DayBreaks for 6/25/18 – The Nature of Reality

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DayBreaks for 6/25/18: The Nature of Reality

From the DayBreaks Archive, June 2008:

What is faith?  The fundamental aspect of faith (biblical or otherwise) is the confidence that we hold either in a thing (such as the brakes on our car to be able to stop the car), faith in a person (I believe that my friend is as good as his word), or faith in the truth of a statement (the sun came up today).  We live our lives everyday through placing our faith in things, people or the truth of a statement.   We believe the food we eat is not tainted nor poisoned, that the water we drink is not going to harm us, that a husband or wife will be there for us when we need them, that the laws of physics that control the motion of the heavenly bodies, the braking of our cars and the rules of thermodynamics will be as true today as they’ve been shown to be in the past. 

What does that mean in everyday life?  It is evidence that we believe faith is as good as the object (thing, person or proposition) that faith holds.  We don’t think twice wondering if the engineers who designed our cars made powerful enough braking systems.  Astronauts on the shuttle don’t wonder if there’s enough fuel in the tanks to get them into orbit. 

But, somehow, when it comes to God, we’re told that there is no such Reality.  If you can’t see it, touch it, taste it, smell it or hear it with one of the 5 senses, then you cannot know if it is real – therefore, it must be rejected.  Really?  Have you ever tasted guilt?  Heard anguish (not the manifestation of it, but anguish itself?)  When is the last time you saw love walk past on the sidewalk?  Have you seen gravity itself?  We have no problem believing such things exist, even though we can’t test them or touch them. 

When it comes to spiritual things, people have bought lock, stock and barrel into the ungodly idea that knowledge about anything beyond the physical world is impossible – therefore, it is mythological at best.  Do some myths come true?  Perhaps, from time, to time.  But knowledge about the unseen is mere speculation.  So, to placate those who hold beliefs in the Supernatural, they would tell us that what is important is for people who are inclined to believe in such things, it is the fervency of their belief that is more important that the object of their belief. 

John, the apostle, didn’t seem to agree, nor did Paul, Peter or any of the other men and women of faith who believed in a reality that was Unseen.  As J.P. Moreland put it in The Kingdom Triangle: “Reality is basically indifferent to how sincerely we believe something….As far as reality is concerned, what matters is not whether I like a belief of how sincere I am in believing it, but whether or not the belief is true.”  I could sincerely hope a gondola cable will hold me, but how fervently I hold that belief doesn’t make the cable one bit stronger.  What matters it the strength of the cable, not the strength of my belief in it.  I may never get on the gondola if I don’t belief it is strong enough to hold us up, but my belief matters not one whit one way or the other to the cable.

God is Reality.  He is the GREAT Reality…whether I choose to believe it or not.  Jesus doesn’t need by belief so that he’ll become strong enough to save me.  He’s already strong enough.  My faith should be in Him – He is to be the object of my faith.  That’s the bottom line on Reality.

PRAYER: Almighty God, You Who made a world of reality and who lives in a universe of reality, open our eyes to see that You are the One Reality with which we must all ultimately deal, and by which we will all ultimately be confronted.  Don’t let us be deceived, nor let our friends and family be fooled into thinking that what matters is whether we really believe in something.  Let us believe it You, for You are true.  You are the only reality that can save us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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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 9/07/17 – A Fake Disappoints

DayBreaks for 9/07/17: A Fake Disappoints

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/2007:

A woman in Georgia is facing charges after calling police about getting her money back for a fake crack rock she allegedly bought from a drug dealer. Juanita Marie Jones called police in Rochelle on a recent Thursday night to complain she was unhappy with some crack cocaine she purchased that night, the Cordelle Dispatch reported.  The 53-year-old woman allegedly told police she purchased what she thought was a $20 piece of crack cocaine, but after breaking the rock into three pieces and smoking one, she thought the cocaine was “fake.” She told Officer Joel Quinn and Deputy John Shedd of the Wilcox County Sheriff’s Office she wanted them to get her money back. The officers were invited into Jones’ kitchen where showed them the alleged “fake” crack, at which time they arrested her for possession of cocaine. She is now awaiting a bond hearing.

This story is sad and tragic on many fronts.  It’s hard to even know where to begin!

It’s sad how we pursue all sorts of things in life that can’t give us what we truly want.  It’s sad how we spend money on things that are real or fake, only to be dissatisfied.  It’s a tragic thing that fakery can cost us so much.

1 Peter 1:6-9 (NIV) In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

How many of us would buy a piece of property sight-unseen?  “If you believe that, I’ve got a piece of property I’d like to sell you,” goes one saying that highlights the foolishness of doing things sight-unseen, without having checked out the validity of what we’re investing in.  And yet, as Peter so eloquently put it (especially for a fisherman!), we haven’t seen Jesus (Peter had!), but we’ve invested quite a bit into him through faith.  We’ve committed our present life and our future days and all of eternity to someone we’ve not beheld.  To some, it is foolishness.  But Peter had seen Jesus, he had touched him, smelled him, hear him, and Peter seeks to reassure us that any investment we make in Jesus will not leave us disappointed.  Jesus is real.  He is merely unseen.  But our faith in him will be proved genuine when we see him at last.

Don’t be suckered into buying fakes when the real thing can be had for free. 

PRAYER: Father, give us discerning hearts to know the real from the fake, the genuine article from a cheap imitation.  Assure our hearts that when we see him, all we’ve believed about Your goodness and Your Son will be proved genuine.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/25/16 – The Games People Play

DayBreaks for 11/25/16: The Games People Play

The 1960’s pop singer Joe South wrote a song that had these words:

Oh the games people play now

Every night and every day now

Never meaning what they say now

Never saying what they mean

And they wile away the hours

In their ivory towers

Till they’re covered up with flowers

In the back of a black limousine

Games…we love to play games. Board games, sports games, mind games, video games, computer games, word games, mathematical…the list goes on and on. As human beings we are fascinated by our games. Games are good-for games can and do provide physical exercise and mental stimulation as well as develop coping skills, management skills-not to mention providing a respite from the pressures of everyday life. Yes, we all love games-some of us too much. It has been said of Americans that we “play at our work and work at our play.” Yes, there are times when even the best of us take our games too seriously.

There are also games we play that we should not play. These are the games that we use to avoid life, to avoid dealing with the harsh realities that life can bring us. Back in the sixties Eric Berne wrote Games People Play–an analysis of the ways in which people relate to each other and why we do so. His basic thesis is that “games are substitutes for the real living of real life.” We play games because we do not want to get down to the real human business of honest to God interaction. We would rather live at a superficial level of societal games than to talk about who we are and what we feel.

What games are you playing that may be detrimental to your family, your work, your friends, your health? What games are you playing that weaken your walk with Christ? Don’t you think it may be time to stop playing some of those games and get real?

PRAYER: Father, may we take time to play – but give us the wisdom to know when to play and when to be serious! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/31/16 – Forgiveness and Present Realities

DayBreaks for 10/31/16 – Forgiveness and Present Realities

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2006:

NOTE: Galen is taking a short vacation.

Psalm 79:8-9 – Oh, do not hold us guilty for our former sins! Let your tenderhearted mercies quickly meet our needs, for we are brought low to the dust. Help us, O God of our salvation! Help us for the honor of your name. Oh, save us and forgive our sins for the sake of your name.

As I read and meditated on this passage, I found it interesting that David pleads with God to not hold us guilty of former sins.  What about the present ones?  What about all our future ones still waiting to be born? 

Surely, the plea is that God not hold us guilty at all, for we haven’t committed present or future sins yet – and at some point they will all be “former” sins – certain when we stand in judgment they will all be former!  Yet in a way, I suppose that we can only ask for forgiveness for the things that we have done – not for things we may yet do.  Our confession should be specific.  We cannot confess the truthful, yet painful, details of sins we’ve not yet committed. 

The Psalmist makes no claim to deserve such favor from God, only holding on to the “tenderhearted mercies” that belong to God, which David is confident will be quickly poured out to meet the needs of those who have humbled themselves.  Interestingly, his plea for God’s help is not for our sake or benefit, nor is it because we deserve it, but for the honor of God’s name.  Have you thought about how it would look if the Lord’s people are destitute forever, if there is no relief from the guilt and shame of sin, no ultimate vindication for those who cling to their faith like a drowning man holds to a piece of wood?  If such were the case, why would anyone want to be a follower, to be able to say “O God of OUR salvation”?  At some point, salvation must become a much more present reality than the way we experience it today, else there is nothing to draw us to it.  So, it is for the sake of the Lord’s name that we pray for His mercy to be poured out.

The day will come when the present reality is, pure and simple, the eternal reality.  At that time, all my sins will be in the past, already forgiven.  As I struggle through this life, that truth gives me strength to face another day full of hope and reassurance.

I am far too prone to see the benefits of God’s mercy and forgiveness and favor for my own benefit and comfort.  I need to learn to seek his mercies for the sake of His name.  How often do my reactions to unpleasant things in this life dishonor his name?  If I truly learn to celebrate His mercies for His name’s sake, I’ll be much better off and He will be glorified.

PRAYER:  Father, sometimes it is hard to believe that You forgive us so freely, for we know that there is nothing in us that could cause You to love and forgive us.  Help us to understand that You forgive us for Your own honor and sake, and that regardless of Your motive in forgiving us, that Your forgiveness is real and eternal.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/28/16 – Problems With Eyesight

DayBreaks for 10/287/16 – Problems With Eyesight

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2006:

As I get older, I find that I don’t trust what I see as much as I once did.  It’s time to go visit the eye doctor again – maybe that will help some.  It’s harder to tell distances on the golf course, if I have my glasses off, I have to hold books really close in order to read the words.  Sometimes at night, shadows can fool me into thinking that some animal is out there on the hillside when in reality, nothing is there.  So, I’m learning not to trust my eyesight too much.

Craig Larsen was struck with how our selective eyesight can cause us to miss things we’d rather not see.  As he sat in a park on a summer day, he started watching several robins that were looking for something to eat.  As he really watched them, and then reflected on what he saw, he realized that the innocent-looking birds that to many are so delightful as the heralds of spring, are really vicious killers.  He wrote: “They hop along in the grass, pause cutely, cock their heads, and stare at the ground.  Then they pounce on their unsuspecting prey, savagely pounding their beaks like jackhammers into the soil, sending dirt flying until they seize the unarmed father and mother of many baby worms and mercilessly snip it to pieces.  With a slurp, the robins gobble up their still-writing victims.  But their bloodlust is not satisfied.  They are serial killers.  Without remorse, they hope off to repeat their brutality.”

Perhaps we struggle especially when it comes to spiritual eyesight.  I’ve been preaching through the gospel of John, and one of the things that is front and center many times is the lack of spiritual eyesight on the part of those who should be able to see spiritual truths the most clearly.  But the Pharisees were blind to truths about Jesus that they didn’t want to see, and the “commoners” were blinded to the flaws of the Pharisees. 

We all have spiritual blind spots in our lives.  We probably know what most of them are if we take even a couple of minutes to think about them and pray about them, but we seldom do that because we don’t like to admit our weaknesses and sins.  But we need to observe ourselves carefully.  What are the tendencies that lead us into sin?  What unrepented-of sin do we have in our lives that we don’t even acknowledge and confess to God? 

And another warning: we also tend to look at other people and draw conclusions about them that may be very incorrect.  Just as the robin, when you think about it, is a serial killer of worms even while it wears it’s colorful orange breast feathers, people aren’t always what they seem to be, either.  None of us are fully transparent and open about who we are, what we think, even what we do.  We’ve all been in denial since the garden of Eden, suffering from bad eyesight and poor comprehension. 

PRAYER:  Lord, we so easily are impressed by that which is flashy and showy.  We tend to only look at surface things and to only see in ourselves what we want to see, and to see problems in everyone else.  Search our hearts with Your Spirit and give us the courage to bear the things you reveal to us and to repent of our blindness.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/15/15 – A Memo From Reality

DayBreaks for 9/15/15: A Memo from Reality

From the DayBreaks archive, 2005:

You always know it is bad news when the phone rings at 5:00 in the morning. Phones aren’t supposed to ring at that time of day. In fact, I think that if someone invented a phone that had a time sensor in it that could be programmed not to ring between certain hours, that the phone would never ring at 2, 3, 4 or 5 in the morning.  But when it does, you reach for it with a sense of dread.

So it was at our home in Cloverdale on Tuesday morning, 9/6. My wife reached for the phone and I could tell that it was her brother, Rick. Laurel and Rick’s dad has had Alzheimer’s disease for over 5 years now. The call was to let us know that he had passed away at about 4 in the morning on 9/6. It wasn’t expected – even though he’d been admitted to the hospital on 9/4, they believed that he’d be discharged and sent home on 9/6. Well, he went home, all right, but not to any home in this world. As a Christian, he’s now entered his mansion, met the Lord, and joined the heavenly choir of praise.

Still, this phone call was a memo from reality. Memos are to remind us of things we might otherwise forget. And how quickly we “forget” the things that we don’t want to contemplate, like death. Our daily existence is uncertain – the nurse had been in to see my father-in-law and take his vitals at 3:30 a.m., and he was fine. She returned at 4 to give him some medication, and he was gone. For all the plans that had been made to bring him home from the hospital that morning, those plans were frustrated by God’s intervention. We can make all the plans we want, but God is sovereign and can change them overnight.

As we gathered with some of my wife’s relatives lately to remember and celebrate the life of her dad, my wife commented to me that some day, our children would gather in such a setting for one (or both) of us – to remember, and hopefully celebrate, our life. It struck me as a very sobering truth. I will die, I will leave my children and grandchildren behind.

It isn’t wise to deny what we know to be true. The truth ultimately wins out.  And Jesus is truth. 

We all deny some aspects of reality, fleeing from it as if it were a leper. What truth are you hiding from today? Is it some sin that you are ignoring in your life while still practicing it? Maybe you’re fooling yourself by thinking that while others sins will find them out, yours will stay hidden. It won’t – it will be revealed, just like my sins will be revealed. Maybe you’ve been telling yourself that you’re still young and you have a lot of time and that you don’t have to surrender your lifestyle to the Lord until you’re much older. How many have gone to hell for that very way of thinking? 

I hope and pray that when God gives you a memo from reality (perhaps even this DayBreaks will serve that purpose in your life), that you’ll read it carefully and apply it to your life by facing the truth it contains.

Job 17:1 – My spirit is broken, my days are cut short, the grave awaits me.

PRAYER: Thank You, Lord, for reminders that You send us from heaven to remind us of reality! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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