DayBreaks for 6/25/18 – The Nature of Reality

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DayBreaks for 6/25/18: The Nature of Reality

From the DayBreaks Archive, June 2008:

What is faith?  The fundamental aspect of faith (biblical or otherwise) is the confidence that we hold either in a thing (such as the brakes on our car to be able to stop the car), faith in a person (I believe that my friend is as good as his word), or faith in the truth of a statement (the sun came up today).  We live our lives everyday through placing our faith in things, people or the truth of a statement.   We believe the food we eat is not tainted nor poisoned, that the water we drink is not going to harm us, that a husband or wife will be there for us when we need them, that the laws of physics that control the motion of the heavenly bodies, the braking of our cars and the rules of thermodynamics will be as true today as they’ve been shown to be in the past. 

What does that mean in everyday life?  It is evidence that we believe faith is as good as the object (thing, person or proposition) that faith holds.  We don’t think twice wondering if the engineers who designed our cars made powerful enough braking systems.  Astronauts on the shuttle don’t wonder if there’s enough fuel in the tanks to get them into orbit. 

But, somehow, when it comes to God, we’re told that there is no such Reality.  If you can’t see it, touch it, taste it, smell it or hear it with one of the 5 senses, then you cannot know if it is real – therefore, it must be rejected.  Really?  Have you ever tasted guilt?  Heard anguish (not the manifestation of it, but anguish itself?)  When is the last time you saw love walk past on the sidewalk?  Have you seen gravity itself?  We have no problem believing such things exist, even though we can’t test them or touch them. 

When it comes to spiritual things, people have bought lock, stock and barrel into the ungodly idea that knowledge about anything beyond the physical world is impossible – therefore, it is mythological at best.  Do some myths come true?  Perhaps, from time, to time.  But knowledge about the unseen is mere speculation.  So, to placate those who hold beliefs in the Supernatural, they would tell us that what is important is for people who are inclined to believe in such things, it is the fervency of their belief that is more important that the object of their belief. 

John, the apostle, didn’t seem to agree, nor did Paul, Peter or any of the other men and women of faith who believed in a reality that was Unseen.  As J.P. Moreland put it in The Kingdom Triangle: “Reality is basically indifferent to how sincerely we believe something….As far as reality is concerned, what matters is not whether I like a belief of how sincere I am in believing it, but whether or not the belief is true.”  I could sincerely hope a gondola cable will hold me, but how fervently I hold that belief doesn’t make the cable one bit stronger.  What matters it the strength of the cable, not the strength of my belief in it.  I may never get on the gondola if I don’t belief it is strong enough to hold us up, but my belief matters not one whit one way or the other to the cable.

God is Reality.  He is the GREAT Reality…whether I choose to believe it or not.  Jesus doesn’t need by belief so that he’ll become strong enough to save me.  He’s already strong enough.  My faith should be in Him – He is to be the object of my faith.  That’s the bottom line on Reality.

PRAYER: Almighty God, You Who made a world of reality and who lives in a universe of reality, open our eyes to see that You are the One Reality with which we must all ultimately deal, and by which we will all ultimately be confronted.  Don’t let us be deceived, nor let our friends and family be fooled into thinking that what matters is whether we really believe in something.  Let us believe it You, for You are true.  You are the only reality that can save us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 6/19/18 – The Trust Fall

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DayBreaks for 6/19/18: The Trust Fall

There are moments when people take my breath away with something they say or do. I experienced one of those moments just yesterday and thought I’d share a bit of it with you.

I have subscribed for some time to the Twitter account of Taya Kyle. If that name isn’t familiar to you, she was the wife of Chris Kyle, the Navy Seal, author and the subject of the movie, American Sniper. If you don’t know the story, he survived several tours of duty as a Seal sniper in the middle east. When he finally left the Seal team behind forever, he came back to his home state of Texas and his family and began to get involved in helping other veterans who were struggling with ghosts of what they had witnessed – and perhaps what they had done.

One afternoon he was meeting at a gun range with one such veteran who took one of the guns and shot Chris, killing him, leaving Taya behind with their little children. To say Taya has had a difficult, heartbreaking time is an understatement.

Yet, this is what she wrote on Facebook both in memory of her husband on Father’s Day, but also to draw our hearts closer to the greatest Father of all and to make us ponder our relationship with Him:

I remember when our kids asked what a trust fall was. Chris lifted them on the high counter in our kitchen and told them not to look back but trust he would catch them as they fell backward. They were terrified and couldn’t/wouldn’t do it. I don’t blame them, it would have been terrifying for anyone. The more they didn’t trust, the more frustrated Chris got. Had he not shown them at every turn how much they could trust him? Did they not know how much he loved them?

I wonder if this is not how God feels when we, His children, do not trust Him. Do we not know the world may hurt us but He will not? Do we not see how many times and how many ways He has loved us and been there for us? Do we not know how the world may hurt us and actions have consequences but His love is solid and true and He will always want what is best for us?

Here’s what took my breath away and made me ponder my own level of trust: DO WE NOT KNOW THE WORLD MAY HURT US BUT HE WILL NOT? What a profound question! I believe that, I truly do, but if God asked me to show my trust, how would my trust fare? How would yours?

PRAYER: God, forgive my lack of trust. I know better, but I am weak and fearful when I should be strong and unafraid. Help me! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/04/18 – The Undoubting Doubter

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DayBreaks for 4/04/18: The Undoubting Doubter

If I were to mention the names of certain disciples to you and ask you to write down the first word that comes into your mind, it is unlikely you would come up with the same words. If I were to mention the name of Judas many of you would write down the word “betray” or “betrayer” but not all of you. If I were to mention Simon Peter, some of you would write down the word “faith,” but not all of you. If I were to mention the names of James and John, some of you would write down the phrase “Sons of Thunder,” but not all of you. But when I mention the word Thomas, there is little question about the word most everyone would write down. It would be the word doubt or the label, “doubter”. Indeed, so closely have we associated Thomas with this word, that we have coined a phrase to describe him: “Doubting Thomas.”
You may be interested to know that in the first three gospels we are told absolutely nothing at all about Thomas. It is in John’s Gospel that he emerges as a distinct personality, but even then there are only 155 words about him. There is not a lot about this disciple in the Bible but there is more than one description.

When Jesus turned his face toward Jerusalem the disciples thought that it would be certain death for all of them. Surprisingly, it was Thomas who said: Then let us go so that we may die with him. (Interestingly, Thomas is said by tradition to have died a martyr’s death in India, having angered local religious authorities by his preaching of the gospel, they ran him through with a spear. How ironic that he would die in that manner after having placed his hand in the spear wound in Christ’s side!)

It wasn’t Peter who said …let us go so that we may die with him. It wasn’t John or Jesus’ half-brother James. Thomas’ words were courageous, yet we don’t remember him for that. We also fail to point out that in this story of Thomas’ doubt we have the one place in the all the Gospels where the Divinity of Christ is bluntly and unequivocally stated. 

It is interesting, is it not, that the story that gives Thomas his infamous nickname, is the same story that has Thomas making an earth shattering confession of faith? How did Thomas move so quickly from the bold confessor to the doubting one? I think it may be that those who are the most hopeful fall hardest when those hopes appear shattered and belief comes hard – if at all. But look at his confession after seeing the risen Christ: My Lord, and my God. Not teacher. Not just Lord. Not Messiah. But God! It is the only place where Jesus is called God without qualification of any kind. It is uttered with conviction as if Thomas was simply recognizing a fact, just as 2 + 2 = 4, and the sun is in the sky. You are my Lord and my God! These are certainly not the words of a doubter. Again, it wasn’t Peter, James or John who uttered those five huge words so laden with meaning.

Today, however, I want to ask you this question: who is Jesus to you? Is he your favorite moral and ethical teacher? Do you call him Lord? He is so much more than just Lord, as Thomas noted: he is God.

If you aren’t willing and ready to let him be both your Lord and God – with all that entails in terms of absolute, utter obedience to even the slightest thing he may ask or command – then we need to rethink our relationship with him. Too much is at stake to not think seriously about this!

PRAYER: Jesus, open our eyes to this profound truth that you are both Lord and God and there is no excuse to not follow every word that came out of your mouth and to commit ourselves unreservedly to humble obedience. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 3/01/18 – If You Can

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DayBreaks for 3/01/18: If You Can

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2008:

“Hey, hon, would you see if you can get the lid off this jar?”  If I had a dollar for every time my wife asked me that question, I’d have a much faster PC than I do now!  There is also something in the male ego that rises to such a challenge: “What do you mean, ‘If you can?’  I’m macho!”  Then, so us guys can demonstrate our physical prowess, we try really hard to make it look easy to get the lid off the jar.  Sometimes it is very easy, but other times it is hard (but we can’t ever let on that it is hard).

In Mark 9.22-23, Jesus has been approached by a man who had a son who was possessed by demons, and here is part of their conversion, the man speaking first of all to Jesus: It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.

Here was a man who had a broken heart.  His son, whom he no doubt loved greatly, had been wracked with suffering as a result of the demon.  As a parent, you would feel like you could never take your eyes off your child for an instant because the demon might try to throw him into the fire or water at any time.  Parenting would become a very intense 24-hour a day job.  You can hear the desperation in the man’s voice: “But, IF you can do anything..”.  Undoubtedly this poor man had tried other “healers” or religious leaders – including the very disciples of Jesus – but to no avail.  He finds himself now, not daring again to get his hopes up, confronted with Jesus himself.  Would he be able to do what his disciples could not?  Was there any reason to hope?  Hence, the words, “…if you can…”.

Jesus’ reply picks up on the lack of faith in the father of the child.  “If you can?  EVERYTHING is possible for him who believes.” 

First of all, Jesus believed.  He knew the power of the Father that was at his beck and call.  He had no doubt that he could deliver the boy from demonic struggle.  The disciples apparently doubted that they could do it.  He didn’t permit the lack of faith from the boy’s father to cause him to doubt his own faith.  With Jesus is found certainty. 

Second, Jesus doesn’t limit the ability to do great things to just himself – but says EVERYTHING is possible for EVERYONE who believes. 

Are you at a point in your life right now where you are not sure that even God can help you?  It happens.  Does it seem you have tried everything and everyone with no progress?  The father who brought his tormented son to Jesus found mercy and grace and healing in spite of his personal lack of faith.  He only had enough faith to ask the question – “If you can, can you help me?” 

In your despair and the pit of your suffering, if you can find even the smallest bit of faith when you go to him, he can and will help you, too.

PRAYER: Lord, grow our belief!  Help our unbelief!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 1/16/18 – The Prescription for an Untroubled Heart

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DayBreaks for 1/16/18: The Prescription for an Untroubled Heart

John 14:1(ESV) – Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.

Troubled hearts are everywhere. My guess is you have something that is troubling your heart. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t. Scripture tells us to not be anxious – but just like this verse from Jesus, that’s far easier to say than to do. So how do we go about getting an untroubled heart?

Believe in God; believe also in me. Seven simple words, the longest consisting of just seven letters and two syllables. So how does it work?

First, think about what is troubling your heart. Is it fear of illness? Loss of job or home? A child who is in rebellion? A marriage that is falling apart? Ability to pay the bills? My guess is that you can come up with several things. It really doesn’t matter what it is, the cause of troubled hearts is found in this passage, this one little verse. Our hearts are troubled when we believe that God doesn’t know, care, or is powerless and indifferent to do anything. It is much harder to believe in someone or something you can’t see (like God), so Jesus makes it much more personal (“believe also in me”). The disciples had seen, touched and smelled Jesus and had seen his care and concern.

The hard part, of course, is always that we do not know what God will specifically do in any given situation. Will he heal? Will be lose our job? Will we go broke? Will someone die? Will the company be sold or go under? I don’t know the answers to those questions in my own life, let alone yours. But if our faith is based on some specific action that God will do, rather than His character and His promise to make all things work for our good, we aren’t really trusting or believing in God.

We need to also believe in His power. If I were to say to you, “Believe in Galen, believe in me for a trouble-free heart!” would you take that advice to heart? I would hope not! I have neither the power to fix what’s troubling you nor the wisdom to make sure that whatever is going on in your life will work out for your good and not harm. God, and Jesus, however, have both the power to fix it but also the wisdom to know whether or not it would be good for you if they fixed it in the way you want them to fix it.

It’s still easier said than done. But the key is to believe in God and in Jesus. Believe in their power, but even more in their wisdom to do what is right. No matter what happens in life, that is the key to a trouble-free heart.

PRAYER: Lord, we all need to heed your advice to us because our hearts are all troubled! Help us, we pray, to believe in You! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/06/17 – The Christian Gamble

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DayBreaks for 11/06/17: The Christian Gamble

As we were in worship just yesterday, I was contemplating that which human minds cannot hope to contemplate – God. And as we sang a song, I thought about the power that it takes to call everything into existence simply by words. It seems impossible, doesn’t it? And yet that is what we Christians believe. We believe in a God who cannot be seen and believe he has done things which are incomprehensible. How can words bring physical matter into existence? Doesn’t that seem like the stuff of fairy tales or stories about the pagan gods? And when I think about it that way, I sometimes must admit that it sounds really far fetched and impossible and I begin to entertain doubts.

But, then I must come fact to face with the fact that physical things do exist, so how can they be explained? It is a basic premise that “Nothing comes from nothing”, i.e., that if something exists at all, it must be because there was something to make it happen. There is not a single shred of evidence, nor a claim that I am aware of, that the universe has been eternal – without a beginning. So that begs the question: where did matter come from if it could have come from nothing? Christians believe it comes from God. The fact that things (including myself) do exist, leads me to conclude that God must exist.

Can I prove it? No. Atheists take delight in the fact that Christians cannot prove that God exists. But, neither can an atheist prove that God does NOT exist. And so believers and unbelievers are all gambling that what we believe is true.

So, what is one to do, since neither God’s existence nor his non-existence can be proven? Perhaps the best we can do is to look at the evidence to make the most reasonable bet with our life that we can. And in that process, it might be wise to sit down with a piece of paper and do this exercise: write down the ramifications regarding life if His existence is real, and write down the ramifications if it is not real. Then decide which way you want to bet your existence.

You see, in the final analysis, for an atheist to say that faith is foolish is to call themselves foolish, too, because one’s belief about God’s existence and nature (if He exists) is based on faith, either way one chooses to believe.

Romans 1:19-20 (ESV) – For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

PRAYER: Father, though we cannot prove your existence, we believe in it and in your goodness and trustworthiness. May our faith be rewarded not just in the world to come, but in this one as well! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 9/19/17 – In the Midst of Doubt

DayBreaks for 9/19/17: In the Midst of Doubt

Note: Galen is traveling this week.

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/2007:

Doubts.  Uncertainties.  This past Thursday morning I was in a meeting with other pastors and we were discussing a particular aspect of doctrine.  Now you might think, “Wow, that really sounds exciting…a real snoozer!”  Normally, I’d have to agree with you.  As one of the pastors put it, “Doctrine, schmoctrin! I’d rather talk about Jesus!”  Right on!  Part of the reason that we struggled with the conversation so much was that we all recognized and admitted our own imperfect knowledge and understanding.  I think that one of the reasons that God chooses to save us by faith in Christ and not by passing a theological or doctrinal test is that He knows not one of us would ever get any, let alone all, of it perfectly right.  And so, while some discussions of doctrine are at least important, and some are very interesting, our doctrinal certainties are not the basis of our salvation. 

I have no doubts in my mind about who Jesus is.  I have no doubts in my mind about what He can do (although since it’s far beyond our ability to imagine or comprehend, I don’t know ALL that He can do, so I just say, “He can do anything!”).  But every once in a while, something comes along that tends to knock the tracks off the tank of our life’s smooth progress and we begin to question, to ask (even if just for a fleeting moment), “Do I really believe this stuff?  Does it make any sense to believe it?”  Sometimes those thought-provoking questions come as the result of a cataclysm of worldly proportions (tsunamis, earthquakes, etc.), sometimes as a result of the fall of a man or woman of God who seems to have lost or abandoned all they ever held true for a momentary dalliance with sin.  Sometimes they come tip-toeing into my mind for no apparent reason at all. 

I am not the kind of person who is free from doubts.  I have had people tell me that they have never doubted for a moment the eternal existence of God.  Many times, such people also tell me that they’ve never felt the need to read any of the outstanding books that wrestle with the questions of God’s existence, evidences for it, for the resurrection, for the virgin birth, for the miracles, etc.  More power to them.  I’m glad that God has given them such a simple, yet strong and resolute faith.  Maybe someday I’ll reach a point where I never even have the thought or shadow of a doubt pass across my mind.  But for now – every once in a while, I wonder.  I ponder.  I question.  I think God can handle that just fine.  And, I feel stronger for having to wrestle with those things.  I think Thomas’ faith was stronger after he wrestled with his doubts about the resurrection and then had it confirmed as a result, don’t you?  Jesus said that Thomas was blessed because he believed – but those who have never seen and believed are at least equally blessed.  Jesus didn’t knock Thomas for the doubt.

So, what do you do when you are faced with doubts, when the moving picture of life beats you up one side and down another like an automated car wash? Here are some thoughts from my youngest son, Tim: 

“…I always recommend that in the midst of doubt, one continue to go to the places where one has met God before–it only makes sense.  But what’s most important for you to understand is that you do not need to “come back” to God.  God is not “back there” somewhere, as though you have left Him behind, and He is only in one place.  God has been right there with you all along, right beside your bed, with His hand on your shoulder as you wept.  We do not worship an abstract philosophical God.  We worship a God who cared about us in the midst of our suffering so much that He became human so that he could stand before suffering and death alongside us.  We worship a God who “so loved the world” that He gave Christ in order that whoever trusts in Him “should not perish but have everlasting life.”
Without realizing it, I can see that this is what I do when I question.  I got back to the place where I met God before – and find He’s still there.  The patriarchs made a habit of every so often revisiting places where they and their predecessors had encounters with God (Bethel, for instance).  There’s a lot to be said for that.  There is something about familiar surroundings that can help resolve the doubts.  And so I read the words and life of Jesus again, and there I’m struck down and reminded of what a great God He Is and why I believe in Him.  The answers that I found to the questions I’ve asked still hold water.  And I can’t avoid those answers – they are solid, like the Rock Himself. 

PRAYER:  Thank you for being patient with our shaky faith and deep-rooted questions, Lord.  Thank you for the story of Thomas and how you blessed him after his faith was confirmed.  Thank you for solid places upon which we can regain our footing when our faith falters.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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