DayBreaks for 5/21/18 – Before and Now

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DayBreaks for 5/21/18: Before and Now

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2008:

Through some recent reading, I’ve been led to contemplate the importance of the human concept of our origins.  I know the Biblical concept: man was made in the very image of God.  We come from Him, we are to live for Him, and we will some day return to Him – and at that time we’ll all have to give an answer for how we lived in this world (Heb. 9:27). 

It’s quite a different story if you reject the idea of creation and of the existence of a Divine Being.  Without believing in a Divinely ordained destiny for all of creation (including mankind), you are left to believe that everything is the product of chance and mathematical probabilities.  It means that you were born for no reason other than a chance meeting of reproductive materials.  It means that your life has no teleos – no goal toward which it is moving.  It means that when you die, it’s done, period, over and out. 

Jeremiah, at one point in his life, had an encounter with God that reveals the fallacy of such thinking.  In Jeremiah 1:4-5 (NIV), he wrote these words: The word of the LORD came to me, saying,  ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.’”

God told Jeremiah wonderful things: “I knew you before you were even formed in the womb.  I didn’t just know that you were going to be, but I knew YOU.”  How could it be that God knew Jeremiah even before he was conceived?  It can only be that God had plans for a particular person (Jeremiah), and that God quite literally knew him.  That was the “before” in Jeremiah’s life.  And it was through understanding that he had a “before”, and a call for the present (he was consecrated) and that there was a purpose for his life (he was given as a prophet to the nations), that Jeremiah found meaning.  It is the “before” that gives the “now” meaning.

God didn’t just know Jeremiah before he was born.  He knew all of us.  David says that God knew every day that was appointed for him to live before he was born, that every thought he’d ever have and word he’d speak was known before he literally had a single thought.  In Ephesians, the great apostle Paul says that God chose us before the foundation of the world. 

What does all this mean for you and I?  It means that there is a definite purpose for our lives and that we are not to think our lives are meaningless, directionless and without value.  It means we don’t have to scurry around trying to find, or even to create, some kind of answers to life.  Instead, we can go to God to discover the reason and truth of our existence.   

Is it any wonder that there is so much despair among those who don’t know Christ?

PRAYER: Fill us, Lord, with the confidence that comes from knowing our before and how that shapes our now and directs our future.  Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 5/18/18 – No Turning Back

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DayBreaks for 5/18/18: No Turning Back

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2008:

One more analogy from the Space Center: the shuttle is nearing the end of its lifespan, and in just a few more years, it’ll be retired in favor of the Constellation program – a program designed to put men back on the moon (by 2012, I think), and to go to even further places.  The shuttle will be no more, and the space program will return to the kind of rockets and space craft that were used previously.

The shuttle is a very complex piece of equipment.  It is not as complicated as a complete Apollo/Lunar Lander/Saturn V (which had 2 million separate systems – the most complicated piece of engineering ever made), but it is still an amazing piece of machinery. 

There is, as you know, a large central fuel tank, and two slender, white solid rocket boosters, one on each side.  They are called solid rocket boosters because their fuel is “solid”, not liquid.  Here’s the tricky thing about that kind of rocket booster: unlike the liquid fuel contained on the Apollo/Saturn 5, once you light if off a solid rocket booster, there’s no shutting it down until it has totally expended itself.  In other words, you’d better be sure you’re ready to go because you’ll be going somewhere …and going there very fast!

We are familiar with the passage that talks about how futile it is to put our “hand to the plow” and then look backwards. There is to be no going back, not even looking back for a glance, once we’ve embarked on the Christian pathway. There is only to be forward motion.

Another thought: we were all launched into this world at birth.  We will live our lives until we’ve expended all the seconds that God has allotted to us.  We can’t go back into the womb (as Nicodemus wondered when told by Jesus that we must be born again).  Once launched, we must take the journey that lies before us…and complete the course. 

May we choose the right trajectory that leads back to the Father’s house.  You are going somewhere – your engine has been lit by God Himself.  Where will you wind up?

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for the gift of life and the adventure of living.  Help us to keep on moving in the right direction until we arrive safely at home.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/24/18 – They’ve Never Been There

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DayBreaks for 4/24/18: They’ve Never Been There   

The story is told of the explorer who some years ago had just returned to his country from the Amazon. The people at home were eager to learn all about the vast and mighty river and the country surrounding it. How he wondered, could he ever describe it to them – how could he ever put into words the feelings that flooded into his heart when he saw the exotic flowers and heard the night sounds of the jungle. How could he communicate to them the smells the filled the air and the sense of danger and excitement that would come whenever he and his fellows explorers encountered strange animals or paddled through treacherous rapids?

So the explorer did what all good explorers do – he said to the people, “go and find out for yourselves what it is like”, and to help them he drew a map of the river pointing out the various features of its course and describing some of the dangers and some of the routes that could be used to avoid those dangers.

The people took the map and they framed and hung it on the wall of the local science museum so that everyone could look at it. Some made copies of it. After a period of time many of those who made copies for themselves considered themselves experts on the river – and indeed they knew its every turn and bend, they knew how broad it was and how deep, where the rapids where and where the falls. They knew the river and they instructed others in what it was like whenever those people indicated an interest in it.

I think that many people today are in the same situation. We know the scriptures but we do not understand them. And we do not understand them because we have not been there. We must not simply look at the scriptures and their meaning, we must go there. We must experience what it means to repent of our sins and allow God to forgive us. Would you this morning take the map down from the wall and go to the river with me. See what is there. Allow Christ to open your mind, to breathe his Holy Spirit upon you, and make you a disciple from the heart.

PRAYER: Let us drink deeply from the sweet well of your word and Spirit that we may know you from experience and not just from printed page! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/20/18 – Coloring Outside the Lines

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DayBreaks for 4/20/18: Coloring Outside the Lines 

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2008:

My granddaughter, Kailani, is now 5, and she’s very good with crayons and colored pens.  One of her favorite things to do when I get to her place is to invite me to sit down and color with her.  We’ll use the same coloring book – she’ll take one page and I’ll take the facing page.  She is VERY particular about staying inside the lines.  Maybe that’s why she wants us working on the same pages – that way she can keep an eye on my coloring to see if she approves!!!!

I, too, still love to color.  I always have.  I don’t do it except when I’m with my grandkids.  Strange.  But I recall the outlines of shapes and people, and the joy of deciding what colors to use and turning a blasé page into a genuine work of art (well, maybe just a colored page!)  It bothers Kailani if I color outside the lines, and it bothers teachers, and it bothers me, too.  The creator of the work intended for people to color INSIDE the lines, not outside.  If all you do is color outside, the beauty is not revealed in its fullest. 

Now-a-days, some “experts” are saying that it is harmful to a child’s development to tell them to stay inside the lines.  They say that the child shouldn’t be restricted from someone else’s view of reality, and that if they want to color outside the lines, well, that’s just fine. 

I’m not so sure.  It seems to me that coloring outside the lines is dangerous…and can have serious, even deadly, implications in other areas of life.  Stop and think of “coloring outside the lines” as a metaphor for life, rules and restrictions.  Especially God’s boundaries.

God himself sets lines and boundaries.  He did it in creation by telling the sea that it could only go so far and no further: Should you not fear me?, declares the Lord.  Should you not tremble in my presence?  I made the sand a boundary for the sea, an everlasting barrier it cannot cross.  The waves may roll, but they cannot prevail; they may roar, but they cannot cross it. – (Jer. 5:22)

The barriers (lines, if you will) that God set forth are not intended to limit our self-expression, but to direct it towards things that result in life and a deeper relationship with God Himself.  To think we know better than our Creator and decide it is okay to operate outside the boundaries that He wisely and kindly gave us, is confusing self-expression with self-indulgence.  It is to place ourselves in judgment on the Judge of all the earth.

Psalm 16:6: The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.

PRAYER:  Thank You, Father, for setting boundaries for our well-being and protection.  Teach us to live within the wise lines You have drawn for us as our Creator.  May the pattern of our lives lived on this earth be a thing of beauty to You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/16/18 – Can’t You See?

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DayBreaks for 4/16/18: Can’t You See?       

From the Perimeter worship bulletin (this forms an introduction to a series of sermons and DayBreaks from the book of Habakkuk that I’ll share in the coming weeks):

“Can’t you see, oh can’t you see, what that woman, she been doing’ to me? Can’t you see, can’t you see, what that woman, Lord, been doing’ to me?” – lyric from the Marshall Tucker band

It was a question the Marshall Tucker band asked in the 1970’s. Waylon Jennings asked the same question. More recently, the Zac Brown band asked it. The writer is upset because his woman left him, and did not say goodbye. He is at the point of despair. He is “…gonna take a freight train, or find a hole to craw in” because he has no relief. He is asking why the Lord can’t see his misery, or that he’s been “done wrong.”

Have you ever felt that way or asked the question, “Can’t you see, God?” I have asked the Lord that on numerous occasions. It seems funny as I write it, that I would actually ask the omniscient God if he can see. The gentle but firm reality is that he can see. I am the one who cannot see. He may not be telling me what he does see. Be assured that he sees. Sometimes in our frustration at life’s situations, we want to be all knowing and all seeing. Something has not been granted to us, and so we ask, “Can’t you see?” Underneath that question we add a corollary, “Won’t you deal with what I see?”

There is a problem with doing that. Because we don’t fully see, we may not know how to tell him the right thing to do. A word picture may help. Sit with your back to a window, then try to recall everything that is outside the window. You may be a few things correct, but birds are flying, leaves are falling, and the sun is rising. Things change and often they are in your blind spot, where you cannot notice them. God sees all, all of the time. One pastor put it this way, “We may have a point of view, but God has view!”

So, this week…we wonder if you can praise the Lord for having view, resting in the fact that he has it, he sees it, and he knows just want needs to be done. Yes, he knows “what that woman (or man) been doin’ to you”, so there is no need to take a freight train!

PRAYER: God, sometimes we think we see and understand better than you do. Keep us from this foolish way of thinking and help us learn to trust you and your vision above our own! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/3/18 – The Four Saddest Words

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DayBreaks for 4/03/18: The Four Saddest Words

In the 1800s, poet John Greenleaf Whittier wrote one of his most quoted poems in the English language. The poem was titled, “Maud Muller.” You’ve never heard of it? Actually, not many people remember this sorrowful poem, but generations of people have quoted two famous lines from its final stanza.

“Maud Muller” is about a young maiden who, while working the fields one day, sees a handsome young Judge riding by on horseback. She offers him a drink of cool water. Their encounter lasts only a few moments, but it makes a deep impression on both of them. Maud is greatly attracted to the Judge, and she dreams of marrying someone of his gentleness and integrity. She could leave the fields behind and live as the wife of a wealthy and powerful man.

At the same time, the Judge is attracted to Maud. He is tired of his career, and he dreams of marrying a warm, compassionate woman like Maud and settling into a simpler life in the country. But neither Maud nor the Judge acknowledges their attraction to one another. They are from different social classes—they cannot risk breaking the bonds of social conformity.

Maud later marries a man who brings her much pain and hardship. The Judge also enters into a loveless marriage. In the final stanza of the poem, Whittier offers us this warning: “For of all sad words of tongue or pen, The saddest are these: ‘It might have been!'”

What are the “might have been’s” in your life? Recall King Agrippa, who said he was “almost” persuaded to become a Christian? There is no evidence he ever did. When he died and stood before God, he may have considered what might have been.

Have you held off from sharing the good news with someone? Or of giving a kind word and a helping hand to someone in need?

We never know what might have been if we only took that small step in faith and obedience.

PRAYER: Lord, help us to live in such a way that our “might have been’s” are few and far between. Instead, let us live boldly in your service, serving your children. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/02/18 – The King has One More Move

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DayBreaks for 4/02/18: The King has One More Move

A man was touring the Louvre with his friend who happened to be a chess grand master. They moved along the corridors and rooms admiring the many great paintings and works of art that were on display.

As they came to one particular painting of two people playing chess, titled “Checkmate”, the grand master paused and began looking in depth at the painting. It seemed that moment by moment he became more and more immersed in the work. His companion watched for a while, but eventually grew impatient and suggested that they move on to see more works of art, but the grand master wouldn’t budge. After quite some more time had passed, the grand master asked if he knew if the painter were still alive. His friend replied that he didn’t know. The grand master replied, “We must find the painter. They must either change the painting or change the title. You see, the king has one more move.”

And so it is that Easter 2018 is now truly past and we must move on. We quickly forget the wonder of the Resurrection, of the emotions of holy week, and get absorbed in our everyday lives. We will watch or listen to the news and hear stories that are discouraging, depressing, and yes, even terrifying. The joy of Easter Sunday yields quickly to the fears of Good Friday and the darkness of Saturday, and we start quickly to lose hope and joy.

I hope that this year, whenever you start to lose hope, to get discouraged, to be terrified, when joy begins to fade, that as you face the events of your day that you will remind yourself that the King has one more move. Nothing will stop Him from making that move for he is not just the King, but He is Almighty God and His will prevails. He rules the nations with a rod of iron.

When He makes what is truly the final move, the victorious last move, that “Easter” morning will never turn into another burdened Monday but it will last forever.

Remember: the King has one more move!

PRAYER: Jesus, we have rightly celebrated your glorious resurrection. Now we face Monday – a Monday like all the others where we will be challenged on every hand. We will be prone to disillusionment and even despair. We may even think the game is over and all is lost. Remind us, every day, every moment, that You have one more move! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

(For more on the Checkmate painting, see here.)

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