DayBreaks for 10/30/19 – What Will It Be?

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DayBreaks for 10/30/19: What Will It Be?

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2009:

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Eph. 5:1-2, NIV)

To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this? (2 Cor. 2:16, NLT)

Did you take a shower or bath this morning or last night?  Why?  If you really get down to it, most of us shower not so much for purely hygienic reasons, but because we don’t want to…well…smell!  No one wants to walk around stinking.  I’ve been in a closed car with passengers who were from the street or who were homeless and I must say, at times the smell was nearly unbearable – especially in the colder time of the year when the windows couldn’t be put down.  It’s not pleasant!  A little sweat if you’ve been playing basketball or some other sport is one thing, but the odor of a human body that hasn’t been washed perhaps for a few weeks can be overpowering. 

There is a story about a time that Dr. Lyman Beecher had received a letter which was critical of him, and when he was asked about why he didn’t reply to the letter, this is what he had to say: “One evening as I walked through a field toward my home, I encountered one of nature’s most undesirable of all creatures. I had several books in my hand which I began to throw at the creature. Unfortunately, the result of my actions was a horrible smell produced by that animal—a skunk. I determined that such an animal should be left alone.”

To a large extent, how we respond to situations determines whether or not we give off a life-giving perfume or the rotting smell of dead flesh.  There will always be unbelievers (those who are perishing, according to the 2 Cor. 2:16 passage above) who will find anything to do with us to be offensive (because we carry a message that they don’t want to accept).  We can’t compromise that message.  But how we deliver it can also either be sweet smelling, or downright repugnant.  Dr. Beecher understood that it was his actions that caused the skunk to release its powerful odor.  He could have ignored the creature, but his own actions were hostile and elicited the release of “skunk perfume.” 

If we choose to respond to attacks and criticism in a fleshly, non-Christian way, only evil will result.  Even if we respond in a Christian way, we may still be persecuted and the persecution may increase.  But at least if we respond as Jesus would have responded, we will present ourselves as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.  And after all, isn’t He who we want to please? 

Let’s not be vindictive and small minded.  There are greater things at stake than just our own comfort.  Jesus took the nails – the least we can do is take some criticism in a God-honoring way.

PRAYER: Our nature, Lord, is to strike back any time that we are hurt, criticized or offended.  Let us learn to place all such things at your feet and trust you to deal with them in due time so that we may present ourselves to you as a fragrant offering!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/16/19 – Fear and Inactivity

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DayBreaks for 10/16/19: Fear and Inactivity

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2009:

A soldier in one of the regular batteries of the army of the Confederacy had displayed conspicuous bravery in a dozen engagements while serving with his gun as a cannoneer.  When it came to the battle known as Chickamauga, he was assigned duty as a driver only, so instead of participating in the excitement of loading and firing, the soldier had nothing to do but sit quietly on his horse, and watch the havoc created around him by the enemy’s shot.  He soon became possessed by a terror which completely permeated him and after the battle he implored his commanding officer to send him back to his gun.  His courage leaked away when he had nothing to do.

I find it to be the case in my own life that I often sit and think too much about something rather than taking some positive action that I believe might be warranted.  The longer I sit and ponder the situation and all the different things that could happen, I can get bound up in fear and uncertainty to the point that I do nothing at all. 

In the case of the Confederate soldier, it was when he had nothing to do but sit and watch that he was overwhelmed by fear.  It is amazing – surely standing by the cannon and being actively involved in firing the mighty weapon at the enemy was much more dangerous than sitting on a horse in the background, watching all that was happening.  When we are engaged in some mighty and noble endeavor, we don’t have time to notice all the explosions and mayhem around us because of the cause we are trying to advance.

When it comes to serving Christ, many are too afraid – paralyzed into inaction – seeming to think that the result of whatever service they are called upon to render depends on them and their ability and wisdom. 

The best place to be is in the thick of the battle, right beside the Lord (and make no mistake – he is in the hottest point of the battle all the time!)  It is to those who remain on the periphery that he may say, “Depart from me, I never knew you.”  He knows those that fight at his side – he knows them well and will give them a crown of life not because of their works, but because of the fact that they call Him “Lord” – and then they prove it by how they follow Him.

PRAYER: Thank you for inviting us to fight at your side for the souls of men and women!  Let us not sit idly bound by fear, but to follow you boldly into the fray!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/24/19 – Armchairs and Earthquakes

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DayBreaks for 9/24/19: Armchairs and Earthquakes

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2009:

Do you have a favorite armchair that has grown accustomed to your shape and form – a place you like to sit (or recline, if you’re lucky) and just veg?  I have one.  It’s in our front room and from there I can watch TV, plug in my notebook and surf the internet, process email, read, study, write or listen to music.  I am very fond of this chair (as is my dog, Casper, who likes to crawl up on my lap, especially if I pop out the footrest and get really comfortable!) 

Armchairs are great.  They are made for one purpose and one purpose only: to make you comfortable.  Ya gotta love ‘em!

There are, however, drawbacks to armchairs.  For all their comfort, the greatest danger is that they’ll make us too comfortable.  I can fritter away an entire afternoon sitting in my chair entertaining myself instead of cleaning out the garage, washing the car, doing some yard work or even washing the dishes!  All of those things need to be done, but when I’m all comfortable in my chair, I seem to lack motivation to get up and do any of those things that might even remotely resemble work!

Still, I’m convinced that God doesn’t begrudge us some relaxation and comfort.  In fact, I’m sure He doesn’t.  After all, one of the names for the Messiah and the Spirit is “Comforter.”  That being said, it is true that God doesn’t want us to get too comfortable – at least not with things of this earthly life. 

It is easy to sit in our armchairs and pontificate.  We can wax eloquent on politics or the latest world events.  We can speak with great passion about the needs of the orphans and hungry.  We can talk and give lots of facts about the plight of those living in the third world and what should be done to make their existence better.  It’s easy to sit in an armchair and talk about important things…but it’s even easier to do nothing BUT talk about them. 

We need to consider that our God is the kind of God who is alive and who is not hesitant to take action, who shakes the earth from its place (Job 9:6) from time to time.  It seems that it is His penchant to shake the earth around us particularly when we get too comfortable in our armchair.  And when He does, our armchair shakes right along with it.  The question then becomes, what will we do when that happens?  What will become of all those trite and quaint sayings we have about God as we sit in our comfy chair?  Will they change?  Will they turn to accusations or recriminations? 

I’ve lived through numerous earthquakes in my many years of living in California.  I don’t enjoy them, but I will confess that they get your attention and make you pay attention.  We should be grateful for the earthquakes of life, for those times when God shakes us out of our comfort induced, sleepy haze.  It may be uncomfortable and stir us up – but more often than not, that’s precisely what we need!

PRAYER: Thank you, Jesus, for not letting us grow too comfortable that we forget our responsibilities and fail to serve You or others!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/23/19 – Alaska Lessons #5 – The End of the Road

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DayBreaks for 9/23/19: Alaska Lessons #5 – The End of the Road

On our last full day in Denali National Park, we were driven to Kantishna, Alaska which is only 2.5 miles up the road from where we had been staying. It’s the end of the road…literally…92.5 miles into Denali National Park. It was strange to stand at the signpost that marked the end of the road and it made me think.

During our time in Denali we’d seen grizzlies, moose, caribou, ruffled grouse, golden eagles, ptarmigan, otters, seal lions, beluga whales, magnificent foliage, spectacular lakes and ponds left by glacial melt, looming mountains, massive glaciers, glorious sunrises and sunsets. If you have never been to Alaska you cannot possibly understand what I’m trying to describe. It is breathtaking.

And it’s easy to get caught up in the wonderment of it all, to be swept off you feet and to forget things that should not be forgotten. The end of the road sign reminded me of that.

At the end of my road, what will my story be? In the end it isn’t about grizzlies or moose, mountains or lakes. It’s all about people – creatures far more magnificent than the mightiest grizzly or the hugest moose. They are more magnificent because they are made in God’s image, and though we hope the animals we have loved will be part of the afterlife, we don’t know for sure. But the people we have loved – and hated – do have an eternal destiny. At the end of the road, God won’t ask what I thought of the wonder of Alaska. He’ll ask if I put my faith in Jesus. He’ll ask if I fulfilled the two greatest commandments: 1) loving him with all I have within me, and 2) loving my neighbor as myself. Part of that last command is to tell them about Jesus. When I’m at the end of the road, how many will I have brought to the cross to find the love and forgiveness to be found there? That’s what will matter.

Ecclesiastes 12:13 (CSBBible) – When all has been heard, the conclusion of the matter is this: fear God and keep his commands, because this is for all humanity.

PRAYER: I am prone, Lord, to get too caught up in the things that surround me in life rather than the people who surround me. Give me greater boldness to introduce friends and loved ones to you so that at the end of the road I shall not be ashamed and found before you empty-handed. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/05/19 – Imposing and Proposing

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DayBreaks for 9/05/19: Imposing and Proposing

NOTE: Galen is on vacation for the next couple weeks and may not respond to any comments until he returns on 9/9/19.

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2009:

I don’t think that there are many who would disagree that our culture has become very contentious.  It is clear in how the opposite sides of the political spectrum have labeled their opponents in the last election and in the current health care debate.  What has happened that Americans are now calling others “idiots”, “racists”, or insinuating that they are Nazi’s or worse because they don’t agree with the position and thinking of their opponents.  What has happened to civilized discourse, where women and men of conviction could respectfully and honestly disagree with one another without resorting to name-calling?  Have we become so immature as this would suggest? 

It isn’t just happening in the political world, either.  It happens to Christians – and sadly, sometimes Christians are not just the recipients, but the dispensers of such vitriol as well.  The balance of the world looks at Christians and labels us: ignorant, superstitious, old-fashioned, stupid, duped and the like.  Reminds me of Jesus’ words to us telling us to expect persecution because the persecuted him and the prophets before him.  And, he elsewhere told us that we’re blessed if we are persecuted for His name’s sake.

But is that persecution always without cause?  One of the most common complaints about Christians is that “You’re always trying to impose you views, beliefs and values on others!”  I fear that in some cases, that may be an honest and accurate description of how some Christians go about trying to Christianize the world.  And, I don’t believe, that’s Jesus’ model for evangelism.  Are we to share the gospel, and the Biblical worldview with others?  Absolutely!  It is not called the “Great Commission” for no good reason!  It is one, if not our greatest calling in this lifetime, to love others so much that we’d share truth with them about how they can be saved.  But that’s different than imposing one’s views.

Consider: how would you feel if you lived in a fundamentalist Islamic country, or in India where Hinduism is so strong, and you lived under a government that imposed those beliefs upon you as a Christian?  Simply put: we can’t impose our beliefs on others.  People must come to Christ freely – not by imposition nor by sword. 

So, what are we to do?  We are to propose a better way, not try to impose our viewpoint.  Jesus didn’t impose His view on the Pharisee or the apostle – He simply invited people to come and follow him and see if his way wasn’t better than what they had known all their lives.  In short, he proposed a better way.  We are to invite them to the marriage feast of the Lamb…not to put them in straight-jackets, truss them up like prisoners and force them to come.  It is “whosoever WILL…” that can come, not “whosoever is forced to come” that will find life.

As Rick Warren put it, as Christians (especially in our sharply divided culture in America today), we tend to see others as the enemy rather than as the mission field.  People are not our enemy – falsehood and Satan are the enemy.  People are simply lost…or found.  Let us be about the business of proposing a better solution.  We have nothing to fear from the honest exchange of ideas, for truth, handled rightly, will be seen for what it is.

PRAYER: Examine our hearts, Father, and reveal to us the attitude we have towards those who are not members of Your family.  Teach us to propose the truth and not to impose.  May Your Spirit give wings to the truth that we share!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/26/19 – North Star People

 

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DayBreaks for 08/26/19: North Star People

NOTE: Galen is on vacation for the next couple weeks and may not respond to any comments until he returns on 9/9/19.

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2009:

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. – DANIEL 12:3

Due north in the sky is where you can find the star, Polaris.  Perhaps you know it by its more common name: the North Star.  For thousands of years now, when sailors or even astronauts are in need of directions or when they are lost, the first thing they do (assuming they don’t have GPS!) is to look for the North Star.  Once they’ve found it, it is possible for them to figure out where they are and how to get back on track. 

Surprisingly, the North Star (Polaris) is not the brightest object in the sky – in fact, it’s rather dim.  It’s slightly green (so I’m told).  Because it is at the tip of the very northern axis in the celestial view from earth, it doesn’t shift position throughout the night – it doesn’t move – it stays put.  It isn’t easy to find, but anyone can learn to find it.  A typical response by those who are shown where it is for the first time is to remark, rather surprisedly, “Huh.  I always thought it would be brighter than that.”

The point is this: we can be like the North Star to other people.  Shocking?  Perhaps, but here’s what Paul had to say about it in Philippians 2:14-16: Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life–in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.  (NIV)  There are several things worth noting about this verse:

FIRST: it is children of God that shine like stars in the universe – not just the “greats” like Peter, Paul, Mary, Esther and their ilk.  Every child of God can and should be shining like the northern star.

SECOND: it is in the dark world, a “crooked and depraved generation” that we are to shine.  We’re not supposed to wait until all is bright and airy – after all, can you see the stars when the sun is shining in its power?  Of course not!  It takes darkness for the stars (other than our sun) to be seen.  The day will come when we won’t shine – because the Son will be all the illumination that is needed when he appears.  But since the passage says we shine in a depraved generation – this verse isn’t talking about when we get to heaven or in eternity.  It is talking about shining NOW.

THIRD: how is it that we shine?  By the way we “hold out the word of life.”  That’s how we shine.  We hold out the Word of life by believing it, holding it out like we would a lantern or brilliant spotlight.  We hold it out so that others can grasp it.  We hold it out so that others can see by it and distinguish between the unfruitful works of darkness and the Light of the World that has come so that no one need stumble and fall again.

FOURTH: we can be like the north star in that we never change position.  We continually hold out the word of life…no matter what is going on in our lives.  Circumstances won’t change us…we should be stationary, steadfast.  As the words to the old song, O Thou Fount of Every Blessing put is, “Praise the mount, I’m fixed upon it, mount of Thy redeeming love!”  Fixed. Solid. Immovable.  The rest of the world may spin off into frenzied oblivion – the children of God won’t.

Right now, you are faced with a decision about how you’ll live this day.  You may be at work, college, high school – some other school – it matters not.  Wherever you are, if you are His child, you can shine like the north star and hold out the Word of Life to those all around you this day.  The question is: will you do it?

PRAYER:  Let us shine to this depraved generation, Lord!  Let us take the Word of Life into our hearts and hands and minds and hold it out to a world dying in the darkness.  Fix us as a star in the sky for all to see Your glory!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/29/19 – Just Try to Imagine It

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DayBreaks for 07/29/19: Just Try to Imagine It

From the DayBreaks archives, July 2009:

A 2009 movie, New in Town, tells the story of Lucy Hill (Renee Zellweger), a high-powered consultant who loves her Miami lifestyle, who is sent to New Ulm, Minnesota, to oversee a restructuring at a blue-collar manufacturing facility.  Eventually, she’s ordered to shut down the plant, putting the entire community out of work.  At that point, Lucy is forced to reconsider her goals and priorities.  When she arrived in New Ulm, a small, freezing city with one red light and a population of 13,595—a city where people “drag Jesus into regular conversation”—Lucy is met by her new executive assistant, Blanche Gunderson (Siobhan Fallon, who is a real-life Christian).  In this scene Blanche asks Lucy one personal question after another, culminating in a question concerning Jesus.

“Are you a scrapper?” Blanche asks. When Lucy is confused, Blanche clarified: “Do you keep a scrapbook?”

It is soon clear that Blanche is quite the scrap booker. She actually has a “mini” scrapbook in her purse, filled with pictures of Winston Churchill—her now-dead dog who was a “bit of a drooler.”

“Are you married?” Blanche asks. “Do you have children?”

“No,” Lucy answers, though visibly uncomfortable because of Blanche’s line of questioning.

“Not to worry,” Blanche insists. “You’re still young. You still have time—I suppose.” After a brief pause, Blanche continues: “Do you mind if I ask you a personal question?”

Lucy, eyes bulging, replies, “Isn’t that what you’ve been doing?”

Unfazed, Blanche tenderly asks, “Have you found Jesus?”

“Well, I didn’t know he was missing,” Lucy replies with a laugh.

Blanche drops her head. Noticing she has hurt Blanche with her response, Lucy says, “It was just a joke.”

“Normally we don’t joke about Jesus around here,” Blanche replies. “But I can see how you could think that was sort of funny.” Then, with a look of concern, Blanche ponders out loud, “Imagine Jesus gone missing. Imagine.” – New in Town (Lionsgate Pictures, 2009)

Have you ever tried to imagine if Jesus had gone AWOL?  If, on the way from heaven to earth he’d decided to take a detour to somewhere else in order to avoid his mission?  Or, if on his way to Jerusalem for that last fateful visit, he’d headed north and disappeared into Gaul instead?  Or, if his body had gone missing and there were no after-death appearances to prove the resurrection?  Not a pretty picture, is it?

Has Jesus gone missing from your life and conversation with co-workers, family, friends, neighbors?  If so, bring him back today!

PRAYER:  What a wonderful Savior You are, Jesus!  Thank You for being part of our lives.  May we invite You into every relationship and conversation we have!  In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

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