DayBreaks for 10/27/16 – In Search of the Real Me

DayBreaks for 10/27/16 – In Search of the Real Me

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2006:

British style writer Neil Boorman has decided to burn every branded thing in his possession.   I am addicted to brands,” he confessed in a magazine article:

“From an early age, I have been taught that to be accepted, to be loveable, to be cool, one must have the right stuff.  At junior school, I tried to make friends with the popular kids, only to be ridiculed for the lack of stripes on my trainers.  Once I had nagged my parents to the point of buying me the shoes, I was duly accepted at school, and I became much happier as a result. As long as my parents continued to buy me the brands, life was more fun. Now, at the age of 31, I still behave according to playground law.

Boorman finally realized that the happiness found in his possessions is hollow and short-lived, leaving him with a “continual, dull ache.”  So he’s taking drastic action and turning to a life of simplicity.  He summarizes: The manner in which we spend our money defines who we are. … In this secular society of ours, where family and church once gave us a sense of belonging, identity, and meaning, there is now Apple, Mercedes, and Coke. … So, this is why I am burning all my stuff.  To find real happiness, to find the real me.

I am torn over this poor man’s actions.  He sounds like he’s recognized a problem in his life, and that’s good!  We spend much of our lives in denial that we have problems.  And when a problem does come up, we always try to find someone else to bear the blame for “our” problem.  So, in short, we usually are still in denial that we have problems that need to be fixed.  It’s a good thing that Mr. Boorman looked deeply into his heart and saw that something was broken that needed fixing. 

And it’s a good thing that he’s divorcing himself from the pride and vanity that go along with designer clothes, Air Jordan’s, the latest and greatest brand names, etc.  Those things invariably cost more than non-name brands, and chances are that they don’t last any longer.  They can’t make us younger, and wearing the name label clothes won’t work magic on how much we weigh (or where we carry that weight!)  I wonder if anyone has ever calculated, over the course of a lifetime, how much money could be saved and used in better ways (feeding the hungry, helping build houses for the homeless, etc.) if we bought generic instead of name brands.  It might be an interesting exercise.

But, I think Mr. Boorman is destined for frustration in his pursuit to “find the real me.”  He seems to think that by just getting rid of things that he’ll discover the real self.  It can help, but the real self is only seen when we look into the perfect law of liberty and let it speak to us about the real us, the ideal us, and how God loves the real us, sees the ideal us, and is at work to make the real us something that glorifies Him.  And is “real happiness” to be discovered by finding the “real me”?  I don’t think so.  The real me isn’t very pretty.  What God knows I will someday become – now that’s something to bring happiness to us!  But in the meantime, what I really need to find in order to have happiness in this life is the understanding of the grace and mercy of God that sees the real me, and loves me enough to not leave the real/sinful me alone, but sheds His blood, light and grace into my life to enable me to not become despondent in this world as I wait for the next. 

PRAYER:  Father, help us to see ourselves as you do, and to know that you love us infinitely.  May be find our happiness in serving you, other and in becoming more like Jesus!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 11/28/12 – To Be Unknown By God

From the DayBreaks Archive:

Matthew 25:1-12 – “1 “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3 The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4 The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5 The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. 6 “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ 7 “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’ 9 “‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ 10 “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. 11 “Later the others also came. ‘Sir! Sir!’ they said. ‘Open the door for us!’ 12 “But he replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.’

In his book, Abba’s Child, Brennan Manning describes the “impostor” – the false you and I that lives inside each one of us.  Sometimes, the impostor lives more on the outside than the inside.  The impostor is the phony us – how we talk and act differently in church or a crowd of Christians than when we are alone in the dark of our own minds or the dark of night.  The impostor is the one who always pretends to be something he or she isn’t – whether it be self-assurance, a false projection of happiness or joy, of reverence, of caring.

In the story of the 10 virgins and the bridegroom, it is worth noting that these virgins were apparently invited to the feast.  It’s not like they just showed up at the wedding feast on their own accord.  So they must have been known by the bridegroom.  Yet, the bridegroom says rather pointedly, “I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.”  What can that possibly mean?  I think it means that the behavior that he saw modeled by the foolish virgins revealed who and what they really were.  Rather than being wise, loving and devoted to sharing the joy of the wedding banquet, they were shown to not really care that much about the entire event or the persons involved.  Haven’t we all said to someone that we know, after being really deeply disappointed or shocked by something that they’ve done: “I don’t think I really know you anymore.  You’re not yourself.”  Ah – we all have a false self hiding and revealing himself!

Thomas Merton wrote: “Every one of us is shadowed by an illusory person, a false self.  This is the man I want myself to be but who cannot exist, because God does not know anything about him.  And to be unknown of God is altogether too much privacy.  My false and private self is the one who wants to exist outside the reach of God’s will and God’s love – outside of reality and outside of life.  And such a self cannot help but be an illusion.  We are not very good at recognizing illusions, least of all the ones we cherish about ourselves – the ones we were born with and which feed the roots of sin.  For most people in the world, there is no greater subjective reality than this false self of theirs, which cannot exist.”  Manning explains: “Merton’s notion of sin focuses not primarily on individual sinful acts, but on a fundamental option for a life of pretense.  ‘There can only be two basic loves’, wrote Augustine, ‘the love of God unto the forgetfulness of self, or the love of self unto the forgetfulness and denial of God.’

We can hardly stand to be genuine.  God can’t stand it when we aren’t.   

Copyright 2002 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

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DayBreaks for 11/07/11 – Respectable or Real?

DayBreaks for 11/07/11 – Respectable or Real

The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith. – 1 Timothy 1:5

A certain pastor was less-than-encouraging when his daughter announced that God was calling her to serve as a missionary in Uganda. At first, he refused to let her go. ‘Don’t you know that Uganda is a very dangerous place for Christians?” he asked. After two years, the young woman finally set out to pursue her calling. As the pastor watched her plane rise into the sky, he commented that he had wanted his daughter to be a respectable Christian–not a real one.

What makes the difference between a respectable Christian and a real one? Jesus makes that very distinction in verses 11 and 12: “The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” Jesus never wore fancy robes with long tassels. He hung out with outcasts and sinners, not with the movers and shakers. Instead of expecting the place of honor at banquets, Jesus took the place of the lowest servant and washed his disciples’ feet. “Respectable” members of society got nervous when Jesus entered the room. He didn’t play by their rules.

No one wants to look odd or strange.  That’s understandable.  But when it comes to our walk with Christ, we shouldn’t worry about being respectable.  We should be concerned about being in a real relationship with Him!

PRAYER: Father God, we are so concerned about how we are viewed by others and what they will think of us.  Change our hearts so that we only care about being in a real relationship with you, regardless of how we may appear to others.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2011 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 8/10/11 – Counterfeit Hope

DayBreaks for 08/10/11 – Counterfeit Hope

Only the real thing has value...

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. – Romans 15:13

Have you ever had high hopes for something and then seen those hopes crumble to pieces? It happened to one man in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His story hit the news wires as one of those sadly humorous, stupid-thief tales. Actually, if you knew him, his story is probably only very sad.

He wanted money. Maybe he desperately needed money. Perhaps he had a substance addiction or owed tens of thousands of dollars on a charge card. Regardless, somehow he got the idea to go into a grocery store, hand the checkout clerk counterfeit money, and ask for change. If it worked, he would get real money in exchange for fake money. Brilliant!

He was a big thinker. If he was going to risk attempting this fraud, he was going to do it in a way that would set him up for life. So he decided to try to pass off not a counterfeit $100 bill, not a counterfeit $1,000 bill, not even a counterfeit $10,000 bill, but a counterfeit $1,000,000 bill.

Again, you can pat this poor fellow on the back for thinking big, but you also have to pity him for thinking badly. First, you have to suspect that the average checkout clerk doesn’t keep a million dollars in her drawer. Second, you have to think that a one million dollar bill is going to attract some extra attention and might even bring the scrutiny of the store manager. Third—this is the clincher—there is no such thing as a $1,000,000 bill. The largest currency printed in the U.S. is a $100 bill!

When the counterfeiter walked into the supermarket on that Saturday in Pittsburgh, holding that one million dollar bill in his sweaty hand, just imagine his soaring hopes. Soon he would be able to pay his bills, buy a nice house and car, get all the things he had always wanted, never work another day in his life. This would be his lucky day!

Needless to say, his high hopes were dashed. The checkout clerk refused to give him change for his bogus bill. The manager came and confiscated the forgery. His dreams went up in smoke. He got angry. He grabbed the electronic funds transfer machine and slammed it on the counter. He tried to grab the scanning gun used to read product labels. Soon the police had him in custody.

It’s a sad, sad thing when a person’s high hopes come to nothing. How do you know when your hopes are resting on something true and legitimate and real, instead of on something bogus and stupid? Where do you place your hope?

PRAYER: Father, help us to hope in nothing more, and nothing less, than Jesus’ blood and righteousness!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2011 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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