DayBreaks for 5/01/18 – All Things in the Right Place

 

DayBreaks for 5/01/18: All Things in the Right Place

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2008:     

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DayBreaks for 5/01/18: All Things in the Right Place

Job 38:4-7, 12-13 (NIV) – Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone–while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place, that it might take the earth by the edges and shake the wicked out of it?

How do you like it when you get “put in your place?”  It’s not real pleasant, is it?  Job discovered what it was like when God started asking him questions that were impossible for Job to answer.  Job’s response was the right one, once he recovered from his shock: I put my hand over my mouth!

God put Job in his place with his questions.  That is as it should be…whenever God asks us questions, they are designed to remind us who and what we are, and to make us realize that we are not God.  We can’t do any of the things that God asked Job, and yet God does them day in and day out without even breaking a sweat.  No, we are not God and we need to be put in our place.

But, at the same time, it is important that we put God in his right place, too.  I like this bit of historical trivia that shows that Martin Luther grasped this perfectly: Philipp Melanchthon was a German theologian who lived as a contemporary of Martin Luther.  One day as the two of them spoke, Melanchthon said to Luther, “Today, you and I shall discuss the governance of the universe.”  Luther looked at Melanchthon and said, “No.  Today, you and I shall go fishing and leave the governance of the universe to God.” 

PRAYER:  Thank You, Father, that You’ve shown us the truth about ourselves, and revealed your greatness and glory to us.  Today, may we trust all things into Your infinitely capable hands!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 4/06/18 – Unclear on the Concept

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DayBreaks for 4/06/18: Unclear on the Concept

From the DayBreaks archive, 1998:

This emergency room story was interesting: “A 28-year old male was brought into the ER after an attempted suicide.  The man had swallowed several nitroglycerin pills and a fifth of vodka.  When asked about the bruises about his head and chest he said that they were from him ramming himself into the wall in an attempt to make the nitroglycerin explode.”

Galen’s Thoughts: My first reaction to the story: duh!  Acts chapter 8 tells us about Simon the magician.  Simon had made a living by practicing magical arts before the gospel came to his town.  Many in his city heard the gospel and believed, including Simon.  But when he saw what happened when the apostles laid their hands on people, he saw an opportunity and went for it.  He did what many do: he tried to bribe God (through the apostles).  Here’s the outcome from Acts 8:18-22: When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”  Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money!  You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God.  Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart.”

Have you ever tried to “bribe” God?  “Lord, if you’ll just get me out of this financial mess, I’ll tithe the rest of my life.”  “Lord, if you’ll heal my child of this disease, I’ll go to church every Sunday till I die.”  “Lord, if you’ll just give me through this battle alive, I’ll stop drinking and serve you the rest of my life.”  I’m ashamed to admit that I have tried to bribe Him.  The only problem is: God cannot be bribed – least of all by humans.

Both the man in the ER and Simon the magician were unclear on the concept.  Simon was not interested in bringing the Spirit to others but rather to gain the power and prestige of being able to do so for his own selfish motives.  Selfish motives are forever the bane of preachers and teachers.  We must remember that we cannot at the same time show how clever we are and how wonderful Christ is.  Christ must have the preeminence. 

Secondly, Simon forgot that not all gifts can be bought with money.  I may look at a birthday gift for my wife or children and buy it with money, but character cannot be bought.  Certain gifts are dependent on character.  It is impossible to bring the Spirit to others unless you first have the Spirit yourself. 

Are you clear on the concept that in all things Christ must be first and you must be last?   Be sure that in all things He is first in your life and that you put Him front and center so He (rather than you) is glorified!

PRAYER: Jesus, give us hearts that are content to yield all glory to you and to seek none for ourselves! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 3/7/18 – The Horns of Pride

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DayBreaks for 3/07/18: The Horns of Pride

NOTE: Galen is traveling this week.

From the DayBreaks archive,  March 2008:

Pride and self-confidence are very dangerous things.  Witness this story: “Pali, this bull has killed me.”  So said Jose Cubero, one of Spain’s most brilliant matadors, before he lost consciousness and died.  Only 21 years old, he had been enjoying a spectacular career.  However, in this 1958 bullfight, Jose made a tragic mistake.  He thrust his sword a final time into a bleeding, delirious bull, which then collapsed.  Considering the struggle finished, Jose turned to the crowd to acknowledge the applause.  The bull, however, was not dead.  It rose and lunged at the unsuspecting matador, its horn piercing his back and puncturing his heart.

The matador trusted in himself to have killed the bull.  It appeared to be dead.  Jose was only focused on one thing at that time: hearing and acknowledging the applause of the crowd.  His pride did him in – it caused him to become careless and it cost him his life.

Romans 8.13b-14: … but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 

In his contest with the bull, Jose with his own sword and power thought he’d put to death the beast.  There are many parallels and some differences between his struggle and ours:

FIRST: it was possible for him to kill the beast under his own power.  You and I proudly think we can defeat sin on our own, but we cannot.  The Romans passage quoted above says we must “by the Spirit” put to death the sin-beast.  If we trust in ourselves and our strength to do it, it will rise up again;

SECOND: the creature Jose fought was external while ours is internal.  The bull could be watched and probably as it rose to it’s feet while he had his back turned, the crowd went wild trying to get his attention and warn him.  Jose probably thought that they were just cheering even louder, so he took more bows, unaware of the danger behind him.  Our fight is with the pride within us.  Sometimes, no one can see it but us, but that doesn’t mean pride isn’t deadly.  In some ways, because our pride may be invisible to others, it is all the more deadly because it is so insidious.  We, like Jose, may be too busy taking our bows for some great act or service when that which we thought was dead comes back to haunt us;

THIRD: if we are too attuned to the crowd (the world) we will fail to see the danger of our pride.  The world doesn’t care if we are proud – it just wants us to fall.  The world (and Satan) wants us to rely on ourselves and our power and to grow prideful.   

FOURTH: when we attempt to stop sinning it is like thrusting the sword into a bleeding, delirious bull.  Satan will become enraged with our desire to serve God and be done with sin.  He will find any way possible to get back at us, including using pride about our “victory”.

Just when we think we are done with pride and we turn to accept the congratulations of the crowd, pride stabs us in the back.  We should never consider pride dead before we are.

PRAYER: Teach us humility, Lord, and drown out the cheers of the crowd around us so we can hear only Your words of love and warning.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 12/14/17 – A Theology Lesson from Dr. Seuss

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DayBreaks for 12/14/17: A Theology Lesson from Dr. Seuss

From the DayBreaks archive, December 2007:

How’s your world going today?  When you got up out of bed, did you leap up full of joy and excitement, or did you stub your toe or arise with a headache?  There are things you plan to do today, right?  Chances are, either formally or informally, you’ve got your day somewhat planned out.  You know some things that are “must-get-done’s” and others that you can do if you get around to it.  You know some of the people you’ll probably be talking with and what you’ll talk about.  You may be filled with trepidation about some of those meetings, or excitement at the prospect of spending some time together with them.  Either way, you have a schedule, a plan, in your mind for how you’ll spend your day. 

We like to think that we are in charge of our lives – that we have a significant say-so in how the day unfolds, how our interactions will turn out, and what we’ll do and where we’ll go.  And, to some extent, we do have some control over some of it – at least, we have an illusion of control.  We like to think that we are masters of our destinies – even if it’s just a small, insignificant destiny like planning to stop at Starbucks for a cup of joe on the way to work.  Our little fiefdom, over which we rule…or so we think. 

One of the best commentaries about this is in a book on political science theory by a “theologian” you may have heard of, named Dr. Seuss.  It’s a book called Yertle the Turtle.  A little pond of turtles is ruled—or so he thinks—by Yertle, who’s a turtle.  One day, he decides his kingdom needs extending. 

Yertle, the turtle, the king of them all,

Decided the kingdom he ruled was too small. 

“I’m ruler,” said Yertle, “of all that I see. 

But I don’t see enough. That’s the trouble with me.

With this stone for a throne, I look down on my pond.

But I cannot look down on the places beyond. 

This throne that I sit on is too low down. 

It ought to be higher!” he said with a frown. 

“If I could sit high, how much greater I’d be! 

What a king! I’d be ruler of all I could see!”  

And so it happened that Yertle the Turtle sent out a decree that all the turtles that lived in his pond should be stacked up to be his throne—to extend his power and glory.  The whole pond scrambles to obey; first dozens, then hundreds of turtles were positioned underneath Yertle, who rose higher and higher into the air until finally he was so high up that he could see for miles. 

I’m Yertle the Turtle, Oh marvelous me,

For I am the ruler of all that I see! 

Yep, Yertle thought he had it made.  He was “on top of the world”, overseeing his little domain, inflated with a sense of his own importance, overflowing with prideful arrogance.  He believed he had everything under control and that his reign in his little realm was as secure as could be, but in the end, it wasn’t:

For the turtle on the bottom did a plain little thing. 

He burped, and that burp shook the throne of the King.

And today, the great Yertle, that marvelous he –

Is the King of the Mud. That’s all he can see.

And that’s where all who lift themselves up eventually wind up – back down in the mud.  We are all just one little burp away from reality.

We think it’s about us: my family, my work, my friends. We want to fashion our lives into a kingdom we control. But every once in a while, there’s a little “burp” someplace and we’re reminded of reality. 

Luke 18:14 (KJV) I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

PRAYER:  Give us this day the wisdom to keep You on the throne and may we be content to be Your servants!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 10/10/17 – Confidence Builders

DayBreaks for 10/10/17: Confidence Builders

From the DayBreaks archive:

Patrick O’Boyle once recalled the late-1940s Hyde Park “Speakers’ Corner” appearances of Frank Sheed, a Catholic author and publisher, with these words:

“Sheed could be devastating with hecklers.  Once, after Sheed had described the extraordinary order and design to be seen in the universe, a persistent challenger retorted by pointing to all the world’s ills, and ended shouting, “I could make a better universe than your God!”

“I won’t ask you to make a universe,” Sheed replied. “But would you make a rabbit—just to establish confidence?”

I suppose much of the human problem stems from the crazy idea that we could do things better than God.  We think we would make a world where there was no evil, no pain, no suffering; a universe where there are no hurricanes or stars that go super-nova – in short, we just think we could do better than God in just about everything. 

Have you ever really stopped to think how stupid such a thought is?  We who are as finite as a speck of sand in the entire universe are so proud and pretentious as to think we actually know better than God.  Hogwash! 

But when it comes to my own life, I’m really prone to think such things.  “God, having me suffer deprivation isn’t good for me.”  “God, there no good reason for what just happened to me!”  “God, I’m a faithful child of Yours, and things like this just aren’t right!” 

Maybe, when we have learned enough from life that we can see the interaction and inner-connectedness of every human thought and every human action on every other human, we would begin to get the tiniest bit of understanding about why things happen.  And, if we could see the eternal salvation that has come to who-knows-how-many-souls through hardship (which is usually God knocking on the top of our skull trying to get our attention!), we might think differently. 

At a Bible study I was teaching this past week, we were discussion Joseph and the period of time that he was left rotting in the prison after the cup-bearer was restored to his duties in the palace of Pharaoh.  It doesn’t seem fair to Joseph.  How could the cup-bearer forget the man who had interpreted his dream?  But, he did.  I’m convinced we should see God’s hand in that rather than just mere human frailty and forgetfulness.  Did Joseph have to learn more patience?  Did he need to learn to trust God more?  (Remember that Joseph had no inkling whatsoever that he would soon be the #2 man in Egypt.)  As I pondered those thoughts, another thought came to me: perhaps Joseph was left in the prison for another year or two (or longer) for the sake of some other human being, nameless and faceless and lost to humanity for about 3000 years now, who was also languishing in the prison? 

God’s ways aren’t our ways – but God can make rabbits, elephants and entire universes in the blink of an eye.  That should be a confidence builder for us to trust Him to know what is best for our individual lives!

PRAYER:  Father, thank you for all the things you’ve done to give us confidence in you.  Help us not to be so wise or smart in our own eyes that we think we can even begin to know better than you what is good for us.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 9/12/17 – Take This Poor Indian, Too!

DayBreaks for 9/12/17: Take This Poor Indian, Too

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/2007:

When you go to the grocery store (or sporting goods store!) the next time, if you buy something, you have to give something in exchange to get it.  It may be currency that you hand over, it may be a debit or credit card – but one way or another, in order to get what you want, you have to give up something.  It is at that moment that you make a decision about the value of what you want.  Is it worth $10?  $20?  Are you willing to part with the price that is demanded to get what you want? 

We’re used to having to pay for things.  In fact, most of us who are Baby Boomers grew up really struggling to receive anything as a gift.  There’s a pride in us that blocks our being able to be gracious recipients of anything that we haven’t had to pay for.  We often talk about having to “swallow our pride” in order to take a handout.  Sad, but true, I fear. 

And so it is that when it comes to Christianity, perhaps this is the biggest stumbling block of all.  We want to pay for our salvation.  We just can’t get it through our heads that we can’t do that.  That salvation has to come to us as a gift, freely given, to be freely received. 

An incident is related of a missionary who came into contact with a proud and powerful Indian chief.  The chief, trembling under conviction of his sin, approached the missionary and offered his belt of wampum as atonement.  “No!” said the missionary, “Christ cannot accept a sacrifice like that.”  The Indian departed, but soon returned offering his valuable rifle and the most beautiful skins he had taken in hunting.  “No!” was the reply, “Christ cannot accept those either.”  Again the Indian went away, only to return with a conscience more troubled than ever.  This time he offered his wigwam, together with his wife and child—everything for peace and pardon.  “No,” was the reply even to this, “Christ cannot accept such a sacrifice.”  At this the chief seemed utterly oppressed; but suddenly he somehow sensed the deficiency, for, lifting up tearful eyes, he cried out, “Here, Lord, take this poor Indian too!”

The chief in the story had to weigh values and what he was willing to part with.  He began with a simple wampum belt, escalated to a rifle and skins, only to be rebuffed.  At the next encounter, the chief thought he was giving all he had – his home, wife and child – truly a costly thing.  But even that wasn’t enough.  What God wanted was the man himself.  And when the chief finally understood that all God wanted was “him”, salvation came to that man. 

We’re often willing to part with things that aren’t all that important to us.  Thank goodness God didn’t feel that way.

PRAYER:  I fear, Lord, that I’m not very generous when it comes to giving up my own life and ways.  We’ve grown comfortable in our skins.  We’re willing to pay some price, but often we’re not willing to pay the full price to follow you.  I thank you that salvation cannot be earned, for our striving would become cause for pride.  Help us to open our hands to receive the gift of your life, and in gratitude to give you the gift of ours.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/28/17 – Humans and Infallibility

DayBreaks for 8/28/17: Humans and Infallibility

There is something about us humans that just loves certainty.  We’re not keen on the unknowns. We struggle with it and are uncomfortable if we’re not sure about things.  We even have actuarial tables that deal with probabilities. Insurance companies use them to decide who and what to insure and what to turn down.  Sure, they don’t know for sure when anyone will die or have an accident, but they have calculated the odds and are willing to risk money betting that you won’t die prematurely (i.e., before they get their money’s worth out of you.)  We speak highly of those who are so self-confident and sure of themselves.  They project an image of infallibility that we find comforting – and so they are the kind of people that others willingly and eagerly follow – the certainty they possess makes them seem safe. 

And so, when it comes to God and what we believe about Him, we would like to have certainty – or at least a bit more certainty than we naturally have.  Some people choose to not believe in God because His existence cannot be “proven”,  only speculated (albeit with lots of good reasons, in my opinion!)  No one has seen Him, many claim to have heard from Him, we blame things on him (even in insurance contracts) when we refer to them as acts of God. 

So, what about certainty in what we believe?  I hope you won’t take this wrong, but in some ways, I’m less certain about things I believe than I once was.  By that, I don’t mean the existence of God, the divinity of Jesus, the reality of the Spirit, the reliability of the Bible, etc.  I believe in all those things, and as I get closer to the end of this planetary journey, I find my faith in those things grows stronger and stronger each day.  What I am talking about, though, is the degree of confidence I have in my own judgment and understanding.  When I was younger, I was very self-confident. I was part of a very legalistic religious tradition that, although they would have denied it, seemed to believe that Godliness was next to rightness – that you had to believe according to a long list of doctrinal positions on everything from card playing to dancing to co-ed swimming to the millennial questions, etc. 

And for a while, in my foolish younger years, I thought I had all the right answers.  I’m so grateful that God is merciful and forgiving of such preposterous foolishness.  In his book, Hearing God, Dallas Willard talks about this kind of thing in relation to “hearing” God and our level of certainty with what He is saying and wants us to do: Of course, you could still be wrong.   God does not intend to make us infallible by His conversational walk with us.  You could also be wrong about most of the beliefs on which you very successfully base your life.  But you are usually correct.  You could also be wrong in believing that your gas gauge is working, that your bank is reliable, that your food is not poisoned.  Such is human life.  Infallibility, and especially infallibility in discerning the mind of God, simply does not fit the human condition.

How many times have I had someone tell me that “God said He’s going to do this-or-that,” only to find out that He didn’t do it.  It’s sometimes enough to make you wonder who or what they are hearing.  We need to be cautious when we talk about how we’ve “heard” God tell us something.  Do I believe He can and does from time to time?  Absolutely!  But much is ascribed to God that I don’t think He ever said.  If it’s in the Word – count on it – if you keep it in context.  If it’s just in your head – be wary until God has confirmed it through the Word or through other means.  Telling others that God has told us something, only to not have that thing happen, can cause them to lose confidence in His existence. 

God invites us to listen to Him.  It’s the right thing to do.  Just be careful about what voice you’re really hearing.

PRAYER:  Thank you, Lord, that you do desire to not only hear from us, but to talk to us.  Help us to recognize you voice and not to read our own wishes and hopes into situations, but to trust you to reveal your holy and perfect will in due time.  Keep us from deception that we may walk in the pathway of truth.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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