DayBreaks for 10/07/20 – Where God Walks

We just returned 10 days ago from a glorious trip through Colorado, Wyoming and Montana. We visited three national parks: Tetons, Yellowstone and Glacier. While they are all spectacular in their own way, Glacier stands out in my mind.

I shot the first picture accompanying this article one day as we were driving to the top of Glacer on Going to the Sun Highway. It was glorious – the fog/low clouds in the valleys below and then a layer of sun and then scatter clouds higher up along the peaks.

As I looked at the scene, I couldn’t help but think that God must enjoy walking through that place. The majesty of the mountains is as close as I can come personally to imagining God’s magnificence!

Then the thought struck me that God must enjoy walking through places like Glacier more than Mud Fort Slum in India (the second picture in this article is one I shot in Mud Fort Slum a number of years back). I mean, who wouldn’t? He must be like me in that regard, I am tempted to think.  

But I was taken aback by what came to mind next. It was almost as if I could hear God saying, “Sure, I love the beauty of my mountains, but I love walking through the slum even more. You see, my mountains wear down and crumble away, but the people in the slums have eternal souls and they are made in my own image. Besides, I’m omnipresent – I’m in both places simultaneously. While you may choose to tune out the suffering in Mud Fort Slum, I never can and never will. People are the most beautiful thing I’ve ever created.”

I was stunned and humbled how little of the heart of God that dwells within me. I’d far rather be in Glacier than one of the world’s slums. But there’s no doubt in my heart where Jesus would be if he were walking the earth today.

Mud Fort Slum, by Galen C. Dalrymple, 2012. All rights reserved.

PRAYER: Thank you, Lord, for this reminder of how precious and special people are to you. Help my heart learn more of the rhythm of yours! In Jesus’ name, Amen.Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 9/25/20 – Pouring the Sea Down a Hole

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NOTE: I am on a “retirement/anniversary” trip and will be out until late September. In the meantime, I’m sharing recycled DayBreaks for 2010. Thanks for your understanding!

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2010:

One thing that has always puzzled me is how atheists think.  I sometimes wonder if they do think seriously about the question of God and His existence.  I must admit that I struggle to think about God, too, but in a different way.  I find myself pondering His character, His nature, His power, wisdom, greatness – and I soon find that I’ve come to the end of my ability to grasp infinite things.  I wish I could understand more about Him!  I hope that when we are in eternity with Him that somehow, our capacity to understand His mind and ways is increased.  I don’t believe we’ll know all about Him, for He is infinite – something which we will never be, even though we will have eternal life.  We will still, I think, be finite creatures – and He will remain as He is – infinite.  And we shall delight in our eternal discoveries of and about Him!  Perhaps atheists give up thinking about God because they can’t understand Him.  I can understand that to a degree – it can be frustrating to ponder something that you just don’t “get” – like biochemistry or nuclear physics or the theory of relativity.  But it can also be very rewarding and cause us to grow and discover new horizons that we had no idea even existed. 

Augustine walked the seashore one day, pondering the majesty of God.  He saw a small boy who had dug a hole in the sand.  The boy kept scooting down to the ocean, scooping up water in a seashell, and scrambling back to pour the water in the hole.

“What are you doing?” Augustine asked him.

“I’m going to pour the sea into that hole,” the boy said.

“Ah,” Augustine thought, “That is what I have been trying to do.  Standing at the ocean of infinity, I have tried to grasp it with my finite mind.”

It is fun (not to mention extremely profitable!) to try to grasp and understand as much as we can about God – but it should humble us as well and reveal to us our own finitude and creatureliness. 

PRAYER: God, we long to revel in Your infinite Presence forever!  Daily, let us grasp new truths about You as we walk through this life, truth that will draw us into a closer and more intimate relationship with You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 9/17/20 – I Knew Who They Were

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NOTE: I am on a “retirement/anniversary” trip and will be out until late September. In the meantime, I’m sharing recycled DayBreaks for 2010. Thanks for your understanding!

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2010:

Barbara Brown Taylor, in Christian Century, created a word picture of Jesus at a feast.  Sometimes we have a hard time identifying with Biblical stories because they occurred in a time and place that is quite remote and distant to us.  The cultures were different, customs were different.  And it makes it hard for us to really grasp the dynamics of what was taking place.  So, I appreciated this prose picture that forced me to see the story of Jesus at this feast in a new and more modern light:

“So if I were putting together a sinners table at the Huddle House, it might include an abortion doctor, a child molester, an arms dealer, a garbage collector, a young man with AIDS, a Laotian chicken plucker, a teenage crack addict, and an unmarried woman on welfare with five children by three different fathers. Did I miss anyone? Don’t forget to put Jesus at the head of the table, asking the young man to hand him a roll, please, and offering the doctor a second cup of coffee before she goes back to work.

“If that offends you even a little, then you are almost ready for what happens next. Because what happens next is that the local ministerial association comes into the restaurant and sits down at a large table across from the sinners. The religious authorities all have good teeth and there is no dirt under their fingernails. When their food comes, they hold hands to pray. They are all perfectly nice people, but they can hardly eat their hamburger steaks for staring at the strange crowd in the far booth.

“The chicken plucker is still wearing her white hair net, and the garbage collector smells like spoiled meat. The addict cannot seem to find his mouth with his spoon. But none of those is the heartbreaker. The heartbreaker is Jesus, sitting there as if everything were just fine. Doesn’t he know what kind of message he is sending? Who is going to believe he speaks for God if he does not keep better company than that? I saw them eating and I knew who they were.”

Galen’s Thoughts: the people at that table were you and I.  We are all like those who sat at the table with Jesus.  And like them, we need His mercy and grace just as much, if not more.  I can’t help but wonder at which table we would have chosen to sit – with Jesus and the outcasts, or with the local ministerial association across the room.

PRAYER: Help your word to come alive to us today so we can see ourselves in every page and learn what it is that you want us to become!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 9/16/20 – I Am a Christian

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NOTE: I am on a “retirement/anniversary” trip and will be out until late September. In the meantime, I’m sharing recycled DayBreaks for 2010. Thanks for your understanding!

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2010:

In 1988, the poet Carol Wimmer became concerned about the self-righteous, judgmental spirit she was seeing in some people because she felt strongly that being judgmental is a perversion of the Christian faith.  So, she wrote a poem called “When I say I am a Christian” and here it is:

“When I say, ‘I am a Christian,’ I’m not shouting, ‘I’ve been saved!’ I’m whispering, ‘I get lost!’ That’s why I chose this way.

When I say ‘I am a Christian,’ I don’t speak with human pride. I’m confessing that I stumble – needing God to be my guide.

When I say ‘I am a Christian,’ I’m not trying to be strong. I’m professing that I’m weak and pray for strength to carry on.

When I say ‘I am a Christian,’ I’m not bragging of success. I’m admitting that I’ve failed and cannot ever pay the debt.

When I say, ‘I am a Christian,’ I don’t think I know it all. I submit to my confusion asking humbly to be taught.

When I say ‘I am a Christian,’ I’m not claiming to be perfect. My flaws are far too visible, but God believes I’m worth it.

When I say, ‘I am a Christian,’ I still feel the sting of pain. I have my share of heartache which is why I seek His name.

When I say, ‘I am a Christian,’ I do not wish to judge. I have no authority – I only know I’m loved.” 

This is a rather stark contrast to the statement that many make, “I’m a Christian!” in response to something that they have observed that disgusted them, or to an invitation to do something that they should not.  It makes the three words sound like a boast – a judgment – that “If you were a Christian you wouldn’t do such things!”  It is sad, that of all the people who should be the most humble in the world, Christians are frequently proud rather than abased.  Shouldn’t knowing that I’m wretched and sinful that Christ had to die for ME make me humble, not proud?

PRAYER: Lord, I am a Christian because I believe in Your Son and I am so desperately needy!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 5/13/20 – The Poor in Spirit

Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit - New Boston Church of Christ

DayBreaks for 5/13/20: The Poor in Spirit

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2010:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God. – Jesus

It is easy to get confused about what Jesus is saying here.  He’s not saying that poverty is blessed…nor is he saying that we need to necessarily sell all we have and give it to the poor – to become materially poor – in order to receive this blessing given to the poor in spirit.  Throughout the centuries, there have been Christian men and women who chose to become materially poor in order to minimize those things that may have distracted them from spiritual commitment and whole-hearted following of God. There’s some virtue to that!

But the poorness that Jesus is describing is a poorness in spirit – the person who recognizes their despondency and depravity before God.  We all want to think that we realize how dependent we are on God, but I think that more often than not our instincts try to tell us that we can do pretty well on our own and that our dependency on Him is limited to spiritual things.  Philip Yancey suggests some questions which can help us evaluate our “poorness in spirit”:

Do I easily acknowledge my needs?

Do I readily depend on God and on other people?

Where does my security rest?

Am I more likely to compete or cooperate?

Can I distinguish between necessities and luxuries – and do my actions in this regard support my answer?

Am I patient?

Do the Beatitudes sound to me like good news or like a scolding from the lips of Jesus?

How did you do with those questions?  Was there one – or two – that caused you pause or which was difficult to answer?  If not, go back and read them again and ask God to help you to more honestly evaluate your responses.  If you couldn’t find even one where you are falling short, let me suggest that it might be because you are not poor in spirit.  As Yancey again put it: “The poor in spirit don’t have the arrogance of the middle class, who can skillfully disguise their problems under a façade of self-righteousness.”

God can only bring His kingdom (His rule) to our hearts when we realize how desperate our need is and we surrender in our poverty of spirit.

PRAYER: May we, Lord, learn as did Isaiah that we have no righteousness of our own, nothing to commend us to You.  May we throw ourselves in total brokenness of spirit into Your arms!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 3/10/20 – My Struggle With Repentance

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DayBreaks for 3/10/20: My Struggle with Repentance

Repentance. I think I know what it’s supposed to look like – a turning away from sinful practices and a return to the pathway of the Anointed One, a turning away from putting myself on the throne to carrying my cross to Calvary. Scripture says that God forgives those who repent. Acts 2:38 and 3:19 seem to link repentance with forgiveness. And that’s what terrifies me.

You see, no matter how hard I’ve tried, here I am bearing down on my 68th year, still struggling with some of the same old sins. Have I cried out to God for forgiveness? Countless times. Have I begged him to take those temptations away from me, to set me free from it? Over and over and over. Has he done it? No, not entirely.

Perhaps he lets me continue to struggle with it like he did Paul (not that I’m anything like Paul!), because if I suddenly was relieved of those temptations I may grown too proud when my greater need is to be reminded of my sinfulness and dependence on the grace of One who can even save someone like me.

But this weekend a thought occurred to me and the more I’ve noodled it around, the more it makes sense to me. It’s basically this: God has had to make up for human shortcoming since the dawn of human history. He had a plan for it then and it still holds true today. It can basically be summed up in the words mercy and grace. Here’s how I think it must work regarding repentance: just as he knows my obedience will never be full and complete as long as I’m tied to the flesh, he also knows my repentance will never be full and complete. If my salvation is dependent on the “once and forever” kind of repentance that never struggles with that sin – no matter how many times I tell God I’m sorry and resolve to obey – then I’m doomed to be engulfed by fire and brimstone for all eternity.

But that’s exactly the point, isn’t it?  God knows that my human nature will never perfectly repent any more than I can perfect obey (the two are closely linked, after all), and just as he makes up for my sinfulness with his mercy and grace, counting my obedience as complete in Christ, so I think he makes up by his grace for my failure to completely, once and forever never-to-sin-that-way-again repent.

Does God want me to give in to those sins again? Of course not! But he knows I’m frail and weak and seemingly just not able to completely and forever repent.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me!

PRAYER: God, I truly am sorry for my sinfulness. And I say yet again to you, “I repent” and I mean that. But if I fail, I am grateful for the amazing grace that you have surrounded me with and that you’ll still love and welcome me as your child. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 1/3/20 – All Thy Works Shall Praise Thee

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DayBreaks for 1/03/20: All Thy Works Shall Praise Thee

From the DayBreaks Archive, January 2010:

It may appear that humans are uniquely equipped to offer praise to God.  We know, of course, that angels praise him.  We know that part of the reason we were created was to bring Him glory and proclaim His greatness.  We may even acknowledge that living things praise Him – the bird crying in apparent joy as she soars in freedom above the created world, the dolphin that leaps deliriously as it tears through the water at breakneck speed and sings its strange chirping song.  Who is to say that they are not praising their Creator?

Inanimate things praise Him…the heavens declare His glory and the heavenly bodies day after day and night after night pour forth their speech and stun us into humbled silence at His power and evident majesty.  Who is to say that the sounds that radio telescopes pick up from the depths of the universe’s vast array are not some form of heavenly praise that we cannot understand or interpret? The Psalmist put it well in Psalm 145:10: All thy works shall praise thee, O Lord; and thy saints shall bless thee.

Things visible and things invisible declare His wisdom.  Consider again the atom.  Everything that exists in the physical realm is made up of atoms.  But did you realize that atoms are mostly empty space?  There are those who have spent their life studying the atomic and subatomic world of creation who hold that when two objects come together in the physical realm (like two billiard balls) they don’t really hit one another.  Instead, says Timothy Ferris, “..the negatively charged fields of the two balls repel each other…were it not for their electrical charges they could, like galaxies, pass right through each other unscathed.”  When you sit in a chair, did you know you aren’t actually sitting on the chair, but because of the power in the electrons of your body and clothing and the electrons in the chair that repel one another that you are actually levitating about the height of one angstrom (1 hundred millionth of a centimeter)?

Neutrons and protons make up the nucleus of an atom.  The nucleus is very, very tiny – only one millionth of one billionth of the full volume of the atom, but it is extremely dense, packed tight with tiny particles.  In fact, if an atom was expanded to fill the size of a large cathedral, the nucleus would be about the size of a fly, but that fly would be many thousands of times heavier than all the rest of the cathedral combined. 

All of this was designed by the hand of the Almighty.  It is invisible to us, but somehow, I suspect that if we could hear the “voice” of the atom, it, too, would be singing His praise. 

May your new year and your very life be filled with praise to Him and may you join your voice with that of the sun, moon and stars in exalting His name! How will you praise Him today?

PRAYER: How marvelous is Your creation, O Great God!  We are humbled before You and Your unsearchable wisdom!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 10/25/19 – Prayerful Considerations

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DayBreaks for 10/25/19: Prayerful Considerations

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2009:

I have to admit that I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about prayer and trying to learn how to pray more effectively.  That is a deficiency in my spiritual walk that I need to work on.  Let me share a couple of things about prayer that recently caught my attention and which I (and perhaps you) need to think about.

FIRST: assume the right posture.  I don’t necessarily mean that you have to bow your head, bend your knees, clasp your hands together in a prayerful posture, but more that we need to be humble before our God.  If we don’t humble ourselves, He will see to it that we are humbled!  We must remember that when we come to Him in prayer that we come making requests…not demands.  We are in no position to make demands upon God.  We are clearly invited to bring our cares to him, and we certainly need to bring our thanks to him as well. 

SECOND: the attitude with which we pray is important.  We are to let him know what it is that we want – we must ask as His children would ask a Father – and yet always be willing to accept what He deems to be wise and good for us.  Again, Max Lucado put it this way (paraphrasing): “Ask for what you want, pray for what is right.”  I know that what I want isn’t always (maybe not even often) what is right.  I just am not smart enough to know what is right in all the situations I face in life.  God doesn’t suffer from my limitations.  He always knows what is right and He will only do what is good for His children.

When I keep these two points in mind in my prayer life, I find that my relationship with Him is much smoother and I am much more at peace.  In both cases, I am acknowledging that I am not divine but that I have a Divine Friend who can be totally and utterly trusted!

PRAYER: Lord, it’s hard to submit our wants to what is right.  We deceive ourselves into thinking we’re wise enough to know what is right and good for us, but we are so blind that we often are wrong!  Help us to bow before You and Your omniscience at all times!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/02/19 – God’s Heaviest Grief

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DayBreaks for 10/02/19: God’s Heaviest Grief

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2009:

Have you ever known someone who had tremendous potential, but they squandered their opportunities pursuing meaningless things? Perhaps you look back at your own life with a certain measure of regret for “what might have been.”  There isn’t a one of us who can’t look back at our past and say that about one thing or another.  Not one. 

On the other hand, there are others who seemingly have nothing going for them – ordinary men and women – who manage to achieve incredible things.  Mother Theresa was so small physically, and not greatly educated, but has there been anyone in the 20th century who made a bigger impact on people and the world than she did?  Maybe, but not many.  Einstein was a mail clerk, for Pete’s sake.  He wasn’t an educated mathematician or physicist to start with.  In fact, he was singled out by his early teachers and being too dumb to learn.  Yeah, right!!!

So it is that we see this paradox: there are those we’d never suspect who shake the very foundations of the world, and those who we believe could make a huge difference – but they wind up wasting their lives and talent.  When the funerals come around for both the wasters and the achievers, they will all be nice funerals and nice things will be said.  But not all that is said will likely be true. 

The Christian writer, A. W. Tozer, once said, “A man by his sin may waste himself, which is to waste that which on earth is most like God.  This is man’s greatest tragedy and God’s heaviest grief.”

Well put, don’t you think?  We were made by God to do things – to achieve, to create, to invent and to change and grow to be more like our Father.  Because we are made in his image, we are capable of magnificence with his help! And because we often don’t represent what God is like by our actions and when we waste the life that God has blessed us with it must deeply grieve Him!

How are you doing at becoming and achieving all the potential that God put into you and your DNA?  Have you wasted much of your life in the pursuit of the frivolous?  Do you have many regrets at opportunities you had but which you lost?  Why not turn all that around today and recommit yourself to becoming more like Him and to fulfill all that He’s put into your ability to become?  There is nothing that would give Him greater joy!

PRAYER: We are often too tired and lazy, Lord, to make much effort at becoming all You have gifted us and created us to be.  May we live up to the potential You have created in each one of us that we might bring You joy!  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.  ><}}}”>