DayBreaks for 4/11/19 – Who Will Show Us Better Times?

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DayBreaks for 4/11/19: Who Will Show Us Better Times?

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2009:

I remember one morning shortly after the 2008 presidential election, I was listening to the radio in the garage as I was exercising.  There were people on the radio who were so excited about what Barack Obama would do for them.  Now, I’ll grant you that this isn’t a reflection on Barack Obama, but just on a few people (probably the most radical ones they could find) who were among his adoring band of adherents.  I could scarcely believe my ears when I heard this one lady say “Now I won’t have to make my house or car payments any more.”  What was she thinking?  She was thinking that the new President was somehow going to make everything better overnight and that she’d no longer have to meet her obligations – the government would take care of it all for her for the rest of her life.   When I heard her statement, I about fell off the elliptical machine!

On the day I wrote this email, the news was reporting that for the first time, they are now forecasting a global recession.  (As if we weren’t already in one!)  And, the news about GM isn’t good: they plan to shut down for 9 weeks this summer in order “to save money” – but did you know that GM is obligated to make up the difference between what the employees would normally be paid and what they will get on temporary disability?  It’s not clear how much money it will save them, but that’s not the point, either.  The jobless rate continues to climb.  The announcer on the radio also pointed out that home prices in the bay area have fallen another 12.5% from this time last year, and that the market is still stagnant and the prospects for it picking up soon aren’t good.

So, is it any wonder that some will fantasize about how someone (read “government”) will fix all our problems for us?  Let’s face it: we all would like things to be better, for the economy to be good again, for much of the discomfort and hardship to be over and gone and for the “good times” to roll.  That’s what’s so intriguing about this passage from the NLT, found in Psalm 4:6-8: “Many people will say, ‘Who will show us better times?’  Let Your face smile on us, Lord.  You have given me greater joy than those who have abundant harvests of grain and new wine.  In peace I will lie down and sleep, for You alone, O Lord, will keep me safe.”

What a great passage!  People all over are seeking for someone to “show us better times”, even if it means mortgaging our grandchildren’s future.  Isn’t that a bit selfish on our part?  I’d rather deal with the hard times myself than pass it off on my grandkids.  But the answer to the question is implied in the second line: “Let Your face smile on us, Lord.”  You can’t expect the President, Congress, the United Nations, the European Union/Common Market, the burgeoning economies of India or China to show us better times. 

As Christians, we need to take it to heart that we already have better times given to us by the Lord.  He has given us greater joy than those who have riches.  And at night, we can sleep deeply, drinking in the truth of the knowledge that the Lord, and only the Lord, can and will keep us safe and bring us better times – in the next life, if not in this one.

Prayer: Lord, forgive our frantic worrying about the good times.  Help us to hold firmly to the truth that you have ALREADY given us greater joy than anything that money or bumper crops could possibly afford!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 4/05/19 – The Shape of Christian Victory

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DayBreaks for 4/05/19: The Shape of Christian Victory

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2009:

Wars are fought over silly things: oil, power, insults, a beautiful woman (remember Helen of Troy?), perceived slights – for these things and many others like them, blood has been spilled and lives sacrificed.  It is a sad, strange business this thing called war.

Wars in ancient days were fought with crude weapons such as stones, axes, spears, bows and arrows.  In all modern man’s “wisdom”, we’ve managed to create ever more deadly and accurate weapons.  While once upon a time a man had to stand in front of the other man and look him in the eye as he tried to kill him, we now can launch a missile and destroy millions of people on the far side of the world – never being confronted with their faces and the look in their eyes as they realize they are about to die.  War has become impersonal.  Indeed, remote control aircraft are being used in Iraq and Afghanistan to fire missiles at cars, gatherings of suspected terrorists, etc., and they are piloted by “pilots” sitting in front a computer monitor in the United States…how like a video game we have made war!!!

At the end of World War II, the shape of victory was the mushroom clouds that rose over Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Thankfully, due to the horrible nature of those weapons, to date the world has never seen a repeat of their use.  There is no guarantee that this will always be the case, however. 

Of all the battles ever fought, the greatest victory of all time was won on a God-forsaken hillside outside of Jerusalem on a spring day as a carpenter from Nazareth was stripped and nailed to a tree.  His blood, like that of so many before him, watered the earth, turning dust into a red, muddy paste.  How strange that to the Romans and religious leaders that the shape of victory that day was a cross.  Even more bizarre is that the very same cross was also the shape of victory for the God who hung on it and for all who would believe on Him.

As Christians, the shape of our victory is not a mushroom cloud or a sword or a spear or a howitzer or the Gatling gun strapped on the side of an attack helicopter.  No, the shape of our victory is cruciform: What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died–more than that, who was raised to life–is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. – Romans 8:31-37 (NIV)

Prayer: For the victory of the cross we honor You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 3/21/19 – God Didn’t Make Mountaintops to Live There

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DayBreaks for 3/21/19: God Didn’t Make Mountaintops to Live There

God never meant us to live on the mountaintop. I wish the gospel story told you the next Biblical story after the Transfiguration. This next Biblical story is often left out after discussing the Transfiguration. I think maybe the next story is the key to really understanding the transfiguration story. The disciples and Jesus came off the mountain, and they came right down to the bottom of the valley. They came off the mountain and they came down into the valley and they found a boy who was having epileptic seizures. The mother and father were enormously upset and worried about the desperately sick boy, and the little boy fell into a fire and burned himself. In other words, the disciples came down off that mountaintop right into the problems of real life. Home from a mountaintop vacation and into the real world at home. And the disciples discovered that God is also down in the valley and does not live only or even primarily on the mountaintop.

I like the quotation by Henry Drummond, the Scottish theologian when he said, “God does not make the mountains in order to be inhabited. God does not make the mountaintops for us to live on the mountaintops. It is not God’s desire that we live on the mountaintops. We only ascend to the heights to catch a broader vision of the earthly surroundings below. But we don’t live there. We don’t tarry there. The streams begin in the uplands, but these streams descend quickly to gladden the valleys below.” The streams start in the mountaintops, but they come down to gladden the valleys below.

You and I experience the valleys of life. You and I both know what happens the next day coming down from the mountain. It is the real world and the real life. After Sundays of life, there are always Mondays. You know, the tough ones of life. God is with us there, just as much as on the mountaintop – maybe more, because we need him more in the valleys.

PRAYER: Thank you for mountaintops, Lord, but thank you for your presence in the valleys! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 3/8/19 – The Heart of the Scandal

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DayBreaks for 3/08/19: The Heart of the Scandal

From the DayBreaks archive March 2009:

Why was Jesus such a stumbling block to the Jews?  Why is he such a hurdle for modern man to overcome and welcome?  There probably are as many excuses (and perhaps reasons) as there are folks who refuse to accept him – then, or now.  I can think of several reasons:

FIRST: no one wants to be told they have to die to themselves.  After all, haven’t we been raised with the encouragement to “follow your own heart”?  And doesn’t that seem like good advice?  “Be true to yourself.”  But….this is not biblical advice AT ALL!  The heart is “desperately wicked”, Scripture says.  Why follow it?  If anything, we need to lead our hearts to the cross over and over and there kneel down in the dirt realizing that our most righteous acts smell like dirty, rotten, filthy socks or underwear (“rags” as Scripture puts it.)  To follow our hearts will get us in trouble every time.  Jesus said we need to die to ourselves – we don’t want to do that.

SECOND: Jesus says our focus should be on things above – and our concern should be for the coming and completion of the kingdom of God.  Again, this takes the focus off of us.

THIRD: while we aren’t saved by obedience, Jesus made it clear that God cares about holiness.  Sadly, too many of us care more about our own “fun” – which usually means we are doing things which may be unholy that are momentarily fun but which are unholy and deadly in the long run.

FOURTH: here’s the point I really want to make about why Jesus is hard for many to accept.  Do you recall the 1996 song by Joan Osborne titled, “What If God Were One of Us?”  There were those who found the song sacrilegious, and I can understand that.  But that is the very same reason that so many rejected Jesus in his life – including friends and family members – they felt he was sacrilegious when he claimed to be God – “like one of us.”  Phillip Yancey said, “By any measure Jesus led a tragic life: rumors of illegitimacy, taunts of insanity from his family, rejection by most who heard him, betrayal by friends, the savage turn of a mob against him, a series of justice-mocking trials, execution in a form reserved for slaves and violent criminals.  A pitiful story, to be sure, and that is the heart of the scandal: we do not expect to pity God.”

That the Messiah would suffer and die was never in the Jewish psyche.  The Messiah, they thought, would never do those things.  They couldn’t live with a Messiah who would suffer and die – so they killed him to be sure.  And we can’t live without such a Savior. 

Prayer: Who would have believed our report, that the Son of God should suffer and die for sinners!  Father God, Lord Jesus, Holy Spirit – thank you for this wonder and mystery of your love for us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 2/26/19: Getting Comfortable With the Mystery

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DayBreaks for 2/26/2019: Getting Comfortable With the Mystery

From the DayBreaks archive February 2009:

We, my friends, are dwarfed by God.  Not just in terms of power and intellect, but in every way possible.  We are as a mote of dust drifting through an endless universe compared to God.  I don’t understand Him.  I cannot.  Yet He understands me perfectly well.  I cannot put my arms around Him, yet He holds me in the palm of His hand.  I dare not tell Him what to do, yet He has every right to direct my pathway.  I can’t contain Him or put Him in a box, and He has the ability to make me disappear totally, forever. 

Why did God send Jesus?  Why did He create a universe where every self-conscious creature that would ever live would be fallen creatures?  Why did He not choose another way to save the fallen creatures?  Why does it matter so much to Him what creatures as small and insignificant as we are do?  Why did He need to create free will?  Why could God not be content with beings who would obey Him without question and save the universe all this pain?  Why do little children die?  Why do the wicked prosper?  Why does God test our faith when He already knows what we’ll do in every second of our existence?  Why do we have to die instead of just be carried off into the hereafter?  Why is there a Trinity of Three-In-One?  Why couldn’t Jesus, if He was necessary at all, not have just died a righteous and perfectly holy man – in his sleep instead of on a rough cross?  Why is faith so important to God?  Why didn’t God come every 20 years or so and make Himself visible so more would believe?  Ah, the mysteries are great…

The late Dr. Clarence Edward Macartney, while a theological student, visited the home of a skeptic. The skeptic’s argument was as follows: “If a man tells me that he has a horse which can trot a mile in three minutes, I tell him to bring out the horse and prove it. If you tell me that there is a God, I ask you to produce God and prove His existence.” Macartney replied, “No Christian claims to know God, nor would want to know Him in that way. By that kind of searching we cannot know the Almighty to perfection. The Christian believer does not say, ‘I know God,’ or ‘I see God,’ or ‘I think there is a God,’ but ‘I believe in God.'”

We must face the reality that we will not now, not likely ever, solve all the mysteries.  Even the simplest of the mysteries can only be solved by God if He chooses to reveal the answers.  Many people struggle with uncertainty and with the apparent dilemmas of faith.  Is the God of the NT the same as the God of the OT, and if so, why does the God of the NT seem so tame by comparison?

“The great must always be a mystery to the little,” continues Parker. “The arch must always be a mystery to the column; God must always be a mystery to His creatures. If I could understand all, I should be all. Only the whole can comprehend the whole. Only God can understand God.”

Hear G. K. Chesterton on this subject: “Christianity got over the difficulty of combining furious opposites, by keeping them both, and keeping them both furious.”  Phillip Yancey observed, “Most heresies come from espousing one opposite at the extreme of the other.”  God is all in all.  We can’t subdivide Him nor put Him under an electron microscope to dissect Him.  We must accept all that He is, even though we don’t know what all that means.

Prayer: I must confess, Lord, that sometimes mystery makes me uncomfortable and I long for more certainty and clarity.  I don’t know why faith is so important to You, why having creatures trust in You matters so much to You.  I don’t understand Your actions and I often can’t see the benefit of Your ways.  Teach me, though, to trust in what I cannot see or comprehend completely.  Help me to live peacefully with Your great mystery!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

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

 

DayBreaks for 1/30/19 – Playing Dress-up

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DayBreaks for 1/30/2019: Playing Dress-up

From the DayBreaks archive, dated 1/27/2009:

From Ovi’s World of the Bizarre, Dec. 4, 1997: “A 17-year-old was arrested and charged with robbing a bank while dressed in a cowboy outfit. According to police reports, Dustin Marshall tipped his hat and yelled, ‘Giddy-up!’ as he pointed the ‘cowboy-type pistol’ at bank employees. Marshall was also charged with robbing another bank six days later while wearing a ghost mask.”

Galen’s Thoughts: This story is rather funny, but at the same time, pathetic. One of the things that bank robbers do is try to conceal their identity so that they won’t be discovered or “found out”. They know that if their identity remains hidden that it is harder to prosecute then for a crime.

What’s the lesson? Well, besides not holding up a bank while yelling “Giddy-up!”, I suppose it could be that in our Christian walk we can dress up and pretend to be something that we aren’t. In the case of Dustin Marshall, he was found out. In our case, we will be found out, too. Matthew 10:26b puts it this way: …There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.

In the context in which Jesus gave this teaching, he is talking about the things that the servants of Satan do which seem to remain hidden – they seem like they might be good things when indeed, Satan is behind them. They seem to get away with those things, too! Jesus told this to his followers so that they wouldn’t be discouraged thinking that evil people will get away with their evil. You’ve got Jesus’ word on it!

Can you imagine what it would have been like to hear these words directly from Jesus’ mouth? How do they make you feel even now? Don’t we all wear some masks, some kind of costume, to hide our real identities, sins and fallen nature?

When I was a very little boy, my sister and I would visit our grandparents in their farm house. Sometimes we’d go upstairs into the huge closets and we’d pull on our grandparents clothes over our own and pretend to be someone else. It may work in a child’s imagination, but God sees right through our disguises and promises that even the things which are concealed and hidden will be made known.

The next time we’re thinking about acting righteous when we’re really not, when we think we’ve hidden our tracks well enough that no one will find out, let’s remember these words of Jesus and think soberly about what will be revealed about us!

Prayer: As we navigate our way through this day, Lord, may we be mindful that every word, every thought, every action is laid bare before Your all-seeing eyes.    In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 1/29/18 – Flying on Autopilot

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DayBreaks for 1/28/2019: Neon Promises

From the DayBreaks archive, dated 1/26/2009:

From Ovi’s World of the Bizarre, December 4, 1997: “A bizarre incident occurred when Paul Sirks was trying to get his plane going, after it quit on landing. Sirks was trying to crank the propeller when the plane took off without a pilot. It reached 12,000 feet and flew around for two hours. It finally ran out of gas and crashed in a bean field northwest of Columbus.”

Galen’s Thoughts: I wish I’d seen Mr. Sirks chasing the plane after it started and it took off without him. Can you see him running after it? Can you imagine the phone call he must have made to the control tower?!

Fortunately, although the plane was destroyed, no one was hurt. But consider:

FIRST: Life can operate on autopilot. We can go from day to day, not paying much attention to the details of life, and just “letting it happen”. Life will oblige us, for a while – until all of a sudden it comes crashing down for lack of neglect to the things that are important. It may be a teen who crashes for lack of parental involvement, a marriage that founders because of lack of effort and time, a job that is lost because of laziness and refusal to learn and grow. It is dangerous to fly on autopilot – life can fly that way for a while, but it’s not the best way. Consider the advice given in Proverbs 6:6-11, that encourages us to think about life carefully so we aren’t “poverty stricken”: Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest– and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man. Remember – there is more than one kind of poverty, and the most tragic poverty of all is the poverty of the soul.

SECOND: I’m sure we’ve all seen movies where the pilot of an airplane is killed or dies from a heart attack and someone on board the plane has to do some heroic flying (even though they’ve never been trained). Sometimes it has a happy ending – sometimes not. It is at a moment like that when you really appreciate having a pilot that knows what he’s doing – who has been trained to do the job and do it right. Who is the pilot of your life? Are you trying to fly solo? Some of the time?

Part of the job of the shepherd is to guide and direct the sheep – to make sure they get safely where they are supposed to go. Jesus knows the way – he knows how to really “fly” – and he will give you wings (1 Thes. 4:17: After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.)

Now that’s how to fly!!!

Prayer: Give us the wisdom, Lord, to look deeply and honestly into our lives to consider our ways.  May we yield control of our lives into Your great and Almighty hands.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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