DayBreaks for 4/25/17 – Don’t Beat Your Donkey

DayBreaks for 4/25/17: Beating Your Donkey

Note: Galen is traveling this week.

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2007:

The story of Balaam and his talking donkey is in Numbers 22.  Balaam was on his way to do something wrong, riding happily along on his donkey, when the way was blocked by an angel that the donkey could see but that Balaam couldn’t.  (That should have been the first clue that Balaam was blind to spiritual things!!!)  Because Balaam couldn’t see the angel and he was impatient, he started to beat the donkey.  Imagine his surprise when the donkey asked why he was beating her (vs. 28)!  Well, if it wasn’t humbling enough for Balaam to be questioned by a donkey, in Numbers 22:32, he is asked by God’s angel (who Balaam can now see): Why have you beaten your donkey…?  I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me. 

In a World Magazine, May 2, 1998 article titled “Donkey Talk”, Jay Grelen noted how a friend told him that he (Jay) acted as if he had a “sense of entitlement”, i.e., that he deserved to be treated a certain way, to be given certain privileges and treatment.  Jay was shocked, but came to see the words from his friend like the words from the donkey of Balaam.  Note what he says in his article: “Here’s what He (God) tells believers throughout the Bible: ‘I have redeemed you, yes, but I still hate, yes, with a burning passion, the sin in you as much as I hate the sin in those yet unredeemed.’  I needed to hear that.  I had convinced myself that my sins, especially the “small ones”, were less reprehensible in me than in others.”

“God exposed my superior attitude (which I kept neatly hidden even from my view) and showed how my sense of superiority led to my Sense of Entitlement.  ‘Of course I deserve more money, a better house, a book deal, a Pulitzer Prize, a comfortable life.’  ‘Why do you want to with a Pulitzer Prize?’, God asked.  “You know, God, so we can have believers succeeding in secular journalism.  So I can be a witness of You.’  ‘Tell me again?’  ‘Um, so I can make more money and be famous and rich and have a book deal.'”

“…a Sense of Entitlement fuels discontent and ingratitude – but I needed a reminder that when I think I deserve more, I’m saying God hasn’t given me enough.  In complaining about my situation, I’m biting the Hand that blesses me by already giving me more than enough…”

Galen’s Thoughts:  In the Old Testament, Shimei, one of Saul’s descendants was spitting on and mocking David as he fled from Absolom’s rebellion.  One of David’s men wanted to kill Shimei for disrespecting the king, but David wouldn’t let him.  David said, in essence, “No.  He may be right.  God may want me to hear what Shimei is saying.  I may need to hear it – no matter how uncomfortable it is.” 

Is God using some of your two-legged friends in your life as a “talking donkey” to give you a message you might not otherwise hear?  If so, don’t beat them – thank God for them!  You may be headed down a crooked and perverse path and He is warning you – perhaps even through the words of a donkey!

PRAYER:  Thank you, Lord, for the many ways you try to break through to us, to get our attention and turn us back to your ways.  Let us have ears that hear, hands that are willing, and hearts that are eager to obey.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 4/24/17 – Fearing the Stink We Miss the Glory

DayBreaks for 4/24/17: Fearing the Stink We Miss the Glory

Note: Galen is traveling this week.

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2007:

One of my very favorite stories from the bible is the story of the raising of Lazarus in John 11.  It has all the elements a great story should have: drama, passion, a villain, a hero and a happily-ever-after.  What’s not to like about this story?

Yet, you recall how it goes: Jesus has been out of town, and his good friend falls sick.  Mary and Martha, Lazarus’ sisters, send someone to Jesus so he can come and heal Lazarus of his illness.  The messenger reaches Jesus, but he intentionally delays his return.  By the time Jesus gets back to Bethany, Lazarus has been dead and in the tomb for 4 days.  The sisters aren’t too happy with Jesus for not coming sooner, but Jesus leads them out to the tomb.  In John 11:39, the sisters, after Jesus asks for the stone to be rolled away, complain: Lord, already there is a stink because he has been dead four days. 

Jesus responds: Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God. 

It will stink.  “Over and over again we are stopped by the repulsion of the stink, even when Jesus is offering God’s glory.  To live lives of faithful worship, to cultivate God’s imagination for justice, to trust Jesus Christ to do a work of liberation and transformation means there will be times when our noses will be filled with the stench of human need and evil.  But far more profoundly, we will also have glimpses of the glory of God that can set the captives free.”  – Mark Labberton, The Dangerous Act of Worship

How would you have felt if you were one of those who was asked to move the stone? Would you have drawn back in repulsion and said your back hurt so you couldn’t help move it? If the stone hadn’t been moved, would Jesus have raised Lazarus?  I don’t know.  I suspect he might have.  But I don’t know that.  But wouldn’t it have been a shame if the stone hadn’t been moved and God’s glory had been blocked by a human fear of smell?

How often have I been afraid to go somewhere with Jesus because I was more concerned about the “stink” than about the glory of God? 

PRAYER: Take away our fear of the scent of sin and death so we can see Your glory, for it is in the darkest and most foul places that Your greatest miracles are wrought.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 4/21/17 – Listen to the Birds

DayBreaks for 4/21/17: Listen to the Birds

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2007:

Romans chapter 1 (starting with about verse 20) makes it clear that God has revealed His existence to man through the things that can be seen – His creation.  But mankind has decided that God doesn’t exist: Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done.  (Rom. 1.28)

Suppose for a second that a student were to write on a physics exam that she didn’t believe in atoms because she couldn’t see them.  No one would blame the professor for failing the student!  The existence of atoms is clearly undeniable on the basis of their recognized effects.  Just ask anyone who lived through Hiroshima or Nagasaki and they’ll tell you that atoms exist – they’ve seen their effect.  Yet man persists in insisting that God doesn’t exist because we can’t see, smell, hear, taste or touch Him.  Silly, isn’t it?!

Job 12:7-9 has this to say: But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you.  Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? 

In the movie, Doctor Doolittle (I think that was the name of it), the good doctor was supposed to be able to talk with the animals.  Scripture tells us that the animals will tell us about the God who formed them – and we don’t have to learn to speak their language! 

Why is it that “they (mankind) did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God”?  I don’t think it is because most of mankind really doesn’t want to believe there is a God, but rather that they don’t want to believe in the kind of God who would tell them not to practice sinful lifestyles – who would cramp our style!  We want to believe in a God who would tell us that we can do whatever we want and that because He loves us that He’ll just look the other way.  But that isn’t the God of the Bible.  He couldn’t look the other way precisely because He does love us too much. 

1 Pet 1:8-9 puts it this way: Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” 

Like the atom, God is unseen.  Like the atom, He is powerful.  Like the atom, He is real.  How tragic that the greatest thing in all of God’s creation and that which He loves the most (mankind) is the one thing in all the universe that denies His existence and which rejects Him.  Let’s all go outside and listen to the birds sing their melody about the greatness of God – and maybe we, too, can learn how to praise Him from the animals that He made!

PRAYER: For the wisdom behind the creation, we thank You and give You praise.  May we hear and sings songs of greatness to Your glory this day.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 4/20/17 – Almost Home

DayBreaks for 4/20/17: Almost Home

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2007:

The little town of Franklin, TN, was the sight of one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War.  In the space of only 5 hours, 7000 men were killed and thousands of others wounded.  In that short amount of time, northern troops alone used up 100 wagon loads of ammunition.  Accounts written at the time described bodies being stacked six or seven deep for more than a mile along the Columbia Pike.  No one had ever seen anything like it.  The state of Tennessee didn’t have enough money to turn the entire area into a state park to commemorate the battle, but in the battleground stands the Carter house that now serves as a museum and memorial to this bloody battle. 

As terrible as the battle itself, there was one person who died on that day over 140 years ago that is arguably more tragic than the other 6999.  As the battle of Franklin raged, the Carters’ youngest son, Todd, was outside.  He was running for the shelter of home when he was struck down and died, virtually in the shadow of the house.  He was taken into the home dead.  Even today, more is probably written about that young boy who died in the battle than about any of the others who died. 

Several things about this story that struck me: 

First of all is the power of the death of the innocent.  It just doesn’t seem right when a young child is struck down because of the violence of adults.  Yet it happens.  And when the innocent die, people take notice.  An absolutely perfectly innocent person was struck down by our violence and sin.  And similar to Todd Carter, much has been written and said about him.  Jesus Christ, the innocent, was killed by us and for us.  He was almost home when he was “hit”, but he died willingly as a sacrifice – not running in terror. 

Secondly, I thought about how close we can come sometimes to being “home free” only to fail to actually arrive there.  We can’t control the people and events around us.  We know our intent – to get home safely – but sometimes things interfere with our well-laid plans, and in the shadow of the rooftop we fall.   I am very thankful that God is the One who will get us home.  I rejoice that He recognizes that I can’t make it on my own, that I alone would surely be cut down by Satan’s bullets.  He is able to handle our eternal destinies (2 Tim. 1:12).  We need to finish the race well, 2 Tim. 4:7-8, and not die in the home stretch.

The saddest thing, though, is to hear about those who are almost on the porch of the house and ready to enter, but who Satan snatches at the last moment.  The story of Paul’s defense before Agrippa is heart-wrenching, from Acts 26:28-29a: Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”  Paul replied, “Short time or long– I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am….”  There is no evidence Agrippa “made it home”.  How tragic and sad.

There are those today who are almost home but who aren’t quite there yet.  What a tragedy if we let them languish so close to heaven’s door. 

PRAYER: Thank You, Father, for the innocent Christ who died for us.  Help us to understand that we don’t control the events that swirl around our lives, but that in You, we are safe forever.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 4/19/17 – The Cave and the Sun

DayBreaks for 4/19/17: The Cave and the Sun

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2007:

“There was once a dark cave, deep down in the ground, underneath the earth and hidden away from view.  Because it was so deep in the earth, the light had never been there.  The cave had never seen light.  The word ‘light’ meant nothing to the cave, who couldn’t imagine what ‘light’ might be.

“Then one day, the sun sent an invitation to the cave, inviting it to come up and visit.

“When the cave came up to visit the sun it was amazed and delighted because the cave had never seen light before, and it was dazzled by the wonder of the experience.

“Feeling so grateful to the sun for inviting it to visit, the cave wanted to return the kindness and so it invited the sun to come down to visit it sometime because the sun had never seen darkness.

“So the day came, and the sun came down and was courteously shown into the cave.

“As the sun entered the cave, it looked around with great interest, wondering what ‘darkness’ would be like.  Then it became puzzled, and asked the cave, “Where is the darkness?” – Source Unknown

I sometimes get overwhelmed with a sense of the darkness in the world.  How silly of me!  If Christ lives within me, how can I be in darkness?  John 8:12 says as much: When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.  All who follow Him WILL NEVER WALK IN DARKNESS, but will have the LIGHT OF LIFE!  Wherever I go, Jesus goes, and like the sun, there can be no darkness when He is present!

John 12:46 (NLT) – I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the darkness.

PRAYER: Father, forgive me for being so focused on the darkness that I forget that I am in the light and that I will never walk in darkness!  Help us this day to follow Jesus and to always be aware of the light He brings with him no matter where we go!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 4/17/17 – Now You’ll See

DayBreaks for 4/18/17: Now You’ll See

From the DayBreaks archive, 2007:

I don’t have to tell you that life can get pretty hard.  If you are more than 24 hours old, you’ve probably discovered that fact for yourself (and come to think of it, getting into this world isn’t so easy, either)!  It is difficult, at times, to hold onto hope.  But it is very important that we do so!  Think about this example from Today In the Word, May 1990: A number of years ago researchers performed an experiment to see the effect hope has on those undergoing hardship. Two sets of laboratory rats were placed in separate tubs of water. The researchers left one set in the water and found that within an hour they had all drowned. The other rats were periodically lifted out of the water and then returned. When that happened, the second set of rats swam for over 24 hours. Why? Not because they were given a rest, but because they suddenly had hope!  Those animals somehow hoped that if they could stay afloat just a little longer, someone would reach down and rescue them.

It is sometimes easier to hope than others.  But as G. K. Chesterton put it: Hope means hoping when things are hopeless, or it is no virtue at all…As long as matters are really hopeful, hope is mere flattery or platitude; it is only when everything is hopeless that hope begins to be a strength.  I think he makes a good point.  If we were the rats in the tank in the experiment and could see a way to get ourselves out of the tank, then what would we be relying on?  Ourselves.  And then it isn’t hope, is it? 

Of course, we aren’t rats in a tank.  We are of much greater value.  We weren’t put here be some crazed scientist for the purposes of experimentation.  God isn’t performing laboratory experiments on us.  We need to remember that it was our sin that put us in the tank – not some all-powerful cosmic scientist to watch creatures struggle to see what they would do!  We alone are responsible for the fact that we are drowning.  God alone is responsible for the fact that there is a way out of the tank.  God has spent thousands of years rescuing us from the cesspool of our sin and shame and He is still about the business of rescuing broken and drowning people today. 

Romans 5:5-6 reminds us: And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.  You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.  You see, God didn’t just build a ramp out of the tank, He got in the tank with us and lifted us out. 

When you despair of ever seeing or feeling the joy of a sunrise again, look around you.  You will see the Son of God at your side.  He will not fail you.  He will not let you down.  You may have to reach the point where the situation is “hopeless” before you turn to Him so you can learn what hope really is. 

We all need to remember that “hopeless” is a human term – it doesn’t exist in God’s dictionary.

PRAYER:  This day, Lord, let us be filled with hope, for this may be the day of His return!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 4/17/17 – Into Thin Air

DayBreaks for 4/17/17: Into Thin Air

From the DayBreaks archive, 2007:

I recently finished reading Into Thin Air, about the tragic ascent on Mt. Everest that was attempted 2 years ago this month.  A horrible storm swept in while several teams were making their final ascent on the summit.  The result: the highest single death toll for any mountain-climbing incident in history. 

In the May 9 issue of World magazine, Kevin Cusack wrote an article “When Strength Fails”.  Kevin was a friend and climbing partner of Scott Fischer, the man who led the American assault on the summit.  Scott was one of the many who died, frozen to death high up on the side of Everest.  Kevin told of a climb he’d made with Scott about 20 years ago in the Wind River Range of Wyoming:  “The next day, Scott, another climber and I set out on a particularly difficult climb.  After a few hours we found ourselves…on a very narrow ledge.  Below us lay about 3,000 feet of “free space”, commonly known as air.  In front of us lay a 4-foot gap, and above that and to our right was a very smooth nose, which we had to make our way around in order to continue to climb higher.  The move required us to drop across the 4-foot gap, grab a fingertip ledge about 18 inches above our heads, and work our way around the nose using only our fingertips.”

“Because the rock was so smooth, we were unable to find any crack into which to clip our rope; therefore the first climber had to attempt the move unroped, since if he were to fall he would take the 2 other climbers roped to him with him.  All was very quiet as each man waited for someone else to volunteer to go unroped.  Scott’s boldness was being challenged, and in the end he agreed to go first.  Then he did a very curious thing.  He knelt on that thin ledge on one knee for a few seconds, made the sign of the cross, and stood up.  Surprised, I asked, “Scott, what’s the deal?”  He simply replied, “Sometimes you never know.”  …Scott knew many things, but he did not know the answers to life’s most important questions.  One of Scott’s teammates on his fatal Everest climb 2 years ago said, ‘Scott was like a god to us, so strong, fast, and bold, but in the end he was only Scott and he died.'”

Galen’s Thoughts: Scott Fischer was called by Newsweek “one of the strongest climbers in the world”.  He was the guy to be with when you were in a difficult spot.  His confidence got people through the scariest times.  He led people into thin air.  But “he was only Scott and he died”.  Many people today are leading others into dangerous places – into thin air spiritually – rejecting Scripture, presenting a sinful Jesus and telling us that we can determine on our own what is right and wrong, that we only answer to ourselves.  An intoxicating doctrine.  But it is the same lie Satan told Eve.  In the end, these people are only people…and they will die, as Scott died.  Trusting them will be fatal.

Scott hadn’t been a believer.  Kevin prays that while Scott was alone on the wind-swept summit in the -100 degree temperatures that he reached out to God.  We won’t know until the dawn of eternity what happened with Scott.  What can we learn from the fatalities?  Simply this: if your faith is in your strength or anything but God, it will fail you.  2 Tim 4:18: The Lord will rescue me…and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom.

PRAYER:  Father, we put far too much trust in our own wisdom, knowledge and abilities.  Forgive us, Father, for such foolishness.  Help us realize that only in You is found safety.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.