DayBreaks for 12/5/17 – Faith, With Nike’s On

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DayBreaks for 12/05/17: Faith, With Nikes On

From the DayBreaks archive, December 2007:

It never ceases to fascinate me when I pause to consider how different people are from one another.  Some are tall, others short.  Some fat, some anorexic.  Some laugh and find a lot of joy in life while others are grim, depressed and seem to be captivated by the negative side of things. 

I am the kind of person who likes chaos.  You’d know that about me if you ever saw my office when I worked in the computer world, or even now!  My desktop usually looks like Katrina had just blown through the office.  Piles here, stacks there – I suppose to any outsider looking at it, they’d think it was totally in disarray and that no one could ever find anything in that mess.  But somehow, I do just fine in that environment.  My high-tech job at the end was very diverse, I had many wonderful managers working under my direction on all kinds of products and services.  If I was ever allowed to spend more than about 20 minutes at time on any particular topic, I’d start to get bored.  I love chaos.  I function well under chaos.  But not all people do.  And that’s OK, too!

Sometimes it isn’t just our desktops or purses or garages that get chaotic, it’s life itself.  Just a few days ago, we learned that one of my wife’s cousins went into the hospital and has found out now that she’s got stage 4 cancer.  Between Saturday and Monday, her world and life was turned upside down.  A huge wind blew in and rearranged everything.  She’d been planning to sell her house (it’s on the market, but here in California right now, that doesn’t mean a thing), she was looking forward to retirement (that’s the main reason she was selling the house – so she could retire and start to draw her retirement checks) and to watching her grandchildren grow.  All of that suddenly was ripped away from her in one hugely chaotic moment, with just 3 words: “You have cancer.”

A friend of mine (and brother in Christ) is going to be divorced soon – his wife chose to leave him and took the two little children with her, moving clear across this great land that we call home – breaking her home in the process.  She doesn’t want to be married to him anymore.  His world, too, has become chaotic. 

Compared to those two people, my life is a piece of cake. 

But what are we to do when the winds of chaos howl and blow through our lives?  We’re to do the same thing we do when only the slightest breeze ruffles our lives.  Here’s how Andre Seu put it: The alternative is to remember that the fundamental things apply in cataclysms as well as calm times.  To wit: Do the right thing; one foot in front of the other; one piece of the problem at a time; take lunch, exercise, sleep.  I remember the counselor Jay Adams saying that the trouble is not usually that we don’t know what to do but that we don’t do it long enough.  We give up just before the breakthrough would have come.  Like Screwtape said, “It is so hard for these creatures to persevere.”  But persevering is what it’s all about.  Persevering is just faith with Nikes on.  – Andre Seu, World Magazine, 12/1/07

In times of chaos, do the right thing – one step at a time, one piece of the problem at a time, persevere.  In times of calm, do the right thing – one step at a time, one piece of the problem at a time, persevere.  It was Jesus’ model, and it works.  Strap on your Nikes!

2 Thessalonians 3:5 (NIV) – May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.

PRAYER:  Father, may we be at peace even in the storm, may we be prepared to run the distance and finish well regardless of chaos or calm.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 11/23/17 – Thanksliving

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DayBreaks for 11/23/17: Thanksliving

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

Thanksgiving.  My favorite holiday of the entire year.  The smells of Thanksgiving dinner that start early in the morning.  The anticipation of the arrival of family.  The joyful hugs of children and the encircling arms of my grandchildren around my neck.  Turkey, dressing, green-bean and mushroom casserole, potatoes, cranberry sauce, pies and whipped cream topping.  My mouth waters just to think of it!

And as much as I love those things about Thanksgiving, I’m sure that the real reason for Thanksgiving goes underappreciated year after year after year by most of us.  Not that we don’t take time to give God thanks on this day, but we don’t take much time to do that compared to what we spend cooking, or even eating, the feast that His hand has provided.  How much time do you spend eating or watching football on Thanksgiving day?  How much time do you spend giving thanks to God? 

I’m not saying that to make any of us feel guilty, it’s just an observation – and something I think we need to ponder.  As much as God desires to hear our “Thank You, Father”, I think that if it comes to just saying thanks then we’ve missed the point.  How can we practically demonstrate our thankfulness?  It’s been said that the art of thanksgiving is in thanksliving.  It is gratitude in action.  That being the case, here’s some ideas on how we can really demonstrate that we understand what we’ve received and that we are thankful for it:

It is thanking God for the gift of life by living it triumphantly.

It is thanking God for your talents and abilities by accepting them as obligations to be invested for the common good.

It is thanking God for all that men and women have done for you by doing things for others.

It is thanking God for happiness by striving to make others happy.

It is thanking God for beauty by helping to make the world more beautiful.

It is thanking God for inspiration by trying to be an inspiration to others.

It is thanking God for health and strength by the care and respect you show your body.

Rudyard Kipling at one time was so popular that his writings were getting ten shillings per word. A few college students, however, did not appreciate Kipling’s writings; they facetiously sent him a letter and enclosed ten shillings. It read, “Please, send us your best word.” They got back a letter from Kipling that said, “Thanks.”

What a great word: “Thanks!”  May we say, and live, it often not just on this one day a year, but constantly.  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (KJV) – In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

PRAYER:  There are not enough words in existence to give You due thanks, Father God.  But today we’ll try to give You appropriate thanks by not just saying it, but by trying to live lives that demonstrate our gratefulness!   In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 11/22/17 – A Great Mystery

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DayBreaks for 11/22/17: A Great Mystery

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

You’ve probably gathered by now that I’ve been interested in the topic of godliness lately.  I’ve been preaching a series of messages from 2 Peter 1, and since Peter wrote about godliness, even saying that we need to make every effort to add to our “perseverance, godliness,” it’s rather caught my attention.  Godliness could be defined as being “like God”, or “like Jesus”.  Well, since none of us have ever seen God or Jesus, it’s a bit hard to know what that means in all its entirety. 

The apostle Paul, as he often does, digs deep into the topic of godliness, too.  Perhaps one of the most intriguing passages of Scripture on the topic, yet one I’d not really contemplated too much before, is found in 1 Timothy 3:16, where the apostle Paul wrote these mysterious words: Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.”   Paul, describing Christ, says that the mystery of godliness was revealed by certain things relating to the life and person of Jesus.  In particular, there are six things about the godliness that Christ demonstrated (as noted by Mark Buchanan in Hidden In Plain Sight:

FIRST: he appeared in a body.  Now that doesn’t sound all that godly, does it?  In fact, it sounds rather human.  I think what Paul was getting at might have been this: Christ, in the flesh, made God accessible – and personal.  Before, we could only imagine God, but in Christ, we could see Him.  Being godly means making Him accessible to those in our world.

SECOND: Jesus was vindicated by the Spirit.  One of our least godly characteristics is our intense desire to vindicate ourselves – to make ourselves look good to others, to show that we ARE good and that we are not bad.  Jesus didn’t worry about how others would perceive him.  He was more than willing to let God vindicate him – which He most certainly did by raising him from the dead.  Godly people don’t worry about pleasing others – but entrust God to vindicate them before their enemies in His time.

THIRD: Jesus was seen by angels.  Throughout his life, Jesus was aware that life consisted of more than meets the eyes.  Angels ministered to him at various times.  He lived with an awareness that this world isn’t all there is.  People who are godly know and understand that we are “playing” out a scenario that is viewed on a heavenly stage and that the main audience we live for is not earthly, but cosmic.  When we remember that angels and God are watching us, it could change a lot in how we live!

FOURTH: Jesus was preached among the nations.  While Jesus himself lived in Palestine nearly his entire life (except for a brief sojourn in Egypt), the message of Jesus has been preached throughout the world.  His message was for the world, it was not something to be hoarded and kept in a righteous little box.  His influence goes far beyond where he lived.  Our influence, too, should be global, and we should be engaged in carrying his message to the world – we should, like Christ, have a global influence.

FIFTH: He was believed on in the world.  It’s key that he says, “…in the world.”  We would have expected people in the “church” to believe on him, but even those in the world believed on him.  Part of the reason he was believed upon was because of how he lived his own life.  And when people believed on him, their world was turned upside down and changed for the better.  Godly people are supposed to have an influence outside of the church walls – in fact, that’s where our primary influence should be felt.  That’s where the non-believers are!

SIXTH: Jesus was taken up in glory.  He wasn’t caught up with glory – he wasn’t a “glory-hog”.  He was taken up “in glory.”  His life had a purpose and an ultimate reward.  Godly people will live in such a way that, though we live in the here and now, we never take our eyes off the “forever” towards which we are moving, and the reward that awaits us there.  This is motivation for us to be godly.

What is godliness?  Maybe you’ve not thought about this verse in that way before, but I think Buchanan was onto something good.  Everything there is to be learned about being godly can be learned at the feet of Jesus.

PRAYER:  Thank You, God, for the mystery of godliness that has been revealed in and through Your Son.  May we imitate the One You sent.   In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 11/20/17 – In Due Time

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DayBreaks for 11/20/17: In Due Time

NOTE: Galen is traveling…again.

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

“Somewhere over the rainbow, bluebirds fly, somewhere over the rainbow, why then, oh why, can’t I?”  Every heart carries dreams and hopes and ambitions.  I’ve always wanted to be able to fly (without being in an airplane.)  I know other people who have dreamed of sailing the south Pacific or climbing some of the earth’s tallest mountains.  Others dream of being a police officer, astronaut, explorer, singer, dancer or actor.  Hopes and dreams are an essential part of life. 

In Discipleship Journal, Carole Mayhall tells of a woman who went to a diet center to lose weight.  The director took her to a full-length mirror.  On it he outlined a figure and told her, “This is what I want you to be like at the end of the program.”  Days of intense dieting and exercise followed, and every week the woman would stand in front of the mirror, discouraged because her bulging outline didn’t fit the director’s ideal.  But she kept at it, and finally one day she conformed to the longed-for image.  – Daily Bread, August 8, 1990

For a long time, as a child, I wanted to be either a brain surgeon or astronaut.  When I started off to college, I was torn between pursuing a career in medicine or in ministry.  For over 25 years, I did neither, although I took classes that could have led in both directions.  The thrill of holding someone’s physical life in my hands during surgery was intoxicating.  The adventure and wonder of flying through space to the moon caught my imagination. 

What we dream of and long for help to shape what we actually become.  That’s partly why Scripture says “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”  (Phil. 4:8)  We’re also told that we are what we think about in our hearts.  We’re told what our vision should be: to lock our eyes on to Christ and to become like him.  Pretty heady stuff, when you think about that one!

The absence of dreams (a vision and focus for life) can be equally serious: we can wind up just drifting along and one day we bump into shore and we are something that we never wanted to be, stuck somewhere in a place we never wanted to be.  God wants more for us, for you, than that. 

I have been out of high school now for a staggering 47 years (as of 2017).  Even if I’d pursued a career in medicine, I would have been out of college for 35 years or so.  Are there days when I still wish that I was a neurosurgeon or astronaut?  Yeah, there are.  But they’re a lot less frequent now.  Here’s what I want to be when I grow up: I want to be Christ-like.  It is hard to imagine that such a thing is possible, but Peter says it is in 2 Peter 1.  2 Corinthians 3:18 (NIV) says: And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Like the woman in front of the mirror who saw the shape of what she wanted to be gradually became the shape she actually was, let us all fix our eyes on the perfect Image, the exact Image, of God.  And in due time, if we don’t grow weary, we will take on that Image to His everlasting glory.

PRAYER:  Jesus, it’s hard to believe that we could come to look like You.  Help us to keep looking at You and to You, our perfect example.  May we regain what we were meant to be that we have lost through sin.  Help us to be patient with ourselves, even as You patiently shape us.   In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 11/9/17 – The Unhappiest Person in Scripture

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DayBreaks for 11/09/17: The Unhappiest Person in Scripture

NOTE: Galen is traveling.

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

Trivia.  How most of us love it!  And Bible trivia is exceptionally fun, I think (although as a pastor I’m always feeling the pressure if I’m engaged in a game of Bible trivia – I feel like I am expected to know all the right answers!!!)  Here’s a few for you to whet your own trivia whistle (don’t worry, these are easy ones!): who lived to be the oldest?  Who was the first murder victim?  Who had a donkey speak to him?  How many stones did David pick up to use with his sling when he went out to meet Goliath? 

See!  I told you they’d be easy ones!  But here are some tougher ones (and I don’t know that I know for sure the answers to all of them): who was the most patient person in Scripture?  Who was the apostle of love?  Who was the meekest man that ever lived?  The wisest?

I found intriguing this story about Eli Wiesel that former Secretary of State Madeline Albright shared: “Not long after September 11, I was on a panel with Eli Wiesel.  He asked us to name the unhappiest character in the Bible.  Some said Job, because of the trials he endured.  Some said Moses, because he was denied entry into the Promised Land.  Some said Mary, because she witnessed the crucifixion of her son.  Wiesel said he believed the right answer was God, because of the pain he must surely feel in seeing us fight, kill, and abuse each other in the Lord’s name.”

It would be hard to argue with Wiesel’s answer.  What am I doing today that might be adding to God’s unhappiness or sadness? 

John 13:34-35 (NIV) – A new command I give you: Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

PRAYER: Make us instruments today, Lord, that delight Your heart and who do not contribute to your unhappiness.  Help us to love one another as fully and richly as You have loved us that Your heart may rejoice!    In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 11/8/17 – The Crushing Weight

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DayBreaks for 11/08/17: The Crushing Weight

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

How do you deal with pressure?  Some folks love it, others hate it.  Pressure can come from a variety of sources: it can be imposed from someone in authority telling you want to do and when it has to be done, or from having wasted precious time when you could have been working on something important.  It can be generated by the manipulative expectations of parents, children, spouses or friends.  We can generate our own pressure based on unreasonable and impossible expectations we place on ourselves.  Other pressures are more physical: that squeezing of the chest that indicates a heart attack or the weight of a car falling on top of you. 

The following comes from Sidney Greidanus’ book, Preaching Christ from Genesis: “The nuclear submarine Thresher had heavy steel bulkheads and heavy steel armor, so it could dive deep and withstand the pressure of the ocean.  Unfortunately, on a test run in 1963, the Thresher’s nuclear engine quit, and it could not get back to the surface.  It sank deeper and deeper into the ocean.  The pressure became immense.  The heavy steel bulkheads buckled; the Thresher was crushed with 129 people inside.

“The Navy searched for the Thresher with a research craft that was much stronger than submarines.  It was shaped like a steel ball and was lowered into the ocean on a cable.  They finally located the Thresher at a depth of 8,400 feet: one and a half miles down.  It was crushed like an egg shell.  That was not a surprise, for the pressure at that depth is tremendous—3,600 pounds per square inch.

“What was surprising to the searchers was that they saw fish at that great depth.  And these fish did not have inches of steel to protect them.  They appeared to have normal skin, a fraction of an inch thick.  How can these fish survive under all that pressure?  How come they are not crushed by the weight of the water?  They have a secret.  Their secret is that they have the same pressure inside themselves as they have on the outside.  Survival under pressure.

“John assures us, “The one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”  We will be victorious in the battle against Satan because Jesus poured his Spirit into our hearts.  “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”

If we don’t have the Spirit functioning inside of us, we, like the Thresher, will be crushed by the enemy.  Alone, we are not able to sustain our lives under his relentless pressuring attacks.  Is it any wonder that we fail when we struggle against Satan in our own strength and wisdom?  We must be filled with the overflowing of the Spirit to survive, and not just to survive, but to thrive in our situation. 

Ephesians 3:14-19 (NIV) – For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name.  I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

PRAYER: Daily, Lord, we are put under pressure to compromise and surrender the ground You’ve given us to protect.  Fill us up completely, so that not only are we equal to the pressure, but that the Spirit within us will flow out of each pore of our bodies and souls that Your glory and goodness may abound!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 11/06/17 – The Christian Gamble

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DayBreaks for 11/06/17: The Christian Gamble

As we were in worship just yesterday, I was contemplating that which human minds cannot hope to contemplate – God. And as we sang a song, I thought about the power that it takes to call everything into existence simply by words. It seems impossible, doesn’t it? And yet that is what we Christians believe. We believe in a God who cannot be seen and believe he has done things which are incomprehensible. How can words bring physical matter into existence? Doesn’t that seem like the stuff of fairy tales or stories about the pagan gods? And when I think about it that way, I sometimes must admit that it sounds really far fetched and impossible and I begin to entertain doubts.

But, then I must come fact to face with the fact that physical things do exist, so how can they be explained? It is a basic premise that “Nothing comes from nothing”, i.e., that if something exists at all, it must be because there was something to make it happen. There is not a single shred of evidence, nor a claim that I am aware of, that the universe has been eternal – without a beginning. So that begs the question: where did matter come from if it could have come from nothing? Christians believe it comes from God. The fact that things (including myself) do exist, leads me to conclude that God must exist.

Can I prove it? No. Atheists take delight in the fact that Christians cannot prove that God exists. But, neither can an atheist prove that God does NOT exist. And so believers and unbelievers are all gambling that what we believe is true.

So, what is one to do, since neither God’s existence nor his non-existence can be proven? Perhaps the best we can do is to look at the evidence to make the most reasonable bet with our life that we can. And in that process, it might be wise to sit down with a piece of paper and do this exercise: write down the ramifications regarding life if His existence is real, and write down the ramifications if it is not real. Then decide which way you want to bet your existence.

You see, in the final analysis, for an atheist to say that faith is foolish is to call themselves foolish, too, because one’s belief about God’s existence and nature (if He exists) is based on faith, either way one chooses to believe.

Romans 1:19-20 (ESV) – For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

PRAYER: Father, though we cannot prove your existence, we believe in it and in your goodness and trustworthiness. May our faith be rewarded not just in the world to come, but in this one as well! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.