DayBreaks for 8/22/17 – The Sun, Moon and Stars

DayBreaks for 8/22/17: The Sun, Moon and Stars

Psalm 19:1-6 –  The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night shweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.

Amos 8:9 – And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord GOD, that I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in the clear day:

Well, it’s over. I hope you lived somewhere that you could get a good look at the eclipse today. Where we lived, the eclipse wasn’t total, but 99.33% total. And let me say, it was amazing!

The temperature must have dropped at least 5 degrees if not more. The light became eerie in shade. I likely shall not see such a spectacle again, but I thank God that I was able to see it today. We had solar glasses and to watch the moon slide in front of the sun over an extended period of time was truly spellbinding.

As I watched the eclipse, my mind was drawn to several thoughts:

FIRST: I was struck at how perfectly the disk of the moon covered the disk of the sun. And yet, there are about 92.71 million miles between them. But God arranged it so perfectly that one would think they were the same size. We need to remember that things aren’t always what they seem…especially when something is God’s doing.

SECOND: I was struck by the fact that the moon was invisible…that is, you couldn’t see it if you looked up toward the sun because the light of the sun so totally overwhelmed the moon. Still, it was amazing to watch a black hole eat up the sun, the sun to virtually disappear, only to have it be born again. And I thought of how the Light of the Son so totally overwhelms anything else that pretends to be light.

THIRD: It is amazing, even at 99.33% totality, how much light remains. You’d think that the sky would be darkened 99.33%, but it isn’t. There is so much light streaming down that it wasn’t pitch black – not even close. I need to remember that when I start to think about the extent of the darkness in the world and how all pervasive it seems. The darkness still hasn’t overcome the Light…it’s no contest, an unfair competition.

FOURTH: I was struck with the thought that God did this for us – for our wonder and amazement. After all, no one else but humans in the entire universe could see it. God didn’t need to see it. We did. I thought about the massive distances at work, the size of the sun and moon, of the fact that they MOVE, that they seem to hang upon nothing. How can that be? Because it is God and his voice that set them in place, that calls them forth to run in their courses, and even more impressive, can cause the sun to stop still in its tracks if he chooses to do so.

Psalm 8:3-4 (ESV) – When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?

PRAYER: Oh, God, how humbled I was by the show you put on in the sky today! Thank you for the reminder of how great and awesome your works are, but even how much greater you are than what you have created! Thank you for the delight of what we witnessed and the wonder it caused in so many. I pray it may turn hearts to seek the creator of such wonders! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/21/17 – On Rough Water #1

DayBreaks for 8/21/17: On Rough Water #1

Matthew 14:22-27 (ESV) – Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

I’ve been blessed to go to Israel and see the Sea of Galilee. In fact, I’ve crossed it in a boat. When we were there it was pretty peaceful, but strong winds can come up from the south that are funneled into the lake and they can be fierce…and deadly. It is amazing how having been there makes a story like this come alive.

The sea is about 13 miles long and 8 miles wide. There are several other key facts that we must understand before diving into this story.

  1. We don’t know what time of day it was when Jesus put the disciples into the boat, but presumably it was still light as he’d just finished feeding the 5000. We know it was in the afternoon or evening because the feeding of the 5000 takes place late in the day. And the disciples had just witnessed that miracle.
  2. We don’t know what time of year it was so it may have been nearly dark when the disciples set out.
  3. We know that there were fishermen among those in the boat – men who had been on the lake for probably several decades with their dad’s, and now in their own boats.
  4. We don’t know how far the boat had been able to go in the storm, but they were a long way from land…certainly too far to swim in a raging storm.

So, now, somewhere between midnight and 3 a.m. (we know that because it was “the third watch”) these seasoned sailors and fishermen were desperate. The storm must have truly been fierce because it is only 8 miles wide at the widest spot and they’re still far from land. Try to imagine their weariness from fighting the storm, their growing fear for life and limb. And then, an apparition comes toward them across the water.

They believe it is a ghost, perhaps sent to collect their own souls. I don’t blame them for being terrified. I would have been, too. When is the last time you saw someone in a corporeal body walking atop the water?!

So, they cry out. I can picture them pointing as the apparition gets closer and closer. They can’t make out who it is – perhaps they were too afraid to look closely. They scream it is a ghost. And what is Jesus’ response? It says Immediately, Jesus spoke to them, “Take heart, it is I! Do not be afraid.

Yeah, right. If you read just a bit further, you’ll see they’re still not convinced about who it is, for Peter says, rather timidly, Lord, if it is you…invite me to come to you on the water.

What is important here isn’t Peter’s response, but how Jesus responded to their fear. He did so Immediately…and then he told them something that should have settled their fears: …it is I. In the Greek, what Jesus uttered were the words, “I AM”…the name of Almighty God. And he did so immediately to help quell their fears.

So, why should a name have quelled their fears? Because this is the One who made the wind and the waves. He doesn’t bow to them…they bow to Him.

But even more meaningful is what Jesus does NOT do: he doesn’t change their circumstances. Why? Good question. He could have just spoken the word or thought the thought: “Be still!” and it would have happened. He did it before and it worked.

No, I think perhaps he didn’t change the circumstances because he didn’t want them to trust in the circumstances when they change, but in Him. He wanted them to learn to trust in I AM, not in the wind dying or the waves decreasing.

I don’t know about you, but when I am afraid, I want God to change my circumstances. Sometimes he does, sometimes not. What God wants me to do is to trust I AM.

PRAYER: Lord, when we are afraid we hope and pray for things to change rather than praying for more trust in You. Help us remember that I AM is the master of all and that what is really important is trusting you is and not in changing circumstances. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/18/17 – Bronzing Your Flip Flops

DayBreaks for 8/18/17: Bronzing Your Flip Flops

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2007:

The Associated Press ran a story recently about a Virginia woman says she’s still alive because of 2 things: her faith and her flip-flops.  It seems that Marie Drackert was watching the weather on television in her York County home July 29th of this year when a bolt of lightning came down her chimney and shot out through her fireplace. The lightning fried appliances and sent a jolt of electricity through her body.

Ms. Drackert says that it was the rubber in her flip-flops that kept her grounded and her faith kept her going, even though the impact from the lightning strike was so strong that she believed a plane had crashed into the roof of her home. 

The lightning blew out Drackert’s washer and dryer, television, telephone, stereo, microwave oven, toaster, coffee pot and a brand-new air conditioning unit. Parts of her home’s floor and walls were also damaged.  After ravaging her home, the bolt shot out and damaged the homes of two neighbors as well. 

Drackert says she’s thinking about getting the flip-flops bronzed. 

I don’t know this lady and I’m not making judgments about her faith, but I found the story interesting.  I’m not sure what she meant when she said her faith “kept her going”, but instead of getting the flip-flops bronzed and instead of crediting them for saving her life, maybe a bit of praise and thanksgiving are in order.  After all, does she really think it was the flip-flops that saved her life, of the grace of the good Lord?  It could have just been the press that didn’t mention the name of Jesus in the article (that’s a very real possibility!), but when things like this (and things bigger and smaller) happen to us as believers, the more credit that we give to the Lord, the better.  The world needs to see the power of the Almighty God and to understand that nature is not God, and God is not nature.  There’s a reason He’s called “supernatural”.  He is far above nature – and can control it at will.

I find that I often flip-flop between acts of faith and praise and acts of cowardice and discontent.  I pray to have those kind of flip-flops removed.  They don’t deserve to be bronzed.

PRAYER: Jesus, please remove the flip-flops from my life that I can be a more consistent witness for You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/17/17 – Falling Stars and Fleeting Days

DayBreaks for 8/17/17: Falling Stars and Fleeting Days

Note from Galen: Sorry for all the DayBreaks repeats these past few months. I happen to be in a very busy season of life right now. Oh, yeah, yesterday was my anniversary, so I took the day off from DayBreaks! I appreciate your understanding!

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2007:

On Sunday evening, 8/12, some friends and my wife and I sat out on our deck and watched about 2 hours worth of the Perseid meteor shower.  I’d read about it before, so I was familiar with what it was.  Basically, for those who may not know, it’s when the earth passes through the tail of a comet (Swift-Tuttle) that originates in the Perseus constellation.  The effect of passing through this comet’s “tail” has been observed for over 2000 years, and if you missed it, don’t worry: it happens every summer and peaks at about August 12 each year.  Some of the effects we observed were rather insignificant – faint streaks of light that happened so quickly that you didn’t dare blink or you’d miss them entirely – but others were very bright and left a long, glowing streak across the sky as the particles flamed out in the atmosphere.

There is a song by Fernando Ortega in which he contemplates God’s protection and Presence with us.  In that song, one line goes as follows: “My days are passing by like falling stars that blaze across the night sky and then they are gone…”  The Perseids gave me new perspective on exactly what that means.  And I paused in my heart to take stock of my life.  Life truly does fly by like blazing “falling stars”, does it not?  Scripture talks about it as a mist that appears for a short time and then vanishes…I think Fernando’s take on it is more apt and seemingly (at least to me) much more realistic.  Blink, and you miss it.  Blink, and it is gone, over, done.

I don’t know how long the Lord will permit me to abide on the face of the earth.  I’m 55 years old now (65 as of 2017).  From the actuarial tables, I’ve got maybe 10 years left.  10 years.  The first 20 went by so quickly, and the years from 20 to 40 even faster.  Let’s not even discuss my perspective on how fast I got from 40 to 65.  It’s frightening to contemplate.  And if I’m lucky and blessed, I may see another 15-20 years, but with the history of cardiac problems in my family, the odds are probably against that happening, but God knows. 

So, what am I to make of all this?  I suppose there are several things that come to my mind:

FIRST: I wonder what it will actually be like to die.  It struck me with new force that it’s an experience we can’t really prepare ourselves for – we just don’t know how it feels until we go through it.  Last night as I contemplated this, I wished I could ask my father what it’s like – since he’s been there and is now at home with our Lord.  I will NOT escape that experience, no matter how much I might wish to, or how good I’ve been.  I can only say that I hope it will be like falling asleep and waking up to see the Lord’s face smiling at me. 

SECOND: I ponder all the things that I’ve wanted to do in life, but that I’ve not yet done.  Places I’d like to see.  Friends I’d like to see “one more time.”  Problems and temptations that I’d like to “overcome” before I say my final farewell to earth and fly to meet Him.  Some of those things are unimportant – such as the places I’d like to see.  But what haunts me is the thought: “As I lay on my death bed, what will be my biggest regret?”  If I could answer that question and then manipulate human history and events, then I’d put that question to rest.  But, alas, I cannot manipulate life, and I don’t know until I reach the moment of death what will be my biggest regret at that moment in time.  But, methinks it’s worth thinking about. 

THIRD: I can see the holes in my character, and their size is humbling.  I see many of the faults in my obedience and love for God and others.  Those are humbling, too.  So what’s a man or woman to do who stops long enough to take stock of life and a future of unknown and uncertain duration?  I don’t know about you, but I take great comfort in these words of Scripture from Paul’s pen in Philippians 1:3-6 (NIV) – I thank my God every time I remember you.  In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.  I’m glad that Paul didn’t say that he himself would have to complete what God had started.  How much better that the one who began that work in us (God Himself!) will see to its completion in ME…and in you!  Although it is beyond my ken and comprehension, I have God’s word on it.  And if that’s not good enough to launch out into eternity, then what is?

PRAYER: Thank You, Father, for falling stars and the sweet days of life that flee from east to west in the twinkle of an eye.  Life is sweet, Lord, and it is precious.  May we remember what a great gift this is that You’ve given us.  Thank You for Your Faithful Word and Promise to bring us to spotless perfection in Christ Jesus.  You are amazing.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/15/17 – It Takes a While

DayBreaks for 8/15/17: It Takes a While

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2007:

God certainly has different ways than we do.  We all like to do things in the easiest, most simple way possible.  We aren’t given to wanting to work harder or longer than we absolutely have to.  And so, we take shortcuts and labor hard to find the quickest way to get somewhere. 

When we go on vacation and have a specific destination in mind, I tend to be pedal to the metal until we get there.  I’ll look at the map and find the shortest and most direct route to get where we’re going.  In fact, I not only look at the mileage, but the amount of time each route will take.  I really want to get there!  I’m often not much for appreciating the journey itself.  Just this past summer (2006), my wife and I drove to Iowa for a family reunion.  No dilly-dallying around.  We high-tailed it as fast as we could.  We didn’t have a lot of time, nor a lot of money, to lolly-gag on our way.  “Interstate 80, here we come” – all the way from California to Iowa. 

God, it is clear, has other ways of “traveling”.  Take Israel, for instance, as they came out of Egypt.  The most direct route would have taken Israel northeast along a path that curved around the southeast corner of the Mediterranean Sea.  The distance would have been a mere 200 miles or so.  Even with a group as large as the nation of Israel, such a trek could have been managed in 2-3 weeks at most. 

But God had a “better idea.”  I can’t imagine how Israel felt on the first morning when the pillar of cloud headed not to the northeast, but to the southeast.  The Bible even tells us why this happened.  It wasn’t because God had a bad sense of direction.  It was because God knew that along the route would be strong armies that Israel would have to fight.  And God knew that if they encountered such difficulty, things could be really bad.  Here’s what the Word says: (Exodus 13:17-18 (NIV) – When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter.  For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.”  So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt armed for battle.

You see, it wasn’t that Israel didn’t have weapons to do battle – it explicitly says they left Egypt “armed for battle.”  So the problem wasn’t armaments, it was a heart problem.  For 400 years, Israel had been slaves.  They thought of themselves as slaves – a subordinate, powerless, third rate people with a God that had been on vacation for 4 centuries.  Sure, some of them remembered the stories of how God had dealt with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph, but they had not had personal experience of God at work.  At least, not that they could see. 

So, the point is that Israel didn’t know God and had no reason (as far as they were concerned) to trust Him if they encountered an enemy.  They needed to learn to follow and believe in Him and His goodness.  And that takes time.  As someone once said, “It took one night to get Israel out of Egypt, but it took 40 years to get Egypt out of Israel.” 

I sometimes get frustrated with the rate at which I make spiritual progress.  I know others who feel the same way.  I hear it often: “I feel I should be a better Christian by now,” or “I feel like I should not still be struggling with this issue.”  I hear it all the time.  But the point is that God is as patient with us as He was with Israel, and that He will choose the route to the Promised Land that ensures us that when we get there, we’ll have learned to trust Him. 

It takes a long time to get Egypt (earth) out of our focus and onto God as all that we need.  How are you doing?

PRAYER: Father, thank you for choosing the right pathway for each one of our lives as we traverse this world.  Thank you for leading us out of slavery, through the desert, and into a place of learning and trusting in you.  Help us to learn our lessons well, Lord.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/14/17 – Seeking God

DayBreaks for 8/14/17: Seeking God

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2007:

I love the story of the prodigal son.  It is my favorite story that Jesus told.  As a father, I can understand the emotions in the story.  As a wayward child, I can understand what it feels like to return home again.  As the older brother, I can see my envy and pride that keeps me from rejoicing with what is good.  There is one thing, though, that I think is unique about this story.  Jesus describes the father as running to greet his home-coming son.  To the best of my knowledge, I can’t think of another situation in the Bible where God runs to meet anyone.  That doesn’t mean He doesn’t meet them, or come to us.  After all, Jesus “came” to seek and save the lost.  We could not have bridged the gap ourselves by raising ourselves up to heaven to reach Him.  So it is necessary for God to come to us.  But run to us?  That’s something that a father just doesn’t do in the middle eastern cultures.

And while I love the idea that God, in Jesus, stooped so low as to come to us, Jesus also plainly encourages us to “SEEK and ye shall find…”  Elsewhere, we’re told that if we seek God with all our heart, that He will be found.  I find great comfort in that – sort of.  The question is: how do I know when I’m seeking him with ALL my heart?  I can easily deceive myself.

In Hearing God, Dallas Willard talks about our role in seeking God: “Generally speaking, God will not compete for our attention.  Occasionally, a Saul gets knocked to the ground and so on, but we should expect that in most cases God will NOT run over us.  We must be open to the possibility of God’s addressing us in whatever way he chooses, or else we may walk right past a burning bush instead of saying, as Moses did, “I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why they bush is not burned up…The reality of God’s voice does not make seeking for it unnecessary.  When I seek for something, I look for it everywhere.  It is when we seek God earnestly, prepared to go out of our way to examine anything that might be his overture toward us – including the most obvious things like Bible verses or our own thoughts – that he promises to be found (Jer. 29:13).  But we will be able to seek Him only if we honestly believe that he might explicitly address us in ways suitable to his purposes in our lives.”

I fear that many times I’m far too lazy.  I want God to do all the work.  And in a sense, He has.  But we must still seek Him while He may be found.  And if we do, it is then that I believe He runs to meet us.

PRAYER: Give us hearts and energy to seek you early in the morning, at noontime, at night, and always.  May we want You more than anything! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/11/17 – In Union With Christ

DayBreaks for 8/11/17: In Union With Christ

From the DayBreaks archive, 8/9/2007:

The following excerpts were from an Orthodox priest, Stephen Freeman.  I hope they spur your thinking…

“True Christianity is a life lived in union with Christ and all that we do that has value is what we do in union with Him.

It is in reflecting on this that I ponder many conversations I hear (or overhear).  Many times I hear myself or others expressing dismay or anxiety over a situation, or plotting to achieve one goal or another. The frightening dynamic in many of these conversations – let alone the actions that flow from them – is the dynamic of secularism.  We live as though there were no God, or as if the God Who Exists is not able to act within our world.  Having decided what is in God’s best interest, or the interest of the faith, we design our efforts (perhaps even thinking to please Him).

“But God does not seek to be pleased by actions taken in separation from Him.  It is union with God that saves us (and this alone).  Neither can we undertake any activity that has a saving character except that activity be taken in union with Christ.

“Why should we love our enemies and pray for them?  Because there is little else you can do for them that is in union with Christ.  You cannot seek vengeance in union with Christ.  You cannot even seek to “fix” other people in union with Christ.  The action of Christ is always respectful of our freedom and always acts in love.  Action in union with Christ cannot have some other character.

“Actions such as kindness and mercy, patience and love are easily lived in union with Christ.  But our secular mindset rarely sees such actions as useful.”

I was struck recently as I studied the life of Jacob by Jacob’s methodology in Genesis 32.  This is just before he is scheduled to meet up with his brother, Esau.  The last time they’d been together, Jacob had been running for his life, and he didn’t know how Esau would now respond.  So, Jacob makes his plans and puts them into action.  Then, in verse 9, after he’s put his plans into action, he prays to God for blessing and protection.  It strikes me that the sequence is reversed, or should be.  Shouldn’t we seek God’s will and plan before we put our own into place?  Why don’t we?  Partly, I think, because of what Freeman says in the second paragraph above: “we live as though there were not God, or as if the god Who Exists is not able to act within our world.” 

It is only those who are believers who can be guilty of this shortcoming.  Why are we smitten with this disease of thinking that I Am isn’t able to act in the world today?  Perhaps it’s mostly because we’ve never asked Him to really reveal Himself to us.  Perhaps it’s because we don’t even have the faith to ask Him to act in the first place, or we hedge our bets in our prayers with phrases like, “If it is your will…”.  Mind you, it’s not a bad thing to pray for God’s will to be done.  It’s biblical.  But it’s also just as biblical (in fact, there may be more examples of this than the prior) to boldly ask God for exactly what we want – be it a loaf of bread, a drink of water in the desert, the parting of the waters or the ability to walk on their surface.  But we don’t do this very often – we’re afraid that others will hear us, and if we don’t get what we asked for, will think we’re not very spiritual. 

Freeman’s point is valid: we need to live in union with God, joining ourselves to Him and His purposes and His desires.  And that includes living and acting as if He still exists and will do great things that we can’t imagine.

PRAYER:  Lord, teach us to live in union with you, to not become dismayed or anxious, to not plot our own victories and deliverances, but to wait patiently and always act in union with You.  Don’t let us run ahead of you, or lag behind, but always walk by Your side.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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