DayBreaks for 4/20/18 – Coloring Outside the Lines

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DayBreaks for 4/20/18: Coloring Outside the Lines 

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2008:

My granddaughter, Kailani, is now 5, and she’s very good with crayons and colored pens.  One of her favorite things to do when I get to her place is to invite me to sit down and color with her.  We’ll use the same coloring book – she’ll take one page and I’ll take the facing page.  She is VERY particular about staying inside the lines.  Maybe that’s why she wants us working on the same pages – that way she can keep an eye on my coloring to see if she approves!!!!

I, too, still love to color.  I always have.  I don’t do it except when I’m with my grandkids.  Strange.  But I recall the outlines of shapes and people, and the joy of deciding what colors to use and turning a blasé page into a genuine work of art (well, maybe just a colored page!)  It bothers Kailani if I color outside the lines, and it bothers teachers, and it bothers me, too.  The creator of the work intended for people to color INSIDE the lines, not outside.  If all you do is color outside, the beauty is not revealed in its fullest. 

Now-a-days, some “experts” are saying that it is harmful to a child’s development to tell them to stay inside the lines.  They say that the child shouldn’t be restricted from someone else’s view of reality, and that if they want to color outside the lines, well, that’s just fine. 

I’m not so sure.  It seems to me that coloring outside the lines is dangerous…and can have serious, even deadly, implications in other areas of life.  Stop and think of “coloring outside the lines” as a metaphor for life, rules and restrictions.  Especially God’s boundaries.

God himself sets lines and boundaries.  He did it in creation by telling the sea that it could only go so far and no further: Should you not fear me?, declares the Lord.  Should you not tremble in my presence?  I made the sand a boundary for the sea, an everlasting barrier it cannot cross.  The waves may roll, but they cannot prevail; they may roar, but they cannot cross it. – (Jer. 5:22)

The barriers (lines, if you will) that God set forth are not intended to limit our self-expression, but to direct it towards things that result in life and a deeper relationship with God Himself.  To think we know better than our Creator and decide it is okay to operate outside the boundaries that He wisely and kindly gave us, is confusing self-expression with self-indulgence.  It is to place ourselves in judgment on the Judge of all the earth.

Psalm 16:6: The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.

PRAYER:  Thank You, Father, for setting boundaries for our well-being and protection.  Teach us to live within the wise lines You have drawn for us as our Creator.  May the pattern of our lives lived on this earth be a thing of beauty to You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 4/19/18 – Habakkuk’s Circumstances – Deja Vu

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DayBreaks for 4/19/18: Habakkuk’s Circumstances (Déjà vu)     

I will refer you to Habakkuk 1.2-4 as a background for this DayBreaks.

Here’s the scenario: Habakkuk, a prophet in Judea, looks around himself and sees that the “righteous” (in whose number he includes himself) are surrounded by the wicked. He sees so-called justice that is really injustice. He sees iniquity. He sees destruction and violence running rampant. Strife and contention are everywhere and the law seems paralyzed. As bad as that is, what really is bothering Habakkuk is that he has been crying out to the Lord for help – and not seeing any help coming to his rescue.

This is going to get a bit sensitive here because I’m going to delve into politics. Bear with me, please. Habakkuk mixed the two – righteousness and justice. As much as some would like to totally separate the two, we can’t. Why is it wrong to steal from someone, both morally and ethically? Because it results in injustice to the person who had things taken. Justice is both a moral and political issue methinks.

And here’s where it’s gonna get touchy: there are many in America today who are feeling a lot like Habakkuk. They are right – there is much to despair over because of what they see happening (or not happening). They can’t understand why God has let some things happen and why he hasn’t come down with an iron rod and set things straight. And as a result, they cry out – but not maybe so much to God as to their friends on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and via email.

I think that Habakkuk had a far better approach to venting his frustration. Isn’t it better to cry out to God when we are despairing? We may not like the answer (or non-answer) we get from God, but it is HIS answer, so it is bound to be better than that which we get from our friends. Our dilemma is whether or not we believe his answers and ways are good or not. He is the God who raises up rulers and tears them down – not for our satisfaction, but for his immutable reasons. 

Indeed, God may yet come down with a rod of iron to fix what is wrong in this world (we know he will eventually, but he can fix things in the meantime, too, if in his infinite wisdom he knows that it is the right thing to do). There IS much injustice. There IS much violence, strife and contention. Those things need to be fixed – and they will.

But rather than crying out to everyone else around us, maybe like Habakkuk we should be crying out to God. Oh, and one more thing: maybe we need to be on our knees a whole lot more on behalf of our president, congresspersons, governors, magistrates, etc. than we have been. I wonder how often those who have railed the most against the political and moral state of affairs in our country are taking the command from Paul that we are to pray for our leaders (1 Timothy 2.2 – and bear in mind the leader Paul told people to pray for at that time as an utterly unjust, evil tyrant named Nero.) What, I wonder, would happen if Christians in the country and around the world truly started to pray for their leaders like we should? Not pray that they be smitten, but pray for their well-being, for righteousness to find a place to rule in their hearts, to seek God’s answers, to find salvation and God’s ways rather than the guidance of human advisors. Remember that prayer is offering our desires to God, but always with the attitude of “nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done.” Might God just hear from heaven and heal our land?

PRAYER: Convict us of the need to pray for all of our leaders far more than we feel the need to criticize them, Lord! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/18/18 – A Home We’ve Never Visited

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DayBreaks for 4/18/18: A Home We’ve Never Visited

From the DayBreaks archive, dated 3/18/2005:

I am often possessed by a sense of great sadness at the amount of pain in the world.  No one – not one – is immune to the suffering, pain and disappointment.   It searches us out as a mother looks for a lost child.  And it always finds us.  Yet there is still nothing like going home.  For anyone who had anything approaching a normal upbringing, “home” is sweet music to our world-weary souls.  It promises remembrances of safety, of love, of belonging and being cherished.  It fires joy into our hearts and longing into our spirits.  Home.  Perhaps the finest place on earth.  But there is only one place that is home, and much of the rest of the world is brutal and heartbreaking.

Philip Yancey, in Disappointment With God, wrote: “For people who are trapped in pain, or in a broken home, or in economic misery, or in fear – for all those people, for all of us, heaven promises a time, far longer and more substantial than the time we spent on earth, of health and wholeness and pleasure and peace.  …The Bible never belittles human disappointment (remember the proportion in Job – one chapter of restoration follows forty-one chapters of anguish), but it does add one key word: temporary.  What we feel now, we will not always feel.  Our disappointment is itself a sign, an aching, a hunger for something better.  And faith is, in the end, a kind of homesickness – for a home we have never visited but have never once stopped longing for.”

 T.S. Eliot put it like this:

“And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time.”

Rev. 21: 1-4 – Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a beautiful bride prepared for her husband.  I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, the home of God is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will remove all of their sorrows, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. For the old world and its evils are gone forever.

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

PRAYER: It is hard to understand the requests of the disciples until we put ourselves in their place, Lord, and realize that we would have likely done the same thing.  Help us not to seek our glory, but yours!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

DayBreaks for 4/16/18 – Can’t You See?

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DayBreaks for 4/16/18: Can’t You See?       

From the Perimeter worship bulletin (this forms an introduction to a series of sermons and DayBreaks from the book of Habakkuk that I’ll share in the coming weeks):

“Can’t you see, oh can’t you see, what that woman, she been doing’ to me? Can’t you see, can’t you see, what that woman, Lord, been doing’ to me?” – lyric from the Marshall Tucker band

It was a question the Marshall Tucker band asked in the 1970’s. Waylon Jennings asked the same question. More recently, the Zac Brown band asked it. The writer is upset because his woman left him, and did not say goodbye. He is at the point of despair. He is “…gonna take a freight train, or find a hole to craw in” because he has no relief. He is asking why the Lord can’t see his misery, or that he’s been “done wrong.”

Have you ever felt that way or asked the question, “Can’t you see, God?” I have asked the Lord that on numerous occasions. It seems funny as I write it, that I would actually ask the omniscient God if he can see. The gentle but firm reality is that he can see. I am the one who cannot see. He may not be telling me what he does see. Be assured that he sees. Sometimes in our frustration at life’s situations, we want to be all knowing and all seeing. Something has not been granted to us, and so we ask, “Can’t you see?” Underneath that question we add a corollary, “Won’t you deal with what I see?”

There is a problem with doing that. Because we don’t fully see, we may not know how to tell him the right thing to do. A word picture may help. Sit with your back to a window, then try to recall everything that is outside the window. You may be a few things correct, but birds are flying, leaves are falling, and the sun is rising. Things change and often they are in your blind spot, where you cannot notice them. God sees all, all of the time. One pastor put it this way, “We may have a point of view, but God has view!”

So, this week…we wonder if you can praise the Lord for having view, resting in the fact that he has it, he sees it, and he knows just want needs to be done. Yes, he knows “what that woman (or man) been doin’ to you”, so there is no need to take a freight train!

PRAYER: God, sometimes we think we see and understand better than you do. Keep us from this foolish way of thinking and help us learn to trust you and your vision above our own! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/13/18 – A Look into God’s Heart

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DayBreaks for 4/13/18: A Look into God’s Heart   

The stories in Joshua are fascinating. They’ve finished their punishment for doubting in the wilderness. The bones of the generation that left Egypt, with the exception of Joshua and Caleb, lay bleaching in the wilderness sun.  They’ve come to the Jordan and crossed it. They defeated Jericho with the commander of the Lord’s army winning the victory. The people had to be excited about the great victory!

Then comes a rather tragic incident. Not long afterwards, the Israelites go up against the relatively insignificant (compared to Jericho!) town of Ai. At Ai, they are resoundingly defeated. Joshua and the rest of the Israelites had to be confounded. Hadn’t God promised them the land and victory? Yes, but it was always conditional on following God’s commands. And one man, Achan, out of the entire Hebrew people, had kept some spoils (which was forbidden by God) from the victory and hidden them. That is what led to the defeat – you see, God knew and saw what had happened. And so this was a very strong lesson to the Israelites that God was serious when he gave commands. He expected them to be obeyed.

After the sin of Achan is dealt with, Israel goes on to battle against 5 kings near Gibeon – and they are again decisive victors! But there was something special that happened: the sun stood still in the sky so Israel could finish defeating the attacking kings. This is what it says: There has been no day like it before or since, when the LORD heeded the voice of a man, for the LORD fought for Israel.Joshua 10:14

This shows us two things about God’s heart:

FIRST: He means what he says. Just ask Achan and the Israelites who fell in battle because of one man’s sinful rebellion. And since God never changes – what he said long ago is still true today – and he still means what he says.

SECOND: How quick the Lord is to forgive and restore! Yes, Israel had been punished, but it says that God heeded the voice of a man and fought for Israel. Why? Because they were his people – and he loved them!

Our God loved his people long ago, and since he never changes, he still loves his people today whether they are red, yellow, brown, black or white. He doesn’t care what language we speak, or what gender we are, or what country we live in. It is his desire, even after disciplining us, to return us to his favor and grant his blessing!

You may have failed him, but don’t lose heart. Return in repentance and you WILL be welcomed!

PRAYER: Thank you for being the God of second, third and one billionth chances! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/12/18 – Take Two Tablets

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DayBreaks for 4/12/18: Take Two Tablets

When there is something wrong with our bodies, often the doctor will prescribe some medicine: “Take two tablets and call me in the morning.” But what of spiritual sickness? Where can a nation, or even a person, go to find moral and ethical grounding? What is the basis for determining what is right and good?

Some would say that we can rely on public opinion – but think about that for a moment. How fickle is public opinion? It changes nearly every time someone posts something on social media or gets vocal enough that they get on the news about this cause or that cause. And people immediately leap onto the bandwagon until someone else comes along who is equally loud but espousing a different viewpoint. Allegiances and opinions change quickly.

Perhaps, some might suggest, we should trust our courts or legislators. ‘Nuff said about that!!! I think I’d rather trust a hungry crocodile than most legislators to decide what is good and right.

Let me suggest something a bit firmer than public opinion or court rulings. Do you remember something called the 10 Commandments?

They were written on two tablets made of stone (which suggests permanency, and I would suggest that if a nation or some individual is morally sick, they just need to take those two tablets to heart and they’ll soon feel better!

You might object that the old law was done away. Well, you’d be partly right. The ceremonial part was obliterated as there was no more need for the washings or slaughtering of animals after the Lamb’s blood cleansed us. But the moral part never has changed. Jesus himself said that he didn’t come to destroy the old law, but to fulfill it. He also said that not even one tiny dot of it would pass away. That means the moral part is as valid today as it ever was. It is still wrong to use God’s name in vain, or have idols, to give anything priority over God, or steal or murder or lie or commit adultery or envy. When Jesus claimed that if we kept the two greatest commandments that we have kept the entirety of the law, he essentially was breaking the 10 Commandments down into 2: the part that had to do with proper relationship toward God and the part that had to do with the relationship with other humans. Interestingly, all of the 10 Commandments deal with those two things!

The tablets on which the 10 Commandments were written were intended to be good medicine for us. Stuggling with your moral bearings? Take two tablets and call God in the morning!

PRAYER: Lord, let us be grounded in moral and ethical righteousness by paying attention to your immutable Word and law that never changes – because you never change! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/11/18 – Preferring the 99

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DayBreaks for 4/11/18: Preferring the 99

Matthew 18:12-14 (NIV) – What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.

This is a painful passage for me. Sadly, while I think it should also be a challenging and painful passage for the church, I think in many cases we read it and fly right past it.

This passage gets to the very core of God’s heart. Who is it that owns the sheep in the passage? It is God, certainly. And while he has a sheep-fold full of sheep, he isn’t content with that. He knows there is still one out there that hasn’t come home with him, that is lost and in grave danger.

So what does he do? He goes out looking for it. There is no guarantee that he will be able to bring it home…for the passage says And if he finds it…. Some sheep don’t want to be found, and perhaps even more sadly, some perish before they are found.

Pay attention to the last sentence. He is not willing that ANY of these little ones should be lost. It’s not that he’s content if just a handful are lost…he’s not willing for even a single one to perish.

Which brings me to the painful part. Why does my heart not beat with the same passion for the lost sheep?

I fear that the church as a whole (I know there are many exceptions) prefers the ninety-nine. We prefer the comfort of the sheep-fold and seldom, if ever, venture out. We like to hang with other Christians (at least, I hope we do!) But if we lose sight of the heart of God from this passage, we may have missed God entirely. This is precisely why Jesus came: not to celebrate with the 99 but to “go out”. Does Jesus like it when Christians enjoy each other? Of course. But he will quickly leave us behind to find a single lost one.

When is the last time you brought someone to Christ – not just to church – but to saving knowledge of Christ? We should all have the urgency of Oskar Schindler who when the war was over, was heartbroken that he’d not done more, that he could have saved one more. Where is that passion in us?

Church, let us be challenged. Let us go out with the great Shepherd to find the lost so that not ANY should be lost!  

PRAYER: Jesus, I confess that it is far easier to sit in the pew than to leave the sheep-fold to find a lost lamb. I confess I have done far too much of the former and not nearly enough of the latter. Change us, give us your passion, fill us with your mission, let us hear your heartbeat clearly. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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