DayBreaks for 1/04/18 – Spiders, Flies and the Crowd

Image result for spider web and fly

DayBreaks for 1/04/18: Spiders, Flies and the Crowd

From the DayBreaks archive, 2008:

Ephesians 5:5-6 (NIV) For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person–such a man is an idolater–has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.

Job 15:31 (NIV) – Let him not deceive himself by trusting what is worthless, for he will get nothing in return.

We are easily deceived.  There are probably many reasons for it, but I think the main reason we are deceived is because we want to believe something strongly enough that we allow ourselves to be convinced it is true.  And as Job points out, we don’t necessarily have to be deceived by others – we’re plenty good at deceiving ourselves.  We deceive ourselves into thinking that we’re better than we really are, that we are smarter, more holy, more righteous than someone else and therefore God must like us better.  We deceive ourselves into thinking that we’ve accomplished whatever we’ve managed to accomplish by our own wisdom, smarts and talent – forgetting the Source of the talent.

But what really bothers me these days is how easily the people of God get deceived by the world and the smooth-talking salesmen of perversity.  Evil is made to sound good, and good to sound evil and even hateful.  The world has gotten very good at telling its story – I fear it is much more skilled at telling its story than we are at telling the story of what God has done. 

Once a spider built a beautiful web in an old house.  He kept it clean and shiny so that flies would patronize it.  The minute he got a “customer” he could clean up on it so the other flies would not get suspicious.  Then one day this fairly intelligent fly came buzzing by the clean spider web.  Old man spider called out, “Come in and sit.”  But the fairly intelligent fly said, “No, sir.  I don’t see other flies in your house, and I am not going in alone!”  But presently he saw on the floor below a large crowd of flies dancing around on a piece of brown paper.  He was delighted!  He was not afraid if lots of flies were doing it.  So he came in for a landing.  Just before he landed, a bee zoomed by, saying, “Don’t land there, stupid!  That’s flypaper!”  But the fairly intelligent fly shouted back, “Don’t’ be silly.  Those flies are dancing.  There’s a big crowd there.  Everybody’s doing it.  That many flies can’t be wrong!”

Well, you know what happened.  He died on the spot.  Some of us want to be with the crowd so badly that we end up in a mess.  What does it profit a fly (or a person) if he escapes the web only to end up in the glue?

May you be wise to the ways of the world because you are wiser to the ways of God!

 

PRAYER:  Give us discerning hearts and minds, O Lord, so that we are not led astray by the voice of the masses or by false appearances.  May we heed the warnings that You have given us in Your Word and through Your Spirit.  Preserve and protect us, we pray!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 12/14/17 – A Theology Lesson from Dr. Seuss

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DayBreaks for 12/14/17: A Theology Lesson from Dr. Seuss

From the DayBreaks archive, December 2007:

How’s your world going today?  When you got up out of bed, did you leap up full of joy and excitement, or did you stub your toe or arise with a headache?  There are things you plan to do today, right?  Chances are, either formally or informally, you’ve got your day somewhat planned out.  You know some things that are “must-get-done’s” and others that you can do if you get around to it.  You know some of the people you’ll probably be talking with and what you’ll talk about.  You may be filled with trepidation about some of those meetings, or excitement at the prospect of spending some time together with them.  Either way, you have a schedule, a plan, in your mind for how you’ll spend your day. 

We like to think that we are in charge of our lives – that we have a significant say-so in how the day unfolds, how our interactions will turn out, and what we’ll do and where we’ll go.  And, to some extent, we do have some control over some of it – at least, we have an illusion of control.  We like to think that we are masters of our destinies – even if it’s just a small, insignificant destiny like planning to stop at Starbucks for a cup of joe on the way to work.  Our little fiefdom, over which we rule…or so we think. 

One of the best commentaries about this is in a book on political science theory by a “theologian” you may have heard of, named Dr. Seuss.  It’s a book called Yertle the Turtle.  A little pond of turtles is ruled—or so he thinks—by Yertle, who’s a turtle.  One day, he decides his kingdom needs extending. 

Yertle, the turtle, the king of them all,

Decided the kingdom he ruled was too small. 

“I’m ruler,” said Yertle, “of all that I see. 

But I don’t see enough. That’s the trouble with me.

With this stone for a throne, I look down on my pond.

But I cannot look down on the places beyond. 

This throne that I sit on is too low down. 

It ought to be higher!” he said with a frown. 

“If I could sit high, how much greater I’d be! 

What a king! I’d be ruler of all I could see!”  

And so it happened that Yertle the Turtle sent out a decree that all the turtles that lived in his pond should be stacked up to be his throne—to extend his power and glory.  The whole pond scrambles to obey; first dozens, then hundreds of turtles were positioned underneath Yertle, who rose higher and higher into the air until finally he was so high up that he could see for miles. 

I’m Yertle the Turtle, Oh marvelous me,

For I am the ruler of all that I see! 

Yep, Yertle thought he had it made.  He was “on top of the world”, overseeing his little domain, inflated with a sense of his own importance, overflowing with prideful arrogance.  He believed he had everything under control and that his reign in his little realm was as secure as could be, but in the end, it wasn’t:

For the turtle on the bottom did a plain little thing. 

He burped, and that burp shook the throne of the King.

And today, the great Yertle, that marvelous he –

Is the King of the Mud. That’s all he can see.

And that’s where all who lift themselves up eventually wind up – back down in the mud.  We are all just one little burp away from reality.

We think it’s about us: my family, my work, my friends. We want to fashion our lives into a kingdom we control. But every once in a while, there’s a little “burp” someplace and we’re reminded of reality. 

Luke 18:14 (KJV) I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

PRAYER:  Give us this day the wisdom to keep You on the throne and may we be content to be Your servants!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 8/4/17 – Taking Credit

 

DayBreaks for 8/04/17: Taking Credit

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2007:

John Ortberg tells this story: “Not too long ago, there was a CEO of a Fortune 500 company who pulled into a service station to get gas.  He went inside to pay, and when he came out he noticed his wife engaged in a deep discussion with the service station attendant.  It turned out that she knew him.  In fact, back in high school before she met her eventual husband, she used to date this man.

“The CEO got in the car, and the two drove in silence.  He was feeling pretty good about himself when he finally spoke: ‘I bet I know what you were thinking.  I bet you were thinking you’re glad you married me, a Fortune 500 CEO, and not him, a service station attendant.

“No, I was thinking if I’d married him, he’d be a Fortune 500 CEO and you’d be a service station attendant.”

We all want to take credit, don’t we?  It doesn’t matter if it is on the job, at school or in the home.  We want the credit for what goes well.  We want to take credit when someone tells us how well behaved our children are, or how much they’ve achieved.  We want to take credit for our brilliance and skill that has made us successful at our jobs or in our classes.  We like the praise of men and women.

We really have a problem with pride.  Pride, if not satisfied by the praises and recognition of others, will draw things to their attention hoping that we receive praise.  This is different than merely wanting to do a good job – it’s wanting to be recognized and acknowledged.  It’s about someone saying to us, “Wow, you’re good.  You did a terrific job!” 

Our pride demands feeding.  In the case of the CEO and his wife, which one of them gave the man the ability to earn the money and rise to the position he’d achieved?  Certainly neither of them did.  They only took the raw materials that God had poured into this man and worked with it.  God gave the ability. 

Grace is about not getting credit.  It is about recognizing that not only didn’t we do something good, but we did something poorly (obey!) and God still did something good for us.  If we understand grace, we’ll realize we can’t claim the credit for anything good.  All we can do is fall before the cross and praise Him for His love and grace that “saved a wretch like me.”

PRAYER:  Our hearts are full of pride and desire for recognition, Lord.  Purify our hearts of this pride.  Give us this grace this day: to recognize that we have been called your children not by our might or power, but only by Your grace.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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 6/05/17 – What To Do With Believers

DayBreaks for 6/05/17: What to Do With Believers

First, let me say that 20 years ago yesterday (6/04/97) marked the first ever DayBreaks. I thought about re-sharing the first DayBreaks I ever sent out, but decided against it. Instead, I just want to say this: I never expected DayBreaks would last so long. There have been times I’ve debated whether or not it was time to stop, but I never sensed a clear direction from the Lord to do that, so for now, we’ll continue on. But even more than that, I’ve come to love many of you who have written over the years, shared parts of your life (good and bad) with me as you wrote and told me your stories. I am humbled and honored at your trust. In addition, some of my best friends have come through DayBreaks – and I shall cherish our friendship and relationship as long as I live. Thank you to all who have shared this journey with me!

From the DayBreaks archive, June 5 ,2007:

An article I recently read by Mark Buchanan made an interesting observation about Jonah chapter 1 and Acts, chapters 27 and 28.  Both of those passages tell the story of a God-worshipper who is on board a ship, surrounded by unbelievers.  In both cases, a violent storm blows up on the sea and the “mighty ship was tossed” (to borrow a line from Gilligan’s Island!)  So severe was the storm in both cases, that the crew reached a conclusion that they would rather have not reached: all the cargo on the ship would need to be thrown overboard.  It wasn’t a case of their profits going up in smoke, but of their profits going down to Davey Jones’ locker.  But, at least in the case of Jonah, he was considered “cargo”.  Somehow, the pagans felt this disaster in the making was due to someone who had offended the gods, and Jonah was singled out. 

Remember: Jonah is on board because he’s fleeing from God.  When confronted by the pagan sailors, he’s boastful about himself and disdainful toward them.  As it turns out, there’s only one way for those pagans to survive the storm: they have to get rid of the God-worshiper – they have to throw him overboard.  And they do just that.

Not so in Acts.  There, the apostle Paul is on board the ship precisely because he has been following God.  He’s a prisoner of Rome, on his way via ship to be tried in front of Caesar, but even more important, he’s a man on a mission sent from heaven, who has been being obedient to that calling.  When the pagan sailors panic, Paul is wise, humble, and helpful – quite the opposite of his predecessor, Jonah.  Paul lets those terrified shipmates know that he cares deeply for them.  It turns out, there’s only one way for those pagans to survive the storm: they have to put the God-worshiper, the one who showed concern for them, in charge.

The point that Buchanan draws is this: the more that we genuinely care for the people in this storm-wracked world—the less we boast and denounce, the more we bless and serve—the more they will let us – and the Jesus we serve – into their lives and lives and souls will be redeemed and saved!

PRAYER: May we be the kind of God worshippers that You are pleased with.  May we answer Your call, may we be meek and humble, may we care and not denounce unnecessarily!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/1916 – If You Do, Then You Aren’t

DayBreaks for 10/19/16 – If You Do, Then You Aren’t

The famous actor Gregory Peck was once standing in line with a friend, waiting for a table in a crowded Los Angeles restaurant. They had been waiting for some time, the diners seemed to be taking their time eating and new tables weren’t opening up very fast. They weren’t even that close to the front of the line. Peck’s friend became impatient, and he said to Gregory Peck, “Why don’t you tell the maitre d’ who you are?” Gregory Peck responded with great wisdom. “No,” he said, “if you have to tell them who you are, then you aren’t.”

That’s a lesson that the Pharisee in our gospel reading apparently had never learned. His prayer, if it can be called that, is largely an advertisement for himself. He’s selling himself to God. Little wonder that Luke describes him in the way he does, “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself.” That’s a very apt description, isn’t it — he prayed with himself. He would have done better had he had Gregory Peck there to whisper in his ear that if he had to remind God who he was, then he wasn’t.

The tax collector, on the other hand, didn’t have to tell God who he was. He knew who he was and he knew that God knew who he was. His prayer is not an exercise in self-promotion, but a confession and a plea for mercy. He is not selling himself, but opening himself. And Jesus says, “It is this man who went home justified.” To be justified means to be declared “not guilty.” It means to be declared right. The tax collector is declared to be in the right relationship to God while the Pharisee, who is so certain of his own righteousness, is shown to be in the wrong relationship with God. He is not justified before the bar of God’s justice which is the court of ultimate consequence.

Let’s note, however, that all this doesn’t mean that the Pharisee was a bad person and the tax collector really a good person. There’s no suggestion of that in this parable. It flat out doesn’t say. But we do know that God loves the humble and resists the proud. We also know that Scripture says there is no such thing as a “good” person, so it’s a moot point. But, the contrast between these two couldn’t be clearer. Both were “bad” persons (as we all are biblically), but one of the bad ones had a right relationship with God and God was pleased to justify the humble man. Just because the Pharisee told God how great he was didn’t mean he was great or righteous. The Lord loves a penitent heart!

He’ll be glad to justify any of us…if we’re willing to admit who and what we are.

PRAYER: We are all great sinners, Lord. I’m thankful that you justify even people like me! And please keep us from being proud of any level of humility we may have. Thank you!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

 

DayBreaks for 9/23/15 – Big Egos, Small Men

DayBreaks for 9/23/15: Big Egos, Small Men

There is an interesting story that comes out of the Second World War. England and Germany both had state-of-the-art fighter planes. Germany had the Messerschmitt, which was considered to be the world’s fastest fighter plane. The British had the Supermarine Spitfire. The Spitfire was slower than the Messerschmitt. Nevertheless, German pilots were envious of their British counterparts.

You see, the Messerschmitt had been designed to hold the perfect German. Who was the perfect German? Who else but Der Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler. Hitler was little more than five feet tall. However, the German pilots who guided the Messerschmitt were considerably taller than 5 feet. So the Germans had to fly in very cramped quarters. But who was going to tell Adolf Hitler that he was not the perfect German? The Messerschmitts were faster, but their pilots were not happy men.

It is an amazing fact, but many leaders fail because of big egos. Big men in little planes. Big egos in little men. “Pride goeth before a fall,” says the ancient adage. And it’s true.

Many of the people who the world has come to regard as great human beings were also very humble: Moses, Abraham Lincoln, Mother Theresa. Those who have to blow their own horn about how wonderful and great they are must be very insecure in themselves. If greatness isn’t obvious, it’s not greatness.

PRAYER: Lord, we all have egos that are too large. Make us humble that we are receptive to your leadership and direction! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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