DayBreaks for 7/20/18 – The Entrance of Evil

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DayBreaks for 7/20/18: The Entrance of Evil

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2008:

AVONDALE, Ariz. – An Arizona man said his 3-year-old Labrador retriever was so excited for the Super Bowl that he devoured two very expensive tickets to the game.   Chris Gallagher, of Avondale, Ariz., said he asked that a courier slip the envelope containing two Super Bowl XLII tickets under his doormat but the envelope was instead inserted under the door — and into the waiting jaws of his dog, Buddy, The Arizona Republic reported Tuesday.  Gallagher said the tickets, which he purchased for friends, were valued at $900 apiece.  However, he said the seller assured him that the tickets can be replaced in time for game day.

The dog owner said the tickets were only the latest of Buddy’s many victims, which have included sunglasses, shoes and footballs.  “He’s a trouble-maker,” Gallagher told the Republic. “But he looks at you with those big eyes and you can’t be mad for long.”

Galen’s Thoughts: I have recently been utilizing John Eldredge’s Epic video series as part of the Sunday morning messages.  On this past Sunday, we were covering Act Two: The Entrance of Evil.  As an illustration slide, I showed an image of a fearsome looking creature – red-faced, possessed by rage, vicious teeth bared in a terrifying grimace.  It was, of course, representative of Satan. 

One of the members of the congregation came up to me after seeing the picture and made an excellent point: if that is how Satan really appeared to us, would any of us really fall for his deceptions?  She noted that Scripture speaks of Satan as able to appear as an angel of light. (2 Cor. 11:14) 

Here’s the point: Satan is pictured in Scripture as a roaring lion, and as if he were an angel of light.  Like the dog, Buddy, if we look into Satan’s eyes, he doesn’t look frightening and scary.  He looks like something that you cannot resist – or which you find no reason to avoid.  And therein is where he gets his great power – he appears so innocent.

Evil doesn’t usually come into our lives looking like evil.  Instead, it looks like fun, or it looks safe, or tame, or innocuous.  It doesn’t look like evil – it looks like anything but.  And that’s where we can’t let ourselves be deceived by the one who came to deceive, kill and destroy.  Don’t let him fool you.  Don’t look into his eyes and think he’s harmless.  He most definitely is not!

PRAYER:  Lord, I confess that I often don’t work hard enough to discern the lies and deceptions that Satan throws my way!  I pray that you will give us the wisdom to not be fooled by Satan’s “big brown eyes” into thinking he’s harmless.  Awaken us to the power and strength and true intent of our enemy!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 7/16/18 – In the House of the Tiger

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DayBreaks for 7/16/18: In the House of the Tiger

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2008:

It was just about two weeks ago that I was sent some pictures of an incredible home on the shore by the ocean.  I mean, this was a palace!  Spectacular.  Mesmerizing.  Indescribable.  And I must admit, there was something that was stirred deep inside me as I sit here in my little office in our little home (1264 square feet, or so I’m told) that made envy rise in me like a cobra ready to strike.  I thought to myself, “Wow.  I’d love to have a place like that!”  But that wasn’t the envy part – the envy part came when I began to think, “It’s not fair that they should have a home like that!  The probably don’t even know the Lord.  Why did they get blessed like that while I’m sitting out the California summer in a home that’s not even air conditioned?!”  Envy is subtle, and deadly, indeed.

It just so happens that the home I became envious of is apparently the home of Tiger Woods and his wife, Elin.  (And yes, I am envious of Tiger’s golf game, too!)  Every now and then, I’ll receive something like that in email – it may be Tiger’s house, or the home of the Sultan of Brunei or some other incredible place, and I feel badly.  I feel badly that I can’t give my wife a home like that (along with the requisite helpers to take care of the place, of course).  I start to think how wonderful it would be to have the use of such a place for even one night.  But in reality, I know that would only make me long for it even more.

I shouldn’t worship houses.  I shouldn’t worship golf swings.  But there’s a part of me that does, God have mercy on me and forgive me, please! 

I know that I’m not alone.  But what can help me get past such longings?  There’s a passage that I try to remind myself of when I start to envy others: (Ps. 73:3-17, NIV) – For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. They are free from the burdens common to man; they are not plagued by human ills. Therefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence. From their callous hearts comes iniquity; the evil conceits of their minds know no limits. They scoff, and speak with malice; in their arrogance they threaten oppression. Their mouths lay claim to heaven, and their tongues take possession of the earth. Therefore their people turn to them and drink up waters in abundance.  They say, “How can God know?  Does the Most High have knowledge?”  This is what the wicked are like — always carefree, they increase in wealth. Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in innocence.  All day long I have been plagued; I have been punished every morning. If I had said, “I will speak thus,” I would have betrayed your children. When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.

Please understand: I don’t know Tiger and Elin personally, and I am not saying that they are evil or wicked.  They may know Christ as their Savior – in point of fact, I hope and pray that they do.  The point remains: when I enter the sanctuary of God, I understand not only their final destiny, but mine.  We are on equal terms.  And, even if they do know God, my mansion in heaven will make their earthly home look like a pile of refuse.  God has already promised that to us.  All I have to do is wait for that (and I do understand that the greatest blessings in heaven will not be material ones at all!) 

Remember the final destiny, and rejoice, “for great is your reward in heaven!”

PRAYER:  Forgive my heart, Lord, for its envy.  Let me remain always in your sanctuary so I never lose sight of final destinies.   In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/4/18 – Is This It?

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DayBreaks for 7/04/18: Is This It?

I find it interesting that some of the DayBreaks I wrote in years past are just as relevant, though perhaps in a slightly different context, than when they were first written.

From the DayBreaks Archive, June 2008:

Just this past week, the stock market fell 380-some points in one day.  It wasn’t the only day the market fell.  In fact, June was perhaps the worst month for the stock market since the great depression, according to one news source.  On the same day, oil prices surpassed $140 per barrel, and some were saying that it’ll blow past $150 very soon, in spite of the Saudi’s agreeing to pump some more oil.  The situation with Iran doesn’t look promising.  Due to the cost of energy, the cost of food is rising rapidly, General Motors is struggling to survive and other large companies that have seemed to be rock solid pieces of the American financial foundation are sinking.  People are being let go.  Inflation seems to be a real threat, even as the housing market continues to sink. 

Last Thursday night, my wife and I attended a financial seminar on retirement planning and received some good guidance on investments, etc.  One of the key thoughts that kept running through my mind was this: I’m so grateful that I’m not dependent on financial investments either for this life or the next.  Not even a million shares of Google could get me into heaven.  Nor can it feed my belly or assuage hunger. 

Does it scare me at all to see what is happening in America and the world?  Yeah, I guess it does a bit.  More because I worry about my kids and grandkids and what their world might be like.  God, however, isn’t affected by the falling stock market, rumors of wars, greenhouse gases, the price of oil or an uncertain future.  There is no such thing as an uncertain future to Him.

Amid all the panic, as Christians we can be lights in the darkness, projecting the truth of what we know in our hearts, simply this: this is God’s world and all will end exactly as He wills it – without exception. 

We, of all people, should not run around panicked about what may or may not be.  We, of all people, should be filled with peace, even as we see the world around us start to disintegrate at a faster rate because we know Who holds the future – and us – in His hands.

Is this the birth pangs of the end?  I honestly don’t know. Either way, let us lift our voices with John the beloved disciple and say, Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

PRAYER: Lord, you hold the times and the seasons in Your hand.  You alone have the wisdom to bring sense out of this chaos, to bring perfection out of such brokenness.  Let us be harbingers of the coming of the King, preparing the way for the coming of the Lord!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/29/18 – Three Reasons

 

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DayBreaks for 6/29/18: Three Reasons

From the DayBreaks Archive, June 2008:

When was the last time that someone did something that made you feel unimportant?  Chances are that it was fairly recently. It may have been the way you were treated by a co-worker or a boss.  It may have been the fact that your spouse didn’t greet you warmly when you got home last night.  It might even be that your dog wouldn’t even give you a warm sendoff as you went out the door this morning!  (You know it’s getting bad when your dog shines you on!)  Some were raised by parents who made them feel worthless – like human trash.

It is easy to get down on ourselves.  We grew up in a school system where our mistakes were pointed out.  Have you ever noticed how it is the errors on the page that are marked and counted instead of the right answers?  We might feel better about ourselves if the positive things we did were highlighted instead of the mistakes we made!

I ran across a quote from Lorne Sanny, the long-time head of the Navigators that I think is worth sharing.  It has a very biblical answer to the question of why we are important and valued by God.  Here it is:

“I can give you three reasons why you are important to God:

First, simply because of who you are;

Second, because of what you cost, and;

Third, because of what you can become.”

Who are we?  We are the pinnacle of God’s creation  –  made in His very image.  It was only after God made man on the sixth day of creation that He was moved to declare that what He’d done was VERY good (Gen. 1:31).  Everything else that He’d made up to then only rated “It is good.”  Mankind, however, was something else!  Psalm 8:5-6 says we were made only slightly lower than the angels, we’re crowned with glory and honor and we are charged as rulers over the works of His hands!

What did we cost?  You know the answer to that one already.  We were purchased not with the blood of bulls and goats, but with the blood of the Son of God (1 Peter 1.18-19).  In this age of multi-billion dollar mega-mergers and huge corporate buyouts we are somewhat dulled to the scope of the finances involved.  Yet not one corporate CEO or president has yet bought out their enemies by literally bleeding to death for them.  Why?  The cost is too great.

What can you become?  You can become like a bright star in God’s heavenly galaxy (Phil. 2:5); a partaker in the Divine nature (2 Peter 1:4); a pillar in God’s temple (Rev. 3:12); like a tree besides fresh waters (Ps. 1:3); and certainly not least, His son or daughter (Rev. 21:7).

Never let anyone tell you that you are not important or valuable.  God begs to differ!

PRAYER:  We often feel so small and insignificant in this vast universe that was created by Your hands.  When we feel useless and insignificant, help us to remember that truth that You find us precious and that we are important in Your eyes!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/26/18 – The Measure of Success

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DayBreaks for 6/26/18: The Measure of Success

From the DayBreaks Archive, June 2008:

How can you tell if someone has been a successful person or not?  There are those who are considered successful if they attain some position or career or relationship that they have pursued.  There are those who don’t seem to have accomplished much in terms of prestige, money or honor, but who have been considered successful: Mother Theresa’s life could hardly be pointed out as a failure, not even in the world’s eyes. 

As we are about eight years into the 21st century, I wonder what success would look like for companies that I’ve worked for, for employees who have been near and dear to my hearts, from family (children, grandchildren), for the country that I live it.  I would think that we could ask a wide range of people to describe what would look like success in this century and get an even wider range of responses. 

But perhaps the most crucial question is this: what would be a measure of success for the church of Jesus in the 21st century?  Would it be necessary to convert a quarter of the world’s unbelievers to be successful?  50%?  95%?  100%?  Would the church still not be considered successful, even if that happened, because there would still be poverty and hunger in the world?  Would success demand not only conversions, but full bellies in all the world?  No more killing?  Peace?

I am not wise enough to really answer those questions.  I know that there are those who see only a dim, bleak future for the church as we are still in the infancy of the millennia.  I can understand that point of view.  Things do look rather bleak and dark.  But that’s when God has always done His best work – when it’s bleak and dark.  At the beginning of the creation of the world, it was darkness that covered the face of the deep, and God did pretty good work in making the Himalaya’s and Pacific, didn’t He?  It was dark in the tomb of Lazarus and later on, in Jesus’ own tomb, and God did more than just “pretty good work” in those instances.  God can work just fine in the dark – and in fact, when it’s dark, the light is all the more visible.

We tend to forget what it was like for the brand new church in the early century or two after the church’s birth at Pentecost.  The first 4 centuries of the church were a time when our first brothers and sisters faced odds of success more incredibly difficult than ours.  And yet, as J. P. Moreland so wonderfully put it in The Kingdom Triangle, “…yet they were so victorious that today we name our children Peter and Paul and our dogs Caesar and Nero!” 

Yes, that’s a certain measure of success.  We see dark times, but we forget that in the past 50 years, there has been an incredible explosion of Christianity all over the world.  It’s happening everywhere in the world except for one place: Western culture.

Don’t give up.  Success is guaranteed by God’s own promise.  I will build my kingdom, and the gates of hell cannot prevail against it.  Just remember this: the kingdom of God begins in the hearts of men and women just like you.  The enemy has laid siege works against your heart to discourage and depress you.  Don’t let him prevail when God’s success is just ahead.

PRAYER: Holy One, let us see some of Your victories in our own lives and the lives of those around us that we may be filled with the encouragement of what You are doing in this world!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/20/18 – Was James Crazy?

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DayBreaks for 6/20/18: Was James Crazy?

In James 1:2-4, James wrote, Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Did you catch what James is suggesting?  “Consider it all joy”?  I mean, how many of us really wake up in the morning and say, “God, please send me trials today that I can be joyful!”  You’re much more likely to think: “James, you’re a nut.  Give me a break.  Every0one knows that trials are things to be avoided, not embraced!” 

Did James mean what he wrote?  Yes, I believe he meant EXACTLY what he said.  Pay close attention to his words or we’ll misunderstand what he’s trying to teach us.  He did not say: “Consider yourself lucky when trials rain down on your life a cloudburst.”  What he did say was this: “Consider it all joy.”  There is a difference between happiness and joy.

Larry Crabb perceptively wrote in his book, Shattered Dreams, “People who insist on happiness never find joy.”  We have a tendency to think that happiness and joy are the same thing.  They are not.  Happiness results when things we like and enjoy come to pass, but it is transient – it comes and goes.  Joy, however, is not something the comes and goes with the changing of circumstances.  Joy is a calmness that runs beneath life’s storms, it is a delight that settles the heart and gives the soul an anchor that holds fast in the midst of the greatest storms of life. 

May you experience both joy and happiness…but don’t confuse the two.  And if you can have only one – choose the joy that can rule in your heart even in the midst of various trials!

PRAYER: We thank You, God, for joy.  We thank you that in the midst of trials, we can have joy even though happiness seems far away.  May we have that joy knowing that in our trials, you are perfecting us and completing us as You please.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/15/18 – The Lifestyle of a Tourist

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DayBreaks for 6/15/18: The Lifestyle of a Tourist

From the DayBreaks archive, June 2008:

It was only about a month ago that I was a tourist.  My wife and I were on vacation in Florida, at the world’s number one vacation city: Orlando.  We lived in Florida many years ago, but I was stunned at how much Orlando had changed.  The air was still hot and humid, but everything else had changed.  The orange groves that used to blossom and smell so sweet were nowhere to be seen.  But there I was, in my shorts and touristy-looking shirts.  I’m sure that wherever we went, we were quickly spotted as tourists. 

Tourists live a different lifestyle than residents.  Tourists don’t have to get up and go to work in the mornings.  Tourists don’t have to cook, mow the grass, wash the car or water the lawn.  When you’re a tourist, someone does all that for you.  And that’s not bad.

But what is sad is when Christians start to live all their lives as if they are tourists.  By that I don’t mean living as sojourners in a strange land – for we are to live like that!  What is bad about being a Christian living as if you’re a tourist is that tourists are often living on a tight schedule – too many things planned to see and do and not enough time to really enjoy any of it.  And so tourists want shortcuts – shortcuts through the lines at DisneyWorld, shortcuts through security at the airport, shortcuts to getting your luggage and to hit the road for adventure. 

Christians live like tourists when we want shortcuts through the life that God has designed and given to us.  We want instant sermons, shorter worship.  People seem to want a list of things they can do that will earn them instant credit at the gates of heaven.  People, Christians – don’t want to take the longer way and learn things as they go.  We are far too impatient for results and don’t focus nearly enough on the process and what it is meant to teach us.  It is interesting that, of all people, Friedrich Nietzsche (who was certainly no friend of Christ or Christianity) saw this so clearly: “The essential thing ‘in heaven and earth’ is…that there should be long obedience in the same direction; there thereby results, and has always resulted in the long run, something which has made life worth living.”  And the world tries to crush that “long obedience in the same direction” out of us, leading us to despair and give up.

Yes, we are like nomads in this world.  But we are not to be tourists.  We are residents here.  We are to engage in the sometimes long and painful processes that shape us, and which in turn, shape the world.  God isn’t looking for heavenly tourists – he wants folks who are coming to the kingdom to stay! 

PRAYER: Jesus, you persevered so much in this world and have given us an illustration of what it means to live as a stranger in a foreign place, yet remain fully engaged with life.  Help us to be patient – to see the blessing in the process and not just in the ending.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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