DayBreaks for 5/29/15 – Distractions or Realities?

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DayBreaks for 5/29/15: Distractions or Realities?

Some of us remember the days before interstate highways and massive traffic slowdowns when a leisurely drive to a relative’s house was as much about scenery as it was about getting places. Who cared if the highway weaved around curves and some hills were steeper than others? It was fun to see fields with cattle and sheep, and sometimes even a white hillside where turkeys and chickens roamed freely behind a fence.

Those were days when you could load up the car with expectation of the trip of a lifetime. Regardless of where you were starting from, the adventure would undoubtedly lead to parts of the country that you had only seen in books and magazines. From the east, west, north, or south, from the central plains, wherever it was you called home, there was a lot to be seen beyond your immediate area.

You’d just map out your itinerary to include places that you always wanted to see and those that any traveling partners would enjoy. Drive through the cornfields of Iowa or the wheat of the Dakotas.  Swing by that “new” arch structure called the Gateway to the West in St. Louis.

You can drive along the beaches of either coast, or into the mountains that soar into the sky. Enjoy the forests of redwoods or walk among the petrified trees of long ago. Sit on the banks of the Mississippi and you can almost see Tom Sawyer floating by on a raft. Climb the steps in Mesa Verde National Park and you sense the presence of the cliff dwellers who built their homes in the Colorado mountainside. On another mountainside in South Dakota, you can marvel at the danger and skill it took to carve the faces of four American presidents.

Using a little imagination, you can see huge herds of buffalo on the Great Plains.  And it takes no imagination, just wonderment, to appreciate the color and beauty of the Grand Canyon.

All those places are still there, and you can still see them and enjoy them, but how we travel has changed. If you choose to travel any great distance by car, you’ll probably be on interstate highways. And unless you can count seeing the World’s Largest Buffalo along I-94 in Jamestown, North Dakota, or other tall, man-made structures, you don’t see a lot. To get to those gems of scenery, you have to take a side trip. The old highway system went this way and that, connecting one small place to another, regardless of the hills that had to be climbed or the curves that had to be maneuvered. Interstate highways try to be the shortest distance between two points. They are straighter, less hilly, and, if necessary to accomplish their goal, will go right through the side of a mountain or under a water source.

But the highways are not totally to blame. People have changed as well. The simple yet amazing wonders that surround us become hidden from our view by all of our modern necessities that we carry with us. We feel like we’re interrupting something if we try to point out some beautiful scenic spot when the kids are listening to their CDs and the adults are watching a movie. Headphones in place, eyes closed, it’s like: “Don’t bother me with stuff outside. Just tell me how long before we get there.”

We have become so disoriented that we confuse the distractions in our lives with the realities. What we might perceive as distractions are actually the realities. To a young person riding in a car, the beautiful scenery is a distraction to concentrating on the music. To a caring and concerned onlooker, the music is the distraction to the world.

Has our focus in life become “just getting there” instead of living it as we go along? Are we able to enjoy the scenery along the way or do we shut it out because we don’t have the time to deal with it? Do we live only in the flesh, or do we allow God’s Spirit to dwell in us?

PRAYER: You have created a beautiful and wonderful world, but we are too busy to appreciate it, Lord.  Slow us down!  Open our eyes to You greatness and glory!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 5/27/15 – No Hunting-Except for Peace

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DayBreaks for 5/27/15: No Hunting – Except for Peace

It strikes me that many, many people in the world today are lacking peace.  For some it is literal warfare that rages unchecked all around them.  For others it is an internal peace that is missing because of errant behavior or pressures that press down like a cement block.  We all experience a lack of peace – at least at times, don’t we?

Jesus said, Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. – John 14:27 (ESV)

Ah, therein lies the rub, right?  Jesus said he has given us peace and that peace is not like the world can give.  If the peace Jesus gives is not better than that which comes from the world, who needs it, right?  Yet so many Christians are devoid of peace, and perhaps that describes you.  The peace Jesus gives to us through the Holy Spirit is more than we can ever imagine:

Peace means the cessation of all warfare, but it also means much more.

Peace means a feeling of inner well-being, but it also means much more.

Peace means an end to psychological tensions, but it also means much more.

Peace means halting interpersonal conflicts, but it also means much more.

Peace means the settling of silence on the soul, but it also means much more.

In Valyermo, California , the Benedictines converted a 400-acre ranch into a religious community called St. Andrew’s Priory. As you enter the grounds, you find that the land is posted: “No Hunting Except for Peace.”

The world is hunting desperately for peace. If you haven’t found peace, it may be because you are not seeking it from the Prince of Peace.  You can’t help bring peace to the world unless you have first experienced it yourself.  Hunt for it.  Pray for it.  Experience it.  And then tell the world about what you’ve found.

PRAYER: Jesus, all of us need the peace you have promised us.  We turn to you asking your peace to abound in our hearts and fill us when we are tempted to fear and not to trust.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 5/25/15 – They Watched Them Die

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DayBreaks for 5/25/15: They Watched Them Die

“Many have been there.  Your grandfather, parents, perhaps aunts, uncles, cousins, sons and daughters – they were there.  They saw friends killed by the enemy.  It changed them. To see people die is a horrific thing.

“Nothing can erase that from your mind.  No one can understand it fully unless you have been there.  I have not been there, but I have heard the stories.

“They knew that it was inevitable that some would die.  In every war, some have died.  One a day like today, we honor those who have died standing up for others.  Perhaps you know people who know people who died in wars.  Maybe you know people who died.  We grieve with you as you grieve with us.  Wars are horrific.  In every war, some have died.

“Think today about the current wars and the next ones.

“There will be more of this: more killing and more people we know who know people who will give their lives as an ultimate sacrifice.  It will not end for a long time.  We don’t know how long, and we don’t know how many more will die.  It is heartbreaking and depressing.

“What is our hope?  In every war, some have died, except in one war.  In that war, only One died.  His Father watched him die.  He died, so that those who believe would have life, the life that is eternal.  All who believe have life, even after death.

“He is our only hope for ending all wars.  How will he do it and when?  We don’t know.  In the meantime, we have to live as followers of Him and think deep thoughts about overt and hidden wars, weapons of mass destruction, nuclear arms and conflict.

“Today, on this Memorial Day weekend, we remember and honor those who have died in all the wars to protect us, and we remember the One who have His life to end all wars.

“To those of you who watched them die, I want to say we are thankful that you are still here.  Don’t let us forget your friends.” – Author Unknown

Remember well this day those who no longer walk among us.

PRAYER: Thank you, Prince of Peace, for those who also stand watch over us and protect us.  Thank you for their courage and their sacrifice, and we pray you comfort all who have loved them and lost them.  Thank you for ultimately winning the war against war and we long to see that become reality. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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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.

To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.

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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