DayBreaks for 6/13/18 – Of Dogs, Tickets and the Devil

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DayBreaks for 6/13/18: Of Dogs, Tickets and the Devil

From the DayBreaks archive, June 2008:

AVONDALE, Ariz. – An Arizona man said his 3-year-old Labrador retriever was so excited for the Super Bowl that he devoured two very expensive tickets to the game.  

Chris Gallagher, of Avondale, Ariz., said he asked that a courier slip the envelope containing two Super Bowl XLII tickets under his doormat but the envelope was instead inserted under the door — and into the waiting jaws of his dog, Buddy, The Arizona Republic reported Tuesday.

Gallagher said the tickets, which he purchased for friends, were valued at $900 apiece. However, he said the seller assured him that the tickets can be replaced in time for game day. The dog owner said the tickets were only the latest of Buddy’s many victims, which have included sunglasses, shoes and footballs. “He’s a trouble-maker,” Gallagher told the Republic. “But he looks at you with those big eyes and you can’t be mad for long.”

If you’re a long-time DayBreaks reader, you’ll know I love dogs.  In fact, as I sit here writing this, my wife’s dog is sleeping at my feet, and mine is curled up on his favorite chair (he thinks of it as his “throne”) about 8 feet away.  So, don’t get me wrong – I love dogs.  And their big eyes can melt my heart and resistance in the tick of a clock!  And that, I’m quite convinced, is fine.

Sadly, in one way, Satan is a lot like my dog.  While Casper (my dog) can be full of mischief and playfulness, Satan can also appear as innocent as can be…looking at us with big eyes, tricking us into thinking he’s not dangerous.  “Aw, come on!  This’ll be fun!” 

Why is it that I can go from being furious at Satan one moment to falling for his stories and his big eyes the next?  Casper (my dog) wants nothing more than to be loved and to play.  Satan hates me.  He hates you.  He doesn’t want to bring us happiness or joy.  He’s great at the bait and switch – let us think something will bring us happiness – and then when we’re into it too far to easily get out, he lowers the hammer on us.  Satan doesn’t want to play.  He wants to kill.  Don’t fall for his “soulful eyes”!

PRAYER: God, we are so easily misled by the innocent look of temptation!  Let us see Satan as he truly is and not be fooled by his deceit.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 5/30/18 – Satan’s Strategy

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DayBreaks for 5/30/18: Satan’s Stragegy

It pays to know your enemy.  Ask any soldier and they’ll tell you that it’s important to understand how the enemy thinks, what their strategy is in given circumstances, what kind of tools, equipment and weaponry they have at their disposal.  It is only a fool who goes into battle without having considered the capabilities of the enemy. 

We spend a lot of time as Christians contemplating Christ and what he has done.  It is only right that it should be so, for one cannot dwell on the subject and person of Jesus too much.  Still, I can’t help but wonder if we don’t gather too little “intelligence” on our enemy, Satan.  Fortunately, Scripture is full of information on how Satan works to draw us into sin.

What is the impression that most people have about Christianity?  They believe Christians are repressed, and repressive, because the critics of Christians believe God is repressive.  Do you know why?  It’s because of the very first lie that Satan told – his first deception.  When he approached Eve, he caused her to come to the conclusion that God was repressive because He’d said, “Thou shalt not eat.”    By drawing God into question by saying (paraphrased): “Did got really say you couldn’t eat anything at all that you wanted to?”, he put the concept of a repressive God into human minds.  And it’s been there ever since. 

Is God repressive?  Eve had it right originally in her response: “No, we can eat of any tree except one.”  Does that sound repressive?  There was only one prohibition, and it was so that they could remain free from guilt.  But Satan’s strategy is, as Don Everts put it, “subtle wooing,” not blatant aggression.  He wants to mislead us, not frighten us.  He wants us to think he is our friend, after all. 

But there’s only one friend who laid down his life for us…and it wasn’t Satan.  That speaks volumes.

PRAYER:  Steel our hearts against the enemy of our souls, Lord.  Help us to see that repression leads to slavery, but grace to forgiveness and freedom!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 3/27/18 – The Prison and the Prisoner

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DayBreaks for 3/26/18: The Prison and the Prisoner

From the DayBreaks archive, March 2008:

Thomas Costain wrote a book called The Three Edwards, and in it he tells about an historical event from the 14th century.  Two brothers, Raynald and Edward, were bitter enemies.  Edward mounted war against Raynald, captured him and imprisoned him in Nieuwkerk Castle. 

But this was no ordinary prison.  The room was relatively comfortable and there was no lock on the door – no bolt, padlock or crossbeam.  Raynald, though a prisoner, was free to come or go at will.  In fact, it was better than that: Edward promised Raynald full restoration of all rights and titles on a single condition: that Raynald walk out of his cell.

There was only one problem: Raynald couldn’t walk out of his cell.  The door was smaller than a typical door…and Raynald was enormously fat.  He was so fat that he could not, no matter how much he squeezed and heaved and pushed, get himself through the doorway to his cell. 

So, in order to walk free and reclaim all he’d lost, he only had to do one thing: lose weight.  That would have come easily to most prisoners that were fed bread and water.  But it didn’t come easily to Raynald.  Edward has disguised a great cruelty in his apparent act of generosity to Raynald.  Every day, Edward had Raynald serve the richest, sauciest foods, sweet and tasty, along with as much ale and wine that Raynald could drink.  Raynald ate and ate and grew larger and fatter.  He spent 10 years trapped in that unlocked cell, and was freed only after Edward’s death.  By that time, his health was so ruined that he died soon afterwards.

As I read this tragic story, I was struck by several truths:

FIRST: Satan takes us prisoner by capitalizing on our desires, weaknesses and tastes.  He doesn’t need to create those things in us, he just takes advantage of our appetites.  And then he sets out to do his best to see to it that we stay sated with the pleasures of sin.

SECOND: Raynald had a choice – he could only eat as much as was truly necessary, he could have exercised in his cell, and he could have walked through the cell door after losing enough weight.  But Raynald was too fond of his sweets and tasty delights – thereby becoming his own warden, held in a prison only by his own weaknesses.  The same is true for us – Satan can’t keep us in the prison.  It is our choice – to continue to smother ourselves and indulge in our passions and sin, or to leave the prison behind.

THIRD: We think that the things we long for in our human nature are what will make us happy – that if we have enough of something, then we will be free at long last, not realizing (or at least not admitting to ourselves) that we are only perpetuating our imprisonment.  Freedom awaits us outside the imprisonment of our desires.  What would you rather have: freedom or another piece of cheesecake?

If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross. – Jesus

PRAYER: Father, our hearts and stomachs and eyes lie to us about what it is that we really want and what it is that is really good for us.  Give us the strength through Your Spirit that lives within us to deny ourselves for that which is far better and which will never fade away.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/17/17 – Win the War, Lose the Victory

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DayBreaks for 11/17/17: Win the War, Lose the Victory

NOTE: Galen is traveling…again.

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

There are 79 countries around the world that have a problem with unexploded landmines.  Over 110 million unexploded landmines lie buried in these countries.  There are estimated to be 37 million unexploded mines in Africa, Angola alone has 10 million, with 70,000 amputee children.  A landmine can remain deadly for up to 50 years. 

Gideon is a fascinating character in the Old Testament.  As one of Israel’s judges (more is written about him in the book of Judges than any other character) he defeated 120,000 of the enemy with 300 men armed only with pitchers, ram’s horns for trumpets and lanterns.  Pretty heady stuff.  But he’s also known as the man who asked God for a fleece, even after he’d already been told by God what He was going to do and after God had already given him another sign.  In fact, Gideon had at least 4 signs from God before the battle began!  Still…his name is in the roll call of the great people of faith in Hebrews 11, and mine isn’t!

But what happened after the battle is what is often overlooked.  Gideon had started out fearful and humble.  God won a great victory over the enemies of Israel through Gideon.  And after the battle and its immediate aftermath, Gideon seems to have lost some perspective.  He acted in a very vindictive manner against the foreign kings and against the people of the tribe of Gad.  He told the people that he wouldn’t be king, but that the Lord would rule over them, but there’s no indication that he ever called the nation to repentance and worship of the one true God.  He started living as if he were a king…and in fact, he named one of his sons, Abimelech, which means “my father is king”.  He was wealthy and seems to have grown a bit lackadaisical.  Abimelech was one of 70 sons born to Gideon, and he wound up murdering his 69 brothers.

At the end of the battle, it appears that all will end well with Gideon, that he’s now a solid man with his head screwed on straight.  But there were landmines in his heart and in the things that surrounded him.  And clearly, judging by the results to his family, the dangers of war linger long after the last battle had taken place.  Heroes in battle are not always heroes in everyday life. 

Presbyterian pastor Andrew Bonar wisely said, “Let us be as watchful after the victory as before the battle.”  We have been given a great victory by the Lord our God – victory over death, over sin, over the old man and even victory over the enemy of our souls.  But, let’s not forget that there are plenty of landmines out there waiting for a wayward step.  We need to be watchful. 

No matter who you are, moral laxness will cause problems.  Just because you have won a single battle with temptation does not mean you will automatically win the next one.  We need to be constantly watchful against temptation.  Sometimes Satan’s strongest attacks come after a victory.

Psalms 60:12 (NIV) With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies.

PRAYER: Lord, we are grateful for what You have done for us and through us.  Thank You for the victories – great and small, that we experience because of You.  Help us to watch our step and be ever alert, for even though the war is won, we don’t want to lose victories along the way.   In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 8/30/17: Cotton Candy & Sin

DayBreaks for 8/30/17: Cotton Candy & Sin

From the DayBreaks archive, 8/2007:

I love cotton candy.  I can’t say that I remember the very first time that I tasted it, but I have loved it ever since I was a tadpole.  Every year in our town, there is a fair.  We’re not the county seat or anything, but there is a fair each February.  (Yes, I know, February is a crazy time to have a fair – it is almost guaranteed to rain every day of the fair, and yet kids are out there riding the rides, getting drenched, etc.)  Do you know what I do?  I will go to the fair and pay the price of admission just in order to get a bag of cotton candy!  I like the pink kind – for some reason, the blue or green stuff just doesn’t seem right.

I have noticed something strange about cotton candy, and it’s a bit distressing, actually.  You get a whole big bunch of the stuff either on a paper handle, or in a plastic bag.  And while it is rather messy the way it attaches itself to your fingers after a few bites, the distressing thing about it is how quickly it disappears, and how little is really there.  I mean, here’s this big old bag full of delicious looking pink stuff, and when you bite into it, well…there’s just not much there.  When you think about it, you are paying mostly for air.  Even if you rip a big chunk of it off and squish it into your mouth, it’s like it immediately disappears into nothingness. 

Lots of show…not much substance.  Isn’t that just like sin?  It looks so good, it promises so much, we think it will quell the rumbling of our desires – but when you actually bite into it, it leaves you dissatisfied…and wanting more, in a strange way.  It never really fulfills you.  Why?  Because it is not true food, it is not the Bread of Life.  It is the bread of death, and how can that be satisfying?  Our very natures rebel against the end-game of death, so why do we consume so much that only contributes to our spiritual death?  Foolish, isn’t it?  It’s rather like paying for air and then wondering why we are still hungry.

John 17:17 – Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

Isaiah 55:2 (NIV) – Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.

PRAYER:  Feed us with your truth, Father.  Let us eat and be satisfied with the food that is everlasting.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 5/17/17 – The Immanent or the Greater

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DayBreaks for 5/17/17: The Immanent or the Greater

Thanks to some writing by Mark Labberton, I’ve been fascinated again with the childhood story of Shadrach, Mescheh and Abednego.  I shared some insights in a DayBreaks before, but here’s one a friend had that I think is worth sharing.

I wrote before about how these young men had to discern the real danger when confronted with the choice of worshipping the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar had built.  They had to decide for themselves if the greatest danger was in bowing down and worshipping the idol or in not worshipping the real and living God. 

As Hebrews, these three had been well versed in the 10 commandments, and I’m sure, could easily recite them by heart.  So, for them to truly be tempted to worship an idol, well, it probably wasn’t really a temptation for them at all.  Saving their lives might have been a temptation, but they certainly knew it was wrong to worship an idol.  But, here’s the thing: they believed that worshipping anything other than Yahweh was a greater risk and danger than worshipping the idol, however sometimes the immediate or immanent danger seems greater than the far off danger.  Even though they knew what was right and wrong, and they knew in their hearts that failure to be true to Yahweh was the greater danger, the heat from the fire was pressing against their skin, making itself felt RIGHT NOW, and the danger from not worshipping Yahweh probably seemed a long way off.

We are often tempted to compromise for a couple of reasons: we want immediate pleasure rather than delayed gratification, or we want to avoid the immediacy of pain and suffering.  The latter is just as dangerous as the first – and both can be deadly.

Is there some immediate suffering that you can foresee in your life that you’ve been wrestling with and trying to avoid by some compromise?  Are you thinking that you can set the record straight with God at some later point?  That’s very dangerous reasoning.  Remember the words of the writer to the Hebrews: (Hebrews 10:31, NLT) It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

PRAYER: In our foolishness, Lord, we often forget that it may be better to suffer now than to fall into Your hands later.  Give us courage and open our eyes to understand that just because one kind of suffering may be more immediate, that it doesn’t mean it is the greatest suffering we could encounter.  Let us have no other gods before You! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

 

DayBreaks for 5/09/17 – The Believer’s Definitive Question

DayBreaks for 5/09/17: The Believer’s Definitive Question

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2007:

So you struggle with being faithful. Join the crowd.  I don’t know a single person who doesn’t struggle with obedience, and even with their faith itself, from time to time.  It’s normal – and I think, at least to a certain extent – it is healthy to at least question faith once in a while to be certain that we don’t grow stale and complacent.  We need not fear the testing of faith.  There is greater danger in an untested faith when the time of trial comes.

There seems to be something about us humans that is a lot like a moth: we like to dance close to the flame.  In our case, it is the flame of temptation.  We seem to be drawn to certain things as individuals, and while it may vary from person to person, even as Christians we seem drawn to the flame.  The flame represents that which is familiar to us, something we’ve grown accustomed to and we find it to be predictable.  But, like the moth, we forget that the flame can burn us and kill us.  It’s a very dangerous place to be.

Still, many people show a tendency to get close to the flame of old temptations once again.  And not only do we have that tendency, we show an eagerness for it when we ask the question (when we clearly know the answer more often than not): “Would it be wrong for me to do this?” 

In his book, Grace Walk, Steve McVey suggests that the definitive question for the believer shouldn’t be whether or not we can do something, but instead, Am I abiding in Christ at this moment?  An unsaved person evaluates behavior on the basis of right and wrong, but the lifestyle of a Christian is to flow from the activity of Christ.  McVey’s point is that we have Christ in us and we are in him – so why would we even want to dance close to the flame?  Somehow, I can’t picture Christ walking around asking “Would it be wrong for me to do this?”, can you?  I think rather, he’d be focused on abiding in the Father’s love and not thinking about doing wrong, but about doing good. 

John 9:4 (NLT) – All of us must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent me, because there is little time left before the night falls and all work comes to an end.

PRAYER: Lord, we know that we are to abide in You, to let you live Your life through us.  It’s hard to give up our own life, even to One as powerful as Your Spirit.  Help us to have the mind of Jesus that is concerned about abiding in Your love and acting out of that love for the world.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.