DayBreaks for 07/29/11 – It’s the Little Things

DayBreaks for 07/29/11 – It’s the Little Things

Little things are never as insignificant as they seem...

 The smallest family will become a thousand people, and the tiniest group will become a mighty nation. At the right time, I, the LORD, will make it happen. – Isaiah 60:22

You may not recall, but once upon a time not so very long ago, the United State’s Space Shuttle program was grounded for weeks due to cracks in a fuel line.  And that’s not all: remember that bit about the tiny rubber o-ring that was just 3/10ths of an inch wide?  Such a tiny component on something the size of the space shuttle and booster rockets used to hurl it into space would seem insignificant – not impressive at all.

And yet 20 years ago two of those rings were placed in the aft field joint of the SRB (Solid Rocket Booster) to stop gases from escaping. No one knows for sure if it was the unusually cold weather on launch morning, a contaminate that was introduced into the zinc putty used on the o-rings, any of a variety of possible compression problems, or some human error that was injected during the manufacturing process, but those two little o-rings failed to do what they were designed to do, and the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded before a horrified watching world, 73 seconds into her flight, killing all seven aboard.

We are so easily impressed with big things because they’re so BIG and it’s hard to miss them.  Their very size and scope see to yell, “Look at me!”  But in truth, it’s the little things that usually make the biggest difference.  A tiny virus that is much smaller than the size of a pin head can kill.  Heart valves no larger than a man’s thumbnail and put one in the grave if they don’t function properly.  A single vote can turn an entire election.  One little word from a loved one can ruin a relationship.  The tiny atom has explosive potential.  Little things have tremendous power. Matthew 13 records the story Jesus told about the smallest thing His audience could identify with–a mustard seed, and then related it to our faith.

If your faith weak, small and fragile right now?  Do the things you do for Him seem to be invisible and insignificant?  Just as one word can ruin a relationship, a single word can bring about ever-lasting life: Jesus.

PRAYER: Help us, Lord, to trust in the value of small things that are put under your control.  Help us not to be enamored of big, flashy and glorious works done in your name, but to be faithful in the small things.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2011 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 07/28/11 – Seeing the Rabbit

DayBreaks for 07/28/11 – Seeing the Rabbit

There is a story from the Desert Fathers about a young monk who asked one of the old men of the desert why it is that so many people came out to the desert to seek God and yet most of them gave up after a short time and returned to their lives in the city.

The old monk told him, “Last evening my dog saw a rabbit running for cover among the bushes of the desert and he began to chase the rabbit, barking loudly. Soon other dogs joined in the chase, barking and running. They ran a great distance and alerted many other dogs. Soon the wilderness was echoing the sounds of their pursuit but the chase went on into the night.

After a little while, many of the dogs grew tired and dropped out. A few chased the rabbit until the night was nearly spent. By morning, only my dog continued the hunt. “Do you understand,” the old man said, “what I have told you?”

“No,” replied the young monk, “please tell me father.”

“It is simple,” said the desert father, “my dog saw the rabbit.”

Jesus told a parable about a man who one day in the market place saw the pearl of great price. The merchant understood at once the value of the commodity before him and he sacrificed everything to obtain it.

Have you seen Jesus?  There is a great difference in seeing Christianity and seeing Christ.  If we look at Christianity as modeled by Christians, we see something that is a far cry from seeing the Risen One.  If we are drawn to someone who is making “noise” for Jesus (someone who has seen Him and been ignited by that experience), we will weary of the pursuit of Christ.  We need personal, first-hand exposure and vision of Jesus, our Lord and King, if we are to have the energy and strength to pursue Him until that great morning breaks!!!

PRAYER: Jesus, I want to see you!  I want to hear your voice, feel your touch in my moments of pain and anxiety, to pursue you with all I am.  Help me to never get discouraged to the point that I stop in that pursuit!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2011 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 7/27/11 – The Missing One

DayBreaks for 07/27/11 – The Missing One

The story, published in a British newspaper, began with the following sentence: “Heartfelt commiseration to Dorothy Naylor of Plymouth, whose recent day trip to Bridgewater was spoiled when her husband, Oliver, left her on the forecourt of a garage … and drove 17 miles before noticing his wife was not in the car.”

“I couldn’t believe he’d gone without me,” Mrs. Naylor told the Western Morning News. “I usually sit in the back because I can move around more, but normally we talk to one another.”

The couple, both in their 70s, had pulled into a garage to change a tire. Mr. Naylor drove off and didn’t notice his wife’s absence until he had arrived in Bridgewater. After stopping in town, he asked his wife, “Where do you want to get out?” When she didn’t answer, he turned around and discovered that he had left her behind. The paper added that the couple had been married for 40 years.

It is so very easy to make assumptions and take others for granted.  I see lessons here about communication, presence, marriage, etc., but it caused me to think about how aware I am of Jesus’ presence.  No matter where I am, He is there, but I often ignore Him, fail to talk with Him or make note of Him.  It is only when I find myself at some destination and look around and find that I have left Him out of my day, my life – for some period of time.

It is easy to go through a day without Living Water and Living Bread.  Our flesh desires the water and bread that corrupt and kill – and those are the things we tend to pursue when we are left to our own ways.

How tragic that we can journey so far and not once think of Him!  Perhaps we’d all do well to tie a string around our finger so that we can be reminded of Him more often!

PRAYER: Jesus, forgive me for the times I’ve left you behind – left you out of the daily goings-and-comings of my life.  Fuel in me a greater thirst for the Living Word, the Living One who died and is alive forevermore!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2011 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 07/26/11 – Foolish Protest

DayBreaks for 07/26/11 – Foolish Protest

You stubborn people! You are heathen at heart and deaf to the truth. Must you forever resist the Holy Spirit? That’s what your ancestors did, and so do you! – Acts 7:51

Over this year’s 4th-of-July weekend, a group of motorcyclist fanatics rallied in Onondaga, New York, to ride in a protest against a New York state law that requires motorcycle riders to wear a helmet (we have a similar law in California – and many motorcyclists here don’t like it either.) One of the men who rode in protest that weekend was an unnamed 55-year-old man from Parish, New York. During the ride, police say, his 1983 Harley Davidson spun out of control, and he flew headfirst over the handlebars. His head struck the pavement, and his skull was fractured. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.

The police and the doctor treating the man said afterward that if he had been wearing a helmet, he probably would have survived the accident. The group organizing the protest ride said that while they encourage the voluntary use of motorcycle helmets, they oppose mandatory helmet laws.

There are valid reasons for wanting people to wear helmets when riding motorcycles and reasons why people don’t want them, but no matter where one stands on that issue, the irony of this man’s accidental death – that he died protesting against a law that would have most likely saved his life if he’d obeyed it instead of fighting against it, is huge.

So it shall be on the day of Judgment.  The only people who will be lost on that day are those who refused to accept the one thing that could have saved them: Christ.  And unlike a motorcycle helmet, what Christ offers is free.

We don’t have a very highly developed sense of what is really good for us, or everyone would be believers.  However, the story does make me wonder what foolish protests against God that I may be making.  How about you?

PRAYER: Father, clear our foolish minds from foolish pursuits and protests.  Focus our vision on that which is true, righteous and just.  Give us ears to hear your Words of wisdom and caution, and to obey in all things.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2011 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 7/25/11 – Knowing Where It Is Safe

DayBreaks for 07/25/11 – Knowing Where It Is Safe

Palmer Chinchen, in True Religion, tells the following story:

My brothers and I had traveled to the western edge of Zimbabwe to raft the Zambezi River. We boarded our raft at the base of the Victoria Falls. Massive amounts of water spilled over the top of the giant falls and dropped almost a thousand feet; the roar was deafening. The falls are the largest in the world, more than a mile wide and three hundred feet high. Mist from the spray that fills the air like fog can be seen for fifty miles; the locals call it “Smoke That Thunders.” The water from the falls rushes down the gorge in torrents, creating the world’s largest rapids. In the United States, the highest-class rapid you are allowed to raft is a Class 5. The Zambezi’s whitewater rapids can top 7 and 8 ….

As I sat on the edge of the eight-person raft, all suited up in a tight, overstuffed jacket and a thick crash helmet, I felt like an over cautious tourist about to mount an overpowered moped in Honolulu or rent roller-blades on Huntington Beach. The Zambezi can’t be that dangerous, can it?

But then our guide [said], “When the raft flips …” There was no “If the raft flips” or “Or on the off-chance we get flipped.” But “When the raft flips.” He went on, “… stay in the rough water. You will be tempted to swim toward the stagnate water at the edge of the banks. Don’t do it. Because it is in the stagnate water that the crocs wait for you. They are large and hungry. Even when the raft flips, stay in the rough water.”

Several thoughts spring to mind from this story:

FIRST: we think we know where to go to be safe, we even have a natural instinct that smooth, quiet water is safer than raging whitewater…but our instincts are wrong and we must fight against them many times if we are to safely survive.  There are hidden dangers we can’t see when we run to self-help guru’s, secular advisors and counselors, etc., rather than the Spirit and the Word.

SECOND: it is in the calm waters from the story that people will face death.  The crocodiles won’t venture into the churning whitewater.  Stagnancy, complacency, a desire to just “go with the flow” will kill the spirit.  It is in the rough water that we pour our lives into others as Christians, because unbelievers are in life-threatening waves and they need the Life Preserver that Christ offers!

THIRD: when there is no spiritual “adventure” to our lives, we are in danger of drifting in our faith: So we must listen very carefully to the truth we have heard, or we may drift away from it. – Hebrews 2:1  The rafters had to listen carefully to the truth of the lesson of white water versus smooth water – to not do so would have been deadly.

PRAYER: We fear white waters, Lord, but help us remember that we are never there alone, you are with us in the boat and we need not fear!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2011 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 07/22/11 – How to Defend God

DayBreaks for 07/22/11 – How To Defend God

Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. – Ephesians 4:1

Who are your enemies?  Do you have any?  You might not think of them as outright enemies, maybe they just are not people you’d call friends.  It has been said that you can know a lot about a person by the kind of friends they keep.  An editorial by Bill McNabb in The Door some years ago briefly elaborated on this idea and how friends and enemies relate to God:

“I had an old seminary professor who began and ended his apologetics lecture with one sentence: “You defend God like you defend a lion — you get out of his way.” God, it seems, has never had much trouble with his enemies — it’s his friends who give him fits. . . . The theologian Karl Rahner put it this way: “The number one cause of atheism is Christians. Those who proclaim God with their mouths and deny Him with their lifestyles is what an unbelieving world finds simply unbelievable.” Perhaps the best defense of God would be to just keep our mouths shut and live like He told us to. The gospel would then have such power and attraction that we wouldn’t have to worry about defending it.”

This work week is over.  Did your life and witness this week give Him fits?  Did it make it easier or harder for others to believe in Jesus because of your words and actions?

Defend God with your life – how you live it!!!

PRAYER: Father, forgive us for the many times that we have caused others to stumble on their pathway to You.  Empower us to live as You have told us we should live.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2011 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 07/21/11 – Our Task

DayBreaks for 07/21/11 – Our Task

Our task is not to judge...

For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil. – Ecclesiastes 12:14

One of the most perplexing (and troubling) parables of all is that of the wheat and the tares in Matthew 13.  You may recall it: how the wheat grows up and in the middle of the wheat are tares – plants that when they start out look very much like wheat, but which only later is their true nature – that of weeds – is obvious.  There is discussion about whether or not the tares should be pulled up.  Jesus gives a surprising answer: “No, just leave the tares there.  They’ll get sorted out at harvest time.”

Eugene Winkler, in The Ohio Two-Car Collision Theory, wrote the following in a reflection on this parable:

“A biographer of the Duke of Windsor, Alistair Cooke, remarks, “The Duke was at his best when the going was good.” Aren’t we all? Is that true of your faith? We believe in God when things are going well, but give us a few problems, a disappointment or two, and we begin to doubt.

“But the parable is saying to us: God is in charge of the harvest, hang in there, because things will work out in God’s way and in God’s time. Our faith cannot depend just on the good times and good health.

“It just may be that our theology is like that of Woody Allen, who accuses God of being an underachiever. He writes, “I would believe, if only God would give me a clear sign — like making a large deposit in my name in a Swiss bank.”

”Jesus says that the signs are not always clear, especially in the beginning. It is finally not for us to determine God’s will. It is, however, our task to do the right thing as we know it — given our limited perceptions. Jesus himself is the Good News: even the agony of the deception, denial and betrayal of some of his best friends, the wondering if God had forsaken him, and the humiliation of the cross did not keep him from saying finally, “Unto thee I commit my life.”

We may want – even itch – at times to rip up a few “weeds” (people) who we suspect have done us wrong.  But this parable says not to do it.  That’s God’s job.  He will tend to it in judgment.  He will recognize every would-be “wheat” for what it truly is…and he will never make a mistake in judgment.  There will be no tares that sneak their way through the pearly gates.  God will rectify all.

So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age. 41 “The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, 42 and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 “Then THE RIGHTEOUS WILL SHINE FORTH AS THE SUN in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear. – Matthew 13:40-43

PRAYER: We are quick to judge ourselves as wheat, Lord, when there are still tares in our lives, too.  Let us bear fruit of righteousness and godliness so that we will not be disappointed!  Help us bear patiently with the tares that hinder the harvest of the Kingdom, knowing that it is Your job to sort through all the hidden and unseen things of the heart.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2011 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 07/20/11 – Still Kickin’

DayBreaks for 07/20/11 – Still Kickin’

The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him. – Psalm 28:7

Still kickin'...as long as you're alive, there's REAL hope!

Many of our American slang sayings are very interesting when you stop to think about them.  I don’t know where all of their origins spring from, but I have a pretty good idea where the saying, “Still kickin’” comes from.  It’s like the chicken who has its head chopped off in the barnyard – they can run about and even fly for a little while…they’re still moving (sans head).  To say that someone is still kicking means that they’re not all the way dead yet – their legs are still twitching.  It’s a rather morbid saying when you get right down to it.

Living the Christian life isn’t easy.  It is, in fact, doggone tough.  Christianity isn’t for wimps.  It is so tough that many finally shrug their shoulders and give up because they just can’t seem to ever live a more holy life (which, by the way, shouldn’t surprise us too much since the author of Romans says that there is NO ONE who does what is good).  So, those folks just lie down somewhere along life’s pathway waiting to die because of their colossal, stupendous failings.

One of the most wonderful things about the gospel story is this truth: If you’re not dead, you’re not done.  You’re still kickin’.  God still has a purpose for you being here…and that gives your life and existence tremendous purpose.

If I had a nickel for every time someone told me, in the context of Christianity and their need to change, “I can’t change,” I would own vaster holdings than the British royal family.  I have, from time to time, even said it myself (I’m sad to say.)  But let’s think about that for a minute: when I say “I can’t change” or “I’ll never change” or “I’ll never amount to anything”, what are we really doing?  Aren’t we just making excuses for our actions because we don’t want to put in the effort to let the Spirit change us (and maybe we really don’t want to change and stop that sin that gives us so much delight)?  Craig Groeschel put it this way: “If you keep making excuses, you’re insulting God’s power.” (The Christian Atheist, pg. 137)

As long as you’re “kickin’”, you can change.  God can change you.  The question is never with His ability – it is always about our willingness.

PRAYER: Prevent us from falling prey to fatal discouragements and deadly excuses, Lord!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2011 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 07/19/11 – How Serious Are We?

DayBreaks for 07/19/11 – How Serious Are We?

I don’t know any Christian who wants to be a “bad Christian.”  We all want to be good Christians.  In fact, if the truth be told, most of us probably think we are pretty good Christians.  And what makes us think that?  We go to church every Sunday.  We give every Sunday.  We pray.  We read our Bibles from time to time.  We don’t swear.  We honor our marriage vows.  We take our responsibilities as mothers and dads serious.  We sing songs about how much we love Jesus.  And maybe, once in a while, we sing some of the old songs of the faith “Onward Christian Soldiers”, “Rock of Ages”, “Amazing Grace”, and “Just As I Am.”

It is very easy to do things and not really have the right attitude in our heart.  It is very easy to fool other people – and even easier to fool ourselves about our level of goodness and love for God.  And then the Bible pulls us up short.

In Psalm 63, the composer of that psalm put it this way: Because Your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. (vs. 3)  Can you say that and mean it?  Really?  Have you thought about the implications of that verse and what the psalmist wrote?  He’s said that God’s love is better than life.  What does he mean by that?  I think he’s saying that if it came to one or the other of two alteratives – either keeping God’s love or letting the mortal body die – that his choice would be to die rather than lost the love of our God.

So, let us ask ourselves the question: do we love God?  Do we love Him enough that we’d rather die than be without His love?  Or, how many of us would choose to keep our mortal lives in the hope that we’ll eventually come to love God more – perhaps even enough that someday we would rather die than be without a relationship with Him.  That’s the choice the martyrs faced – it is what made them martyrs.  They didn’t die so they could have a home in heaven – they died because they know that life itself wasn’t as sweet as the love of God.

How serious are we when we tell God we love Him?

PRAYER: Keep us from frivolous proclamations of love!  Grow real love in us so that we can join with the Psalmist in his wild and reckless delight in Your love!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2011 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 07/18/11 – One Petaled Daisies

DayBreaks for 07/18/11 – One Petaled Daisies

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. – 1 Corinthians 13:8

Nearly everyone that I know, at least in their younger years of discovering young love, has taken a daisy or other flower and slowly, painstakingly, pulled off the petals one by one while reciting: “He loves me, he loves me not, he loves me, he loves me not” until there are no petals left.  It was a childish, yet innocent, way to try to determine if that special someone you cared about felt the same way about you.  Of course, it all is just a game of chance and is not an effective means to determine the other person’s feelings.

As we get older, most of us don’t play that game to determine if we are loved or not.  At least not outwardly.  But inside, we vacillate from thinking that God loves us to thinking that He doesn’t love us, depending on how we lived our life that day at work, school, home…wherever.  We might as well be pulling petals off petals off of flowers if we think that is how God works.

The truth is that God is love.  He always loves people – though He may hate the things we do.  But the things we do don’t cause Him to stop loving us.  In fact, if we find ourselves disciplined, we should never confused the discipline with hatred, but rather accept it as a sign of His love that never changes.  God, as Craig Groeschel put it in The Christian Atheist, “God raises only one-petaled daisies in the garden of His love.”

PRAYER: Thank You, God, for Your garden of one-petaled daisies of love!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2011 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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