DayBreaks for 10/20/20 – How to NOT Get Blown Up

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So, what have you already had to decide today that you’d not anticipated? If you haven’t done that yet, just wait – you will! They happen to us day in and day out. Some are simple, some have bigger consequences.

There is a story of a fisherman and a game warden. It seemed that every day this fisherman would come back with stringers full of fish while everyone else managed just one or two. So, the game warden wanted to learn his secret.

They set out early one morning together, got to the middle of the lake and stopped. Watching, the game warden saw the fisherman pull out a stick of dynamite, light it and toss it into the air. The concussion from the explosion stunned the fish and the fisherman just scooped them up in his net.

The game warden was incensed! “You can’t do that!” he yelled at the fisherman. In response, the fisherman pulled out another stick of dynamite, lit it, and tossed it into the hands of the game warden, then asked, “Are you going to just sit there or are you going to fish?”

All of a sudden, the game warden was faced with an unexpected decision – and it was an explosive one! And some of our decisions can be explosive, too.

Consider the youth who must decide if he’ll snort some coke just to be friends with someone. Consider the girl facing improper sexual pressure by her boyfriend. Or the employee who has a chance to syphon off a little cash here or there. The taxpayer taking a few “shortcuts” on their taxes. The housewife being pressured to tell some juicy tidbits about someone else.

You see, all those have explosive consequences. What can we do about it?

Jesus’ experience with his disciples in the garden is instructive. First, he tells them to “Watch…” – always a good idea. “Be alert”, “keep your eyes peeled”, etc.

How does that relate? You know your weaknesses, don’t you? It could be alcohol, sex, drugs, power, money. What Jesus is saying is to watch out for those places and situations which will put you with a lit stick of dynamite in your hands! When you see such a situation developing, scram!  But if you aren’t watching, you will soon be in a dangerous situation.

Secondly, Jesus tells them to “pray”. It’s not that you’ll tell him something he doesn’t already know. Prayer is inviting him to walk the pathway ahead of you and warn you through his Spirit of the pitfalls and dangers ahead of you so you can avoid them (that’s the watch…(and listen! part), and then to have your back as you move forward.

Watch. Pray. It can spell the difference between winding up with dynamite in your lap or a quiet ride on the water.

PRAYER: Jesus, help our first inclination be to watch and pray rather than to run ahead into dangerous waters! In Jesus’ name, Amen.Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 10/14/20 – Hanging in the Balance

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From the DayBreaks archive, October 2010:

The island of Kauai is the oldest of the Hawaiian islands.  As such, it has a long history.  Some of the history is beautiful and amazing, but it also has its dark moments. 

Before Kauai became part of King Kamehameha’s unified Hawaiian island kingdom, Kauai had its own kings who lived high up in the mountains in the center of the island.  The kingship would be passed from father to son as was typical in most monarchies.  When it came time for the wife of the king to give birth, she would come down from the mountain to a heiau (a holy place of worship) where she would give birth.  If the child that was born was a daughter, the baby would be automatically welcomed into the royal family.  If, however, the baby was a boy, a test was required to determine if the child was worthy to be a successor to the king.  After the child was born, the umbilical cord of the baby boy was wrapped in ti leaves and placed outside of the enclosure where the mother and baby boy would spend the night.  If the rats came during the night and ate the umbilical cord, it was believed that the boy was not worthy to be an heir to the kingdom and he would be put to death.  The boy would survive only if the umbilical cord was still intact and hadn’t been eaten by rats during the night.

As I heard about this practice of the ancient residents of Kauai, I couldn’t help but draw a contrast between this chance-laden, horrendous practice and how God deals with us.  The writer of the letter to the Romans describes our relationship with the King: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. – Romans 8:17

Are any of us worthy to be joint heirs with Jesus?  Absolutely not!  Does God leave us outside the door to see what chance may play into our future?  No.  Does He accept us only if we pass some test?  Yes, and no.  The test is a simple one: will you put your faith in My Son?  That’s it.  It’s not left to some rat to determine our fate, nor is it even up to Satan to determine our fate.  God leaves it to us, in a way, to make the choice that will allow us to be accepted as His sons and daughters. 

Have you chosen yet?  Eternity is hanging in the balance.

PRAYER: How thankful we are that You have a heart that is willing and eager to adopt us as Your children, to give us, along with Jesus, all things!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 5/19/20 – It Was/Is Good

Creation | Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation

DayBreaks for 5/19/20: It Was/Is Good

Genesis 1:31 (CSBBible) – God saw all that he had made, and it was very good indeed. Evening came and then morning: the sixth day.

Sometimes we may think that some of the things God made aren’t so good. To wit, rattlesnakes, spiders, reptiles, and from time to time we’re likely to think that some of the people God made aren’t all that hot. We may think gravity isn’t good if we fall and get hurt. But Genesis says that all that he made is good.

So the problem isn’t with what God made. It’s with how the things he made are used and what they do. God made us with hands that can be turned into fists to beat others or to hand food to someone who is hungry. He gave us mouths to sing his praise and bless him and others, but far too often we use our mouths to say hateful, bitter, petty things or hurt others. Our minds are amazing and can lead to create the Sistine Chapel,  Mozart’s symphonies, Michelangelo’s David, create cures for diseases and put people on the moon, or they can be used to create things like the Holocaust – unhuman and ungodly abominations.

You see, it’s what we do with God’s good things that create sin.

We should never blame God for evil, but ourselves. As GK Chesterton put it once when asked to answer a question in the newspaper, “What’s wrong with the world?”  His answer was two words? “I am.”

I can be part of the pollution or the solution. So can you. Choose you this day what you will do with God’s good creation!

PRAYER: Let us this day make the best possible use of all your glorious creation and realize that it is us, not you, that is the problem! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 5/01/20 – The Power of Choosing

Manna for Your Morning: Choose the Narrow Road

DayBreaks for 5/01/20: The Power of Choosing

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2010:

Do you prefer chocolate or vanilla?  Steak or lobster?  Salad or dessert?  Red or blue?  Which Scripture translation do you choose to use?  Where will you go on your vacation?

Choices are everywhere – we literally make thousands of them every single day, many without even really giving them much thought.  At some point during the day today you probably got up from your work and went to get a drink of water or a can of soda or cup of coffee without taxing your brain over the decision.  There’s nothing wrong with that…it is how God designed us.  The only possible danger with it is that we can get that “non-thinking” mode of decision making about unimportant things and start using it on things that matter, too. 

The decisions you make have tremendous power to affect not only you, but others.  The power of the choices we make was well described by C.S. Lewis in his book, Mere Christianity, when he wrote: “Every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow-creatures, and with itself. To be the one kind of creature is heaven: that is, it is joy and peace and knowledge and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness. Each of us at each moment is progressing to one state or the other.”

It is high time that we all start to think more critically about many things in life.  Ethical issues, moral issues, matters of faith and matters pertaining to how we raise our kids and treat our spouses.  It is easy after many years of marriage to slip into non-thinking modes of acting and choosing that are not conducive to stronger, better relationships. 

The choices we make will shape us, define us, and in the end, turn us into either an instrument in the hands of God or Satan.  What will you choose?  Choose carefully. 

PRAYER: Help us to make choices that allow You to do the work of turning us into heavenly creatures and not hellish ones.  Let us choose to be in harmony with You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2020, Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 4/23/20: Killed by Our Own Creation

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DayBreaks for 4/23/20: Killed By Our Own Creation

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2010:

A minister recently shared a parable as part of a sermon. I liked it and wanted to share it with you:

Four brothers in Africa one day were out wandering across the plains. As they did, they began to talk and one brother claimed that he could take a bare bone and attach flesh to it. The second brother said he could attach skin to the flesh. The third brother declared that he could give four working legs to the creature. The last brother proclaimed that he could then give life to the animal.

In order to prove their capabilities to each other, they proceeded to search for a bleached bone, and sure enough, they soon found one. The first brother picked up the bone and flesh appeared. The second brother touched it and skin appeared to cover the flesh. Not to be outdone, the third brother fashioned legs and the final brother brought it to life. As it turned out, the bone they had found belonged to a lion. The lion, upon being brought to life, leapt on the brothers and killed them all.

The point of the parable is simply this: we have the capacity to create what can devour us. What do I mean? God has “gifted” us with free choice. We can choose to create good things with what God has given us, or we can create what will ultimately kill us. We can choose to keep our marriages pure, or we can build a web of deceit that will rise up and kill us and those we love. We can choose to be truthful and honest or we can create a web of lies and falsehood that will come to life and tear down our reputation and destroy our witness.

1 Corinthians 3:12-13a – If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light.

You are creating something with every decision, with every action. Is it something that will be a blessing or will it devour you? You may think that some sinful thing you are building can be hidden, but listen to these words from Job 28:11 – He searches the sources of the rivers and brings hidden things to light.

PRAYER: Help us through our choices to choose what is good, pure and holy. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple

 

DayBreaks for 4/06/20 – Thy Will is Hard, but Amazing

The True Path to Pleasure | CBN.com

DayBreaks for 4/06/20: Thy Will is Hard…but Amazing

NOTE: Hallways Through the Sea will resume tomorrow!

Matthew 26:39 (CSBBible) – Going a little farther, he fell facedown and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

I remember the musical, Jesus Christ Superstar, and how this scene was portrayed lyrically when Jesus was praying he said, “God, thy will is hard…” That certainly appears to have been the sentiment of Jesus’ heart as he spoke these words. The human part of Jesus was struggling with the will of God – just as we would if we were in that situation. Let’s face it – God’s will IS hard. Think it’s not? How’s your struggle with sin in your life going? It is hard to obey even in something as small as denying our temptation, let alone facing a horrible death as Jesus was.

Was coronavirus God’s will? I don’t know how to really answer that other than to say that it didn’t happen without his knowledge. He knew before he said, “Let there be…” that it would happen and when and where. The question I ponder is what is God trying to teach ME through this? I hope you’re asking yourself that question, too.

So God’s will is hard, period. We don’t understand and I suspect we cannot understand the why’s and wherefore’s of almost anything God does. But as hard as it is to do his will, his will is also amazing.

I recall the story in Ezekiel of the valley of dried bones – the remains of slaughtered humans that had bleached in the sun. At God’s direction (his will) Ezekiel spoke the bones God told him to speak and the bones began to jiggle and shake, making noise as they once again were covered with sinew, muscle and flesh – a mighty army risen to do God’s bidding and to remind Israel that even in spite of their disobedience, God would do great things in their midst.

As a post from Christianity Today put it: “Maybe Ezekiel’s vision is the answer to the most important question we can ask, especially in this present moment. What will God do in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles? What will he do in a world surrounded by death?”

I don’t know the answer. But I know he can and will do something amazing through this if we hold on in faith and trust. He can still put flesh on dead bones to remind us of his unfailing promise to be with us even in the midst of the valley of the shadow of death.

PRAYER: Jesus, we trust you and we believe you know precisely what you are doing by permitting this pestilence. Help us to trust your will and to do your will even in trying circumstances – even if it is hard. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

DayBreaks for 3/18/20 – The Courage to Choose Freedom

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DayBreaks for 3/18/20: The Courage to Choose Freedom

From the DayBreaks archive, March 2010:

An Arab chief tells a story of a spy who was captured and then sentenced to death by a general in the Persian army. This general had the strange custom of giving condemned criminals a choice between the firing squad and the big, black door. As the moment for execution drew near, the spy was brought to the Persian general, who asked the question, “What will it be: the firing squad or the big, black door?”

The spy hesitated for a long time. It was a difficult decision. He chose the firing squad.

Moments later shots rang out confirming his execution. The general turned to his aide and said, “They always prefer the known way to the unknown. It is characteristic of people to be afraid of the undefined. Yet, we gave him a choice.”

The aide said, “What lies beyond the big door?”

“Freedom,” replied the general. “I’ve known only a few brave enough to take it.”  

It is much easier to remain enslaved than to be free.  One might think it would be the opposite – that anyone in their right mind would choose freedom over slavery.  But when we are enslaved, we don’t have to make choices, we don’t have to make decisions – we are told what to do and we have no choice but to do it. 

Perhaps that’s why so many refuse to choose the freedom that Christ offers.  When we accept the invitation to freedom, we are accepting the responsibility to imitate and live like Jesus.  Do you have the courage necessary?  Once you choose freedom in Christ, however, you are truly free!  The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever.  So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. – John 8:35-36

PRAYER: For the freedom to choose, we thank You!  For real freedom through Christ, we give you praise!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Link to video with facts, symptoms and prevention tips about coronavirus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AITtaAAAdYc

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 11/19/19 – The National Rush to Therapy

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DayBreaks for 11/19/19: The National Rush to Therapy

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2009:

Ft. Hood, Texas.  Sadly, that name is now in the archives along with Columbine, Lockerbie, Auschwitz (though this was a much larger scale) and others.  It is a name that will “live in infamy” to borrow a phrase from Franklin D. Roosevelt.  On a beautiful fall day, blood was spilled mixing its color with the leaves.  Thirteen died (as of this writing) and many more were wounded.  It was a tragedy that should not have happened – just as Cain should not have slain Abel, David should not have had Uriah killed, and Saul should not have killed Stephen.  Yet human tragedy seems to be the legacy of the human race.

On November 9, 2009, David Brooks, writing in the New York Times in an article titled “A Rush to Therapy”, analyzed the events and news coverage in the aftermath of Ft. Hood.  I have no interest in sitting in judgment on Maj. Hasan – I am more than willing to leave the judging to God as He alone is qualified to sit in judgment.  I don’t have that right, but He does.  What was interesting about this article was Brooks’ focus on how people have tried to explain away the man’s behavior.  He was stressed out from hearing about others stresses (secondary stress syndrome – we even have a name for it).  As a pastor, I can understand that – I’ve been there before and most assuredly will be again.  Others suggested that he acted out of a fear of going to Afghanistan into a war zone (then why did he create one of his own?)  Others said it was “pre-traumatic stress syndrome” – anticipation of the events of the foreseeable future that cause him to snap like a dry twig (yet couldn’t we blame everything on such a “syndrome” if we want to?) 

I want to be fair and honest about this, so I now tread carefully.  I don’t know what was the “straw that broke the camel’s back,” but it seems to me that all the efforts to explain it away, to reassure us as to why it happened, have missed a very crucial point: the existence of evil.  Major Hasan was not different from anyone you meet on the street.  Everyone has struggles and they’re happy to tell you about them if you’ll stop long enough to listen.  Everyone has things they dread in the future (aging, loss of income, health issues, fear of death or abandonment, fear of conflict.)  But not everyone responds as Major Hasan did.  He chose to act evilly.  Why did he kill and wound so many?  Because of evil in the heart.  So it has always been – and so it will always be until we let God create new hearts within us. 

On the same day as Brooks’ article came out, it was announced that the Beltway Sniper (John Allen Mohammad) would not receive clemency and would be executed that same evening at 9:00 p.m..  Something inside of me “cheered” at that news.  After all, I wanted to see “justice” done to this man who held much of the eastern seaboard hostage to a murderous terror spree some years back.  What beat in his heart?  Evil.  I recall people trying to excuse his behavior, too.  I have no doubt that he suffered disappointments, possibly abuse.  Yet that didn’t make him a murderer.  It was his choice about how to respond to those things that made him a murderer.  He could have chosen to go another way – to become a counselor or social worker who helps people who have experienced the things he did, but that wasn’t what he chose.  He chose to act evilly.

But then God puts a check in my heart.  “How have you responded to evil, Galen?”  Well, Lord, there have certainly been times when I talked about someone who hurt me behind their back.  I’ve thought thoughts about them that should never be thought – let alone spoken.  I may have intentionally wronged someone or acted in an evil manner.  But those, too, were choices.  And where do they come from?  From the same heart that drove Hasan or the Beltway Sniper to do what they did.  Perhaps my actions weren’t as evil in the eyes of society, but they are still evil. 

Enough of the evil.  Enough of denying its existence in the hearts of others – and in our own hearts.  Let us all pray that God creates that new heart within us that David pled for when he recognized his own need: Create in me a clean heart, O God, and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me.  Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation and renew a right spirit within me.  (Ps. 51:10) 

PRAYER: Create in us clean hearts, Father and a spirit that is fashioned after Your Own.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/06/19 – Come to Me or Die

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DayBreaks for 11/06/19: Come to Me or Die

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2009:

John Ortberg told this story in one of his sermons: “My friend, Jimmy, and his son, Davey, were playing in the ocean down in Mexico, while his family—his wife, daughters, parents, and a cousin—were on the beach. Suddenly, a rogue riptide swept Davey out to the sea. Immediately Jimmy started to do whatever he could to help Davey get back to the shore, but he, too, was soon swept away in the tide. He knew that in a few minutes, both he and Davey would drown. He tried to scream, but his family couldn’t hear him.

“Jimmy’s a strong guy—an Olympic Decathlete—but he was powerless in this situation. As he was carried along by the water, he had a single, chilling thought: My wife and my daughters are going to have to have a double funeral.

“Meanwhile, his cousin, who understood something about the ocean, saw what was happening. He walked out into the water where he knew there was a sandbar. He had learned that if you try to fight a riptide, you will die. So, he walked to the sandbar, stood as close as he could get to Jimmy and Davey, and then he just lifted his hand up and said, “You come to me. You come to me.”  (To escape a riptide, rather than swimming directly toward the shore it is necessary to swim parallel to the beach until one is out of the riptide current. – GCD)

“If you try to go the way your gut tells you to go—the shortest distance into shore—you will die. If you think for yourself, you will die. God says, ‘If you come to me, you will live.’  That’s it—death or life.”

Galen’s Thoughts: in Mark’s gospel, I’ve been struck by the differences between those who belief and those who don’t.  We are seldom, if ever, given reasons for why people choose not to believe, but they certainly do choose to not believe.  In chapter 16, it twice says that Jesus’ own disciples didn’t believe the resurrection stories.  While that may seem incredulous to us, I think it makes perfect sense.  Which is harder to believe – that a person has risen from the dead or that they’ve been cured of some disease that may not even have been visible on the outside?  The resurrection has almost always been one of the greatest stumbling-blocks for unbelievers.  It’s not that people don’t want to believe in life after death – it’s just that no one that I know of who is alive today has seen a person walking and talking who was dead for 3 days. 

Jesus (and God) seem perfectly willing to leave it up to us to choose whether or not to believe for our own reasons.  On the one hand, a centurion watches him die (probably the first time he’d seen or heard Jesus) and concludes he was the son of God.  On the other, the disciples who’d seen him and heard him many times, didn’t reach that conclusion for some time.  Jesus was taunted on the cross to “come down” and show everyone that he was who he claimed to be.  He didn’t do it – not because He couldn’t have – but because He shouldn’t have.  Belief must come to us as individuals as the conviction of the heart. If it had been me or any other human being that I’ve ever met who had been taunted as Jesus was, I’d have come down and proved my point – so strong is our desire for affirmation.  Jesus wouldn’t have any part of that – no forcing of faith. 

God is so gentle with us.  We’d break otherwise.  So we must come to Jesus because we hear his call, as Jimmy heard the call of his friend on the beach: “Come to me.  Come to me and live.”  We can’t force faith any more than we can swim against a riptide.  It is a work of God’s Spirit. 

PRAYER: Thank You, Father, for sending someone to stand on the shore of this earth and call to us, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened…come to me, and find rest for your souls!”  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 3/26/19 – Being on the Right Side

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DayBreaks for 3/26/19: Being on the Right Side

From the DayBreaks archive, March 2009:

Throughout history kings, emperors and generals have tried to inspire their troops with claims that “God is on our side”. The idea? Well, if God is on our side, we will win…God is on our side because we are in the right!

Well, I have some problems with that. I’m not so sure that God chooses sides to coincide with us and our squabbles. I like what Abraham Lincoln had to say in reply to a group of southerners who came to see in him Washington, DC: “My great concern is not whether God is on our side; my great concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.”

Sometimes we can be so sure that we’re right…that God just has to see things the way we do and agree with us, thus He’ll bring us to a happy conclusion. It is humility to recognize that we aren’t always right, but God is. How much greater it is to desire to be on God’s side than to have Him on ours!

What does it take? Knowing the heart and mind of God. We certainly won’t ever get that one down perfectly, so let’s be humble about it and admit it. Let’s not be pigheaded and stubborn unless we are positive we have the mind of God within us about a matter – and even then we may well be wrong!

Let’s work hard to be on God’s side!

Prayer: May we seek to never convince you to be on our side, but may we desire only to be on Your side, Father!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

PRAYER: Help us take the long road so we may walk it with  you and revel in your creation and presence! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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