DayBreaks for 1/24/20 – Marks of Clarity

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DayBreaks for 1/24/20: Marks of Clarity

From the DayBreaks Archive, January 2010:

There are times in my walk with God when things seem very clear.  But then again, there are times when I long for even the slightest inkling of clarity.  At times my relationship with the Lord is so real and palpable that I can’t help but be overwhelmed with the wonder of it all.  But then again, there are times (if I am to be honest with God, you and myself) when it all seems very unreal and like a sham.  And I find myself pondering from time to time: which is real?  Which reflects the real me and my relationship with God?  Am I only fooling myself when I feel so close to Him that I weep? 

William Cowper was a Christian songwriter of years gone by.  He wrote some of the favorite songs of the church, including the hymns O For a Closer Walk with God, God Moves in a Mysterious Way His wonders to Perform, and There Is a Fountain Filled With Blood.  For a period of time, he lived in a house with John Newton, a converted slave-trader and author of Amazing Grace.  It is interesting how little grace Cowper actually experienced.  For long years he feared that he had committed the unpardonable sin and was hounded by false rumors of an illicit affair.  As a result, Cowper suffered a nervous breakdown, tried several times to kill himself, and was kept for some of his life in a straightjacket in an insane asylum for his own protection.  During the last quarter of his life, he avoided church entirely.

He wrote these word: “Where is the blessedness I knew, When first I sought the Lord?  Where is the soul-refreshing dew Of Jesus and His Word?  What peaceful hours I once enjoyed!  How sweet their memory still!  But they have left an aching void The world can never fill.  Return, O Holy Dove, return Sweet messenger of rest!  I hate the sins that made Thee mourn And drove Thee from my breast.”

There are many who might consider Cowper a prime candidate for the title of Christian hypocrite for his struggles, a man who wrote beautifully and convincingly about things he found hard, if not impossible, to put into practice.  I prefer to think of his hymns as being the real marks of clarity in a very troubled life.  He was the one who wrote: “Redeeming love has been my theme, And shall be till I die.”  Perhaps I am naïve, but I see in Cowper’s struggle my own struggles and in his struggling faith, a reflection of my own.

PRAYER: Father, thank You for redeeming love that loves a wretch like me!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 1/17/20 – The Great Depression

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DayBreaks for 1/17/20: The Great Depression

From the DayBreaks Archive, January 2010:

There’s a movie out that you really should see if you haven’t already.  It’s James Cameron’s Avatar.  If you can, you REALLY should see it in 3D (there’s both a 3D version of it and a 2D version.)  I can virtually guarantee you that you’ve never seen anything like it in terms of movie-making.  It is literally breath-taking in scope, achievement and visual effects.  You feel as if you are in the jungle on Pandora (the name of their planet). 

It is a movie that also, if one has an eye for it, packs lots of messages and evokes many responses.  Here’s one that I don’t think anyone really anticipated: 

From the Huffington Post, Tuesday, January 12, 2010: Avatar-Induced Depression

“The beautiful alien planet Pandora depicted in James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’ is so captivating that some audience members are becoming depressed and even suicidal when they fail to find meaning in real life after the film is over.

“Writes Jo Piazza for CNN: On the fan forum site “Avatar Forums,” a topic thread entitled “Ways to cope with the depression of the dream of Pandora being intangible,” has received more than 1,000 posts from people experiencing depression and fans trying to help them cope. The topic became so popular last month that forum administrator Philippe Baghdassarian had to create a second thread so people could continue to post their confused feelings about the movie.

“Here are just a few of the ways people are coping on Avatar Forums:

“I just watched avatar a few weeks ago and I’m feeling depressed and sad. It’s like I want to reach out and be in Pandora. I’d do anything to be in Pandora. I’ve tried so hard to dream about me being on Pandora but it hasn’t worked.”
“Ever since I went to see ‘Avatar’ I have been depressed. Watching the wonderful world of Pandora and all the Na’vi made me want to be one of them. I can’t stop thinking about all the things that happened in the film and all of the tears and shivers I got from it. I even contemplate suicide thinking that if I do it I will be rebirthed in a world similar to Pandora and the everything is the same as in ‘Avatar.'”
“Because, at this point, there isn’t pretty much anything else that can be done. Until the release of DVD/BluRay. But even that won’t take away all of the depression. Because you know you can never actually go to Pandora, as it exists only in our imagination… sigh… :(“

“Whether or not these posts are for real there is reason to believe the affliction is rooted in legitimate despair.”

Let me say first, that those I know who have gone to see the movie have not had these kinds of reactions.  Why?  Because the people I’ve talked to about the movie are Christians…and perhaps, just perhaps, we aren’t “depressed and sad” because we understand what the longing is that these folks are experiencing because we’ve found the answer: Jesus. 

As awesome as the world of Pandora is in the movie, it can’t hold a candle to heaven.  As Paul said (he and John are the only humans who’ve ever seen it as far as I know for sure!), it isn’t possible (nor permissible) to discuss what it is like.  I was driving to a meeting early one morning recently as the sun was rising over the eastern hills of the Alexander Valley where we live, and I was captivated by the beauty of that sunrise.  I started talking with God about what heaven would be like.  Are there colors there?  Revelation describes things with color…so there must be.  But are they the same colors?  Will they be different, vastly richer and more beautiful?  I have to believe so.  I can’t believe anything about heaven would be nearly as dull as things on this earth.

As the sun rose, I thought about God’s glory.  He can’t help but be glorious.  It’s not like he wakes up each morning thinking, “I think I’ll be glorious today.”  He can’t help it.  Wherever He goes, His glory arrives before Him like the rays of the sun arrive before the sun is fully up.  And His glory follows after Him as the rays of the sun still light the sky once the sun has set.  As that sunrise came, I realized that the glory of heaven will far outshine anything we can dream of, hope for, long for.  And we don’t need to despair, because our inheritance is being kept for us by God Himself.  Who do you think will be able to take it away from Him?  No one!

Don’t despair.  There’s a place far better than Pandora.  It’s called heaven.

PRAYER: Let Your glory shine on us and led us unto a life lived in the glory of Your eternal day!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 1/13/20 – The Possibility of Miracles

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DayBreaks for 1/13/20: The Possibility of Miracles

From the DayBreaks Archive, January 2010:

Miracles.  We talk about them, I know folks who claim to have seen them.  More often than not, they are talking about someone being healed from an illness or disease, or the miracle of birth or conception, of human development.  It is hard to prove whether such was a miracle or a “co-incidence” in practicality.  In fact, there are those who tend to put a lot of faith in science who say that there is no such thing as a miracle. 

There is no Christian belief without faith in miracles: creation, the virgin birth, Jesus’ resurrection from the dead…these form the very crux of Christianity and its beliefs.  Science rejects that miracles can be harmonized with a modern, educated and rational view of the world.  So, once armed with that conclusion, they turn to the bible and say it can’t be reliable because of its insistence on miracles and a God of the miraculous.  The thinking goes like this: “Science has proven that there is no such thing as miracles.”  But, as Timothy Keller put it in The Reason for God, “..embedded in such a statement is a leap of faith.  It is one thing to say that science is only equipped to test for natural causes and cannot speak to any others.  It is quite another to insist that science proves that no other causes could possibly exist…The scientist must always assume there is a natural cause.  That is because natural causes are the only kind its methodology can address.  It is another thing to insist that science has proven there can’t be any other kind.  There would be no experimental model for testing the statement: ‘No supernatural causes for any natural phenomenon is possible.’  It is therefore a philosophical presupposition and not a scientific finding.”

Alvin Plantinga, the Christian philosopher, shows the folly of such a line of thinking when he wrote: “Macquarrie perhaps means to suggest that the very practice of science requires that one reject the idea of God raising someone from the dead…[This] argument…is like the drunk who insisted on looking for his lost care keys only under the streetlight on the grounds that the light was better there.  In fact, it would go the drunk one better: it would insist that because the keys would be hard to find in the dark, they must be under the light.”

It is ludicrous to think that science is so smart that it holds all the answers – even to things that cannot be put under a microscope or subjected to scientific methodology. 

Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.  (Romans 1:22)

PRAYER: Thank you that there are reasons to walk by faith and not by sight alone!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 1/01/20 – Seeing the Invisible

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DayBreaks for 1/01/20: Seeing the Invisible

From the DayBreaks Archive, 1/01/09:

Do you remember the story, The Invisible Man? I faintly remember seeing black and white TV movies or shows about it. I found the premise fascinating. For those of you who don’t remember it, a man had become invisible (I don’t remember how), and he wore clothes and bandages over his head to hide the fact that he was invisible. Of course, when he took the bandages off, there was a gap between his hat and his shirt collar! Most of us have probably wished at times that we could be invisible. It may have been when we were in trouble, or when we were feeling mischievous.

Have you ever seen anything that is invisible? I haven’t. But the Bible claims that it has happened. Listen to Hebrews 11:27-28 as it describes Moses: By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.  I’m sure that the writer to the Hebrews had Ex. 33:20-23 in mind when he wrote this, but I think there are several lessons here to be learned:

FIRST: Moses left Egypt on less than good terms. He wasn’t afraid of the pharaoh and his anger (according to this passage), but the thing that allowed Moses to continue on until he died was seeing things that were invisible. It gave him the power to persevere. Many times when my life is frantic and falling into disarray and I think I can’t bear another day, it is because I have only been looking at visible things and stopped seeing invisible Reality.

SECOND: God wants us to see Him. In the ultimate sense, He wants us to look on His face as His child (Rev. 22:4) in heaven. But it wasn’t enough that we should see Him some day. There are some days that are so bad that we need to see Him NOW! And it is at those moments that God reveals Himself in quite unexpected ways. It may come in the form of a cool wind on a blistering hot day, it may come disguised as a kind person who gives a cup of cold water, it may come in the form of someone who has hurt us surprising us by apologizing for some mean words they said. And when we see those things, I hope we’ll see and recognize not just the physical, but the invisible Truth behind all love, kindness and forgiveness.

THIRD: God grants us glimpses of himself when we need it. But more often than not, He is cleverly disguised by human flesh. That’s how He came in the person of Jesus. That was how He revealed Himself through the prophets. And that is how He wants to reveal Himself to the world around you – by and through you: (Colossians 1:27) To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. You see, if Christ is in you, and you are in Him, God lives within you in a real and utterly unfathomable way. I can’t see it, I can’t explain it, but God lives inside of you and me. When people see us – will they be able to identify and see the Invisible?

PRAYER: Father, may we make You visible to all who see us that they may come to know Your goodness and glory and be saved!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 12/24/19 – The Lamb Victorious

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DayBreaks for 12/24/19: The Lamb Victorious

“Christmas, the celebration of the first Coming of the Lamb, looks back to the humble stable and the simple shepherds. The setting is a dark, fallen world. He has come to expose through His weakness the impotence of what the world calls power. He has come to show us that it is we who are upside-down.

“In that sense, Christmas is a preparation for the celebration that will be the Second Coming, of the Lamb triumphant. The contrast between the settings of the two comings could not be more extreme. Instead of a silent stable and a bunch of motley shepherds, there will be a resplendent multitude whose praise can only be described as a “roar”.

“Oh Lamb of God, innocent, helpless
One, born in a stable, held in
shepherds’ arms, sleeping in the hay.
You are the Lamb, our Lamb, meek,
gentle, and spotless Victim.

“Yet you are the Lamb victorious!
You have conquered sin and death.
You have overcome the evil one.
The throne is yours. The glory yours.
We look up to see the lion and yet it is
still You that we see, both reigning
and slain. And you bid us follow.

“This Christmas, make us mindful of what
Your first coming means.
Clear our vision so that we might
look ahead and upward to your
Second Coming, a faithful Bride,
longing for the feast.

The writing is taken from the devotional book The Promise, © 1991 by Michael Card. All Rights Reserved

PRAYER: Lamb of God, we await Your return!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 12/13/19 – Two Impossibilities

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DayBreaks for 12/13/19: Two Impossibilities

When we stop to consider the workings of God throughout history, we are challenged over and over to try to grasp the actions of a God who not only isn’t fazed by “impossible” things, but who specializes in making the impossible possible.  How can one simply speak and things come into existence?  It is a mystery to me.  How can One take the dust of the earth and form a being that is as complex as a human – and then give that dust and clay life?  The questions could go on and on: how can barren wombs and the womb of a virgin give birth?  How can a blind man receive sight by just a word?  How can one escape a den full of ravenous lions without a scratch, or the flames of a furnace without even a hint of smoke?  How can a fisherman walk on water?  How can a few fish and loaves feed over 5000 with more left over than when the entire undertaking started?  How?  Because God’s hand was in each and every one of those things.

Some folks work desperately hard to keep God out of their lives and out of their world.  They cry “separation of church and state” in an effort to eliminate any conversation about God.  They must deliberately choose to believe that which is truly unbelievable: that all that exists in its nearly infinite complexity and beauty “just happened.”  (Where’s the logic in that?) 

I liked this when I read it: “Despite our efforts to keep him out, God intrudes. The life of Jesus is bracketed by two impossibilities: a virgin’s womb and an empty tomb. Jesus entered our world through a door marked “No Entrance” and left through a door marked “No Exit.

It was at Christmas that the wooden manger held the baby that came from the virgin’s womb – and there could be “no entrance” that way as we all know.  All of us, that is, except God, Who wasn’t fazed by the complexities of that at all.  And it was a wooden cross that put Him in a tomb in death – a door marked “No Exit”.  Again, to God it was no more than a mere technicality – and the “No Exit” sign over the tombs of all was removed once and for all. 

Don’t ever think that it is impossible for God to enter the hearts of even those who are most closed to Him.  He came into the world in an “impossible” way and He can come into hearts in miraculous ways, too.  And He has certainly shown that the “No Exit” that hangs over the tomb is nothing more than a wet paper tiger that He tore to shreds at his resurrection. 

Pray for Him to make entrance to hearts that are sealed off against Him and draw comfort that He opened the way through his life, death and resurrection, to eternal glory.

PRAYER: We thank You that there is nothing too hard for You – whether it is to come into the world in an impossible way, or to give life to the dead!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 12/12/19 – Immanuel in Confinement

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DayBreaks for 12/12/19: Immanuel in Confinement

Condensed from Today’s Christian, 2006:

“Locked behind the razor-wire fences of a Florida prison is no place to spend a holiday. I’d spent 15 Christmases under these less-than-festive conditions, but this year my situation looked even bleaker. I was stuck in confinement—a prison inside a prison where the supposed troublemakers are sent. In reality, anyone can find himself in the hole by irritating the wrong person.

“Because I was going to be locked in a cell 24 hours a day through Christmas, I figured nothing memorable could happen. Beyond a five-minute shower three times weekly, there wasn’t much to look forward to.

“In a way, that Christmas was like the first Christmas 2,000 years ago. Most people went about their lives paying bills, cooking dinner, traveling to and fro. A few shepherds working the late-night shift got a spectacular celestial show from some angels who proclaimed, Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace and good will to men! (Luke 2:14). And some wise men, eastern Magi, had begun their journey to Jerusalem looking for someone called “The King of the Jews.” But for the rest of the world, it was just another day. No holiday music, no discount sales, no trees with lights.

“Christmas night in confinement, alone in my cell, I read in my Bible about Paul and Silas, who were also inside a prison. Despite their miserable predicament, they were praying and singing hymns to God while the other prisoners listened.

“The lights went out and I stared at the ceiling from my bunk, wondering if I could praise God in the midst of my circumstances. I could hear a mouse nibbling on some crackers I left out for him. Then suddenly I heard a voice come out of the vent above the toilet. It was Andrew in the next cell. “Merry Christmas, Roy,” he said.

“Merry Christmas, Andrew,” I replied.

“Do you know any Christmas songs?” Andrew asked.

“Yeah, I know a few.”

“I’ll sing one if you’ll sing one,” he said.

“What should we sing?”

“Joy to the World.” And he sang every verse. I sang the chorus with him. Then it was my turn and I chose “Silent Night.” Then he sang “O Come All Ye Faithful,” and I answered with “Feliz Navidad.”

“I have another song,” Andrew said, and sang “O Holy Night.” Silence filled the quad as everyone listened. It was a moment I’ll never forget. It not only reminded me of Paul and Silas, but it made me realize every day is Christmas when God has arrived. It wasn’t just another day, and I wasn’t alone. Emmanuel was in confinement with me, in my cell, blessing me.

Galen’s Thoughts: We often hear of people finding Christ in prison.  Some of the conversions are, no doubt, real and some may be merely machinations intended to curry some form of favor from the powers that be.  There is no doubt in my mind, however, that Christ can indeed be found behind prison walls, in hospital wards and every other place that humans can be found.  Christ goes to places of confinement to bless others. 

It was when He was in the flesh that He himself was in confinement…in a body that He Himself made.  He was captive in flesh and bone…for the same reason that He can be found in prison cells…so that He can bring blessing to us in our human confinement.

PRAYER: Jesus, thank you for enduring confinement in human flesh to bring us the blessing of eternity.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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