DayBreaks for 7/11/19 – Elevator Music and Emergencies

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DayBreaks for 7/11/19: Elevator Music and Emergencies

Just this past week I was up in British Columbia doing some salmon fishing with my great friend, Ken.  As is the case with all good things (except God!), they must come to an end, and we found ourselves getting on a puddle-jumper plane to take us back to Vancouver from Campbell River, BC.  This plane look like a flying breadbox.  It wasn’t round – it was more square, and the wings looked about 3 sizes too small to be able to provide enough lift to get the beast off the ground. 

As we prepared to pull away from the gate, they started the familiar ritual of running through the emergency instructions.  As the flight attendant read the instructions (this wasn’t like a big jet that has a tape deck where they play the instructions from a cassette!!!), there was elevator music playing in the background – soothing, calming, almost loud enough to make one drift off to sleep.  And that’s when it struck me: this was a parallel for life and how Satan plays against the Word of God. 

God’s Word is full of instructions – emergency instructions, if you please – about how to avoid a coming firestorm, how to avoid self-inflicted catastrophies and injury in life, how to avoid burn-out, self-destruction, guilt, shame, divorce and a life lived in utter meaningless.  Many people (though fewer than in past decades) know what is in the Good Book because they’ve heard it so many times.  But in the background, subtle but ever present, is Satan’s elevator music.  His music is intended to make us think, “This kind of stuff won’t happen to me, so I don’t need to worry about it.  I’m safe.  All those warnings are just the fantasies of some God who simply likes to be in control and have His own way.”  The elevator music of Satan is designed to make us relax, to not listen as closely, or to think about the consequences of ignoring God’s instructions.  Let’s face it: no one likes to listen to scary warnings about crashing and burning or going down over water, but everyone likes music, right?

Don’t let Satan’s elevator music drown out the voice and wisdom of God.  Let His Word through to your heart and mind and soul, take it serious, for He knows whereof He speaks!

PRAYER: Awaken in us a sense of urgency to hear Your voice and alert us to the subtle lullabies Satan would sing to our hearts to make us dull and sleepy.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

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DayBreaks for 7/10/19 – Awake During Open Heart Surgery

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DayBreaks for 07/10/19: Awake During Open Heart Surgery

From the DayBreaks archives, July 2009:

How much pain can one person carry?  I honestly don’t know the answer to that question.  I know that I’ve had very little pain in my life compared to millions and probably billions of other humans who have lived on this blue marble.  I can hardly imagine anyone, though, who perhaps bore so much pain as the ancient hero, Job.  His suffering was emotional, financial, mental, physical and spiritual.  I don’t know anyone else who has lost as much as Job did (especially his children!)  The pain of losing just one child would be unbearable…but try to imagine losing all 10 at once.  And for a time, Job, we are told, said and did nothing amiss.  Then, he finally seems to break.  But it wasn’t the loss of the flocks, herds, buildings.  It had nothing to do with his financial empire.  He didn’t even rail against God when his children died.  I’m sure that wasn’t because he didn’t love them – he surely cared a great deal about them.  No, Job seemed to “lose” it when he felt God has slipped away and left him alone.  It was then that Job began to struggle.  It was then that Job came face to face with a darker side of his nature than he’d probably realized existed. 

In The Gospel According to Job, Mike Mason wrote: “Being a believer in God necessarily implies grappling with the dark side of one’s nature.  Many of us, however, seem to be so afraid of our dark side that far from dealing with it realistically, we repress and deny it.  If we do so chronically, we need to ask ourselves whether we really believe in the healing power of Christ’s forgiveness and in His victory over our evil natures.  Perhaps we have never frankly come to grips with the fact that we ourselves are evil.  If we have not, then we are ill prepared for those times when believing in god is like being away during open heart surgery. For our Creator is not yet finished with us; He is still creating us, still making us, just as He has been all along from the beginning of the universe.   But for the short span of our life here on earth we have the strange privilege of actually being wide awake as He continues to fashion us, to watch wide-eyed as His very own fingers work within our hearts…the only anesthetic is trust…trust is not a passive, soporific thing.  When there is stabbing pain, trust cries out.  It is only mistrust, fear and suspicion that keep silent.”

Your life has had some level of pain.  I am frequently asked “Why?  Why is there so much pain involved with being a Christian?  You’d think that a loving God would do everything possible to spare His children pain!”  There is a certain rationale to that argument.  But I think it misses the point that Mike Mason makes: God is doing open heart surgery on us – our hearts MUST be changed if we are to live forever.  If they are not changed, we will die of our fatal condition.  No one does open heart surgery just for practice or for the fun of it.  It is only done when it is necessary to save or extend a life.  We are awake during the process.  

If God doesn’t do His surgery on our heart, we will most certainly die.  There will be pain.  But would any father not allow the pain in order to spare the life of the child?  Certainly, a good father would agree to have the child operated on so that the child could live.  The pain is part of the process of healing and being made well. 

What makes the surgery on our hearts bearable at all?  Trust.  Trust that God is reliable and doing what is not only good for us, but necessary for us if we are to live with Him in His home.  Belief that God knows precisely what is needed in your heart and mine – and that He will complete the work that is necessary.

PRAYER: Though this surgery is painful, Lord, we open our hearts to You and invite you to do what is necessary to make us fit to be Your children and to live in Your Presence throughout all eternity.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 6/28/19 – The Pure in Heart

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DayBreaks for 06/28/19: The Pure in Heart

From the DayBreaks archives, June 2009:

Matthew 5:8: Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

Have you ever wanted to see God? Have your ever thought that if you could just see Him for a moment that it would be easier to believe and obey? It might be for a short while, but probably not in the long run. There were many who saw and heard him but didn’t believe. But seeing isn’t believing.

In the sermon on the mount, Jesus utters the words found in Matthew 5:8. What is the connection between being pure in heart and seeing God? What is the message Jesus wants us to understand?

Several thoughts come to mind:

FIRST: I’m glad that Jesus said “pure in heart” and didn’t insist it was only those who were pure in deed that would see God. In my heart I want to do what is right, in my flesh I find it harder to live out. While what is in our hearts should find expression in the outcome of our actions, there is sometimes a disconnect. God judges the heart (1 Sam. 16:7).

SECOND: A French writer, Francois Mauriac, had an interesting insight. He concluded that self-discipline, repression of desires and logical and rational arguments are not sufficient weapons to use in fighting our impulses to sin. And that has been my experience, too. No matter how hard I try to discipline myself, I yield to temptation. Mauriac ultimately concluded that there was only one good reason to be pure, and that is what Jesus was saying in this verse. As Mauriac put it, “Impurity separates us from God. The spiritual life obeys laws as verifiable as those of the physical world…Purity is the condition for a higher love – for a possession superior to all possessions: that of God. Yes, that is what is at stake, and nothing else.”

This was the meaning of the parable of the pearl of great price: there is nothing (no earthly pleasure or heavenly delight) that can compare to possessing God Himself and having Him as your own. The desire to “have” God and to be His, to see His face, is the only motivation that can overcome the impurity of our hearts and make us pure enough to be able to see His face.

Why is it that the pure in heart can see God? Because it is simply the condition to be in His presence.  The point is clear: do you want to see God? Be pure in heart…singularly devoted to Him, seeking Him and His way and will above all other ways and wills…even your own!

Prayer: Cleanse our hearts and make them fully devoted to You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 6/24/19 – Under His Wings

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DayBreaks for 06/24/09: Under His Wings

From the DayBreaks archives, June 2009:

He will cover you with his feathers and under his wings you will find refuge. – (Ps. 91:4)

You may have seen this, but the story is worth repeating. National Geographic several years ago provided a penetrating picture of God’s wings by describing a forest fire in Yellowstone. After the fire, rangers began their trek up a mountain to assess the inferno’s damage. One ranger found a bird literally petrified in ashes, perched statuesquely on the ground at the base of a tree. Somewhat sickened by the eerie sight, he knocked over the bird with a stick. When he struck it, three tiny chicks scurried from under their mother’s wings.

The loving mother, keenly aware of impending disaster, had herded her offspring to the base of the tree and had gathered them under her wings, perhaps instinctively knowing that the toxic smoke would rise. She could have flown to safety but had refused to abandon her little ones. When the blaze had arrived and the heat had scorched her small body, the mother remained steadfast.

The obvious lesson from this story is how the mother was willing to give her life to protect her precious little ones. As long as they stayed under the refuge of her wings, close to her beating heart, they were safe. But if they had ventured out, death would have been certain. As long as we stay close to God (under His protection), we are safe. But the moment we leave His loving embrace, we are fair game for all the terror that is in the world.

I couldn’t help but think of Luke 13:34 when I read this story: O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! Jesus probably spoke these words from the road through Gethsemane as he approached Jerusalem for the crucial event in his life: the crucifixion.

His words are poignant for several reasons:

FIRST: God’s heart is on display. We must never forget the pain that God feels over humanity gone wrong and how it touches and evokes His love. Rather than shrug His shoulders and turn away, God’s reaction is to reach out to save us!

SECOND: Jesus described Jerusalem as the place where prophets were killed. He wasn’t crying out about the righteous in the city and inviting them to run to him for shelter. He was seeking the losers, the killers, the murderers of prophets and even those who were to soon scourge, beat, spit upon and crucify himself. In his love, he wanted to save even them.

What is your response to this one who offers you the safety of His protection? If you understand what He has done for you, it MUST make a difference in your life. Has it?

Prayer: For Your protection this day, we plead.  Hold us close to Your sheltering wings in safety and peace.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 6/18/19 – Practical Atheism

 

DayBreaks for 06/18/09: Practical Atheism

From the DayBreaks archives, June 2009:

George Barna is a Christian “poll-taker” who researches attitudes of and about Christians and Christianity.  His findings are often very insightful – and often downright frightening.

In a recent article he was being interviewed about the 7 “faith tribes” in America (which includes all the major world religions), Barna noted that 66% of Americans are what he called, “casual Christians” and 12% were “captive Christians.”  Here’s how he described “casual Christians” and their brand of Christianity: “Casual Christianity is faith in moderation. It allows them to feel religious without having to prioritize their faith. Christianity is a low-risk, predictable proposition for this tribe, providing a faith perspective that is not demanding. A Casual Christian can be all the things that they esteem: a nice human being, a family person, religious, an exemplary citizen, a reliable employee – and never have to publicly defend or represent difficult moral or social positions or even lose much sleep over their private choices as long as they mean well and generally do their best. From their perspective, their brand of faith practice is genuine, realistic and practical. To them, Casual Christianity is the best of all worlds; it encourages them to be a better person than if they had been irreligious, yet it is not a faith into which they feel compelled to heavily invest themselves.”  The key attraction to be a casual Christian: “The comfort that this approach provides. It offers them life insights if they choose to accept them, gives them a community of relationships if they desire such, fulfills their inner need to have some type of connection with a deity, and provides the image of being a decent, faith-friendly person. Because Casuals do not view matters of faith as central to one’s purpose or success in life, this brand of Christianity supplies the multi-faceted levels of satisfaction and assurance that they desire.”

Captive Christians, on the other hand, are characterized as follows: “Captive Christians are focused on upholding the absolute moral and spiritual truths they glean from the Bible…The lives of Captive Christians are defined by their faith; their worldview is built around their core spiritual beliefs and resultant values. Casual Christians are defined by the desire to please God, family, and other people while extracting as much enjoyment and comfort from the world as possible. The big difference between these two tribes is how they define a successful life. For Captives, success is obedience to God, as demonstrated by consistently serving Christ and carrying out His commands and principles. For Casuals, success is balancing everything just right so that they are able to maximize their opportunities and joys in life without undermining their perceived relationship with God and others. Stated differently, Casuals are about moderation in all things while Captives are about extreme devotion to their God regardless of the worldly consequences.”

Tony Woodlief, writing in the April 28 issue of WORLD in an article titled “Practical Atheism”, was considering the same topic when he wrote: ‘“Hypocrisy in one age,’” warned Joseph Addision, ‘“is generally succeeded by Atheism in another.’”  Consider this in light of charges that America is becoming, according to a Trinity College survey, less Christian.  It’s not that Americans are converting to other religions, it’s that they are more willing to avow nothing.”  He continued: “What we are in danger of – in our country, in our churches, in ourselves – is practical atheism.  This is not considered embrace of godlessness.  It is instead the slow slide into lives where God is irrelevant…Practical atheism isn’t limited to people who abandon church; it extends to all we who drift from Christ, even as we dutifully attend Sunday services.  It’s in the brief morning prayer that eventually becomes no prayer at all.  It’s in the way we emulate men rather than the God-man.  It’s in the way we brood, as if the things that vex us don’t pass through the hands of a loving God.”

‘Nuff said.  Let us beware, however, of the tendency to bemoan practical atheism and jumping to the conclusion that we are not part of that 66% of “casual Christians”.  Let us invite the Spirit to search our hearts and determine if we uphold Biblical truth, if our worldviews are built around core spiritual beliefs and resultant values, if we define a successful life as an obedient one, or just a comfortable one that allows us to wear a label without having to pay for it. 

Prayer: Search our hearts, O God, and reveal to us the depth of our own depravity, revealing to us the shortcomings in our own practice of faith.  May we consider deeply the questions of faith and obedience and the consequences of practical atheism in our own lives.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 6/10/19 – Someone Who Loves You

DayBreaks for 6/10/19: Someone Who Loves You

In his book, Disappointment with God, writer Philip Yancey relates a touching story from his own life. Once while visiting his mother–who had been widowed years earlier before Philip’s first birthday–they spent the afternoon together looking through a box of old photos. A certain picture of him as an eight-month-old baby caught his eye. Tattered and bent, it looked too banged up to be worth keeping, so he asked her why, with so many other better pictures of him at the same age, she had kept this one.

Yancey writes, “My mother explained to me that she had kept the photo as a memento, because during my father’s illness it had been fastened to his iron lung.” During the last four months of his life, Yancey’s father lay on his back, completely paralyzed by polio at the age of twenty-four, encased from the neck down in a huge, cylindrical breathing unit. With his two young sons banned from the hospital due to the severity of his illness, he had asked his wife for pictures of her and their two boys. Because he was unable to move even his head, the photos had to be jammed between metal knobs so that they hung within view above him–the only thing he could see. The last four months of his life were spent looking at the faces he loved.

Philip Yancey writes, “I have often thought of that crumpled photo, for it is one of the few links connecting me to the stranger who was my father. Someone I have no memory of, no sensory knowledge of, spent all day, every day thinking of me, devoting himself to me, loving me . . . The emotions I felt when my mother showed me the crumpled photo were the very same emotions I felt that February night in a college dorm room when I first believed in a God of love. Someone is there, I realized. Someone is there who loves me. It was a startling feeling of wild hope, a feeling so new and overwhelming that it seemed fully worth risking my life on.”

Someone is there who loves YOU.

PRAYER: Help us to believe and trust in the fact that You love us! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 5/31/19 – With Unveiled Faces

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DayBreaks for 5/31/19: With Faces Unveiled

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2009:

Glory.  Every school boy dreams of it, of having one blinding moment of glory: winning the Olympic 100-meter dash, being the greatest hitter ever, racing 100 yards for the winning Super Bowl score.  Not everyone will experience those moments of glory, so they settle for something less spectacular.  Brian Kelly did.  He wanted to leave the earth in a burst of glory.  He died and was cremated in July 1994.  His instructions were to pack his ashes into a canister-sized fireworks shell and be fired into the air.  On August 12, 1994, at a pyrotechnician convention in Pittsburgh, the 2 pounds of the earthly remains of Brian Kelly were fired into the air, and he erupted in brilliant colors.  Then, blackness settled in.  It’s a kind of glory, I guess, but it faded quickly.

Paul, in 2 Corinthians 3 and 4 talks about glory.  Isaiah said the “whole earth is filled with His glory.”  Not just isolated pockets, but the “whole earth.”  He’s not just talking about the glorious things that God has made, not talking about that at all.  If you read Paul closely, you’ll see that the ministry we have of Jesus is entrusted into our hands, and that we ourselves are to shine with His glory!  That means that “we’re it”.  You and me – we are the ones who either display or darken the glory of God.  Paul gets very pointed about this in 2 Corinthians 3:7-11, where he wrote that God’s glory is in the gospel and person of Christ: “Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letter on stone (the law of Moses), came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of his glory, fading though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious?  If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness!  For what was glorious has no glory now in compassion with the surpassing glory (Jesus!).  And if what was fading away came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!

Paul was referring to how Moses’ face glowed from being in God’s Presence. His face shone…but then it started to fade.  The glory wasn’t Moses’ own…it was God’s, and Moses couldn’t hold or keep it.  So, Moses veiled his face – in the beginning to hide the radiance which was hurtful for others to look upon, but after it began to fade, he hid his face so others wouldn’t see that the glory was fading. 

But get this: that’s not the case with us. Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away. But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 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. 2 Corinthians 3:12-18 (NIV) (emphasis mine, GCD)

Moses only saw God’s back, but we know “the glory of God in the face of Christ.”  Moses had to veil his face, but we can walk around without a veil.  Moses had to hide the fading glory on his face, but we’re invited to openly display it – because it doesn’t diminish with us, but in fact, it shines in us with “ever-increasing glory.”  Moses every day, became a bit more like his old self, but every day, by the Spirit that comes from the Lord, each day we become a little less like our old self and a bit more like Jesus!  We carry not only God’s name and nature, we also carry His all-surpassing glory!

For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.  

Here’s perhaps the kicker that keeps us straight on this matter: But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.   

All we can do is carry His glory in clay jars, jars that are fragile and rather boring in and of themselves.  We carry it inside of us – we are the clay jars – chipped, cracked, we break easily and we are just as prone (if not more so) to carrying trash as we are to carry treasure.  Believe it or not, the world will either see His glory in you and me, or they will not see it at all.  They see His glory any time that they see our plainness transformed, when something God-like breaks out from our plain and ordinary lives and others see it – even if it’s only its backside glimpse.  But it is there, within us, unmistakable if we are His. 

If God doesn’t go with us, there will be no glory in the clay pot that is our earthly body and spirit.  All we have to distinguish us from everyone else is what’s in this clay pot, this clay jar.  Unless God fills our jars, our bodies, with His mercy-loving, grace-giving, justice-doing Presence, we are nothing.  BUT…here it is, this is it: if He does go with us and we stand in constant awareness of His Presence, our task is simply this: to live with an unveiled face.  Our job is nothing more, and nothing less, than keeping the clay jar uncovered.

It is often in the brokenness of the clay jar (much like that which was seen when Gideon’s men broke their clay jars during their night victory over their enemies) that the glory of God is best revealed. 

Prayer: Our clay jars are weak and prone to fracture and leakage, Lord.  May our clay jars reveal Your glory and may our faces be unmasked and unveiled so that the ever-increasing glory of the Jesus who fills us can be seen!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>