DayBreaks for 8/30/18 – An Excellent Question

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DayBreaks for 8/30/18: An Excellent Question

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

I love a good question!  Good questions (and many DayBreaks readers have posed some really good ones to me in the past 11 years!) make one think!  And thinking is good, methinks!

It turns out that Blaise Pascal, a 17th century mathematician, philosopher and theologian, had a pretty good noggin and thought some pretty deep thoughts.  And, he asked some excellent questions. 

I have noticed in my life that no matter how good things are, or how happy I may be, that there always still seems to be something missing.  Even at my most happiest moments, there is an aching inside my heart that tells me that there is an absence that hasn’t been filled.  Why is that? 

That’s one of the things that Pascal wrestled with, too (hey – I’m in good company!), but he came up with an explanation for it that is worth pondering.  In the manner of great thinkers, he posed his answer in the form of a question so that we could wrestle with it on our own.  He said (paraphrasing): Do you miss something you’ve never had?  Here’s an example: have you ever grieved the loss of being able to fly?  No – while you may wish you could fly, it’s not something you’ve ever been able to do, so you can’t grieve the loss of it.  Have you ever grieved losing your third eye, or a third leg or arm?  No.  Why?  Because you’ve never had them to start with. 

But we do grieve a loss that we feel inside, this nameless and relentless longing for something that we no longer have.  And what is it that we are missing?  I think there are probably several things that we did once have, but which we have lost:

FIRST: innocence.  We were born and formed in the womb as innocent beings, but all too soon we lost our innocence and we grieve that loss.  Shame and guilt took the place of that initial innocence – and they stick with us!

SECOND: the full image of God that we were meant to bear was lost when we sinned.  We were meant to be more like Him than we are – surely Adam and Eve knew what this image was like when they walked and talked in the garden with God – being to being, in sinlessness.  We can’t do that in the same way now that they did – at least, not until we depart this world.

THIRD: the awareness of His Presence, heaven and home.  We came from God.  I don’t know where our souls were before we were conceived, or if they were created at that moment, but this I do know: we have a longing for a better place.  Where could that longing have come from if it were not implanted into our awareness by God?  Why would He do such a thing?  As a beacon, it calls us back to our true home and our true Father. 

Ecclesiastes 3:10-11 (NIV) – I have seen the burden God has laid on men.  He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

PRAYER:  Lord, you have put eternity in our hearts and we don’t comprehend it.  But we have a longing for Home, for our True Father.  May we follow that yearning beacon to Your (and our!) heavenly home!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 7/05/18 – A Better Use of Energy

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DayBreaks for 7/05/18: A Better Use of Energy

From the DayBreaks Archive, July 2008:

Energy – the discussion is everywhere these days, mostly due to the price of oil.  Should we drill in ANWR?  How about offshore?  Should we be tapping into the strategic petroleum reserve in an effort to lower prices and drive down costs?  How about the bio-fuels that have been touted, such as ethanol, etc., that once seemed to hold such promise but which now are becoming more and more suspect as part of the solution?  Should Congress allow building more oil refineries?  How about nuclear power?  Hydrogen fuel cell cars?  Solar powered vehicles, or other forms of electric vehicles? 

Not all energy gets pumped out of the ground.  There’s the energy in our human hearts and in our bodies.  As we get older, it is a standing “joke” about how we are more tired than we used to be and how we have less energy than when we were younger.  Sadly, our spiritual energies can get taxed and worn, too. 

Some of our expenditure of energy is due to trying to be something that we aren’t.  That always takes more energy than being genuine.  In Waking the Dead, John Eldredge wrote: “We at least know this: we know that we are not what we were meant to be.  Most of us spend our energy trying to hide that fact, through all the veils we put on and the false selves we create.  Our first parents thought they could hide behind fig leaves and in the bushes, and we do the same – only with more sophistication.  Far better to spend our energy trying to recover the image of God and unveil it for His glory.”

Adam and Eve spent time and energy trying to hide from God.  I want to spend the remaining years of my life trying to recover the image of God that I’m meant to carry.  It’s a much better use of energy!

PRAYER:  God, empower us through Your Spirit to do what we were created to do and to be!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 5/23/18 – Defining Ourselves

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DayBreaks for 5/23/18: Defining Ourselves

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2008:

Just who, by the way, do you think you are?  I mean, who ARE you?  I know some of you by name, some only by email addresses, and some of you are close personal friends.  But if someone were to come up to you this day and inquire of you, “Who are you?”, how would you define yourself?  And how would others that you know define themselves?

There are those, atheists and agnostics and some of the intellectual elite who might resort to biological classification to answer the question: “I am a homo sapiens.”  They wouldn’t be wrong.  Others, who might be a bit more technical and who find that giving the obvious answer is too boring, might say something like this: “I am a featherless biped,” i.e., a two-footed walking creature that walks upright without feathers.  When you think about it, that’s not inaccurate either.  Off hand, I can’t think of any other two-footed creature that always walks upright other than humans and birds.  So, that’s a valid definition, but decidedly less than exciting. 

Christians have a different perspective, hopefully.  If someone asked you who you are, I’d hope that you’d say something about being made in God’s image.  You might delve into what that means and the implications of it, and that would be good.

It seems, however, that when it comes for us to respond to what God calls us to be and do, that we tend to define ourselves at the lowest possible level – we define ourselves minimally as “featherless bipeds,” and we’re content to live with that rather that to be maximally defined as being constructed in the image of God and living in that reality. 

What difference does it make how we define ourselves?  If we are featherless bipeds, and if that is all we really are, then it really doesn’t make much difference how we define ourselves.  But if we are maximally defined, then God certainly expects something more from us than He does from a sparrow or starling. 

To be made in His image means we have great obligations, great opportunities – and great possibilities.  The question is whether or not we will live up to them!

PRAYER:  Help us understand, Father, the great privilege and honor You have placed upon our shoulders.  Help us to also realize that it is You who gives our lives definition – and not we ourselves!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/20/17 – In Due Time

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DayBreaks for 11/20/17: In Due Time

NOTE: Galen is traveling…again.

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

“Somewhere over the rainbow, bluebirds fly, somewhere over the rainbow, why then, oh why, can’t I?”  Every heart carries dreams and hopes and ambitions.  I’ve always wanted to be able to fly (without being in an airplane.)  I know other people who have dreamed of sailing the south Pacific or climbing some of the earth’s tallest mountains.  Others dream of being a police officer, astronaut, explorer, singer, dancer or actor.  Hopes and dreams are an essential part of life. 

In Discipleship Journal, Carole Mayhall tells of a woman who went to a diet center to lose weight.  The director took her to a full-length mirror.  On it he outlined a figure and told her, “This is what I want you to be like at the end of the program.”  Days of intense dieting and exercise followed, and every week the woman would stand in front of the mirror, discouraged because her bulging outline didn’t fit the director’s ideal.  But she kept at it, and finally one day she conformed to the longed-for image.  – Daily Bread, August 8, 1990

For a long time, as a child, I wanted to be either a brain surgeon or astronaut.  When I started off to college, I was torn between pursuing a career in medicine or in ministry.  For over 25 years, I did neither, although I took classes that could have led in both directions.  The thrill of holding someone’s physical life in my hands during surgery was intoxicating.  The adventure and wonder of flying through space to the moon caught my imagination. 

What we dream of and long for help to shape what we actually become.  That’s partly why Scripture says “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”  (Phil. 4:8)  We’re also told that we are what we think about in our hearts.  We’re told what our vision should be: to lock our eyes on to Christ and to become like him.  Pretty heady stuff, when you think about that one!

The absence of dreams (a vision and focus for life) can be equally serious: we can wind up just drifting along and one day we bump into shore and we are something that we never wanted to be, stuck somewhere in a place we never wanted to be.  God wants more for us, for you, than that. 

I have been out of high school now for a staggering 47 years (as of 2017).  Even if I’d pursued a career in medicine, I would have been out of college for 35 years or so.  Are there days when I still wish that I was a neurosurgeon or astronaut?  Yeah, there are.  But they’re a lot less frequent now.  Here’s what I want to be when I grow up: I want to be Christ-like.  It is hard to imagine that such a thing is possible, but Peter says it is in 2 Peter 1.  2 Corinthians 3:18 (NIV) says: And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Like the woman in front of the mirror who saw the shape of what she wanted to be gradually became the shape she actually was, let us all fix our eyes on the perfect Image, the exact Image, of God.  And in due time, if we don’t grow weary, we will take on that Image to His everlasting glory.

PRAYER:  Jesus, it’s hard to believe that we could come to look like You.  Help us to keep looking at You and to You, our perfect example.  May we regain what we were meant to be that we have lost through sin.  Help us to be patient with ourselves, even as You patiently shape us.   In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 12/6/16 – Addition, Subractaion and the 10 Commandments

DayBreaks for 12/06/16: Addition, Subtraction and the 10 Commandments

Our math lessons start with addition and subtraction. If we don’t get that down right, we’ll be in a mess our entire lives. It is foundational. I took courses through trigonometry and calculus (first year) and I have to say that I don’t believe I’ve ever used a think I learned in either of those classes…but addition and subtraction? All the time!

Our preacher right now is doing a series on The Loveable Law – and it’s about the 10 commandments. Sure, there are many who might wonder why he is calling it the “loveable law” because all they see in it are prohibitions and they think they’re intended to crush the joy and fun out of life.

Such is not the case, however. It is a loveable set of laws because the motivation behind them being given was love – and a desire to see the highest possible good for humans.

The first commandment, he posited, is about addition: Exodus 20:3 (ESV) You shall have no other gods before me. “Before” can equally be translated “besides” which gives the meaning of “in addition to”. For who knows how long, mankind has tried to add to God by creating other gods, as if there was something lacking in the one true God. But how can you add anything to something that is already infinite?

The second command is about subtraction: Exodus 20:4-5 (ESV) – You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me…  These verses aren’t about art for art’s sake, but about attempts to create something that will aid us in worshipping, something that attempts to capture an attribute of God. For example, in the wilderness, the golden calf (much more likely a bull) was fashioned, the text says, to remind them of the God who led them out of Egypt. They just seen a huge display of God’s power and the bull was fashioned to remind them of the power of God. But here’s the problem: is God’s strength like that of a bull? Bulls get tired, bulls die. God doesn’t, so the golden bull was taking away from God’s greatness, not exalting it. And what about other aspects of the “bull”: have you ever seen a bull of compassion? A bull demonstrate mercy? Wisdom? No!

So our idols can never properly represent God, and when we try too hard to picture him in human likeness, or in the image of an ox or lion, those things will by definition diminish Him. God wants us to have a true concept of Him (at least as true as humans can have of an infinite Being) because it is only when we have a true image of Him that we will have the proper worldview and live properly.

Do you have other gods besides Him – ones that you’ve “added”? Do you subtract from His greatness by statues or images that can never capture the truth about Him – not even in the slightest?

PRAYER: Let us learn that there is nothing to be added to Your greatness and cautious that we don’t take anything away from it, either, Lord! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/22/16 -The Language of Violence

DayBreaks for 11/22/16: The Language of Violence

We in America have just concluded the most rancorous election that those of us who are alive can recall. Though the election was nearly two weeks ago, people are still marching in the streets, calling one another by horrific names, ascribing the worst possible motives to why people voted as they did. People have called for assassinations because things didn’t turn out the way they wanted. It has been, in word, ungodly, to say the least.

Claude Brown, who wrote Manchild in the Promised Land, in an article, said that people under forty in our society have never lived in America where movie language was not liberally laced with obscenities. He said that profanity is rapidly replacing English as the language of the American people. Then he added this. He said, “Most people don’t know it, but profanity is the language of violence.”

People say, words can’t hurt you. We know better, don’t we? They can hurt you. Words can and do dehumanize. That’s why in war the enemy is always described in language that is dehumanizing. You will never hear the military referring to the enemy as “brothers and sisters,” or as “children of God.” They couldn’t kill them if they referred to them that way. You use language that describes the enemy as less than human, designed to make us think of the “enemy” as ungodly in the sense of “not being made in His image.” Somehow, it’s easier to attack, demonize and devalue others if we can find a way to not see them as being made in God’s image – no matter how well or poorly they reflect that image.

That is precisely the language that is being used in our cities today. The language that is used in our society now is the language that has been coined in warfare. There are words that dehumanize. There are words that make life cheap and ugly. There are words that hurt people. There are words that profane what is sacred and holy about human life. You use them and they will affect your life, and the life of those around you. And they will affect how you think of others.

But there are words that heal. There are words that build. There are words that create. There are words that unite. There are words that can redeem. There are words that can reconcile you to someone from whom you are estranged. There are words that lead to peace. Who will be the people in this society who speak the words of peace? Should it not first and foremost those who claim His image?

Jesus gave us an example of the power of healing words when He said to the thief on the cross: “This day you will be with me in paradise.”

You and I have a choice to speak words of peace and healing, or words that dehumanize those we don’t agree with. I hope we choose the path of healing!

PRAYER: Father, there is much frustration in our land and in our hearts and we try to make ourselves feel better by attacking those who don’t think or act in the same way we do. Let us never forget that even our bitterest enemy on this earth was made in Your image and can be redeemed by words that heal. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 9/17/15 – Image Bearers

DayBreaks for 9/17/15: Image Bearers

From the DayBreaks archive, 2005:

Genesis 1:26-27 (NLT) – Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

I must confess that when I looked in the mirror this morning, what I saw didn’t look a whole lot like how I picture God. When I got to church on Sunday, I looked at the people there (who are great, and I love them all!), but quite frankly, they didn’t look a whole lot like how I picture God, either. And when we watched the news clips from New Orleans after the recent hurricane and we saw people stealing things that weren’t related to their survival, or shooting at rescue helicopters, well, that didn’t look like God, either.

Yet, Scripture is very clear about it: we are made in the image of God. That doesn’t mean that God looks like us, nor that we resemble him just by nature of our existence. It means that we’ve got something of the image of His character on and in us. What all does it mean? That’s hard to say, but certainly it must mean that we’ve got the ability to do good, to love, to be compassionate, to serve, to sacrifice. We are thinking beings who are destined to live eternally. The Scripture says that God created man (male and female) in His image. That doesn’t mean that God is male and/or female – but rather, I think that we should understand it to mean that God is a person, not an it

John Ortberg wrote, in God Is Closer Than You Think: “Of all creation, only people are said to be bearers of the image of God. So people have the capacity to be carriers of His Presence like nothing else. We take long trips to see marvels like the Grand Canyon. Engaged couples plan far ahead so that they can honeymoon at Niagara Falls. But if our eyes could see clearly, if our hearts were working right, we would fall to the ground in amazement at the sight of a single human being. They are the miracles. They are the God-carriers.”

It’s easy to become disillusioned and disenchanted with other humans. We’re easy targets, because we’re all so horribly flawed. And if we get disillusioned enough, we give up on one another, relegating others to the garbage dump of the universe. Of course, when we do that, we forget that we belong in the garbage dump of the universe, too. It’s only because of His image in us, His Presence that lives in the Christian, that our destiny is heaven and not hell.

Who is it that you will see today that you “can’t stand”? Is there someone that you’ve “given up on”? Give them another chance – though His image in them may have been defaced severely, they were still made in His image – and by His grace, it can be recovered.

PRAYER: Jesus, let us bear more of your image with each passing hour. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple. To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.