DayBreaks for 9/06/18 – Great Liars

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DayBreaks for 9/06/18: Great Liars

From the DayBreaks Archive, September 2008:

I have recently had a very precious sister in the Lord tell me that she wouldn’t be coming to church anymore because she felt the Lord was calling her to a time of withdrawal and study.  I must say, I’m perplexed.

I know people who, when I call them, will tell me that they just didn’t “feel” like going to church on the Sunday past.  I must say, I’m perplexed.

I know people who see someone in need but will pass them by, and if asked why, will respond with something along the line of “I didn’t feel led to help.”  I must say, I’m perplexed.

Perhaps I shouldn’t be.  For in all those instances, and hundreds more that could be spelled out, people these days seem to be more interested in their “feelings” about things than about God’s commands.  We might be tempted to say, “It would be dishonest for me to go to a place of worship and praise God when I don’t feel like it.  I would be a hypocrite.”  Yet, when I look at Psalm 122: 4 (NIV), the motivation that Israel was to have to go up to the temple to worship was not because they FELT like it, but because it was according to God’s COMMAND: That is where the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD, to praise the name of the LORD according to the statute given to Israel.

In his book, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, Eugene Peterson said this: “I have put great emphasis on the fact that Christians worship because they want to, not because they are forced to.  But I have never said that we worship because we feel like it.  Feelings are great liars.  If Christians worshiped only when they felt like it, there would be precious little worship.  Feelings are important in many areas but completely unreliable in matters of faith.  Paul Scherer is laconic: ‘The Bible wastes very little time on the way we feel.’

“We live in what one writer has called the ‘age of sensation.’  We think that if we don’t feel something there can be no authenticity in doing it.  But the wisdom of God says something different: that we can act ourselves into a new way of feeling much quicker than we can feel ourselves into a new way of acting.  Worship is an act that develops feelings for God, not a feeling for God that is expressed in an act of worship.”

Pause now for a few moments of reflection.  As you look at your life and your activities – do you determine what you will do based on how you feel, or on what God’s Word decrees?

PRAYER: Holy God, forgive us for letting our feelings become conditions on obeying Your commands!  Let us be led not be our feelings, but by all Your truth.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 8/21/18 – Against All the World

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DayBreaks for 8/21/18: Against All the World

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

A man by the name of Athanasius, an early bishop of Alexandria, strongly opposed the heretical teachings of Arius, who had declared that Christ was not the eternal Son of God, but a subordinate being. After suffering 5 exiles, Athanasius was finally brought before the Roman emperor Theodosius, who demanded that Athanasius stop his outspoken opposition to Arius’ teachings. The emperor reproved him and asked, “Do you not realize that all the world is against you?” Athanasius is said to have quickly responded, “Then I am against all the world.”

Most of you who read DayBreaks work in the secular world (or are students or home-makers). It’s difficult working in the world and trying to be a Christian. I know what it’s like – I worked in the secular workplace for years. I’ve seen how companies frown on employees exercising their right to express their faith. I’ve seen how something as innocent as a group of employees gathering together for breakfast before Christmas to sing Christmas carols can lead to protests from employees who are of other faiths. Those kind of things make it hard to express your faith in ways that are noticeable. So, we feel all alone – surrounded by disinterested (at best) co-workers or overtly hostile ones.

I imagine Peter felt that way when he denied the Lord. Where were the remainder of the apostles? Nowhere to be seen – but that didn’t mean they didn’t exist. They just didn’t “stick” together – they scattered and their faith was individually tested. I’d be willing to bet that you probably aren’t all alone – there are probably other believers who may be feeling just as isolated as you. (Remember how Elijah thought he was all alone, too, after fighting with the prophets of Baal? God reassured him that there were others who hadn’t bowed down to Baal.) More often than not, it is our fear of letting our light shine that keeps us feeling alone. And it is much easier to stand strong if we stand together instead of scattering like the apostles did at the crucifixion.

The need to take a stand is crucial. If we can’t do it now, what will happen when the day comes that you are truly alone? How will you fare then? Would you have the courage of Athanasius? Would I? Until then, find a brother or sister and start a workplace bible study at your lunch break once a week. You might find other brothers and sisters you didn’t know you had, and who knows, you might even have the privilege of leading a few others to Christ!

PRAYER: Father, give us the courage that makes us able to stand against “all the world”, whether it is before Presidents, kings or emperors.  As Your body in this world, may we draw strength from one another and stand strong for You and truth!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/20/18 – From the Perspective of Years

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DayBreaks for 8/20/18: From the Perspective of Years

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

At the risk of being premature and appearing to be wise and all-knowing, I’d like to share something with you that I think I have finally managed to learn in my 56 years of treading this earth.  Are you ready?  Here it is: life is not about now.  Oh, I know that there are bills that must be paid NOW, there are decisions that must be made NOW, there are chores and responsibilities that have to be met NOW.  Oh, yes…don’t forget taxes that must be paid!

But that’s not the stuff I’m talking about.  I’m talking about important things, things that I just wasn’t emotionally, mentally or spiritually equipped to even begin to grasp until now.  Perhaps it’s because I’m starting a new sermon series about all the things that Scripture talks about as being unseen that it’s just now coming clearer to me.  Still, I’ve struggled to find a way to express it myself, and then I finally ran across something that Elie Wiesel wrote in From the Kingdom of Memory that seems to me to say it perfectly.  (Wiesel, of course, is a holocaust survivor who has written and spoken eloquently about that horrific time in history, and about life in the aftermath.)

Here’s what Wiesel had to say that seemed to put this all into perspective for me: “Well, yes, at the time I was too young to understand that eternity does not exist except in relation to the present.  I was not mature enough to understand that it is eternity which lends this moment its mystery and its distinction.”

We are so preoccupied with living life to the full in the here and now, thinking that it is what is happening to us that gives life meaning and direction.  It is not so.  Surely, it must not be so!  It is what lies ahead that gives our lives now meaning and purpose, for we were not meant to live this life forever.  If the amount of time we spend here on earth versus in eternity is any indication of the relative importance, it is eternity that must dominate our consciousness and our thinking.  We must find the way to do this without abandoning the present, but also without ever making the fatal mistake of thinking that this life is what it is all about.

Have you noticed the context for this passage from 1 Corinthians 13:9-12? – For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

In the context, Paul seems to be speaking, at least partly, of eternity – it is then that we shall see face to face, we won’t be trying to hold on to foolish things of this world any longer.  All that occupies us here, tends to be childish compared to ultimate realities.

PRAYER: God, give us eyes to see this life through the clearer glass of eternity that our priorities and attention is focused on things above and not things below!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

PRAYER: Father, help us choose the things that are beautiful to you and that lead to life! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/16/18 – The Word Subverted

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DayBreaks for 8/16/18: The Word Subverted

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

I’ve ranted and raved before about the way language is used today.  In some cases, language riles folks up, while in other cases, it is purposely designed to salve our consciences and to try to do away with any sense of guilt or shame we may have about our actions.  Today, I want to share something with you that Eugene Peterson wrote in Reversed Thunder about how Satan uses the printed word to accomplish some of his purposes.  Certainly, the invention of the printing press and the ability to print the Word in many languages and by the millions of copies has been a great blessing.  But as is often the case with Satan, he will take a good thing and somehow find a way to twist it and make something dark out of it.  Listen:

“The subtlest and most common attack in the satanic assault on God’s ways among us is a subversion of the word.  This subversion unobtrusively disengages our imagination from God’s word and gets us to think of it as something wonderful in print, at the same time that it dulls any awareness that it is spoken by a living God.  It has been an enormously successful strategy: millions of people use the Bible in which they devoutly believe to condemn people they do not approve of; millions more read the word of God daily and within ten minutes are speaking words to spouses, neighbors, children, and colleagues that are contemptuous, irritable, manipulative, and misleading.  How does this happen?  How is it possible for people who give so much attention to the Word of God, to remain so unaffected by it?  Not, surely, through unbelief, but through lack of imagination: the enemy subverted the spoken word into an ink word…they go through the minds of the readers like water through a pipe.”

A couple of pages later, he continues to drive home the point: “If the Revelation is masterful in getting us involved in a living response to scripture, it is also unavoidable in its claim that scripture is God’s word to us, not human words about God.  Reading scripture as if it were the writings of various persons throughout history giving their ideas of experiences of God, is perhaps the commonest mistake that is made in reading scripture.  And the deadliest.”

What is your attitude towards the word?  Do you eagerly say, “Yes, I believe Scripture is God’s word and it’s inspired and the only sure and safe guide for faith”?  Do you still say the same thing when you find it says something you don’t agree with, or which you don’t like?  Does it, at those moments, become less than inspired for you?  It is precisely at those moments when we discover something in the word which makes us uncomfortable and which is convicting to us that we need to bow the knee before the Word, realizing it’s not just someone’s opinions or a gentle suggestion about what God wants – it is His very WORD!

Hebrews 4:12-13 (NIV) – For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

PRAYER: Give us the wisdom to rightly divide Your word and to apply it to our lives.  Give us the courage to read it at face value, humbly, knowing we are reading the very words of God!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/10/18 – Listening to the Explosion?

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DayBreaks for 8/10/18: Listening to the Explosion?

Listen to this statistic: knowledge is exploding at such a rate – more than 2000 pages a minute–that even Einstein couldn’t keep up. In fact, if you read at a normal reading rate for 24 hours a day, from age 21 to 70, and retained all you read, you would be one and a half million years behind when you finished. (Campus Life)

An amazing statistic, isn’t it? Now for a real shocker: when do you suppose that statistic was compiled? It may alarm you that these statistics do not take into account the Internet – not at all! They do not even take into account the personal computer. And, why not? It is because the statistics are from 1979.

One source I consulted said that the sum of human knowledge is doubling every 12 hours! Think about that for a minute. Think about what you were doing yesterday afternoon, just 12 hours ago. Think about how much knowledge and information there was since the beginning of time until that time just 12 hours ago. And now for something really depressing (especially if you are trying to stay on top of what’s happening in your work/school, let alone in the world as a whole): while you were sleeping overnight the amount of knowledge you need to learn to just keep up doubled. What are we to do? How can we feel grounded, rooted?

We can’t know it all, nor should we expect to. But it is crucial that we learn not the glut of information that is screaming down towards us on the information super highway, but that we learn something that will sustain us for the days to come, even for eternity. In the words of Jesus, the Prophets from of old proclaimed: It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me. (John 6:45, NIV) What God’s word teaches us is timeless and need not change, grow or expand. But are we so busy trying to stay relevant with human knowledge that we are no longer listening to God?

Daniel 12:1-4 (NIV) – At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people–everyone whose name is found written in the book–will be delivered. Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. 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. But you, Daniel, close up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge.

PRAYER: Guard our hearts and minds by Your Word and Spirit, Lord! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/08/18 – The Signature of His Presence

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DayBreaks for 8/08/18: The Signature of His Presence

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

It seems like America is fascinated with forensics.  There’s CSI spin-offs, NCIS spin-offs, and other mystery/detective shows that talk a lot about forensics. Much of the gist of those shows is trying to figure out who was the murderer, and that means that they’ve got to place the killer in the room or woods or on the boat with the victim at the time the murder was committed.  Often, the way that they make that link is through DNA evidence: a piece of hair, some bodily fluid that was left at the scene or on a cup that was left in the room.  It can be other small things, too, like dirt from a shoe, a tire tread left in the mud, some little bit of evidence that would be overlooked entirely if you weren’t looking for such details.

Perhaps you’ve known someone who wore a distinctive fragrance (or maybe they just had a strange smell, period).  If they’d just left the room, you could probably tell that they’d been there because of the scent in the air.  We leave clues everywhere we go.

What was the signature of Jesus’ presence?  If a forensic scientist were looking for clues to indicate if Jesus really had come to earth, where might they look, and what might they look for? 

Some might start looking at the temple in Jerusalem – after all, Jesus was Jewish, and that was the supreme place of worship for the Jews.  Some might want to look in the king’s palace.  But if they did that, they’d not find what they were looking for.  In his book, Love Beyond Reason, John Ortberg suggests: “His raggedness became the very signature of his presence.  ‘And this shall be a sign unto you; ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.’”  (Luke 2:12)

Jesus wasn’t afraid of raggedness.  To become like us, he had to become ragged, indeed.  We’re so full of concerns about how we look, how we’re perceived, what people think of us and what they might say about us behind our backs that we try to hide all the raggedness that surrounds us.  We want to appear properly groomed and turned out for the occasion.  We’re more concerned about appearances than substance.  Jesus wasn’t.  We shouldn’t be, either.

PRAYER: May we put away foolish notions of appearance and strive for true beauty in the inner soul.  May we not only accept our own raggedness, but revel in the raggedness of Jesus!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/03/18 – To Live in the Present

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DayBreaks for 8/03/18: To Live in the Present

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

I love to think about heaven – about what it will be like, about what we/I will do there.  I can hardly wait to hear the myriads of angels and the four living creatures singing at the top of their “lungs” to the praise of the One on the throne.  I can hardly wait to talk with Daniel, that great warrior/prophet who faced down kings and the powerful men of the earth.  I want to talk with Moses, I want to ask Abraham about the “sacrifice” of Isaac and what he told Sarah and when and how he felt throughout that experience. 

Likewise, I can find myself being drawn to living in the past.  Sometimes at night I dream about past friendships and experiences.  I love to reminisce and tell stories of our children and family.  I love to think about great times I’ve had with friends camping and backpacking in the high Sierra’s, or to talk about the sights of Glacier National Park, Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon – or even the sights, sounds and smells of St. Bernard’s Parish in New Orleans after hurricane Katrina. 

It is easy to get caught in living either in the future or in the past.  As Walker Percy put it, “To live in the past and future is easy.  To live in the present is like threading a needle.”  I don’t know about you, but at my age and with my vision, threading a needle isn’t the easiest task any more.  It’s a challenge.

Why is living in the present so difficult?  Because we love the escape that living in either the past or future provides.  It’s also why we sit so many hours in front of our television or playing a videogame or attending some form of entertainment.  It seems that we in America can hardly stand to live in the present.  We’re always looking for some manner of escape – either backward, or forward, in time. 

Jesus understood our tendency to worry about today and to try to escape from it.  In Matthew 6:34 (KJV), Jesus said that we should Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

Jesus is suggesting to us that we need to stay focused on today – to live in this day, in the present.  One day at a time is all we can handle!

PRAYER:  Jesus, help our minds not to wander from the serious business of living in the present and the challenge of serving You moment by moment.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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