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

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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?

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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

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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 7/8/19 – The Image and the Reality

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DayBreaks for 07/08/19: The Image and the Reality

From the DayBreaks archives, July 2009:

You saw no form of any kind the day the LORD spoke to you at Horeb out of the fire. Therefore watch yourselves very carefully, so that you do not become corrupt and make for yourselves an idol, an image of any shape, whether formed like a man or a woman, or like any animal on earth or any bird that flies in the air, or like any creature that moves along the ground or any fish in the waters below. And when you look up to the sky and see the sun, the moon and the stars–all the heavenly array–do not be enticed into bowing down to them and worshiping things the LORD your God has apportioned to all the nations under heaven. – Deuteronomy 4:15-19 (NIV)

Anyone who has read Scripture knows that God prohibited Israel from fashioning idols and worshipping them.  That’s not a new revelation to any of those who regularly read DayBreaks.  But why did God have so much to say about it, not only in Deuteronomy, but in other books of Scripture?  I mean, after all, it’s not like the stone or wood or metal carving is going to come to life and threaten God in any way, shape or form.  God certainly isn’t afraid of any rival or competitor.  He’s more than willing to take on any “god” that wants to challenge Him. 

So why such a strong prohibition?  While I certainly don’t agree with all of his writing or theology, N. T. Wright captured it pretty well, I think, in his book, Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection and the Mission of the Church:  “When human beings give their heartfelt allegiance to and worship that which is not God, they progressively cease to reflect the image of God.  One of the primary laws of human life is that you become like what you worship; what’s more, you reflect what you worship not only back to the object itself but also outward to the world around.”

It is an interesting observation, that if we take the time to consider, we’ll probably be forced to admit it is true: “One of the primary laws of human life is that you become like what you worship…”  If we worship money, what happens to us?  We become more driven to have more of it, more greedy, more materialistic.  If we worship beauty, we may become preoccupied with our physical appearance and spend vast amounts of money to stay young looking and beautiful.  Those who worship the god of sex wind up treating others simply as objects to be used for pleasure.  Those driven by the idol of power treat others as competitors, pawns or partners to achieve power. 

Man was created as a worshipping creature.  Our hearts are prone to worship many things.  Even Christians have hearts that are still in the process of being re-made so we must guard our hearts carefully, as the Lord said in Deut. 4:15 (above).  We must watch carefully the things that fascinate us and draw us and attract us and motivate us.  Those things just may be gods in disguise.

PRAYER: Lord, we are often blind to the gods in our lives and too prideful, thinking that we would never bow the knee before anyone but You.  May we learn from Peter’s overzealousness, “Though everyone else may leave you, I will never deny You!”  Teach us to recognize the things in our lives that could become, or which may be, gods – and give us the grace to cast them out of our lives.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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

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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 9/28/18 – A Victim of His Own Invention

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DayBreaks for 10/01/18A Victim of His Own Invention       

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2008:

As a man soweth, so shall he reap.  Gal. 6:7

When someone who has been skirting the law for some time gets caught, we are prone to say that “He’s getting what he deserves.”  That is true…violations of law deserve punishment.  There seem to be exceptions when things go unpunished, but ultimately, as Ecclesiastes 12:14 says, For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.  There will be no escape for any deed that was done – good, or bad, visible or invisible.  A sobering thought, isn’t it?

I thank God that even though my deeds will be made visible, that the punishment for them has already been suffered by my Lord.  He paid the price, the penalty, for all my wrongs.

Several years after inventing radar, Sir Robert Watson-Watt was arrested in Canada for speeding.  He’d been caught in a radar trap.  He wrote this little poem to commemorate the event:

“Pity Sir Robert Watson-Watt,

strange target of his radar plot,

and this, with others I could mention,

a victim of his own invention.”

Ah, yes… “a victim of his own invention.”  We’ve all been victims of things we’ve invented.  We invent lies to cover up some deed done or undone, and we fall victim to that invented truth.  People invent gods of their own that suit their own whims and desires – and usually those gods are nothing but benevolent and have little to do with truth or justice.  The day will come when those gods fail them, if not before, when they stand before the God who was never invented but what always Was, and Is, and Is to come. 

Watch out for the inventions you form in your own mind about God, or gods, or truth.  We can “invent” stories and lines of logic all day long that just won’t hold water when the Truth that is Jesus Christ is revealed. 

Beware your inventions…you may become their victim!

PRAYER: Foolishness runs deep in us, Lord.  Forgive our foolish ways and open our hearts to the only true and living God and the One who is and embodies ALL Truth!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/12/17 – Busted Snakes and Clutter

DayBreaks for 7/12/17: Busted Snakes and Clutter

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2007:

Hezekiah was a man of God.  He’s not one of the better-known characters in the Scripture.  Maybe you don’t even know who he was.  Let me update you if your memory, like mine, is a bit faded these days.  Hezekiah was one of Israel’s kings, and he was a good one.  2 Kings 18:3 says that Hezekiah did what was right in the Lord’s sight.  That’s pretty high praise.  The people had been led into idolatry, but Hezekiah brought them back into God’s pathways once again.  He tore down the Asherah poles that were used in idolatrous worship.  He broke up the altars that had been used for sacrifices to false gods.  As Thom Rainer puts it in Simple Church: He took out the godless clutter that had been competing for the attention and the affection of the people.

But he did more than tear down the Asherah poles and altars.  He did something that would have been considered unthinkable by many of the Israelites.  Do you remember that during the wilderness wanderings, the Lord had sent a plague of snakes into the camp because of the people’s sin?  At that time, Moses was instructed to fashion a bronze serpent and put it up on a pole so that the people who had been bitten could lift their eyes in faith to the serpent on the pole and be saved from death.  It’s a fascinating story, all by itself.  What you may not have remembered or realized is that when Hezekiah got busy with his housecleaning, with removing the clutter from the spiritual life of the nation of Israel, one of the things he did was to break the bronze snake that Moses had made. 

Hezekiah didn’t pretend that he’d dropped the snake and it broke by accident.  He intentionally and purposefully broke it.  Bear in mind that this snake had been in the possession of Israel for hundreds of years.  It would have been a relic.  It had been actually touched by Moses, and it had been made at the express command of the Lord Almighty Himself. 

It took nerve for Hezekiah to bust up that snake.  Why did he do it?  Because it had become clutter.  As amazing as it was – and as fascinating as it must have been to have seen something hundreds of years old that Moses had made himself – it had become clutter because people revered it.  It had become an object of adoration.  It took the attention of people away from the True and Living God.

What’s the point?  Good things can become bad things if we pay them undue attention.  The image of the snake was never meant to be worshiped.  It was meant to be a tool to draw people to worship Jehovah.  But that which was good became bad because people worshiped the image instead.  Can you imagine how the people must have reacted to hearing that their king had destroyed the serpent made by the hand of Moses?!?!  Talk about an unpopular thing to do!

Change is hard.  Change can be very unpopular.  Yet change can also be absolutely vital. 

It’s scary how easily good things can become bad.  It calls for deep introspection.  Is there something that was once good which I have unduly exalted in my mind or heart? 

Break the snakes in your life.  Get rid of the clutter.  Let’s get back to what it’s all about.  It’s not about people’s favorite images or programs or how they think things should be done.  It’s about God and His glory and a proper worship of His Person.

PRAYER:  Open our eyes, Father, that we may see where we are either guilty of, or in danger of, taking something holy and worshipping it instead of You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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