DayBreaks for 07/19/12 – I Never Fall

DayBreaks for 07/19/12 – I Never Fall

Phillipe Petit between the World Trade Towers, 1974

In 2008, a remarkable documentary came out, titled Man on Wire. It examines the most amazing exploit of tight-rope walker Philippe Petit. In 1974, Petit had a secret plan to extend a steel wire between the two towers of the World Trade Center in New York. At the time, the towers were still under construction.

After much planning and practice, the day arrived. Petit and his fellow conspirators snuck to the top of the buildings, shot a wire across the vast, quarter-mile-high canyon that separated the North and South Towers, and Petit went to work. When all was said and done, Petit was on the wire for 45 minutes. Thousands gathered below to watch him. On each end of the wire, police waited for him to finish. Petit made eight passes before finally coming in. To this day he insists the stunt wasn’t for publicity or even to see if he could do it. “The path is as important as the result,” he told a reporter for Newsweek magazine.

Petit now lives in New York’s Catskill Mountains. A wire stretches across his yard, and he still practices several hours a day. Petit told the same Newsweek reporter that it “never occurred to him to use a safety net” when walking the wire. He added: “I never fall. But yes, I have landed on the earth many, many times.”

It’s that last quote from Petit that stands out to me. It’s a pretty good way of describing the believer’s experience in trouble. Consider Psalm 91:9-12:

If you make the Most High your dwelling—even the Lord, who is my refuge—then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent.  For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands,so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.

In some ways the psalmist is saying, “I never fall. But, yes, I have landed on the earth many, many times.”

I don’t know about you, but I have fallen many times…but before disaster strikes, He has caught me.  This is another of the wonderful promises of God.  Make Him your dwelling place both now and forever, and He will save you for His glory’s sake!

PRAYER: Thank you for catching us when we slip and for commanding your angels regarding us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 07/18/12 – A Purposeful Examination

DayBreaks for 07/18/12 – A Purposeful Examination

This past Sunday morning, our pastor started a five-week series titled, The Church, Your Church, and You.  This week he was challenging us to think about our purpose in life.  There is the typical response that many Christians would be tempted to offer that comes from the Westminster Catechism: “Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy him forever.”  I have no qualms with that statement whatsoever.

But here’s the rub: is that really the purpose that drives my daily life, my daily actions?  Or is there another purpose for which I am living?  For many, as the pastor stated, it is happiness.  What constitutes happiness?  For some it is accumulating a certain amount of money: “If only I had $1.5 million set aside for retirement…”  For others it may be a certain degree of fame: “If I could walk into a restaurant and be recognized by everyone there for what I’ve achieved.”  For still others it could be power: “I will feel as if I’ve arrived if I were the President.”

Those don’t sound very Christian, do they?  We were invited to wrestle with the question of our life’s purpose.  I am wrestling with it very much right now.  There are times when I thought I really understood His direction and plan and felt I was in the center of it.  But when I get right down to it, when it comes to looking at how I live, how much of the purpose of my life really has to do with the American dream?  What is that dream?  It is to earn a decent living, to live comfortably, to retire when and where I want with enough money and the means to travel, live a life of leisure, and sleep late if I want to or to rise early to watch the sun rise?

When you get right down to it, my guess is that this summarizes the ambitions that most of us have, and trying to achieve those things dominates our lives, our decisions, and our plans.  But should they?  Aren’t those really the pursuit of happiness in my life?  I think that if I pursue those things and they become a reality for me, then I will be happy.

God says my purpose for existing isn’t to be happy.  My goal is to come to know Him, to love Him, to follow Him – to want what He wants.  And then, and only then, will I know what happiness really is.  But oh!  How I struggle to believe it!!!

If there is one area where our hearts really need to be changed (as American Christians, at least), it may be in this area.  What is it that we are truly living for?  It becomes clearer when we examine what we spend our days and nights doing, what we spend our hours pursuing, and especially, how we spend our free time – those precious hours that don’t belong to our boss.

How about you?  What is your REAL purpose – not what you want it to be  – but what it IS?

Ecclesiastes 12:13 (NIV) – Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole [duty] of man.

PRAYER: Lord, I somewhat fear this question for I believe I know that the answers are not what they should be.  Still, I am grateful for your incredible patience with me.  Help me believe that knowing you, glorifying you, and enjoying you forever is my highest calling.  Help me to live my life according to those three things that I may know joy and peace as I rest in you!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 07/17/2012 – Faultless

DayBreaks for 07/17/12 – Faultless

It’s hard to believe, but the Word says it is true…and will happen!

 Jude 1:24-25 (NKJV)  Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, 25 To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, Be glory and majesty, Dominion and power, Both now and forever. Amen.

There are some promises given us in the Word that have the power to stir our hearts and imaginations.  This passage is often used as a benediction at the close of worship services at our church.  It is one of the most stunning and breathtaking benedictions to be found in all Scripture.

What struck me about it this morning was the phrase, “and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.”

Faultless?  Me?  Really?  Lord, you must be kidding me!  Look at the pile of my sin, look at the depth of evil that still lives inside me.  Look at how many times in a day I fail you and miss the target of holiness to which you have called me!  How can I possibly be faultless?

Revelation makes it fairly clear: it is by the blood of the Lamb and only by the blood of the Lamb.

We must decide if we believe Scripture or not.  How many people I know (myself included at times) that feel as if they’ll never measure up, they’ll never be good enough!  And I usually say this to them: “You are right.  We’ll never be good enough.”  I will then go on to explain that we aren’t good enough by ourselves, but that He makes us good enough.

I’m wrong about that.  He doesn’t make us good enough, he makes us faultless.  Faultless is far beyond good enough.  Faultless is perfect…absolutely perfect.  And it isn’t me that does that by my efforts, even if they are Herculean.  It is He, He alone, that is able to present God as faultless.  He doesn’t do it begrudgingly as if to say, “You really don’t deserve this, but…I’m going to do you a favor.”  It say He does so with ”exceeding joy”!  He delights to perfect us, to make us faultless.

He can’t wait for the day when you will be presented to “His glory” (God Almighty) as a faultless being.  What a day it will be!

PRAYER: We would never dare dream of such a blessing as being faultless!  We would never hope for such an incredible thing to happen to us, Lord!  Help us to believe, really believe, what you have promised us: that You will present us to the Father, and that when You do, we will, indeed, be faultless!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 07/16/12 – We Are Here for You

DayBreaks for 07/16/12 – We Are Here For You

It sure doesn’t take much for us to get our perspective all turned around.  Just a tiny seed of a mis-guided idea (like a mustard seed in size) can lead us to entirely wrong conclusions.  It happens in the natural world: because people couldn’t see the curvature of the earth, they concluded that it was flat.  It happens in the spiritual realm as well.

Sunday morning in worship, we sang the song, Here For You.  In it are these words:

“Let our praise be Your welcome
Let our songs be a sign
We are here for You, we are here for You

“Let Your breath come from heaven
Fill our hearts with Your life
We are here for You, we are here for You.” – Lyrics by Chris Tomlin 

 As we sang that song, I was struck with the notion of how often we get that backwards.  We think that God is here, there, wherever – for us.  Perhaps it’s because we’ve got the concept of His omnipresence so hard-wired in our brains.  It is true that God is omnipresent, but the issue isn’t that, it’s whether He is there for us, or whether WE are HERE for Him.

God wasn’t created for our glory.  We weren’t created for our glory.  We were created for His glory.  He doesn’t exist for us or to do our bidding.  We exist for Him and for His glory.

What difference does it make? Everything.  It move us from thinking that we are at the center of our own world, that our own wants/wishes/dreams/ambitions are important things and that God exists to give us what we want, instead of understanding that He is the center of not just our world, bur of everything – that it is all about Him and His will.

It is easy on the surface to say that God is the center of our world, but if we are brutally, painfully honest, how true is it in your life?  Wrestle with that, really wrestle.  Let the Spirit speak truth into your heart about ways your actions show that you think He is there for you instead of the other way around.

PRAYER: Father, forgive me for putting myself and my wants and wishes upon the throne instead of getting off that throne that is rightfully Yours and Yours alone.  Each day, let us awake with the believe, and so live, that we are here for You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 07/13/12 – Worse than Cancer

DayBreaks for 07/13/12 – Worse than Cancer

There are not many things that strike us with fear more than the word: C-A-N-C-E-R.  We want to leave the word unspoken as if to pretend that such a horrible spectre doesn’t even exist.  Somehow, we believe if we don’t speak it, or know about it, it can’t exist.  But we all know better, don’t we?  Whenever we get an unexpected pain (especially as we grow older) that seems to recur with some degree of regularity, we start to hear the whisper in the back of our mind, “Cancer…cancer…cancer…maybe I have cancer.”  It’s not that we are wishing it to be so, it is more that we are fearful of it being so.

There is no doubt about it, cancer is a horrible disease.  We will rejoice on the day that cancer and all disease and death are obliterated in the twinkling of an eye!  We dread it and fear it as if it were the worst thing in the world.  But maybe, just maybe, it isn’t the worst thing…

“The art of being sick is not the same as the art of getting well. Some cancer patients recover; some don’t. But the ordeal of facing your mortality and feeling your frailty sharpens your perspective about life. You appreciate little things more ferociously. You grasp the mystical power of love. You feel the gravitational pull of faith. And you realize you have received a unique gift—a field of vision others don’t have about the power of hope and the limits of fear; a firm set of convictions about what really matters and what does not. You also feel obliged to share these insights—the most important of which is this: There are things far worse than illness—for instance, soullessness.” These words were spoken by Tony Snow, who you may recall was a White House press secretary, who died of cancer in July 2008 after a three-year battle with the disease.

What is soullessness?  It is denying the existence of the soul, of ignoring the whisperings of God that we need to believe that life will go on beyond the grave and that therefore it is of vital importance.  It is turning a blind eye, being dead inside, to the cries and pleas and suffering of people.  It is denying that there are over-arching values worth living – and dying – for.

What is your greatest fear?  Is it physical disease?  Poverty?  Loss of employment?  Loss of a child?  Loss of a relationship?  Those are all mostly physical things, like cancer.  The ultimate realties, the ultimately good things, are not physical, but matters of the soul and heart and personhood.

As much as I hope no one ever develops cancer, I’d much rather have cancer than become a soulless human being.

Genesis 2:7 (NLT) – Then the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person.

PRAYER: Melt me and break me, mold me into a person with a soul that longs for the things of God!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 07/12/11 – Like the Leaves of Autumn

DayBreaks for 07/12/12 – Like the Leaves of Autumn

Every year since 2004 Time magazine has each year recognized 100 people as the most influential in the world. As heady a thing as it would be to find your name on such a list, the recognition also highlights the fragility of life and power in this world.

In May 2008 Time recognized journalist Tim Russert as one of the 100 most influential people for the power he wielded over politics on the program Meet the Press. In June of 2008 the respected and beloved Russert suffered a heart attack at age 58 and died.  How long has it been now since you’re heard about him?  Can you even remember?

Also named among the most powerful in the world were the three candidates still in the race for president: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John McCain. One month later, Hillary Clinton ended her campaign, and before the year was out McCain lost in the national election.  You sure don’t hear as much about him anymore, do you?

Follow the others on the top 100 list and you can depend on it: their influence will pass, some in fading glory like the leaves of autumn, others overnight like a towering tree felled by a lumberjack.

Even for the most tenacious, life and power are brief.  As we sang in worship this past Sunday, “Who are we compared to you?”  The answer was well documented by the Psalmist long ago: Psalm 39:4-5 (NLT) – “LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered— how fleeting my life is. 5 You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath.”

Our time is limited, my friends.  We will soon vanish.  Will they way you have spent your time here truly reflect what you say you believe to be important?  Will it resonate with the deepest longing of your heart and soul?  If you think the answer may be “No”, even in just some areas of your life, now is the time to make adjustments.

PRAYER: Lord, we invite you to search our hearts, to show us where we need to change our lives to live in harmony with what you tell us is important and not to waste away our years chasing fleeting shadow figures that would cause us to pursue frivolous diversions!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 07/11/12 – Plan A is Our Responsibility

DayBreaks for 07/11/12 – Plan A Is Our Responsibility

I recently returned from a trip to India where we spent our time during the day and evenings with many of the Dalit peoples of that country.  If you don’t know who the Dalits are, they are the lowest of the low in Indian society.  They aren’t even officially part of the caste system, but below it.  For hundreds and hundreds of years, they have been told that they have no value other than cleaning up animal or human waste, hauling garbage, etc.  They even believe, based on the Hindu religion, that they have no divine spark within them as those of the caste system do.  They are poor – often desperately so.  We visited the slums where some of them live in the cities of Bangalore, Hyderabad and Mumbai.  But with 250 million Dalits, they are all over the country, not just in the cities.

What is our response to such poverty, injustice and oppression?  It is easy for us to say the problem is too big for us to deal with.  Or it is easy to say that organizations such as the Dalit Freedom Network and Operation Mobilization/India are handling it and taking care of it.  It is easy, very easy, to turn a blind eye to those in need, to people who in far too frequent situations, are occupied with catching their food for dinner (not fish – but rats).  If they fail to catch rats, they may go hungry.  Such is the situation facing the “mushers”, the lowest of the Dalits.  The word “mushar” means “rat eater.”

We might do well to listen to what Tony Hall, former US Ambassador for Humanitarian Issues, had to say about the global food crisis: “There’s over 2,500 verses in the Bible that deal with the issue of helping the poor, the sick, the hungry. God set it up that we are to address this issue and that he works through us. His Plan B? Well, I don’t know what Plan B is. Plan A is the way he set it up.

There simply isn’t a Plan B.  We are it – we are the plan!!!  He intends this problem to be solved through us who have something to give and to share.

Let me challenge you (and myself) now: I understand that not one of us has the funding at our disposal to feed even the 250 million Dalit people in India, let alone all the hungry of the world.  But if every Christian regularly and consistently gave a little, what a difference it would make!  Here’s a suggestion for you: commit to give up one designer coffee a month, just one, and send that money to help feed the poor.  Of course, if you can give more, I encourage you to do so.  But nearly everyone can spare $5 a month.  Give that $5 a month via automatic payment (otherwise you’ll forget!) to an organization that works to deliver food, clean water and protection to the needy of this world.  There are many such wonderful, Christian groups you can choose from.  You know many of their names.  If you need some suggestions, email me.  Or, if you prefer, you can support the work we do at I Am 2 Partners, Inc., committed to providing those necessities for the neediest children throughout the world.  It’s easy…painless…and in giving to help feed the poor and hungry, remember this: you aren’t just feeding some faceless person, but according to Jesus, you are feeding Him in the process!

Here’s where you can give to I Am 2 Partners: http://www.iam2.org/donate.  Others doing great work include Compassion International, World Vision, Samaritan’s Purse, the Dalit Freedom Network, Operation Mobilization and others.  They are all worthy of your support.

Isaiah 58:6-11 (ESV)  –  “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? 8 Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. 9 Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, 10if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. 11 And the LORD will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.

PRAYER: Break our hearts, Lord, teach us to be grateful for your blessings, and to engage fully with your plan to use us to bring relief to the hungry and needy!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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