DayBreaks for 12/11/17 – Thou Doest Protest Too Much

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DayBreaks for 12/11/17: Thou Doest Protest too Much

From the DayBreaks archive, December 2007:

This past week I was having a conversation with a wise, elderly woman from our church.  We were musing on our culture’s head-long rush to remove God from the public square entirely.  There are those who think that God and Christianity should have no place at all in the public arena.  They are eager and quick to point to the constitution, jumping up and down and shouting against Christianity, but they misinterpret what the constitution says.  The so-called “establishment clause” in the constitution says that the government shall not establish a state religion – it doesn’t say that religion should not be allowed to be practiced publicly or privately.  In fact, it is quite clear that the topic of God came into a great many discussions among the founding fathers.  How many of them were merely Deists versus Christians may be a topic of debate – but religion played often and well in the public discourse.

At the present time, Michael Newdow (you may remember him – he had an appeal go to the Supreme Court in an effort to have “under God” removed from the pledge of allegiance, only to have his case thrown out on a technicality – he was supposedly suing on behalf of his child, but his child didn’t live with him, therefore the court ruled he had no right to sue on her behalf.  The court never ruled on the real topic – the question of whether or not can “under God” remain in the pledge.

Michael Newdow is at it again.  He still doesn’t have custody of his daughter (who lives with her mother, and unless I’m mistaken, they are strongly opposed to Newdow’s actions), but he’s now suing on behalf of some other folks.  I don’t get all the legal mumbo-jumbo, but he’s once more trying to get “under God” taken out of the pledge. 

Michael Newdow is an atheist.  The question the elderly sister asked me was simply this: “What do atheists fight so hard to do away with something they don’t even believe exists?”  Interesting queston, eh?  I mean, if they really believe He doesn’t exist, why should it bother them if I think and believe He does exist? 

Then, on the morning that I wrote this DayBreaks, I got an email from a reader who noted that since the atheists don’t believe in any god, they in essence become their own god.  She was right, I think.  Why does Michael Newdow and others of his ilk try to eliminate all mention of God or Jesus?  Because they want to be their own god.  They don’t want to have to even consider that they might have to answer to a Higher Authority.  It’s almost as if they are sitting there with their eyes clenched as tightly shut as they possibly can squeeze them, with hands over their ears, repeating over and over, “There is no God, there is no God, there is no God,” hoping to convince themselves of that fact.  I remember that my kids would do similar things when they were little when they didn’t want to believe something that they couldn’t escape, like knowing they were going to the doctor to get an immunization.  All the “No, I’m not going!  No, I’m not going!  No, no, no!” didn’t make the inevitable go away.

Sadly, no matter how hard he may try, Michael Newdow will never be able to escape from the Truth.  He’s in for a big surprise – and a very unpleasant one, at that, if he doesn’t come to faith before he dies.  We should pray for his lost soul and the souls of all who are lost in unbelief.  We are all there at one time, too.

Psalm 14:1 – The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”  They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.

PRAYER:  Lord, open the eyes of those who don’t believe in You.  Help them to see the Light of the World that can take away their sin and give them eternal life.  Help us not to try to be our own gods, for we are doomed to failure and destruction if we pursue that path!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 12/08/17 – Being the Real Deal

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DayBreaks for 12/08/17: Being the Real Deal

NOTE: Galen is traveling for the next few days.

From the DayBreaks archive, December 2007:

A Georgia woman’s outrageous attempt at fraud has landed her in jail under charges of forgery.  Thirty-five-year-old Alice Pike attempted to pay for $1671.55 worth of merchandise at a Wal-Mart with a one-million dollar bill.

When Pike handed the cashier the bill, the cashier refused to take it, and also declined to hand over the $998,000 change.  She immediately called the manager, who also refused to take the bogus bill.

Pike reportedly offered $2.32 on a gift card, and then tried to cash the big bill again.  At the point the manager called police, who took Pike into custody.  Authorities found two more of the seven-figure bills in her purse. 

Police say Pike claims the bills were a gift from her husband, and she thought they were real.  Chief of Police in Covington, Georgia, Stacey Cotton says, “The bill ‘looks’ real, but of course there’s nothing real about this.”

The U.S. Treasury does not print a one-million-dollar bill, but several varieties of the large bills are available as toys, novelty gifts, or souvenirs.  – http://www.nypost.com, Funny-$$ Gal 1 in a Million, by Amit Srivastava, March 10, 2004.

You’ve heard the saying, “If something looks too good to be true, it probably is”, and yet we still have a tendency to fall for things, don’t we?  Perhaps it’s because we so badly want some things to be true. 

When it comes to money, merchants want the real deal, as do doctors, lawyers, dentists, sanitation engineers and even employees (when payday rolls around!)  No one likes to be defrauded or duped.  We want authenticity.

When it comes to the Christian life, the world deserves to see the real deal.  That means people on an authentic journey, working to change the world a little tiny piece at a time into God’s kingdom on earth.  The world is full of folks who, as Paul put it in his letter to his spiritual offspring, Timothy, where he warns Timothy about those who appear to be as “…having a form of godliness but denying its power.  Have nothing to do with them.” (2 Tim. 3:5, NIV)  

The real challenge for us is not to decide who such people are and to judge them, but to examine ourselves to see if we hold not only the form of godliness, but also its power in our lives to resist sin, overcome temptation, to love our enemies, to forgive those who have wronged us.  Don’t be so eager to decide if others really have the power of godliness – look first at yourself.

Prov. 21:27 (NASB) – The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination, How much more when he brings it with evil intent!

PRAYER:  We want to be authentic followers of Yours, Jesus.  We want to have the power You have promised us in our lives so we can bring You glory and find the deliverance from the wiles of Satan that You intend for us to experience.  Help us to examine our hearts to determine if the truth be within us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 12/06/17 – Non-Negotiable Truth

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DayBreaks for 12/06/17: Non-Negotiable Truth

NOTE: Galen is traveling for the next few days.

From the DayBreaks archive, December 2007:

Not too long ago, George Barna’s research said that only 9% of teenagers who call themselves “born-again Christians” believe in such a thing as moral absolutes.  Only 4% of non-born again teens believe in moral absolutes.  It would be interesting to see what the statistics say for adults who consider themselves Christians.  I’m sure that piece of data is out there, but I don’t have it readily available at this writing.  But, it’s not really necessary.  If these statistics are real, the point is made.  And why, one might ask, would born-again Christian teens not think that there are moral absolutes?  Most likely it’s because their parents and churches haven’t taught them that there are moral absolutes.  We’ve abdicated the reasoning and logical powers of our youth to relativistic teachers and postmodern deconstructionists who have twisted and blinded their eyes.  And I believe most who call themselves Christians but who are adults, have the same problem.  

In his book, The New Absolutes, William Watkins cited several studies and then concluded, “Roughly three out of four Americans claimed they embraced relativism and opposed absolutism.” (p. 26)

But wait: isn’t the statement, “there is no absolute truth” a contradiction in and of itself?  Isn’t it a statement that purports to make an absolute truth statement even while denying the existence of absolute truth?  Of course it is.  See how easy it is to swallow Satan’s baited hook?

Maybe some of you who are reading this are saying right now: “But there are no absolute truths.”  Okay, let’s test that hypothesis right now.  For those who think that there are no absolutes, at lunchtime today, I want you to go into the lavatory, fill the sink with water, and put your head in and hold it totally underwater for 45 minutes breathing nothing but water.  Then, come out and tell me if there is absolute truth about this statement one way or another: “Breathing water for humans is just as good as breathing air.” 

Some truths are not negotiable, they are absolute.  It matters whether you breathe water or oxygen.  If you breathe water you will drown for long enough, it is an absolute truth.  I guarantee it!

Maybe you are going to the doctor in the next few days.  When he/she prescribes something for you, do you want the precise dosage, or do you want them to tell you that “it doesn’t matter how much you take – take whatever you want to”?  I don’t know about you, but when I go to the doctor, I want him to tell me the right dosage of medication I need.  It wouldn’t be right for him to say to me, “Take as much as you want.”  Too much could kill me, not enough wouldn’t help me; I need the right dosage.  There is absolute truth in this, too!

Maybe you’re flying somewhere this week or for the holidays.  When you get to the airport, do you want the counter person to tell you which is the correct gate and flight and departure time, or to say, “You know, it really doesn’t matter which plane you get on, they all will take you somewhere sometime – maybe even all will take you to the same place.”  No thanks.  Not for me.  I want to know the absolute truth about what flight to get on to wind up where I want to be.

Perhaps you’re saying, “Sure, Galen, but those are physical things.  I’m talking about spiritual absolutes – and there are none of them.”  Again, a self-refuting claim.  To accurately make such a claim, one would have to know every possible fact about spiritual things.  If there is a single spiritual truth that someone doesn’t know or have, that one truth might just well be that there are absolute spiritual realities.  Jesus said there is absolute truth – and He is IT!

With all due respect to the majority opinion in our society, there is an absolute truth. Jesus said, … I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. John 14:6 KJV

PRAYER:  Give us the wisdom to recognize falsehood when it comes disguised as so-called “wisdom” and eyes to see that Jesus is the Absolute Spiritual Truth.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 10/30/17 – Moving Boundary Stones

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DayBreaks for 10/30/17: Moving Boundary Stones

From the DayBreaks archives:

Long ago, Israel had settled into the promised land and grew fat and content. Well, not quite. Some were content, but others were ambitious. They wanted more and more land for themselves – at the expense of their brethren. How did they solve the problem? Hosea tells us how some did it, in Hosea 5:10: “Judah’s leaders are like those who move boundary stones. I will pour out my wrath on them like a flood of water.”

As you can tell from the passage, their actions did not please God. He hates injustice and greed. Many had become corrupt. Why didn’t God just ignore it and pretend it didn’t happen? Because when leaders go wrong, it isn’t long before the masses go wrong.

I was fortunate enough to attend my youngest son’s college graduation last June at Stanford. The guest speaker was Ted Koppel, the guy from ABC. I have to tell you that I was very impressed with the challenge that he gave the students. He’d been invited by the president of the university, Gerhard Caspar, to talk on “that mess in Washington” and Caspar’s concern about intrusion into the privacy of the President. Caspar got more than he bargained for. Koppel, rather than sharing Caspar’s concern over “privacy”, delivered a very eloquent and impassioned plea for a return to morality. His words were powerful, but perhaps no more powerful than in this statement as the ending summary of his speech: “Aspire to decency. Practice civility toward one another. Admire and emulate ethical behavior wherever you find it. Apply a rigid standard of morality to your lives; and if, periodically, you fail ­as you surely will ­adjust your lives, not the standards.”

We have a tendency to explain away our own improper behavior by “changing the rules”. Changing the rules is “moving the boundary stones” – deciding that the old limits no longer apply and then redefining them to meet out wishes. Koppel’s advice is right on: when we fail morally, “as you surely will – adjust your lives, not the standards.”

When we fail, don’t try to disavow God’s law by saying His standard has become old and outdated – a relic of an ancient age long gone by. God’s law is unchanging. We dare not move the boundary stones for our own benefit!

PRAYER:  Lord, help us to faithfully observe the boundaries that You have set in place, may we glorify You by our obedience.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 10/25/17 – What We Are

DayBreaks for 10/25/17: What We Are

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2007:

What are we?  Ask that question to a variety of “experts” and you’ll get different answers:

A biochemist would probably say that a human is composed of 65% oxygen, 18% carbon, 10% hydrogen – and then goes into a myriad of other atomic components in various trace amounts.  99% is made up of those three, plus nitrogen, calcium and phosphorus.  Whoopee!

One philosopher’s definition follows: “I believe a human being is a creation containing two unique parts, equally important for our ability to interact with everything that surrounds us along an endless mysterious path known as time. One part is crystal clear; it is the physical and material matter occupying space, known as the body. This form of matter has size, shape, and dimensions and can be experienced empirically. The other part of the human being is harder to understand since it has no shape, size, or dimensions and cannot be experienced by empirical knowledge, it is the mind.”

A theologian might say: “The psalmist would say that the riddle of ben-‘adam is hidden in the mystery of God. Only faith can envision the point of convergence. Humankind recognizes itself fully only in the recognition of the Being from whom all reality arises.  The claim of the psalm is that we can say “human being” only after we have learned to say “God.”

Here’s another one that I won’t even venture to try to classify, other than to say it sounds very new-agey: “Human being may be defined as the humantrue life of the individual, lived according to her or his own supraconsciousness of fulfilled intellect, so that the co-operative being of humanity is this undeniable humantrue awareness on the part of, and between, each and every individual, with no authority, meaning or faith above or beyond that. The human individual is a mind and body of the human species, led by the mind. Human being is being fully and truly human.  The second and most important objective is to point out that true human being is to be defined by supraconsciousness – that when both our thinking and activity submits to the guidance of the postconscious which is also embodied in the structure of our society, then will we be wholly fulfilled, i.e., humantrue.”

Yuck.  Drives me nuts.  It appears that there is great confusion about what it is to be human.  We focus on our humanity a lot, but is that the right thing to do? 

I like (very much) this view of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, quoted in Philip Yancey’s Rumors of Another World: We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, but spiritual beings having a human experience.  We are so focused on our flesh and bone that we neglect the spirit and soul.  We think we are humans who, every once in a while, have spiritual insights or spiritual encounters with God, Jesus and the Spirit.  They may be wonderful moments of ecstasy and inspiration…but they are not as present and real to us as the flesh, muscle, blood and sinew that courses through our veins. 

De Chardin would have us remember our origin, and our true definition: that we are spiritual, formed in the image of the One who was and is and is to be, and that we are destined to return to Him and to live as spirits (albeit with some form of incorruptible body, it would appear) eternally.  It is our humanness that is fleeting, it is our humanness that is nothing more than a cloak that hides the spirit.  We would do well to remember our true nature and to concentrate our efforts, attention and affections accordingly.

Ecclesiastes 12:6-7 (NIV) Remember him–before the silver cord is severed, or the golden bowl is broken; before the pitcher is shattered at the spring, or the wheel broken at the well, and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.

PRAYER: In spite of all appearances, Lord, help us to live wisely in our temporary coats of flesh, so that our spirits, the real us, may live with You forever.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 10/20/17: Temporary

DayBreaks for 10/20/17: Temporary

“It’s just a temporary condition.  You’ll feel better in a few days.”  Those are comforting words when they come from our doctor or dentist, are they not?  Temporary, meaning that it will not last long.  It’s a passing thing. 

“It’s just a temporary setback.  We’ll get back on track soon.”  Those words are often spoken in the business world or even in a military setting when something bad has happened and we want to put on a good face and try to be encouraging to others who may really be upset and disturbed by the goings-on.  In that case, it’s meant to be a comforting word.

But there are things that we don’t want to be temporary: enjoying beauty, enjoying the love of a spouse, children and grandchildren.  We don’t want the mountain-top experiences of life to be temporary things – like fleeting shadows that are here for a moment or two and then gone.  There’s nothing comforting about hearing that someone’s love for you is temporary.  We want it to be permanent – lasting, a forever-thing. 

Isn’t it strange how we spend so much of our life’s energy chasing after temporary things?  Can you imagine how our lives would be if we spent our time, money, energy and spirits on pursing permanent things?  In his books, When the Game is Over It All Goes Back in the Box, John Ortberg described an incident where a speaker stood in front of a large group of people.  He had a roll of stickers in his hand.  Behind him on the platform were all kinds of objects – tables filled with things from our lives – computers, dollhouses, desks, a Matchbox car, pots and pans, etc.  The speaker began to roam around the stage, placing red stickers on everything.  He explained to the crowd what he was doing: although they couldn’t see it from their vantage point, each sticker had the same word on it: TEMPORARY.  He said, “Everything that I’m putting a sticker on is temporary.  It will not last.  It will fade away.  We invest our emotions in them be3cause when we acquire it, it gives us a little thrill.  And we think the thrill will last.  But it does not.  It fades.  And eventually, so will what we acquire. 

“If you are living for what you see up here, then you are living for what is temporary.  Temporary satisfaction, temporary fulfillment, temporary meaning.  It will come to an end – but you never will.  It will leave you with a terrible emptiness.”

Wouldn’t it be easier to make better decisions in life if the things we pursue in this world all had that red sticker on them to remind us that they are temporary?  I have to think we might make different choices – at least some of the time. 

Later, the speaker did one more thing.  First, he said, “There is only one thing in this room that is not temporary.  There is only one item that you will be allowed to take with you from this life into the next.”  With that, he invited a little girl to join him on the stage, and he put a blue sticker on the collar of her dress.  “When you get to the end of your life and take in your last breath, what do you want your life to have been about.  What will make it rich in the eyes of God?”  The answer was obvious: people. 

Are you wise?  Are you building your life around temporary things or permanent, eternal things?  The next time you’re tempted to invest in something (large or small), try to picture the sticker – is it imprinted with “Temporary” or “Eternal”?

PRAYER:  Give us wisdom to see things as temporary, yet to see the people we encounter every day as eternal.  Please remind us of how we should invest our lives, and what we should invest them in.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 10/13/17 – Living in Spite House

A Spite House in Boston, MA

DayBreaks for 10/13/17: Living in Spite House

There once was a millionaire who owned a lot in an exclusive residential area of New York City. This particular lot presented a very unusual problem. The lot was five feet wide and about a hundred feet long. He couldn’t do anything with such an odd sized lot, so he decided to sell it one of the neighbors on either side. But when he went to the neighbors, they didn’t want to give him anything for it. They basically said, “Look, you can’t build on it and you can’t sell it to anyone else. So take our offer or leave it.” The millionaire was so angered by their refusal and rebuttal that he decided to get even.

He hired an architect and a contractor, and had a house designed for that weird shaped lot. It was five feet wide and ran the entire length of the property. He moved in and set up house in this narrow house. Each room was barely wide enough for a single piece of furniture. His hatred for the people on either side of this small lot made him decide to ruin the look of the entire area.

The neighbors complained that it was a blight to the neighborhood. But the city fathers couldn’t find any code forbidding it. This millionaire moved into it, and lived there the rest of his life. The only one who was really punished was him. He moved into a long narrow little house that held only hate and discomfort. The house became known throughout the neighborhood as “Spite House.” It still stands to this day as a monument to one man’s hatred.

When I heard this story, I thought, surely this is an exaggeration. So, I did some checking and not only did I learn it was true, but what was even more shocking is the fact that there are at least twelve “Spite Houses” to be found in a simple search online.

There’s one in Carlsbad, New Mexico, built to block the Mayor’s view and annoy him. There are two in San Francisco; One at Deadman’s Point, Maine; one in Huntsville, Alabama; one in Boston, one that is supposed to be haunted and has been turned into a Bed & Breakfast in Fredrick, Maryland; and a triangle shaped “Spite House” in Montlake, Washington, a suburb of Seattle.

Isn’t that silly?

But here’s the question: are you living in a “spite house”? If so, confess it, move out and never go back again!

PRAYER: Jesus, protect us from the heart of bitterness and spite! Let us be bigger and better people than to erect houses of spite against those around us! Keep us from this ugliness! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.