DayBreaks for 8/30/19 – When the Good Falls Apart

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DayBreaks for 08/30/19: When the Good Falls Apart

NOTE: Galen is on vacation for the next couple weeks and may not respond to any comments until he returns on 9/9/19.

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2009:

The other day in a Bible study that I was teaching, I was marveling about Enoch.  Yep, Enoch…the fellow who gets approximately 3 verses in Scripture.  You know him as one of the two men who never “died” – God took him without his death because, as Genesis puts it, “Enoch walked with God.”  What struck me about Enoch is that God didn’t choose to tell us stories about how Enoch lived out his faith.  There are no great deeds of recorded faith in action such as we see over and over with the patriarchs, or with Isaiah, Daniel or David.  I’m not sure what we should make of that, but if you look at the names of those who were contemporary with Enoch, it’s pretty easy to see that he lived in very wicked times…leading up to the great flood.  And we know that the world was getting more filled with evil as the flood approached.  Still, Enoch managed to live with God.  And maybe the reason we’re not told of great exploits of faith is because he just lived a faithful life, persevering in the midst of a rising tide of evil, walking with God in the midst of a wicked and evil generation.

As we talked about Enoch, some in the class started reflecting on how wicked the world is that we live in – and the talk almost became despairing.  (It seems to do that often with older folks – and this was a class for seniors.  Perhaps it is easier as we age to look back at a time in our lives many years ago and think that it was better when in fact it may not have really been all that different, I don’t know.)  Some said that they thought it took greater faith to do things similar to Abraham (leaving the only home you’ve known for a far, unknown and strange land, being willing to sacrifice a son, etc.) than to walk faithfully every day.  I tend to think that they are wrong about that.  It seems that as humans, we have an uncanny knack to be able to rise to heights when the situation calls for it (not always, of course!).  It may take greater faith in the long run to walk faithfully day after day…for 365 years in Enoch’s case…than to put one great display of faith together for a passing moment. 

Regardless, Psalm 11:3-4 says, When all that is good falls apart, what can good people do?  The LORD is in His holy temple; the LORD sits on His throne in heaven.  David asks the question that so many of us have asked at some time or another in our lives: when all that is good and decent and holy seems to be falling apart, what are we to do?  You’ll notice that David didn’t then launch into a list of “Do A, B and C to turn things around.”  Instead, he answers the question with a declarative statement: God is in His temple, enthroned on high.  What does that have to do with his question?  Simply this: God’s rule isn’t affected by the storms of our lives and our problems don’t perplex Him in the slightest.  That’s not to say He doesn’t care about them, but He knows perfectly well what to do when the good falls apart.  He is still on the throne, issuing decrees to His servants and angels.  While this world and all that is in it may go down the tubes, God’s rule won’t.  Human wreckage doesn’t discourage Him.  In fact, a quick look at the life of someone like Joseph shows us that God specialized in turning disaster into triumph. 

If you are considering how bad the world is, let me try to re-direct your thinking and your vision upward – to the throne room of God, where He still, and always will, sit in Majesty!

PRAYER: We get fearful as we see the tidal waves of evil beating upon our culture, upon the church, upon our own lives, Lord.  Help us to redirect our vision when times are tough and to remember that you remain on the throne now and forever!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 8/8/19 – The Trouble With Wading Through Slop

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DayBreaks for 08/08/19: The Trouble with Wading through Slop

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2019:

I am originally a farm boy.  I’m fortunate in some ways (and unfortunate in others) in that we moved off the farm before I got old enough that I had to routinely help clean out the chicken coop or slop the pigs or clean out the cattle stalls.  You can, perhaps, imagine what those jobs are like.  I “got” to do some of them while we lived on the farm, and did more when I would return to my aunt’s and uncle’s farms in the summertime.  One thing for sure: when you went into the stalls or pens to clean them out, you better be properly attired!  One thing about it, though: if you got contaminated by the stuff you were cleaning out, you knew about it – all you had to do was follow your nose to the evidence!  For years, one of my cousins was a hog farmer – raising bacon for your table and Easter dinner.  Working around all the hog slop the odor was so pervasive that his wife said even his glasses had absorbed the smell!

Of course, we don’t always know it when we get contaminated – we find out after the disease has incubated and sprung to fruition.  Think of those who have flown on airliners who contracted colds, swine flu, avian flu, or other diseases. If one knew they would become contaminated on a safari to Africa or trip to Asia, would they go?  It probably depends on how severe the contamination might be, but most people would probably forgo the trip – especially if one knew that the disease they would contract had a 100% mortality rate.  Only those who wanted to commit suicide would go on such a journey!

How different this is when it comes to spiritual matters.  Rather than avoiding things like the plague, we seem to want to get as close as possible to it, even to snuggle up to it, thinking that we can rub noses with temptation and sin and walk away uncontaminated.  Listen to this verse from the Old Testament: Or if a person touches anything ceremonially unclean–whether the carcasses of unclean wild animals or of unclean livestock or of unclean creatures that move along the ground–even though he is unaware of it, he has become unclean and is guilty. – Leviticus 5:2 (NIV)

Now I know that we’re not under the ceremonial laws – that’s not the point.  What is the point is that this verse clearly indicates that we can become “unclean” and “guilty” without even knowing it!  Evil and sin is so pernicious and so virulent that we can contract guilt unknowingly.  In other words, it’s hard to keep the effects of slop away if you spend time surrounded by it!!!!

Where have you been wading?  Are you walking in paths of righteousness hand in hand with the Savior, or are you knee deep in slop? 

PRAYER:  Father, we are so weak when it comes to temptation, and our flesh is still far too strong for us to win this struggle alone.  Make us aware of the stench of sin and how it permeates us even when we are unaware!  Thank you for the cleansing power of the blood!  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 7/20/18 – The Entrance of Evil

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DayBreaks for 7/20/18: The Entrance of Evil

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2008:

AVONDALE, Ariz. – An Arizona man said his 3-year-old Labrador retriever was so excited for the Super Bowl that he devoured two very expensive tickets to the game.   Chris Gallagher, of Avondale, Ariz., said he asked that a courier slip the envelope containing two Super Bowl XLII tickets under his doormat but the envelope was instead inserted under the door — and into the waiting jaws of his dog, Buddy, The Arizona Republic reported Tuesday.  Gallagher said the tickets, which he purchased for friends, were valued at $900 apiece.  However, he said the seller assured him that the tickets can be replaced in time for game day.

The dog owner said the tickets were only the latest of Buddy’s many victims, which have included sunglasses, shoes and footballs.  “He’s a trouble-maker,” Gallagher told the Republic. “But he looks at you with those big eyes and you can’t be mad for long.”

Galen’s Thoughts: I have recently been utilizing John Eldredge’s Epic video series as part of the Sunday morning messages.  On this past Sunday, we were covering Act Two: The Entrance of Evil.  As an illustration slide, I showed an image of a fearsome looking creature – red-faced, possessed by rage, vicious teeth bared in a terrifying grimace.  It was, of course, representative of Satan. 

One of the members of the congregation came up to me after seeing the picture and made an excellent point: if that is how Satan really appeared to us, would any of us really fall for his deceptions?  She noted that Scripture speaks of Satan as able to appear as an angel of light. (2 Cor. 11:14) 

Here’s the point: Satan is pictured in Scripture as a roaring lion, and as if he were an angel of light.  Like the dog, Buddy, if we look into Satan’s eyes, he doesn’t look frightening and scary.  He looks like something that you cannot resist – or which you find no reason to avoid.  And therein is where he gets his great power – he appears so innocent.

Evil doesn’t usually come into our lives looking like evil.  Instead, it looks like fun, or it looks safe, or tame, or innocuous.  It doesn’t look like evil – it looks like anything but.  And that’s where we can’t let ourselves be deceived by the one who came to deceive, kill and destroy.  Don’t let him fool you.  Don’t look into his eyes and think he’s harmless.  He most definitely is not!

PRAYER:  Lord, I confess that I often don’t work hard enough to discern the lies and deceptions that Satan throws my way!  I pray that you will give us the wisdom to not be fooled by Satan’s “big brown eyes” into thinking he’s harmless.  Awaken us to the power and strength and true intent of our enemy!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/23/18 – Something Evil This Way Comes

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DayBreaks for 4/23/18: Something Evil This Way Comes   

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2008:

Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic magazine and author of The Science of Good and Evil, wrote on 3/18/04:

“I once had the opportunity to ask Thomas Keneally, author of Schindler’s List, what he thought was the difference between Oskar Schindler, rescuer of Jews and hero of his story, and Amon Goeth, the Nazi commandant of the Plaszow concentration camp.  His answer was revealing.  Not much, he said.  Had there been no war, Mr. Schindler and Mr. Goeth might have been drinking buddies and business partners, morally obtuse, perhaps, but relatively harmless.  What a difference a war makes, especially to the moral choices that lead to good and evil.”

Shermer goes on to quote Russian writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: “If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them.  But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.  And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”

This reminds me of the parable Jesus spoke about the Pharisee and that tax collector.  The Pharisee saw himself in rather glowing terms: “Thank you, God, that I am not like others – like this tax collector!”  The tax collector, meanwhile, was downcast and pleaded, “God, have mercy on me a sinner!”

Who do you most closely identify with – the Pharisee or the tax collector?  I hope it is the latter, for we all have the “line dividing good and evil” that cuts right through our own heart.  The sin we do in private goes unseen except by God, giving us all the temptation to sound and act like the Pharisee, but God knows better.  When we approach one another, we’d be wise to recognize that something evil this way comes.

We can’t cut out a piece of our own heart.  We can desperately plead with God to create within us a new heart to replace our diseased one.

PRAYER:  “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me!  Cast me not away from Thy Presence, O Lord, and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me.  Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation, and renew a right spirit within me!”  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/10/17 – Confidence Builders

DayBreaks for 10/10/17: Confidence Builders

From the DayBreaks archive:

Patrick O’Boyle once recalled the late-1940s Hyde Park “Speakers’ Corner” appearances of Frank Sheed, a Catholic author and publisher, with these words:

“Sheed could be devastating with hecklers.  Once, after Sheed had described the extraordinary order and design to be seen in the universe, a persistent challenger retorted by pointing to all the world’s ills, and ended shouting, “I could make a better universe than your God!”

“I won’t ask you to make a universe,” Sheed replied. “But would you make a rabbit—just to establish confidence?”

I suppose much of the human problem stems from the crazy idea that we could do things better than God.  We think we would make a world where there was no evil, no pain, no suffering; a universe where there are no hurricanes or stars that go super-nova – in short, we just think we could do better than God in just about everything. 

Have you ever really stopped to think how stupid such a thought is?  We who are as finite as a speck of sand in the entire universe are so proud and pretentious as to think we actually know better than God.  Hogwash! 

But when it comes to my own life, I’m really prone to think such things.  “God, having me suffer deprivation isn’t good for me.”  “God, there no good reason for what just happened to me!”  “God, I’m a faithful child of Yours, and things like this just aren’t right!” 

Maybe, when we have learned enough from life that we can see the interaction and inner-connectedness of every human thought and every human action on every other human, we would begin to get the tiniest bit of understanding about why things happen.  And, if we could see the eternal salvation that has come to who-knows-how-many-souls through hardship (which is usually God knocking on the top of our skull trying to get our attention!), we might think differently. 

At a Bible study I was teaching this past week, we were discussion Joseph and the period of time that he was left rotting in the prison after the cup-bearer was restored to his duties in the palace of Pharaoh.  It doesn’t seem fair to Joseph.  How could the cup-bearer forget the man who had interpreted his dream?  But, he did.  I’m convinced we should see God’s hand in that rather than just mere human frailty and forgetfulness.  Did Joseph have to learn more patience?  Did he need to learn to trust God more?  (Remember that Joseph had no inkling whatsoever that he would soon be the #2 man in Egypt.)  As I pondered those thoughts, another thought came to me: perhaps Joseph was left in the prison for another year or two (or longer) for the sake of some other human being, nameless and faceless and lost to humanity for about 3000 years now, who was also languishing in the prison? 

God’s ways aren’t our ways – but God can make rabbits, elephants and entire universes in the blink of an eye.  That should be a confidence builder for us to trust Him to know what is best for our individual lives!

PRAYER:  Father, thank you for all the things you’ve done to give us confidence in you.  Help us not to be so wise or smart in our own eyes that we think we can even begin to know better than you what is good for us.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 6/13/17 – The Amazing Extent of Dirt

DayBreaks for 6/13/17: The Amazing Extent of Dirt

From the DayBreaks archive, 2007:

I don’t know about where you live, but unless you live in one of those “bubbles” or a clean-room environment in a medical or scientific lab, well, there’s just dirt everywhere.  I remember when the first floppy drives came out…they were very large (much larger than the 3-1/4” ones later on) and didn’t hold much data.  The company I was working for was quick to add them to our products for backup purposes (this was before CD’s, etc.), and we struggled with them because even a tiny speck of dust could cause the disk drive heads to crash and ruin data.  The introduction of Winchester disk technology was a real boon to the computer industry, because they used sealed disks that dirt couldn’t get into.

How I wish that my mind was of Winchester technology!  It seems that the “dirt” (not the material kind, but the sinful kind) gets into my mind way too easily.  And, just like the dirt in your kitchen, it’s hard to get out. 

In his book, Hearing God, Dallas Willard contemplates this problem and how the dirt of the world that gets into our mind can hinder our hearing of God.  What, for example, is your first reaction when you hear a siren passing by?  When you have car trouble, how long does it take before you take the matter to God?  Does our mind spontaneously return to God and His things when it’s not intensely occupied with things of work or school?  After all, the needle of a compass returns to true north…and if God is our “true north”, our minds should turn to Him, too.  Our answers to those kind of questions could be an indicator to us of how our mind is so firmly entrenched in false ways.

He notes that we’re still so very much like the world of Isaiah’s days (55:9-10): We wait for light, and lo! There is darkness; and for brightness, but we walk in gloom.  We grope like the blind along a wall, groping like those who have no eyes; we stumble at noon as in the twilight, among the vigorous as though we were dead.

Why is this the case?  Willard suggests: “This is all because our minds – perhaps our very brains – need to have the false thoughts and habits washed out of them.  They so badly need to be washed that we rarely understand what life would be like if they were cleansed, and many of us do not even sense the need for cleansing.”

Remember when your mom talked about washing your mouth out with soap?  Maybe it’s time that we pray fervently that our Father will wash our minds out with the Spirit!

Romans 12:2 (NIV) – Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 8:5-6 (NLT) – Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit.  If your sinful nature controls your mind, there is death. But if the Holy Spirit controls your mind, there is life and peace.

PRAYER: Father, thank You for the washing that leads us to cleansing.  We ask you today to wash our minds, for we give you permission to make them over in whatever way you see fit.  Take the dirt out that so easily contaminates us.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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