DayBreaks for 11/17/17 – Win the War, Lose the Victory

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DayBreaks for 11/17/17: Win the War, Lose the Victory

NOTE: Galen is traveling…again.

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

There are 79 countries around the world that have a problem with unexploded landmines.  Over 110 million unexploded landmines lie buried in these countries.  There are estimated to be 37 million unexploded mines in Africa, Angola alone has 10 million, with 70,000 amputee children.  A landmine can remain deadly for up to 50 years. 

Gideon is a fascinating character in the Old Testament.  As one of Israel’s judges (more is written about him in the book of Judges than any other character) he defeated 120,000 of the enemy with 300 men armed only with pitchers, ram’s horns for trumpets and lanterns.  Pretty heady stuff.  But he’s also known as the man who asked God for a fleece, even after he’d already been told by God what He was going to do and after God had already given him another sign.  In fact, Gideon had at least 4 signs from God before the battle began!  Still…his name is in the roll call of the great people of faith in Hebrews 11, and mine isn’t!

But what happened after the battle is what is often overlooked.  Gideon had started out fearful and humble.  God won a great victory over the enemies of Israel through Gideon.  And after the battle and its immediate aftermath, Gideon seems to have lost some perspective.  He acted in a very vindictive manner against the foreign kings and against the people of the tribe of Gad.  He told the people that he wouldn’t be king, but that the Lord would rule over them, but there’s no indication that he ever called the nation to repentance and worship of the one true God.  He started living as if he were a king…and in fact, he named one of his sons, Abimelech, which means “my father is king”.  He was wealthy and seems to have grown a bit lackadaisical.  Abimelech was one of 70 sons born to Gideon, and he wound up murdering his 69 brothers.

At the end of the battle, it appears that all will end well with Gideon, that he’s now a solid man with his head screwed on straight.  But there were landmines in his heart and in the things that surrounded him.  And clearly, judging by the results to his family, the dangers of war linger long after the last battle had taken place.  Heroes in battle are not always heroes in everyday life. 

Presbyterian pastor Andrew Bonar wisely said, “Let us be as watchful after the victory as before the battle.”  We have been given a great victory by the Lord our God – victory over death, over sin, over the old man and even victory over the enemy of our souls.  But, let’s not forget that there are plenty of landmines out there waiting for a wayward step.  We need to be watchful. 

No matter who you are, moral laxness will cause problems.  Just because you have won a single battle with temptation does not mean you will automatically win the next one.  We need to be constantly watchful against temptation.  Sometimes Satan’s strongest attacks come after a victory.

Psalms 60:12 (NIV) With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies.

PRAYER: Lord, we are grateful for what You have done for us and through us.  Thank You for the victories – great and small, that we experience because of You.  Help us to watch our step and be ever alert, for even though the war is won, we don’t want to lose victories along the way.   In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 11/16/17 – As If

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DayBreaks for 11/16/17: As If

NOTE: Galen is traveling…again.

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

Playing God.  It’s something that we accuse doctors of doing at times, or even other folks who are trying to control everything and everyone.  It’s a ridiculous concept, if you really stop to think of it.  Perhaps that’s why movies like Bruce Almighty found such an audience – it probed the depths of what it might be like if some bumbling human tried to take on the job of God.  And, God Himself challenged Job with the concept – almost saying point blank: “If you think you could do a better job, give it a spin!”  Job, fortunately, was wise enough to not take Him up on the offer. 

Here’s a different twist on the notion:

“Losing PlayStation privileges or being confined to a room would be hard enough for most children, but at the tender age of ten, Sajani Shakya almost lost her status as a living goddess.  In the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal, living goddesses—called Kumari—are chosen from the same Hindu caste as Buddha and worshiped as deity.  As Sajani soon learned, with the elevated status came elevated expectations.  Under no circumstances was she ever to leave the country.  Nepalese authorities were outraged, then, when she chose to travel to the United States to participate in a documentary that was being filmed about the Kumari tradition.  Upon her return, she received notification of termination from goddess status from Jaiprasad Regmi, chief of the government trust that manages the affairs of the living goddesses.  However, after a little pressure from the public and Sajani’s own remorse, the government has since offered a reprieve.  Sajani will retain her title if she faithfully goes through an intense cleansing process that washes her of the sins of the countries she has visited in her travels.” – AP, 7/21/07

There is a huge difference between God and the gods of men.  As if any human, or a group of “authorities” could strip a real God of His Godhood.  It can’t help but make me wonder what definition of “god” the Nepalese were operating under.  It’s preposterous to think that we can take away God’s “Godness”. 

To some extent, they are right: with greatness (and if anything constitutes greatness, surely that would be “Godhood”!) come expanded expectations.  We just need to be careful of what expectations we place on Him.  Do you expect Him to do your bidding?  Do you view Him as the Heavenly Answer-man?  In the real God we see a great dichotomy: He is the one who gives answers, he is the one who can do anything, yet we often approach him by telling him what he should do in any given situation.  And if He doesn’t, we might be tempted to lose faith in Him (in essence, stripping Him of His God-ness) in our hearts and minds. 

The Truth is that God doesn’t need us to declare Him as God.  He knows who He is.  Our problems is that often we don’t know who we are in relation to Him! 

PRAYER: Help us to grow in appreciation and awareness of Your greatness this day.  Teach us that we are nowhere close to being able to do Your job and to humbly walk before You.   In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 11/15/17 – Disappointments

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DayBreaks for 11/15/17: Disappointments

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

From The Culture Shift, Robert Lewis and Wayne Cordeiro, 2005: 

“The great missionary explorer, David Livingstone, served in Africa from 1840 until his death in 1873.  Pastors Robert Lewis and Wayne Cordeiro tell of an incident from Livingstone’s life that illustrates why we need to be thankful in all things.

“David Livingstone was eager to travel into the uncharted lands of Central Africa to preach the gospel. On one occasion, the famous nineteenth-century missionary and explorer arrived at the edge of a large territory that was ruled by a tribal chieftain. According to tradition, the chief would come out to meet him there; Livingstone could go forward only after an exchange was made. The chief would choose any item of Livingstone’s personal property that caught his fancy and keep it for himself, while giving the missionary something of his own in return.

“Livingstone had few possessions with him, but at their encounter he obediently spread them all out on the ground—his clothes, his books, his watch, and even the goat that provided him with milk (since chronic stomach problems kept him from drinking the local water). To his dismay, the chief took this goat. In return, the chief gave him a carved stick, shaped like a walking stick.

“Livingstone was most disappointed. He began to gripe to God about what he viewed as a stupid walking cane. What could it do for him compared to the goat that kept him well? Then one of the local men explained, “That’s not a walking cane. It’s the king’s very own scepter, and with it you will find entrance to every village in our country. The king has honored you greatly.”

“The man was right. God opened Central Africa to Livingstone, and as successive evangelists followed him wave after wave of conversions occurred.  Sometimes, in our disappointment over what we don’t have, we fail to appreciate the significance of what God has given us.”

Disappointments are a dime-a-dozen.  I just finished teaching the story of Joseph in one of our Bible studies.  The thing that struck me about Joseph is that he had plenty of opportunity to be disappointed and discouraged at many of the things that had happened to him.  The jealousy of his own brothers seemingly knew no bounds.  He was thrown into a pit, presumably to be left for dead, but wound up being sold by his own blood into a life of slavery.  He went to prison after being falsely accused.  He was forgotten by someone he’d helped who could have gotten him out of prison.  He lived with the pressure of answering to the most powerful man in the world, and lived with the risk of failing in his mission to save the lives of the Egyptian people if his plan went awry.  He lived with the frustration of not knowing how his father and brothers were doing – or if they were even alive – for they were alienated by affection and distance.  He had plenty of opportunity to be disappointed in how his life had gone. 

Why didn’t Joseph get discouraged?  Because he knew he didn’t really answer to the most powerful man in the world – he answered to God, the very God who orchestrated all the events of his life.  I’m so impressed with his attitude in Genesis 45, realizing that God had led him through all those things for His purposes. 

If you are living a life of frustration and disappointment, I believe it is because we don’t see God’s hand in everything – turning evil to good for us – and we blame others for bad things, or even ourselves.  And seeing God’s overarching guidance and direction relieves us from the necessity of revenge, bitterness, unforgiveness, etc., as we learn to trust Him and to realize that the things that others may mean for our own harm, will instead turn out to our benefit.  

Are you disappointed with something that’s been taken from you or given to you?  Don’t judge too quickly – God has already given you His scepter to give you admittance to His home!

PRAYER: May we trust in You fully, and in Your goodness to us, even in the face of great evil.  Help us to not be disappointed with the lot in life that You may have charted out for us, but to see all of our lives as opportunities to know and experience Your leading.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 11/14/17 – I Don’t Believe This!

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DayBreaks for 11/14/17: I Don’t Believe This

NOTE: Galen is traveling.

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

(11-06) 13:47 PST Manson, Wash. (AP) – “Charles and Linda Everson were driving back to their hotel when their minivan was struck by a falling object — a 600-pound cow. The Eversons were unhurt but the cow, which had fallen off a cliff, had to be euthanized.

“The year-old cow fell about 200 feet from the cliff and landed on the hood of the couple’s minivan, causing heavy damage.

“A Chelan County fire chief, Arnold Baker, said the couple missed being killed by a matter of inches in the accident Sunday on a highway near Manson.

“The Eversons, visiting the area from their home in Westland, Mich., to celebrate their first wedding anniversary, were checked at Lake Chelan Community Hospital as a precaution.

“Everson, 49, said he didn’t see the cow falling and didn’t know what happened until afterward.  He said he kept repeating: “I don’t believe this. I don’t believe this.”

This story is very similar to one I wrote about a number of years ago where a cow fell from the sky and sank a trawler in the Sea of Japan.  But this time, what caught my attention wasn’t the cow or the car or the oddness of the story per se, but the reaction of Mr. Everson.  “I don’t believe this.  I don’t believe this.”  I can picture him saying that over and over (I probably would have, too!), almost as if it were a mantra.  Let’s face it, it’s not every day that a cow falls 200 feet onto the hood of your car.  Have you ever had it happen to you?  I didn’t think so! (It hasn’t happened to me, either!)

Sometimes the collision of reality and our belief about how things are makes a mess of things – especially our minds.  It’s as if we’ve decided in advance what can be real and what can’t, and that based on our understanding, reality is limited. 

As I read Mr. Everson’s words, “I don’t believe this.  I don’t believe this,” I couldn’t help but think about what some folks will say someday when there is a brilliant light up in the clouds, a trumpet blast will pierce the air, and the Almighty and glorious risen Christ will appear.  There will be many who will probably start repeating a mantra like Mr. Everson’s: “I don’t believe this.  I don’t believe this!”  They will shut their eyes and try to cover their ears, all the while muttering to themselves “I don’t believe this.  I don’t believe this.”  And they may, if they have time, open their eyes to see if it was something they’d just imagined, or if it is still “there”.  I’ll tell you now: it’ll still be there – getting closer all the time!

Sadly, our beliefs, wants and wishes don’t define reality.  Of course, I can’t prove the Second Coming of Christ to you for one simple reason: it’s not a historic event – at least, not YET.  And once it does happen, it will become provable.  But at that point it will do no good to try to wish it away or to re-define reality.  In the meantime, may we live …circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.  Eph 5:15-16

PRAYER: Father, help us not to live in the delusions of our own imaginations or in denial of reality.  Make Your truth and Your Word to become the basis for all our beliefs, hopes and dreams.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 11/13/17 – The Risk of Mortality

DayBreaks for 11/13/17: The Risk of Mortality

NOTE: Galen is traveling.

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

I’ve got to admit, I’m a bit of a news lover.  I am constantly checking to find out what’s going on in the world.  I find it fascinating.  More often than not, what I find fascinating is the way in which the news is reported, or even the idiocies that are claimed in the news story itself. 

For many of us, on 11/07/07, some great news came out from the Associated Press (imagine that!)  It seems that some medical studies have been done recently that suggest that being overweight isn’t really as bad for you as we’d all been led to believe.  Here’s part of the article:

“This is a very puzzling disconnect,” said Dr. JoAnn Manson, chief of preventive medicine at Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “That is a conundrum.”

“It was the second study by the same government scientists who two years ago first suggested that deaths from being too fat were overstated. The new report further analyzed the same data, this time looking at specific causes of death along with new mortality figures from 2004 for 2.3 million U.S. adults.

“Excess weight does not uniformly increase the risk of mortality from any and every cause, but only from certain causes,” said the study’s lead author Katherine Flegal, of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Galen’s Thoughts: I’ll bet many of you feel better after reading this, don’t you? 

What a fantasy world we live in!  Did you catch the bit of fantasy as you read through this portion of the report?  Here it is: “Excess weight does not uniformly increase the risk of mortality from any and every cause…”  Hum.  Now isn’t that interesting?  When you stop to think about it, what is the risk of mortality that we all face?  Isn’t it 100%?  I seriously doubt that, fatness or thinness aside, anyone’s risk or dying (sooner or later) will go above 100%, or below 100%.  I think that our risk of mortality is pretty doggone fixed right there at 100%, period.

It was just last night that I lay in bed thinking about mortality.  I’m a 55-year-old male, non-smoker.  I watch what I eat and try to not consume too much cholesterol or saturated fats.  I force myself to eat salads when I’d much rather be snacking down on some juicy steak.  Bluch…  Why?  To reduce my “risk of mortality”.  I’ve already had one quadruple bypass.  What are the odds of my reducing my risk of mortality to 98%, or 70%?  Z-E-R-O. 

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t take care of our bodies – they are the gift of God and the temple of the Holy Spirit according to Scripture.  I’m just pointing out, once again, that our risk of mortality is 100% and we’d better get used to that idea instead of trying to pretend that it won’t happen. 

When I was young, I couldn’t really conceive of dying.  If it would ever happen, it would be someday way off in the future, decades away – in fact, so far away that it might as well have been something that would only happen in Never-Never Land.  Now, given my family history, I might be lucky to make it another 15 years before mortality overtakes me.  How ready am I?  Good question.  How ready are you?

PRAYER: May we live this day as if it is our last, may we live tomorrow, if we are granted it, in gratefulness and thanksgiving.  May our lives be fully swallowed up in the Risen One!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 11/10/17 – Come, Sit With Me

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DayBreaks for 11/10/17: Come, Sit With Me

NOTE: Galen is traveling.

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

Today I’m just going to share this story told by Larry Crabb in his book, The Pressure’s Off (2002):

One Saturday afternoon, I decided I was a big boy and could use the bathroom without anyone’s help.  So I climbed the stairs, closed and locked the door behind me, and for the next few minutes felt very self-sufficient.

Then it was time to leave. I couldn’t unlock the door.  I tried with every ounce of my three-year-old strength, but I couldn’t do it.  I panicked. I felt again like a very little boy as the thought went through my head, “I might spend the rest of my life in this bathroom.”

My parents—and likely the neighbors—heard my desperate scream.

“Are you okay?” Mother shouted through the door she couldn’t open from the outside.  “Did you fall? Have you hit your head?”

“I can’t unlock the door!” I yelled.  “Get me out of here!”

I wasn’t aware of it right then, but Dad raced down the stairs, ran to the garage to find the ladder, hauled it off the hooks, and leaned it against the side of the house just beneath the bedroom window.  With adult strength, he pried it open, then climbed into my prison, walked past me, and with that same strength, turned the lock and opened the door.

“Thanks, Dad,” I said—and ran out to play.

That’s how I thought the Christian life was supposed to work.  When I get stuck in a tight place, I should do all I can to free myself.  When I can’t, I should pray.  Then God shows up. He hears my cry—”Get me out of here!  I want to play!”—and unlocks the door to the blessings I desire.

Sometimes he does.  But now, no longer three years old and approaching sixty, I’m realizing the Christian life doesn’t work that way.  And I wonder, are any of us content with God?  Do we even like him when he doesn’t open the door we most want opened—when a marriage doesn’t heal, when rebellious kids still rebel, when friends betray, when financial reverses threaten our comfortable way of life, when the prospect of terrorism looms, when health worsens despite much prayer, when loneliness intensifies and depression deepens, when ministries die?

God has climbed through the small window into my dark room.  But he doesn’t walk by me to turn the lock that I couldn’t budge.  Instead, he sits down on the bathroom floor and says, “Come sit with me!”  He seems to think that climbing into the room to be with me matters more than letting me out to play.

I don’t always see it that way.  “Get me out of here!” I scream.  “If you love me, unlock the door!”

Dear friend, the choice is ours.  Either we can keep asking him to give us what we think will make us happy—to escape our dark room and run to the playground of blessings—or we can accept his invitation to sit with him, for now, perhaps, in darkness, and to seize the opportunity to know him better and represent him well in this difficult world.

PRAYER: Lord, let us sit with You today and not run off into some other less beneficial and joyful activity.  May we find in You our greatest joy! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 11/9/17 – The Unhappiest Person in Scripture

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DayBreaks for 11/09/17: The Unhappiest Person in Scripture

NOTE: Galen is traveling.

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

Trivia.  How most of us love it!  And Bible trivia is exceptionally fun, I think (although as a pastor I’m always feeling the pressure if I’m engaged in a game of Bible trivia – I feel like I am expected to know all the right answers!!!)  Here’s a few for you to whet your own trivia whistle (don’t worry, these are easy ones!): who lived to be the oldest?  Who was the first murder victim?  Who had a donkey speak to him?  How many stones did David pick up to use with his sling when he went out to meet Goliath? 

See!  I told you they’d be easy ones!  But here are some tougher ones (and I don’t know that I know for sure the answers to all of them): who was the most patient person in Scripture?  Who was the apostle of love?  Who was the meekest man that ever lived?  The wisest?

I found intriguing this story about Eli Wiesel that former Secretary of State Madeline Albright shared: “Not long after September 11, I was on a panel with Eli Wiesel.  He asked us to name the unhappiest character in the Bible.  Some said Job, because of the trials he endured.  Some said Moses, because he was denied entry into the Promised Land.  Some said Mary, because she witnessed the crucifixion of her son.  Wiesel said he believed the right answer was God, because of the pain he must surely feel in seeing us fight, kill, and abuse each other in the Lord’s name.”

It would be hard to argue with Wiesel’s answer.  What am I doing today that might be adding to God’s unhappiness or sadness? 

John 13:34-35 (NIV) – A new command I give you: Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

PRAYER: Make us instruments today, Lord, that delight Your heart and who do not contribute to your unhappiness.  Help us to love one another as fully and richly as You have loved us that Your heart may rejoice!    In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.