DayBreaks for 1/28/20 – When Legends Die

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DayBreaks for 1/28/20: When Legends Die

I have been a Los Angeles Lakers fan since I was a kid in fifth grade and we lived in southern California, so when the news broke yesterday about the death of basketball legend, Kobe Bryant (along with his 13-year old daughter and 7 other people in a helicopter crash), I was stunned and saddened. Kobe was only 41, but 4 years removed from hanging up his sneakers. Many seemed immobilized by grief. Reactions came pouring in from every walk of life and corner of the globe in this day of instant, world-wide communications. It seems like such a tragic waste.

Alexa tells me that every day there are approximately 156,021 persons who die around the globe. Most of those are the nameless, faceless masses of humanity – people we have never met or even heard of. They lived and died in obscurity.

I couldn’t help but think today about a craftsman from a small village in Israel – fewer than 500 probably lived there – who died one day in a tiny backwater of the Roman world. His life was mostly lived in obscurity and ended in obscurity to those alive at the time. Only a small handful seemed to weep at his death. When he died, there was no mass communication and if people heard of it, it was slow in spreading and few there were who found it to be of interest.

Why didn’t Jesus give his life in the 21st century so everyone could hear about him like Kobe? I’ve heard the explanations but it confounds human wisdom for Jesus to have lived and died when he did – especially if the goal is to have the world come to know him and what he did for them.

I don’t know Kobe’s eternal destiny. I don’t know if he came to believe in the craftsman who died on the cross. I can only hope he did. But I do know this: for all his fame, wealth and glory, Kobe’s death couldn’t and didn’t save even a single human soul. And his fame couldn’t keep the helicopter in the air in order to save the lives of those nine aboard.  And all his world championships, MVP’s, Olympic gold medals and the hundreds of millions of dollars he made putting a ball through a hoop don’t matter at all to God. Kobe has faced the ultimate question: Who do you believe Jesus is? I can only hope and pray he knew the answer. 

Yet, the one who died two thousand years ago saved souls by the millions through his death. And yesterday, while the news filled the airwaves with news of Kobe’s passing, I didn’t see one story on the news about the king of heaven and what he’d done. It is not God’s way to be flashy, but to be humble and work invisibly.

How many of the 156,021 who died today went to heaven because of Kobe? None. Not one. How many went because of Jesus? I don’t know, but if they didn’t, it isn’t Jesus’ fault, but it could be partly mine. You see, like most of us, I was eager yesterday and today to talk about Kobe’s passing with my friends – far more eager to talk about that than I am to tell others about Jesus’ death for them. May God have mercy on my soul. 

One more thing as I contemplate the death of a legend. One very famous man and his daughter died yesterday that I know of, but the vast bulk of the remaining 156,019 died obscure deaths as far as the news is concerned. But with God no one dies in obscurity because Jesus tells us that God even knows when a tiny sparrow dies and we are of much greater worth than a tiny bird. We are known to him, he counts the hairs on our head and knows our name and he longs for us all to be with him. And he is counting on us to tell those around us that he loves them so that the 156,021 who will die tomorrow will live in His Presence forever.

My condolences to the Bryant family.

PRAYER: Jesus, thank you for living and dying for us. Help us to be eager to tell the world what you’ve done. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 1/17/20 – The Great Depression

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DayBreaks for 1/17/20: The Great Depression

From the DayBreaks Archive, January 2010:

There’s a movie out that you really should see if you haven’t already.  It’s James Cameron’s Avatar.  If you can, you REALLY should see it in 3D (there’s both a 3D version of it and a 2D version.)  I can virtually guarantee you that you’ve never seen anything like it in terms of movie-making.  It is literally breath-taking in scope, achievement and visual effects.  You feel as if you are in the jungle on Pandora (the name of their planet). 

It is a movie that also, if one has an eye for it, packs lots of messages and evokes many responses.  Here’s one that I don’t think anyone really anticipated: 

From the Huffington Post, Tuesday, January 12, 2010: Avatar-Induced Depression

“The beautiful alien planet Pandora depicted in James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’ is so captivating that some audience members are becoming depressed and even suicidal when they fail to find meaning in real life after the film is over.

“Writes Jo Piazza for CNN: On the fan forum site “Avatar Forums,” a topic thread entitled “Ways to cope with the depression of the dream of Pandora being intangible,” has received more than 1,000 posts from people experiencing depression and fans trying to help them cope. The topic became so popular last month that forum administrator Philippe Baghdassarian had to create a second thread so people could continue to post their confused feelings about the movie.

“Here are just a few of the ways people are coping on Avatar Forums:

“I just watched avatar a few weeks ago and I’m feeling depressed and sad. It’s like I want to reach out and be in Pandora. I’d do anything to be in Pandora. I’ve tried so hard to dream about me being on Pandora but it hasn’t worked.”
“Ever since I went to see ‘Avatar’ I have been depressed. Watching the wonderful world of Pandora and all the Na’vi made me want to be one of them. I can’t stop thinking about all the things that happened in the film and all of the tears and shivers I got from it. I even contemplate suicide thinking that if I do it I will be rebirthed in a world similar to Pandora and the everything is the same as in ‘Avatar.'”
“Because, at this point, there isn’t pretty much anything else that can be done. Until the release of DVD/BluRay. But even that won’t take away all of the depression. Because you know you can never actually go to Pandora, as it exists only in our imagination… sigh… :(“

“Whether or not these posts are for real there is reason to believe the affliction is rooted in legitimate despair.”

Let me say first, that those I know who have gone to see the movie have not had these kinds of reactions.  Why?  Because the people I’ve talked to about the movie are Christians…and perhaps, just perhaps, we aren’t “depressed and sad” because we understand what the longing is that these folks are experiencing because we’ve found the answer: Jesus. 

As awesome as the world of Pandora is in the movie, it can’t hold a candle to heaven.  As Paul said (he and John are the only humans who’ve ever seen it as far as I know for sure!), it isn’t possible (nor permissible) to discuss what it is like.  I was driving to a meeting early one morning recently as the sun was rising over the eastern hills of the Alexander Valley where we live, and I was captivated by the beauty of that sunrise.  I started talking with God about what heaven would be like.  Are there colors there?  Revelation describes things with color…so there must be.  But are they the same colors?  Will they be different, vastly richer and more beautiful?  I have to believe so.  I can’t believe anything about heaven would be nearly as dull as things on this earth.

As the sun rose, I thought about God’s glory.  He can’t help but be glorious.  It’s not like he wakes up each morning thinking, “I think I’ll be glorious today.”  He can’t help it.  Wherever He goes, His glory arrives before Him like the rays of the sun arrive before the sun is fully up.  And His glory follows after Him as the rays of the sun still light the sky once the sun has set.  As that sunrise came, I realized that the glory of heaven will far outshine anything we can dream of, hope for, long for.  And we don’t need to despair, because our inheritance is being kept for us by God Himself.  Who do you think will be able to take it away from Him?  No one!

Don’t despair.  There’s a place far better than Pandora.  It’s called heaven.

PRAYER: Let Your glory shine on us and led us unto a life lived in the glory of Your eternal day!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 12/26/19 – Twice Wrapped, Twice Freed

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DayBreaks for 12/26/19: Twice Wrapped, Twice Freed

It was during the night that the Savior was born. In the darkness. How ironic that the Light chose to be kindled in the dark, but also how meaningful!

There are those today who have set up elaborate and expensive arrays searching for life in the universe. It is a hot topic among astronomers and astrophysicists to name a few. Many movies have been made speculating on whether or not the life that might be out there is friendly or if it will be hostile toward humanity. As a Christian, though, I have to say that we already know there is intelligent life out there in the universe– and we know what that Life is like. It is not filled with hate – but it is filled with love. We know that because of the event we celebrated yesterday – the birth of a baby, wrapped in “swaddling clothes” who came to bring Light and Life, to seek and save the lost. We saw that life, that love, because we have seen Jesus.

Now, however, Christmas is over. The baby in swaddling clothes will be packed up and stowed away for another year. But if Christmas means anything, it is in how it points forward to the next great “holy day” of the Christian calendar, Easter Sunday.

We don’t know when Christ was actually born, but we do know much more certainty about when he died. Again, the irony strikes me: at his birth he was wrapped tightly in strips of linen cloth (that’s what swaddling clothes were in the first century) and when he died, he was once again wrapped tightly in linen strips even as he was at his birth.

As with the birth, so with the death: he quickly left the swaddling clothes behind and he likewise burst forth from the second set of wrappings in great glory.

The end of Christmas starts the great story rumbling forward and points to the coming celebration of his death, burial and the defeat of death for us.

As we leave Christmas behind, let us begin even now to look forward to our next great celebration.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, we have celebrated your birth but we cannot stay at the manger. Even as the swaddling clothes held you only temporarily, we look toward the grave wrappings that could not bind you any more than death could, in total awe and wonder for your finished work on our behalf. Help us start now to prepare for the rest of your story. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 12/10/19 – A Message for the Grieving

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DayBreaks for 12/10/19: A Message for the Grieving

Do you remember your first brush with death?  It might have been the death of a pet, or when you first saw road kill.  For some, the first touch of death is for a human who was loved but now gone.  It matters little what the first encounter was, for we will most certainly encounter death numerous times during our few years.  People have wondered since the dawn of creation about the dead – where are they, is there a place they go to, if so – what is it like?  Will we see them again?  For Christians, the questions are a bit more focused: do the dead in Christ go to be with him right away, or do they go to some kind of “holding tank” until the end?  Or, are they even conscious until the resurrection?

It appears that the Christians at Thessalonica had questions about such matters and the apostle Paul wrote partly to bring their questioning to an end.  Paul had several things to say that were instructive:

FIRST: We want you to be quite certain, brothers, about those who have died, to make sure that you do not grieve about them, like the other people who have no hope. (1 Thes. 4:13, JB)  As with any group of people, they’d seen loved ones die and be buried.  And they wanted to know more about their plight.  And, thankfully, God wanted them to know more about their status, so He had Paul pen these words.  There are some who will read this that will experience their first Christmas without a particular loved one. Let God speak to you through the words of Paul this year to give you comfort.  But Paul goes on:

SECOND: I want you to know what happens to a Christian when he dies so that when it happens, you will not be full of sorrow, as those who have no hope.  For since we believe that Jesus died and then came back to life again, we can also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with Him all the Christians who have died. (1 Thes. 4:13-14, TLB) What is God telling us in this passage?  That we will see our believing loved ones again.  This passage also hints at something another verse will make even more clear: where the dead believers go in the interim – that Jesus will bring them “with him” – so they must be where he is.

THIRD: For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.  If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me.  Yet what shall I choose?  I do not know!  I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far.”(Phil. 1:21-23, NIV)  Where does Paul say he would go if he departed this life?  “To be with Christ.” 

Just a day or two ago, I was exchanging email with a friend whose wife (both he and his wife are Christians) passed away this past summer, and I asked him how he was doing during this holiday season.  He replied to me, and I wrote back and simply said, “This year she’ll be celebrating Christmas with the One who was born in the stable.”  I believe that with all my heart – she is presently with the Lord, and when He comes back, she’ll come with Him – as will all our loved ones who have died in Christ.

I want to remind us all that the holidays are very difficult times for people who face them alone for the first time – for all who will have an empty chair at the family gathering this year.  Please – reach out to them and share this part of the good news with those who are in Christ – let God speak peace through you to encourage them as to the fate of their loved ones.

PRAYER: Thank You for Your great and exceedingly precious promises and reassurances to us, Lord!  Please give comfort to all those who have lost believing loved ones during this year and make us be instruments of Your grace and comfort.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/28/19 – The Blessings of Darkness, #3

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DayBreaks for 11/28/19: The Blessing of Darkness, #3

The two Psalms in scripture that have not a single ray of light or hope are Psalm 39 and 88. And while you may think it is strange to be talking about this topic on Thanksgiving, let me assure you that it is very, very appropriate.

In Psalm 39, the writer concludes that God has turned his face away from the sufferer. This is about the worst thing that an ancient Jew could have imagined. The implication is that God no longer sees because he no longer cares.

In Psalm 88, the writer concludes that darkness is his only friend, the only companion that is still with him – not even God is nearby. God couldn’t find him if he tried because the darkness is all there is.

It is interesting that these two Psalms are in Scripture, but they are prophetic. It would be Jesus who would cry out that God had turned his face away and forsaken him on the cross. And it was that same Jesus who would be swallowed up by the darkness that covered the earth during his crucifixion, but more so the darkness of our sin he took upon us and the darkness of the sealed tomb.

Jesus knows the darkness, too. He didn’t only know the blazing glory of heaven, but the darkest darkness of the entire world as he bore the sins of the entire world.

But the story doesn’t end in darkness, does it! The One who suffered that darkness revealed to us the faithfulness of God, the one we might accuse of our misfortune and the world of blackness that swallows us up. He rose in glory like the sun and he is the reminder to us that no matter how dark our darkness may be on this Thanksgiving – or at any other time in our lives – that God sees things through to the Light and will bring us even out of the darkness of the tomb into His eternal Light!

PRAYER: Jesus, we long to live surrounded eternally by your Light. Give us strength to persevere in this world that is often so dark. We give you thanks this day for the glorious future that you have guaranteed to us! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/22/19 – The Renewal of All Things

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DayBreaks for 11/22/19: The Renewal of All Things

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2009:

As a general rule, I don’t like it when I have to renew my driver’s license, or my prescriptions, or my eyeglasses, or memberships to various organizations or subscriptions to magazines.  I don’t like renewing things.  I suppose there are several reasons for that: it implies that what I’ve got is older and not as up-to-date, and in fact, may be approaching the end of its useful life, which hints at the passing nature of all that exists in this world.  It is also expensive to have to renew car licenses – among other things!  Renewing stuff – bah humbug!  That, however, is not true of all things.  There are things that I don’t mind renewing at all: renewing my promises of love to my family and friends. 

My truck has a bad power window on the driver side.  I probably need a new window motor – but I’m thinking instead of getting a renewed one instead because it will probably be cheaper to get a refurbished one instead of a new one.  I’m cheap.  I’ll almost always take the cheapest route if I think it is worth the risk.  But there is always that risk – that nagging suspicion that something that has been merely “renewed” is not as good as a brand new one.  Usually that suspicion proves to be true.  It is more costly to buy new things than to renew old ones. 

We are “new creatures” – not just renewed ones – in Christ.  And that was expensive.  God wasn’t content to simply renew us – that wouldn’t be good enough.  We needed to be made new through-and-through, not just renewed and spiffed up on the outside.  We needed new hearts, new spirits, new life deep inside where the real “us” lives.  Our old hearts, hearts of flesh and stone, could never be renewed enough – they needed transplanting entirely – we needed new ones.  And God chooses to create that heart in us bit by bit.  We probably couldn’t stand it if it happened all at once!  We might not survive that experience!

We are, also, being ‘renewed’ day by day: Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. – 2 Corinthians 4:16, NIV)   We are renewed in the sense that with the dawning of each new day we are reminded that God will provide the strength for that one day, the courage for facing whatever life brings our way, renewed in a sense of purpose and meaning.  This is good renewal.

Here’s another one, from Matthew 19:28, where Jesus was describing his return to earth when he said, I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne.  The word for “renewal of all things” in Greek is palingenesis, used to describe the great conflagration after which history, having been purified, starts over.  This was a radically new concept when Jesus applied it to himself.  He was making the claim that his return would be accompanied by such power that even the material world and universe would be purged entirely of decay and brokenness.  It would be a time, as Timothy Keller put it in The Reason for God, that “All will be healed and all might-have-beens will be.”

At the end of the Lord of the Rings, Sam Gamgee, the faithful hobbit friend of Frodo and Gandalf, discovers that his friend Gandalf was not dead (as Sam thought he was) but very much alive.  Sam cries out, “I thought you were dead!  But then I thought I was dead myself!  Is everything sad going to come untrue?”  Keller said: “The answer of Christianity to that question is – yes.  Everything sad is going to come untrue and it will somehow be greater for having once been broken and lost.”

Let us await with patience the renewal of all things – when all will be as glorious as the moment God first spoke things into existence – including us!

PRAYER: We groan as we await the fullness of completely new hearts and the renewal of Your creation, Lord.  Teach us patience, fill us with trust, overflow our hearts with hope for the glorious future that awaits us as part of Your renewed creation!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/8/19 – How Much Longer?

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DayBreaks for 10/08/19: How Much Longer?

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2009:

My kids are grown and gone, but I can still recall the family trips and the question that never stopped being asked: “Daddy, how much longer until we get there?” How do you explain time and distance to a 3 or 4-year-old? It is an impossible question to answer. The closest we could come to an answer that satisfied them was “It’s about 3 whiles”. (A while was half of a cartoon show – thus 3 whiles would be about 45 minutes!) Just saying, “A little while” didn’t work, so you had to be precise about how many “whiles” would be required!

Our souls long for the answer to that question, too, don’t they? In Revelation 6:10, the martyrs are pictured under the altar in heaven and they ask the same question: How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?  It is part of our human condition that we must wait – and wonder, “How much longer?” How long will I live with this disease? How long must I struggle with this sin? How long until my son/daughter realizes they are heading the wrong way and come back to God?

In addition to trying to answer our kids’ questions about how long something would take, we’d say, “You’ll have a great time when you get there. Trust me.” In his book, When Christ Comes, Max Lucado talks about our spiritual life in the same way and suggests that Jesus gives us the same answer. He can’t tell us how long or why it should take so long for one simple reason: our minds aren’t capable of understanding it any more than my children could understand my explanations of time and distance, so he says simply, “Trust me. You’re going to love it when you get there!”

How long must you struggle with your health, your life, your problems, your grief and pain? I can’t tell you specifically. Job 14:1 says – Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble.  The most honest answer I can give you is this: you’ll struggle with those things “as long as earthly life lasts”. But those six words are powerful because they remind us that this life is earthly, another life is coming, this life will come to an end and we will reach the destination, and when we get there it will have been well worth the wait.

Then, in heaven we may turn to our Father and ask, “How long will this last?” And His answer will be the sweetest music we’ve ever heard: “Forever, my child, forever!”

Prayer: Lord, how we long to be with you and celebrate your greatness with the saints of all ages, to see you and hear your voice!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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