DayBreaks for 9/19/19 – Alaska Lessons #3 – Peace

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DayBreaks for 9/19/19: Alaska Lessons #3 – Peace

I suppose in a way this DayBreaks is mislabeled. It’s about peace in a way, but more accurately the deceitful appearance of peace when there is none.

At one point during our time in Alaska, a naturalist led a small group I was with out onto the tundra and up onto a  hillock. We ate lunch there (after careful instructions to keep our eyes peeled for bear and not to leave anything behind). When we were sitting there, we watched a mother grizzly and her cub on a sloping hillside opposite us (they were quite a distance away!) We all sat in silence, just watching the majestic animals move.

Then, at one point, our guide said, “Just listen. What can you hear?” To be honest, all I could hear was the sound of the wind on occasion, the sound of my own breathing, the sound of blood rushing through my ears and the occasional bird calling. It was so peaceful and quiet. That started me thinking about the peace that is to be found on the vast slopes and tundra of Alaska.

But that peace is deceptive. That very afternoon, the mother grizzly may have taken down some animal for dinner. The moose cow will vigorously defend her calf with her very sharp and hard hooves – even taking on full grown bears. Wolves will chase caribou for miles in pursuit of a meal and a golden eagle swoops down from on high to snatch an unsuspecting and unwary rabbit or pika. Bull moose fight with one another, sometimes to the death, to gain mating rights with a harem of cows. The wild of Alaska may sound and even look peaceful, but it is deceptive.

The bible warns us: Jeremiah 8:11 (NIV) – They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. “Peace, peace,” they say, when there is no peace. In context, God is excoriating the leaders – political and religious – who pretend that nothing is wrong, that there is nothing that threatens harm due to their conceit and greed.

We need to be careful to not be lulled into a lack of alertness for danger surrounds us at every bend, over every hilltop. We have an enemy who doesn’t slack off when we are weak or wounded – he attacks. But he wants us to think the world is just fine, thank you, and that we don’t need to be worried or wage war against a culture that has discarded God’s truth. 

We also need to be careful that we are not guilty of emulating those God rails against in Jeremiah and lulling others into a false sense of wellness.

Let us be alert at all times, for the enemy seeks whom he may devour!

PRAYER: Help us be vigilant and not mislead by our own desire for peace when there is none. Give us discernment to recognize false claims that would lull us into comfort! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 9/18/19 – Alaska Lessons #2 – Majesty

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Early morning photo of Mt. Denali by Galen Dalrymple, September 2019

DayBreaks for 9/18/19: Alaska Lessons #2 – Majesty

Most folks don’t realize this, but Mt. Denali (aka Mt. McKinley – the highest point in North America) has an even greater vertical rise from its base than Everest. Mt. Everest starts on a plain at 14,000 feet while Denali starts from just 1000 feet elevation. That means that in terms of vertical rise from its base, Denali is about 4281 feet higher from base to top than Everest!

They say that visitors to Denali National Park have a 30% chance of seeing the top of the mountain without it being encumbered with clouds. I have spoken to many folks who went there hoping to see it but the clouds never parted so they left only being able to imagine the majestic mountain.

The very name, Denali, means “high one” or “great one”. It clearly dominates the landscape as well as the continent. And as I sat spell-bound looking at the entire view of the mountain in all its majesty, I got to thinking about the subject of God.

At present, God is much like Denali in that he is largely shrouded from our view. Sure, we can observe his actions if we look hard and long enough, but he is clothed with clouds (Dt. 33:25, MSG) and they form his chariot (Dt. 33:26, NIV). But God himself is hidden from our sight lest we die (Ex. 33:20). I can only imagine the disappointment of those who longed to see Denali only to be denied. And like those of old who longed to see God’s face, to physically observe him with the human eye, I think most believers share that same longing.

Now, however, the Most High is concealed from our sight with the clouds that separate this world from the next. But just as the clouds melted away on our last two days in the park and we were able to see “the high one”, the day will come when God will shake off the clouds that hide him from our eyes and we shall behold the glory of “the High One”. What a majestic sight that will be!

Matthew 5:8 (CSBBible) – Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

PRAYER: Father, we long to see you in your full majesty. Until that day, grant us daily glimpses into your majesty to fire our spirits with wonder, awe and inspiration! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 9/17/19 – Alaska Lessons #1 – Beauty

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Photo by Galen C. Dalrymple, September 2019

DayBreaks for 9/17/19: Alaska Lessons #1 – Beauty

My wife and I were recently able to cross an item off our bucket list: a trip to Alaska. It was all we’d every dreamed of and more!

The vastness and wildness of Alaska stirred a variety of thoughts within me and I wanted to share some with you.

The beauty of Alaska is stunning. It is what I can only imagine the world may have looked like when it was fresh from the Father’s hand and heart. I could hardly keep my eyes off the mountains and streams, glaciers and tundra as I drove along. And I found myself thinking about how God loves beautiful things. I’m quite sure that there are parts of Alaska where man has yet to set foot, yet they are beautiful and God created them that way. Why? Can there be any other explanation other than he did it for his own enjoyment since no one else was going to see it for millenia? 

And that got me to thinking about what God finds truly beautiful. While he loves mountains and oceans, raging streams and quiet woods, there are things he loves even more.

God loves the righteous: Ps. 146:7-8 (ESV) – …who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets the prisoners free; the LORD opens the eyes of the blind. The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous. He loves justice (Ps. 33:5), he desires honesty and truthfulness from us. He loves the humble heart.

As much as God loves nature’s beauty, he loves us more when he sees us acting like the King’s children.

PRAYER: Let us live in such a way that you see beauty in us and in what we do for you and our fellow man. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 9/16/19 – Two Appropriate Thoughts

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DayBreaks for 9/16/19: Two Appropriate Thoughts

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2009:

My wife and I live outside of the glare of city lights, about 5 miles from the closest town.  We feel very blessed with the peace and quiet of this place.  On occasion on warm summer nights, I go out onto the deck and just stare up at the skies.  You can see far more stars here than in town.  It is possible to see the milky scatter that is called the Milky Way as it stretches across the sky. 

Just the other night as I lay there gazing up, I was struck by several thoughts.  I am always totally amazed at the vast distances involved in the universe.  I thought about the deep, absolute cold of outer space.  I thought about the huge amounts of nothingness that presents itself through the absence of any sign of light.  And, I thought about the incredible fact that some of the “stars” I perceived as a single point of light are really extremely distant galaxies that are composed of billions (some say as many as 350,000,000,000) of stars.  What appears tiny may indeed be exceedingly massive. 

I also always find myself repeating David’s question as I stare into this vastness: What is man that Thou art mindful of him, or the son of man that Thou visitest him?  And I ask myself: Why, God, do You think of and take notice of ME? 

God, of course, didn’t have to make the universe so vast.  In fact, He didn’t have to make it large at all.  He could have been content with just creating a nice little cozy solar system for us to live in.  That would have been impressive enough!  We don’t even understand all that happens on our planet, let alone in our solar system.  They mysteries and wonder are deep, indeed. 

Once again, Francis Chan found himself wondering about the same thing.  “Why would God create more than 350,000,000,000 galaxies (and this is a conservative estimate) that generations of people never saw or even knew existed?  Do you think maybe it was to make us say, ‘Wow, God is unfathomably big?  Or perhaps God wanted us to see these pictures so that our response would be, ‘Who do I think I am?’”

The Bible tells us that God is unfathomably big and powerful.  And it amazingly tells us that He does in fact notice and care about us as individuals, that we matter GREATLY to Him – each and every one of us.  Perhaps, as Chan suggests, the most important feeling that the universe should stir in us is to put us in our place when we are thinking too highly of ourselves. 

Space should make us feel small, for we are infinitesimally small in comparison to the universe.  Our God holds all that exists in the palm of His hand.  We need to be reminded of that when we’re too puffed up and feeling hoity-toity.  If the universe makes us feel small, when we compare ourselves (our wisdom, goodness, knowledge, capabilities, etc.) to God, may we all be led to view the skies with wonder and ask, “Who do I think I am?”

PRAYER: For the wonder of your creation, we thank you.  For the way you feel about us and love us, we adore you.  When we start to get too big for our shoes, keep us humble before You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 9/12/19 – How Quickly We Forget

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DayBreaks for 9/12/19: How Quickly We Forget

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2009:

The long, hot summer of Cloverdale is nearly over!  I’m so glad.  I hate it when it is hot.  The summers here are long…the heat can get really bad.  And after a few months of summertime, I tend to forget how much I appreciate the cool of fall and even the “cold” of winter (although it doesn’t get all that cold here!)  And, wouldn’t you know it, after a few months of the “cold” I forget what it feels like to be warm and I start to long for the warm, lazy springtime.  Such a fickle creature I am.

We don’t seem to have much capacity for remember things very well.  Sure, I remember my multiplication tables just fine, thank you.  But I often either forget or take for granted the love of my wife or children, the smell of the forest floor after a light rain or the roar of the ocean.  If I stop and think about those things hard enough, I can remember them to some degree…but never quite like the real thing.

We are getting older and perhaps that’s partially why our “rememberers” don’t work so well any more.  There may, however, be other factors that have conditioned us to be forgetful.  In Crazy Love, Francis Chan wrote: “We are programmed to focus on what we don’t have, bombarded multiple times throughout the day with what we need to buy that will make us feel happier or sexier or more at peace.  This dissatisfaction transfers over to our thinking about God.  We forget that we already have everything we need in Him.”

Are either you, or someone you know, disillusioned with God?  Do you feel that if He just gave you a bit more of “this or that” you’d find it easier to love Him or believe in Him or accept His will for your life?  Is it possible that our frustrations with God have been inadvertently influenced by marketers who labor at the business of making us feel discontent with what we DO have?

Chan’s conclusion: “Because we don’t often think about the reality of who God is, we quickly forget that He is worthy to be worshipped and loved.”  And that is true whether we never receive another single thing from God in our entire lives.

Let us take to heart the words of the fisherman from 2 Peter 1:3: His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.  We’ve got it all.  Don’t let frustrations and lack in other areas of your life ever be confused or cause you to think that God has shortchanged you about anything!

PRAYER: God, keep us from ever thinking that You have shortchanged us in any area of our lives!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 9/11/19 – Folly

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DayBreaks for 9/11/19: Folly

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2009:

From www.evangelicalgateway.wordpress.com blog, dated 9/9/09 by Tim Dalrymple:

Bill McGurn (from the Wall Street Journal Opinion Post) has an excellent article on two “Christian Girls, Interrupted.”  The first girl, Amanda Kurowski, was ordered by a judge to attend public school because, essentially, the judge determined that the girl should be exposed to ways of thinking other than those of her religious parents.  Amanda’s parents are divorced; her mother has primary custody, but her father has been concerned about the effect of home-schooling on her “socialization.”  The judge, considering the concerns of the father, proceeded to determine “that Amanda is generally likeable and well liked, social and interactive with her peers, academically promising, and intellectually at or superior to grade level.”  (GCD: In other words, she’s socializing just fine, thank you.)  Yet due to her mother’s “rigidity on faith,” the court concludes that Amanda “would be best served by exposure to different points of view at a time in her life when she must begin to critically evaluate multiple systems of belief and behavior and cooperation in order to select, as a young adult, which of those systems will best suit her own needs.”  In other words, the judge determines, essentially, that she must be sent to public school in order to get away from her mother’s narrow religiosity and be exposed to other worldviews.  Pretty extraordinary stuff.  As McGurn writes, “Just how extraordinary [this line of reasoning is] might best be appreciated by contemplating the opposite scenario: the reaction that would ensue were a court to order a young girl out of a public school and into an evangelical one so she might gain “exposure” to other “systems of belief.”

Galen’s Thoughts: you know, I’m almost at a loss for words on this one.  In his article, Bill McGurn noted that the state motto in New Hampshire is “Live Free or Die”.  So much for that. 

If there was ever an argument to be made against judges who legislate from the bench, this one seems to be at the top of the list.  The judge, even though he decreed that the girl was socializing fine (meaning he should have thrown out the case on the grounds it wasn’t true) decided that in his judgment, she was being brainwashed by a mother who was Christian.  So now, the girl has been sent to public school where she will, undoubtedly, be presented with all sorts of godless and unchristian beliefs.  I am not advocating home school over public school – I’m deeply disturbed, however, at this attack on freedom of religion and the usurping of the parental authority in this case. 

Jesus said there would be times of persecution.  Most of us growing up, probably never thought we’d see it in our lifetime in America.  Wake up, Christians!  It’s on its way!!!!    

PRAYER: Father, we pray for Amanda that you would protect her fledgling faith and help her to stand upon the Rock.  Help us to understand the attacks that are coming against Christians throughout this country.  May we protect the innocent!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 9/10/19 – Cheer, Happy Faces and Honesty

Happy and sad at the same time?

DayBreaks for 9/10/19: Cheer, Happy Faces and Honesty

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2009:

I have spent some time lately with some very discouraged and unhappy people.  Let’s be honest: if we look at this world for very long at all, there is much to get discouraged about!  Disease and death, disappointment, rejection, mistakes in judgment, financial challenges, relationship difficulties…you know the score.  Life is tough.

In The Gospel According to Job, Mike Mason said: “In short, Scripture never suggests (unlike many churchgoers) that the wearing of a cheerful countenance is a good tonic for the world.  On the contrary, in Ecclesiastes we read, Sorrow is better than laughter, because a sad face is good for the heart (7:3).  How is it we have bought the lie that a Christian’s face is only publicly presentable when the corners of the mouth are pushed up?  The Apostle James actually exhorts us to …grieve, mourn and wail.  Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom’ (4:9). As the poet Emily Dickinson put it in her trenchant style, ‘I like the look of Agony, because I know it’s true.’

“Undoubtedly Scripture exhorts us to ‘Rejoice in the Lord’ and to ‘Be of good cheer.’  Yet nowhere are we commanded to ‘put on a happy face.’”

We are encouraged to rejoice because we know our names are written in heaven.  We are not to delight in the suffering per se, but in what the suffering is building into our character, knowing that the Lord has a perfect plan for us that will result in wholeness some day.  In the meantime, false cheerfulness may lead to charges of hypocrisy.  Job and David knew what it was to hurt and to weep and wail as a result.  But they also knew that they couldn’t stay with their focus on themselves and their troubles indefinitely or the burden would have become crushing.  They eventually lifted their eyes upwards to receive the help they needed in the time of their greatest pain. 

God doesn’t deny you the right to be honest about your feelings.  Quite the opposite!  He wants you to be honest with yourself and with him and others about them.  It is only then that He can begin to shape us into the image of the Suffering Servant who offers His joy to the entire world.     

PRAYER: Let us be honest with our pain and hopeful in our upward glances!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>