DayBreaks for 9/28/16 – Lessons My Dog Taught Me, #37

DayBreaks for 9/28/16 – Lessons My Dog Taught Me, #37           

From the DayBreaks archive, 2006:

Lesson: let the Master scratch your itch.

You’ve heard of obsessive/compulsive disorder, I’m sure.  We call it OCD – the type of behavior that just can’t “let go” of something.  Well, I’m not a dog psychologist, but I think Casper may have OCD.

There are two things he does that make me think this.  First, any time he sees a reflection (from the face of a watch, or off a computer screen or any shiny object), laser pointer or even a flashlight (lit or not!), he is obsessed with it!  He “locks on” to it with every ounce of energy and attention in his taut body and he won’t stop chasing it until it goes away fully.  Even then he looks for it for several more minutes.  It’s bizarre.

But there’s another thing that he’s obsessive about: he LOVES to have his belly scratched.  It doesn’t matter if it’s day or night or something in-between, he wants you to scratch his belly!  He lets you know about it, too, because he’ll come over to where you are sitting or laying or standing, and he’ll raise up one of his paws and “paw” your arm until you get the idea.  So, you scratch his belly until you think your arm will fall off, your fingers have gone into permanent cramp-mode, and you stop.  But what does he think of this?  He doesn’t care if your arm does fall off – he’ll start pawing you again until you start rubbing his tummy again!  He has no shame.

I couldn’t help but think that God wants us to desire His contact as badly as Casper wants mine.  And I should want that touch from Him as desperately as Casper wants my touch.  How good and pleasant it is to lie down in green pastures, to drink the cool waters, to enjoy the table full of blessings that the Lord’s presence provides!  Can there be anything better than that?

Sometimes we just need to slow down and let God scratch our belly so we are filled with delight.  And as Scripture says, His arm never loses strength or grows weary! 

PRAYER:  Thank you, Father, for the ways you bless and comfort us each day.  May we be obsessed with Your Presence and may we take time to revel in Your touch.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 9/27/16 – Sleeping on the Job

DayBreaks for 9/27/16 – Sleeping on the Job                 

Can I make a confession, hoping that you’ll not judge me for this one? Ready? Here it is: I sometimes have a hard time staying awake when I’m praying. I don’t have that problem often when I’m sitting or standing, but when I’m laying in bed at night before going to sleep, I will sometimes drift off to sleep. And that makes me feel guilty and ashamed! Why in the world can’t I stay awake? And at those moments, I suspect God must be peeved with me.

Then I remind myself of a couple things:

FIRST: I’m in good company. The disciples, in the garden, were supposed to watch and pray. They probably did, but you know the story: they fell asleep not just once that night, but multiple times. So, I am in the same class of folk as Peter, James and John, plus about 8 other ones (I’m assuming Judas came along later with the soldiers.)

SECOND: when I think more about the character of the Father and remember that I’m His little child, I suspect that God isn’t so peeved with me after all. Why? Well, simple really: do you remember what it was like for your little ones to fall asleep when you were carrying them or when you would lay down and talk with them? Were you peeved with them for falling asleep? Did you ever slap them in frustration and yell at them for going to sleep? Of course not! Why? Because you loved them so much and understood their need for sleep and their frailty/weakness. It wasn’t something you got angry about – it was precious. How I loved to carry our little ones at times like that!

I’m convinced that if we, as very flawed humans, find it precious that our little ones fall asleep and if we can be as understanding of it as we are – how much more does God find it precious if we drift off? He knows it isn’t a sign of disrespect. It is a sign of our humanness and how small and weak we are. And He understands that.

From now on, if I fall asleep “on the job” of prayer, I’m not going to feel badly about it. God understands! And He may well turn to one of His angels and just whisper, “Isn’t he precious! Look how tired he is!” – and then He’ll kiss me goodnight.

PRAYER: Thank You for being such a wonderful, loving and understanding Father who knows my weaknesses and understands them! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 9/26/16 – Can You Believe It?

 

DayBreaks for 9/26/16 – Can You Believe It?     

There are verses in the bible that are not all that exciting. For example, you can find a lot of them in Numbers! But then there are verses that blow us away…or at least, they should. Here’s one such passage:

Romans 8:30-31 (NLT) – And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory. What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?

Please pay special attention to the last sentence and the first five words: If God is for us…  Paul isn’t really asking the question or posing a hypothetical. He is stating a fact based on the truth of the preceding verse where he declares what God has done for us through Jesus…and he’s calling those verses in context to witness to the fact that God IS for us…the “If” is only there to be juxtaposed against the last six word: ..who can ever be against us?

But here’s the question: do you believe God is for YOU? Can you believe that He is NOT against you? Far too many, even Christians, think of God as sitting upon the circle of heaven looking down at us with a cosmic flyswatter just waiting for us to make the slightest mistake so He can squash us like a fly. And then they picture God laughing over whatever remains of us. Or, they see Him as furiously angry with them – eager to destroy as the scent of souls in hell fill is nostrils.

But that is 180 degrees opposite of what Paul has proven. If God is against us, would He have given His Son to die in agony for us? Would God has put Himself through the torture of watching His only begotten Son writing in agony if God was not for us? No way! 

What does it mean that God is for you? It means several things:

FIRST: God is not your enemy. Not once you have come home to him.

SECOND: God is not working against you nor wishing/causing bad things to happen to you. He works FOR you…so powerfully that even the bad things that do happen He is working out for your good.

THIRD: God will not let any enemy stand against you successfully. Not even the ruler of hell.

Perhaps you’re feeling like God can’t possibly be for you…a horrible sinner full of evil acts and even more full of evil thoughts and inclinations. But He is for you. And because of that, you’ve got the best Friend in the universe and He is absolutely crazy about you!

If you struggle to believe this good news, repeat to yourself over and over, day after day, until you come to believe it: God is FOR me!

PRAYER: We struggle to believe You could possibly be for us, God, because we do see our sin and frequent failures. Give us the faith to believe these inspired words from Your Spirit and let us rejoice in the this incredible truth! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 9/23/16 – Lessons My Dog Taught Me, #36

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DayBreaks for 9/23/16 – Lessons My Dog Taught Me, #36      

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2006:

Lesson: never pretend to be something you’re not.

Casper is my white boxer.  He’s eagerly awaiting his second birthday (in December), hoping that he’ll get a new chew toy of some kind.  He has rather figured out that I have a soft spot the size of Alaska in my heart for him, so when he gives me hints about what he wants for birthdays or Christmas, he’s got a good idea that he’ll get them!

He is still full of puppy.  A rather large and rambunctious puppy at that.  There are times when we (especially my wife!) wonder if he’ll ever grow up.

There are times when he tries to act like a docile, innocent creature, but his eyes and tail always wind up giving him away.  He may be able to act like there’s no mischief in his body for a while, but his eyes give him away quickly, the tail starts to move from side to side, and the real Casper comes out to play once again.  I can’t imagine how hard it must be for him to “sit” or lay down and control his energy.  It looks like a Herculean effort!

God looks at us and sees us as we are, not as we are pretending to be before Him.  Just as Casper knows there are times when I wish he’d just lay down and be quiet, I know there are times God wants me to just follow Him and behave myself.  So, I’ll sometimes pretend to be paying attention to Him (because I know He wants me to!), when deep inside I’m really struggling to restrain myself.  I sometimes wonder who it is that I’m really trying to fool: God, others, or myself.  I wind up, ultimately, not fooling any of them, for my old sin nature sneaks back out and rather than resting in God, I’m jumping and leaping all over creation, getting in trouble again.

When Casper breaks out of his innocent-little-puppy mode, it can be disastrous both for him and anyone in close proximity.  The same is true of us as humans.  We are dangerous and the havoc we wreak can be very hurtful, even deadly.  While the stingray that took the life of Steve Irwin looked docile, it wasn’t harmless, and it cost Irwin his life. 

May we all beware of things that are not what they seem, and of hypocrisy in our own lives.

PRAYER:  Jesus, you know better than anyone the danger of people putting on a show and pretending to be something that they aren’t.  The religious leaders of your day were experts at it, but sadly, so are many of us.  Help us to set aside our attempts to appear holy and righteous so that we might truly BE holy and righteous.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 9/22/16 – Only If We Despair

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DayBreaks for 9/22/16 – Only If We Despair      

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/19/2006:

Copyright © 2006 Christianity Today. September 2006, Vol. 50, No. 9, Page 118

“But it is important for Christians not to confuse the existence of bad news with our reaction to the bad news—and here it is useful to look at The Screwtape Letters.

“C. S. Lewis’s famous novel was conceived and written during World War II, when so much looked bad. One of the most striking moments in the story arrives when the inexperienced junior devil, Wormwood, chortles over the horrors of war. Screwtape sternly admonishes his nephew not “to forget the main point in your immediate enjoyment of human suffering.” In war, says the senior devil, people die. But hell gains nothing from mere human misery and death, he warns. It is the state in which people die that matters.

“Lewis is not suggesting that we celebrate our suffering or that we stand blind to the suffering of others. His point, rather, is that Christians should not mistakenly think that bad news here on earth means Satan is winning. Men have done terrible things to each other ever since Eden. The horrors of war—like the other pains and scars of life—pose a challenge to faith. Lewis suggests that what truly matters is how we meet that challenge: the battle, that is, in the spiritual realm.

“As the writer of Hebrews said to discouraged believers, “Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the Cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Heb. 12:1-3).

“Lewis’s vision of Satan is far more useful and scary than Hollywood’s. The film industry loves making movies about hell. In these high-budget visions of the underworld, demons usually emerge to do bad things to people, causing death and destruction here on earth. The hero either slays them or works some mystic incantation that sends them back, after which life on earth returns to what it was before. The demons are just like other Hollywood bad guys: terrorists, serial killers, the ruthless rich out to rule the world. In these visions, the bad thing about Satan is that he wants to do bad things to us here and now.

“C. S. Lewis’s marvelous imagination, by contrast, should remind us that this vision is dangerously wrong. The terrible tragedies that befall the world work to Satan’s benefit only if we despair. Suffering, as Screwtape reminds his nephew, often strengthens faith. Better to keep people alive, he says, long enough for faith to be worn away. The death of a believer is the last thing the Devil wants.”

Galen’s Thoughts: Sometimes I’m tempted to think that Satan loves misery and death.  I’m not sure that’s right.  After all, I rather doubt that Satan licks his chops when he contemplates his own fate in eternal hell.  So Lewis’ point is a good one: he only relishes death of humans when they die without Christ.  He’d much rather that we as believers stay alive long enough to give him more time to beat us up, to wear down our resolve and surrender to the suffering of this world, blaming it on God with the result being that we reject Him.  I don’t know about you, but I, for one, don’t want to give Satan that satisfaction.  How much better that we spend our time, not in thinking that the suffering is what matters, but that the souls of men and women are what truly is important.

PRAYER:  We are a depressed and discouraged society.  The enemy even attacks us from within the sheepfold, Lord!  But help us stay focused on the ultimate realities with which we are faced.  Help us to realize that our despair plays into Satan’s hands.  May we find comfort and assurance and sustenance beside You in green pastures beside the still waters.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

DayBreaks for 9/20/16 – In a Besieged City

DayBreaks for 9/20/16 – In a Besieged City

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/19/2006:

As I write this, I’m sitting in a hospital waiting word on a procedure that is being done on a brother from our church.  I took the last 30-45 minutes to read some Newsweek articles about the war on terror and how it has morphed through the past 10 years.  Some of it is enough to curl your hair and make you run to a bomb shelter with windows taped shut with duct tape to help prevent chemical agents from entering. 

It is a strange, yet interesting, time and place in which we live.  The rule of law, no – make that the rule of decency – seems to have been left in a toy box somewhere or discarded like a once-favored toy that is too old fashioned to still occupy us.  The degree of hatred and bitterness in the world is beyond comprehension.  The Deceiver has done his job well, it seems.  We are tempted to become despairing, discouraged and lose our hope as a result.

We would be wrong, however, if we think that our age is the only age which has confronted atrocity and attack.  C. S. Lewis preached at the University Church of St. Mary the Virgin at Oxford on October 22, 1939. Less than two months earlier, Hitler had invaded Poland. Britain was about to face the horrible Nazi onslaught. This is what Lewis told the assembled students:

“It may seem odd for us to carry on classes, to go about our academic routine in the midst of a great war. What is the use of beginning when there is so little chance of finishing? How can we study Latin, geography, algebra in a time like this? Aren’t we just fiddling while Rome burns?

“This impending war has taught us some important things. Life is short. The world is fragile. All of us are vulnerable, but we are here because this is our calling. Our lives are rooted not only in time, but also in eternity, and the life of learning, humbly offered to God, is its own reward. It is one of the appointed approaches to the divine reality and the divine beauty, which we shall hereafter enjoy in heaven and which we are called to display even now amidst the brokenness all around us.”

Lewis was right, and I think he made a key observation.  Our lives are rooted in time, but as Christians (and even non-Christians), there is an eternity that awaits us.  What we do in this life, if offered to God with thanksgiving and reverence, is a blessing and carries certain rewards with it.  But we’re here – alive in this time of turmoil and terror – because it is our calling to be here now.  We are not here, at this moment, in the place you are in, by mistake or by some freak coincidence of timing.  You are where you are right NOW because it is God’s calling for your life to be alive now. 

Let’s not worry about if there’s a chance of finishing what we start.  Let’s commit ourselves to being faithful with each breath and let Him worry about the ending.

Psalm 31:21: Blessed be the Lord, for he showed his wonderful love to me when I was in a besieged city.

PRAYER:  We are in a besieged world, Lord, and you know that well.  It was besieged in your time, too, and help us draw comfort that you know what it is like to live in tumultuous times in topsy-turvy places.  Let us not lose sight of your wonderful love even while we are in the middle of the enemy’s attack.  Help us fulfill the calling you’ve given us.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

 

 

DayBreaks for 9/19/16 – Inexpressible Joy

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DayBreaks for 9/19/16 – Inexpressible Joy

From our worship bulletin:

“I knew he was going to lose it. I was to officiate the wedding of the daughter of a close friend of mine. The night before the wedding we had the rehearsal in the chapel. What a great setting. The groomsmen and bridesmaids took their places on stage. We processed out and then practiced coming in to the music. As my friend walked his daughter down the aisle it hit him. He began to tear up as he approached the front of the chapel. We paused. It was a wonderful moment.

“Why did he cry? Well, he told me that they were not tears of sadness. He likes the guy his daughter married. He told me that they were tears of inexpressible joy. He went on to explain that sometimes words cannot express how we feel. Tears can. The thought of his daughter, the ride, marrying the man she loves, the bridegroom, brought him to tears of inexpressible joy.

“Now as Christians, there is something deeper that is happening in a marriage ceremony. It is a picture. We see it in the 21st chapter of Revelation, I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, ad he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.’

“Imagine the Father, seeing the bridegroom (His son Jesus) as the bride (the church) comes forward at the end of time for the consummation of all things. That will be a moment of inexpressible joy and that may well be why He will wipe every tear away.  It will be a joyous occasion.

“For now, we are called to look for a glimpse. We may see it in a daughter’s wedding. We may find it as someone we know comes to faith. We may experience it as our souls are healed through confession, repentance and forgiveness. It is just glimpse of glory and there is more to come. He is the God who gives inexpressible joy.”

PRAYER: God, we long to be part of the wedding of the Lamb and to experience Your eternal, inexpressible joy! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.