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.  ><}}}”>

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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.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 7/26/17 – A Giant, a Kid, a God

DayBreaks for 7/26/17: A Giant, a Kid, a God

I’m sure you remember the story of David and Goliath. For many, it is their favorite bible story (maybe especially for kids!). I always loved the story as a little boy – I think every little boy who heard it thought of themselves in the role as David!

I recently heard something that I thought was really good and wanted to pass it along. It will come at you in three parts, so let’s get started!

What is the perspective of the world when it comes to this story? Or, one might ask, what was the perspective of the Israelites as they stood there with the monster of a man, taunting them? Their reaction was: He’s too big to hit! Just think of what he might do to me if I were to hit him! He’d squash me like a bug! So, I think I’ll just leave Mr. Goliath alone because I don’t want to get squashed! I can understand that mindset, can’t you? If you’ve ever been faced with a bully, a BIG bully, you know precisely how it feels.

What is the perspective of David? It may have been something like this: He’s too big to miss! I couldn’t possibly miss him if I tried. Why, he’s bigger than my father’s stable! This is a no-lose situation! Let me at him! I think, from the way that David expressed himself, that he was full of confidence.

But, as interesting as both of those are, I think that this next perspective is the one that is the most intriguing. What was God’s perspective? Goliath is too small to matter. Watch what I’m going to do with him through a scrawny shepherd kid. I’ll squash him like a bug.

I like having that kind of God with that vantage point, don’t you?

PRAYER: Thank You for being such a BIG God who sees things for what they really are! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 3/23/17 – I Have Revealed You

DayBreaks for 3/23/17: I Have Revealed You

NOTE: Galen is traveling this week. This week’s DayBreaks will be from the May 2007 archives.

John 17:6 (NIV) – I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word.

“I have revealed You.” 

For millennia, people have looked up at the sky and observed the world around them and pondered what God (or the gods) were like.  At times, from external appearances, God didn’t seem to be too friendly.  Billions of unanswered questions were flung skyward, and yet God couldn’t be seen or known or understood.  Droughts, fires, storms, earthquakes, volcanoes, diseases, death suggested that perhaps God wasn’t too good, too friendly, nor was it a good idea to get too close to Him.  And who can blame them for coming to such conclusions?  Let’s be honest here: life is tough.  It’s hard.  Even today, when a Katrina or a tsunami strike, one of the first questions out of the mouths of people is: “Why did God do this?  Either he must not be a good God, or he must not be strong enough and powerful enough to prevent such things.”  Their doubts lead some to the conclusion that God is vengeful, angry with all of mankind, or that maybe at some point, like Nietzsche, they concluded in their own reasoning that God kicked the bucket at some time and that’s why these things happen. 

Honestly, these are tough questions.  What I think we should understand from the text is that Jesus came partly to correct our many wrong conceptions about God and to answer some of our questions about Him.  Notice, I didn’t say he came to answer all our questions, because God is infinite – and quite frankly, our human minds can’t any more capture all that there is to know about God than a paper cup could hold the entire contents of the Pacific Ocean.  But He showed us God…and He showed us enough of God to show us that God isn’t like what we thought He was like at all. 

What did Jesus reveal about God to us?  His nature.  We see God by seeing Jesus.  What did Jesus do when he was confronted with suffering?  NOT ONCE is it recorded that he refused to allow suffering to move him in his heart and soul – he didn’t scold those who were suffering or say that they lacked sufficient faith to be healed, he didn’t say “You’re suffering because you’re a horribly sinful person” or “Because God’s mad at you.”  In fact, when asked whose fault it was someone was handicapped, or who was to blame for a tower at Siloam falling and killing people, Jesus said it was the work of the enemy – not God.  And then Jesus proceeded to show his disciples, and us, what God is like and how He feels about such things: he healed, removing the suffering.  In every case where Jesus was personally asked for healing, he healed!  That is God’s nature – to heal all that is broken – in His time.  Did Jesus heal everyone who was sick while he was on earth?  No, he did not.  Why?  Again – that’s a topic for another time, and it’s an answer we can only speculate about – but what Scripture does make clear about God is that he will fix it all eventually, when the time is right.  And then no one will be complaining any more, or suffering.  “I have revealed you” is wonderful news.

The question that haunts me, though, isn’t about Jesus and his revealing of God.  No, it’s much more personal.  Has my life revealed Him, or obscured Him?  What does my life say about Who God is and what He is like?

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for revealing the Father to us.  Thank you for showing us that God is a GOOD God, a trustworthy God who is eternally interested in our good.  Help us, as week and sinful as we are, to emulate Jesus and reveal God to those who witness our lives each day.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 11/9/16 – God Is Well Today

DayBreaks for 11/09/06: God Is Well Today

Do you have days when you just don’t feel quite right? Maybe you woke up this morning and looked at the election results and felt sick to your stomach. Sometimes, you may not feel good because you didn’t sleep well during the night, or you’ve got a low-grade fever and are slightly discombobulated, maybe a bit on the dizzy side.  If I don’t eat on a fairly regular schedule, I can get feeling weak rather quickly.  And while I know (intellectually at least) that I am not God and that God is not one of us, there have been times when I was at least tempted to think that perhaps God just wasn’t quite with it, either.  After all, if I’m made in His image, and I can have bad days, why can’t He?

Well, there’s a good reason why He can’t have a bad day.  It’s just simply not possible for God to have a bad day.  Let me quote again from Louie Giglio’s book, I Am Not But I Know I Am: “God is doing well today, thank you.  He has no dilemmas.  No quandaries.  No counselors.  No shortages.  No rivals.  No fears.  No cracks.  No worries.  He is self-existent, self-contained, self-perpetuated, self-powered, and self-aware.  In other words, He’s God and He knows it. 

“After an eternity of being God, he shows no signs of wear and tear.  He has no needs.  His accounts are in the black.  He’s the owner, not to mention Creator, of all the world’s wealth and treasure…He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and all the hills the cows are standing on…God does whatever He wants.  His purposes are a sure thing.  There’s no stopping Him.  No containing Him.  No refuting Him.  No cutting Him off at the pass.  No short-circuiting His agenda.”

When I get up in the morning, I always plan to have a good day.  But 64 years of experience tells me that somewhere on the trajectory of my day’s activities, I will have dilemmas.  I will have fears about whether or not I’m doing the right thing, or making the right decisions.  I will worry about it each time I have to spend money – especially for unexpected, unbudgeted things. 

And after a hard week that may have been filled with special challenges, I do show signs of wear and tear.  Let there be no doubt of that.  I have needs.  I own nothing, although I delude myself into thinking that certain things belong to me.  There will be things that can throw my best plans right down the tubes.  But none of that ever, EVER happens to God.  He’s so far above those things that are all related to human weaknesses. 

But here’s the good news: He understands human weaknesses for two very important reasons:

FIRST: He created us.  Just like the engineer who designed a portion of a nuclear submarine knows what that component’s purpose is and what it’s made of with all it’s limitations, God knows ME.  He knows humanity.  So He knows and understands our human weaknesses.

SECOND: He lived on this tiny ball in the middle of space as one of us so He’d understand perfectly – so that we’d KNOW He understands.  He just asks us to trust that He has none of our limitations and so won’t be derailed in the slightest, and to trust that in all things, He works to our advantage!

If you looked at the election results and thought God goofed up, know this – He didn’t. He knows perfectly well what He’s doing, and even moreso, why He’s doing it. He’s not obligated to share that information with us. We are obligated to trust that His eye is still on the ball and He hits grand slams with every swing. He never strikes out. The election turned out the way He planned it to. He rules over the affairs of men and always will. History is in His hand, not in the hand of an earthly ruler.

So, take comfort. God is doing just great today, thank you very much! He never has an “off” day!

Psalm 66:7 (NLT) – For by his great power he rules forever. He watches every movement of the nations; let no rebel rise in defiance.  

PRAYER: Lord, no matter how we are feeling today, help us to remember that You are alive and well, flourishing and as strong as You were on the very first day of eternity.  Thank you that You’ve given us such wonderful proofs of Your understanding of us.  May we be comforted this day in knowing YOU are well and doing everything perfectly!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/26/16 – Can You Believe It?

 

DayBreaks for 9/26/16 – Can You Believe It?     

There are verses in the bible that are not all that exciting. For example, you can find a lot of them in Numbers! But then there are verses that blow us away…or at least, they should. Here’s one such passage:

Romans 8:30-31 (NLT) – And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory. What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?

Please pay special attention to the last sentence and the first five words: If God is for us…  Paul isn’t really asking the question or posing a hypothetical. He is stating a fact based on the truth of the preceding verse where he declares what God has done for us through Jesus…and he’s calling those verses in context to witness to the fact that God IS for us…the “If” is only there to be juxtaposed against the last six word: ..who can ever be against us?

But here’s the question: do you believe God is for YOU? Can you believe that He is NOT against you? Far too many, even Christians, think of God as sitting upon the circle of heaven looking down at us with a cosmic flyswatter just waiting for us to make the slightest mistake so He can squash us like a fly. And then they picture God laughing over whatever remains of us. Or, they see Him as furiously angry with them – eager to destroy as the scent of souls in hell fill is nostrils.

But that is 180 degrees opposite of what Paul has proven. If God is against us, would He have given His Son to die in agony for us? Would God has put Himself through the torture of watching His only begotten Son writing in agony if God was not for us? No way! 

What does it mean that God is for you? It means several things:

FIRST: God is not your enemy. Not once you have come home to him.

SECOND: God is not working against you nor wishing/causing bad things to happen to you. He works FOR you…so powerfully that even the bad things that do happen He is working out for your good.

THIRD: God will not let any enemy stand against you successfully. Not even the ruler of hell.

Perhaps you’re feeling like God can’t possibly be for you…a horrible sinner full of evil acts and even more full of evil thoughts and inclinations. But He is for you. And because of that, you’ve got the best Friend in the universe and He is absolutely crazy about you!

If you struggle to believe this good news, repeat to yourself over and over, day after day, until you come to believe it: God is FOR me!

PRAYER: We struggle to believe You could possibly be for us, God, because we do see our sin and frequent failures. Give us the faith to believe these inspired words from Your Spirit and let us rejoice in the this incredible truth! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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