DayBreaks for 8/15/18 – Singleness of Heart

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DayBreaks for 8/15/18: Singleness of Heart

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

Every so often it seems that an individual, or group of people (even as large as a nation at times), gets it into their head to do something and they are driven to do it.  Such was the case with Kennedy’s challenge to put men on the moon by the end of the ‘60’s.  If some of our politicians who are running for office today are to be believed, we can do all sorts of things if we just decide to do it. 

I’m not quite as convinced.  While the elimination of hunger and poverty are good and worthy goals and we all should work as hard as we can towards those ends, Jesus himself said that “the poor will always be with you.”  And how about eliminating war?  Scripture says that in the end times there will be wars and rumors of wars.  How I wish it were not the case, but it is. 

Still, it is fascinating to read of wholehearted human endeavor—amazing stories of total dedication and commitment to a cause or purpose.  For example, the U.S. Marines have a super secret sniper program that is run out of Quantico, Virginia.  The sniper school admits 25 people for an eight-week course consisting of 16-hour days of training and practice.  Very few who enter the program will pass.  To graduate, each must go on a mock mission into a well-defined area where instructors search for the sniper.  If they can find him, they can fail him.

To get within range of the target, the sniper may have to move forward at a rate of only one inch per hour.  They may sit or lay in position for days – absolutely still, despite cold, rain, insect bites, and fear.  No one gets out of the Marine Corps sniper school without singleness of heart.

We expect that kind of intensity from Olympic champions, concert pianists, neurosurgeons and everyone else at the highest levels of human achievement.  Somehow, we’ve gotten it into our head that since our God is a very loving and forgiving God (very true) who wants no one to be lost (also very true!), that we can have a lukewarm commitment and dedication to Him.  Not so.  God expects single-mindedness and complete dedication when we come back to Him.  God deserves such singleness of heart because He is God! 

Sadly, many intend to come back to God—sometime.  But they may well fail because their intention never becomes intense.

How committed to living as godly of a life as possible are you?  What can you offer as proof and evidence of that kind of single-hearted dedication?

Jeremiah 29:13-14 – You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.

PRAYER: Our hearts and minds are so easily distracted, Lord!  Help us to have single vision – and to focus that vision on the cross!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 11/20/17 – In Due Time

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DayBreaks for 11/20/17: In Due Time

NOTE: Galen is traveling…again.

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

“Somewhere over the rainbow, bluebirds fly, somewhere over the rainbow, why then, oh why, can’t I?”  Every heart carries dreams and hopes and ambitions.  I’ve always wanted to be able to fly (without being in an airplane.)  I know other people who have dreamed of sailing the south Pacific or climbing some of the earth’s tallest mountains.  Others dream of being a police officer, astronaut, explorer, singer, dancer or actor.  Hopes and dreams are an essential part of life. 

In Discipleship Journal, Carole Mayhall tells of a woman who went to a diet center to lose weight.  The director took her to a full-length mirror.  On it he outlined a figure and told her, “This is what I want you to be like at the end of the program.”  Days of intense dieting and exercise followed, and every week the woman would stand in front of the mirror, discouraged because her bulging outline didn’t fit the director’s ideal.  But she kept at it, and finally one day she conformed to the longed-for image.  – Daily Bread, August 8, 1990

For a long time, as a child, I wanted to be either a brain surgeon or astronaut.  When I started off to college, I was torn between pursuing a career in medicine or in ministry.  For over 25 years, I did neither, although I took classes that could have led in both directions.  The thrill of holding someone’s physical life in my hands during surgery was intoxicating.  The adventure and wonder of flying through space to the moon caught my imagination. 

What we dream of and long for help to shape what we actually become.  That’s partly why Scripture says “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”  (Phil. 4:8)  We’re also told that we are what we think about in our hearts.  We’re told what our vision should be: to lock our eyes on to Christ and to become like him.  Pretty heady stuff, when you think about that one!

The absence of dreams (a vision and focus for life) can be equally serious: we can wind up just drifting along and one day we bump into shore and we are something that we never wanted to be, stuck somewhere in a place we never wanted to be.  God wants more for us, for you, than that. 

I have been out of high school now for a staggering 47 years (as of 2017).  Even if I’d pursued a career in medicine, I would have been out of college for 35 years or so.  Are there days when I still wish that I was a neurosurgeon or astronaut?  Yeah, there are.  But they’re a lot less frequent now.  Here’s what I want to be when I grow up: I want to be Christ-like.  It is hard to imagine that such a thing is possible, but Peter says it is in 2 Peter 1.  2 Corinthians 3:18 (NIV) says: And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Like the woman in front of the mirror who saw the shape of what she wanted to be gradually became the shape she actually was, let us all fix our eyes on the perfect Image, the exact Image, of God.  And in due time, if we don’t grow weary, we will take on that Image to His everlasting glory.

PRAYER:  Jesus, it’s hard to believe that we could come to look like You.  Help us to keep looking at You and to You, our perfect example.  May we regain what we were meant to be that we have lost through sin.  Help us to be patient with ourselves, even as You patiently shape us.   In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 8/15/17 – It Takes a While

DayBreaks for 8/15/17: It Takes a While

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2007:

God certainly has different ways than we do.  We all like to do things in the easiest, most simple way possible.  We aren’t given to wanting to work harder or longer than we absolutely have to.  And so, we take shortcuts and labor hard to find the quickest way to get somewhere. 

When we go on vacation and have a specific destination in mind, I tend to be pedal to the metal until we get there.  I’ll look at the map and find the shortest and most direct route to get where we’re going.  In fact, I not only look at the mileage, but the amount of time each route will take.  I really want to get there!  I’m often not much for appreciating the journey itself.  Just this past summer (2006), my wife and I drove to Iowa for a family reunion.  No dilly-dallying around.  We high-tailed it as fast as we could.  We didn’t have a lot of time, nor a lot of money, to lolly-gag on our way.  “Interstate 80, here we come” – all the way from California to Iowa. 

God, it is clear, has other ways of “traveling”.  Take Israel, for instance, as they came out of Egypt.  The most direct route would have taken Israel northeast along a path that curved around the southeast corner of the Mediterranean Sea.  The distance would have been a mere 200 miles or so.  Even with a group as large as the nation of Israel, such a trek could have been managed in 2-3 weeks at most. 

But God had a “better idea.”  I can’t imagine how Israel felt on the first morning when the pillar of cloud headed not to the northeast, but to the southeast.  The Bible even tells us why this happened.  It wasn’t because God had a bad sense of direction.  It was because God knew that along the route would be strong armies that Israel would have to fight.  And God knew that if they encountered such difficulty, things could be really bad.  Here’s what the Word says: (Exodus 13:17-18 (NIV) – When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter.  For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.”  So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt armed for battle.

You see, it wasn’t that Israel didn’t have weapons to do battle – it explicitly says they left Egypt “armed for battle.”  So the problem wasn’t armaments, it was a heart problem.  For 400 years, Israel had been slaves.  They thought of themselves as slaves – a subordinate, powerless, third rate people with a God that had been on vacation for 4 centuries.  Sure, some of them remembered the stories of how God had dealt with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph, but they had not had personal experience of God at work.  At least, not that they could see. 

So, the point is that Israel didn’t know God and had no reason (as far as they were concerned) to trust Him if they encountered an enemy.  They needed to learn to follow and believe in Him and His goodness.  And that takes time.  As someone once said, “It took one night to get Israel out of Egypt, but it took 40 years to get Egypt out of Israel.” 

I sometimes get frustrated with the rate at which I make spiritual progress.  I know others who feel the same way.  I hear it often: “I feel I should be a better Christian by now,” or “I feel like I should not still be struggling with this issue.”  I hear it all the time.  But the point is that God is as patient with us as He was with Israel, and that He will choose the route to the Promised Land that ensures us that when we get there, we’ll have learned to trust Him. 

It takes a long time to get Egypt (earth) out of our focus and onto God as all that we need.  How are you doing?

PRAYER: Father, thank you for choosing the right pathway for each one of our lives as we traverse this world.  Thank you for leading us out of slavery, through the desert, and into a place of learning and trusting in you.  Help us to learn our lessons well, Lord.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/12/17 – The Widow’s Offering

DayBreaks for 4/12/17: The Widow’s Offering

From the Holy Week devotional guide from our church:

“On the surface, I don’t believe it can be any clearer what’s being said here. It’s important to give, to tithe, and to sacrifice. However, I want you to look deeper and be inspired by something that motivates me, and I hope I will encourage you as well.

“Let’s look at her FOCUS! Here is a woman living an uphill battle. She is a woman in a time where so little value was placed on her gender and potential. Most women were not allowed to leave their homes, nor were they allowed to speak in public. Simply put, most women held the same status as a slave. This woman was a widow, which meant what love and relationship she once had in her life was now gone. She suffered the pain of a loved one’s death and the loss of a secure future. In a sense, this widow had nothing going for her and little to live for. In every direction, her life was about pain. Who among us cannot relate to the pain this widow experienced?

“However, reading the story of this widow’s actions is inspirational. While reading this passage, I visualized this timid, humble, and respectful woman approaching the offering box. She was focused on one thing…God! She wasn’t focused on the fact she was broke, probably jobless, and didn’t have any excess money to give. Frankly, one could easily assume she might want to hold onto her last few coins to give herself some sense of security for the next day or two? No, not her! Even though she had experienced the death of her husband and loss of companionship and security, her pain was great, but her focus was not on her story. It was on Him!

“The widow’s story is like a movie. I’m sure we all have movies that inspire us, motivate us to new heights, and even bring us to tears as we relate to the hero’s ability to overcome obstacles. This widow’s story is a biblical picture of an overcomer with an attitude that says, ‘I will not quit.’ As hard as her life was, she was prepared to put her confidence in God’s faithfulness. It all goes back to her FOCUS, her ability to trust, to see what is most important It is awe-inspirit as she surrenders her life’s struggles to the loving arms of the Father!

“Easter is a time of reflection, sadness, joy and great celebration. It is a time to FOCUS. Focus on our personal struggles and pain but also on the finished work of Christ. Though we cannot make sin disappear in our lifetime, as the movie of our life is played, we can experience what it is like to live as overcomers because of what Jesus has done! This widow gave us an example to follow. She was a humble servant, a dedicated giver, and most importantly a lover of the Mighty God!

“Where is our FOCUS? Jesus looks beyond the outward appearance and sees directly into the heart. Are we preoccupied with our struggles or are we living in the reality that Christ has overcome those struggles? As we focus on the finished work of Christ, our story will look remarkably like the widow’s story.” – Brent Weber, director of Kidsquest and Impact Arts Academy, Perimeter church

PRAYER: Lord, when we consider that You were obedient, even unto death, it seems a reasonable service of worship for us to present ourselves as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable. Lord, only You can give us a heart that is willing to live sacrificially! In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 9/16/16 – Glass, Mirrors and the Power of Silver

 

 

DayBreaks for 9/16/16 – Glass, Mirrors and the Power of Silver

An enormously rich man complained to a psychiatrist that despite his great wealth which enabled him to have whatever he wanted, he still felt miserable. The psychiatrist took the man to the window overlooking the street and asked, “What do you see?” The man replied, “I see men, women, and children.”

The psychiatrist then took the man to stand in front of mirror and asked, “Now what do you see?”

The man said, “I see only myself.”

The psychiatrist then said, “In the window there is a glass and in the mirror there is glass, and when you look through the glass of the window, you see others, but when you look into the glass of the mirror you see only yourself. The reason for this, “said the psychiatrist, “is that behind the glass in the mirror is a layer of silver. When silver is added, you cease to see others. You only see yourself.”

Whenever your devotion to money and material things causes you to be self-centered, you in essence deny God’s intention for your life. It is also a denial of the Christ, for Jesus came into the world so that we might be in union with God.

Jesus talked more about money than any other subject in the Scriptures. I always thought it was because it was too easy to make it our idol and to pursue it too strongly. The story of the rich man I relayed above gives me pause to reflect a bit more deeply about it. Perhaps the danger of silver (a metaphor in the story for money) is that it only allows us to see ourselves and not the needs of those around us.

PRAYER: God, I confess to you that all my life I’ve been far too concerned about money.  I confess I’ve not been a good steward.  I confess it is far too easy for me to see only myself and my wants and wishes rather than to see those all around me who could benefit from my generously (and hopefully wisely!) giving what you have already given to me.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 7/30/15 – Life Substitutes

DayBreaks for 7/30/15: Life Substitutes

There’s a story found in the Chronicles of Narnia. In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the fifth volume of that series, Mary, Edmund, their cousin Eustice, and some of the colorful creatures of Narnia, come upon a crystal clear pool of water with what appears to be a golden statue of a man at the bottom. Only, they discover that it is a magical pool that turns everything into gold that touches the water. It appears that the statue at the bottom of the pool is a man who either didn’t know about the pool’s magic powers, or he was so consumed with accumulating gold that he ignored its dangers. Even though the characters of the story are awed at the magic of the pool, they recognize that such a place is far more dangerous than it is beneficial, and so they swear themselves to secrecy and wipe their memories clean of that place.

You see, when you waste your energies seeking to fulfill the hunger for things that perish, what you’ll find all too often is that you’ll still be dissatisfied, and your dissatisfaction will usually put you deeper into the hole you’re digging for yourself. Whatever piece of the pie that you’re hungering for – whether it’s a bigger slice of acceptance or riches or gratification of your urges – you’re going to find yourself hungry for more and more and more, until you’re so out of control that you can’t back-peddle fast enough. In our consumer-driven world, in which many people literally work themselves to death accumulating a never-fully-satisfying abundance of things, Jesus’ words challenge our society’s misguided substitutes for “life.”

What are you giving in exchange for your life?

What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? – Mark 8:36 (NIV)

PRAYER: God, I know I only have so many hours allotted to me.  Please help me spend them in pursuit of real Life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 9/04/14 – Total Concentration

DayBreaks for 9/04/14 – Total Concentration

Matthew 15:21-28 (NLT) Then Jesus left Galilee and went north to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Gentile woman who lived there came to him, pleading, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! For my daughter is possessed by a demon that torments her severely.” But Jesus gave her no reply, not even a word. Then his disciples urged him to send her away. “Tell her to go away,” they said. “She is bothering us with all her begging.” Then Jesus said to the woman, “I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep—the people of Israel.” But she came and worshiped him, pleading again, “Lord, help me!” Jesus responded, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.” She replied, “That’s true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their master’s table.” “Dear woman,” Jesus said to her, “your faith is great. Your request is granted.” And her daughter was instantly healed.

The famous one-time Catholic monk, Martin Luther, was legendary not just for nailing a piece of paper to the door of his home church citing 95 things that needed to be changed about it. He wrote and lectured extensively to his students at the university as well. Some of his students were very good learners, and others were not so good. But a few of his students realized that some of the most valuable instruction that Luther gave was not in the classroom, but was in the dining hall over a meal and a few drinks. His students began taking notes on what Luther told them in that relaxed atmosphere, and they eventually published these notes in what was known as Martin Luther’s Table Talks.

One such example of the profound insight and truth Luther gave his students happened one day after class in the dining hall and they were all sitting around eating their meal and talking on the subject of prayer. A student of Luther’s by the name of Viet Dietrich preserved Luther’s words for us:

“When Luther’s puppy, Tölpel, happened to be at the table, looked for a morsel from his master, and watched with open mouth and motionless eyes, Luther said, ‘Oh, if I could only pray the way this dog watches the meat! All his thoughts are concentrated on the piece of meat. Otherwise, he has no thought, wish, or hope’” (Table Talks, May 18, 1532).

Martin Luther’s puppy reminds me of the woman in today’s Gospel lesson from Matthew. Although this woman was a Gentile, she was intensely focused in her request from Jesus. Jesus wasn’t being hard-hearted towards her – I believe he knew all along what he would do, but he wanted to teach us a lesson about concentrated faith and determined “asking”.

I fear we often throw our requests out to Jesus in our prayers in a rather haphazard, lackadaisical way that is not likely to meet with a response from him.  We need concentration and focus!  That means we have to take time to set aside for conversation with him – just as you would with your most beloved friend on earth.

PRAYER: With so much clamor, Lord, we are rush and get easily distracted.  Help us concentrate on You when we talk with You and give You our requests so that we can hear Your voice!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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