DayBreaks for 6/17/19 – It’s the Little Things

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DayBreaks for 6/17/19: It’s the Little Things

From the DayBreaks archive: June, 2009

I’m not good at remembering birthdays, anniversaries or dates when special things have happened.  Just ask my wife.  She is wonderfully tolerant of me, and after years of marriage, has come to understand that there’s a good chance that I’ll forget something special about any given day.  Still, I try to remember and do something special on her birthday, Mother’s Day, our anniversary or some other special day.  And, bless her heart, it doesn’t have to be some “big” thing.  In fact, she’ll often say something to the effect that “It’s the little things that matter.”  What she’s trying to say is that if it is a little thing I thought of and it came from my heart, she’d rather have that than something that means nothing to me – or to her. 

Truly, little things matter.  Sometimes they matter a great deal.  We love to visit Civil War battlefields, for example: Manassas (Bull Run), Antietam and Gettysburg.  In anticipation of those visits, I’d researched those battles.  I am most fascinated by Gettysburg – I’ve been there twice and can’t wait to go again.  The battle there raged for 3 days with over 50,000 casualties.  Lincoln was right when he called it “hallowed ground.” 

I can’t help but think about the battle and how it waxed and waned…how it could have been avoided or won or lost by one small decision, a choice, that could have gone either way.  No one planned for a battle there – the Confederate troops went to Gettysburg because they heard that there were shoes to be had in the town – and many of the troops were marching without shoes.  So, a decision to go there to seek shoes, of all things, led into the greatest battle ever fought on American soil. 

Consider the Confederates decision not to push the attack at the end of the first day when they had overwhelming advantages in numbers.  By that one decision, it gave the Union troops time to get to Gettysburg and settle upon the high ground – easily defensible.  Consider the Union commander’s decision to deploy troops on a hill (Little Round Top) at the southern end of the area, where no fighting had taken place.  Some of the fiercest fighting would occur there on day two, and if the Union troops had not been present and held their ground, the entire Union army would have been flanked and the war would most likely have been over.  Consider Lee’s decision to attack the center of the Union line on day three, believing that they’d break there – in spite of the advice of his “war horse” General Longstreet – who said such an attack would be disastrous – and it was, as Pickett’s charge failed with horrendous loss of life.

Single decisions.  Thousands of lives affected forever.  History changed.  Reputations made or destroyed.  Life is like that.  And here’s perhaps the scary thought: spiritual decisions have eternal ramifications, not just ramifications for our three-score and ten years.  What kind of decisions are you making?  Where will they lead you?  What will their effect be on those around you – and on those you love – both now and beyond the grave?

Prayer: Lord, we cannot know the full impact of the decisions we make on ourselves, let alone on others, so we pray for Your wisdom to guide our decisions and make them wise.  May we honor Your will with the choices we make this day.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 6/5/19 – It’s the Little Things

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DayBreaks for 6/05/19: It’s the Little Things

From the DayBreaks archive, June 2009:

I am not good at remembering birthdays, anniversaries or dates when special things have happened.  Just ask my wife.  She is wonderfully tolerant of me and after many years of marriage, has come to understand that there’s a good chance that I’ll forget something special about any given day.  Still, I try to remember and do something special on her birthday, Mother’s Day, our anniversary or some other special day.  And, bless her heart, it doesn’t have to be some “big” thing.  In fact, she’ll often say something to the effect that “It’s the little things that matter.”  What she’s trying to say is that if it is a little thing that I thought of and that came from my heart, she’d rather have that than a big thing that means nothing to me – or to her.  I am grateful for her kindness towards me!

Truly, little things matter.  Sometimes they matter a great deal.  On the day you read this, I’ll be winging my way to the east coast for a vacation.  Some of the stops we’ll be making (after attending our son’s grad school graduation) will be at the battlefields of Manassas (Bull Run), Antietam and Gettysburg.  In anticipation of those visits, I’ve been researching those battles.  I am most familiar with – and fascinated by, Gettysburg – I’ve been there once and can’t wait to get there again.  The battle there raged for 3 days with over 50,000 casualties.  Lincoln was right when he called it “hallowed ground.” 

I can’t help but think about the battle and how it waxed and waned…and how it could have been avoided or won or lost by one small decision, a choice, that could have gone either way.  No one was planning for a battle there – the Confederate troops only went to Gettysburg because they heard that there were shoes to be had in the town – and many of the troops were marching without shoes.  So, a decision to go there to seek shoes, of all things, led into the greatest and deadliest battle ever fought on American soil. 

Consider the decision of the Confederates to not push the attack at the end of the first day when they had overwhelming advantages in numbers.  By that one decision, it gave the Union troops time to get to Gettysburg and settle upon the high ground – easily defensible.  Consider the Union commander’s decision to deploy troops on a hill (Little Round Top) at the far southern end of the area, where no fighting had taken place.  Some of the fiercest fighting would occur there on day two, and if the Union troops had not been present and held their ground, the entire Union army would have been flanked and the Confederates could have marched to Washington, DC and the war would have been over.  Consider Lee’s decision to attack the center of the Union line on day three, believing that they’d break there – in spite of the advice of his “old war horse” James Longstreet – who warned such an attack would be disastrous – and it was, as Pickett’s charge failed with horrendous loss of life.

Single decisions.  Thousands of lives affected forever.  History changed.  Reputations made or destroyed.  Life is like that.  And here’s perhaps the scary thought: spiritual decisions have eternal ramifications, not just ramifications for our three-score and ten years.  What kind of decisions are you making?  Where will they lead you?  What will their effect be on those around you – and on those you love – both now and beyond the grave?

Prayer: Lord, we cannot know the full impact of the decisions we make on ourselves, let alone on others, so we pray for Your wisdom to guide our decisions and make them wise.  May we honor Your will with the choices we make this day.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 5/09/19 – Heart Valves or Auschwitz

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DayBreaks for 5/09/19: Heart Valves or Auschwitz

From the DayBreaks archive: May 2009

Flash of Genius is inspired by the true story of Dr. Robert Kearns (played by Greg Kinnear). After creating the intermittent windshield wiper, Kearns pitches his idea to General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler. All three companies turn him down, only to steal his idea and add them to all their automobiles. Dr. Kearns decides to take on the Ford Motor Company in a legal battle that no one believes he can win. (He later challenged Chrysler, GM, and Mercedes, as well.)

At this point in the film, Dr. Kearns has not yet invented his famous windshield wiper. He is currently working as a mechanical engineering professor at Wayne State University. As the scene begins, Dr. Kearns is writing the word “ethics” on a chalkboard. His students enter the classroom. He turns, and says, “Morning, everybody! I want to welcome you all to the first day of the quarter for Applied Electrical Engineering. My name is Dr. Robert Kearns, and I’d like to start by talking to you about ethics.”

“I can’t think of a job or a career where the understanding of ethics is more important than engineering,” Dr. Kearns continues. “Who designed the artificial aortic heart valve? An engineer did that. Who designed the gas chambers at Auschwitz? An engineer did that, too. One man was responsible for helping save tens of thousands of lives. Another man helped kill millions.”

“Now, I don’t know what any of you are going to end up doing in your lives,” Dr. Kearns says, “but I can guarantee you that there will come a day when you have a decision to make. And it won’t be as easy as deciding between a heart valve and a gas chamber.”

Everything has implications. Decide to make the ethical choices today.

Prayer: May we live upright lives, considering carefully the outcome of our choices.  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.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 3/06/19 – Signs and Decisions

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DayBreaks for 3/06/19: Signs and Decisions

From the DayBreaks archive February 2009:

“In my experience, signs follow decisions. The way you overcome spiritual inertia and produce spiritual momentum is by making tough decisions. And the tougher the decision, the more potential momentum it will produce. The primary reason most of us don’t see God moving is simply because we aren’t moving. If you want to see God move, you need to make a move!

“I learned this lesson in dramatic fashion during the first year at National Community Church. We had been praying for a drummer to join our worship team for months, but I felt like I needed to put some feet on my faith, so I went out and bought a four-hundred-dollar drum set. It was a Field of Dreams moment: if you buy it, they will come. I bought the drum set on a Thursday. Our first drummer showed up the next Sunday. And he was good. He was actually part of the United States Marine Drum and Bugle Corps.

“Rock and roll.

“I cannot promise that signs will follow your faith in three minutes or three hours or three days. But when you take a step of faith, signs will follow. God will sanctify your expectations, and you will begin to live your life with holy anticipation. You won’t be able to wait to see what God is going to do next.” – Matt Batterson, Wild Goose Chase, 2008

Abraham had to pack his bags and family before he took the first step.  Noah worked for years before the first drop of rain fell.  Moses had to stretch out his hand before the Red Sea parted.  The high priests had to put their foot in the flowing Jordan before God stopped the water.  Elijah had to pray, build altars, douse them with water…before fire fell from the sky.  The apostles had to go in faith that Jesus would be with them when they went out into a hostile world. 

What step of faith is God asking you to take for Him?  Have you decided to do it…but have yet to take the first step?  Why are you waiting?

Prayer: Give us courage, Lord, to act in faith…trusting that You will be with us and bring about Your desired result!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

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

 

DayBreaks for 12/27/18 – An Everyday Mystery

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DayBreaks for 12/27/18: An Everyday Mystery

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2008:

Choosing.  How difficult it is, and yet how often we do it!  How many decisions have you made already today?  You decided whether or not to get up when the alarm went off, or to hit snooze a time or two.  You decided what you would wear.  You decided what you would eat, or if you would eat, for breakfast.  You decided (whether you thought about it or not) on the route you’d drive to work, school or wherever you were going.  You decided where to park, how fast you’d drive, whether or not to pass or honk at someone who irritated you.  You decided what you’d listen to on the radio.  You decided what to read in the paper.  You decided if you’d take your lunch or buy it.  Chances are you’ve already made thousands of little decisions (many unconscious) already today – and your day is just getting started.

Someone has said that practice is what makes perfect.  We know, of course, that there’s a smidgen of truth in that sentiment – with practice we DO get better (hopefully!)  But we don’t get perfect through practice regardless of the old saying.  The only way we ever get perfect is by God changing us in eternity into Christ’s likeness.  We can make progress until then – but perfection?  No, definitely not.

But if we are to get better with practice, have you ever stopped to think about why it is that we so seldom choose what is best?  It’s nothing new to the 21st century, of course.  It’s been going on since the beginning of time, and humanistic thinking aside, we aren’t getting better at it throughout the millennia.  Adam and Eve were given an entire garden by God and told that they could eat of any tree in the garden – except one.  And which one did they choose?  The ONE.  Jonah had the choice of going to Ninevah or the other direction – so he high-tailed it away from Ninevah.  Saul/Paul could choose to persecute Christians or to let them be.  Judas could have not betrayed Jesus, be he did.  Perhaps you could have chosen to remain faithful to your spouse but you chose unfaithfulness instead.  Drugs, alcohol, greed, thievery, murder, lying – all spring from the well of choice.  See what I mean when I say we’re not getting better at it? 

I’m convinced that we don’t know how to choose wisely sometimes.  How can we possibly know in every circumstance what is the very best thing to do?  If you know the answer, please tell me!  Sure, I know we can pray and God can give us direction, but we still have to choose to go His way and not our own, or He may not give us an answer when we are seeking it. 

So what are we to do?  Maybe all we can hope for in those cases where we’re not sure what is best is to choose what is better.  Mary and Martha were hosting Jesus in their home, and Martha was all a-flutter with her busyness and serving until she got so ticked off at her sister that she even (by implication at least) berates Jesus and Mary – Mary for not helping, Jesus for not telling Mary to help Martha.  Jesus, ever gentle and wise, simply gives Mary a bit of praise: Mary has chosen what is better.  (Lk. 10:42) Notice what Jesus didn’t say: he didn’t say Mary had chosen what was best, but just better. 

What would have been best in that situation?  The Lord only knows, but he didn’t scold Mary for not choosing what was best but encouraged her in her choosing of what was simply “better”.  Maybe that’s why, in all our ways, we should acknowledge Him and let him direct our paths until we reach that which is best.

PRAYER: I’m so grateful, Lord, that you understand our limitations and don’t expect perfection from us.  Forgive us for our foolish choices and help us choose that which is better!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 8/12/18 – Find the Right Road

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DayBreaks for 10/12/18: Find the Right Road

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2008:

I really have mixed feelings about backpacking. I love the unmatched scenery and being able to get away from the crowds. I love the serenity of a remote mountain location. I hate the sweat and backache, though. But sometimes backpacking can be a real adventure. This last June we hiked (well, actually crawled through broken-down trees and branches) through an area where some avalanches had wiped out the trail. We weren’t sure where it was, but knew the general direction that we had to go. Needless to say, with our excellent navigational skills, we got there (guys never get lost, right?)

Joshua 3:4a tells us Joshua’s instructions to the children of Israel as to how they would know where to go when they were about to go into the Promised Land. Joshua said that they were to follow the ark of the covenant because: Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before…

Taking a wrong turn in the woods or in an unknown city at night can be scary. Wasn’t getting lost one of our greatest fears as a child? One of my boys used to sleepwalk. One night while backpacking, he and his older brother were sharing a tent. Well, Tim went for a sleepwalk that night in the Little Yosemite area of Yosemite National Park, only to wake up in the darkest middle of the night and realize that he had no idea where he was or where the campground was. Fortunately, he was clever enough to begin walking in an expanding circle until he came upon the campground.

Taking the wrong road can be scary or frustrating – but it can also be fatal. What if Tim had sleepwalked right off of one of the several thousand foot cliffs in Yosemite? (When we spent the night on top of Half Dome, I tied him to me to prevent just this!!!) It can happen spiritually, too. We can take the wrong road and wind up “lost” in the wilderness of sin. A wrong decision can destroy marriages, wreak havoc with children, destroy relationships and reputations, and they can steal our hope.  And those things can start with just a single wrong decision – if it is the “right” wrong decision.

Maybe you are on the wrong road right now. What will you do about it? Charley Reese of the Orlando Sentinel, in an article about taking the right road, said: “I agree with C. S. Lewis that when you find you’ve taken the wrong road, going ahead isn’t progress. Progress is going back until you find the right road that takes you where you want to go.” Sometimes progress is made by going back to what you know is right rather than trying to cover up the wrong decision. Remember Peter’s words in John 6:68: Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.

As with the Israelites, we have “never been this way before”. If you’ve gone down the wrong road – don’t just plow ahead. Go back to the Lord and get on the right road again!

PRAYER: Lord, let us trust the navigation that is found in your Word and the guidance of the Spirit. Let us not fear going “backward” in order to go forward! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>