DayBreaks for 8/03/17 – Lessons From a Little Child

Charlie

DayBreaks for 8/03/17: Lessons From a Little Child

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2007:

My oldest son, Doug, recently wrote this in his blog:

“My four-year-old son and I went for a swim at our neighborhood pool on Saturday in the early evening. Though it was still quite warm out, we had the place to ourselves. After our swim we pulled up a couple chairs to sit and dry, facing toward the declining sun. It was a lovely scene: the still, shadowed water of the pool surrounded by an ivied fence; the tall eucalypti and willows stirring languidly in the breeze; the hummingbirds darting through the flowered margins of the grounds; the playful cries of a pair of hawks dashing through the treetops.
We sit silent a moment or two and then my son folds his hands on his lap and says, “Let’s have a conversation.”
“All right,” I say. “What should we talk about?”
“You decide, Papa.”
“Okay. So tell me,” I say, recalling a conversation we had that morning, “do you really think you’d like to be a fireman on a train when you grow up?”
“Yes, a fireman, who shovels the coal and fires it up to keep the train moving.”
“That sounds like a good job.”
“Yes, but I won’t have any little boys or girls or a wife when I’m a fireman.”
“You won’t?”
“No… Can a fireman be married and have little boys and girls?”
“Well, yes, he can.”
“But how can he if he’s always working on the train?”
“He comes home sometimes, you know.”
“Oh… Can all workers have wives and little boys and girls?”
“Yes, I think so.”
“I didn’t know that.”
I stretch my legs out in front of me while my 4-year old son digests this new revelation. He pulls his chair closer and rests his hand on my arm. We sit quietly for half a minute. I take a deep breath and sigh.
“You know,” I say, “I think it’s wonderfully relaxing just to sit here and listen to the wind and the songs of the birds, don’t you?”
“You know what I like better, Papa?”
“What?”
“To sit in a very uncomfortable rocking chair outside and listen to the sounds of forklifts!”
“Really?” I ask, astonished. “An uncomfortable chair? Forklifts?”
“Yes,” he answers. “But what can a forklift lift, and what can a forklift not lift? You tell me.”
“Well,” I say, “a forklift can lift a pallet stacked with heavy boxes and things, but a whole house would be too heavy for it.”
“Yes, but I bet a house wouldn’t be too heavy for an elephant-sized forklift.”
“You mean a forklift so big it could only be operated by elephants? That kind of a forklift?”
“Yes, by elephants. That kind.

“I suppose you’re right, son.”

Galen’s Thoughts:

FIRST: I am struck by my grandson’s commitment to his passion.  Even though he labored under the illusion that a fireman on a train couldn’t have children or a wife, he has a passion in his heart to be such a fireman regardless of the cost.  The apostle Paul describes people who came to Christ, but who then turned back because they loved the things of this world more than they loved Jesus.  They weren’t willing to give up the things of this world to follow the Lord.  Charlie was ready to give up all future hope of a family to fulfill a passion.  Where is my passion, where is yours?  What is it worth to you?  What will you give up to follow Him if He calls you?

SECOND: I don’t think my grandson really believes, at 4 years of age, that elephants can run forklifts.  But he thinks big.  Age has a way of making us think small – and smaller as time goes by.  We limit not only ourselves, but more importantly, the actions of God because we have concluded in advance that a situation is impossible – so we never step out in faith to watch God do HUGE things.

THIRD: it is a good thing to have conversations with your dad.  The day comes when you can’t.  It’s even better to talk with God while we have the chance.  We’ll learn amazing things if we listen to His voice – and we will be delighted with the conversation, just as my son delighted in this conversation with his own boy.

FINALLY: maybe you’ve had a tough week.  I hope this story brought a smile to your face and will remind you that not everything in the world is a deadly serious as we sometimes make it out to be.  Enjoy your weekend!

PRAYER:  Oh, Lord!  Fire the passion in our hearts, give us hearts ready and eager to give up everything to follow You when you call.  Help us to believe – and to expect great things from You through Your great power.  Delight us with Your voice and Presence, and let us laugh and rejoice more than we do.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 9/27/16 – Sleeping on the Job

DayBreaks for 9/27/16 – Sleeping on the Job                 

Can I make a confession, hoping that you’ll not judge me for this one? Ready? Here it is: I sometimes have a hard time staying awake when I’m praying. I don’t have that problem often when I’m sitting or standing, but when I’m laying in bed at night before going to sleep, I will sometimes drift off to sleep. And that makes me feel guilty and ashamed! Why in the world can’t I stay awake? And at those moments, I suspect God must be peeved with me.

Then I remind myself of a couple things:

FIRST: I’m in good company. The disciples, in the garden, were supposed to watch and pray. They probably did, but you know the story: they fell asleep not just once that night, but multiple times. So, I am in the same class of folk as Peter, James and John, plus about 8 other ones (I’m assuming Judas came along later with the soldiers.)

SECOND: when I think more about the character of the Father and remember that I’m His little child, I suspect that God isn’t so peeved with me after all. Why? Well, simple really: do you remember what it was like for your little ones to fall asleep when you were carrying them or when you would lay down and talk with them? Were you peeved with them for falling asleep? Did you ever slap them in frustration and yell at them for going to sleep? Of course not! Why? Because you loved them so much and understood their need for sleep and their frailty/weakness. It wasn’t something you got angry about – it was precious. How I loved to carry our little ones at times like that!

I’m convinced that if we, as very flawed humans, find it precious that our little ones fall asleep and if we can be as understanding of it as we are – how much more does God find it precious if we drift off? He knows it isn’t a sign of disrespect. It is a sign of our humanness and how small and weak we are. And He understands that.

From now on, if I fall asleep “on the job” of prayer, I’m not going to feel badly about it. God understands! And He may well turn to one of His angels and just whisper, “Isn’t he precious! Look how tired he is!” – and then He’ll kiss me goodnight.

PRAYER: Thank You for being such a wonderful, loving and understanding Father who knows my weaknesses and understands them! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/30/16 – Role Models Needed

DayBreaks for 6/30/16 – Role Models Needed

Galen is on vacation. From the DayBreaks archive, June 2006:

The TV show 60 Minutes ran a segment that tells us something important about fatherlessness.
The park rangers at a South African wildlife preserve were concerned about the slaughter of 39 rare white rhinos in their park. It turned out that the rhinos were killed not by poachers but rather by juvenile delinquents—teen elephants.
The story began a decade ago when the park could no longer sustain the increasing population of elephants. They decided to kill many of the adult elephants whose young were old enough to survive without them. And so, the young elephants grew up fatherless.
As time went on, many of these young elephants roamed together in gangs and began to do things elephants normally don’t do. They threw sticks and water at rhinos and acted like neighborhood bullies. Without dominant males, the young bulls became sexually active, producing excessive testosterone and exhibiting aggressive behavior. A few young males grew especially violent, knocking down rhinos and stepping or kneeling on them, crushing the life out of them. Mafuto, the gang leader, eventually had to be killed.
The park rangers theorized that these young teen-aged elephants were acting badly because they lacked role models. The solution was to bring in a large male to lead them and to counteract their bully behaviors. Soon the new male established dominance and put the young bulls in their places. The killing stopped. The young males were mentored—and saved. – Ken Sowers, Mentor, Ohio; 60 Minutes (1-20-99). 

Isn’t it strange how we can see “failures’ in animal parenting and yet miss them in human parenting?  Park rangers could see that the lack of a good role model contributed heavily to the delinquency of this group of rogue elephants.  And yet, parents scratch their heads when their child is picked up by the police for shop lifting, for drinking and driving, for taking drugs – and yet many of those same parents “teach” that stealing isn’t all that bad – they bring things home from the office, they rob God of their tithes and offerings, they drink and drive and even may sit around and smoke grass or shoot drugs when their kids are around.  And yet, they can’t make the connection between their children’s behavior and the role model that they are failing to set. 

We are all being watched.  Especially Christians.  If people know you’re a believer, they’re watching to see if you and I live up to the tenets of our faith.  What kind of role model are we being?

PRAYER:  Lord, we want to be good representatives for you.  Help us to have the courage to live up to the truth of Your Word, to emulate the lifestyle of Jesus Christ so that we can be a blessing to others and help lead them into paths of righteousness.  Especially, help those who are parents with young ones to take seriously their God-given responsibilities to model putting You FIRST in all things.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/10/16 – Raising Redwoods

DayBreaks for 6/0/16 – Raising Redwoods

From the DayBreaks archive, June 2006:

On Memorial Day this year, my wife and I hopped in the car and drove from our home to Mendocino, California on the Pacific coast.  On the way across highway 128 are some lovely redwood groves.  The road winds its way through the majestic giants, in some places with the darkness of the shadows so deep that it’s hard to remember that the day is still young and not ending.  We stopped, opened the sun roof, reclined our seats and lay back, looking up at the underside of the treetops, swaying slowly in the wind.  

For hundreds of years these trees have stood the test of time, weather and road making machinery.  They inspire an awe that is at best, impossible to describe.  There is something very, very spiritual about this place that God has made.  One can’t help but wonder if what you think is the sound of the trees is the very breath of God.

In our yard, by our driveway, is another redwood tree.  It’s not nearly as imposing as it may some day get to be.  It’s just a mere baby – perhaps a hundred years or so old.  It’s probably not more than 40 feet tall at present, if that.  As I stand on the carpet of forest detritus that surrounds the base of the huge redwoods of the forest, I think about what it takes to raise a redwood – the patience, the constant care and attention, that someone, even if it is just God, must pay to such an undertaking.  It needs the right amount of sun, of water, of nutrients, it needs protection from the fires and infestations that might bring it down at a young age. 

Suddenly, I am stricken by the realization that raising redwoods to become all that they can be must be a lot like raising children to grow tall and straight in the Lord, to have their roots go down deep by the stream of Life that flows from the throne of God and of the Lamb (Rev. 22).  And I am even more amazed to realize that God goes through this process with each one of His children – watching over us day and night, protecting, sheltering, nurturing – with tremendous patience, dreaming of the end result that will be a spectacle to behold.  

PRAYER:  Almighty Creator, our only true Father, how can we possibly express our gratitude to You for Your incredible patience and love as You grow us from seedlings to Spirit-filled men and women?  How terrifying that You should entrust the lives and souls of our little ones to people such as us.  Gift us with the diligence and patience to raise them as You raise us up.  And thank You for seeing – and dreaming – of what we may become through Christ.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/21/16 – Finding the One Needful Thing

DayBreaks for 4/21/16 – Finding the One Needful Thing

From the DayBreaks archive, 4/21/2006:

Luke 10:41-42 (NLT) – But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are so upset over all these details!  42 There is really only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it—and I won’t take it away from her.

As I write this, it is Easter Sunday afternoon.  As was true of churches all over America, we had more people in church today than on almost any other day of the year.  It happens that way every year.  It is at one and the same time both a delight to every preacher and a frustration.  It’s a delight to see people that you’ve not seen come for some time when they come through the door.  It’s great to meet new people who may need to know about Jesus.  And it’s great to get to preach the Word at any time. 

But it’s also frustrating because it points out how frivolously some people take their faith.  They will show up for Easter and Christmas…and other than a funeral or wedding throughout the year, that’s about it.  Why?  I’m sure there are a lot of reasons, and while I know that in the verse above, Jesus rebuked Martha for being “upset” over many details, I think he would criticize many of us for being “obsessed” by so many things.  Perhaps distracted is more accurate.

I look at families who are extremely irregular in their church attendance.  They often have kids who are involved with soccer, football, baseball, gymnastics, cheerleading and other things.  It used to be that sports leagues had the decency to not have such things on Sunday because there was a respect for Sunday as a day of worship.  No longer.  And so many of these parents yield their God-given responsibility to raise their kids in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord” so that their kids can participate in sports or hobbies.  The parents often believe that they’re just being supportive of their kids, and, in a way, they are.  But are they being supportive in the things that really matter?  What’s more important – God and worshipping him, learning about Christ and the faith, or kicking one more goal?  I fear greatly for many of these kids.  They are learning from their folks many wrong lessons – such as, “There are many wonderful things in life you can do, and church is just one of them.  But if you decide you’d rather participate in some organized activity rather than going to church, I’ll support your decision.”  For most of those kids, the day will come when their parents wonder why their children have no faith – certainly not a faith that will sustain them when life gets hard and the enemy spreads his lies.  The answer will be simple: it will be because their parents failed in their God-given responsibility to model the Christian life and to insist that their children attend church and participate in spiritual things as a priority over earthly pursuits. 

Jesus told Martha that there was only one thing worth being concerned about…and that Mary, by sitting at Jesus’ feet and learning and worshipping, had chosen that one thing.  The one thing that is needful for each generation is not to play organized sports or be part of some club, but to know Christ and Him crucified and risen from the dead.  I fear a dreadful judgment for parents who fail in this most sacred of responsibilities, and for the children whose parents didn’t have the spiritual insight to see how their “support” for what their children wanted to do could cost them in eternity.  If children haven’t established a faith in Christ by the time they are 18, the odds are that they never will come to know Him.

What are you teaching your children is the one needful thing in life?

PRAYER:  We are so easily distracted, Lord, from being with you.  We find and use every excuse to abandon you and fail to worship and fellowship with other Christians.  Open our eyes to the effect that our actions have on our children.  Help us to hunger and thirst after righteousness and not vicarious experiences through our children’s lives.  Forgive us and renew our commitment to putting You first, now and forever, in our lives.  We pray that you’ll draw our children to you and that they will come to know you, love you, and follow you all the days of their lives.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/04/15 – A Kind of Child Sacrifice

DayBreaks for 8/04/15: A Kind of Child Sacrifice

And they have built the high places of Topheth, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I did not command, nor did it come into my mind.– Jeremiah 7:31 (ESV)

Of all the sins of ancient Israel, it is hard to imagine anything that could compare to the sacrificing of children to pagan gods. Surrounded as pagan cultures as they were, those practices often infiltrated the national life of Israel. As I understand the worship of some of those gods, they were represented by metal images with their arms and hands outstretched in front of them. Fires could be lit beneath their arms and the arms would be heated until they glowed red-hot. And then the idolatrous worshipers would bring their children and place them into the super-heated arms of the pagan deities as sacrifices to placate the whim of those gods. Though it was acceptable culturally to the surrounding nations and many in Israel, It makes one shudder to even try to imagine such a thing!

On Sunday, the preacher was talking about worship and how we are innately worshiping beings: we all worship something – if not God, then idols. I fear he is right, and I also fear the extent of our idolatry even in the absence of physical images of metal or wood or stone.

In the name of financial gain, the pursuit of the perfect body, the head-long rush to climb the corporate ladder to dizzying heights, in the pursuit of our love of sports, fame or honor – we hold our children out and place them into the arms of those gods. Rather than holding our children and cherishing them, instead of making them the priority with our free time, we rush off and dump the children off on whoever is willing to watch them while we entertain ourselves.

I ask: is that not a kind of child sacrifice? It used to be that parents would selflessly sacrifice themselves in order to be there to raise their children in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord”. Consider God’s admonition to Israel: Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. – Deut. 6:7 (NIV) You can’t possibly keep that command if you have sacrificed your children for the sake of convenience or expediency. 

It was culturally acceptable at times in the experience of Israel to sacrifice their children. That’s how they explained it away, I suppose. Even though we don’t literally sacrifice our children on a burning altar, it makes me wonder if we haven’t fallen for the same “culturally acceptable” seduction when it comes to our children and grand children. The altar of materialism and career and accumulation are leading to sacrifice of our children. 

I know not everyone has a choice – a single parent let to struggle raising children alone has a very difficult challenge to make ends me and yet be a parent. All I ask is that we think about our children as our most important “possession”. In making sacrifices “for” them, I can’t help but wonder if maybe we aren’t sometimes actually sacrificing them!

PRAYER: God, how desperately we need Your mind on this matter! We can make all sorts of excuses for why we are doing what we do but never let us forget that You have entrusted them to us and they are Yours and we will give an answer before Your throne for how we dealt with our children! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.

DayBreaks for 6/11/15 – Show and Tell

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DayBreaks for 6/11/15: Show and Tell 

Steve Morrison tells a story about a friend of his who likes to read fairy tales to his two young sons at night. This friend has great sense of humor and often times ad-libs parts of the stories just for fun. One day his youngest son was sitting in his first grade class as the teacher was reading the story of the Three Little Pigs. She came to the part of the story where the first pig was trying to gather building materials for his home.

She said “…And so the pig went up to the man with a wheel barrow full of straw and said ‘Pardon me sir, but might I have some of that straw to build my house with?'”

Then the teacher asked the class “And what do you think that man said?”

This friend’s little boy raised his hand and said “I know! I know! he said, ‘Holy smokes! A talking pig!'” The teacher was unable to teach for the next ten minutes.

We may not be able to predict what our kids are going to say, but there’s one thing for certain, it’ll usually be something unexpected. Hopefully they won’t repeat something we’ve said that maybe we shouldn’t have said and embarrass us. And the other thing we know for sure is our children are like sponges, they soak up everything we say and everything we do.

What we say to them and about them makes a huge difference in who they become.

Read Mark 4:26-34 and listen to what God might be saying to you today: And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground.  He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how.  The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.  But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”  And he said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it?  It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth,  yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”  With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it.  He did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything. – Mark 4:26-34 (ESV)

What we say and what we do are like seeds planted in the hearts and minds and spirits of our children. Jesus makes it very clear that often times it’s the smallest things which make the biggest difference in our faith. The same can be said about parenting. Watch this.

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Our children will not only imitate us, but in many ways, they will grow up to be like us simply because we’re their parents. Surveys show that parents still have more influence than peer pressure, even though the kids might rebel.

So, you might say that parenting is kind of like farming or gardening. You see, I learned something growing up on a farm in Iowa: We Harvest What We Plant. If we plant squash, we can’t expect to get corn. If we plant potatoes you can’t expect to get tomatoes. We Harvest What We Plant. The same is true in parenting. And in my opinion, the best way to make sure we reap the best harvest is to plant the best seed possible.

And that means we have to go back to elementary school for a little bit. Elementary school is where we learned all the basic for everything else we would learn. And one of the most important lessons for parenting in elementary comes from Show and Tell time. As parents we’re called to Show our children how to live as a Christian in the world today. We’re called to Show them how much we love them. And we’re called to tell them how much we love them.

How are you doing with that today?

PRAYER: Teach us to live before our children and grandchildren as You lived before mankind and may our lives and speech be worthy of emulation!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.