DayBreaks for 9/30/15 – Struggling With God’s Reliability

DayBreaks for 9/30/15: Struggling with God’s Reliability

From the DayBreaks archive, 2005:

From 2020 Vision, by Bill and Amy Stearns: “Why do we often worry about whether God will come through for us?  Why can’t we spend the ‘last’ 75 years of our lives in solid confidence of His working in our lives and feel deeply satisfied with life?  Perhaps because somehow we’ve gotten the idea that God is supposed to respond to our pleas, to what we feel are our needs.  And often He doesn’t.  We become disappointed with Him and – perhaps without ever hinting at such blasphemy – feel that He’s unreliable.  The prophet Jeremiah felt exactly that way in his life of troubles; he complained to God, Will you indeed be to me like a deceptive stream with water that is unreliable? (Jer. 15:18)  The KJV of that passage puts it about as forcefully as a translator would dare when speaking to God: Wilt thou be altogether unto me as a liar, and as waters that fail?

“Many people who reject God, even when raised in a Christian environment, can point back to a specific event that convinced them that God – if God exists at all – is unreliable.  They’ve prayed that God would save the life of a loved one, and the person dies.  They experience a horrible personal trauma and God doesn’t rescue them; therefore they feel that God doesn’t care.  Even some Christians live the life of a practical atheist.  They know He exists and has saved the, but they frankly don’t trust Him because He has ‘let them down.’

“But maybe it’s time for us to get scriptural in our expectations of God’s reliability.  He won’t always do what we think He should do.  But He will always do exactly what He says He will do.  And on this we can base a whole new life of confident assurance, of encouraging hope.  God will do what He set out to do, and as we align with that, we have steadfastness and sureness like an anchor of the soul – even through tough times of doubt and tragedy.” 

Do you get the critical point here?  God won’t always do what we think He should, but He will always keep His word.  So when we think that God has promised to heal and He doesn’t, we must have misunderstood or misapplied that promise.  We must understand that God never fails to do what He said He would.  There is no force in the universe that is strong enough to make Him break His promise.  Let us pray for wisdom to better understand what God has said He will do – and not to put our expectations on Him as if we were the potter and He were the clay!

PRAYER: God, we need to be filled with understanding and to be reassured that You are absolutely, totally reliable and trustworthy. We know in our head that You are, but in our fear we sometimes doubt. Increase our trust! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple. To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.

DayBreaks for 9/29/15 – The Power of One Life

DayBreaks for 9/29/15: The Power of One Life

We know some of the huge impact that the life of Jesus had on the world. But then, He was the Son of God, right? One would expect that He would have an unmatched impact on the world. But there are times when we think that we can’t make much of a difference – after all, we are mere humans, born into normal, ordinary lives without much apparent power or influence.

If that’s how you feel about your own life, you need to think again. One person armed with the gospel of peace can change the world.

Telemachus did. He was a monk who lived in the 5th century. He felt God saying to him, “Go to Rome.” He was in a cloistered monastery but he put his possessions in a sack and set out for Rome. When he arrived in the city, people were thronging in the streets. He asked why all the excitement and was told that this was the day that the gladiators would be fighting in the coliseum, the day of the games, the circus. He thought to himself, “Four centuries after Christ and they are still killing each other, for enjoyment?” He ran to the coliseum and heard the gladiators saying, “Hail to Caesar, we die for Caesar” and he thought, “this isn’t right.” He jumped over the railing and went out into the middle of the field, got between two gladiators, and tried to stop them. The crowd became enraged and stoned the peacemaker to death.

When the Emperor of Rome, Honorius, heard about the monk he declared him a Christian martyr and put an end to the games. Legend has it that the very last Gladiatorial game was the one in which Telemachus died.

Chances are that you won’t be stepping into a physical gladiatorial confront today, but you will have a chance to influence the world for the best.

PRAYER: Lord, it is easy to think we are powerless and can’t make much of an impact in this world. Our sins have beaten us down and our shame and frequent failures cause us to surrender before the battle is even joined. Remind us of the great power that dwells within us and which you have placed at our disposal. Let us all make the world a better place this and each day. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple. To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.

DayBreaks for 9/28/15 – Time-Lapse Sin

DayBreaks for 9/28/15: Time-Lapse Sin

Time-lapse photography compresses a series of events into one picture. The technique can produce some truly stunning images. One such photo was featured in an issue of National Geographic. Taken from a Rocky Mountain peak during a heavy thunderstorm, the picture captured the brilliant lightning display that had taken place throughout the storm’s duration. The time-lapse technique created a fascinating, spaghetti-like web out of the individual bolts.

In a similar way, we tend to think of our sin as isolated, individual events. Though we may perceive it that way, our sin presents itself before the eyes of God differently. Where we see only isolated or individual acts, God sees the overall web of our sinning. What may seem insignificant — even sporadic — to us and passes with hardly a notice creates a much more dramatic display from God’s panoramic viewpoint.

The psalmist was right when he wrote, Who can discern his [one’s own] errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. (Psalm 19:12-13).

PRAYER: We tend to think of our sin as small, harmless dalliances, Lord. Give us insight into how You see our shortcomings! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple. To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.

DayBreaks for 9/25/15 – I Am Who I Am

DayBreaks for 9/25/15: I Am Who I Am

From the DayBreaks archive, 2005:

You know the story: Moses is trying to side-step the calling of God from the burning bush to go to Egypt and speak to Pharaoh.  I can’t blame him.  There may have still been a price on his head for murdering the Egyptian.  At any rate, it’s not likely that Moses would have wanted to take the chance.  I seriously doubt that he’d have returned to Egypt on his own.  After passing human judgment on God’s wisdom in choosing Moses, Moses starts to give his reasons for why God should re-think His plan: “I’m not able.  I am nothing.  I am not able to speak.  I’m not interested in the job.  I’m just a shepherd and that’s all I am and I’m not interested (or able?) to change.  I am what I am and that’s it.  Period.  End of story.” 

God’s response is interesting.  He doesn’t pump Moses up by giving him a pep talk.  He doesn’t say, “Moses, you’re being far too modest.”  Instead, God listens to Moses’ whining, and simply says, “I’ll be with you.”  What God was telling Moses was simply this: all your excuses for why you can’t do it should be answered by the fact that I’ll be with you.  It’ll be My words.  I made your mouth and I can make it speak clearly.  I can protect you, provide for you, and see you through it. 

But for Moses, that’s still not enough.  He wants nothing to do with this venture, and so he tries to worm his way out of it with another lame objection: “I don’t know Your name.” (paraphrased)  Do you think for a moment that God was going to let that stop Him?  No.  God tells Moses, “I am who I am.”  Put the emphasis there on the “I”.  Moses was saying he wasn’t adequate, not a smooth enough of an operator, “I am only a shepherd.  I can’t do it.”  God’s response, in essence, is this: “Moses, don’t tell me who you are or what you are.  I know all that already.  Instead of focusing on what you are or what you aren’t, focus on this: ‘I am who I am.’”  That should settle it! 

We often think about all our limitations, our failures and shortcomings.  Our inabilities.  God doesn’t think about those things at all.  Why?  Because He is who and what He is – He always has been those things, and He always will be Who He Is.  Our inabilities are not limitations in God’s eyes, nor should we let them be excuses for not doing what He asks us to do.  Knowing that the “I AM” is with us should be all we need to know.

Psalm 104:1 Praise the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, you are very great; you are clothed with splendor and majesty.

PRAYER: Almighty God, thank you that you never change, that you are still the great I AM and you have our welfare in the center of your heart and thoughts! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple. To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.

DayBreaks for 9/24/15 – The Fairy Tale Gospel

DayBreaks for 9/24/15: The Fairy Tale Gospel

From the DayBreaks archive, 2005:

My grandchildren love to watch animated movies.  Of course, they’re very young, but I think that my granddaughter can almost quote the dialogue from Shrek or Shrek II as she watches the movies.  She also is a HUGE fan right now of Cinderella.  Just as my grandson is all boy, my granddaughter (about to turn 3) is all girl.  She has a Cinderella dress, crown, see-through shoes and a wand – just like Cinderella.  And when she’s dressed up as Cinderella, she walks around like a true princess, holding her head up, cradling the wand in the crook of her arm, and surveying all around her as a princess should. 

Every culture, every where in the world throughout history has come up with fairly tales.  It’s not unique to Hans Christian Anderson or America or England.  Why is this the case?  I think it’s because we like to believe that good wins out over the evil that battles with it, that love will come true, that wooden puppets with long noses can become real little boys and that we can all be rescued from the drudgery and captivity that characterizes our lives.  And so, we love our fairy tales.  They transport us to a make-believe place where impossible things can, and do, happen – with regularity.

But, alas, as we know, those things are fairy tales.  They’re not real.  Never has a wooden puppet become a real boy.  And the woman or man who longs for true love may not find it.  Such things are beyond our ability to control.  And wishes can’t make it happen.  So we shake ourselves back to reality, forget about fairy tales and move on with daily life.

Let me tell you a story: Once upon a time, a God became human.  The Divine Spirit became a real boy and lived and breathed and walked among mankind.  While he could have been bitter and resentful at the way people treated him, his heart was full of love, and his words were full of life.  When he saw the sick, he healed them.  When he saw the blind, he gave them sight.  All those who lived in the land of darkness saw a great light, and when he encountered dead boys and girls – he gave them life.  He rides a white horse, wins the battle and the war, and rescues all peoples from the castles where they have been sleeping the sleep of death. 

It sounds too good to be true.  Must be a fairy tale, right?  No.  It is nothing short of the good news of God that Jesus came to deliver to us.  That there is a God who loves us enough to do all those things – and far more – so we can live with Him forever.  Fairy tales aren’t true.  The gospel is.  Dream your wildest dream and it will never be big enough to encompass all God has done for us!

Psalm 31:21 – Praise be to the LORD, for he showed his wonderful love to me when I was in a besieged city.

PRAYER: For things that sound to good to be true – but which are! – we thank You, God! Thank You for the Great News! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple. To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.

DayBreaks for 9/23/15 – Big Egos, Small Men

DayBreaks for 9/23/15: Big Egos, Small Men

There is an interesting story that comes out of the Second World War. England and Germany both had state-of-the-art fighter planes. Germany had the Messerschmitt, which was considered to be the world’s fastest fighter plane. The British had the Supermarine Spitfire. The Spitfire was slower than the Messerschmitt. Nevertheless, German pilots were envious of their British counterparts.

You see, the Messerschmitt had been designed to hold the perfect German. Who was the perfect German? Who else but Der Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler. Hitler was little more than five feet tall. However, the German pilots who guided the Messerschmitt were considerably taller than 5 feet. So the Germans had to fly in very cramped quarters. But who was going to tell Adolf Hitler that he was not the perfect German? The Messerschmitts were faster, but their pilots were not happy men.

It is an amazing fact, but many leaders fail because of big egos. Big men in little planes. Big egos in little men. “Pride goeth before a fall,” says the ancient adage. And it’s true.

Many of the people who the world has come to regard as great human beings were also very humble: Moses, Abraham Lincoln, Mother Theresa. Those who have to blow their own horn about how wonderful and great they are must be very insecure in themselves. If greatness isn’t obvious, it’s not greatness.

PRAYER: Lord, we all have egos that are too large. Make us humble that we are receptive to your leadership and direction! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple. To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.

DayBreaks for 9/22/15 – Who’s Voice Is It?

DayBreaks for 9/22/15: Whose Voice Is It?

Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice. – John 10:1-5

This is a rather terrifying passage for several reasons. First, there are those who will intentionally put forth great effort to steal the sheep. Satan, of course, does this. I’m not talking about merely taking people from one congregation to another, though that is often referred to among pastors as “sheep stealing.” What Jesus is describing is far more insidious. It is done with malicious intent or there would be no need to sneak over the wall into the sheep enclosure. We can’t forget that there are those who want the church to decline, and there is at least one who wants our souls to die for all eternity.

The scariest part, though, is that it makes me wonder how well I hear Jesus’ voice, and how well other “Christians” hear it today. What do we hear and who is saying it? Our Supreme Court has seemingly taken it upon themselves to be the arbiter of morality and to decide matters relation to life and death and marriage. We must never forget that the voice of the Supreme Court (even the majority of the judges) is not the same as the voice of God. Where God has spoken the Supreme Court has no authority over the Christian. It is one of those situations where we must, as did Peter, say “We must obey God rather than men.”

Everything we read in the mainstream press about trends in our culture, about what is good or bad, needs to be filtered against the voice of the Shepherd – and NO ONE else’s voice (including mine!)

Even though the majority of the US populace may be in favor of something, God’s Kingdom is not a democracy where right or wrong are determined by polls. We might do well to remind ourselves that when we look at the stories of God’s people in Scripture, more often than not, the majority of His people were always in the wrong and while there were a few righteous prophets who railed against the popular thinking for one reason and one reason only: they’d heard the Shepherd’s voice and understood that their highest calling was to do as He commanded.

It broke their hearts to see the condition of their land. It should break ours, too. But we should not despair. God was able to restore His people many, many times…and He can restore our nation, too…but not if the prophets amongst us stop listening to the voice of the Shepherd and stop calling us to repentance.

PRAYER: Jesus, we want to hear your voice when it whispers peace to us, but seldom do we want to hear it when what you say doesn’t please us or tickle our ears. Change us to welcome ALL your words! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple. To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.

DayBreaks for 9/21/15 – Deafness

DayBreaks for 9/21/15: Deafness

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2005:

From 2020 Vision: “The story is told of Carl Sandburg, the great American poet, who as a college student took his roommate home to visit for the holidays.  As Carl introduced his roommate to his hard-of-hearing aunt, he announced, “Auntie, I want you to meet my roommate, Al Specknoodle.”  The aunt cupped her ear and shook her head.  Carl tried again: “I want you to meet my roommate, Al Specknoodle.”  The aunt frowned and shook her head again.  Carl sputtered and shouted, “Al Specknoodle!  My roommate!”  Finally the aunt burst into tears: “It’s no use, Carl,” she said.  “No matter how many times you say it, it still sounds like Al Specknoodle!”

As humans, we have a very difficult time hearing well.  It seems we can hear all the things we really want to hear, or at least we think we hear what we want to hear, even if it wasn’t really said at all!  We read between the lines and imply meanings where none was meant.  But when someone tells us things that we don’t want to hear – even when they do so very plainly – we have a great capability to “tune them out” and act like we didn’t hear. 

 For millennia, God has been telling His people what He wants – He wants us to love Him and others and to obey Him.  He wants us to hear that there is good news afoot in the universe, the kingdom of God has come near and there is room in the kingdom for anyone who wants to be part of it.  Yet many seem not to hear.  Why?  Could it be that it’s because as humans, we don’t mind the “love” part, but the “obey” bit sticks in our craw, as does anything that would “cost” us?  And so, we tune Him out. 

He’s also been telling us for millennia that we are to be a blessing to all the nations of the world.  We get really excited about Christianity (understandably so), when we think about what it means for us individually – forgiveness, release from shame and guilt, entry into heaven.  But we aren’t as excited about the flip side – in fact, the key point of Christianity isn’t about ourselves and what we want, but about others – being the blessing to the world at large that God calls us to be. 

Jer. 4:1-2 – O Israel, come back to me,” says the LORD. “If you will throw away your detestable idols and go astray no more, 2 and if you will swear by my name alone, and begin to live good, honest lives and uphold justice, then you will be a blessing to the nations of the world, and all people will come and praise my name.

PRAYER: Open our ears to hear Your Word clearly and plainly, and give us hearts that are inclined toward obedience! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple. To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.

DayBreaks for 9/18/15 – Something More Than Mere Kindness

DayBreaks for 9/18/15: Something More than Mere Kindness

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2005:

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about happiness and God and His purposes, about suffering and evil and how that all fits together with God. And one of the common thoughts that I’ve run into is that God didn’t create an evil world…He did create beings with the potential for evil and He had to if He were to have a creation in which real love could exist. You can’t coerce love or it isn’t love – it’s intimidation, or something other than love by definition. No, love must be freely chosen and freely given and received. And for that to happen, the choice for sentient beings had to be made available.

And yet we sometimes have a very distorted idea of God. We sometimes wish, in the middle of our sinning, that we wish God would approve of what we’re doing, that He’d give it His big heavenly stamp of approval. C.S. Lewis put it this way in The Problem of Pain: “What would really satisfy us would be a God who said of anything we happened to like doing, ‘What does it matter so long as they are contented?’ We want, in fact, not so much a Father in Heaven as a grandfather in heaven – a senile benevolence who, as they say, ‘liked to see young people enjoying themselves,’ and whose plan for the universe was simply that it might be truly said at the end of the day, ‘a good time was had by all.’” We somehow think that such would be what a God of love would be like – kind and benevolent.

Lewis goes on and draws a difference between love and kindness. Love, he says, is “something more stern and splendid than mere kindness…Kindness, merely as such, cares not whether its object becomes good or bad, provided only that it escapes suffering…If God is Love, He is, by definition, something more than mere kindness. And it appears, from all the records, that though He has often rebuked us and condemned us, He has never regarded us with contempt.”

It is possible to be kind but full of contempt. It is not possible to be loving and full of contempt. Love, God’s love, insists on making us better than we are (although He loves us just as we are) because it is what is best for us. Kindness isn’t worried about making someone better – only about doing some kind deed to minimize discomfort.

As you think about how you relate to others, are your relationships more concerned with kindness or with love?

PRAYER: I am thankful for Your kindness, Lord, but even more thankful for Your love! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple. To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.

DayBreaks for 9/17/15 – Image Bearers

DayBreaks for 9/17/15: Image Bearers

From the DayBreaks archive, 2005:

Genesis 1:26-27 (NLT) – Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

I must confess that when I looked in the mirror this morning, what I saw didn’t look a whole lot like how I picture God. When I got to church on Sunday, I looked at the people there (who are great, and I love them all!), but quite frankly, they didn’t look a whole lot like how I picture God, either. And when we watched the news clips from New Orleans after the recent hurricane and we saw people stealing things that weren’t related to their survival, or shooting at rescue helicopters, well, that didn’t look like God, either.

Yet, Scripture is very clear about it: we are made in the image of God. That doesn’t mean that God looks like us, nor that we resemble him just by nature of our existence. It means that we’ve got something of the image of His character on and in us. What all does it mean? That’s hard to say, but certainly it must mean that we’ve got the ability to do good, to love, to be compassionate, to serve, to sacrifice. We are thinking beings who are destined to live eternally. The Scripture says that God created man (male and female) in His image. That doesn’t mean that God is male and/or female – but rather, I think that we should understand it to mean that God is a person, not an it

John Ortberg wrote, in God Is Closer Than You Think: “Of all creation, only people are said to be bearers of the image of God. So people have the capacity to be carriers of His Presence like nothing else. We take long trips to see marvels like the Grand Canyon. Engaged couples plan far ahead so that they can honeymoon at Niagara Falls. But if our eyes could see clearly, if our hearts were working right, we would fall to the ground in amazement at the sight of a single human being. They are the miracles. They are the God-carriers.”

It’s easy to become disillusioned and disenchanted with other humans. We’re easy targets, because we’re all so horribly flawed. And if we get disillusioned enough, we give up on one another, relegating others to the garbage dump of the universe. Of course, when we do that, we forget that we belong in the garbage dump of the universe, too. It’s only because of His image in us, His Presence that lives in the Christian, that our destiny is heaven and not hell.

Who is it that you will see today that you “can’t stand”? Is there someone that you’ve “given up on”? Give them another chance – though His image in them may have been defaced severely, they were still made in His image – and by His grace, it can be recovered.

PRAYER: Jesus, let us bear more of your image with each passing hour. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple. To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.