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

Image result for protesting

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.

Advertisements

DayBreaks for 12/01/17 – What to Value

Image result for value

DayBreaks for 12/01/17: What to Value

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

Can you believe it?  Tomorrow is the first of December.  I both hate and love this time of the year.  I love the smells of Christmas – cookies, hot apple cider, turkey and pie.  I love the sounds of Christmas – carols have always been among my favorite music – the laughter of children, the sound of friends greeting one another with “Merry Christmas!”  I love the sights of the holidays – the colorful lights up and down the main street and on the homes in town, the decorations on the tree.  I love the feel of Christmas – the cold nip in the air, the freshness and the feeling of warmth while bundled up in spite of the temperature outside, the fire in the hearth.  What’s not to love?

Well, for ministers, this is a very, very busy time of the year.  Each year, my wife and I say, “Let’s keep it simple this year.”  We’re not talking about just our own Christmas, but also the Christmas that we will share with the congregation God has blessed us with.  Yet, there are certain expectations – Christmas music, perhaps a skit or play, decorations, and the thing I dread perhaps more than any of the rest of it: putting together Christmas sermons!  I don’t mind the shopping that much, but it is the busyness that floods over my soul, and so by the time the holidays are over, I’m worn out, worn down and flat.

It is enough to make one pause to reflect on what is really important. 

It was reported that 11 millionaires went down on the Titanic.  Major A. H. Peuchen left $300,000,000 in money, jewelry, and securities in a box in his cabin.  “The money seemed a mockery at that time,” he later said.  “I picked up 3 oranges instead.”

This year, I pray we will have the sense to pick up oranges – to stay focused on what is of value and what brings the peace and joy that we are to find in this season of remembrance.  Let us value the Who of Christmas.  Let us let go of other things that have so little value as to be meaningless in light of the coming of the One promised from the garden of Eden to take away our sins. 

I know it’s rather early for a Christmas DayBreaks, but if you don’t enter into this month with firm conviction and principles about how you’ll live this month, you’ll likely find yourself right back in the same frantic rush – and perhaps miss the real Value.

PRAYER: Give us discerning hearts, dear Father, to do what is important and not do anything that has no real value, especially at this time of the year.  Give us the wisdom to say “No” when we need to in order to stay focused on the things which really mean something!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 11/27/17 – An Unpredictable Future?

Image result for predictability

DayBreaks for 11/27/17: An Unpredictable Future?

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

How would you describe the future?  You might describe certain things that you want or hope to have happen in the future, but my guess is that at some point you’d couch your description in terms like, “If I could, I would…”.  I am always amazed at how many of the supermarket tabloids have covers that relate to some prediction of the future by people like Nostradamus, or some modern-day “psychic”.  There is something in us that would like (we think) to be able to predict or know what the future holds.  I think that we’re actually far better off not knowing myself.

When I speak of an unpredictable future, I am not talking about one that is unstable…just one that can’t be very well predicted by human experience.  As humans, we just don’t have the requisite knowledge or skill to be able to predict with any degree of certainty what will take place.  And that’s especially true because to some extent, our “possible” futures are based on our past and present experiences.  But what happens when something totally out of the realm of human experience intervenes?

In his book, Theology of Hope, Jurgen Moltmann mused on the topic of the future and what God’s promises mean related to the future: “A promise is a declaration which announces the coming of a reality that does not yet exist.  Thus promise sets man’s heart on a future history in which the fulfilling of the promise is to be expected.  If it is a case of a divine promise, then that indicates that the expected future does not have to develop within the framework of the possibilities inherent in the present, but arises from that which is possible to the God of the promise.  This can also be something which by the standard of present experience appears impossible.”

The future towards which we move cannot be predicted by any human, no matter how wise he or she may be.  It takes One who is not only all-wise, but all-powerful, to control the events so that the future finds it’s fulfillment for which it was planned.  Certainly, in Genesis when God makes his initial promises to humanity, he was declaring a reality that, at least in time, did not yet exist.  The future is not dependent on the experiences of your life, or of all our lives put together.  It is dependent only on the God who made and formed the promise and who shapes the future to His liking. 

What does the future hold?  I can’t predict it…but that doesn’t mean it isn’t predictable.  With God, all things are possible.  We think of Him interacting with the world as we know and experience it, but that is at least limited, if not false, theology. 

You don’t need to consult actuarial tables to know what the future holds.  They can’t tell you.  God can.  And He does tell us another thing about the future: we don’t have to worry about it because it’s in His perfectly capable hands!

PRAYER:  Thank you, Lord God Almighty, that you hold not only the future of the universe and the world but of each and every one of us who have put our trust in Christ, in your hands.  May we sleep well tonight knowing You are in control!   In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 11/22/17 – A Great Mystery

Image result for great mystery

DayBreaks for 11/22/17: A Great Mystery

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

You’ve probably gathered by now that I’ve been interested in the topic of godliness lately.  I’ve been preaching a series of messages from 2 Peter 1, and since Peter wrote about godliness, even saying that we need to make every effort to add to our “perseverance, godliness,” it’s rather caught my attention.  Godliness could be defined as being “like God”, or “like Jesus”.  Well, since none of us have ever seen God or Jesus, it’s a bit hard to know what that means in all its entirety. 

The apostle Paul, as he often does, digs deep into the topic of godliness, too.  Perhaps one of the most intriguing passages of Scripture on the topic, yet one I’d not really contemplated too much before, is found in 1 Timothy 3:16, where the apostle Paul wrote these mysterious words: Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.”   Paul, describing Christ, says that the mystery of godliness was revealed by certain things relating to the life and person of Jesus.  In particular, there are six things about the godliness that Christ demonstrated (as noted by Mark Buchanan in Hidden In Plain Sight:

FIRST: he appeared in a body.  Now that doesn’t sound all that godly, does it?  In fact, it sounds rather human.  I think what Paul was getting at might have been this: Christ, in the flesh, made God accessible – and personal.  Before, we could only imagine God, but in Christ, we could see Him.  Being godly means making Him accessible to those in our world.

SECOND: Jesus was vindicated by the Spirit.  One of our least godly characteristics is our intense desire to vindicate ourselves – to make ourselves look good to others, to show that we ARE good and that we are not bad.  Jesus didn’t worry about how others would perceive him.  He was more than willing to let God vindicate him – which He most certainly did by raising him from the dead.  Godly people don’t worry about pleasing others – but entrust God to vindicate them before their enemies in His time.

THIRD: Jesus was seen by angels.  Throughout his life, Jesus was aware that life consisted of more than meets the eyes.  Angels ministered to him at various times.  He lived with an awareness that this world isn’t all there is.  People who are godly know and understand that we are “playing” out a scenario that is viewed on a heavenly stage and that the main audience we live for is not earthly, but cosmic.  When we remember that angels and God are watching us, it could change a lot in how we live!

FOURTH: Jesus was preached among the nations.  While Jesus himself lived in Palestine nearly his entire life (except for a brief sojourn in Egypt), the message of Jesus has been preached throughout the world.  His message was for the world, it was not something to be hoarded and kept in a righteous little box.  His influence goes far beyond where he lived.  Our influence, too, should be global, and we should be engaged in carrying his message to the world – we should, like Christ, have a global influence.

FIFTH: He was believed on in the world.  It’s key that he says, “…in the world.”  We would have expected people in the “church” to believe on him, but even those in the world believed on him.  Part of the reason he was believed upon was because of how he lived his own life.  And when people believed on him, their world was turned upside down and changed for the better.  Godly people are supposed to have an influence outside of the church walls – in fact, that’s where our primary influence should be felt.  That’s where the non-believers are!

SIXTH: Jesus was taken up in glory.  He wasn’t caught up with glory – he wasn’t a “glory-hog”.  He was taken up “in glory.”  His life had a purpose and an ultimate reward.  Godly people will live in such a way that, though we live in the here and now, we never take our eyes off the “forever” towards which we are moving, and the reward that awaits us there.  This is motivation for us to be godly.

What is godliness?  Maybe you’ve not thought about this verse in that way before, but I think Buchanan was onto something good.  Everything there is to be learned about being godly can be learned at the feet of Jesus.

PRAYER:  Thank You, God, for the mystery of godliness that has been revealed in and through Your Son.  May we imitate the One You sent.   In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 11/16/17 – As If

Image result for as if

DayBreaks for 11/16/17: As If

NOTE: Galen is traveling…again.

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

Playing God.  It’s something that we accuse doctors of doing at times, or even other folks who are trying to control everything and everyone.  It’s a ridiculous concept, if you really stop to think of it.  Perhaps that’s why movies like Bruce Almighty found such an audience – it probed the depths of what it might be like if some bumbling human tried to take on the job of God.  And, God Himself challenged Job with the concept – almost saying point blank: “If you think you could do a better job, give it a spin!”  Job, fortunately, was wise enough to not take Him up on the offer. 

Here’s a different twist on the notion:

“Losing PlayStation privileges or being confined to a room would be hard enough for most children, but at the tender age of ten, Sajani Shakya almost lost her status as a living goddess.  In the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal, living goddesses—called Kumari—are chosen from the same Hindu caste as Buddha and worshiped as deity.  As Sajani soon learned, with the elevated status came elevated expectations.  Under no circumstances was she ever to leave the country.  Nepalese authorities were outraged, then, when she chose to travel to the United States to participate in a documentary that was being filmed about the Kumari tradition.  Upon her return, she received notification of termination from goddess status from Jaiprasad Regmi, chief of the government trust that manages the affairs of the living goddesses.  However, after a little pressure from the public and Sajani’s own remorse, the government has since offered a reprieve.  Sajani will retain her title if she faithfully goes through an intense cleansing process that washes her of the sins of the countries she has visited in her travels.” – AP, 7/21/07

There is a huge difference between God and the gods of men.  As if any human, or a group of “authorities” could strip a real God of His Godhood.  It can’t help but make me wonder what definition of “god” the Nepalese were operating under.  It’s preposterous to think that we can take away God’s “Godness”. 

To some extent, they are right: with greatness (and if anything constitutes greatness, surely that would be “Godhood”!) come expanded expectations.  We just need to be careful of what expectations we place on Him.  Do you expect Him to do your bidding?  Do you view Him as the Heavenly Answer-man?  In the real God we see a great dichotomy: He is the one who gives answers, he is the one who can do anything, yet we often approach him by telling him what he should do in any given situation.  And if He doesn’t, we might be tempted to lose faith in Him (in essence, stripping Him of His God-ness) in our hearts and minds. 

The Truth is that God doesn’t need us to declare Him as God.  He knows who He is.  Our problems is that often we don’t know who we are in relation to Him! 

PRAYER: Help us to grow in appreciation and awareness of Your greatness this day.  Teach us that we are nowhere close to being able to do Your job and to humbly walk before You.   In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 11/10/17 – Come, Sit With Me

Image result for sitting with God

DayBreaks for 11/10/17: Come, Sit With Me

NOTE: Galen is traveling.

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

Today I’m just going to share this story told by Larry Crabb in his book, The Pressure’s Off (2002):

One Saturday afternoon, I decided I was a big boy and could use the bathroom without anyone’s help.  So I climbed the stairs, closed and locked the door behind me, and for the next few minutes felt very self-sufficient.

Then it was time to leave. I couldn’t unlock the door.  I tried with every ounce of my three-year-old strength, but I couldn’t do it.  I panicked. I felt again like a very little boy as the thought went through my head, “I might spend the rest of my life in this bathroom.”

My parents—and likely the neighbors—heard my desperate scream.

“Are you okay?” Mother shouted through the door she couldn’t open from the outside.  “Did you fall? Have you hit your head?”

“I can’t unlock the door!” I yelled.  “Get me out of here!”

I wasn’t aware of it right then, but Dad raced down the stairs, ran to the garage to find the ladder, hauled it off the hooks, and leaned it against the side of the house just beneath the bedroom window.  With adult strength, he pried it open, then climbed into my prison, walked past me, and with that same strength, turned the lock and opened the door.

“Thanks, Dad,” I said—and ran out to play.

That’s how I thought the Christian life was supposed to work.  When I get stuck in a tight place, I should do all I can to free myself.  When I can’t, I should pray.  Then God shows up. He hears my cry—”Get me out of here!  I want to play!”—and unlocks the door to the blessings I desire.

Sometimes he does.  But now, no longer three years old and approaching sixty, I’m realizing the Christian life doesn’t work that way.  And I wonder, are any of us content with God?  Do we even like him when he doesn’t open the door we most want opened—when a marriage doesn’t heal, when rebellious kids still rebel, when friends betray, when financial reverses threaten our comfortable way of life, when the prospect of terrorism looms, when health worsens despite much prayer, when loneliness intensifies and depression deepens, when ministries die?

God has climbed through the small window into my dark room.  But he doesn’t walk by me to turn the lock that I couldn’t budge.  Instead, he sits down on the bathroom floor and says, “Come sit with me!”  He seems to think that climbing into the room to be with me matters more than letting me out to play.

I don’t always see it that way.  “Get me out of here!” I scream.  “If you love me, unlock the door!”

Dear friend, the choice is ours.  Either we can keep asking him to give us what we think will make us happy—to escape our dark room and run to the playground of blessings—or we can accept his invitation to sit with him, for now, perhaps, in darkness, and to seize the opportunity to know him better and represent him well in this difficult world.

PRAYER: Lord, let us sit with You today and not run off into some other less beneficial and joyful activity.  May we find in You our greatest joy! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 11/9/17 – The Unhappiest Person in Scripture

Related image

DayBreaks for 11/09/17: The Unhappiest Person in Scripture

NOTE: Galen is traveling.

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

Trivia.  How most of us love it!  And Bible trivia is exceptionally fun, I think (although as a pastor I’m always feeling the pressure if I’m engaged in a game of Bible trivia – I feel like I am expected to know all the right answers!!!)  Here’s a few for you to whet your own trivia whistle (don’t worry, these are easy ones!): who lived to be the oldest?  Who was the first murder victim?  Who had a donkey speak to him?  How many stones did David pick up to use with his sling when he went out to meet Goliath? 

See!  I told you they’d be easy ones!  But here are some tougher ones (and I don’t know that I know for sure the answers to all of them): who was the most patient person in Scripture?  Who was the apostle of love?  Who was the meekest man that ever lived?  The wisest?

I found intriguing this story about Eli Wiesel that former Secretary of State Madeline Albright shared: “Not long after September 11, I was on a panel with Eli Wiesel.  He asked us to name the unhappiest character in the Bible.  Some said Job, because of the trials he endured.  Some said Moses, because he was denied entry into the Promised Land.  Some said Mary, because she witnessed the crucifixion of her son.  Wiesel said he believed the right answer was God, because of the pain he must surely feel in seeing us fight, kill, and abuse each other in the Lord’s name.”

It would be hard to argue with Wiesel’s answer.  What am I doing today that might be adding to God’s unhappiness or sadness? 

John 13:34-35 (NIV) – A new command I give you: Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

PRAYER: Make us instruments today, Lord, that delight Your heart and who do not contribute to your unhappiness.  Help us to love one another as fully and richly as You have loved us that Your heart may rejoice!    In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.