DayBreaks for 4/16/18 – Can’t You See?

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DayBreaks for 4/16/18: Can’t You See?       

From the Perimeter worship bulletin (this forms an introduction to a series of sermons and DayBreaks from the book of Habakkuk that I’ll share in the coming weeks):

“Can’t you see, oh can’t you see, what that woman, she been doing’ to me? Can’t you see, can’t you see, what that woman, Lord, been doing’ to me?” – lyric from the Marshall Tucker band

It was a question the Marshall Tucker band asked in the 1970’s. Waylon Jennings asked the same question. More recently, the Zac Brown band asked it. The writer is upset because his woman left him, and did not say goodbye. He is at the point of despair. He is “…gonna take a freight train, or find a hole to craw in” because he has no relief. He is asking why the Lord can’t see his misery, or that he’s been “done wrong.”

Have you ever felt that way or asked the question, “Can’t you see, God?” I have asked the Lord that on numerous occasions. It seems funny as I write it, that I would actually ask the omniscient God if he can see. The gentle but firm reality is that he can see. I am the one who cannot see. He may not be telling me what he does see. Be assured that he sees. Sometimes in our frustration at life’s situations, we want to be all knowing and all seeing. Something has not been granted to us, and so we ask, “Can’t you see?” Underneath that question we add a corollary, “Won’t you deal with what I see?”

There is a problem with doing that. Because we don’t fully see, we may not know how to tell him the right thing to do. A word picture may help. Sit with your back to a window, then try to recall everything that is outside the window. You may be a few things correct, but birds are flying, leaves are falling, and the sun is rising. Things change and often they are in your blind spot, where you cannot notice them. God sees all, all of the time. One pastor put it this way, “We may have a point of view, but God has view!”

So, this week…we wonder if you can praise the Lord for having view, resting in the fact that he has it, he sees it, and he knows just want needs to be done. Yes, he knows “what that woman (or man) been doin’ to you”, so there is no need to take a freight train!

PRAYER: God, sometimes we think we see and understand better than you do. Keep us from this foolish way of thinking and help us learn to trust you and your vision above our own! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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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.

DayBreaks for 2/23/18 – An Everyday Mystery

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DayBreaks for 2/23/18: An Everyday Mystery

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2008:

Choosing.  How difficult it is, and yet how often we do it!  How many decisions have you made already today?  You decided whether or not to get up when the alarm went off, or to hit snooze a time or two.  You decided what you would wear.  You decided what you would eat, or if you would eat, for breakfast.  You decided (whether you thought about it or not) on the route you’d drive to work, school or wherever you were going.  You decided where to park, how fast you’d drive, whether or not to pass or honk at someone who irritated you.  You decided what you’d listen to on the radio.  You decided what to read in the paper.  You decided if you’d take your lunch or buy it.  Chances are you’ve already made thousands of little decisions already today – and your day is just getting started.

Someone has said that practice is what makes perfect.  We know, of course, that there’s a smidgen of truth in that sentiment – with practice we DO get better (hopefully!)  But we don’t get perfect through practice regardless of the old saying.  The only way we ever get perfect is by God changing us in eternity into Christ’s likeness.  We can make progress until then – but perfection?  No, definitely not.

But if we are to get better with practice, have you ever stopped to think about why it is that we so seldom choose what is best?  It’s nothing new to the 21st century, of course.  It’s been going on since the beginning of time, and humanistic thinking aside, we aren’t getting better at it throughout the millennia.  Adam and Eve were given an entire garden by God and told that they could eat of any tree in the garden – except one.  And which one did they choose?  The ONE.  Jonah had the choice of going to Ninevah or the other direction – so he high-tailed it away from Ninevah.  Saul/Paul could choose to persecute Christians or to let them be.  Judas could have not betrayed Jesus, be he did.  Perhaps you could have chosen to remain faithful to your spouse but you chose unfaithfulness instead.  Drugs, alcohol, greed, thievery, murder, lying – all spring from the well of choice.  See what I mean when I say we’re not getting better at it? 

I’m convinced that we don’t know how to choose wisely sometimes.  How can we possibly know in every circumstance what is the very best thing to do?  If you know the answer, please tell me!  Sure, I know we can pray and God can give us direction, but we still have to choose to go His way and not our own, or He may not give us an answer when we are seeking it. 

So what are we to do?  Maybe all we can hope for in those cases where we’re not sure what is best is to choose what is better.  Mary and Martha were hosting Jesus in their home, and Martha was all a-flutter with her busyness and serving until she got so ticked off at her sister that she even (by implication at least) berates Jesus and Mary – Mary for not helping, Jesus for not telling Mary to help Martha.  Jesus, ever gentle and wise, simply gives Mary a bit of praise: Mary has chosen what is better.  (Lk. 10:42) Notice what Jesus didn’t say: he didn’t say Mary had chosen what was best, but just better. 

What would have been best in that situation?  The Lord only knows, but he didn’t scold Mary for not choosing what was best but encouraged her in her choosing of what was simply “better”.  Maybe that’s why, in all our ways, we should acknowledge Him and let him direct our paths until we reach that which is best.

PRAYER: I’m so grateful, Lord, that you understand our limitations and don’t expect perfection from us.  Forgive us for our foolish choices and help us choose that which is better!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 2/22/18 – Recovering from an Unusual Attitude

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DayBreaks for 2/22/18: Recovering From an Unusual Attitude

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2008:

I have some friends and Christian brothers who are retired airline pilots.  You don’t get to be a pilot without lots of hard work, intelligence and more than just a little nerve.  Consider this part of some pilot’s training:

When a pilot is learning to fly, there comes a point when they pile into the plane behind the controls and they take off – still with the instructor beside them.  They take the plane up to a good altitude and the instructor takes over, but not before putting a cloth bag or some kind of blindfold on the prospective pilot.  Once that is done, the instructor begins to take the plane up and over and around and virtually inside out – all with one purpose: to disturb the equilibrium of the student and get them disoriented.  After some barrel rolls, loop the loops and other acrobatic maneuvers, the pilot takes the plane up and up and up and then noses over into a suicide dive.  At that point, they remove the bag or blindfold from the student and give them back the controls.  His/her job at that point is simple, but very important: get the plane back under control before they smack into the ground.  The name of this exercise is “recovering from an unusual attitude.”

Much of our lives are spend in twists, turns, climbs and dives, and we can easily become disoriented and crash and burn.  We are blinded to many of the reasons and “wherefore’s” that affect us.  We know God has a plan, and we know the final outcome, but not the details – oftentimes, I’m convinced, we don’t even know the details as we are living them out day by day.  And it is imperative that we find our senses in the midst of the twisting and turning, climbing and diving.

Our attitudes play such a major role in how we view life and God.  What’s your attitude when you don’t understand where He’s taking you?  Are you prone to yell at him and get angry, or will you dig into His word, open your heart to his leading, and recover from your own unusual attitude?

PRAYER: May we learn to act graciously even when we don’t understand, and always to act in obedience and find our safety in You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 2/19/18 – The Worst Hallucination

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DayBreaks for 2/19/18: The Worst Hallucination

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2008:

We tend to think of hallucinations as the result of mind-altering chemicals – either when naturally occurring chemicals in the brain are out of balance, or when controlled substances are put into the body.  Some hallucinations are terrifying – people imagine they are being hunted down by some beast or a person intent on killing them.  Others are tamer, and some are hallucinations of beauty.  Regardless of the subject matter, the truth about hallucinations is that they’re, well, hallucinations.  They are not real.  And while the hallucination itself can’t harm us, we may do something in response to the hallucination that can be hurtful…or even deadly.

As bad as some hallucinations may be, the worst ones are probably spiritual in nature.  Mark Buchanan in The Rest of God, suggests that the worst hallucination that humans can have is the conviction that we are God.  No, most of us would never dare to say such a thing out loud, or even to think it consciously.  But, his point is that our actions speak louder than words when it comes to this topic.  It is our busyness that reveals who we think is in charge of our lives and who our present and future depends upon. 

Why is it busyness that reveals this to us?  Because it shows us that our actions say that we believe our destiny and security and fate is all dependent upon us and what we do – that it’s in our own hands to make our break our future.  It is as if we have reached the conclusion that “If I don’t take care of myself, no one will,” and so we are always pushing, worrying, stressing out over the myriad things that call our name and demand our attention.  That’s why rest, Sabbath and sleep are so important.  They remind us that things do go on without us. 

Spiritual hallucinations are like all other hallucinations in some ways: they aren’t real, they can harm us and in fact, can be deadly.

PRAYER: Keep us, we pray, from hallucinations about our own greatness and importance.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 2/16/18 – The Jewish Sabbath Secret

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DayBreaks for 2/16/18: The Jewish Sabbath Secret

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2008:

Luke 23:50-54 (NIV) – Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea and he was waiting for the kingdom of God.  Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body.  Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid.  It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin.

It would be hard to find someone who doesn’t know at least something about the Jewish Sabbath.  Anyone who knows the Ten Commandments is familiar with the command to set one day aside to rest and be recreated.  Yet because of cultural differences between the ancient Jews and modern day people, we miss some key elements that we should not miss.

The passage above from Luke 23 tells us the reason that Jesus was taken down from the cross in such a rush – and in John, it also tells us that the approaching Sabbath was the reason the legs of the thieves were broken and Christ’s side was pierced.  The Jews didn’t want such things happening on the Sabbath – it would have been flat wrong to their way of thinking and belief. 

Bear in mind the time of day when Jesus died…it was in the late afternoon, shortly before 6 p.m.  Sabbath would begin promptly at 6:00 p.m. because the ancient Jews counted time from sundown onward.  Today, we use the convention that a new day starts just after midnight, but the Jews felt it started the evening before.  In reality, even though our clock tells us a new day starts at 12:01 a.m., for all intents and purposes, most of us think of the new day starting when the sun comes up.

Why is that important?  And what does it have to do with the meaning and purpose of Sabbath itself?  A lot, I think, and it has spiritual ramifications: we start the day out with getting ready to go to work, to begin our labors.  The Jews, on the other hand, started their day out with a time of feasting and giving thanks, and then with sleep.  What difference does that make?  I think it says a lot about who is in charge of our lives and our times.  The Jews began their day with a meal and thanksgiving to God, and then instead of working, they laid down to sleep through the night.  On the other hand, we start it out with a quick breakfast (often hurried without time for leisurely giving of thanks) and running off to work to control our destinies.

By worship and then sleeping, the Jews were acknowledging that this new day was from God, and that they could rest in that knowledge.  Sleep is a very real kind of self-relinquishment or self-abandonment.  When we’re sleeping, we’re helpless.  Someone could steal in and murder us or rob us and we’d be oblivious to it.  When we are sleeping, we relinquish all attempts at making money, controlling life, controlling others, being successful.  When we sleep, we are acknowledging our weakness – that we MUST rest.  But the God who watched over Israel (and over us) never sleeps nor slumbers.  And by sleeping first in the day, the Jews showed their trust in God for all that each day would bring.

I know that we aren’t going to be able to change the way the world views time these days, but in our hearts, maybe we’d be wise to recognize our laying down to sleep as the start of a new day – reminding ourselves that we can rest in, and because, of God who never takes His eyes off of us.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for new days and new beginnings, and for inviting us first and foremost to rest in you, knowing you are ever vigilant!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 1/16/18 – The Prescription for an Untroubled Heart

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DayBreaks for 1/16/18: The Prescription for an Untroubled Heart

John 14:1(ESV) – Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.

Troubled hearts are everywhere. My guess is you have something that is troubling your heart. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t. Scripture tells us to not be anxious – but just like this verse from Jesus, that’s far easier to say than to do. So how do we go about getting an untroubled heart?

Believe in God; believe also in me. Seven simple words, the longest consisting of just seven letters and two syllables. So how does it work?

First, think about what is troubling your heart. Is it fear of illness? Loss of job or home? A child who is in rebellion? A marriage that is falling apart? Ability to pay the bills? My guess is that you can come up with several things. It really doesn’t matter what it is, the cause of troubled hearts is found in this passage, this one little verse. Our hearts are troubled when we believe that God doesn’t know, care, or is powerless and indifferent to do anything. It is much harder to believe in someone or something you can’t see (like God), so Jesus makes it much more personal (“believe also in me”). The disciples had seen, touched and smelled Jesus and had seen his care and concern.

The hard part, of course, is always that we do not know what God will specifically do in any given situation. Will he heal? Will be lose our job? Will we go broke? Will someone die? Will the company be sold or go under? I don’t know the answers to those questions in my own life, let alone yours. But if our faith is based on some specific action that God will do, rather than His character and His promise to make all things work for our good, we aren’t really trusting or believing in God.

We need to also believe in His power. If I were to say to you, “Believe in Galen, believe in me for a trouble-free heart!” would you take that advice to heart? I would hope not! I have neither the power to fix what’s troubling you nor the wisdom to make sure that whatever is going on in your life will work out for your good and not harm. God, and Jesus, however, have both the power to fix it but also the wisdom to know whether or not it would be good for you if they fixed it in the way you want them to fix it.

It’s still easier said than done. But the key is to believe in God and in Jesus. Believe in their power, but even more in their wisdom to do what is right. No matter what happens in life, that is the key to a trouble-free heart.

PRAYER: Lord, we all need to heed your advice to us because our hearts are all troubled! Help us, we pray, to believe in You! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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