DayBreaks for 1/07/20 – Fear and Control Freaks

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DayBreaks for 1/07/20: Fear and Control Freaks

From the DayBreaks Archive, January 2010:

Of all the human emotions, perhaps fear is the one that I really dislike experiencing.  OK, I’ll admit, I was raised in the age of the Marlboro man – someone who was always in control of the world around him, master of fearlessness, brave, courageous and bold.  Fear is for wimps, I thought. 

Life has a way of changing how we feel about things.  When we were young, we weren’t smart enough to be afraid…really afraid.  Oh, sure, we might have been afraid of flunking a chemistry test or of being turned down if we asked a girl out on a date (or even more embarrassing, being turned down if you tried to kiss her goodnight on the doorstep!)  But those are hardly earth-shattering things to be afraid of.

As we age, the things we fear change, too.  We start to fear for the one we love – of something bad happening to them.  That’s partly because we genuinely don’t want anything to happen to them – but underlying all that is fear for ourselves – how we would feel, how we would cope, about the overwhelming powerlessness of the situation.  And then we fear for our children.  The first time they cough we fear they’ve contracted dengue fever or something like bubonic plague rather than a common cold.  They start to drive and we fear, perhaps really fear for the first time, for their very lives.  We can’t bear the thought of what it would be like without them, of the grief that would rend our hearts.

Max Lucado, in Fearless, considered fear and had this to say: “[Fear] turns us into control freaks … [for] … fear, at its center, is a perceived loss of control. When life spins wildly, we grab for a component of life we can manage: our diet, the tidiness of our home, the armrest of a plane, or, in many cases, people.

“The more insecure we feel, the meaner we become. We growl and bare our fangs. Why? Because we are bad? In part. But also because we feel cornered.

Martin Niemöller documents an extreme example of this. He was a German pastor who took a heroic stand against Adolf Hitler. When he first met the dictator in 1933, Niemöller stood at the back of the room and listened. Later, when his wife asked him what he’d learned, he said, “I discovered that Herr Hitler is a terribly frightened man.” Fear releases the tyrant within.”

The New Year is young, but by the time you read this, you’ll hear more about terrorist bombings and possible wars, down days on the stock market, depressing economic news, you may be fearful of the direction the country is or isn’t heading.  You may be afraid of a pink slip at work, or a divorce filing at home.  Fear is a terrible master.  Don’t let it master you and let loose the tyrant hiding inside your heart.

PRAYER: We so desperately need to learn to rest in Your goodness and care for us and not to be afraid, Lord.  Give us peace in a world full of fear and fear-mongering!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/26/18 – The Hunger to Be Somebody

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DayBreaks for 10/26/18: The Hunger to Be Somebody

What does success look like to you?

Winning the championship over all the other teams in your sports league?

Checking off every item on your to-do list?

Getting that new job or promotion you were hoping for?

Putting the kitchen in order after making a homemade meal from scratch?

To James and John, success looked like sitting next to Jesus, each on one side of their Lord, basking in his reflected glory. And that’s not particularly bad, is it? Don’t we all long to be next to Jesus? But there’s a problem: perhaps they imagined him as a king seated on a great throne with themselves as his trusted advisors on thrones that were just a little less glorious. Whatever their mental image, their longing for success was so strong that it overcame any reluctance they might have had in approaching Jesus.

At least the way they opened the conversation suggests some hesitation on their part. “Teacher,” they began, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” Instead of asking Jesus directly, James and John seemed to test him out first. Like children coming to Mom and Dad with something they know isn’t quite right, they apparently hoped that he would say yes first and ask questions later. But Jesus wisely and quite rightly responded with a question of his own: “What is it you want me to do for you?

Finally the two brothers made their request, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” No wonder they had tried to approach Jesus in such a roundabout way. They hoped to be singled out for places of honor above everyone else, even above their fellow disciples.

Everybody wants to be somebody. Since the dawn of history, human beings have been trying to move up the scale of importance. The clincher used by the serpent to tempt Adam and Eve was “when you eat of [the tree of good and evil], your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:5). Henri Nouwen says that ever since then, we have been tempted to replace love with power. “The long painful history of the church is the history of people ever and again tempted to choose power over love, control over the cross, being a leader over being led.” This is a theme running through the Bible, through human history and through our own psyche. Do you see it in yourself?

PRAYER: Lord, help us to be content with our identity as your beloved children and choose love rather than dominion or favor!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 2/19/18 – The Worst Hallucination

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DayBreaks for 2/19/18: The Worst Hallucination

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2008:

We tend to think of hallucinations as the result of mind-altering chemicals – either when naturally occurring chemicals in the brain are out of balance, or when controlled substances are put into the body.  Some hallucinations are terrifying – people imagine they are being hunted down by some beast or a person intent on killing them.  Others are tamer, and some are hallucinations of beauty.  Regardless of the subject matter, the truth about hallucinations is that they’re, well, hallucinations.  They are not real.  And while the hallucination itself can’t harm us, we may do something in response to the hallucination that can be hurtful…or even deadly.

As bad as some hallucinations may be, the worst ones are probably spiritual in nature.  Mark Buchanan in The Rest of God, suggests that the worst hallucination that humans can have is the conviction that we are God.  No, most of us would never dare to say such a thing out loud, or even to think it consciously.  But, his point is that our actions speak louder than words when it comes to this topic.  It is our busyness that reveals who we think is in charge of our lives and who our present and future depends upon. 

Why is it busyness that reveals this to us?  Because it shows us that our actions say that we believe our destiny and security and fate is all dependent upon us and what we do – that it’s in our own hands to make our break our future.  It is as if we have reached the conclusion that “If I don’t take care of myself, no one will,” and so we are always pushing, worrying, stressing out over the myriad things that call our name and demand our attention.  That’s why rest, Sabbath and sleep are so important.  They remind us that things do go on without us. 

Spiritual hallucinations are like all other hallucinations in some ways: they aren’t real, they can harm us and in fact, can be deadly.

PRAYER: Keep us, we pray, from hallucinations about our own greatness and importance.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 5/12/17 – The World’s Deadliest Illusion

DayBreaks for 5/12/17: The World’s Deadliest Illusion

John 19:10 (NIV) Do you refuse to speak to me? Pilate said. Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?

I’ve got to admit that I’m fascinated by the great illusionists.  To this day, I don’t understand how David Copperfield could make an airplane, the statue of Liberty, or even a nickel disappear like he does!  Fascinating. 

The greatest illusion of life may be the fact that we think we have power, that we put ourselves in a position of judging God.  Of course, there is some truth to this idea that we have power – God has given us the right to choose, but we must not mistake that for having power.  Our choosing is a God-given right and he gives us the power in our hearts and minds to choose many things.  One of those things we can choose to believe is truth – or we can believe lies.  Pilate found himself in a situation where he truly thought he had jurisdiction over Jesus, that he, Pilate, was in charge of the unfolding events and that he would determine the outcome.  He claims to have the power to either free Jesus or kill him.

Think about that a moment: recall how that when Jesus was being tempted to cast himself off a high place so Satan would yield to him, even Satan noted that Jesus had the power to summon angels to come and catch him so he wouldn’t even hit his foot against a stone.  Do you think for one moment that Jesus, as he stood before Pilate, could not have called a million angels to come and obliterate Pilate, the angry mobs, the hypocritical religionists, and the entire Roman army and empire?  In the OT, all it took was a single angel to kill 185,000 Assyrians!  If an angel is that powerful, how much more powerful is the One who created them?!!! 

Pilate had no idea what he was saying because he’d bought the lie of having power over Jesus, and by extension, over God.  We are not so very different.  We think that through our prayers we can manipulate God into doing what we want him to do – and we may even think that He’s obligated to give us what we pray for – but he’s not.  We think that we can lift a passage out of context and make it an absolutely binding promise on God – forgetting that God sets conditions (some of which we know and some of which we don’t), that involves our obedience, or our faith, or our motives.  James says we can ask but not receive because we’re asking for something driven by our own greed and selfishness – not so we can use if for God’s purposes.  So we can’t just take Jesus’ statement that we can ask for anything and that God is under our power to have to give it – we tend to forget the conditions: if you ask in my name, for the things that Jesus wants, that he approves of for us.

If we had power in any way, shape or form over God, He would no longer be God – we would be.  If in any way at any time, humans can force God to do something, God is no longer all-powerful, he would cease to be El Shaddai, The Lord God Almighty. 

The end result of our belief that we have power over Jesus is seen by our rebellion to God’s ways.  If we believe we are in control of our lives, that we have only ourselves to answer to, we will choose inevitably what we believe is in our own best interests.  And because we cannot see the future events before they unfold, we’re at best guessing blindly as to what will be in our best interests in the long run.  Only one who knows the consequence of every decision, the intricacies of every human interaction with absolute clarity, can know what will work out for the best for us in the long run. 

Because Pilate truly believed he had power over Christ, he made the decision to crucify him, not knowing that he was doing exactly what God had planned to have happen from eternity past.  God’s plan will not be thwarted by puny humans who have a god-complex about themselves. 

This calls for deep introspection – not by ourselves, but by the Spirit.  We can’t trust ourselves to be honest or to see the truth.  I need to take some quiet time aside and ask the Spirit to search my heart and show me where I seem to think that I’m God and that He is not.  And then I need to ask God to forgive me, humble me, change me so that instead of being like Pilate, I’m like Jesus, who constantly submitted himself to the will and power of the Father.

PRAYER: God, keep us from the foolishness of thinking that we have any control or power over you.  Help us to remember we are the clay – not the Potter, we are just sheep and You are the Shepherd.  Help us to yield our desire for control to the control of Your Spirit. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

 

DayBreaks for 11/9/16 – God Is Well Today

DayBreaks for 11/09/06: God Is Well Today

Do you have days when you just don’t feel quite right? Maybe you woke up this morning and looked at the election results and felt sick to your stomach. Sometimes, you may not feel good because you didn’t sleep well during the night, or you’ve got a low-grade fever and are slightly discombobulated, maybe a bit on the dizzy side.  If I don’t eat on a fairly regular schedule, I can get feeling weak rather quickly.  And while I know (intellectually at least) that I am not God and that God is not one of us, there have been times when I was at least tempted to think that perhaps God just wasn’t quite with it, either.  After all, if I’m made in His image, and I can have bad days, why can’t He?

Well, there’s a good reason why He can’t have a bad day.  It’s just simply not possible for God to have a bad day.  Let me quote again from Louie Giglio’s book, I Am Not But I Know I Am: “God is doing well today, thank you.  He has no dilemmas.  No quandaries.  No counselors.  No shortages.  No rivals.  No fears.  No cracks.  No worries.  He is self-existent, self-contained, self-perpetuated, self-powered, and self-aware.  In other words, He’s God and He knows it. 

“After an eternity of being God, he shows no signs of wear and tear.  He has no needs.  His accounts are in the black.  He’s the owner, not to mention Creator, of all the world’s wealth and treasure…He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and all the hills the cows are standing on…God does whatever He wants.  His purposes are a sure thing.  There’s no stopping Him.  No containing Him.  No refuting Him.  No cutting Him off at the pass.  No short-circuiting His agenda.”

When I get up in the morning, I always plan to have a good day.  But 64 years of experience tells me that somewhere on the trajectory of my day’s activities, I will have dilemmas.  I will have fears about whether or not I’m doing the right thing, or making the right decisions.  I will worry about it each time I have to spend money – especially for unexpected, unbudgeted things. 

And after a hard week that may have been filled with special challenges, I do show signs of wear and tear.  Let there be no doubt of that.  I have needs.  I own nothing, although I delude myself into thinking that certain things belong to me.  There will be things that can throw my best plans right down the tubes.  But none of that ever, EVER happens to God.  He’s so far above those things that are all related to human weaknesses. 

But here’s the good news: He understands human weaknesses for two very important reasons:

FIRST: He created us.  Just like the engineer who designed a portion of a nuclear submarine knows what that component’s purpose is and what it’s made of with all it’s limitations, God knows ME.  He knows humanity.  So He knows and understands our human weaknesses.

SECOND: He lived on this tiny ball in the middle of space as one of us so He’d understand perfectly – so that we’d KNOW He understands.  He just asks us to trust that He has none of our limitations and so won’t be derailed in the slightest, and to trust that in all things, He works to our advantage!

If you looked at the election results and thought God goofed up, know this – He didn’t. He knows perfectly well what He’s doing, and even moreso, why He’s doing it. He’s not obligated to share that information with us. We are obligated to trust that His eye is still on the ball and He hits grand slams with every swing. He never strikes out. The election turned out the way He planned it to. He rules over the affairs of men and always will. History is in His hand, not in the hand of an earthly ruler.

So, take comfort. God is doing just great today, thank you very much! He never has an “off” day!

Psalm 66:7 (NLT) – For by his great power he rules forever. He watches every movement of the nations; let no rebel rise in defiance.  

PRAYER: Lord, no matter how we are feeling today, help us to remember that You are alive and well, flourishing and as strong as You were on the very first day of eternity.  Thank you that You’ve given us such wonderful proofs of Your understanding of us.  May we be comforted this day in knowing YOU are well and doing everything perfectly!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 5/13/16 – Who’s Gonna Drive?

DayBreaks for 5/13/16 – Who’s Gonna Drive?

NOTE: Galen will be out of the office and traveling next week. 

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2006:

NEW YORK (Bizarre News, 5/2006) – “A retired teacher who visited the graves of her loved ones every day was struck and killed by her own car while visiting a New York cemetery. Evanglistia Vartholomeou, 76, emigrated to the United States from Greece in 1965 and regularly visited the graves of her brother, sister, mother and a nephew, who died of cancer at the age of 3 in 1979.  Niece Katherine Vartholomeou told the New York Post her aunt spent her life caring for family and apparently left her car in drive at Maple Grove Cemetery in Kew Gardens by mistake.”

I remember when I was taking driver’s education so very, very long ago (yes, we had to take driver’s ed in order to get a license to ride a horse – NOT!)  There was a device that was intended to measure how quickly you could respond to a light changing from green to yellow.  I was, speaking modestly, pretty fast!  I always have felt that I’m a pretty good driver.  I know that I have some bad habits that I’ve allowed to creep into my driving over the past few years that I should correct, but by the grace of God, I’ve never had a serious accident at all.  I pray that will continue to be the case.

Sometimes, when I’m going somewhere with someone, we’ll have a bit of a debate about who’s going to drive.  If it is someone that I’ve not ridden with before and I don’t know what their driving is like, I’m more likely to say “I’ll drive!” or trust the directions to Waze or Google Maps.  Rightly or wrongly, I trust my own driving.

But when it comes to going somewhere in a city that I’ve never been before, I’m more than ready to cede control of the car to someone who’s been there and knows the way.  I trust that they’ll get me there or I wouldn’t get in the car with them. 

In the case of Ms. Vartholomeou, she forgot a couple key things.  She forgot to put her car in park and she failed to put on the parking brake.  The car thought she was in control still and it just did what cars will do under those circumstances – it went with the flow of gravity. 

As we travel through life, going from one destination to another, we need to get out from behind the wheel and let Jesus take control.  Consider the advantages: he’s been there, he knows where it is safe and where it is dangerous, he never takes wrong turns and he definitely won’t run over us. 

Are you still trying to navigate your own way through life?  Stop.  Put your life in park, put on the brake, get out of the driver’s seat and let Jesus take you where he wants you to go.

PRAYER:  We have tried for years, God, to make our own way and we’ve paid a huge price for it.  Help us to humble ourselves enough to admit that we are lost, that we cannot navigate our way through life without You.  We ask you to take full control of our past, present and future direction to lead us safely home.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

 

DayBreaks for 12/10/15 – If He Weren’t in Control

DayBreaks for 12/10/15: If He Weren’t In Control

Have you ever thought about what it would be like if God were not in control?  Try to picture what the day might be like:

  1. The sun wouldn’t come up in the morning nor shed its light;
  2. There wouldn’t be any food on your table, for He causes the ground to produce food and the rain that makes it grow;
  3. There wouldn’t be any air for you to breathe;
  4. When you tried to get water out of your faucet, you wouldn’t get anything usable, because in Christ, all things hold together, including the atoms of hydrogen and oxygen that must be held together to form water;
  5. The planets and moon may or may not move at the right times or in the right orbits;
  6. The people you meet would all be dead (of course, you would, too!), for without the right balance of sun, food, water, atmospheric gases, life would come to an end, period.

The list could go on and on and on ad nauseum.  But I think you get the idea.  Underneath this stark reality, however, is the simple truth that we’re NOT in control of our lives and environments.  We don’t begin to understand or appreciate the extent of God’s control over all things.  We get mad when there are things that we believe should happen that don’t happen, or things that do happen that we think shouldn’t happen.  And we get exasperated with God, thinking He’s not in control.  How foolish of us!

There are more things that God controls in any given instant of time than we will ever conceive of in our entire lifetimes.  When will we learn to trust Him?  Not only does He control all things, He makes them work for good (Rom. 8:28).  It is only our insolence and arrogance that leads us to suggest that God doesn’t know what he’s doing.

TODAY’S PRAYER: God, please forgive us for our insolence and forgive us for our ignorance of Your ways and Your working.  Help us to trust in Your goodness as well as Your wisdom to determine what is in our best interest.  Thank you, Father, that You have our best interest in Your heart!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

From the DayBreaks archive, 2005.

Copyright 2015 by Galen C. Dalrymple.