DayBreaks for 7/17/19 – On Bumper Stickers and Belief

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DayBreaks for 07/17/19: On Bumper Stickers and Belief

From the DayBreaks archives, July 2009:

Bumper stickers have always held a certain fascination for me.  Whenever the car in front of me has a bumper sticker plastered on it, I try to get close enough to read it.  Most bumper stickers are relatively innocuous, some are outright offensive, and a few speak truth and a few others are humorous.  For many, it seems that bumper stickers contain the sum of all wisdom.

There is one bumper sticker, though, that I’m sure you’ve probably seen, and it goes like this: “God said it, I believe it, that settles it.”  I know that the intent of this bumper sticker is to be a Christian witness and a statement that accepts the authority of God to speak and proclaim truth.  So, those are the good things about this particular bumper sticker and I am sure the intent of those who have this sticker on their car are good and heart-felt.  I applaud them for their desire to witness.

I have a problem, however, with that bumper sticker.  The form it takes is that of A+B=C (God said it + I believe it = that settles the issue).  Here’s my beef about it: I would much rather that the bumper sticker simply says, “God said it, that settles it.”  Here’s my point: whether I believe what God says or not has nothing to do with whether what God said is the final word on the issue.  My belief does not make something so.  What makes something so is simply whether or not God has said it is true, that it is so.  And THAT settles the issue.

There are great debates that rage in Christian circles today about many issues that some term “cultural” rather than religious or theological.  There are many movements in the church as a whole today that tend to minimize or discard certain things that God has weighed in on.  In many cases, they do so because they say that the number of times that God said something are few and far between – as if that is sufficient evidence that God doesn’t care much about the topic or he would have said more about it.

It all boils down to an issue of authority.  Not many Christians would argue that God doesn’t have authority – that would be a foolhardy argument to press in any circumstance.  But there are those who don’t accept the authority of Scripture…that if it says anything at all, it means what says, whether it’s mentioned once to ten thousand times.  If we are accepting of God’s authority, whether we believe what He says is right or not, if God said it, that settles it.  Period, over and out.
PRAYER: Let us bow our knees before you willingly, Lord, in full recognition of Your total and complete authority in all things!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

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DayBreaks for 7/16/19 – Knowing and Unknowing

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DayBreaks for 07/16/19: Knowing and Unknowing

From the DayBreaks archives, July 2009:

I love the series of questions God asks Job at the end of that marvelous book!  I can’t do any better job of answering them than Job did, but I love the questions!  I have grown to love the mystery of God, and the revelation of Him at the same time.  Do I know God?  Yes.  Do I know God?  No.  Somehow, both answers are correct.  Can I explain God?  Yes – it is part of my job.  But can I really explain God?  No – it is part of my limited human nature that makes me unable to do so. 

We live in a world where people like to make us believe they are experts.  I have no doubt that some people are far more expert than me at many things…but when compared to what God knows about their subjects, are they really experts?  No!  We are all novices before the mystery that is He. 

But we like experts, don’t we?  After all, we tend to trust what they say and accept their advice if we’re wise.  When your doctor tells you that you need surgery, you do it because you trust her expert judgment versus your own.  When your financial advisor gives you advice, you tend to accept it because they’ve studied the markets and financial instruments for years.  Mechanics, lawyers, teachers, professors – all have credibility as experts because of what they have learned.  But all are novices before God Himself.

Jesus was the expert on God.  Jesus didn’t just spend 12 years in school studying God – He was God, He was in the beginning with God – for eternity past He studied God and was God.  If there ever was an expert on God, it was God Himself, made flesh and dwelling among us. 

There are many who doubt God’s existence.  There are even “experts” who say boldly that there is no God – and they are certain of it.  Perhaps Rabbi David Stern put it best when he said, “We must be careful not to blur the distinction between the indiscernible and the nonexistent.”  Just because you or someone you know can’t discern with the 5 senses that God exists (although I think you could argue that!), we mustn’t rush to conclude that He doesn’t exist. 

At best our knowing will retain much unknowing.  But I’m OK with that.  Because what I do know has made me confident of what God is like.  I can’t wait to get to heaven so that some of the unknowing is removed as eons of eternity roll slowly by!

PRAYER: There are so many things we want to know about You!  Help us not to lose sight of what Jesus has shown us as we search for more knowing!  May we live in peace with the Mystery that is You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/11/19 – Elevator Music and Emergencies

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DayBreaks for 7/11/19: Elevator Music and Emergencies

Just this past week I was up in British Columbia doing some salmon fishing with my great friend, Ken.  As is the case with all good things (except God!), they must come to an end, and we found ourselves getting on a puddle-jumper plane to take us back to Vancouver from Campbell River, BC.  This plane look like a flying breadbox.  It wasn’t round – it was more square, and the wings looked about 3 sizes too small to be able to provide enough lift to get the beast off the ground. 

As we prepared to pull away from the gate, they started the familiar ritual of running through the emergency instructions.  As the flight attendant read the instructions (this wasn’t like a big jet that has a tape deck where they play the instructions from a cassette!!!), there was elevator music playing in the background – soothing, calming, almost loud enough to make one drift off to sleep.  And that’s when it struck me: this was a parallel for life and how Satan plays against the Word of God. 

God’s Word is full of instructions – emergency instructions, if you please – about how to avoid a coming firestorm, how to avoid self-inflicted catastrophies and injury in life, how to avoid burn-out, self-destruction, guilt, shame, divorce and a life lived in utter meaningless.  Many people (though fewer than in past decades) know what is in the Good Book because they’ve heard it so many times.  But in the background, subtle but ever present, is Satan’s elevator music.  His music is intended to make us think, “This kind of stuff won’t happen to me, so I don’t need to worry about it.  I’m safe.  All those warnings are just the fantasies of some God who simply likes to be in control and have His own way.”  The elevator music of Satan is designed to make us relax, to not listen as closely, or to think about the consequences of ignoring God’s instructions.  Let’s face it: no one likes to listen to scary warnings about crashing and burning or going down over water, but everyone likes music, right?

Don’t let Satan’s elevator music drown out the voice and wisdom of God.  Let His Word through to your heart and mind and soul, take it serious, for He knows whereof He speaks!

PRAYER: Awaken in us a sense of urgency to hear Your voice and alert us to the subtle lullabies Satan would sing to our hearts to make us dull and sleepy.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/9/19 – Final Judgment

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DayBreaks for 07/09/19: Final Judgment

From the DayBreaks archives, July 2009:

No one likes the idea of being subject to a judgment against themselves.  We don’t want to be dragged into a court of law by a disgruntled neighbor, co-worker or stranger – even if we are guilty or liable for something.  We don’t like being judged.  Just look at the emotional reaction of people when they even “feel” like they’re being judged!!!

The Bible plainly speaks about judgment.  There’s simply no getting around the fact.  There are those in theological circles that are considered universalists, who hold that even after death, God will continue to hold out the possibility of salvation until eventually everyone gives in and receives salvation because the find the offer irresistible at some point after death – even if it takes thousands or millions of years.  Others (annihilationists) hold that it is only those who have accepted God’s offer of eternal life and that the wicked will just simply cease to exist at death.  The traditional view (which I ascribe to) is that there is eternal reward and eternal punishment, based on our acceptance or rejection of God’s merciful gift.

In musing on this, N. T. Wright wrote: “I find it quite impossible, reading the New Testament on the one hand and the newspaper on the other, to suppose that there will be no ultimate condemnation, no final loss, no human beings to whom, as C. S. Lewis put it, God will eventually say, “Thy will be done.”  I wish it were otherwise, but one cannot forever whistle “There’s a wideness in God’s mercy” in the darkness of Hiroshima, of Auschwitz, for the murder of children and the careless greed that enslaves millions with debts not their own.  Humankind cannot, alas, bear very much reality, and the massive denial of reality by the cheap and cheerful universalism of Western liberalism has a lot to answer for.”

Judgment is a very sobering thought.  It is also a very real reality (as if there were any other kind.)  We have a hard time bearing such searing reality as that of facing the ultimate Judge in the Final Judgment.  But denying it won’t make it go away, no matter how hard we try to click our heels and say “I want to go home…I want to go home…I want to go home” to get away from the great white throne – it won’t happen.

Be ready for it.  Expect it.  Live with it in mind and in heart.  Jesus will be our shield against the wrath of God on that great, and terrible, day. 

PRAYER: Thank You, Jesus, for having already prepared out case before the Judge.  Thank You for telling us the verdict in advance.  You, o Lord, are our only hope and defense!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/20/19 – Receiving a Death Sentence

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DayBreaks for 06/20/09: Receiving a Death Sentence

From the DayBreaks archives, June 2009:

I always find video clips of court sessions where the defendant receives a death sentence interesting.  It is the expression, or lack thereof, on the face of the defendant that interests me.  Sometimes there is no reaction, sometimes they are stunned, at other times they have a very strong physical reaction.  I have often wondered how it must feel to them at that moment when the sentence is read. 

Last week, my beloved boxer, Casper had a close call.  We were going out for our daily walk to the mailbox to get the bills and junk mail.  We’d barely walked out of the garage and he collapsed and struggled to get back up.  After a few seconds that seemed like hours, he gave up struggling and lay in my arms.  I felt for his heartbeat and could feel nothing.  He stopped breathing.  I was at first puzzled, hinking perhaps he’d hurt his hind leg, but then the reality hit me: injured legs don’t stop hearts or breathing.  And my worst fear came to mind: that Casper, like the last boxer I had before him, had dilated cardiomyopathy (an enlarged heart).  It is a relatively common problem in boxers and it had taken Ramses’ life when he was just 5 years old.  All I could think to do with Casper was hold him, talk to and pet him, and then it hit me: do CPR and see if you can get his heart beating and lungs working again.  So, I thumped him on the ribcage a few times, gave him a few breaths of air, and (praise God!) he came back.  Today, you’d never know anything happened by looking at him or watching him.

We took him to the vet who ran tests. I expected to hear the worst – to hear a death sentence pronounced on my beloved dog: “Casper has dilated cardiomyopathy.”  But instead, the vet said that the heart looked good, the EKG was perfectly normal.  So, the cause of the collapse remains a mystery.  It made me think, however, about death sentences.

It was the apostle Paul who referred to the sentence of death in 2 Cor. 1:9-10 (NIV): Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us…” 

In context, Paul is describing the sufferings they endured in order to preach the gospel.  I believe that when we were born, we all received a sentence of death due to our sin nature.  If you are born a human, you are born with that sentence hanging over your head.  You can’t avoid it by having your parents sign some kind of waiver.  The only way to avoid the death sentence is to be given a full and complete pardon by the Judge.  As Paul put it, we have been given the sentence of death so that we will rely on God rather than our own wiles and cleverness or our ability to excuse or argue that we’re not guilty of sin.  God has pronounced sentence: The soul that sins shall die and The wages of sin is death.

The problem is that we often fail to remember that we are under a death sentence until Christ gives us the reprieve and grants us real life.  Casper will die someday.  I will die someday.  But by God’s incredible grace, I shall live again.

Prayer: Father, death is such an enemy.  You have told us that the wages of sin is death, but the free gift You offer us is life through Christ Jesus.  May we consciously live in the awareness that all that is in this created world is passing away, including our physical bodies, and that we need the breath of Life more than we could ever imagine.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/19/19 – A Lesson from Screwtape

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DayBreaks for 06/19/09: A Lesson from Screwtape

From the DayBreaks archives, June 2009:

One of the most intriguing and insightful characters in Christian literature must be Wormwood.  Wormwood is a junior devil in C. S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters.  The book consists of an exchange of letters from Screwtape (a senior devil) and Wormwood (Screwtape’s nephew and a junior devil) who is learning how to tempt humans. The subject of getting humans to fall and disobey gets a great deal of press. 

At one point, Screwtape has this to say to his nephew, Wormwood: “It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: in reality, our best work is done by keeping things out.” 

I don’t know about you, but I’ve often thought of the devil as putting tempting thoughts and images into my mind.  I don’t know how accurate Screwtape’s words are, but the point is well made.  Scripture would tend to back it up, methinks:

But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. – James 1:14 (KJV)  It is our “own lust” that draws us away.  I don’t know about you, but whatever it is I might be lusting for (members of the opposite sex, chocolate, money, glory, etc.) comes from within me – not from outside me – which says something profound about us as humans and what lurks in our hearts.

Is there some kind of antidote for the poison that dwells with us?  If Screwtape was right, it seems to me that the answer is not in trying to keep things out of my mind, but to keep the right things in my mind: Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8 (KJV)

May your mind be filled with these good things so there is no emptiness waiting to be filled by the sinful imaginings of our own hearts.

Prayer: Lord, help us to WANT to think on good things and to learn to abhor the evil we are so prone to contemplate.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/17/19 – It’s the Little Things

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DayBreaks for 6/17/19: It’s the Little Things

From the DayBreaks archive: June, 2009

I’m not good at remembering birthdays, anniversaries or dates when special things have happened.  Just ask my wife.  She is wonderfully tolerant of me, and after years of marriage, has come to understand that there’s a good chance that I’ll forget something special about any given day.  Still, I try to remember and do something special on her birthday, Mother’s Day, our anniversary or some other special day.  And, bless her heart, it doesn’t have to be some “big” thing.  In fact, she’ll often say something to the effect that “It’s the little things that matter.”  What she’s trying to say is that if it is a little thing I thought of and it came from my heart, she’d rather have that than something that means nothing to me – or to her. 

Truly, little things matter.  Sometimes they matter a great deal.  We love to visit Civil War battlefields, for example: Manassas (Bull Run), Antietam and Gettysburg.  In anticipation of those visits, I’d researched those battles.  I am most fascinated by Gettysburg – I’ve been there twice and can’t wait to go again.  The battle there raged for 3 days with over 50,000 casualties.  Lincoln was right when he called it “hallowed ground.” 

I can’t help but think about the battle and how it waxed and waned…how it could have been avoided or won or lost by one small decision, a choice, that could have gone either way.  No one planned for a battle there – the Confederate troops went to Gettysburg because they heard that there were shoes to be had in the town – and many of the troops were marching without shoes.  So, a decision to go there to seek shoes, of all things, led into the greatest battle ever fought on American soil. 

Consider the Confederates decision not to push the attack at the end of the first day when they had overwhelming advantages in numbers.  By that one decision, it gave the Union troops time to get to Gettysburg and settle upon the high ground – easily defensible.  Consider the Union commander’s decision to deploy troops on a hill (Little Round Top) at the southern end of the area, where no fighting had taken place.  Some of the fiercest fighting would occur there on day two, and if the Union troops had not been present and held their ground, the entire Union army would have been flanked and the war would most likely have been over.  Consider Lee’s decision to attack the center of the Union line on day three, believing that they’d break there – in spite of the advice of his “war horse” General Longstreet – who said such an attack would be disastrous – and it was, as Pickett’s charge failed with horrendous loss of life.

Single decisions.  Thousands of lives affected forever.  History changed.  Reputations made or destroyed.  Life is like that.  And here’s perhaps the scary thought: spiritual decisions have eternal ramifications, not just ramifications for our three-score and ten years.  What kind of decisions are you making?  Where will they lead you?  What will their effect be on those around you – and on those you love – both now and beyond the grave?

Prayer: Lord, we cannot know the full impact of the decisions we make on ourselves, let alone on others, so we pray for Your wisdom to guide our decisions and make them wise.  May we honor Your will with the choices we make this day.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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