DayBreaks for 11/18/19 – Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

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DayBreaks for 11/18/19: Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2009:

I have long been fascinated by the miracle of creation.  We can’t wrap our minds about how God called things into existence from things that didn’t exist (Romans 4:17), but we believe by faith that He did exactly that.  It is easy in the hustle and bustle of our daily existence to lose sight of the wonder of the creation.  As a means to remedy that failing on our part, I hope to do a series (not every day) of messages on various aspects of the creation that will hopefully lead us to give glory to the Maker of heaven and earth. 

Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see— such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. (Colossians 1:15-16, NLT)

We can see parts of God’s creation – and then there are parts that our eyes can’t see.  We can’t see the spirit world with the angels and demons, God and the Spirit or the four living creatures – at least not from an earthly vantage point.  No telescope has ever been made that can reveal that invisible domain to us.  Paul offers such things (thrones, kingdoms, rulers and authorities) as part, but not all, of the elements of the “unseen world.”  There is another aspect of the unseen world that we don’t often consider: the minutely small things He has formed. 

Consider molecules and atoms.  Every cubic centimeter contains approximately 45 billion billion molecules (give or take a few, but who’s counting?)  There are that many molecules in every cubic centimeter you see around you.   How many cubic centimeters are there in the world?  When you figure that out, let me know.  Then, consider how many cubic centimeters there are in the solar system – then expand your thinking to the Milky Way and then to the rest of space (the Milky Way consists of perhaps as many as 450 billion stars and is one of perhaps 150 billion galaxies).  Gets mind numbing rather rapidly, right?

But that’s just molecules.  Let’s get atomic.  Molecules are formed by various atoms bonding together.  How big is an atom?  You could line up 500,000 atoms side by side behind a width of a single human hair.  Consider a millimeter – 1/1000ths of a meter, about the length of this – if you printed it on paper.  Cut that up into 1000 equal widths and you have one micron.  Microorganisms (living beings like paramecia and amoeba) are about 2 microns wide (.002 millimeters)  If you wanted to see a paramecium with your naked eye, you’d have to enlarge the drop until it was 40 feet across.  If you wanted to see a single atom in that same drop, you’d have to make the drop 15 miles across.  Each atom is 1/10,000,000 of a millimeter, or to put it in other terms, equivalent to a single page of flat paper compared to the height of the Empire State Building. 

And you are made up of 7 billion billion billion atoms, 7 x 1027 (or 7,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 atoms which is just a scientific way of saying, “A whole bunch!”)  That’s if you weigh precisely 154.323584 pounds.  If you weigh more, well, you’ve got even more atoms.  If you weigh less, don’t feel cheated.  You’ve still got enough.  Each blood cell in your body contains approximately 1,240,000,000 molecules of oxygen.  Without which – by the way – you’d cease to exist.  Now get this: we are in utter amazement at the scope of the universe (I’ll talk about that in the future), but you have FAR more atoms in your body than there are stars in the entire universe! 

What does all this mean?  It means we can give a shout of praise out to the Creator for we are “fearfully and wonderfully made!”  (Ps. 139:14)

PRAYER: Lord, when I consider the works of Your hands, what is man that You are mindful of him, that You should care for him?  We, though we are just dust, give You praise for the wonders You have wrought!  In Jesus’ name, Amen

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

DayBreaks for 11/12/19 – On a River that Winds on Forever

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DayBreaks for 11/12/19: On a River that Winds on Forever

This past weekend I buried my mother’s ashes next to my father in a rural cemetery in Iowa near where they both were born. As we drove to Iowa and as I lowered the container of her ashes into the dark, cold ground, I couldn’t help but think about life.

My first thought was how 90 years of life were, at least in some fashion, reduced to a box of ashes. I realize that’s not the entire picture – not by a long shot – but the mortal remains of my mother were reduced to a box 9”x10”x5”. When I die my ashes will occupy a similar space. But life is much more than the dust from which we were formed.

One of my favorite songs at the moment is Ends of the Earth, by Lord Huron. It contains a line near the end that struck me as I drove across Illinois into the state of my birth that goes like this: “I’m on a river than winds on forever.”

The day will come when my mortal life reaches its conclusion. But just as with my mother and father, that will not be the end of ME. We think of death as being the cessation of life. If we limit our thinking to the life as we have experienced it since our birth we are not seeing life clearly. From the moment of my conception I have been on a river that winds on forever. The river won’t stop flowing when my body dies. I will not be dead. I will be truly alive for the first time. From the time I was conceived my cells started to die as well as replicate and multiply. But when this river that now carries me toward eternity flows onward and actually deposits me on that eternal shore, for the first time in my existence there will no longer be cells that mutate or die. There will be life..and only life that will wind on for the numberless eons of eternity.

Jesus claimed to be the Living Water. He is that River that carries me onward, nudging me day by day to that eternal shore.

PRAYER: For the gift of an unending life I am grateful, Lord. Let me learn to live well here so that I can live well forever. Thank You for this amazing journey! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/18/19 – The Message of I AM

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DayBreaks for 10/18/19: The Message of I AM

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2009:

One could consider the various names used in Scripture for God or Jesus or the Spirit for a long, long time before exhausting all the possibilities.  I’m sure that some of God’s names mean more to you than others and that is only natural.  From time to time, your favorite name of God may change because of the life situation in which you find yourself.  But of all the names of God, perhaps the most mysterious and intriguing was how He identified Himself to Moses and Abraham, and how Jesus referred to himself when responding to the Pharisees: “Before Abraham was, I AM.” 

We sing songs about the great “I AM”.  What’s the point of the name?  Obviously, it indicates someone who IS – not someone who was but is no more, nor someone who is “becoming” something that they are not at the present time.  It speaks, among other things, of the eternal nature of God in an exquisite way.

Still, there is something within me that has always felt like God stopped the sentence prematurely – that He intended to continue with a description of Himself that would be a bit more revealing than just saying, “I AM.”  And maybe that’s where the intriguing mystery of the name comes into play.

What could God have said?  He could have said that he was loving, long-suffering, patient, compassionate, merciful, eager to forgive, the Creator, the King…and the list could go on and on and on nearly for eternity.  But if God had said that, it wouldn’t have been fully accurate.  Love, righteousness, holiness, mercy, compassion…are all part of what God has created and they are part of His nature, but they are not God.  As Athol Dickson said in The Gospel According to Moses, “This is part of the reason God said Israel would know him as “I Am.”  That most personal name for God is significant as much for what it does not say as for what it does say.  For example, it does not say, ‘I am love,’ or ‘I am holy,’ or ‘I am righteous,’ or ‘I am just.’  That would be confusing the effect with the cause.  …When thinking about God’s essence, I must not think that he is love, for example, because even that noble idea leads to a limited conception of God.  God simply is.”

Why did God say that He was “I Am?”  Because it is the only words we lowly humans may have that can encompass all that is our God!

PRAYER: It is a great blessing, Father, to have a God is always has been, always is, and always will be, but it is equally wonderful to be lost in the wonder of Who You are!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/20/19 – Alaska Lessons #4 – Life

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Tree in Denali National Park, September 2019. Photo by Galen Dalrymple. 

DayBreaks for 9/20/19: Alaska Lessons #4 – Life

I sat on the porch of our cabin in Denali National Park one afternoon in silence and listened to the rustling of the leaves. Fall was coming to Denali, or maybe more correctly, winter was just around the corner. In the one week we’d been there, the fall colors had changed dramatically and the trees that surrounded our cabin shed copious amounts of leaves. As I sat there, listening, I watched them fall quietly to the ground. Winter comes quickly to the tundra – and in human life.

The story of life is portrayed in seeds and by deciduous trees that sprout leaves each spring, bearing them gloriously throughout the summer, yet surrender them to the inevitable in the fall. During winter, they appear dead.

I am well into the fall, perhaps early winter, of my life. I can look back across the years and recount memories of faces and places that are incredibly dear to me. I have lived a wonderful life!

But I know that the season of my life is well along. Many of the leaves of my life have spent themselves and fallen due to the inexorable march of time.

That’s not bad. In fact, it’s a good thing. We spend so much time fighting the inevitable but I think we should embrace it. You see, even as the leaves fall from the tree in fall and the tree, though just slumbering, appears dead in winter, the kernel of life is still harbored within, to be awakened by the gentle warmth of the sun when the right time has come.

For me, the time will come when I, too, appear to be dead, lifeless. But just as the tree “comes back to life” with the sun warms the earth, I will also come back to life when the Son shines his brightest.

All seasons of life should be cherished for the wonder that they are, the treasures they hold, and the promise that lies hidden within.

1 Corinthians 15:20-23 (NKJV) – But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.

PRAYER: Jesus, thank you for each season of life, including this season I am presently in. Let me welcome the winter because I know that after the sleep, life will erupt immortal! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/19/19 – Alaska Lessons #3 – Peace

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DayBreaks for 9/19/19: Alaska Lessons #3 – Peace

I suppose in a way this DayBreaks is mislabeled. It’s about peace in a way, but more accurately the deceitful appearance of peace when there is none.

At one point during our time in Alaska, a naturalist led a small group I was with out onto the tundra and up onto a  hillock. We ate lunch there (after careful instructions to keep our eyes peeled for bear and not to leave anything behind). When we were sitting there, we watched a mother grizzly and her cub on a sloping hillside opposite us (they were quite a distance away!) We all sat in silence, just watching the majestic animals move.

Then, at one point, our guide said, “Just listen. What can you hear?” To be honest, all I could hear was the sound of the wind on occasion, the sound of my own breathing, the sound of blood rushing through my ears and the occasional bird calling. It was so peaceful and quiet. That started me thinking about the peace that is to be found on the vast slopes and tundra of Alaska.

But that peace is deceptive. That very afternoon, the mother grizzly may have taken down some animal for dinner. The moose cow will vigorously defend her calf with her very sharp and hard hooves – even taking on full grown bears. Wolves will chase caribou for miles in pursuit of a meal and a golden eagle swoops down from on high to snatch an unsuspecting and unwary rabbit or pika. Bull moose fight with one another, sometimes to the death, to gain mating rights with a harem of cows. The wild of Alaska may sound and even look peaceful, but it is deceptive.

The bible warns us: Jeremiah 8:11 (NIV) – They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. “Peace, peace,” they say, when there is no peace. In context, God is excoriating the leaders – political and religious – who pretend that nothing is wrong, that there is nothing that threatens harm due to their conceit and greed.

We need to be careful to not be lulled into a lack of alertness for danger surrounds us at every bend, over every hilltop. We have an enemy who doesn’t slack off when we are weak or wounded – he attacks. But he wants us to think the world is just fine, thank you, and that we don’t need to be worried or wage war against a culture that has discarded God’s truth. 

We also need to be careful that we are not guilty of emulating those God rails against in Jeremiah and lulling others into a false sense of wellness.

Let us be alert at all times, for the enemy seeks whom he may devour!

PRAYER: Help us be vigilant and not mislead by our own desire for peace when there is none. Give us discernment to recognize false claims that would lull us into comfort! 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.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 9/16/19 – Two Appropriate Thoughts

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DayBreaks for 9/16/19: Two Appropriate Thoughts

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2009:

My wife and I live outside of the glare of city lights, about 5 miles from the closest town.  We feel very blessed with the peace and quiet of this place.  On occasion on warm summer nights, I go out onto the deck and just stare up at the skies.  You can see far more stars here than in town.  It is possible to see the milky scatter that is called the Milky Way as it stretches across the sky. 

Just the other night as I lay there gazing up, I was struck by several thoughts.  I am always totally amazed at the vast distances involved in the universe.  I thought about the deep, absolute cold of outer space.  I thought about the huge amounts of nothingness that presents itself through the absence of any sign of light.  And, I thought about the incredible fact that some of the “stars” I perceived as a single point of light are really extremely distant galaxies that are composed of billions (some say as many as 350,000,000,000) of stars.  What appears tiny may indeed be exceedingly massive. 

I also always find myself repeating David’s question as I stare into this vastness: What is man that Thou art mindful of him, or the son of man that Thou visitest him?  And I ask myself: Why, God, do You think of and take notice of ME? 

God, of course, didn’t have to make the universe so vast.  In fact, He didn’t have to make it large at all.  He could have been content with just creating a nice little cozy solar system for us to live in.  That would have been impressive enough!  We don’t even understand all that happens on our planet, let alone in our solar system.  They mysteries and wonder are deep, indeed. 

Once again, Francis Chan found himself wondering about the same thing.  “Why would God create more than 350,000,000,000 galaxies (and this is a conservative estimate) that generations of people never saw or even knew existed?  Do you think maybe it was to make us say, ‘Wow, God is unfathomably big?  Or perhaps God wanted us to see these pictures so that our response would be, ‘Who do I think I am?’”

The Bible tells us that God is unfathomably big and powerful.  And it amazingly tells us that He does in fact notice and care about us as individuals, that we matter GREATLY to Him – each and every one of us.  Perhaps, as Chan suggests, the most important feeling that the universe should stir in us is to put us in our place when we are thinking too highly of ourselves. 

Space should make us feel small, for we are infinitesimally small in comparison to the universe.  Our God holds all that exists in the palm of His hand.  We need to be reminded of that when we’re too puffed up and feeling hoity-toity.  If the universe makes us feel small, when we compare ourselves (our wisdom, goodness, knowledge, capabilities, etc.) to God, may we all be led to view the skies with wonder and ask, “Who do I think I am?”

PRAYER: For the wonder of your creation, we thank you.  For the way you feel about us and love us, we adore you.  When we start to get too big for our shoes, keep us humble before You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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