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.  ><}}}”>

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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.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 9/11/19 – Folly

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DayBreaks for 9/11/19: Folly

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2009:

From www.evangelicalgateway.wordpress.com blog, dated 9/9/09 by Tim Dalrymple:

Bill McGurn (from the Wall Street Journal Opinion Post) has an excellent article on two “Christian Girls, Interrupted.”  The first girl, Amanda Kurowski, was ordered by a judge to attend public school because, essentially, the judge determined that the girl should be exposed to ways of thinking other than those of her religious parents.  Amanda’s parents are divorced; her mother has primary custody, but her father has been concerned about the effect of home-schooling on her “socialization.”  The judge, considering the concerns of the father, proceeded to determine “that Amanda is generally likeable and well liked, social and interactive with her peers, academically promising, and intellectually at or superior to grade level.”  (GCD: In other words, she’s socializing just fine, thank you.)  Yet due to her mother’s “rigidity on faith,” the court concludes that Amanda “would be best served by exposure to different points of view at a time in her life when she must begin to critically evaluate multiple systems of belief and behavior and cooperation in order to select, as a young adult, which of those systems will best suit her own needs.”  In other words, the judge determines, essentially, that she must be sent to public school in order to get away from her mother’s narrow religiosity and be exposed to other worldviews.  Pretty extraordinary stuff.  As McGurn writes, “Just how extraordinary [this line of reasoning is] might best be appreciated by contemplating the opposite scenario: the reaction that would ensue were a court to order a young girl out of a public school and into an evangelical one so she might gain “exposure” to other “systems of belief.”

Galen’s Thoughts: you know, I’m almost at a loss for words on this one.  In his article, Bill McGurn noted that the state motto in New Hampshire is “Live Free or Die”.  So much for that. 

If there was ever an argument to be made against judges who legislate from the bench, this one seems to be at the top of the list.  The judge, even though he decreed that the girl was socializing fine (meaning he should have thrown out the case on the grounds it wasn’t true) decided that in his judgment, she was being brainwashed by a mother who was Christian.  So now, the girl has been sent to public school where she will, undoubtedly, be presented with all sorts of godless and unchristian beliefs.  I am not advocating home school over public school – I’m deeply disturbed, however, at this attack on freedom of religion and the usurping of the parental authority in this case. 

Jesus said there would be times of persecution.  Most of us growing up, probably never thought we’d see it in our lifetime in America.  Wake up, Christians!  It’s on its way!!!!    

PRAYER: Father, we pray for Amanda that you would protect her fledgling faith and help her to stand upon the Rock.  Help us to understand the attacks that are coming against Christians throughout this country.  May we protect the innocent!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

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

DayBreaks for 8/19/19 – Who Signed Me Up for This?

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DayBreaks for 08/19/19: Who Signed Me Up for This?

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2009:

A woman named Linda is a teacher in Texas and she told the following story about one of her interactions with a first-grade student in her class on the first day of school.  “Accustomed to going home at noon in kindergarten, Ryan was getting his things ready to leave for home when he was actually supposed to be heading to lunch with the rest of the class.  I asked him what he was doing. “I’m going home,” he replied.  I tried to explain that now that he is in the first grade, he would have a longer school day. “You’ll go eat lunch now,” I said, “and then you’ll come back to the room and do some more work before you go home.” Ryan looked up at me in disbelief, hoping I was kidding.  Convinced of her seriousness, Ryan then put his hands on his hips and demanded, “Who on earth signed me up for this program?”

Haven’t you felt a little bit like Ryan at times?  We had a comfortable old life before coming to Christ.  By that I mean that we were on familiar ground, we didn’t feel very guilty because we may not have believed in such a thing as sin, we felt we were in control, and we may have even thought we were happy.  Then we became Christians and we find that life changed – not just in small, subtle ways, but in BIG ways.  The requirements are daunting—”Surely the Lord doesn’t expect me to forgive seventy times seven;” “Surely he doesn’t want me to turn the other cheek when someone hurts me;” “What does he mean, ‘take up my cross’?” “What’s this bit about I must be holy even as God is holy?  How can I possibly achieve that?!?!”

It isn’t long before you want to say, “Who on earth signed me up for this program?”  Stop and think about it.  In a way, no one signed you up.  In another way, your parents signed you up without your permission.  In order to get a proper perspective on this, though, I think we must reflect back on Ryan and his consternation for being signed up for a more rigorous schooling challenge.  Would it have really been to Ryan’s advantage to have remained in kindergarten the rest of his life, to have never gone on to higher demands and higher lessons learned?  Of course not. 

God could have said that when we came to Him, we could stay in kindergarten, as it were…and not have to grow or change or stop acting like little spoiled children.  Jesus never misled anyone about the cost of following him.  The cost is high: your own life put on your own cross.  Not literally (most likely) but your life is to be sacrificed to him.  Some may spend their entire Christian lives complaining to God about how hard the Walk is and how unfair it seems. 

Isn’t it about time we stopped complaining about what we signed up for and get on with living it out? 

PRAYER:  Lord, thank you that you have enrolled us in the school of the abundant life.  Help us not to complain about the lessons, but to accept them in faith knowing that they help us to grow into Your likeness.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/07/19 – The Dangers of Flying Upside Down

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DayBreaks for 08/07/19: The Dangers of Flying Upside Down

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2019:

In The Divine Conspiracy, Dallas Willard tells the story of a young jet fighter pilot who was practicing high-speed maneuvers in her fighter.  At the point where she was to make a steep ascent, she turned the controls in the direction she believed was correct – and flew straight into the ground.  She was unaware that she’d been flying upside down. 

This is not an isolated occurrence.  I’ve read of such things many times…there is apparently something about flying that can disorient the pilot to whether they are upside down or right side up.  It was even one of the explanations for what happened to JFK, Jr., when his private plane crashed.  When visibility is reduced or one is in a cloud bank or fog bank, pushing the control stick in the wrong direction can and often does have fatal results. 

Willard writes: “This is a parable of human existence in our times – not exactly that everyone is crashing, though there is enough of that – but most of us as individuals, and world society as a whole, live at high-speed, and often with no clue to whether we are flying upside down or right-side up.  Indeed, we are haunted by a strong suspicion that there may be no difference – or at least that it is unknown or irrelevant.”

What does Willard mean?  Since I’m just starting this book that I’ve heard so very much about, I am assuming a bit here, but I think he’s saying that we have lost our bearings – we have lost our sense of direction, of right and wrong…and we are moving so fast that we don’t even notice it until we push the stick one more time and crash and burn.  It can and does happen to individuals, but to cultures, too. 

How? With higher education for the past 50-100 years touting that there is no absolute truth, that truth is unknowable, and that truth is relative to the individual.  (Does it seem strange to you that they say truth is unknowable, yet it is knowable at least to the individual as their truth?  Seems strange to me!!!)  In short, there is no up or down, right or left.  We have no bearings upon which we can depend if this is true.  But those who say there is no moral, objective truth will quickly change their tune if you start stealing TV’s, cars, furniture, computers and the like out of their home, or if you take their child away to sell them into the human trafficking market.  Even those who don’t believe in absolutes agree that these things are wrong – so there must be absolutes!

Here’s the fear: until culture comes to see the flaw in their reasoning (and they will be loathe to do so for that insults their intellectual pride), we will continue to fly upside down as a culture.  The stick is being pushed…too many guesses are being ventured about what is right to do in any given circumstances without moral consideration…and the ground is looming closer and closer. 

PRAYER:  What a blessing it is, Lord, to know that this world is not our home!  Though we can’t begin to imagine how you will do it, we do believe that in time, you will set all things right again.  In the meantime, let us speak words of truth and lovingly challenge our culture that is so upside down.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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