DayBreaks for 2/10/20 – The Battleground of the Gods

Image result for angiogram

DayBreaks for 2/10/20: The Battleground of the Gods

Matthew 15:19 (ESV) – For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.

Let there be no doubt, the heart is the battleground of the gods. It is in the heart that the battle rages and will be won or lost. 

In Gods at War, Kyle Idleman talks about a friend of his who is a cardiologist. The doctor was describing arteriograms – injecting dye into a patient’s bloodstream and then watching on an X-ray as the dye goes through the patient’s heart. The purpose is to look for blockages that could lead to a heart attack. The doctor could then treat the blockages.

But the catch is this: heart problems can go undetected and undiagnosed for years. Why? Because no arteriogram is done to test the heart’s circulation because the symptoms don’t seem relevant. Someone may not be able to sleep, have back pain, loss of appetite, anxiety, mild shortness of breath or other issues. The patient will describe the symptoms to the doctor and the doctor treats the symptoms. The patient, after all, is complaining of not being able to sleep or chalks the mild shortness of breath up to normal aging. In reality, the symptom may be caused by a heart issue. If it’s cardiovascular, the patient won’t get better until it is recognized for what it is and treated.

Here’s a spiritual arteriogram for you today. Ask yourself these questions and ponder your responses carefully. They could point to as serious heart issue:

What do you complain about the most: it reveals what really matters to us and whining shows what has power over us.

Where (and for what things) do you make financial sacrifices: where you money goes shows what god is ruling your heart.

What worries you: it could be a person, a job, reputation – anything that has enough power over you to wake you up at night could be a god.

Where is your sanctuary: when you’re really hurting, what do you turn to – is it alcohol, drugs, promiscuity, the great outdoors? The higher ground we seek at such times reveals the values that may be our gods.

What infuriates you: we all have hot buttons that cause us to “lose it”. Those things reveal what is really important to us. It could be winning, lack of comfort or respect, something that embarrasses you. Those things tend to indicate that the oldest idol of all has hold of me – the god of “me”.

What are your dreams: what we long for and dream of is as revealing as the things we fear. Where does your mind go when you choose to let it go freestyle? Aspirations are good – but the question is why do you aspire to those things. Is it so you can give God more glory or have glory, fame and maybe fortune for yourself?

PRAYER: Lord, don’t let us deceive ourselves as we take this spiritual arteriogram! May your Spirit reveal to us what You see in our hearts. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 2/06/20 – Cough or Cancer?

Image result for xray of cancer"

DayBreaks for 2/06/20: Cough or Cancer?

Exodus 20:3 – You will have no other gods before me.

On the surface, this verse makes it sound there is a pecking order of gods. That’s missing the point. What God is saying is that he is always in first place, yes, but that there are no other places to be had. God isn’t interested in competing to be the first among many gods. In fact, a better understanding of how to translate the Hebrew for “before me” is “in my presence”. God doesn’t just sit on top of the organizational chart – He is the org chart and he fills everything with his Presence. 

What gives God the right to order this? It’s not because he’s insecure and needs to re-establish his dominance. He says it because it’s the fundamental truth of the universe. Only one God owns and created and runs it second by second. Only one God designed and it and knows how it works. And he’s the only God who can help us and save us.

You could think, “Well, that’s all interesting but it’s ancient history. The problem today isn’t polytheism like it was when people worshipped idols – we’ve moved beyond those superstitions and childish beliefs. The problem today is that no one worships any god.”  Ah. Therein is the rub.

As Kyle Idleman put it in Gods at War, “Yet my guess is that the list of our gods is longer than theirs. Just because we call them by different names doesn’t change what they are. We may not have the god of commerce, the god of agriculture, the god of sex or the god of the hunt. Put we do have portfolios, automobiles, adult entertainment and sports. If it walks like an idol and quacks like an idol…

“You can call it a cough instead of calling it cancer, but that doesn’t make it any less deadly.” The point: any god, other than God, isn’t a cough…it’s cancer and it’s slowly killing us.

What are your idols? What makes you think they’re less deadly than Baal or Molech were to Israel? How are you going about killing them?

PRAYER: Father, I fear I have way too many gods in my life and not enough of the One True God. Help me see my gods clearly, but even more, help me see their deadliness to my life with you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 2/03/20 – The Deadliest War

Image result for deadliest war

DayBreaks for 2/03/20: The Deadliest War

It has been said that the deadliest war is the one that most of us never realize is being fought. Why? Because by the time we wake up and realize what is happening the war is over and it has been lost.

My guess is that not one single person who reads this has ever crafted an image of wood, metal or some other material and then bowed down to worship it. We wouldn’t think of doing such a thing. But as Os Guinness said, “Idolatry is huge in the Bible, dominant in our personal lives, and irrelevant in our mistaken estimations.” In other words – we read about it, it dominates our lives and we think it is irrelevant to us.

Kyle Idleman wrote in Gods at War, “Idolatry isn’t just one of many sins; rather it’s the one great sin that all others come from. So if you start scratching at whatever struggle you’re dealing with, eventually you’ll find that underneath it is a false god. Until that god is dethrones, and the Lord God takes his rightful place, you will not have victory.

“Idolatry isn’t an issue; it’s the issue. All roads lead to the dusty, overlooked concept of false gods.”

Let’s explore this issue more in future DayBreaks, but for today, let me pose this single question: What is your greatest temptation that causes you to sin most often and what god are you serving when you give in to it?

PRAYER: God, open our eyes to the truth about idolatry in our own lives and help us destroy those idols so you have your rightful place. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 4/10/19 – Loaded with Toxic Assets

Image result for toxic asset

DayBreaks for 4/10/19: Loaded with Toxic Assets

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2009:

I am not an economist – nor do I want to be.  Frankly, studying money and economies has always seemed like a huge waste of time given the fact that it’s all going to be burned up in the end and no one can take any worldly assets to the next world. 

Still, economic crises bring new economic terms and phrases into the headlines and our awareness, not the least of which is this one: toxic assets. While I don’t really understand it all too well, my take is that toxic assets are largely responsible for the trouble that banks are facing right now.  These toxic assets are loans, and it works like this: People owe the banks money.  Normally, banks like this.  Theywant people to owe them money and pay them interest because that’s how banks make a profit. But with the economy in its present condition, especially with the mortgage foreclosure crisis, many of the loans which should have been “assets” to the bank have actually become liabilities because the houses that secured the loans are now worth less than the amount of the loan itself.  So, a home that was purchased for $250,000 may now only be worth $150,000 – meaning that the bank has essentially lost $100,000 on the deal (not counting the interest they’d have made if the economy had held strong.)  So, instead of having several hundred thousands of dollars out of the loan in interest, the bank takes back the property after they’ve loaned out $250,000 – but the property is only worth $150,000 if they were to sell it!  This is a toxic asset, as I understand it.

And I know this much about accounting: when an asset hurts the bottom line of the financial statement, it is no longer an asset, but a liability – a loss or debt. And loss and debt are toxic to business.

I think we can make a spiritual application here: assets are not just a banking phenomenon.  There can be toxic spiritual assets, too. Anything we think is helpful to us in a spiritual way as individuals, but that actually is hurting us spiritually is a toxic asset.

The New Testament writers gave us lists of sins of the flesh.  We may think we aren’t doing the things listed, but in our modern world new and easier ways to sin have become very common.  The advent of computers and the Internet made lust much more easy (and seemingly more “innocent”), illegal drugs are everywhere, obesity is epidemic – these are all toxic assets.  People engage in these and other pleasures because they think that somehow, they will benefit us, not hurt us.  But the opposite is true.

Nearly anything can be a toxic asset, including homes, cars, IRA’s, 401K’s, boats, partying, etc., when they take over your life and push God into the shadows. Even something as seemingly innocent as a job can be a toxic asset. Money, education, family and friends, physical beauty – all these things can be great assets up unto the point where one allows them to take God’s place in their life, and start to live for them or trust in them.  Then, they have become toxic assets. 

Does this sound a lot like idolatry?  It is.  But most of us think we aren’t idolaters.  We have an image in our mind of a statue of some kind when we speak of idols.  That’s just what Satan wants us to think about when we think of idolatry.  He knows most of us aren’t going to fall for that one.  But an idol is nothing more or less than a toxic asset, and toxic assets are spiritual things that we think will help us but which are really just idols.

Banks are trying desperately to shed their financial toxic assets.  We would do well to work even harder at getting the toxic assets out of our own lives.

Prayer: Jesus, help us learn that not all that appears to be beneficial or which promises us pleasure or escape is good.  Give us new hearts and minds to understand how toxic our sin and dalliances are to our spirits.  Renew a clean heart within us, free from toxic things, a heart that longs for that which is pure and holy.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 4/27/17 – The Real Danger

DayBreaks for 4/27/17 – The Real Danger

Note: Galen is traveling this week.

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2007:

As a child, I was fascinated by the story of Shadrach, Meshech and Abednego.  My mind would swim with images and imaginings of what it looked like, of the sounds of the roaring furnace, of the great king Nebuchadnezzar in all his finery as the music blared and the masses bowed down.  That is, they bowed down with the exception of three people: the Hebrew boys otherwise known as Azariah, Mishael and Hananiah. 

I always thought that this was a story about idolatry.  I’d always thought that the temptation they faced was to worship the golden idol of the Babylonian king.  After all, that’s how I remember the story from the flannel graphs that my Sunday school teacher used to help us “see” the stories.  It is only recently that I believe God opened my eyes to a more significant truth.  The story is about idolatry, all right, but the idol that the young men were being tempted to worship wasn’t really the 90-foot tall golden sculpture. 

No, the real test was one about worship.  What would be worshipped?  They’d been taught as Jewish children that “the Lord our God is One” and that “No one is like the Lord our God.”  They knew full well that He was the only One who was worthy of worship.  The idol that these boys were confronted with – and which they were tempted to bow down and worship – was themselves, their earthly lives.  If they worshipped the idol, they’d save their lives – if they didn’t, they might lose their lives.

Would these three young men be wise enough to recognize which was the greater danger: to die in a fiery furnace, or to worship and esteem something else (even if it is your physical life) higher than the worship of God is idolatry?

We are our own greatest idol.  We need to cast aside the idol of self that leads us to hoard money, love, compassion, wisdom, possessions, pleasures.  Even if it comes to laying down our lives in order to worship God, doesn’t God have a right to ask that of us?  Of course He does. 

Do you recognize your own self-worship and idolatry?  Every time we choose our way, our dreams, our own joys rather than His, we are bowing down to the idol of self-worship.

PRAYER:  Father, help us to recognize our idolatry and our self worship.  Give us the wisdom to be able to discern the greatest danger – the danger of not giving you the worship and glory that you alone deserve.  Tear down our idols of self-interest that we may be true worshippers!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 10/24/16 – Another Ram in the Thicket

DayBreaks for 10/24/16 – Another Ram in the Thicket

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2006:

The story of Abraham and Isaac has always intrigued and fascinated (and horrified) me.  There are obvious lessons to be learned from the story: the faith of Abraham, the obedience of Abraham, the trust of Isaac (even when it became apparent that he was the “sacrifice”), the importance of trusting God.  I’m not sure if Abraham or Isaac was the most relieved when the angel stopped Abraham’s hand and they saw the ram caught by its horns in the thicket.  And I have searched the haunted halls of my heart asking myself if I could have ever done what Abraham did – and I’m driven to my knees in humility by the answer.

But, perhaps instead of taking the extreme case of sacrificing a child, we need to look at other things that are much more close to home.  As Chuck Swindoll put it in Fascinating Lives of Forgotten People: “What it is that you are gripping so tightly?  A possession?  Your vocation?  A dream?  A consuming relationship?  The Lord may be in the process of taking it from you.  He’ll gently tug on it at first, giving you the opportunity to release your grip.  If you resist, He’ll eventually have to pry your fingers away…My advice?  Voluntarily release it.  Trust the Lord to provide.  He has another ram in the thicket.  You can’t see it right now, but He has it waiting.  Only after you have placed your sacrifice on the altar will you be ready to receive God’s provision.”

We all grip tightly to things in our world and in our lives.  I seriously doubt that God is asking any of us right now to sacrifice a child.  But I don’t doubt for a moment that He’s asking each of us to let go of something that has become a god in our life.  What do I mean?  Anything that we put our confidence and trust in is an idol, a god, if you will.  And we all have confidence in something in this world that pulls us away from trusting Him entirely and completely.  Do you know what those things are in your life?  I think that they’re probably the things that we fear happening the most: losing jobs, a stock market crash, losing our health, losing a friend that may not be a positive influence. 

What are you afraid of the most?  Is it possible that right now God is trying to teach you to surrender that to Him, trusting Him completely for all that you need today, tomorrow and forever?  As Chuck said, “He has another ram in the thicket.”  Do you believe that?

PRAYER:  Thank you, God, for all that You have entrusted to us.  Help us to recognize that You are the source of all good things and that we have been given all we have to benefit others.  May we hold our possessions with very loose hands.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

 

DayBreaks for 8/04/15 – A Kind of Child Sacrifice

DayBreaks for 8/04/15: A Kind of Child Sacrifice

And they have built the high places of Topheth, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I did not command, nor did it come into my mind.– Jeremiah 7:31 (ESV)

Of all the sins of ancient Israel, it is hard to imagine anything that could compare to the sacrificing of children to pagan gods. Surrounded as pagan cultures as they were, those practices often infiltrated the national life of Israel. As I understand the worship of some of those gods, they were represented by metal images with their arms and hands outstretched in front of them. Fires could be lit beneath their arms and the arms would be heated until they glowed red-hot. And then the idolatrous worshipers would bring their children and place them into the super-heated arms of the pagan deities as sacrifices to placate the whim of those gods. Though it was acceptable culturally to the surrounding nations and many in Israel, It makes one shudder to even try to imagine such a thing!

On Sunday, the preacher was talking about worship and how we are innately worshiping beings: we all worship something – if not God, then idols. I fear he is right, and I also fear the extent of our idolatry even in the absence of physical images of metal or wood or stone.

In the name of financial gain, the pursuit of the perfect body, the head-long rush to climb the corporate ladder to dizzying heights, in the pursuit of our love of sports, fame or honor – we hold our children out and place them into the arms of those gods. Rather than holding our children and cherishing them, instead of making them the priority with our free time, we rush off and dump the children off on whoever is willing to watch them while we entertain ourselves.

I ask: is that not a kind of child sacrifice? It used to be that parents would selflessly sacrifice themselves in order to be there to raise their children in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord”. Consider God’s admonition to Israel: Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. – Deut. 6:7 (NIV) You can’t possibly keep that command if you have sacrificed your children for the sake of convenience or expediency. 

It was culturally acceptable at times in the experience of Israel to sacrifice their children. That’s how they explained it away, I suppose. Even though we don’t literally sacrifice our children on a burning altar, it makes me wonder if we haven’t fallen for the same “culturally acceptable” seduction when it comes to our children and grand children. The altar of materialism and career and accumulation are leading to sacrifice of our children. 

I know not everyone has a choice – a single parent let to struggle raising children alone has a very difficult challenge to make ends me and yet be a parent. All I ask is that we think about our children as our most important “possession”. In making sacrifices “for” them, I can’t help but wonder if maybe we aren’t sometimes actually sacrificing them!

PRAYER: God, how desperately we need Your mind on this matter! We can make all sorts of excuses for why we are doing what we do but never let us forget that You have entrusted them to us and they are Yours and we will give an answer before Your throne for how we dealt with our children! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.