DayBreaks for 10/31/18 – Pick and Choose Morality

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DayBreaks for 10/31/18: Pick and Choose Morality

From the DayBreaks archive, 10/09/98:

James 3:11-12: Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

Our country is suffering a real trauma. For months, accusations against President Clinton were on the front pages, along with denials from the president himself. As events have sadly shown, they weren’t just accusations or rumors – they were true (by the president’s own admission). It is sad and heartbreaking. We need to pray for the president just as we would for anyone who has been overtaken by sin – pray for true repentance so forgiveness can be given. But I don’t really want to focus on the president or the political issue per se. In J. Budziszewski’s article in the August 22 issue of WORLD magazine, he was discussing the president’s situation and the fact that many Americans believed Mr. Clinton was lying, but many go on to say he was doing a good job as president. Budziszewski asked, “What could they be thinking?” and then went on: “Through diligent listening, I’ve compiled some possibilities: ‘Who am I to judge?’, ‘Everyone lies about sex’, ‘All I care about is the economy’, ‘The other politicians are just as bad’, ‘If his wife can put up with it, so can I,’, ‘I’m so disgusted I’ve stopped paying attention.’ “Have these thoughts any common thread? Yes: they all express the idea that character doesn’t count – that you can be a bad man and yet a good statesman. I doubt that many people would swallow that notion whole. But they do tend to swallow a big part of it – the belief that you can be a bad man in some ways, yet a good statesman.”

Budziszewski calls this the “Pick and Choose Delusion”. It is a disease I think we all suffer from. He says, “We believe that we can pick and choose our sins; persistent disobedience to God in one area of life leaves the others unaffected. This delusion is like thinking, ‘I’m not going to do anything about my cancer. After all, it’s only in my lymph glands!’ The truth is that we cannot pick and choose our sins. Untreated by repentance, disobedience to God spreads from organ to organ until it reaches the heart.”

We can’t pick the areas of our life that we are willing to let God clean. We can’t choose to be holy in some areas and unholy in others. In fact, it is precisely those areas that we might choose to be “unholy” that God most wants to clean in us. You can’t be a good Christian but a bad father or mother, or a faithful follower of God and be unfaithful to your husband or wife. Yes, we all sin and all need forgiveness, but we can’t pick and choose morality. “No man can pick and choose his sins, because sin is never satisfied. Like the fire, it spreads; like the leech, it devours.” And like the cancer, it kills. “Choose for yourselves this day who you will serve….

PRAYER: You know our secret sins and weaknesses even better than we do, Lord. We need your help to be clean! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

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DayBreaks for 10/15/18 – Pick and Choose Morality

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DayBreaks for 10/15/18: Pick and Choose Morality

From the DayBreaks archive, 1998:

James 3:11-12: Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

Our country is suffering a real trauma. For months, accusations against our president were on the front pages, along with denials from the president himself. As recent events have sadly shown, they weren’t just accusations or rumors – they were true (by the president’s own admission). It is sad and heartbreaking. We need to pray for the president just as we would for anyone who has been overtaken by sin – pray for true repentance so forgiveness can be given. But I don’t really want to focus on the president or the political issue per se. In J. Budziszewski’s article in the August 22 issue of WORLD magazine, he was discussing the president’s situation and the fact that many Americans believed Mr. Clinton was lying, but many go on to say he was doing a good job as president. Budziszewski asked, “What could they be thinking?” and then went on: “Through diligent listening, I’ve compiled some possibilities: ‘Who am I to judge?’, ‘Everyone lies about sex’, ‘All I care about is the economy’, ‘The other politicians are just as bad’, ‘If his wife can put up with it, so can I,’, ‘I’m so disgusted I’ve stopped paying attention.’ “Have these thoughts any common thread? Yes: they all express the idea that character doesn’t count – that you can be a bad man and yet a good statesman. I doubt that many people would swallow that notion whole. But they do tend to swallow a big part of it – the belief that you can be a bad man in some ways, yet a good statesman.”

Budziszewski calls this the “Pick and Choose Delusion”. It is a disease I think we all suffer from. He says, “We believe that we can pick and choose our sins; persistent disobedience to God in one area of life leaves the others unaffected. This delusion is like thinking, ‘I’m not going to do anything about my cancer. After all, it’s only in my lymph glands!’ The truth is that we cannot pick and choose our sins. Untreated by repentance, disobedience to God spreads from organ to organ until it reaches the heart.”

We can’t pick the areas of our life that we are willing to let God clean. We can’t choose to be holy in some areas and unholy in others. In fact, it is precisely those areas that we might choose to be “unholy” that God most wants to clean. You can’t be a good Christian but a bad father or mother, or a faithful follower of God and be unfaithful to your husband or wife. Yes, we all sin and all need forgiveness, but we can’t pick and choose morality. “No man can pick and choose his sins, because sin is never satisfied. Like the fire, it spreads; like the leech, it devours.” And like the cancer, it kills. “Choose for yourselves this day who you will serve….”  

PRAYER: Lord, we are all great sinners and in desperate need of your blood and grace. Help us choose, with whole hearts and minds, to surrender to your cleansing. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 4/12/18 – Take Two Tablets

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DayBreaks for 4/12/18: Take Two Tablets

When there is something wrong with our bodies, often the doctor will prescribe some medicine: “Take two tablets and call me in the morning.” But what of spiritual sickness? Where can a nation, or even a person, go to find moral and ethical grounding? What is the basis for determining what is right and good?

Some would say that we can rely on public opinion – but think about that for a moment. How fickle is public opinion? It changes nearly every time someone posts something on social media or gets vocal enough that they get on the news about this cause or that cause. And people immediately leap onto the bandwagon until someone else comes along who is equally loud but espousing a different viewpoint. Allegiances and opinions change quickly.

Perhaps, some might suggest, we should trust our courts or legislators. ‘Nuff said about that!!! I think I’d rather trust a hungry crocodile than most legislators to decide what is good and right.

Let me suggest something a bit firmer than public opinion or court rulings. Do you remember something called the 10 Commandments?

They were written on two tablets made of stone (which suggests permanency, and I would suggest that if a nation or some individual is morally sick, they just need to take those two tablets to heart and they’ll soon feel better!

You might object that the old law was done away. Well, you’d be partly right. The ceremonial part was obliterated as there was no more need for the washings or slaughtering of animals after the Lamb’s blood cleansed us. But the moral part never has changed. Jesus himself said that he didn’t come to destroy the old law, but to fulfill it. He also said that not even one tiny dot of it would pass away. That means the moral part is as valid today as it ever was. It is still wrong to use God’s name in vain, or have idols, to give anything priority over God, or steal or murder or lie or commit adultery or envy. When Jesus claimed that if we kept the two greatest commandments that we have kept the entirety of the law, he essentially was breaking the 10 Commandments down into 2: the part that had to do with proper relationship toward God and the part that had to do with the relationship with other humans. Interestingly, all of the 10 Commandments deal with those two things!

The tablets on which the 10 Commandments were written were intended to be good medicine for us. Stuggling with your moral bearings? Take two tablets and call God in the morning!

PRAYER: Lord, let us be grounded in moral and ethical righteousness by paying attention to your immutable Word and law that never changes – because you never change! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 12/06/17 – Non-Negotiable Truth

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DayBreaks for 12/06/17: Non-Negotiable Truth

NOTE: Galen is traveling for the next few days.

From the DayBreaks archive, December 2007:

Not too long ago, George Barna’s research said that only 9% of teenagers who call themselves “born-again Christians” believe in such a thing as moral absolutes.  Only 4% of non-born again teens believe in moral absolutes.  It would be interesting to see what the statistics say for adults who consider themselves Christians.  I’m sure that piece of data is out there, but I don’t have it readily available at this writing.  But, it’s not really necessary.  If these statistics are real, the point is made.  And why, one might ask, would born-again Christian teens not think that there are moral absolutes?  Most likely it’s because their parents and churches haven’t taught them that there are moral absolutes.  We’ve abdicated the reasoning and logical powers of our youth to relativistic teachers and postmodern deconstructionists who have twisted and blinded their eyes.  And I believe most who call themselves Christians but who are adults, have the same problem.  

In his book, The New Absolutes, William Watkins cited several studies and then concluded, “Roughly three out of four Americans claimed they embraced relativism and opposed absolutism.” (p. 26)

But wait: isn’t the statement, “there is no absolute truth” a contradiction in and of itself?  Isn’t it a statement that purports to make an absolute truth statement even while denying the existence of absolute truth?  Of course it is.  See how easy it is to swallow Satan’s baited hook?

Maybe some of you who are reading this are saying right now: “But there are no absolute truths.”  Okay, let’s test that hypothesis right now.  For those who think that there are no absolutes, at lunchtime today, I want you to go into the lavatory, fill the sink with water, and put your head in and hold it totally underwater for 45 minutes breathing nothing but water.  Then, come out and tell me if there is absolute truth about this statement one way or another: “Breathing water for humans is just as good as breathing air.” 

Some truths are not negotiable, they are absolute.  It matters whether you breathe water or oxygen.  If you breathe water you will drown for long enough, it is an absolute truth.  I guarantee it!

Maybe you are going to the doctor in the next few days.  When he/she prescribes something for you, do you want the precise dosage, or do you want them to tell you that “it doesn’t matter how much you take – take whatever you want to”?  I don’t know about you, but when I go to the doctor, I want him to tell me the right dosage of medication I need.  It wouldn’t be right for him to say to me, “Take as much as you want.”  Too much could kill me, not enough wouldn’t help me; I need the right dosage.  There is absolute truth in this, too!

Maybe you’re flying somewhere this week or for the holidays.  When you get to the airport, do you want the counter person to tell you which is the correct gate and flight and departure time, or to say, “You know, it really doesn’t matter which plane you get on, they all will take you somewhere sometime – maybe even all will take you to the same place.”  No thanks.  Not for me.  I want to know the absolute truth about what flight to get on to wind up where I want to be.

Perhaps you’re saying, “Sure, Galen, but those are physical things.  I’m talking about spiritual absolutes – and there are none of them.”  Again, a self-refuting claim.  To accurately make such a claim, one would have to know every possible fact about spiritual things.  If there is a single spiritual truth that someone doesn’t know or have, that one truth might just well be that there are absolute spiritual realities.  Jesus said there is absolute truth – and He is IT!

With all due respect to the majority opinion in our society, there is an absolute truth. Jesus said, … I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. John 14:6 KJV

PRAYER:  Give us the wisdom to recognize falsehood when it comes disguised as so-called “wisdom” and eyes to see that Jesus is the Absolute Spiritual Truth.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 10/30/17 – Moving Boundary Stones

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DayBreaks for 10/30/17: Moving Boundary Stones

From the DayBreaks archives:

Long ago, Israel had settled into the promised land and grew fat and content. Well, not quite. Some were content, but others were ambitious. They wanted more and more land for themselves – at the expense of their brethren. How did they solve the problem? Hosea tells us how some did it, in Hosea 5:10: “Judah’s leaders are like those who move boundary stones. I will pour out my wrath on them like a flood of water.”

As you can tell from the passage, their actions did not please God. He hates injustice and greed. Many had become corrupt. Why didn’t God just ignore it and pretend it didn’t happen? Because when leaders go wrong, it isn’t long before the masses go wrong.

I was fortunate enough to attend my youngest son’s college graduation last June at Stanford. The guest speaker was Ted Koppel, the guy from ABC. I have to tell you that I was very impressed with the challenge that he gave the students. He’d been invited by the president of the university, Gerhard Caspar, to talk on “that mess in Washington” and Caspar’s concern about intrusion into the privacy of the President. Caspar got more than he bargained for. Koppel, rather than sharing Caspar’s concern over “privacy”, delivered a very eloquent and impassioned plea for a return to morality. His words were powerful, but perhaps no more powerful than in this statement as the ending summary of his speech: “Aspire to decency. Practice civility toward one another. Admire and emulate ethical behavior wherever you find it. Apply a rigid standard of morality to your lives; and if, periodically, you fail ­as you surely will ­adjust your lives, not the standards.”

We have a tendency to explain away our own improper behavior by “changing the rules”. Changing the rules is “moving the boundary stones” – deciding that the old limits no longer apply and then redefining them to meet out wishes. Koppel’s advice is right on: when we fail morally, “as you surely will – adjust your lives, not the standards.”

When we fail, don’t try to disavow God’s law by saying His standard has become old and outdated – a relic of an ancient age long gone by. God’s law is unchanging. We dare not move the boundary stones for our own benefit!

PRAYER:  Lord, help us to faithfully observe the boundaries that You have set in place, may we glorify You by our obedience.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 7/20/16 – Where Was God in Auschwitz?

DayBreaks for 7/20/16 – Where Was God in Auschwitz?

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2006:

I’ve read a lot in the past few years about the Jewish holocaust.  What a horrible and terrible chapter in the life of humanity!  One of the loudest questions of all time is asked about the Holocaust, and was echoed by Harold Schulweis in For Those Who Cannot Believe:  “The Holocaust mocks my faith.  For at the core of that faith is the conviction that God breathed into the nostrils of human beings an inviolable human soul, that God created the human being in His image and in His likeness.  The taunting dissonance between that faith and the facts of the Holocaust disturbs my belief.  The picture of a child hanged in the presence of parents in the concentration camp brings to mind a rabbinic commentary on the hanging of a criminal based on a verse in the book of Deuteronomy 21.23: A criminal sentenced to death and hanged must not remain overnight upon the tree because it is “a reproach to God.” Why a reproach to God?  The rabbinic answer is offered in the form of a parable: Once a noble king had a twin brother who violated the law and was hanged on a tree in the public square.  People passing by the corpse of the king’s twin took him to be the king and shouted, “Behold, the king is dead!”  The king was humiliated.  

The parable is breathtaking.  God and man, at some level, are as it were twins.  To deface the image of man is to blaspheme the Creator of that image.  God is not raised by lowering the human image…Who before the memory of cremated children can declare the twinship of God and man? …But where was the Adonai (the Lord) in Auschwitz?  Where was the power and mystique of Adonai within the hell of the Holocaust?”

“Where was Adonai in the Holocaust?  Adonai was in Niuvelande, a Dutch village in which 700 residents rescued 500 Jews, including 100 Jewish children.  Adonai was in Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, whose citizens hid and protected 5000 Jews under the inspired leadership of Pastor Andre Trocme.  Adonai was in the rat-infested sewers of Lvov, where Polish sewer workers hid 17 Jews for 14 months.”  His list goes on, and he finally says: “Holocaust scholars now estimate that there were between 50,000 and 500,000 Christian rescuers.  Whatever the number, there were too few.  Sadly there are always too few moral heroes in history.”

“How ironic that our children … know the names of Klaus Barbie, Goebbels, Goering, Eichmann, Himmler and Hitler but not the names of those who risked their lives to hide and protect the Frank family….When the rescuers are asked “Why did you risk all this?” they typically respond “What else could I do?  What would you do?”

For today, let’s just ask ourselves the questions that Schulweis’ book asked: “That question places a mirror to my soul.  Would I open the door?  Would I hide this pursued pregnant woman?  Would I take care of her needs?  When rations during the war were so meager would I risk getting extra food without raising suspicion?   Would I take an infant into my home whose cries might reveal our hiding place?  What would I do with their refuse or with their bodies after their death?  Stefa Krakowska, a Polish peasant, hid 14 persons in her home, ranging from age 3 to age 60, in a home in which a simple pail served as the toilet.  When an older Jewish woman fell sick and knew herself to be dying, she turned to Stefa.  “My God, my dead body may bring disaster to you. What will you do with my body?” She feared for the others’ safety.  She died.  At night, secretly and in stages they buried her dismembered body in Stefa’s garden.” 

“Sadly, there are always too few moral heroes in history.”  What a haunting observation.  But there is good news, too. To be a moral hero you don’t have to be a king, wealthy, powerful or attractive.  What you do have to do is be faithful…and that’s something that any man or woman can choose to do.  You, and I, can be moral heroes for the cause of Christ.

I’m often afraid to speak out because God’s point of view isn’t popular.  As a group, Christians today lack the moral courage to speak, live and act on our convictions and on what we know to be truth.  Let’s be the moral heroes that this world so desperately needs and that God wants us to be.  Let it never be said that in our day there were no moral heroes.  Let us be those heroes to our friends, family, co-workers and even our enemies.

PRAYER:  Give us moral courage to follow You through life and death.  Let us, as we stand around the campfire when You are on trial in this world, not deny You, but let us speak Your name boldly, proudly, humbly.  Let us be the heroes You need us to be in our own day and age.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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