DayBreaks for 1/13/20 – The Possibility of Miracles

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DayBreaks for 1/13/20: The Possibility of Miracles

From the DayBreaks Archive, January 2010:

Miracles.  We talk about them, I know folks who claim to have seen them.  More often than not, they are talking about someone being healed from an illness or disease, or the miracle of birth or conception, of human development.  It is hard to prove whether such was a miracle or a “co-incidence” in practicality.  In fact, there are those who tend to put a lot of faith in science who say that there is no such thing as a miracle. 

There is no Christian belief without faith in miracles: creation, the virgin birth, Jesus’ resurrection from the dead…these form the very crux of Christianity and its beliefs.  Science rejects that miracles can be harmonized with a modern, educated and rational view of the world.  So, once armed with that conclusion, they turn to the bible and say it can’t be reliable because of its insistence on miracles and a God of the miraculous.  The thinking goes like this: “Science has proven that there is no such thing as miracles.”  But, as Timothy Keller put it in The Reason for God, “..embedded in such a statement is a leap of faith.  It is one thing to say that science is only equipped to test for natural causes and cannot speak to any others.  It is quite another to insist that science proves that no other causes could possibly exist…The scientist must always assume there is a natural cause.  That is because natural causes are the only kind its methodology can address.  It is another thing to insist that science has proven there can’t be any other kind.  There would be no experimental model for testing the statement: ‘No supernatural causes for any natural phenomenon is possible.’  It is therefore a philosophical presupposition and not a scientific finding.”

Alvin Plantinga, the Christian philosopher, shows the folly of such a line of thinking when he wrote: “Macquarrie perhaps means to suggest that the very practice of science requires that one reject the idea of God raising someone from the dead…[This] argument…is like the drunk who insisted on looking for his lost care keys only under the streetlight on the grounds that the light was better there.  In fact, it would go the drunk one better: it would insist that because the keys would be hard to find in the dark, they must be under the light.”

It is ludicrous to think that science is so smart that it holds all the answers – even to things that cannot be put under a microscope or subjected to scientific methodology. 

Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.  (Romans 1:22)

PRAYER: Thank you that there are reasons to walk by faith and not by sight alone!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 1/2/20 – With Healing in His Wings

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DayBreaks for 1/02/20: With Healing in His Wings

From the DayBreaks Archive, January 2010:

Goodness knows our world and souls need healing.  Repeated attempts by shoe bombers to blow up planes of ordinary people, suicidal bombers wearing explosive vests, children abducted and murdered – these and many more heinous events have taken place since Christmas.  What a way to end the year, eh? 

Yet, we have hope.  For thousands of years, the Jews hoped…and waited…and kept on hoping and kept on waiting, for what Malachi promised in chapter 4 verse 2-3: But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says the Lord of hosts.  All of this will take place, says the Lord of Hosts, “on the day when I act.”  If the Jews could hope and wait for millennia, shouldn’t Christians be able to hope for even longer if necessary?

In the passage from Malachi, the word translated as “wings” is from the Hebrew kinof.  There’s a strange, yet very fascinating connection here that we miss since we don’t know Hebrew.  In the instructions given by God to Moses about how the Israelites were to live and practice their faith, they were to wear tassels on the fringes of the prayer shawls worn by the priests and others.  These tassels were to be a visible reminder to all that they were to be a special people, priestly in nature to the rest of the world.  Here’s where it gets interesting: the same Hebrew word, kinof, is used for “wings” in Malachi as for the fringes of the prayer shawl.  Both are kinof.

In Luke 8:40-48 is recorded the story of Jesus in the crowd when he was touched by the woman with the issue of blood.  Remember what the woman touched?  The edge of his garment.  The kinof, if you please.  This woman wasn’t just hoping to be healed.  It appears that she’d thought this through and had come to the conclusion that Jesus was the Messiah, the “sun of righteousness” that would rise with healing in his kinof (wings, fringes), as if saying, “I believe that this is the One!  He’s the one we’ve waited for!  I know he has healing in his wings!”

It becomes even more clear in verse 48 when Jesus tells her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well…”  It wasn’t just faith in his power to heal, it was her faith in him as the sun of righteousness that had risen with healing in his wings! 

Yes, he came, he healed.  So in a sense, it is history – past tense.  Yet in a far greater and obviously more powerful mode he will come again and “the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in it’s wings” once more, and on the day when he acts again the disease will be forever gone, there will be no more suicide bombers, children ripped from the arms and hearts of their parents…and death itself will be no more!

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, may this be the day when once again the “sun of righteousness” rises!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 11/14/19 – It Is Here

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DayBreaks for 11/14/19: It Is Here

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2009:

All this I have told you so that you will not go astray. They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God. They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. I have told you this, so that when the time comes you will remember that I warned you. I did not tell you this at first because I was with you. – John 16:1-4 (NIV)

Jesus often couched his messages and teaching in riddles or parables that were designed to be understood only by those who had open hearts and eyes.  In what is surely a sad commentary on human nature, not even those who were the closest to Him often grasped what He meant.  But in this passage from John 16, Jesus spoke in point blank terms.  There was no mistaking His message to those who followed Him: “…a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God.” 

We have lived in religious freedom in the United States of America for about 235 years.  What a blessing!  I fear that we’ve come to a point in our country where we no longer experience much religious freedom.  Of course, I’m speaking in relative terms – we have far greater religious freedom than in China where churches are forced underground, or in Muslim countries or even in countries where Buddhism or Hinduism are practices.  In such countries, lives are sacrificed – literally – on the altar of obedience to God every day.  We aren’t there yet in the United States.  I hope we never will be – but such hoping on my part may just be wishful thinking for myself and those I love.  It may be best for the kingdom of God if such persecution were to come to this land. 

Seldom does persecution arrive “full blown.”  There are usually steps and phases – the proverbial slippery slope – where small things are first lost.  Then, if no one notices or raises an alarm, the next step is taken…and the next…and the next, until finally one wakes up to find the persecutor knocking on the door.  Think it isn’t happening here?  Consider this excerpt from “Cross and Culture”, an evangelical blog written by my youngest son, Tim: “Bill McGurn has an excellent article on two “Christian Girls, Interrupted.”  The first girl, Amanda Kurowski, was ordered by a judge to attend public school because, essentially, the judge determined that the girl should be exposed to ways of thinking other than those of her religious parents.  Amanda’s parents are divorced; her mother has primary custody, but her father has been concerned about the effect of home-schooling on her “socialization.” 

“The judge determined “that Amanda is generally likeable and well liked, social and interactive with her peers, academically promising, and intellectually at or superior to grade level.”  Yet due to her “rigidity on faith,” the court concludes that Amanda “would be best served by exposure to different points of view at a time in her life when she must begin to critically evaluate multiple systems of belief and behavior and cooperation in order to select, as a young adult, which of those systems will best suit her own needs.”  In other words, the judge determines, essentially, that she must be sent to public school in order to get away from her mother’s narrow religiosity and be exposed to other worldviews.  Pretty extraordinary stuff.  As McGurn writes, “Just how extraordinary [this line of reasoning is] might best be appreciated by contemplating the opposite scenario: the reaction that would ensue were a court to order a young girl out of a public school and into an evangelical one so she might gain “exposure” to other “systems of belief.”

Religious freedom still exists in America – provided you aren’t a vocal Christian of the evangelical stripe.  Are you ready for the knock on the door?  Will your faith stand the test – or has it already been compromised? 

PRAYER: Lord, we pray for renewal and repentance in our country that we might return to You!  We pray that we would love our enemies, regardless of what they might do to us, that Your kingdom may grow.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/06/19 – Come to Me or Die

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DayBreaks for 11/06/19: Come to Me or Die

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2009:

John Ortberg told this story in one of his sermons: “My friend, Jimmy, and his son, Davey, were playing in the ocean down in Mexico, while his family—his wife, daughters, parents, and a cousin—were on the beach. Suddenly, a rogue riptide swept Davey out to the sea. Immediately Jimmy started to do whatever he could to help Davey get back to the shore, but he, too, was soon swept away in the tide. He knew that in a few minutes, both he and Davey would drown. He tried to scream, but his family couldn’t hear him.

“Jimmy’s a strong guy—an Olympic Decathlete—but he was powerless in this situation. As he was carried along by the water, he had a single, chilling thought: My wife and my daughters are going to have to have a double funeral.

“Meanwhile, his cousin, who understood something about the ocean, saw what was happening. He walked out into the water where he knew there was a sandbar. He had learned that if you try to fight a riptide, you will die. So, he walked to the sandbar, stood as close as he could get to Jimmy and Davey, and then he just lifted his hand up and said, “You come to me. You come to me.”  (To escape a riptide, rather than swimming directly toward the shore it is necessary to swim parallel to the beach until one is out of the riptide current. – GCD)

“If you try to go the way your gut tells you to go—the shortest distance into shore—you will die. If you think for yourself, you will die. God says, ‘If you come to me, you will live.’  That’s it—death or life.”

Galen’s Thoughts: in Mark’s gospel, I’ve been struck by the differences between those who belief and those who don’t.  We are seldom, if ever, given reasons for why people choose not to believe, but they certainly do choose to not believe.  In chapter 16, it twice says that Jesus’ own disciples didn’t believe the resurrection stories.  While that may seem incredulous to us, I think it makes perfect sense.  Which is harder to believe – that a person has risen from the dead or that they’ve been cured of some disease that may not even have been visible on the outside?  The resurrection has almost always been one of the greatest stumbling-blocks for unbelievers.  It’s not that people don’t want to believe in life after death – it’s just that no one that I know of who is alive today has seen a person walking and talking who was dead for 3 days. 

Jesus (and God) seem perfectly willing to leave it up to us to choose whether or not to believe for our own reasons.  On the one hand, a centurion watches him die (probably the first time he’d seen or heard Jesus) and concludes he was the son of God.  On the other, the disciples who’d seen him and heard him many times, didn’t reach that conclusion for some time.  Jesus was taunted on the cross to “come down” and show everyone that he was who he claimed to be.  He didn’t do it – not because He couldn’t have – but because He shouldn’t have.  Belief must come to us as individuals as the conviction of the heart. If it had been me or any other human being that I’ve ever met who had been taunted as Jesus was, I’d have come down and proved my point – so strong is our desire for affirmation.  Jesus wouldn’t have any part of that – no forcing of faith. 

God is so gentle with us.  We’d break otherwise.  So we must come to Jesus because we hear his call, as Jimmy heard the call of his friend on the beach: “Come to me.  Come to me and live.”  We can’t force faith any more than we can swim against a riptide.  It is a work of God’s Spirit. 

PRAYER: Thank You, Father, for sending someone to stand on the shore of this earth and call to us, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened…come to me, and find rest for your souls!”  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/29/19 – With Healing in His Wings

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DayBreaks for 10/29/19: With Healing in His Wings

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2009:

You shall make yourself tassels on the four corners of your garment with which you cover yourself.  (Deut. 22:12, NASB)

This passage is from God’s instructions to His people, Israel.  It seems like a strange command to us, but the tassels were there to remind Israel that they were to be a kingdom of priests to the world.  The Israelites used everything (sight, sound, smell, taste and touch) to remind themselves of the One to Whom they belonged.  These tassels were to be a visual reminder of their identity and role.  Here’s the key point: the Hebrew word that was used for these tassels was kinof.  Remember that…you’ll see it again just a bit later in this message.

But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture. (Malachi 4:2, NLT) 

This prophecy was about the coming Messiah, the “Sun of Righteousness.”  At first glance, it may appear to have nothing to do with the passage from Deuteronomy, but that’s only because we don’t speak Hebrew.  In the passage from Malachi, the word “wings” is also kinof…the same word that is used in Deuteronomy to describe the tassels that were located at the four corners of a garment.

As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her.  She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped. “Who touched me?” Jesus asked. When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.” But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.” Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.” (Luke 8:42b-48, NIV)

Here’s where it gets interesting!  This poor woman who had suffered for 12 long years, is in the great crowd that surrounds Jesus and is pressing in on him.  As she comes closer and closer, she reaches out to touch Jesus’ garment.  Why?  Because this woman either realized or certainly suspected that He was the “Sun of Righteousness” from Malachi who would have power in his “wings” (kinof) to heal!  Is it any wonder that Jesus said to her, “Your faith has healed you. Go in peace”? 

The good news, of course, is that Jesus still has healing in his “wings.”  We just need to get close enough to touch even the hem of his garment.  Our problem is that we are fearful and reluctant to get that close.  Could it be because we really aren’t that eager to be healed?  Is it because of what we may have to give up?  Or do we just not have the faith this woman had to take the risk?  She could have looked very foolish if she was wrong.  I find it interesting that she wanted the healing without the risk of being exposed for her faith if she was wrong about who this man was.  In the press of the crowd, if Jesus didn’t have healing in his “wings”, no one would know if she touched him and nothing happened.  But, of course, that’s NOT what happened.  Jesus wouldn’t let her faith remain hidden, but let it be known to the entire crowd that was gathered there.

I’m sure that we all need some healing today.  Jesus is within reach.  Reach out, take the risk, and find the power in his wings!

PRAYER: Thank You, Lord, for being our healer.  We need the faith to reach out to you in our brokenness.  Thank you for coming to be within reaching distance!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/24/19 – The Bridge: When Faith Comes Hard

Weaving the Bridge

DayBreaks for 10/23/19: The MBridge – When Faith Comes Hard

It isn’t easy to always have faith and even hard to act on that faith. I suspect that it grows even harder as more and more is at stake. For instance, if you are being asked to deny your faith and the life of your family is at stake if you don’t, acting on faith in that case would perhaps be at the most extreme test possible.

The education system today calls faith into question, placing it on the scales to determine if it makes sense or not. We want to reduce everything to mathematical equations and certainties. The world is uncomfortable with uncertainty and things that cannot be proved, hence faith itself is deemed foolish and those who cling to it are ridiculed and proclaimed to be idiots.

Perhaps what Dr. Paul Brand wrote sheds a bit of light on this subject: “I have stood before a bridge in South America constructed of interlocking vines that support a precariously swinging platform hundreds of feet above a river. I know that hundreds of people have trusted that bridge over the years, and as I stand at the edge of the chasm I can see people confidently crossing it. The engineer in me wants to weigh all the factors—measure the stress tolerances of the vines, test any wood for termites, survey all the bridges in the area for one that might be stronger. I could spend a lifetime determining whether this bridge is fully trustworthy. Eventually, though, if I really want to cross, I must take a step. When I put my weight on that bridge and walk across, even though my heart is pounding and my knees are shaking, I am declaring my position.

“In my Christian walk I sometimes must proceed like this, making choices which involve uncertainty. If I wait for all the possible evidence, I’ll never move.” Dr. Paul Brand, Fearfully and Wonderfully

For those who have taken “the step” of faith and have found it true, we heartily assert it is not foolish. Those who have tasted the goodness of God’s love and compassion know it is real. Those who never take the step will never know, nor could we expect them to know, how solid the Bridge and Bridgebuilder is.

I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me.

PRAYER: Give us the courage to believe and to act in faith!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/03/19 – The Nature of Faith

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DayBreaks for 10/03/19: The Nature of Faith

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2009:

I think that Christians struggle with faith.  That statement can be interpreted at least two different ways: 1) that we struggle to believe, and 2) that we struggle to understand what faith is. 

We all understand the first struggle rather implicitly.  We know there are times we find it hard to believe.  We may not struggle to believe that God exists (though we may, from time to time), but this first struggle is more pronounced when we find ourselves or someone/something that we love that is in great pain and anguish.  In that case, we struggle with our faith in the proclamation that “God is a good, loving God.” 

The second case is more the one I’ve been thinking about lately.  I feel confident that the world doesn’t understand the very nature of faith.  All you have to do is read carefully what is said about “those Christians” and you’ll quickly see that they believe people of faith have taken leave of their senses.  They think that to have faith in God is superstition – nothing more and nothing less than blind, ignorant wishful thinking. 

Is that really true?  Is that the real nature of faith?  I don’t believe so.  Our faith is neither baseless nor wishful thinking.  If you didn’t believe (have faith) in the law of gravity, would you ever jump upward to grab a basketball or in a frenzy of joyful dancing leave your feet?  No, you wouldn’t.  If you believed that you would just keep going up and depart the atmosphere into the void of space where you’d suffocate, you’d never jump!  We have faith that the laws of gravity will not be superseded even once when we jump.  And that faith is based on observance of the situation and past performance. 

We sometimes say we have faith in someone.  What is that faith based on?  It’s based on observation of that person and their character over some period of time that has shown them to be faith-worthy.  The same is true for the fact that we have faith that the brakes on our car will work, that the steering mechanism won’t become disconnected and that the key to our front door will continue to work in the lock as long as the lock doesn’t change.  Even though molecular motion says that the molecules in the lock (and in the key and in our hands, etc.) are constantly moving, we believe the key will still work in the lock because of the history we’ve had with the lock.

The same is true of Christian faith.  It is not a blind, thoughtless, ignorant superstition, but an intelligent response to evidence we see all around us, to the past performance of the One that we see as the explanation for all that exists.  Atheists must have faith in something – for them it is chance and time that they put their faith in as the explanation for what they see and experience.  But what of the things we can’t see?  They never can explain how anything came to be (how did the matter in the big bang come to exist?) in the first place – even if time and chance were the operative factors involved. 

So, faith isn’t foolish.  Faith is reasonable.  Faith is based on past observations about reliability and performance.  No one would realistically walk up to a total stranger on the street corner who is unshaven, homeless and filthy and hand them their life savings and say, “I trust you’ll keep this safe for me.”  Why?  Because we don’t know if they are reliable.  God, however, has demonstrated faithfulness throughout every generation.  And we can go to Him, hand Him our eternal destiny, and with faith say, “I trust you’ll keep this safe for me.”

We have faith because of reliability, a proven track record, personal experience and because it is the only reasonable thing to do.  Faith isn’t blind. 

PRAYER: We are grateful that You have proven Yourself over and over to us and that You will always be worthy of our faith in You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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