DayBreaks for 5/01/17 – Obedience

DayBreaks for 5/01/17: Obedience

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2007:

Listen to this story.  I don’t know the source of the story, but here it is:

“How we admire the obedience a dog shows to its master!  Archibald Rutledge wrote that one day he met a man whose dog had just been killed in a forest fire.  Heartbroken, the man explained to Rutledge how it happened.  Because he worked out-of-doors, he often took his dog with him.  That morning, he left the animal in a clearing and gave him a command to stay and watch his lunch bucket while he went into the forest.  His faithful friend understood, for that’s exactly what he did.  Then a fire started in the woods, and soon the blaze spread to the spot where the dog had been left.  But he didn’t move.  He stayed right where he was, in perfect obedience to his master’s word.  With tearful eyes, the dog’s owner said, “I always had to be careful what I told him to do, because I knew he would do it.”

Galen’s Thoughts: Loyalty.  Character.  Perseverance.  Courage.  Faithfulness.  These are all words that come to mind.  Sounds like a super-hero.  And then I have to stop myself and remember that I’m talking about a DOG!  But what lessons that dog can teach us!

I’m heart broken by this story for several reasons:

FIRST: I grieve for the dog’s sake.  I can’t imagine what it was like – how great the temptation must have been to cut and run through the forest away from the heat and torment of the flames – yet the dog stayed put.  I mourn the loss of the dog, but at a deeper level it makes me mourn my own lack of courage in obedience to the one I call my Master.

SECOND: I mourn that I am not more broken hearted by the loss of eternal souls than I am in the loss of the dog.  What is wrong with me, with us, when we have deeper feelings about the loss of a dog, albeit a tremendously loyal one, than the lives of those that surround us every day?

FINALLY: I am haunted by the final words of the dog’s master: “I always had to be careful what I told him to do, because I knew he would do it.”  What would my Master say about me?  Oh, how I wish Jesus could say, “I always had to be careful what I told Galen to do, because I knew he would do it!”  Instead, in my fear and weakness, I far too often run from the heat of the struggle into perceived safety.  But it is only perceived safety and it certainly isn’t obedience.

The love of the dog’s owner is clear in his tears – he loved his dog.  The pride of the owner is clear in his words – he was justifiably proud of the obedience of his dog.  I look at Jesus and see his tears for me and I know He loves me with all his heart.  I just wish my obedience was loyal enough that Jesus could be proud of me.

PRAYER:  Lord, forgive my lack of obedience and loyalty!  It seems to take no more than even the slightest distraction to pull me away from you sometimes.  Help me to have the kind of character you wish to develop in me.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

 

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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.

DayBreaks for 4/10/14 – Looking Toward Jerusalem

DayBreaks for 4/10/14 – Looking Toward Jerusalem

Luke 9:51 (KJV) – And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem…

As a pastor, Easter was always my favorite time of the year to preach. Now that I’m not in the pulpit full-time any longer, I really miss not preaching on Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday more than any other time of the year. I still contemplate what THIS week, the week before Holy Week, was like for Jesus. Unlike his followers, he knew perfectly well what would happen the following week. When there is something that I either look forward to or dread, I virtually count down the days…”One week from today I’ll….”, or “Only five more days left to wait before…”  I wonder if Jesus did the same during this week many, many years ago?

In Scott Peck’s book, The Road Less Traveled, his first words are, “Life is difficult.” Then he goes on to say, ‘This is a great truth, but most of us can’t see it. Instead we moan more or less incessantly, noisily, or subtly, about the enormity of our problem. As if life is supposed to be easy for us, and therefore what has happened to us has never happened to anybody else before, at least not in this excruciatingly painful or insoluble way that it has burdened us.’

“Peck says that he wrote that not because as a therapist he hears his patients say that, but because he has been tempted to say that himself. You could call it the “Law of Exceptionalism,” the idea that this has never happened before, at least not to the degree that it has happened to me. “Exceptionalism.”

“I like that cartoon I saw a long time ago showing a huge desk, a huge CEO sitting behind the desk, in a huge leather chair. Standing meekly in front of the desk is a man in work clothes, obviously a lowly employee in that corporation. The worker says to the boss, “If it’s any comfort, it’s lonely at the bottom too.”

“Life is difficult for everyone. Someone explained to me once why they don’t like Lent. They said, “I’m not into suffering.” I like that. Like it’s optional. Like it’s an adopted lifestyle.

Well Jesus was not into suffering either. You remember he prayed, “Let this cup pass from me.” But when the time came for him to go on “The Hero’s Quest,” the text says, “He set his face steadfastly for Jerusalem.”

PRAYER: Lord, I am so thankful for your steadfast march toward Jerusalem! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2014 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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