DayBreaks for 9/25/19 – Snakebit

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DayBreaks for 9/25/19: Snakebit

My son, Tim, recently wrote a brief article in the October 2019 edition of Christianity Today about a story in the book of Numbers. You may recall that the Israelites were in the wilderness when, in apparent desperation, they grumble about God. “Fiery” serpents show up and start biting them and many died. Moses intercedes and God instructs him to fashion a bronze serpent and put it up on a pole so that …if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live (Num 21:9, ESV).

It only takes five verses to cover the tale. As strange as the story is, Jesus alludes to it in John 3:14, saying that he would also be lifted up and that anyone who looked to him would find life everlasting.

But here’s what caught my attention in Tim’s article: “One of my favorite aspects of the Numbers story is what it requires

of the afflicted. If a snake bites your foot, the natural reaction is to look down. We are all tempted to fixate on our troubles and our fears. In order to look for God, in order to be healed, we have to lift our eyes and see God’s provision.”

We are often afflicted, are we not? And when we do, we hang our heads, downcast and we can’t seem to think of anything else but how we’ve been wounded. If the Israelites hung their heads in despair, they would die. They were forced to lift their eyes heavenward if they wanted to survive.

Nothing has changed since then. If we want to survive, we must still look upward. It’s a natural reaction to look at your foot if you’ve been bitten by a snake, it is intuitively unnatural to look upward. God knows our tendencies and that we will fixate on the wrong thing if we aren’t careful.

Struggling? Have you been snake-bit? Look up to see Jesus and find life!

PRAYER: Jesus, let us lift our eyes to you when we need help and when we have been ‘snake-bit’ to find deliverance!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 9/23/19 – Alaska Lessons #5 – The End of the Road

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DayBreaks for 9/23/19: Alaska Lessons #5 – The End of the Road

On our last full day in Denali National Park, we were driven to Kantishna, Alaska which is only 2.5 miles up the road from where we had been staying. It’s the end of the road…literally…92.5 miles into Denali National Park. It was strange to stand at the signpost that marked the end of the road and it made me think.

During our time in Denali we’d seen grizzlies, moose, caribou, ruffled grouse, golden eagles, ptarmigan, otters, seal lions, beluga whales, magnificent foliage, spectacular lakes and ponds left by glacial melt, looming mountains, massive glaciers, glorious sunrises and sunsets. If you have never been to Alaska you cannot possibly understand what I’m trying to describe. It is breathtaking.

And it’s easy to get caught up in the wonderment of it all, to be swept off you feet and to forget things that should not be forgotten. The end of the road sign reminded me of that.

At the end of my road, what will my story be? In the end it isn’t about grizzlies or moose, mountains or lakes. It’s all about people – creatures far more magnificent than the mightiest grizzly or the hugest moose. They are more magnificent because they are made in God’s image, and though we hope the animals we have loved will be part of the afterlife, we don’t know for sure. But the people we have loved – and hated – do have an eternal destiny. At the end of the road, God won’t ask what I thought of the wonder of Alaska. He’ll ask if I put my faith in Jesus. He’ll ask if I fulfilled the two greatest commandments: 1) loving him with all I have within me, and 2) loving my neighbor as myself. Part of that last command is to tell them about Jesus. When I’m at the end of the road, how many will I have brought to the cross to find the love and forgiveness to be found there? That’s what will matter.

Ecclesiastes 12:13 (CSBBible) – When all has been heard, the conclusion of the matter is this: fear God and keep his commands, because this is for all humanity.

PRAYER: I am prone, Lord, to get too caught up in the things that surround me in life rather than the people who surround me. Give me greater boldness to introduce friends and loved ones to you so that at the end of the road I shall not be ashamed and found before you empty-handed. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/20/19 – Alaska Lessons #4 – Life

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Tree in Denali National Park, September 2019. Photo by Galen Dalrymple. 

DayBreaks for 9/20/19: Alaska Lessons #4 – Life

I sat on the porch of our cabin in Denali National Park one afternoon in silence and listened to the rustling of the leaves. Fall was coming to Denali, or maybe more correctly, winter was just around the corner. In the one week we’d been there, the fall colors had changed dramatically and the trees that surrounded our cabin shed copious amounts of leaves. As I sat there, listening, I watched them fall quietly to the ground. Winter comes quickly to the tundra – and in human life.

The story of life is portrayed in seeds and by deciduous trees that sprout leaves each spring, bearing them gloriously throughout the summer, yet surrender them to the inevitable in the fall. During winter, they appear dead.

I am well into the fall, perhaps early winter, of my life. I can look back across the years and recount memories of faces and places that are incredibly dear to me. I have lived a wonderful life!

But I know that the season of my life is well along. Many of the leaves of my life have spent themselves and fallen due to the inexorable march of time.

That’s not bad. In fact, it’s a good thing. We spend so much time fighting the inevitable but I think we should embrace it. You see, even as the leaves fall from the tree in fall and the tree, though just slumbering, appears dead in winter, the kernel of life is still harbored within, to be awakened by the gentle warmth of the sun when the right time has come.

For me, the time will come when I, too, appear to be dead, lifeless. But just as the tree “comes back to life” with the sun warms the earth, I will also come back to life when the Son shines his brightest.

All seasons of life should be cherished for the wonder that they are, the treasures they hold, and the promise that lies hidden within.

1 Corinthians 15:20-23 (NKJV) – But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.

PRAYER: Jesus, thank you for each season of life, including this season I am presently in. Let me welcome the winter because I know that after the sleep, life will erupt immortal! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/18/19 – Alaska Lessons #2 – Majesty

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Early morning photo of Mt. Denali by Galen Dalrymple, September 2019

DayBreaks for 9/18/19: Alaska Lessons #2 – Majesty

Most folks don’t realize this, but Mt. Denali (aka Mt. McKinley – the highest point in North America) has an even greater vertical rise from its base than Everest. Mt. Everest starts on a plain at 14,000 feet while Denali starts from just 1000 feet elevation. That means that in terms of vertical rise from its base, Denali is about 4281 feet higher from base to top than Everest!

They say that visitors to Denali National Park have a 30% chance of seeing the top of the mountain without it being encumbered with clouds. I have spoken to many folks who went there hoping to see it but the clouds never parted so they left only being able to imagine the majestic mountain.

The very name, Denali, means “high one” or “great one”. It clearly dominates the landscape as well as the continent. And as I sat spell-bound looking at the entire view of the mountain in all its majesty, I got to thinking about the subject of God.

At present, God is much like Denali in that he is largely shrouded from our view. Sure, we can observe his actions if we look hard and long enough, but he is clothed with clouds (Dt. 33:25, MSG) and they form his chariot (Dt. 33:26, NIV). But God himself is hidden from our sight lest we die (Ex. 33:20). I can only imagine the disappointment of those who longed to see Denali only to be denied. And like those of old who longed to see God’s face, to physically observe him with the human eye, I think most believers share that same longing.

Now, however, the Most High is concealed from our sight with the clouds that separate this world from the next. But just as the clouds melted away on our last two days in the park and we were able to see “the high one”, the day will come when God will shake off the clouds that hide him from our eyes and we shall behold the glory of “the High One”. What a majestic sight that will be!

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

PRAYER: Father, we long to see you in your full majesty. Until that day, grant us daily glimpses into your majesty to fire our spirits with wonder, awe and inspiration! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/12/19 – How Quickly We Forget

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DayBreaks for 9/12/19: How Quickly We Forget

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2009:

The long, hot summer of Cloverdale is nearly over!  I’m so glad.  I hate it when it is hot.  The summers here are long…the heat can get really bad.  And after a few months of summertime, I tend to forget how much I appreciate the cool of fall and even the “cold” of winter (although it doesn’t get all that cold here!)  And, wouldn’t you know it, after a few months of the “cold” I forget what it feels like to be warm and I start to long for the warm, lazy springtime.  Such a fickle creature I am.

We don’t seem to have much capacity for remember things very well.  Sure, I remember my multiplication tables just fine, thank you.  But I often either forget or take for granted the love of my wife or children, the smell of the forest floor after a light rain or the roar of the ocean.  If I stop and think about those things hard enough, I can remember them to some degree…but never quite like the real thing.

We are getting older and perhaps that’s partially why our “rememberers” don’t work so well any more.  There may, however, be other factors that have conditioned us to be forgetful.  In Crazy Love, Francis Chan wrote: “We are programmed to focus on what we don’t have, bombarded multiple times throughout the day with what we need to buy that will make us feel happier or sexier or more at peace.  This dissatisfaction transfers over to our thinking about God.  We forget that we already have everything we need in Him.”

Are either you, or someone you know, disillusioned with God?  Do you feel that if He just gave you a bit more of “this or that” you’d find it easier to love Him or believe in Him or accept His will for your life?  Is it possible that our frustrations with God have been inadvertently influenced by marketers who labor at the business of making us feel discontent with what we DO have?

Chan’s conclusion: “Because we don’t often think about the reality of who God is, we quickly forget that He is worthy to be worshipped and loved.”  And that is true whether we never receive another single thing from God in our entire lives.

Let us take to heart the words of the fisherman from 2 Peter 1:3: His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.  We’ve got it all.  Don’t let frustrations and lack in other areas of your life ever be confused or cause you to think that God has shortchanged you about anything!

PRAYER: God, keep us from ever thinking that You have shortchanged us in any area of our lives!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/04/19 – Not Even Like Ours

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DayBreaks for 9/04/19: Not Even Like Ours

NOTE: Galen is on vacation for the next couple weeks and may not respond to any comments until he returns on 9/9/19.

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2009:

How God must laugh at us at times!  The sheer arrogance of mankind to think that we know what God is thinking, why He’s thinking the way He is, why He does the things He does and why He doesn’t do other things…and of course, the supreme arrogance is to think that we know better than God because we obviously understand the situation SO MUCH BETTER than God could!  Ha!  If it weren’t so deadly, it would be worth laughing about.

One of my favorite passages (it keeps me humble!) is found in Isaiah 55:8-9, where we read: My thoughts are not like your thoughts.  Your ways are not like my ways.  Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

In his little devotional book, For the Tough Times, Max Lucado makes the point well: “Make special note of the world like.  God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, nor are they even like ours.  We aren’t even in the same neighborhood.  We’re thinking, “Preserve the body”; He’s thinking, “Save the soul.”  We dream of a pay raise.  He dreams of raising the dead.  We avoid pain and seek peace.  God uses pain to bring peace.  “I’m going to live before I die,” we resolve.  “Die so you can live,” He instructs.  We love what rusts.  He loves what endures.  We rejoice at our successes.  He rejoices at our confessions.  We show our children the Nike basketball star with the million-dollar smile and say, ‘Be like Mike.’  God points to the crucified carpenter with bloody lips and a torn side and says, ‘Be like Christ.’”

The next time you presume to tell someone what God is thinking or why He’s doing something, stop and remember Isaiah 55:8-9.  It may just keep you from saying something very, very foolish.

PRAYER: Lord, keep our lips from spewing falsehoods or speaking foolishness in Your name or about You.  May we only proclaim Your words when it is clearly from the Word!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/03/19 – Getting to the Root of the Problem

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DayBreaks for 9/03/19: Getting to the Root of the Problem

NOTE: Galen is on vacation for the next couple weeks and may not respond to any comments until he returns on 9/9/19.

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2009:

I am privileged, by the nature of what I do, to be able to be around and with people who are struggling with life and faith issues.  It is very intimidating, exhilarating and challenging at the same time.  There are many times that I don’t have a clue about what to say or what to do – so I just always try to do what I think Jesus would do or say at that time.  I’m sure that there are plenty of times when I get that wrong, too, but I try, as I’m sure you do, too.

I try to deal with my sin.  Sometimes, I’m successful.  Often, I’m not.  And even when “I’m” successful, it isn’t me, but the Spirit that wins the struggle.  I don’t let the Spirit do enough and I’m sure that’s the problem.  I wrestle with sin in my own strength rather than turning the temptation over to the Spirit to squash.  For some foolish reason, I think I can do a better job of wrestling with the sin than the Spirit can, right?  But is that really true that I think that way, or is it merely that I want to not expose the Spirit to the sin because I want to nuzzle up next to the sin and indulge it yet again?  Is that not the nature of our temptation?  Keep God away from it so I can stay close to it.  A recipe for disaster if there ever was one.

I recently was watching a video with Chuck Colson and Rick Warren and they were talking about the practical living out of Christianity and the struggle with sin.  At one point in the video, one of them (I think it was Rick), made the comment that we need to deal with the root problem when it comes to sin.  Far too often, what we do is more like mowing the grass or pulling off the top of the weed of sin – and expecting the plant to die.  Anyone who has tried that in their yard will be quick to tell you that unless you pull/kill the roots, the weeds will be back again in a furious hurry. 

I fear that all too often our attempts at repentance are rather weak.  I fear that all too often all we are doing with the sin in our lives is “mowing the grass” instead of pulling out the sin by the roots.  There’s this insidious thing inside of us, the struggle perhaps that Paul alludes to in Romans, where a part of us really wants the sin to die and be gone because we get sick and tired of it at times, but there’s also the part of us that revels in the sin and wants to taste the forbidden fruit one more time…and another…and another.  

Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation–but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. – Romans 8:12-14 (NIV)  This passage makes it pretty clear: the misdeeds of the body must not be trimmed back, but put to death.  And we must join with the Spirit in this endeavor: “If by the Spirit If by the Spirit YOU put to death the misdeeds…”  It isn’t just the Spirit – I must join in the killing.  But I certainly cannot kill the weed of sin without the Spirit, either. 

Isn’t it about time we started pulling our sin out by the roots?

PRAYER: We struggle to even want to do what is right, Lord, and when it comes to putting to death the misdeeds of the body, we confess that we cannot possibly do it without Your Spirit!  Incline our hearts to instinctively turn first to You in times of temptation that we may receive the leading of Your Spirit in the struggle against sin.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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