DayBreaks for 3/14/18 – The Trinity of False Identity

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DayBreaks for 3/14/18: The Trinity of False Identity

From the DayBreaks archive, 2008:

It is distressing to me to see how many Christians struggle with who and what they are in Christ.  It seems that for some, it’s nearly impossible to accept that we are beloved children (yes, even in our present condition), that we could be described as God’s poetry (because we certainly don’t feel like poetry), that we will someday shine like the stars in the universe (because our souls are so full of darkness inside), and that our sin has been taken away and paid for by the blood of Christ (which we seem to fear may have lost its power to deal with sin over the centuries – especially my sin). 

I was at a recent conference where Mark Yaconelli spoke about the trinity of false identity.  In one sentence, here it is: “I am what I do and how well I do it.”

What do you think of that?  Does it seem to ring true for you?

We live in a performance-oriented world.  The race almost always seems to go to the swiftest, the victory to the strongest, the adulation to the most beautiful or power-laden.  It begins in our earliest days when we receive praise for doing good things – and doing them well (except for our childhood drawings which were really all atrocious at best – but mom always swooned over them anyway).  It happens in school.  It happens at our work.  Performance.  Peak performance, to be precise, is what is recognized and rewarded.

But is it that way in God’s eyes?  No, I don’t think so.  That would lead to the conclusion of performance-based salvation, performance-based love.  God loves us precisely in spite of our performance.  If you think God loves you more if you are more obedient than anyone around you – you’re wrong.  Does He appreciate your obedience?  Absolutely!  Does He want our obedience!  Of course.  But does He love you more for it?  No.  Why?  He can’t. 

We need to get over our performance-based obsession and to see and define ourselves as God sees and defines our worth.  “I am God’s child, I am working for Him, and I will give Him my best and be at peace.”

Isaiah 43:4 (NIV) – Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give men in exchange for you, and people in exchange for your life. 

PRAYER: Free us from our self-imposed falsehoods and protect us from the deceptions and frustrations that the enemy would imprint on our minds!  Give us the faith to believe Your words and the joy that comes with being beloved by You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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


DayBreaks for 2/23/18 – An Everyday Mystery

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DayBreaks for 2/23/18: An Everyday Mystery

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2008:

Choosing.  How difficult it is, and yet how often we do it!  How many decisions have you made already today?  You decided whether or not to get up when the alarm went off, or to hit snooze a time or two.  You decided what you would wear.  You decided what you would eat, or if you would eat, for breakfast.  You decided (whether you thought about it or not) on the route you’d drive to work, school or wherever you were going.  You decided where to park, how fast you’d drive, whether or not to pass or honk at someone who irritated you.  You decided what you’d listen to on the radio.  You decided what to read in the paper.  You decided if you’d take your lunch or buy it.  Chances are you’ve already made thousands of little decisions already today – and your day is just getting started.

Someone has said that practice is what makes perfect.  We know, of course, that there’s a smidgen of truth in that sentiment – with practice we DO get better (hopefully!)  But we don’t get perfect through practice regardless of the old saying.  The only way we ever get perfect is by God changing us in eternity into Christ’s likeness.  We can make progress until then – but perfection?  No, definitely not.

But if we are to get better with practice, have you ever stopped to think about why it is that we so seldom choose what is best?  It’s nothing new to the 21st century, of course.  It’s been going on since the beginning of time, and humanistic thinking aside, we aren’t getting better at it throughout the millennia.  Adam and Eve were given an entire garden by God and told that they could eat of any tree in the garden – except one.  And which one did they choose?  The ONE.  Jonah had the choice of going to Ninevah or the other direction – so he high-tailed it away from Ninevah.  Saul/Paul could choose to persecute Christians or to let them be.  Judas could have not betrayed Jesus, be he did.  Perhaps you could have chosen to remain faithful to your spouse but you chose unfaithfulness instead.  Drugs, alcohol, greed, thievery, murder, lying – all spring from the well of choice.  See what I mean when I say we’re not getting better at it? 

I’m convinced that we don’t know how to choose wisely sometimes.  How can we possibly know in every circumstance what is the very best thing to do?  If you know the answer, please tell me!  Sure, I know we can pray and God can give us direction, but we still have to choose to go His way and not our own, or He may not give us an answer when we are seeking it. 

So what are we to do?  Maybe all we can hope for in those cases where we’re not sure what is best is to choose what is better.  Mary and Martha were hosting Jesus in their home, and Martha was all a-flutter with her busyness and serving until she got so ticked off at her sister that she even (by implication at least) berates Jesus and Mary – Mary for not helping, Jesus for not telling Mary to help Martha.  Jesus, ever gentle and wise, simply gives Mary a bit of praise: Mary has chosen what is better.  (Lk. 10:42) Notice what Jesus didn’t say: he didn’t say Mary had chosen what was best, but just better. 

What would have been best in that situation?  The Lord only knows, but he didn’t scold Mary for not choosing what was best but encouraged her in her choosing of what was simply “better”.  Maybe that’s why, in all our ways, we should acknowledge Him and let him direct our paths until we reach that which is best.

PRAYER: I’m so grateful, Lord, that you understand our limitations and don’t expect perfection from us.  Forgive us for our foolish choices and help us choose that which is better!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 2/19/18 – The Worst Hallucination

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DayBreaks for 2/19/18: The Worst Hallucination

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2008:

We tend to think of hallucinations as the result of mind-altering chemicals – either when naturally occurring chemicals in the brain are out of balance, or when controlled substances are put into the body.  Some hallucinations are terrifying – people imagine they are being hunted down by some beast or a person intent on killing them.  Others are tamer, and some are hallucinations of beauty.  Regardless of the subject matter, the truth about hallucinations is that they’re, well, hallucinations.  They are not real.  And while the hallucination itself can’t harm us, we may do something in response to the hallucination that can be hurtful…or even deadly.

As bad as some hallucinations may be, the worst ones are probably spiritual in nature.  Mark Buchanan in The Rest of God, suggests that the worst hallucination that humans can have is the conviction that we are God.  No, most of us would never dare to say such a thing out loud, or even to think it consciously.  But, his point is that our actions speak louder than words when it comes to this topic.  It is our busyness that reveals who we think is in charge of our lives and who our present and future depends upon. 

Why is it busyness that reveals this to us?  Because it shows us that our actions say that we believe our destiny and security and fate is all dependent upon us and what we do – that it’s in our own hands to make our break our future.  It is as if we have reached the conclusion that “If I don’t take care of myself, no one will,” and so we are always pushing, worrying, stressing out over the myriad things that call our name and demand our attention.  That’s why rest, Sabbath and sleep are so important.  They remind us that things do go on without us. 

Spiritual hallucinations are like all other hallucinations in some ways: they aren’t real, they can harm us and in fact, can be deadly.

PRAYER: Keep us, we pray, from hallucinations about our own greatness and importance.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 2/16/18 – The Jewish Sabbath Secret

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DayBreaks for 2/16/18: The Jewish Sabbath Secret

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2008:

Luke 23:50-54 (NIV) – Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea and he was waiting for the kingdom of God.  Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body.  Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid.  It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin.

It would be hard to find someone who doesn’t know at least something about the Jewish Sabbath.  Anyone who knows the Ten Commandments is familiar with the command to set one day aside to rest and be recreated.  Yet because of cultural differences between the ancient Jews and modern day people, we miss some key elements that we should not miss.

The passage above from Luke 23 tells us the reason that Jesus was taken down from the cross in such a rush – and in John, it also tells us that the approaching Sabbath was the reason the legs of the thieves were broken and Christ’s side was pierced.  The Jews didn’t want such things happening on the Sabbath – it would have been flat wrong to their way of thinking and belief. 

Bear in mind the time of day when Jesus died…it was in the late afternoon, shortly before 6 p.m.  Sabbath would begin promptly at 6:00 p.m. because the ancient Jews counted time from sundown onward.  Today, we use the convention that a new day starts just after midnight, but the Jews felt it started the evening before.  In reality, even though our clock tells us a new day starts at 12:01 a.m., for all intents and purposes, most of us think of the new day starting when the sun comes up.

Why is that important?  And what does it have to do with the meaning and purpose of Sabbath itself?  A lot, I think, and it has spiritual ramifications: we start the day out with getting ready to go to work, to begin our labors.  The Jews, on the other hand, started their day out with a time of feasting and giving thanks, and then with sleep.  What difference does that make?  I think it says a lot about who is in charge of our lives and our times.  The Jews began their day with a meal and thanksgiving to God, and then instead of working, they laid down to sleep through the night.  On the other hand, we start it out with a quick breakfast (often hurried without time for leisurely giving of thanks) and running off to work to control our destinies.

By worship and then sleeping, the Jews were acknowledging that this new day was from God, and that they could rest in that knowledge.  Sleep is a very real kind of self-relinquishment or self-abandonment.  When we’re sleeping, we’re helpless.  Someone could steal in and murder us or rob us and we’d be oblivious to it.  When we are sleeping, we relinquish all attempts at making money, controlling life, controlling others, being successful.  When we sleep, we are acknowledging our weakness – that we MUST rest.  But the God who watched over Israel (and over us) never sleeps nor slumbers.  And by sleeping first in the day, the Jews showed their trust in God for all that each day would bring.

I know that we aren’t going to be able to change the way the world views time these days, but in our hearts, maybe we’d be wise to recognize our laying down to sleep as the start of a new day – reminding ourselves that we can rest in, and because, of God who never takes His eyes off of us.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for new days and new beginnings, and for inviting us first and foremost to rest in you, knowing you are ever vigilant!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 1/10/18 – God Help the Fish

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Image courtesy from iStock photo.

DayBreaks for 1/10/18: God Help the Fish

When you think of it, we all like fairy tale stories in one form or another. We like stories of frogs becoming princes, of ugly ducklings that become beautiful swans and the down-and-out who rise above adversity yet remain kind, compassionate and humble.

Sam Houston was the first president of the Republic of Texas. It’s said he was a rather nasty fellow with a checkered past.  Later in life Houston made a commitment to Christ and was baptized in a river. The preacher said to him, “Sam, your sins are washed away.”  Houston replied, “God help the fish.”

We see similar stories throughout the Bible as ordinary people, often very poor and outcast, who come to a special relationship with God or Jesus. The woman at the well, the woman taken in adultery, Saul of Tarsus, Zacchaeus and others are all examples. We are uplifted by their stories.

Yet, each and every believer in Jesus is like the pauper who becomes a prince or princess. We have to go through a process much like Sam Houston did – of being convicted of our estate (it must become clear to see!) – before God dresses us in the finest of robes, puts shoes on us, gives us his ring and reinstates us to a place in His own house.

How do you see yourself? You may not feel like the prince or princess just yet, but once your sins have been washed away, you are no longer what you previously were. You are a child of the King and you are growing to look more and more like him with each passing day, week, month and year. The day will come when you will stand beside him in glory, look in the mirror and see both his and your reflection, and will be amazed at how alike you are!

Hang tough! Persevere! Trust Him! He will finish the work he has started!

PRAYER: God, I know my own sin is enough to kill all the fish in the sea, yet you promise me you have washed me clean and that I am your child. Help us all to being to grasp that simple, yet profound, truth. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

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.

DayBreaks for 11/06/17 – The Christian Gamble

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DayBreaks for 11/06/17: The Christian Gamble

As we were in worship just yesterday, I was contemplating that which human minds cannot hope to contemplate – God. And as we sang a song, I thought about the power that it takes to call everything into existence simply by words. It seems impossible, doesn’t it? And yet that is what we Christians believe. We believe in a God who cannot be seen and believe he has done things which are incomprehensible. How can words bring physical matter into existence? Doesn’t that seem like the stuff of fairy tales or stories about the pagan gods? And when I think about it that way, I sometimes must admit that it sounds really far fetched and impossible and I begin to entertain doubts.

But, then I must come fact to face with the fact that physical things do exist, so how can they be explained? It is a basic premise that “Nothing comes from nothing”, i.e., that if something exists at all, it must be because there was something to make it happen. There is not a single shred of evidence, nor a claim that I am aware of, that the universe has been eternal – without a beginning. So that begs the question: where did matter come from if it could have come from nothing? Christians believe it comes from God. The fact that things (including myself) do exist, leads me to conclude that God must exist.

Can I prove it? No. Atheists take delight in the fact that Christians cannot prove that God exists. But, neither can an atheist prove that God does NOT exist. And so believers and unbelievers are all gambling that what we believe is true.

So, what is one to do, since neither God’s existence nor his non-existence can be proven? Perhaps the best we can do is to look at the evidence to make the most reasonable bet with our life that we can. And in that process, it might be wise to sit down with a piece of paper and do this exercise: write down the ramifications regarding life if His existence is real, and write down the ramifications if it is not real. Then decide which way you want to bet your existence.

You see, in the final analysis, for an atheist to say that faith is foolish is to call themselves foolish, too, because one’s belief about God’s existence and nature (if He exists) is based on faith, either way one chooses to believe.

Romans 1:19-20 (ESV) – For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

PRAYER: Father, though we cannot prove your existence, we believe in it and in your goodness and trustworthiness. May our faith be rewarded not just in the world to come, but in this one as well! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.