DayBreaks for 7/11/19 – Elevator Music and Emergencies

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DayBreaks for 7/11/19: Elevator Music and Emergencies

Just this past week I was up in British Columbia doing some salmon fishing with my great friend, Ken.  As is the case with all good things (except God!), they must come to an end, and we found ourselves getting on a puddle-jumper plane to take us back to Vancouver from Campbell River, BC.  This plane look like a flying breadbox.  It wasn’t round – it was more square, and the wings looked about 3 sizes too small to be able to provide enough lift to get the beast off the ground. 

As we prepared to pull away from the gate, they started the familiar ritual of running through the emergency instructions.  As the flight attendant read the instructions (this wasn’t like a big jet that has a tape deck where they play the instructions from a cassette!!!), there was elevator music playing in the background – soothing, calming, almost loud enough to make one drift off to sleep.  And that’s when it struck me: this was a parallel for life and how Satan plays against the Word of God. 

God’s Word is full of instructions – emergency instructions, if you please – about how to avoid a coming firestorm, how to avoid self-inflicted catastrophies and injury in life, how to avoid burn-out, self-destruction, guilt, shame, divorce and a life lived in utter meaningless.  Many people (though fewer than in past decades) know what is in the Good Book because they’ve heard it so many times.  But in the background, subtle but ever present, is Satan’s elevator music.  His music is intended to make us think, “This kind of stuff won’t happen to me, so I don’t need to worry about it.  I’m safe.  All those warnings are just the fantasies of some God who simply likes to be in control and have His own way.”  The elevator music of Satan is designed to make us relax, to not listen as closely, or to think about the consequences of ignoring God’s instructions.  Let’s face it: no one likes to listen to scary warnings about crashing and burning or going down over water, but everyone likes music, right?

Don’t let Satan’s elevator music drown out the voice and wisdom of God.  Let His Word through to your heart and mind and soul, take it serious, for He knows whereof He speaks!

PRAYER: Awaken in us a sense of urgency to hear Your voice and alert us to the subtle lullabies Satan would sing to our hearts to make us dull and sleepy.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

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DayBreaks for 5/16/19 – God’s Intent

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DayBreaks for 5/16/19: God’s Intent

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2009:

Good intentions.  My goodness, I’ve certainly had enough of them to last a lifetime.  Do those intentions always translate into right actions?  Well, um, no.  But just because the action didn’t follow the intent, it doesn’t mean that anything was wrong with the intent.  It’s the execution of a good intention that leads to good actions.

There is an interesting passage in Ephesians that speaks about one of God’s intentions.  Here it is: His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Ephesians 3:10-11 (NIV)

Maybe it seems strange to think of it in this way, but at least for the present time, God’s intentions don’t always work out, either.  They will eventually, but in the meantime, they can get sidetracked, too.  They don’t get sidetracked because God changes His mind or because He can’t execute His plan.  It’s just that He chooses to make some of His intentions intertwined with the actions of human beings like us.  And that’s why His intentions don’t always get fulfilled right away.

It was God’s “intent” that His wisdom should show forth God’s wisdom.  How is your church doing at showing forth God’s wisdom?  But let’s make it a bit more personal than that…for we are the church.  The question could therefore be asked, “How well am I doing at letting God’s manifold wisdom be seen through my life?” 

Many churches are too busy fussing and fighting to show much of anything that would resemble God’s character.  But when a diverse group of people can not only co-exist, but love one another and let God’s wisdom (not the wisdom of the church leaders) be seen – then something amazing happens.  People in this world see something that doesn’t come from this world: God’s wisdom.  Even then, however, this display of wisdom from the church isn’t primarily for human eyes – it is for the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.  They are watching – and believe it or not, they see the wisdom of God in His plan to involve humans as His family.

You are the church.  Does your life showcase your wisdom, or His? 

Prayer: Father, forgive us for our foolishness and for wanting to show how smart and wise we are in our human thinking.  May we live as your church so that the angels and demons give You praise for Your wisdom in creating the church!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 12/04/18 – The Secret to a Wise Heart

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DayBreaks for 12/04/18: The Secret to a Wise Heart

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2008:

We don’t like to think about death at all, let alone our own death.  We’d like to just ignore it until it happens.  We are more than content to live under a grand illusion that we have an unlimited number of days to live.  And so we drift aimlessly from day to day, moment to moment, never considering death.

Moses had an interesting prayer that he offered up in Psalm 90:12 (NIV) –Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.  There are two key things in this brief passage that we should note:

FIRST: we have to be taught to number our days correctly.  We can’t figure it out on our own – or at least, we won’t figure it out ourselves.  We are too happily living out our delusion about limitless days, trying as hard as we can to be oblivious to our impending demise.  I don’t know if mankind ever really knew how to number his days correctly.  I doubt that we were created with that sense of limited days because when Adam and Eve were created, they weren’t created to die.  That’s something that came about after the fall.  It was only after death entered onto the stage that it became necessary to learn, to be taught, that we have a finite number of days allotted to us and that we don’t know how many days we have.

SECOND: we can’t have a heart of wisdom until we learn to number our days.  Why?  Because we can’t live wisely until we learn to number our days.  Considering our mortality leads us to view each day of life differently, to cherish it and appreciate it in ways we can’t even imagine if we don’t consider our finiteness.  We can’t live rightly until we know we will die rightly.  And we must contemplate death if we are to live rightly.

Towards that end, as I shared with our congregation last week, I’ve added something to my daily prayer that seems to be helping me to do a much better job of numbering my days and living accordingly.  It’s very simple, and I’d encourage you to add something similar to your morning prayer: “Lord, if this is to be my last day, may I live it in Jesus with great joy and wonder.”

Prayer: We need hearts that are wise, Lord, hearts that consider our deaths so that we can live more appropriately in each moment of the time we have been given.  Teach us, Lord, to number our days.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

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.

DayBreaks for 1/4/17 – The God Who Runs Away

DayBreaks for 1/04/17: The God Who Runs Away

John Thomas Randolph offers a relatively modern story of running and returning to illustrate our Lord’s circumstances.

Here is the difference between cowardice and heroism. The coward runs away and stays away. The hero runs away but he always returns at the appropriate time.

There is a biography of General Douglas MacArthur that was written by Bob Considine. The picture on the front cover shows the general standing like a boulder, looking off into the distance, with that famous corncob pipe in his mouth. You can almost hear him telling the people of the Philippines, “I came through and I shall return.” Ordered to make a strategic withdrawal, his promise to return became the rallying cry for a whole country. MacArthur had to “run away” for a while, but he would “return” – and it was the returning that mattered most.

My copy of the Bible entitles a section of Scripture, “The Flight into Egypt.” Cruel Herod the king had been threatened by the birth of Jesus, apparently fearing that Jesus would become a competitor for his own crown. Since that was an intolerable possibility to him, and since he could not be absolutely sure which baby boy was Jesus, he ordered that all the male children in and around Bethlehem who were two-years old or under be killed. Thus it was that an angel of the Lord directed Joseph to take Jesus and Mary and to “flee to Egypt.”

Can you imagine it? God on the run! Jesus, the Christ, fleeing for his life!… He is running for his life…

If this scene is shocking for you then hold on, for there is more to come. We can imagine Joseph escaping into Egypt with the baby Jesus. But, surely, we think, if Jesus were only a full-grown man, he would not run from Herod. The evidence, however, does not completely support our thought.

There were times, even as an adult, when Jesus ran away. During the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem one winter, some people wanted Jesus to tell them “plainly” if he was, indeed, the Christ. When Jesus answered, I and the Father are one, they took up stones to stone him. We read, Again they tried to arrest him, but he escaped from their hands. (John 10:39) Notice that word, again”; apparently Jesus had to run away on other occasions, too.

There is no getting away from it: Christmas tells us that God chose to make himself vulnerable when he revealed himself in a person who, sometimes, at least, had to run away from people like Herod and the stone-throwers.

The vulnerability of Christ is a great thing because it makes it easier for us to admit our own vulnerability. We may like to think that we are super men and women, but we are not. There are powers and people who can hurt us and destroy us. There are times when we need to run away! You see, running away is not always cowardice as many of us have been taught to believe. Running away, at times, may he part of a very wise strategy. As the old saying goes: “He who runs away lives to fight another day.”

There are times, of course, when we cannot run away. There are times when we must not run away. There are times when running away is cowardice. Jesus did not run away from his betrayers in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus did not run away from the cross or the grave. There are times when we must stand our ground, no matter what the cost.

Nevertheless, there are other times when it is wise to run away. Timing has a lot to do with it. So do our intentions about returning. For after the time of running away, there should always be a time of returning. All of our running away, as Christians, should be with the ultimate goal of returning.

Why do we run away? When I look at my own experience, I find that I usually run away for one of three reasons: I am frightened; I am fatigued; or I am frustrated. Isn’t that why you run away too?

PRAYER: May we always have the courage to return to the fight after we have run away. Let us be people of discernment so we wisely choose when to run – and when to stand! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 7/5/16 – If You Could Do Life Over Again

DayBreaks for 7/05/16 – If You Could Do Life Over Again

Galen is on vacation. From the DayBreaks archive, June 2006:

At a conference I attended in February, Tony Campolo told about a survey that was done with a group of people who were 95 years old.  They asked these people to reflect on how they’d do their lives over again if they could – what changes they might make.  Their responses reflected the wisdom that can only come from having lived so long, and we would do well to listen and learn from them.  Here’s their top three responses:

FIRST: We’d reflect more – create a “thin place”.  Rather than jumping to conclusions and judgments, rather than rushing so hard to get through each day and onto the next task, they would stop to think more about the beauty of a flower, the sound of the birds, the meaning of life and what makes it worth living.  They found that busyness was not a satisfactory answer – they’d done too much of that and wished they’d taken more time to create a place where they could be near to important things and to God;

SECOND: We’d risk more – This may seem like a contradiction of the first item.  Reflection would tend to make us think that we’d take less risk, not more.  But what they were really saying is that when we become so concerned about ourselves that we’re afraid to give, afraid to love, afraid to dare and dream great things, we become smaller people who die a bit faster.  The human body ages not because the cells die, but because they stop dividing.  They become more “self-centered”, afraid to risk dividing and giving and “taking a chance.”  How tragic when we let our fears keep us from attempting things of value – great things for God.

THIRD: We’d do more that would live on after we’re gone.  Oh, this one makes me draw in my breath.  We are so very busy with just trying to maintain our standard of living, to keep the bills paid, that we don’t invest much time in our children, our grandchildren, the lives of our neighbors, co-workers and loved ones.  The things you do at work every day may or may not live on after you’re gone.  But know this: only those things which are done for others, and especially for God, will live on after you have died.  And since people are the only things that will go on into eternity from this world, it is in people that we should invest like there is no tomorrow – because there may not be.

Will we have the wisdom to learn from these aged sages and to make the changes we need in our lives to think more, to risk more and to do more that will outlive us? 

PRAYER:  Lord Jesus, slow us down.  Bring us into the quiet place where we can meet with you and hear your voice telling us how you want us to re-order our lives.  Help us to remember that You are the Lord of great things and that You were the greatest risk taker who has ever lived.  And help us to live wisely so that we will invest in things that live on long after we are a faded memory.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 7/01/16 – Wise Philosophy

DayBreaks for 7/01/16 – Wise Philosophy

Galen is on vacation. From the DayBreaks archive, June 2006:

Psalms 39:4-7 (NLT) – LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered, and that my life is fleeing away.  My life is no longer than the width of my hand. An entire lifetime is just a moment to you; human existence is but a breath.  We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing. We heap up wealth for someone else to spend.  And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you.

Our congregation has been hit hard recently with unexpected illnesses.  Some have been to parents of members who are well advanced in years.  Somehow, those things are not as surprising as when they happen to little ones.  We have a family in our church right now who has a little boy (3-1/2 years old) who is lying in Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care unit at Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford University, waiting for a heart transplant.  This little boy suffers from a fatal heart disease and the only hope for him (barring God’s miraculous intervention which we are all praying for) is a heart transplant.  He suffered cardiac arrest around the first of the month and has been on a respirator since then and since having a partial “artificial heart” implanted to help keep him alive until a suitable transplant heart becomes available. 

That just isn’t the way it’s supposed to happen.  When unexpected things happen to little ones, we’re shocked, stunned and grieved beyond words.  Why do these things happen?  I’m not really looking for an answer in the philosophical/religious sense, but I think that one of the many lessons we can, and should learn from these types of things is this one: life is short and so very precious.  It doesn’t really matter if it’s someone in their 80’s or 90’s (life is still short, even if you do live to be that age) or a newborn. 

Someone once came up with this insight:

“Live for Him today – for tomorrow may be too late” versus “Live for today – for tomorrow may never come.”

What a difference between the two attitudes and outlooks.  One is very self centered – living for today implies that we are living for ourselves, for our own existence, and that if we don’t live for today we may regret it when tomorrow comes because we will have missed out on experiences that we could have enjoyed in this life.  The other is outward focused – living for Him – and not worrying about experiences we might miss out on.  In reality, it’s trading one set of experiences in life (and eternity!) for another based on a value judgment that we make. 

We must decide, given the few frail years that we are allotted, where we will place our greatest value and attention.  On ourselves and living for what we can get out of life here and now (because tomorrow may not come), or for Jesus because if we don’t live for him today, we may never live for him (or with him)!

Which of these two philosophies best represents the way you live your life?  What evidence do you have to back up your thinking?

PRAYER:  We have so much to learn, Lord, and we are so prone to trying to learn from all the wrong sources.  Thank you for the reminders in your word that life is uncertain, that death is certain, and that eternal destinies are realities that we must all come to grips with.  Help us to have wisdom to live for You today, trusting that in the end, it will have been absolutely the wisest, and best thing to do.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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