DayBreaks for 3/24/17 – Once Again, Lord

DayBreaks for 3/24/17: Once Again, Lord

NOTE: Galen is traveling this week. This week’s DayBreaks will be from the May 2007 archives.

How many times in my life have I had a conversation like this with God: “Oh, God.  I’m so sorry.  I’ve done it again.  I’ve failed you.  I’ve let you down.  I’ve sinned again even after I promised you that I wouldn’t.  You must hate me.  I don’t understand why you continue to forgive me instead of striking me dead – which you have every right to do.  I’ve let you down so many, many times.”  If I had a penny (let alone a nickel) for every time I’ve had that conversation, I’d own all of North America by now.

It gets old, wearisome.  I know that God doesn’t want to hear that from me any more – I figure he must be at least as tired of hearing it as I am of saying it.  I am so grateful that He is a merciful and patient God!

Eugene Peterson recently was talking about this line of thinking and he had an interesting perspective on it that helped me.  Apparently, he, too, has had that conversation with God over and over and over.  He found himself saying it again to God not too long ago, when he said that he had an epiphany, and the Spirit set him straight about one thing.  He said it was as if God spoke these words to him: “No, you never let me down.  You never held me up.  I’m the one who holds you up.”

Wow.  Do you see how, even when we are in the midst of our conviction about our dreaded sinfulness and weakness, that we make it all about US in our human pride?  “I (capital, first person singular) let you down, God.”  It isn’t about me.  The story of the glory of salvation isn’t about my stopping letting God down.  That’s not it at all.  The glory of salvation is that He holds us up, covered in the blood of the Lamb, cleansed and forgiven. 

How foolish to think that I can hold God up, and I’d have to hold him up in order to let him down!  No, He is the lifter of my head, he is the lifter of my soul, the restorer of things broken.  May we learn to shift our thinking from what we can and have done, to glory in what God does!

PRAYER: Oh Lord, you are truly great!  We are nothing more than the sheep of your hand, the clay you have formed and fashioned, and that you have redeemed.  Thank you for lifting us up, for holding us up, for your glory!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

 

DayBreaks for 3/06/17 – Why Can’t I See the Beauty?

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DayBreaks for 3/06/17: What Can’t I See the Beauty?

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like it when they perceive something as being truly beautiful. It could be a work of art, a piece of music, a flower or mountain meadow. There are people who are considered beautiful, though it is often said of us humans that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

I was reading some of Ann Voskamp’s writing on Friday evening and she was taking about a disciple that she was forcing upon herself – that being learning to see and appreciate the beauty of what God has made and then giving Him thanks for it.

There are few things I enjoy more than the beauty of nature. Two of my most favorite memories of natural beauty took place when I was with my best friend, Ken. One was up in the high Sierra’s in California near Highlands Lake when we hiked up a ridge and sat at the top looking down into a meadow of wildflowers in a meadow with meltwater ponds. The second one was night when we were coming back in our small boat from fishing and we were heading due east as the sun was setting over the slivery smooth water and wake directly behind the boat.

I don’t find it too hard to see beauty. But as I thought about it, I wondered why it is that I don’t see beauty in the pinnacle of God’s creation: humans. It bothered me that I don’t perceive the people that I meet as being beautiful (I’m not talking especially here about physical beauty, but the more hidden kinds of beauty like intellectual beauty, emotional beauty or spiritual beauty. Why, if humans are made in the image of God Himself, is it that I struggle so to see the beauty in humans that God apparently sees in us?

It is possible that I can’t see it because of how the fall has made us all more than a bit ugly. I suspect that has a lot to do with my struggle. But then it dawned on me that perhaps the reason I can’t see the beautiful image of God in my fellow man may not be their fault so much as the fault of my own fallen nature that keeps me from seeing the image of God in others. Goodness knows I struggle to even find a scintilla of it in myself.

God saw/sees enough beauty in His creation, including humans, that He went to great lengths to redeem His creation. We are told that all of creation groans and travails for its redemption. We have never seen the creation in its perfected state so even the beauty we do see and appreciate so much is nothing compared to what it must have been like in Eden. We have never seen a perfected human, either. God has. And even in our fallen state, He loves us and died for us.

I need to work harder to see the image of God in others no matter how hidden or marred it may be by sin. After all, I’ve been marred, too.

PRAYER: Jesus, help us to see the beauty in others that you see and to appreciate them more than we do. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 2/14/17 – And It Is Awesome

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Hidden Lake, Glacier National Park, Montana. By Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 2/14/17: And It Is Awesome

From the DayBreaks archive, 2007:

Where is your favorite place in the world?  What is the most beautiful place you’ve ever seen?  I’ve not traveled that much outside of the United States, but my favorite place is Glacier National Park at the very northwest corner of Montana at the Canadian border.  If you have never been there, you’ve really missed out.  There is a road that winds through the center of the park, starting at the park entrance on the south, and traversing up through the park, over the pass, and down through the southeastern border of the park.  The road is fairly flat for the first few miles, winding along the side of Lake McDonald.  As you drive along, you are struck by the vistas of mountains behind the far end of the lake, and eventually pass along a mountain stream that is gorgeous.  But after a while, you start heading upward through lots of turns and curves, and with every passing moment, a different vista appears to take your breath away.  Just when you think it can’t get any more awe-inspiring…it does.  Finally, at the top of the pass is a visitors center where you can park and even hike up over a ridge to the left of center to Hidden Lake.  And that’s even more beautiful than what you’ve seen so far.  There is a 16-mile stretch of the road that has been called the most beautiful roadway in the world.  Whether that’s true or not, I couldn’t say, but it is the most spectacular and impressive scenery my eyes have beheld.   

We have beautiful sunsets behind the hills to our west.  I love to see the colors of the clouds as the sun dips into the unseen Pacific Ocean – about 20 miles due west of our home.  I love the colors of the vineyards below us in the fall as the leaves turn flaming reds, yellows and oranges.  And perhaps there’s nothing as beautiful to me as the faces of my grandchildren, hand crafted by God.

I know, I know.  As beautiful as the mountains, the ocean, the leaves, the sky are…they are all marred and flawed because they are a part of a fallen world, defaced by our rebellion against our Creator.  What would these things look like if they were still perfect, in an unfallen state?  I can’t imagine.

Yet, when you consider it, God is the only unfallen, perfect, non-flawed thing in the entire Universe.  We get teeny, tiny glimpses of His glory in all the things we see in this world that captivate and capture us with their beauty and awesomeness.  Of course, the place where we see the true glory of God is in the cross and resurrection of Christ.  Jesus himself said that the time of his glory had come on the night before his crucifixion.  As Christians, all of us should be able to echo the words of Bernard of Clairvaux: “I have seen a fraction of God’s glory, and it is awesome.”

PRAYER:  Almighty God, how our hearts long to see You more clearly!  Lift the scales from our eyes that prevent us from seeing Your glory all around us – not just in the mountains, trees and skies, but in the people You have created in Your image.  And may we be better reflections of Your glory to this physical realm.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 2/10/17 – When the End Comes

DayBreaks for 2/10/17 – When the End Comes

When we think about “the end”, there are probably lots of things that cross your mind.  I think of the blast of the trumpet, I think about what it will be like to actually look up to the heavens and see Jesus for the very first time, surrounded by who-knows-how-many angels, riding on a great white war horse.  I think about what it will be like to see the spirits of the dead popping up from the ground all around.  I think of how I’ll feel – will I know fear, or will my relationship with him be such that there is no fear?  What kind of looks will be on the faces of those who will only for all eternity know him as their judge and not as their Savior?  What kinds of shrieks and cries will fill the air?  Imagine the looks of wonder, shock, joy and dismay that will be seen on people’s faces.

I think about the end of suffering, of pain, disease, death.  I think about not ever having to pay income taxes again, or to never again have to make a house payment (not even on my “mansion” in heaven!)  And I wonder what the One who sits on the throne looks like, I can’t wait to see the four living creatures are like and to hear the sweet music of heaven!

But there’s another thing that will accompany the end that I don’t often think about.  Julian of Norwich put it this way: When the end comes and we are taken for judgment above, we will then clearly understand in God the mysteries that puzzle us now.  Not one of us will think to say, ‘Lord, if it had been some other way, all would be well.’

How many times have I thought God should have done something differently, or in a different way than He has?  Certainly, if He’d only asked me first, I could have told Him a better way than He decided on by Himself!!!!  There are mysteries that deeply trouble me: why we find it so hard to forgive (given the way we have been forgiven by Him!), why we are so quick to judge, why there are tornados, tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes, diseases, divorces?  Why is there such a thing as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome?  Why did He let someone be born only to die within minutes, hours or days?  What purpose do all those things serve, or do they serve any purpose at all?  (I have to believe that they do, or He would not permit them to happen.)  And so, I trust that Julian was right: that the day will come when we will not question God, but will KNOW.  Where we will not accuse Him of choosing the wrong way, for we will see with our own eyes and understand in our own hearts and minds that God did, indeed, choose the best way for everything, and that in the end, “all will be well.”

PRAYER:  Lord Jesus, as you know, It is hard to live by faith when we are alive in a world of such brokenness and unanswered questions.  Teach us to trust You, that there is a rhyme and reason to all things, and that in every decision You make, that You have chosen not only wisely, but perfectly.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 2/07/17 – Child Saints and Resurrected Lizards

DayBreaks for 2/07/17: Child Saints and Resurrected Lizards

From the blog of Doug Dalrymple (my son!), dated 12/4/06 about his son (my grandson!):

You expect your children to see angels. Fresh and innocent as they are, how could they not see angels, right? You expect them, once sufficiently articulate, to spout forth little bon mots of ageless toddler wisdom that somehow suddenly make clear the ways of God and illumine the labyrinth of the human heart. But, no, children do not leap from their mother’s wombs straight into the full flush of sainthood. In my experience, children are just as likely to misapprehend the faith of their parents as to utter unsolicited spiritual profundities.
I have been equally charmed and horrified by what comes out of the mouth of my three year old son when he decides to talk theology. For instance, while considering a picture of the Crucifixion (with Mary and John standing to either side of Christ), my 3-yeard old son once explained to me that it was St. John himself, and no one else, who had taken up the hammer to nail Jesus’ hands and feet to the wood. A ghastly thought! I gently corrected him and changed the subject lest he say something even worse.
But every now and then something charming does pop out of his curious little mind. Not long ago we were out for a hike with his mother and sister, visiting a little farm tucked away into the foothills of the Santa Cruz mountains. We approached a spot where he’d seen a dead lizard the week before. “Papa!” he said, “look – there’s a lizard over here – and it’s dead!” He ran ahead in his excitement, pointing the way. I followed and helped him to scan the ground for the unfortunate reptile. It was gone. “He’s not here anymore – where did he go?” he asked. “I don’t know,” I said. “Maybe another animal ate him up,” I suggested. “No…” the boy answered, “but maybe God raised him from the dead!”
“Well…” I hesitated. “I don’t know…but, maybe He did.”

Galen’s Thoughts: We are all to quick to deny God’s miracles.  If we don’t see it, we think it didn’t or couldn’t have happened.  For all we know, God, when no one else was looking, raised that little lizard from the dead.  After all, that’s how He raised His own Son – in the dark of the tomb while no human eyes were watching.  Oh, for the faith of a little child once again!

PRAYER:  Thank you Father for giving to the little ones the eyes to see your wonders and to believe in your miracles.  Give us those kind of eyes, and faith!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 1/31/17 – Broken

DayBreaks for 1/31/17: Broken

1 Corinthians 15:53-55 (ESV) For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

Adapted from our worship bulletin for 1/29/17:

“It’s the message you do and don’t want to hear. I was ready for my flight to take off for an important visit. We were loaded, bags on board, seatbelt fastened. The pilot came on the intercom and said, ‘We have a small lead in the hydraulic. Until maintenance clears us, we will not be able to depart.’

“Ugh. Now I faced the immediate future sitting with a bunch of other people who were ready to depart. No, I did not start sharing the gospel because in a flash the pilot made it works. ‘This plane is not fixable, so  you all have to deplane and we will get you another one as soon as we can!’

“So, we got off, sat and waited. In fact, as I write, I am still sitting. You see this is an unfinished story, Not every story has a neatly tied bow. Some are open ended.

“The good news is someone saw the flaw before a catastrophe happened. So, I am thankful for that. I will arrive, just later than I thought.

“So, where do you want to go? What are you pressing towards? Do you feel stuck? Do you feel like the plane to take you to your destination had arrived, and it broke? Are you having to wait? If so, now is the time to look around at your present surroundings but more importantly, look up! He knows where you are. He providentially has you there. Further, there are unseen and mysterious things going on that you don’t see. The best place for you, in His economy, is where you are. Eventually, you will move, so enjoy the grounding.”

Galen’s thoughts: I’ve been in that same spot – waiting for a broken plane to be fixed. I, too, was grateful that they found the problem while on the ground. Broken things lead to delays and they can be deadly unless the are addressed and rectified.

Life is like sitting on the tarmac. We are waiting the launch into the air, but we are broken. We need fixing first or otherwise the result will be catastrophic. Jesus is in the process of fixing us so that we can safely take wing and fly.

It calls for patience. It involves some pain and frustration. But the eventual outcome is that we will reach the destination that we long for. And it will have been worth the wait!

PRAYER: Help us wait patiently for the perfection you are creating in us! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 1/13/17 – The Man Who Drove the Nails

DayBreaks for 1/13/17: The Man Who Drove the Nails

FROM THE DAYBREAKS ARCHIVE, January, 2007:

The Bible doesn’t tell us the name of the man (almost certainly a Roman soldier) who drove the nails into the wrists and feet of Jesus.  The Bible tells us the name of the man who betrayed him, but not of the man who actually crucified him.  It isn’t likely that it was the centurion who stated, “Surely this man was the Son of God!” because centurions typically stood around and directed activities and left the work to the private or corporal.  I wonder, though, what the man must have thought as the afternoon wore on and the skies darkened, the earth shook and Jesus died.  I wonder if I’d have been able to sleep that night.  If my wife asked me, “What did you do today, honey?”, what would I have told her?

As I was browsing a book today in the Christian bookstore (it looked real good but I didn’t buy it yet – you know, cash flow!), I was captivated by a thought in one of the books I read.  The name of the book was When God Weeps (I think that was it), written by Joni Earickson Tada and Steve Estes.  At one point in the book, they were reflecting on the crucifixion of Christ and God’s willingness to endure suffering like one of us rather than to distance Himself from what we have to experience. 

Christ had all power – for in him dwelt the fullness of God.  He could have called legions of angels at any time to do his bidding, for how could one of his angels not have obeyed his command?  But what I’d never quite pictured or thought about was this: Colossians 1.16b-17 tells us that everything that exists was created by Christ.  That includes the mountains, lakes, skies, earth, you, me, our dog, and yes, even the person who pounded the nails into his hands was created by the Crucified One.  But Colossians 1.17 also tells us that “…and in him all things hold together.”  I think that means exactly what it says.  At a subatomic level, what is it that makes all the particles of an atom hold together?  Christ’s power.  What is it that makes atoms bond together to form molecules, compounds and chemicals?  Christ’s power.  What is it that holds people together?  Christ.  What holds the universe in control so the moon doesn’t go spinning off into space, or the earth go spinning into the sun?  Science would say gravity – I would say Christ. 

But here’s the thought that I read that struck me: not only did God have to be willing to suffer as a man for man’s sake, but the same God who was suffering as the nails pierced his flesh was holding together the atoms of the man’s body that was doing the crucifying.  With just one thought, Christ could have willed the man’s atoms to dissociate from one another and the man wielding the hammer would have disintegrated and been no more.  According to Colossians 1.17, Christ was the one who held the man together, who willed the man to stay together, to finish the task that he had begun with the first swing of the mallet.

Commitment to purpose.  Commitment to mankind.  Commitment to obedience.  Commitment to love, no matter what the cost.  “Be imitators therefore of Christ…”

PRAYER: Father, thank you for the commitment of Christ to see the job through, to not just start the ball rolling for our salvation, but to drink the cup to the dregs.  Teach us to be more committed to you and self-controlled.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen Dalrymple.