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 5/25/18 – One Week in Heaven

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DayBreaks for 5/25/18: One Week in Heaven

As of last night (5/24/18) my mom has been in heaven for one week. I don’t have anything special or profound to say today, but thinking about her there as brought me joy and peace. You see, she’d struggled with dementia for about the past 6-7 years and it had gotten really, really bad. It was one of those situations where you pray for the Lord to relieve the suffering and bring wholeness to her body and soul. And I believe he has done so.

I find myself wondering what it is like to transition from this earth to heavenly spheres. I don’t believe that for His children that they are ever alone because we have his very solemn promise to never leave or forsake us. So I don’t believe my mom was afraid or left alone for even a nanosecond. I believe she saw the Lord immediately and that he gently took her hand and walked her home.

I wonder how quickly we see our loved ones who have gone before. Does God give them a “heads-up” that someone they love is coming home so that they can meet them right away and have an unearthly celebration? I’d like to think so, but I really don’t know. I find comfort in believing that we do see the right away – and it seems just like God to do something like that for us. So I choose to believe that my mom has seen my dad again, that they’ve both been reunited with the little girl they lost in infancy, and with their parents.

How long does it take to meet the favorite characters from Scripture? (In a way, talking about “how long” is rather silly because there is no time there, but I can’t wrap my mind around that reality.) Has mom met Mary, Esther, Abraham, Daniel, Moses, Peter, John and David already? My daughter rather humorously mused that perhaps those folks have an appointment book so you can schedule time to meet them. I rather doubt that, but who knows?

So what is the point of all this? I guess it is simply this: the life to come will be utterly unlike this one. It will be incredibly glorious. It will be free from dementia, cancer, tears, pain and death. I believe those things because the Word declares them to be true. But I can’t imagine it. All I can do is get excited about this: 1 Corinthians 2:9 – That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” 

That is all I need to know to understand that whatever heaven is like, however it all works, will be absolutely terrific. What our loved ones who have gone before have seen and experience exceeds our wildest imaginings.

Mom, I love you and miss having you here, but I’m sure you are enjoying your one week anniversary in a place we cannot begin to even dream of.

PRAYER: How comforting are your promises, how great your assurances are to us, Lord. I thank you for leading my mom safely home and for the place you prepared for her. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/11/18 – Preferring the 99

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DayBreaks for 4/11/18: Preferring the 99

Matthew 18:12-14 (NIV) – What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.

This is a painful passage for me. Sadly, while I think it should also be a challenging and painful passage for the church, I think in many cases we read it and fly right past it.

This passage gets to the very core of God’s heart. Who is it that owns the sheep in the passage? It is God, certainly. And while he has a sheep-fold full of sheep, he isn’t content with that. He knows there is still one out there that hasn’t come home with him, that is lost and in grave danger.

So what does he do? He goes out looking for it. There is no guarantee that he will be able to bring it home…for the passage says And if he finds it…. Some sheep don’t want to be found, and perhaps even more sadly, some perish before they are found.

Pay attention to the last sentence. He is not willing that ANY of these little ones should be lost. It’s not that he’s content if just a handful are lost…he’s not willing for even a single one to perish.

Which brings me to the painful part. Why does my heart not beat with the same passion for the lost sheep?

I fear that the church as a whole (I know there are many exceptions) prefers the ninety-nine. We prefer the comfort of the sheep-fold and seldom, if ever, venture out. We like to hang with other Christians (at least, I hope we do!) But if we lose sight of the heart of God from this passage, we may have missed God entirely. This is precisely why Jesus came: not to celebrate with the 99 but to “go out”. Does Jesus like it when Christians enjoy each other? Of course. But he will quickly leave us behind to find a single lost one.

When is the last time you brought someone to Christ – not just to church – but to saving knowledge of Christ? We should all have the urgency of Oskar Schindler who when the war was over, was heartbroken that he’d not done more, that he could have saved one more. Where is that passion in us?

Church, let us be challenged. Let us go out with the great Shepherd to find the lost so that not ANY should be lost!  

PRAYER: Jesus, I confess that it is far easier to sit in the pew than to leave the sheep-fold to find a lost lamb. I confess I have done far too much of the former and not nearly enough of the latter. Change us, give us your passion, fill us with your mission, let us hear your heartbeat clearly. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 3/31/18 – Saturday, the Glorious Silence

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DayBreaks for 3/30/18: Saturday – the Glorious Silence

From the Perimeter holy week devotion guide, by Caleb Click:

1 Corinthians 15:3-5 (ESV) – For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.

“Buried.” In our Easter celebrations, the death and resurrection of Jesus receive most of our attention and with good reason. The heart and soul of the Christian faith rests on those realities. But here, in 1 Corinthians 15, Paul says that it was of first importance not only that Jesus died and rose, but that he was buried. Christians across the centuries have echoed those words of Paul in the Apostle’s Creet, saying with one voice, …he was crucified, died, and was buried. Sitting at the very center of it all is this reality often confessed but rarely considered: that Jesus’ body joined bullions before him in a tomb, that he entered the grave and for three days remained inside, closed off from the world of the living. But why? Why does this matter?

But this mystery doesn’t stop there. It sweeps us up with it. Romans 6:4 says: We were buried with him by baptism into his death.  Colossians 2:12 announces that we who are in Christ have been buried with him in baptism.  In the gospel story, Saturday’s mourning has as much importance to us as Friday evening’s despair and Sunday morning’s joy. Again, the question: why?

I think the answer is this: burial is a goodbye. It’s recognition that the life of the one we loved is gone and what remains in their place is only silence That the words they once spoke live on only in our recollection. That their touch exists only in memory. That the person with all their vitality and power is gone. Saturday morning is the disciples’ coming to terms with a Jesus they think is no more.

And here is why that matters, why it’s such gloriously good news. Jesus wasn’t simply a man who died; he was the spotless lamb upon whom our sins were laid (John 1:29). The disciples mourned on Saturday, but they didn’t realize that it wasn’t Jesus who was no more; it was our sin. It was everything we once were. When he rose Sunday morning and left the tomb, our sins stayed inside. Buried. Silenced. A memory and recollection stripped of its power. We don’t continue in sin because we were buried with Jesus and, while we have been raised, the old man still lies buried in that tomb, never to leave again (Romans 6). We don’t fall captive to the lie of thi world that our hope is in our performance, because the body of flesh was cut away and cast into a tomb from which it will never escape, and we now stand in the resurrection life of Jesus Christ (Colossians 3).

TODAY’S PRAYER: Father, we recognize that the burial of Jesus was a goodbye. A goodbye to our sin and its condemnation. To the person we were before Christ. To the life we once lived and the power the flesh once had over us. Thank you that the glorious good news of a silence does not leave us in pain as the disciples first thought, but one that truly makes us free. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 3/30/18 – Our Passover Lamb

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DayBreaks for 3/30/18: Our Passover Lamb

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2008:

1 Cor. 5:7b – …For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.

There is a saying, “All good things must come to an end.”  Actually, that’s a lie.  Not all good things must come to an end.  Paul tells us that faith, hope and love abide.  The Word of God abides forever.  God is forever.  And for Christians, heaven will be forever.  But I would have to suspect that on Good Friday so long ago, Jesus took great comfort in knowing that all bad things must come to an end, and in fact, as far as His earthly suffering was concerned, Good Friday marked the end.  Anyone who watches The Passion of the Christ must believe that the crucifixion itself, as horrible as it was, must have been welcomed as the end of the road – Jesus knew it would soon be over.

What happened to Jesus?  Was He murdered?  Was He killed?  Was He executed? Was He (as Texans might say), ‘lynched’?  While lots of words might have been chosen, I wonder how many on Good Friday would have said that He had been “sacrificed”?  Probably not many, except perhaps the Three-in-One.

In A Violent Grace, by Michael Card, Mike was musing on the events of Good Friday when he posited this insight: “It was one thing for pastors today to speak of Christ being a substitutionary sacrifice and a propitiation for our sins.  It was another for a priest in Jesus’ day to lay hold of a soft white lamb and slit its throat…For Jesus, it began the night he was born.  The first to come and kneel at His manger were shepherds.  He arrived in the season when lambs were being born – that’s why the shepherds were in the field all night.  The worshiping shepherds saw a baby boy a sweetly sleeping, but they never expected that the lamb who was born that night as a baby was the Lamb of God.  Thirty years later, John the Baptist was standing up to his waist in the Jordan when he saw Jesus approaching.  ‘Look!’ he exclaimed, ‘the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’  With those words ringing through the air, Jesus began three years of public ministry…I wonder if one of the last sounds to reach Jesus’ ears during the final hours on the cross was the bleating of lambs.

One thing is for sure: the final sounds Jesus heard on the cross were not comforting.  He did not hear the voices of the crowd shouting “Hosanna!  Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”  He did not hear his followers weeping for him, nor did he hear his apostles words of comfort as he hung suspended between heaven and earth, for they’d all (save one) cowardly run away.  And so, perhaps, with the Passover being observed in the city just across the valley, perhaps the sound of lambs was indeed the last sounds he heard. 

I hope that we will hear the sounds of the Lamb that was sacrificed.  And that we won’t just hear it, but we will take it to heart.  It was my fault that Jesus was on the cross – and it was yours.  The next time He needs us, I hope He will hear us.  He is our Passover Lamb and because of Him, the death angel has passed us over and we live in a new life.

May your Resurrection celebration be a special one.  Listen for the Lamb!

PRAYER: Great Lamb of God, have mercy on us sinners! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 3/28/18 – One Moment in History

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DayBreaks for 3/28/18: One Moment in History

From the DayBreaks archive, March 2007:

Pretend for a moment that you were in possession of a time machine. If you could pick one moment out of all recorded history to go back and see, what would you choose? In a newspaper recently, journalists had voted on the greatest story of the 20th century. According to one paper I saw, they chose the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima as the biggest story of the century. It certainly is worthy of strong consideration. I remember the stunned silence (even outdoors!!) on the day that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon and the first moonwalk took place. It was as if nothing, not even the wind, dared to move that afternoon.

Still, all things considered, I think that I’d probably pick the resurrection of Jesus Christ as the event I’d most like to observe. You see, no human eyes were witness to it, so no one knows what it looked like. There was no one to watch as God came back to life, except God Himself.

I don’t think that I would want to see the crucifixion. It would be too painful to watch knowing that it was my fault that it was happening. We want to get past the ugliness, horror and bloodiness of Calvary in our rush to get to the Resurrection Morning, don’t we? But we can’t afford to do that. If we do, we will miss the most amazing lesson in all of human history: that the God of heaven, who hates sin with all His heart, loves His creation even more than He hates sin and proved it on the cross. That, if anything, is the lesson of Calvary. It is a lesson we need to be reminded of every time we get the chance.

Don’t rush past Calvary on your way to sunrise services. Stop and look long and hard at the price that was paid for your sin and for mine. It wasn’t cheap – God’s grace is anything but cheap. The price wasn’t paid on Resurrection morning, but on the Friday before. That is where the atoning was done, that is where the blood of the Lamb was spilled and when it was sprinkled on the altar. The Resurrection was merely the joyous cosmic shout of God proclaiming the victory that was won on the Friday before!

The cross – good Friday – is where we need to stop and ponder our lives – and the God who could possibly love us so much.

PRAYER: Father, help us pause often this week to ponder with all the wonder, amazement and humility that human hearts can hold what you did for us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 3/12/18 – The Message of the Torn Veil

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DayBreaks for 3/12/18: The Message of the Torn Veil

As I write this, a couple that is very dear to me is traveling in Israel, visiting the “holy” sites and seeing with their own eyes where the incredible stories from the bible took place. I am so excited for them – after having been there twice myself, I am dying to go back – and would do so again and again and again. There is something about being there that truly makes it “alive”. You sense more than ever the price that was paid for your sin, the gratitude for what happened in that holy city reaches a fever pitch. It changes you.

Recently I was reflecting on this passage: Luke 23:44-46 (ESV) – It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.

Having been in Jerusalem, I can picture the sky darkening in mid-day (notice it doesn’t say that clouds were the issue – it says that the “sun’s light faded” – that’s a miraculous occurrence). I have been on top of the temple mount and tried to picture what happened there when the veil was ripped into two (and we are told elsewhere it happened from top to bottom, indicating it wasn’t of human doing).

I have thought before of the significance of that tearing. Because the veil was there to separate the Presence from the people (it covered the entrance to the Most Holy Place where only the high priest was allowed once a year) I always assumed it simply indicated that that which separated God from man, the sin blots on our souls, had been opened so we could have access to God. And I do believe that is true, and certainly part of the meaning. But I think there was more to it, too.

A sign of deep grief for the ancient middle east (and even in some places in the modern age) is the rending, or tearing of one’s garments as a display of the anguish of heart and soul of the one grieving. It’s one thing to see the holy city and imagine the darkness. It’s another thing to see God’s heart being torn in two because of what was happening on the cross – his beloved son dying an unworthy death and of the price being paid for our forgiveness. We often think that grown men don’t cry because they are big and tough. Well, there’s nothing and no one bigger and tougher than God, and yet I think that the tearing of the veil not only represented the opening of access to God through the blood being spilled on Calvary, but also the tearing of God’s heart. The fact that it was torn from top to bottom mimics the way ancients tore their clothes in grief – and in this case, it very clearly means that God was the One who was doing the tearing. 

We don’t often think about the anguish of God. But doesn’t it make sense that if we are anguished by the brokenness in the world and by the death of our beloved friends and relatives, that God was anguished even more than we? He is perfect – in wisdom, knowledge, justice – but he certainly must also be perfect in his emotions like love, compassion, mercy – and even perfect in his grief.

We will never know the pain in the Father’s heart. We could never fathom its depths. Could it be that the sky darkened as the pain multiplied exponentially with every sin laid on the sinless one, until finally God could bear it no longer and the veil torn because of the anguish of God?

PRAYER: We often think of the anguish of Jesus on the cross, Father, but I fear we seldom think of Your anguish as You beheld that scene. May we rend our clothes in anguish over our sin that caused You such pain and turn to You in sackcloth and ashes. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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