DayBreaks for 2/19/18 – The Worst Hallucination

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DayBreaks for 2/19/18: The Worst Hallucination

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2008:

We tend to think of hallucinations as the result of mind-altering chemicals – either when naturally occurring chemicals in the brain are out of balance, or when controlled substances are put into the body.  Some hallucinations are terrifying – people imagine they are being hunted down by some beast or a person intent on killing them.  Others are tamer, and some are hallucinations of beauty.  Regardless of the subject matter, the truth about hallucinations is that they’re, well, hallucinations.  They are not real.  And while the hallucination itself can’t harm us, we may do something in response to the hallucination that can be hurtful…or even deadly.

As bad as some hallucinations may be, the worst ones are probably spiritual in nature.  Mark Buchanan in The Rest of God, suggests that the worst hallucination that humans can have is the conviction that we are God.  No, most of us would never dare to say such a thing out loud, or even to think it consciously.  But, his point is that our actions speak louder than words when it comes to this topic.  It is our busyness that reveals who we think is in charge of our lives and who our present and future depends upon. 

Why is it busyness that reveals this to us?  Because it shows us that our actions say that we believe our destiny and security and fate is all dependent upon us and what we do – that it’s in our own hands to make our break our future.  It is as if we have reached the conclusion that “If I don’t take care of myself, no one will,” and so we are always pushing, worrying, stressing out over the myriad things that call our name and demand our attention.  That’s why rest, Sabbath and sleep are so important.  They remind us that things do go on without us. 

Spiritual hallucinations are like all other hallucinations in some ways: they aren’t real, they can harm us and in fact, can be deadly.

PRAYER: Keep us, we pray, from hallucinations about our own greatness and importance.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

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DayBreaks for 2/12/18 – The Spirit and the Wind

DayBreaks for 2/12/18: The Spirit and the Wind

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2008:

John 3:8 (NIV) – The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.

Without a doubt, the aspect of the Trinity that we know the least about would be the Spirit.  Even His name, “Spirit”, seems strange and mysterious to us compared to Father or Son.  We long to lay our eyes upon the Father and upon the Son, but how often have you heard anyone say, “I can’t wait until I see the Spirit!”

As you probably know, the word for Spirit in Greek is pneuma.  It’s translated as breath, wind, spirit.  In John 3:8, it is the word that Jesus uses when speaking of the Holy Spirit.  That just makes it all the more mysterious, don’t you think?  You cannot see the wind itself, but you can see its effects.  So it is with the Spirit.  Jesus says the wind blows where it decides to go, and so does the Spirit.  The wind can be gentle or powerful, so it is with the Spirit.  It is interesting to me, that in Genesis 1:2, the Spirit of God is introduced, and as the KJV puts it, “the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters” – just like the wind that moves over land and sea. 

I have been focusing a lot lately in my life on trying to see and perceive God more clearly though the things that He has created.  Sometimes my eyes are covered and I struggle to see Him in things, but at others, I wonder if I sometimes go a bit too far with my perceptions.  We live in a time when we have a scientific explanation for everything, where even the human genome has been fully mapped, where earthquakes are no longer believed to be an act of God (or the gods to the pagans), where eclipses are understood to be naturally occurring celestial events rather than a sign of displeasure from on high.  Solomon said that “to everything there is a season” but modern man in all our supposed wisdom, says “To everything there is an explanation.”  Something great has been lost, I fear.  Mystery has been subsumed by the mundane and de-mystified.

Here’s my point: what if, just for sake of conjecture, we were to think of the breeze, the wind as being the Spirit passing by instead of being caused by competing areas of high and low pressure in the atmosphere?  After all, the wind and Spirit are used interchangeably in some Biblical texts.  Maybe it isn’t just the movement of air molecules that brushes your face when you step outside today – maybe it’s the breath of the Spirit, or the caress of His hand as the Spirit moves around you. 

Would that not be a better way for us who are believers to think of the wind?  While I’m not possessed of enough wisdom and insight to know whether or not it is true, Scripture says that the Lord will never leave us – and where the Lord is, the Spirit is.  And if we were to start to think of the wind as the Spirit every time we sense the breeze, if we let it draw our thoughts to God would we not be better off than explaining it away as just the difference in atmospheric pressure?

PRAYER: Sometimes, Lord, we listen too much to science and not nearly enough to Your Spirit, that we confess is mysterious indeed to us.  Teach us through the things that You’ve created, capture our imaginations and hearts anew with the awe and wonder we once knew as little children, and direct our thoughts toward You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 2/08/18 – Trying to Get Our Attention

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DayBreaks for 2/08/18: Trying to Get Our Attention

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2008:

Have you ever known someone (maybe it was you!) that felt that God was trying to whisper something to you in order to get your attention?  I’ve met quite a few people who have had that experience, and I’ve had it myself.  I’ve felt that God was trying to get my attention so he could tell me what it was that he wanted me to do.  And that’s not bad – we should have “ears to hear” and be sensitive to the promptings of the Spirit so we can discern when God is speaking to us and what it is that he wants us to do.

But perhaps we’re making too many assumptions when we say, “I think God is trying to tell me something – I believe there’s something He wants me to do.”  It is important that we consider another possibility: perhaps God is just trying to get our attention, period.  He may not have something that he wants us to do.  It may be that its been so long since we just sat quietly at his feet and reflected on Who and What He Is.  Certainly, if God wants something done, He can get it done – with or without our cooperation. 

I know that when my kids come home for a visit that I’m not interested in all the things that they can do for me while they’re here.  I don’t have a list of projects stuck on the refrigerator for each of them.  What I want when they come home is to be able to spend time with them, to share moments in time that will never come again, to reconnect and re-affirm.  I think more often than not, when we feel God is trying to get our attention, it’s not because He has something for us to do – it’s because he wants that connection with us, that closeness that is not there when we’re “gone”. 

Give him your attention today – and every day.  Even if it’s just for a few minutes.  It’ll change your entire day!

PRAYER: Mighty God, thank you that you so desperately desire our attention.  Help us to welcome yours!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 1/29/18 – So It Is True

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DayBreaks for 1/29/18: So It Is True

From the DayBreaks archives, January 2008:

There are those who would tell us that anything we want to believe is true.  I can only laugh.  As if my believing anything makes it true!

I recently spent some time with a friend who was stricken with breast cancer that spread over the course of years into her bones, and now it has spread into her brain.  We went to high school together – and in fact, I wrote about her earlier this week.  I was blessed to go and sit by her side for a while, to hold her hand and reminisce as best we could with her in the condition she’s in.  It is a terrible thing to see the toll that cancer takes on the body. 

At one point in the conversation, as we were starting to talk about how she wanted her memorial service done, she teared up, her lip began to quiver, and it was clear that the spectre of death was very real and close to her at that moment.  It is quite something to look into the eyes of one who knows they are already part way through death’s door.  I’ve been asking myself a lot in the past week or so how it must feel to go to sleep at night and really not know if you’ll awaken again in this world. 

As she cried, I whispered to her, “God loves you.”  She whispered back: “I sure hope so.” 

Death, like its master, Satan, stealthily watches to take its victims – sometimes as a thief in the night, sometimes in broad daylight.  Often, he gives no warning, and thus it is that the Bible gives us the admonition to be prepared to meet not only our Maker, but death, at any time.  We need to pay more attention to that admonition than we do. 

The agnostic professor J. H. Huxley, was on his death bed.  His nurse has told the tale of how, during the very last moments of his life as he lay there dying and breathing his very last breaths, he suddenly opened his eyes and looked up, apparently seeing something that was invisible to mortal eyes.  After staring a short while, he whispered, “So it is true.”

It is true that we are mortal – although we don’t sometimes think death will really come to ME.  But beyond that, it is true – there is a God and we will meet Him.  It is also true that this God loves us deeply.  Why do we resist the idea of God and eternal life so much?  Perhaps because it seems too good to be true.  Perhaps it’s more a matter of thinking that after the things we know we’ve thought and done and not done in life that God must be very, very disappointed and angry at us.  I’m sure he’s disappointed in things we do and he hates the evil we do….but he still loves us. 

It is when we are on our own deathbed that we will come face to face with our faith, and the One in whom that faith has been placed.  May His mercy rest on us all.

PRAYER:  For all who are facing death, Lord, we ask Your Presence, and for Your Spirit to move in their hearts, even as it did for the thief on the cross, and lead them to Paradise through faith in Your beloved Son!  Comfort us in the hour of our death, Lord, and let us wake to see Your face.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 1/26/18 – Freedom from Certainty

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DayBreaks for 1/26/18: Freedom from Certainty

From the DayBreaks archives, January 2008:

I probably need to be very clear today.  What I’m about to say may stir up a ruckus.  Here it is: there are many times in my life that I don’t know what to do, and when God hasn’t given direction.  Whoa!  How’s that for a shocker!?  A pastor saying that he doesn’t know God’s will?  I suppose such a statement could get me booted from some churches, but it’s true.  Let me explain.

There are, at times, seemingly huge gaps between theology and real life – at least for me.  Maybe you’re one of those people who never has any doubts, who every time you ask God for direction, you hear a very clear and direct set of instructions on what to do, when to do it, how to go about it and what the result will be.  Well, that’s not me.  I don’t think it was Moses, either, for that matter.  When God first started talking to him, He simply said go down and Pharaoh will let you go.  It sounded that simple.  As Moses found out after his first few ventures into the throne room of Pharaoh, it wasn’t going to be that easy.  Had Moses done what God said?  Yep.  To the letter.  But it didn’t work.  God knew all along that it wouldn’t.  And so Moses comes back to God and complains about it.  I would too, I think.

There are areas of life where the Bible is less than clear.  That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t seek answers in it.  It may be there and we’ve just missed it.  It may be we think we know what it says already so we won’t take the time or effort to be in prayer and seek it out. 

I recently preached on 2 Peter 1 where Peter says we’ve “already been given all things” that we need for life and godliness.  I take that, by faith, at face value.  If Peter, inspired by the Spirit, says that’s true, who am I to disagree?  But does it always pan out that way in my life?  No – probably partly because I don’t want to work as hard as Peter says I need to in order to experience it (“make EVERY EFFORT”, Peter says).  And, I also find, that even when I do know what Scripture says (such as “Love your neighbor”) that such general principles are good as long as you are living in a general world without specifics.  Andree Seu wrote (WORLD, 1/5/08): “But I consistently live in an insistently specific world where the issues are: ‘Should I take this job?’, ‘Should I marry this man?’, ‘Should I let Calvin learn on the stick shift?’, “Milk without the bovine growth hormones and antibiotics at $4.19/half gallon, or with the undesirables at $1.95/half gallon?” 

I think she makes a good point, and that’s what I mean when I say I sometimes don’t know God’s specific will in a specific situation.  I think I have a general grasp on the general principles which help guide decisions at such times, but I don’t have a specific answer.  And we don’t like to operate on generalities in situations that demand specifics.  We’re uncomfortable, at best, even distraught at times, wringing our hands in indecision.

Why do we do so?  Don’t we have God’s promise that if we seek Him, and that if we love Him and the promise of His appearing, He’ll make all things work out for good for us?  Yes, we have that promise, but we tend to not believe it very much, methinks.  There are disputable matters (see Romans 14:1).  That verse was written under inspiration.  God could have made it so that there were no disputable things at all – or he could answer our uncertainties instantaneously – but he oftentimes doesn’t.  That’s OK.  We can make decisions with less than 100 percent certainty because He knows our limitations and He knows how to fix things we might unintentionally break.  Mankind hasn’t yet broken anything that God can’t, and won’t, ultimately fix. 

How many things in life are you certain of?  I’m certain of some things: Jesus loves me, He is the Son of God, He died for me, He rose from the dead, He will come back again for me, He sees me and knows me and will keep me from ruin if I just have a bit of faith.  Andree Seu concluded her article this way: “…I can move forward with a spiritual commodity that is more true to the real world than ‘certainty’ – ‘confidence.’  Confidence that God loves me.  Confidence that His Spirit lives in me.  Confidence that if I make a mistake His arms will be there to catch this frail saint and put her back on righteous paths, for His name’s sake.”

PRAYER:  Help us to walk in confidence that You are as good as Your promises, that You are as powerful as You claim to be, and that You are more than able to fix things we do wrong in our ignorance.  Do not let us sin presumptuously, Lord, but forgive us even when we do!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 12/19/17 – The Three Gifts

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DayBreaks for 12/19/17: The Three Gifts

Matthew 2:11 (ESV) – And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.

Have you ever really thought about the three gifts (there may have been more, but those three are specifically mentioned)?

It is worth noting that these were not gifts like socks or a tie or a box of candy. They were “treasures” – treasures that belonged to those who brought them. That gives us an indication that these visitors from the east were wealthy personages. And unlike the socks you may get for Christmas this year, their gifts were treasures – valuable and costly.

The first one mentioned is gold. Gold was considered an appropriate gift for a king. Why did they bring gold? Because they knew that the one being born was a king – they’d told Herod as much. (And with Herod being as crazy and deranged as he was, that had to set him off on his desire to kill the newborns!) They brought a gift suitable for a king.

What about the frankincense? Frankincense was used in the temple worship as part of the incense that was burned that filled the place with a fragrant, pleasing smell. As the incense wafted upward, it represented the prayers of the people as they ascended as a gift for God. So, frankincense was thought to be a gift that was suitable for a god/God. Little do I think the magi really grasped this part of Immanuel.

That leaves us with the myrrh. Myrrh was used for various things, including the anointing of the bodies of those who died. While this gift foreshadowed the anointing of Jesus’ body after his crucifixion, there is perhaps an even more poignant point that we would do well to consider. Myrrh was also somewhat of a pain killer, an antiesthetic, if you please. Do you remember what the soldiers offered Jesus while he was on the cross? Vinegar mixed with “gall”…but what is that “gall”? Literally, it is myrrh. It wouldn’t kill much pain, but would take a tiny bit of the edge off and the Romans probably did it more in jest than out of compassion.

So, here’s the kicker: myrrh was gifted to Jesus at his birth, and it was used during his anointing for burial. But when he was on the cross, what did Jesus do when offered something to dull his pain? He refused it. Why? I don’t really know, but on Sunday, the preacher posited that it was because Jesus wanted to take the full brunt of the pain that was due to us so there would be none left for us to have to bear. He drank the “cup” that the Father gave him, but not the “cup” that the soldiers offered that could have made his suffering less.

This is an indicator of how much Jesus wanted to bear our pain, the pain we should have had to bear for our own sins. If that doesn’t make us appreciate him even more, perhaps nothing will.

PRAYER: Jesus, I am awestruck that you were willing to go to the cross and take the full agony of the pain due to me for my sin and failures. Make us all grateful this Christmas for your enormous gift and sacrifice! In Your name we pray, Amen.  

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 12/15/17 – Getting the Question Right

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DayBreaks for 12/15/17: Getting the Question Right

From the DayBreaks archive, December 2007:

Do you know people who want to ask you a question, but they dance around the real issue?  They never just come right out and ask what they want to know!  And what is even more frustrating to me is when I ask a question and get an answer to a question I didn’t even ask!  Perhaps that’s why politics revolts me so.  It seems that you can’t get a straight answer out of nearly any politician these days.  Everything is carefully crafted to try to appease as many special interests as possible in the hopes of raising money and getting elected, and even worse, to mislead the public about the real effects of proposed legislation.  Rare is the politician who will answer a question straight-forwardly about their personal convictions about topics.  Instead, they’ll pontificate in politically correct ways until the questioner forgets what question they even asked!

Asking the right question is an art.  No one, of course, does it as well as God.  In his book, Hearing God, Dallas Willard reflects on the scene in the garden after Adam had sinned.  “When God came to Adam after he had sinned, he did not ask, ‘Adam, where is God?’, but ‘Adam, where are you?’  We must purposefully, humbly and intelligently cultivate the ability to listen and see what is happening in our own souls and to recognize therein the movements of God.”  (Hearing God, pg. 214)

God didn’t come to the garden to lay a guilt trip on Adam.  He came to begin the process of restoration.  The first step in that process is always an honest questioning of ourselves to ascertain where we are.  Adam may have been tempted to think that because of his sin that God would not return again to the garden, or if He did, Adam didn’t want to be found.  It’s understandable – I’ve felt those things myself many times.  But the question God asks is intended to get Adam into the soul-searching mode.  It also revealed to Adam that God had not left in disgust or rage.  God came back to the garden and was concerned about Adam and where he was.  It wasn’t a question about Adam’s physical location, but of his heart.

When you’re thinking that God isn’t around these days because of what you’ve done, go back and let God ask you the same question He asked Adam, “Where are YOU?”

PRAYER:  Thank You for not abandoning us in the garden or in the wilderness of our sinful lives.  Thank You for Your great concern for us.  Teach us to search our souls in accordance with Your Word!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.