DayBreaks for 8/17/18 – The Hummingbird and the Vulture

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DayBreaks for 8/17/18: The Hummingbird and the Vulture

There are two birds that fly over our nation’s deserts: one is the hummingbird and the other is the vulture. The vultures find the rotting meat of the desert, because that is what they look for. They thrive on that diet. But hummingbirds ignore the smelly flesh of dead animals. Instead, they look for the colorful blossoms of desert plants. The vultures live on what was. They live on the past. They fill themselves with what is dead and gone. But hummingbirds live on what is. They seek new life. They fill themselves with freshness and life. Each bird finds what it is looking for. We all do.

That is the essence of Paul’s teaching: In life, there are two birds. The one bird looks for foolishness and stupidity, the other looks for wisdom. The vultures seek to fill themselves with the rotting flesh of drunkenness and debauchery, the hummingbird sobriety, freshness, and the Spirit. In the desert of this world you have your scavengers who are angry and ungrateful, but you also have those who hum a grateful hymn of thanksgiving. The irony is that you find what you are looking for.

In the fifth chapter of Ephesians Paul outlines proper behavior for good living. In this short passage he admonishes his readers to be careful how they live. He is brief and to the point. Three things we must do: be wise, be sober, and be thankful. It’s a short list but if we can orient our daily lives around these three-be wise, be sober, be thankful-we will transform not only our lives but also the lives of our family, friends, church, and neighbors.

PRAYER: Father, help us choose the things that are beautiful to you and that lead to life! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

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DayBreaks for 8/15/18 – Singleness of Heart

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DayBreaks for 8/15/18: Singleness of Heart

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

Every so often it seems that an individual, or group of people (even as large as a nation at times), gets it into their head to do something and they are driven to do it.  Such was the case with Kennedy’s challenge to put men on the moon by the end of the ‘60’s.  If some of our politicians who are running for office today are to be believed, we can do all sorts of things if we just decide to do it. 

I’m not quite as convinced.  While the elimination of hunger and poverty are good and worthy goals and we all should work as hard as we can towards those ends, Jesus himself said that “the poor will always be with you.”  And how about eliminating war?  Scripture says that in the end times there will be wars and rumors of wars.  How I wish it were not the case, but it is. 

Still, it is fascinating to read of wholehearted human endeavor—amazing stories of total dedication and commitment to a cause or purpose.  For example, the U.S. Marines have a super secret sniper program that is run out of Quantico, Virginia.  The sniper school admits 25 people for an eight-week course consisting of 16-hour days of training and practice.  Very few who enter the program will pass.  To graduate, each must go on a mock mission into a well-defined area where instructors search for the sniper.  If they can find him, they can fail him.

To get within range of the target, the sniper may have to move forward at a rate of only one inch per hour.  They may sit or lay in position for days – absolutely still, despite cold, rain, insect bites, and fear.  No one gets out of the Marine Corps sniper school without singleness of heart.

We expect that kind of intensity from Olympic champions, concert pianists, neurosurgeons and everyone else at the highest levels of human achievement.  Somehow, we’ve gotten it into our head that since our God is a very loving and forgiving God (very true) who wants no one to be lost (also very true!), that we can have a lukewarm commitment and dedication to Him.  Not so.  God expects single-mindedness and complete dedication when we come back to Him.  God deserves such singleness of heart because He is God! 

Sadly, many intend to come back to God—sometime.  But they may well fail because their intention never becomes intense.

How committed to living as godly of a life as possible are you?  What can you offer as proof and evidence of that kind of single-hearted dedication?

Jeremiah 29:13-14 – You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.

PRAYER: Our hearts and minds are so easily distracted, Lord!  Help us to have single vision – and to focus that vision on the cross!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 8/14/18 – Where the Fire has Been

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DayBreaks for 8/14/18: Where the Fire Has Been

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

One of the great threats in California this year (and almost every year) has been wild fires.  Surely, you’ve heard or read stories about it in the news.  There was a strange night of lightning storms that swept California a while back, and over 800 fires were running amok around the state.  Even to this date, some are still burning. 

Wild fires are nothing new.  Back in the days of the pioneers, there were times when the owners of a log hut would look contentedly out over the miles and miles of swaying, tall grass when they would catch a glimpse of a dark cloud out on the far distant horizon.  As they watched it over a period of time, they could see that behind the apparent cloud was a fierce, fiery glare.  Although it was still a long way off, there could be no doubt about what it was – the prairie is on fire and the winds were driving it straight toward the settlers.

Driven by the wind, the fire would approach at speeds of fifteen miles per hour or more.  What could they possibly do to stop it?  Nothing, absolutely nothing.  There were no flying bombers that could drop tons of flame retardant chemicals, no helicopters that could chopper off to the nearest water hole and fill a huge bucket with water that could be dropped on the fire.  It was true that wise pioneers build a firebreak around their little settlements, but such fire breaks were only effective for an ordinary grass fire, but not for any kind of safety from a massive wild fire sweeping across miles and miles of grassy plain. 

Men and animals with terror–stricken eyes would flee from the onrushing cataclysm for their lives.  No time for thinking was left.  What can be done?  Was there to be no escape, no deliverance?  Would all inevitably perish?

There was one—and only one—hope of escape.  What is it?  How is it accomplished?  It involved the very element (fire) that was pursuing them and threatening them!  If the pioneers struck a match and lit the grass at their feet, the new fire, blown by the wind, would move ahead of them as if fleeing from the oncoming torment itself.  This new fire would burn the prairie ahead of the fleeing pioneers, consuming all before it, leaving the ground, blackened and bare.  As soon as a patch of the prairie was burned, the men and animals could then pass onto the scorched ground into a zone of safety.  Why were they safe?  Because there was nothing left to consume!  The fire started by the pioneers had already burned over the place once, leaving nothing for the approaching flames to burn when they arrived!  The pioneers were then safe and secure from the devouring fire which now raged around them but which could not touch them itself! 

Because of our sins, the fires of hell sweep towards us, seeking to consume and burn us until we are dead.  But, as believers, we can do something about it: we can so burn the knowledge of the Word of God into our lives that the flames of the outside world and hell itself will have no influence!

1 Jn 2:15-17 (NIV) – Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world — the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does — comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.

PRAYER: Thank You for the Word, the Life, that has prepared a safe place for us where we can be secure from the fire to come!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 8/13/18 – God’s Autopsy

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DayBreaks for 8/13/18: God’s Autopsy

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

From FOX News, 8/7/08: “An Indian man who was knocked unconscious during a stampede of thousands of religious pilgrims on a steep Himalayan mountain path woke up as doctors were preparing to perform his autopsy, the Times of India reported.

“Mange Ram, 19, lost consciousness in the stampede that killed 150 people and was triggered by rumors of a landslide leading to a Hindu temple devoted to the goddess Naina Devi.

“Ram awoke in the hospital morgue Sunday in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh.

“When I woke up, I was in the middle of a row of bodies waiting for post mortem,” he told the Times. “My throat was parched and I asked for water. Towering over me the doctors and nursing staff at Anandpur Sahib Civil Hospital looked dazed. They must have been surprised to see a dead man come alive like that.”

“Sat Pal Aggarwal, a doctor on the pilgrimage, said little was done to see if victims of the stampede were still alive.  “People were dumped quite haphazardly into trucks without following any procedure or checking if they were alive,” he told the Times.

“Despite the huge loss of life, the pilgrimage continued only hours after the corpses had been cleared, according to the newspaper.”

Stories about people being prematurely thought dead and then buried alive give me the shivers.  It apparently happened to my great-great grandmother when she was coming across the plains in a covered wagon.  Creepy.  It is the stuff of nightmares.

Part of what makes such stories so scary is that we know we will all one day die.  Here in California, autopsies are mandated in nearly every case.  The purpose of an autopsy, of course, is to determine the cause of death – and to rule out foul play. 

We will die, and then comes a “judgment”, a pronouncement if you will, of the cause of our death.  That’s the easy part: sin is the reason we die (Romans 5:12.)  God already knows the cause of our death.  What God will inspect us for is to see whether or not we’ve had the cure for sin applied to our lives.

One other thing we can be certain of: when God checks us over and performs His autopsy on our spirits, He will make no mistakes – He will not think we were dead but were instead alive.  On the flip side, there may be many who think they are “alive”, only to be found out to truly be “dead”.  It happened to the church at Sardis: (Rev. 3:1) – These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead.

For the time being, there’s good news: as long as our souls are attached to our bodies, we can still “Wake up!” as God told the church at Sardis.  God not only is the examiner, but the healer: Col. 2:13 – When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ.

If God performed your spiritual autopsy today, would He find you dead, or alive?     

PRAYER: God, keep us from self-delusion and from drawing false conclusions about the state of our spiritual health!  May we wake up in time to the true nature of our hearts and hasten to the Great Physician for the healing we so desperately need!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 8/10/18 – Listening to the Explosion?

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DayBreaks for 8/10/18: Listening to the Explosion?

Listen to this statistic: knowledge is exploding at such a rate – more than 2000 pages a minute–that even Einstein couldn’t keep up. In fact, if you read at a normal reading rate for 24 hours a day, from age 21 to 70, and retained all you read, you would be one and a half million years behind when you finished. (Campus Life)

An amazing statistic, isn’t it? Now for a real shocker: when do you suppose that statistic was compiled? It may alarm you that these statistics do not take into account the Internet – not at all! They do not even take into account the personal computer. And, why not? It is because the statistics are from 1979.

One source I consulted said that the sum of human knowledge is doubling every 12 hours! Think about that for a minute. Think about what you were doing yesterday afternoon, just 12 hours ago. Think about how much knowledge and information there was since the beginning of time until that time just 12 hours ago. And now for something really depressing (especially if you are trying to stay on top of what’s happening in your work/school, let alone in the world as a whole): while you were sleeping overnight the amount of knowledge you need to learn to just keep up doubled. What are we to do? How can we feel grounded, rooted?

We can’t know it all, nor should we expect to. But it is crucial that we learn not the glut of information that is screaming down towards us on the information super highway, but that we learn something that will sustain us for the days to come, even for eternity. In the words of Jesus, the Prophets from of old proclaimed: It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me. (John 6:45, NIV) What God’s word teaches us is timeless and need not change, grow or expand. But are we so busy trying to stay relevant with human knowledge that we are no longer listening to God?

Daniel 12:1-4 (NIV) – At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people–everyone whose name is found written in the book–will be delivered. Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. 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. But you, Daniel, close up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge.

PRAYER: Guard our hearts and minds by Your Word and Spirit, Lord! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 8/7/18 – Words Are Loaded Pistols

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DayBreaks for 8/07/18: Words Are Loaded Pistols

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

Have you been described as a person of many words?  Most of us are more afflicted with the running-off-at-the-mouth disease than closed-mouth disease.  We like to hear ourselves talk, probably because we think we have something worth saying.  Sometimes that is true, but sometimes, perhaps most often, it’s a delusion. 

Did you know that on October 14, 1912, the life of outspoken and energetic presidential candidate, Theodore Roosevelt was saved by his many words? 

Roosevelt had just completed one term as our nation’s president, and was reapplying with the voters for the job.  As he left his hotel in Milwaukee on that particular day, he stuffed his thick, wordy campaign speech in his breast pocket.  He was soon confronted by a gun-toting bartender who fired at rough-and-tumble Teddy, hoping that Roosevelt would suffer the same fate as his predecessor, President McKinley, who’d been assassinated.  The bullet did crack one of Roosevelt’s ribs, but the thickness of his speech probably saved him from death as the bullet struck the large sheaf of paper that he’d put into his pocket shortly before.

While many words were life-saving in this one incident, generally the more words you spit out, the more trouble you bring on your own head.  Jean Paul Sartre once wisely observed, “Words are loaded pistols.”  Now, just in case you don’t like what Sartre had to say on the topic, your Creator dispensed this sage perspective: When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise. (Prov. 10:19, NIV).

“Words are loaded pistols.” Indeed they are. They can protect and defend, but they can also maim and kill.

Words—choose them carefully.  Spend them carefully.  And make sure you err on the side of saying too little rather than too much.  Your life might be at stake.

Matthew 12:36-37 (NIV) – But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.

PRAYER:  Help us Lord, to be people of few words.  May the words we speak be Your Words, not ours!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 8/06/18 – A Painful, Unasked Question

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DayBreaks for 8/06/18: A Painful, Unasked Question

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

1 Peter 3:15a (NIV) – But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have…

I must admit that I’m troubled.  I have been forced to look more closely into the mirror lately, and I am distressed by what I see.  I’m not talking about gray hair and wrinkly skin.  I’m talking about myself – the real me that hides somewhere inside this “fleshly tent” as Scripture so aptly put it.

I like to think of myself as a fairly upbeat, hopeful, cheerful and fun-loving person.  Who doesn’t want to think of themselves in those terms?  Have you ever known anyone who had a goal in life to be downcast, hopeless about everything, sad and determined to remain miserable all their life?  I don’t know anyone who set out with those life goals and I doubt that you do either.  I know some people who seem to have many of those negative characteristics much of the time – but it was never their great desire to be that way.  Somehow, life beat the tar out of them (or so is their perception of what life has done to them) and they are just that way now.  It is really sad.

But here’s what’s really bothering me: Peter seems to suggest that people will ask me (and you if you are a believer) about the hope that they see and observe in us, in our lives.  Here’s the painful question-that-never-is-asked: Why has no one asked me about the hope in me?  When is the last time someone actually came up to you and said, “Wow.  I don’t know what it is that makes you so positive, hopeful and upbeat.  What is it?  Can you tell me?”  Have you EVER had anyone ask you that question?  I don’t know that I have – and that really bothers me because it is contrary to the image I want to hold of myself. 

Could it be that we don’t know what it is to have hope?  Have we as believers surrendered our hope to the malaise and discontent and despair that flows through our world like a mighty ocean?  Or, if we do have hope, why is it not visible, why is it not causing people to ask the question that Peter alluded to?  Somehow, I believe Peter WAS asked that question, and I’ll bet he had the answer ready.

Will you join me in a pact to be more hopeful?  To let your hope show like brilliant rays of sunlight through the tall trees of despair?  It’s time that people asked us the question: “Why are you so hopeful?”

PRAYER:  Oh, Lord, I am deeply distressed that no one asks me the question!  Reveal to us, Lord, where our hearts and hope needs to change so that people feel that they can’t NOT ask us about our hope.  Fill us with undying hope for we have an undying future!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.