DayBreaks for 8/22/17 – The Sun, Moon and Stars

DayBreaks for 8/22/17: The Sun, Moon and Stars

Psalm 19:1-6 –  The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night shweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.

Amos 8:9 – And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord GOD, that I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in the clear day:

Well, it’s over. I hope you lived somewhere that you could get a good look at the eclipse today. Where we lived, the eclipse wasn’t total, but 99.33% total. And let me say, it was amazing!

The temperature must have dropped at least 5 degrees if not more. The light became eerie in shade. I likely shall not see such a spectacle again, but I thank God that I was able to see it today. We had solar glasses and to watch the moon slide in front of the sun over an extended period of time was truly spellbinding.

As I watched the eclipse, my mind was drawn to several thoughts:

FIRST: I was struck at how perfectly the disk of the moon covered the disk of the sun. And yet, there are about 92.71 million miles between them. But God arranged it so perfectly that one would think they were the same size. We need to remember that things aren’t always what they seem…especially when something is God’s doing.

SECOND: I was struck by the fact that the moon was invisible…that is, you couldn’t see it if you looked up toward the sun because the light of the sun so totally overwhelmed the moon. Still, it was amazing to watch a black hole eat up the sun, the sun to virtually disappear, only to have it be born again. And I thought of how the Light of the Son so totally overwhelms anything else that pretends to be light.

THIRD: It is amazing, even at 99.33% totality, how much light remains. You’d think that the sky would be darkened 99.33%, but it isn’t. There is so much light streaming down that it wasn’t pitch black – not even close. I need to remember that when I start to think about the extent of the darkness in the world and how all pervasive it seems. The darkness still hasn’t overcome the Light…it’s no contest, an unfair competition.

FOURTH: I was struck with the thought that God did this for us – for our wonder and amazement. After all, no one else but humans in the entire universe could see it. God didn’t need to see it. We did. I thought about the massive distances at work, the size of the sun and moon, of the fact that they MOVE, that they seem to hang upon nothing. How can that be? Because it is God and his voice that set them in place, that calls them forth to run in their courses, and even more impressive, can cause the sun to stop still in its tracks if he chooses to do so.

Psalm 8:3-4 (ESV) – When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?

PRAYER: Oh, God, how humbled I was by the show you put on in the sky today! Thank you for the reminder of how great and awesome your works are, but even how much greater you are than what you have created! Thank you for the delight of what we witnessed and the wonder it caused in so many. I pray it may turn hearts to seek the creator of such wonders! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/18/17 – Bronzing Your Flip Flops

DayBreaks for 8/18/17: Bronzing Your Flip Flops

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2007:

The Associated Press ran a story recently about a Virginia woman says she’s still alive because of 2 things: her faith and her flip-flops.  It seems that Marie Drackert was watching the weather on television in her York County home July 29th of this year when a bolt of lightning came down her chimney and shot out through her fireplace. The lightning fried appliances and sent a jolt of electricity through her body.

Ms. Drackert says that it was the rubber in her flip-flops that kept her grounded and her faith kept her going, even though the impact from the lightning strike was so strong that she believed a plane had crashed into the roof of her home. 

The lightning blew out Drackert’s washer and dryer, television, telephone, stereo, microwave oven, toaster, coffee pot and a brand-new air conditioning unit. Parts of her home’s floor and walls were also damaged.  After ravaging her home, the bolt shot out and damaged the homes of two neighbors as well. 

Drackert says she’s thinking about getting the flip-flops bronzed. 

I don’t know this lady and I’m not making judgments about her faith, but I found the story interesting.  I’m not sure what she meant when she said her faith “kept her going”, but instead of getting the flip-flops bronzed and instead of crediting them for saving her life, maybe a bit of praise and thanksgiving are in order.  After all, does she really think it was the flip-flops that saved her life, of the grace of the good Lord?  It could have just been the press that didn’t mention the name of Jesus in the article (that’s a very real possibility!), but when things like this (and things bigger and smaller) happen to us as believers, the more credit that we give to the Lord, the better.  The world needs to see the power of the Almighty God and to understand that nature is not God, and God is not nature.  There’s a reason He’s called “supernatural”.  He is far above nature – and can control it at will.

I find that I often flip-flop between acts of faith and praise and acts of cowardice and discontent.  I pray to have those kind of flip-flops removed.  They don’t deserve to be bronzed.

PRAYER: Jesus, please remove the flip-flops from my life that I can be a more consistent witness for You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/15/17 – It Takes a While

DayBreaks for 8/15/17: It Takes a While

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2007:

God certainly has different ways than we do.  We all like to do things in the easiest, most simple way possible.  We aren’t given to wanting to work harder or longer than we absolutely have to.  And so, we take shortcuts and labor hard to find the quickest way to get somewhere. 

When we go on vacation and have a specific destination in mind, I tend to be pedal to the metal until we get there.  I’ll look at the map and find the shortest and most direct route to get where we’re going.  In fact, I not only look at the mileage, but the amount of time each route will take.  I really want to get there!  I’m often not much for appreciating the journey itself.  Just this past summer (2006), my wife and I drove to Iowa for a family reunion.  No dilly-dallying around.  We high-tailed it as fast as we could.  We didn’t have a lot of time, nor a lot of money, to lolly-gag on our way.  “Interstate 80, here we come” – all the way from California to Iowa. 

God, it is clear, has other ways of “traveling”.  Take Israel, for instance, as they came out of Egypt.  The most direct route would have taken Israel northeast along a path that curved around the southeast corner of the Mediterranean Sea.  The distance would have been a mere 200 miles or so.  Even with a group as large as the nation of Israel, such a trek could have been managed in 2-3 weeks at most. 

But God had a “better idea.”  I can’t imagine how Israel felt on the first morning when the pillar of cloud headed not to the northeast, but to the southeast.  The Bible even tells us why this happened.  It wasn’t because God had a bad sense of direction.  It was because God knew that along the route would be strong armies that Israel would have to fight.  And God knew that if they encountered such difficulty, things could be really bad.  Here’s what the Word says: (Exodus 13:17-18 (NIV) – When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter.  For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.”  So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt armed for battle.

You see, it wasn’t that Israel didn’t have weapons to do battle – it explicitly says they left Egypt “armed for battle.”  So the problem wasn’t armaments, it was a heart problem.  For 400 years, Israel had been slaves.  They thought of themselves as slaves – a subordinate, powerless, third rate people with a God that had been on vacation for 4 centuries.  Sure, some of them remembered the stories of how God had dealt with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph, but they had not had personal experience of God at work.  At least, not that they could see. 

So, the point is that Israel didn’t know God and had no reason (as far as they were concerned) to trust Him if they encountered an enemy.  They needed to learn to follow and believe in Him and His goodness.  And that takes time.  As someone once said, “It took one night to get Israel out of Egypt, but it took 40 years to get Egypt out of Israel.” 

I sometimes get frustrated with the rate at which I make spiritual progress.  I know others who feel the same way.  I hear it often: “I feel I should be a better Christian by now,” or “I feel like I should not still be struggling with this issue.”  I hear it all the time.  But the point is that God is as patient with us as He was with Israel, and that He will choose the route to the Promised Land that ensures us that when we get there, we’ll have learned to trust Him. 

It takes a long time to get Egypt (earth) out of our focus and onto God as all that we need.  How are you doing?

PRAYER: Father, thank you for choosing the right pathway for each one of our lives as we traverse this world.  Thank you for leading us out of slavery, through the desert, and into a place of learning and trusting in you.  Help us to learn our lessons well, Lord.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/11/17 – In Union With Christ

DayBreaks for 8/11/17: In Union With Christ

From the DayBreaks archive, 8/9/2007:

The following excerpts were from an Orthodox priest, Stephen Freeman.  I hope they spur your thinking…

“True Christianity is a life lived in union with Christ and all that we do that has value is what we do in union with Him.

It is in reflecting on this that I ponder many conversations I hear (or overhear).  Many times I hear myself or others expressing dismay or anxiety over a situation, or plotting to achieve one goal or another. The frightening dynamic in many of these conversations – let alone the actions that flow from them – is the dynamic of secularism.  We live as though there were no God, or as if the God Who Exists is not able to act within our world.  Having decided what is in God’s best interest, or the interest of the faith, we design our efforts (perhaps even thinking to please Him).

“But God does not seek to be pleased by actions taken in separation from Him.  It is union with God that saves us (and this alone).  Neither can we undertake any activity that has a saving character except that activity be taken in union with Christ.

“Why should we love our enemies and pray for them?  Because there is little else you can do for them that is in union with Christ.  You cannot seek vengeance in union with Christ.  You cannot even seek to “fix” other people in union with Christ.  The action of Christ is always respectful of our freedom and always acts in love.  Action in union with Christ cannot have some other character.

“Actions such as kindness and mercy, patience and love are easily lived in union with Christ.  But our secular mindset rarely sees such actions as useful.”

I was struck recently as I studied the life of Jacob by Jacob’s methodology in Genesis 32.  This is just before he is scheduled to meet up with his brother, Esau.  The last time they’d been together, Jacob had been running for his life, and he didn’t know how Esau would now respond.  So, Jacob makes his plans and puts them into action.  Then, in verse 9, after he’s put his plans into action, he prays to God for blessing and protection.  It strikes me that the sequence is reversed, or should be.  Shouldn’t we seek God’s will and plan before we put our own into place?  Why don’t we?  Partly, I think, because of what Freeman says in the second paragraph above: “we live as though there were not God, or as if the god Who Exists is not able to act within our world.” 

It is only those who are believers who can be guilty of this shortcoming.  Why are we smitten with this disease of thinking that I Am isn’t able to act in the world today?  Perhaps it’s mostly because we’ve never asked Him to really reveal Himself to us.  Perhaps it’s because we don’t even have the faith to ask Him to act in the first place, or we hedge our bets in our prayers with phrases like, “If it is your will…”.  Mind you, it’s not a bad thing to pray for God’s will to be done.  It’s biblical.  But it’s also just as biblical (in fact, there may be more examples of this than the prior) to boldly ask God for exactly what we want – be it a loaf of bread, a drink of water in the desert, the parting of the waters or the ability to walk on their surface.  But we don’t do this very often – we’re afraid that others will hear us, and if we don’t get what we asked for, will think we’re not very spiritual. 

Freeman’s point is valid: we need to live in union with God, joining ourselves to Him and His purposes and His desires.  And that includes living and acting as if He still exists and will do great things that we can’t imagine.

PRAYER:  Lord, teach us to live in union with you, to not become dismayed or anxious, to not plot our own victories and deliverances, but to wait patiently and always act in union with You.  Don’t let us run ahead of you, or lag behind, but always walk by Your side.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/9/17 – ‘Tis Foolishness

DayBreaks for 8/09/17: ‘Tis Foolishness

From the DayBreaks archive, 8/7/2007:

I’ve been thinking about contentment lately.  Mind you, I’m not content with my thinking on the topic!  But I’m trying to learn to be more content in my station in life in various venues, but especially in the area of possessions.  It seems that much of what we struggle with in this world as far as contentment goes has to do with things – stuff – possessions. 

I recall when our kids were little.  They’d hear about a new toy in a Happy Meal, or a new video game, or some new action hero figure, and they would ask for it.  Sometimes I gave it to them, sometimes not.  My decision certainly wasn’t all based on “need” – they really didn’t need any of it.  Sometimes I withheld the gift solely to help them learn lessons related to happiness and contentment.  Sometimes, if they really wanted something, they’d say words to this effect: “If you get it for me, I promise I won’t ever ask for another thing, ever!!!!”  Yeah, right.

Of course, none of us adults would be so silly as to think that a change in circumstances or possessions would bring lasting contentment, would we?  Maybe not.  Someone once said that the only difference between men and boys is the price of their toys.  There’s more truth to that than I want to admit.  In Love Beyond Reason, John Ortberg observes: “All day long we are bombarded with messages that seek to persuade us of two things:

  1. That we are (or ought to be) discontented, and
  2. That contentment is only one step (or change or purchase) away.”

These two things are at the heart of all marketing.  They try to make us believe that the only thing that stands between us and the girl or guy of our dreams is our toothpaste (as if all our other problems were already fixed!) – and that if we buy a certain brand of toothpaste, we’ll get that girl or guy and live “happily ever after.”  We may have jobs that we’re competent at and that we love, but the promise and allure of “more money” makes us discontent and leads us to jump ship into a position that will mean we sacrifice family time or values.  That one new car may seem like a siren calling your name – and if you had it, you just know you’d be forever happy. 

It’s all a pack of lies.  I don’t know how else to put it.  Doesn’t even your own experience and life tell you that such marketing drivel is not true?  The pursuit of such things, indeed of happiness in this world, is trivial pursuit.  The pursuit of the Kingdom of God bears everlasting dividends, and the promise of happiness and joy that is not made by marketers who have something to gain, but by God, who can’t gain a single thing from us.  How much better for us to seek first His Kingdom and Righteousness…and in due time, all that He has will be ours!

1 Timothy 6:6-10 (NIV) But godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.  But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.  People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

PRAYER: Father, we struggle to find contentment, thinking we can find it in all the wrong places and in all the wrong ways.  Teach us to be content with what we have in this world, but to never be content in how much we have of You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/8/17: What Are You Building?

DayBreaks for 8/08/17: What Are You Building?

From the DayBreaks archive, 8/8/2007:

In the San Jose area of California stands an impressive house, but it has a strange history.  It’s called the Winchester Mystery House.  It was home to the widow of the inventor of the Winchester rifle, and after he and their only child died, Mrs. Winchester seems to have gone crazy.  At the very least, she became obsessed with the occult.  As a result, she began a huge building project that would last 38 years – and then it only stopped because she died.  Based on statements and things she wrote, she apparently came to believe that as long as she kept building on the house, that she would not die. 

For 38 years, sixteen carpenters worked full time on the house.  At its largest expanse (it has since been partly destroyed by fire), the house contained 2000 doors and 160,000 windows (that’s more windows than are in the Empire State Building.)  Two front doors were installed at an incredible price of $3000 (a huge sum of money in those days), and yet those doors were only used 1 time – by the workmen who installed them.  Throughout the building are secret passageways, stairways that lead only to the ceiling and no further, doors that open into solid brick walls.  All of this was designed for one purpose: to confuse death.  To prevent death from finding her. 

It didn’t work.  Construction was still going on when death found and overtook her.  “Death wasn’t confused at all.  Death has a wonderful sense of direction.” (Ortberg, Love Beyond Reason

Why are we such a busy people?  No one has ever moved faster than we do, yet it seems that we accomplish less and less.  But why are we so busy?  Perhaps because we’ve made poor choices and we have to work two jobs to make ends meet.  Or, maybe it’s deeper than that.  Maybe we scurry about so in order that we don’t have to think about death, maybe at some subliminal level we (like Mrs. Winchester) believe that as long as we stay busy, we’ll keep on living.  We may fear that the moment we stop, we’ll collapse and die, or that we’ll have time for thoughts about death and dying will enter our heads and we try to prevent that by staying busy.

Ortberg continues: “…don’t forget one thing.  Don’t forget that the truck will come one day and take it all away.  Don’t forget that one day Death will come.  It will not be confused.  It will know just where to look.”

Wouldn’t we all be a lot wiser to give more thought to our demise and the condition of our lives and souls at that point in time? 

Ecclesiastes 7:1-2 (NIV) A good name is better than fine perfume, and the day of death better than the day of birth. It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart.

Every day you are building something.  The question is, will what you are building last beyond the rim of this world?  

PRAYER: Father, we struggle to find contentment, thinking we can find it in all the wrong places and in all the wrong ways.  Teach us to be content with what we have in this world, but to never be content in how much we have of You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/4/17 – Taking Credit

 

DayBreaks for 8/04/17: Taking Credit

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2007:

John Ortberg tells this story: “Not too long ago, there was a CEO of a Fortune 500 company who pulled into a service station to get gas.  He went inside to pay, and when he came out he noticed his wife engaged in a deep discussion with the service station attendant.  It turned out that she knew him.  In fact, back in high school before she met her eventual husband, she used to date this man.

“The CEO got in the car, and the two drove in silence.  He was feeling pretty good about himself when he finally spoke: ‘I bet I know what you were thinking.  I bet you were thinking you’re glad you married me, a Fortune 500 CEO, and not him, a service station attendant.

“No, I was thinking if I’d married him, he’d be a Fortune 500 CEO and you’d be a service station attendant.”

We all want to take credit, don’t we?  It doesn’t matter if it is on the job, at school or in the home.  We want the credit for what goes well.  We want to take credit when someone tells us how well behaved our children are, or how much they’ve achieved.  We want to take credit for our brilliance and skill that has made us successful at our jobs or in our classes.  We like the praise of men and women.

We really have a problem with pride.  Pride, if not satisfied by the praises and recognition of others, will draw things to their attention hoping that we receive praise.  This is different than merely wanting to do a good job – it’s wanting to be recognized and acknowledged.  It’s about someone saying to us, “Wow, you’re good.  You did a terrific job!” 

Our pride demands feeding.  In the case of the CEO and his wife, which one of them gave the man the ability to earn the money and rise to the position he’d achieved?  Certainly neither of them did.  They only took the raw materials that God had poured into this man and worked with it.  God gave the ability. 

Grace is about not getting credit.  It is about recognizing that not only didn’t we do something good, but we did something poorly (obey!) and God still did something good for us.  If we understand grace, we’ll realize we can’t claim the credit for anything good.  All we can do is fall before the cross and praise Him for His love and grace that “saved a wretch like me.”

PRAYER:  Our hearts are full of pride and desire for recognition, Lord.  Purify our hearts of this pride.  Give us this grace this day: to recognize that we have been called your children not by our might or power, but only by Your grace.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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