DayBreaks for 6/22/17 – Sins Borne of Myopia

DayBreaks for 6/22/17: Sins Borne of Myopia

From the DayBreaks archive, 2007, from my oldest son’s blog:

Safe in Egypt we shall sigh
For lost insecurity;
Only when her terrors come
Does our flesh feel quite at home.

“The quote is from Auden. Perhaps you can relate. That we experience this dual attraction towards the security of peace and the ecstasy of danger eloquently illustrates our unsettled condition. In his 1998 essay, A Taste for Danger, Theodore Dalrymple maps out the phenomenon nicely. He opens with reflections on a gallery display of Vietnam-era photojournalism:

“These photographers hated the war, but they loved it too: for it gave meaning to their lives or at the very least provided a temporary relief from those nagging questions about the meaning of life that even the most complacent of us sometimes ask…

“Dalrymple goes on to describe his own experience working in conflict zones and the difficult withdrawals that follow an addiction to personal peril:

“The problem with having lived too long or too frequently in dangerous situations is that one ceases to care very much about the actual content of the existence one is so anxious to preserve. Danger absolves one of the need to deal with a thousand quotidian problems or to make a thousand little choices, each one unimportant. Danger simplifies existence and therefore…comes as a relief from many anxieties.

“This business of daily life can be rather dull, can’t it? Peace is uninteresting. It’s a crime we should ever find it so, but sometimes we do. Worse, when we lack for outward threats we tend to manufacture them: spiritual or intellectual crises, superfluous interpersonal conflicts, flirtations with sin. And when these manufactured dangers fail to satisfy we borrow threats and conflicts from others through gossip, consumption of sensationalized media and mass entertainments.
“Boredom, lust for distraction and attraction to danger are, more often than not, sins born of myopia. Corrective lenses are available. But these are very old temptations, so deeply rooted in the soil of our social and personal lives that it’s difficult to imagine where we might be without them.  Perhaps a certain garden in the east.”

Galen’s Thoughts: it has been said that 20th and 21st century Americans are the most bored people in earth’s history.  The word, boredom, wasn’t even in use much (if at all) until the last century.  Isn’t it interesting that boredom came upon the scene with humanism, modernism, relativism and the great scientific explosion?  Up until those things happened, people would contemplate and posit God as the central aspect and concern of existence.  Sadly, when God “disappeared” from social consciousness and discourse, we became self-centered as a species, and we became myopic (strange how that word starts with “my”, isn’t it?).  Can we turn our focus back to God, away from self?  Not fully in this life.  We can’t go back to the garden in the east, but we can journey to the garden in heaven, where the Tree of Life will once more be found and enjoyed.

PRAYER: Lord, may we not become disinterested in the actual content of existence and those who inhabit this realm with us.  May we not be so myopic that we fail to see the greater picture and cause outside of our own lives.  May our meaning, here and in eternity, be found in You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 5/09/17 – The Believer’s Definitive Question

DayBreaks for 5/09/17: The Believer’s Definitive Question

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2007:

So you struggle with being faithful. Join the crowd.  I don’t know a single person who doesn’t struggle with obedience, and even with their faith itself, from time to time.  It’s normal – and I think, at least to a certain extent – it is healthy to at least question faith once in a while to be certain that we don’t grow stale and complacent.  We need not fear the testing of faith.  There is greater danger in an untested faith when the time of trial comes.

There seems to be something about us humans that is a lot like a moth: we like to dance close to the flame.  In our case, it is the flame of temptation.  We seem to be drawn to certain things as individuals, and while it may vary from person to person, even as Christians we seem drawn to the flame.  The flame represents that which is familiar to us, something we’ve grown accustomed to and we find it to be predictable.  But, like the moth, we forget that the flame can burn us and kill us.  It’s a very dangerous place to be.

Still, many people show a tendency to get close to the flame of old temptations once again.  And not only do we have that tendency, we show an eagerness for it when we ask the question (when we clearly know the answer more often than not): “Would it be wrong for me to do this?” 

In his book, Grace Walk, Steve McVey suggests that the definitive question for the believer shouldn’t be whether or not we can do something, but instead, Am I abiding in Christ at this moment?  An unsaved person evaluates behavior on the basis of right and wrong, but the lifestyle of a Christian is to flow from the activity of Christ.  McVey’s point is that we have Christ in us and we are in him – so why would we even want to dance close to the flame?  Somehow, I can’t picture Christ walking around asking “Would it be wrong for me to do this?”, can you?  I think rather, he’d be focused on abiding in the Father’s love and not thinking about doing wrong, but about doing good. 

John 9:4 (NLT) – All of us must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent me, because there is little time left before the night falls and all work comes to an end.

PRAYER: Lord, we know that we are to abide in You, to let you live Your life through us.  It’s hard to give up our own life, even to One as powerful as Your Spirit.  Help us to have the mind of Jesus that is concerned about abiding in Your love and acting out of that love for the world.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 4/03/17 – They Still Know His Name

DayBreaks for 4/3/17: They Still Know His Name

When things seem to get out of control, I often try to take control and “fix” things. I suppose it is a natural enough human trait, but that in and of itself should be enough of a warning to me that it’s neither smart nor good. After all, if the Bible knows what it is talking about, our natural human traits are nothing to be bragging about. My efforts to fix things more often than not land me in deep water.

One of the songs I have come to deeply love is It is Well, by Kristine DeMarco. The first part of the song goes like this:

Grander earth has quaked before

Moved by the sound of his voice

Seas that are shaken and stirred

Can be calmed and broken

For my regard.

 

Through it all my eyes are on you

Through it all, through it all

It is well.

Through it all my eyes are on you

It is well with me.

 

Far be it from me to not believe

Even when my eyes can’t see.

And this mountain that’s in front of me

Will be thrown into the midst of the sea.

 

Through it all my eyes are on you

Through it all, through it all

It is well.

Through it all my eyes are on you

It is well with me.

 

So let go my soul and trust in Him

The waves and wind still know His Name…”

These are wise words – words I need to hear – often. I’m sure you need to hear them, too. Long ago, the winds and waves immediately responded to his voice because they knew his name. He had created the elements that made the wind and the water and those things had not forgotten His power. And when confronted by a legion of demons (who begged mercy from the singular Galilean carpenter) they obeyed his voice.

The demons and storms in my life, will, too, if I let go and trust in Him.

Your child may lie in a hospital bed this very moment. Your beloved parent or spouse may be in hospice care and the hours seem to fly too rapidly and the breaths to come too slowly. Your job may have vaporized. Your hopes for the future may have been dashed. And it may seem impossible that the storms in your life will ever stop lashing you. Don’t forget one thing: the waves and winds still know his name, and whatever is troubling you must yield to His power. There is no storm he cannot calm.

Mark 4:38-39 (ESV) – But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”
And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm
.

 

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, our Delivered, we cry to you in the midst of our battle, we rage against the storm that assails us and in the middle of that struggle we forget the power of your Name to still the raging. Let us trust in you to still the storm and give us great calm, too. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

 

DayBreaks for 3/28/17 – Watch Out for the Snake

DayBreaks for 3/28/17: Watch Out for the Snake

CHINA – “When arriving at the bottom of a tequila bottle after a long night with the guys, someone is always dared to take down the worm. However, very rarely, if ever, does the worm fight back. In China, alcoholic drinks such as rice wine contain preserved snakes or other creatures in place of the ever-popular worm. As a man named Li cracked open a bottle during his lunch break, the pickled snake lunged out of the bottle and bit him in the neck. The victim was taken to a hospital where he was not believed to be in any danger. According to the Xin Bao newspaper, the bottle’s stopper was made from wood or cork and allowed air in the vessel, helping the snake to survive in the bottle for a year.”

You know, I find that there are things in my life that I thought were dead and gone, but then they come back to bite me.  It seems to be at a time when I’ve been thinking, “Whew…I’m glad I’ve got that licked!” that they often raise their ugly head once again.  Such is the my constant need for reminders that I’m not so good or strong as I’d like to think. You’d think that at some point I’d learn how weak I really am.

Sometimes I wonder if it’s that I’m that weak or that evil is that powerful.  And when I reflect on it that way, I think that both are true.  I am far weaker in the flesh than I’d like to be, or than I want to admit to being.  But Satan is not a novice at this game – he’s been around the block more than once since the days of Adam and Eve.  And it’s not just me – everyone has fallen to his schemes.  It’s no excuse, though, for stronger than Satan is Jesus, and God won’t let me get away with excuses.

It only took a small fracture in the cork to allow enough air into the bottle to keep the snake alive.  Sadly, sometimes in our lives we don’t just leave a little crack for Satan to slither through, we leave the door wide open and hang out the “Welcome – come on in!” sign.  Would that we shut the door entire to Satan and opened the door wide for Jesus!

Beware – the snake will be on the prowl until his head is crushed one final time.

PRAYER: Help us to learn from our mistakes, to love You more, and to be alert to our enemy.  May we open the door of our hearts fully to Your Spirit!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 5/19/16 – The Cobra of Culture

DayBreaks for 5/19/16 – The Cobra of Culture

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

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2006:

You’ve seen them on nature shows: the snake charmer with the cobra.  And you’ve maybe seen them on shows that depict the cobra living in the wild – coiled, raised up, swaying back and forth, staring at their soon-to-be prey.  And almost faster than you can see, the cobra strikes, killing the victim with its deadly venom. 

1 John 2:15 says, Do not love the world or anything in the world.  As Brian Jones notes in Second-Guessing God, the Greek word for world is kosmos.  It’s translated as either world or beauty, depending on the context in which it is used.  We get our word, cosmos from it, but also our word for “cosmetics”.  So the world is not only the world itself, but the beautiful things that are in the world – sculptures, beautiful people, “natural” wonders that take our breath away.  So why does the bible use kosmos in a negative way – telling us to not love the either the world or the things that are in it?

Jones writes: “I think it’s because God knew we could easily fall into the hypnotic stare of our culture and waste our loves, just like the rabbit…seeking happiness from what was created rather than its Creator.  God’s gift to us then, in those lethal moments, is to send trials to shake us free from our culture’s grasp to see our situation for what it really is…what writer Simone Weil once said is absolutely true: ‘If there were no afflictions in this world we might think we were in paradise.’”

What aspects of our culture are like the cobra to you?  What holds your fascination?  Are you sure that it is safe, harmless?  Or even better yet, is it making your life – your true, real life of the spirit, not of the flesh – more holy and righteous?

Because culture is of human origin, and because humans are inherently sinful and flawed, culture by and large has always been antithetical to God. As Kevin DeYoung said in his book about humans and our cultures, “Desire must never be given the priority over obedience. Intense longings do not turn sinful wrongs into civil rights.”

The cobra of culture is coiled, swaying back and forth trying to get us to freeze and focus on it.  Beware – it may strike so quickly that you’ll be dead before you know what happened.

PRAYER:  Lord, how easily we fall under the sway of the evil one and how we resist the loving call of your Spirit to holiness and the pursuit of the holy!  Open our ears, enlighten our minds, give us clear vision to see the serpent as he was in the beginning, and even as he is today – our enemy, speaking to us through lying lips.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 7/14/15 – Avoiding Snakebite

DayBreaks for 7/14/15: Avoiding Snakebite

From the DayBreaks archive, 7/14/2005:

For the record, I don’t like snakes.  I don’t like to touch them.  I don’t like to see them unless they are safely in a cage on the other side of solid glass that’s too strong for them to break through.  Then, and only then, do I enjoy seeing them.  We live in rattlesnake country and so I’m always wary when around brush, rock or wood piles.  I’d just as soon leave the snakes alone.

John Ortberg told a story about a man who worked in a zoo that housed a 13-foot king cobra.  The venom in his venom glands was powerful enough to kill 1000 adult males.  A single bite from such a large cobra has been known to kill a full-grown African elephant.  As it turns out, this particular cobra had a scar by one eye that prevented it from completely shedding its skin when it molted.  That meant that every time the snake shed its skin, the zoo handlers had to grab and hold the angry snake while the vet carefully cut the skin away from the scar.

As I thought about that story, I was certain that I wouldn’t want the job of grabbing the snake.  I wouldn’t have wanted to grab it even if it was a harmless garter snake, let alone a ticked-off 13-foot king cobra.  But the vet, and 4 others, managed to grab hold of the snake and immobilize it long enough for the vet to cut away the dead skin.  But before he finished, the vet cautioned everyone that the most dangerous part was yet to take place: the moment when they had to release the snake, to let it go.  He told them that more people are bitten by snakes when letting go of them than while grabbing them or holding onto them.  I think he should have told them this tidbit of news before they agreed to hold onto the nasty beast to start with.  I would have been very angry at him if he’d not told me that in advance!

Still, it made me think about temptation and sin.  We grab the snake of sin and we’re in trouble.  We don’t know how to let it go without getting hurt.  We find out that the sin was much more powerful and difficult to deal with than we thought it would be when we gave in to it the first time.  But by then, we’re in trouble.  We’ve got a deadly, spitting snake in our hands and it wants to bury its fangs deep into our souls.

Why is it that we don’t just let go and run away?  We’re afraid.  But if we are brutally honest, we don’t really want to let go of the snake of temptation too badly, do we?  We’d rather keep hanging on to it so that we know where it is, and if we decide that we want to indulge our sinful appetites again, we can do so without having to go through the trouble of catching the snake all over again.  We hold it close, afraid of it, but pretending all the while that it is harmless, or at least that it can’t hurt us as long as we hang on to it tightly enough (i.e., “have it under control”).  We’re crazy. 

Are you holding onto a deadly viper of sin in your life?  Let it go…and run!  Run like crazy to the Savior!

Eccl 10:11 – It does no good to charm a snake after it has bitten you.PRAYER: Lord, we delude ourselves thinking we can master our temptations and manage our sinfulness!  Save us from this foolishness! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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

 

DayBreaks for 6/17/15 – God, I Forgive You

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DayBreaks for 6/17/15: God, I Forgive You

A minister once relayed a conversation he had one day with a female medical assistant in a doctor’s office, as he was waiting to see the doctor. The woman recognized him because she had occasionally attended his church, though she was a member of another church.

“I want to tell you about my experience,” she said. “I got saved in the Assemblies of God Church … I gave my life to God … and guess what? … Life tumbled in! I developed a heart problem. My husband lost his executive job … and he recently died of cancer.”

The minister says he tried to mumble a few theological sounding explanatory words about God’s mysterious ways, thinking that was what the woman wanted. But she went right on with her story, indicating that she had repeatedly asked God, “Why me?” “And what do you think God told me?” she continued. “‘Why not you?’ That’s what God said. ‘Why should you be spared all the crises of life that everyone else must go through?'” Then she wound up her story saying, “One day I said to God, ‘Lord, you’ve forgiven me. Now I forgive you.'”

It might seem the height of arrogance to say that we are “forgiving” God for anything, but in my way of thinking, this woman was on to something.  I think her faith is great and that it is not just a series of theological propositions, it was far more: is a relationship, and as in all relationships, it is one that changes and can tolerate challenges. It is vital because it is honest.  After all, we’ve all been angry at God many times for things that happen to us or those we love.  We can choose to fume over those things, or accept that fact that God knows better than we do and that we can full trust Him for one thing: that He will only and always do what is best for us.  Even then, we may need to “forgive” Him rather than let our anger and bitterness consume and destroy us.

PRAYER: While we know that we really have nothing to forgive You for, I am thankful that You understand and can handle our disappointment in Your decisions from time to time.  Keep us from the anger and bitterness that would keep us from relationship with You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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