DayBreaks for 11/14/17 – I Don’t Believe This!

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DayBreaks for 11/14/17: I Don’t Believe This

NOTE: Galen is traveling.

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

(11-06) 13:47 PST Manson, Wash. (AP) – “Charles and Linda Everson were driving back to their hotel when their minivan was struck by a falling object — a 600-pound cow. The Eversons were unhurt but the cow, which had fallen off a cliff, had to be euthanized.

“The year-old cow fell about 200 feet from the cliff and landed on the hood of the couple’s minivan, causing heavy damage.

“A Chelan County fire chief, Arnold Baker, said the couple missed being killed by a matter of inches in the accident Sunday on a highway near Manson.

“The Eversons, visiting the area from their home in Westland, Mich., to celebrate their first wedding anniversary, were checked at Lake Chelan Community Hospital as a precaution.

“Everson, 49, said he didn’t see the cow falling and didn’t know what happened until afterward.  He said he kept repeating: “I don’t believe this. I don’t believe this.”

This story is very similar to one I wrote about a number of years ago where a cow fell from the sky and sank a trawler in the Sea of Japan.  But this time, what caught my attention wasn’t the cow or the car or the oddness of the story per se, but the reaction of Mr. Everson.  “I don’t believe this.  I don’t believe this.”  I can picture him saying that over and over (I probably would have, too!), almost as if it were a mantra.  Let’s face it, it’s not every day that a cow falls 200 feet onto the hood of your car.  Have you ever had it happen to you?  I didn’t think so! (It hasn’t happened to me, either!)

Sometimes the collision of reality and our belief about how things are makes a mess of things – especially our minds.  It’s as if we’ve decided in advance what can be real and what can’t, and that based on our understanding, reality is limited. 

As I read Mr. Everson’s words, “I don’t believe this.  I don’t believe this,” I couldn’t help but think about what some folks will say someday when there is a brilliant light up in the clouds, a trumpet blast will pierce the air, and the Almighty and glorious risen Christ will appear.  There will be many who will probably start repeating a mantra like Mr. Everson’s: “I don’t believe this.  I don’t believe this!”  They will shut their eyes and try to cover their ears, all the while muttering to themselves “I don’t believe this.  I don’t believe this.”  And they may, if they have time, open their eyes to see if it was something they’d just imagined, or if it is still “there”.  I’ll tell you now: it’ll still be there – getting closer all the time!

Sadly, our beliefs, wants and wishes don’t define reality.  Of course, I can’t prove the Second Coming of Christ to you for one simple reason: it’s not a historic event – at least, not YET.  And once it does happen, it will become provable.  But at that point it will do no good to try to wish it away or to re-define reality.  In the meantime, may we live …circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.  Eph 5:15-16

PRAYER: Father, help us not to live in the delusions of our own imaginations or in denial of reality.  Make Your truth and Your Word to become the basis for all our beliefs, hopes and dreams.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 7/03/17 – Caleb and Courageous Conviction, #1

The hill country of Israel.

DayBreaks for 7/03/17: Caleb and Courageous Conviction, #1

I heard an interesting sermon on Sunday about conviction, and I thought that some of the points were worth sharing, so there’ll be several DayBreaks about it this week.

First, a bit of background. You recall the story of the spies who were sent into the Promised Land to spy out the land. Twelve were sent – and twelve returned, but there were radically different reports given by two of the spies named Joshua and Caleb. We normally think of Joshua as having been the older because he became the leader, however in Joshua 14, we learn that Caleb was 40 years old at the time he went into the land to spy on the Canaanites. Most believe Joshua was perhaps 17-25 at the time, though we don’t know for sure.

What prompted Joshua and Caleb to come back with a different report? That’s a good question. There is a rabbinic tradition that says that one night while they spies were in the land, Caleb arose in the darkness and traveled to Hebron (where the giant descendants of Anak lived) and went into the cave where Abraham and the patriarchs were buried (Numbers 13 does say they went to Hebron.) While there at the cave, he had an encounter with the God of Abraham, Jacob and Joseph that filled him with the conviction about God’s promise to the patriarchs that the land of Palestine was to be theirs.

I don’t know about the veracity of that rabbinical legend, but something stirred Caleb’s heart with conviction. In Joshua 14 starting with verse six, Caleb, at this time a man of 85 and most likely the oldest man in Israel (since only Joshua and Caleb who were alive when Israel left Egypt survived the wilderness wandering)  approached Joshua. Because he was the oldest man in Israel, people would listen to him. And he reminds Joshua about what the Lord told Moses about Joshua and Caleb 40-45 years earlier. Basically, Caleb reminds Joshua about how Moses had promised him the land on which Caleb had just walked.

Here’s the point for today: Caleb came back from the spying mission ready to go to war and take possession of the land. If you read his report he is full of courageous conviction about the ability of Israel to take the land. But ten of the spies reported that the band of spies were like grasshoppers to the giants in Palestine.

Therein, you see, is the problem. They were convicted that the people of the land saw them as tiny, puny and weak. But, at various points in the story, we are told that the people of Palestine were shut up in their cities because of fear of the Israelites. The ten spies were convicted and convinced by what they believe the inhabitants of the land thought of them. Joshua and Caleb (and Caleb seems to be the spokesman for the two of the spies who brought back a favorable report) was convicted and convinced by what God had said and promised.

Maybe you need to think about what you believe about yourself. You may think that you are weak, insignificant, powerless, puny and tiny because someone in your past has mocked and ridiculed you to no end. You may have yielded to the whispering of Satan in your ear that you’re too small and weak and sinful to ever be strong and courageous.

Who are you going to listen to? What others (including Satan) have said about you, or to what God says about you when He calls you His child, His beloved, that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus? Where will your conviction come from?

PRAYER: God, I thank You for courageous people like Caleb who remembered Your promises in the face of 6:1 odds and who stood on the courage of his convictions about Your faithfulness. For all those who are being convicted by the words others may say about them, I pray that they will hear Your words of love and worth when they are under attack and that they will be convicted by what You say, and not what anyone else says. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 8/22/16 – Misunderstanding Life – and the Father

 

DayBreaks for 8/22/16 – Misunderstanding Life – and the Father

There is no greater example of the gospel than that found in Luke 15 where Jesus tells three stories: the lost sheep, the lost coin…and the “prodigal son” story (and that’s a huge misnomer!) So, my dear, dear friend…this is a story for you…

Luke 15:17-20 (ESV) – But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.

Our lead teacher (Randy) has been doing a series on this chapter and it has been so rich! Sunday, he spoke about this son – this younger, prideful, rebellious son and about his return home. There were some key points that I wanted to share from his message because they blessed me and I think they’ll bless you, too.

FIRST: this young, headstrong and inconsiderate man thought that in license there would be freedom. He wanted to cast off the restraints of living in the presence of the father, thinking that if he could only go and do what he wanted, to be in charge and control of his own life, that he could find happiness. But, as Randy noted, “License always ends in bondage.” We think that the lack of restraints is what will not only bring us joy, but bring us freedom. It won’t. It ends in bondage. License doesn’t set you free – the Truth is what sets us free!

SECOND: the son totally misunderstood the father. He is hoping against hope to be welcome to serve as a hired hand in the father’s house and business. That’s all he could aspire to, all he could imagine after what he’d done to his father. But this just shows how badly he misunderstood the father. There is no way that the father would take his son back as a hired hand! No! This son was treated to the father’s very own rob, to shoes for his feet, a ring for his hand…but far more than that, what was the greatest gift of the father was his embrace and kiss. Fathers don’t embrace and kiss hired hands…but they do their sons and daughters. This son had no idea how much he was loved by the father until the embrace and kiss took place!

THIRD: perhaps most importantly – and I hope you don’t miss this one – the embrace and kiss are NOT given to the son because he came home.  They are given because he was a son…a child so deeply loved by the father that no other response from the father was even possible! The embrace and kiss had to be given because the father couldn’t not constrain his love.

In order to come home, we have to believe in the love of the father. The young man believed – or rather hoped – that there was some compassion in the heart of his dad.  He just didn’t know the love that was in the father’s heart.

And so it is with you and me. We won’t come home (not to a physical or metaphysical place) but into the relationship of the Father’s person, unless we begin to believe He loves us. And when we make the first step, oh sweet joy! – the Father runs to us, encircles us with His almighty arms, and gives us a “welcome home” kiss!

Are you away from “home”, thinking that maybe if you’re super lucky, that the Father might let you inhabit the darkest corner of heaven as a sweeper of the golden street? Forget it! You will be welcomed as a beloved child – and the greatest celebration of all eternity will begin – and never end!

PRAYER: Oh, Father, Father, Father! Your love is so overwhelming! Help us believe that You love us like this – even more than this – and that we are welcome in the home of Your embrace forever! In the name of Christ Jesus, our Lord, Amen. 

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

 

DayBreaks for 10/23/15 – Flirting With Unbelief

DayBreaks for 10/23/05: Flirting With Unbelief

From the DayBreaks archive, 2005:

Faith is such an intriguing topic.  We pray for it.  We practice it (to varying levels of success depending on the severity of the circumstances.)  When not much is truly at stake, it’s easier to say, “Yes, Lord, I trust you with this.”  But when life itself is on the line and we stand on the precipice of the great divide between this world and the next, how then does faith respond?  Chances are, that unless we’ve stood on that tiny shelf and looked down into the chasm of death ourselves, we really can’t answer that question very well.  It is an intriguing thing for me, as a pastor who has access to people who are looking into the grave, to observe their faith as it passes through the ultimate test.  With the very next step, they may plunge into the pit – and what then? 

We pray for healings.  Sometimes no healing comes.  Well meaning people may say that the only reason healing wasn’t granted is because the faith faltered – that is wasn’t really faith, but at most, wishful thinking or hoping.  Such well meaning people may have destroyed the faith of many who needed to be helped to grow in faith.  Shame on us when we think we know the reasons why God does or doesn’t do anything in a given situation.

But what about the times when healing DOES come?  We have another problem, then.  We live in a scientific age where it’s easy to explain how bacteria, viruses or tumors divide, grow and, sometimes, die.  And when that happens, we tend to not really exhibit faith too well, either.  Sometimes, there’s a diagnosis by a doctor that says there is a shadow on the lung or in the breast or contained in the cranium.  So we pray, our prayer chains light up like a blazing fire, and when a second opinion is sought or when the specialist is called in, the shadow is gone.  What happened? 

In a recent article in World Magazine, Andre Seu wrote about a diagnosis that filled her with dread, but when the second doctor ran the tests, nothing was found.  Here’s what she had to say: Now when do you have a certifiable miracle? Well, never, if you claim a priori that miracles have ceased. And never if, like me, your mind leaps like a duck on a June bug to naturalistic explanation: Doctor A blew it. The latter theory is possible, of course, but on the other hand, what would it take, and how much proof, before I acknowledged the supernatural in my life? (Father Abraham says even raising a corpse wouldn’t do it for folks of a certain ilk. Luke 16:31.) Francis Schaeffer draws the line precisely here between the Christian mind and the non-Christian mind: “I am not a Bible-believing Christian in the fullest sense simply by believing the right doctrines, but as I live in practice in this supernatural world.” (True Spirituality)

My violent intercessor seems to think that since we prayed watchfully (Colossians 4:2), and since the request we sought was granted, it’s a no-brainer that I need to give public glory to God. There are precedents, of course: The leper is healed and forthwith told by Jesus to go show himself to the priest (Matthew 8:4). Still I protested vainly: “Many godly people pray and are not healed.” Violent replied, “You were. Shout it from the housetops”—plus words to the effect that it’s a dangerous thing to ask the Almighty for something, and then, having received it, to flirt with unbelief. There was no gainsaying that, and in the end I saw the truth of it, and yielded doubt to faith, and that is why I tell you this.”  (Andre Seu, World Magazine, Oct. 1, 2005)

Have you received from God something you prayed diligently for, but when you received it, you gave the glory to medicine instead of God?  When will we learn that all healing truly does come from God – even when it is administered through the hands of a physician?  And rather than explain away such things as healings as a mere reversal or outworking of body chemistry, let’s climb to the top of the roof and there sing His praises for yet another miracle!

TODAY’S PRAYER: Father, we are so prone to rational explanations for all that happens in this world that we fail to give you the glory for what You do.  Open our eyes to see Your greatness and Your hand even in the tiniest things and teach us to sing Your praises!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2015 Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 9/03/15 – How a Fish Stick Changed the World

DayBreaks for 9/03/15: How a Fish Stick Changed the World

Then the two from Emmaus told their story of how Jesus had appeared to them as they were walking along the road, and how they had recognized him as he was breaking the bread. And just as they were telling about it, Jesus himself was suddenly standing there among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. But the whole group was startled and frightened, thinking they were seeing a ghost! “Why are you frightened?” he asked. “Why are your hearts filled with doubt? Look at my hands. Look at my feet. You can see that it’s really me. Touch me and make sure that I am not a ghost, because ghosts don’t have bodies, as you see that I do.” As he spoke, he showed them his hands and his feet. Still they stood there in disbelief, filled with joy and wonder. Then he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?”  They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he ate it as they watched. – Luke 24:35-43 (NLT)

Several days had passed since Jesus’ crucifixion and burial. There was no denying what had happened – and no one doubted he had died. The facts were obvious to all who were there. There was no expectation of a joyful reunion on earth. Such things just don’t happen – they didn’t then, and they don’t today.

And so let us be gracious to Jesus’ early followers. When Jesus does appear, there is fear galore, but not the tiniest inkling of faith. They recognized his form, his appearance, but they, like we, would probably make the assumption that a ghost looks like the person they once was (if we can speak of ghosts in such a way.)

What does Jesus do? He invites them to touch his body and thereby be convinced of his corporeal substance. This is flesh and bone, not as phantasm. You’d think that would be enough to convince them. The flesh, I’m sure, wasn’t cold and rigid, but warm and flexible. Yet it wasn’t enough to convince them. It probably wouldn’t have been enough to convince me, either.

So, Jesus asks for something to eat. They hand a him a piece of fish – a fish stick, if you will. And Jesus eats it. As Dave Buckley said in his blog post: “Enter the fish finger! This is the moment. The moment that a fish finger changed everything…As Jesus swallowed that fish finger, suddenly the idea of of him being alive again was easier to swallow too.”

That’s all it took – one fish stick. Their disbelief turned into a faith that would lead them all, save one, to martyrdom. That fish stick changed the world – and it has changed eternity because it turned doubters into absolute believers.

I don’t think I’ll ever look at a fish stick again in the same way because once the disciples saw a fish stick disappear, they never saw Jesus again in the same way.

PRAYER: Forgive us doubting humans, Jesus, for seeing and thinking with earthly eyes and minds. Don’t ever let us forget that You are the One who turns things from impossible into reality! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple. To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.

DayBreaks for 8/26/15 – The Power of Pretend

DayBreaks for 8/26/15: The Power of Pretend

From the DayBreaks archive, 8/25/2005:

Jesus said, ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matt. 18:3)

It won’t be long now until The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe finds its way to the big screen. I don’t know if you’ve seen previews of it, but it looks great. It is, of course, based on the book of the same name which is part of C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. How fitting (and delightful) that it should come to the big screen. Of course, I’ve not see it so I can’t vouch for the content, but what I’ve seen by way of previews looks very exciting, indeed. Already there are Christian books springing up in anticipation of capitalizing on the movie and the books that Lewis wrote. I even bought one.

In Aslan’s Call – Finding Our Way to Narnia, by Mark Eddy Smith, the author was speaking about the power of pretend, and how that sometimes, when in moments of weak faith, pretend seems to be able to convey truth that sometimes we miss in the middle of real life. Of course, the author points out, Narnia and Aslan are pretend, while earth, heaven and Jesus are very real, indeed. Nonetheless, he wrote concerning the verse above: “The specific childhood virtue to which he alluded is humility, but it cannot have escaped his attention that the thing for which children are best known is their ability to pretend, to make believe that they are mothers or fathers, Davids or Goliaths, camels or coyotes. When someone tells them there’s a man who can walk on water, their eyes go wide and they gasp in astonishment, just as if they had seen it themselves. The next time they’re at the beach, they give it a try; and their disappointment when they sink is profound…The stories in the Bible tell us we can change the world, indeed that we must, and maybe we long to believe them, but it’s hard because of the sinking we did when we were children.”

I remember trying to walk on water as a child, and failing. Was I disappointed? Yes, I was. In many things since my childhood, I’ve tried to take a step in faith. Sometimes it was successful (although it isn’t really about me and my success as much as it is my willingness to say, “Yes, Lord!” when he asks me to take a step), many times I failed. When I failed, it was usually because whatever I was trying to do didn’t make sense to me, or rather, I concluded that it would never work and didn’t take that step of faith because I was afraid that I’d sink, just like I did when I tried walking on water as a little kid. “It didn’t work then, it won’t work now,” might as well have been my mantra. And sadly, there are still times in my life now when I don’t try to walk on the water anymore. And that is a tragedy, because life lived with Jesus calls for walking on water, for the power to imagine what could be, for the excitement and amazement of the adventure that beckons us onward. If Jesus walks on water, and I am to follow him, doesn’t it stand to reason that I must walk on water at least part of the time, too? Of course, I’ll only be able to walk on the water if I’m walking with him and through his uplifting power and Presence. 

Imagine. Imagine what God could do through you. If you need to pretend in your head first, fine…go right ahead. But don’t let it stop there. After the Spirit puts the vision in your heart and confirms it, live it!!!!

PRAYER: Lord, we long for a great adventure, but are afraid to take the first step because we’ve failed so often. Help us to take the first step when Your Spirit shows us the direction! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple. To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.

DayBreaks for 8/17/15 – The Except for Me Syndrome

DayBreaks for 8/17/15: The Except for Me Syndrome

There are optimists and there are pessimists and there are realists.  It seems that to some extent we have a predisposition one way or the other, and that’s OK.  I like to think of myself as a realist, but optimists would say I’m a pessimist, and pessimists would say I’m too optimistic.  I can live with that when we’re talking about the sorts of things that happen in this world. I’ll joke around about winning the Publisher’s Clearing House contest, but realistically, I’m not holding my breath. When I’m driving around and see billboards talking about what the lottery prizes are for the week, I may joke about getting a ticket, but I don’t – not because I’m a pessimist, but a realist. I know that I’m not going to win that $117 million dollars even if I did buy a ticket (which I won’t)! I suspect there are lots of people like me, who believe that great things will never happen.

The problem is when we carry that over into our relationship with God.  We can fall into what I am calling the “Except for Me Syndrome.” Think about these passages and see if you’ve ever had thoughts like these:

Long ago the LORD said to Israel: “I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself. – Jeremiah 31:3 (NLT)  I hear myself sometimes say, “Yes, Lord, I believe that, except for me…you can’t possibly love me that way after all I’ve done.”

…as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:12 (NIV)  Are you thinking, “Yes, Lord, I’m sure that’s true for everyone except for me…I am far too sinful.”

However, those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them. – John 6:37 (NLT) “I’d love to believe that, Lord, and I do…except for me. I’ve done too much to ever be accepted.”

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are… – 1 John 3:1a (ESV) “Everyone in the pew with me on Sunday is your child, except for me.  You couldn’t possibly be referring to someone like me as your child!”

He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. – Revelation 21:7 (KJV) “This is true of Christians, except for me, because I not much of an overcomer.”

For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us.  Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever. – 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10 (NLT) “How I wish I could believe this, Lord, that you aren’t angry with me ad that you’ll save me so I could live forever with you. I’m sure that you’ll save Billy Graham and Mother Theresa and good folks like that, most Christians, in fact, except for me.

My friends, if those words, except for me, are in your head when you think of the promises of God and the extent of his love and grace towards you, stop. Move those words out of your mind and your heart. God’s promises are either true or they are not. He is no respecter of persons. He never changes. He has never broken a promise or told a lie. He cannot do either. If He is able to save anyone and remove their sins as far as the east is from the west, He can do it for me, and for you. Not only can He, He has already done so for those who are in Christ!

PRAYER: God, as much as we’d love to dare to hope in your promises, we struggle sometimes to do so because we don’t really know you well enough! Help us lay hold of your promises and live in great celebration as children of the Great King! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

 To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.