DayBreaks for 7/30/21 – You Are Unable

“You teach,” said the Emperor Trajan to Rabbi Joshua, “that your God is everywhere, and boast that He resides among your nation; I should like to see Him.”

“God’s presence is indeed everywhere,” replied Joshua, “but He cannot be seen. No mortal eye can behold His glory.”

The Emperor insisted. “Well,” said Joshua “suppose we try to look first at one of His ambassadors.” The Emperor consented.

The Rabbi took him into the open air at noonday and bade him look at the sun in its blazing splendor. “I cannot,” said Trajan. “The light dazzles me.”

“You are unable,” said Joshua, “to endure the light of one of His creatures, and can you expect to behold the resplendent glory of the Creator? Would not the brightness of His glory annihilate you?”

This same thought is expressed in the Bible in 1 Timothy 6:16, Who only hath immortality, dwelling in light unapproachable; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and power eternal.

We often sing songs about seeing Jesus and the bliss that will be.  I don’t doubt for a second that it will be the greatest moment of our lives.  He will be glorious.  We will be amazed.  We will be dazzled.  It is what we have waited for for so long!

If someone, though, were to say to a skeptic or doubter, “Suppose we try to look first at one of His ambassadors,” what would the skeptic think if they brought him/her to see me?  Are we not his ambassadors, too?  We may not be luminous as the sun in its glory, but we are to represent Him.  How are we doing?

PRAYER: Let our lives be a testimony to your greatness, your glory, your majesty – to all who wish to see You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2021, Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 7/29/21 – Idolatry and Prayer

In her email devotion from 7/28/21, Ann Voskamp wrote some things in her “Daily (Good) News Letter” email that are extremely worth considering.

The night before (7/27) I was awake in the middle of the night and I suddenly felt very convicted about my woeful prayer life. I sought God and asked him to forgive me for that and help me want to pray more. Then, out of the blue, came Ann’s reflections.

Consider: True, whole prayer  — is nothing but love,” writes St. Augustine.

“It’s a tender question: Is the only reason we don’t truly pray, is because we don’t truly love?  

“If one’s not praying regularly, is it only because something else is regularly loved more than God?

“I don’t know where I was when the conviction struck me so hard it stung for days: The only reason we fail to pray, is because we’ve made an idol out of self. The only thing that prevents me from praying more — is me.”

Ouch. Those words struck me with great force. But there’s more:

Look in the mirror, in my calendar, in my own heart and confess, I’ve had to painfully face: It’s my own inflated sense of self-importance, the elevation of my plans, my work, of my agenda, that keeps me from prayer-communion. That’s called idol worship. It’s a striking thing of deep conviction to realize: I don’t pray enough because I’m practicing idol worship.

“But what else is it when I too often have something else that comes first, or one more thing to do, or anything else that’s more distracting, appealing, satisfying instead of stopping my work to still my heart and speak words back to the very Word from whence I came?”

“The truth I came to sit with is: My prayer life reflects my theology — or my idolatry.

Unless we make time to genuinely pray — our other priorities betray what we genuinely think of Jesus.  The extent of prayer in one’s life is a direct function of whether something else has been set up as more important than God.

And the relief is? None of us pray alone.

“Though you think no one is praying with you, the Ultimate One is praying for you.

The One who breathes stars breathes prayers for you, the One whose words spoke the world into being uses priceless words over your being, the One who made time, lives beyond time, controls all of time, uses all of His time to pray for you, because you are priceless to Him.”

I’d never thought of my lack of prayerfulness being a form of idolatry, but I think Ann is right. What do you think? Ponder it, ask the Spirit to show you if there is idolatry keeping you from seeking him above all the rest of life’s pressures in prayer!

PRAYER: Forgive my idolatry at putting other things ahead of spending time listening and talking with you, Lord! Make us hunger for time with you! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2021, Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 7/28/21 – Where Evil Calls Home

Hardly a week goes by without witnessing via television and the media the horror of another mass shooting. Let me first say that we all should be praying for the victims and the people involved with these tragedies.  It is senseless, it is numbing, it is evil.  We may search forever in our human “wisdom” and never understand this tragedy.  As a way of thinking differently about it, perhaps, let me share this story from John Ortberg:

“Because we live in a largely therapeutic culture, evil is a slowly disappearing concept. But every once in a while we are shaken by a holocaust, a genocide, or the destruction of a World Trade Center, and we remember why we need that word. The Bible reminds us that we battle “evil in the heavenly places.”

Psychiatrist Scott Peck wrote of meeting with a depressed 15-year-old named Bobby, who was increasingly troubled after his 16-year-old brother killed himself with a .22 rifle.

“Peck tried to probe Bobby’s mind but got nowhere. Searching for ways to establish a bond, he asked what Bobby had received from his parents for Christmas. “A gun,” Bobby said. Peck was stunned.

“What kind?”

“A .22.”

“More stunned. “How did it make you feel, getting the same kind of gun your brother killed himself with?”

“It wasn’t the same kind of gun.” Peck felt better.

“It was the same gun.”

“Bobby had been given, as a Christmas present, by his parents, the gun his brother used to kill himself.”

When Peck met with the parents, what was most striking was their deliberate refusal to acknowledge any wrongdoing on their part. They would not tolerate any concern for their son, or any attempt to look at moral reality.

“Two decades later and after his conversion to Christianity, Peck wrote about this encounter: “One thing has changed in twenty years. I now know Bobby’s parents were evil. I did not know it then. I felt their evil but had no vocabulary for it. My supervisors were not able to help me name what I was facing. The name did not exist in our professional vocabulary. As scientists rather than priests, we were not supposed to think in such terms.”

“Interestingly enough, although Peck often worked with convicted prisoners, he rarely found evil there. Evil, he finally decided, is not primarily indicated simply by sinful acts. Rather, it is the refusal to tolerate one’s sense of sinfulness: “The central defect of evil is not the sin but the refusal to acknowledge it.” This definition is reflective of Jesus’ far greater severity in dealing with religious leaders than with prostitutes and tax collectors.” – John Ortberg, Fighting the Good Fight, Leadership Journal, Spring 2012

PRAYER: For the victims of evil in this world, Lord, we pray.  We lift up their families to You for comfort which we are totally unable to give.  Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2021, Galen C. Dalrymple, all rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 7/27/21 – It Makes a Difference!

Ephesians 6:12 (NLT) – For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

There is a story that is told about a U.S. Army officer regarding his pupils during two different eras of teaching at the artillery training school at Fort Sill, Oklahoma (Home of the Field Artillery). In 1958-60 the attitude was so lax that the instructors had a problem getting the men to stay awake to hear the lectures. During the 1965-67 classes, however, the men, hearing the same basic lectures, were alert and took copious notes. What made the difference in the class of 65? They knew that in less than six weeks they would be facing the enemy in Vietnam.

If we were to apply this to the Christian, it would go something like this: If you really believed that tomorrow you would be wrestling with the Devil himself, how would you spend today?   How would your worship be different?  How would your devotional life be different?  How about your prayer life?

How did you worship this past Sunday?  This week have you kept your quiet time with Him daily because you knew that every day when you woke that you would be facing all the wiles of the evil one? 

Maybe our problem is simple: we don’t really believe we are in an honest-to-goodness life and death battle.  We may think it’s a nice little analogy that is meant to manipulate us into awareness and action, but we don’t really believe there is an enemy that is just waiting to tear us to shreds like an angry grizzly mother defending her cubs.  Satan is that real, and more – and deadlier. 

How will we prepare for the battle today?  If we believe Ephesian 6:12, we’ll be deadly serious and pay attention to the Manual and the Teacher! PRAYER: Create in us the sense of seriousness that is appropriate for the real battle in which we are engaged!!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2021, Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 7/26/21 – Worse than Cancer

From the DayBreaks archive, 2012:

There are not many things that strike us with fear more than the word: C-A-N-C-E-R.  We want to leave the word unspoken as if to pretend that such a horrible spectre doesn’t even exist.  Somehow, we believe if we don’t speak it, or know about it, it can’t exist.  But we all know better, don’t we?  Whenever we get an unexpected pain (especially as we grow older) that seems to recur with some degree of regularity, we start to hear the whisper in the back of our mind, “Cancer…cancer…maybe I have cancer.”  It’s not that we are wishing it to be so, it is more that we are fearful of it being so.

There is no doubt about it, cancer is a horrible disease.  I don’t want to minimize that for even a moment. We will all rejoice on the day that cancer and all disease and death are obliterated in the twinkling of an eye!  Yet, we dread it and fear it as if it were the worst thing in the world.  But maybe, just maybe, it isn’t the worst thing…

“The art of being sick is not the same as the art of getting well. Some cancer patients recover; some don’t. But the ordeal of facing your mortality and feeling your frailty sharpens your perspective about life. You appreciate little things more ferociously. You grasp the mystical power of love. You feel the gravitational pull of faith. And you realize you have received a unique gift—a field of vision others don’t have about the power of hope and the limits of fear; a firm set of convictions about what really matters and what does not. You also feel obliged to share these insights—the most important of which is this: There are things far worse than illness—for instance, soullessness.” These words were spoken by Tony Snow, who you may recall was a White House press secretary, who died of cancer in July 2008 after a three-year battle with the disease.

What is soullessness?  It is denying the existence of the soul, of ignoring the whisperings of God that we need to believe that life will go on beyond the grave and that therefore it is of vital importance.  It is turning a blind eye, being dead inside, to the cries and pleas and suffering of people.  It is denying that there are over-arching values worth living – and dying – for. 

What is your greatest fear?  Is it physical disease?  Poverty?  Loss of employment?  Loss of a child?  Loss of a relationship?  Those are all mostly physical things, like cancer.  The ultimate realties, the ultimately good things, are not physical, but matters of the soul and heart and personhood. 

As much as I hope I never develop cancer, I’d much rather have cancer than become a soulless human being.

Genesis 2:7 (NLT) – Then the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person.

PRAYER: Melt me and break me, mold me into a person with a soul that longs for the things of God!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2021, Galen C. Dalrymple, all rights reserved. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 7/23/21 – Never Fall

From the DayBreaks archive, 2012:

In 2008, a remarkable documentary came out, titled Man on Wire. It examines the most amazing exploit of tight-rope walker Philippe Petit. In 1974, Petit had a secret plan to extend a steel wire between the two towers of the World Trade Center in New York. At the time, the towers were still under construction.

After much planning and practice, the day arrived. Petit and his fellow conspirators snuck to the top of the buildings, shot a wire across the vast, quarter-mile-high canyon that separated the North and South Towers, and Petit went to work. When all was said and done, Petit was on the wire for 45 minutes. Thousands gathered below to watch him. On each end of the wire, police waited for him to finish. Petit made eight passes before finally coming in. To this day he insists the stunt wasn’t for publicity or even to see if he could do it. “The path is as important as the result,” he told a reporter for Newsweek magazine.

Petit now lives in New York’s Catskill Mountains. A wire stretches across his yard, and he still practices several hours a day. Petit told the same Newsweek reporter that it “never occurred to him to use a safety net” when walking the wire. He added: “I never fall. But yes, I have landed on the earth many, many times.”

It’s that last quote from Petit that stands out to me. It’s a pretty good way of describing the believer’s experience in trouble. Consider Psalm 91:9-12:

    If you make the Most High your dwelling—

    even the Lord, who is my refuge—

    then no harm will befall you,

    no disaster will come near your tent.

    For he will command his angels concerning you

    to guard you in all your ways;

    they will lift you up in their hands,

    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.

In some ways the psalmist is saying, “I never fall. But, yes, I have landed on the earth many, many times.”

I don’t know about you, but I have fallen many times…but before disaster strikes, He has caught me.  This is another of the wonderful promises of God.  Make Him your dwelling place both now and forever, and He will save you for His glory’s sake!

PRAYER: Thank you for catching us when we slip and for commanding your angels regarding us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2021, Galen C. Dalrymple, all rights reserved. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 7/22/21 – A Purposeful Examination

From the DayBreaks archive, 2012:

This past Sunday morning, our pastor started a five-week series titled, The Church, Your Church, and You.  This week he was challenging us to think about our purpose in life.  There is the typical response that many Christians would be tempted to offer that comes from the Westminster Catechism: “Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy him forever.”  I have no qualms with that statement whatsoever. 

But here’s the rub: is that really the purpose that drives my daily life, my daily actions?  Or is there another purpose for which I am living?  For many, as the pastor stated, it is happiness.  What constitutes happiness?  For some it is accumulating a certain amount of money: “If only I had $1.5 million set aside for retirement…”  From some it may be a certain degree of fame: “If I could walk into a restaurant and be recognized by everyone there for what I’ve achieved.”  For still others it could be power: “I will feel as if I’ve arrived if I were the President.”

Those don’t sound very Christian, do they?  We were invited to wrestle with the question of our life’s purpose.  I am wrestling with it very much right now.  There are times when I thought I really understood His direction and plan and felt I was in the center of it.  But when I get right down to it, when it comes to looking at how I live, how much of the purpose of my life really has to do with the American dream?  What is that dream?  It is to earn a decent living, to live comfortably, to retire when and where I want with enough money and the means to travel, live a life of leisure, and sleep late if I want to or to rise early to watch the sun rise? 

When you get right down to it, my guess is that this summarizes the ambitions that most of us have, and trying to achieve those things dominates our lives, our decisions, and our plans.  But should they?  Aren’t those really the pursuit of happiness in my life?  I think that if I pursue those things and they become a reality for me, then I will be happy. 

God says my purpose for existing isn’t to be happy.  My goal is to come to know Him, to love Him, to follow Him – to want what He wants, to become like Jesus.  And then, and only then, will I know what happiness really is.  But oh!  How I struggle to believe it!!!

If there is one area where our hearts really need to be changed (as American Christians, at least), it may be in this area.  What is it that we are truly living for?  It becomes clearer when we examine what we spend our days and nights doing, what we spend our hours pursuing, and especially, how we spend our free time – those precious hours that don’t belong to our boss. 

How about you?  What is your REAL purpose – not what you want it to be  – but what it IS?

Ecclesiastes 12:13 (NIV) – Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole [duty] of man.

PRAYER: Lord, I somewhat fear this question for I believe I know that the answers are not what they should be.  Still, I am grateful for your incredible patience with me.  Help me believe that knowing you, glorifying you, and enjoying you forever is my highest calling.  Help me to live my life according to those three things that I may know joy and peace as I rest in you!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2021, Galen C. Dalrymple, all rights reserved. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 7/21/21 – Fear and Control

Photo by Joanne Adela Low from Pexels

Control. We all like to have at least the sense that we’re in control whether or not it is true. No one likes the feeling that things are beyond our control. It’s scary. But no one likes a control freak, either.

Why is it that we don’t like not being in control? Because when things are out of our control we are afraid. And that may be one key reason people never come to Jesus.

Our fear is a hurdle we have to get over, and we have to get over it before we can go very far with Jesus. To help an alcoholic or a drug addict, we must first get him or her off the stuff. That is the first step, the first lesson (if you will): to stop drinking or using. Only then does it make sense to talk about other things. Jesus knew that people, from the day they are born, are slaves to fear, just as much slaves as a drunkard is to his bottle or an addict to his needle. And, until we can stop being afraid, and trust God, nothing else works. We are simply too consumed by fear and worry and anxiety to think about anything else. For that reason Jesus spent a great deal of time telling us not to be afraid — telling us directly, and acting out God’s grace by feeding people who were hungry and rescuing those in trouble on the sea.

God will be there when we need him. Fear not. It the first lesson in the Christian primmer, the one on which all the others build.

How can we be saved from those things in life which overtake us, overwhelm us, or otherwise threaten to undo us? When the storms of life threaten us, we can turn to the one who is stronger than we are and stronger than the storms themselves. We can’t avoid the storms. They come to the good, the bad, and the indifferent. Just like God doesn’t promise to keep us from the valley of the shadow of death, God doesn’t promise to eliminate storms from our lives. On the other hand, God does promise that we can get through life’s valleys and storms if we trust that Jesus is in control.

Control — who is in control here? It’s not you and it certainly isn’t me. Control is something God reserves for himself because only he is wise enough to know and powerful enough to create outcomes.

Giving up the illusion of control in our lives is not easy. But consciously understanding and yielding control to Jesus – the one who loves us – is the only way to lose our fear.

PRAYER: Jesus, help us to understand the relationship between our fears and our surrender of control. Then give us the courage to trust you completely in all things. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2021, Galen C. Dalrymple, all rights reserved. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 7/20/21 – Faultless

Jude 1:24-25 (NKJV) – Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, Be glory and majesty, Dominion and power, Both now and forever. Amen.

There are some promises given us in the Word that have the power to stir our hearts and imaginations.  This passage was often used as a benediction at the close of worship services at a church we attended.  It is one of the most stunning and breathtaking benedictions to be found in all Scripture.

What struck me about it was the phrase, “and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.” 

Faultless?  Me?  Really?  Lord, you must be kidding me!  Look at the pile of my sin, look at the depth of evil that still lives inside me.  Look at how many times in a day I fail you and miss the target of holiness to which you have called me!  How can I possibly be faultless?

Revelation makes it fairly clear: it is by the blood of the Lamb!

We must decide if we believe Scripture or not.  Many people I know (myself included at times) feel as if they’ll never measure up, they’ll never be good enough!  And I usually say this to them: “You are right.  We’ll never be good enough.”  I will then go on to explain that we aren’t good enough by ourselves, but that He makes us good enough. 

I take it back. I’m wrong about that.  He doesn’t make us good enough, he makes us faultless.  Faultless is far beyond good enough.  Faultless is perfect…absolutely perfect.  And it isn’t me that does that by my efforts, even if they are Herculean.  It is He, He alone, that is able to present God as faultless.  He doesn’t do it begrudgingly as if to say, “You really don’t deserve this, but…I’m going to do you a favor.”  It say He does so with “exceeding joy”!  He delights to perfect us, to make us faultless. 

He can’t wait for the day when you will be presented to “His glory” (God Almighty) as a faultless being.  What a day it will be!

PRAYER: We would never dare dream of such a blessing as being faultless!  We would never hope for such an incredible thing to happen to us, Lord!  Help us to believe, really believe, what you have promised us: that You will present us to the Father, and that when You do, we will, indeed, be faultless!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2021, Galen C. Dalrymple, all rights reserved. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 7/19/21 – Like the Leaves of Autumn

Every year since 2004 Time magazine has each year recognized 100 people as the most influential in the world. As heady a thing as it would be to find your name on such a list, the recognition also highlights the fragility of life and power in this world.

In May 2008 Time recognized journalist Tim Russert as one of the 100 most influential people for the power he wielded over politics on the program Meet the Press. In June of 2008 the respected and beloved Russert suffered a heart attack at age 58 and died.  How long has it been now since you’re heard about him?  Can you even remember?

Also named among the most powerful in the world were the three candidates still in the race for president: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John McCain. One month later, Hillary Clinton ended her campaign, and before the year was out McCain lost in the national election. 

Follow the others on the top 100 list and you can depend on it: their influence will pass, some in fading glory like the leaves of autumn, others overnight like a towering tree felled by a lumberjack.

Even for the most tenacious, life and power are brief.  As we sang in worship this past Sunday, “Who are we compared to you?”  The answer was well documented by the Psalmist long ago: Psalm 39:4-5 (NLT) – “LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered— how fleeting my life is. You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath.”

Our time is limited, my friends.  We will soon vanish.  Will they way you have spent your time here truly reflect what you say you believe to be important?  Will it resonate with the deepest longing of your heart and soul?  If you think the answer may be “No”, even in just some areas of your life, now is the time to make adjustments.

PRAYER: Lord, we invite you to search our hearts, to show us where we need to change our lives to live in harmony with what you tell us is important and not to waste away our years chasing fleeting shadow figures that would cause us to pursue frivolous diversions!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2021, Galen C. Dalrymple, all rights reserved.