DayBreaks for 8/17/17 – Falling Stars and Fleeting Days

DayBreaks for 8/17/17: Falling Stars and Fleeting Days

Note from Galen: Sorry for all the DayBreaks repeats these past few months. I happen to be in a very busy season of life right now. Oh, yeah, yesterday was my anniversary, so I took the day off from DayBreaks! I appreciate your understanding!

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2007:

On Sunday evening, 8/12, some friends and my wife and I sat out on our deck and watched about 2 hours worth of the Perseid meteor shower.  I’d read about it before, so I was familiar with what it was.  Basically, for those who may not know, it’s when the earth passes through the tail of a comet (Swift-Tuttle) that originates in the Perseus constellation.  The effect of passing through this comet’s “tail” has been observed for over 2000 years, and if you missed it, don’t worry: it happens every summer and peaks at about August 12 each year.  Some of the effects we observed were rather insignificant – faint streaks of light that happened so quickly that you didn’t dare blink or you’d miss them entirely – but others were very bright and left a long, glowing streak across the sky as the particles flamed out in the atmosphere.

There is a song by Fernando Ortega in which he contemplates God’s protection and Presence with us.  In that song, one line goes as follows: “My days are passing by like falling stars that blaze across the night sky and then they are gone…”  The Perseids gave me new perspective on exactly what that means.  And I paused in my heart to take stock of my life.  Life truly does fly by like blazing “falling stars”, does it not?  Scripture talks about it as a mist that appears for a short time and then vanishes…I think Fernando’s take on it is more apt and seemingly (at least to me) much more realistic.  Blink, and you miss it.  Blink, and it is gone, over, done.

I don’t know how long the Lord will permit me to abide on the face of the earth.  I’m 55 years old now (65 as of 2017).  From the actuarial tables, I’ve got maybe 10 years left.  10 years.  The first 20 went by so quickly, and the years from 20 to 40 even faster.  Let’s not even discuss my perspective on how fast I got from 40 to 65.  It’s frightening to contemplate.  And if I’m lucky and blessed, I may see another 15-20 years, but with the history of cardiac problems in my family, the odds are probably against that happening, but God knows. 

So, what am I to make of all this?  I suppose there are several things that come to my mind:

FIRST: I wonder what it will actually be like to die.  It struck me with new force that it’s an experience we can’t really prepare ourselves for – we just don’t know how it feels until we go through it.  Last night as I contemplated this, I wished I could ask my father what it’s like – since he’s been there and is now at home with our Lord.  I will NOT escape that experience, no matter how much I might wish to, or how good I’ve been.  I can only say that I hope it will be like falling asleep and waking up to see the Lord’s face smiling at me. 

SECOND: I ponder all the things that I’ve wanted to do in life, but that I’ve not yet done.  Places I’d like to see.  Friends I’d like to see “one more time.”  Problems and temptations that I’d like to “overcome” before I say my final farewell to earth and fly to meet Him.  Some of those things are unimportant – such as the places I’d like to see.  But what haunts me is the thought: “As I lay on my death bed, what will be my biggest regret?”  If I could answer that question and then manipulate human history and events, then I’d put that question to rest.  But, alas, I cannot manipulate life, and I don’t know until I reach the moment of death what will be my biggest regret at that moment in time.  But, methinks it’s worth thinking about. 

THIRD: I can see the holes in my character, and their size is humbling.  I see many of the faults in my obedience and love for God and others.  Those are humbling, too.  So what’s a man or woman to do who stops long enough to take stock of life and a future of unknown and uncertain duration?  I don’t know about you, but I take great comfort in these words of Scripture from Paul’s pen in Philippians 1:3-6 (NIV) – I thank my God every time I remember you.  In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.  I’m glad that Paul didn’t say that he himself would have to complete what God had started.  How much better that the one who began that work in us (God Himself!) will see to its completion in ME…and in you!  Although it is beyond my ken and comprehension, I have God’s word on it.  And if that’s not good enough to launch out into eternity, then what is?

PRAYER: Thank You, Father, for falling stars and the sweet days of life that flee from east to west in the twinkle of an eye.  Life is sweet, Lord, and it is precious.  May we remember what a great gift this is that You’ve given us.  Thank You for Your Faithful Word and Promise to bring us to spotless perfection in Christ Jesus.  You are amazing.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 8/9/17 – ‘Tis Foolishness

DayBreaks for 8/09/17: ‘Tis Foolishness

From the DayBreaks archive, 8/7/2007:

I’ve been thinking about contentment lately.  Mind you, I’m not content with my thinking on the topic!  But I’m trying to learn to be more content in my station in life in various venues, but especially in the area of possessions.  It seems that much of what we struggle with in this world as far as contentment goes has to do with things – stuff – possessions. 

I recall when our kids were little.  They’d hear about a new toy in a Happy Meal, or a new video game, or some new action hero figure, and they would ask for it.  Sometimes I gave it to them, sometimes not.  My decision certainly wasn’t all based on “need” – they really didn’t need any of it.  Sometimes I withheld the gift solely to help them learn lessons related to happiness and contentment.  Sometimes, if they really wanted something, they’d say words to this effect: “If you get it for me, I promise I won’t ever ask for another thing, ever!!!!”  Yeah, right.

Of course, none of us adults would be so silly as to think that a change in circumstances or possessions would bring lasting contentment, would we?  Maybe not.  Someone once said that the only difference between men and boys is the price of their toys.  There’s more truth to that than I want to admit.  In Love Beyond Reason, John Ortberg observes: “All day long we are bombarded with messages that seek to persuade us of two things:

  1. That we are (or ought to be) discontented, and
  2. That contentment is only one step (or change or purchase) away.”

These two things are at the heart of all marketing.  They try to make us believe that the only thing that stands between us and the girl or guy of our dreams is our toothpaste (as if all our other problems were already fixed!) – and that if we buy a certain brand of toothpaste, we’ll get that girl or guy and live “happily ever after.”  We may have jobs that we’re competent at and that we love, but the promise and allure of “more money” makes us discontent and leads us to jump ship into a position that will mean we sacrifice family time or values.  That one new car may seem like a siren calling your name – and if you had it, you just know you’d be forever happy. 

It’s all a pack of lies.  I don’t know how else to put it.  Doesn’t even your own experience and life tell you that such marketing drivel is not true?  The pursuit of such things, indeed of happiness in this world, is trivial pursuit.  The pursuit of the Kingdom of God bears everlasting dividends, and the promise of happiness and joy that is not made by marketers who have something to gain, but by God, who can’t gain a single thing from us.  How much better for us to seek first His Kingdom and Righteousness…and in due time, all that He has will be ours!

1 Timothy 6:6-10 (NIV) But godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.  But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.  People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

PRAYER: Father, we struggle to find contentment, thinking we can find it in all the wrong places and in all the wrong ways.  Teach us to be content with what we have in this world, but to never be content in how much we have of You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 8/7/17 – Even So Grace Might Reign

DayBreaks for 8/07/17: Even So Grace Might Reign

Romans 5:20-21: And the Law came in that the transgression might increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Where would we be without the book of Romans and its expounding grace to us? There is no greater treatise in print on the subject, of that I’m fairly confident. Without the book of Romans, I fear we’d be miserable people.

We all know the drill: no matter how hard we try, we cannot be perfect, no matter how much we might wish to be perfect. No matter how many times we promise God that “I’ll never do that again!”, we do. In fact, I suspect that our protestations of self-will and self-strength to be able to NOT do something is a virtual guarantee that we will. Just ask Peter and he’ll tell you that the very thing he said he would never do, well, he did it less than 24 hours.

In Romans 5, we’re told that the Law came so that transgressions might increase. What on earth does that mean? Did God give the law so we would sin more? Of course not! But, without the Law we wouldn’t have known what was sin and what wasn’t. So our awareness of sin increased, for sure. Transgressions also increased because humanity grew and became more populous and with each and every human born upon this planet, there was more sin (though that’s not the point of the writer of Romans).

But how pervasive was that sin? It was as pervasive as where its rule was best demonstrated: in death and dying. And how pervasive is that? Well, I don’t know about you, but I’d say it’s darn near 100%. In fact (and I don’t think I’m overstating this) I’d go further: it is 100%. That is how pervasive sin is.

Don’t despair, though, because we need to read the last phrase of the passage again: grace abounded all the more…even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life…

When he says “grace abounded all the more”, what does he mean? More than what? More than death! Why? Because it is grace that reigns to not temporal life, but eternal life in Christ Jesus.

The grace of God is something that we can’t really wrap our minds around. It’s too big for our puny minds. We must take by faith what Scripture says about it, though, we must not ever think that I have sinned too many times, too egregiously, too frequently and that God must be totally disgusted with me. That’s not what grace says. Grace teaches us that God loves us as His children – no matter what. He may at times be disappointed for us, but not with us. He expects childish behavior out of us – believe it or not. And while he may be disappointed that we must bear the consequences for our foolishness, he will still love us now and forever as His children. Grace reigns…because God reigns.

PRAYER: Father, I am so thankful for your grace that abounds even more than sin and the effects of sin! Thank you for always loving me as your precious children even when I am willful and self-centered. Let me love you more so as to hurt you less. In Jesus name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 8/02/17 – Defeating the Philistines

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DayBreaks for 8/02/17: Defeating the Philistines

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2007:

It doesn’t take much for me these days, to get incensed.  I just recently spent time talking with several people about the state of the world today.  We talked at some length about the madness that seems to have seized the headlines, if not the word itself, that believes that it is perfectly legitimate to blow up another human being (and the more the merrier), or to cut the heads off human beings in front of cameras for no reason than to strike terror into the minds of people around the world.  Sadly, all you need do is turn on the television or connect to the Internet and you’ll get what amounts to an hour-by-hour reporting of these kinds of atrocities. 

Why do such things happen?  I muse on the topic.  I can blame certain religions, that to my knowledge, seem to have no concept of grace.  I can blame the culture in which these people grew up and were educated.  I could blame the press, I could blame their parents.  But I think the real answer is that in such people, we are seeing the unregenerate nature of mankind at its most exposed.  We are seeing human nature without any of the restraining influence of the Holy Spirit.  It’s not a flattering portrait of our species.

What do we do to defeat such Philistines?  Mark Buchanan, in Hidden in Plain Sight reminds us: “…the Spirit of God is a living Person, an equal part of the Triune God, who desires to fill us and guide us and teach us and comfort us and counsel us, and to help us bear much fruit.  But he’s humble and gentle, the Spirit, and needs inviting.  And though the Spirit loves to anoint us for ministry in order to make us God-like in strength, even more he desires to fill us for daily living in order to make us Christlike in humility.  More than endowing us with the might to slay the Philistines out there, the Spirit wants to strengthen us with grace to slay the Philistine in here.

Each and every one of us want to believe the best about ourselves, don’t we?  That we are good, at least basically good, that we don’t torture cats and dogs and that we’d never abuse women or children.  We want to believe that while others act like Philistines, that we would never act that way. 

I think we should probably re-evaluate ourselves if we think that way.  I doubt that the people who held the feet of Jesus, or who swung the hammer to drive the nails home, would have ever felt that they would be so vile as to kill the Son of God.  Paul certainly couldn’t see that he was putting God’s beloved children to death until the bright light struck him on the Damascus road and revealed the truth about his own nature and deeds. 

It’s easy to get down on the Philistines “out there” or “over there.”  It’s easy to think that they need to change.  And they do.  We should pray that they will be touched with the love of Christ and empowered to live by the Spirit.  But we need to fight the Philistines that live in the darkened recesses of our lives lest we become like those we would decry in the name of all that his holy and just. 

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (NIV) – Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.  Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.  Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air.  No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize

PRAYER:  Jesus, teach us to search our hearts and realize the depth of our deceitfulness and unrighteousness.  Help us to understand that without the power of Your Spirit, there would be nothing to set us apart from the most depraved person on the face of this earth.  Thank You for the privilege that we have of knowing You and help us understand how precious that gift is!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 7/27/17 – The Intimate Dance of Faith and Hope

DayBreaks for 7/27/17: The Intimate Dance of Hope and Faith

Preface: I’ve recently started reading Jurgen Moltmann’s Theology of Hope, and thus far I’ve found it to be a fascinating book.  Be on the lookout for numerous DayBreaks based on this work in the future.  

Christian hope has been the target of nay-sayers for a long, long time.  Some criticize the Christian hope as causing us as believers to live in a never-never land of make believe, as if we were children who hope for a cotton candy but who haven’t yet been told that the machine is broken and there will be none – not for good or bad little boys or girls.  And as a result, we’re considered foolish for hoping in something that those who don’t believe think doesn’t even exist. 

Others attack the idea and principle of Christian hope from a different angle: they say that it distracts us from the present realities, causing us to be disconnected from the only life that we shall ever possess and the urgent needs of the present world.  If all we Christians are good for, the thought goes, is being distressed in this world and focused on a future world where things are infinitely better, we won’t spend much time trying to make this place better.  Instead, we’d write it off as a colossal loss as we live in hope of something better. 

Of course, Moltmann would not agree with either of those two propositions.  In his introduction, he reveals some insights into the intricate relationship of faith and hope that help me understand it a bit better.  I’ll share some of those with you in the next few days.  For example: “Hope is nothing else than the expectation of those things which faith has believed to have been truly promised by God.  Thus, faith believes God to be true, hope awaits the time when this truth shall be manifested; faith believes that he is our Father, hope anticipates that he will ever show himself to be a Father toward us; faith believes that eternal life has been given to us, hope anticipates that it will in some time be revealed; faith is the foundation upon which hope rests, hope nourishes and sustains faith.”

“Thus in the Christian life faith has the priority, but hope the primacy.  Without faith’s knowledge of Christ, hope becomes a utopia and remains hanging in the air.  But without hope, faith falls to pieces, becomes a faint-hearted and ultimately a dead faith.  It is through faith that man finds the path of true life, but it is only hope that keeps him on that path.”

To put it in my meager terms, hope is what gives faith its wings, it’s feet.  Just because we believe God is true and will be so, it is the hope that someday that truth will be shown and recognized by everyone – even His enemies.  Through faith we accept that we are his “offspring” and our Father, it is hope that allows us to call Him the kind of Father that we can proclaim as “Abba” – a good, loving Father who will forever be so.

Hope and faith are joined at the hip.  Faith without hope would be interesting, but not very uplifting or encouraging.  Hope without faith is virtually a non-sequitur and a childish dream. 

In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul speaks of an unlikely trinity – certainly not one that an earth-bound mind would conjure up: Then abide these three: faith, hope and love…and the greatest of these is love.  Paul was speaking about what remains in this world I believe, and not in the one we hope for, because once that world is realized, there will be no more need for hope nor for that matter, faith.  We will see the object of our faith and walking by faith will be no more.  And, once we are in full possession of the heavenly blessings, what more is there to hope for beyond that ecstasy?  Nothing.  But love will remain – and it will remain throughout all eternity.  That shouldn’t cause us to relegate faith and hope to a backseat in our present walk, but it should enhance our appreciation of the necessity of both until they fulfill their purpose and deliver us to heaven’s portal.

Romans 5:4-5 (NLT) – And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation.  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.

PRAYER:  Lord God Almighty, we thank You for the twin blessings of faith and hope.  Thank You for opening our eyes through faith to Your existence and for the hope that it gives us that our lives are not meaningless, but that we are destined for better things and that our hope will not disappoint us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 7/25/17 – The Wheat, the Tares – and the Line Through the Heart

DayBreaks for 7/25/17: The Wheat, the Tares, and the Line Through the Heart

Matthew 13:24-30 (NLT) – Here is another story Jesus told: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field. But that night as the workers slept, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat, then slipped away. When the crop began to grow and produce grain, the weeds also grew. “The farmer’s workers went to him and said, ‘Sir, the field where you planted that good seed is full of weeds! Where did they come from?’ “‘An enemy has done this!’ the farmer exclaimed. “‘Should we pull out the weeds?’ they asked. “‘No,’ he replied, ‘you’ll uproot the wheat if you do. Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn.’”

Jesus’ parable about the wheat and tares seems strange. In that parable, the lesson is not to try separate the wheat and tares. In due time, they will be separate by the Judge of all. So, why wouldn’t Jesus want us to go out there are start sorting it all out? I think there are obvious reasons: what we think is a “tare” may in fact be wheat in its early stages. How many of us would have seen Saul of Tarsus (a believer in God, even before his conversion, no doubt) as wheat instead of a tare?

One preacher asked the people at his church to imagine what would happen if they adopted a policy of weed-pulling, drawing a circle around their little town and making a vow that no evil would cross that line, that no weeds would grow within that border. He told them, “You know, you and I could spend the rest of our lives protecting that boundary, standing shoulder to shoulder with pitchforks and clubs, making sure that we kept drugs and alcohol and pornography and gambling safely on the other side. I think it would take all of our energy and most of our time. But what if we did it? What if we succeeded? What would we have? We would have a town characterized by the absence of evil, which is not the same as a town characterized by the presence of good. And maybe this is what Jesus was talking about all along, that it’s better to have a wheat field with weeds in it than a field with nothing in it at all.”
When that church in North Carolina later began a ministry to the children of a nearby trailer park, they had to decide what kind of ministry it would be. They could have chosen to root out all the sources of evil in that place-to chase down the drug dealers and the deadbeat dads, to confiscate handguns and arrest child abusers. Instead, they chose to put up a basketball goal, to tell stories from the Bible, to put their arms around little children, and sing songs about Jesus. And two years after they started that ministry, two years of going out there Saturday after Saturday to do those things, the pastor got a note in his box at church with five words on it: “Adrian wants to be baptized.” Adrian. The terror of the trailer park. That little girl who had made their work most difficult during the previous two years. Who would have guessed?
Instead of pulling weeds in the field where she lived, they just tried hard to BE  wheat themselves, and somehow Adrian saw that and fell in love with it and wanted it for herself. After she was baptized, there was a little more wheat in the field. And because she was there, soon, there was even more.

I know far too many Christians who continually want to cull the field, making decisions on the basis of assumed or real belief, behaviors, attitudes, speech, political stances, etc. One pastor’s wife looked back into her genealogy and traced it back over 500 years. In the process, they that she had a relative who was burned at the stake in Switzerland. Why? Because he had a different understanding of baptism than those who tied him to the stake, that’s why. They weeded him out. Then they burned him up.
As for me, I don’t always know whether I am weed or wheat. I believe it was Alexander Solzhenitsyn who said: If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. That includes my heart and it includes yours, too. For all I know, I may even be the weed in somebody else’s garden. Perhaps in your garden.

If Jesus was content to let the weeds be, why shouldn’t I? He’ll sort it out when the time is right for he is far better qualified to do so than any human.

PRAYER: Forgive me for thinking my answers are all the right ones, that I am in any way qualified to separate the wheat from the tares! Let humility rise within us, Lord, and let us just get about the business of being wheat and not something else that is deceitful. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 7/24/17 – Enough, but not Enough

DayBreaks for 7/24/17: Enough…but Not Enough

I have never seen him, but today the preacher was talking about an insight by a comedian named Louis C.K. Apparently the comedian had gotten onto a plane to fly somewhere and the people next to him were complaining about the fact that they’d had a three-hour layover before the flight between the American coasts. Louis found himself a bit incredulous that the people could be complaining about that three-hour layover when in 4.5 hours they’d have traveled from Los Angeles to New York. He thought about how amazing it is that we can fly through the air like a bird, inside of a huge machine that is so heavy that it should never get off the ground, and that journey could be completed in about five hours – something that used to take between 4 to 6 months on a horse. And yet, they were grumbling about it. As Louis C.K. put it: It’s amazing, but it is never enough.

Have you ever grumbled about a layover or delay? Why is it that we grumble and complain so much? Perhaps it is because we, too, have forgotten the wonder of the situation in which we find ourselves.

Ephesians 2:1 says, Once you were dead because of your disobedience and many sins. (NLT) It’s important to get the reality of that verse firmly rooted into our minds – both conscious and unconscious. Paul says you were dead…not that you were sick, were injured, or even that you were dying, but that you WERE dead. It was a fait accompli. It wasn’t a potential possibility, it was accomplished fact.

But he goes on: Ephesians 2:4-5 (NLT) – But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)

The point was simple enough. We grumble and complain because we forget the wonder of the work of Christ on the cross and the grace that has been extended to us. The Israelites grumbled and complained when they took their eyes off the grace of God that pulled them out of Egyptian slavery.

Grumbling and complaining is never pretty. Grace is beautiful. As the preacher put it today: In the presence of grace, grumbling ceases.

PRAYER: God, let me live consciously in the constant presence of grace that I may never again be a grumbler. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>