DayBreaks for 12/5/17 – Faith, With Nike’s On

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DayBreaks for 12/05/17: Faith, With Nikes On

From the DayBreaks archive, December 2007:

It never ceases to fascinate me when I pause to consider how different people are from one another.  Some are tall, others short.  Some fat, some anorexic.  Some laugh and find a lot of joy in life while others are grim, depressed and seem to be captivated by the negative side of things. 

I am the kind of person who likes chaos.  You’d know that about me if you ever saw my office when I worked in the computer world, or even now!  My desktop usually looks like Katrina had just blown through the office.  Piles here, stacks there – I suppose to any outsider looking at it, they’d think it was totally in disarray and that no one could ever find anything in that mess.  But somehow, I do just fine in that environment.  My high-tech job at the end was very diverse, I had many wonderful managers working under my direction on all kinds of products and services.  If I was ever allowed to spend more than about 20 minutes at time on any particular topic, I’d start to get bored.  I love chaos.  I function well under chaos.  But not all people do.  And that’s OK, too!

Sometimes it isn’t just our desktops or purses or garages that get chaotic, it’s life itself.  Just a few days ago, we learned that one of my wife’s cousins went into the hospital and has found out now that she’s got stage 4 cancer.  Between Saturday and Monday, her world and life was turned upside down.  A huge wind blew in and rearranged everything.  She’d been planning to sell her house (it’s on the market, but here in California right now, that doesn’t mean a thing), she was looking forward to retirement (that’s the main reason she was selling the house – so she could retire and start to draw her retirement checks) and to watching her grandchildren grow.  All of that suddenly was ripped away from her in one hugely chaotic moment, with just 3 words: “You have cancer.”

A friend of mine (and brother in Christ) is going to be divorced soon – his wife chose to leave him and took the two little children with her, moving clear across this great land that we call home – breaking her home in the process.  She doesn’t want to be married to him anymore.  His world, too, has become chaotic. 

Compared to those two people, my life is a piece of cake. 

But what are we to do when the winds of chaos howl and blow through our lives?  We’re to do the same thing we do when only the slightest breeze ruffles our lives.  Here’s how Andre Seu put it: The alternative is to remember that the fundamental things apply in cataclysms as well as calm times.  To wit: Do the right thing; one foot in front of the other; one piece of the problem at a time; take lunch, exercise, sleep.  I remember the counselor Jay Adams saying that the trouble is not usually that we don’t know what to do but that we don’t do it long enough.  We give up just before the breakthrough would have come.  Like Screwtape said, “It is so hard for these creatures to persevere.”  But persevering is what it’s all about.  Persevering is just faith with Nikes on.  – Andre Seu, World Magazine, 12/1/07

In times of chaos, do the right thing – one step at a time, one piece of the problem at a time, persevere.  In times of calm, do the right thing – one step at a time, one piece of the problem at a time, persevere.  It was Jesus’ model, and it works.  Strap on your Nikes!

2 Thessalonians 3:5 (NIV) – May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.

PRAYER:  Father, may we be at peace even in the storm, may we be prepared to run the distance and finish well regardless of chaos or calm.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 6/15/16 – The Ways of Endurance

DayBreaks for 6/15/17: The Ways of Endurance

From the DayBreaks archive, 2007, from my wife’s mission blog to India:

 “Oh my. I decided to work on “India Trip” stuff today (Memorial Day) and I started out making a calendar page for the dates I’ll be gone. As I looked at the finished product with only July 4th and July 20th filled in (“leave home”, “arrive home”) and all the blank (so far) places on the dates in between, I looked up to the picture part of the July page of the calendar from which I had copied my sheet. On it there was a picture of a large rock with the ocean around it. The top of the rock was filled to overflowing with plant life; trees, shrubs, undergrowth; all the way to the edges of the rock and down its sides. Between the rock and the ocean, however, you can see that the water has worn away the rock so that it is deeply indented all around. It looks like a huge, wide, roundish head full of green bushy hair sitting on a very skinny neck. Underneath the picture is the caption “ENDURANCE” in large letters. Underneath that is the quote, “Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened”.  

Hmmm.  I don’t like the fact that “endurance” is the subject for July when I’m on the trip; it’s too apropos and more than a little daunting.  I also don’t like the picture analogy.  I would think that a symbol of endurance should show something that looks very shaky, sitting on something that was very solid underneath while ocean waves pounded away.  That’s what endurance is supposed to do, isn’t it, give your soul more solidity? Thinking about it though, it is probably a better picture analogy than I would like.  God is the only rock which is solid.  I am the one who looks more stable than I really am.  Life eats away, revealing to me the truth of my fragility and dependence.  Experiences of endurance such as this trip will show it to me in a much more obvious way than my normal routine does.  Am I scared? Yep!!
“There is a large contingent of mostly younger people who are going to be working on landscape architecture and the large food garden on our team. One young woman showed us her plans and they were truly awesome and inspiring. She is planning and putting into place the landscape with the children playing and monsoon season in mind as her Senior Project in college at Davis. Quite a combination to plan for, isn’t it? The kids and the others there are going to love it! There will be elevated places for hide and seek and other natural play-encouraging landscape plans. Another person from UC Davis is in charge of setting up a huge food garden at the compound in India.  He’s lived in the Congo before and I’m sure that helps. He told us about a fruit he loves which smells horrible and tastes heavenly.  For anyone who would still like to help Little Flock and this trip in some way, this young man was discouraged to find out that he still has a lot of money to raise for his trip. Apparently some money he thought was coming isn’t coming, or something like that.  If anyone would like to help him out with a donation for his trip cost, his name is “Tim”, he’s on Team One and he’s the one in charge of the food garden project. I know he would be very, very grateful.”

Galen’s thoughts: endurance is a trait we admire, but not many of us long for it, for endurance can only be developed by having to “endure.”  Sometimes, it’s enduring suffering or hardship, sometimes it’s waiting…as in the case of “Tim” – waiting for God to provide all that we need.  And Laurel’s right – we deceive ourselves into thinking we are stable, strong, unmovable, and all the time life is chewing away at us until we learn that we’re actually very fragile and delicate and easily destroyed.  There is only on thing that never wears down or wears out or lacks for anything: Almighty God.  It is a lesson we need to learn, and learn well.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for all who answer the call to “Go!”  Thank You for the lessons in endurance.  Help us to learn them well – and as quickly as possible!  Please bless this team that goes to show and share Your love with orphans and widows and provide for every need both before they go and while they are gone.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/20/16 – The Race I’m In

DayBreaks for 10/20/16 – The Race I’m In

I ran across an amazing story. I don’t know this woman, nor have I met her or anyone who knows her, but I must say that I admire her! Why? Because one day, at age 42, in beautiful(?) downtown Cleveland, she ran a marathon by accident (yep, all 26 miles, 385 yards of it). Her name was Georgene Johnson. Still is. On the day of the race, she accidentally lined up with the wrong group at the starting line. She meant to line up with the runners for the 10K group, where she belonged. Not the 26 mile group, where she didn’t.

It wasn’t until she hit the four mile mark that she realized her mistake. So, what did Georgene Johnson do? She just kept going, finishing the race in four hours and four minutes. But it’s what she said later (by way of explanation) that really impressed me. Said Georgene: “This isn’t the race I trained for. This isn’t the race I entered. But, for better or worse, this is the race I’m in.”

Isn’t that true of most of us? Relatively few of us are exactly where we figured we’d be in life, or even where we planned to be….doing exactly what we figured we’d be doing. But we are where we are, and (for better or worse) we’re keeping our feet moving.

You may be disappointed, feeling you somehow got in the wrong race. You didn’t. You’re in a race that God chose for you. You may have gotten there by getting in a wrong line somewhere once upon a time, but God knew you would get in that line. The question is, what will we do? We can throw up our hands and just sit on the curbside and quit moving, or like Georgene, we can look around us, admit we’re not where we thought we should be, but keep on going.

How do you think Georgene felt after she finished the race? I bet she felt tired, but terrific. That’s how most people feel when they don’t give up, when they don’t grow weary. After all, He helped Georgene mount up as if on eagle’s wings, and if you keep at it, you, too, shall soar!

PRAYER: It is easy for us to not be very happy with where we are and to give up instead of working through difficulties, Lord. Remind us that you, too, worked through many difficulties and your word even says you “learned obedience” by the things you suffered! Help us to have firm resolve and to keep on moving until we find our feet on the streets of gold!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

 

DayBreaks for 9/22/16 – Only If We Despair

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DayBreaks for 9/22/16 – Only If We Despair      

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/19/2006:

Copyright © 2006 Christianity Today. September 2006, Vol. 50, No. 9, Page 118

“But it is important for Christians not to confuse the existence of bad news with our reaction to the bad news—and here it is useful to look at The Screwtape Letters.

“C. S. Lewis’s famous novel was conceived and written during World War II, when so much looked bad. One of the most striking moments in the story arrives when the inexperienced junior devil, Wormwood, chortles over the horrors of war. Screwtape sternly admonishes his nephew not “to forget the main point in your immediate enjoyment of human suffering.” In war, says the senior devil, people die. But hell gains nothing from mere human misery and death, he warns. It is the state in which people die that matters.

“Lewis is not suggesting that we celebrate our suffering or that we stand blind to the suffering of others. His point, rather, is that Christians should not mistakenly think that bad news here on earth means Satan is winning. Men have done terrible things to each other ever since Eden. The horrors of war—like the other pains and scars of life—pose a challenge to faith. Lewis suggests that what truly matters is how we meet that challenge: the battle, that is, in the spiritual realm.

“As the writer of Hebrews said to discouraged believers, “Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the Cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Heb. 12:1-3).

“Lewis’s vision of Satan is far more useful and scary than Hollywood’s. The film industry loves making movies about hell. In these high-budget visions of the underworld, demons usually emerge to do bad things to people, causing death and destruction here on earth. The hero either slays them or works some mystic incantation that sends them back, after which life on earth returns to what it was before. The demons are just like other Hollywood bad guys: terrorists, serial killers, the ruthless rich out to rule the world. In these visions, the bad thing about Satan is that he wants to do bad things to us here and now.

“C. S. Lewis’s marvelous imagination, by contrast, should remind us that this vision is dangerously wrong. The terrible tragedies that befall the world work to Satan’s benefit only if we despair. Suffering, as Screwtape reminds his nephew, often strengthens faith. Better to keep people alive, he says, long enough for faith to be worn away. The death of a believer is the last thing the Devil wants.”

Galen’s Thoughts: Sometimes I’m tempted to think that Satan loves misery and death.  I’m not sure that’s right.  After all, I rather doubt that Satan licks his chops when he contemplates his own fate in eternal hell.  So Lewis’ point is a good one: he only relishes death of humans when they die without Christ.  He’d much rather that we as believers stay alive long enough to give him more time to beat us up, to wear down our resolve and surrender to the suffering of this world, blaming it on God with the result being that we reject Him.  I don’t know about you, but I, for one, don’t want to give Satan that satisfaction.  How much better that we spend our time, not in thinking that the suffering is what matters, but that the souls of men and women are what truly is important.

PRAYER:  We are a depressed and discouraged society.  The enemy even attacks us from within the sheepfold, Lord!  But help us stay focused on the ultimate realities with which we are faced.  Help us to realize that our despair plays into Satan’s hands.  May we find comfort and assurance and sustenance beside You in green pastures beside the still waters.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

DayBreaks for 8/15/16 – The Olympic Refugee Team

DayBreaks for 8/15/16 – The Olympic Refugee Team

Steve Brown, a Christian speaker and writer, has a saying: All life illustrates Bible doctrine.

It is hard to deal in absolutes, but Steve puts it right out there: ALL life illustrates Bible doctrine. The more you think about it, the truer it sounds. And as it does, there’s a wonderful truth: God is in control of all things, and all things will glorify Him at the end of the day.

Some examples of this truth are easier to accept than others: you get a speeding ticket, and it points to sin and consequence. Someone gives you a gift and it points to the grace of God. Sure, it’s sometimes hard to see some of the events of life and how they may point to the gospel and/or our sin, but if you will pause, as events happen, and ask the question: Is there an illustration here of Bible doctrine, Bible truth? Over time, you will see the mystery of the Kingdom as it is revealed in your life’s events – the things you see, hear, do, read and watch.

You may have been watching some of the Olympics over the last week. You realize, don’t you, that they are about much more than fast times and the winning of medals. They can point to the One who wears the crown and to the communion of saints as well as idols, effort and overcoming adversity.

If you did watch the Olympics recently, you may have heard about Team Refugee. They are a group of ten men and women who fled their countries due to war and persecution. They were without a home and with no country to represent. So, the Olympic Committee invited them to come and walk under the Olympic banner.  They may not be the best athletes, but the committee said that they deserve to belong to the Olympic movement.

How, you ask, does that point us toward eternal things?

Well, maybe you know people who are not in the kingdom. If so, in reality, they are like Team Refugee – they are without a real home or a real country.  They are refuges. Our leaders says they can walk under His banner if they are willing to come as they are, put on the uniform of His movement – the righteousness of Christ.

If you think about it that way, you may be moved afresh to reach out to those around you, knowing that once, you too, were invited to walk under His banner.

So, how about a bit of homework? Watch some of the Olympics this week. Practice seeing how life (including the Olympics) illustrated Bible doctrine? I think if you do (and if I do, too), we will see them with more excitement and joy because they will strike a deep, rich chord of hope and perserverance.

We you willing to do it? Great! Now get to it!

PRAYER: Jesus, thank You for taking such a rag-tag team of refugees and dressing us in Your righteousness and inviting us to be part of Your team! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 4/4/16 – The Father Who Refused to Quit

DayBreaks for 4/04/16 – The Father Who Refused to Quit

At 11:41 in the morning on December 7, 1988, a 6.8 earthquake struck the northern part of Armenia (part of the Soviet Union at the time). This was in the days of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviets, but the Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev called President Ronald Reagan and asked for help from the United States in the rescue and humanitarian areas. Many people from the US donated money and many others traveled to the stricken area to assist in whatever way they could. When all was totaled up, somewhere between 25-50,000 people died and between 31-130,000 persons were injured.

Typically in such situations, survivors are recovered within the first 24 hours and that was proven true in this disaster. But there was one man who was desperately seeking his young son. Twenty-four hours passed, then 48. Two days turned into three, then four, then five. The rescue teams pleaded with the man to give up and accept that his son was dead, but the father refused to quit looking. Why? Because he was a father.

And so, the father continued to look and search amongst the debris of what had been the school where his child was buried. Finally, after moving some debris and seeing an open space below, he called down his son’s name. In response, he heard several voices. Among them he heard the weak, wavering voice of his child saying, “Daddy! You’ve come! I thought you’d given up!” The little boy was pulled alive from the wreckage, one of only two dozen from the school of hundreds who survived.

A father’s love (or mother’s) is powerful. It drives parents onward when all around them says to quit, to walk away.

Our lives were in ruins before God came to our rescue. We were buried under massive piles of shame, guilt, despair, hopelessness and sin. For some it has taken years or decades before they heard the Father’s voice calling them back to the land of the living.

In spite of the father’s frequent comments to his son that he’d always be there when he need him, the child had given up hope – he was afraid that his father had given up because it had been so long. But that father didn’t give up. Neither does our Father in heaven.

Deuteronomy 31:6 (ESV) – Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you. These are the words of Moses to the Israelites just before his death. Jesus made a similar statement in the New Testament to his followers – that he would never leave nor forsake them.

Sometimes it is hard to hope against the darkness. But we have a Father who will never give up.

TODAY’S PRAYER: Father, I am so very grateful that you have never given up on me – and that you never will! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 3/02/16 – Stand

DayBreaks for 3/02/16: Stand

Eph. 6.10-13 (NIV): Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your STAND against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to STAND your ground, and after you have done everything, to STAND.

“When St. Patrick and his brothers were proclaiming Jesus to the pagan kings of Ireland,

My roots began their journey, threading their way into the gritty soil along Pescadero Creek.

My leaves peeked through the decaying litter of the redwood forest

And I began my climb toward the sky.

Oh, I’ve seen my troubles:

Fifteen hundred years of flames roaring up the canyon.

I’ve felt their crimson tongues lick at my bark until deep, bleeding wounds left me in naked agony.

My lower branches are centuries gone, victim to a hundred raging devastations.

And yet I stand.

I once looked up at my elders and wondered if I would ever be so high, and grand, and majestic,

Yet one by one they would totter and fall with a whoosh and a crash.

Beetles and windstorms

Fires and flood,

And yet I stand.

Wounded, yet I stand.

“Beautiful” would not describe me today, though perhaps “persistent”.

Blackened scars bear mute witness to my history,

Deep gorges touch my very soul.

Scar tissue and burls flow down my base like hideous lava to cover my nakedness,

And yet I stand.

“Tallest Tree” says the placard at my base,

“Two hundred twenty-five feet” the board declares.

Wrong.

For even at my age I’m still creaking and swaying and stretching, and I’ve grown some feet since then.

Huckleberries and tanbark oaks flourish far below,

The great-grandchildren of my great-great grandchildren tickle my knees with their greenery,

And yet I stand.

Jays and jackrabbits,

Foxes and field mice dart about in my shade, because I stand.

Stand in spite.

Stand because.

Stand for the forest that needs me.

Stand to proclaim the glory of God.

Stand a score of feet higher than my nephews and nieces.

Stand to see what they cannot in their wooded blindness.

Stand to feel the fog bathe my face.

Stand to drink in the morning sun.

Stand to serve.

Stand.

Stand.

Stand.

“Copyright by Ralph F. Wilson, used by permission, all rights reserved.”

Galen’s thoughts:

This poem makes me cry in shame to remember all the times that I’ve failed to stand during the firestorms of life, when I’ve let the wind of trial or temptation break and defeat me.  We’ve all been wounded in this life, none of us escapes the pain of the human existence.  But, will we stand?  When the enemy rages against me, will I stand tall and strong and feel the Son touch my face?  Will I fall with a crash?  Am I still growing and reaching ever higher and higher toward heaven?  Can those around me find shelter in His presence within me because I stand?  Am I a blessing to those seeking shelter from the pain of this life?

We must stand because the forest of humanity needs the Savior.  They must see Him in us.  We must reach a little higher than ever before so that others can see our example and be encouraged to stand, to grow and to reach towards heaven themselves.

Oh, God, I want to stand for You!  Lift me up, set me upright and make me stand!

TODAY’S PRAYER:  Almighty Father, without you we are nothing.  Without you we fall before every wind that blows.  Thank you that you will not break the bruised reed, but will strengthen us so we can stand – moment by moment, day by day, make us strong in the power of your great might!  May we stand strong for you!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, all rights reserved.