DayBreaks for 8/01/19 – So Much for Experts

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DayBreaks for 08/01/19: So Much for Experts

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2019:

I love it when “experts” are shown to be wrong.  It happens a lot, you know.  It was delightful when fishermen off Japan pulled onto the deck of their boat a fish species that the so-called experts said had been extinct for millions of years.  How cool is that???!!!!  I hope I don’t make anyone mad with this next statement (and I hope I’m wrong about this!), but I feel a certain delight and smugness if the experts who have so much faith in the power of the dollar and economy who are predicting that the “recession” will be over within X months are proven to be wrong.  I don’t want people to suffer (though sometimes suffering is designed and put into place by God to teach us extremely valuable lessons in which case we should not seek to avoid it!), but I am just so sick and tired of experts spewing out one opinion after another – often on 180 degree opposite sides of the same question!  It drives me crazy!

I long ago concluded that I don’t know anything except that I don’t know very much.  And quite frankly, that’s how experts are, too.  In many cases, those who claim to be experts have no greater qualification than the ordinary Jane or Joe.  I believe that good old common sense is many times of far greater value than book learnin’. 

An interesting story from CNN: “For eight years, Jessica Terry, a teenager in Seattle, suffered from crippling stomach pain. When she wasn’t doubled over from the cramping, she was often laid low by vomiting, diarrhea, and a high fever. And for those eight years, no doctor could figure out what was wrong with her. So Jessica decided to solve the mystery herself—and she did just that while in her Advanced Placement high school science class at Eastside Catholic School. Though her pathologist had said her intestinal tissue looked normal, Jessica found that wasn’t the case. While looking under a microscope at slides of the same tissue, she discovered an area of inflammation, called a granuloma, which often indicates Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel disorder that can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract. When Jessica spotted the inflamed area, she called over her teacher, Ms. Welch, who had been teaching a Biomedical Problems class at Eastside for 17 years. Ms. Welch agreed that it looked like a clear sign of Crohn’s, so she emailed a picture of the tissue to Jessica’s pathologist. Just like that, the eight-year mystery was solved.”

This story shows that you don’t always need an expert to tell you what’s wrong.  The same is true with sin in our lives, too.  Your marriage just doesn’t seem right.  Have you looked hard in the mirror?  Your relationship with your co-workers is bitter and rancorous.  Have you listened to your own language?  Your attitude toward someone is far from kind and filled with anger.  Have you searched your own heart to determine the cause of your attitude? 

I think that more often than not, we know what’s wrong in our relationships – certainly we can know what’s wrong with ME.  Yet we often don’t take the time and spend the energy to ascertain the truth about ourselves because if we did, we would be faced with the need to change.  We are resistant to change, and we often feel that we may not be able to change – so we’d rather put all the blame on someone else and let them be not only the scapegoat but also the target for our outbursts. 

Take five minutes and take an honest, Holy-Spirit directed look into your heart.  What do you see?  Write it down.  Pick one of the things and determine that starting right away, you’ll seek the healing that the Great Physician can give.  He’s already given you the diagnosis and He wants to bring the healing.  Will you let Him?

PRAYER:  Remind us, Lord, of how futile our thinking is and that we know nothing except what you’ve told us in your word.  May we open our hearts to you and admit the truth about ourselves, accepting your diagnosis so we can receive your healing.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 7/16/19 – Knowing and Unknowing

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DayBreaks for 07/16/19: Knowing and Unknowing

From the DayBreaks archives, July 2009:

I love the series of questions God asks Job at the end of that marvelous book!  I can’t do any better job of answering them than Job did, but I love the questions!  I have grown to love the mystery of God, and the revelation of Him at the same time.  Do I know God?  Yes.  Do I know God?  No.  Somehow, both answers are correct.  Can I explain God?  Yes – it is part of my job.  But can I really explain God?  No – it is part of my limited human nature that makes me unable to do so. 

We live in a world where people like to make us believe they are experts.  I have no doubt that some people are far more expert than me at many things…but when compared to what God knows about their subjects, are they really experts?  No!  We are all novices before the mystery that is He. 

But we like experts, don’t we?  After all, we tend to trust what they say and accept their advice if we’re wise.  When your doctor tells you that you need surgery, you do it because you trust her expert judgment versus your own.  When your financial advisor gives you advice, you tend to accept it because they’ve studied the markets and financial instruments for years.  Mechanics, lawyers, teachers, professors – all have credibility as experts because of what they have learned.  But all are novices before God Himself.

Jesus was the expert on God.  Jesus didn’t just spend 12 years in school studying God – He was God, He was in the beginning with God – for eternity past He studied God and was God.  If there ever was an expert on God, it was God Himself, made flesh and dwelling among us. 

There are many who doubt God’s existence.  There are even “experts” who say boldly that there is no God – and they are certain of it.  Perhaps Rabbi David Stern put it best when he said, “We must be careful not to blur the distinction between the indiscernible and the nonexistent.”  Just because you or someone you know can’t discern with the 5 senses that God exists (although I think you could argue that!), we mustn’t rush to conclude that He doesn’t exist. 

At best our knowing will retain much unknowing.  But I’m OK with that.  Because what I do know has made me confident of what God is like.  I can’t wait to get to heaven so that some of the unknowing is removed as eons of eternity roll slowly by!

PRAYER: There are so many things we want to know about You!  Help us not to lose sight of what Jesus has shown us as we search for more knowing!  May we live in peace with the Mystery that is You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/10/18 – Listening to the Explosion?

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DayBreaks for 8/10/18: Listening to the Explosion?

Listen to this statistic: knowledge is exploding at such a rate – more than 2000 pages a minute–that even Einstein couldn’t keep up. In fact, if you read at a normal reading rate for 24 hours a day, from age 21 to 70, and retained all you read, you would be one and a half million years behind when you finished. (Campus Life)

An amazing statistic, isn’t it? Now for a real shocker: when do you suppose that statistic was compiled? It may alarm you that these statistics do not take into account the Internet – not at all! They do not even take into account the personal computer. And, why not? It is because the statistics are from 1979.

One source I consulted said that the sum of human knowledge is doubling every 12 hours! Think about that for a minute. Think about what you were doing yesterday afternoon, just 12 hours ago. Think about how much knowledge and information there was since the beginning of time until that time just 12 hours ago. And now for something really depressing (especially if you are trying to stay on top of what’s happening in your work/school, let alone in the world as a whole): while you were sleeping overnight the amount of knowledge you need to learn to just keep up doubled. What are we to do? How can we feel grounded, rooted?

We can’t know it all, nor should we expect to. But it is crucial that we learn not the glut of information that is screaming down towards us on the information super highway, but that we learn something that will sustain us for the days to come, even for eternity. In the words of Jesus, the Prophets from of old proclaimed: It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me. (John 6:45, NIV) What God’s word teaches us is timeless and need not change, grow or expand. But are we so busy trying to stay relevant with human knowledge that we are no longer listening to God?

Daniel 12:1-4 (NIV) – At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people–everyone whose name is found written in the book–will be delivered. Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. But you, Daniel, close up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge.

PRAYER: Guard our hearts and minds by Your Word and Spirit, Lord! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/28/17 – Consider the Possibility

DayBreaks for 7/28/17: Consider the Possibility

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2007:

I can’t help but find the amount of confidence we place in science both humorous and tremendously sad.  Learned men and women with advanced degrees boldly stand up before the watching world and proclaim that man descended from monkeys who came from other creatures who came from primordial slime that came from somewhere, somehow, sometime in a long distant and darkly-shrouded past.  Others proclaim with certainty that the union of human DNA that takes place in the act of conception produces something that is not human but merely a blob of tissue, like Play-Doh or Jello.  Still others proclaim that the earth was populated by aliens who came and visited this planet at some other time in the unknowable past and that these aliens taught the Egyptians how to build pyramids, set up the monoliths at Stonehenge or carved out the drawings on the Nuzca plains. 

Forgive me for a moment while I step aside and laugh.  Thank you.  Now I think I can proceed. 

One of the things that amazes me the most is our certainty in our own judgment and knowledge.  Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools is how Scripture puts it (Romans 1:22).  As Christians, we must guard ourselves against this disease of certainty, too.  We need to humbly admit that we walk by faith (a metaphysical, theological thing) and not by sight (a scientific, provable hypothesis).  Not one of us, try as we may, can ultimately prove the existence of God or the virgin birth of the Christ.  That doesn’t stop us from believing in those things, but we can’t prove them with 100% absolute, undeniable certainty.  We can show such things to be semi-reasonable at best (things like God’s existence or the resurrection are easier in some ways to defend than some others like the virgin birth). 

When it comes to our understanding of the Scriptures, we often walk the pathway of pride by thinking that we’ve got it all totally figured out.  Our theological position and doctrines rise in our hearts to the position of absolute perfection and comprehension.  How dangerous – and how deadly for both us and others – that such certainty can be!  If there is to be one thing that we are certain about, let it be this: we are fallen creatures who should be very reluctant to proclaim certainty about anything except our fallenness!

Does that mean we should give up on searching the Word since we can’t ever be absolutely certain about how the Trinity actually exists and works?  Should we surrender to the idea that every religion is equally valid and leads with the same level of success to eternity, nirvana or whatever goal a given religion proclaims?  Absolutely not!  We must study the Word to show ourselves approved, we must take the clear and plain statements of the Word to heart (I am THE way, THE truth, THE life…) and not bend on them.  Yet not all things are that clear-cut or cut-and-dried.  And even though they may be that clear cut in the Word itself, we must admit that we are imperfect in our knowledge and understanding.  How prideful to proclaim that one of us should or could be the repository of all truth!  Only One can make that claim and not be prideful about it.  It’s not prideful when it’s a fact.

In the gospel of John after the healing of the blind man, the Pharisees three times make the proclamation “We know…this or that.”  As John Ortberg put it: “What makes their blindfness incurable is their claim of certainty.   John keeps contrasting their closed-mindedness with the man’s confessed ignorance (“I don’t know” he says three times).  If only they would be open to the possibility that they don’t know.”

It was the apostle Paul that should give us the clue.  He was brilliant, very learned.  He knew the history of Israel (it’s always easier to know past history than the present or future) and the Law, inside and out.  If anyone, as he himself said, had reason for confidence in the flesh it was he.  And yet, notice carefully what he says in 2 Tim. 1:12 (NIV) – That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.  Did Paul have confidence about what he knew?  No.  He didn’t.  Read it again.  He had confidence in WHO he believed, not in all the minutiae of details about the word or the Christian life.  His confidence wasn’t in what he knew but in Who he knew – the one that could guard the treasure that Paul had entrusted to him. 

Have you been guilty of this prideful sin?  Have you, through your unyielding recognition of the possibility of your own misunderstanding, driven others away from Jesus instead of leading them to Him, the One sole repository of all truth?  Is your confidence in what you know, or Who you know? 

It is not our job to reveal truth – it is our job to lead people to Jesus, and to let Him reveal the one truth that we can always know to be true: that He is the Son of God, full of grace and truth.

PRAYER:  May our pious pretensions and certainty be dissolved through the vinegar of humility, and may we drink deeply of the well of Truth and be filled.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 03/05/13 – God’s Inventory

DayBreaks for 03/05/13 – God’s Inventory                       

numerical counterLuke 12:6-7 (NIV) – Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.  Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

I used to work for a computer company that specialized in software and products for automotive parts stores.  Among their other tasks, the computers kept track of the inventory in the store(s).  There may have been 30-35,000 different parts in a typical store, so it was a big job.  There are companies that specialize in inventory control…and they make millions doing it.

God keeps an inventory, too.  I suspect that He keeps an inventory of everything, actually.  In the passage above, Jesus indicates that God has an inventory of sparrows…and of human hairs.

Exactly how many hairs are on a human head?  Well, it obviously varies, but here’s some statistics that give us an idea: on the average there are over one hundred thousand strands of hair on a young adult.  Blondes average about 140,000 strands, brunettes average 108,000 and redheads average 90,000.  Hair grows at a rate of about 150 millimeters a year and each individual hair lasts for two to six years before it falls out, the follicle has a rest for a while, while another takes its place.  Hair grows quickest in young adult women aged between sixteen and twenty-four.  Now if you figure there are over 7 billion people in the world, that’s a lot of strands of hair for God to know about!  But Jesus said He does.  He even notices the average of 70 hairs a day that are lost from each human head.

The point isn’t that God is good at math (He is…He invented it!), but that God cares for all of His creation…especially humans.  Sure, He knows how many sparrows there are in the world.  A Google search says that there is no estimate of the number of sparrows because they number multiple billions, with single flocks that sometime include twenty million sparrows! 

Jesus’ point was this: unlike the gods the ancients believed in, God is far from unconcerned and uninvolved with us.  No one keeps track of sparrows like God does.  And no one keeps track of human hairs like God. 

As John Ortberg put it in Who Is This Man?, “God values sparrows…more than you know.  He feeds them, gives them twigs and trees for nests and gives them other sparrows to mate with.  God cares so much for them that He has a running inventory.” 

When a baby is born, the parents count the fingers and toes.  God counts the hairs of the head.  And He is so concerned for us that He will never lose count of a single one no matter how long we live!  Let us find peace and rest in that wondrous certainty of God’s knowledge of us and all that happens to us.

PRAYER: How wonderful it is knowing of Your care for every detail of our lives!  We praise You, Almighty Father!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2013 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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