DayBreaks for 11/16/17 – As If

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DayBreaks for 11/16/17: As If

NOTE: Galen is traveling…again.

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

Playing God.  It’s something that we accuse doctors of doing at times, or even other folks who are trying to control everything and everyone.  It’s a ridiculous concept, if you really stop to think of it.  Perhaps that’s why movies like Bruce Almighty found such an audience – it probed the depths of what it might be like if some bumbling human tried to take on the job of God.  And, God Himself challenged Job with the concept – almost saying point blank: “If you think you could do a better job, give it a spin!”  Job, fortunately, was wise enough to not take Him up on the offer. 

Here’s a different twist on the notion:

“Losing PlayStation privileges or being confined to a room would be hard enough for most children, but at the tender age of ten, Sajani Shakya almost lost her status as a living goddess.  In the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal, living goddesses—called Kumari—are chosen from the same Hindu caste as Buddha and worshiped as deity.  As Sajani soon learned, with the elevated status came elevated expectations.  Under no circumstances was she ever to leave the country.  Nepalese authorities were outraged, then, when she chose to travel to the United States to participate in a documentary that was being filmed about the Kumari tradition.  Upon her return, she received notification of termination from goddess status from Jaiprasad Regmi, chief of the government trust that manages the affairs of the living goddesses.  However, after a little pressure from the public and Sajani’s own remorse, the government has since offered a reprieve.  Sajani will retain her title if she faithfully goes through an intense cleansing process that washes her of the sins of the countries she has visited in her travels.” – AP, 7/21/07

There is a huge difference between God and the gods of men.  As if any human, or a group of “authorities” could strip a real God of His Godhood.  It can’t help but make me wonder what definition of “god” the Nepalese were operating under.  It’s preposterous to think that we can take away God’s “Godness”. 

To some extent, they are right: with greatness (and if anything constitutes greatness, surely that would be “Godhood”!) come expanded expectations.  We just need to be careful of what expectations we place on Him.  Do you expect Him to do your bidding?  Do you view Him as the Heavenly Answer-man?  In the real God we see a great dichotomy: He is the one who gives answers, he is the one who can do anything, yet we often approach him by telling him what he should do in any given situation.  And if He doesn’t, we might be tempted to lose faith in Him (in essence, stripping Him of His God-ness) in our hearts and minds. 

The Truth is that God doesn’t need us to declare Him as God.  He knows who He is.  Our problems is that often we don’t know who we are in relation to Him! 

PRAYER: Help us to grow in appreciation and awareness of Your greatness this day.  Teach us that we are nowhere close to being able to do Your job and to humbly walk before You.   In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 11/07/17 – Someone is Watching

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DayBreaks for 11/07/17: Someone is Watching

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

Syndicated New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, a keen observer of world trends, devoted a recent column to the idea that technology has made everyone a potential paparazzo.  Here’s his thinking in a nutshell: anyone we encounter could have a cell phone with a camera that could record our actions.  If we’re rude or misbehave, we could end up on the offended party’s blog or MySpace website for the whole world to see.  “We’re all public figures now,” concludes Friedman.

For support, Friedman cites the new book How by Dov Seidman.  Its thesis: in this world of new and potentially revealing technology, how we live our lives and conduct our businesses has become far more significant than what we do.  “We do not live in glass houses (houses have walls); we live on glass microscope slides…visible and exposed to all,” writes Seidman.

I think as children we were all intrigued with the concept of a glass house.  We were too young then to think about all the downsides of such a living arrangement – we only thought about how cool it would be to be able to have 360 degrees of vision at all times. 

You’ve seen his point proven on the news nearly every night – a hidden camera captures a thief robbing a convenience store, kidnapping someone, showing the shaking caused by an earthquake.  If you look closely at the stop light poles in your town, you’ll notice lots of little cameras.  Or in department stores, they hang from the ceiling in glassed-over little orbs.  Whether you want to be or not, you’re constantly being watched.  It can be a bit unnerving if you’re aware of it – and even if you aren’t, it can be unnerving afterwards when you think, “I probably was on camera when I was doing that.”

Long before video cameras were invented, long before the first human eyes were fashioned by the fingers of God, there was a God who sees.  Hagar met this God in the wilderness as she fled from her mistress, Sarah.  And knowing that He saw her in her distress and isolation, gave her the strength she needed to return once again to her mistress. 

We should remember that the God who sees is greater than the camera that sees.  We shouldn’t alter our actions and behavior to please the camera, but to please God.  Why does God watch us?  I think He probably watches us for the main reason that I spent so much time watching our children or grandchildren: I delighted in them and wanted to protect them.  I certainly didn’t watch them mostly to catch them doing something wrong so I could punish them.  I delighted in watching them.  I’m convinced that God delights in watching His children, too, even though we will occasionally do things that cause Him grief.

PRAYER: Thank You that You are the God Who sees, and yet the God Who loves those He sees.  May we be increasingly aware each day of Your eye upon us, and rather than resent it, come to love You for caring so much about us that we are never out of Your sight!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 11/03/17 – A Few Hours Before Sunset

DayBreaks for 11/03/17: A Few Hours Before Sunset

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

Time fascinates, yet haunts me.  I am far too driven by time as a general rule.  If I have any paranoia or obsession, it is that I can’t stand to be late for anything.  Not even one second.  My wife, bless her heart, has had to put up with this now for 37 years.  And I must admit, it has at times been a source of conflict between us because she does NOT share my obsession about timeliness.  A couple of years ago, I bought a watch that automatically resets the time every night based on a signal that is transmitted via satellite from the atomic clock in Colorado.  After all, time is important, right?

Some things make time more than important, they make it priceless.  Moments come and go and can be remembered, but never recovered nor fully relived.  They are gone – period. 

We like to celebrate moments.  After all, that’s what birthdays and anniversaries are all about.  People do it, nations do it, and even holidays such as Christmas are celebrations of the moment when Jesus was born.

Seldom, methinks, do we give time the respect that it deserves, even though we (and something like 47 other nations around the world) observe Daylight Savings Time in an effort to preserve time – at least the daylight hours. 

It is good that we celebrate moments – the Jews certainly celebrated lots of things that took place in the matrix of time and space.  God even directed them to do so, therefore it can’t be a bad thing.  But what of all those other moments that we don’t celebrate?  How do we fill them?  Don’t they have equal value to the bright, shining moments that highlight our days?  It is really those moments that pass by uncelebrated and forgotten that form the bulk of our time on this earth.  And it is those uncelebrated moments that we need to convert, to save, to redeem.  I was struck by the words of Amy Carmichael, who noted: We will have eternity to celebrate the victories, but only a few hours before sunset to win them.

Only a few hours to win the victories, but eternity to celebrate.  Very wise.  Let’s focus our efforts on redeeming the time of our lives as fully as we possibly can.  Then, in the Presence of the Lamb, we’ll be able to celebrate not only His victory, but the victories He allowed us to win for His kingdom.

Colossians 4:5 (KJV) – Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.

PRAYER: Lord, help us to have the wisdom to live not in the light of the sun, but in the Light of the Eternal Son.  Thank you for inviting us to redeem the times in which we live.  Help us to win victories for You before the sun sets.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 10/18/17 – Do You REALLY Want to Hear?

DayBreaks for 10/18/17: Do You REALLY Want to Hear?

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2007:

It was a burning question when I was in my teens and early twenties.  It is a burning question today.  It seems that Christians, rightly so, are interesting in understanding how to know God’s will and to hear His voice giving direction.  I imagine that it has been a question that has been asked by God’s people from immediately after the Garden of Eden onward, and it will continue to be asked until we literally hear His voice at the end of time.

It’s a question that gets asked in a lot of different ways: “How do I know what God wants me to do?”  “Why doesn’t God seem to speak to me?”  “Why hasn’t God given me any direction about this matter?”  Sometimes it comes more from Christians as a request to me (as a pastor) to tell someone what they should do!

I must admit that I don’t always know what to say.  I know God is more than capable of giving direction – and I believe He does it all the time.  I think the problem lies not with Him and His ability to communicate, but in our ability and willingness to hear.

If you’re trying to discern God’s will about something in particular right now, I’m going to venture out into a generality here that may or may not apply to your situation.  But I think that there is truth in what I’m going to say.

But, before I say it, let me make an observation.  Many times when I have people come to me asking for advice about what to do, I try my best to help them.  But here’s something that I’ve noticed many times: these people are often involved in some kind of questionable, or even sinful, activity – yet they are seeking the blessing of God’s guidance.  I try to share something from Scripture with them about what they may be doing.  More often than not, they don’t want to hear that, they just want an answer for what to do with the dilemma they are facing or the guilt they are feeling.

In Hearing God, Dallas Willard wrote: “Anyone who rejects the general counsels of Scripture is in fact planning not to be guided by God and cannot then rely on being able to be delivered from their difficulties by obtaining God’s input on particular occasions.”

Are you struggling to find God’s guidance?  Perhaps it is because you are rejecting the general counsel of Scripture.  I think Willard is right: when we reject Scripture, we’ve already declared our intention to God to not follow His guidance.  And that’s a very dangerous ground to walk on!

PRAYER:  Incline our hearts and ears to hear and obey Your word, Lord, even when it carries a message that we’d rather not hear!  Help us resolve to be open to Your guidance and correction so that we can hear Your voice in all things.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 10/17/17 – A Worldwide Competition

DayBreaks for 10/17/17: A Worldwide Competition

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2007:

We’re fond of talking about winning a world championship when it comes to our sports here in the United States.  We tend to assume that anything we do in the sports world is better than anything anyone else can do anywhere else in the world.  Consider: it’s almost time for the October Classic – otherwise known as the World Series.  But think about that?  How can it be the “World Series” when only teams from the United States and a few Canadian teams are involved?  What about all the baseball played in the Caribbean, in Japan, or other places around the world?  “Sure,” I can hear you say, “but they’re not as good as American teams.”  I don’t know – that may be true.  But remember – we felt that way about our National Basketball League players who were defeated in a few past Olympics.  So much for the assumption that we just naturally the best, the world champions.

Then, of course, there are folks like my wife.  I love her dearly, and over the years we’ve been married, we’ve developed some similar tendencies, but we’re also very different people.  In some things, I LOVE competition.  In anything, she HATES it.  When you’re dealing with an area that I know something about and have some skills developed, I don’t mind competing – at least as long as the competition is friendly.  But, take me out of my comfort zone, or put me in an arena where I don’t know the competitors or spectators, and I may tend to withdraw out of fear of failure.  Fear of failure probably keeps more people from competitive activities than anything else.  We don’t want to look stupid or to embarrass ourselves.

In his book, Hearing God, Dallas Willard describes a conference he attended, when someone asked him what was the human issue that Jesus came to address (as opposed to theological issue, I suppose).  He answered: “Jesus came to respond to the universal human need to know how to live well.  He came to show us how through reliance on him we can best live in the universe as it really is.  That is why he said, I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly (Jn. 10:10).  His supremacy lies in the greatness of the life he gives to us.  Putting Jesus Christ into a worldwide competition with all known alternatives is the only way we can give our faith a chance to prove his power over the whole of life.”

I must confess, I’d never thought about “putting Jesus Christ into a worldwide competition” before.  But stop and think about it for a minute.  Why are we afraid of putting Jesus front and center into the marketplace of thought and ideas and belief systems that are targeted at helping people live better lives?  Could it be because we are projecting our fears of failure on Him?  That we’re afraid that when it comes right down to the nitty-gritty, that He somehow won’t pass the test?  That the life He tries to teach us to live isn’t perhaps the best life that there could possibly be? 

I fear that we let our fears keep us from putting Christ into a competition with anything that the world has to offer.  We are to “contend earnestly for the faith” – contending is a term from warfare and from competition.  Are we afraid that Christ will somehow fail to win in a competition against lies, deceit and falsehood?  It won’t happen.

How can you put Jesus front and center on the stage of the world in which you live?

PRAYER: Father, help us to have full and complete faith and trust in You.  Help us to not project fears about our failures onto Your ability to contend for the hearts and minds of those who don’t know You.  Give us spirits of boldness and courage to carry Your name with us wherever we go!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 10/09/17 – Chasing the Source

Colca Canyon, source of the Amazon

DayBreaks for 10/09/17: Chasing the Source

From the DayBreaks archive:

One of the great quests of explorers was to find the source – the source of the Nile river or the Amazon, Yangtze or even the Mississippi.  Something drove these explorers to find where these great and mighty rivers began their journey.  Ponce de Leon sought the source, too – the fountain of youth, the source of eternal youth and vigor.  Goodness knows that there have been days when I wish I could find the fountain of youth again! 

There has always been something amazing about knowing you stood at the very beginning of something immense and incredible – arriving at the very source.  Wouldn’t you love to be able to travel back through time to the beginning of time – to witness as God’s incredible creative energy was turned loose and things began to spring into existence from nothing?

On this past Saturday, I was at our men’s breakfast fellowship and we were discussing faith and trust.  We were sitting at one of our member’s homes, out on their deck, right underneath a huge redwood.  The sun filtered lazily down through the canopy overhead, and the first chill hint of fall was in the air.  It was a glorious morning (and not just because the smell of fresh cooked bacon and eggs hung in the air!)  As we sat there talking about faith, someone commented that it is always easier to go with the flow than to move upstream. 

Hebrews 2:1 (NIV) talks about something like that: We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.  The terminology used is that of a boat that has been docked but which comes loose from its moorings and which starts to drift downstream.  It’s only natural, of course, that boats drift downstream with the current.  It takes a huge amount of energy to move upstream – against the current. 

When the great explorers of yesteryear were looking for the source of the great rivers, did they drift downstream?  No – going downstream takes you away from the source, not towards it.  To reach the source a lot of energy must be expended.  You have to fight against the raging currents and falling elevation.  In short, you have to bend your will and purpose to one end: to reach the beginning, the source.

Is that any different than what we’re told when we are to seek God will all strength?  He is the ultimate Source of not just rivers and galaxies, but of our lives.  Perhaps our desire to get back to God is part of the reason we so long to find the beginning of things, for in so doing, we are seeking our own Source, our Maker.  But here’s the catch: you’ll never reach your Source (God, the Father) until you bend all your will and energy and purpose to it.  The more energy we put into finding Him, the more of Him we will discover.  He’s not like the source of a river – which comes from one place and once you’ve seen it you’ve seen it all.  No, God is infinite in creativity, personality, love, time…we can spend an eternity at the Source and never fully understand or grasp all of Him. 

Are you willing to spend the energy and devote yourself to the pursuit of the only Beginning that matters?

PRAYER:  Lord, we believe that we were formed at Your word and by Your pleasure.  We find it far easier to drift downstream than to paddle upstream to reach You in Your fullness.  Give us strong backs and wills to commit ourselves to seeking You all the days or our lives, and to not think that once we’ve caught the barest of glimpses of You, to turn back to an easy life.  Give us joy in our discovery of You that drives us forward to even great discoveries of Your glories!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 9/29/17 – Stars and Fear

Multiwavelength Crab Nebula

DayBreaks for 9/29/17: Stars and Fear

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/2007:

I love the mountains.  I love the ocean.  I love the forests.  I love redwoods.  But there isn’t much of anything, not even the Pacific Ocean, that makes me gasp in wonder as much as staring up thoughtfully at the night sky.  The vastness, the coldness of space plays tricks with my frail human mind.  I can’t even begin to grasp it.  When I stand on the beach at the edge of the Pacific, I can touch it, I can feel it, I can taste and smell it in the air.  But I can’t do that with space.  As vast as the Pacific is, I can get some sense of its size by flying over it for hours on end.  Try that with the universe. 

It’s really strange – the stars don’t go away in the daytime, you know.  It’s just that because of the brightness of the sun, we can’t see them.  They’re still there – blazing away. Every second of the day and night the sun alone burns 700,000,000 tons of hydrogen and converts that into 695,000,000 tons of helium and 5,000,000 tons of energy in the form of gamma rays.  At the center of the sun the temperature is 15,600,000 degrees Kelvin.  That’ll cook a hot dog for you…really fast.

I could go on with facts and figures about the sun for a long, long time.  I never tire of the wonder of it all – the immensity.  And to think it all came into being by the words, “Let there be…”  Wow.

I could wander among the stars ceaselessly, mesmerized by the beauty of that part of God’s creation.  (In case you like to do that, too, you can go to this web site for incredible deep space pictures: http://hubblesite.org/gallery/album/.) 

But space is dark, and space is hostile.  It is not a place for the timid or those concerned about security.  Not everyone is cut out to be an astronaut.  And stars are only seen by night.  

I can get frightened by sounds I hear in the dark house at night, or sounds that seem to be just outside the bedroom window.  Night time is a time to be scared, but it is also when the stars can be seen.  An American astronomer spoke these wonderful words: I have lived among the stars for too long to fear the night.  Oh, how I like that!  It makes me think of the Jesus’ words in Revelation 22:16 (NIV) – I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.

Living in the Presence of that Star will be the most awesome of all.  Here, we see through a glass darkly, but then, oh praise God, then – we shall see face to face!  And there is no reason to fear the night, for there will be no more night…just the brightest Star of all, shining in glory eternally!

PRAYER:  Lord, you tell us that our lives are like a vapor that is here one moment and gone the next.  You have filled our lives with people – some we enjoy, others we don’t – and with moments to make a difference for eternity.  What a privilege you have given to us!  May we use life wisely before the vapor that is our days is gone.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.