DayBreaks for 6/07/19 – Shaped by the Winds of God

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DayBreaks for 6/07/19: Shaped by the Winds of God

John 3:8 (CSBBible) – The wind blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.

Often, when I’ve been called to conduct a funeral, I’m asked by the funeral director if I’d like to ride with them rather than to drive my own car. And most times, I take them up on the offer. It’s much more relaxing during that stressful event to not to have to worry about driving. On one such trip, one funeral director told another pastor about the effect God’s Wind has on things that grow. Over time, trees that stand out in the open become shaped in the direction the wind is blowing. Unless there are other trees around to block it from happening, a tree will inevitably be shaped by the force and direction of the wind.

The proof of this is visible everywhere but I’ve noticed it especially along the northern California coast. Tree after tree after tree are all bent in surrender to the wind.

I leave you with this question. Like those trees, do you and I as individuals, and as the body of Christ, show any evidence of being shaped by the Winds of God’s Spirit? If not, we need to ask ourselves why.

Prayer: Use your Spirit to bend us in accordance with your will for your purposes, Lord. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 6/5/19 – It’s the Little Things

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DayBreaks for 6/05/19: It’s the Little Things

From the DayBreaks archive, June 2009:

I am not good at remembering birthdays, anniversaries or dates when special things have happened.  Just ask my wife.  She is wonderfully tolerant of me and after many years of marriage, has come to understand that there’s a good chance that I’ll forget something special about any given day.  Still, I try to remember and do something special on her birthday, Mother’s Day, our anniversary or some other special day.  And, bless her heart, it doesn’t have to be some “big” thing.  In fact, she’ll often say something to the effect that “It’s the little things that matter.”  What she’s trying to say is that if it is a little thing that I thought of and that came from my heart, she’d rather have that than a big thing that means nothing to me – or to her.  I am grateful for her kindness towards me!

Truly, little things matter.  Sometimes they matter a great deal.  On the day you read this, I’ll be winging my way to the east coast for a vacation.  Some of the stops we’ll be making (after attending our son’s grad school graduation) will be at the battlefields of Manassas (Bull Run), Antietam and Gettysburg.  In anticipation of those visits, I’ve been researching those battles.  I am most familiar with – and fascinated by, Gettysburg – I’ve been there once and can’t wait to get there again.  The battle there raged for 3 days with over 50,000 casualties.  Lincoln was right when he called it “hallowed ground.” 

I can’t help but think about the battle and how it waxed and waned…and how it could have been avoided or won or lost by one small decision, a choice, that could have gone either way.  No one was planning for a battle there – the Confederate troops only went to Gettysburg because they heard that there were shoes to be had in the town – and many of the troops were marching without shoes.  So, a decision to go there to seek shoes, of all things, led into the greatest and deadliest battle ever fought on American soil. 

Consider the decision of the Confederates to not push the attack at the end of the first day when they had overwhelming advantages in numbers.  By that one decision, it gave the Union troops time to get to Gettysburg and settle upon the high ground – easily defensible.  Consider the Union commander’s decision to deploy troops on a hill (Little Round Top) at the far southern end of the area, where no fighting had taken place.  Some of the fiercest fighting would occur there on day two, and if the Union troops had not been present and held their ground, the entire Union army would have been flanked and the Confederates could have marched to Washington, DC and the war would have been over.  Consider Lee’s decision to attack the center of the Union line on day three, believing that they’d break there – in spite of the advice of his “old war horse” James Longstreet – who warned such an attack would be disastrous – and it was, as Pickett’s charge failed with horrendous loss of life.

Single decisions.  Thousands of lives affected forever.  History changed.  Reputations made or destroyed.  Life is like that.  And here’s perhaps the scary thought: spiritual decisions have eternal ramifications, not just ramifications for our three-score and ten years.  What kind of decisions are you making?  Where will they lead you?  What will their effect be on those around you – and on those you love – both now and beyond the grave?

Prayer: Lord, we cannot know the full impact of the decisions we make on ourselves, let alone on others, so we pray for Your wisdom to guide our decisions and make them wise.  May we honor Your will with the choices we make this day.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 5/01/19 – Connecting to a Disconnected God

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DayBreaks for 5/01/19: Connecting to a Disconnected God

From the DayBreaks archive: April 2009

In March of this year, Reuters carried a story about a Dutch artist by the name of Johan van der Dong who decided God needed a telephone number and so he got Him one – a cell phone, in fact -to show that God was “available anywhere and anytime.”

“In earlier times you would go to a church to say a prayer,” Dong said in an interview, “and now [this is an] opportunity to just make a phone call and say your prayer in a modern way.”

What was the response?  It seems a lot of people appreciated what van der Dong did for them with the so-called “divine hotline.”  In just one week, over 1,000 people had called the cell number and left God a message.

On one hand, it’s pretty intriguing and exciting to know that over 1,000 people got the number in just one week and wanted to connect to God.  However, I can’t help but wonder how the people felt once they made the “connection.”  You see, when they called the number van der Dong set up for God, this is what they heard on the other side of the line: “This is the voice of God. I am not able to speak to you at the moment, but please leave a message.”  Now, I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t exactly give me a warm and fuzzy concept of a God who is supposed to be “available anywhere and anytime.”  Van der Dong plans on keeping the cell phone number active for only six months.

So, what has van der Dong accomplished?  Not much.  It was mostly a gimmick, perhaps even a mockery.  All he did was connect people to an altogether disconnected God.  He is not connecting people to the real God.  God doesn’t need a phone line (cell or land-line), He doesn’t have an answering machine because He’s too busy managing supernova’s somewhere in deep space, and He is never, ever disconnected from the prayers of His people. 

When you pray, what is your attitude?  Do you really understand the power to whom you are speaking?  Do you comprehend that prayer is not something to be thrown off casually like a flippant, off-hand string of comments and requests, but rather a connection with the only True and Living God?  God is not to be trifled with, but He longs for communication from the heart, and He will never be too busy to put you on hold.

Prayer: What a privilege and blessing it is to be able to talk directly to You, most glorious and exalted God and Father!  May we approach Your throne in humility, but boldly, in confidence that we have Your ear and attention at any time of the day or night for as long as we shall live!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/26/17 – God and Circumstances

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DayBreaks for 4/26/19: God and Circumstances

From the DayBreaks archives, April 2009:

Suffering is a very hard taskmaster.  It’s not easy to predict what the outcome of suffering will be.  Some suffer and conclude that God is not, and cannot, be good – nor does He care or suffering would not take place.  Strangely and remarkably, it seems that often those who really do suffer the most are the first ones to sing songs of praise to God and His love. 

Just today, I read an email from an organization in our fair town that is involved in conducting and coordinating community events.  Here’s what it had to say: “It has been awhile since we have communicated with everyone and it seems that each day that goes by, the world continues to evolve in ways that many of us never imagined. As this is not an excuse for our lack of recent communication, it has however caused all of us to look deeper into ourselves, push ourselves harder than many of us are used to and simply try and survive.

I understand that there are people in pain in our community (and in yours) and that pain is real and people are afraid and in some cases, suffering.  So, please don’t get mad at me when I say that I think this statement was a gross exaggeration.  Most (not all) Americans have no idea what it means to “simply try to survive.”  American grocery stores are full of food, there are safety net programs that help feed the hungry and shelter the homeless.  Yes, they are being stressed to higher levels than ever before, but they still exist.  Such things don’t exist in most of the world.  As a general rule, we are far from “simply try(ing) to survive.”

Yet circumstances often dictate our attitudes and our devotion to God.  How quickly we are swayed and surrender our trust in Him!  Consider again the list of spiritual heroes in Hebrews chapter 11: now there is a list of people who truly were simply trying to survive…and many of them didn’t, dying as martyrs.  What characterized those who had their names place in the roll of honor of the faithful?  Simply this: they refused to let God be defined by their own circumstances and experiences.  They understood that God was above and beyond all circumstance, and that His character is never, ever defined by human experience nor circumstances. 

No matter whether your circumstances and present experience is good or bad, God doesn’t change with circumstances.  If He ever has been good, it is a fact that He will always be good.  Sometimes, I think, God controls circumstances, but more often than not, He’s interested in controlling and directing outcomes.  It’s what we do with the circumstances that He’s most interested in.  What will you do with your circumstances today?

Prayer: God, forgive us when we treat you as if you are fickle and a changeling rather than the Rock who never changes and who is always good.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/11/19 – Who Will Show Us Better Times?

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DayBreaks for 4/11/19: Who Will Show Us Better Times?

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2009:

I remember one morning shortly after the 2008 presidential election, I was listening to the radio in the garage as I was exercising.  There were people on the radio who were so excited about what Barack Obama would do for them.  Now, I’ll grant you that this isn’t a reflection on Barack Obama, but just on a few people (probably the most radical ones they could find) who were among his adoring band of adherents.  I could scarcely believe my ears when I heard this one lady say “Now I won’t have to make my house or car payments any more.”  What was she thinking?  She was thinking that the new President was somehow going to make everything better overnight and that she’d no longer have to meet her obligations – the government would take care of it all for her for the rest of her life.   When I heard her statement, I about fell off the elliptical machine!

On the day I wrote this email, the news was reporting that for the first time, they are now forecasting a global recession.  (As if we weren’t already in one!)  And, the news about GM isn’t good: they plan to shut down for 9 weeks this summer in order “to save money” – but did you know that GM is obligated to make up the difference between what the employees would normally be paid and what they will get on temporary disability?  It’s not clear how much money it will save them, but that’s not the point, either.  The jobless rate continues to climb.  The announcer on the radio also pointed out that home prices in the bay area have fallen another 12.5% from this time last year, and that the market is still stagnant and the prospects for it picking up soon aren’t good.

So, is it any wonder that some will fantasize about how someone (read “government”) will fix all our problems for us?  Let’s face it: we all would like things to be better, for the economy to be good again, for much of the discomfort and hardship to be over and gone and for the “good times” to roll.  That’s what’s so intriguing about this passage from the NLT, found in Psalm 4:6-8: “Many people will say, ‘Who will show us better times?’  Let Your face smile on us, Lord.  You have given me greater joy than those who have abundant harvests of grain and new wine.  In peace I will lie down and sleep, for You alone, O Lord, will keep me safe.”

What a great passage!  People all over are seeking for someone to “show us better times”, even if it means mortgaging our grandchildren’s future.  Isn’t that a bit selfish on our part?  I’d rather deal with the hard times myself than pass it off on my grandkids.  But the answer to the question is implied in the second line: “Let Your face smile on us, Lord.”  You can’t expect the President, Congress, the United Nations, the European Union/Common Market, the burgeoning economies of India or China to show us better times. 

As Christians, we need to take it to heart that we already have better times given to us by the Lord.  He has given us greater joy than those who have riches.  And at night, we can sleep deeply, drinking in the truth of the knowledge that the Lord, and only the Lord, can and will keep us safe and bring us better times – in the next life, if not in this one.

Prayer: Lord, forgive our frantic worrying about the good times.  Help us to hold firmly to the truth that you have ALREADY given us greater joy than anything that money or bumper crops could possibly afford!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/05/19 – The Shape of Christian Victory

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DayBreaks for 4/05/19: The Shape of Christian Victory

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2009:

Wars are fought over silly things: oil, power, insults, a beautiful woman (remember Helen of Troy?), perceived slights – for these things and many others like them, blood has been spilled and lives sacrificed.  It is a sad, strange business this thing called war.

Wars in ancient days were fought with crude weapons such as stones, axes, spears, bows and arrows.  In all modern man’s “wisdom”, we’ve managed to create ever more deadly and accurate weapons.  While once upon a time a man had to stand in front of the other man and look him in the eye as he tried to kill him, we now can launch a missile and destroy millions of people on the far side of the world – never being confronted with their faces and the look in their eyes as they realize they are about to die.  War has become impersonal.  Indeed, remote control aircraft are being used in Iraq and Afghanistan to fire missiles at cars, gatherings of suspected terrorists, etc., and they are piloted by “pilots” sitting in front a computer monitor in the United States…how like a video game we have made war!!!

At the end of World War II, the shape of victory was the mushroom clouds that rose over Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Thankfully, due to the horrible nature of those weapons, to date the world has never seen a repeat of their use.  There is no guarantee that this will always be the case, however. 

Of all the battles ever fought, the greatest victory of all time was won on a God-forsaken hillside outside of Jerusalem on a spring day as a carpenter from Nazareth was stripped and nailed to a tree.  His blood, like that of so many before him, watered the earth, turning dust into a red, muddy paste.  How strange that to the Romans and religious leaders that the shape of victory that day was a cross.  Even more bizarre is that the very same cross was also the shape of victory for the God who hung on it and for all who would believe on Him.

As Christians, the shape of our victory is not a mushroom cloud or a sword or a spear or a howitzer or the Gatling gun strapped on the side of an attack helicopter.  No, the shape of our victory is cruciform: What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died–more than that, who was raised to life–is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. – Romans 8:31-37 (NIV)

Prayer: For the victory of the cross we honor You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 3/21/19 – God Didn’t Make Mountaintops to Live There

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DayBreaks for 3/21/19: God Didn’t Make Mountaintops to Live There

God never meant us to live on the mountaintop. I wish the gospel story told you the next Biblical story after the Transfiguration. This next Biblical story is often left out after discussing the Transfiguration. I think maybe the next story is the key to really understanding the transfiguration story. The disciples and Jesus came off the mountain, and they came right down to the bottom of the valley. They came off the mountain and they came down into the valley and they found a boy who was having epileptic seizures. The mother and father were enormously upset and worried about the desperately sick boy, and the little boy fell into a fire and burned himself. In other words, the disciples came down off that mountaintop right into the problems of real life. Home from a mountaintop vacation and into the real world at home. And the disciples discovered that God is also down in the valley and does not live only or even primarily on the mountaintop.

I like the quotation by Henry Drummond, the Scottish theologian when he said, “God does not make the mountains in order to be inhabited. God does not make the mountaintops for us to live on the mountaintops. It is not God’s desire that we live on the mountaintops. We only ascend to the heights to catch a broader vision of the earthly surroundings below. But we don’t live there. We don’t tarry there. The streams begin in the uplands, but these streams descend quickly to gladden the valleys below.” The streams start in the mountaintops, but they come down to gladden the valleys below.

You and I experience the valleys of life. You and I both know what happens the next day coming down from the mountain. It is the real world and the real life. After Sundays of life, there are always Mondays. You know, the tough ones of life. God is with us there, just as much as on the mountaintop – maybe more, because we need him more in the valleys.

PRAYER: Thank you for mountaintops, Lord, but thank you for your presence in the valleys! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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