DayBreaks for 9/03/19 – Getting to the Root of the Problem

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DayBreaks for 9/03/19: Getting to the Root of the Problem

NOTE: Galen is on vacation for the next couple weeks and may not respond to any comments until he returns on 9/9/19.

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2009:

I am privileged, by the nature of what I do, to be able to be around and with people who are struggling with life and faith issues.  It is very intimidating, exhilarating and challenging at the same time.  There are many times that I don’t have a clue about what to say or what to do – so I just always try to do what I think Jesus would do or say at that time.  I’m sure that there are plenty of times when I get that wrong, too, but I try, as I’m sure you do, too.

I try to deal with my sin.  Sometimes, I’m successful.  Often, I’m not.  And even when “I’m” successful, it isn’t me, but the Spirit that wins the struggle.  I don’t let the Spirit do enough and I’m sure that’s the problem.  I wrestle with sin in my own strength rather than turning the temptation over to the Spirit to squash.  For some foolish reason, I think I can do a better job of wrestling with the sin than the Spirit can, right?  But is that really true that I think that way, or is it merely that I want to not expose the Spirit to the sin because I want to nuzzle up next to the sin and indulge it yet again?  Is that not the nature of our temptation?  Keep God away from it so I can stay close to it.  A recipe for disaster if there ever was one.

I recently was watching a video with Chuck Colson and Rick Warren and they were talking about the practical living out of Christianity and the struggle with sin.  At one point in the video, one of them (I think it was Rick), made the comment that we need to deal with the root problem when it comes to sin.  Far too often, what we do is more like mowing the grass or pulling off the top of the weed of sin – and expecting the plant to die.  Anyone who has tried that in their yard will be quick to tell you that unless you pull/kill the roots, the weeds will be back again in a furious hurry. 

I fear that all too often our attempts at repentance are rather weak.  I fear that all too often all we are doing with the sin in our lives is “mowing the grass” instead of pulling out the sin by the roots.  There’s this insidious thing inside of us, the struggle perhaps that Paul alludes to in Romans, where a part of us really wants the sin to die and be gone because we get sick and tired of it at times, but there’s also the part of us that revels in the sin and wants to taste the forbidden fruit one more time…and another…and another.  

Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation–but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. – Romans 8:12-14 (NIV)  This passage makes it pretty clear: the misdeeds of the body must not be trimmed back, but put to death.  And we must join with the Spirit in this endeavor: “If by the Spirit If by the Spirit YOU put to death the misdeeds…”  It isn’t just the Spirit – I must join in the killing.  But I certainly cannot kill the weed of sin without the Spirit, either. 

Isn’t it about time we started pulling our sin out by the roots?

PRAYER: We struggle to even want to do what is right, Lord, and when it comes to putting to death the misdeeds of the body, we confess that we cannot possibly do it without Your Spirit!  Incline our hearts to instinctively turn first to You in times of temptation that we may receive the leading of Your Spirit in the struggle against sin.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 8/28/19 – Like Being Buried Alive

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DayBreaks for 08/28/19: Like Being Buried Alive

NOTE: Galen is on vacation for the next couple weeks and may not respond to any comments until he returns on 9/9/19.

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2009:

Of all my nightmares, perhaps none is as terrifying to me as being buried alive.  That, and falling from a great height are the stuff of sleeplessness for me.  I suspect that many are those who share my fears on both scores.  You could just as easily take the verse that says, “It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the Living God” and shorten them for me to this: “It is a terrible thing to fall!”  Heights, and being buried alive, give me the heebie-jeebies!

I found Mike Mason’s insight in The Gospel According to Job very interesting as he described being a Christian this way: “The lot of God’s children on this earth is something like being buried alive.  First we are raised with Christ and made into entirely new creatures, pure and blameless, washed and redeemed and lifted up to Heaven.  All of this happens by faith – which is to say, not in some imaginary way, but in a way more gloriously real than this present world can bear to behold.  Yet no sooner has this spiritual transaction taken place, no sooner have we been veritably seated with Christ in the heavenly realms, than immediately we are sent down to earth again , just as Jesus was, and entrusted with a mission: As the Father sent me, so I am sending you (Jn. 20:21).  The moment we are born again we are sent right back into the world of sin and death.  In fact, we are set back down into exactly the same circumstances in which we found ourselves before we were saved, and there we are told to take up the work of the Son of God in that situation, however painful it might be.  And this is a lot we are to accept with increasing graciousness.”

Many find the Christian life a disappointment.  Yes, at the moment of conversion, there is a freeing of the soul from the chains of the grave and death.  Yes, there is joy at that moment.  But if the motive for becoming a Christian is to simply escape the tough things of this world, well, we’ll be sadly mistaken.  After becoming a Christian, for however many years we sojourn here as God’s kids, it is like being buried alive.  We know that somewhere “out there” is light, fresh air, beauty – but in the meantime we may only be able to see darkness and the air is foul and filled with a stench that comes from a rotting humanity still embroiled in sin.  And all the while, the devil sits and grins.  He grins when we despair that this Christian life doesn’t bring immediate and lasting release from struggles – and that we get discouraged. 

I’m not able to choose the circumstances in life where God has placed me to do His work.  That’s His prerogative as God to choose those things for me.  But I can and do have a responsibility for how I react to those circumstances.  Yes, remaining in this world is a bit like being buried alive – but I don’t have to worry.  The day is coming when all who are in the grave will hear His voice…and His children will rise.  And the being buried alive will be over – and it will have seemed as nothing compared to even the first nanosecond spent in His literal Presence!

PRAYER:  Give us the grace to pass the years of our wandering with grace as we endure a temporary world with temporary troubles!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/22/19 – Drinking Your Own Kool-aid

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DayBreaks for 08/22/19: Drinking Your Own Kool-Aid

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2009:

Many of you will recall Jim Jones and the People’s Temple located in Guyana.  Jones was a charismatic leader by all accounts.  He had fanatically devoted followers who left behind families, homes, careers and jobs in America to follow him to a jungle “paradise” that was called Jonestown (that should have been a clue to the man’s ego.)  They moved after a magazine, New West, raised questions about the legality of some of their practices.  According to Wikipedia, after moving to Guyana, Jones developed a belief in something he called “Translation” – the idea that he and his followers would all die together and go to another planet to live in peace.  He even held mass suicide “practices” where followers would drink Kool-aid and fall to the ground as if they were dead in order to prepare for Translation. 

The day finally came when it wasn’t practice – it was for real.  A total of 914 people died in the mass poisoning – 638 adults and 276 children.  By the time that authorities arrived, many of the bodies were already in such a state of decay that there is some dispute about how many actually died.  It was not a pretty scene. 

I have often wondered about the mindset of those present in Jonestown on that fateful day.  It is hard for me to comprehend parents giving cups of poisoned Kool-aid to their little ones.  For me, it is almost as hard to understand how people could take the cup and drink it down themselves.

An old blog entry had a synopsis of an article from Vogue magazine by Jenny Sanford (the wife of the infamous Governor Sanford who was caught having an affair with an Argentine woman while lying about his whereabouts to his family and staff), where she was describing what it was like to watch her husband’s “addiction” to a woman with whom he was carrying on an affair.  The writer of the blog (my youngest son, Tim) noted this quote from Ms. Sanford: “Politicians become disconnected from the way everyone else lives in the world. I saw that from the very beginning. They’ll say they need something, and ten people want to give it to them. It’s an ego boost, and it’s easy to drink your own Kool-Aid. As a wife, you do your best to keep them grounded, but it’s a real challenge.” 

What struck me was her comment: “…and it’s easy to drink your own Kool-Aid” – a reference to what happened in Jonestown and how it was so deadly.  It isn’t just politicians who are quick to drink their own Kool-aid.  I fear we are all quick to believe our own deceptions and lies and to seek that which flatters and boosts our egos.  It is frequently said of sports teams or athletes that get too “fat” of a head that they “believe their own press,” i.e., they believe the things they say and think about themselves to an unhealthy and potentially fatal degree.

We do the same thing when we think we’re better than we really are, or when we think we can withstand a certain temptation that has always pulled at us – and we’ll get too close to it and wind up in the dirt like the families who died in Jonestown. 

God doesn’t give us poisoned Kool-Aid, nor does He want us to drink our own concoction.  Instead, He offers us the Living Water – water that is pure, sweet and gives us life. 

Maybe it’s time for us all to do some serious introspection to find out if we’re drinking our own Kool-Aid.

Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation. Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation. – Isaiah 12:2-3 (KJV)

PRAYER:  Our eyes are all too often blinded and our minds are dulled by our own press and impressions of ourselves, Lord.  Help us not to drink our own Kool-Aid, nor the Kool-Aid that anyone else would offer us.  Help us to seek and drink only Living Water!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 8/13/19 – The Great Substitutions

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DayBreaks for 08/13/19: The Great Substitutions

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2019:

When I was in junior high, high school, and college, I loved to play sports.  I wasn’t always first string, but whether I was or not, everyone has to take a bit of break now and then and sit to rest.  So, the coach would either send me in as a substitute, or he’d pull the substitute he’d sent in for me so I could go back into the game.  I always hated it when I was pulled out to rest.  I wanted to keep playing!  But the concept of substituting one player for another is based on very solid realities.  In the major leagues, some players are better at defense than others, and toward the end of a close game if their team is leading and the score is close, they might be sent in as a substitute for a player who is not quite as good with a glove.  In basketball, some players can’t shoot free throws and when it comes to crunch time, the coach may pull them out and put in players who can shoot free throws, or three-pointers if the team is behind and has to catch up. 

Of course, the Christian faith is all about substitution: Christ paying the price for the sinner, His death rather than our own.  The righteous dying for the unrighteous.  Pretty fundamental to the entire enterprise of God’s plan.

There is, however, more substitution going on that we are wont to admit.  Consider this perspective from John Stott in his excellent book, The Cross of Christ: “The concept of substitution may be said, then, to lie at the heart of both sin and salvation.  For the essence of sin is man substituting himself for God, while the essence of salvation is God substituting himself for man.  Man asserts himself against God and puts himself where only God deserves to be; God sacrifices himself for man and puts himself where only man deserves to be.  Man claims prerogatives which belong to God alone; God accepts penalties which belong to man alone.”

Sin surely is us humans putting ourselves in God’s place, rising up in rebellion, overthrowing the reign and rule of God (or trying to) in order to decree what is right and acceptable based on our desires and wishes.  We don’t often think about that form of substitution, but it is putting our wills in the forefront rather than His will.  It is what Adam did in the garden and we’ve been constantly at it ever since. 

We want to accept the substitution that God made for us.  We just don’t want to have to admit the substitution we have made to displace Him from the throne.

PRAYER:  We are deeply grateful, Lord Jesus, that you put yourself in our place.  We are less eager to admit the reason it was necessary was because of our attempt to substitute ourselves and our will for Your will and rule.  Have mercy on us sinners!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/09/19 – The Psalm of Darkness

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DayBreaks for 08/09/19: The Psalm of Darkness

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2009:

O LORD, the God who saves me, day and night I cry out before you. May my prayer come before you; turn your ear to my cry. For my soul is full of trouble and my life draws near the grave. I am counted among those who go down to the pit; I am like a man without strength. I am set apart with the dead, like the slain who lie in the grave, whom you remember no more, who are cut off from your care. You have put me in the lowest pit, in the darkest depths. Your wrath lies heavily upon me; you have overwhelmed me with all your waves. Selah You have taken from me my closest friends and have made me repulsive to them. I am confined and cannot escape; my eyes are dim with grief. I call to you, O LORD, every day; I spread out my hands to you.  Do you show your wonders to the dead? Do those who are dead rise up and praise you? Selah Is your love declared in the grave, your faithfulness in Destruction? Are your wonders known in the place of darkness, or your righteous deeds in the land of oblivion?  But I cry to you for help, O LORD; in the morning my prayer comes before you. Why, O LORD, do you reject me and hide your face from me? From my youth I have been afflicted and close to death; I have suffered your terrors and am in despair. Your wrath has swept over me; your terrors have destroyed me. All day long they surround me like a flood; they have completely engulfed me. You have taken my companions and loved ones from me; the darkness is my closest friend. – Psalms 88:1-18 (NIV)

This may be the darkest passage in Scripture.  Before we write it off as being guilty of spiritual hyperbole, we need ask ourselves: “Haven’t I felt that way at one time or another?”  Aren’t there times in your past where you have cried out to God, feeling that you were in the “pit”, that you were “cut off” from His care and even His vision?  I don’t know anyone who hasn’t, at some point or another, suffered from those feelings. I think we need to accept this Psalm as being direct from an honest, anguished heart – a prayer with a sharp tip that is pointed upward to God.

Why would God choose to include such a passage in His Word?  It might discourage people from becoming believers, right?  Imagine if all believers all of a sudden were possessed by a dark spirit such as filled David’s heart.  Do you think anyone would find Christianity attractive?  It might even discourage some believers from continuing in their faith.  If David was a man after God’s own heart and he felt this way, what hope is there that my relationship with God would be a more fulfilling one, or one even as “good” as David’s when he’s expressing himself this way?

In The Gospel According to Job, Mike Mason offers one suggestion: “…there can be a strange comfort in the reading of this psalm in times of trouble.  It is good to be reminded that such a black outpouring really is Scriptural, that prayer need not be upbeat and optimistic.  The true believer does not always rise from his knees full of encouragement and fresh hope.  There are times when one may remain down in the dumps and yet still have prayed well.  For what God wants from us is not the observance of religious protocol, but just that we be real with Him.  What He wants is our hearts.

The effectiveness of our prayers and prayer life should never be judged by how it makes us feel, or how well we feel we prayed.  It should be judged by honesty.  God wants the real you and I – whether we are up or down, filled with hope or bitterly discouraged. 

PRAYER:  Lord, I know that at times I have prayed with the hidden motive of trying to manipulate You.  I know I have not always been honest in my talking with You.  Father, I want to give you my heart regardless of its condition, to be real and genuine with You and before You.  Help me to be real.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/07/19 – The Dangers of Flying Upside Down

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DayBreaks for 08/07/19: The Dangers of Flying Upside Down

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2019:

In The Divine Conspiracy, Dallas Willard tells the story of a young jet fighter pilot who was practicing high-speed maneuvers in her fighter.  At the point where she was to make a steep ascent, she turned the controls in the direction she believed was correct – and flew straight into the ground.  She was unaware that she’d been flying upside down. 

This is not an isolated occurrence.  I’ve read of such things many times…there is apparently something about flying that can disorient the pilot to whether they are upside down or right side up.  It was even one of the explanations for what happened to JFK, Jr., when his private plane crashed.  When visibility is reduced or one is in a cloud bank or fog bank, pushing the control stick in the wrong direction can and often does have fatal results. 

Willard writes: “This is a parable of human existence in our times – not exactly that everyone is crashing, though there is enough of that – but most of us as individuals, and world society as a whole, live at high-speed, and often with no clue to whether we are flying upside down or right-side up.  Indeed, we are haunted by a strong suspicion that there may be no difference – or at least that it is unknown or irrelevant.”

What does Willard mean?  Since I’m just starting this book that I’ve heard so very much about, I am assuming a bit here, but I think he’s saying that we have lost our bearings – we have lost our sense of direction, of right and wrong…and we are moving so fast that we don’t even notice it until we push the stick one more time and crash and burn.  It can and does happen to individuals, but to cultures, too. 

How? With higher education for the past 50-100 years touting that there is no absolute truth, that truth is unknowable, and that truth is relative to the individual.  (Does it seem strange to you that they say truth is unknowable, yet it is knowable at least to the individual as their truth?  Seems strange to me!!!)  In short, there is no up or down, right or left.  We have no bearings upon which we can depend if this is true.  But those who say there is no moral, objective truth will quickly change their tune if you start stealing TV’s, cars, furniture, computers and the like out of their home, or if you take their child away to sell them into the human trafficking market.  Even those who don’t believe in absolutes agree that these things are wrong – so there must be absolutes!

Here’s the fear: until culture comes to see the flaw in their reasoning (and they will be loathe to do so for that insults their intellectual pride), we will continue to fly upside down as a culture.  The stick is being pushed…too many guesses are being ventured about what is right to do in any given circumstances without moral consideration…and the ground is looming closer and closer. 

PRAYER:  What a blessing it is, Lord, to know that this world is not our home!  Though we can’t begin to imagine how you will do it, we do believe that in time, you will set all things right again.  In the meantime, let us speak words of truth and lovingly challenge our culture that is so upside down.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/26/19 – The Great Contagion

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DayBreaks for 07/26/19: The Great Contagion

From the DayBreaks archives, July 2009:

The Black Death plague ravaged Europe between 1348 and 1351.  It is believed to have traveled to Europe via rats aboard ships that came from Asia.  In three short years, 30-60% of Europe’s population died from the plague.  It is estimated that the plague killed nearly a quarter of all persons in the world died during that time (~100 million deaths).  The bubonic plague had a mortality rate of thirty to seventy-five percent and symptoms including fever of 101–105°, headaches, painful aching joints, nausea and vomiting, and a general feeling of malaise.  Of those who contracted the bubonic plague form of the disease, 4 out of 5 died within eight days.

The world hasn’t seen a plague like that since.  Let’s pray it never does.  But we do have avian flu, swine flu, regular old flu, and other diseases that could be equally deadly if they were not contained…and if not for modern interventions. 

These and other contagions are serious business and can spread rapidly.  But Scripture has something today about contagion of the spiritual kind that we should think seriously about.  Consider Deuteronomy 29:22-27 (NIV): Your children who follow you in later generations and foreigners who come from distant lands will see the calamities that have fallen on the land and the diseases with which the LORD has afflicted it. The whole land will be a burning waste of salt and sulfur–nothing planted, nothing sprouting, no vegetation growing on it. It will be like the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim, which the LORD overthrew in fierce anger.  All the nations will ask: “Why has the LORD done this to this land? Why this fierce, burning anger?” And the answer will be: “It is because this people abandoned the covenant of the LORD, the God of their fathers, the covenant he made with them when he brought them out of Egypt. They went off and worshiped other gods and bowed down to them, gods they did not know, gods he had not given them. Therefore the LORD’s anger burned against this land, so that he brought on it all the curses written in this book.

Lest we think all of the above came about because of massive sin, all we have to do is go back a couple of verses to verses 19-20 to see the cause: When such a person hears the words of this oath, he invokes a blessing on himself and therefore thinks, “I will be safe, even though I persist in going my own way.” This will bring disaster on the watered land as well as the dry.”  Do you get it?  It starts with “such a person”, a single individual, who persists in going his own way.  And what is his own way?  Following his own wisdom and desires and wants rather than God’s.  In short, sin.  But did you catch the consequence?  “This will bring disaster on the watered land as well as the dry.”  The contagion spread from one man determined to do his will instead of God’s, and it spreads to other people like a contagion…but even one person, it appears, is enough that the contagion will even affect the dirt and soil.  In The Gospel According to Moses, Athol Dickson put it in these words: “The corruption beginning as a hidden thought in one man’s mind is so contagious it ends with a curse not just on humanity but even upon the soil and plants!  Suddenly it seems the Torah is treating sin not as a mere choice, but as a disease, a highly contagious, full-blown plague upon the earth.”

He continues: “I am reminded of the Torah’s teaching that simply touching holy things such as Mt. Sinai, the tabernacle altar, or the offerings presented at the tabernacle altar could cause a person to become holy.  The Torah says physical contact with a specific piece of real estate, a portable piece of furniture, or a slaughtered animal could make a person holy under the right circumstances.  There is no stronger argument for the contagious nature of spiritual conditions.  Unfortunately, I believe the Torah also strongly implies that this spiritual contagion flows both ways.  For example: Anything that an unclean person touches becomes unclean, and anyone who touches it becomes unclean till evening. (Num. 19:22) 

Not one of us would voluntarily touch Yersinia pestis (the infectious agent of bubonic plague).  Yet daily, we touch and handle sin, playing with it as if it were a toy rather than a destructive contagion that brings plague everywhere.  If only we had eyes to see how deadly it is…

PRAYER: Jesus, we need to have a deeper understanding of the deadly contagion that is the sin in our lives.  Help us understand its effect not just on ourselves, but on others that we love, and upon You as seen through the cross.  In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

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