DayBreaks for 1/16/19 – When the Wine Runs Out

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DayBreaks for 01/16/2019: When the Wine Runs Out

The world famous Nobel Prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway was a person who went for it all. A newspaper reporter, ambulance driver during WWII, involved in the Spanish Civil War, friend to bullfighters as well as authors–he did it all. And, when he did it he did it to the fullest. In a manner of speaking he enjoyed the wine of life. But there came a day when the wine of joy ran out.

Carlos Baker records it in his biography of Hemingway in this way: Sunday morning dawned bright and cloudless. Ernest awoke early as always. He put on the red “Emperor’s robe” and padded softly down the padded stairway. The early sunlight lay in pools on the living room floor. He had noticed that the guns were locked up in the basement, but the keys, as he well knew, were on the window ledge above the kitchen sink. He tiptoed down the basement stairs and unlocked the storage room. It smelled as dank as a grave. He chose a double barreled shotgun with a tight choke. He had used it for years to shoot pigeon’s. He took some shells from one of the boxes in the storage room, closed and locked the door, and climbed the basement stairs. If he saw the bright day outside, it did not deter him. He crossed the living room to the front foyer, a shrine-like entryway five feet by seven feet, with oak-paneled walls and a floor of linoleum tile. He slipped in two shells, lowered the gun butt carefully to the floor, leaned forward, pressed the twin barrels against his forehead just about the eyebrows and tripped both triggers.

What are you going to do when the wine runs out? Hemingway turned to the easy way out, but it was the way out to what? He turned to a gun to deal with his pain. I would rather turn to Jesus and godly friends to help me through the pain. I hope you will, too.

Prayer: Father, in your children’s pain, let us feel your presence and love as never before and give us the wisdom and strength to run to your arms! Help us remember that the pain is only fleeting and that joy comes again in the eternal morning. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 1/04/19 – The Passing of the Shadow

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DayBreaks for 01/04/2019: The Passing of the Shadow

From the DayBreaks Archive, 01/05/09 (modified):

Whew.  The holidays are now over.  It is a bittersweet feeling, isn’t it?  On the one hand, I love the excitement and joy of the holidays, and the chance to share that with family, loved ones and friends.  I love the Christmas carols and was surprised to find some of them playing in the malls this year. I love the bright lights and colors, and yes, the nuts and chews of Christmas from See’s Candies!

But it isn’t long and the holidays that have been so long awaited are over and done with.  The family has returned to their own homes and gone back to work, the Christmas decorations have been pulled down and boxed away for another year, the candy is gone (thank goodness!) and the Christmas carols and tree have been tucked away for 11 months.  And – I’m tired. 

As I was reflecting on this one day, I was watching our old dog, Rainie.  She’s 12 years old now and she’s clearly winding down.  She walks with a strange, stiff gait because of some arthritis in her hips, and if you look into her eyes, they are not dark and clear – they are milky and a bit subdued.  She is afraid, or in a bit too much discomfort, to hop up on the bed as easily as she used to.  Now, at night, when she comes back into the house, she will whimper and whine before even attempting her leap of faith up to the top of the mattress.  And she huffs and puffs a lot more than when she was younger.  It saddens me to see this happening before my very eyes and to be powerless in the face of the inexorable march of time.  And then I realize, I am on the same march, head down as I trudge the pathway before me.

The passing of the holidays and the winding down of life have parallels that can teach us.  We start out exuberant, full of excitement and energy.  We hurry here and there because the world is so big and there is so much to see and do and we don’t want to miss a moment of it.  But then, as with Christmas, the holiday is over before you are even fully aware that it has begun.  Old friends and family are no longer around.  We find ourselves more fearful of running around too far from home, and we also whimper and whine as we rise or recline on our bed.  Not to mention the eyesight. 

This is the way of all flesh.  This is what makes our God and His promises so precious – He does not grow old, tired, and weary.  He doesn’t get cataracts.  His bones don’t ache and generate the whimpers that accompany old age.  And He promises us that the day will come when we will be like Him in that regard.  We try to imagine a life without any sort of pains or sadness and we cannot grasp even the tiniest crumb of that reality.  But we do long for it.  The life we so longed to live when we were younger has been spent somehow, somewhere – like a shadow passing in the night, soundlessly and quickly, not even leaving footprints behind.  Hold on to the fact that the shadow is passing, but it isn’t passing from daylight to darkness, but instead the shadow is passing to daylight, from earth to heaven, from mortality to immortality, from death to life.  And there shall be no more weeping.

PRAYER:  Lord, life often feels like both a blessing and a burden.  Thank you for the promise that you will make our joys even greater than anything we have experienced in this lifetime, and that you will remove our sorrows eternally.  Thank you, that Jesus “is the life!”  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 12/14/18 – Aiming Past Life

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DayBreaks for 12/14/18: Aiming Past Life

From the DayBreaks Archive, 12/9/98:

Okay, let’s see how many of you have tried this: have you ever put a board (even just one – and maybe a thin one at that) between two bricks and tried to break the board with your hand?  I’ve tried it – on more than one occasion.  I’ve seen it done in person (in fact, my oldest granddaughter can do it!) – but not just with one board, but with many boards, with cement blocks or blocks of solid ice.  I can only say that if you tried it, I hope you were more successful than I.  And I hope you didn’t hurt yourself, either!

It isn’t just big, hulking guys who do this kind of stuff.  I’ve seen little folk do it – men and women.  So the key to the ability to smash stuff like that with your bare hands can’t be based on brute strength. 

There are actually two things that are necessary, according to those who bust stuff with their bare hands, if one is to break boards, ice or cement blocks with nothing more than the edge of a hand.  Here they are: 1) focused concentration, and 2) aiming at a point just beyond the board.  In other words, it is important to not get distracted by things around you as you focus on hitting a point in your mind that is just beyond the visible board.  Of course, the “point” you aim at isn’t visible because the board blocks it from view, so that’s where the focus also comes into play.

Life is often somewhat like that board.  It’s hard and unyielding.  We bump up against it over and over and bruises are usually the result.  Life doesn’t bend, as a general rule.  If we are to break through the frustration of living in this world, we must be focused, and we must aim at something beyond this life – something that is just on the other side of what is visible.  And then we must drive with all our force to that “something” that is just beyond our sight. 

For Christians, we take note of what the Word says in 2 Corinthians 4:18 (NIV) – So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.  What is seen is like the board – it’s not really the goal – the goals is unseen, just on the “other side”.  And again, Hebrews 12:2 (NIV) instructs us: Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  We are to focus all our energy, our vision, on Jesus.  And where is he?  Seated at the right hand of the throne of God.  He’s in the realm of the unseen, and he awaits us just beyond what is visible.

Another way to think of this is that death is the board – a door, if you will – that prevents us from seeing what is not unseen.  But it will not always be so.  And what will we see when we break through?  Jesus.

PRAYER: We pray that You will sharpen our focus and help us to remember that we are not to aim at things in this life that would distract us from what is presently unseen.  Strengthen us to look beyond this life to see the Risen Son seated in glory, awaiting our arrival!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 12/12/18 – Happiness

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DayBreaks for 12/12/18: Happiness

From the DayBreaks Archive, 12/9/98:

The holidays are a tough time of year for many people. I know that there are those of you who will read these words who will be spending the first holidays without your parents, a child, a spouse or some other loved one. (Galen, 12/12/18: in fact, this is my first Christmas without my mother as she is now in glory with my dad.) As if that weren’t enough, others are unhappy because of a job that is taking the best you have to offer and no one seems to notice or appreciate your efforts. Financial burdens loom large at this time of the year. You may have guilt in your heart because you would like to give someone special something that is more than you can afford and you know you can’t give it – so you’ll settle for less and feel unhappy about it.

What is happiness? We have a sense that it is feeling cheerful, feeling good about yourself and the situation you are in. That’s what it has come to mean in our culture. But that wasn’t the original meaning or interpretation of happiness. From a Breakpoint by Charles Colson (11/9/98): “Dean Hudson, editor of Crisis magazine, writes that the classical idea of happiness had to do with a state of character and virtue. The ancient Greek word for happiness meant the formation of character over a lifetime. It referred to how well we conformed ourselves to reality: that is, the structure of the universe around us, and our own nature. Only by learning to live in accord with our true nature can we be genuinely happy.”

Our true nature is to be and act in the image of God. God doesn’t delight in things – He didn’t even delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices of the Israelites. He already owns everything. There isn’t anything we can give to Him that He needs. He is happy because He cannot be anything except true to His own nature. We, however, have been infected with a virus that has warped and twisted us and marred our own view of what our true nature is. It is only when we get back to understanding our true nature that we will find happiness.

It seems to me that the Greeks understood this pretty well: happiness is indeed the formation of character over a lifetime. And the character that is to be formed in us is the character of Christ. As He becomes more and more real and a bigger and bigger part of our lives – we’ll find more happiness than we could ever imagine!

Some people think more money would make them happy. Or to have one more child. A bigger home. The movie, “What Dreams May Come” suggests that heaven is going to be whatever we imagine it to be or want it to be. I think that’s wrong. Heaven will be much better than that because it will be what God wants it to be. My wanting is too corrupt and not imaginative enough. God knows what will make me happy – and He knows how to provide it in abundance!

PRAYER: May we learn that happiness is not something that can be purchased in a store, and that Your plan and will for us is far better than what we would choose for ourselves!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 12/04/18 – The Secret to a Wise Heart

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DayBreaks for 12/04/18: The Secret to a Wise Heart

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2008:

We don’t like to think about death at all, let alone our own death.  We’d like to just ignore it until it happens.  We are more than content to live under a grand illusion that we have an unlimited number of days to live.  And so we drift aimlessly from day to day, moment to moment, never considering death.

Moses had an interesting prayer that he offered up in Psalm 90:12 (NIV) –Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.  There are two key things in this brief passage that we should note:

FIRST: we have to be taught to number our days correctly.  We can’t figure it out on our own – or at least, we won’t figure it out ourselves.  We are too happily living out our delusion about limitless days, trying as hard as we can to be oblivious to our impending demise.  I don’t know if mankind ever really knew how to number his days correctly.  I doubt that we were created with that sense of limited days because when Adam and Eve were created, they weren’t created to die.  That’s something that came about after the fall.  It was only after death entered onto the stage that it became necessary to learn, to be taught, that we have a finite number of days allotted to us and that we don’t know how many days we have.

SECOND: we can’t have a heart of wisdom until we learn to number our days.  Why?  Because we can’t live wisely until we learn to number our days.  Considering our mortality leads us to view each day of life differently, to cherish it and appreciate it in ways we can’t even imagine if we don’t consider our finiteness.  We can’t live rightly until we know we will die rightly.  And we must contemplate death if we are to live rightly.

Towards that end, as I shared with our congregation last week, I’ve added something to my daily prayer that seems to be helping me to do a much better job of numbering my days and living accordingly.  It’s very simple, and I’d encourage you to add something similar to your morning prayer: “Lord, if this is to be my last day, may I live it in Jesus with great joy and wonder.”

Prayer: We need hearts that are wise, Lord, hearts that consider our deaths so that we can live more appropriately in each moment of the time we have been given.  Teach us, Lord, to number our days.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/28/18 – God’s Bizarre Carpentry Shop

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DayBreaks for 11/28/18: God’s Bizarre Carpentry Shop

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2008:

Romans 8:28 (NASB) – And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

My daughter can do macramé – you know, that weird bit about cutting and folding a sheet of paper so that it resembles a swan or some other animal.  I have to admit, while she’s in the process of taking the piece of paper and beginning to fold it, I can’t start to imagine what in the world she’s making.  As she folds away in a meticulous fashion, I remain confused.  It isn’t until the end of the process that I can see what she was making, but I couldn’t begin to replicate what she’s done.

In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul had this to say (chapter 4:16-17, NIV): Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

Our first reaction to verse 17 is to think that Paul has totally lost his marbles.  “Light and momentary troubles”?  Are you kidding me?  Try telling that to the mother of a special needs child who requires 24-hour care, day in and day out.  Try telling it to the young man in the wilds of the hills in Afghanistan, or to his wife who struggles to raise 3 kids without his presence.  Try telling it to the person who has once more been diagnosed with cancer – after having beaten it once.  “Light and momentary,” you say?  Harumph. 

But Paul nonetheless claims it is so.  How can he say that?  Well, he says that, in God’s bizarre carpentry shop, that it is those very troubles that are achieving for us an eternal glory that outweighs those very trouble.  The word for achieving in the Greek means, “to make possible”, “to bring to pass.”  Paul says, that somehow (and this is way beyond me!), that our troubles from this earth will make possible our eternal glory.  I think it works like this: what is earthly must be torn down and removed so what is heavenly can start to be built.  It’s like tearing up a bad street to create a new paved one – until the old is torn out and removed, the new can’t be put in place.  And the troubles we have in this world are designed to encourage us to let go of this world and its attractions so that new, eternally glorious things can be put in their place. 

Oh, and one more thing.  Paul says the troubles are “light”, from the Greek, elaphros, which means “easy to bear.”  They are easy to bear only when we keep our perspective.  What is here is light (not of much weight) and temporary (of short duration).  What we await is an eternal glory that “outweighs” them (the glory is HEAVY, but not a burden) – and eternal.  Here’s Paul’s point: not all the troubles of this world are of greater weight nor longer duration than the glory of heaven.  That’s a perspective worth keeping!

Prayer: Lord, we don’t understand how You do it, but we thank you that our earthly troubles make possible our eternal glory.  The next time we are distress and in deep trouble, may we remember Paul’s perspective, and lean hard into eternal things!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/27/18 – Frozen Fishermen (and Home)

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DayBreaks for 11/27/18: Frozen Fishermen (and Home)

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2008:

It’s been some number of years now, but I used to take an annual 3-day fishing and camping trip with my friends, Ken, Larry and Tom.  We went different places each year, but it was always a highlight of our fall season.  We worked together at a company called Triad and had grown to be good friends over the years.  Our trips became so famous in the company that at company breakfasts after our get-away, we’d be asked about the trip or invited to show pictures! 

One year, we went to a place called Loon Lake.  We’d been there before and the fishing was usually pretty good, and at the time it was fairly isolated.  It was located at 6500 feet in the Sierra Nevada, about 50 miles off highway 50 that eventually goes into the south end of Lake Tahoe.  Having been there before, we thought we knew what we were getting in to.  We didn’t.

The weather was beautiful the first couple of days we were there and we had ice chests full of fish.  On our last night there, it was a bit cooler, and we crawled into the tent and our sleeping bags looking forward to one more morning of fishing. 

Morning dawned – cold and wet.  It had started raining during the night and we were as wet as we could be.  Temperatures had plummeted to near freezing.  As I recall, there were drips and drabs of ice mixed in with the rain.  As I had noted, we’d been to Loon Lake before and thought we knew what we were up against.  But since the weather had been nice before, none of us had brought rain gear.  But, being the manly men that we thought we were in our younger days, we still wanted to fish.  So, we cut neck and arm-holes in the trash bags we’d taken and put them on over our jackets and headed down to the lake to fish.  The only problem was that it was so cold that our fingers were too numb to bait the hooks.  So, two of the guys who were not as full of their “manliness” as the other two of us were, volunteered to keep their hands in their pockets to warm them up and then to bait the hooks while the other two of us fished.  We did that for a while – and the weather kept getting colder and windier and wetter.  It wasn’t long until we were all thinking the same thing: won’t it be great to get home and get a hot shower and warm up!

Well, we survived – no one lost any fingers or toes, and we left vast numbers of trout uncaught.  We were miserable, no doubt about it.  But how much more miserable would we have been if we didn’t have a clear picture of the homes and warmth to which we would return? 

So it is with this world.  This world is a white-out, a blizzard, trying to freeze the very life out of us.  And, for much of the time, we are to varying degrees and for varying reasons, miserable while here.  It is the heavenly vision, of the warmth of the Presence, of the warm welcome, of the place of comfort – that revitalizes us.  We don’t think of heaven enough, I fear.  Let the thought of heaven warm your heart and soul and give you the focus to keep going until you arrive at His house! 

Prayer: Lord, thank you for the vision that has the power to keep us moving forward, for the promised place of rest and reward that will make this life and it’s struggles seem like nothing.  When we start to lose hope, to freeze over, warm us with the vision of your eternal love, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

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