DayBreaks for 12/12/17 – How Christians Can Make God Disappear

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DayBreaks for 12/12/17: How Christians Can Make God Disappear

From the DayBreaks archive, December 2007:

It was the Psalmist that perhaps most eloquently voiced the purpose of creation when he said, in Psalms 19:1-4 (NIV) The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.  Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.  There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.  Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun…

Have you ever wondered why God made physical things?  After all, He Himself is a spiritual being, as are we.  Could God not have created spiritual beings without physical bodies and without a physical realm to move around in?  Of course He could!  But He didn’t.  The reason why is unknown to us, other than the fact that God seems to delight in creating, and in the work of His hands – just like a master craftsman delights in a fine piece of jewelry or a chair or vase. 

I think, however, that the main purpose behind His creation – all of it, not just the physical realm – is found in the passage above: it exists to declare the glory of God.  Someone has said that creation is like God’s fingerprints.  From fingerprints alone we can’t tell too much about a person – we can’t know their character, interests, etc. – but we can tell that they were there.  It’s evidence of their existence.  Creation is evidence of His existence and it glorifies His name!

If only spiritual beings (humans, anyway) were as good at it as the physical universe.  We don’t do a great job of declaring the glory of God.  Joel Belz, in the December 8 issue of World Magazine, wrote: For the truest and most effective proponents of godlessness are almost never those who are most blatant about their mission.  They are instead those who purport to pick up any topic at all for further discussion—and then leave God out of that conversation.  Do that with a dozen such discussions, or maybe 20 or 100, and you don’t have to do much more.  You’ve implicitly made your case.  God doesn’t exist—or if He does, He doesn’t matter. 

What struck me about Belz’ statement wasn’t how the godless go about declaring that God doesn’t exist, but how subtly we as believers can, by the lack of our words and actions, also make God disappear.  When we leave God out of the public conversations we have (and the private ones as well), God has disappeared in that instance.  And, as Belz notes, if we do that often enough in dozens or hundreds of conversations, God is as good as invisible – He disappears from life and living. 

How many conversations do you have in the course of a day?  In how many of those conversations is even the name of God voiced (other than when someone uses His name in vain)?  Are you one of those Christians who makes God disappear, or do you, like the physical heavens, declare the glory of God?

PRAYER:  Father, Your Word says that someday we will shine like stars in the universe.  The universe proclaims Your glory – may we add our voices in our daily conversations!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 11/16/17 – As If

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DayBreaks for 11/16/17: As If

NOTE: Galen is traveling…again.

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

Playing God.  It’s something that we accuse doctors of doing at times, or even other folks who are trying to control everything and everyone.  It’s a ridiculous concept, if you really stop to think of it.  Perhaps that’s why movies like Bruce Almighty found such an audience – it probed the depths of what it might be like if some bumbling human tried to take on the job of God.  And, God Himself challenged Job with the concept – almost saying point blank: “If you think you could do a better job, give it a spin!”  Job, fortunately, was wise enough to not take Him up on the offer. 

Here’s a different twist on the notion:

“Losing PlayStation privileges or being confined to a room would be hard enough for most children, but at the tender age of ten, Sajani Shakya almost lost her status as a living goddess.  In the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal, living goddesses—called Kumari—are chosen from the same Hindu caste as Buddha and worshiped as deity.  As Sajani soon learned, with the elevated status came elevated expectations.  Under no circumstances was she ever to leave the country.  Nepalese authorities were outraged, then, when she chose to travel to the United States to participate in a documentary that was being filmed about the Kumari tradition.  Upon her return, she received notification of termination from goddess status from Jaiprasad Regmi, chief of the government trust that manages the affairs of the living goddesses.  However, after a little pressure from the public and Sajani’s own remorse, the government has since offered a reprieve.  Sajani will retain her title if she faithfully goes through an intense cleansing process that washes her of the sins of the countries she has visited in her travels.” – AP, 7/21/07

There is a huge difference between God and the gods of men.  As if any human, or a group of “authorities” could strip a real God of His Godhood.  It can’t help but make me wonder what definition of “god” the Nepalese were operating under.  It’s preposterous to think that we can take away God’s “Godness”. 

To some extent, they are right: with greatness (and if anything constitutes greatness, surely that would be “Godhood”!) come expanded expectations.  We just need to be careful of what expectations we place on Him.  Do you expect Him to do your bidding?  Do you view Him as the Heavenly Answer-man?  In the real God we see a great dichotomy: He is the one who gives answers, he is the one who can do anything, yet we often approach him by telling him what he should do in any given situation.  And if He doesn’t, we might be tempted to lose faith in Him (in essence, stripping Him of His God-ness) in our hearts and minds. 

The Truth is that God doesn’t need us to declare Him as God.  He knows who He is.  Our problems is that often we don’t know who we are in relation to Him! 

PRAYER: Help us to grow in appreciation and awareness of Your greatness this day.  Teach us that we are nowhere close to being able to do Your job and to humbly walk before You.   In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 10/09/17 – Chasing the Source

Colca Canyon, source of the Amazon

DayBreaks for 10/09/17: Chasing the Source

From the DayBreaks archive:

One of the great quests of explorers was to find the source – the source of the Nile river or the Amazon, Yangtze or even the Mississippi.  Something drove these explorers to find where these great and mighty rivers began their journey.  Ponce de Leon sought the source, too – the fountain of youth, the source of eternal youth and vigor.  Goodness knows that there have been days when I wish I could find the fountain of youth again! 

There has always been something amazing about knowing you stood at the very beginning of something immense and incredible – arriving at the very source.  Wouldn’t you love to be able to travel back through time to the beginning of time – to witness as God’s incredible creative energy was turned loose and things began to spring into existence from nothing?

On this past Saturday, I was at our men’s breakfast fellowship and we were discussing faith and trust.  We were sitting at one of our member’s homes, out on their deck, right underneath a huge redwood.  The sun filtered lazily down through the canopy overhead, and the first chill hint of fall was in the air.  It was a glorious morning (and not just because the smell of fresh cooked bacon and eggs hung in the air!)  As we sat there talking about faith, someone commented that it is always easier to go with the flow than to move upstream. 

Hebrews 2:1 (NIV) talks about something like that: We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.  The terminology used is that of a boat that has been docked but which comes loose from its moorings and which starts to drift downstream.  It’s only natural, of course, that boats drift downstream with the current.  It takes a huge amount of energy to move upstream – against the current. 

When the great explorers of yesteryear were looking for the source of the great rivers, did they drift downstream?  No – going downstream takes you away from the source, not towards it.  To reach the source a lot of energy must be expended.  You have to fight against the raging currents and falling elevation.  In short, you have to bend your will and purpose to one end: to reach the beginning, the source.

Is that any different than what we’re told when we are to seek God will all strength?  He is the ultimate Source of not just rivers and galaxies, but of our lives.  Perhaps our desire to get back to God is part of the reason we so long to find the beginning of things, for in so doing, we are seeking our own Source, our Maker.  But here’s the catch: you’ll never reach your Source (God, the Father) until you bend all your will and energy and purpose to it.  The more energy we put into finding Him, the more of Him we will discover.  He’s not like the source of a river – which comes from one place and once you’ve seen it you’ve seen it all.  No, God is infinite in creativity, personality, love, time…we can spend an eternity at the Source and never fully understand or grasp all of Him. 

Are you willing to spend the energy and devote yourself to the pursuit of the only Beginning that matters?

PRAYER:  Lord, we believe that we were formed at Your word and by Your pleasure.  We find it far easier to drift downstream than to paddle upstream to reach You in Your fullness.  Give us strong backs and wills to commit ourselves to seeking You all the days or our lives, and to not think that once we’ve caught the barest of glimpses of You, to turn back to an easy life.  Give us joy in our discovery of You that drives us forward to even great discoveries of Your glories!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 10/4/17 – The Kind of God We Need

DayBreaks for 10/04/17: The Kind of God We Need

I think perhaps we are all still reeling from the Las Vegas situation, but if you turn away from that subject for a while, what do you run into? Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and don’t forget North Korea. It is a very stressful time in this old world. Stressful times call for perseverance and also for us to remind ourselves about the kind of God we not only need, but have. I like this passage from Jeremiah 20:11 (ESV) – But the LORD is with me as a dread warrior; therefore my persecutors will stumble; they will not overcome me. They will be greatly shamed, for they will not succeed. Their eternal dishonor will never be forgotten.

It is easy to forget in the midst of the newsfeeds and soundbites, but the God we believe in is not a namby-pamby wimp. He isn’t intimidated by nuclear weapons on missiles (whether they be from North Korea, the US, Russia, or wherever). He’s not intimidated by brash talking kings, presidents, premiers or politicians. He’s not afraid of the IRS or terrorists.

No, in fact, he looks at all those things and scoffs at their protestations of power and might. As Jeremiah says, the Lord is a “dread warrior” who will cause persecutors to tremble and fall as He defends the one who is His true servant. Not only will they fall, they will be greatly shamed with eternal dishonor.  I don’t know about you, but I want my dishonoring things to be forgotten quickly, but for those who oppose God and His people, those things will never, ever be forgotten.

Don’t let the world and all the confusion, noise and fear-inducing racket be your undoing. Stop, remember that God is mighty. In fact, He is ALLmighty. There never has been, nor will there ever be anyone or anything like Him. There will never be His equal or His better. He will always be supreme and He has our interest in the center of His great heart.

Revelation 15:3 (ESV) – And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, “Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations!

PRAYER: Almighty God, thank You for being a dread warrior to our enemies and persecutors. Let us rest in the certainty of your ALLmighty power and dominion! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 9/08/17 – God’s Glory

DayBreaks for 9/08/17: God’s Glory

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/2007:

I love to read the passages of Scripture that describe God’s glory and greatness!  I think we all like to read about those aspects of our God.  They are all at once awe-inspiring, comforting, intimidating, exhilarating and terrifying.  There is something within most of us that loves adventure – and life with God is certainly that!

But when we talk about the glory of God, what do you think about?  Do you recall the story of Moses after he came down from the mountain and found the Israelites worshipping the golden calf?  He was upset and angry…and seemingly he got depressed.  So, what did he do?  He talked to God and he made what seems to be a very strange request given the circumstances.  He said, “Show me Your glory, I pray.”  It’s not too surprising that Moses would ask, in the middle of his depression and discouragement, to see God’s glory.  It makes perfect sense, actually. 

But what, I wonder, did Moses expect to see?  He’d already seen the burning bush and the miracles in Egypt.  Did he expect to see a display of lightning and thunder such as the world had never seen?  Did he expect to feel the earth shake under his feet, to see the mountains smoking, to see shooting stars even in the middle of the desert daylight?  Did he expect to hear mighty noises?  I don’t know.  But I don’t think that Moses got what He expected.

Amazingly, God agrees to Moses’ request, however, notice carefully what God said: “I will cause My goodness to pass before you.”  Do you see it?  God agreed to show Moses His glory…and He proceeds to show him His goodness.  What is God’s glory?  It is His unlimited goodness.  The most glorious thing about God is that He is so good!  This sheds new meaning on John’s words in the first chapter of his gospel.  Describing how Christ came to earth in the incarnation, John wrote: “And we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of God.”  What did humans see when they saw Jesus?  They saw his goodness – his love, compassion, healing, mercy, grace – all GOOD things, all God things.  They didn’t see Christ in his heavenly glory – no man could and live – but they saw his goodness, and that is God’s glory!

No, I don’t think Moses got what he expected to see when he asked to see God’s glory.  But I don’t think we was disappointed.  He got so much more than he’d expected – and he learned something valuable about God in the process.

PRAYER: Thank You, God, for Your ceaseless goodness.  May we reflect your glory, your goodness, this day.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/01/17 – What to Wear to Church

DayBreaks for 9/01/17: What to Wear to Church

From the DayBreaks archive, 8/2007:

I’ve been part of several churches during my lifetime.  As a kid, I grew up in the Midwest (Iowa, to be precise), with the typical mid-western mindset about church and what constituted proper attire.  Even though we lived in rural Iowa and the little church we attended in Jefferson was populated mostly by relatively poor farmers, on Sunday you could count on them being decked out in their “Sunday best.”  They weren’t doing this as a means of impressing other attendees with their wealth or sartorial sagacity, but they did it out of a deep sense of reverence and respect for the God that we worshipped.  Their reasoning, as I now understand it, was along this line: “We should give God our very best in everything – including in how we come to worship Him.  It shows Him respect.”  I can appreciate that a great deal.

I’ve also attended churches that were very laid back in their dress code.  Personally, I prefer it that way.  Come Sunday mornings I’m in a polo shirt and Dockers as I stand in the pulpit – except on very rare occasions.  Why?  Because I prefer it that way.  I hate ties and shirts and suits…to me they seem too full of pretentiousness and preening.  But, if I’m honest, it’s because I really prefer to be comfortable when I worship God.  Is that good?  I think so, but then again, I’m not so sure.  There’s still a bit of the mid-western upbringing in me.  But I also know that if I dressed in my finest, that even then, with my spiritual raggedness, I’ve got nothing to impress God with.  Nor should I try to impress Him, I think. 

So what should we wear when we go to church?  For an entirely different take on it, read on:

“Why do we people in churches seem like cheerful, brainless tourists on a packaged tour of the Absolute? …
“On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside of the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of conditions. Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning.

“It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping God may wake someday and take offense, or the waking God may draw us out to where we can never return.” – Annie Dillard, Teaching a Stone to Talk

Wouldn’t it be interesting to pass out crash helmets at worship services?   What could be more appropriate if we really believed that God shows up on Sunday…and if we didn’t reign Him in with our human ideas of orderliness and restraint?  I think that I’d much rather have God on the loose than tied down.  We’re the ones who would need to be tied down if we let Him be on the loose in our churches…for He is an awesome God.

PRAYER:  God, Your Word says that You never sleep nor slumber, but I can’t help but wondering if our apathy and comfortableness with You sometimes causes sleep to fill not only our eyes, but Yours, too.  We ask You to be fully alive to us in our hearts, our homes and our churches that You can be glorified in our midst!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/01/17 – Deus Incognita

DayBreaks for 8/01/17: Deus Incognita

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2007:

I must confess, I am deeply troubled by the lack of theological understanding and inquiry among Christians today.  I include myself in that statement.  It causes me to fear for the faith of future generations of the church – and then I’m reminded that it is Jesus’ church, and He has promised that the gates of hell will not prevail against it.  But that doesn’t mean that we can slide willy-nilly into mindless oblivion about our faith.  The enemy’s attacks grow bolder each and every day – partly, I believe, because as Christians, our ability to defend the faith through the Spirit and knowledge of and about the Truth has reached low ebb.  We’re too busy watching television, renting movies, playing with our iPods or Nintendo’s to pull the bible off the shelf and read it for an hour each day (or longer, as our ancestors in the faith did), or even to read the thoughts and lessons learned by the brilliant saints who have lived and died throughout history. 

Do you remember what the Jews call the Shema?  It goes like this: Deut. 6:4-5 – Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.  Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  You know that by heart, probably.  We like to think about that, and my guess is that when we do, more often than not, we focus on the heart and strength aspect of the verse.  That’s not a bad thing – but there’s one other thing that we often overlook.  It’s the bit about loving Him with all our “soul.”  The Greek word is psyche and is also translated “mind”.  We are to love God, not just with our hearts (emotions) and strength, but also with our minds.  

From Mark Buchanan’s Hidden In Plain Sight – the Secret of More: “In old medieval maps, the cartographer typically inscribed uncharted areas with the words, Terra Incognita, “Unknown Earth.”  A convention then developed to add a warning, Hic Sunt Dracones, “Here be dragons.”

Terra Incognita was honest.  It was an admission of ignorance, an invitation to further exploration.  It awakened inquiry.  Hic sunt dracones was mere speculation, laden with superstition.  It was a covering up of ignorance with wild conjecture.  It warned off further expeditions.  It stifled inquiry.  It hid truth beneath a crust of myth making.

“This is easy to trip into, not least of all with our God talk.  When our theology is patchy, it’s best just to say so, and then set out to fill in the missing pieces.  But I find I’m prone to speculate, swap opinions, walk darkly.  I’m tempted to cover my ignorance with a flurry of razzamatazz and boondoggling.  Hic sunt dracones.

It’s a huge challenge, of course: this business of the study of God.  Unlike every other area of study in the universe, this is one course of study that will never be fully grasped, it’s depths will never fully be plumbed.  Physics is finite because it is a part of the finite universe.  Biology is finite, because it is about the study of the life of finite things.  Geology, paleontology, archaeology, astronomy…and any other science you can name, are all about finite things.  But theology is infinite because it is about that which is Infinite – God.  Could there be a more exciting, rewarding or important field of study?

How long have you spent this week in readying the word, or the thinking of those who have wrestled with these Infinite questions?  Maybe a better question would be this: why haven’t you spent time this week doing such things?  If you are a Christian, there is no more important course of study, and certainly no other line of research that will benefit you in eternity.

PRAYER:  Father, forgive us for letting our minds grow feeble and flabby through our laziness.  Help us to hunger and thirst after You and You alone.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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