DayBreaks for 3/14/18 – The Trinity of False Identity

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DayBreaks for 3/14/18: The Trinity of False Identity

From the DayBreaks archive, 2008:

It is distressing to me to see how many Christians struggle with who and what they are in Christ.  It seems that for some, it’s nearly impossible to accept that we are beloved children (yes, even in our present condition), that we could be described as God’s poetry (because we certainly don’t feel like poetry), that we will someday shine like the stars in the universe (because our souls are so full of darkness inside), and that our sin has been taken away and paid for by the blood of Christ (which we seem to fear may have lost its power to deal with sin over the centuries – especially my sin). 

I was at a recent conference where Mark Yaconelli spoke about the trinity of false identity.  In one sentence, here it is: “I am what I do and how well I do it.”

What do you think of that?  Does it seem to ring true for you?

We live in a performance-oriented world.  The race almost always seems to go to the swiftest, the victory to the strongest, the adulation to the most beautiful or power-laden.  It begins in our earliest days when we receive praise for doing good things – and doing them well (except for our childhood drawings which were really all atrocious at best – but mom always swooned over them anyway).  It happens in school.  It happens at our work.  Performance.  Peak performance, to be precise, is what is recognized and rewarded.

But is it that way in God’s eyes?  No, I don’t think so.  That would lead to the conclusion of performance-based salvation, performance-based love.  God loves us precisely in spite of our performance.  If you think God loves you more if you are more obedient than anyone around you – you’re wrong.  Does He appreciate your obedience?  Absolutely!  Does He want our obedience!  Of course.  But does He love you more for it?  No.  Why?  He can’t. 

We need to get over our performance-based obsession and to see and define ourselves as God sees and defines our worth.  “I am God’s child, I am working for Him, and I will give Him my best and be at peace.”

Isaiah 43:4 (NIV) – Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give men in exchange for you, and people in exchange for your life. 

PRAYER: Free us from our self-imposed falsehoods and protect us from the deceptions and frustrations that the enemy would imprint on our minds!  Give us the faith to believe Your words and the joy that comes with being beloved by You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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


DayBreaks for 3/6/18 – Dying the Death of the Righteous

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DayBreaks for 3/06/18: Dying the Death of the Righteous

NOTE: Galen is traveling this week.

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2008:

Do you remember Balaam from the book of Numbers in the Old Testament?  Numbers 22-25 tells us that he was the prophet that was brought in by Barak, the king of Moab to put a curse on the Israelites as they began their move into the Promised Land.  Balaam found himself in an interesting predicament: the man who hired him wanted him to curse Israel, but when Balaam opened his mouth, out came blessings instead!  This made him unpopular with his “boss”.  It happened not once or twice, but four times!  (According to the Word, Balaam also appears to have been the only person who ever understood donkey language, too!)  Finally, when it became clear that Balaam couldn’t curse Israel, he persuaded Balak to use the women of Moab to put sexual temptation in front of Israel so that Israel would lose favor with God and fail. 

The last part of one verse in particular is very interesting, from Numbers 23.10 (Balaam speaking): “…let me die the death of the righteous, and may my end be like theirs!”   Balaam wanted to die the death of the righteous, to be found in favor with God and pleasing to him.  But, Numbers 31.8 tells us that it didn’t happen that way.  In fact, the children of Israel killed Balaam with the sword for what he’d done.

What makes this interesting is that many people want to die the death of the righteous without having first lived the life of the righteous.  Here Balaam was, trying to curse Israel, then suggesting involving them in sexual sin, crying out that he wanted to be counted as a righteous man when he died – to be able to die with the peace and calmness of spirit that possesses a righteous man when faced with his Maker.  Balaam seemed to miss the connection between living as a righteous man and being able to die as a righteous man. 

When we step out of this fleshly tent of the human body to enter into eternity, I’m sure that we all want to die the death of the righteous.  We simply can’t do that unless we have lived the life of the righteous first.  But there is a problem – we aren’t righteous.  The writer to the Romans describes the problem and the solution in one tightly written passage, Romans 3.21-24: But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.  This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

Want to die the death of the righteous?  Then be sure that you are about the business of living the life of the righteous – in Christ!!

PRAYER: Help us live with and for You, so that when we die, we may be forever with You, dying in peace, awakening with our Maker and Friend.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 2/07/18 – Meditative Growling

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DayBreaks for 2/07/18: Meditative Growling

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2008:

Psalms 1:1-3 (KJV)Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

Isaiah 31:4 (KJV) – For thus hath the LORD spoken unto me, Like as the lion and the young lion roaring on his prey, when a multitude of shepherds is called forth against him, he will not be afraid of their voice, nor abase himself for the noise of them: so shall the LORD of hosts come down to fight for mount Zion, and for the hill thereof.

Meditation.  It’s a term that many Christians have come to fear and to run away from.  We associate it with images of saffron-robed figures sitting in a far-away temple, chanting while billows of incense laden clouds rise in the background.  Because New Age and others have made such use of the term “meditation”, we seem to avoid it like the plague as Christians.  And that’s too bad because it is a biblical term describing a spiritual practice in which we should be engaged!

In the verses above, in English there are two words that relate to this topic.  In the first passage, it’s translated “meditate”.  In the Isaiah passage, it’s “roaring”, or as the NIV puts it, “growls”.  In Hebrew, the word in both places is identical: hagah.  Interesting, yes?

What’s the implication?  Our meditation should be like the lion that growls or roars over its prey.  What makes a lion roar over its prey?  I’ll grant you that I don’t know what lions really think, but here’s some thoughts:

FIRST: the lion has captured the prey but is in turn captivated by it.  It is enamored with it – the lion may not have eaten for days, and it has finally got something that can satiate its hunger and give it peace.  The Word of God is that way!

SECOND: the lion is so captivated by his prey that even though others come and try to scare it away by yelling, the lion ignores them.  It stays focused on what is right in front of it, on what it has found, and it refuses to let it go in spite of distractions or hostility.  As believers, this describes how our meditation should be – it is something that we should let no one take from us in spite of how much noise they might make!

THIRD: when the lion is consuming the prey (as we should consume the word in meditation), everything about the lion is caught up in the process.  It uses its tongue, teeth, stomach, intestines, it tastes, savoring what it devours.  In short, as Eugene Peterson put it, the lion is lost in what it is doing.  Not lost in a bad sense, but a good sense.  It should be that way with Christian meditation.  Haven’t you experienced times when the Word transported you away from everyday life and lifted you up higher than you thought you’d ever be?

It’s time that we take back meditation as a Christian discipline – let us growl over the Word and let nothing distract us from that time!!!!

PRAYER: Lord, in our busy lives we seem to have lost the time to meditate and we are the poorer for it.  Let us hunger for time alone with you and not settle for anything less!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 2/06/18 – Sanctifying Time

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DayBreaks for 2/06/18: Sanctifying Time

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2008:

In his book, The Rest of God, in which Mark Buchanan talks about Sabbath, he mentions the need for us to be engaged in “sanctifying time.”  It might seem strange when you think about it: after all, aren’t we sanctified?  If people are sanctified, how can you “sanctify time”?  And what would that mean?

The word “sanctify” in the Hebrew is the word that means “to betroth”.  Let that sink in for a second.  Betrothal – like Mary and Joseph.  Pledged to be married.  Committed to be married to that one person and no one else.  To be “set apart” for that one person that you love and who loves you.  Now, take that concept and apply it to time – especially “Sabbath time.”  Sabbath – rest – was a requirement.  It was up there with the other 9 commandments that formed the Decalogue.  None of us would dare to think too lightly of the commands “Thou shalt have no other gods before me”, or “Thou shalt not murder”, “Thou shalt not commit adultery”, “Thou shalt not steal,” etc.  Yet we tend to think that somehow this command of God to observe a time of rest is a minor command compared to the rest of the 10.  God sure doesn’t seem to think so. 

God instituted the idea of rest, of a period of time that we are to “set apart”, to betroth ourselves to if you will, because He created us from dust and He knows we are not able to keep going forever like He can without getting tired.  He knows how close we are at any given moment to returning to the dust from which we came – it is we who lack that awareness more often than not.  And because of that, God said: “Rest.” 

And so what is the purpose for the resting?  There are numerous things, but for now, we are to “set apart, betroth” a certain period of time to rest…and worship.  What did Israel do on the Sabbath?  They celebrated God, His blessings, His greatness…they worshipped Him for all He was worth.  That’s why such a strong word as “betrothal” is used to paint the picture of Sabbath…we are to be betrothed to those kinds of things as we rest.  Does that mean we have to go to church when we’re resting?  Absolutely not (even though from time to time during one of my sermons I’ll catch people ‘resting’ in their chairs)!  You can worship God at your desk at work, laying in the hammock, lounging by the pool, sitting in the shade with some lemonade and a good book – you can worship and reflect on Him anywhere. 

The problem with our leisure (what we think of as our day of rest) is that they’re not very leisurely at all.  We run into them pell-mell and without reservation – and we wind up more tired than when we started.  But the worst thing about it is that we usually leave God entirely out of our thinking at those times.  We’ve left the Holy out of our day of rest.

When is the last time you betrothed yourself to a time of rest and reflection on the One who has given you each day of your life and filled it with wondrous things?  We need that kind of rest!

PRAYER: Father, that you that you know our frailties and our deepest needs, including our need to rest in You.  Help us to sanctify time spent with You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 2/02/18 – The Hands of a Father, #1

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DayBreaks for 2/02/18: The Hands of a Father, #1

From the DayBreaks archives, 1/28/98: (this DayBreaks was written one week after my father died in 1998)

I remember as a child laying in the church pew (I was really young, OK?) and my dad would be resting his arm on the back of the pew with his fingers dangling down towards me.  I’d play with his fingers and hands while the preacher did his thing.  I remember thinking how powerful and strong my dad’s hands were.  He was a farmer then, so you know that they were broad, calloused and hardened from difficult work.

Last week as I sat by my father’s deathbed and I held his hand in mine, the situation had changed.  Once upon a time, it was my dad’s hand that enveloped mine.  Times when I was afraid, times when he was afraid for me (that I’d run into the road or something like that), times when he was trying to keep me from falling.  And certainly times just when he wanted to hold my hand or I wanted to hold his.

They say that at some point in our lives that the child becomes the parent and the parent becomes the child.  I guess that is what happened to my dad and I last week.  No longer could he hold my hand, now it was my hand that surrounded his and it was I who was trying to provide the comfort and assurance that I could. Yet for as much as my heart yearned to keep him from slipping off into eternity, I was powerless to stop it. And for his sake, I’m grateful that even as my hand had to let go of his, I know our Father had taken his hand to lead him home.

As I sat by his bedside holding his motionless hand, I thought about how many times the Father has held my hand and I’ve taken it for granted.  Psalm 37.23-24: If the LORD delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand.   Daniel 5.23b: But you did not honor the God who holds in his hand your life and all your ways.

I couldn’t begin to tell you how many times my dad held my tiny, weak hand in his.  I wonder how many times God has held my hand and I’ve been so insensitive that I didn’t even recognize it.  But there are even worse things than not recognizing His hand.  I have a choice to withdraw my hand from His (indeed, isn’t that exactly what we do every time we sin?).  I also have a choice to not take the hand that is offered to me (the way of escape from temptation is to take His hand and walk with Him through the test).

If I had the chance for my dad to hold my hand again, I’d grab it in a heartbeat.  I hope and pray that I’ll be as eager to let God hold my hand on this journey through life.  And I pray that I’ll never again be so insensitive to the Father’s hand upon my life.  My prayer for you is the same.

PRAYER: Lord, how desperately we need Your hand to hold ours!  We tremble in fear at the roaring of the world when we think we are alone.  May Your Almighty hand reassure us that we are never alone and we are never to fear with our Father at our side.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 2/01/18 – A Lamp, Not a Searchlight

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DayBreaks for 2/01/18: A Lamp, Not a Searchlight

From the DayBreaks archives, January 2008:

Psalm 119.105: Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.

Have you ever gone backpacking?  I have rather poor eyesight without my contact lenses, and at night when we are backpacking and I take my lenses out, I want to be sure that I don’t have to do any walking around or I can’t see a thing!  It can be awkward to be tripping and stumbling over unseen roots and rocks (not to mention it doesn’t impress my friends with my sheer athletic gracefulness)!!!

This verse from Psalm 119 is trying to tell us that we don’t have to walk in the darkness.  But it is important to remember what a lamp was in the days the passage was written.  Typically, the lamp being described was a small earthenware bowl with an elongated snout on one end into which a wick was laid.  One end ran into the bowl and the other lay on the outer edge of the “snout” and was lit.  It could usually fit easily into the hand.  Travelers carried these lamps at night so that they could see the terrain where they were walking.

It’s worth noting that the Word is described as being a “lamp”, not a high-powered searchlight.  The lamp of olden days gave light to the feet, but couldn’t give light for a great distance.  That’s the way it is with God – He gives us just enough to see the next couple of steps but not the complete pathway.  Why?  I think it is because if we had a high powered searchlight, we wouldn’t need faith, for then we would be walking by sight and not by faith.  God wants us to learn to trust Him with a future that is unknown (to us). 

Are you trying to direct your own steps?  Sometimes we can try to hard to plan the future and we rob ourselves of the excitement and joy of being led step by step.  Our planning tends to remove God and dependence on Him from our minds.  We must approach all of life with the attitude noted in James 4.13-15: “So you should say, ‘If the Lord wants, we will live and do this or that.'”  How often in the course of planning your day, let alone your week, month, year or life, do you stop to take God’s sovereignty into account?

Living day by day, depending on Him alone, is a tremendous adventure.  Don’t try to find the searchlight – be content with the lamp and trust that He truly knows the path.

PRAYER: Give us the wisdom to seek Your light and the courage to walk in Your pathway!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 12/12/17 – How Christians Can Make God Disappear

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DayBreaks for 12/12/17: How Christians Can Make God Disappear

From the DayBreaks archive, December 2007:

It was the Psalmist that perhaps most eloquently voiced the purpose of creation when he said, in Psalms 19:1-4 (NIV) The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.  Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.  There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.  Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun…

Have you ever wondered why God made physical things?  After all, He Himself is a spiritual being, as are we.  Could God not have created spiritual beings without physical bodies and without a physical realm to move around in?  Of course He could!  But He didn’t.  The reason why is unknown to us, other than the fact that God seems to delight in creating, and in the work of His hands – just like a master craftsman delights in a fine piece of jewelry or a chair or vase. 

I think, however, that the main purpose behind His creation – all of it, not just the physical realm – is found in the passage above: it exists to declare the glory of God.  Someone has said that creation is like God’s fingerprints.  From fingerprints alone we can’t tell too much about a person – we can’t know their character, interests, etc. – but we can tell that they were there.  It’s evidence of their existence.  Creation is evidence of His existence and it glorifies His name!

If only spiritual beings (humans, anyway) were as good at it as the physical universe.  We don’t do a great job of declaring the glory of God.  Joel Belz, in the December 8 issue of World Magazine, wrote: For the truest and most effective proponents of godlessness are almost never those who are most blatant about their mission.  They are instead those who purport to pick up any topic at all for further discussion—and then leave God out of that conversation.  Do that with a dozen such discussions, or maybe 20 or 100, and you don’t have to do much more.  You’ve implicitly made your case.  God doesn’t exist—or if He does, He doesn’t matter. 

What struck me about Belz’ statement wasn’t how the godless go about declaring that God doesn’t exist, but how subtly we as believers can, by the lack of our words and actions, also make God disappear.  When we leave God out of the public conversations we have (and the private ones as well), God has disappeared in that instance.  And, as Belz notes, if we do that often enough in dozens or hundreds of conversations, God is as good as invisible – He disappears from life and living. 

How many conversations do you have in the course of a day?  In how many of those conversations is even the name of God voiced (other than when someone uses His name in vain)?  Are you one of those Christians who makes God disappear, or do you, like the physical heavens, declare the glory of God?

PRAYER:  Father, Your Word says that someday we will shine like stars in the universe.  The universe proclaims Your glory – may we add our voices in our daily conversations!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.