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.

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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 2/08/18 – Trying to Get Our Attention

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DayBreaks for 2/08/18: Trying to Get Our Attention

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2008:

Have you ever known someone (maybe it was you!) that felt that God was trying to whisper something to you in order to get your attention?  I’ve met quite a few people who have had that experience, and I’ve had it myself.  I’ve felt that God was trying to get my attention so he could tell me what it was that he wanted me to do.  And that’s not bad – we should have “ears to hear” and be sensitive to the promptings of the Spirit so we can discern when God is speaking to us and what it is that he wants us to do.

But perhaps we’re making too many assumptions when we say, “I think God is trying to tell me something – I believe there’s something He wants me to do.”  It is important that we consider another possibility: perhaps God is just trying to get our attention, period.  He may not have something that he wants us to do.  It may be that its been so long since we just sat quietly at his feet and reflected on Who and What He Is.  Certainly, if God wants something done, He can get it done – with or without our cooperation. 

I know that when my kids come home for a visit that I’m not interested in all the things that they can do for me while they’re here.  I don’t have a list of projects stuck on the refrigerator for each of them.  What I want when they come home is to be able to spend time with them, to share moments in time that will never come again, to reconnect and re-affirm.  I think more often than not, when we feel God is trying to get our attention, it’s not because He has something for us to do – it’s because he wants that connection with us, that closeness that is not there when we’re “gone”. 

Give him your attention today – and every day.  Even if it’s just for a few minutes.  It’ll change your entire day!

PRAYER: Mighty God, thank you that you so desperately desire our attention.  Help us to welcome yours!  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 12/7/16 – Bad Reception

DayBreaks for 12/07/16: Bad Reception

I’m sure that you’ve had some version of this discussion if you have, or ever have had, a cell phone:

“I have full signal, it must be you.”

“No, it must be you, I haven’t moved and I have 5 bars.”

How often have you received a call back from the person you thought you were talking to and with great frustration you ask, “At what point did I lose you?”

Or maybe it goes more like this:

“Do you have reception? How many bars to you have?”, or:

“Can you hear me now?”

What do all these things have in common? They’re people talking about the quality of reception (or lack thereof) that they have on their cell phones. Why? Because bad reception causes interruption to communication. Sometimes we even get so frustrated with dropped calls that we stop trying any more.

Those things are all understandable when we talk about cell phones, but what about our spiritual reception? What causes a “bad signal” or blocks the exchange of information in our communication efforts with God? You may not want to take the blame, but chances are, it’s YOU! You can be sure that God always wants to hear from you, so He’s not going to be the one who creates the static on the line.

There’s another factor that enters into this equation, though, and it is this: for there to truly be communication, not only must there be someone who is communicating something, but there must also be someone who is listening. And that, I’m convinced, is where a great deal of our problem with prayer comes into play. We’re too busy talking, or thinking about other things, to hear the “still, small voice” of God.

Perhaps you are frustrated with your prayer life…feeling that you just “aren’t getting through”, that you’ve got a bad connection. Please, don’t let what you perceive as a “dropped call” stop you from reaching out. Keep “dialing”, but be sure that you’re also ready to listen for His voice at all the other times of your life, too…not just when you reach out to Him. It seems to me that there are as many instances in the Bible when God spoke to people when they weren’t praying as times when He responded directly to a prayer request. If we’re not listening, we won’t hear Him under any circumstances.

PRAYER: Teach us the sound of Your voice, let us recognize when You speak and listen closely to what You are saying. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 3/29/16 – The Language of God

DayBreaks for 3/29/16 – The Language of God

From the DayBreaks archives:

(By Doug Dalrymple) – In the RSV translation of this psalm, we hear the same phrase repeated in v1 and v5: For God alone my soul waits in silence  Later, in v8, we’re told, “…pour out your heart before Him.”

We’re tempted to imagine that these two are mutually exclusive: “waiting in silence” and “pouring out our hearts.”  But in our life before God, I think there is a sense in which each of these is necessary for the other to be effective.  Without a spirit of silence before God it is difficult to pour out our hearts to Him; and we can only truly pour out the contents of our hearts to Him if we nurture a spirit of silence.

Someone once said, “The language of God is silence. Everything else is a bad translation.”  For us, silence is one of the most difficult things in the world.  On the one hand, we desire silence, stillness, rest.  But at the same time we can’t stand it and always feel as though we need to fill up the silence with something, almost any kind of noise, whether in our thoughts or through constant speaking or through some outward means of distraction like television or reading.  Even when we force ourselves to sit still in a quiet room and shut our mouths, our minds fight against real silence.  I know mine does.

But in the context of our life in Christ, silence is about more than simply being quiet.  It is about real prayer, about listening, about expectation, about being fully present, in communion with the God who in His grace calls us into communion with Himself.  I think of psalm 46: “Be still and know that I am God.”  I think of the verse from psalm 131: “I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a child quieted at its mother’s breast.”  I think of the example of Mary the sister of Lazarus who “chose the good portion” and sat in silence at Christ’s feet while Martha served distractedly.  I think of the image of St. John with his head on Christ’s breast at the last supper, listening to the all-encompassing heartbeat of the incarnate God.

When we wait in silence on God, not only do we open ourselves to hear God, but our heart can begin to pour itself out to Him without need of words.  Words, in fact, often get in the way.  There is a place for words in prayer, of course.  But too often we concern ourselves overly much with finding the right words for prayer and fitting our heart’s contents into prefabricated verbal boxes.  Too often we lie to ourselves in our words, in what we say and think of ourselves, of others, and of God.  But practicing silence before God fosters humility of heart, and a humbled heart speaks for itself.  Beyond words, in silence, as St. Paul writes, the Holy Spirit prays for us on our behalf.

Habakkuk 2:20 (NIV) – But the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him.

TODAY’S PRAYER:  Father, teach us to speak and understand Your language.  Help us to come to You with hearts prepared to listen and learn.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/26/15 – If You Kept a Record…

DayBreaks for 10/26/05: If You Kept a Record…

Psalm 130:3-4 (NLT) – LORD, if you kept a record of our sins, who, O Lord, could ever survive? But you offer forgiveness, that we might learn to fear you.

How many times have you been overwhelmed by your sense of wrongdoing, of your own sin? Maybe a better question is: how many times a day does your sinfulness “get you down”?

I don’t know what was going on in the life of the Psalmist when this was written, but clearly, the writer was stricken with a sense of guilt that led to the question, “Lord, if you kept a record of our sins…who…could ever survive?”
What is the answer to that question? It’s a very simple one: no one. That is, IF God was the kind of God who kept record of our sins. The Psalmist is voicing things from a human perspective in the question, and anyone who believes in God and has even a rudimentary sense of sin, must have in the back of their mind all the failings and faults that accumulate like junk in an attic.

Then, however, the Psalmist lets us in on a great secret about God. Are you ready for this good news? He offers us forgiveness rather than a recitation of our laundry list of sins. He offers it…through Jesus and His completed work on the cross, but we have to accept it. But, once it is accepted, God takes that list of our wrongs and trashes them, burns them forever and removes them from us as far as the east is from the west!

I grew up in a very legalistic and conservative church, one that spoke a lot about condemnation and damnation. It was not pleasant to be bombarded by that week after week. Seldom, if ever, do I recall hearing these glorious words from the letter to the Romans 8:1: So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.

Struggling with your guilt today, thinking that God has a massive data vault filled with a record of every sinful act, every sinful thought, every good deed that you failed to do? If you belong to Christ Jesus, that is not the case. They are gone forever, and you guilt and shame should be, too.

TODAY’S PRAYER: God, thank You that You have taken our long list of sins and thrown them away, that you don’t keep a record of our sin any longer! Let us trust in these words of comfort and assurance! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2015 Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>