DayBreaks for 4/26/18 – Why Sin Vanished from Our Vocabulary

Image result for sin

DayBreaks for 4/26/18: Why Sin Vanished from Our Vocabulary

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2008:     

When is the last time that you heard the word “sin” actually spoken outside of a church – other than in a sneering derisive way?  I don’t know if I can honestly recall.  In fact, one wonders if perhaps the word is spoken very often inside churches these days.  Why is that?  No less than 50 years ago, the word could be heard at least every once in a while from politicians, businessmen, teachers, professors and certainly in churches.  Why no more?

It has to do with the shift in our thinking from the realm of spiritual things being relegated to nothing more than personal belief without anything to recommend it to a serious thinker or scholar as being more than just superstition.  When the Bible as God’s special revelation was thrown out, and when the real historical Jesus was made into a farce by the “Historical Jesus movement”, and when universities began teaching that anything the wasn’t scientifically provable should be thrown on the dust heap as so much gibberish, then there was to sin anymore, no mark that we would be missing.  Because, you see, God can’t be scientifically proven, therefore He must not exist. 

So, if you ask most people in our culture what, if anything, they think of sin, Don Everts in The Smell of Sin suggests it would be like asking them what they think of unicorns.  (In fact, I suspect that some might give more credence to the existence of unicorns – perhaps even if only in the past – than they do to the existence of God, although there’s far more evidence for the latter!)  Still, most people know that unicorns are a myth.  As Everts says, “So the debate is: is it a cute myth or a silly myth or a destructive one?  Sin really has joined the ranks of Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny in our culture: something that you once believed in as a child but have since grown out of…So, what does sin smell like to most of our neighbors?  Nothing.  Air.”

Has sin vanished from your vocabulary?  Have you relegated it to something other than what it is?  Have you developed cute names for it (“goof-up”, “mistake”, “slip of the tongue”, “mis-step”, “an oops”)?  God calls it sin.  And He reminds us very clearly: (Ezekiel 18:4, NIV) – For every living soul belongs to me, the father as well as the son–both alike belong to me. The soul who sins is the one who will die.

PRAYER:  Father, keep us from believing fairy tales and give us the wisdom to believe You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

Advertisements

DayBreaks for 4/25/18 – The Surprising Proclamation

Image result for proclamation

DayBreaks for 4/25/18: The Surprising Proclamation

John 4:25-26 (NIV) – The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”  Then Jesus declared, “I who speak to you am he.

The verses above are taken from the story of Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well in Samaria.  It’s a fascinating story for a variety of reasons.  Jesus, a man, initiating a conversation with a woman.  It wasn’t supposed to happen that way – not in that age.  Jesus, a Jew, speaking to a Samaritan.  It wasn’t supposed to happen – Jews and Samaritans were supposed to hate one another.  Jesus was a rabbi, a very holy man – and this woman was, well, less than virtuous.  She had gone from one relationship to another, and was now living with a man to whom she wasn’t married.  No self-respecting rabbi would strike up such a conversation.

But Jesus wasn’t into self-respect, he was into love and sharing that love with anyone who needed it – and certainly, it would appear that this woman had perhaps mistaken many things for love in the past. 

The most amazing thing, however, about this story, was Jesus’ announcement that he was the Messiah.  As far as we know, this is the very first time that Jesus identified himself this blatantly.  He hadn’t made this kind of proclamation to even his disciples, so why this woman?

I believe he announced himself to this woman precisely because she was the kind of person who needed to know that the Messiah had come.  This woman probably had lost most of her hope for her life.  Her track record this far had not been stellar.  With the first relationship, she probably had hoped that “my life is set and I’m on track for happiness.”  But her heart had been broken.  Then came a succession of more men – and with each one, more heartbreak had come and a bit of hope had died as each relationship died.  Perhaps she wondered, deep in her heart, if there would be any hope for her at all.

And to this hurting, shame-filled, discouraged woman, the Messiah is revealed for the first time.  It was for women (and men) just like this one that Jesus had come.  And in revealing himself to her, hope and possibility were reborn.

Our sins burden us and crush us and destroy joy and hope.  Stop by the well and drink the Living Water that the Messiah gives and you will never thirst again.

PRAYER:  Lord, thank you for revealing yourself to sinners like us.  Renew our hope and open our eyes to what it means that the Messiah has come!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/24/18 – They’ve Never Been There

Image result for amazon river

 

DayBreaks for 4/24/18: They’ve Never Been There   

The story is told of the explorer who some years ago had just returned to his country from the Amazon. The people at home were eager to learn all about the vast and mighty river and the country surrounding it. How he wondered, could he ever describe it to them – how could he ever put into words the feelings that flooded into his heart when he saw the exotic flowers and heard the night sounds of the jungle. How could he communicate to them the smells the filled the air and the sense of danger and excitement that would come whenever he and his fellows explorers encountered strange animals or paddled through treacherous rapids?

So the explorer did what all good explorers do – he said to the people, “go and find out for yourselves what it is like”, and to help them he drew a map of the river pointing out the various features of its course and describing some of the dangers and some of the routes that could be used to avoid those dangers.

The people took the map and they framed and hung it on the wall of the local science museum so that everyone could look at it. Some made copies of it. After a period of time many of those who made copies for themselves considered themselves experts on the river – and indeed they knew its every turn and bend, they knew how broad it was and how deep, where the rapids where and where the falls. They knew the river and they instructed others in what it was like whenever those people indicated an interest in it.

I think that many people today are in the same situation. We know the scriptures but we do not understand them. And we do not understand them because we have not been there. We must not simply look at the scriptures and their meaning, we must go there. We must experience what it means to repent of our sins and allow God to forgive us. Would you this morning take the map down from the wall and go to the river with me. See what is there. Allow Christ to open your mind, to breathe his Holy Spirit upon you, and make you a disciple from the heart.

PRAYER: Let us drink deeply from the sweet well of your word and Spirit that we may know you from experience and not just from printed page! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/23/18 – Something Evil This Way Comes

Image result for something evil this way comes

DayBreaks for 4/23/18: Something Evil This Way Comes   

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2008:

Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic magazine and author of The Science of Good and Evil, wrote on 3/18/04:

“I once had the opportunity to ask Thomas Keneally, author of Schindler’s List, what he thought was the difference between Oskar Schindler, rescuer of Jews and hero of his story, and Amon Goeth, the Nazi commandant of the Plaszow concentration camp.  His answer was revealing.  Not much, he said.  Had there been no war, Mr. Schindler and Mr. Goeth might have been drinking buddies and business partners, morally obtuse, perhaps, but relatively harmless.  What a difference a war makes, especially to the moral choices that lead to good and evil.”

Shermer goes on to quote Russian writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: “If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them.  But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.  And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”

This reminds me of the parable Jesus spoke about the Pharisee and that tax collector.  The Pharisee saw himself in rather glowing terms: “Thank you, God, that I am not like others – like this tax collector!”  The tax collector, meanwhile, was downcast and pleaded, “God, have mercy on me a sinner!”

Who do you most closely identify with – the Pharisee or the tax collector?  I hope it is the latter, for we all have the “line dividing good and evil” that cuts right through our own heart.  The sin we do in private goes unseen except by God, giving us all the temptation to sound and act like the Pharisee, but God knows better.  When we approach one another, we’d be wise to recognize that something evil this way comes.

We can’t cut out a piece of our own heart.  We can desperately plead with God to create within us a new heart to replace our diseased one.

PRAYER:  “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me!  Cast me not away from Thy Presence, O Lord, and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me.  Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation, and renew a right spirit within me!”  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/20/18 – Coloring Outside the Lines

Image result for coloring hand

DayBreaks for 4/20/18: Coloring Outside the Lines 

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2008:

My granddaughter, Kailani, is now 5, and she’s very good with crayons and colored pens.  One of her favorite things to do when I get to her place is to invite me to sit down and color with her.  We’ll use the same coloring book – she’ll take one page and I’ll take the facing page.  She is VERY particular about staying inside the lines.  Maybe that’s why she wants us working on the same pages – that way she can keep an eye on my coloring to see if she approves!!!!

I, too, still love to color.  I always have.  I don’t do it except when I’m with my grandkids.  Strange.  But I recall the outlines of shapes and people, and the joy of deciding what colors to use and turning a blasé page into a genuine work of art (well, maybe just a colored page!)  It bothers Kailani if I color outside the lines, and it bothers teachers, and it bothers me, too.  The creator of the work intended for people to color INSIDE the lines, not outside.  If all you do is color outside, the beauty is not revealed in its fullest. 

Now-a-days, some “experts” are saying that it is harmful to a child’s development to tell them to stay inside the lines.  They say that the child shouldn’t be restricted from someone else’s view of reality, and that if they want to color outside the lines, well, that’s just fine. 

I’m not so sure.  It seems to me that coloring outside the lines is dangerous…and can have serious, even deadly, implications in other areas of life.  Stop and think of “coloring outside the lines” as a metaphor for life, rules and restrictions.  Especially God’s boundaries.

God himself sets lines and boundaries.  He did it in creation by telling the sea that it could only go so far and no further: Should you not fear me?, declares the Lord.  Should you not tremble in my presence?  I made the sand a boundary for the sea, an everlasting barrier it cannot cross.  The waves may roll, but they cannot prevail; they may roar, but they cannot cross it. – (Jer. 5:22)

The barriers (lines, if you will) that God set forth are not intended to limit our self-expression, but to direct it towards things that result in life and a deeper relationship with God Himself.  To think we know better than our Creator and decide it is okay to operate outside the boundaries that He wisely and kindly gave us, is confusing self-expression with self-indulgence.  It is to place ourselves in judgment on the Judge of all the earth.

Psalm 16:6: The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.

PRAYER:  Thank You, Father, for setting boundaries for our well-being and protection.  Teach us to live within the wise lines You have drawn for us as our Creator.  May the pattern of our lives lived on this earth be a thing of beauty to You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/19/18 – Habakkuk’s Circumstances – Deja Vu

Image result for nero

DayBreaks for 4/19/18: Habakkuk’s Circumstances (Déjà vu)     

I will refer you to Habakkuk 1.2-4 as a background for this DayBreaks.

Here’s the scenario: Habakkuk, a prophet in Judea, looks around himself and sees that the “righteous” (in whose number he includes himself) are surrounded by the wicked. He sees so-called justice that is really injustice. He sees iniquity. He sees destruction and violence running rampant. Strife and contention are everywhere and the law seems paralyzed. As bad as that is, what really is bothering Habakkuk is that he has been crying out to the Lord for help – and not seeing any help coming to his rescue.

This is going to get a bit sensitive here because I’m going to delve into politics. Bear with me, please. Habakkuk mixed the two – righteousness and justice. As much as some would like to totally separate the two, we can’t. Why is it wrong to steal from someone, both morally and ethically? Because it results in injustice to the person who had things taken. Justice is both a moral and political issue methinks.

And here’s where it’s gonna get touchy: there are many in America today who are feeling a lot like Habakkuk. They are right – there is much to despair over because of what they see happening (or not happening). They can’t understand why God has let some things happen and why he hasn’t come down with an iron rod and set things straight. And as a result, they cry out – but not maybe so much to God as to their friends on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and via email.

I think that Habakkuk had a far better approach to venting his frustration. Isn’t it better to cry out to God when we are despairing? We may not like the answer (or non-answer) we get from God, but it is HIS answer, so it is bound to be better than that which we get from our friends. Our dilemma is whether or not we believe his answers and ways are good or not. He is the God who raises up rulers and tears them down – not for our satisfaction, but for his immutable reasons. 

Indeed, God may yet come down with a rod of iron to fix what is wrong in this world (we know he will eventually, but he can fix things in the meantime, too, if in his infinite wisdom he knows that it is the right thing to do). There IS much injustice. There IS much violence, strife and contention. Those things need to be fixed – and they will.

But rather than crying out to everyone else around us, maybe like Habakkuk we should be crying out to God. Oh, and one more thing: maybe we need to be on our knees a whole lot more on behalf of our president, congresspersons, governors, magistrates, etc. than we have been. I wonder how often those who have railed the most against the political and moral state of affairs in our country are taking the command from Paul that we are to pray for our leaders (1 Timothy 2.2 – and bear in mind the leader Paul told people to pray for at that time as an utterly unjust, evil tyrant named Nero.) What, I wonder, would happen if Christians in the country and around the world truly started to pray for their leaders like we should? Not pray that they be smitten, but pray for their well-being, for righteousness to find a place to rule in their hearts, to seek God’s answers, to find salvation and God’s ways rather than the guidance of human advisors. Remember that prayer is offering our desires to God, but always with the attitude of “nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done.” Might God just hear from heaven and heal our land?

PRAYER: Convict us of the need to pray for all of our leaders far more than we feel the need to criticize them, Lord! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/18/18 – A Home We’ve Never Visited

Image result for home

DayBreaks for 4/18/18: A Home We’ve Never Visited

From the DayBreaks archive, dated 3/18/2005:

I am often possessed by a sense of great sadness at the amount of pain in the world.  No one – not one – is immune to the suffering, pain and disappointment.   It searches us out as a mother looks for a lost child.  And it always finds us.  Yet there is still nothing like going home.  For anyone who had anything approaching a normal upbringing, “home” is sweet music to our world-weary souls.  It promises remembrances of safety, of love, of belonging and being cherished.  It fires joy into our hearts and longing into our spirits.  Home.  Perhaps the finest place on earth.  But there is only one place that is home, and much of the rest of the world is brutal and heartbreaking.

Philip Yancey, in Disappointment With God, wrote: “For people who are trapped in pain, or in a broken home, or in economic misery, or in fear – for all those people, for all of us, heaven promises a time, far longer and more substantial than the time we spent on earth, of health and wholeness and pleasure and peace.  …The Bible never belittles human disappointment (remember the proportion in Job – one chapter of restoration follows forty-one chapters of anguish), but it does add one key word: temporary.  What we feel now, we will not always feel.  Our disappointment is itself a sign, an aching, a hunger for something better.  And faith is, in the end, a kind of homesickness – for a home we have never visited but have never once stopped longing for.”

 T.S. Eliot put it like this:

“And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time.”

Rev. 21: 1-4 – Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a beautiful bride prepared for her husband.  I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, the home of God is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will remove all of their sorrows, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. For the old world and its evils are gone forever.

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

PRAYER: It is hard to understand the requests of the disciples until we put ourselves in their place, Lord, and realize that we would have likely done the same thing.  Help us not to seek our glory, but yours!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.