DayBreaks for 10/16/18 – God’s Scalpel

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DayBreaks for 10/16/18: God’s Scalpel

From the DayBreaks archive, 10/10/2008:

One of the books that has most profoundly touched my life was written by C. S. Lewis after the death of his wife, Joy. He had been a single man for nearly all of his life when he met Joy Davidson, an American, and fell in love. She died, tragically after just four years, of cancer. The book is titled, A Grief Observed, and I HIGHLY recommend it. It is at one and the same time one of the most unnerving, yet triumphant messages of faith you’ll ever read. In it, Lewis grapples with death and his feelings towards himself, his dead wife, and his feelings towards God. He is brutally honest, and as time passes (the book was written over some period of time to capture the range of his emotions and thinking) he moves in his writing from great anger and bitterness towards God to where his faith in God’s goodness comes crashing to the forefront.

While in the midst of his anguish, he wrote these very insightful words describing the experience of pain in our lives: “The more we believe that God hurts only to heal, the less we can believe that there is any use in begging for tenderness. A cruel man might be bribed – might grow tired of his vile sport – might have a temporary fit of mercy, as alcoholics have fits of sobriety. But suppose that what you are up against is a surgeon whose intentions are wholly good. The kinder and more conscientious he is, the more inexorably he will go on cutting. If he yielded to your entreaties, if he stopped before the operation was complete, all the pain up to that point would have been useless. But is it credible that such extremities of torture should be necessary for us? Well, take your choice. The tortures occur. If they are unnecessary, then there is no God or a bad one. If there is a good God, then these tortures are necessary. For no even moderately good Being could possibly inflict or permit them if they weren’t.” (I warned you he was brutally honest, didn’t I?!)

Personally, I don’t believe the Bible teaches that the pain and suffering we experience in this world is God-inflicted. I believe it is a result of the struggle between good and evil, God and the powers of darkness, and sometimes it comes about as a direct consequence of sin in our own life. God wants to overcome all the pain and suffering, and He someday will, when the last enemy is defeated (1 Cor. 15:23-26). Until then, God uses even painful things in our lives to make us whole. And if He stopped before the process was complete, we’d never be well.

Can you trust God with the pain in your life? You can. Can you survive the anguish you may face? I believe you can, though I’ve not walked in your shoes. Because through them, as well as through the joys of life, God is only doing what 2 Cor. 3:18 says: “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

PRAYER: Jesus, we plead with you to be as tender with us as possible – but to do the work that must be done in us. In Your name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 9/19/18 – Lessons My Dog Taught Me (#???)

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DayBreaks for 9/19/18: Lessons My Dog Taught Me            

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2008:

Lesson: It’s important to try to communicate our love as often as possible.

Oftentimes throughout the day (and night!) Casper (my white boxer) comes to wherever I am at and either stands or sits, looking at me with those large, soulful eyes that are characteristic of the breed.  He is totally irresistible when he does that!!!!!  I can’t help myself…I simply MUST respond to him.  I take his head in my hands, stroke his neck, pat the top of his head, rub his back, scratch his chest…and start talking.

What do I say?  Well, since I can’t speak dog, and he can’t speak English, I just speak to him in my own language…I tell him over and over again what a good dog he is, that he’s a good boy, and more often than not, I find myself telling him, “I love you so much!  Do you know how much I love you?”  I say that over and over and over.  Do you know why?  Because I want to be sure that he KNOWS he is loved and that I’m crazy about him.  Does he understand me?  His soulful eyes leave me wondering if he grasps any of what I’m saying.  I honestly don’t know.  I hope he understands, but regardless, he sure seems to like it!

As I thought about this, I thought about God’s dilemma in trying to tell us how much He loves us.  The analogy isn’t a perfect one, for surely God can communicate in English, Spanish, Portuguese, German or any other language He chooses…but since He doesn’t audibly speak to most of us, He usually communicates His love to us in other ways. 

God’s native language is the language of heaven, while ours is one of the languages of earth.  So God, for thousands of years, attempted to communicate His love to mankind through blessing, through beauty, through a thousand-and-one tender and loving gestures…but we didn’t get it. 

At least, not many got it…until Jesus came and then God could literally take our head in his hands, look us in the eye, and say, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes on Him should have everlasting life.”  Even in Jesus, God’s gestures were the greatest proof of His love – the cross being pre-eminent among them. 

And, I wonder: how many times a day is God trying to tell me in one way or another “I love you so much!  Do you know how much I love you?”  And I wonder, in the same fashion that I wonder if my dog understands my love for him, if I even begin to grasp the ways and times and depth of God’s love and how He tries to communicate it to me.

This much I do know: I will keep telling Casper how much I love him every day.  God keeps telling me, too, if I only have ears to hear it.  And I need to tell those around me how much I love them – and make sure they understand that God loves them, too!

PRAYER: I thank You, God, for my dog and for love.  I thank You that You never tired of trying to show and tell us how very much we are loved.  Give us ears to hear it and hearts to believe it.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/05/18 – For Some Prospect of Hope

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DayBreaks for 9/05/18: For Some Prospect of Hope

From the DayBreaks Archive, September 2008:

Right now as I write this, I have friends in Florida who are hoping that Gustav will bypass them.  Unfortunately, that will mean that it strikes somewhere else…almost with a certainty, barring a miracle or the Lord’s return.  Hope.  It fuels us with the vital energy we need to face the future – a future that is mostly unknown to us.

There are those who have reasonable hopes – and then there are those who have crazy hopes.  Just look at how many people buy lottery tickets each day.  That’s an example of crazy hope if there ever was one. 

Let me say, before proceeding, that God is the God of hope.  It is clear: nothing is impossible with God.  God could extinguish Gustav as simply as a child blows out a birthday cake candle.  Will He?  That’s another matter that at this point in time, only He can answer.  But as humans, we often are so desperate for hope that we put our hope in things that aren’t worthy of our hope.  We like to put our hope in things we can see, hear, touch or count.  Somehow, those things have a solidity to them that gives them gravitas – seemingly more weight than the things which are unseen.  But that can be very, very dangerous.  Listen to these words from the pen of Dietrich Bonhoeffer: “But to deviate from the truth for the sake of some prospect of hope of our own can never be wise, however slight that deviation may be.  It is not our judgment of the situation which can show us what is wise, but only the truth of the Word of God.  Here alone lies the promise of God’s faithfulness and help.  It will always be true that the wisest course for the disciple is always to abide solely by the Word of God in all simplicity.”

I’m afraid we’re prone to deviate from the truth sometimes in our pursuit of some prospect of hope.  Instead of placing our hope in the Truth, we place our hope in our ability to figure out some answer that we believe will give us hope.  But is a hope born of our own wisdom and therefore a hope that is built on very shaky premises.  It doesn’t take much of a deviation from the truth for the deviation to become a tool of the Destroyer. 

1 Peter 1:3-5 (NIV) – Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade–kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.  According to verse 3, there is a hope that is described as “living hope.”  That implies to me that there is a hope that is a dead hope.   If we’re putting our hope in our judgment, analysis and reason, in a political system or politician, in an earthly king or the courts or anything on this earth – may heaven have mercy on us all.

PRAYER: Keep us, Lord Jesus, from putting our hope in our own ways and our own thoughts.  Reward our hopes that rest on you!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/13/18 – God’s Autopsy

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DayBreaks for 8/13/18: God’s Autopsy

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

From FOX News, 8/7/08: “An Indian man who was knocked unconscious during a stampede of thousands of religious pilgrims on a steep Himalayan mountain path woke up as doctors were preparing to perform his autopsy, the Times of India reported.

“Mange Ram, 19, lost consciousness in the stampede that killed 150 people and was triggered by rumors of a landslide leading to a Hindu temple devoted to the goddess Naina Devi.

“Ram awoke in the hospital morgue Sunday in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh.

“When I woke up, I was in the middle of a row of bodies waiting for post mortem,” he told the Times. “My throat was parched and I asked for water. Towering over me the doctors and nursing staff at Anandpur Sahib Civil Hospital looked dazed. They must have been surprised to see a dead man come alive like that.”

“Sat Pal Aggarwal, a doctor on the pilgrimage, said little was done to see if victims of the stampede were still alive.  “People were dumped quite haphazardly into trucks without following any procedure or checking if they were alive,” he told the Times.

“Despite the huge loss of life, the pilgrimage continued only hours after the corpses had been cleared, according to the newspaper.”

Stories about people being prematurely thought dead and then buried alive give me the shivers.  It apparently happened to my great-great grandmother when she was coming across the plains in a covered wagon.  Creepy.  It is the stuff of nightmares.

Part of what makes such stories so scary is that we know we will all one day die.  Here in California, autopsies are mandated in nearly every case.  The purpose of an autopsy, of course, is to determine the cause of death – and to rule out foul play. 

We will die, and then comes a “judgment”, a pronouncement if you will, of the cause of our death.  That’s the easy part: sin is the reason we die (Romans 5:12.)  God already knows the cause of our death.  What God will inspect us for is to see whether or not we’ve had the cure for sin applied to our lives.

One other thing we can be certain of: when God checks us over and performs His autopsy on our spirits, He will make no mistakes – He will not think we were dead but were instead alive.  On the flip side, there may be many who think they are “alive”, only to be found out to truly be “dead”.  It happened to the church at Sardis: (Rev. 3:1) – These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead.

For the time being, there’s good news: as long as our souls are attached to our bodies, we can still “Wake up!” as God told the church at Sardis.  God not only is the examiner, but the healer: Col. 2:13 – When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ.

If God performed your spiritual autopsy today, would He find you dead, or alive?     

PRAYER: God, keep us from self-delusion and from drawing false conclusions about the state of our spiritual health!  May we wake up in time to the true nature of our hearts and hasten to the Great Physician for the healing we so desperately need!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/30/18 – The Ride Home

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DayBreaks for 7/30/18: The Ride Home

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2008:

“A pastor had been on a long flight between church conferences.  The first warning of the approaching problems came when the sign on the airplane flashed on:  Fasten Your Seat Belts.

“Then, after a while, a calm voice said, “We shall not be serving the beverages at this time as we are expecting a little turbulence.  Please be sure your seat belt is fastened.”“As the pastor looked around the aircraft, it was obvious that many of the passengers were becoming apprehensive.  Later, the voice on the intercom said, “We are so sorry that we are unable to serve the meal at this time.  The turbulence is still ahead of us.” And then the storm broke . . .

“They heard the ominous cracks of thunder above the roar of the engines.  Lightning lit up the darkening skies, and within moments that great plane was like a cork tossed around on a celestial ocean.  One moment the airplane was lifted on terrific currents of air; the next, it dropped as if it were about to crash.

“The pastor confessed that he shared the fear and discomfort of those around him.  He said, “As I looked around the plane, I could see that nearly all the passengers were upset and alarmed. Some were praying.  The future seemed ominous and many were wondering if they would make it through the storm.

“Then, I saw a little girl.  She had tucked her feet beneath her as she sat on her seat; she was reading a book and everything within her small world was calm and orderly.

“Sometimes she closed her eyes, then she would read again; then she would straighten her legs, but worry and fear were not in her world.

“When the plane was being buffeted by the terrible storm when it lurched this way and that, as it rose and fell with frightening severity, when all the adults were scared half to death, that marvelous child was completely composed and unafraid.”  The minister could hardly believe his eyes.

“It was not surprising therefore, that when the plane finally reached its destination and all the passengers were hurrying to disembark, our pastor lingered to speak to the girl whom he had watched for such a long time.  Having commented about the storm and the behavior of the plane, he asked why she had not been afraid.

“The child replied, ‘cause my Daddy’s the pilot, and he’s taking me home.’”

“There are many kinds of storms that buffet us. Physical, mental, financial, domestic, and many other storms can easily and quickly darken our skies and throw our plane into apparently uncontrollable movement.  We have all known such times, and let us be honest and confess, it is much easier to be at rest when our feet are on the ground than when we are being tossed about a darkened sky.

“Let us remember: Our Father is the Pilot.  He is in control and taking us home. Don’t worry!”

PRAYER:  Lord, it is a comfort to know that You are taking us home, and that You will see to it that we arrive safely!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/18/18 – Ever Increasing Glory

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DayBreaks for 7/18/18: Ever Increasing Glory

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2008:

There is a fascinating verse in Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, in chapter 3, verse 18: And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.  Today I want to share another thought that struck me as I meditated on this verse and my uncle Dale’s homecoming. 

First, as I wrote yesterday, Paul notes that it is our unveiled faces that reflect the Lord’s glory.  We were created and made in the image of God.  Jesus, you recall, was the exact image of the Father according to Paul’s writing to the Colossians.  As humans, our true faces, the true “us”, is veiled.  It is hidden from sight, and therefore, we struggle to reflect the Lord’s glory.  But when we, like Dale, have passed from this vale of shadows, casting aside the flesh that has veiled the Lord’s glory for our lifetimes, our faces will reflect the Lord’s glory more perfectly than ever before. 

But, Paul goes on and notes that this is an ongoing process: “we are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory”.  I used to think that the process was more-or-less finished when we died.  But Paul says, “ever-increasing glory” to describe our future.  If Jesus is the perfect image of God, and God is infinite, it stands to reason that we will never reach the perfect image of His likeness, for then we would have to become infinite, too.  And so, I believe that possibly this is why Paul wrote, “ever increasing glory”.  For all eternity we will grow more and more like Jesus – reflecting his glory more perfectly with every trillion years that pass.  The end result?  “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”  1 Jn. 3:2  “We shall be like him.” It doesn’t say we’ll be identical to him – but “like’ him, but our glory, unlike his, will be ever increasing. His can’t increase, for it is infinite already! 

Dale has become like him already, Dale has seen him, Dale has been held by him, Dale has joined the eternal song of the Lamb.  And he awaits us there.  We’d do well to remember C.S. Lewis who said that we’ve never met mere mortals.  Everyone we meet has an eternal destiny.  And each one we see, whether in Louisiana, Oregon, Iowa, California, India or Iraq, has a spirit that needs what God alone can give. Lewis’ said that if we could see one another as God sees us, we’d be tempted to fall down and worship at the feet of those who are headed to glory.  Dale has experience that glory, and I believe if we were to see him now, we’d be speechless.

PRAYER:  We can’t begin to comprehend the eternity that You have planned for us, Jesus.  How exciting it is to think that we will grow more and more into Your image throughout all eternity!  Let that process start in us now, as we await what we will become through Your tender kindness!   In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/4/18 – Is This It?

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DayBreaks for 7/04/18: Is This It?

I find it interesting that some of the DayBreaks I wrote in years past are just as relevant, though perhaps in a slightly different context, than when they were first written.

From the DayBreaks Archive, June 2008:

Just this past week, the stock market fell 380-some points in one day.  It wasn’t the only day the market fell.  In fact, June was perhaps the worst month for the stock market since the great depression, according to one news source.  On the same day, oil prices surpassed $140 per barrel, and some were saying that it’ll blow past $150 very soon, in spite of the Saudi’s agreeing to pump some more oil.  The situation with Iran doesn’t look promising.  Due to the cost of energy, the cost of food is rising rapidly, General Motors is struggling to survive and other large companies that have seemed to be rock solid pieces of the American financial foundation are sinking.  People are being let go.  Inflation seems to be a real threat, even as the housing market continues to sink. 

Last Thursday night, my wife and I attended a financial seminar on retirement planning and received some good guidance on investments, etc.  One of the key thoughts that kept running through my mind was this: I’m so grateful that I’m not dependent on financial investments either for this life or the next.  Not even a million shares of Google could get me into heaven.  Nor can it feed my belly or assuage hunger. 

Does it scare me at all to see what is happening in America and the world?  Yeah, I guess it does a bit.  More because I worry about my kids and grandkids and what their world might be like.  God, however, isn’t affected by the falling stock market, rumors of wars, greenhouse gases, the price of oil or an uncertain future.  There is no such thing as an uncertain future to Him.

Amid all the panic, as Christians we can be lights in the darkness, projecting the truth of what we know in our hearts, simply this: this is God’s world and all will end exactly as He wills it – without exception. 

We, of all people, should not run around panicked about what may or may not be.  We, of all people, should be filled with peace, even as we see the world around us start to disintegrate at a faster rate because we know Who holds the future – and us – in His hands.

Is this the birth pangs of the end?  I honestly don’t know. Either way, let us lift our voices with John the beloved disciple and say, Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

PRAYER: Lord, you hold the times and the seasons in Your hand.  You alone have the wisdom to bring sense out of this chaos, to bring perfection out of such brokenness.  Let us be harbingers of the coming of the King, preparing the way for the coming of the Lord!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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