DayBreaks for 9/12/19 – How Quickly We Forget

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DayBreaks for 9/12/19: How Quickly We Forget

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2009:

The long, hot summer of Cloverdale is nearly over!  I’m so glad.  I hate it when it is hot.  The summers here are long…the heat can get really bad.  And after a few months of summertime, I tend to forget how much I appreciate the cool of fall and even the “cold” of winter (although it doesn’t get all that cold here!)  And, wouldn’t you know it, after a few months of the “cold” I forget what it feels like to be warm and I start to long for the warm, lazy springtime.  Such a fickle creature I am.

We don’t seem to have much capacity for remember things very well.  Sure, I remember my multiplication tables just fine, thank you.  But I often either forget or take for granted the love of my wife or children, the smell of the forest floor after a light rain or the roar of the ocean.  If I stop and think about those things hard enough, I can remember them to some degree…but never quite like the real thing.

We are getting older and perhaps that’s partially why our “rememberers” don’t work so well any more.  There may, however, be other factors that have conditioned us to be forgetful.  In Crazy Love, Francis Chan wrote: “We are programmed to focus on what we don’t have, bombarded multiple times throughout the day with what we need to buy that will make us feel happier or sexier or more at peace.  This dissatisfaction transfers over to our thinking about God.  We forget that we already have everything we need in Him.”

Are either you, or someone you know, disillusioned with God?  Do you feel that if He just gave you a bit more of “this or that” you’d find it easier to love Him or believe in Him or accept His will for your life?  Is it possible that our frustrations with God have been inadvertently influenced by marketers who labor at the business of making us feel discontent with what we DO have?

Chan’s conclusion: “Because we don’t often think about the reality of who God is, we quickly forget that He is worthy to be worshipped and loved.”  And that is true whether we never receive another single thing from God in our entire lives.

Let us take to heart the words of the fisherman from 2 Peter 1:3: His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.  We’ve got it all.  Don’t let frustrations and lack in other areas of your life ever be confused or cause you to think that God has shortchanged you about anything!

PRAYER: God, keep us from ever thinking that You have shortchanged us in any area of our lives!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 9/10/19 – Cheer, Happy Faces and Honesty

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DayBreaks for 9/10/19: Cheer, Happy Faces and Honesty

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2009:

I have spent some time lately with some very discouraged and unhappy people.  Let’s be honest: if we look at this world for very long at all, there is much to get discouraged about!  Disease and death, disappointment, rejection, mistakes in judgment, financial challenges, relationship difficulties…you know the score.  Life is tough.

In The Gospel According to Job, Mike Mason said: “In short, Scripture never suggests (unlike many churchgoers) that the wearing of a cheerful countenance is a good tonic for the world.  On the contrary, in Ecclesiastes we read, Sorrow is better than laughter, because a sad face is good for the heart (7:3).  How is it we have bought the lie that a Christian’s face is only publicly presentable when the corners of the mouth are pushed up?  The Apostle James actually exhorts us to …grieve, mourn and wail.  Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom’ (4:9). As the poet Emily Dickinson put it in her trenchant style, ‘I like the look of Agony, because I know it’s true.’

“Undoubtedly Scripture exhorts us to ‘Rejoice in the Lord’ and to ‘Be of good cheer.’  Yet nowhere are we commanded to ‘put on a happy face.’”

We are encouraged to rejoice because we know our names are written in heaven.  We are not to delight in the suffering per se, but in what the suffering is building into our character, knowing that the Lord has a perfect plan for us that will result in wholeness some day.  In the meantime, false cheerfulness may lead to charges of hypocrisy.  Job and David knew what it was to hurt and to weep and wail as a result.  But they also knew that they couldn’t stay with their focus on themselves and their troubles indefinitely or the burden would have become crushing.  They eventually lifted their eyes upwards to receive the help they needed in the time of their greatest pain. 

God doesn’t deny you the right to be honest about your feelings.  Quite the opposite!  He wants you to be honest with yourself and with him and others about them.  It is only then that He can begin to shape us into the image of the Suffering Servant who offers His joy to the entire world.     

PRAYER: Let us be honest with our pain and hopeful in our upward glances!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/03/19 – Getting to the Root of the Problem

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DayBreaks for 9/03/19: Getting to the Root of the Problem

NOTE: Galen is on vacation for the next couple weeks and may not respond to any comments until he returns on 9/9/19.

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2009:

I am privileged, by the nature of what I do, to be able to be around and with people who are struggling with life and faith issues.  It is very intimidating, exhilarating and challenging at the same time.  There are many times that I don’t have a clue about what to say or what to do – so I just always try to do what I think Jesus would do or say at that time.  I’m sure that there are plenty of times when I get that wrong, too, but I try, as I’m sure you do, too.

I try to deal with my sin.  Sometimes, I’m successful.  Often, I’m not.  And even when “I’m” successful, it isn’t me, but the Spirit that wins the struggle.  I don’t let the Spirit do enough and I’m sure that’s the problem.  I wrestle with sin in my own strength rather than turning the temptation over to the Spirit to squash.  For some foolish reason, I think I can do a better job of wrestling with the sin than the Spirit can, right?  But is that really true that I think that way, or is it merely that I want to not expose the Spirit to the sin because I want to nuzzle up next to the sin and indulge it yet again?  Is that not the nature of our temptation?  Keep God away from it so I can stay close to it.  A recipe for disaster if there ever was one.

I recently was watching a video with Chuck Colson and Rick Warren and they were talking about the practical living out of Christianity and the struggle with sin.  At one point in the video, one of them (I think it was Rick), made the comment that we need to deal with the root problem when it comes to sin.  Far too often, what we do is more like mowing the grass or pulling off the top of the weed of sin – and expecting the plant to die.  Anyone who has tried that in their yard will be quick to tell you that unless you pull/kill the roots, the weeds will be back again in a furious hurry. 

I fear that all too often our attempts at repentance are rather weak.  I fear that all too often all we are doing with the sin in our lives is “mowing the grass” instead of pulling out the sin by the roots.  There’s this insidious thing inside of us, the struggle perhaps that Paul alludes to in Romans, where a part of us really wants the sin to die and be gone because we get sick and tired of it at times, but there’s also the part of us that revels in the sin and wants to taste the forbidden fruit one more time…and another…and another.  

Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation–but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. – Romans 8:12-14 (NIV)  This passage makes it pretty clear: the misdeeds of the body must not be trimmed back, but put to death.  And we must join with the Spirit in this endeavor: “If by the Spirit If by the Spirit YOU put to death the misdeeds…”  It isn’t just the Spirit – I must join in the killing.  But I certainly cannot kill the weed of sin without the Spirit, either. 

Isn’t it about time we started pulling our sin out by the roots?

PRAYER: We struggle to even want to do what is right, Lord, and when it comes to putting to death the misdeeds of the body, we confess that we cannot possibly do it without Your Spirit!  Incline our hearts to instinctively turn first to You in times of temptation that we may receive the leading of Your Spirit in the struggle against sin.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/28/19 – Like Being Buried Alive

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DayBreaks for 08/28/19: Like Being Buried Alive

NOTE: Galen is on vacation for the next couple weeks and may not respond to any comments until he returns on 9/9/19.

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2009:

Of all my nightmares, perhaps none is as terrifying to me as being buried alive.  That, and falling from a great height are the stuff of sleeplessness for me.  I suspect that many are those who share my fears on both scores.  You could just as easily take the verse that says, “It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the Living God” and shorten them for me to this: “It is a terrible thing to fall!”  Heights, and being buried alive, give me the heebie-jeebies!

I found Mike Mason’s insight in The Gospel According to Job very interesting as he described being a Christian this way: “The lot of God’s children on this earth is something like being buried alive.  First we are raised with Christ and made into entirely new creatures, pure and blameless, washed and redeemed and lifted up to Heaven.  All of this happens by faith – which is to say, not in some imaginary way, but in a way more gloriously real than this present world can bear to behold.  Yet no sooner has this spiritual transaction taken place, no sooner have we been veritably seated with Christ in the heavenly realms, than immediately we are sent down to earth again , just as Jesus was, and entrusted with a mission: As the Father sent me, so I am sending you (Jn. 20:21).  The moment we are born again we are sent right back into the world of sin and death.  In fact, we are set back down into exactly the same circumstances in which we found ourselves before we were saved, and there we are told to take up the work of the Son of God in that situation, however painful it might be.  And this is a lot we are to accept with increasing graciousness.”

Many find the Christian life a disappointment.  Yes, at the moment of conversion, there is a freeing of the soul from the chains of the grave and death.  Yes, there is joy at that moment.  But if the motive for becoming a Christian is to simply escape the tough things of this world, well, we’ll be sadly mistaken.  After becoming a Christian, for however many years we sojourn here as God’s kids, it is like being buried alive.  We know that somewhere “out there” is light, fresh air, beauty – but in the meantime we may only be able to see darkness and the air is foul and filled with a stench that comes from a rotting humanity still embroiled in sin.  And all the while, the devil sits and grins.  He grins when we despair that this Christian life doesn’t bring immediate and lasting release from struggles – and that we get discouraged. 

I’m not able to choose the circumstances in life where God has placed me to do His work.  That’s His prerogative as God to choose those things for me.  But I can and do have a responsibility for how I react to those circumstances.  Yes, remaining in this world is a bit like being buried alive – but I don’t have to worry.  The day is coming when all who are in the grave will hear His voice…and His children will rise.  And the being buried alive will be over – and it will have seemed as nothing compared to even the first nanosecond spent in His literal Presence!

PRAYER:  Give us the grace to pass the years of our wandering with grace as we endure a temporary world with temporary troubles!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/27/19 – A History of Boredom

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DayBreaks for 08/27/19: A History of Boredom

NOTE: Galen is on vacation for the next couple weeks and may not respond to any comments until he returns on 9/9/19.

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2009:

I would have loved to be in the garden of Eden to observe the temptation.  God had placed Adam and Eve in the garden with the instructions to tend to the garden and care for it.  I don’t know what Adam and Eve were up to when the temptation took place, but I can’t help but wonder if they were being either lazy or bored – and fell prey to a sinister and subtle enemy as a result. 

There has been a saying for as long as I can remember that says “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.”  It is true, I think.  I know that when my mental faculties are fully engaged in some project or task, that I don’t have nearly as much opportunity to get distracted.  As long as I am focused on something that is wholesome and productive, I don’t have time to get into as much trouble.

Marvin Olasky, in World (May 23, 2009) wrote an editorial titled “An Era of Insecurity”.  He started off by quoting Soren Kierkegaard, who in a sardonic vein, commented that the history of the world is the history of boredom, which he called “the root of all evil…the gods were bored, therefore they created human beings.”  Kierkegaard didn’t really believe that, but the point he makes about boredom is very real.  The Bible, in the account of the garden, seems to even suggest the same thing when it notes that God saw that Adam was lonely and that it wasn’t a good thing.  (Stop and think about that one for a moment, too – Adam had fellowship directly with God, and yet he was still lonely.  I’m not sure what that says about Adam or us, but it is an intriguing thing to ponder!)  Adam’s loneliness and boredom led to God creating Eve (although I’m sure God planned to do that all along).  Is it possible that Eve’s boredom in the garden led to her “snake-listening?”  Was boredom a factor in Cain’s murdering his brother, Abel?  Was it partially boredom that led the residents of Babel to start working on a tower?  If, in all those cases, they’d been busy doing what they were supposed to be doing, I doubt that they’d have had the time to get into as much mischief. 

There are some who have said that boredom is America’s greatest danger.  I don’t know if I’d go that far, but it seems to be kids (and adults) who have nothing to do who get into the most trouble.  Empty hands, empty minds – they contribute more than their fair share to trouble.  If our minds are empty, they will find something to focus on.  Perhaps that’s why Paul suggested to the Philippians the following: Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.  – Philippians 4:8 (KJV)

Consider your own life for a few moments.  Aren’t you more prone to mischief when you’re alone and bored – or even when you are in a group, but bored?  We’ve lost the discipline of meditation – of thinking on things that are worth thinking about – so instead we think about things that don’t deserve a moment’s reflection.  And such is the stuff of temptation.

PRAYER:  Keep us from empty minds and empty hands that would lead us into sin, Lord, and teach us to contemplate the wonder that You are and the beauty and richness of Your Word!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/26/19 – North Star People

 

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DayBreaks for 08/26/19: North Star People

NOTE: Galen is on vacation for the next couple weeks and may not respond to any comments until he returns on 9/9/19.

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2009:

Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. – DANIEL 12:3

Due north in the sky is where you can find the star, Polaris.  Perhaps you know it by its more common name: the North Star.  For thousands of years now, when sailors or even astronauts are in need of directions or when they are lost, the first thing they do (assuming they don’t have GPS!) is to look for the North Star.  Once they’ve found it, it is possible for them to figure out where they are and how to get back on track. 

Surprisingly, the North Star (Polaris) is not the brightest object in the sky – in fact, it’s rather dim.  It’s slightly green (so I’m told).  Because it is at the tip of the very northern axis in the celestial view from earth, it doesn’t shift position throughout the night – it doesn’t move – it stays put.  It isn’t easy to find, but anyone can learn to find it.  A typical response by those who are shown where it is for the first time is to remark, rather surprisedly, “Huh.  I always thought it would be brighter than that.”

The point is this: we can be like the North Star to other people.  Shocking?  Perhaps, but here’s what Paul had to say about it in Philippians 2:14-16: Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life–in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.  (NIV)  There are several things worth noting about this verse:

FIRST: it is children of God that shine like stars in the universe – not just the “greats” like Peter, Paul, Mary, Esther and their ilk.  Every child of God can and should be shining like the northern star.

SECOND: it is in the dark world, a “crooked and depraved generation” that we are to shine.  We’re not supposed to wait until all is bright and airy – after all, can you see the stars when the sun is shining in its power?  Of course not!  It takes darkness for the stars (other than our sun) to be seen.  The day will come when we won’t shine – because the Son will be all the illumination that is needed when he appears.  But since the passage says we shine in a depraved generation – this verse isn’t talking about when we get to heaven or in eternity.  It is talking about shining NOW.

THIRD: how is it that we shine?  By the way we “hold out the word of life.”  That’s how we shine.  We hold out the Word of life by believing it, holding it out like we would a lantern or brilliant spotlight.  We hold it out so that others can grasp it.  We hold it out so that others can see by it and distinguish between the unfruitful works of darkness and the Light of the World that has come so that no one need stumble and fall again.

FOURTH: we can be like the north star in that we never change position.  We continually hold out the word of life…no matter what is going on in our lives.  Circumstances won’t change us…we should be stationary, steadfast.  As the words to the old song, O Thou Fount of Every Blessing put is, “Praise the mount, I’m fixed upon it, mount of Thy redeeming love!”  Fixed. Solid. Immovable.  The rest of the world may spin off into frenzied oblivion – the children of God won’t.

Right now, you are faced with a decision about how you’ll live this day.  You may be at work, college, high school – some other school – it matters not.  Wherever you are, if you are His child, you can shine like the north star and hold out the Word of Life to those all around you this day.  The question is: will you do it?

PRAYER:  Let us shine to this depraved generation, Lord!  Let us take the Word of Life into our hearts and hands and minds and hold it out to a world dying in the darkness.  Fix us as a star in the sky for all to see Your glory!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/24/19 – Misplaced Expectations

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DayBreaks for 08/23/19: Misplaced Expectations

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2009:

We all have expectations.  We have expectations of others, we have expectations of our pets, of our employers, of our employees, of our spouses, children, friends, government…we even have expectations of ourselves.  If only having expectations meant that they would be lived up to and realized!!!!  But alas, such is not the reality of the world in which we live.  I so often fail to live up to my expectations for myself…why should I be so insistent that others should live up to the expectations I have of them? 

God sees us much better than we see ourselves.  He sees us with perfect clarity.  I know that often He sees things in me that he doesn’t care for.  I would like to delight His heart at all times, though I know I don’t.

In The Gospel According to Job, Mike Mason contemplates the expectations we have of ourselves as Christians.  Though we may often find others have failed to live up to our expectations, the inevitable conclusion that Christians must reach is that we fail miserably to live up to the holy and righteous demands of God.  And that can cause us massive turmoil and anxiety – because we KNOW, plain and simple, that we just don’t cut it.  As a result, many re-double their efforts to “be good” and to “make God happy with me.”  Isn’t that just another way of trusting in our own perfection (or as close to perfection as we can get)? 

Mason insightfully wrote: “God’s delight is not in a life lived in undeviating virtue, but rather in seeing the most twisted and chaotic life turned in humble expectation towards Him.  The truly righteous person, it turns out, is the one who places no expectations upon himself.  From God he expects everything, but from himself he expects nothing, because he knows he is but dust.” 

Are you discouraged in your Christian walk because you just can’t seem to “get it right” no matter how hard you try?  Do you get down on yourself because of that?  Does it lead you to work all the harder?  Guilt will never be a kind task-master, nor will it ever be a wonderful motivator.  Love is a much better motivator, but even our love won’t be perfect – but the good news is that our love doesn’t have to be perfect, because His love is! 

A truly humble, righteous person doesn’t have expectations of themselves other than that they will get it wrong – over and over again – and that God will get it right.  If our expectations are based on my getting better, on my slow but steady improvement, my expectations are in the wrong place.  May my expectations, like my hope, rest in His goodness alone! 

And this expectation will not disappoint us. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. – Romans 5:5 (NLT)

PRAYER:  What a relief it is that You are a good God, One who will never disappoint us nor let us down!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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