DayBreaks for 10/24/18 – The Last Word

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DayBreaks for 10/24/18: The Last Word

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2008:

Last things.  A final word.  A last goodbye.  A condemned man’s last meal.  A final hug of a pet or loved one.  Last things stick in our minds and it should be so.  Last things are important.  Maybe more important than first things, and as such they deserve our attention.

As humans, we are conditioned to think of last things as being the end, the swan song.  We are conditioned to think in terms of time and space, possibilities and impossibilities, probabilities and improbabilities.  In this, as in all other things, we need to have our minds reshaped by the power of the Spirit to see things that our human minds cannot perceive on their own.

Enter Revelation – that book that is revered and feared, loved and hated, and sadly, all too often ignored by believer and unbeliever alike.  Revelation is the last book of the Bible and the last one which was written – another of those “last things.”  And as such, it deserves our attention.

Revelation is not about prediction: Jeanne Dixon and Nostradamus were into prediction.  Predictions may or may not come to pass.  Revelation is not a book of prediction, but of eschatology.  Most think of eschatology as being about “last things” and rightly so, for that is what the word itself means – the study of last things.  But if Revelation is eschatological, it is only eschatological in the worldly sense, for in the great book of John, the key eschatological message is that as the last breath of the earth is gasped out, the heavenly reality is that the future is breaking in upon us. 

In Reversed Thunder, Eugene Peterson (note: Eugene passed to glory on 10/22/18, with his last words reportedly being, “Let’s go!”) noted: Eschatology involves the belief that the resurrection appearances of Christ are not complete.  This belief permeating the Revelation makes life good, for when we are expecting a resurrection appearance we can accept our whole present and find joy not only in its joy but also in its sorrow, happiness not only in its happiness but also in its pain.  We travel on through either happiness or pain because in the promises of God we see possibilities for the transient, the dying and the dead.

How are your expectations today?  Are you living in great expectation of another post-resurrection appearance of the Christ, or have you resignedly condemned yourself to a life of mundane trivialities?  The expectation of his appearing and of the infinite possibilities his coming hints at are worthy of our meditation and great expectation that this day, as likely as any other day, can be changed from an ordinary day into a day and lifetime of endless anticipation.

PRAYER: Lord, teach us to expect not just Your power through the Spirit, but the appearing of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.  Let this expectation transform us from victims into victors, from depressed creatures buffeted by life into glorified saints full of joyful exuberance.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 9/27/18 – Doorways Cut in Sod

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DayBreaks for 9/27/18Doorways Cut in Sod            

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2008:

The day after I write this, I will be conducting a funeral service for a woman I never met.  By all accounts she was a wonderful woman and she achieved a great deal in her life.  All that I’ve spoken to about her tell me how wonderful she was.  But there is a question that haunts me: I do not know if she was a believer.  I have some reason to think she was, and some to think she wasn’t.  I just don’t know.  I never had the chance to talk with her.  And so, as I stand before the congregants at her memorial service tomorrow, I will face the great dilemma that Christian pastors face at such times: what can be said about such a life?

Another DayBreaks reader recently sent me an email requesting prayer and some guidance as someone in their family had just ended his life after being married only 5-1/2 weeks.  Grief is a heavy chain at such times and it must be worn and cannot be easily discarded.  “Lord, into Your hands, we commit his spirit.”

Death is the great leveler.  Young and old, weak and strong, lowly and mighty – all will dine at the Reaper’s table.  For some, the Reaper is aptly named “the Grim Reaper,”, but to others, there’s nothing grim about him.

I am so relieved when I learn that someone is a Christian and that they’ve gone home.  Consider these words from the pen of Calvin Miller:

“I once scorned ev’ry fearful thought of death,

When it was but the end of pulse and breath,

But now my eyes have seen that past the pain

There is a world that’s waiting to be claimed.

Earthmaker, Holy, let me now depart,

For living’s such a temporary art.

And dying is but getting dressed for God,

Our graves are merely doorways cut in sod.”

Precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of His saints. – Ps. 116:15

PRAYER: Thank You, Father, that our days need not be lived in fear of death and dying, and that for Your children there is no grim reaper, but a Father’s arms that await us.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/26/17 – The Reality of Now

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DayBreaks for 9/26/18The Reality of Now       

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2008:

John 17:3: Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.

Lk. 17:20-21: The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.

If you are like most of us, we think of heaven as being “out there” somewhere in the future.  The place of heaven isn’t so much of a topic for thought as is the time when we shall arrive there.  We can easily trust that heaven will not only meet, but infinitely surpass our wildest imaginings.  And perhaps that’s why, when life caves in, we long and hunger for it to come soon.  I think such things are only normal and natural.

But God has a way of not operating in normal or “natural” ways.  And the things that the inspired writers of Scripture captured for us deserve more attention.  Jesus, in his own words, says that eternal life is “that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”  Isn’t that interesting?  Heaven is not a particularly a place (although there is such a place), but what makes heaven heavenly is the knowing of God and Jesus which we will experience.  And, by the way, it is available, and present, now…not just out there in the future.

The Luke passage is even more stunning: it won’t be something we see coming, this kingdom of God, but it is within us.  A kingdom is the place where a king rules, where he lives.  We might think of the kingdom of God as being heaven (and that’s not incorrect) but the fact is that God’s rule is everywhere…and His Presence is, believe it or not, within us.  That means that His kingdom is also within us…now. 

As Mark Buchanan said in Things Unseen: “There is something about heaven that we must grasp, because if we don’t, we’ll miss everything else.  We’ll read the music but never sing, study the choreography but never dance.  It’s this: heaven starts now.

“Eternity is not primarily a measure of time – chronological time stretched to infinity.  It is not first and foremost a place.  Eternity is primarily a quality of relationship.  It is first and foremost a presence; to know God and Jesus Christ.

Perhaps the one claim Christianity makes that is the most offensive to the world and presents the greatest stumbling block is that there is only one why to God…and that way is belief in Jesus (not in Mohammed, Buddha, or any other person).  All a Christian has to do is say, “Christianity, Jesus Christ, is the only way to God,” and you’ll instantly be branded as a closed-minded, bigoted person.  But when you understand that eternal life is to know Jesus (as Jesus said in John 17), it makes perfect sense.  If eternal life is to know him, if you don’t know him – there cannot be eternal life.  Heaven is intimate knowledge, not of something, but of Someone – the only true God and Jesus Christ, the one He sent.

PRAYER: Almighty Lord, we long to know you better, to experience in greater measure and purity the eternal life that only comes from knowing You.  Keep us from the pride in our hearts and minds that might tell us that we already know you, guard us so that we don’t stop seeking to learn to know you better each passing day.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/21/18 – A Song for Your Funeral

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DayBreaks for 9/21/18: A Song for Your Funeral          

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2008:

Have you given much thought to your funeral or memorial service?  What would you like to be sung, read, said?  I think it’s time well spent to consider such things and let loved ones know how you’d like them to celebrate your life. 

Not surprisingly, many people have a favorite song or two that they want to have sung or played at their service.  Here’s some recent data from Ananova about what songs are popular these days at funerals:

“AC/DC’s Highway to Hell is becoming one of the most requested funeral tunes in Australia.

“Ding Dong the Witch is Dead from The Wizard of Oz, and Another One Bites the Dust by Queen are also popular, reports the Daily Telegraph.

“Funeral managers at Centennial Park, the largest cemetery and crematorium in Adelaide, said only two hymns still rank among its top 10 most popular funeral songs: Amazing Grace and Abide With Me.

“Highway to Hell, which includes the line: “Going down, party time; My friends are gonna be there too”, is just outside the top ten, with Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven.

“Leading the funeral chart is crooner Frank Sinatra’s classic hit My Way followed by Louis Armstrong’s version of Wonderful World.

“Some of the more unusual songs we hear actually work very well within the service because they represent the person’s character,” Centennial Park chief executive Bryan Elliott said.

“Among other less conventional choices were Always Look on the Bright Side of Life by Monty Python, Hit the Road Jack, and I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead.” – Ananova, Copyright 2008

What does it say about modernity that people would want “Highway to Hell” instead of Christian hymns at their services?  It seems a slap in the face, on the surface, but it shouldn’t surprise us.  In a world where there is no belief in hell (but there is belief in heaven), we’ve allowed hell to become a joke, a “cute” lyric for a song – picturing it as party time with one’s good friends.  Perhaps it’s an attempt at wiping clean the slate of consciousness that keeps nagging the sinner for what they’re doing.  After all, if you can turn something as serious as hell into a joke, there’s nothing left to be afraid of, and you can eat, drink and be merry without fear of consequences. 

Perhaps a more sobering question isn’t “What song do you want played at your funeral?” but this question: “Which song would best describe your life before you died?” 

PRAYER: We deceive ourselves so easily into thinking that You are only a God of love, and not also a God of justice.  Don’t let us fall for cute lyrics when something as important as human souls are at stake.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/30/18 – An Excellent Question

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DayBreaks for 8/30/18: An Excellent Question

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

I love a good question!  Good questions (and many DayBreaks readers have posed some really good ones to me in the past 11 years!) make one think!  And thinking is good, methinks!

It turns out that Blaise Pascal, a 17th century mathematician, philosopher and theologian, had a pretty good noggin and thought some pretty deep thoughts.  And, he asked some excellent questions. 

I have noticed in my life that no matter how good things are, or how happy I may be, that there always still seems to be something missing.  Even at my most happiest moments, there is an aching inside my heart that tells me that there is an absence that hasn’t been filled.  Why is that? 

That’s one of the things that Pascal wrestled with, too (hey – I’m in good company!), but he came up with an explanation for it that is worth pondering.  In the manner of great thinkers, he posed his answer in the form of a question so that we could wrestle with it on our own.  He said (paraphrasing): Do you miss something you’ve never had?  Here’s an example: have you ever grieved the loss of being able to fly?  No – while you may wish you could fly, it’s not something you’ve ever been able to do, so you can’t grieve the loss of it.  Have you ever grieved losing your third eye, or a third leg or arm?  No.  Why?  Because you’ve never had them to start with. 

But we do grieve a loss that we feel inside, this nameless and relentless longing for something that we no longer have.  And what is it that we are missing?  I think there are probably several things that we did once have, but which we have lost:

FIRST: innocence.  We were born and formed in the womb as innocent beings, but all too soon we lost our innocence and we grieve that loss.  Shame and guilt took the place of that initial innocence – and they stick with us!

SECOND: the full image of God that we were meant to bear was lost when we sinned.  We were meant to be more like Him than we are – surely Adam and Eve knew what this image was like when they walked and talked in the garden with God – being to being, in sinlessness.  We can’t do that in the same way now that they did – at least, not until we depart this world.

THIRD: the awareness of His Presence, heaven and home.  We came from God.  I don’t know where our souls were before we were conceived, or if they were created at that moment, but this I do know: we have a longing for a better place.  Where could that longing have come from if it were not implanted into our awareness by God?  Why would He do such a thing?  As a beacon, it calls us back to our true home and our true Father. 

Ecclesiastes 3:10-11 (NIV) – I have seen the burden God has laid on men.  He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

PRAYER:  Lord, you have put eternity in our hearts and we don’t comprehend it.  But we have a longing for Home, for our True Father.  May we follow that yearning beacon to Your (and our!) heavenly home!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/29/18 – Not for Two Minutes

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DayBreaks for 8/29/18: Not for Two Minutes

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

I have a lot of questions that I’d like to ask God.  I know that I have no right to ask Him anything – except that He seems to welcome our questions and He seems to even encourage them.  That doesn’t mean He always tells us the answer.

One of the most difficult questions that anyone can ask God is posed when they stand over the casket of a child.  Marshall Shelley, at one time an editor for a Christian magazine (Leadership), had a baby boy named Toby who was born at 8:20 p.m. on 11/22/91.  Toby died two minutes later, at 8:22 p.m..  Here’s what Marshall had to say: “My wife Susan and I never got to see him take his first steps.  We barely got to see him take his first breath.  I don’t know if he would have enjoyed softball or software, dinosaurs or dragonflies.  We never got to wrestle, race, or read…What would have made him laugh?  Made him scared?  Made him angry?”

It turns out that Toby was born with a very rare genetic disorder.  Three months after Toby died, Marshall and Susan’s two-year-old daughter, Mandy, died.  Understandably, in their deep grief, the Shelleys wrestled with their faith and their God.  “Why,” Marshall wrote, “did God create a child to live two minutes?”

I believe that God gave Marshall the answer that he and his wife needed to hear – an answer that I would not have anticipated.  Marshall shared that answer: “He didn’t.  [And] He didn’t create Mandy to live two years.  He did not create me to live 40 years (or whatever number he may choose to extend my days in this world).  God created Toby for eternity.  He created each of us for eternity…”

It seems that whenever we lose someone we love, or even a pet, we ask “Why?  Why is life so short?”  We are so earth-bound that we can’t see (or we fail to remember) that God didn’t create any of us for just a few minutes, years or decades on this earth.  We are all created to live in eternity and that is His desire for us.  It doesn’t take away the pain of loss that we feel in our hearts, but it gives us a different perspective with which to see the things that happen to us.  And perspective is something we so often lack in this world.

God made you for eternity.  For now, you are here.  Let’s make the most of the present while preparing for forever.

 PRAYER:  We are thankful, Father, that You didn’t just create us to live and few years and then be gone like the morning mist, but that You formed each of us for eternity.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/20/18 – From the Perspective of Years

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DayBreaks for 8/20/18: From the Perspective of Years

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

At the risk of being premature and appearing to be wise and all-knowing, I’d like to share something with you that I think I have finally managed to learn in my 56 years of treading this earth.  Are you ready?  Here it is: life is not about now.  Oh, I know that there are bills that must be paid NOW, there are decisions that must be made NOW, there are chores and responsibilities that have to be met NOW.  Oh, yes…don’t forget taxes that must be paid!

But that’s not the stuff I’m talking about.  I’m talking about important things, things that I just wasn’t emotionally, mentally or spiritually equipped to even begin to grasp until now.  Perhaps it’s because I’m starting a new sermon series about all the things that Scripture talks about as being unseen that it’s just now coming clearer to me.  Still, I’ve struggled to find a way to express it myself, and then I finally ran across something that Elie Wiesel wrote in From the Kingdom of Memory that seems to me to say it perfectly.  (Wiesel, of course, is a holocaust survivor who has written and spoken eloquently about that horrific time in history, and about life in the aftermath.)

Here’s what Wiesel had to say that seemed to put this all into perspective for me: “Well, yes, at the time I was too young to understand that eternity does not exist except in relation to the present.  I was not mature enough to understand that it is eternity which lends this moment its mystery and its distinction.”

We are so preoccupied with living life to the full in the here and now, thinking that it is what is happening to us that gives life meaning and direction.  It is not so.  Surely, it must not be so!  It is what lies ahead that gives our lives now meaning and purpose, for we were not meant to live this life forever.  If the amount of time we spend here on earth versus in eternity is any indication of the relative importance, it is eternity that must dominate our consciousness and our thinking.  We must find the way to do this without abandoning the present, but also without ever making the fatal mistake of thinking that this life is what it is all about.

Have you noticed the context for this passage from 1 Corinthians 13:9-12? – For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

In the context, Paul seems to be speaking, at least partly, of eternity – it is then that we shall see face to face, we won’t be trying to hold on to foolish things of this world any longer.  All that occupies us here, tends to be childish compared to ultimate realities.

PRAYER: God, give us eyes to see this life through the clearer glass of eternity that our priorities and attention is focused on things above and not things below!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

PRAYER: Father, help us choose the things that are beautiful to you and that lead to life! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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