DayBreaks for 2/08/18 – Trying to Get Our Attention

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DayBreaks for 2/08/18: Trying to Get Our Attention

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2008:

Have you ever known someone (maybe it was you!) that felt that God was trying to whisper something to you in order to get your attention?  I’ve met quite a few people who have had that experience, and I’ve had it myself.  I’ve felt that God was trying to get my attention so he could tell me what it was that he wanted me to do.  And that’s not bad – we should have “ears to hear” and be sensitive to the promptings of the Spirit so we can discern when God is speaking to us and what it is that he wants us to do.

But perhaps we’re making too many assumptions when we say, “I think God is trying to tell me something – I believe there’s something He wants me to do.”  It is important that we consider another possibility: perhaps God is just trying to get our attention, period.  He may not have something that he wants us to do.  It may be that its been so long since we just sat quietly at his feet and reflected on Who and What He Is.  Certainly, if God wants something done, He can get it done – with or without our cooperation. 

I know that when my kids come home for a visit that I’m not interested in all the things that they can do for me while they’re here.  I don’t have a list of projects stuck on the refrigerator for each of them.  What I want when they come home is to be able to spend time with them, to share moments in time that will never come again, to reconnect and re-affirm.  I think more often than not, when we feel God is trying to get our attention, it’s not because He has something for us to do – it’s because he wants that connection with us, that closeness that is not there when we’re “gone”. 

Give him your attention today – and every day.  Even if it’s just for a few minutes.  It’ll change your entire day!

PRAYER: Mighty God, thank you that you so desperately desire our attention.  Help us to welcome yours!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 2/07/18 – Meditative Growling

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DayBreaks for 2/07/18: Meditative Growling

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2008:

Psalms 1:1-3 (KJV)Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

Isaiah 31:4 (KJV) – For thus hath the LORD spoken unto me, Like as the lion and the young lion roaring on his prey, when a multitude of shepherds is called forth against him, he will not be afraid of their voice, nor abase himself for the noise of them: so shall the LORD of hosts come down to fight for mount Zion, and for the hill thereof.

Meditation.  It’s a term that many Christians have come to fear and to run away from.  We associate it with images of saffron-robed figures sitting in a far-away temple, chanting while billows of incense laden clouds rise in the background.  Because New Age and others have made such use of the term “meditation”, we seem to avoid it like the plague as Christians.  And that’s too bad because it is a biblical term describing a spiritual practice in which we should be engaged!

In the verses above, in English there are two words that relate to this topic.  In the first passage, it’s translated “meditate”.  In the Isaiah passage, it’s “roaring”, or as the NIV puts it, “growls”.  In Hebrew, the word in both places is identical: hagah.  Interesting, yes?

What’s the implication?  Our meditation should be like the lion that growls or roars over its prey.  What makes a lion roar over its prey?  I’ll grant you that I don’t know what lions really think, but here’s some thoughts:

FIRST: the lion has captured the prey but is in turn captivated by it.  It is enamored with it – the lion may not have eaten for days, and it has finally got something that can satiate its hunger and give it peace.  The Word of God is that way!

SECOND: the lion is so captivated by his prey that even though others come and try to scare it away by yelling, the lion ignores them.  It stays focused on what is right in front of it, on what it has found, and it refuses to let it go in spite of distractions or hostility.  As believers, this describes how our meditation should be – it is something that we should let no one take from us in spite of how much noise they might make!

THIRD: when the lion is consuming the prey (as we should consume the word in meditation), everything about the lion is caught up in the process.  It uses its tongue, teeth, stomach, intestines, it tastes, savoring what it devours.  In short, as Eugene Peterson put it, the lion is lost in what it is doing.  Not lost in a bad sense, but a good sense.  It should be that way with Christian meditation.  Haven’t you experienced times when the Word transported you away from everyday life and lifted you up higher than you thought you’d ever be?

It’s time that we take back meditation as a Christian discipline – let us growl over the Word and let nothing distract us from that time!!!!

PRAYER: Lord, in our busy lives we seem to have lost the time to meditate and we are the poorer for it.  Let us hunger for time alone with you and not settle for anything less!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 2/06/18 – Sanctifying Time

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DayBreaks for 2/06/18: Sanctifying Time

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2008:

In his book, The Rest of God, in which Mark Buchanan talks about Sabbath, he mentions the need for us to be engaged in “sanctifying time.”  It might seem strange when you think about it: after all, aren’t we sanctified?  If people are sanctified, how can you “sanctify time”?  And what would that mean?

The word “sanctify” in the Hebrew is the word that means “to betroth”.  Let that sink in for a second.  Betrothal – like Mary and Joseph.  Pledged to be married.  Committed to be married to that one person and no one else.  To be “set apart” for that one person that you love and who loves you.  Now, take that concept and apply it to time – especially “Sabbath time.”  Sabbath – rest – was a requirement.  It was up there with the other 9 commandments that formed the Decalogue.  None of us would dare to think too lightly of the commands “Thou shalt have no other gods before me”, or “Thou shalt not murder”, “Thou shalt not commit adultery”, “Thou shalt not steal,” etc.  Yet we tend to think that somehow this command of God to observe a time of rest is a minor command compared to the rest of the 10.  God sure doesn’t seem to think so. 

God instituted the idea of rest, of a period of time that we are to “set apart”, to betroth ourselves to if you will, because He created us from dust and He knows we are not able to keep going forever like He can without getting tired.  He knows how close we are at any given moment to returning to the dust from which we came – it is we who lack that awareness more often than not.  And because of that, God said: “Rest.” 

And so what is the purpose for the resting?  There are numerous things, but for now, we are to “set apart, betroth” a certain period of time to rest…and worship.  What did Israel do on the Sabbath?  They celebrated God, His blessings, His greatness…they worshipped Him for all He was worth.  That’s why such a strong word as “betrothal” is used to paint the picture of Sabbath…we are to be betrothed to those kinds of things as we rest.  Does that mean we have to go to church when we’re resting?  Absolutely not (even though from time to time during one of my sermons I’ll catch people ‘resting’ in their chairs)!  You can worship God at your desk at work, laying in the hammock, lounging by the pool, sitting in the shade with some lemonade and a good book – you can worship and reflect on Him anywhere. 

The problem with our leisure (what we think of as our day of rest) is that they’re not very leisurely at all.  We run into them pell-mell and without reservation – and we wind up more tired than when we started.  But the worst thing about it is that we usually leave God entirely out of our thinking at those times.  We’ve left the Holy out of our day of rest.

When is the last time you betrothed yourself to a time of rest and reflection on the One who has given you each day of your life and filled it with wondrous things?  We need that kind of rest!

PRAYER: Father, that you that you know our frailties and our deepest needs, including our need to rest in You.  Help us to sanctify time spent with You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 2/05/18 – The One Who Eats His Children

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Saturn (Chronos) Devouring His Son – Goya. 1819-1823.

DayBreaks for 2/05/18: The One Who Eats His Children

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2008:

Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NIV) – There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven…

John 2:4 (NLT) – How does that concern you and me?” Jesus asked. “My time has not yet come.

Matthew 26:18 (NLT) – As you go into the city,” he told them, “you will see a certain man. Tell him, `The Teacher says, My time has come, and I will eat the Passover meal with my disciples at your house.’

Time.  We often speak of it as being our most precious commodity, and although we describe it that way, we don’t often live like we believe it.

The Greek language was so incredibly rich and powerful.  Where we basically have one word for time in English, there were at least two words in the Greek that were commonly used for time.  They believed that time had two faces: one that was good and one that was evil.  Each had a name.  The word chronos (from which we get chronometer, chronicle, chronograph, etc.) was the name of a lesser Greek god, but he wasn’t a good and kindly god.  No, he was ravenous and mean.  He was pictured as a cannibal that was always eating and was never filled or satisfied.  Goya and Peter Paul Rubens both painted pictures of Chronos, wild-eyed, consuming his own children.  This is time that is bound by the clock, that runs on a tight schedule, that is a point in time as a second, minute, hour, day, week or month.  And those who are driven by time pressures are the children that Chronos devours, insatiably, unendingly.  And they’re in agony as he chews away at their flesh and sinews.  Someone shared with me today the idea that not only were living things and the physical things of the universe subjected to tyranny with the fall, but that perhaps time itself was corrupted in some way – turned into Chronos from what had been kairos in the garden.

The other Greek word for time was kairos.  This is not time as we think of it.  In fact, the Greeks would have thought of it this way: instead of asking “What time (chronos) is it?”, they would have asked “What is this time (kairos) for?”  Kairos is time that is unhurried, laden with great potential and possibilities.  It is time that is redeemed by some beautiful, glowing and uplifting purpose.  It is the kind of time that Jesus used when he said, “My time has come.”  In essence, Jesus was proclaiming: “This is the long expected and hoped for time, the very purpose for which I have come is about to be fulfilled.”  Unlike the children of Chronos, the children of kairos seek possibilities, opportunities, wonder in the moment in which their lives are enveloped.

God lets us choose the kind of time we will follow.  We can be driven and consumed by the incessant ticking of the clock on the wall, or we can live in the present moment as the gift of God that it is and search out all the meaning and purpose we can find, for there will never be a shortage of purpose in the lives of believers.

PRAYER: Thank you, Lord, for the time of our lives!  Thank you that we can not be driven and devoured by time, but that we can relish it and trust You in the middle of the turning seasons to give our moments beauty and meaning.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 2/02/18 – The Hands of a Father, #1

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DayBreaks for 2/02/18: The Hands of a Father, #1

From the DayBreaks archives, 1/28/98: (this DayBreaks was written one week after my father died in 1998)

I remember as a child laying in the church pew (I was really young, OK?) and my dad would be resting his arm on the back of the pew with his fingers dangling down towards me.  I’d play with his fingers and hands while the preacher did his thing.  I remember thinking how powerful and strong my dad’s hands were.  He was a farmer then, so you know that they were broad, calloused and hardened from difficult work.

Last week as I sat by my father’s deathbed and I held his hand in mine, the situation had changed.  Once upon a time, it was my dad’s hand that enveloped mine.  Times when I was afraid, times when he was afraid for me (that I’d run into the road or something like that), times when he was trying to keep me from falling.  And certainly times just when he wanted to hold my hand or I wanted to hold his.

They say that at some point in our lives that the child becomes the parent and the parent becomes the child.  I guess that is what happened to my dad and I last week.  No longer could he hold my hand, now it was my hand that surrounded his and it was I who was trying to provide the comfort and assurance that I could. Yet for as much as my heart yearned to keep him from slipping off into eternity, I was powerless to stop it. And for his sake, I’m grateful that even as my hand had to let go of his, I know our Father had taken his hand to lead him home.

As I sat by his bedside holding his motionless hand, I thought about how many times the Father has held my hand and I’ve taken it for granted.  Psalm 37.23-24: If the LORD delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand.   Daniel 5.23b: But you did not honor the God who holds in his hand your life and all your ways.

I couldn’t begin to tell you how many times my dad held my tiny, weak hand in his.  I wonder how many times God has held my hand and I’ve been so insensitive that I didn’t even recognize it.  But there are even worse things than not recognizing His hand.  I have a choice to withdraw my hand from His (indeed, isn’t that exactly what we do every time we sin?).  I also have a choice to not take the hand that is offered to me (the way of escape from temptation is to take His hand and walk with Him through the test).

If I had the chance for my dad to hold my hand again, I’d grab it in a heartbeat.  I hope and pray that I’ll be as eager to let God hold my hand on this journey through life.  And I pray that I’ll never again be so insensitive to the Father’s hand upon my life.  My prayer for you is the same.

PRAYER: Lord, how desperately we need Your hand to hold ours!  We tremble in fear at the roaring of the world when we think we are alone.  May Your Almighty hand reassure us that we are never alone and we are never to fear with our Father at our side.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 2/01/18 – A Lamp, Not a Searchlight

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DayBreaks for 2/01/18: A Lamp, Not a Searchlight

From the DayBreaks archives, January 2008:

Psalm 119.105: Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.

Have you ever gone backpacking?  I have rather poor eyesight without my contact lenses, and at night when we are backpacking and I take my lenses out, I want to be sure that I don’t have to do any walking around or I can’t see a thing!  It can be awkward to be tripping and stumbling over unseen roots and rocks (not to mention it doesn’t impress my friends with my sheer athletic gracefulness)!!!

This verse from Psalm 119 is trying to tell us that we don’t have to walk in the darkness.  But it is important to remember what a lamp was in the days the passage was written.  Typically, the lamp being described was a small earthenware bowl with an elongated snout on one end into which a wick was laid.  One end ran into the bowl and the other lay on the outer edge of the “snout” and was lit.  It could usually fit easily into the hand.  Travelers carried these lamps at night so that they could see the terrain where they were walking.

It’s worth noting that the Word is described as being a “lamp”, not a high-powered searchlight.  The lamp of olden days gave light to the feet, but couldn’t give light for a great distance.  That’s the way it is with God – He gives us just enough to see the next couple of steps but not the complete pathway.  Why?  I think it is because if we had a high powered searchlight, we wouldn’t need faith, for then we would be walking by sight and not by faith.  God wants us to learn to trust Him with a future that is unknown (to us). 

Are you trying to direct your own steps?  Sometimes we can try to hard to plan the future and we rob ourselves of the excitement and joy of being led step by step.  Our planning tends to remove God and dependence on Him from our minds.  We must approach all of life with the attitude noted in James 4.13-15: “So you should say, ‘If the Lord wants, we will live and do this or that.'”  How often in the course of planning your day, let alone your week, month, year or life, do you stop to take God’s sovereignty into account?

Living day by day, depending on Him alone, is a tremendous adventure.  Don’t try to find the searchlight – be content with the lamp and trust that He truly knows the path.

PRAYER: Give us the wisdom to seek Your light and the courage to walk in Your pathway!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 1/31/18 – Screaming in the Darkness

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DayBreaks for 1/31/18: Screaming in the Darkness

From the DayBreaks archives, January 2008:

From Michael Card’s Immanuel: Reflections on the Life of Christ:  “When Jesus was arrested in Gethsemane, he was already bloody before anyone laid a hand on him.  He had been fighting a battle that would make certain the final outcome on Calvary.  Without Gethsemane, there would have been no Golgotha. The blood and water that flowed from his wounds on the cross were preceded by bloody sweat that poured from his pores as he suffered the agony of a death more painful than the physical death on the cross, the death of the will.”

“Gethsemane literally means “place of crushing,” a place where olives were crushed for their oil.  That name took on an infinitely deeper meaning when Jesus knelt down there to pray that night in the garden.  He was both a man and a child in Gethsemane.  Full of courage, it was a man who faced not an uncertain death, but one that was fully known to him.  Jesus looked the Father in the face with mature, though anguished, honesty and said, “If there is any way for this cup to pass, let it be so!”  The torment of the garden was the confrontation between the Son, whose perfect obedience came crashing down against the human desire to say, “My will be done!”  Jesus began to die in the garden.”

“Did Jesus want to go to the cross?  The garden of Gethsemane tells us, no.  Obedience is perfected not in doing something you want to do but in doing the last thing in the world you want to do.  That is why his sweat flowed with blood.  A man knelt in the garden, a man of unspeakable courage and obedience.  A Man of Sorrows…”

“Yet a child also knelt down there to pray.  We hear the tones of a child in Jesus’ plea, “Abba, anything is possible for you!”  Jesus’ words sound like a child’s cry to his father for help, not a theological statement about an all-powerful Universal Being.  (Every father is, at least for a little while, omnipotent to his children.)  He was a child, screaming in the darkness, as if he were having a nightmare, only this was not a dream.”

Galen’s thoughts: This is apparently the closest Jesus ever came to hanging it up and not going through with what God wanted from him.  Does it scare you to know how close he came?  It was only a few short letters and a twist of the words from “..not my will but thine…” to “…not thy will but mine…”.  We were that close.  If Jesus had refused to surrender his own will we would have been doomed.

The will dies hard, doesn’t it?  As you wrestle with your will and the role it plays in the sin in your life, find comfort in the fact that Jesus knows how hard it is for our own will to die within us.  He, the very Son of God, knew the struggle, too.  He can identify with me when I struggle to put the knife to the heart of my own will.  But he also shows me that it can be done.  The struggle is winnable. He proved it.

PRAYER: The struggle is great within us, Lord, to decide whether to follow you or follow our own ways.  Strengthen us in our obedience to be like our Lord.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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