we don’t know how to choose wisely sometimes.  How can we possibly know in every circumstance what is the very best thing to do?  If you know the answer, please tell me!  Sure, I know we can pray and God can give us direction, but we still have to choose to go His way and not our own, or He may not give us an answer when we are seeking it. 

So what are we to do?  Maybe all we can hope for in those cases where we’re not sure what is best is to choose what is better.  Mary and Martha were hosting Jesus in their home, and Martha was all a-flutter with her busyness and serving until she got so ticked off at her sister that she even (by implication at least) berates Jesus and Mary – Mary for not helping, Jesus for not telling Mary to help Martha.  Jesus, ever gentle and wise, simply gives Mary a bit of praise: Mary has chosen what is better.  (Lk. 10:42) Notice what Jesus didn’t say: he didn’t say Mary had chosen what was best, but just better. 

What would have been best in that situation?  The Lord only knows, but he didn’t scold Mary for not choosing what was best but encouraged her in her choosing of what was simply “better”.  Maybe that’s why, in all our ways, we should acknowledge Him and let him direct our paths until we reach that which is best.

PRAYER: I’m so grateful, Lord, that you understand our limitations and don’t expect perfection from us.  Forgive us for our foolish choices and help us choose that which is better!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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