DayBreaks for 12/27/19 – Identifying the Guilty

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DayBreaks for 12/27/19: Identifying the Guilty

From the DayBreaks Archive, 12/27/99:

“The late professor Allan Bloom, author of The Closing of the American Mind, told about asking his undergraduate class at the University of Chicago to identify an evil person. Not one student could do so. “Evil” simply didn’t exist as a category in their minds. The inability to recognize and identify evil, said Bloom, is a perilous sign in our society.” – Philip Yancey, The Bible Jesus Read

When I read this, I was really quick to jump to the point in my mind where I said, “Yep! That sounds right. There is no sense of right and wrong, good and evil anymore.” I would have rushed out with the names of people that I think of as being evil: Adolf Hitler, Eichmann, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Moammar Ghadaffi. There are others that I would have been quick to label as evil, too, because of their lifestyle and apparent total disregard for morals or things of God. Then God straightened me out.

Indeed, we fail to think of ourselves as evil, don’t we? When asked the question, would I have ventured my own name? How quick I was to point my trained religious sense at the faults of others while ignoring my own wickedness! Genesis 8:21 tells God’s reaction after the sacrifice offered by Noah following the flood: The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood.”

The amazing part is that God still loves us. In spite of our evil inclinations, He loves us.

Would you have ventured your own name? Paul understood that he still had to struggle with evil and described his own struggle in Romans. When we think we have reached the point that evil is behind us, evil is within us. We are wise to recognize that, left to our own devices, we are pretty pathetic creatures. We have no righteousness of our own to cling to.

PRAYER: Teach us to number ourselves among the transgressors, Lord, that we don’t become haughty and proud.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 12/20/19 – The Rescue Mission for Creation

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DayBreaks for 12/20/19: The Rescue Mission for Creation

If you look for just a few minutes every day, you can find a story of an incredible rescue taking place somewhere in this country or world, perhaps, if you community is large enough, even in your own neighborhood.  Firemen, highway patrolmen, soldiers, officers of the peace, teachers and parents (sometimes even kids or dogs) carry out amazing rescues and we applaud them and give them the honor that they deserve.  Rightly so.

This week, Christmas is upon us.  We often retell the story to ourselves and our little ones about the birth of Jesus.  It is a sweet, charming story, full of farm animals, night skies twinkling with stars, angels singing to shepherds who were out on the hillside at night with their animals.  Don’t forget the magi who came to see and worship this king being held in the arms of his virgin mother, Mary.  In all the sweetness of the story we can easily forget what led up to this moment in time: the fall in the garden, years of sin and wickedness culminating in the flood, renewed evil immediately after the flood, a people chosen to be God’s own special people, prophets, judges, miracles, kings and always…more failure and sin.  In the midst of the wonder it is easy to push such thoughts aside and try to ignore them.  It is understandable, I guess.

But we must not forget these forerunners to the Nativity story because it was all of those things which were the precursors and the factors that made this visitation from Immanuel necessary.  Timothy Keller wrote: “Christianity alone among the world religions claims that God became uniquely and fully human in Jesus Christ and therefore knows firsthand despair, rejection, loneliness, poverty, bereavement, torture, and imprisonment.”  Yes, those things are true…and more.  Here is the kicker, the driving factor behind God’s decision to come and visit this planet in such a personal and human way: “Jesus came on a rescue mission for creation.  He had to pay for our sins so that someday he can end evil and suffering without ending us.

Wow.  I’d never thought about it in those words before, but the more I’ve contemplated them, the more I believe they are dead on target.  If our sins hadn’t been paid for he would have had no choice but to end us when he ended evil and suffering in the world.  He would not have been righteous and holy if he’d ended evil and let us survive – for we are evil when we are left to our own devices.  All the evil we have within us had to be answered for, or we would have had to be “ended” when he did destroy evil. 

This week as you focus on His birth, I hope that you’ll contemplate yet again, this statement: “He had to pay for our sins so that someday he can end evil and suffering without ending us.”  This was the reason for the baby coming to the manger and for the Godman walking to the cross where he died.

PRAYER: Thank You for the greatest rescue ever conducted, Jesus!  Thank You that You found a way to pay for all of my evil that didn’t include ending me.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/19/19 – The National Rush to Therapy

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DayBreaks for 11/19/19: The National Rush to Therapy

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2009:

Ft. Hood, Texas.  Sadly, that name is now in the archives along with Columbine, Lockerbie, Auschwitz (though this was a much larger scale) and others.  It is a name that will “live in infamy” to borrow a phrase from Franklin D. Roosevelt.  On a beautiful fall day, blood was spilled mixing its color with the leaves.  Thirteen died (as of this writing) and many more were wounded.  It was a tragedy that should not have happened – just as Cain should not have slain Abel, David should not have had Uriah killed, and Saul should not have killed Stephen.  Yet human tragedy seems to be the legacy of the human race.

On November 9, 2009, David Brooks, writing in the New York Times in an article titled “A Rush to Therapy”, analyzed the events and news coverage in the aftermath of Ft. Hood.  I have no interest in sitting in judgment on Maj. Hasan – I am more than willing to leave the judging to God as He alone is qualified to sit in judgment.  I don’t have that right, but He does.  What was interesting about this article was Brooks’ focus on how people have tried to explain away the man’s behavior.  He was stressed out from hearing about others stresses (secondary stress syndrome – we even have a name for it).  As a pastor, I can understand that – I’ve been there before and most assuredly will be again.  Others suggested that he acted out of a fear of going to Afghanistan into a war zone (then why did he create one of his own?)  Others said it was “pre-traumatic stress syndrome” – anticipation of the events of the foreseeable future that cause him to snap like a dry twig (yet couldn’t we blame everything on such a “syndrome” if we want to?) 

I want to be fair and honest about this, so I now tread carefully.  I don’t know what was the “straw that broke the camel’s back,” but it seems to me that all the efforts to explain it away, to reassure us as to why it happened, have missed a very crucial point: the existence of evil.  Major Hasan was not different from anyone you meet on the street.  Everyone has struggles and they’re happy to tell you about them if you’ll stop long enough to listen.  Everyone has things they dread in the future (aging, loss of income, health issues, fear of death or abandonment, fear of conflict.)  But not everyone responds as Major Hasan did.  He chose to act evilly.  Why did he kill and wound so many?  Because of evil in the heart.  So it has always been – and so it will always be until we let God create new hearts within us. 

On the same day as Brooks’ article came out, it was announced that the Beltway Sniper (John Allen Mohammad) would not receive clemency and would be executed that same evening at 9:00 p.m..  Something inside of me “cheered” at that news.  After all, I wanted to see “justice” done to this man who held much of the eastern seaboard hostage to a murderous terror spree some years back.  What beat in his heart?  Evil.  I recall people trying to excuse his behavior, too.  I have no doubt that he suffered disappointments, possibly abuse.  Yet that didn’t make him a murderer.  It was his choice about how to respond to those things that made him a murderer.  He could have chosen to go another way – to become a counselor or social worker who helps people who have experienced the things he did, but that wasn’t what he chose.  He chose to act evilly.

But then God puts a check in my heart.  “How have you responded to evil, Galen?”  Well, Lord, there have certainly been times when I talked about someone who hurt me behind their back.  I’ve thought thoughts about them that should never be thought – let alone spoken.  I may have intentionally wronged someone or acted in an evil manner.  But those, too, were choices.  And where do they come from?  From the same heart that drove Hasan or the Beltway Sniper to do what they did.  Perhaps my actions weren’t as evil in the eyes of society, but they are still evil. 

Enough of the evil.  Enough of denying its existence in the hearts of others – and in our own hearts.  Let us all pray that God creates that new heart within us that David pled for when he recognized his own need: Create in me a clean heart, O God, and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me.  Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation and renew a right spirit within me.  (Ps. 51:10) 

PRAYER: Create in us clean hearts, Father and a spirit that is fashioned after Your Own.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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.  ><}}}”>

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.