DayBreaks for 9/03/19 – Getting to the Root of the Problem

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DayBreaks for 9/03/19: Getting to the Root of the Problem

NOTE: Galen is on vacation for the next couple weeks and may not respond to any comments until he returns on 9/9/19.

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2009:

I am privileged, by the nature of what I do, to be able to be around and with people who are struggling with life and faith issues.  It is very intimidating, exhilarating and challenging at the same time.  There are many times that I don’t have a clue about what to say or what to do – so I just always try to do what I think Jesus would do or say at that time.  I’m sure that there are plenty of times when I get that wrong, too, but I try, as I’m sure you do, too.

I try to deal with my sin.  Sometimes, I’m successful.  Often, I’m not.  And even when “I’m” successful, it isn’t me, but the Spirit that wins the struggle.  I don’t let the Spirit do enough and I’m sure that’s the problem.  I wrestle with sin in my own strength rather than turning the temptation over to the Spirit to squash.  For some foolish reason, I think I can do a better job of wrestling with the sin than the Spirit can, right?  But is that really true that I think that way, or is it merely that I want to not expose the Spirit to the sin because I want to nuzzle up next to the sin and indulge it yet again?  Is that not the nature of our temptation?  Keep God away from it so I can stay close to it.  A recipe for disaster if there ever was one.

I recently was watching a video with Chuck Colson and Rick Warren and they were talking about the practical living out of Christianity and the struggle with sin.  At one point in the video, one of them (I think it was Rick), made the comment that we need to deal with the root problem when it comes to sin.  Far too often, what we do is more like mowing the grass or pulling off the top of the weed of sin – and expecting the plant to die.  Anyone who has tried that in their yard will be quick to tell you that unless you pull/kill the roots, the weeds will be back again in a furious hurry. 

I fear that all too often our attempts at repentance are rather weak.  I fear that all too often all we are doing with the sin in our lives is “mowing the grass” instead of pulling out the sin by the roots.  There’s this insidious thing inside of us, the struggle perhaps that Paul alludes to in Romans, where a part of us really wants the sin to die and be gone because we get sick and tired of it at times, but there’s also the part of us that revels in the sin and wants to taste the forbidden fruit one more time…and another…and another.  

Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation–but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. – Romans 8:12-14 (NIV)  This passage makes it pretty clear: the misdeeds of the body must not be trimmed back, but put to death.  And we must join with the Spirit in this endeavor: “If by the Spirit If by the Spirit YOU put to death the misdeeds…”  It isn’t just the Spirit – I must join in the killing.  But I certainly cannot kill the weed of sin without the Spirit, either. 

Isn’t it about time we started pulling our sin out by the roots?

PRAYER: We struggle to even want to do what is right, Lord, and when it comes to putting to death the misdeeds of the body, we confess that we cannot possibly do it without Your Spirit!  Incline our hearts to instinctively turn first to You in times of temptation that we may receive the leading of Your Spirit in the struggle against sin.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

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DayBreaks for 6/19/19 – A Lesson from Screwtape

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DayBreaks for 06/19/09: A Lesson from Screwtape

From the DayBreaks archives, June 2009:

One of the most intriguing and insightful characters in Christian literature must be Wormwood.  Wormwood is a junior devil in C. S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters.  The book consists of an exchange of letters from Screwtape (a senior devil) and Wormwood (Screwtape’s nephew and a junior devil) who is learning how to tempt humans. The subject of getting humans to fall and disobey gets a great deal of press. 

At one point, Screwtape has this to say to his nephew, Wormwood: “It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: in reality, our best work is done by keeping things out.” 

I don’t know about you, but I’ve often thought of the devil as putting tempting thoughts and images into my mind.  I don’t know how accurate Screwtape’s words are, but the point is well made.  Scripture would tend to back it up, methinks:

But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. – James 1:14 (KJV)  It is our “own lust” that draws us away.  I don’t know about you, but whatever it is I might be lusting for (members of the opposite sex, chocolate, money, glory, etc.) comes from within me – not from outside me – which says something profound about us as humans and what lurks in our hearts.

Is there some kind of antidote for the poison that dwells with us?  If Screwtape was right, it seems to me that the answer is not in trying to keep things out of my mind, but to keep the right things in my mind: Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8 (KJV)

May your mind be filled with these good things so there is no emptiness waiting to be filled by the sinful imaginings of our own hearts.

Prayer: Lord, help us to WANT to think on good things and to learn to abhor the evil we are so prone to contemplate.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 4/10/19 – Loaded with Toxic Assets

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DayBreaks for 4/10/19: Loaded with Toxic Assets

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2009:

I am not an economist – nor do I want to be.  Frankly, studying money and economies has always seemed like a huge waste of time given the fact that it’s all going to be burned up in the end and no one can take any worldly assets to the next world. 

Still, economic crises bring new economic terms and phrases into the headlines and our awareness, not the least of which is this one: toxic assets. While I don’t really understand it all too well, my take is that toxic assets are largely responsible for the trouble that banks are facing right now.  These toxic assets are loans, and it works like this: People owe the banks money.  Normally, banks like this.  Theywant people to owe them money and pay them interest because that’s how banks make a profit. But with the economy in its present condition, especially with the mortgage foreclosure crisis, many of the loans which should have been “assets” to the bank have actually become liabilities because the houses that secured the loans are now worth less than the amount of the loan itself.  So, a home that was purchased for $250,000 may now only be worth $150,000 – meaning that the bank has essentially lost $100,000 on the deal (not counting the interest they’d have made if the economy had held strong.)  So, instead of having several hundred thousands of dollars out of the loan in interest, the bank takes back the property after they’ve loaned out $250,000 – but the property is only worth $150,000 if they were to sell it!  This is a toxic asset, as I understand it.

And I know this much about accounting: when an asset hurts the bottom line of the financial statement, it is no longer an asset, but a liability – a loss or debt. And loss and debt are toxic to business.

I think we can make a spiritual application here: assets are not just a banking phenomenon.  There can be toxic spiritual assets, too. Anything we think is helpful to us in a spiritual way as individuals, but that actually is hurting us spiritually is a toxic asset.

The New Testament writers gave us lists of sins of the flesh.  We may think we aren’t doing the things listed, but in our modern world new and easier ways to sin have become very common.  The advent of computers and the Internet made lust much more easy (and seemingly more “innocent”), illegal drugs are everywhere, obesity is epidemic – these are all toxic assets.  People engage in these and other pleasures because they think that somehow, they will benefit us, not hurt us.  But the opposite is true.

Nearly anything can be a toxic asset, including homes, cars, IRA’s, 401K’s, boats, partying, etc., when they take over your life and push God into the shadows. Even something as seemingly innocent as a job can be a toxic asset. Money, education, family and friends, physical beauty – all these things can be great assets up unto the point where one allows them to take God’s place in their life, and start to live for them or trust in them.  Then, they have become toxic assets. 

Does this sound a lot like idolatry?  It is.  But most of us think we aren’t idolaters.  We have an image in our mind of a statue of some kind when we speak of idols.  That’s just what Satan wants us to think about when we think of idolatry.  He knows most of us aren’t going to fall for that one.  But an idol is nothing more or less than a toxic asset, and toxic assets are spiritual things that we think will help us but which are really just idols.

Banks are trying desperately to shed their financial toxic assets.  We would do well to work even harder at getting the toxic assets out of our own lives.

Prayer: Jesus, help us learn that not all that appears to be beneficial or which promises us pleasure or escape is good.  Give us new hearts and minds to understand how toxic our sin and dalliances are to our spirits.  Renew a clean heart within us, free from toxic things, a heart that longs for that which is pure and holy.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 10/03/18 – No He Didn’t!

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DayBreaks for 10/03/08: No He Didn’t!

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2008:

“The devil made me do it.”  Those words were a common phrase in comedy skits by Flip Wilson a good number of years ago.  Invariably, just after doing something that was bad, he’d utter those words in a meek way and the audience would break into laughter.  I remember laughing at it, too, at least until it got too familiar and lost its novelty.

There is even a biblical basis for the saying – sort of.  In Genesis 3:13, after Adam and Eve had sinned, Adam says (paraphrasing), “Eve made me do it.”  Eve (being a quick study and noticing that God didn’t strike Adam dead) noticed that God had turned his attention onto her, and said, “The serpent tricked me, that’s why I ate it.”  (NLT)

Nice try, Eve.  But there’s a subtle difference between what Eve and Flip Wilson had to say.  Eve said she was “tricked.”  Flip said, “The devil MADE me do it.”  In reality, Satan is a deceiver, and Eve had it right.  Yet, ever since the fall, we’ve been blaming our sinfulness on the devil making “me do it.”  Biblically speaking, if you are a Christian, Satan has no power over you.  Get this (and listen closely and pay attention): Satan cannot make you do anything.  He can’t make you lie, cheat, steal, get drunk, lust, envy or kill.  He can’t make you do one single sinful thing!  We simply can’t say, “The devil made me do it.”

So, where does the blame lie?  Square on our shoulders.  James 1:14 nails it: Temptation comes from the lure of our own evil desires.  These evil desires lead to evil actions, and evil actions lead to death.  So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. (NLT)

We make excuses to “excuse” our bad behavior – a behavior that springs from within us.  No more “The devil made me do it.”  God’s never bought that line, and He isn’t about to start buying it now.

Hebrews 2:14-15 (NIV) – Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death–that is, the devil– and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.

PRAYER: We’ve tried so many things to avoid having to admit that we are responsible for our own sin, Lord.  Help us to stop making excuses and admit that we are sinners desperately in need of Your grace!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 9/12/18 – The Fallacy of Powdered Christians

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DayBreaks for 9/12/18: The Fallacy of Powdered Christians

You might remember comedian Yakov Smirnoff. When he first came to the United States from Russia he was not prepared for the incredible variety of instant products available in American grocery stores. He says, “On my first shopping trip, I saw powdered milk–you just add water, and you get milk. Then I saw powdered orange juice–you just add water, and you get orange juice. And then I saw baby powder, and I thought to myself, “What a country!”

Smirnoff is joking but we make these assumptions about Christian Transformation-that people change instantly at salvation. Some traditions call it repentance and renewal. Some call it Sanctification of the believer. Whatever you call it most traditions expect some quick fix to sin. According to this belief, when someone gives his or her life to Christ, there is an immediate, substantive, in-depth, miraculous change in habits, attitudes, and character. We go to church as if we are going to the grocery store: Powdered Christian. Just add water and disciples are born not made.

Unfortunately, there is no such powder and disciples of Jesus Christ are not instantly born. They are slowly raised through many trials, suffering, and temptations. One might wonder if it is worth the struggle, but that won’t be a question we even contemplate once we step out of this world into the next.

PRAYER: Jesus, let us be patient with you and with ourselves in the transformation. Keep us from despair and discouragement on the journey home! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/20/18 – The Entrance of Evil

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DayBreaks for 7/20/18: The Entrance of Evil

From the DayBreaks archive, July 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.”

Galen’s Thoughts: I have recently been utilizing John Eldredge’s Epic video series as part of the Sunday morning messages.  On this past Sunday, we were covering Act Two: The Entrance of Evil.  As an illustration slide, I showed an image of a fearsome looking creature – red-faced, possessed by rage, vicious teeth bared in a terrifying grimace.  It was, of course, representative of Satan. 

One of the members of the congregation came up to me after seeing the picture and made an excellent point: if that is how Satan really appeared to us, would any of us really fall for his deceptions?  She noted that Scripture speaks of Satan as able to appear as an angel of light. (2 Cor. 11:14) 

Here’s the point: Satan is pictured in Scripture as a roaring lion, and as if he were an angel of light.  Like the dog, Buddy, if we look into Satan’s eyes, he doesn’t look frightening and scary.  He looks like something that you cannot resist – or which you find no reason to avoid.  And therein is where he gets his great power – he appears so innocent.

Evil doesn’t usually come into our lives looking like evil.  Instead, it looks like fun, or it looks safe, or tame, or innocuous.  It doesn’t look like evil – it looks like anything but.  And that’s where we can’t let ourselves be deceived by the one who came to deceive, kill and destroy.  Don’t let him fool you.  Don’t look into his eyes and think he’s harmless.  He most definitely is not!

PRAYER:  Lord, I confess that I often don’t work hard enough to discern the lies and deceptions that Satan throws my way!  I pray that you will give us the wisdom to not be fooled by Satan’s “big brown eyes” into thinking he’s harmless.  Awaken us to the power and strength and true intent of our enemy!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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.