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.  ><}}}”>

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

Image result for fiery furnace

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.

DayBreaks for 3/24/17 – Once Again, Lord

DayBreaks for 3/24/17: Once Again, Lord

NOTE: Galen is traveling this week. This week’s DayBreaks will be from the May 2007 archives.

How many times in my life have I had a conversation like this with God: “Oh, God.  I’m so sorry.  I’ve done it again.  I’ve failed you.  I’ve let you down.  I’ve sinned again even after I promised you that I wouldn’t.  You must hate me.  I don’t understand why you continue to forgive me instead of striking me dead – which you have every right to do.  I’ve let you down so many, many times.”  If I had a penny (let alone a nickel) for every time I’ve had that conversation, I’d own all of North America by now.

It gets old, wearisome.  I know that God doesn’t want to hear that from me any more – I figure he must be at least as tired of hearing it as I am of saying it.  I am so grateful that He is a merciful and patient God!

Eugene Peterson recently was talking about this line of thinking and he had an interesting perspective on it that helped me.  Apparently, he, too, has had that conversation with God over and over and over.  He found himself saying it again to God not too long ago, when he said that he had an epiphany, and the Spirit set him straight about one thing.  He said it was as if God spoke these words to him: “No, you never let me down.  You never held me up.  I’m the one who holds you up.”

Wow.  Do you see how, even when we are in the midst of our conviction about our dreaded sinfulness and weakness, that we make it all about US in our human pride?  “I (capital, first person singular) let you down, God.”  It isn’t about me.  The story of the glory of salvation isn’t about my stopping letting God down.  That’s not it at all.  The glory of salvation is that He holds us up, covered in the blood of the Lamb, cleansed and forgiven. 

How foolish to think that I can hold God up, and I’d have to hold him up in order to let him down!  No, He is the lifter of my head, he is the lifter of my soul, the restorer of things broken.  May we learn to shift our thinking from what we can and have done, to glory in what God does!

PRAYER: Oh Lord, you are truly great!  We are nothing more than the sheep of your hand, the clay you have formed and fashioned, and that you have redeemed.  Thank you for lifting us up, for holding us up, for your glory!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

 

DayBreaks for 3/15/17 – What We Grab, Grabs Us

DayBreaks for 3/15/17: What We Grab, Grabs Us

There is a story that is told about a mighty eagle that hovered over a lake and suddenly swooped down and caught a two-foot long fish in its talons. Slowly, the bird rose with its ten pound catch, but when it reached about 1,000 feet, it began to descend, until it splashed into the water. Later, both the bird and fish were found dead. Apparently the fish was too heavy for the eagle, but it could not let go, for its talons were embedded in the flesh of the fish.

There is a very real truth illustrated in this story – one that we are loathe to admit when we are in the throes of temptation. The truth is simply this: what we grab, grabs us.

It doesn’t matter what the cause may be, but when we are in a difficult situation, perhaps when we are overly tired, lonely, depressed, frustrated we often reach out for things that the hope will help us cope with the situation or at the very least take some of the pain away for a while. And so, some grab a bottle only to find themselves later on to be alcoholics. Others grab drugs in order to escape, thinking to themselves that “I can handle this”, but of course, they can’t. Any time we start a sentence with “I can…” we are bound to be in trouble because we forget that we can’t do anything good without the power of the Spirit. Still others reach out for companionship, for someone who will listen to their tale of woe and injustice about their spouse and how the spouse isn’t meeting their needs for closeness. They may find themselves in the arms of another person before long only to realize too late that those arms are pulling them down to a broken marriage, family, shame, guilt and a lifetime of pain worse than they could have imagined.

Nearly anyone observing the eagle in the story could have told the eagle that it shouldn’t try to carry such a big fish. But the eagle believed it could handle what it has grabbed. That untruth led to the eagle’s demise.

Sin, no matter the shape or form, no matter the “reason” behind the temptation, takes hold of us after we’ve dabbled in it and if left uncleansed will kill us.

Beware what you grab hold of today. It could kill you tomorrow!

We have a higher purpose, a higher calling as His children: 1 Peter 2:9 (MSG)
But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you…

If we are going to grab on to something, let us grab on to this: 1 Timothy 6:12 (NKJV) – Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

PRAYER: Lord, our grasping is often brought about by a desperate condition in our life and so we grab for those things that we believe may help us stay sane and survive. Give us the wisdom to be careful about what we grab hold of and what we need to run away from. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 10/25/16 – The Problem is on the Inside

DayBreaks for 10/25/16 – The Problem is on the Inside

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2006:

I was downtown at our local newspaper just this past week, dropping off some articles about an upcoming community wide seminar that we’ll be hosting at church in November.  It was just slightly after 2 in the afternoon, and I walked up to the door and found it locked, even though there were people inside.  The owner/editor of the paper saw me and came running to the door and unlocked it.  It seems that they were having problems with their burglar alarm and the repair man was there to work on it.  It reminded me of a story that I read by Max Lucado that I’d like to share with you.  In When God Whispers Your Name, Max Lucado writes:

“I rolled out of bed early—real early. I’d been on vacation for a couple of weeks, and I was rested. My energy level was high, so I dressed to go to the church office. My wife, Denalyn, tried to convince me not to go.

“It’s the middle of the night,” she mumbled. “What if a burglar tries to break in?”

“There had been an attempted break-in at the office a few weeks previously.  Ignoring my wife’s concern, I drove to the church, entered the office complex, disarmed the alarm, and then re-armed it.

“A few seconds later the sirens screamed. Somebody is trying to break in! I raced down the hall, turned off the alarm, ran back to my office, and dialed 911. After I hung up, it occurred to me that the thieves could get in before the police arrived. I dashed back down the hall and re-armed the system.

“They won’t get me,” I mumbled defiantly as I punched in the code.

“As I turned, the sirens blared again. I disarmed the alarm and reset it. I walked to a window to look for the police. The alarm sounded a third time. Once again I disarmed it and reset it.

“Walking back to my office, the alarm sounded again. I disarmed it. Wait a minute; this alarm system must be fouled up. I called the alarm company.

“Our alarm system keeps going off,” I told the fellow who answered. “We’ve either got some determined thieves or a malfunction.”

“There could be one other option,” he said. “Did you know that your building is equipped with a motion detector?”

“Then the police arrived. “I think the problem is on the inside, not the outside,” I told them, embarrassed that I was the culprit setting of the alarm.

“Am I the only one to blame an inside problem on an outside source?

“Alarms sound in your world as well. Heaven knows you don’t silence life’s alarm by pretending they aren’t screaming. But heaven also knows it’s wise to look in the mirror before you peek out the window.”

Let’s face it: there’s lots of temptation all around us, but that’s all it is: temptation.  The sin is inside our imaginations, minds and hearts.  When we sin, it is a problem that comes from inside us, and it will continue to be a problem until we learn not to blame everything and everyone else – and begin to confess our need to the One who can give us new hearts and minds that are hungry to please Him. 

PRAYER:  We confess, Lord Jesus, that there is really nothing good within us as humans.  It is only as Your Spirit lives in us that we can be freed from the power of sin.  Help us to want to do what is right, to bring you glory, to stop hurting you through what we do and think and say.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/14/15 – Avoiding Snakebite

DayBreaks for 7/14/15: Avoiding Snakebite

From the DayBreaks archive, 7/14/2005:

For the record, I don’t like snakes.  I don’t like to touch them.  I don’t like to see them unless they are safely in a cage on the other side of solid glass that’s too strong for them to break through.  Then, and only then, do I enjoy seeing them.  We live in rattlesnake country and so I’m always wary when around brush, rock or wood piles.  I’d just as soon leave the snakes alone.

John Ortberg told a story about a man who worked in a zoo that housed a 13-foot king cobra.  The venom in his venom glands was powerful enough to kill 1000 adult males.  A single bite from such a large cobra has been known to kill a full-grown African elephant.  As it turns out, this particular cobra had a scar by one eye that prevented it from completely shedding its skin when it molted.  That meant that every time the snake shed its skin, the zoo handlers had to grab and hold the angry snake while the vet carefully cut the skin away from the scar.

As I thought about that story, I was certain that I wouldn’t want the job of grabbing the snake.  I wouldn’t have wanted to grab it even if it was a harmless garter snake, let alone a ticked-off 13-foot king cobra.  But the vet, and 4 others, managed to grab hold of the snake and immobilize it long enough for the vet to cut away the dead skin.  But before he finished, the vet cautioned everyone that the most dangerous part was yet to take place: the moment when they had to release the snake, to let it go.  He told them that more people are bitten by snakes when letting go of them than while grabbing them or holding onto them.  I think he should have told them this tidbit of news before they agreed to hold onto the nasty beast to start with.  I would have been very angry at him if he’d not told me that in advance!

Still, it made me think about temptation and sin.  We grab the snake of sin and we’re in trouble.  We don’t know how to let it go without getting hurt.  We find out that the sin was much more powerful and difficult to deal with than we thought it would be when we gave in to it the first time.  But by then, we’re in trouble.  We’ve got a deadly, spitting snake in our hands and it wants to bury its fangs deep into our souls.

Why is it that we don’t just let go and run away?  We’re afraid.  But if we are brutally honest, we don’t really want to let go of the snake of temptation too badly, do we?  We’d rather keep hanging on to it so that we know where it is, and if we decide that we want to indulge our sinful appetites again, we can do so without having to go through the trouble of catching the snake all over again.  We hold it close, afraid of it, but pretending all the while that it is harmless, or at least that it can’t hurt us as long as we hang on to it tightly enough (i.e., “have it under control”).  We’re crazy. 

Are you holding onto a deadly viper of sin in your life?  Let it go…and run!  Run like crazy to the Savior!

Eccl 10:11 – It does no good to charm a snake after it has bitten you.PRAYER: Lord, we delude ourselves thinking we can master our temptations and manage our sinfulness!  Save us from this foolishness! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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