DayBreaks for 7/9/20 – The Forgetfulness of God

See the source image

DayBreaks for 7/09/20: The Forgetfulness of God

The story of the creation and fall of man in the garden is ancient history. It is intriguing in so many ways. But even as it is ancient history, it is as new as this day’s sunrise.

There is no secret in Scripture that Satan and God are at odds with one another and they work for different goals. Yet, it is intriguing in the temptation narrative from the garden how Satan seeks to manipulate the situation.

He starts by asking what appears to be a very simple, harmless question: Did God really say…? That question alone is fascinating, but the name Satan uses for God is even more intriguing. Satan doesn’t use the word Yahweh-Elohim (the Lord God) as God is described in Genesis 2, but simply uses the term Elohim (God). What’s the big deal? Satan is removing the relational Yahweh from his language. The implication Satan is making is that there’s a distancing, that God is not a Supreme Being that one can know and engage in a relationship, but a theoretical idea to ponder. Deitrich Bonhoeffer noted this when he said, “Satan does not…fill us with hatred of God, but with forgetfulness of God.”

It is only after planting a seed of doubt about God at all to challenging and contradicting what God said about pending punishment should they disobey.

And the very first thing they learn after seeking to be like God is that they are in fact exceedingly vulnerable. There was no sense of being empowered to a greater position or of being enlightened other than to their miniscule-ness. They are ashamed and try to hide.

Satan is a smart cookie. He’s no fool and no one should play him as a fool. He’s certainly not on an equal footing with God, but he’s no idiot. And rather than seeking to get us to hate God, he’s quite content with getting us to forget God. Once we forget God and his omniscience, we are freed from boundaries (or so we believe) because the thought of a watchful God has vanished from our minds, giving us permission to do in secret things we’d never do in the light.

The secret, I suspect, to living a Godly life has more to do with mindfulness of God than any sort of human willpower and determination to “do good”. 

How is Satan seeking to make you forget God? What will you do to see to it that you remember Him more often?

PRAYER: Father, we are so prone to Satan’s sneakiness and we so quickly forget you, even as Israel did of old. We beg you to fill us with awareness of your presence and existence and watchfulness so that we can never forget you! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/07/20 – Hope for Troubled Times

See the source image

DayBreaks for 7/07/20: Hope for Troubled Times

Daniel 2:44 (CSBBible) – In the days of those kings, the God of the heavens will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, and this kingdom will not be left to another people. It will crush all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, but will itself endure forever.

What an amazing time we live in. Pandemics, scandals, demonstrations, riots, political division that is truly painful to see. It’s easy to lose our sense of balance in such a time.

I think Daniel’s interpretation of the king’s dream speaks to us at this moment, and every moment, in time. What Daniel tells the king (who was far and away the most powerful earthly ruler of his day) was this: a mighty kingdom is coming that will smash any earthly kingdom into smithereens. It’s not a kingdom of this world, but it is the kingdom of God himself.

As Jared Wilson put it in The Story of Everything: “It is the reality of the kingdom of God…that should comfort Christians today, not the rising and falling of popular opinion or the ways of the Supreme Court or the majority votes in Congress or the moral sanity of the president. All those people are sinners. We can root for them and persuade them and pray for them and hope for them – but we cannot hope in them, because none of them is not a sinner. Only Jesus Christ’s kingdom comes with perfect grace and peace and justice. And only Jesus Christ’s kingdom will remain.”

It may seem strange to think of the kingdom of Christ conquering all when we look around today. After all, when Christ came it was as a baby and he died not in a palace but on a wooden cross. When he came he didn’t come as a typical king does to fight and conquer and amass territory and wealth. Why didn’t he come that way? He didn’t have to. He already possessed it all. As Abraham Kuyper said, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, ‘Mine!’”

Be reminded, Christian, not to put your hope or faith in the president or in an election or in the scientists working to prevent COVID-19 or in anything else in this world. The one thing that is worthy of our hope is the completion of the coming of the kingdom of Christ. And that is where our prayers and efforts should be focused.

PRAYER: Jesus, we long to see the mighty kingdom come in its totality and finality. Keep us from trusting in other humans for deliverance and look only to you! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/02/20 – The Prescription for Victory

See the source image

DayBreaks for 7/02/20: The Prescription for Victory

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2010:

Depending on how you define and calculate it, the human mind is capable of making 20 million billion calculations per second (and even then, they say that number could be off by a factor of 10 either way!)  While computers are faster in conducting impulses than neurons, we have so many neurons in our brain that the human mind is capable at this point of far more calculations per second than the world’s fastest computer.  I’m sure that King David didn’t have a clue about computers or the capabilities of the human mind, but he still was wise enough to say I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  (Psalm 139:14)

In our Vacation Bible Camp that concluded last Friday, one of the songs the kids learned contained the phrase: I have hidden Thy word in my heart that I might not sin against Thee. (Ps. 119:11)  I’ve given that verse to many who struggle to overcome sin.  It is the prescription of the Word for victory.  But as we sang the song, I pondered: why is it that holding God’s Word in our hearts (memorizing it, reflecting on it, thinking about it) keeps us from sin?  I am sure there are many who can come up with a better answer than I, but when I thought about the power of the human brain and how it controls all we say, think and do, I began to see more clearly than ever the importance of hiding His Word in our hearts/minds. 

The apostle Paul counseled the church at Philippi with these words: Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. (Phil. 4:8)  Do you see the connection?  We become what we think about.  Do you want to live a life that is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy?  Who doesn’t, right?  Put that incredible brain that God has put inside your head to work and let it dwell on His Word…and it will reform you through the power of the Spirit that takes it and makes it come alive in your spirit!

PRAYER: Help us to have the resolve of King David to hide Your Word in our hearts, and to think about such a praiseworthy thing at all times!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/23/20 – Celebration of Light

See the source image
The aurora borealis, a dance of light.

DayBreaks for 6/23/20: Celebration of Light

From the DayBreaks archive, June 2010:

I believe it was Ben Franklin who coined the saying, “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”  But what you may not know is why that saying came to be.  Partly, at least, it was due to recognition of the fact that the night time is perilous and fraught with danger and the wise will go to bed early rather than be out and about where they are more prone to being attacked and hurt!

In 21st century America, we have artificial light all around us: streetlights, tungsten lights, fluorescent lights, spotlights, stoplights, car lights, flashing lights, strobe lights…it seems that you can’t get away from artificial light.  Artificial light is so pervasive that it is hard to find a place to really view the stars.  We are blessed to live in the country, and when people come out to our home in the evenings, they usually come out as they prepare to go home and are shocked by how many stars they can see.  Those same stars are in the skies over their own home in town, but they just can’t see them because of all the ambient light from artificial sources.  Because light is so prevalent today, it is difficult for us to appreciate the way night was perceived in earlier times. For millennia, people illuminated their dwellings and workplaces with fire. It was not until William Murdock invented the gaslight in 1803, that large areas could be lit up after dark. For centuries before that, people literally walked in darkness if they walked at all at night.

It was true in Bible times.  People living then fully comprehended the meaning and dangers of the darkness.  When a prophet said that the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light, they were speaking of something vivid, dramatic and hopeful. When they spoke of Christ as the light of the world, they were making the claim that Jesus had the ability to transform their world from one of darkness, danger and despair to one of hope, safety and joy. It helps us to understand the literal darkness of that ancient world to appreciate the words of the Psalmist: The Lord is my light and my salvation. Whom shall I fear? (27:1) Or, the words of St. John: The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. (1:5)

Barrow, Alaska is the northernmost point on the North American continent.  Because of the tilt of the earth on its axis, Barrow is also one of the darkest places in the world. The sun sets in Barrow in November and won’t show up again until sometime in late January.  Getting through over two months of perpetual night cannot be easy – and it isn’t, not even to the natives who live there: in this tiny, seemingly innocuous outpost home to 3,000 hardy hunters, whalers, lawyers and public employees one finds one of the highest attempted suicide rates in Alaska.  Darkness drives people to do dark things.

Light, however, pushes people to do things that are right and decent partly because they don’t want dark deeds to be revealed.  Light also encourages celebration: the good folk of Barrow have parties on the frozen sea/ground when the sun makes its reappearance. 

I look forward to the party when the Son makes His reappearance.  How about you?

PRAYER: We rejoice to know that the night won’t last forever, and that even on the darkest night, Your vision is unimpaired and You see all clearly and can defend us from the dangers that we cannot even see ourselves!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/22/20 – We Matter

See the source image

DayBreaks for 6/22/20: We Matter

From the DayBreaks archive, June 2010:

What is man, that you make so much of him, and that you set your heart on him, visit him every morning and test him every moment? – Job 7:17-18

As you were driving in to work this morning, how many people stopped and applauded as you drove by?  When you left the house this morning, did you get a kiss or hug from someone who loves and appreciates you?  When you got to the gym to work out, did someone say, “I really want to introduce some folks to you because you’re so special”?  Probably not.  Chances are that you didn’t have a reserved parking spot in the parking lot.  Most likely, no cop pulled you over and gave you $100 and said, “You know, all these years I’ve seen you drive by and never once were you breaking the speed limit.  I just want you to have this to know how much I appreciate you!”  Not in this lifetime, right?  Not in this world!

It is easy to start to think that we really don’t matter very much.  It is so easy to get lost in the shuffling noises of 7 billion inhabitants of the planet called Earth.  It is easy to be overshadowed on the job site, in the grocery store, at the bank, in the church pew.  We want recognition.  We want to be appreciated.  We want to know that we matter to someone – somewhere – sometime.  And it is easy to feel and to be overlooked, ignored and to come to the conclusion that we just don’t really matter to anyone.

Listen to Jesus: Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. – Matthew 18:18-19

The ancients had a saying: “As above, so below”…meaning that if the gods got angry and went on a rampage, the gods would rain cataclysm and endless disaster down on the denizens of earth.  Jesus, however, turned that around: He who listens to you listens to me.  He who rejects you rejects me.  As below, so above.  What happens when believers pray?  Heaven responds.  When goes on when a sinner repents?  The angels break out in song.  When a God-mission succeeds, Satan falls like lightning from the sky.  On the other hand, when believers rebel against God, the Holy Spirit is grieved and saddened. 

Let’s not make the mistake of thinking that what we humans do here doesn’t affect anyone.  Let’s not play the foolish game of saying that “What I do isn’t affecting of hurting anyone else, so leave me alone!”  If Jesus knows what he’s talking about (and he does!) know this certainty: what we humans do here on earth affects the cosmos!  We matter – far more than we can possibly comprehend or know, because we matter to God!  And today you also matter because of what you will do, say and think.  Matter in a positive way!

PRAYER: Thank You that You notice us from heaven above and sing Your songs of love over us so we will know that without a doubt, we matter!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/12/20 – Lurching Toward the Hay Bale

See the source image

DayBreaks for 6/12/20: Lurching Toward the Hay Bale

From the DayBreaks archive, June 2010:

I’ve been preaching for the past couple of weeks about faith…and doubt.  Churches and Christians like to hear about faith but doubt is not frequently spoken of unless it is in condemnatory terms.  I, for one, that that’s sad.  Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying that doubt per se is a good thing, but then again, it isn’t always bad, either.  For example, there were those who doubted the church’s teaching in centuries gone by that suggested slavery was right, or who didn’t agree that medicine was an instrument of the Devil and that Christian’s shouldn’t use it because it reflected a lack of faith in God and prayer.  In those cases, people were right to doubt the position of the church and argue against it. 

In my own life, I have found doubt to be constructive.  When I have doubts, it drives me to study, to reflect, to listen and learn all that I can to determine the truth of a matter.  I think that’s good.  As I’ve said on multiple occasions before: the truth never has to be afraid of being examined.  Truth will always be truth, just as 2+2 will always be 4 in a decimal world. 

Doubt can, however, also be bad…even deadly.  There is a story that was told by a 14th century monk from France about a donkey that was confronted with two equally attractive, delicious looking and equally distant bales of hay.  The animal stares at one, then the other, leans to move towards one but then hesitates…stares some more, then leans to go to the other one…but then hesitates, stares some more…and so it goes until eventually the animal dies of starvation because he has no logical justification for moving towards one bale of hay or the other.  It never reached the food it so desperately needed because it couldn’t make up its mind between the two alternatives.

Simply put: without some element of risk, there is and can be no faith.  But being stuck in the middle between faith and doubt and not moving towards one or the other, may be the greatest danger of all, because it removes all passion from a relationship with God.  Jesus himself seems to have stressed this point when he told the Laodiceans in Revelation that he wished they were either “hot or cold” – anything but lukewarm.  Those who are waiting for an empirical proof of the existence of God will have to wait until the Second Coming – but then it will be too late to conduct experiments to determine the reality and truth of God’s existence and of Jesus’ identity.  Those who fail to move in faith towards God because they can’t prove to themselves if He’s real will eventually, like the donkey, starve to death spiritually because faith for them has become an intellectual question – and that is never the definition of Biblical faith.

As the apostle Paul wrote, As God’s partners, we beg you not to accept this marvelous gift of God’s kindness and then ignore it. For God says, “At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.” Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation. – 2 Corinthians 6:1-2

As Moses said to Israel as they readied to enter the promised land: Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! You can make this choice by loving the LORD your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life. And if you love and obey the LORD, you will live long in the land the LORD swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. –  Deuteronomy 30:19-20

Don’t die of spiritual starvation because of doubts.  Eat of the Bread of Life…and live!

PRAYER: We have so often been caught up in smooth talk and persuasive arguments that have led us in the wrong ways and caused us to doubt.  Help us to not doubt in Your goodness, nor in the offer You extend to us that we may eat and live!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/3/20 – A Plea to Reverse Babel

Genesis 11:9 (CSBBible) – Therefore it is called Babylon, for there the Lord confused the language of the whole earth, and from there the Lord scattered them throughout the earth.

Our nation is torn and bleeding…literally. A man, made in the very image of God, killed by those who are charged with upholding and enforcing the law and the rights of every human being. As a result of that, countless thousands protesting peacefully, while others (I won’t call them protestors, for the aren’t protesting, but rioting and looting) destroy the life work of fellow citizens and violently attack humans in the streets, businesses, and even trying to force their way into homes to wreak havoc and harm. Flames and smoke ascend to the heavens.

A long time ago in a place far, far away, a people thought too highly of themselves and tried to ascend into heaven. In response to their hubris, God confused their language and they scattered over the face of the earth. And it seems we have been scattered ever since.

Right now in America, we have people who speak the same literal language, but who are in no way unified. And sadly, through much of the life of the country and especially in the last week, it seems that the church as been all too silent. Should not the church be a voice crying in the wilderness for peace and unity, dialog and reason, that calls us to love one another regardless of whether the person next to you is red, white, black, brown, green, purple, polka-dotted or striped?

We should all be speaking to each other, hearing one another’s pain and fear and understanding what each human longs for and desires.

On the day of Pentecost, the birthday of the church, tongues of fire descended from heaven to earth and Peter spoke in a language that everyone heard – and understood in their own tongue – a universal language if you will. That’s how the church started. Where is that universal language in the church today? At this moment, tongues of fire ascend in the opposite direction as the flames of burning cities lick the heavenly sky. With one united voice, the church needs to be speaking against what God hates – racism, abuse, hatred, falsehood, misogyny, abuse of power – and to speak and bring his love to all humanity even as God does.

As always, it starts with me. And with you. For we are the church. Let us raise a common language for reconciliation and for healing and ask forgiveness for our own blindness.

PRAYER: Almighty God, where once you confused the language or mankind, we pray now that your Spirit will enable the church to speak with one voice of the preciousness of every human on the face of the earth. We ask you now to restore a common language filled with love and compassion, not hatred and rage. Search our hearts to reveal to us our own prejudices and forgive us for our hardness of heart. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 5/20/22 – Lessons Learned in Crucibles, #1

_MG_1908

DayBreaks for 5/20/20: Lessons Learned in Crucibles #1

Nearly all of us have had unplanned time for reflection during this COVID-19 lockdown. I suppose that like me, you’ve had many thoughts about it and that your thinking and emotions may have changed day by day – maybe hour by hour.

In my quiet time, I’ve been working my way through Ecclesiastes. It’s a strange, interesting and bewildering book. On the one hand, it’s doom and gloom, on the other it encourages us to enjoy our lot in life. In particular, yesterday I was reflecting on this: Ecclesiastes 6:1-7 (CSBBible) – Here is a tragedy I have observed under the sun, and it weighs heavily on humanity: God gives a person riches, wealth, and honor so that he lacks nothing of all he desires for himself, but God does not allow him to enjoy them. Instead, a stranger will enjoy them. This is futile and a sickening tragedy. A man may father a hundred children and live many years. No matter how long he lives, if he is not satisfied by good things and does not even have a proper burial, I say that a stillborn child is better off than he. For he comes in futility and he goes in darkness, and his name is shrouded in darkness. Though a stillborn child does not see the sun and is not conscious, it has more rest than he. And if a person lives a thousand years twice, but does not experience happiness, do not both go to the same place? All of a person’s labor is for his stomach, yet the appetite is never satisfied.

Pretty gloomy, eh? But think about it for a moment. As we sit in this COVID-19 world, we can learn something from this passage. It does seem strange and unfair that all we acquire or accomplish of a worldly nature in this life is stripped from us upon death, or even upon a strange turn of events in this life. A market downturn, a pandemic, a health issue – those things can strip us of our deluded security and even the option of enjoying the things we work for. All this tells me that if we find our purpose, meaning and enjoyment in things that can be so suddenly taken from us, aren’t we a bit on the crazy side?

I hope to spend more time during the lockdown – however long that may be – to readjust what gives me purpose, meaning and enjoyment and to refocus on that which can never be taken from me in this world or the next – Jesus.

PRAYER: Jesus, so much has been taken from so many during this pandemic and we long for a return of normalcy. I pray that we will use this time wisely to refocus on those things which nothing can ever take from us and find our greatest joy – the joy you designed us for – in drawing closer to you! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 5/19/20 – It Was/Is Good

Creation | Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation

DayBreaks for 5/19/20: It Was/Is Good

Genesis 1:31 (CSBBible) – God saw all that he had made, and it was very good indeed. Evening came and then morning: the sixth day.

Sometimes we may think that some of the things God made aren’t so good. To wit, rattlesnakes, spiders, reptiles, and from time to time we’re likely to think that some of the people God made aren’t all that hot. We may think gravity isn’t good if we fall and get hurt. But Genesis says that all that he made is good.

So the problem isn’t with what God made. It’s with how the things he made are used and what they do. God made us with hands that can be turned into fists to beat others or to hand food to someone who is hungry. He gave us mouths to sing his praise and bless him and others, but far too often we use our mouths to say hateful, bitter, petty things or hurt others. Our minds are amazing and can lead to create the Sistine Chapel,  Mozart’s symphonies, Michelangelo’s David, create cures for diseases and put people on the moon, or they can be used to create things like the Holocaust – unhuman and ungodly abominations.

You see, it’s what we do with God’s good things that create sin.

We should never blame God for evil, but ourselves. As GK Chesterton put it once when asked to answer a question in the newspaper, “What’s wrong with the world?”  His answer was two words? “I am.”

I can be part of the pollution or the solution. So can you. Choose you this day what you will do with God’s good creation!

PRAYER: Let us this day make the best possible use of all your glorious creation and realize that it is us, not you, that is the problem! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 5/18/20 – Time and the Lord’s Plan

Whose Plan is Better: GOD'S Plan or YOURS? —

DayBreaks for 5/18/20: Time and the Lord’s Plan

As earth-bound creatures we are also bound by time. We have watches and phones and computers and sirens and even the sun and moon mark the passing of time for us. We can’t get away from it. We often feel there isn’t either enough, or there’s too much of it. But have we really considered how it is the servant of the Most High?

We are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. As of the day of this writing, in our county alone in Illinois 5,904 persons have tested positive and 298 have taken their last breath. We are all anxious for time to pass and this to be over. We hope for a vaccine to put it behind us.

What does all this have to do with time and God’s plan? Consider this: imagine taking a 3 year old to the doctor and the doctor says it’s time for the child to have a vaccination. And just before the needle is inserted into the child’s arm, there is great weeping, fighting against the invasion of the needle into the tiny, flailing arm. The screaming is heartbreaking. Does the child than the doctor for that shot? No! Even the mother or father are heartbroken for what the child is going through.

But imagine, years or decades later, an outbreak of the disease sweeps across the face of the earth. People are sick and dying. But the one who was that young child does not get the dread disease because of those few moments of pain as a child. You see, the vaccine protected the child and it was only through the passing of the time that the child can appreciate what the parent and doctor did years before.

There are many things that happen to us that are painful. Like that young child we wonder why our Father put us through them, why he led us bear the pain in our lives. But know this: He never causes pain except to prevent greater pain for us. Only in hindsight can we see how these things may have saved us even greater pain and loss. Time has been the servant of the Lord in such cases.

The present pandemic, well, it is painful. But we are being taught lessons, lessons we may not even be aware of at the present. Yet there is a purpose – a far greater purpose that we cannot envision – and we have God’s promise that ALL His plans for us are for our good. Find comfort in that promise!

Jeremiah 29:11 (MSG) – I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.

PRAYER: Lord, we are impatient and have such limited sight into the reasons for all that happens. May we trust you so much that we can endure with patience the present pain to know that there is purpose for all that happens to us. And give us the wisdom to wait for the understanding with faith in you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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