DayBreaks for 7/20/17 – Chaos Doesn’t Rule

DayBreaks for 7/20/17: Chaos Doesn’t Rule

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2007:

My wife, Laurel, is still in India until 7/21 when she’s due to fly back into San Francisco.  On Thursday, 7/5 on her blog about her India adventures, before she left, she wrote this as she was wrestling with her fears and insecurities: 

“Order out of chaos, as I’ve said before, comforts me.  Maybe that’s the problem with the anxiety causing “problems” of life; you can’t make lists to reassure yourself that all is going to be taken care of.  God doesn’t need to make lists, of course, so perhaps the solution to the anxiety of life is to make a list for every anxiety producing situation and put on it (on the list as) “God is taking care of it”; and then check it off.  It sounds ridiculous, of course, but for a visual person like me it might help, who knows?  That is what prayer and reading the Bible do, they give you the opportunity to give your “unlists” to God and receive His wisdom in return, putting your anxieties in the right perspective. 

“Whatever it is, He can handle it and has handled it, so no worries, mate.  That doesn’t mean that pain and suffering don’t hurt, of course, but it does mean that “chaos” doesn’t rule; God does.  That’s peace ‘which passeth understanding’”.

Galen’s Thoughts: I like the idea of actually writing a list of the concerns and problems of life.  I’m sure that none of us would wind up with a blank list, at least not if we are truly open and honest about it.  Perhaps we think that making such a list is complaining.  It’s not.  It’s also not a reflection of a lack of faith in God to write such a list.  It’s part of being a good steward!  Why?  Because being a good steward includes doing the best things with each situation and opportunity that is presented to us.  And what could be better with any situation than placing it into God’s hands?  He’s far more capable of handling things than we are.

Consider the words of the 29th Psalm (NLT): Give honor to the LORD, you angels; give honor to the LORD for his glory and strength.  Give honor to the LORD for the glory of his name.  Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.  The voice of the LORD echoes above the sea.  The God of glory thunders.  The LORD thunders over the mighty sea.  The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.  The voice of the LORD splits the mighty cedars; the LORD shatters the cedars of Lebanon.  He makes Lebanon’s mountains skip like a calf and Mount Hermon to leap like a young bull.  The voice of the LORD strikes with lightning bolts.  The voice of the LORD makes the desert quake; the LORD shakes the desert of Kadesh.  The voice of the LORD twists mighty oaks and strips the forests bare.  In his Temple everyone shouts, “Glory!”  The LORD rules over the floodwaters. The LORD reigns as king forever.  The LORD gives his people strength. The LORD blesses them with peace.

With a Lord like this, why should we not be filled with peace!?!?!!

PRAYER:  Let us with all the angels in the heavenly temple shout “Glory to the Lord Most High!”  We leave our troubles and chaos behind for Your peace.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

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DayBreaks for 7/19/17 – The King Has Spoken

DayBreaks for 7/19/17: The King Has Spoken

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2007:

Daniel 3:28-29 (NIV) – Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.

Nebuchadnezzar is such an interesting character.  He is the prototype of the ancient Middle Eastern despot.  One moment, he’s trying to kill God’s servants for their defiance of his order, and the next, he’s praising their God and honoring them for their steadfastness!  Perhaps we can learn something from this man:

FIRST: we are fickle.  Depending on what happens to us and around us, we can quickly shift from rebellion to praise.  Nebuchadnezzar didn’t have to give praise to God – he didn’t know Him (although he may have known about Him) at all at this point (and arguably never did truly know Yahweh.) 

SECOND: the king changed his tune because of amazement at seeing the hand of God at work.  Why aren’t we so filled with wonder and awe when we see His hand at work?  It seems that we really don’t see it – if it turned a pagan king into a God-praiser, why do His people struggle so much to find praise in their lips and hearts more often?

THIRD: good old King Neb (that’s much easier to type than his full name!) did, in the end of this passage at least, get it right: “no other god can save in this way.”  Has any other god ever been able to deliver His adherents from a fiery furnace?  No.  And it is interesting how God delivered them – He joined them in the fire and was their shield and protector.  It shouldn’t surprise us that He did this – God has always been about delivering His children from famine, flood or fire – whether it was the fire of a furnace or hellfire.  And in all cases, He does it by coming to join us and to keep us from even the hint of smoke!

Although Neb knew about God after this experience, he still didn’t get it.  God is a deliverer – a Saver.  Neb wanted to cut up and burn down the houses of those who spoke against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.  If that’s how God was, there certainly wouldn’t be any overpopulation in this world, would there?  But, glory hallelujah!, that’s not how God is!We might be tempted to listen to worldly kings as they ruminate about life and power.  Whatever we do, let’s be sure and hear the Voice that spoke the world into existence, and to do His will!

PRAYER: Jesus, make us bold in the confidence of Your power and especially in Your power to save.  Turn us into those who praise You at all times!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 7/18/17 – Seven Endless Miles

DayBreaks for 7/18/17: Seven Endless Miles

Luke 24:13-15 (NLT) – That same day two of Jesus’ followers were walking to the village of Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem. As they walked along they were talking about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them.

Michael Card (singer, songwriter, author and theologian) wrote and sings a song called Seven Endless Miles. (You can listen to it here.) It describes the walk of the dismayed, disappointed disciples on the road between Jerusalem and Emmaus – and the surprise guest who eventually joined them on the road.

As they began their walk, just the two of them were there. Seven miles lay ahead of them and it would probably take at least 2-3 hours to walk that distance. There was much to discuss for much that was very troubling had happened. You can talk about a lot in 2-3 hours if your heart is in it. I’m not sure how much their heart was into the conversation other than to reiterate their disappointment and sadness.

How soon did Jesus join them? We don’t know. I would assume it was fairly close to Jerusalem since that’s where he’d been. And for something approaching seven miles they didn’t recognize him (Luke says that God concealed his identity from them).

Why did God conceal who Jesus was? Was it some sort of “discovery” process for Jesus to find out what people were thinking or saying? Was it to delve into the depths of human faith – or lack thereof? I don’t know. I look forward to asking Jesus some day.

But here’s what I find fascinating: for seven miles, nearly 2-3 hours, they didn’t recognize him regardless of the reason. And I wonder: how often has he walked beside me and I neither recognized him nor sensed his presence?

We might be tempted to think that such things have not happened in our life as it did for the Emmaus travelers. But I think that we’d be wrong. Sure, as far as I know Jesus hasn’t physically walked beside me – though it is possible (how’s that for a thought!) Then I realized that He has walked beside me in more corporeal form than you and I might imagine.

Have you ever walked alongside another believer? I’m sure you have. And if you have, you have walked alongside Jesus – because after all, He lives inside each one of His children. And that means He lives inside of YOU and ME. That is what really made me ponder: as I walk along with others, do they even begin to sense the Presence of Jesus when they walk astride me? If not, doesn’t that say that something is seriously wrong with my walk?

PRAYER: Jesus, I don’t want to live in such a way that your Presence is hidden from those who walk beside me!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 7/17/17 – Getting Close Enough

DayBreaks for 7/17/17: Getting Close Enough

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2007:

Preachers face some interesting dilemmas.  It isn’t uncommon for us to visit the sick in the hospital.  And as you know, hospitals are rife with all sorts of disease and infections.  In some ways, it’s amazing that anyone comes out of a hospital alive.  Recent stories about drug-resistant staph infections are scary, aren’t they?  Yet, when someone is sick, you go, hoping and trusting that you won’t get infected.  After all, you may have to get up in the pulpit the next day and preach!!!  And, what if you’re too sick to be there?  I know things would always work out.  But it’s one of the crazy things that go through a minister’s head from time to time. 

Of course, the closer you get to someone who is sick, the greater the chance of infection and the spread of disease.  As I write this, my wife is winging her way to India where she’ll work at an orphanage for two weeks.  She’s got anti-malaria pills to take every day while she’s there, other things to fight dengue fever, special spray to put on her clothes in advance (that will survive 6 washings!!) to hold the mosquitoes in abeyance, and other stuff to protect her from diseases.  We Americans don’t have good immunity to numerous other diseases that are common in other parts of the world.  Proximity to Indian mosquitoes, for example, certainly increases your risk of getting those diseases. 

Proximity to other humans increases our chance of getting diseases they may have.  Sneezing, coughing, vomiting.  The tiny aerosols that spew from our mouths when we sneeze spread disease.  Other diseases are spread though bodily fluids, including sweat from a fever.  Getting close is dangerous.

How close should we get to others?  In Luke chapter 5, Jesus heals a leper.  Sometimes when Jesus healed people of disease or illness, he just spoke the word and the healing was accomplished!  He could heal at a distance – we know that from the healing of the Roman centurion’s son.  But in this case, Jesus specifically chose not to heal at a distance.  He touched the leper.

John Ortberg put it well when he noted that “…only when you get close enough to catch their hurt will they be close enough to catch your love.”  Jesus got plenty close to catch our hurt.  He felt it in his own flesh.  He experienced it in his own heart.  And he got close enough to catch our disease.  Instead, he healed our disease, discounting the risk, so we could catch his love. 

Will we get close enough to others so we can feel and catch their hurt so we can give them His love?

PRAYER:  Thank you, Jesus, for not being afraid to touch us.  Thank you for being willing to feel our hurt.  Thank you for the love you’ve given us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 7/14/17 – A Sight to Behold

Glacier Natl Park 027Mod

Photo of Hidden Lake, Glacier National Park, 2006. Galen C. Dalrymple

DayBreaks for 7/14/17: A Sight to Behold

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2007:

What is the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen?  It’s a tough question, isn’t it?  My first reaction would be to reflect on a high mountain meadow in the Sierra Nevada’s that I saw while hiking with my best friend, Ken.  Or, a sunset on evening as we were out in our little boat returning from a fishing trip in the San Joaquin delta when the water was as smooth as glass but as colorful as an artist’s palette.  Possibly, it would be Hidden Lake at the top of the continental divide in Glacier National Park – a spot you can’t see from the road, but you have to hike back to it over about a mile or two of snow, up past the shoulders of towering granite uprisings. 

I hope that I will never forget the beauty of those things.  I remember at the time, thinking that I wanted to remember them forever.  And I still can, but if I’m to be totally honest about it, the memories do fade a bit over time.  The colors in my imagination aren’t quite as bright as they were in reality.  I guess memory is like color film – it fades over time. 

So, those were my first inclinations in regard to the opening question.  However, as I thought about it more, perhaps the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen is my children, or my grandchildren, as they sleep.  It might seem strange to some to say that the most beautiful thing I’ve seen is people.  People who are near and dear to me.  People that I’d gladly give my life for.

Try to imagine the blind man that Jesus healed.  He’s been blind since birth.  He’s never seen a bird, a flower, a sunrise or sunset.  He’s never seen his mother’s face, he can’t understand the concept of color in the sky or reflected off the water.  He has no point of reference, no sense of visual depth perception.  He’s never seen…anything.  And then one day, along comes Jesus of Nazareth, a man who has been reputed to give sight to the blind and to make the lame walk and the deaf hear.  The man’s mind must have been running at full tilt: could this be the day when he, too, would receive sight?

As it turns out, it was his “lucky” day.  And what to his wondering eyes should appear?  No, it wasn’t a sleigh full of toys and small reindeer.  It was Jesus.  Can you imagine the very first thing you ever see being the face of God?  Would anything ever again live up to that moment, to that sight?  This, truly, is a sight to behold.  It is the sight we all long to behold, if we are His. 

We will have to wait until God decides it is time for you and I to see Him.  Waiting…seeing now only by faith, but not by sight…it can be a long and difficult wait.  But it will be worth it ten thousand times over.  And nothing we will ever see again, not even the streets of gold in heaven itself, will equal the moment when we awaken from our dying moment only to see the Savior’s face. It will make the long, dark years of our “blindness” and waiting worth it.

PRAYER:  Lord of creation, we know You are not the creation itself, but the Maker of all.  Yet in the creation, we see glimpses, tiny flashes, of Your beauty and glory.  Thank you that we will someday see You in all Your risen glory, and that we will behold Your face throughout all of eternity.  How we long to see Your glory!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 7/13/17 – The Yoke of the Rabbi

DayBreaks for 7/13/17: The Yoke of the Rabbi

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2007:

I remember what it was like working in the business world.  I loved the people I worked with, but I must say that I never enjoyed that work as much as what I now do.  I recall how I’d be given an assignment by the VP that I reported to and it would seem to be an impossible request.  And, if the truth be told, at times it was.  You just couldn’t get there from here.  Yet, there was an expectation on his part that somehow, like pulling a rabbit out of a hat, what it was that he desired would magically appear.  Sometimes it happened (by God’s goodness!), but at other times, the rabbit was stillborn.

Expectations.  Instructions.  They can be crushing, can’t they?  If you work or have ever worked, or even if you haven’t, you have had expectations placed upon you that at times were easy to live up to, and at other times were like a 10,000 pound load of bricks.  Such things weigh heavily on our minds, bodies and souls.

Enter a young rabbi from Nazareth.  One day, after his teaching had been rejected at Korazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum, Jesus pronounced a woe on those cities for their failure to turn from their sin to the sinless God.  It wasn’t a pretty scene.  But then comes one of the best known of Jesus’ statements: Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT) – Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light.”

What is the yoke that Jesus is describing?  In the Jewish culture, every rabbi had what was referred to as a “yoke of teaching.”  Simply put, a rabbi’s yoke was their teachings, his instructions.  Jesus was saying that his instructions were easy, that as opposed to the teachings of the other rabbis (especially the Pharisees with their emphasis on rules and obedience), his teachings were light. His burden was one that could be carried!

I fear that many churches have not been teaching the yoke of this Rabbi.  We make it far too hard for people to enter the kingdom.  In Matthew 23:13 Jesus takes the Pharisees to task specifically for not allowing their students to enter the kingdom.  Their concept of admittance to the kingdom was based on people being good enough to qualify, to earn God’s favor.  That is NOT the message of Jesus Christ!  This perverted view of what Christianity is about has kept many men and women from the kingdom.  And the curses that Jesus pronounced on the Pharisees for laying that heavy yoke on those who sought rest will fall today on those who likewise raise barriers to admittance to the kingdom of God.

Jesus said his yoke of teaching was light, that it fits perfectly.  It doesn’t rub or chafe, resulting in ulcerated, bleeding sores.  It is comfortable, barely noticeable.  His teaching was summarized in two commandments and a statement: Love God, love your fellow man.  Believe in me and my work on your behalf.  That’s it.  He offers a relationship, not rules.  He offered grace, not impossibilities.

Are you trying to carry a back-breaking burden of teaching and rules?  Lay it down.  Pick up the yoke that Jesus would give you.  And stop bleeding.  

PRAYER:  We are so grateful, Jesus, that you know and understand our weak frame.  You know that we could never carry the burden of holiness on our own shoulders, nor reach a level of obedience that would qualify us for Heaven.  Thank you for a light burden that is a perfect fit.  May we lay down the heavy load and take up the light yoke of Your teaching.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 7/12/17 – Busted Snakes and Clutter

DayBreaks for 7/12/17: Busted Snakes and Clutter

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2007:

Hezekiah was a man of God.  He’s not one of the better-known characters in the Scripture.  Maybe you don’t even know who he was.  Let me update you if your memory, like mine, is a bit faded these days.  Hezekiah was one of Israel’s kings, and he was a good one.  2 Kings 18:3 says that Hezekiah did what was right in the Lord’s sight.  That’s pretty high praise.  The people had been led into idolatry, but Hezekiah brought them back into God’s pathways once again.  He tore down the Asherah poles that were used in idolatrous worship.  He broke up the altars that had been used for sacrifices to false gods.  As Thom Rainer puts it in Simple Church: He took out the godless clutter that had been competing for the attention and the affection of the people.

But he did more than tear down the Asherah poles and altars.  He did something that would have been considered unthinkable by many of the Israelites.  Do you remember that during the wilderness wanderings, the Lord had sent a plague of snakes into the camp because of the people’s sin?  At that time, Moses was instructed to fashion a bronze serpent and put it up on a pole so that the people who had been bitten could lift their eyes in faith to the serpent on the pole and be saved from death.  It’s a fascinating story, all by itself.  What you may not have remembered or realized is that when Hezekiah got busy with his housecleaning, with removing the clutter from the spiritual life of the nation of Israel, one of the things he did was to break the bronze snake that Moses had made. 

Hezekiah didn’t pretend that he’d dropped the snake and it broke by accident.  He intentionally and purposefully broke it.  Bear in mind that this snake had been in the possession of Israel for hundreds of years.  It would have been a relic.  It had been actually touched by Moses, and it had been made at the express command of the Lord Almighty Himself. 

It took nerve for Hezekiah to bust up that snake.  Why did he do it?  Because it had become clutter.  As amazing as it was – and as fascinating as it must have been to have seen something hundreds of years old that Moses had made himself – it had become clutter because people revered it.  It had become an object of adoration.  It took the attention of people away from the True and Living God.

What’s the point?  Good things can become bad things if we pay them undue attention.  The image of the snake was never meant to be worshiped.  It was meant to be a tool to draw people to worship Jehovah.  But that which was good became bad because people worshiped the image instead.  Can you imagine how the people must have reacted to hearing that their king had destroyed the serpent made by the hand of Moses?!?!  Talk about an unpopular thing to do!

Change is hard.  Change can be very unpopular.  Yet change can also be absolutely vital. 

It’s scary how easily good things can become bad.  It calls for deep introspection.  Is there something that was once good which I have unduly exalted in my mind or heart? 

Break the snakes in your life.  Get rid of the clutter.  Let’s get back to what it’s all about.  It’s not about people’s favorite images or programs or how they think things should be done.  It’s about God and His glory and a proper worship of His Person.

PRAYER:  Open our eyes, Father, that we may see where we are either guilty of, or in danger of, taking something holy and worshipping it instead of You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>