DayBreaks for 2/26/19: Getting Comfortable With the Mystery

Image result for great mystery

DayBreaks for 2/26/2019: Getting Comfortable With the Mystery

From the DayBreaks archive February 2009:

We, my friends, are dwarfed by God.  Not just in terms of power and intellect, but in every way possible.  We are as a mote of dust drifting through an endless universe compared to God.  I don’t understand Him.  I cannot.  Yet He understands me perfectly well.  I cannot put my arms around Him, yet He holds me in the palm of His hand.  I dare not tell Him what to do, yet He has every right to direct my pathway.  I can’t contain Him or put Him in a box, and He has the ability to make me disappear totally, forever. 

Why did God send Jesus?  Why did He create a universe where every self-conscious creature that would ever live would be fallen creatures?  Why did He not choose another way to save the fallen creatures?  Why does it matter so much to Him what creatures as small and insignificant as we are do?  Why did He need to create free will?  Why could God not be content with beings who would obey Him without question and save the universe all this pain?  Why do little children die?  Why do the wicked prosper?  Why does God test our faith when He already knows what we’ll do in every second of our existence?  Why do we have to die instead of just be carried off into the hereafter?  Why is there a Trinity of Three-In-One?  Why couldn’t Jesus, if He was necessary at all, not have just died a righteous and perfectly holy man – in his sleep instead of on a rough cross?  Why is faith so important to God?  Why didn’t God come every 20 years or so and make Himself visible so more would believe?  Ah, the mysteries are great…

The late Dr. Clarence Edward Macartney, while a theological student, visited the home of a skeptic. The skeptic’s argument was as follows: “If a man tells me that he has a horse which can trot a mile in three minutes, I tell him to bring out the horse and prove it. If you tell me that there is a God, I ask you to produce God and prove His existence.” Macartney replied, “No Christian claims to know God, nor would want to know Him in that way. By that kind of searching we cannot know the Almighty to perfection. The Christian believer does not say, ‘I know God,’ or ‘I see God,’ or ‘I think there is a God,’ but ‘I believe in God.'”

We must face the reality that we will not now, not likely ever, solve all the mysteries.  Even the simplest of the mysteries can only be solved by God if He chooses to reveal the answers.  Many people struggle with uncertainty and with the apparent dilemmas of faith.  Is the God of the NT the same as the God of the OT, and if so, why does the God of the NT seem so tame by comparison?

“The great must always be a mystery to the little,” continues Parker. “The arch must always be a mystery to the column; God must always be a mystery to His creatures. If I could understand all, I should be all. Only the whole can comprehend the whole. Only God can understand God.”

Hear G. K. Chesterton on this subject: “Christianity got over the difficulty of combining furious opposites, by keeping them both, and keeping them both furious.”  Phillip Yancey observed, “Most heresies come from espousing one opposite at the extreme of the other.”  God is all in all.  We can’t subdivide Him nor put Him under an electron microscope to dissect Him.  We must accept all that He is, even though we don’t know what all that means.

Prayer: I must confess, Lord, that sometimes mystery makes me uncomfortable and I long for more certainty and clarity.  I don’t know why faith is so important to You, why having creatures trust in You matters so much to You.  I don’t understand Your actions and I often can’t see the benefit of Your ways.  Teach me, though, to trust in what I cannot see or comprehend completely.  Help me to live peacefully with Your great mystery!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

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

 

DayBreaks for 4/24/18 – They’ve Never Been There

Image result for amazon river

 

DayBreaks for 4/24/18: They’ve Never Been There   

The story is told of the explorer who some years ago had just returned to his country from the Amazon. The people at home were eager to learn all about the vast and mighty river and the country surrounding it. How he wondered, could he ever describe it to them – how could he ever put into words the feelings that flooded into his heart when he saw the exotic flowers and heard the night sounds of the jungle. How could he communicate to them the smells the filled the air and the sense of danger and excitement that would come whenever he and his fellows explorers encountered strange animals or paddled through treacherous rapids?

So the explorer did what all good explorers do – he said to the people, “go and find out for yourselves what it is like”, and to help them he drew a map of the river pointing out the various features of its course and describing some of the dangers and some of the routes that could be used to avoid those dangers.

The people took the map and they framed and hung it on the wall of the local science museum so that everyone could look at it. Some made copies of it. After a period of time many of those who made copies for themselves considered themselves experts on the river – and indeed they knew its every turn and bend, they knew how broad it was and how deep, where the rapids where and where the falls. They knew the river and they instructed others in what it was like whenever those people indicated an interest in it.

I think that many people today are in the same situation. We know the scriptures but we do not understand them. And we do not understand them because we have not been there. We must not simply look at the scriptures and their meaning, we must go there. We must experience what it means to repent of our sins and allow God to forgive us. Would you this morning take the map down from the wall and go to the river with me. See what is there. Allow Christ to open your mind, to breathe his Holy Spirit upon you, and make you a disciple from the heart.

PRAYER: Let us drink deeply from the sweet well of your word and Spirit that we may know you from experience and not just from printed page! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/01/17 – Deus Incognita

DayBreaks for 8/01/17: Deus Incognita

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2007:

I must confess, I am deeply troubled by the lack of theological understanding and inquiry among Christians today.  I include myself in that statement.  It causes me to fear for the faith of future generations of the church – and then I’m reminded that it is Jesus’ church, and He has promised that the gates of hell will not prevail against it.  But that doesn’t mean that we can slide willy-nilly into mindless oblivion about our faith.  The enemy’s attacks grow bolder each and every day – partly, I believe, because as Christians, our ability to defend the faith through the Spirit and knowledge of and about the Truth has reached low ebb.  We’re too busy watching television, renting movies, playing with our iPods or Nintendo’s to pull the bible off the shelf and read it for an hour each day (or longer, as our ancestors in the faith did), or even to read the thoughts and lessons learned by the brilliant saints who have lived and died throughout history. 

Do you remember what the Jews call the Shema?  It goes like this: Deut. 6:4-5 – Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.  Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  You know that by heart, probably.  We like to think about that, and my guess is that when we do, more often than not, we focus on the heart and strength aspect of the verse.  That’s not a bad thing – but there’s one other thing that we often overlook.  It’s the bit about loving Him with all our “soul.”  The Greek word is psyche and is also translated “mind”.  We are to love God, not just with our hearts (emotions) and strength, but also with our minds.  

From Mark Buchanan’s Hidden In Plain Sight – the Secret of More: “In old medieval maps, the cartographer typically inscribed uncharted areas with the words, Terra Incognita, “Unknown Earth.”  A convention then developed to add a warning, Hic Sunt Dracones, “Here be dragons.”

Terra Incognita was honest.  It was an admission of ignorance, an invitation to further exploration.  It awakened inquiry.  Hic sunt dracones was mere speculation, laden with superstition.  It was a covering up of ignorance with wild conjecture.  It warned off further expeditions.  It stifled inquiry.  It hid truth beneath a crust of myth making.

“This is easy to trip into, not least of all with our God talk.  When our theology is patchy, it’s best just to say so, and then set out to fill in the missing pieces.  But I find I’m prone to speculate, swap opinions, walk darkly.  I’m tempted to cover my ignorance with a flurry of razzamatazz and boondoggling.  Hic sunt dracones.

It’s a huge challenge, of course: this business of the study of God.  Unlike every other area of study in the universe, this is one course of study that will never be fully grasped, it’s depths will never fully be plumbed.  Physics is finite because it is a part of the finite universe.  Biology is finite, because it is about the study of the life of finite things.  Geology, paleontology, archaeology, astronomy…and any other science you can name, are all about finite things.  But theology is infinite because it is about that which is Infinite – God.  Could there be a more exciting, rewarding or important field of study?

How long have you spent this week in readying the word, or the thinking of those who have wrestled with these Infinite questions?  Maybe a better question would be this: why haven’t you spent time this week doing such things?  If you are a Christian, there is no more important course of study, and certainly no other line of research that will benefit you in eternity.

PRAYER:  Father, forgive us for letting our minds grow feeble and flabby through our laziness.  Help us to hunger and thirst after You and You alone.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/27/16 – Sleeping on the Job

DayBreaks for 9/27/16 – Sleeping on the Job                 

Can I make a confession, hoping that you’ll not judge me for this one? Ready? Here it is: I sometimes have a hard time staying awake when I’m praying. I don’t have that problem often when I’m sitting or standing, but when I’m laying in bed at night before going to sleep, I will sometimes drift off to sleep. And that makes me feel guilty and ashamed! Why in the world can’t I stay awake? And at those moments, I suspect God must be peeved with me.

Then I remind myself of a couple things:

FIRST: I’m in good company. The disciples, in the garden, were supposed to watch and pray. They probably did, but you know the story: they fell asleep not just once that night, but multiple times. So, I am in the same class of folk as Peter, James and John, plus about 8 other ones (I’m assuming Judas came along later with the soldiers.)

SECOND: when I think more about the character of the Father and remember that I’m His little child, I suspect that God isn’t so peeved with me after all. Why? Well, simple really: do you remember what it was like for your little ones to fall asleep when you were carrying them or when you would lay down and talk with them? Were you peeved with them for falling asleep? Did you ever slap them in frustration and yell at them for going to sleep? Of course not! Why? Because you loved them so much and understood their need for sleep and their frailty/weakness. It wasn’t something you got angry about – it was precious. How I loved to carry our little ones at times like that!

I’m convinced that if we, as very flawed humans, find it precious that our little ones fall asleep and if we can be as understanding of it as we are – how much more does God find it precious if we drift off? He knows it isn’t a sign of disrespect. It is a sign of our humanness and how small and weak we are. And He understands that.

From now on, if I fall asleep “on the job” of prayer, I’m not going to feel badly about it. God understands! And He may well turn to one of His angels and just whisper, “Isn’t he precious! Look how tired he is!” – and then He’ll kiss me goodnight.

PRAYER: Thank You for being such a wonderful, loving and understanding Father who knows my weaknesses and understands them! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 12/25/15 – God’s Rosetta Stone

DayBreaks for 12/25/15: God’s Rosetta Stone

For thousands of years people struggled to learn and read the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic writing, but all had failed.  What had perhaps been the greatest ancient civilization ever had been rendered mute by mankind’s failure to decipher her literature.  And then, finally, a dark stone was uncovered in the sands of Egypt that had the same text in Greek, ordinary Egyptian script, and the previously unreadable hieroglyphics.   By comparing the translations side by side (since the ancient Greek was well understood), linguists mastered hieroglyphics and could now begin to read and understand about a world that up until that time was shrouded in fog and secrecy. 

Richard Niebuhr insightfully likened the revealing of God through Christ to the Rosetta stone. The simple truth is that no matter how much God revealed about himself to the ancient prophets, we just couldn’t understand him. Our vision of God was blurred by fog and the great barrier between the spiritual world and the physical world.  Physical eyes simply cannot comprehend spirit very well.  And so we were faced with a great dilemma: we sensed and understood that there was something great to be understood, to be revealed and explored, but we were helpless to tear down the veil. 

And then, God in wisdom we can’t begin to fathom, took on a form that physical eyes could see and comprehend.  And for the first time, it was possible to see and understand that which had been hidden since time began.  And then the words were spoken that made it all clear: “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father.” 

Niebuhr goes on to say that in Jesus, we are allowed to reconstruct our faith.  If we can trust Jesus, we can trust God.  If we can love Jesus, we can love God.  If we can question Jesus, we can question God.  If we can believe in Jesus, we can believe in God.  And, if we doubt God, or find him incomprehensible, unknowable or invisible – the very best cure for us is to gaze steadily at Jesus, who not only is the Son of God, but who is the Rosetta stone of faith – making the incomprehensible understandable to mere humans.

Merry CHRISTmas, everyone!   

TODAY’S PRAYER: Father, at Christmas may we clearly see not only Your love for us by Your Gift to us, but help us to see You in the baby in the manger, to understand that Your will and His will, Your love and His love, are one and the same.  And may we welcome You as we welcome the Christ child.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

DayBreaks for 09/06/13 – Are We Lying to Jesus?

DayBreaks for 09/06/13 – Are We Lying to Jesus?

1 Corinthians 14:15 (NLT)  Well then, what shall I do? I will pray in the spirit, and I will also pray in words I understand. I will sing in the spirit, and I will also sing in words I understand.

I’m troubled.  On the day I write this, I spent about an hour with a group of pastors and believers in prayer.  It was great – that wasn’t the problem.  What troubled me is a thought that occurred to me during the meeting.  At one point, someone started leading a song and the words of the song struck me…hard.  And that set me to thinking….

We sing lots of sweet, wonderful-sounding songs that have words which I doubt that we really mean.  For example: “All to Jesus I surrender, all to him I freely give.  I will ever love and trust him, in his presence daily live.  I surrender all, I surrender all…” 

Now how true is it when we say, “All to Jesus I surrender”?  Note that we’re not saying we want to surrender all to him…we’re saying we have surrendered all to him.  I doubt that’s a statement that any of us can make, and if we do, we need to repent and ask forgiveness for lying or pride, one or the other.  Even as we sing it, if you think about it, have you surrendered that most secret, dark sin that you seem to fall for every time, that part of your heart where you keep it hidden?  You may want to, but have you?  Have I?

I’m sure you can think of the words to many other songs where we make outrageous statements – but I wonder if they’re real: 

“In Christ alone my hope is found…”  Really?  Or do we still hope in our bank account, our government, our looks or intelligence to figure a way out of a dilemma? 

What of singing about how we hope to join in his sufferings and become like him “in your death, my Lord”?  Really? 

Does Jesus care about our words?  Oh, yeah, he does!!!!

I know this is sort of a rant, but I believe based on the passage above that we need to be careful not only in what we say, but what we sing.  Perhaps we’d be better off at times to keep our mouth shut than sing out lies.  Or, alter the words to fit the truth of your life and reality…and in so doing we may find he gives us strength to become what the words of the song describe – a person totally sold out to him.  Until we realize (and admit) that we’re not totally given over to him, we won’t make much progress because we won’t see the need for change.

PRAYER: Father, I fear that I’ve often sung words to you claiming to be things that I am not, claiming to think things that I don’t.  I admit that there is a part of me that’s still all too human that doesn’t want to pay the price to surrender all to you.  Forgive me.  Help me want what you want for me!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2013 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

To subscribe to DayBreaks, use this link: https://daybreaksdevotions.wordpress.com and click on the Subscribe button at the right of the page.  If you wish to unsubscribe, at the bottom of each email you receive about DayBreaks, you should find an “Unsubscribe” ink at the bottom of the email.

NOTE: Galen is a missionary with Medical Ambassadors International (MAI) and raises his own support.  DayBreaks is free – and will remain so – but if you wish to help support Galen in his ministry work with MAI, you can make a donation on his behalf.  One-time donations may be made by going to this link: http://www.medicalambassadors.org/donate.html.  Look down the left side of the page until you find the SUPPORT MISSIONARIES section then click on “Galen Dalrymple” and you’ll be taken to PayPal where you can donate to his support.  If you wish to make a recurring donation, contact suzette@med-amb.org or call her at 209-543-7500 ext. 219.  You can also write a check to Medical Ambassadors International. Mail the check to Medical Ambassadors International, P.O. Box 1302, Salida, CA 95368.  All donations are tax deductible as MAI is a 501.c.3 organization certified with the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.

Thank you!

DayBreaks for 08/28/13 – The Invisible Man

DayBreaks for 08/28/13 – The Invisible Man

Isaiah 48:8 (NIV) – You have neither heard nor understood; from of old your ear has not been open. Well do I know how treacherous you are; you were called a rebel from birth.

The Pharisees and other leaders intently watched Jesus and heard his words but they could not see his meaning. They could not see the issues as Jesus saw them, so they set themselves against him rather than making an alliance with him. They were so hung up on rules, laws and ceremonies, that they missed the heart of faith: God’s forgiving love that frees one to live as son or daughter of God.

It’s similar to the musical genius of Johann Sebastian Bach. We know Bach as one of the genius musical masters of all time. But it was not so for his contemporaries. The parishioners at St. Thomas Church where he worshipped and composed often complained about the strange and innovative music that Bach wrote for the choir and organ each Sunday. They didn’t know what a gifted musician was in their midst. After his death, the music of Bach was seldom performed until Felix Mendelssohn began a revival of appreciation that has lasted into our own time. So the people of Bach’s time watched him, but they didn’t see him. 

Wallace Kirby suggests this: “I would insist that we have a good understanding of Jesus and what he was about but I don’t think we have great insight. Christians today must be careful in their confidence. We can know that we are saved but we never know if our behavior is completely acceptable. We watch Jesus, but we do not see him. We are acquainted with him, but his rich meaning is not yet part of our lives. Occasionally we confess this when we sing in worship: 

Open the eyes of my heart, Lord; open the eyes of my heart.  I want to see You, I want to see You.”

Our overarching confidence can be a symptom of deep pride.  We may choose not to see Jesus as He is because it would require changes within us.  We may not see him because we are just too busy to take the time.  I think we can only see so much of him because it is like saying, “I saw Mt. Everest” when you only have seen it from one side, and in fact can only see it from one side at a time.  There is too much of Jesus to take in with our earthly vision, but we should try to humbly see, hear and understand him for all he’s worth!

PRAYER: We do ask You to open our eyes so we can see more of your truth and beauty each day, Lord!  In Your name, Amen.

Copyright 2013 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

To subscribe to DayBreaks, use this link: https://daybreaksdevotions.wordpress.com and click on the Subscribe button at the right of the page.  If you wish to unsubscribe, at the bottom of each email you receive about DayBreaks, you should find an “Unsubscribe” ink at the bottom of the email.

NOTE: Galen is a missionary with Medical Ambassadors International (MAI) and raises his own support.  DayBreaks is free – and will remain so – but if you wish to help support Galen in his ministry work with MAI, you can make a donation on his behalf.  One-time donations may be made by going to this link: http://www.medicalambassadors.org/donate.html.  Look down the left side of the page until you find the SUPPORT MISSIONARIES section then click on “Galen Dalrymple” and you’ll be taken to PayPal where you can donate to his support.  If you wish to make a recurring donation, contact suzette@med-amb.org or call her at 209-543-7500 ext. 219.  You can also write a check to Medical Ambassadors International. Mail the check to Medical Ambassadors International, P.O. Box 1302, Salida, CA 95368.  All donations are tax deductible as MAI is a 501.c.3 organization certified with the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.

Thank you!