DayBreaks for 5/22/15 – Love Not

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DayBreaks for 5/22/15: Love Not

The Bible talks a lot about love – and in fact, the new command that Jesus gave us was to love one another as He has loved us.  So when you read a verse that tells us not to love something, we should take it to heart.

My wife and I live in a 32 foot long Fifth Wheel, in a nice RV Park in Georgia. A few years ago, we were renting a house and realized that with our current jobs, we could live wherever we wanted as long as it wasn’t too far from an airport that could accommodate my somewhat frequent work traveling.  We had often talked about living in an RV after we retired so we could be able to travel across the country to see all of our kids and grand kids. At that point, we realized that we could do just that without waiting to retire. So, we seriously pared down our belongings, bought a truck and Fifth Wheel, and became vagabonds. The idea was to move back and forth every six months or so. However, traveling was more expensive and more uncomfortable than we had anticipated. My wife also discovered that although she liked living in the Fifth Wheel more than she had anticipated, she liked traveling much less than anticipated and discovered the need to “nest”.  So, after several trips across country and changes in some circumstances, we settled in Georgia for the time being.

There are some disadvantages to living in a Fifth Wheel, but a lot of advantages also. It is less expensive than renting, for one. But one of the biggest advantages is that it makes life a lot simpler. There is no yard work and since we have much fewer belongings, it takes much less time and effort to take care of what we do have.  Less stuff creates the possibility of a simpler life.  Oh, we both still have our cravings – I love electronics and gizmos, while my wife loves clothes and jewelry.  But I have come to see more and more of how pursuing material things became an idolatrous pursuit for me – and idolatry is our greatest problem as humans – putting anything of this world ahead of the One who truly deserves our attention and worship.

Also, one of the wonderful things is that you live more closely connected to the nature around you and to weather. You are in closer proximity to the “outside”. It’s nice. One thing we realized from when we lived in a nice rental house a few years ago is that we almost never opened the windows. Living as we do now, we have a refreshing breeze blowing through almost whenever we want it, if the weather allows.

Now, don’t get me wrong – we didn’t do all this out of lofty spiritual motivations so please understand: we acted out of motivations of self-interest to be sure.  But sometimes even the things we do selfishly can teach us valuable and worthwhile lessons.

What did we learn?  Several things, I believe: we learned that if you never take a chance, you may lose forever something that could be great.  How much do we lose by never having an adventure – especially an adventure with God? What does material stuff and our desires for more of it potentially take away from our enjoyment of life? What is really most important? How do we decide how we want to live – and how should we decide how we want to live?  These are not issues of less or greater sin – these are issues of less or greater life.   These are just some questions for you to think about…

1 John 2:15 (ESV) – Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world— the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life —is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

PRAYER: Lord, I still have so far to go in detaching myself from things in this world.  Will you help me, please, to understand that pursing such things is futility and a chasing after the wind? In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 5/21/15 – Dust Motes

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DayBreaks for 5/21/15: Dust Motes

Ephesians 5:13 (ESV) – But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible…

It may seem that what Paul wrote in this verse is blindingly obvious (no pun intended).  And, I suppose, in a way that is true.  Things that aren’t exposed to light are in utter darkness and you can’t see them.  You can’t see their shape, size, utility nor if they are alive or inanimate. 

We need light not only for visibility, but also for life. Popular Science says that if the sun were to disappear, the earth would drop to zero degrees Farenheit within a week, and within a year, to 100 degrees. 

The Bible has a lot to say about light and our need for it.  But here’s a thought that you may not have considered in this age of anti-nomianism (anti-law): we tend to think of the old Law of Moses as being a bad thing, a useless thing that could do nothing to save us.  And that is true.  But that doesn’t mean the law wasn’t good.  Jesus was very clear about that – that not even a single period at the end of a commandment would ever be done away with.  He said he’d come not to do away with the Law, but to fulfill it. 

So, how precisely does the Law work?  Romans 5:12-14 is a difficult passage where it seems that Paul is saying that without the Law, there was no condemnation.  He’s clear that death comes as a result of sin which is a breaking of the law.  Yet, even before Moses’ law was given, death reigned.  Why?  Because of the law of right and wrong that was written on humanity’s heart, even before the giving of Moses’ Law.  That’s why those before Moses died. 

But is the knowledge that is written on our hearts all we need?  No, because not all hearts are equally sensitive or yielded to it.  That’s where Moses’ Law came into play.  It defined sin for what it is. 

This past Sunday, the preacher used the illustration of light to explain it.  You’ve seen beams of light pouring through a window many times.  And when you do, what do you see?  You see small particles of dust floating in the air, moving, dancing, shifting.  You wouldn’t know they were there without the sunlight.  And that sunlight is like the Law…it reveals truth to us about ourselves in places that we would not otherwise see.

So rather than throwing out the moral law portions of Moses’ Law, we would do well to study them diligently, and let the Light reveal to us where things are wrong and where we need to change.

What is the Law saying to you?  Are you still listening to it?  Or have you thrown it out totally in a headlong rush to embrace grace?  If so, I’d encourage you to reconsider because if Jesus said it will never pass away, we’d better pay attention to it and learn from it!  It will never save us, but it can teach us.

PRAYER: Join our hearts with that of your servant David, Lord, who said, “I love Your law” (Ps. 119:97)! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 5/20/15 – Lessons Birds Taught My Wife #1

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DayBreaks for 5/20/15: His Beauty Calls Us

My wife enjoys birds. She really enjoys birds. By the way, she’s a “birder”, not a bird watcher. Calling someone who loves birds a bird watcher is like calling a Star Trek fan a “trekkie” instead of a “trekker” – it’s not kosher and it might earn you a whack upside the head (as they say here in Georgia!)

A few years ago, we moved to Georgia and she had not yet made any friends, so she was a little depressed. I asked her if there was anything she’d like to have or do that she thought might give her delight. After some consideration she said she’d enjoy having a bird feeder. Well, from a bird feeder and a pole – then a squirrel baffle, an extra part to make the pole longer and a “squirrel proof” feeder (because the squirrels were getting fat on the bird food) – on through a few Mother’s Days, Birthdays and Christmases, and she now has quite a set up consisting of no less than ten feeders! She and the birds are happier now and the squirrels are not quite so fat, though they get seeds and nuts from the ground that the birds carelessly dropped.

What does she enjoy about the birds? She says they have personalities; they are curious-landing on the window ledge to look in at her-and they are just plain pretty and fun to watch. In the past I have done some DayBreaks entitled, “Lessons my Dog Taught Me”. I asked her what were some things that birds have taught her. She paused a moment and said, “Color is good. Bright color is even better. God must love color.”

Birds, especially the males, are very colorful. In some species the male birds’ colors actually change and get even brighter as they come into mating season (such as goldfinches).  The brighter colors must attract the females and let them know the males are happy to see them.  What is there about birds (and all of us, actually), that we are attracted by bright colors? That we are attracted by beauty?

I believe that God himself is beautiful, and that he uses beauty to draw us to him. After all, who can explain why there is such a thing as beauty? Why do we even have the concept? Babies look at pretty sparkly things and are attracted to them even before they have words to express what they feel or see. Beauty, birds and color are mysteries, even as God is.

Just look at the description of the throne scene in Revelation 4:2: At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. [3] And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald.

Our beautiful God loves beauty.  And no matter how you look, you are His creation and He believes you are beautiful…and His beauty calls you to Him and to beautiful things as a testimony of the image of God in which you are made.

PRAYER: What will it be like, Lord, to see you in all your beauty?  Thank you for the beauty of the earth, the skies and all of creation!  Thank you for making everything beautiful in its own time! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 5/19/15 – Examine Your Day

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DayBreaks for 5/19/15: Examine Your Day

Not being from a Catholic background, I know very little about Ignatian spirituality. I know that it is based on the life and thoughts of Ignatius of Loyola, who founded the Jesuits in the 16th Century. I know that Pope Francis is a Jesuit, which made me interested in finding out a little of the philosophy on which he bases his life.

One very important part of Ignatian (Jesuit) spirituality is the idea of finding God in everything.  In the evening, Jesuits are to carefully examine their day to discover where God has revealed Himself.  It is almost always very easy to find God in the beauty of nature, in your loved ones faces, and in especially meaningful interactions and events. But if we truly believe that God is everywhere and works in everything, no matter how mundane or even painful, then we need to look for Him in all the events of our day and life.

One of my daughter-in-law’s very recently lost her father.  She and her mother both wonder if her father had to become weak (he was a very strong man – physically, mentally, and emotionally) so that he could see his need for God. He came to God before he died, but only after suffering and being humbled.

Isn’t that the way we all are sometimes? We think we have it all together and can handle what life throws at us – until we find we can’t and that we have no control over factors and events that overwhelm us.

Are you consciously seeing God in your daily life? Can you see him in the little things and the big things? Can you see him in your weakness and suffering – and in your joy? I think the idea of seeing Him in all of our day might be a very good discipline for us – not just as an exercise to do at the end of each day, but also a very good practice to keep in our minds as we go throughout the day. Perhaps it would help our prayer to be “unceasing” as we come to a greater awareness of our great need for Him and of His constant Presence and involvement.

Tonight, pause…and reflect on how you saw God in your life.  See if it changes your heart and attitude about what happened during the day. 

PRAYER: It is so easy, Lord, to become preoccupied to the point that we fail to recognize your hand at work in all the details of our lives.  Help us to reflect on how you journeyed this day with us! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 5/18/15 – What’s Your Tennis Ball?

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DayBreaks for 5/18/15: What’s Your Tennis Ball?

My friend, Barney Cargile (Barney’s Bullets) has a really good insight into living a meaningful life:

“It’s graduation time.  Across our land, commencement speeches present platitudes and promises, with a dose of wisdom mixed in as well.  In 2013, Drew Houston, founder of Dropbox, in addressing the grads of MIT uttered these words concerning happy and successful people: ‘They’re obsessed with solving an important problem, something that matters to them.  They remind me of a dog chasing a tennis ball: Their eyes go a little crazy, the leash snaps and they go bounding off, plowing through whatever gets in the way…So it’s not about pushing yourself; it’s about finding your tennis ball, the thing that pulls you.’ 

So, what’s your ‘tennis ball’? What lights your fire; what gets you out of bed in the morning?  You’ll always work harder for a cause you believe in than merely a paycheck.  Life’s too short to endure the drudgery of a job you hate.  But what if you’re stuck in a job you hate, and opportunity isn’t exactly beating your door down?  Try this: Don’t work for your employer; work for Jesus.  He’s invited you to partner with him in his work of redeeming a world trapped in darkness.  Paul told first century slaves ‘Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men’ (Col.3:23). Even in a job you hate (I think ‘slavery’ would qualify), don’t see yourself as a ‘just a slave’ but as part of God’s ‘larger story’.  Seeing your small story as part of God’s larger story, transforms work from drudgery to excitement, because you’re joining God in the most meaningful cause in history.”

I especially like the idea of seeing your small story as part of God’s larger story. Did Rahab the prostitute see herself as contributing to the gene pool of the incarnate God? Did Ruth? I doubt it. They did what God put in front of them to do and then left the results up to him. I think that when the epic of our existence is played out, we will be surprised to find out what meaning some of our seemingly insignificant actions really had.

PRAYER: Jesus, how desperately we need single-minded focus to recall that in the final analysis, we work for no one but You!  Help us find meaning in all we do as we learn to do it for Your glory!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 5/15/15 – Continuing to Water the Garden

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DayBreaks for 5/15/15: Continuing to Water the Garden

From the DayBreaks archive, 2005:

I suppose it is human nature to want to know when things we look forward to (or dread) will happen.  For the person on death row, it’s called a death watch – once the dreaded date has been set and the sand runs through the hourglass.  To the expectant mother, the feeling is one of anticipation and excitement.  To the teen, it’s turning 16 and being able to drive a car.  “Anticipation,” Carly Simon sang, “is making me wait.”

The disciples naturally were curious about the timing of things Jesus spoke about.  Especially when it came to apocalyptic types of things.  They wanted to know because, well, inquiring minds want to know!  They may have figured that it might help them be better prepared if they knew.  And therein is the rub, is it not?  What does that imply?  That if they knew, they could put on a last-ditch effort at holiness and preparedness to be as sure as they could that they were ready.

Jesus would have none of it.  He dismissed their questions as foolish speculation, and said that he didn’t know the answer either.  Humanly speaking, I can see where it might be advantageous to know the exact date and time.  I can guarantee that many would try to “clean up” their act the day before.  But God’s wisdom works so much differently than ours.  Jesus tried to redirect his followers interest from the date/time of when it would happen, to the question of readiness.  God seems to say that it’s wise to NOT know – because that should encourage us to be ready at any and all times.

A Hasidic rabbi who was interrupted by one of his followers while he was tending his garden, was asked: “What would you do, rabbi, if you knew the Messiah was coming today?”  Stroking his beard and pursing his lips, the rabbi replied, “Well, I would continue to water my garden.”

God has placed each of us in the middle of a garden of souls, our own included.  Our job is to tend the garden, not worry about when the landowner will return.  Tend to your own soul and your readiness for that day.  Tend to your friends and neighbors and family’s soul.  Help them be ready. 

May we all live in such a way that if we DID know He was returning today, that’d we’d continue on as if nothing special would happen this day. 

Matt 24:3 – As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. ‘Tell us,’ they said, ‘when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?

1 John 2:28 – And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.

Copyright by 2005 Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

PRAYER: Jesus, we need you to give us the gift of discerning how we should live and not to entertain ourselves with irrelevant questions! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 5/14/15 – The Laughter of the Universe

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DayBreaks for 5/14/15: The Laughter of the Universe

Luke 6:21 – Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.

Job 38:4-7 –“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?  Tell me, if you understand.  Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!  Who stretched a measuring line across it?  On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone—while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?

Laughter.  How I love laughter!  I can think of nothing more melodious to my ears that the sound of my grandchildren laughing!  My heart takes wings when I hear it!  To be unabashedly joyful is something that is hard for adults to do.  Perhaps it is because we’ve seen too much, or done too much, that we have lost that ability.  We’re the worse for it, of that I am sure.

While I don’t agree with his vision of the afterworld entirely, in The Divine Comedy, Dante depicts a gradual ascent from the pit through the purgatorio to the gates of heaven.  Early on in the book, he’d proven himself to be a true master at the expression and description of his journey and the things he saw.  But it is interesting, that as he finally approaches the full Presence of God, words and visual images begin to fail this master composer.  So, he switches to another key entirely for the remainder of his epic.  As he draws ever closer to the highest celestial sphere, he can only describe what he heard as a sound that he’d never heard before.  Pausing, he listens.  “Me sembiana un riso del unimverso,” he wrote.  In English, it means that it sounded “like the laughter of the universe.”

Dr. Harvey Cox, telling this story of Dante in When Jesus Came to Harvard, wrote: “The whole universe laughing?  The solar system, the Milky Way, the hundred billion galaxies that surround our earthly protons, all bent over in convulsions of hilarity?  A laughter that somehow catches up an entire history of sobs and cries of pain?  The last laugh of the God of life after so many deaths and defeats?  Was it too much to hope for?  Maybe so, but why hope for anything less?”

What will heaven be?  No human eye that has ever seen it has found the way to describe it.  Paul said that there wasn’t a language for it – that it would be even unlawful for us to try to describe it.  John, in Revelation, used outlandish signs and symbols.  What will heaven actually be like?  I really don’t know. But, perhaps as much as it will be a place of unending worship of the Eternal God, it will be a place that will shake with laughter – laughter at the joy of family in the very best sense of the word, in the very best of times, knowing that the party will never end!  And the new heavens and the new earth, confined to groaning in travail in the present creation, will be freed – and join in the laughter of all things being set right. 

I long to hear the laughter of the universe set free.  I long to hear the laughter of the redeemed when they take full possession of the Promised Land.  I long to hear the laughter of the Lamb at the wedding feast.  I long to see the Father’s face contorted with joy…over all of His children come home.

PRAYER: God, we long to hear the laughter of Your joy when the new heavens and earth have begun! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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