DayBreaks for 7/12/18 – Out of the Kingdom of Darkness

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DayBreaks for 7/12/18: Out of the Kingdom of Darkness

The world watched with baited breath as a small army of divers and rescue personnel descended into a treacherous and deadly cave in an effort to rescue the “Wild Boars” – a soccer team and their coach, who had become trapped when monsoon rains flooded parts of the cave system. For a period approaching 10-12 days, the boys and their coach were in the cave with very little food. They drank water that dripped from the cave ceiling. And they were in darkness…total, utter darkness. I read that one of the boys in particular was terrified of darkness but he went with his teammates in an effort to overcome his fear. 

Fortunately, seemingly miraculously, all twelve boys and their coach made it out alive thanks to the sacrifices of their rescuers. Tragically, on Thai navy SEAL diver died during the effort to rescue these boys.

Colossians 1:13 (ESV) – He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son…

If you want to know what the kingdom of darkness looks like, just ask those boys. They know what darkness means. You can’t see. It is a place of fear. It is a place of want. It is uncomfortable and threatening. You long for light. It gnaws at you and causes you to give up hope and despair of rescue.

If you want to know what gratitude feels like, just ask those boys. Can you begin to imagine how their hearts leaped when the British divers with a headlight on their foreheads first popped up in the darkness and found the boys? Can you imagine how hope must have been reborn in that instant that they first saw light again? Can you try to imagine how each boy felt when at long last they exited the mouth of the cave that had held them captive and threatened them with certain death unless a miracle happened?

I don’t think most of us have a clue as to how dark was the kingdom that held us in its clutches. We don’t often see it as darkness because it is a darkness of the spirit brought about by the blackness of sin. The enemy of our souls makes it appear as light – he’s such a good liar – and we fall for it over and over again. For a sense of what it was like inside the caves, see this (and that was the easy part – try imagining even that without flashlights in passages as small as 15 inches wide!)

But miraculously, someone came searching for us, found us, and led us out of that inky black place into a kingdom diametrically opposite to that which held us. He is the Light, and in Him is no darkness at all.

But just as with the twelve boys and their coach, someone gave their life to rescue us. Unlike that navy SEAL diver, though, the one who gave his life for us came back to life and now guides us through the darkness of the former kingdom to the light. He’s been through that blackness of death that would kill us and been victorious over it so that he knows the way out of the darkness. We need not fear. He will not fail us!  

We should be terrified of the darkness that surrounds us for when it is seen clearly it is terrifying. But we should never doubt our rescue or our Rescuer. 

And one more thing: our Rescuer has turned the tables on darkness. While it was dangerous for us as we were trapped there, now that we have been delivered not only do we no longer need to fear the darkness itself, but he has made us dangerous to the kingdom of darkness because now we have experienced the way out and can help others find the Light. 

It’s a dark, dark world. Let’s be brighter. 

PRAYER: Jesus, all glory to you for descending into the darkness, experiencing it, for your victory over it, so that you could lead us into your kingdom of Light and Life. May we never take the Light for granted! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 7/3/18 – Light and Life

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DayBreaks for 7/03/18: Light and Life

From the DayBreaks Archive, July 2008:

This past week at our Vacation Bible School, one of the craft projects involved sunflower plants.  It was intended to illustrate the fruit of the Spirit that is patience.  Did you know that there are “motor cells” on the underside of the sunflower that cause the sunflower to track the sun as it moves across the sky, and those cells cause the plant to change the way it faces as the sun transits the heavens.  You see, sunflower plants are smart enough to track the sun (the technical word for such plants is heliotropes.)  As people we seem to have much more difficulty tracking the Son!

As I looked recently at John 1, I was struck again by these words: John 1:4 (NLT) – Life itself was in him, and this life gives light to everyone.  As I read verses 1-4 this time, I was reminded once again that the Word was already there in the beginning, that He was with God and He was God and that all things that exist were made by Him.  But the passage eventually arrives at the incredible statement in verse 4: Life itself was in him…  He didn’t get life from somewhere else.  If there is life, it exists because it comes from Him and no where and no one else. 

But what caught my attention this time was the last part of verse 4. …and this life gives light to everyone.  Now if you were to ask a biologist or botanist, they’d tell you that you need light first in order to have life.  But this verse says that even the light comes from the life that is in Christ.  If it is a question of the chicken or the egg, at least in this case we know the answer: life predates light.  The life that was in the beginning with God and which was God later spoke light into existence.

Jesus is life.  “I am the way, the truth, and the LIFE…”  He meant what he said!  “And in Him is no darkness at all.”

PRAYER: Lord Almighty, I long to see You in all Your glorious light.  I long to see the Life that became the Light of the world.  Thank You for life, and life abundant.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 1/09/18 – In a Different Light Entirely

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DayBreaks for 1/09/18: In a Different Light Entirely

Hardly a day goes by without me comparing myself to someone else in one way or another. It might be as simple as comparing how tall (or in my case, short) I am to someone else (I’m delighted when I find people who are more vertically challenged than I!) or thinner. It might be looks (but I usually wind up on the short end of that stick, too). Sometimes, though, it takes a more serious and harmful bent. I can start comparing my faith to that of others, or my practice of daily spiritual disciplines or my integrity to others. And when I read all the stuff that shows up on the internet each day, or hear about the horrible actions of someone on the news, I can get rather puffed up about myself. That’s why it is so serious and harmful – because I have no room to get all puffy about myself.

The problem, you see, is that when we compare ourselves to others, we quickly go right past comparison into judgements. And judging others is a very, very serious and deadly business. It’s not only serious because we’re admonished “Judge not” and that we’ll be judged in the same way we judge others, but it’s deadly when we start to think that I’m okay as I am because after all, look how much better I am than Tom or Sally, George or Jane. And the result of that is that I start to think that I don’t need Jesus very much.

Here’s what Fred Craddock, a great Christian preacher, said: “What’s frightening about listening to John (the Baptist) preach is that he puts you in the presence of God. And that’s what everybody wants, and that’s what everybody doesn’t want. Because the light at the altar is different from every other light in the world. In the dim lamps of this world, we can compare ourselves with each other, and all of us come off looking good. We convince ourselves that God grades on the curve, and what’s the difference? We’re all okay. And then you come in the presence of God, and you’re at the altar, and it’s all different. For if our hearts condemn us, think of this – – God is greater than our hearts and knows everything. There’s no way to modulate the human voice to make a whine acceptable. The whining is over. The excusing is over. It’s the school, it’s the church, it’s the board, it’s the government. It isn’t! All that’s over. It just stops. Like waking from a dream of palaces and patios to find the roof leaks and the rent’s due. Like shutting off the stereo, and you hear the rat gnawing in the wall. That’s just the fact of it. In my mind, I serve God. But there’s another force in my life, and I say, `I’m going to do that.’ I don’t do it. I say, `I’ll never do that.’ I do it. Crucified between the sky of what I intend and the earth of what I perform. That’s the truth.”

Ouch. As they say, truth hurts.

Any human comparisons we make are vain, pointless and dangerous. There’s only one Light that shows reality: the Light that is bright enough to get past every one of our defenses and shows us for what we are so we will realize how desperately we need Him!

PRAYER: Spirit, we invite you to shine Your light into our lives and reveal our guilt in comparing ourselves to others and taking solace in what we see in that very dim light. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 9/27/16 – The Shadow and the Sun

DayBreaks for 9/27/17: The Shadow and the Sun

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/2007:

I sit here in the office that is our kitchen, I look out through a window over the world famous Alexander Valley.  World famous, you say?  Yes, any oenophile knows about it.  (In case you’re not familiar with the term, “oenophile” means “wine lover”.)  It is here in the rich soil of Sonoma County, that some of the world’s finest wines are grown.  Much of the wine that comes from grapes here, I’m told, is never sold in the United States, but is exported to other countries – like France and Italy. 

We live on a hillside overlooking part of the valley.  Today is one of those kind of days that I love: the sky is mostly blue, but there are puffy marshmallow clouds drifting in from the sea, taking a somewhat southerly bent as they cross the valley.  I look out and can watch their shadows move languidly across the green vineyards and through the forests.  It is a beautiful sight to see and it brings a calmness to my soul, which is often times troubled.

Where we live there are people who love the heat of the summer.  I’m not one of them.  Fall is my favorite time – the air cools down and imparts an energy to my body that makes me want to shout for the joy of being alive!  In the summer, we have virtually no clouds.  It doesn’t rain here in the summertime.  At best, we may get a morning fog blanket from the Pacific coast that is just a few miles over that-a-way as the crow flies.  But then the fog burns off and the heat of the sun’s rays make the grapes grow and get fat and rich with juice.

I prefer cloudy days.  Not totally cloudy, but the drifty-dreamy days of fall before the heavy rains come to quench the thirst of the parched earth. 

The shadows – the darkness.  Both are metaphors used in Scripture to describe difficulties, evil, sin, times that are not good and that bode ill for the future.  On the other hand, the sun and light are used as symbols of good and of life.  Life is filled with a mix of shadows and sun, good and hard, peacefulness and turmoil.  It seems as if some live in places in their souls where there is only shadow, or at the most, very little sunshine.  And it can lead to despair and depression when all you can see is the shadows. 

I like what Jonathan Foreman said: “The shadow proves the sunshine.”  If there is a shadow, there must be a source of light.  Otherwise, there can be no shadow. 

In the middle of our lives, on the days when the shadows are deep and long, remember this: if you can see the shadow, there is a Light!

John 8:12 (NIV) When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

PRAYER:  Father, when life’s shadows are long and our hearts are filled with despairing darkness, help us to remember that You cannot be far away or there would be no shadow!  Help us to persevere through the clouds of this day until we see the morning Light!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 9/5/17- Hungry for the Light

DayBreaks for 9/05/17: Hunger for the Light

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/2007:

It was just Tuesday, 8/28, that I once more found myself surrounded by redwoods.  It was a week of much needed and appreciated vacation for my better 99.937% and I, and on that day we drove into the redwoods and got out of the car, wandering off from the road to stand surrounded by giants.  It is a humbling thing to stand among monstrous, ancient giants, you know. 

I’ve written of my love for redwood groves before and I’m fairly certain that you’ll hear about them again at some point in time, but this time I noticed something that I’d not really seen before.  I stood near the base of several behemoths and looked upward towards the top of the trees.  Now, bear in mind that I say “towards the top of the trees” for a reason – you can’t really see the tops.  These trees are the height of a 20-30 story building (and those are still relatively babies as redwoods go.)  As you stand at the base of the tree and look upward, there are no branches for a good 75-100 feet.  And even then, branches are few and far between.  (I feel strange calling them branches, because if they fell, they’d be the size of most trees!)  The branches congregate, in a glorious company of celebration, toward the top of the tree.

I understand why it is so – down on the floor of the woods there is not much sunlight to warm a seed to the point of germination.  And there is certainly not enough light to carry on the photosynthetic process that such a large tree needs.  And so, in His wisdom, God put the branches of such trees on top. 

As I looked upward, two things struck me:

FIRST: in its desperate rush to reach the light, the redwood shoots straight up, not bothering to grow lots of branches or to get distracted from its journey and purpose of getting to the light.  It’s as if it just can’t wait to reach the sunshine.  How true that should be of the Christian’s life!  We should be focused on getting to the Light, for in the Light is the life of men.  We shouldn’t let ourselves get diffused and too spread out – it would only distract us from growing up into the Light.  And there is no time to waste.

SECOND: when you stand at the base of the tree, you see no movement at all.  But when you look up towards the underside of the branches towards the top of the tree, you see the huge monolith swaying to and fro with the subtle nudgings of the wind.  The roots, however, are unshaken.  It doesn’t take much to move the top of a redwood, but to move the bottom, where the roots are?  Forget it.  A good root system is vital – for trees and for humans.  May we be like the tree planted by the water of Psalm 1, firmly rooted and reaching as fast and as hard as we can for the Light!

Psalms 1:1-6 (NLT) – But they delight in doing everything the LORD wants; day and night they think about his law.  They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season without fail. Their leaves never wither, and in all they do, they prosper.  But this is not true of the wicked. They are like worthless chaff, scattered by the wind.  They will be condemned at the time of judgment. Sinners will have no place among the godly.  For the LORD watches over the path of the godly, but the path of the wicked leads to destruction.

PRAYER: Almighty One, may we stretch hungrily for the Light and put roots down deep into the good soil that is the Word.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/19/17 – The Cave and the Sun

DayBreaks for 4/19/17: The Cave and the Sun

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2007:

“There was once a dark cave, deep down in the ground, underneath the earth and hidden away from view.  Because it was so deep in the earth, the light had never been there.  The cave had never seen light.  The word ‘light’ meant nothing to the cave, who couldn’t imagine what ‘light’ might be.

“Then one day, the sun sent an invitation to the cave, inviting it to come up and visit.

“When the cave came up to visit the sun it was amazed and delighted because the cave had never seen light before, and it was dazzled by the wonder of the experience.

“Feeling so grateful to the sun for inviting it to visit, the cave wanted to return the kindness and so it invited the sun to come down to visit it sometime because the sun had never seen darkness.

“So the day came, and the sun came down and was courteously shown into the cave.

“As the sun entered the cave, it looked around with great interest, wondering what ‘darkness’ would be like.  Then it became puzzled, and asked the cave, “Where is the darkness?” – Source Unknown

I sometimes get overwhelmed with a sense of the darkness in the world.  How silly of me!  If Christ lives within me, how can I be in darkness?  John 8:12 says as much: When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.  All who follow Him WILL NEVER WALK IN DARKNESS, but will have the LIGHT OF LIFE!  Wherever I go, Jesus goes, and like the sun, there can be no darkness when He is present!

John 12:46 (NLT) – I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the darkness.

PRAYER: Father, forgive me for being so focused on the darkness that I forget that I am in the light and that I will never walk in darkness!  Help us this day to follow Jesus and to always be aware of the light He brings with him no matter where we go!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 2/22/17 – Searching for the Light

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DayBreaks for 2/22/17: Searching for the Light

NOTE from Galen: Sorry about the inconsistent delivery of DayBreaks lately. We’ve been battling internet issues (still are)!

John 18:2-3 (NIV) – Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. 3 So Judas came to the grove, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.

Oh, my goodness!  How many times, O Lord, have I read this passage and not seen it?  Sometimes the most amazing truths of scripture are in the most innocent and innocuous phrases and words.  The passage, of course, describes the horrible moment when Judas leads the soldiers and officials out from Jerusalem, across the Kidron valley, to the garden of Gethsemane to earn his 30 pieces of silver for betraying Jesus.  It is not Judas alone – but an attachment of soldiers (quite a few according to the other gospel accounts.)  But that’s what I’ve always known…but notice the last sentence: “They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.” 

Do you see the great irony?  Loaded with torches and lanterns, they go seeking for the One who is the Light of the World.  How many lessons are here?  I don’t know, but here’s a few thoughts:

FIRST: it is easier to see light in the darkness.  It would have been easier to find Jesus if they had put their own lights out long ago and heard the seen the message that was Jesus.  “The light shines in the darkness” John had written.  He wasn’t in hiding.  The darker the night the brighter the light shines.  On this night, the light was at its brightest, even as darkness raged in the flickering shadows.

SECOND: they carried weapons.  We know they had at least one sword among them – and almost certainly, many more than one.  But the deadliest weapons they carried that night weren’t swords and spears, but hatred, prejudice, learnedness, jealousy and envy.  Those are the weapons that take lives away from the living and leave them as walking corpses! 

THIRD: Jesus was not in hiding.  They didn’t need to search for him.  They didn’t need the lanterns and torches to find him, not really.  Lanterns and torches are merely aids to help feeble human eyes to get past the darkness, to be able to apprehend what is at the edge of our vision.  What is it that we bring when we search for Him?  Are we bringing armfuls of human creations, human reasonings as we come looking for the Light of the World?  Would we not be better to come, as the old song put it: “Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to thy cross I cling”?  What we need most to bring to Jesus is not the light of human mind or thought, nor even human will, but to simply bring our darkness and the night of our blighted souls to Him to be seen and healed by the Light Himself.

PRAYER:  God, we are so evil and wicked.  And sometimes we come to Jesus armed with all sorts of human creations, even those we have made to make ourselves look or seem more presentable to You.  Help us to understand that what you wish us to bring to the Light of the world is our darkness, to leave it with Jesus and to remain in the Light all the days of our lives.  Forgive us for our foolish pretension and prideful arrogance.  May we come to you humbly in our brokenness.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.