DayBreaks for 11/07/17 – Someone is Watching

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DayBreaks for 11/07/17: Someone is Watching

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

Syndicated New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, a keen observer of world trends, devoted a recent column to the idea that technology has made everyone a potential paparazzo.  Here’s his thinking in a nutshell: anyone we encounter could have a cell phone with a camera that could record our actions.  If we’re rude or misbehave, we could end up on the offended party’s blog or MySpace website for the whole world to see.  “We’re all public figures now,” concludes Friedman.

For support, Friedman cites the new book How by Dov Seidman.  Its thesis: in this world of new and potentially revealing technology, how we live our lives and conduct our businesses has become far more significant than what we do.  “We do not live in glass houses (houses have walls); we live on glass microscope slides…visible and exposed to all,” writes Seidman.

I think as children we were all intrigued with the concept of a glass house.  We were too young then to think about all the downsides of such a living arrangement – we only thought about how cool it would be to be able to have 360 degrees of vision at all times. 

You’ve seen his point proven on the news nearly every night – a hidden camera captures a thief robbing a convenience store, kidnapping someone, showing the shaking caused by an earthquake.  If you look closely at the stop light poles in your town, you’ll notice lots of little cameras.  Or in department stores, they hang from the ceiling in glassed-over little orbs.  Whether you want to be or not, you’re constantly being watched.  It can be a bit unnerving if you’re aware of it – and even if you aren’t, it can be unnerving afterwards when you think, “I probably was on camera when I was doing that.”

Long before video cameras were invented, long before the first human eyes were fashioned by the fingers of God, there was a God who sees.  Hagar met this God in the wilderness as she fled from her mistress, Sarah.  And knowing that He saw her in her distress and isolation, gave her the strength she needed to return once again to her mistress. 

We should remember that the God who sees is greater than the camera that sees.  We shouldn’t alter our actions and behavior to please the camera, but to please God.  Why does God watch us?  I think He probably watches us for the main reason that I spent so much time watching our children or grandchildren: I delighted in them and wanted to protect them.  I certainly didn’t watch them mostly to catch them doing something wrong so I could punish them.  I delighted in watching them.  I’m convinced that God delights in watching His children, too, even though we will occasionally do things that cause Him grief.

PRAYER: Thank You that You are the God Who sees, and yet the God Who loves those He sees.  May we be increasingly aware each day of Your eye upon us, and rather than resent it, come to love You for caring so much about us that we are never out of Your sight!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 10/13/16 – An Open Scandal in Heaven

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DayBreaks for 10/13/16 – An Open Scandal in Heaven

From the DayBreaks archive, 2006:

Genesis 4:8-11 (NIV) – Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.  Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”  The LORD said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.  Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.

We read this story about Cain and Abel and can easily miss some important things.  First of all, it reads as if it all happens instantaneously, but the fact of the matter is that we don’t know how much time passed between the time Cain killed his brother until God confronted Cain about his actions.  It may have been minutes, hours, days or weeks.  We simply don’t know, and all things considered, it’s not that important – except in this regard: for the period of time that passed (no matter how long or short it may have been), Cain probably thought he’d gotten away with something.  He harbored in his heart the secret vision of killing his brother, of his brother’s blood spilling out onto the ground.  He must have considered what he would tell his mother and father the next time he saw them and they asked where his brother was.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he avoided his parents as long as possible.  It’s a terrible thing to harbor dark secrets in our hearts about the things we have done, wondering, tormented by the fear of discovery, all while hoping that no one will ever find out.

For however long of time that passed, Cain labored under the delusion that his sin was secret, but based on this text, as Chuck Swindoll put it, Cain learned that “A secret sin on earth is open scandal in heaven.”  Rather shocking and frightening when you hear it put that way, isn’t it?  The thoughts that I’ve had today that were angry, bitter, unforgiving, lustful or envious – they cry out to the throne of heaven as clearly and loudly as the blood of Abel.  And they are an open scandal in heaven.  The words I’ve spoken, the bad things I’ve done – they, too, are scandals on the front page of heaven’s newspaper. 

We call it a scandal when a congressman or public figure has their sins and faults splattered across the airwaves and printed on the front page.  Your sins are just as well known to God – even more clearly known, in fact.  And so are mine.

But if you go back and read the rest of the story about Cain and Abel, as Chuck Swindoll put it: “Even after the worst crime ever committed up to that time, the Lord demonstrated grace…God asked the murderous Cain a rhetorical question to convict him of his sin.  But Cain refused to repent.  What will we do?  It’s one thing to repent once your sins find you out, but we need to remember that God always sees our scandalous behavior.  In His grace, He gives us a chance to repent.  May we be wise enough to accept His grace!

PRAYER:  God, help us to remember that our lives are like an open book before you and that nothing we do is really a secret.  May the knowledge that you know, you see, and you are hurt by our sin help us to repent and return to you every time we go astray.  Thank you for your abundant grace and forgiveness.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 5/12/16 – Toothless Fish and the Things that Plague Our Souls

DayBreaks for 5/12/16 – Toothless Fish and the Things that Plague Our Souls

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2006:

HAKONE, Japan (Bizarre News, 4/19/2006) – “It’s a common sight to see Japanese people eating fish. But I bet you wouldn’t expect to see fish eating Japanese people. However, thanks to a beauty treatment imported from Turkey, this won’t be an unusual sight for much longer. Bathers at a new spa called “Dr. Fish” have the chance to dip their feet into a warm pool teeming with fish that nibble away at dead skin and bacteria. The toothless Kangal fish are used in Turkey as a cure for skin conditions like psoriasis, but in Japan the focus is on getting feet squeaky clean. Bathers say the experience is not painful, but rather ticklish. “They’re eating the bad stuff and it makes me feel better,” Shingo Kamiya, a 45-year-old customer at the spa said.”

I must confess, I’ve never dreamt of having fish nibble away at the dead skin on my toes (or anywhere else, for that matter!)  I can imagine, however, that it might be a rather interesting sensation to put your feet into a pan full of water and have little fish nibble away at the stuff between my toes!  (Poor fish!) 

But that’s not really the point of the story.  As I read this little news clip, I was struck with how far we as people go to get rid of the symptoms of the problems in our lives and never really deal with the root cause.  The little fish in the story can eat all the dead skin and bacteria off our feet that they want, but until we get rid of what’s killing the skin and allowing the bacteria to multiply, they’re not going to solve their “foot problem.” 

We struggle with sin – all of us.  But what we often fail to do is deal with the root cause of our sinfulness.  We may resolve not to get drunk again, not to do drugs, to stop lustful thought patterns – but we never get around to dealing with the real cause of our sin.  Alcoholism, additions of any sort, all have deeper underlying causes.  They may be that we’re not trusting God to meet our needs, it may be that we’re struggling with envy or unforgiveness that is eating us alive, feeding our destructive sinful behaviors.  And at the same time, we like how the sin feels – it tickles our ears and feet and heart – and if we’re honest about it, we may not really want to get rid of the sin. 

It isn’t easy to live a holy life – I can’t say that I’ve been terribly successful at it.  But I have, by faith, been clothed with the robe of righteousness that comes from God.  And I have found that I really can’t get sin out of my life until I come to the point that I really want to be set free from it – and then God gives the strength to be set free. 

Isaiah 61:10 (NLT) – I am overwhelmed with joy in the LORD my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bridegroom in his wedding suit or a bride with her jewels.

PRAYER:  Lord Jesus, we confess our sinfulness to you – and not just our sinfulness, but our love for sin.  And yet, Lord, we hate it, too, for the shame, guilt and despair it brings forth in us.  Help us to truly want to be holy, to be done with the sins that foul our lives.  Don’t let us settle for just dealing with the symptoms, but show us the root causes of our willful disobedience and change us in the inner person so that we can become like Christ.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

 

 

DayBreaks for 11/12/15 – What Impresses You?

DayBreaks for 11/12/15: What Impresses You?

(Sorry, friends!  I’ve been traveling!  Will try to get back on a regular schedule!)

Tourists. As Mark 13 opens, the disciples are like tourists, gawking at the more striking features of “the big city” that they were visiting for the high and holy festival of Passover. If there had been cameras in those days, you can almost picture the disciples mugging for the camera in front of the magnificent opulence of the Temple. Little bands of tourists wearing bright orange hats would be milling through the plazas and colonnades of the Temple as tour guides with bullhorns shouted forth impressive statistics. “Some of these foundation stones weigh 5 tons and were brought into the city through the massive efforts of thousands of masons and slaves.”

Appreciative “Ooohs” and “Ahhhs” would follow each stunning stat.

It was, all in all, a heady atmosphere. You couldn’t help but look up to see the towering heights. When I’ve been in places like Chicago and New York City, I know full well that standing on a sidewalk and staring up at the towering heights of the Sears Tower or the Empire State Building is the surest way possible to have me be easily identified as a tourist. But I can’t help it! I don’t want to look like some hick from the outback who is bowled over by skyscrapers, but they are just so impressive. They simply dwarf you! And so I steal as many heavenward glances as I can.

The disciples were like that. They don’t want to look like simple fishermen from Galilee and the like, but let’s face it: you just don’t see stonework like this back on the farm. Their enthusiasm is so great that they cannot resist pulling Jesus into the action. Their master seems oddly unmoved by the ramparts and architectural heights of Jerusalem. He is the only one NOT craning his neck and mugging for the camera. So the disciples try to bring him around. “Teacher! Lookee here – isn’t this one massive hunk of limestone!? Isn’t the craftsmanship on these carvings impressive? Can you imagine what it must have taken to raise up such a high edifice!?”

But Jesus meets their breathless enthusiasm with a shrug of his shoulders. “Yes, I see them. But you know what? Even the biggest of these stones will soon fall and be thrown down. One day, there won’t be a single building to look at here.”

We humans are easily amused and impressed. What impresses you? I’m convinced that God isn’t one bit impressed with our great skyscrapers, warships, rockets, art, music or anything else that we’ve come up with since the beginning of time.

What does impress Him? When we act in faith: When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to the crowd that was following him, he said, “I tell you, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel!” – Luke 7:9

TODAY’S PRAYER: Father, how I would love to be able to delight your heart with even my small faith! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

DayBreaks for 10/21/15 – I Heard My Brother Crying

DayBreaks for 10/21/05: I Heard My Brother Crying

Some years ago in a small village in the Midwest, a little twelve-year old girl named Terri was babysitting her little brother. Terri walked outside to check the mail. As she turned back from the mailbox, she couldn’t believe her eyes. The house was on fire. So very quickly the little house was enveloped in flames.

Terri ran as fast as she could into the flaming house only to find her baby brother trapped by a burning rafter which had fallen and pinned him to the floor. Hurriedly, Terri worked to free her brother. She had trouble getting him loose as the flames were dancing around their heads. Finally, she freed him. She picked him up and quickly took him outside and revived him just as the roof of the house caved in.

By this time, firemen were on the scene and the neighbors had gathered outside the smoldering remains of the house. The neighbors had been too frightened to go inside or to do anything to help, and they were tremendously impressed with the courage of the twelve-year old girl. They congratulated her for her heroic efforts and said, “Terri, you are so very brave. Weren’t you scared? What were you thinking about when you ran into the burning house?” I love Terri’s answer. She said, “I wasn’t thinking about anything. I just heard my little brother crying.”

Let me ask you something? How long has it been? How long has it been since you heard your brother or sister crying? How long has it been since you stopped and did something about it?

PRAYER: God, give us open ears, but even more, open hearts to be touched by the cries all around us! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2015 Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 10/14/15 – The Power of Small Things

DayBreaks for 10/14/05: The Power of Small Things  

Many have been the times that I wished I could do something great for Jesus. I think every believer at some point in their walk has felt that way. After all, he has done (and is doing!) amazingly great things for us. We want to reciprocate.

Yet most of us are not born to do “great” things. We don’t find ourselves in the position to change the world with the stroke of a pen or with a few words. Such is not our position. As a result, we can feel a bit dispirited and disappointed with the small things we can do.

The power of little things should never be underestimated. The power of the laugh of a little child to cheer a heart, the energy contained in the atom, a gentle and compassionate hug can lift the spirits of those in despair. As evidence, consider this true story:

A room-service waiter at a Marriott hotel learned that the sister of a guest had just died. The waiter, named Charles, bought a sympathy card, had hotel staff members sign it, and gave it to the distraught guest with a piece of hot apple pie.

“Mr. Marriott,” the guest later wrote to the president of Marriott Hotels, “I’ll never meet you. And I don’t need to meet you. Because I met Charles. I know what you stand for. … I want to assure you that as long as I live, I will stay at your hotels. And I will tell my friends to stay at your hotels.”

I don’t know if Charles was a Christian or not, but in this instance, he acted like one. It was just a card and piece of pie. Charles didn’t change the world that day, but he changed that day for someone who was grieving. And for all we know, that simple act of kindness and compassion may have changed eternity for the grieving guest. More important, that guest became a devotee of Marriott Hotels and an apostle to their friends on behalf of the hotel chain.

Today you will not nail 95 theses to the door of Wittenberg. Today you will not share your faith in Jesus before thousands of people gathered in a stadium. Today you will not feed 5000 people with five loaves and two fish.

We might say, “So, if those things are true, what’s the point of my trying to do anything for Jesus?” Jesus said it himself – that is we even give a cup of cold water to a thirsty soul, we’ve given it to him. He notices. He sees. And what little thing you may do today can change the world for someone today – and perhaps forever. They may even become a devotee of Jesus as a result of that cup of cold water.

Zechariah 4:10 (NLTse) – Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.

PRAYER: Lord, we have nothing great to offer you except small things. Let us never forget how great small things can be when given to you! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2015 Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 9/29/15 – The Power of One Life

DayBreaks for 9/29/15: The Power of One Life

We know some of the huge impact that the life of Jesus had on the world. But then, He was the Son of God, right? One would expect that He would have an unmatched impact on the world. But there are times when we think that we can’t make much of a difference – after all, we are mere humans, born into normal, ordinary lives without much apparent power or influence.

If that’s how you feel about your own life, you need to think again. One person armed with the gospel of peace can change the world.

Telemachus did. He was a monk who lived in the 5th century. He felt God saying to him, “Go to Rome.” He was in a cloistered monastery but he put his possessions in a sack and set out for Rome. When he arrived in the city, people were thronging in the streets. He asked why all the excitement and was told that this was the day that the gladiators would be fighting in the coliseum, the day of the games, the circus. He thought to himself, “Four centuries after Christ and they are still killing each other, for enjoyment?” He ran to the coliseum and heard the gladiators saying, “Hail to Caesar, we die for Caesar” and he thought, “this isn’t right.” He jumped over the railing and went out into the middle of the field, got between two gladiators, and tried to stop them. The crowd became enraged and stoned the peacemaker to death.

When the Emperor of Rome, Honorius, heard about the monk he declared him a Christian martyr and put an end to the games. Legend has it that the very last Gladiatorial game was the one in which Telemachus died.

Chances are that you won’t be stepping into a physical gladiatorial confront today, but you will have a chance to influence the world for the best.

PRAYER: Lord, it is easy to think we are powerless and can’t make much of an impact in this world. Our sins have beaten us down and our shame and frequent failures cause us to surrender before the battle is even joined. Remind us of the great power that dwells within us and which you have placed at our disposal. Let us all make the world a better place this and each day. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple. To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.