DayBreaks for 12/05/18 – The God Who Does

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DayBreaks for 12/05/18: The God Who Does

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2008:

What is man that Thou art mindful of him, or the son of man that Thou visitest him? –  (Ps. 8:4, KJV)

David was neither the first, nor the last, who asked the question of God (my paraphrase here): “Why would you pay attention to us?  Why would you waste a precious moment of your time on creatures like us?”  All it takes for me to be lost in the wonder of David’s question is to lay on the deck at night gazing up into the seemingly inexhaustible reaches of space and I find it hard to believe that God even knows I exist.  Have you ever had the same feeling?  Sure, I know what his word says and I believe it – well, most of the time at any rate.  there are moments when it is hard to grasp.

There are those who, regardless of what the Bible says, believe that God takes no notice of us.  Some believe that because they’ve asked him for something and never heard from him in a way that they expected.  Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote, “Earth’s crammed with Heaven, and every common bush afire with God; but only he who sees takes off his shoes.”  There is wisdom in these words: for those who are tempted to think that God would not communicate with measly humans are not likely to hear from Him at all.  They are not able to hear His voice.  That shouldn’t surprise us: think about how often we fail to hear the voices of human who are speaking to us.  It may be a crowded room, or just that we’re distracted by something else at the moment.  Each of us is bombarded with radio and television signals 24 hours a day – those signals are passing through our physical bodies constantly, and yet we can’t even hear them at all.  A receiver that is properly tuned to those frequencies has no problem picking up those signals and “hearing” them at all. 

We are like those receivers, and God is like the “broadcaster.”  We are constantly being showered with His messages – and like the radio and TV waves, they pass through us unnoticed because we are not attuned properly to hear His voice.  We have been attuned to science to observe nature and think of molecules, chemicals, physical laws, and matter/energy, but not to pick up the signals of God’s voice that are being broadcast by nature 24 hours a day (“The heavens announce the glory of God” – Ps. 19).  Nor do we hear the special communication directed by God to each of us as individuals. 

As Dallas Willard put it in Hearing God, “Some of Jesus’ deepest teachings are about hearing.  He taught in parables so those who did not really want to hear the truth could avoid it.  He realized that not everyone has ears for the straightforward purpose of hearing but that some use their ears to sift out only what they want to hear, leaving the rest aside.  One of his most repeated sayings was, “If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”  But he also urged his hearers to make a great effort to hear, assuring them that what they received would be proportional to their desire and effort (Mk. 4:23-24).”

Yes, we are tiny specks in the universe.  Just as only those who see take off their shoes at the burning bush, only those who unplug their ears can hear, for God does communicate with His creation – even tiny specks of humanity in a vast universe.

PRAYER: Give us eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts eager to obey.  Thank you for your Word to us.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 3/13/18 – The Diagnosis

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DayBreaks for 3/13/18: The Diagnosis

From the DayBreaks archive, 2008:

HAVERFORDWEST, England – A boy from Haverfordwest, England, can hear on one side for the first time in nine years after a cotton wool bud suddenly popped out of his ear. Jerome Bartens, 11, was diagnosed deaf in his right ear when he was two, causing him to struggle in school and strain to hear the TV and friends, Britain’s Daily Mail reported.  But when playing pool with his friends in a church hall Jerome felt a sudden pop. And out of his right ear came the tip of a cotton wool bud that had been wedged in for almost 10 years. “It was just incredible — his hearing returned to normal in an instant. He was cured as suddenly as he became deaf. I had always suspected Jerome had stuck something in his ear when he was little and that was causing the problem. But the doctors and hearing specialists said it was wax and he would probably grow out of it,” said Jerome’s father, Carsten Bartens. “I am amazed they didn’t spot something as obvious as a cotton wool bud.”  

Every now and then a story like this comes along and we are both fascinated and puzzled at the same time.  I’m very happy for this young boy!  It is one of those “feel good” stories that you hear about.  But I’m also puzzled that the boy could have had this problem for so long and all the specialists and doctors he’d been to had never discovered the problem. 

There are, as usual, lessons to be learned:

FIRST: don’t put your trust too much in the “learned and wise” in this world.  They are still just humans, fallible as can be.  They can be very persuasive, because we give them the benefit of the doubt because of their “knowledge”…and quite frankly, knowledge seems to equate to power in today’s world.  It always has been that way, I guess.  But our knowledge is limited.  We may pretend to know more than we really do so that we have more power, but that’s a dangerous game to play.

SECOND: there are lots of things that can cause deafness – and that’s true spiritually as well.  The Word is replete with comments on how we don’t hear God (usually meaning that we don’t seek to understand what He’s saying and then refusing to obey it if we do).  Biblically, hearing usually implies action as well.  A loud noise, a Q-tip, ear wax, various diseases – all can cause physical deafness.  There are many causes of spiritual deafness, too: pride, willful rebellion, illicit pleasures and passions that we don’t want to have to give up, anger, lack of a forgiving spirit – the list is almost as long as Psalm 119! 

Having the right diagnosis is important.  When it comes to your life and how you should live it, whose diagnosis are you putting your faith in?  A self-help book (even one bought at a Christian bookstore?)  The words of a friend?  The words of a pastor/minister/priest?  If you do, let me suggest you’re putting your diagnosis and treatment plan in the wrong place.  Put it in the revealed Word of God and His Spirit.  If the diagnosis anyone else gives you doesn’t match with those two things – reject it and keep seeking! 

Jesus stands at the door and knocks.  We won’t open if we can’t hear him. 

PRAYER: Our eyes and ears deceive us, Lord!  We want easy answers and seek diagnosis of our lives and condition in all the wrong places, putting trust in those who don’t deserve our trust.  Heal us, O Lord!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 2/14/18 – Mosquitoes and Spiritual Sensitivity

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DayBreaks for 2/14/18: Mosquitos and Spiritual Sensitivity

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2008:

Mark 4:9 (KJV) – And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

A man by the name of Doug Newton shared this which I picked up from Preaching Today.  I thought it made an excellent illustration of the problem we sometimes have in hearing God:

Have you heard about the cell phone ringtone that junior high and high school kids are using to keep teachers from discovering that they are using their cell phones in school?  The pitch of this ringtone, called the “mosquito tone,” is too high for people over 25 to hear.  So the kids can still send and receive text messages during class without the teacher knowing, unless their teacher is younger than 25!

The mosquito tone was first developed in Great Britain to irritate teenagers who were loitering around convenience stores and keeping customers away by their loud and obnoxious behavior.  Some kid simply figured out how to use that sound as his cell phone’s ringtone and—voilà—kids are downloading it by the millions.

How does the mosquito tone go undetected by adults older than 25?  Inside our ears we have tiny microscopic hairs that move with the impulses of incoming sound waves, and those hair movements send electrical signals to our brain.  As we age, those hairs get worn down, actually damaged, so our hearing becomes less sensitive.  We first lose the ability to detect the sounds of high frequencies.  People over 25 can’t hear sounds above 16 kilohertz. (The highest note on a piano is 4 Khz; the mosquito tone is 17 Khz.)

Here’s the point: This situation serves as an analogy to help us understand the common difficulty of detecting communication from God.  According to Scripture, the reality of God can be perceived in the wonders of creation, and all people—including nonbelievers—can detect this information.  But if they fail to respond, they gradually lose the ability to sense God altogether…they lose “spiritual ear hair” so to speak.

The same principle holds true even for Christians.  Just as unbelievers can lose their ability to perceive God in the macro-messages of nature if they don’t respond appropriately to what they detect, believers can lose their sensitivity to God if we don’t respond appropriately to his specific promptings.

John 8:43 (NIV) – Why is my language not clear to you?  Because you are unable to hear what I say.

PRAYER: Almighty God, open our ears to hear, our eyes to see, and our hearts to obey!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/18/17 – Do You REALLY Want to Hear?

DayBreaks for 10/18/17: Do You REALLY Want to Hear?

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2007:

It was a burning question when I was in my teens and early twenties.  It is a burning question today.  It seems that Christians, rightly so, are interesting in understanding how to know God’s will and to hear His voice giving direction.  I imagine that it has been a question that has been asked by God’s people from immediately after the Garden of Eden onward, and it will continue to be asked until we literally hear His voice at the end of time.

It’s a question that gets asked in a lot of different ways: “How do I know what God wants me to do?”  “Why doesn’t God seem to speak to me?”  “Why hasn’t God given me any direction about this matter?”  Sometimes it comes more from Christians as a request to me (as a pastor) to tell someone what they should do!

I must admit that I don’t always know what to say.  I know God is more than capable of giving direction – and I believe He does it all the time.  I think the problem lies not with Him and His ability to communicate, but in our ability and willingness to hear.

If you’re trying to discern God’s will about something in particular right now, I’m going to venture out into a generality here that may or may not apply to your situation.  But I think that there is truth in what I’m going to say.

But, before I say it, let me make an observation.  Many times when I have people come to me asking for advice about what to do, I try my best to help them.  But here’s something that I’ve noticed many times: these people are often involved in some kind of questionable, or even sinful, activity – yet they are seeking the blessing of God’s guidance.  I try to share something from Scripture with them about what they may be doing.  More often than not, they don’t want to hear that, they just want an answer for what to do with the dilemma they are facing or the guilt they are feeling.

In Hearing God, Dallas Willard wrote: “Anyone who rejects the general counsels of Scripture is in fact planning not to be guided by God and cannot then rely on being able to be delivered from their difficulties by obtaining God’s input on particular occasions.”

Are you struggling to find God’s guidance?  Perhaps it is because you are rejecting the general counsel of Scripture.  I think Willard is right: when we reject Scripture, we’ve already declared our intention to God to not follow His guidance.  And that’s a very dangerous ground to walk on!

PRAYER:  Incline our hearts and ears to hear and obey Your word, Lord, even when it carries a message that we’d rather not hear!  Help us resolve to be open to Your guidance and correction so that we can hear Your voice in all things.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 9/22/15 – Who’s Voice Is It?

DayBreaks for 9/22/15: Whose Voice Is It?

Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice. – John 10:1-5

This is a rather terrifying passage for several reasons. First, there are those who will intentionally put forth great effort to steal the sheep. Satan, of course, does this. I’m not talking about merely taking people from one congregation to another, though that is often referred to among pastors as “sheep stealing.” What Jesus is describing is far more insidious. It is done with malicious intent or there would be no need to sneak over the wall into the sheep enclosure. We can’t forget that there are those who want the church to decline, and there is at least one who wants our souls to die for all eternity.

The scariest part, though, is that it makes me wonder how well I hear Jesus’ voice, and how well other “Christians” hear it today. What do we hear and who is saying it? Our Supreme Court has seemingly taken it upon themselves to be the arbiter of morality and to decide matters relation to life and death and marriage. We must never forget that the voice of the Supreme Court (even the majority of the judges) is not the same as the voice of God. Where God has spoken the Supreme Court has no authority over the Christian. It is one of those situations where we must, as did Peter, say “We must obey God rather than men.”

Everything we read in the mainstream press about trends in our culture, about what is good or bad, needs to be filtered against the voice of the Shepherd – and NO ONE else’s voice (including mine!)

Even though the majority of the US populace may be in favor of something, God’s Kingdom is not a democracy where right or wrong are determined by polls. We might do well to remind ourselves that when we look at the stories of God’s people in Scripture, more often than not, the majority of His people were always in the wrong and while there were a few righteous prophets who railed against the popular thinking for one reason and one reason only: they’d heard the Shepherd’s voice and understood that their highest calling was to do as He commanded.

It broke their hearts to see the condition of their land. It should break ours, too. But we should not despair. God was able to restore His people many, many times…and He can restore our nation, too…but not if the prophets amongst us stop listening to the voice of the Shepherd and stop calling us to repentance.

PRAYER: Jesus, we want to hear your voice when it whispers peace to us, but seldom do we want to hear it when what you say doesn’t please us or tickle our ears. Change us to welcome ALL your words! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple. To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.

DayBreaks for 9/21/15 – Deafness

DayBreaks for 9/21/15: Deafness

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2005:

From 2020 Vision: “The story is told of Carl Sandburg, the great American poet, who as a college student took his roommate home to visit for the holidays.  As Carl introduced his roommate to his hard-of-hearing aunt, he announced, “Auntie, I want you to meet my roommate, Al Specknoodle.”  The aunt cupped her ear and shook her head.  Carl tried again: “I want you to meet my roommate, Al Specknoodle.”  The aunt frowned and shook her head again.  Carl sputtered and shouted, “Al Specknoodle!  My roommate!”  Finally the aunt burst into tears: “It’s no use, Carl,” she said.  “No matter how many times you say it, it still sounds like Al Specknoodle!”

As humans, we have a very difficult time hearing well.  It seems we can hear all the things we really want to hear, or at least we think we hear what we want to hear, even if it wasn’t really said at all!  We read between the lines and imply meanings where none was meant.  But when someone tells us things that we don’t want to hear – even when they do so very plainly – we have a great capability to “tune them out” and act like we didn’t hear. 

 For millennia, God has been telling His people what He wants – He wants us to love Him and others and to obey Him.  He wants us to hear that there is good news afoot in the universe, the kingdom of God has come near and there is room in the kingdom for anyone who wants to be part of it.  Yet many seem not to hear.  Why?  Could it be that it’s because as humans, we don’t mind the “love” part, but the “obey” bit sticks in our craw, as does anything that would “cost” us?  And so, we tune Him out. 

He’s also been telling us for millennia that we are to be a blessing to all the nations of the world.  We get really excited about Christianity (understandably so), when we think about what it means for us individually – forgiveness, release from shame and guilt, entry into heaven.  But we aren’t as excited about the flip side – in fact, the key point of Christianity isn’t about ourselves and what we want, but about others – being the blessing to the world at large that God calls us to be. 

Jer. 4:1-2 – O Israel, come back to me,” says the LORD. “If you will throw away your detestable idols and go astray no more, 2 and if you will swear by my name alone, and begin to live good, honest lives and uphold justice, then you will be a blessing to the nations of the world, and all people will come and praise my name.

PRAYER: Open our ears to hear Your Word clearly and plainly, and give us hearts that are inclined toward obedience! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple. To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.

DayBreaks for 6/19/15: Learning to Hear the Voice

DayBreaks for 6/19/15: Learning to Hear the Voice

There is a positive message to be learned from these words of Jesus. The lesson is that we must keep ourselves alert to the way God is working in the world. Remember that those who were seeking to discredit Jesus were religious people. Their problem was that they just didn’t expect God to be acting as Jesus said he was acting, so they missed the movement of God in their midst, and in fact, they called it evil. Today God may be speaking to us in causes that are unpopular, or in political events that cause us to feel threatened and insecure. The cries for justice and fairness in the world may come from quarters that we are not accustomed to listen to. We need to exercise diligence so that we don’t miss the voice of God today just because it happens to be spoken by unfamiliar lips.

A man once sat in on a class with his wife who taking in music appreciation. The instructor was asking the class members to listen for the recurring theme as it was passed from one instrument to another and was modified. The man quickly lost it, but others in the class, who had benefited from their training, were able to keep track of the theme and even state which instrument was playing it.

It is a law of life that we hear what we have trained ourselves to hear. What we must do is to train ourselves to listen for the voice of God in areas where we have not expected to hear it. We hear that voice only by attentive listening: by asking ourselves whether there is a valid message in those things which make us uncomfortable.

Jesus spoke of an unforgivable sin, not because any act is unforgivable, but to warn us that our own hardness of heart can close the channels through which God’s forgiveness flows and, as a consequence, leave us feeling alienated. Let us, therefore, affirm the good that is in others, so that our own hearts become generous and accepting of others, even as God is generous and accepting of us.


PRAYER: It is hard for us to hear Your voice, God, when we surround ourselves with too much cacaphony! Teach us to hear and recognize Your voice of guidance and comfort. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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