DayBreaks for 4/17/17 – Into Thin Air

DayBreaks for 4/17/17: Into Thin Air

From the DayBreaks archive, 2007:

I recently finished reading Into Thin Air, about the tragic ascent on Mt. Everest that was attempted 2 years ago this month.  A horrible storm swept in while several teams were making their final ascent on the summit.  The result: the highest single death toll for any mountain-climbing incident in history. 

In the May 9 issue of World magazine, Kevin Cusack wrote an article “When Strength Fails”.  Kevin was a friend and climbing partner of Scott Fischer, the man who led the American assault on the summit.  Scott was one of the many who died, frozen to death high up on the side of Everest.  Kevin told of a climb he’d made with Scott about 20 years ago in the Wind River Range of Wyoming:  “The next day, Scott, another climber and I set out on a particularly difficult climb.  After a few hours we found ourselves…on a very narrow ledge.  Below us lay about 3,000 feet of “free space”, commonly known as air.  In front of us lay a 4-foot gap, and above that and to our right was a very smooth nose, which we had to make our way around in order to continue to climb higher.  The move required us to drop across the 4-foot gap, grab a fingertip ledge about 18 inches above our heads, and work our way around the nose using only our fingertips.”

“Because the rock was so smooth, we were unable to find any crack into which to clip our rope; therefore the first climber had to attempt the move unroped, since if he were to fall he would take the 2 other climbers roped to him with him.  All was very quiet as each man waited for someone else to volunteer to go unroped.  Scott’s boldness was being challenged, and in the end he agreed to go first.  Then he did a very curious thing.  He knelt on that thin ledge on one knee for a few seconds, made the sign of the cross, and stood up.  Surprised, I asked, “Scott, what’s the deal?”  He simply replied, “Sometimes you never know.”  …Scott knew many things, but he did not know the answers to life’s most important questions.  One of Scott’s teammates on his fatal Everest climb 2 years ago said, ‘Scott was like a god to us, so strong, fast, and bold, but in the end he was only Scott and he died.'”

Galen’s Thoughts: Scott Fischer was called by Newsweek “one of the strongest climbers in the world”.  He was the guy to be with when you were in a difficult spot.  His confidence got people through the scariest times.  He led people into thin air.  But “he was only Scott and he died”.  Many people today are leading others into dangerous places – into thin air spiritually – rejecting Scripture, presenting a sinful Jesus and telling us that we can determine on our own what is right and wrong, that we only answer to ourselves.  An intoxicating doctrine.  But it is the same lie Satan told Eve.  In the end, these people are only people…and they will die, as Scott died.  Trusting them will be fatal.

Scott hadn’t been a believer.  Kevin prays that while Scott was alone on the wind-swept summit in the -100 degree temperatures that he reached out to God.  We won’t know until the dawn of eternity what happened with Scott.  What can we learn from the fatalities?  Simply this: if your faith is in your strength or anything but God, it will fail you.  2 Tim 4:18: The Lord will rescue me…and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom.

PRAYER:  Father, we put far too much trust in our own wisdom, knowledge and abilities.  Forgive us, Father, for such foolishness.  Help us realize that only in You is found safety.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 4/12/17 – The Widow’s Offering

DayBreaks for 4/12/17: The Widow’s Offering

From the Holy Week devotional guide from our church:

“On the surface, I don’t believe it can be any clearer what’s being said here. It’s important to give, to tithe, and to sacrifice. However, I want you to look deeper and be inspired by something that motivates me, and I hope I will encourage you as well.

“Let’s look at her FOCUS! Here is a woman living an uphill battle. She is a woman in a time where so little value was placed on her gender and potential. Most women were not allowed to leave their homes, nor were they allowed to speak in public. Simply put, most women held the same status as a slave. This woman was a widow, which meant what love and relationship she once had in her life was now gone. She suffered the pain of a loved one’s death and the loss of a secure future. In a sense, this widow had nothing going for her and little to live for. In every direction, her life was about pain. Who among us cannot relate to the pain this widow experienced?

“However, reading the story of this widow’s actions is inspirational. While reading this passage, I visualized this timid, humble, and respectful woman approaching the offering box. She was focused on one thing…God! She wasn’t focused on the fact she was broke, probably jobless, and didn’t have any excess money to give. Frankly, one could easily assume she might want to hold onto her last few coins to give herself some sense of security for the next day or two? No, not her! Even though she had experienced the death of her husband and loss of companionship and security, her pain was great, but her focus was not on her story. It was on Him!

“The widow’s story is like a movie. I’m sure we all have movies that inspire us, motivate us to new heights, and even bring us to tears as we relate to the hero’s ability to overcome obstacles. This widow’s story is a biblical picture of an overcomer with an attitude that says, ‘I will not quit.’ As hard as her life was, she was prepared to put her confidence in God’s faithfulness. It all goes back to her FOCUS, her ability to trust, to see what is most important It is awe-inspirit as she surrenders her life’s struggles to the loving arms of the Father!

“Easter is a time of reflection, sadness, joy and great celebration. It is a time to FOCUS. Focus on our personal struggles and pain but also on the finished work of Christ. Though we cannot make sin disappear in our lifetime, as the movie of our life is played, we can experience what it is like to live as overcomers because of what Jesus has done! This widow gave us an example to follow. She was a humble servant, a dedicated giver, and most importantly a lover of the Mighty God!

“Where is our FOCUS? Jesus looks beyond the outward appearance and sees directly into the heart. Are we preoccupied with our struggles or are we living in the reality that Christ has overcome those struggles? As we focus on the finished work of Christ, our story will look remarkably like the widow’s story.” – Brent Weber, director of Kidsquest and Impact Arts Academy, Perimeter church

PRAYER: Lord, when we consider that You were obedient, even unto death, it seems a reasonable service of worship for us to present ourselves as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable. Lord, only You can give us a heart that is willing to live sacrificially! In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 11/9/16 – God Is Well Today

DayBreaks for 11/09/06: God Is Well Today

Do you have days when you just don’t feel quite right? Maybe you woke up this morning and looked at the election results and felt sick to your stomach. Sometimes, you may not feel good because you didn’t sleep well during the night, or you’ve got a low-grade fever and are slightly discombobulated, maybe a bit on the dizzy side.  If I don’t eat on a fairly regular schedule, I can get feeling weak rather quickly.  And while I know (intellectually at least) that I am not God and that God is not one of us, there have been times when I was at least tempted to think that perhaps God just wasn’t quite with it, either.  After all, if I’m made in His image, and I can have bad days, why can’t He?

Well, there’s a good reason why He can’t have a bad day.  It’s just simply not possible for God to have a bad day.  Let me quote again from Louie Giglio’s book, I Am Not But I Know I Am: “God is doing well today, thank you.  He has no dilemmas.  No quandaries.  No counselors.  No shortages.  No rivals.  No fears.  No cracks.  No worries.  He is self-existent, self-contained, self-perpetuated, self-powered, and self-aware.  In other words, He’s God and He knows it. 

“After an eternity of being God, he shows no signs of wear and tear.  He has no needs.  His accounts are in the black.  He’s the owner, not to mention Creator, of all the world’s wealth and treasure…He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and all the hills the cows are standing on…God does whatever He wants.  His purposes are a sure thing.  There’s no stopping Him.  No containing Him.  No refuting Him.  No cutting Him off at the pass.  No short-circuiting His agenda.”

When I get up in the morning, I always plan to have a good day.  But 64 years of experience tells me that somewhere on the trajectory of my day’s activities, I will have dilemmas.  I will have fears about whether or not I’m doing the right thing, or making the right decisions.  I will worry about it each time I have to spend money – especially for unexpected, unbudgeted things. 

And after a hard week that may have been filled with special challenges, I do show signs of wear and tear.  Let there be no doubt of that.  I have needs.  I own nothing, although I delude myself into thinking that certain things belong to me.  There will be things that can throw my best plans right down the tubes.  But none of that ever, EVER happens to God.  He’s so far above those things that are all related to human weaknesses. 

But here’s the good news: He understands human weaknesses for two very important reasons:

FIRST: He created us.  Just like the engineer who designed a portion of a nuclear submarine knows what that component’s purpose is and what it’s made of with all it’s limitations, God knows ME.  He knows humanity.  So He knows and understands our human weaknesses.

SECOND: He lived on this tiny ball in the middle of space as one of us so He’d understand perfectly – so that we’d KNOW He understands.  He just asks us to trust that He has none of our limitations and so won’t be derailed in the slightest, and to trust that in all things, He works to our advantage!

If you looked at the election results and thought God goofed up, know this – He didn’t. He knows perfectly well what He’s doing, and even moreso, why He’s doing it. He’s not obligated to share that information with us. We are obligated to trust that His eye is still on the ball and He hits grand slams with every swing. He never strikes out. The election turned out the way He planned it to. He rules over the affairs of men and always will. History is in His hand, not in the hand of an earthly ruler.

So, take comfort. God is doing just great today, thank you very much! He never has an “off” day!

Psalm 66:7 (NLT) – For by his great power he rules forever. He watches every movement of the nations; let no rebel rise in defiance.  

PRAYER: Lord, no matter how we are feeling today, help us to remember that You are alive and well, flourishing and as strong as You were on the very first day of eternity.  Thank you that You’ve given us such wonderful proofs of Your understanding of us.  May we be comforted this day in knowing YOU are well and doing everything perfectly!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/08/16 – The Most Important Vote You Will Ever Cast

DayBreaks for 11/08/06: The Most Important Vote You’ll Ever Cast

Well, the day that many have dreaded has arrived. This quite likely has been the most vitriolic and ugly election cycle for the highest office in our land that has ever taken place. People on both sides are sick and tired of it, ready for it to be over. Friendships have been strained, words have been spoken that should have been left unsaid. But it is election day and we will soon know the outcome.

Many have stressed greatly over and have great fears about what will become of our nation regardless of who wins this election. I understand that…I have my own concerns in that regard, too. But I need to take a step back and remember some pretty important things:

  1. No matter who wins today, God is still in control;
  2. No matter who wins today, Jesus is still seated on the throne and he’s not even breaking a sweat to stay there;
  3. No matter who wins today, my salvation is not affected and I’ll still be called to be a witness tomorrow even as I am today;
  4. No matter who wins today, I need to remember that Jesus promised us that the gates of hell will NOT prevail against His church – Jesus will defend and protect His bride (which is different from our nation!);
  5. No matter who wins today, my hope is to be placed in Christ, not in any human ruler;
  6. No matter who wins today, my greatest allegiance it to the King of Kings and I need to be wise enough to recognize when His interests are at stake and to take a stand for righteousness.

You’ve heard it many times during this election cycle: people of every persuasion are saying that this is the most important vote you will ever cast. Let me tell you the truth: they are wrong. It is not even close to the most important vote you will ever cast. The most important vote you will cast is your vote either for Jesus or against Him. Your eternity hangs on that vote. All the people running for office in this election will die and meet their Maker and answer for what they have done and in whom they have believed and with whom they have cast their lot – with themselves or with Jesus.

Cast your vote wisely!

PRAYER: God, we do pray for our nation today. We pray for the men and women of Your choosing to be elected. We pray for wisdom as people all over this country try to make sense out of all the claims and counterclaims, promises kept and broken, of those who would be our leaders. We cannot see hearts as You can. But more than anything else, Lord, let us vote for Jesus to be our King and Master and find our rest and hope in Him and Him alone! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/31/16 – Seeing the Real Jesus

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The “gates of hell” at Caesarea Philippi (photo by Galen Dalrymple, January 2016)

DayBreaks for 8/31/16 – Seeing the Real Jesus

It is interesting how art depicts Jesus so differently from one culture to another. Anglo-Saxon descendants tend to portray him as a white man while African-Americans portray his with their skin color. Asians presume to think of his as Asian. The Lakota Sioux described Jesus as “the buffalo calf of God.”

There are those who love Jesus – and there are those who deeply hate him. No other person throughout history has evoked such a wide range of emotions. You’d think that for someone who lived 2000 years ago that this would no longer be the case – but it is. Why? Because there is something different about Jesus. He wasn’t just a Caesar or rabbi or prophet – he claimed much more for himself than that.

In Matthew 16, Jesus takes his disciples to Caesarea Philippi toward the northern end of Israel. It was a center of pagan worship – most notably of the god, Pan. In the time of Jesus, a great, deep cave shielded by a massive roof of rock was there that dropped seemingly straight down into the center of the earth and it was referred to as “the gates of hell”. Pan worshippers would make human sacrifices there by tossing people into the abyss. If the water from a nearby stream started to flow red with the blood of the sacrifice(s), the worshippers assumed the gods were pleased. If not, more would be thrown in until the water did turn red.

Jesus chose this setting to ask his disciples who they thought we was. Simon Peter makes his famous confession there at that place and said: You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus blesses Peter for that confession, and perhaps looking at the rock over the gates of hell, says that Peter got it right and that upon that rock, Jesus would build his church.

Soon thereafter, though, Jesus reveals that he must go to Jerusalem to die. Peter is disturbed and pulls Jesus aside, telling him that he cannot do that. Instead of blessing Peter for trying to save him, he calls Peter “Satan”. I’m sure Peter didn’t see that coming! 

Why did Jesus say this? Because the Jews had been subjugated for most of their history: Egyptians, Syrians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Philistines, Greeks, Romans…all had dominated and ground the Jews into the dust. And the Jews were waiting all that time for the deliverer, the Messiah, to come and grind the enemy into dust. That’s what Peter wanted – that’s what they all wanted. But Jesus calls Peter “Satan” because of Peter had a predetermined end in mind for Jesus, Peter and the rest of the Jews, and Peter wasn’t about to let Jesus do something else.

Here’s the point: many may make the right declaration about Jesus, but still only see him as a means to an end instead of the end (Alpha/Omega) himself. Peter would have to learn to trust Jesus. We must learn to trust him, even when things seem horribly off track. That’s not easy when the pain sears our hearts and souls like a red-hot poker being shoved through the middle of us. But we must be careful not to construct our own little vision for Jesus and what he will do and won’t do and when and why he does anything. We must learn, as Peter would have to learn, to simply trust that Jesus knew what he was doing. After all, Jesus was going to die for Peter’s sake – something that would be far better for Peter than grinding the Romans into fine dust.

Can I learn to trust Jesus? Isn’t that what this Christian life is about? Accepting His Lordship, His RULE, and the fact that He knows what He is doing and He will get it done in the way that is most beneficial for us!

Remember: Jesus isn’t the means to our end – he is the end for which we are destined!

PRAYER: Jesus, thank you for the great challenge you put before us with the question you asked Peter – and which you ask us! I pray, Lord, that you will keep us from our own vision of who you are and what you must/should do and learn to trust in your work and vision for us! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 8/19/16 – The Figure in the Darkness

DayBreaks for 8/19/16 – The Figure in the Darkness

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2006:

From “Our Daily Bread”, October 1: “The early American Indians had a unique practice of training young braves. On the night of a boy’s thirteenth birthday, after learning hunting, scouting and fishing skills, he was put to one final test. He was placed in a dense forest to spend the entire night alone. Until then, he had never been away from the security of the family and the tribe. But on this night, he was blindfolded and taken several miles away. When he took off the blindfold, he was in the middle of a thick woods and he was terrified! Every time a twig snapped, he visualized a wild animal ready to pounce. After what seemed like an eternity, dawn broke and the first rays of sunlight entered the interior of the forest. Looking around, the boy saw flowers, trees, and the outline of the path. Then, to his utter astonishment, he beheld the figure of a man standing just a few feet away, armed with a bow and arrow. It was his father. He had been there all night long.”

Galen’s Thoughts: When was the last time you were afraid? As we get older, we aren’t as afraid of the dark as when we were younger. (But let’s admit it – OK? Aren’t you more easily frightened in the dark – still?!?! I am!) But that doesn’t mean that we don’t have fears. Your greatest fears may now be about your bills, your health, your children or grandchildren or your future. But you have fears. You know yours – I know mine. Sometimes it seems that every time you turn around, you hear a “branch snap” and it seems that your worst nightmare is about to come true.

We are, like the young boy in the story, away from the security of the family and tribe. Our citizenship is not in this world – it is in heaven and we are only passing through (Phil. 3:20). We won’t be home until we get to Heaven. So, in the meantime, we have to endure what I believe Thomas Merton referred to as “the long night of the soul”. The night is filled with sounds that alarm and frighten us – and yes, if we are honest – there are times we are very afraid. We sometimes wonder if we’ll make it.

And then the light dawns and we see we weren’t alone at all. For in the darkness is a figure who was keeping watch over us all during the “long dark night of the soul”, armed and ever vigilant to protect and deliver us in case of any danger. And it is our Father. And our fears vanish with the rays of the Son.

The darkness WILL end someday, and with dawning will come the realization that although at times we thought and felt we were alone, that we NEVER were alone – not even for a second. And then, our Father will take us home.

PRAYER:  Father, thank You for watching over us not only during the dark night but at every moment of the day and night for as long as we live.  What a comfort it is to know that you are always with us, that we are never lost from Your sight and never outside of Your protection.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 8/12/16 – Worry

DayBreaks for 8/12/16 – Worry

From the DayBreaks Archive for August, 2006:

 “The same God that gave us commandments such as “Do not commit adultery, do not murder” said, “Do not worry.”  It’s a violation of our relationship to God to question His authority by worrying.

“Has any good ever come out of any worrying that you’ve ever done?  Worry only compartmentalizes us and makes us unable to do what we set out to do.  If you are worried about a problem, what you need to do is simply trust the Lord and do good.

“The word worry comes from a word that means ‘to divide’.  When you worry, you divide your energy.  Do you worry?  I worry about you if you don’t worry!  All of us worry, but we shouldn’t.  Jesus commands us half a dozen times, “Do not worry.”  When we worry about a situation, the problem gets us instead of us getting it.

“Jesus is not afraid of the things that cause us fear.  He never said, “Don’t bring your fears to me – I’m too busy.”  Instead he said, “I’m not afraid of the things that cause you fear.  Bring your fears to me.” – The Inspirational Study Bible

Galen’s Thoughts:

Worry, worry, worry.  Sometimes it seems like that’s all we do.  I tend to worry about financial things.  How will we pay the bills?  How will our daughter be able to go to college?  What will we do now that the air compressor on the air conditioner went out?  What would we do if the car breaks down – how will we pay for the repairs?  What if the pain in our son’s neck never goes away?  What if the local church body doesn’t grow? 

But you know, I can’t think of a single positive result that has ever come from any of my worrying.  I can control neither future events nor the components in my car by worrying about them.

I may be able to hide them from other people and they may never know that I’m worried.  I’m pretty good about hiding my worries – I’ve had plenty of practice to perfect my technique!  But I can’t hide them from God.  I need to confess my worry as sin before Him, accept my forgiveness and learn to trust Him.  After all, hasn’t He already promised to meet my needs?  Yes.  Ah, but I must be content to live with His definition of my needs and sometimes I don’t want to have to do that – I want to insist on my own definition!  I may decide something is a need and He thinks it’s just a “want”!  Am I willing to sacrifice it to Him?

In the sermon on the mount Jesus reminded us of our Father’s care for us – of our incredible value to him, of our value compared to that of a flower which is clothed beautifully – yet it doesn’t toil, worry or spin.  Why am I so driven to worry?  I’m lacking in trust and so I worry.  Perhaps it’s because I’ve been let down by people, and since God is a Person inasmuch as we are made in His image, I might be tempted to think that He’ll let me down, too.  Not so.  If He is with each dying sparrow as it draws its last breath, I can count on Him being with me.  If He has promised to help me, I need not fear or worry. 

What are you worrying about today?  Will you lay it on the altar of the Lord and sacrifice it to Him right now and decide never to pick it up again?  Find His peace!

PRAYER: Lord, how much better our lives would be if we truly trusted You instead of trying to manage our own lives and destinies.  Help us each day to grow in faith and trust in Your goodness and love for us.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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