DayBreaks for 1/12/18 – The Reaper’s Approach

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DayBreaks for 1/12/18: The Reaper’s Approach

From the DayBreaks archives, January 2008:

From Bizarre News, 1/3/08:

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Doctors at a Providence, R.I., nursing home say a cat that keeps the patients company seems to be able to predict their deaths.  Staff at the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center said the 2-year-old feline, named Oscar, will go into the room of a patient whose end is near, curl up next to them and purr, WebMD reported Thursday.  David Dosa, who submitted an essay on the cat to The New England Journal of Medicine — which published the paper Thursday — said the vigilant cat has been present for the deaths of more than 25 residents and often serves as a fill-in for family members who cannot be present at their loved one’s bedside. 

“As people would pass, the question (among staff) was always, ‘Was Oscar at the bedside?'” Dosa said.  “And the answer was invariably ‘yes.’  This is an end-stage dementia unit.  Deaths are common.” 

As for how the cat knows when a patient is near death, experts say there are a number of possibilities ranging from sense of smell to mimicking the behavior of  

humans who care for the dying patients. 

Isn’t it interesting how animals have such perceptive abilities?  Animals have been known to recognize an impending earthquake before they happen.  During the massive tsunami a few years ago that took so many lives in the Indian Ocean area, animals took off for higher ground in advance of any waves appearing.  Dogs (at least some of them) have the ability to sense an epileptic seizure before it strikes, and have even been trained to alert their masters before it happens. Others have been known to be able to smell cancers in humans and have been used as a diagnostic aid.  

But what struck me about this story was that the cat could sense approaching death.  Death is pictured in art as a tattered, black robed man with a scythe (the “grim reaper”) who approaches his victims.  We will probably never know how Oscar the cat could sense the approach of death, but it appears that this cat at least has the ability to detect its approach.

Without being morbid, I was led to wonder what we would do if we could sense the approaching death of others?  Would we, like Oscar the cat, draw near to them, or would we tend to shy away from them, not knowing how to act or what to say – as is sadly the tendency of many people when someone is clearly terminally ill?  What would we say to them?  If they were unbelievers, would we speak of the love of Jesus?  And if we’d do it then, why would we not do it while they’re still healthy and well and can have the blessed privilege of living for Christ in the here and now? 

I also wonder what we’d do if we could sense our own imminent death?  Is there anyone who wouldn’t want to know that death was drawing closer so that they could mend fences, speak those words of love and affection once again to a spouse, children and grandchildren?  Here’s the kicker: intellectually we know that death is approaching with every tick of the clock.  As Francis Schaeffer so aptly put it: “How then shall we live?”

Job 12:10 (NIV) –In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.

PRAYER: Lord, give us compassion for the sick and the dying, and help us to never lose sight of our own mortality.  Our hope rests in You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

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DayBreaks for 1/10/18 – God Help the Fish

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Image courtesy from iStock photo.

DayBreaks for 1/10/18: God Help the Fish

When you think of it, we all like fairy tale stories in one form or another. We like stories of frogs becoming princes, of ugly ducklings that become beautiful swans and the down-and-out who rise above adversity yet remain kind, compassionate and humble.

Sam Houston was the first president of the Republic of Texas. It’s said he was a rather nasty fellow with a checkered past.  Later in life Houston made a commitment to Christ and was baptized in a river. The preacher said to him, “Sam, your sins are washed away.”  Houston replied, “God help the fish.”

We see similar stories throughout the Bible as ordinary people, often very poor and outcast, who come to a special relationship with God or Jesus. The woman at the well, the woman taken in adultery, Saul of Tarsus, Zacchaeus and others are all examples. We are uplifted by their stories.

Yet, each and every believer in Jesus is like the pauper who becomes a prince or princess. We have to go through a process much like Sam Houston did – of being convicted of our estate (it must become clear to see!) – before God dresses us in the finest of robes, puts shoes on us, gives us his ring and reinstates us to a place in His own house.

How do you see yourself? You may not feel like the prince or princess just yet, but once your sins have been washed away, you are no longer what you previously were. You are a child of the King and you are growing to look more and more like him with each passing day, week, month and year. The day will come when you will stand beside him in glory, look in the mirror and see both his and your reflection, and will be amazed at how alike you are!

Hang tough! Persevere! Trust Him! He will finish the work he has started!

PRAYER: God, I know my own sin is enough to kill all the fish in the sea, yet you promise me you have washed me clean and that I am your child. Help us all to being to grasp that simple, yet profound, truth. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 1/09/18 – In a Different Light Entirely

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DayBreaks for 1/09/18: In a Different Light Entirely

Hardly a day goes by without me comparing myself to someone else in one way or another. It might be as simple as comparing how tall (or in my case, short) I am to someone else (I’m delighted when I find people who are more vertically challenged than I!) or thinner. It might be looks (but I usually wind up on the short end of that stick, too). Sometimes, though, it takes a more serious and harmful bent. I can start comparing my faith to that of others, or my practice of daily spiritual disciplines or my integrity to others. And when I read all the stuff that shows up on the internet each day, or hear about the horrible actions of someone on the news, I can get rather puffed up about myself. That’s why it is so serious and harmful – because I have no room to get all puffy about myself.

The problem, you see, is that when we compare ourselves to others, we quickly go right past comparison into judgements. And judging others is a very, very serious and deadly business. It’s not only serious because we’re admonished “Judge not” and that we’ll be judged in the same way we judge others, but it’s deadly when we start to think that I’m okay as I am because after all, look how much better I am than Tom or Sally, George or Jane. And the result of that is that I start to think that I don’t need Jesus very much.

Here’s what Fred Craddock, a great Christian preacher, said: “What’s frightening about listening to John (the Baptist) preach is that he puts you in the presence of God. And that’s what everybody wants, and that’s what everybody doesn’t want. Because the light at the altar is different from every other light in the world. In the dim lamps of this world, we can compare ourselves with each other, and all of us come off looking good. We convince ourselves that God grades on the curve, and what’s the difference? We’re all okay. And then you come in the presence of God, and you’re at the altar, and it’s all different. For if our hearts condemn us, think of this – – God is greater than our hearts and knows everything. There’s no way to modulate the human voice to make a whine acceptable. The whining is over. The excusing is over. It’s the school, it’s the church, it’s the board, it’s the government. It isn’t! All that’s over. It just stops. Like waking from a dream of palaces and patios to find the roof leaks and the rent’s due. Like shutting off the stereo, and you hear the rat gnawing in the wall. That’s just the fact of it. In my mind, I serve God. But there’s another force in my life, and I say, `I’m going to do that.’ I don’t do it. I say, `I’ll never do that.’ I do it. Crucified between the sky of what I intend and the earth of what I perform. That’s the truth.”

Ouch. As they say, truth hurts.

Any human comparisons we make are vain, pointless and dangerous. There’s only one Light that shows reality: the Light that is bright enough to get past every one of our defenses and shows us for what we are so we will realize how desperately we need Him!

PRAYER: Spirit, we invite you to shine Your light into our lives and reveal our guilt in comparing ourselves to others and taking solace in what we see in that very dim light. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 1/05/18 – What We Put In Affects the Future

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DayBreaks for 1/05/18: What We Put in Affects the Future

From the DayBreaks archive, 2008:

A psychiatrist in England made an interesting revelation at a conference in Wales.  Dr. Nick Warner revealed that a hymn penned in the mid-1800’s is the most common theme heard in what he termed “musical hallucinations.”  We all have a tune that gets stuck in our heads (also called an “ear worm”) but in a musical hallucination, the song is heard as if it were really being played.  About one in 10,000 people over 65 years of age report musical hallucinations.  They are most common in people suffering from hearing problems.

Dr. Warner and a colleague studied 30 elderly people who experienced musical hallucinations.  The tunes they heard ranged from “Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina,” to “Yes, We Have No Bananas.”  Over half of the people heard some sort of religious music, either hymns or Christmas carols.  Six of the thirty heard the same song, “Abide With Me.”  That is a statistically significant number considering the people did not have the opportunity to speak to one another about what they heard.

Dr. Warner believes the reason many people hear this song is that it brings sense of comfort and hope.  He said, “The words of ‘Abide With Me’ are tremendously uplifting, hopeful words about heaven and God not abandoning us when we are dying.”  Warner says, since we are becoming increasing secular, as the population ages, more people may start hearing the Beatles, or the Rolling Stones, because musical hallucinations tend to be songs people have heard many times. – —Reuters, ‘Abide With Me’ is Top Musical Hallucination, March 8, 2004

I’m sure that you’ve had songs that get “stuck” in your head that keep on playing over and over until you’re about to go nuts.  And if you’ve not experienced that, maybe I’ve had your share of music playing in my head. 

The human mind, created in all its wonder by God Almighty, is an amazing thing.  It can perform more complex calculations in a fraction of a second than any computer ever built – and by a large margin.  It constantly monitors our body’s chemistry and adjusts our blood pressure, heart beat, breathing, fluid balances, hormones and it does all those things without you ever giving it a thought.  The mind of man is truly a wonder. 

What we put into our mind is important.  We need to be careful what we put into our minds today, because it may return in unexpected ways tomorrow or 10 years or 30 years in the future.  It makes Paul’s passage from Philippians 4:8-9 (NIV) come to life: Finally, brothers whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praise worthy —think about such things. Whatever you have received or learned from me, or seen in me— put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

PRAYER:  Help us to fill our hearts and minds with thoughts of your goodness and songs of praise, so that in times of need, it is You that comes to mind and nothing else.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 1/04/18 – Spiders, Flies and the Crowd

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DayBreaks for 1/04/18: Spiders, Flies and the Crowd

From the DayBreaks archive, 2008:

Ephesians 5:5-6 (NIV) For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person–such a man is an idolater–has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.

Job 15:31 (NIV) – Let him not deceive himself by trusting what is worthless, for he will get nothing in return.

We are easily deceived.  There are probably many reasons for it, but I think the main reason we are deceived is because we want to believe something strongly enough that we allow ourselves to be convinced it is true.  And as Job points out, we don’t necessarily have to be deceived by others – we’re plenty good at deceiving ourselves.  We deceive ourselves into thinking that we’re better than we really are, that we are smarter, more holy, more righteous than someone else and therefore God must like us better.  We deceive ourselves into thinking that we’ve accomplished whatever we’ve managed to accomplish by our own wisdom, smarts and talent – forgetting the Source of the talent.

But what really bothers me these days is how easily the people of God get deceived by the world and the smooth-talking salesmen of perversity.  Evil is made to sound good, and good to sound evil and even hateful.  The world has gotten very good at telling its story – I fear it is much more skilled at telling its story than we are at telling the story of what God has done. 

Once a spider built a beautiful web in an old house.  He kept it clean and shiny so that flies would patronize it.  The minute he got a “customer” he could clean up on it so the other flies would not get suspicious.  Then one day this fairly intelligent fly came buzzing by the clean spider web.  Old man spider called out, “Come in and sit.”  But the fairly intelligent fly said, “No, sir.  I don’t see other flies in your house, and I am not going in alone!”  But presently he saw on the floor below a large crowd of flies dancing around on a piece of brown paper.  He was delighted!  He was not afraid if lots of flies were doing it.  So he came in for a landing.  Just before he landed, a bee zoomed by, saying, “Don’t land there, stupid!  That’s flypaper!”  But the fairly intelligent fly shouted back, “Don’t’ be silly.  Those flies are dancing.  There’s a big crowd there.  Everybody’s doing it.  That many flies can’t be wrong!”

Well, you know what happened.  He died on the spot.  Some of us want to be with the crowd so badly that we end up in a mess.  What does it profit a fly (or a person) if he escapes the web only to end up in the glue?

May you be wise to the ways of the world because you are wiser to the ways of God!

 

PRAYER:  Give us discerning hearts and minds, O Lord, so that we are not led astray by the voice of the masses or by false appearances.  May we heed the warnings that You have given us in Your Word and through Your Spirit.  Preserve and protect us, we pray!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 12/20/17: Christmas Surprises

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DayBreaks for 12/20/17: Christmas Surprises

Who doesn’t enjoy opening presents on Christmas day? Let’s be honest: we all love it, don’t we? We wonder what’s inside that package, box or envelope. We love surprises!

Under a cultural-exchange program, rabbi Alan Abramsky and his family in Roanoke, Texas, were hosts to a rabbi from Russia at Christmas time. They decided to introduce him to a culinary treat that was probably not available in his country: they took him to their favorite Chinese restaurant.

Throughout the meal, the rabbi spoke excitedly about the wonders of North America in comparison to the bleak conditions in his homeland. When they had finished eating, the waiter brought the check and presented each of them with a small brass Christmas-tree ornament as a seasonal gift.

They all laughed when Abramsky’s father pointed out that the ornaments were stamped “Made in India.” But the laughter subsided when they saw that the rabbi was quietly crying. Concerned, Abramsky’s father asked the rabbi if he was offended because he’d been given a gift for a Christian holiday.

He smiled, shook his head and said, “Nyet. I was shedding tears of joy to be in a wonderful country in which a Buddhist gives a Jew a Christmas gift made by a Hindu!” A time of miracles. A time for stories.

From time to time we hear someone say, “Wouldn’t it be great if it could be Christmas all year long.” Surprise! That was God’s intent. That is why God invaded our planet and gave us the gift of God’s Son. There is only one thing that stands in the way of celebrating Christmas all year long: you and I. Let’s agree to not stand in the way of anyone celebrating Christmas all year long!

PRAYER:  Jesus, we don’t want to cause people not to celebrate Immanuel all year long, year after year, decade after decade. Let us never lost the sense of the miraculous that is so present in this season. Let us overflow each and every day out of lives that are filled with wonder. In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 12/15/17 – Getting the Question Right

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DayBreaks for 12/15/17: Getting the Question Right

From the DayBreaks archive, December 2007:

Do you know people who want to ask you a question, but they dance around the real issue?  They never just come right out and ask what they want to know!  And what is even more frustrating to me is when I ask a question and get an answer to a question I didn’t even ask!  Perhaps that’s why politics revolts me so.  It seems that you can’t get a straight answer out of nearly any politician these days.  Everything is carefully crafted to try to appease as many special interests as possible in the hopes of raising money and getting elected, and even worse, to mislead the public about the real effects of proposed legislation.  Rare is the politician who will answer a question straight-forwardly about their personal convictions about topics.  Instead, they’ll pontificate in politically correct ways until the questioner forgets what question they even asked!

Asking the right question is an art.  No one, of course, does it as well as God.  In his book, Hearing God, Dallas Willard reflects on the scene in the garden after Adam had sinned.  “When God came to Adam after he had sinned, he did not ask, ‘Adam, where is God?’, but ‘Adam, where are you?’  We must purposefully, humbly and intelligently cultivate the ability to listen and see what is happening in our own souls and to recognize therein the movements of God.”  (Hearing God, pg. 214)

God didn’t come to the garden to lay a guilt trip on Adam.  He came to begin the process of restoration.  The first step in that process is always an honest questioning of ourselves to ascertain where we are.  Adam may have been tempted to think that because of his sin that God would not return again to the garden, or if He did, Adam didn’t want to be found.  It’s understandable – I’ve felt those things myself many times.  But the question God asks is intended to get Adam into the soul-searching mode.  It also revealed to Adam that God had not left in disgust or rage.  God came back to the garden and was concerned about Adam and where he was.  It wasn’t a question about Adam’s physical location, but of his heart.

When you’re thinking that God isn’t around these days because of what you’ve done, go back and let God ask you the same question He asked Adam, “Where are YOU?”

PRAYER:  Thank You for not abandoning us in the garden or in the wilderness of our sinful lives.  Thank You for Your great concern for us.  Teach us to search our souls in accordance with Your Word!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.