DayBreaks for 11/30/17 – The Value of Opposition

Image result for flying kites

DayBreaks for 11/30/17: The Value of Opposition

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

I enjoy watching kites fly.  I especially enjoy watching either little children fly a kite and squeal with delight, or in watching experts who really know what they’re doing fly exotic and beautiful creations.  The colors, the shapes, the fun of using the wind to fly – it’s great stuff!  Multicolored creations of varying shapes and sizes fill the skies like beautiful birds darting and dancing in the heady atmosphere above the earth.  As the strong winds gusted against the kites, a string keeps them in check.

Instead of blowing away, they rise against the wind to achieve great heights.  They shake and pull, but the restraining string and the cumbersome tail keep them in tow, facing upward and against the wind.  As the kites struggle and tremble against the string, they seem to say, “Let me go!  Let me go!  I want to be free!”  They soar beautifully even as they fight the imposed restriction of the string.  Sometimes, one of the kites will succeed in breaking loose.  “Free at last!’ it seems to say.  “Free to fly with the wind.”

Yet freedom from restraint simply puts it at the mercy of an unsympathetic breeze.  It’ll flutter ungracefully, sometimes in a death-spiral, to the ground where it lands in a tangled mass of weeds and string against a dead bush.  “Free at last” – free to lie powerless in the dirt, to be blown helplessly along the ground, and to lodge lifeless against the first obstruction. 

How much like kites we sometimes are!  The Lord gives us adversity and restrictions, rules to follow from which we can fly and gain strength.  And how we fight against those restraints!  We would like to cast them off like a heavy coat on a blazingly hot summer day!

Restraint, however, is a necessary counterpart to the winds of opposition.  Some of us will tug at the rules so hard that we never soar to reach the heights we might have otherwise obtained.  We keep part of the commandment and (pardon the pun) never rise high enough to get our tails off the ground.

Let us each rise to the great heights our Heavenly Father has in store for us, recognizing that some of the restraints that we may chafe under are actually the steadying force that helps us ascend and achieve.  Without those restraints, we cannot truly fly.

Romans 3:18: – They have no fear of God to restrain them.

PRAYER:  Teach us to love Your commandments and precepts, and to see them as blessings that give us the ability to soar rather than weights to hold us down.  Let us fly with Your Spirit through the winds of obedience!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 10/30/17 – Moving Boundary Stones

Image result for boundary stones

DayBreaks for 10/30/17: Moving Boundary Stones

From the DayBreaks archives:

Long ago, Israel had settled into the promised land and grew fat and content. Well, not quite. Some were content, but others were ambitious. They wanted more and more land for themselves – at the expense of their brethren. How did they solve the problem? Hosea tells us how some did it, in Hosea 5:10: “Judah’s leaders are like those who move boundary stones. I will pour out my wrath on them like a flood of water.”

As you can tell from the passage, their actions did not please God. He hates injustice and greed. Many had become corrupt. Why didn’t God just ignore it and pretend it didn’t happen? Because when leaders go wrong, it isn’t long before the masses go wrong.

I was fortunate enough to attend my youngest son’s college graduation last June at Stanford. The guest speaker was Ted Koppel, the guy from ABC. I have to tell you that I was very impressed with the challenge that he gave the students. He’d been invited by the president of the university, Gerhard Caspar, to talk on “that mess in Washington” and Caspar’s concern about intrusion into the privacy of the President. Caspar got more than he bargained for. Koppel, rather than sharing Caspar’s concern over “privacy”, delivered a very eloquent and impassioned plea for a return to morality. His words were powerful, but perhaps no more powerful than in this statement as the ending summary of his speech: “Aspire to decency. Practice civility toward one another. Admire and emulate ethical behavior wherever you find it. Apply a rigid standard of morality to your lives; and if, periodically, you fail ­as you surely will ­adjust your lives, not the standards.”

We have a tendency to explain away our own improper behavior by “changing the rules”. Changing the rules is “moving the boundary stones” – deciding that the old limits no longer apply and then redefining them to meet out wishes. Koppel’s advice is right on: when we fail morally, “as you surely will – adjust your lives, not the standards.”

When we fail, don’t try to disavow God’s law by saying His standard has become old and outdated – a relic of an ancient age long gone by. God’s law is unchanging. We dare not move the boundary stones for our own benefit!

PRAYER:  Lord, help us to faithfully observe the boundaries that You have set in place, may we glorify You by our obedience.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 9/15/17 – Your Garden of Gethsemane

DayBreaks for 9/15/17: Your Garden of Gethsemane

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/2007:

Have you ever stopped to think how many decisions you will make in any given day?  We make decisions all the time without even thinking about it.  When we think of decisions, we tend to think of the weightier matters of life – and that’s a good thing.  Weighty matters deserve lots of thought as we try to decide what to do.  Hopefully, if you are a Christian, the very first thing you contemplate is whether or not the thing you are doing is in God’s will.  Regardless of whatever other factors you choose to apply to decisions you are facing and making, that one should be the most prominent. 

How do you know His will?  I’m not going to try to provide an exhaustive list here, but certainly His revealed and written Word is our primary tool for discerning his will.  If we cavalierly throw that out the window, we have no solid basis for a decision.  God expects us to follow the Word when we are facing decisions.  That means we have to accept it as truth, not try to explain it away or rationalize why it doesn’t apply to us.

One of my favorite stories about the life of Jesus has to do with his night in the garden of Gethsemane, my favorite place in the Holy Land.  I am moved by that story – even more, I think, that by the story of the crucifixion itself.  Physical pain is one thing, but spiritual pain can be far worse.  It was in the garden that we’re told Jesus was in agony – not on the cross.  (I’m not minimizing what happened upon those old timbers – I am sure there was incredible agony there, too.)  It was in the garden that he wrestled with both flesh and blood and principalities and powers in the heavenly places.  Why?  Because in the garden he was faced with the decision that would form the crux of his life.  It all culminated there, in the shadows of the olive trees, as the Son of God knelt down in the dirt and made the most crucial decision in all of history: would he do things his way, or God’s way?

There are times and decisions in our lives that are seemingly insignificant (although I’d like to argue that one with you – notice I said “seemingly insignificant”), but then there are moments that clearly rise into the stratosphere in terms of importance.  At those times we are faced with our own garden of Gethsemane.  We must decide whether our prayer will be, “Nevertheless, my will not Thine be done,” or if we’ll echo Jesus’ words: “Nevertheless, not my will but Thine be done.” 

You may be wrestling with a decision today that has life-altering potential, that once made may not be able to be undone ever.  Have you considered what God’s Word would say about it?  If you know how God feels about it, what will you do about it?  You may be facing your own garden of Gethsemane right now.  What will your prayer be?

PRAYER:  Spirit, help us not to fail the test in moments of crisis.  Strip away Satan’s deceptions from our eyes so that we can see what is at stake in the decisions of life!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/12/17 – Busted Snakes and Clutter

DayBreaks for 7/12/17: Busted Snakes and Clutter

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2007:

Hezekiah was a man of God.  He’s not one of the better-known characters in the Scripture.  Maybe you don’t even know who he was.  Let me update you if your memory, like mine, is a bit faded these days.  Hezekiah was one of Israel’s kings, and he was a good one.  2 Kings 18:3 says that Hezekiah did what was right in the Lord’s sight.  That’s pretty high praise.  The people had been led into idolatry, but Hezekiah brought them back into God’s pathways once again.  He tore down the Asherah poles that were used in idolatrous worship.  He broke up the altars that had been used for sacrifices to false gods.  As Thom Rainer puts it in Simple Church: He took out the godless clutter that had been competing for the attention and the affection of the people.

But he did more than tear down the Asherah poles and altars.  He did something that would have been considered unthinkable by many of the Israelites.  Do you remember that during the wilderness wanderings, the Lord had sent a plague of snakes into the camp because of the people’s sin?  At that time, Moses was instructed to fashion a bronze serpent and put it up on a pole so that the people who had been bitten could lift their eyes in faith to the serpent on the pole and be saved from death.  It’s a fascinating story, all by itself.  What you may not have remembered or realized is that when Hezekiah got busy with his housecleaning, with removing the clutter from the spiritual life of the nation of Israel, one of the things he did was to break the bronze snake that Moses had made. 

Hezekiah didn’t pretend that he’d dropped the snake and it broke by accident.  He intentionally and purposefully broke it.  Bear in mind that this snake had been in the possession of Israel for hundreds of years.  It would have been a relic.  It had been actually touched by Moses, and it had been made at the express command of the Lord Almighty Himself. 

It took nerve for Hezekiah to bust up that snake.  Why did he do it?  Because it had become clutter.  As amazing as it was – and as fascinating as it must have been to have seen something hundreds of years old that Moses had made himself – it had become clutter because people revered it.  It had become an object of adoration.  It took the attention of people away from the True and Living God.

What’s the point?  Good things can become bad things if we pay them undue attention.  The image of the snake was never meant to be worshiped.  It was meant to be a tool to draw people to worship Jehovah.  But that which was good became bad because people worshiped the image instead.  Can you imagine how the people must have reacted to hearing that their king had destroyed the serpent made by the hand of Moses?!?!  Talk about an unpopular thing to do!

Change is hard.  Change can be very unpopular.  Yet change can also be absolutely vital. 

It’s scary how easily good things can become bad.  It calls for deep introspection.  Is there something that was once good which I have unduly exalted in my mind or heart? 

Break the snakes in your life.  Get rid of the clutter.  Let’s get back to what it’s all about.  It’s not about people’s favorite images or programs or how they think things should be done.  It’s about God and His glory and a proper worship of His Person.

PRAYER:  Open our eyes, Father, that we may see where we are either guilty of, or in danger of, taking something holy and worshipping it instead of You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/06/17 – Caleb and Courageous Conviction, #4

DayBreaks for 7/06/17: Caleb and Courageous Conviction, #4

Our visit with Caleb comes to an end today, but there are a few more reflections I’d like to share.

Where does Caleb want as his inheritance? The hill country. That shouldn’t surprise most of us as we all love the hills and beauty of the mountains. But I don’t really think that’s why Caleb longed for this territory. Yes, he’d seen it before and gave a glowing report of the area 45 years or so earlier. He’d not forgotten what he’d seen there – and he longed to see it again. It had captured his heart and mind for four-and-one-half decades. But I think there are possibly deeper reasons for Caleb’s desire for this place.

But first, think about it for a minute. Caleb was 85 – get that and let it settle in – eighty-five years old! In order to take that hill country, what must you do?

FIRST: you must overcome the fear of the giants, the descendants of Anak, who lived there. Those very people had terrified the 10 spies 45 years ago and no one had yet routed them from their land. Yet Caleb wasn’t afraid. Why? The rest of the world looked at the giants there and said, “No way! We’d be slaughtered!” The Israelites looked at one another and said, “We’re like grasshoppers in their eyes!” Caleb looked at them and said, “They’re nothing compared to God!” It all depends on our focus, doesn’t it?

SECONDLY: to take hill country, you must attack uphill – and that, my friends, is the recipe for a military disaster. Yet Caleb’s 85-year-old heart and legs were crying out for just one more challenge – one more charge against the greatest of odds. He didn’t want to settle down in the lowlands and live a life of ease! He wasn’t afraid of the giants at the top nor discouraged by the steep slopes. As far as he was concerned, the victory was already won because God has promised it! He wanted one more adventure with God before he was finished. How hungry are you for adventures with Him?

So why did Caleb want this land? This is conjecture, but again, I think there were several reasons:

I think when he first saw it, he fell in love with the place. Who wouldn’t, after 400 years of slavery in Egypt and the hot burning sands of the Egyptian desert! Here was lush green, fertile land and beauty.

But I think there were far more significant reasons he may have wanted the hill country. I think he wanted the younger generations to learn something from the impending victory over the hill people giants. He wanted them to see and understand that nothing is ever impossible for those who have God’s promises in hand. They’d heard stories of the giants that terrified their parents and grandparents leading to the wilderness wandering. And here was an 85-year-old man with enough courage to take them on..uphill. This generation needed to learn from the older generation. And the younger generations today need to learn from us who are older. But that puts the onus on us, doesn’t it? What kind of example are we setting for them? Are we just getting old and long in the tooth and therefore we have quit attacking hills and giants when the Lord has said we should charge up the hill? Are we content now to settle into a pew and snooze quietly into the sunset? Our giants today are cultural and moral giants, but they can be defeated as surely as Anak’s descendants. No matter how old you are, you can still teach those who are younger about God’s faithfulness and goodness, about how He rewards the courageous who step out on His promises boldly with attack uphill, even in their old age. There is great power in an enduring witness of a life lived well to the end!

There’s an interesting historical note here. Many years after Caleb died, the hill country was still in the possession of his descendants. And finally, a young shepherd king rose to the throne of Israel and put his first capital in Hebron for a number of years. This was the land Caleb had conquered! Why did David choose Hebron? It was partly because of Caleb’s actions around 400 years earlier – it was conquered and secured territory. Jerusalem was not. Why? Because the hearts of the Israelites had grown faint again after coming into the Promised Land and they’d failed to remove the inhabitants of the Jerusalem area. It fell to David to take possession of what would become the new capital, Jerusalem.

One final thought before we say goodbye to Caleb for now. I was reading about endurance runners in Sports Illustrated and one of them made this comment (paraphrased): Endurance isn’t so much a matter of the legs – it is a matter of the heart and the mind.

Let us not think about the age of our limbs or the decades of our service to Christ, but rather about how we can finish well, like Caleb; of our how hearts can rise to a new challenge even now and how we can bless the younger generations as we do.

I don’t know about you, but I sure am looking forward to meeting Caleb who surely must be one of the most neglected heroes in the Bible!

PRAYER: Oh, God, how amazingly wonderful you are! Thank you for such a shining example that Caleb has set before us! Give us hearts and minds to rise to the challenge for as long as we live! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/05/17 – What To Do With Believers

DayBreaks for 6/05/17: What to Do With Believers

First, let me say that 20 years ago yesterday (6/04/97) marked the first ever DayBreaks. I thought about re-sharing the first DayBreaks I ever sent out, but decided against it. Instead, I just want to say this: I never expected DayBreaks would last so long. There have been times I’ve debated whether or not it was time to stop, but I never sensed a clear direction from the Lord to do that, so for now, we’ll continue on. But even more than that, I’ve come to love many of you who have written over the years, shared parts of your life (good and bad) with me as you wrote and told me your stories. I am humbled and honored at your trust. In addition, some of my best friends have come through DayBreaks – and I shall cherish our friendship and relationship as long as I live. Thank you to all who have shared this journey with me!

From the DayBreaks archive, June 5 ,2007:

An article I recently read by Mark Buchanan made an interesting observation about Jonah chapter 1 and Acts, chapters 27 and 28.  Both of those passages tell the story of a God-worshipper who is on board a ship, surrounded by unbelievers.  In both cases, a violent storm blows up on the sea and the “mighty ship was tossed” (to borrow a line from Gilligan’s Island!)  So severe was the storm in both cases, that the crew reached a conclusion that they would rather have not reached: all the cargo on the ship would need to be thrown overboard.  It wasn’t a case of their profits going up in smoke, but of their profits going down to Davey Jones’ locker.  But, at least in the case of Jonah, he was considered “cargo”.  Somehow, the pagans felt this disaster in the making was due to someone who had offended the gods, and Jonah was singled out. 

Remember: Jonah is on board because he’s fleeing from God.  When confronted by the pagan sailors, he’s boastful about himself and disdainful toward them.  As it turns out, there’s only one way for those pagans to survive the storm: they have to get rid of the God-worshiper – they have to throw him overboard.  And they do just that.

Not so in Acts.  There, the apostle Paul is on board the ship precisely because he has been following God.  He’s a prisoner of Rome, on his way via ship to be tried in front of Caesar, but even more important, he’s a man on a mission sent from heaven, who has been being obedient to that calling.  When the pagan sailors panic, Paul is wise, humble, and helpful – quite the opposite of his predecessor, Jonah.  Paul lets those terrified shipmates know that he cares deeply for them.  It turns out, there’s only one way for those pagans to survive the storm: they have to put the God-worshiper, the one who showed concern for them, in charge.

The point that Buchanan draws is this: the more that we genuinely care for the people in this storm-wracked world—the less we boast and denounce, the more we bless and serve—the more they will let us – and the Jesus we serve – into their lives and lives and souls will be redeemed and saved!

PRAYER: May we be the kind of God worshippers that You are pleased with.  May we answer Your call, may we be meek and humble, may we care and not denounce unnecessarily!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 5/17/17 – The Immanent or the Greater

Image result for fiery furnace

DayBreaks for 5/17/17: The Immanent or the Greater

Thanks to some writing by Mark Labberton, I’ve been fascinated again with the childhood story of Shadrach, Mescheh and Abednego.  I shared some insights in a DayBreaks before, but here’s one a friend had that I think is worth sharing.

I wrote before about how these young men had to discern the real danger when confronted with the choice of worshipping the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar had built.  They had to decide for themselves if the greatest danger was in bowing down and worshipping the idol or in not worshipping the real and living God. 

As Hebrews, these three had been well versed in the 10 commandments, and I’m sure, could easily recite them by heart.  So, for them to truly be tempted to worship an idol, well, it probably wasn’t really a temptation for them at all.  Saving their lives might have been a temptation, but they certainly knew it was wrong to worship an idol.  But, here’s the thing: they believed that worshipping anything other than Yahweh was a greater risk and danger than worshipping the idol, however sometimes the immediate or immanent danger seems greater than the far off danger.  Even though they knew what was right and wrong, and they knew in their hearts that failure to be true to Yahweh was the greater danger, the heat from the fire was pressing against their skin, making itself felt RIGHT NOW, and the danger from not worshipping Yahweh probably seemed a long way off.

We are often tempted to compromise for a couple of reasons: we want immediate pleasure rather than delayed gratification, or we want to avoid the immediacy of pain and suffering.  The latter is just as dangerous as the first – and both can be deadly.

Is there some immediate suffering that you can foresee in your life that you’ve been wrestling with and trying to avoid by some compromise?  Are you thinking that you can set the record straight with God at some later point?  That’s very dangerous reasoning.  Remember the words of the writer to the Hebrews: (Hebrews 10:31, NLT) It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

PRAYER: In our foolishness, Lord, we often forget that it may be better to suffer now than to fall into Your hands later.  Give us courage and open our eyes to understand that just because one kind of suffering may be more immediate, that it doesn’t mean it is the greatest suffering we could encounter.  Let us have no other gods before You! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.