DayBreaks for 5/01/17 – Obedience

DayBreaks for 5/01/17: Obedience

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2007:

Listen to this story.  I don’t know the source of the story, but here it is:

“How we admire the obedience a dog shows to its master!  Archibald Rutledge wrote that one day he met a man whose dog had just been killed in a forest fire.  Heartbroken, the man explained to Rutledge how it happened.  Because he worked out-of-doors, he often took his dog with him.  That morning, he left the animal in a clearing and gave him a command to stay and watch his lunch bucket while he went into the forest.  His faithful friend understood, for that’s exactly what he did.  Then a fire started in the woods, and soon the blaze spread to the spot where the dog had been left.  But he didn’t move.  He stayed right where he was, in perfect obedience to his master’s word.  With tearful eyes, the dog’s owner said, “I always had to be careful what I told him to do, because I knew he would do it.”

Galen’s Thoughts: Loyalty.  Character.  Perseverance.  Courage.  Faithfulness.  These are all words that come to mind.  Sounds like a super-hero.  And then I have to stop myself and remember that I’m talking about a DOG!  But what lessons that dog can teach us!

I’m heart broken by this story for several reasons:

FIRST: I grieve for the dog’s sake.  I can’t imagine what it was like – how great the temptation must have been to cut and run through the forest away from the heat and torment of the flames – yet the dog stayed put.  I mourn the loss of the dog, but at a deeper level it makes me mourn my own lack of courage in obedience to the one I call my Master.

SECOND: I mourn that I am not more broken hearted by the loss of eternal souls than I am in the loss of the dog.  What is wrong with me, with us, when we have deeper feelings about the loss of a dog, albeit a tremendously loyal one, than the lives of those that surround us every day?

FINALLY: I am haunted by the final words of the dog’s master: “I always had to be careful what I told him to do, because I knew he would do it.”  What would my Master say about me?  Oh, how I wish Jesus could say, “I always had to be careful what I told Galen to do, because I knew he would do it!”  Instead, in my fear and weakness, I far too often run from the heat of the struggle into perceived safety.  But it is only perceived safety and it certainly isn’t obedience.

The love of the dog’s owner is clear in his tears – he loved his dog.  The pride of the owner is clear in his words – he was justifiably proud of the obedience of his dog.  I look at Jesus and see his tears for me and I know He loves me with all his heart.  I just wish my obedience was loyal enough that Jesus could be proud of me.

PRAYER:  Lord, forgive my lack of obedience and loyalty!  It seems to take no more than even the slightest distraction to pull me away from you sometimes.  Help me to have the kind of character you wish to develop in me.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

 

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DayBreaks for 9/28/16 – Lessons My Dog Taught Me, #37

DayBreaks for 9/28/16 – Lessons My Dog Taught Me, #37           

From the DayBreaks archive, 2006:

Lesson: let the Master scratch your itch.

You’ve heard of obsessive/compulsive disorder, I’m sure.  We call it OCD – the type of behavior that just can’t “let go” of something.  Well, I’m not a dog psychologist, but I think Casper may have OCD.

There are two things he does that make me think this.  First, any time he sees a reflection (from the face of a watch, or off a computer screen or any shiny object), laser pointer or even a flashlight (lit or not!), he is obsessed with it!  He “locks on” to it with every ounce of energy and attention in his taut body and he won’t stop chasing it until it goes away fully.  Even then he looks for it for several more minutes.  It’s bizarre.

But there’s another thing that he’s obsessive about: he LOVES to have his belly scratched.  It doesn’t matter if it’s day or night or something in-between, he wants you to scratch his belly!  He lets you know about it, too, because he’ll come over to where you are sitting or laying or standing, and he’ll raise up one of his paws and “paw” your arm until you get the idea.  So, you scratch his belly until you think your arm will fall off, your fingers have gone into permanent cramp-mode, and you stop.  But what does he think of this?  He doesn’t care if your arm does fall off – he’ll start pawing you again until you start rubbing his tummy again!  He has no shame.

I couldn’t help but think that God wants us to desire His contact as badly as Casper wants mine.  And I should want that touch from Him as desperately as Casper wants my touch.  How good and pleasant it is to lie down in green pastures, to drink the cool waters, to enjoy the table full of blessings that the Lord’s presence provides!  Can there be anything better than that?

Sometimes we just need to slow down and let God scratch our belly so we are filled with delight.  And as Scripture says, His arm never loses strength or grows weary! 

PRAYER:  Thank you, Father, for the ways you bless and comfort us each day.  May we be obsessed with Your Presence and may we take time to revel in Your touch.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/23/16 – Lessons My Dog Taught Me, #36

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DayBreaks for 9/23/16 – Lessons My Dog Taught Me, #36      

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2006:

Lesson: never pretend to be something you’re not.

Casper is my white boxer.  He’s eagerly awaiting his second birthday (in December), hoping that he’ll get a new chew toy of some kind.  He has rather figured out that I have a soft spot the size of Alaska in my heart for him, so when he gives me hints about what he wants for birthdays or Christmas, he’s got a good idea that he’ll get them!

He is still full of puppy.  A rather large and rambunctious puppy at that.  There are times when we (especially my wife!) wonder if he’ll ever grow up.

There are times when he tries to act like a docile, innocent creature, but his eyes and tail always wind up giving him away.  He may be able to act like there’s no mischief in his body for a while, but his eyes give him away quickly, the tail starts to move from side to side, and the real Casper comes out to play once again.  I can’t imagine how hard it must be for him to “sit” or lay down and control his energy.  It looks like a Herculean effort!

God looks at us and sees us as we are, not as we are pretending to be before Him.  Just as Casper knows there are times when I wish he’d just lay down and be quiet, I know there are times God wants me to just follow Him and behave myself.  So, I’ll sometimes pretend to be paying attention to Him (because I know He wants me to!), when deep inside I’m really struggling to restrain myself.  I sometimes wonder who it is that I’m really trying to fool: God, others, or myself.  I wind up, ultimately, not fooling any of them, for my old sin nature sneaks back out and rather than resting in God, I’m jumping and leaping all over creation, getting in trouble again.

When Casper breaks out of his innocent-little-puppy mode, it can be disastrous both for him and anyone in close proximity.  The same is true of us as humans.  We are dangerous and the havoc we wreak can be very hurtful, even deadly.  While the stingray that took the life of Steve Irwin looked docile, it wasn’t harmless, and it cost Irwin his life. 

May we all beware of things that are not what they seem, and of hypocrisy in our own lives.

PRAYER:  Jesus, you know better than anyone the danger of people putting on a show and pretending to be something that they aren’t.  The religious leaders of your day were experts at it, but sadly, so are many of us.  Help us to set aside our attempts to appear holy and righteous so that we might truly BE holy and righteous.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/20/16 – Lessons My Dog Taught Me, #39

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Casper, at about 1

DayBreaks for 4/20/16 – Lessons My Dog Taught Me, #39

From the DayBreaks archive, 4/20/2006:

Philippians 4:6 (NIV) – Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

We have been absolutely deluged with rain this year.  Cloverdale averages about 37 inches of rain a year.  So far, we’ve had over 60 inches of rain…and more is in the forecast.  I don’t think that I’ve ever lived anywhere during my life where there’s been so much precipitation in a single year.  Everyone in town is rather depressed by the gray skies and “liquid sunshine”, and on those rare days recently when the sun has actually managed to get out of bed in the morning and shine a bit, everyone’s spirits shoot right up.

Even our dogs have had their downs.  Our oldest dog, Rainy, is a mostly yellow lab and as a water dog, you’d think she’d not really care about the rainfall, and to some extent, she doesn’t.  But I think that even she’s getting tired of it.  Casper, just a bit over a year old, doesn’t have enough experience to know whether this has been normal or not, but he LOVES the sunshine.  In fact, as I write, the clouds have temporarily broken and it’s streaming through the window and he’s laying on the floor, snoring, in the sunshine. 

The last time we had sunshine, Casper stood (on the bed!) staring out the window at the sun, the leaves, the trees and grass.  There were reflections and leaves that looked like different colors than he’s been seeing, and he clearly wasn’t used to it.  He was really stirred up!  But Rainy, being older and more mature, came into the same room, hopped up on the bed, sighed heavily and lay down to sleep. 

Casper was a perfect example of someone who didn’t know how to let his anxiety go.  I don’t know, but when we are all stressed out, if we look as funny to God as Casper did to us, God must spend a lot of time laughing about our franticness.  We spend far too much of our lives staring and chasing reflections, worrying about what’s happening and how it’s going to turn out.  (I know that there are momentous things in life that are very legitimate challenges to us and which will naturally upset us, but Paul was pretty clear about it: Don’t be anxious about ANYTHING, but in EVERYTHING…present your requests to God.

It’s hard to do when it affects our loved ones, but it is worth the effort to trust God.  We need to remember that He sees things much differently than we do, but He IS trustworthy…in EVERYTHING. 

PRAYER:  Lord, the events of this life often seem so frightening.  We, like Martha, are worried about many things.  We carry burdens that we weren’t intended to carry, worrying over things that we cannot control, afraid to trust you fully for fear that you may not do what we want.  Help us to learn that what we want is often not what is truly best.  Help us to trust fully in You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 08/07/12 – Lessons a Dog Taught Me

DayBreaks for 08/07/12 – Lessons a Dog Taught Me

FROM THE ARCHIVES: 08/08/2002

Lesson: The friendship of the world is a fickle thing.

For those of you who have been readers of DayBreaks for some time, you are probably familiar with an on-going string of DayBreaks about lessons my dog has taught me.  Well, today there’s a different twist on this story.  While on a visit to Millersburg, PA to see some friends, a different dog taught me another lesson about life.  (I guess maybe it just goes to show that you can teach an old dog – me – new things!)

The dog in question, named Indy, is a 100-pound, 2-year old Newfoundland.  Big dog.  When this dog barks, the whole world listens (or more accurately, they cover their ears!)  I had met Indy the evening before after arriving in Millersburg from Connecticut where I was visiting relatives.  I had been forewarned about this dog – that I should just ignore her and let her come to make friends with me on her own terms.  (No one explained how you ignore a 100-pound mini-black bear walking around the front room!)  So, being the clever fellow I am, I heeded the advice and just ignored this dog as she got used to the idea that I was there.  Before too long, she came over to the couch where I was sitting, climbed up next to me and offered her paw in a friendly handshake.  (Made my heart smile!!!)  I had bonded with yet another dog.

Or so I thought.  The next morning, we went to see the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, PA.  We stopped after our excursion for a bit of lunch, and when we returned home, my wife walked into the house and straight up to the dog (who was behind a flimsy plastic gate “restraining” her in the kitchen area) and patted the dog on the head.  So, not to be outdone, I walked right up behind her, held out my hand to pet the dog who was looking straight into my eyes.  With my hand about 3 inches from her mouth, she suddenly started to bark angrily, snarl wickedly and get very agitated.  In the fastest movement in human history, my hand pulled back and I turned around and walked away.  (I was very glad the dog has never challenged that flimsy little gate with her 100-pound bulk!)

As I reflected on the situation later, I realized I’d made a mistake.   I had assumed the dog was my friend.  And I also realized that friendship with the world is a fickle thing.  The world may act like it loves us in one moment, but turn violently on us the second.   It was no different for Jesus – he entered Jerusalem to cries of “Hosanna!  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” to “Crucify him!  Crucify him!  We have no king but Caesar!”

The world and all that it offers us runs hot and cold.  It attracts us, makes us think that we are friends, but at the first opportunity – it turns on us.  That is not friendship.  That is why God’s friendship is so important.  His friendship isn’t hot and cold, on and off, here today and gone tomorrow.  God’s love is always HOT – His friendship never wavers (not even when we have hurt Him for the 100th time in a given day).  When will we ever learn that the truest friend that there can ever be is God – and God alone?  Even our best friends on earth will fail us and prove fickle.

Need friendship?  God needs friendship, too, and He wants to be your friend.  And His love abides forever!

James 4:4 – “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.

Deut. 31:6 – “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.

PRAYER: We desperately want to have friends, Lord, but we often look in the wrong place and mistake the world’s attention for friendship.  Let us not sell our souls for what isn’t real friendship, or for any friendship that we cannot take into eternity with us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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