DayBreaks for 8/30/19 – When the Good Falls Apart

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DayBreaks for 08/30/19: When the Good Falls Apart

NOTE: Galen is on vacation for the next couple weeks and may not respond to any comments until he returns on 9/9/19.

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2009:

The other day in a Bible study that I was teaching, I was marveling about Enoch.  Yep, Enoch…the fellow who gets approximately 3 verses in Scripture.  You know him as one of the two men who never “died” – God took him without his death because, as Genesis puts it, “Enoch walked with God.”  What struck me about Enoch is that God didn’t choose to tell us stories about how Enoch lived out his faith.  There are no great deeds of recorded faith in action such as we see over and over with the patriarchs, or with Isaiah, Daniel or David.  I’m not sure what we should make of that, but if you look at the names of those who were contemporary with Enoch, it’s pretty easy to see that he lived in very wicked times…leading up to the great flood.  And we know that the world was getting more filled with evil as the flood approached.  Still, Enoch managed to live with God.  And maybe the reason we’re not told of great exploits of faith is because he just lived a faithful life, persevering in the midst of a rising tide of evil, walking with God in the midst of a wicked and evil generation.

As we talked about Enoch, some in the class started reflecting on how wicked the world is that we live in – and the talk almost became despairing.  (It seems to do that often with older folks – and this was a class for seniors.  Perhaps it is easier as we age to look back at a time in our lives many years ago and think that it was better when in fact it may not have really been all that different, I don’t know.)  Some said that they thought it took greater faith to do things similar to Abraham (leaving the only home you’ve known for a far, unknown and strange land, being willing to sacrifice a son, etc.) than to walk faithfully every day.  I tend to think that they are wrong about that.  It seems that as humans, we have an uncanny knack to be able to rise to heights when the situation calls for it (not always, of course!).  It may take greater faith in the long run to walk faithfully day after day…for 365 years in Enoch’s case…than to put one great display of faith together for a passing moment. 

Regardless, Psalm 11:3-4 says, When all that is good falls apart, what can good people do?  The LORD is in His holy temple; the LORD sits on His throne in heaven.  David asks the question that so many of us have asked at some time or another in our lives: when all that is good and decent and holy seems to be falling apart, what are we to do?  You’ll notice that David didn’t then launch into a list of “Do A, B and C to turn things around.”  Instead, he answers the question with a declarative statement: God is in His temple, enthroned on high.  What does that have to do with his question?  Simply this: God’s rule isn’t affected by the storms of our lives and our problems don’t perplex Him in the slightest.  That’s not to say He doesn’t care about them, but He knows perfectly well what to do when the good falls apart.  He is still on the throne, issuing decrees to His servants and angels.  While this world and all that is in it may go down the tubes, God’s rule won’t.  Human wreckage doesn’t discourage Him.  In fact, a quick look at the life of someone like Joseph shows us that God specialized in turning disaster into triumph. 

If you are considering how bad the world is, let me try to re-direct your thinking and your vision upward – to the throne room of God, where He still, and always will, sit in Majesty!

PRAYER: We get fearful as we see the tidal waves of evil beating upon our culture, upon the church, upon our own lives, Lord.  Help us to redirect our vision when times are tough and to remember that you remain on the throne now and forever!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/29/19 – Binding Arbitration

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DayBreaks for 08/29/19: Binding Arbitration

NOTE: Galen is on vacation for the next couple weeks and may not respond to any comments until he returns on 9/9/19.

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2009:

Arbitration is typically a tool of last resort.  For example, it is used by sports teams when they can’t come to terms with a player.  In many health insurance plans, part of the agreement when you sign up is that you’ll agree to binding arbitration instead of resorting to a lawsuit in case of a claim against the doctor, hospital or insurer.  The idea: to find someone who is a neutral party without any vested interest one way or the other, and to avoid costs as much as possible (lawyer’s fees, court fees, etc.) 

The idea of arbitration goes way back.  A mediator is the same as an arbitrator, except the parties have agreed to be bound by the decision of the mediator.  How far back into the shadows of history does arbitration go?  No one knows for sure, but Job (probably the oldest book in the bible – it is believed by many that Job predated Abraham by some period of time) refers to one in job 9:33-34: If only there were someone to arbitrate between us, to lay his hand upon us both, someone to remove God’s rod from me, so that His terror would frighten me no more.  In these words of Job, spoken in the midst of great physical, emotional and spiritual suffering, is a plea for someone who could “lay his hand upon us both”.  What a bold request from this ancient saint!  Who could have conceived of someone being able to lay a hand on God Almighty!  Yet that is just what Job calls for.  

In The Gospel According to Job, Mike Mason points out what Job was really inviting: someone called Immanuel.  He muses that “From our point of view we may tend to presume that because this mediator, Jesus Christ, is Himself God, He must be biased in God’s favor.  But this is surprisingly not the case.  For Christ is not only God but man, and so He is just as much on man’s side as on God’s.  Indeed the cross is the great evidence of the fact that He is essentially on no side at all, for He did not come to take sides but to make peace.  God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him’ (Jn. 3:17)

Jesus is precisely the arbitrator that Job called for.  And as is the case in any arbitration, it is what this Arbitrator decides about our case before God that counts.  Fortunately, we don’t have to wait until we stand before God in judgment to know how the Arbitrator will rule.  The Word clearly tells us that of those that God has given Him, not one will be lost…and that those who he does not know will depart into eternal torment.  We can know where we stand.  Do you?

PRAYER: Thank You, Jesus, for placing yourself between us and God, for putting your hand on both of us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/28/19 – Like Being Buried Alive

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DayBreaks for 08/28/19: Like Being Buried Alive

NOTE: Galen is on vacation for the next couple weeks and may not respond to any comments until he returns on 9/9/19.

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2009:

Of all my nightmares, perhaps none is as terrifying to me as being buried alive.  That, and falling from a great height are the stuff of sleeplessness for me.  I suspect that many are those who share my fears on both scores.  You could just as easily take the verse that says, “It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the Living God” and shorten them for me to this: “It is a terrible thing to fall!”  Heights, and being buried alive, give me the heebie-jeebies!

I found Mike Mason’s insight in The Gospel According to Job very interesting as he described being a Christian this way: “The lot of God’s children on this earth is something like being buried alive.  First we are raised with Christ and made into entirely new creatures, pure and blameless, washed and redeemed and lifted up to Heaven.  All of this happens by faith – which is to say, not in some imaginary way, but in a way more gloriously real than this present world can bear to behold.  Yet no sooner has this spiritual transaction taken place, no sooner have we been veritably seated with Christ in the heavenly realms, than immediately we are sent down to earth again , just as Jesus was, and entrusted with a mission: As the Father sent me, so I am sending you (Jn. 20:21).  The moment we are born again we are sent right back into the world of sin and death.  In fact, we are set back down into exactly the same circumstances in which we found ourselves before we were saved, and there we are told to take up the work of the Son of God in that situation, however painful it might be.  And this is a lot we are to accept with increasing graciousness.”

Many find the Christian life a disappointment.  Yes, at the moment of conversion, there is a freeing of the soul from the chains of the grave and death.  Yes, there is joy at that moment.  But if the motive for becoming a Christian is to simply escape the tough things of this world, well, we’ll be sadly mistaken.  After becoming a Christian, for however many years we sojourn here as God’s kids, it is like being buried alive.  We know that somewhere “out there” is light, fresh air, beauty – but in the meantime we may only be able to see darkness and the air is foul and filled with a stench that comes from a rotting humanity still embroiled in sin.  And all the while, the devil sits and grins.  He grins when we despair that this Christian life doesn’t bring immediate and lasting release from struggles – and that we get discouraged. 

I’m not able to choose the circumstances in life where God has placed me to do His work.  That’s His prerogative as God to choose those things for me.  But I can and do have a responsibility for how I react to those circumstances.  Yes, remaining in this world is a bit like being buried alive – but I don’t have to worry.  The day is coming when all who are in the grave will hear His voice…and His children will rise.  And the being buried alive will be over – and it will have seemed as nothing compared to even the first nanosecond spent in His literal Presence!

PRAYER:  Give us the grace to pass the years of our wandering with grace as we endure a temporary world with temporary troubles!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/27/19 – A History of Boredom

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DayBreaks for 08/27/19: A History of Boredom

NOTE: Galen is on vacation for the next couple weeks and may not respond to any comments until he returns on 9/9/19.

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2009:

I would have loved to be in the garden of Eden to observe the temptation.  God had placed Adam and Eve in the garden with the instructions to tend to the garden and care for it.  I don’t know what Adam and Eve were up to when the temptation took place, but I can’t help but wonder if they were being either lazy or bored – and fell prey to a sinister and subtle enemy as a result. 

There has been a saying for as long as I can remember that says “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.”  It is true, I think.  I know that when my mental faculties are fully engaged in some project or task, that I don’t have nearly as much opportunity to get distracted.  As long as I am focused on something that is wholesome and productive, I don’t have time to get into as much trouble.

Marvin Olasky, in World (May 23, 2009) wrote an editorial titled “An Era of Insecurity”.  He started off by quoting Soren Kierkegaard, who in a sardonic vein, commented that the history of the world is the history of boredom, which he called “the root of all evil…the gods were bored, therefore they created human beings.”  Kierkegaard didn’t really believe that, but the point he makes about boredom is very real.  The Bible, in the account of the garden, seems to even suggest the same thing when it notes that God saw that Adam was lonely and that it wasn’t a good thing.  (Stop and think about that one for a moment, too – Adam had fellowship directly with God, and yet he was still lonely.  I’m not sure what that says about Adam or us, but it is an intriguing thing to ponder!)  Adam’s loneliness and boredom led to God creating Eve (although I’m sure God planned to do that all along).  Is it possible that Eve’s boredom in the garden led to her “snake-listening?”  Was boredom a factor in Cain’s murdering his brother, Abel?  Was it partially boredom that led the residents of Babel to start working on a tower?  If, in all those cases, they’d been busy doing what they were supposed to be doing, I doubt that they’d have had the time to get into as much mischief. 

There are some who have said that boredom is America’s greatest danger.  I don’t know if I’d go that far, but it seems to be kids (and adults) who have nothing to do who get into the most trouble.  Empty hands, empty minds – they contribute more than their fair share to trouble.  If our minds are empty, they will find something to focus on.  Perhaps that’s why Paul suggested to the Philippians the following: Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.  – Philippians 4:8 (KJV)

Consider your own life for a few moments.  Aren’t you more prone to mischief when you’re alone and bored – or even when you are in a group, but bored?  We’ve lost the discipline of meditation – of thinking on things that are worth thinking about – so instead we think about things that don’t deserve a moment’s reflection.  And such is the stuff of temptation.

PRAYER:  Keep us from empty minds and empty hands that would lead us into sin, Lord, and teach us to contemplate the wonder that You are and the beauty and richness of Your Word!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/26/19 – North Star People

 

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DayBreaks for 08/26/19: North Star People

NOTE: Galen is on vacation for the next couple weeks and may not respond to any comments until he returns on 9/9/19.

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2009:

Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. – DANIEL 12:3

Due north in the sky is where you can find the star, Polaris.  Perhaps you know it by its more common name: the North Star.  For thousands of years now, when sailors or even astronauts are in need of directions or when they are lost, the first thing they do (assuming they don’t have GPS!) is to look for the North Star.  Once they’ve found it, it is possible for them to figure out where they are and how to get back on track. 

Surprisingly, the North Star (Polaris) is not the brightest object in the sky – in fact, it’s rather dim.  It’s slightly green (so I’m told).  Because it is at the tip of the very northern axis in the celestial view from earth, it doesn’t shift position throughout the night – it doesn’t move – it stays put.  It isn’t easy to find, but anyone can learn to find it.  A typical response by those who are shown where it is for the first time is to remark, rather surprisedly, “Huh.  I always thought it would be brighter than that.”

The point is this: we can be like the North Star to other people.  Shocking?  Perhaps, but here’s what Paul had to say about it in Philippians 2:14-16: Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life–in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.  (NIV)  There are several things worth noting about this verse:

FIRST: it is children of God that shine like stars in the universe – not just the “greats” like Peter, Paul, Mary, Esther and their ilk.  Every child of God can and should be shining like the northern star.

SECOND: it is in the dark world, a “crooked and depraved generation” that we are to shine.  We’re not supposed to wait until all is bright and airy – after all, can you see the stars when the sun is shining in its power?  Of course not!  It takes darkness for the stars (other than our sun) to be seen.  The day will come when we won’t shine – because the Son will be all the illumination that is needed when he appears.  But since the passage says we shine in a depraved generation – this verse isn’t talking about when we get to heaven or in eternity.  It is talking about shining NOW.

THIRD: how is it that we shine?  By the way we “hold out the word of life.”  That’s how we shine.  We hold out the Word of life by believing it, holding it out like we would a lantern or brilliant spotlight.  We hold it out so that others can grasp it.  We hold it out so that others can see by it and distinguish between the unfruitful works of darkness and the Light of the World that has come so that no one need stumble and fall again.

FOURTH: we can be like the north star in that we never change position.  We continually hold out the word of life…no matter what is going on in our lives.  Circumstances won’t change us…we should be stationary, steadfast.  As the words to the old song, O Thou Fount of Every Blessing put is, “Praise the mount, I’m fixed upon it, mount of Thy redeeming love!”  Fixed. Solid. Immovable.  The rest of the world may spin off into frenzied oblivion – the children of God won’t.

Right now, you are faced with a decision about how you’ll live this day.  You may be at work, college, high school – some other school – it matters not.  Wherever you are, if you are His child, you can shine like the north star and hold out the Word of Life to those all around you this day.  The question is: will you do it?

PRAYER:  Let us shine to this depraved generation, Lord!  Let us take the Word of Life into our hearts and hands and minds and hold it out to a world dying in the darkness.  Fix us as a star in the sky for all to see Your glory!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/24/19 – Misplaced Expectations

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DayBreaks for 08/23/19: Misplaced Expectations

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2009:

We all have expectations.  We have expectations of others, we have expectations of our pets, of our employers, of our employees, of our spouses, children, friends, government…we even have expectations of ourselves.  If only having expectations meant that they would be lived up to and realized!!!!  But alas, such is not the reality of the world in which we live.  I so often fail to live up to my expectations for myself…why should I be so insistent that others should live up to the expectations I have of them? 

God sees us much better than we see ourselves.  He sees us with perfect clarity.  I know that often He sees things in me that he doesn’t care for.  I would like to delight His heart at all times, though I know I don’t.

In The Gospel According to Job, Mike Mason contemplates the expectations we have of ourselves as Christians.  Though we may often find others have failed to live up to our expectations, the inevitable conclusion that Christians must reach is that we fail miserably to live up to the holy and righteous demands of God.  And that can cause us massive turmoil and anxiety – because we KNOW, plain and simple, that we just don’t cut it.  As a result, many re-double their efforts to “be good” and to “make God happy with me.”  Isn’t that just another way of trusting in our own perfection (or as close to perfection as we can get)? 

Mason insightfully wrote: “God’s delight is not in a life lived in undeviating virtue, but rather in seeing the most twisted and chaotic life turned in humble expectation towards Him.  The truly righteous person, it turns out, is the one who places no expectations upon himself.  From God he expects everything, but from himself he expects nothing, because he knows he is but dust.” 

Are you discouraged in your Christian walk because you just can’t seem to “get it right” no matter how hard you try?  Do you get down on yourself because of that?  Does it lead you to work all the harder?  Guilt will never be a kind task-master, nor will it ever be a wonderful motivator.  Love is a much better motivator, but even our love won’t be perfect – but the good news is that our love doesn’t have to be perfect, because His love is! 

A truly humble, righteous person doesn’t have expectations of themselves other than that they will get it wrong – over and over again – and that God will get it right.  If our expectations are based on my getting better, on my slow but steady improvement, my expectations are in the wrong place.  May my expectations, like my hope, rest in His goodness alone! 

And this expectation will not disappoint us. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. – Romans 5:5 (NLT)

PRAYER:  What a relief it is that You are a good God, One who will never disappoint us nor let us down!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 8/22/19 – Drinking Your Own Kool-aid

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DayBreaks for 08/22/19: Drinking Your Own Kool-Aid

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2009:

Many of you will recall Jim Jones and the People’s Temple located in Guyana.  Jones was a charismatic leader by all accounts.  He had fanatically devoted followers who left behind families, homes, careers and jobs in America to follow him to a jungle “paradise” that was called Jonestown (that should have been a clue to the man’s ego.)  They moved after a magazine, New West, raised questions about the legality of some of their practices.  According to Wikipedia, after moving to Guyana, Jones developed a belief in something he called “Translation” – the idea that he and his followers would all die together and go to another planet to live in peace.  He even held mass suicide “practices” where followers would drink Kool-aid and fall to the ground as if they were dead in order to prepare for Translation. 

The day finally came when it wasn’t practice – it was for real.  A total of 914 people died in the mass poisoning – 638 adults and 276 children.  By the time that authorities arrived, many of the bodies were already in such a state of decay that there is some dispute about how many actually died.  It was not a pretty scene. 

I have often wondered about the mindset of those present in Jonestown on that fateful day.  It is hard for me to comprehend parents giving cups of poisoned Kool-aid to their little ones.  For me, it is almost as hard to understand how people could take the cup and drink it down themselves.

An old blog entry had a synopsis of an article from Vogue magazine by Jenny Sanford (the wife of the infamous Governor Sanford who was caught having an affair with an Argentine woman while lying about his whereabouts to his family and staff), where she was describing what it was like to watch her husband’s “addiction” to a woman with whom he was carrying on an affair.  The writer of the blog (my youngest son, Tim) noted this quote from Ms. Sanford: “Politicians become disconnected from the way everyone else lives in the world. I saw that from the very beginning. They’ll say they need something, and ten people want to give it to them. It’s an ego boost, and it’s easy to drink your own Kool-Aid. As a wife, you do your best to keep them grounded, but it’s a real challenge.” 

What struck me was her comment: “…and it’s easy to drink your own Kool-Aid” – a reference to what happened in Jonestown and how it was so deadly.  It isn’t just politicians who are quick to drink their own Kool-aid.  I fear we are all quick to believe our own deceptions and lies and to seek that which flatters and boosts our egos.  It is frequently said of sports teams or athletes that get too “fat” of a head that they “believe their own press,” i.e., they believe the things they say and think about themselves to an unhealthy and potentially fatal degree.

We do the same thing when we think we’re better than we really are, or when we think we can withstand a certain temptation that has always pulled at us – and we’ll get too close to it and wind up in the dirt like the families who died in Jonestown. 

God doesn’t give us poisoned Kool-Aid, nor does He want us to drink our own concoction.  Instead, He offers us the Living Water – water that is pure, sweet and gives us life. 

Maybe it’s time for us all to do some serious introspection to find out if we’re drinking our own Kool-Aid.

Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation. Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation. – Isaiah 12:2-3 (KJV)

PRAYER:  Our eyes are all too often blinded and our minds are dulled by our own press and impressions of ourselves, Lord.  Help us not to drink our own Kool-Aid, nor the Kool-Aid that anyone else would offer us.  Help us to seek and drink only Living Water!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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