DayBreaks for 6/20/17: The Wonder of Wonder Woman

DayBreaks for 6/20/17: The Wonder of Wonder Woman

OK, I’m not ashamed to admit it: my wife and I went to see Wonder Woman over the weekend. It was a rollicking good time, and I think I enjoyed it every bit as much as my wife did – and she loved it a lot! I love stories where there is a strong woman character – always have, I guess.

Anyway, after the movie, we were reflecting on the movie and we were both thinking along the same lines. There were many parallels (some really strong, others a bit more of a stretch) to the gospel story. Perhaps – unwittingly – that’s why so many people have loved the movie. It makes me wish they understood the true reason the story resonated with their imaginations and heart!

A few years back, John Eldredge wrote a short book, Epic, and had a video series to accompany it that I believe explains what I’m talking about. Here’s the excerpt from Amazon.com’s description of Epic: Life, for most of us, feels like a movie we’ve arrived to forty minutes late. Sure, good things happen, sometimes beautiful things. But tragic things happen too. What does it mean? We find ourselves in the middle of a story that is sometimes wonderful, sometimes awful, usually a confusing mixture of both, and we haven’t a clue how to make sense of it all. No wonder we keep losing heart. We need to know the rest of the story.

For when we were born, we were born into the midst of a great story begun before the dawn of time. A story of adventure, of risk and loss, heroism . . . and betrayal. A story where good is warring against evil, danger lurks around every corner, and glorious deeds wait to be done. Think of all those stories you’ve ever loved―there’s a reason they stirred your heart. They’ve been trying to tell you about the true Epic ever since you were young.

In Wonder Woman, as in Titanic, Gladiator, Lord of the Rings, Braveheart and nearly every other movie that is grand and epic in scale, the story is the same, only told with different characters, somewhat different circumstances and settings. It goes like this: there was something grand and glorious, but something horrible happens and a hero has to rise to make things right and to rescue what has been lost – usually at great cost to her/himself. But in the end, things wind up restored.

In Wonder Woman, Diana is supposed to be half-human and half-god (I didn’t realize that before seeing the movie) who lives in a peaceful, beautiful place that is separated from the world of trouble, but one day, that is shattered. Diana feels compelled to do something about it – so she journeys to the broken world to fix things in spite of the fact that she’ll never be able to return to her original home again. While there, she fights to overcome evil – and to some extent she does, but she also learns that there is something fundamentally broken inside of human beings that she cannot fix.

Do you begin to see the parallels? Jesus was in heaven – he didn’t have to come, but he chose to – driven by compassion. He wasn’t half-human and half-God, he was 100% human and 100% God. He entered into the broken world because he felt compelled to do so out of love and compassion. He fights against the lord of this world, against the chaos and suffering and it cost him dearly. But, the victory is won and in the end, it turns out OK.

There are differences, too, and one in particular that I think is well worth noting. While I was intrigued by the final battle in Wonder Woman where Diana fights against Ares (the Greek god of war in mythology), she had to struggle to obtain victory. Not so with Jesus – at least not in the final battle. In the final battle, the fate of mankind won’t hang in the balance when Christ returns. It won’t be a struggle with the outcome uncertain. It won’t take several minutes for the enemy to be defeated. When God decrees the end – the victory will be instantaneous, unilateral, unequivocal and total – in the time it takes God to say “It is finished!” Satan will collapse like the pretender that he has been for millennia, his vaunted strength revealed to be nothing more than a trifle by the power of the One Who speaks.

Wonder Woman was fascinating entertainment. Jesus is the real thing.

PRAYER: Jesus, we long for you to glorify yourself at your return and to see you absolutely, totally and forever crush the enemy in an instant. Thank you for things that remind us of the epic story of which we are a part! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 5/4/17 – Pig Parties

DayBreaks for 5/04/17: Pig Parties

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2007:

From “News of the Weird”, UPI, 5/1/98: When farmers leave for the day, pigs start to party, said agricultural researches in Reading, England, interviewed by the London Daily Telegraph in April.  According to Nick Bird of the Farmex firm, the pigs eat, drink and roughhouse until about midnight before retiring for the evening, at least in buildings that are well lighted.  Farmex now wants to know whether this has any effect on the supply of bacon.

Do you remember that old saying about “When the cat’s away, the mice will play”?  Apparently it is not only true of cats and mice, but of farmers and pigs, too! 

I am also aware of the fact that this happens in the world of business.  I know.  I’ve been there and been guilty of it myself.  When the boss is gone, sometimes we don’t give our best effort – or at least not as intense of an effort as when the boss is there.  For some of you reading this today – your boss is out of the office.  How are you doing with your work today?  Are you slacking off – even just a little bit?  If so, do you think that is what God wants you to do?  It comes down to the question of who you believe you really work for, doesn’t it?  Are you working for Mr. or Ms. Smith, or even your family? Or are you working for God and displaying your thankfulness to Him for the job He has given you?

There are biblical parallels to this story.  The parable of the talents was about using what we’ve been given and being faithful with it.  You’ve been given a job, just like the servants were given talents.  The ones that took what they’d been given and worked hard with it while the master was gone were praised and trusted with more.  The servant who didn’t do that had even what he was given taken away from him. 

Another parallel with a different meaning is the wickedness that the Lord said would precede his return.  Matthew 24:37-39 relays to us the words of our Lord: As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.  For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark;     and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.  You see, the Master has been gone for a long time now and the “party” has continued for a long time.  The terrible tragedy of the picture Jesus relates to us is that just as those who were lost in the flood waters had no idea it was coming, so those who “party” while the Master is away will be totally caught off guard by his return. 

How are you spending your time at work?  How are you spending your life?  To be right with God, we need to do both as if He were present all the time for one simple reason: He is.

PRAYER: Lord, many of us will be tempted this day to goof off when we think no one is watching us.  Help us to be the kind of people who don’t even think about trying to get away with less than a 100% effort in all we do that is right.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

 

DayBreaks for 3/28/17 – Watch Out for the Snake

DayBreaks for 3/28/17: Watch Out for the Snake

CHINA – “When arriving at the bottom of a tequila bottle after a long night with the guys, someone is always dared to take down the worm. However, very rarely, if ever, does the worm fight back. In China, alcoholic drinks such as rice wine contain preserved snakes or other creatures in place of the ever-popular worm. As a man named Li cracked open a bottle during his lunch break, the pickled snake lunged out of the bottle and bit him in the neck. The victim was taken to a hospital where he was not believed to be in any danger. According to the Xin Bao newspaper, the bottle’s stopper was made from wood or cork and allowed air in the vessel, helping the snake to survive in the bottle for a year.”

You know, I find that there are things in my life that I thought were dead and gone, but then they come back to bite me.  It seems to be at a time when I’ve been thinking, “Whew…I’m glad I’ve got that licked!” that they often raise their ugly head once again.  Such is the my constant need for reminders that I’m not so good or strong as I’d like to think. You’d think that at some point I’d learn how weak I really am.

Sometimes I wonder if it’s that I’m that weak or that evil is that powerful.  And when I reflect on it that way, I think that both are true.  I am far weaker in the flesh than I’d like to be, or than I want to admit to being.  But Satan is not a novice at this game – he’s been around the block more than once since the days of Adam and Eve.  And it’s not just me – everyone has fallen to his schemes.  It’s no excuse, though, for stronger than Satan is Jesus, and God won’t let me get away with excuses.

It only took a small fracture in the cork to allow enough air into the bottle to keep the snake alive.  Sadly, sometimes in our lives we don’t just leave a little crack for Satan to slither through, we leave the door wide open and hang out the “Welcome – come on in!” sign.  Would that we shut the door entire to Satan and opened the door wide for Jesus!

Beware – the snake will be on the prowl until his head is crushed one final time.

PRAYER: Help us to learn from our mistakes, to love You more, and to be alert to our enemy.  May we open the door of our hearts fully to Your Spirit!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 2/09/17 – Theology For an Age of Terror

DayBreaks for 2/09/17: Theology for an Age of Terror

“A day that will live in infamy…”  Those words were spoken by President Roosevelt on December 7, 1941 after the attack on Pearl Harbor.  The same words were used to describe what happened on September 11, 2001 in New York.  Sometimes, we think that ours is the only generation that has struggled with such things.  Not so.  What may make it seem that way is that we have far better communication than ever before, and we hear about more atrocities and infamous acts.  But if you want to talk about such horrors, a more apt analogy might be August 24, 410, when the city of Rome was besieged and sacked by an army of 40,000 “barbarians” led by (as Christianity Today, September 2006 put it) “the Osama bin Laden of late antiquity, a wily warrior named Alaric.”  The severity of the attack and its aftermath, I’m told, can still be seen in the ruins of the Roman Forum, where the green stains of copper coins that melted into the stone from the conflagrations set by Alaric and his soldiers are still visible.  Prior to that time, Rome was called Invicta Roma Aeterna: eternal, unconquerable Rome.  For more than 800 years the city had not fallen to an attack, and Rome, like America on 9/11/01, was the only superpower in the world.  But in 410, all their military power could not stop the walls from being breached, its women abused and the sacred sites burned. 

One of the ancient church fathers, Jerome (who lived in Bethlehem – far from Rome when it fell) heard about it and it is said that he put aside his Commentary on Ezekiel and sat stupefied in total silence for 3 entire days.  Later, when he wrote to a friend, he said, “Rome was besieged.  The city to which the whole world fell has fallen.  If Rome can perish, what can be safe?”  Augustine, in North Africa, started writing The City of God in response to those who said Rome fell as punishment for what they had done to Christians. 

Living as we, and all other generations from the dawn of time have, in a world that is full of danger, war, destruction and violence, what can we learn that will help us get through such fears and live productive lives?  After all, one of the Christian tenets is that this “is our Father’s world” (even if not all nature seems to sing at times!), and we would be prone to think that God is in control, that a loving God has nothing to do with such things, and that because we are believers, nothing such as what Alaric did to Rome, or the terrorists did to New York, would ever happen to us.  But…but…there were Christians who died on 9/11.  Christian children became fatherless and motherless on that day. 

One of the lessons Augustine would teach us is this: We must not equate any political entity (America, the Republican or Democratic party, the UN, etc.) with the kingdom of God.  Jesus promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against his church – not against any nation.  Here’s a couple of other things we can learn from Augustine:

Just as Rome awaited it’s plunder by Alaric, we need to remember that life is short.  As C.S. Lewis put it during the WW2 blitz on London: “The world is fragile.  All of us are vulnerable, but we are here because this is our calling.  Our lives are rooted not only in time, but also in eternity, and the life of learning, humbly offered to God, is its own reward.  It is one of the appointed approaches to the divine reality and the divine beauty, which we shall hereafter enjoy in heaven and which we are called to display even now amidst the brokenness all around us.” 

And Augustine perhaps reminds  us of what we most need to hear: he saw the world with all its politics, culture and institutions as a tottering old man whose days were growing very short: “You are surprised that the world is losing its grip?  That the world is grown old?  Don’t hold onto the old man, the world; don’t refuse to regain your youth in Christ, who says to you: ‘The world is passing away; the world is losing its grip; the world is short of breath.  Don’t fear, your youth shall be renewed as an eagle.”

1 Cor. 7:29-31 (NIV) – What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.

PRAYER: Father, from a troubled world we cry out to You!  Hear our pleas, see our fears, teach us Your truth and give us Your peace that we should not be troubled, but trusting.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 1/12/17 – The Power of Team

DayBreaks for 1/12/17: The Power of Team

Ecclesiastes 4:12 (AMP) –And though a man might prevail against him who is alone, two will withstand him. A threefold cord is not quickly broken.

On September 12, 2011, Brandon Wright, a 21-year-old Utah State University student, was driving his motorcycle en route to the school’s computer lab when a BMW pulling out of a parking lot collided with him. Both vehicles burst into flames. The BMW driver quickly escaped from the car, but Wright was trapped under the 4,000-pound sedan.

The horrific accident drew an immediate crowd of students and construction workers. One passerby walked around the burning vehicles to survey the situation and saw a motionless body, apparently dead, beneath the BMW. Another individual, testing his strength, attempted to lift the car, but without success. A handful of others joined the effort but could not budge the car. A young woman lay on the ground to peer under the car and saw evidence that the trapped victim was still alive.

The flames were intense at the front of the car, where the motorcycle also lay on the ground burning. Nevertheless, at this point a dozen members of the growing crowd joined shoulder to shoulder at the side of the car, lifted in unison, and tilted it high enough to allow another rescuer to pull Wright to safety. At that point the city’s emergency responders appeared on the scene. They doused the flames and transported Wright to Intermountain Medical Center, where he was treated for two broken legs and a fractured pelvis.

What one person could not accomplish alone, a team of people did. “Every one of those people put their lives in danger,” assistant Logan police chief Jeff Curtis said. “Those people are heroes. You can only speculate what the outcome would have been if they hadn’t lifted that car.”

I have often wondered how Jesus feels about how people from different denominations think about and treat those from other churches or traditions. I cannot imagine how sad it must make him when we spend more time judging on another because of silly trivialities instead of working together to save those who are pinned under the weight of sin, despair, loneliness and shame.

Are you part of a small group or team of some kind? Talk about this with them. Pray about it, and let His Spirit lead you to something you can do together that will bring someone to the Great Physician.

PRAYER: Help us not to worry about getting glory for ourselves, but for rescuing those who are trapped in the clutches of the evil one. Teach us to work together for Your glory and the greater good of Your kingdom. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 1/05/17 – Doing Good in a Broken World

DayBreaks for 1/05/17: Doing Good in a Broken World

The late newspaper columnist Mike Royko once shared the other side of the Christmas Story in one of his columns. He told about a stranger who put $1,600 in gold coins in a Salvation Army kettle. The person placed the gift there quietly and anonymously. This is exactly the kind of story the print media is looking for to demonstrate the spirit of caring that Christmas brings about.

Unfortunately there was a follow up story. The local Salvation Army office began getting phone calls about the gold coins. The coins were stolen. The thief had dropped them in the kettle to get rid of them.

So then, Royko told another story about a man driving home from work on Christmas Eve who saw a young boy fall through the ice in a nearby lake. The man stopped his car, jumped out, tore off his jacket and crawled out onto the ice. He managed somehow to save the drowning boy. Happy ending, wouldn’t you say? Unfortunately the man discovered that while he was risking his life saving the boy, somebody in the crowd of onlookers stole his jacket and the envelope containing his Christmas bonus.

Unfortunately, we live in a sinful world. And even at Christmas, with the promise of peace and hope on our lips and in our hearts, that sinfulness is still present. That sinfulness was personified in the first Christmas story by Herod. “Go and search diligently for the child,” Herod said to the wise men. “And when you have found him, come and bring me word, that I may worship him, too.”

It doesn’t take much to get discouraged when you try to do good in a fallen world, does it? Your deeds seem to go unappreciated. Your sacrifices are taken for granted. The things that cost you so much in time and effort and perhaps money may not even be visible to others. And to top it off, people often take advantage of those with big, Christ-shaped hearts.

Does it matter? Sure, it matters. But we must not think that any of the good we do while living in a broken world isn’t worth doing – it is worth doing. And there is always Someone who notices and loves you for what good you are trying to do.

As we are encouraged, …let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint. (Gal. 6:9, AMP)

Hang in there! Fight the fight for the good and let the end result and reward be up to God to determine.

PRAYER: We lose heart easily and we crave recognition for what good we do. Let us never forget we labor for You and on behalf of those You love! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 1/03/17 – Moving Into the Ward

DayBreaks for 1/03/17: Moving Into the Ward

Dr. John Rosen, a psychiatrist in New York City, is well known for his work with catatonic schizophrenics. Normally doctors remain separate and aloof from their patients. Dr. Rosen moves into the ward with them. He places his bed among their beds. He lives the life they must live. Day-to-day, he shares it. He loves them. If they don’t talk, he doesn’t talk either. It is as if he understands what is happening. His being there, being with them, communicates something that they haven’t experienced in years – somebody understands.

But then he does something else. He puts his arms around them and hugs them. He holds these unattractive, unlovable, sometimes incontinent persons, and loves them back into life. Often, the first words they speak are simply, “Thank you.”

Christmas is now over, yet this is what the Christ did for us at Christmas. He moved into the ward with us. He placed his bed among our beds. Those who were there, those who saw him, touched him and were in turn touched by him and restored to life. The first word they had to say was “thank you.” And Christmas is one time when we say “Thank you” to him.

But now that Christmas is over, the questions before us are these:

  1. Will I continue to be thankful throughout this new year, and:
  2. Will I emulate Christ and “move into the ward” for others if called to do so by the Lord?

PRAYER: Lord, only you know what this year will hold, but I pray that we will be thankful all year regardless of what it holds for us, and that we will be willing to live and look like you and move into the ward so we can better love those who need to know love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen Dalrymple.