DayBreaks for 11/19/18 – Of Flowers and Birds

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DayBreaks for 11/19/18: On Flowers and Birds

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2008:

Perhaps life wasn’t all that different in Jesus’ day.  Of course, I know that then they didn’t have planes, trains and automobiles, nor x-rays or space shuttles or many of the things which are part of the modern world.  But those things aren’t life and they shouldn’t be confused with it.  Life is about getting up and facing each day and doing the best you can – and about all the millions of things that happen each day emotionally, spiritually and physically.  That’s what I mean when I say I don’t think life was that different in Jesus’ day. 

There’s been a world (literally) of worry lately.  Global economic collapse, wars, famines, diseases, natural disasters, fires, people fretting over the future because of the recent election – yep, there’s plenty of worry.  Many of my friends and congregants are retirees who had their retirement funds socked away in stocks and bonds, IRA’s and 401K’s.  Now, the retirement that they’d longed for and hoped for is either gone or mostly gone.  It’s enough to make anyone worry about the future.

It seems that there was plenty of worry to go around in Jesus’ day, too.   And believe it or not, they worried about the same things we do.  Just listen to these words from the sermon on the mount (Mt. 6:25-33, NIV):  Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

You see?  They were worried about life, drink, food, clothing – the stuff of everyday life for all of humanity since the beginning of time.  Jesus’ prescription is simple, but not what you might expect.  He doesn’t say, “You should have put your money in temple bonds and stocks.  Take what you’ve got left and move it into temple securities.”  Instead, he says: “Go spend some time looking at and thinking about birds and flowers.  See what that tells you about God and life.”  He tells us that we don’t need to worry (it’s more like a command, “So do not worry…”) because the pagans run after the “stuff” that daily life demands….and our FATHER knows that we need those things, too.  And being the kind of Father that He is, He won’t fail us.  But there is a requirement: seeking His kingdom and righteousness first – and then all those other things will be given to us.

Are you fearful of a job loss/termination?  Wondering if you’ll ever be able to recover your funds in time to retire as you’d hoped?  Worried if your house will ever be worth more on it again than you currently owe?  Are you worrying about ANYTHING?

If so, stop.  If you can, go outside right now and look at some flowers or birds (if you live in the frozen tundra somewhere, look at the trees instead of flowers!)  Look good, look hard, and look long.  All of those plants and birds are sustained by the Father’s hand.  And you are of much greater worth, and are far more precious to Him, than all the trees of the field.

PRAYER: Teach us how to stop worrying, Lord.  Help us to trust our Father for all things needed for real life and true life, and keep us from confusing “stuff” such as possessions and retirement accounts for life itself.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 11/9/18 – They Barely Make a Noise

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DayBreaks for 11/09/18: They Barely Make a Noise

In the NT is the story of the widow who gave her two mites…a mere pittance, but it was all she had. That story has remained an enduring image throughout the ages. We play favorites. We treat those who give more as if they are the pillars on which the church is erected.

But consider for a moment another image. Jesus, sitting opposite the place where the offerings were put, is observing the people as they make their donations as they enter the temple. He is not alone. Seated with him are the leaders-the Sadducees. It is startling to think of Jesus sitting with those whom he had scorned for their hypocrisy. Remember that as they watch there is no paper money so all of the offerings make a terrible clatter as they roll down this long, horn shaped object and fall into the pool of coins. And here comes this little widow with two small coins worth nothing and she drops them in. They barely make a noise. You can almost see the Temple leaders as they roll their eyes and hope for better results with the next person who walks in the door. Jesus then calls his Disciples over and says, “This poor widow has put more in to the treasury than all the others.” To the Sadducees this woman is a waste of time but to Jesus she is the stuff by which Kingdoms are erected. Thus, at its heart, the story of the widow’s mite is a strong reminder to the kingdoms of this world and a reminder to us that God’s ways and thoughts are nothing like ours.

PRAYER: Lord, I want to be more like this woman and have her kind of faith. Give me eyes to see as you do and value what you value. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/23/18 – So Alike Yet So Different

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DayBreaks for 10/23/18: So Alike Yet So Different

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2008:

On 10/18 my wife and I flew back from Boston where we were visiting our youngest son (middle child) and his family – including our newest granddaughter, Sophia.  She was 3-1/2 weeks old when we got there and the amount she changed during the two weeks we were there is astonishing.  But, rest assured that during the entire time we were there she was the perfect addition to our family, and we now have another blessing from God to love and serve as grandparents.

While I was there, I couldn’t help but be struck by several things:

FIRST: It’s fascinating to see just a tiny bit of myself, my wife, our son and his wife, in the looks of Sophia.  Sure, she’ll change a lot as she grows and gets older, but she’s got her mother’s eyes and hair, our son’s (and grandmother’s) hairline, and arguably she has some aspects of my appearance, too (although most would argue she’s way to beautiful to have anything in common with her Pop-pop [that’s me]!)  As I thought about that, I thought about how in each of us there are glimpses of our Father.  Yes, they can be very hard to see and sometimes we may not be able to perceive them at all, but there is no way that we can avoid some of His characteristics.  They may only be seen when we’re at our very best (which still isn’t very good!), and it may be necessary to look long and deep to identify them, but they are there.  In the most distressed appearance you could imagine, Mother Theresa saw Jesus.  Who do you see?  Do you even try to see Jesus, or some semblance of the Father, in each person He’s created?  If we did, instead of just seeing things we don’t like, we might find this world a much more fascinating and beautiful place.  Some folks just need a bit of help to let those resemblances blossom and flourish.  Maybe we can help them.

SECOND: It’s easy to forget how tiny and small new babies are.  I was amazed at how tiny the little hands, fingers and toes were – how short the little arms are.  Compared to Sophia, I’m a huge monster.  She’s not a little baby – she was eight pounds something when she was born, and she’s been packin’ on the chub ever since – but she’s SO TINY!  And that made me think of how we must appear to God.  With a baby as small as Sophia is at present, it creates a desire inside of me to want to protect her, to hold her, to keep her safe from bumps, bruises and the hurts the world could inflict without even noticing.  As I looked at Sophia, I felt like a giant.  When God looks at us, He must be even more impressed with how tiny and fragile we are.  And yet, He picks us up and holds us ever so gently so as not to break us.  Anyone who can call a universe into existence simply through the power of a spoken word is so far beyond us in power and strength that we can’t begin for one second to wrap our little minds around His greatness and power.  And He’s put that power at our disposal so that when we are walking in harmony with Him, there’s no limit to what He can do through such tiny little babies as us.

THIRD: It’s easy to forget how helpless little babies are.  It’s not that Sophia doesn’t want to be able to feed and clothe herself.  I quite honestly don’t know if she does or not, but when she’s hungry and wants to eat and she can’t feed herself – she lets the world know.  But she just isn’t able to do that yet.  She is still trying to figure out what those things are that show up near her face every once in a while that have five little worm-like things on each one (her fists).  She can’t do a single thing for herself except cry.  Once again, God looks at us and sees people who are totally helpless, who are dependent on the Father for everything – whether they realize it or not.  Does Sophia know that she’s dependent on mom and dad?  No, she just knows when she needs changing or is hungry or when something hurts.  But the concept of dependence, I’m convinced, hasn’t yet developed in her mind.  Hopefully, someday she’ll come to recognize her dependence on the great and perfect Father.  The Father, meanwhile, sees us thrashing wildly around, helpless to do the things that must be done…and so He has undertaken to do those things for us.

Praise be to God, the Father of us all!

PRAYER: Your gentleness is overwhelming with us, Lord.  Thank you for your tender yet powerful hands that pick us up when we fall.  Thank you that you’ve done for us all the things we cannot do, and for remembering our frailty and smallness.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/4/18 – The Problem Wasn’t Him

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DayBreaks for 10/04/18: The Problem Wasn’t Him

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2008:

Get the scene: Jesus has been crucified and buried and has raised from the dead.  He’d met with his 11 remaining disciples in the upper room and they’d seen him, and at least Thomas had also touched him.  He’d met them on the shore of the lake and fixed a fish breakfast – and restored Peter.  And now, the time has come for him to return to the Father. 

Matthew 28:16-20 (NIV) – Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

You’d think that after all the time they’d spent with Jesus and all that they’d witnessed, they’d have it down by this time, but as verse 17 says, “some doubted.”  (Mercifully, the names of those “some” are not revealed to us, or we’d probably criticize them severely.)  There were still some who doubted and wondered and were fearful.  And so, Jesus has a message for them, a message about God having given him ALL authority in heaven and on earth. 

What was it that Jesus wanted them to understand?  That they needn’t fear even one single thing (or any thing) for one simple reason: He has all authority – and control.  He has healed the sick, given sight to the blind, strengthened feeble legs so that they could walk, filled the ears of the deaf with the song of birds and laughter, brought the dead to life and even rose from the dead himself.  And yet, they still doubted – they still feared.  You see, their doubting problem wasn’t caused by some failure in Jesus and how he’d prepared them – it was humanity’s problem of believing what they’d seen and heard him do and not accepting that all authority resides in him.  There is no need to fear anybody on earth or in heaven.  Why?  Because He has all authority!

Are you a doubter?  Are you fearful?  The problem isn’t his – it’s yours – and mine – for not remembering His authority! 

PRAYER: Lord, quell our fears and doubts, and help us to believe in the full authority of Your Son!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/17/18 – Resignation and Acceptance

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DayBreaks for 9/17/18: Resignation and Acceptance

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2008:

I recently read an article by Jill Briscoe that dealt with struggling and troubles in this world.  We often think we have troubles – they seem real enough to us and I don’t mean to disparage any hardship that anyone is going through.  But, by and large, we Americans know very little of trouble compared to the rest of the world.  Sure, we worry about how to make our house payments, but there are countless millions (billions?) in this world who don’t have a house at all.  Our health issues are troubles – no mistake about that.  But at least, we have “modern medicine” available to us while many people must either suffer through their illness alone in order to get well – or they die. 

How do (or should) we deal with difficulties?  Should we just resign ourselves to the fact that we’ll have trouble (just like Jesus said we would)?  Should we accept it, and if so, how?

Resignation and acceptance are two different things.  Some religions are resigned to fate: Hinduism, Buddhism for example.  The Christian, alternatively I believe, is to accept suffering and use it for a greater purpose.  “Resignation is surrender to fate; acceptance is surrender to God,” said Elisabeth Elliot. “Resignation lies down quietly in an empty universe. Acceptance rises up to meet the God who fills that universe with purpose and destiny.…Resignation says, ‘It’s all over for me.’ Acceptance asks, ‘Now that I’m here, Lord, what’s next?’ Resignation says, ‘What a waste.’ Acceptance says, ‘In what redemptive way can you use this mess, Lord?'”

Who is Elisabeth Elliot?  You probably know: she’s a woman whose husband lay flat on his face, dead in a river with an arrow in his back—martyred for Jesus. What did Elisabeth do? She said, “In what redemptive way can you use this mess, Lord? I know that my Redeemer lives. He died to make me fit for heaven; he lives to make me fit for earth. Now, what are you going to redeem, buy back, out of this situation?”

Elisabeth Elliot took the hand of her 6-year-old daughter, and Marge Saint, the wife of another martyred missionary, and they walked to that tribe that had killed their husbands.  When they arrived at the jungle village, they weren’t killed; they were accepted. They proceeded to translate the Bible into the language of the tribe, and the whole tribe came to Christ.

At age 17, Marge Saint’s little girl, Kathy, told the story of that day and more. She said, “I remember at 15, I stood in the river where my father had died, and I was baptized by the man who killed him. That man is now the pastor of that tribe.” 

Would the Elliot’s and Saint’s have asked for the troubles that life brought their way?  Absolutely not.  Yet they did accept it – they didn’t give up in resignation and say, “Oh, well.  I guess this wasn’t meant to be.”  In the loss and turmoil, they sought some way that God would turn their tragedy into something purposeful. 

When we are faced with difficulties, don’t just resign yourself to the hardship.  Seek to see and understand how God can use it in a redemptive way and create something beautiful and eternal out of it. 

PRAYER: Father, we don’t understand all that happens to us here, and we don’t like much of what happens.  Keep us from bitterness.  Open our hearts to Your divine redemptive purposes in what takes place and show us Your glory.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/07/18 – The Miracle of Stone Soup

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DayBreaks for 9/07/18: The Miracle of Stone Soup

I love the story of a Christian missionary hiking the high Andean trails to a remote village in Peru. He found a rock along the road, a curious geode, and put it in his backpack as a souvenir. That evening he strode into the village to a very unfriendly welcome. No one offered him a bed. No one asked him to sit by their fire. He learned that a famine had plagued the Indians for over a month. And the people were starving. Each was simply afraid to share amidst so much deprivation.

Praying to Jesus how to help them, he got an idea. Calling the Indians around a campfire he preached God’s loving care in Christ. Then he said, “I’m going to feed you by making some stone soup. Yummm! It’s tasty! I grew up on it! And you’ll like it just fine!” Then he opened his backpack and produced the rock he’d found that morning.

The Indians scoffed, “Stone soup! Why that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard!”

“Trust me,” the missionary assured them. “See! I’ve brought the stone. But I’m going to need a pot to put it in.” An Indian woman quickly volunteered her pot.

“And I’ll need about two large buckets of water to boil the stone in.” A man, shaking his head, brought the water. So, in went the stone, in went the water, and over the fire the pot was suspended. Curious now, the villagers began to gather around the pot, peering into its contents. The missionary began to stir the pot and drool. “You know, stone soup sure is good with carrots!” To which an Indian said, “I’ve got six carrots!” He quickly fetched them and they were cut up into the pot. Then the missionary smelled deeply of the bubbly broth and sighed, “Some potatoes sure would add to the flavor.” From pockets and other hiding places came dozens of spuds. They were quickly added to the soup. Soon people were bringing onions, celery, and bits of meat to top off the pot of stone soup. And within the hour a community was formed around that stew pot. All ate. And all were filled and they heard the story of Jesus Christ.

Believe John 6:1-14 as a miracle of Jesus in multiplying the bread and fish, if you will, or believe Jesus’ miracle in the selfish human heart causing the multitudes to share. But above all, remember this: The next time you see a need or feel inadequate, don’t look at the hillside, look in the basket. Don’t count the difficulties presented. Look at the resources possessed. Don’t measure your problems. Measure God’s power!

PRAYER: We have been too concerned about our adequacy and resources, Lord. Help us to trust in the One who has no limits and then to act in His name! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/05/18 – For Some Prospect of Hope

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DayBreaks for 9/05/18: For Some Prospect of Hope

From the DayBreaks Archive, September 2008:

Right now as I write this, I have friends in Florida who are hoping that Gustav will bypass them.  Unfortunately, that will mean that it strikes somewhere else…almost with a certainty, barring a miracle or the Lord’s return.  Hope.  It fuels us with the vital energy we need to face the future – a future that is mostly unknown to us.

There are those who have reasonable hopes – and then there are those who have crazy hopes.  Just look at how many people buy lottery tickets each day.  That’s an example of crazy hope if there ever was one. 

Let me say, before proceeding, that God is the God of hope.  It is clear: nothing is impossible with God.  God could extinguish Gustav as simply as a child blows out a birthday cake candle.  Will He?  That’s another matter that at this point in time, only He can answer.  But as humans, we often are so desperate for hope that we put our hope in things that aren’t worthy of our hope.  We like to put our hope in things we can see, hear, touch or count.  Somehow, those things have a solidity to them that gives them gravitas – seemingly more weight than the things which are unseen.  But that can be very, very dangerous.  Listen to these words from the pen of Dietrich Bonhoeffer: “But to deviate from the truth for the sake of some prospect of hope of our own can never be wise, however slight that deviation may be.  It is not our judgment of the situation which can show us what is wise, but only the truth of the Word of God.  Here alone lies the promise of God’s faithfulness and help.  It will always be true that the wisest course for the disciple is always to abide solely by the Word of God in all simplicity.”

I’m afraid we’re prone to deviate from the truth sometimes in our pursuit of some prospect of hope.  Instead of placing our hope in the Truth, we place our hope in our ability to figure out some answer that we believe will give us hope.  But is a hope born of our own wisdom and therefore a hope that is built on very shaky premises.  It doesn’t take much of a deviation from the truth for the deviation to become a tool of the Destroyer. 

1 Peter 1:3-5 (NIV) – Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade–kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.  According to verse 3, there is a hope that is described as “living hope.”  That implies to me that there is a hope that is a dead hope.   If we’re putting our hope in our judgment, analysis and reason, in a political system or politician, in an earthly king or the courts or anything on this earth – may heaven have mercy on us all.

PRAYER: Keep us, Lord Jesus, from putting our hope in our own ways and our own thoughts.  Reward our hopes that rest on you!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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