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.

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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.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 1/26/17 – The Upright Heart

DayBreaks for 1/26/17: The Upright Heart

Psalm 97:10-12 (NLT) – You who love the LORD, hate evil! He protects the lives of his godly people and rescues them from the power of the wicked. Light shines on the godly, and joy on those who do right. May all who are godly be happy in the LORD and praise his holy name!

How I fear we have missed much of the wonder and blessing of the Psalms!  Sure, there are the all-time favorites: Psalm 19, Psalm 90, Psalm 132, and of course, Psalm 23.  But there is so much that we miss by rapidly reading the Psalms! 

There is so much to consider in this Psalm.  Verse 10 gives a command to those who love the Lord (notice, it isn’t just for those who say they love the Lord, but for those who really do love Him!), and it consists of two words: “hate evil.”  Part of being faithful is to hate evil.  I ask myself: how much do I hate evil, instead of dabble with it because I’m drawn to it like a moth to a flame?  If I truly love the Lord, I am to hate evil – not because evil isn’t fun, but because of what evil does to God, others and myself.  I may think that evil might be fun, but it isn’t – not really.  In the final analysis, it is painful – and deadly. 

God protects the lives of the godly, the faithful, and delivers them from the power of the wicked.  This verse doesn’t say that we won’t still struggle, but it is He who protects and rescues us from the power of the wicked (Satan and humans!)  It is not our own resolve, strength or determination that delivers us.  My will power isn’t up to that task – and neither is yours.  I can’t see all the stratagems of the wicked nor see all their plots.  God can – and He alone has the ability to deliver us.

Verse 11 says that light and joy are shed on those who do right.  The NIV says that they are shed on “the upright in heart.”  What is an upright heart?  Think of a glass of water.  An upright glass is not tipped, slanted or crooked – it is straight up vertical!  A crooked heart is one that wanders back and forth in allegiance and whose love waxes and wanes.  A slanted heart may be too earthly – or too heavenly.  Someone once said that we can be too earthly to be of any heavenly value, and to heavenly to be of any earthly good.  Wise observation, if you ask me.  But an upright – or “right side up” heart is directed to God.

But there’s more for us here.  Verses 10-11 talk about what God does for the upright and godly.  Then comes verse 12 with its instructions on our proper response:  we are to not just be intellectually or emotionally grateful for what God has done, but we need to rejoice and praise His name.  We need to take our response and faith beyond just hearing about His protection, deliverance, light and joy into taking actions of praise for those and all other things that come from His hand. 

We, if we are godly (vs. 12), are to be happy in the Lord.  And why shouldn’t we be – once we get our hearts and minds around verses 10-11!

Far too few who are Christians hate evil – we’re much more comfortable with loving good than hating evil.  But we need to be outraged by it and hate what it does to God’s creation!

PRAYER: Almighty Father, may we truly love you with all our heart, mind, strength and soul.  May we learn to hate evil as you hate evil.  May we rest in the wonderful protection you give us, exulting in your deliverance!  Fill us with light, joy and happiness that we may praise you forever!!!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 1/05/17 – Doing Good in a Broken World

DayBreaks for 1/05/17: Doing Good in a Broken World

The late newspaper columnist Mike Royko once shared the other side of the Christmas Story in one of his columns. He told about a stranger who put $1,600 in gold coins in a Salvation Army kettle. The person placed the gift there quietly and anonymously. This is exactly the kind of story the print media is looking for to demonstrate the spirit of caring that Christmas brings about.

Unfortunately there was a follow up story. The local Salvation Army office began getting phone calls about the gold coins. The coins were stolen. The thief had dropped them in the kettle to get rid of them.

So then, Royko told another story about a man driving home from work on Christmas Eve who saw a young boy fall through the ice in a nearby lake. The man stopped his car, jumped out, tore off his jacket and crawled out onto the ice. He managed somehow to save the drowning boy. Happy ending, wouldn’t you say? Unfortunately the man discovered that while he was risking his life saving the boy, somebody in the crowd of onlookers stole his jacket and the envelope containing his Christmas bonus.

Unfortunately, we live in a sinful world. And even at Christmas, with the promise of peace and hope on our lips and in our hearts, that sinfulness is still present. That sinfulness was personified in the first Christmas story by Herod. “Go and search diligently for the child,” Herod said to the wise men. “And when you have found him, come and bring me word, that I may worship him, too.”

It doesn’t take much to get discouraged when you try to do good in a fallen world, does it? Your deeds seem to go unappreciated. Your sacrifices are taken for granted. The things that cost you so much in time and effort and perhaps money may not even be visible to others. And to top it off, people often take advantage of those with big, Christ-shaped hearts.

Does it matter? Sure, it matters. But we must not think that any of the good we do while living in a broken world isn’t worth doing – it is worth doing. And there is always Someone who notices and loves you for what good you are trying to do.

As we are encouraged, …let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint. (Gal. 6:9, AMP)

Hang in there! Fight the fight for the good and let the end result and reward be up to God to determine.

PRAYER: We lose heart easily and we crave recognition for what good we do. Let us never forget we labor for You and on behalf of those You love! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 7/04/16 – Staring Evil in the Eye

DayBreaks for 7/04/16 – Staring Evil in the Eye

Galen is on vacation. From the DayBreaks archive, June 2006:

Can I be honest with you?  I’m a bit on the angry side in my spirit right now.  I’m angry about diseases that leave children orphaned.  I’m angry about humans who are so full of hate for others (even of their own race), that they strap on suicide bomb vests or drive cars into crowded shopping areas and blow them up, shattering many lives.  I’m angry about how easily some get upset about things that really don’t matter in light of the scope of human tragedy that is so monstrous that it makes me want to put a hand over my own mouth to stop my own stupid and pitiful whining and complaining.  Quite frankly, I have nothing to complain about – and yet I do. 

I am stunned by the hatred and evil in the world.  And it makes me angry.  And then, oh God forgive me, I stop to remember the evil that is in my own life.  No, I’ve never been a suicide bomber, I’ve never shot the temple of the Holy Spirit full of cocaine or heroin, I’ve never killed anyone, or even struck another person in anger.  But is there evil in my life?  Oh yes, Lord, when I get off my high-horse long enough to truly examine my life in the light of the cross.

And that’s where we all need to go when we are so angry at what others are doing or what we feel they’ve done to us, that we get a little too high and mighty.  No, God doesn’t care only about the evil in the lives of those I’ve described, but He hates my evil, too.  When will I ever learn that?!?!

And when will I remember what God has done for all of us – for all of our sins?  Again, we must go back to the cross.  As Shane Claiborne put it so well: When I mediate on the cross, I think I see what love looks like when it stares evil in the eye.

Therein is the difference between how God sees evil and how I see it.  I get angry about it and want to get even, want to see the wicked suffer for the horrible things they do, for the diseases they may bring into their own families.  But God looks at it and His heart breaks with love and sorrow for our waywardness.  I’ve got a long, long way to go to be more like Him. On the cross, Jesus stared down evil – looking it in the eye – and won the victory.

Psalms 28:3 (NIV) – Do not drag me away with the wicked, with those who do evil, who speak cordially with their neighbors but harbor malice in their hearts.

PRAYER:  Father, how unworthy we are to be called your children.  We sure don’t resemble you very much – at least I don’t.  Forgive me for my high-mindedness and haughty spirit that judges the evil in others and excuses it in myself.  Help me not to take myself so seriously but to take my sin much more seriously than I do.  Thank you for showing us the response of love to evil, and help us to love rather than smolder in our own self-righteousness .  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 3/04/16 – The End of the Mighty Hero

DayBreaks for 3/04/16: The End of the Mighty Hero

Ps. 52:5-9 – But God will strike you down once and for all.  He will pull you from your home and drag you from the land of the living.  The righteous will see it and be amazed.  They will laugh and say, ‘Look what happens to mighty warriors who do not trust in God.  They trust their wealth instead and grow more and more bold in their wickedness.’ But I am like an olive tree, thriving in the house of God.  I trust in God’s unfailing love forever and ever. I will praise you forever, O God, for what you have done.  I will wait for your mercies in the presence of your people. (NLT)

This is one of the Psalms that I’ve not been very familiar with.  In fact, for the most part, I don’t remember it much at all.  But I like it!  Here’s what I like about it: The psalmist is confident that God will bring down the treacherous and evil ones.  But it’s more than that: it’s the way that God brings them down.  If it were me, I’d be laying out a plan to catch the “mighty” one that I’m after when they were on neutral ground, or at least on the ground of my choosing.  One of the keys in warfare is to choose the ground on which you fight – and make sure that you have the high ground!  What I like is this: God doesn’t need to wait until the “mighty hero” is out in the open and away from the ‘safety’ of his own tent.  On the contrary, God will boldly enter the stronghold of evil and take the wicked from the very place he feels safe and secure, and will remove his place from among the living.  God has no fear of mortals, nor of spiritual forces of evil.  I find that very comforting!

If we are wise, we will observe these goings on and will learn holy fear.  We’ll see how completely, easily and quickly the “mighty hero” is made to look puny and small, how that ill-gotten gain is going to be taken away, and we’ll not be envious of them, but encouraged in our faith in our great Protector and Defender.

And of course, God literally did, in the very person of Jesus, invade the tent of evil by boldly and fearlessly coming to earth.  It’s more than just rhetoric from a poet – it is the most astounding fact of history.

TODAY’S PRAYER:  Help us, Lord, to not be envious or fearful of the power of evil, but look to the might that is Yours and Yours alone, and in that confidence, find courage to live for You in this world.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, all rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 3/03/16 – Christians Need to Hate More

DayBreaks for 3/03/16: Christians Need to Hate More

Christians are accused of being haters because of stands they take against what we believe are dangerous and harmful things in our culture. People think that Christians hate because they speak out against such things. In reality, if Christians are right in their understanding of Scripture and what it teaches, warning others about the dangers of certain actions could be seen as the most loving thing one could do. After all, isn’t it right to warn people about things that can destroy them and rob them of eternal life? (Assuming the warning is done in a loving, compassionate way, that is!)

Regardless, Christians are called haters. Can I say that most Christians I know don’t hate others – regardless of what others may be doing.  They really don’t. We all have sins that repel us more than others, but that doesn’t mean Christians do – or should – hate sinners. After all – we are sinners, too! Does Jesus hate sinners? No, he loves sinners…he loves you, doesn’t he?

But I am afraid that perhaps Christians don’t hate enough. Does that shock you? Consider these passages:

Psalm 97:10 (NLT) – You who love the LORD, hate evil! He protects the lives of his godly people and rescues them from the power of the wicked.

Who is that verse directed to? “You who love the Lord.” And what are they do to? “…hate evil!” You know what I’m really concerned about? That we don’t know or recognize evil when we see it or hear it. But, those who love the Lord are here commanded to hate evil! (Again – there’s a huge difference between hating evil and hating evil-doers!!!!)

Proverbs 8:13 (NLT) – All who fear the LORD will hate evil. Therefore, I hate pride and arrogance, corruption and perverse speech.

This verse makes a very simple statement and observation, stated as fact: those who fear God WILL hate evil. How true is that of you? Do you hate the evil in your own life? Do you hate the evil that tempts you in the darkness of your own heart, in the times of solitude when you are alone and no one can see you?

Confession time: I don’t hate evil enough. I’m far too fond of the evil in my own life and heart. Perhaps that’s related to the passage that describes the fear of the Lord as the beginning of wisdom. It’s one of those A=B and B=C, therefore A=C propositions. If those who fear the Lord hate evil, and if it is also the beginning of wisdom, then hating evil is also related to wisdom, too.

One more: Amos 5:15 (NLT) – Hate evil and love what is good; turn your courts into true halls of justice. Perhaps even yet the LORD God of Heaven’s Armies will have mercy on the remnant of his people.

This one goes one step farther: it isn’t enough to hate evil, it has to be replaced with something, in this case, loving what is good.

All these things presume one thing: that we are able to discern what is good and what is evil. I fear that, at least in many American churches and American Christians, being able to discern those things has been lost. We let culture tell us what is good and what is evil. We let politicians and courts do our thinking and deciding for us. That is not the Biblical way.

Maybe we need to learn to hate the right things, and learn to love people more than we do.

TODAY’S PRAYER: God, give us ears to listen to You and hearts that can discern good from evil. Create in us a hunger and desire to love what is good and to hate what is evil while still loving the evil-doer. And keep us humble, knowing that we are evil-doers, too. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, all rights reserved.