DayBreaks for 7/29/16 – The Cost of the Fall

DayBreaks for 7/29/16 – The Cost of the Fall

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2006:

When we stop to contemplate the story of the fall in the early chapters of Genesis, we see humanity being affected by the fall and the creation itself being affected as it is cursed.  And, we naturally think of the cost of the fall on Christ – it was because of the fall that the cross was even necessary.

Perhaps, we minimize (I’m sure we do) the effect of the fall on God Himself.  Philip Yancey had something interesting to say about that in his book, Finding God in Unexpected Places, when he wrote: “Throughout the Old Testament, God seems to alternate between Spectator and Participant…The New Testament, though, shows the God who selflessly shared the dignity of causation by descending to become its Victim.  He who had the right to destroy the world – and had nearly done so once in Noah’s day – chose instead to love the world, at any cost.

“I sometimes wonder how hard it has been for God not to act in history.  How must it feel to see the glories of creation – the rain forests, the whales, the elephants – obliterated one by one?  How must it feel to see the Jews themselves nearly annihilated?  To lose a Son?  What is the cost of God’s self-restraint?

“I had always thought of the Fall in terms of its effect on us humans, namely the penalties outlined in Genesis 3. This time I was struck by its effect on God.  The Bible devotes only two chapters to the glories of original creation. All that follows describes the agonizing course of re-creation.”

Galen’s thoughts: What took God 6 days to create, merely by speaking, has now taken at least thousands of years to “re-create”.  And, as we can tell by looking around us, it’s got a long way to go before the glory of the original creation is again visible. The process of re-creation must be much more difficult (or seemingly so) than making the stuff originally.  At least, God thinks that the process of re-creation is worth the time and effort to make it happen – even if it takes thousands of years.  

But we find parallels in our human relationships, too.  A reputation can be destroyed in an instant by sinful actions or by gossip or slander, and it takes a long, long time for that reputation to be rebuilt and regained, if it ever can be fully restored.  It also appears that it is not God’s fault that re-creation, at least as far as it applies to us personally, takes so long.  We are quite pathetic when it comes to “straightening up” and “flying right” – we love our sin too much to give it up so easily and quickly.

The fall was tremendously costly to us.  It was costly to the original creation.  But it won’t prevent God’s ultimate completion of the re-creation of our souls and the glorious universe He made to begin with.

2 Peter 3:13 (NLT) – But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world where everyone is right with God.

PRAYER:  We confess, Lord, that we tend to think of ourselves far too often and not think nearly enough about what we do and how it affect you. We’re too selfish and small-minded to think outside of ourselves very often.  Thank You that You believe we are worth all the trouble of re-creating us, and that You will re-created a new heavens and new earth in which righteousness (and we) will dwell.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2006:

 

DayBreaks for 7/27/16 – Jesus and the Law of Probabilities

DayBreaks for 7/27/16 – Jesus and the Laws of Probabilities

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2006:

JESUS MORE LIKELY TO HAVE WALKED ON ICE THAN WATER

 “TALLAHASSEE, Fla., April 4 (UPI via COMTEX) — Florida State University scientists say its more likely Jesus walked on a patch of floating ice than on water, as described in the New Testament.
“Oceanography Professor Doron Nof says his research points to a rare combination of optimal water and atmospheric conditions for development of a unique, localized freezing phenomenon that Nof and his co-authors call “springs ice.”

“In what is now northern Israel, such ice could have formed on the cold freshwater surface of the Sea of Galilee — known as Lake Kinneret by modern-day Israelis — when already chilly temperatures briefly plummeted during one of the two protracted cold periods between 2,500 and 1,500 years ago.
“A frozen patch floating on the surface of the small lake would have been difficult to distinguish from the unfrozen water surrounding it.
“As natural scientists, we simply explain that unique freezing processes probably happened in that region only a handful of times during the last 12,000 years,” Nof said. “We leave to others the question of whether or not our research explains the biblical account.”
“The research appears in the April issue of the Journal of Paleolimnology.”
 

Galen’s Thoughts: Whew.  Aren’t you glad that you now know how Jesus did it??!?!?!  And it’s all so official sounding with a title like “The Journal of Paleolimnology”, isn’t it?

You know, they’re right, actually, if you think about it in terms of probabilities.  It is more likely, given the laws of probability, to explain the miracle of Jesus “walking on water” by saying that there was ice just below the surface that the disciples couldn’t see.  They’re right – the probabilities of people walking on top of water are, well, zero.  

But what they have failed to take into account is that Jesus wasn’t just another foot traveler – he was God.  And with God, you can throw all the probabilities and statistics out of the window.  For science to try to explain the acts of God may be amusing, but it’s also often sad and pathetic.  I love science – and the job of real science it to discover the truth – not try to explain truth away.  

While it may be more probable, from human terms, for Jesus to have walked on ice.  He didn’t.  He walked on water. And he can make us walk on water with him if he so chooses!

PRAYER: God, I’m so glad that we have such a powerful Father to whom science can’t assign limits! I look forward to the day when the whole world knows without a shadow of a doubt that you can do anything you choose to do! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/26/16 – Laughing All the Way Home

DayBreaks for 7/26/16 – Laughing All the Way Home

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2006:

You probably remember as I do the story of the Five Little Pigs.  Yep that’s right, not the Three Little Pigs, but the game that you played with your children’s toes when they were just wee things.  Do you remember?  “This little piggy went to market, this little piggy stayed home, this little piggy had roast beef, this little piggy had none, but this little piggy, THIS little piggy went “Whee-whee-whee” all the say home!”

I don’t think I’ll ever forget how much my little girl enjoyed that every night at bedtime.  Of course, as I went through the story, I’d grab one of her teensy-weensy little toes between my fingers and begin to recite the tale.  And when I got to the last one, well, I’d shake her foot and talk in funny voices, and be very, very happy and she’d crack up laughing.  Such memories!!! 

The last little piggy had it made.  It wasn’t worried about shopping, it wasn’t agoraphobic, it didn’t worry about whether or not to eat beef, it wasn’t in want – in fact, it celebrated!  “Whee!  Whee!  Whee!”  What’s not to envy?

At a recent conference, Tony Campolo asked a very penetrating question that reminded me a bit of this old game.  It goes like this: “When you were born, you were the only one who cried and everybody else laughed with joy.  But that’s not important.  What’s important is when you die – will you be the only one that’s happy and everyone else crying?”

I suppose that the best alternative of all is that when I die, I’ll be laughing and going “Whee!  Whee!  Whee!” all the way home, just like that little piggy.  And I hope that I will have lived in such a way that those who knew me, and especially my family and dearest friends, will not be crying, but that they, too, will be happy for me.  

The key of course, when we die, is whether we will be happy with the destination towards which we go, or whether we will be crying still – even as we did when we entered into this world.  It seems strange that we celebrate a birth and mourn a death of those who are born again.  I plan to rejoice (by God’s grace and mercy alone!) when I leave this place behind.  I hope and pray that you will leave this world crying “Whee!  Whee!  Whee!  All the way home!”

PRAYER:  What power You have, God, that allows us to laugh in the clenches of death!  The resurrection of Your Son was the laughter that echoed through the vaults of heaven and which escorted Him back to Your right hand – at home.  Help us to live so that not only we, but our loved ones, may rejoice when we go home!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/25/16 – The Most Important Trash Can

DayBreaks for 7/25/16 – The Most Important Trash Can

No matter where you go in Disneyland or Disney World. They are everywhere. No, I’m not talking about families or smiling faces or Mickey Mouse ears. I’m talking about garbage cans. If you pay close enough attention, you’ll find one approximately every thirty feet or so.  Do you know why?

If you think it’s just because there is so much trash in Disney’s confines, you’d be right…but that’s not why. Walt Disney himself is responsible for the fact that they are about 30 feet apart. You see, Walt reasoned that is took someone about 30 steps to eat a hot dog from start to finish, so about every 30 feet there is a trash receptacle waiting to receive the associated trash. In order to keep the place clean it was important to have enough garbage cans so people could get rid of their garbage frequently.

We, as humans, need to frequently unload our “garbage”, our sin. James puts it clearly: if we say we are without sin we are not – we are liars, which makes us sinners. Guilty…every last one of us. And we need to get rid of our garbage.

Fortunately, God has made it easy for us to do so…though at great cost to Himself. If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us…(1 John 1:9). 

Do you know one of the things I’m so very grateful for about that verse? It doesn’t say “If we confess our sins and never ever commit them again He is faithful and just to forgive…”  If that were the grounds for our forgiveness, I would still be in my sin…and so would you. Oh, I understand the concept and importance of repentance, but I also understand the nature of my weakness. If my forgiveness were conditioned on my perfect repentance, it would be works and performance based. I’ve tried to live that kind of life and it is very discouraging.

Disney put his trash bins 30 feet apart. God has placed the confessional booth within reach of every single human being who wants to come to Him…and you don’t even have to walk 30 steps to get there!

PRAYER: Father, thank You for making forgiveness and salvation so easily accessible to us, even though it was far from cheap for You to do so. May we take advantage of the opportunity afforded us to come to You in confession and find Your faithfulness and justness on display! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/22/16 – Beware the Dragon

DayBreaks for 7/22/16 – Beware the Dragon

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2006:

Where does one begin to fight against the evil in the world?  In the political arena?  In the media?  In the schools? Perhaps it’s because there is so much evil in the world that we may have a hard time figuring out where to get started.  But perhaps the real question isn’t where do we begin to resist the power of evil, but that we DO begin and HOW we begin.

I must say that it shames me when something evil has happened and some famous Christian strikes back with mindless words of rancor and bitterness.  Of course, such things get plastered all over the press.  And the net result?  The name of Christ is once again dragged through the mud.  

It was Nietzsche who said, almost prophetically: “Beware when you fight a dragon that you don’t become a dragon.” There is no shortage of targets for us to choose to tackle, but we probably should spend more time thinking about how to tackle them in a Godly fashion before we launch into some kind of diatribe that Christ wouldn’t recognize or approve of.  

As I get older, I’m becoming more and more convinced that how we go about fighting against evil is probably even more important than the fact that we do engage it.  If we don’t employ the right strength (His, not ours) and right tactics (again His, not ours), we will fail and he will be shamed.  Let’s not become the very kind of dragons that we’re fighting against.  Let us rather be instruments of love, compassionate but correcting, rather than blunt instruments that bruise and break and bludgeon.  Those were the tools of those who took the life of Christ and they are not to be the tools of our trade.

PRAYER:  Sometimes, Lord, we get so very angry at the injustice and wrong-doing that we see all around us.  We get carried away with anger, not with love.  Please, use your Spirit to put a check in our hearts to respond and take on evil only in the same manner that our Lord and Master did while he walked this earth.  Keep us from being well-intentioned “dragons.”  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/21/16 – Get Your Toes in the Water!

DayBreaks for 7/21/16 – Get Your Toes in the Water

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2006:

Exodus 14 recounts an amazing moment in the history of God’s people.  Get the picture clearly in your mind: Moses, an itinerant shepherd for the past 40 years, has gone to Egypt and told the most powerful man in the world, Pharaoh (by the way – many think that the pharaoh of the exodus whom God humbled was none other than Ramses II, the greatest and most powerful pharaoh of all time), to let his fellow Hebrews go.  After a test of wills between God and pharaoh, Ramses gives in and the people leave.  The children of Israel head east, being led by God in that direction. In the distance Moses starts to see a shimmering that looks like water, but initially he probably wasn’t sure whether it was water or a mirage.  But, with each step it starts to look more and more like water.  Soon – he’s sure.  And it isn’t a little puddle, either.  We’re talking serious waves here!

About the same time, Moses starts to hear the sounds of warriors, chariots and hooves behind him, and the angry shouts of the Egyptian soldiers out to take revenge on the Israelites for the deaths of their firstborn sons.  The Israelites start to cry out to Moses, “What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt?…It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”  They were catching a vision, too – a vision of their bones bleached dry in the desert sands by the Red Sea.

Moses tries to calm their fears in verses 13-14 by telling the people to “stand firm” and that they “need only to be still”.  Verse 15, however, is where I want to focus: Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on.  I can almost hear Moses: “Well, OK, Lord, but in case you haven’t noticed, we have a bit of a problem here.  You see, we can’t move forward.  There’s a huge body of water here.”  God’s answer: “Get your feet wet!”

What’s the point?  Moses told the people to be still and wait.  He apparently cried out to God in prayer and was going to sit around, wait and watch what God was going to do.  That wasn’t what God wanted.  God doesn’t work that way. His response to Moses was: “What are you sitting around and waiting for?  Move on!”  In his book, For Those Who Can’t Believe, Harold Schulweis made the observation: “Faith…(in God) is necessary but not sufficient for authentic prayer.  Covenantal prayer calls forth the faith to go forward.” 

Are you stuck between the proverbial rock and the hard place?  Are you at a standstill in your walk with Him?  Have you been praying and then sitting back to see what God was going to do, instead of praying and moving forward? God will act – but not until you move forward in faith that He will act.  The seas were parted, but the children of Israel still had to move forward in faith through the towering piles of water. 

God has heard your prayers – now He is watching to see if you’re going to move!

PRAYER:  Father, we want to be spectators too often in the church and in matters of faith.  We want to watch You do spectacular things, but only when our neck isn’t on the line or we don’t have anything at risk.  We want to see You move first.  Help us to know that once we’ve committed our way to You in prayer, since You’ve promised to hear and answer, to discern Your voice and then move forward into the waters of deep faith.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/20/16 – Where Was God in Auschwitz?

DayBreaks for 7/20/16 – Where Was God in Auschwitz?

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2006:

I’ve read a lot in the past few years about the Jewish holocaust.  What a horrible and terrible chapter in the life of humanity!  One of the loudest questions of all time is asked about the Holocaust, and was echoed by Harold Schulweis in For Those Who Cannot Believe:  “The Holocaust mocks my faith.  For at the core of that faith is the conviction that God breathed into the nostrils of human beings an inviolable human soul, that God created the human being in His image and in His likeness.  The taunting dissonance between that faith and the facts of the Holocaust disturbs my belief.  The picture of a child hanged in the presence of parents in the concentration camp brings to mind a rabbinic commentary on the hanging of a criminal based on a verse in the book of Deuteronomy 21.23: A criminal sentenced to death and hanged must not remain overnight upon the tree because it is “a reproach to God.” Why a reproach to God?  The rabbinic answer is offered in the form of a parable: Once a noble king had a twin brother who violated the law and was hanged on a tree in the public square.  People passing by the corpse of the king’s twin took him to be the king and shouted, “Behold, the king is dead!”  The king was humiliated.  

The parable is breathtaking.  God and man, at some level, are as it were twins.  To deface the image of man is to blaspheme the Creator of that image.  God is not raised by lowering the human image…Who before the memory of cremated children can declare the twinship of God and man? …But where was the Adonai (the Lord) in Auschwitz?  Where was the power and mystique of Adonai within the hell of the Holocaust?”

“Where was Adonai in the Holocaust?  Adonai was in Niuvelande, a Dutch village in which 700 residents rescued 500 Jews, including 100 Jewish children.  Adonai was in Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, whose citizens hid and protected 5000 Jews under the inspired leadership of Pastor Andre Trocme.  Adonai was in the rat-infested sewers of Lvov, where Polish sewer workers hid 17 Jews for 14 months.”  His list goes on, and he finally says: “Holocaust scholars now estimate that there were between 50,000 and 500,000 Christian rescuers.  Whatever the number, there were too few.  Sadly there are always too few moral heroes in history.”

“How ironic that our children … know the names of Klaus Barbie, Goebbels, Goering, Eichmann, Himmler and Hitler but not the names of those who risked their lives to hide and protect the Frank family….When the rescuers are asked “Why did you risk all this?” they typically respond “What else could I do?  What would you do?”

For today, let’s just ask ourselves the questions that Schulweis’ book asked: “That question places a mirror to my soul.  Would I open the door?  Would I hide this pursued pregnant woman?  Would I take care of her needs?  When rations during the war were so meager would I risk getting extra food without raising suspicion?   Would I take an infant into my home whose cries might reveal our hiding place?  What would I do with their refuse or with their bodies after their death?  Stefa Krakowska, a Polish peasant, hid 14 persons in her home, ranging from age 3 to age 60, in a home in which a simple pail served as the toilet.  When an older Jewish woman fell sick and knew herself to be dying, she turned to Stefa.  “My God, my dead body may bring disaster to you. What will you do with my body?” She feared for the others’ safety.  She died.  At night, secretly and in stages they buried her dismembered body in Stefa’s garden.” 

“Sadly, there are always too few moral heroes in history.”  What a haunting observation.  But there is good news, too. To be a moral hero you don’t have to be a king, wealthy, powerful or attractive.  What you do have to do is be faithful…and that’s something that any man or woman can choose to do.  You, and I, can be moral heroes for the cause of Christ.

I’m often afraid to speak out because God’s point of view isn’t popular.  As a group, Christians today lack the moral courage to speak, live and act on our convictions and on what we know to be truth.  Let’s be the moral heroes that this world so desperately needs and that God wants us to be.  Let it never be said that in our day there were no moral heroes.  Let us be those heroes to our friends, family, co-workers and even our enemies.

PRAYER:  Give us moral courage to follow You through life and death.  Let us, as we stand around the campfire when You are on trial in this world, not deny You, but let us speak Your name boldly, proudly, humbly.  Let us be the heroes You need us to be in our own day and age.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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