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.  ><}}}”>

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DayBreaks for 6/14/19 – The Most Frequently Spoken Word in Heaven

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DayBreaks for 6/14/19: The Most Frequently Spoken Word in Heaven

What is your conception of heaven? Do you picture it as some sort of ethereal, cloudy, up-in-the-air-somewhere existence? You probably don’t picture it as floating around on a cloud with a harp, but you might picture it as a place where all that happens is singing praises 24×7 in a world where 24×7 is meaningless because time is no more. While I deeply love worship, I certainly hope there’s more to it than that – and I think it will be much more than that!

You know what I look forward to? Meeting Jesus and loved ones and great people of faith from all the ages are part of it, and I hope that my beloved pets will be there. But what I really look forward to is learning constantly and getting answers to the things that I don’t understand while I’m limited by my finite mind and the view from this world’s portal.  

C.S. Lewis once said that the most frequently spoken word in heaven would be, “OH.” As in, “Oh, now I understand.” Or, “Oh, now I see what God’s plan was.” Or, “Oh, now I see the reason for the trial I went through.”

Can you identify with that? I sure can.

We are told that God’s plan will work out for us for the good if we love him. But that doesn’t mean we understand why babies are stillborn, why someone kills one of our children in an act of violence, why cancer stalks us or why we are rejected and cast out. I honestly don’t think we’ll know those answers until we get to heaven. I suspect I’ll be saying “Oh!” a lot. For now our challenge is to trust him that all that happens is meant for our good and not our harm.

Jeremiah 29:11 (CSBBible) – For I know the plans I have for you—this is the LORD’s declaration—plans for your well-being, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

PRAYER: Give us patience and perseverance, Lord, until the answers to our confusion are made clear! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/06/19 – Bring on the Heat – NOT!

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DayBreaks for 6/06/19: Bring on the Heat – NOT!

Romans 12:19-21 (CSBBible) – Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for God’s wrath, because it is written, Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay, says the Lord. But if your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink. For in so doing you will be heaping fiery coals on his head. Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good.

I remember when I was young, I had a bit of a temper (or so my late mother used to say). I remember her talking about this verse and how I should respond with kindness to someone who wronged or hurt me. And I especially focused in on the part about…For in doing so you will be heaping fiery coals on his head. I liked that part a lot! It gave me a way, ever permission so I believed, to get revenge and cause pain in return – after all, fiery coals on the head would hurt!!!!

But as I read this verse yesterday, it struck me how twisted my youthful thinking was. The writer wasn’t advocating we do this so we can cause pain in return for the pain someone caused us. He was just stating a simple truth based on cause and effect: doing a good deed for someone who hurt you will probably cause them to rethink things a bit and may cause their conscience to pain them a bit. But we shouldn’t do good things for that motive. We should do it for what’s mentioned in the last sentence: that is how evil is overcome.

Isn’t that what Jesus did? He returned good for evil and as he himself said, Be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.

One more thought: we may think that we cannot return good for evil. But if it was impossible, we wouldn’t be told that we CAN conquer evil with good. I need to work on that!

Prayer: Jesus, help my motives to be pure in doing good so that evil can be overcome! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/03/19 – Blameless and Guiltless

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DayBreaks for 6/03/19: Blameless and Guiltless

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2009:

Psalm 32:2 – Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him.

Can you imagine what it would feel like to have never committed a sin?  I can’t, either.  But, I can imagine that it would feel quite different from anything we’ve experienced before.  I’ve never flown by my own power before so I can’t imagine the freedom that an eagle feels, but I would have to think that it might be something like the exhilaration of being sinless and having no memory of anything from the past that wasn’t pleasing or honoring to God. 

That being said, it is important that we consider a Scriptural perspective on sin and the believer.  In The Gospel According to Job, Mike Mason noted that there is a difference between blamelessness and guiltlessness: “…blameless is not quite the same as being guiltless.  Objectively these two conditions are identical, but they are attained through different routes.  If someone is guiltless, it simply means that he has done nothing wrong.  If he is accused of wrong, then  he is accused falsely and that is all there is to it.  But if someone is blameless it means something far more mysterious: it means that no matter how horrible his offenses may have been, all the charges against him has been dropped.  Absolutely no blame attaches to him, because the very one he offended has exonerated him.”

I was pondering just today the dilemma of righteousness.  Goodness knows that I am a sinner!!!!  Yet God says that He has given me the “robe of righteousness” that is Christ’s righteousness.  Many are the times that I don’t feel righteous.  Many are the times that I don’t feel blameless, and deservedly so.  The challenge for me, and possibly for you, is to believe and accept with a full heart that when God draped the robe of Jesus’ righteousness over my shoulders and over yours, that when God sees me, He sees me as blameless, guiltless and righteous. 

I sometimes tend to think of degrees of blamelessness or righteousness.  What folly!  One is either blameless and righteous, or one is not.  There is no middle ground, no gray area.  The only way one can be blameless and righteous is for one to have no guilt – none at all.  When God looks at me or you, He isn’t seeing us in our efforts at being righteous.  He is seeing us as totally blameless and righteous – for He sees us in Christ, totally forgiven – so much so that no guilt or blame can attach itself to us. 

Hard to believe and accept isn’t it?  Doubt it?  Check out Jude 24, which assures us in his wonderful doxology, that it is the Lord who is “able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious Presence without fault.”  Glory be to God!

Prayer: Words fail me, Lord, as I struggle to grasp this glorious truth of a life in Your Son Jesus’ righteousness!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 5/31/19 – With Unveiled Faces

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DayBreaks for 5/31/19: With Faces Unveiled

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2009:

Glory.  Every school boy dreams of it, of having one blinding moment of glory: winning the Olympic 100-meter dash, being the greatest hitter ever, racing 100 yards for the winning Super Bowl score.  Not everyone will experience those moments of glory, so they settle for something less spectacular.  Brian Kelly did.  He wanted to leave the earth in a burst of glory.  He died and was cremated in July 1994.  His instructions were to pack his ashes into a canister-sized fireworks shell and be fired into the air.  On August 12, 1994, at a pyrotechnician convention in Pittsburgh, the 2 pounds of the earthly remains of Brian Kelly were fired into the air, and he erupted in brilliant colors.  Then, blackness settled in.  It’s a kind of glory, I guess, but it faded quickly.

Paul, in 2 Corinthians 3 and 4 talks about glory.  Isaiah said the “whole earth is filled with His glory.”  Not just isolated pockets, but the “whole earth.”  He’s not just talking about the glorious things that God has made, not talking about that at all.  If you read Paul closely, you’ll see that the ministry we have of Jesus is entrusted into our hands, and that we ourselves are to shine with His glory!  That means that “we’re it”.  You and me – we are the ones who either display or darken the glory of God.  Paul gets very pointed about this in 2 Corinthians 3:7-11, where he wrote that God’s glory is in the gospel and person of Christ: “Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letter on stone (the law of Moses), came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of his glory, fading though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious?  If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness!  For what was glorious has no glory now in compassion with the surpassing glory (Jesus!).  And if what was fading away came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!

Paul was referring to how Moses’ face glowed from being in God’s Presence. His face shone…but then it started to fade.  The glory wasn’t Moses’ own…it was God’s, and Moses couldn’t hold or keep it.  So, Moses veiled his face – in the beginning to hide the radiance which was hurtful for others to look upon, but after it began to fade, he hid his face so others wouldn’t see that the glory was fading. 

But get this: that’s not the case with us. Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away. But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:12-18 (NIV) (emphasis mine, GCD)

Moses only saw God’s back, but we know “the glory of God in the face of Christ.”  Moses had to veil his face, but we can walk around without a veil.  Moses had to hide the fading glory on his face, but we’re invited to openly display it – because it doesn’t diminish with us, but in fact, it shines in us with “ever-increasing glory.”  Moses every day, became a bit more like his old self, but every day, by the Spirit that comes from the Lord, each day we become a little less like our old self and a bit more like Jesus!  We carry not only God’s name and nature, we also carry His all-surpassing glory!

For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.  

Here’s perhaps the kicker that keeps us straight on this matter: But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.   

All we can do is carry His glory in clay jars, jars that are fragile and rather boring in and of themselves.  We carry it inside of us – we are the clay jars – chipped, cracked, we break easily and we are just as prone (if not more so) to carrying trash as we are to carry treasure.  Believe it or not, the world will either see His glory in you and me, or they will not see it at all.  They see His glory any time that they see our plainness transformed, when something God-like breaks out from our plain and ordinary lives and others see it – even if it’s only its backside glimpse.  But it is there, within us, unmistakable if we are His. 

If God doesn’t go with us, there will be no glory in the clay pot that is our earthly body and spirit.  All we have to distinguish us from everyone else is what’s in this clay pot, this clay jar.  Unless God fills our jars, our bodies, with His mercy-loving, grace-giving, justice-doing Presence, we are nothing.  BUT…here it is, this is it: if He does go with us and we stand in constant awareness of His Presence, our task is simply this: to live with an unveiled face.  Our job is nothing more, and nothing less, than keeping the clay jar uncovered.

It is often in the brokenness of the clay jar (much like that which was seen when Gideon’s men broke their clay jars during their night victory over their enemies) that the glory of God is best revealed. 

Prayer: Our clay jars are weak and prone to fracture and leakage, Lord.  May our clay jars reveal Your glory and may our faces be unmasked and unveiled so that the ever-increasing glory of the Jesus who fills us can be seen!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 5/28/19 – Satan’s Psy Ops

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DayBreaks for 5/28/19: Satan’s Psy Ops

We can actually learn a lot about some of Satan’s strategies in spiritual warfare by studying the military strategies of some of the warriors of old. In his book Head Game, author Tim Downs writes:

“Psy-ops stands for Psychological Operations, a form of warfare as old as the art of war itself. An early example of this can be found in the battle strategies of Alexander the Great. On one occasion when his army was in full retreat from a larger army, he gave orders to his armorers to construct oversized breastplates and helmets that would fit men 7 or 8 feet tall. As his army would retreat, he would leave these items for the pursuing army to discover. When the enemy would find the over-sized gear, they would be demoralized by the thought of fighting such giant soldiers, and they would abandon their pursuit.

“Satan likes to play head games with us, too, often leaving us demoralized by fear or doubt. We assume Satan is bigger or greater than he really is. And the quickest way to thwart our enemy’s psy-ops is to gaze upon the greatness of our God. Perhaps all it takes is a quick look at Job 38:4–7: Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?  Tell me, if you understand.  Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!  Who stretched a measuring line across it?  On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?

Satan is no powder-puff to be toyed with or minimized – at least not if you are human.  But we also don’t need to fear him.  Our Father is more than capable of keeping that little bully in his place.  We’re even encouraged to “resist Satan” as we make our way through this world.  Will that antagonize him?  You bet.  And that’s just fine, because we aren’t alone in our resistance.  Our elder Brother went before us and antagonized him, and then defeated him.  All our enemy has to look forward to is doom and torment.  We, on the other hand, will be recipients of far better things, and we will witness the removal of our arch-enemy as he is thrown into the pit forever and ever. 

Prayer: May we find the courage that comes from knowing that no one and nothing in the universe can begin overthrow You, or even to threaten You.  We rejoice in Your victory and pray for the day when we shall see Satan once and for all put in his place!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 5/24/19 – Taking Hold of the Cross

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DayBreaks for 5/24/19: Taking Hold of the Cross

If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give it up for me, you will find it. – Matthew 10:38-39 (NLT)

In a world full of challenges to accomplish much and achieve great things, Jesus’ invitation to lose our life stands in stark contrast to what the world invites us to do.  To accept one’s cross seems counter-intuitive at best, and outright crazy according to human thought. 

There are several things about Jesus’ invitation that we must consider:

FIRST: in taking up our cross, we are following Him.  He invites us to do what He has done before us – accepting that cross that awaits.  Because he took up the cross first, if we fail to imitate him, we are not worthy of being his.

SECOND: Jesus only invites us to do the things that he’s already been willing to do.  He never asks us to go farther than he was willing to go. 

THIRD: Jesus doesn’t invite us to just get tough and pull ourselves up to heaven by our bootstraps.  He knows that isn’t possible.  He is fully aware, as Mike Mason put it in The Gospel According to Job, that “the only bootstrap in the Christian life is the cross.  Sometimes laying hold of the cross can be comforting; but other times it is like picking up a snake.  Christ Himself found this out when He cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

The cross is the only pathway to heaven.  Dying is the only pathway to life.

Prayer: Lord, we need your courage to be able to follow in your footsteps to our own cross.  As we embrace not only your cross, but ours, may we find life and life to the fullest.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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