DayBreaks for 8/14/18 – Where the Fire has Been

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DayBreaks for 8/14/18: Where the Fire Has Been

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

One of the great threats in California this year (and almost every year) has been wild fires.  Surely, you’ve heard or read stories about it in the news.  There was a strange night of lightning storms that swept California a while back, and over 800 fires were running amok around the state.  Even to this date, some are still burning. 

Wild fires are nothing new.  Back in the days of the pioneers, there were times when the owners of a log hut would look contentedly out over the miles and miles of swaying, tall grass when they would catch a glimpse of a dark cloud out on the far distant horizon.  As they watched it over a period of time, they could see that behind the apparent cloud was a fierce, fiery glare.  Although it was still a long way off, there could be no doubt about what it was – the prairie is on fire and the winds were driving it straight toward the settlers.

Driven by the wind, the fire would approach at speeds of fifteen miles per hour or more.  What could they possibly do to stop it?  Nothing, absolutely nothing.  There were no flying bombers that could drop tons of flame retardant chemicals, no helicopters that could chopper off to the nearest water hole and fill a huge bucket with water that could be dropped on the fire.  It was true that wise pioneers build a firebreak around their little settlements, but such fire breaks were only effective for an ordinary grass fire, but not for any kind of safety from a massive wild fire sweeping across miles and miles of grassy plain. 

Men and animals with terror–stricken eyes would flee from the onrushing cataclysm for their lives.  No time for thinking was left.  What can be done?  Was there to be no escape, no deliverance?  Would all inevitably perish?

There was one—and only one—hope of escape.  What is it?  How is it accomplished?  It involved the very element (fire) that was pursuing them and threatening them!  If the pioneers struck a match and lit the grass at their feet, the new fire, blown by the wind, would move ahead of them as if fleeing from the oncoming torment itself.  This new fire would burn the prairie ahead of the fleeing pioneers, consuming all before it, leaving the ground, blackened and bare.  As soon as a patch of the prairie was burned, the men and animals could then pass onto the scorched ground into a zone of safety.  Why were they safe?  Because there was nothing left to consume!  The fire started by the pioneers had already burned over the place once, leaving nothing for the approaching flames to burn when they arrived!  The pioneers were then safe and secure from the devouring fire which now raged around them but which could not touch them itself! 

Because of our sins, the fires of hell sweep towards us, seeking to consume and burn us until we are dead.  But, as believers, we can do something about it: we can so burn the knowledge of the Word of God into our lives that the flames of the outside world and hell itself will have no influence!

1 Jn 2:15-17 (NIV) – Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world — the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does — comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.

PRAYER: Thank You for the Word, the Life, that has prepared a safe place for us where we can be secure from the fire to come!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

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DayBreaks for 8/13/18 – God’s Autopsy

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DayBreaks for 8/13/18: God’s Autopsy

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

From FOX News, 8/7/08: “An Indian man who was knocked unconscious during a stampede of thousands of religious pilgrims on a steep Himalayan mountain path woke up as doctors were preparing to perform his autopsy, the Times of India reported.

“Mange Ram, 19, lost consciousness in the stampede that killed 150 people and was triggered by rumors of a landslide leading to a Hindu temple devoted to the goddess Naina Devi.

“Ram awoke in the hospital morgue Sunday in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh.

“When I woke up, I was in the middle of a row of bodies waiting for post mortem,” he told the Times. “My throat was parched and I asked for water. Towering over me the doctors and nursing staff at Anandpur Sahib Civil Hospital looked dazed. They must have been surprised to see a dead man come alive like that.”

“Sat Pal Aggarwal, a doctor on the pilgrimage, said little was done to see if victims of the stampede were still alive.  “People were dumped quite haphazardly into trucks without following any procedure or checking if they were alive,” he told the Times.

“Despite the huge loss of life, the pilgrimage continued only hours after the corpses had been cleared, according to the newspaper.”

Stories about people being prematurely thought dead and then buried alive give me the shivers.  It apparently happened to my great-great grandmother when she was coming across the plains in a covered wagon.  Creepy.  It is the stuff of nightmares.

Part of what makes such stories so scary is that we know we will all one day die.  Here in California, autopsies are mandated in nearly every case.  The purpose of an autopsy, of course, is to determine the cause of death – and to rule out foul play. 

We will die, and then comes a “judgment”, a pronouncement if you will, of the cause of our death.  That’s the easy part: sin is the reason we die (Romans 5:12.)  God already knows the cause of our death.  What God will inspect us for is to see whether or not we’ve had the cure for sin applied to our lives.

One other thing we can be certain of: when God checks us over and performs His autopsy on our spirits, He will make no mistakes – He will not think we were dead but were instead alive.  On the flip side, there may be many who think they are “alive”, only to be found out to truly be “dead”.  It happened to the church at Sardis: (Rev. 3:1) – These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead.

For the time being, there’s good news: as long as our souls are attached to our bodies, we can still “Wake up!” as God told the church at Sardis.  God not only is the examiner, but the healer: Col. 2:13 – When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ.

If God performed your spiritual autopsy today, would He find you dead, or alive?     

PRAYER: God, keep us from self-delusion and from drawing false conclusions about the state of our spiritual health!  May we wake up in time to the true nature of our hearts and hasten to the Great Physician for the healing we so desperately need!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 8/10/18 – Listening to the Explosion?

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DayBreaks for 8/10/18: Listening to the Explosion?

Listen to this statistic: knowledge is exploding at such a rate – more than 2000 pages a minute–that even Einstein couldn’t keep up. In fact, if you read at a normal reading rate for 24 hours a day, from age 21 to 70, and retained all you read, you would be one and a half million years behind when you finished. (Campus Life)

An amazing statistic, isn’t it? Now for a real shocker: when do you suppose that statistic was compiled? It may alarm you that these statistics do not take into account the Internet – not at all! They do not even take into account the personal computer. And, why not? It is because the statistics are from 1979.

One source I consulted said that the sum of human knowledge is doubling every 12 hours! Think about that for a minute. Think about what you were doing yesterday afternoon, just 12 hours ago. Think about how much knowledge and information there was since the beginning of time until that time just 12 hours ago. And now for something really depressing (especially if you are trying to stay on top of what’s happening in your work/school, let alone in the world as a whole): while you were sleeping overnight the amount of knowledge you need to learn to just keep up doubled. What are we to do? How can we feel grounded, rooted?

We can’t know it all, nor should we expect to. But it is crucial that we learn not the glut of information that is screaming down towards us on the information super highway, but that we learn something that will sustain us for the days to come, even for eternity. In the words of Jesus, the Prophets from of old proclaimed: It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me. (John 6:45, NIV) What God’s word teaches us is timeless and need not change, grow or expand. But are we so busy trying to stay relevant with human knowledge that we are no longer listening to God?

Daniel 12:1-4 (NIV) – At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people–everyone whose name is found written in the book–will be delivered. Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. But you, Daniel, close up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge.

PRAYER: Guard our hearts and minds by Your Word and Spirit, Lord! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 8/01/18 – The Hope of a New Beginning

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The Raising of Lazarus, Vincent Van Gogh, 1890

DayBreaks for 8/01/18: The Hope of a New Beginning

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

“Yellow is not my favorite color. But now that I know the story of Vincent van Gogh, I have come to value yellow differently. This famous Dutch painter, sadly, tossed away the truth imparted him in his Christian home and sank into depression and destruction. By the grace of God, as he later began to embrace the truth again, his life took on hope, and he gave that hope color.

“The best-kept secret of van Gogh’s life is that the truth he was discovering is seen in the gradual increase of the presence of the color yellow in his paintings. Yellow evoked (for him) the hope and warmth of the truth of God’s love. In one of his depressive periods, seen in his famous The Starry Night, one finds a yellow sun and yellow swirling stars, because van Gogh thought truth was present only in nature. Tragically, the church, which stands tall in this painting and should be the house of truth, is about the only item in the painting showing no traces of yellow. But by the time he painted The Raising of Lazarus, his life was on the mend as he began to face the truth about himself. The entire picture is (blindingly) bathed in yellow. In fact, van Gogh put his own face on Lazarus to express his own hope in the Resurrection.

“Yellow tells the whole story: life can begin all over again because of the truth of God’s love. Each of us, whether with actual yellows or metaphorical yellows, can begin to paint our lives with the fresh hope of a new beginning.” – Scot McKnight, The Jesus Creed, Paraclete Press, 2004

Galen’s Thoughts: One of my very favorite verses in Scripture is in Revelation, where Jesus says, “Behold, I make all things new.”  We like “new”, don’t we?  Whether we’re talking about a car, a new recipe, a new friend, a new home.  We like new things.  In the English the word “new” is deceptive.  The Greeks had 2 different words for new: chronos (new in time) and kairos (new in kind).  In the Revelation passage, Jesus uses “kairos”, as if he’s saying, “I will be making everything new – like nothing you’ve seen before.”  Jesus gives us new beginnings – a beginning like we’ve never had, one with a different outcome than our first “beginning.”  

When will it happen and we obtain the new beginning?  At two different times, actually.  We receive some of it now when we accept Christ, but we receive it in full when the “new world” that Jesus makes come to pass.  It’s when Matthew 25:34 (NIV) becomes a reality: Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.

Don’t miss that last phrase: “…the kingdom PREPARED FOR YOU since the creation of the world.”  God’s kingdom is to be our kingdom…it has been prepared for us.  We normally think of the kingdom as being God’s…but as His children, we inherit all things along with Christ. 

Are you ready for the new kingdom?  Are you ready for a new beginning, as Van Gogh found?  Paint your world with hope and joy, for the kingdom awaits you!

Luke 12:31-32 (NLT) – He will give you all you need from day to day if you make the Kingdom of God your primary concern. So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.’”

PRAYER:  How can we get our minds around what You have done for us?  That You should choose to give us the kingdom that rightly belongs to You is incomprehensible.  Thank you for new beginnings, for new worlds and new heavens in which righteousness, and we, will dwell!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 6/28/18: I Could Have Been Free

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DayBreaks for 6/28/18: I Could Have Been Free

From the DayBreaks Archive, June 2008:

Dr. Ramesh Richard was the final speaker at Promise Keepers in Fresno.  He talked about living a Godly legacy, and he told a story about a man in Alabama who was imprisoned for a crime and given a life sentence.  The man had been wrongly convicted but was in jail serving time.  Over the course of the years while he was in prison, he tried three times to escape but was recaptured each time.  Finally, after many years had passed, the original conviction was overturned.  However, in Alabama, there is a law that says that if you are serving a life sentence and have tried 3 times to escape, that you are automatically sentenced to another life sentence.  As the man said after learning about this law: “I could have been free if I hadn’t run.” 

When a prisoner attempts an escape and goes on the run, they don’t usually end up finding the one-armed man that was guilty of the crime (remember The Fugitive?).  They usually end up getting caught and more time is added because of the escape attempt.  As attractive as running may seem, it is costly.  In the case of the Alabama man, it may cost him the rest of the years of his life.

Think about that in a spiritual light for just a moment.  What usually happens to men and women when they have committed some sin?  Do they typically come running to God or do they run from Him?  There is a part of us, like Adam and Eve demonstrated in the garden, that runs from God when we have done something wrong.  And you know what?  That is exactly the WRONG way to run.  Instead of running from God, we should run to him and take the discipline He has to give us.  Instead of running and trying to pretend that nothing is wrong, we need to be in His Presence, heads bowed and seek His forgiveness.  Then we can be free, but not until. 

Perhaps you’ve been running from God.  Moses tried to run from God with his excuses about why he wasn’t the man God wanted.  Jonah tried to run from God and found that he couldn’t find freedom in that direction.  Perhaps you are running from His calling for your life.  You’ll never find freedom as long as you are running.  Perhaps you are running because of sin that you don’t want to face up to because you’re afraid the discipline will be more than you can bear.  It won’t be.  God disciplines, yes, but He loves you and will not break you (Isa. 42:3): A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice…  Perhaps you are running from making a commitment to the Lord and giving Him your life.  What a tragedy it will be when someday you stand before His throne and say to yourself, “I could have been free if I hadn’t run.”

PRAYER:  Let us run to You, Lord, and cast ourselves on Your great mercy!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 6/27/18 – Buying an Occupied Field from Prison

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DayBreaks for 6/27/18: Buying an Occupied Field from Prison

From the DayBreaks Archive, June 2008:

The year was 586 B.C. and Jerusalem was being threatened with obliteration.  Eleven years earlier, the Babylonians had sacked the city and led the cream of the crop of the residents away into captivity across 700 miles of scorching desert.  In the intervening years, those left behind in Jerusalem grew restive, then began to plot how they might be able to throw off the yoke of Babylonian rule.  The people believed that if they could only get Egypt to fight with them, then they’d be freed…at least from Babylon.  So, Egypt agreed to help. 

When the Babylonians heard of the plot, they were very angry, and their army again marched against the city.  Egypt turned tail and ran, realizing they would be defeated and had nothing to gain in the looming fight.  Israel stood alone against the full fury of Babylon. 

Jeremiah, the prophet of God, was in prison.  He had been falsely accused of conspiring with the Babylonians and the people of Jerusalem were tired of hearing his preaching about their need of repentance.  One day, while imprisoned, Jeremiah’s cousin, Hanamel, showed up and asked Jeremiah if he’d buy Hanamel’s field that just so happened to be located in Jeremiah’s home town of Anathoth.  Jeremiah didn’t waste one minute – but counted out 17 shekels, had a deed drawn up and set aside for safe keeping.  Oh, and there’s one more thing you should know about this strange deal: at the time, the army of Babylon was camped on the very property that Hanamel was trying selling to his cousin, Jeremiah.  Jeremiah knew that, but bought the land anyway.

As far as we know, Jeremiah never set foot on the land he’d bought, never built upon it, neither planted nor harvested any crop from that land.  Jeremiah, when he bought it, had no idea if he’d ever be a free man again.  So, what possessed him to buy this piece of property?  God told him to, and that was all Jeremiah needed.  Jeremiah knew and understood something that everyone else seemed to have forgotten: God is as good as His word.  And God had said that the Jews would one day buy fields and build houses and raise crops, that those who were exiled would return.  Jeremiah believed those words, and he acted on the hope that beat in his heart.

Why?  Jeremiah, unlike the rest of the people in Jerusalem, had hope.  He wasn’t filled with wishful thinking.  One key difference is that hope results in action while wishful thinking is just that: sitting and thinking.  Jeremiah wanted to participate in the plan of God for His people and by buying the field, he gave wings to his hope – and gave hope to many others who witnessed this strange man acting in a strange way, as if saying, “I know the Babylonians are on the land, I know I’m imprisoned by my own people and I don’t know if I’ll ever be set free, but I know God and I want to be part of His unfolding plan for His people.”

Hope acts.  Hope is infectious.  Hope won’t let us sit still when we see God at work.  How’s your hope?

PRAYER:  God our Father, in a dark age fill our hearts with hope like Jeremiah’s and let us realize that You are at work here, that though the enemy may be camped against Your church, that Your plan will not be defeated for the world, for the church, or for us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 6/19/18 – The Trust Fall

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DayBreaks for 6/19/18: The Trust Fall

There are moments when people take my breath away with something they say or do. I experienced one of those moments just yesterday and thought I’d share a bit of it with you.

I have subscribed for some time to the Twitter account of Taya Kyle. If that name isn’t familiar to you, she was the wife of Chris Kyle, the Navy Seal, author and the subject of the movie, American Sniper. If you don’t know the story, he survived several tours of duty as a Seal sniper in the middle east. When he finally left the Seal team behind forever, he came back to his home state of Texas and his family and began to get involved in helping other veterans who were struggling with ghosts of what they had witnessed – and perhaps what they had done.

One afternoon he was meeting at a gun range with one such veteran who took one of the guns and shot Chris, killing him, leaving Taya behind with their little children. To say Taya has had a difficult, heartbreaking time is an understatement.

Yet, this is what she wrote on Facebook both in memory of her husband on Father’s Day, but also to draw our hearts closer to the greatest Father of all and to make us ponder our relationship with Him:

I remember when our kids asked what a trust fall was. Chris lifted them on the high counter in our kitchen and told them not to look back but trust he would catch them as they fell backward. They were terrified and couldn’t/wouldn’t do it. I don’t blame them, it would have been terrifying for anyone. The more they didn’t trust, the more frustrated Chris got. Had he not shown them at every turn how much they could trust him? Did they not know how much he loved them?

I wonder if this is not how God feels when we, His children, do not trust Him. Do we not know the world may hurt us but He will not? Do we not see how many times and how many ways He has loved us and been there for us? Do we not know how the world may hurt us and actions have consequences but His love is solid and true and He will always want what is best for us?

Here’s what took my breath away and made me ponder my own level of trust: DO WE NOT KNOW THE WORLD MAY HURT US BUT HE WILL NOT? What a profound question! I believe that, I truly do, but if God asked me to show my trust, how would my trust fare? How would yours?

PRAYER: God, forgive my lack of trust. I know better, but I am weak and fearful when I should be strong and unafraid. Help me! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.