DayBreaks for 7/17/19 – On Bumper Stickers and Belief

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DayBreaks for 07/17/19: On Bumper Stickers and Belief

From the DayBreaks archives, July 2009:

Bumper stickers have always held a certain fascination for me.  Whenever the car in front of me has a bumper sticker plastered on it, I try to get close enough to read it.  Most bumper stickers are relatively innocuous, some are outright offensive, and a few speak truth and a few others are humorous.  For many, it seems that bumper stickers contain the sum of all wisdom.

There is one bumper sticker, though, that I’m sure you’ve probably seen, and it goes like this: “God said it, I believe it, that settles it.”  I know that the intent of this bumper sticker is to be a Christian witness and a statement that accepts the authority of God to speak and proclaim truth.  So, those are the good things about this particular bumper sticker and I am sure the intent of those who have this sticker on their car are good and heart-felt.  I applaud them for their desire to witness.

I have a problem, however, with that bumper sticker.  The form it takes is that of A+B=C (God said it + I believe it = that settles the issue).  Here’s my beef about it: I would much rather that the bumper sticker simply says, “God said it, that settles it.”  Here’s my point: whether I believe what God says or not has nothing to do with whether what God said is the final word on the issue.  My belief does not make something so.  What makes something so is simply whether or not God has said it is true, that it is so.  And THAT settles the issue.

There are great debates that rage in Christian circles today about many issues that some term “cultural” rather than religious or theological.  There are many movements in the church as a whole today that tend to minimize or discard certain things that God has weighed in on.  In many cases, they do so because they say that the number of times that God said something are few and far between – as if that is sufficient evidence that God doesn’t care much about the topic or he would have said more about it.

It all boils down to an issue of authority.  Not many Christians would argue that God doesn’t have authority – that would be a foolhardy argument to press in any circumstance.  But there are those who don’t accept the authority of Scripture…that if it says anything at all, it means what says, whether it’s mentioned once to ten thousand times.  If we are accepting of God’s authority, whether we believe what He says is right or not, if God said it, that settles it.  Period, over and out.
PRAYER: Let us bow our knees before you willingly, Lord, in full recognition of Your total and complete authority in all things!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

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DayBreaks for 7/16/19 – Knowing and Unknowing

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DayBreaks for 07/16/19: Knowing and Unknowing

From the DayBreaks archives, July 2009:

I love the series of questions God asks Job at the end of that marvelous book!  I can’t do any better job of answering them than Job did, but I love the questions!  I have grown to love the mystery of God, and the revelation of Him at the same time.  Do I know God?  Yes.  Do I know God?  No.  Somehow, both answers are correct.  Can I explain God?  Yes – it is part of my job.  But can I really explain God?  No – it is part of my limited human nature that makes me unable to do so. 

We live in a world where people like to make us believe they are experts.  I have no doubt that some people are far more expert than me at many things…but when compared to what God knows about their subjects, are they really experts?  No!  We are all novices before the mystery that is He. 

But we like experts, don’t we?  After all, we tend to trust what they say and accept their advice if we’re wise.  When your doctor tells you that you need surgery, you do it because you trust her expert judgment versus your own.  When your financial advisor gives you advice, you tend to accept it because they’ve studied the markets and financial instruments for years.  Mechanics, lawyers, teachers, professors – all have credibility as experts because of what they have learned.  But all are novices before God Himself.

Jesus was the expert on God.  Jesus didn’t just spend 12 years in school studying God – He was God, He was in the beginning with God – for eternity past He studied God and was God.  If there ever was an expert on God, it was God Himself, made flesh and dwelling among us. 

There are many who doubt God’s existence.  There are even “experts” who say boldly that there is no God – and they are certain of it.  Perhaps Rabbi David Stern put it best when he said, “We must be careful not to blur the distinction between the indiscernible and the nonexistent.”  Just because you or someone you know can’t discern with the 5 senses that God exists (although I think you could argue that!), we mustn’t rush to conclude that He doesn’t exist. 

At best our knowing will retain much unknowing.  But I’m OK with that.  Because what I do know has made me confident of what God is like.  I can’t wait to get to heaven so that some of the unknowing is removed as eons of eternity roll slowly by!

PRAYER: There are so many things we want to know about You!  Help us not to lose sight of what Jesus has shown us as we search for more knowing!  May we live in peace with the Mystery that is You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/11/19 – Elevator Music and Emergencies

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DayBreaks for 7/11/19: Elevator Music and Emergencies

Just this past week I was up in British Columbia doing some salmon fishing with my great friend, Ken.  As is the case with all good things (except God!), they must come to an end, and we found ourselves getting on a puddle-jumper plane to take us back to Vancouver from Campbell River, BC.  This plane look like a flying breadbox.  It wasn’t round – it was more square, and the wings looked about 3 sizes too small to be able to provide enough lift to get the beast off the ground. 

As we prepared to pull away from the gate, they started the familiar ritual of running through the emergency instructions.  As the flight attendant read the instructions (this wasn’t like a big jet that has a tape deck where they play the instructions from a cassette!!!), there was elevator music playing in the background – soothing, calming, almost loud enough to make one drift off to sleep.  And that’s when it struck me: this was a parallel for life and how Satan plays against the Word of God. 

God’s Word is full of instructions – emergency instructions, if you please – about how to avoid a coming firestorm, how to avoid self-inflicted catastrophies and injury in life, how to avoid burn-out, self-destruction, guilt, shame, divorce and a life lived in utter meaningless.  Many people (though fewer than in past decades) know what is in the Good Book because they’ve heard it so many times.  But in the background, subtle but ever present, is Satan’s elevator music.  His music is intended to make us think, “This kind of stuff won’t happen to me, so I don’t need to worry about it.  I’m safe.  All those warnings are just the fantasies of some God who simply likes to be in control and have His own way.”  The elevator music of Satan is designed to make us relax, to not listen as closely, or to think about the consequences of ignoring God’s instructions.  Let’s face it: no one likes to listen to scary warnings about crashing and burning or going down over water, but everyone likes music, right?

Don’t let Satan’s elevator music drown out the voice and wisdom of God.  Let His Word through to your heart and mind and soul, take it serious, for He knows whereof He speaks!

PRAYER: Awaken in us a sense of urgency to hear Your voice and alert us to the subtle lullabies Satan would sing to our hearts to make us dull and sleepy.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/8/19 – The Image and the Reality

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DayBreaks for 07/08/19: The Image and the Reality

From the DayBreaks archives, July 2009:

You saw no form of any kind the day the LORD spoke to you at Horeb out of the fire. Therefore watch yourselves very carefully, so that you do not become corrupt and make for yourselves an idol, an image of any shape, whether formed like a man or a woman, or like any animal on earth or any bird that flies in the air, or like any creature that moves along the ground or any fish in the waters below. And when you look up to the sky and see the sun, the moon and the stars–all the heavenly array–do not be enticed into bowing down to them and worshiping things the LORD your God has apportioned to all the nations under heaven. – Deuteronomy 4:15-19 (NIV)

Anyone who has read Scripture knows that God prohibited Israel from fashioning idols and worshipping them.  That’s not a new revelation to any of those who regularly read DayBreaks.  But why did God have so much to say about it, not only in Deuteronomy, but in other books of Scripture?  I mean, after all, it’s not like the stone or wood or metal carving is going to come to life and threaten God in any way, shape or form.  God certainly isn’t afraid of any rival or competitor.  He’s more than willing to take on any “god” that wants to challenge Him. 

So why such a strong prohibition?  While I certainly don’t agree with all of his writing or theology, N. T. Wright captured it pretty well, I think, in his book, Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection and the Mission of the Church:  “When human beings give their heartfelt allegiance to and worship that which is not God, they progressively cease to reflect the image of God.  One of the primary laws of human life is that you become like what you worship; what’s more, you reflect what you worship not only back to the object itself but also outward to the world around.”

It is an interesting observation, that if we take the time to consider, we’ll probably be forced to admit it is true: “One of the primary laws of human life is that you become like what you worship…”  If we worship money, what happens to us?  We become more driven to have more of it, more greedy, more materialistic.  If we worship beauty, we may become preoccupied with our physical appearance and spend vast amounts of money to stay young looking and beautiful.  Those who worship the god of sex wind up treating others simply as objects to be used for pleasure.  Those driven by the idol of power treat others as competitors, pawns or partners to achieve power. 

Man was created as a worshipping creature.  Our hearts are prone to worship many things.  Even Christians have hearts that are still in the process of being re-made so we must guard our hearts carefully, as the Lord said in Deut. 4:15 (above).  We must watch carefully the things that fascinate us and draw us and attract us and motivate us.  Those things just may be gods in disguise.

PRAYER: Lord, we are often blind to the gods in our lives and too prideful, thinking that we would never bow the knee before anyone but You.  May we learn from Peter’s overzealousness, “Though everyone else may leave you, I will never deny You!”  Teach us to recognize the things in our lives that could become, or which may be, gods – and give us the grace to cast them out of our lives.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/05/19 – The Angel and the King

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DayBreaks for 07/04/19: The Angel and the King

From the DayBreaks archives, July 2009:

Recent days saw the passing of Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson.  Farrah Fawcett was one of Charlie’s Angels, and was considered and eulogized by some as being “America’s Angel” (meaning America’s favorite angel).  Michael Jackson, of course, was called the “King of Pop.”  Interesting how both are being idolized in the press.

Both deaths, of course, were sad and tragic, but the reactions (especially to Michael’s death) seems to me to be way over the top.  People weeping who never knew him at all, making all sorts of outrageous statements about how the thing that had given their life something beautiful and hopeful are not just outrageous, but revealing and sad.  It reveals the depraved status of our souls when people have been raised without a God-consciousness and awareness of where meaning comes from.  I mean, if people think that the only thing that can give them joy in life is a moon-walking singer – no wonder they weep in desperation when that singer is gone.  How spiritually bankrupt has our culture become?

I didn’t know Farrah nor Michael.  They had kudos here on earth.  What was their reception like beyond the veil of tears?  God alone knows.  But of this I am confident: their fame meant nothing to God.  He wasn’t impressed with either “America’s Angel” or “The King of Pop”.  He wasn’t impressed with their looks, their ability to dance or sing or act.  The only thing He cared about was looking at their heart to see if it was covered with the blood of Jesus.  I can only hope such was the case.

The same will be true for each person who reads this message and for all those who never read it.  Earthly achievement just doesn’t impress God at all, nor does He want us to find our meaning and joy in things of this world.  He has offered us so much more and created us for vastly greater things. 

PRAYER: Teach us a wise perspective on what has value and what You search for in us, Lord.  Help us learn that things of the spirit are far more critical and valuable than anything of the flesh.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/3/19 – The Great Bailout

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DayBreaks for 07/03/19: The Great Bailout

From the DayBreaks archives, July 2009:

There has been a lot of talk about bailouts lately.  Banks, investment firms, big companies, car manufacturers…maybe even your next door neighbor have received a bailout.  Not being very smart economically, I don’t know if these were the right thing or not, but I certainly have my opinions on the matter!

But that’s not the kind of bailout that I want to talk about today.  I want to talk about people who bail out when things get tough.  This past week, we had Vacation Bible Camp at our church and I observed lots of behavior from the campers, helpers and teachers.  Most of it was all very good, but even VBC campers and workers are humans, and during the course of a hectic week, you are bound to see all kinds of human behavior.  Including some teens who were helping who received some needed correction from an adult – but who then didn’t show up the next day.  They’d made a commitment to help for the week.  But they broke their commitment.  They bailed out.

Commitment seems to be a dirty word, or at the very least, a word which has lost its meaning in our day and age.  We wonder why kids aren’t committed to anything.  In many cases, all we have to do is look at their home life to find out.  Many are not living with their biological mom and dad…their parents divorced (maybe more than once) and the children learned a lesson about “commitment.”  Their parents perhaps bounced from job to job when they grew frustrated or got angry…and instead of working it through and sticking it out for the benefit of the family, dad quits his job and can’t find another one.  And the children learned another lesson about “commitment.”  They have heard mom and dad say things such as, “Sure, I’ll take you to the zoo this weekend,” only to find that when the weekend rolls around, mom and dad are too busy or too tired.  And the children learn another lesson about commitment.

So many children lack commitment to anything these days (or so it seems to me).  To find the reason why, we have to look no further than our own mirror. 

Jesus knows about commitment and he modeled the importance of it to us.  He committed himself to death on a cross in order to redeem us from a fate that we rightfully earned – eternal damnation.  When your kids want to know about commitment – tell them about Jesus.  And then live a life of commitment for them to see and emulate.

PRAYER: We are weak and tempted to run when the heat is turned up on us, Lord.  Help us to be people who keep their commitments and teach our children to do likewise!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/18/19 – Practical Atheism

 

DayBreaks for 06/18/09: Practical Atheism

From the DayBreaks archives, June 2009:

George Barna is a Christian “poll-taker” who researches attitudes of and about Christians and Christianity.  His findings are often very insightful – and often downright frightening.

In a recent article he was being interviewed about the 7 “faith tribes” in America (which includes all the major world religions), Barna noted that 66% of Americans are what he called, “casual Christians” and 12% were “captive Christians.”  Here’s how he described “casual Christians” and their brand of Christianity: “Casual Christianity is faith in moderation. It allows them to feel religious without having to prioritize their faith. Christianity is a low-risk, predictable proposition for this tribe, providing a faith perspective that is not demanding. A Casual Christian can be all the things that they esteem: a nice human being, a family person, religious, an exemplary citizen, a reliable employee – and never have to publicly defend or represent difficult moral or social positions or even lose much sleep over their private choices as long as they mean well and generally do their best. From their perspective, their brand of faith practice is genuine, realistic and practical. To them, Casual Christianity is the best of all worlds; it encourages them to be a better person than if they had been irreligious, yet it is not a faith into which they feel compelled to heavily invest themselves.”  The key attraction to be a casual Christian: “The comfort that this approach provides. It offers them life insights if they choose to accept them, gives them a community of relationships if they desire such, fulfills their inner need to have some type of connection with a deity, and provides the image of being a decent, faith-friendly person. Because Casuals do not view matters of faith as central to one’s purpose or success in life, this brand of Christianity supplies the multi-faceted levels of satisfaction and assurance that they desire.”

Captive Christians, on the other hand, are characterized as follows: “Captive Christians are focused on upholding the absolute moral and spiritual truths they glean from the Bible…The lives of Captive Christians are defined by their faith; their worldview is built around their core spiritual beliefs and resultant values. Casual Christians are defined by the desire to please God, family, and other people while extracting as much enjoyment and comfort from the world as possible. The big difference between these two tribes is how they define a successful life. For Captives, success is obedience to God, as demonstrated by consistently serving Christ and carrying out His commands and principles. For Casuals, success is balancing everything just right so that they are able to maximize their opportunities and joys in life without undermining their perceived relationship with God and others. Stated differently, Casuals are about moderation in all things while Captives are about extreme devotion to their God regardless of the worldly consequences.”

Tony Woodlief, writing in the April 28 issue of WORLD in an article titled “Practical Atheism”, was considering the same topic when he wrote: ‘“Hypocrisy in one age,’” warned Joseph Addision, ‘“is generally succeeded by Atheism in another.’”  Consider this in light of charges that America is becoming, according to a Trinity College survey, less Christian.  It’s not that Americans are converting to other religions, it’s that they are more willing to avow nothing.”  He continued: “What we are in danger of – in our country, in our churches, in ourselves – is practical atheism.  This is not considered embrace of godlessness.  It is instead the slow slide into lives where God is irrelevant…Practical atheism isn’t limited to people who abandon church; it extends to all we who drift from Christ, even as we dutifully attend Sunday services.  It’s in the brief morning prayer that eventually becomes no prayer at all.  It’s in the way we emulate men rather than the God-man.  It’s in the way we brood, as if the things that vex us don’t pass through the hands of a loving God.”

‘Nuff said.  Let us beware, however, of the tendency to bemoan practical atheism and jumping to the conclusion that we are not part of that 66% of “casual Christians”.  Let us invite the Spirit to search our hearts and determine if we uphold Biblical truth, if our worldviews are built around core spiritual beliefs and resultant values, if we define a successful life as an obedient one, or just a comfortable one that allows us to wear a label without having to pay for it. 

Prayer: Search our hearts, O God, and reveal to us the depth of our own depravity, revealing to us the shortcomings in our own practice of faith.  May we consider deeply the questions of faith and obedience and the consequences of practical atheism in our own lives.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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