DayBreaks for 2/10/17: A Fresh Grave, A Fresh Garden

DayBreaks for 2/20/17: A Fresh Grave, A Fresh Garden

From the blog of Doug Dalrymple, 2/07/07:

Why should you be surprised that the human race’s wickedness can hinder the fertility of the earth? For our sake the earth was subject to corruption, and for our sake it will be free of it. It exists solely for us, to serve us. Its being like this or like that has its root in this destiny… What happens to the world happens to it for the sake of the dignity of the human race. – John Chrysostom

If the current occupant of the throne in the Phanar has earned for himself the title of “Green Patriarch,” perhaps he’s simply following in the steps of his sainted predecessor. Perhaps. But Chrysostom’s is a different sort of environmentalism, isn’t it?
God is the true life of man. St John suggests that man is, in turn, the life of the created order. It depends upon us. It follows us into exile like a devoted slave, rejoicing in our honor, glorying in our beauty, weeping in our sorrow, dying in our death.
The created order is a mirror of man. Eden has fallen because Adam has fallen. When we look upon the world we behold our own conflicted reflection: an image of God, full of dignity and glory, obscured through sin, fallen into decay and dissolution, a field of conflict, a fresh grave, but sprouting with flowers.
“What happens to the world happens to it for the sake of the dignity of the human race.” This sounds absurd to us. But I wonder: if Adam wept when he left the Garden, perhaps his tears were due in part to a transformation -difficult for us to conceive but utterly apparent to him- which he had wrought upon creation through his disobedience, the abdication of his calling to “tend and keep.”
“…[F]or our sake it will be free…” Scripture teaches us that all things in heaven and on earth will be brought together and transformed in the God-Man, Jesus Christ. The whole creation, we read, groans under the burden of our fallenness, in anticipation of the revelation of the Sons of God, which is mankind resurrected, made fully alive, a royal priesthood, a new creation in Christ.
Eden was a seed entrusted to a child; heaven is the full-grown garden promised to the man.

PRAYER: Lord, in our fall we have marred your world, and mar it still.  Forgive us.  We long for the full-grown garden.  Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 2/10/17 – When the End Comes

DayBreaks for 2/10/17 – When the End Comes

When we think about “the end”, there are probably lots of things that cross your mind.  I think of the blast of the trumpet, I think about what it will be like to actually look up to the heavens and see Jesus for the very first time, surrounded by who-knows-how-many angels, riding on a great white war horse.  I think about what it will be like to see the spirits of the dead popping up from the ground all around.  I think of how I’ll feel – will I know fear, or will my relationship with him be such that there is no fear?  What kind of looks will be on the faces of those who will only for all eternity know him as their judge and not as their Savior?  What kinds of shrieks and cries will fill the air?  Imagine the looks of wonder, shock, joy and dismay that will be seen on people’s faces.

I think about the end of suffering, of pain, disease, death.  I think about not ever having to pay income taxes again, or to never again have to make a house payment (not even on my “mansion” in heaven!)  And I wonder what the One who sits on the throne looks like, I can’t wait to see the four living creatures are like and to hear the sweet music of heaven!

But there’s another thing that will accompany the end that I don’t often think about.  Julian of Norwich put it this way: When the end comes and we are taken for judgment above, we will then clearly understand in God the mysteries that puzzle us now.  Not one of us will think to say, ‘Lord, if it had been some other way, all would be well.’

How many times have I thought God should have done something differently, or in a different way than He has?  Certainly, if He’d only asked me first, I could have told Him a better way than He decided on by Himself!!!!  There are mysteries that deeply trouble me: why we find it so hard to forgive (given the way we have been forgiven by Him!), why we are so quick to judge, why there are tornados, tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes, diseases, divorces?  Why is there such a thing as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome?  Why did He let someone be born only to die within minutes, hours or days?  What purpose do all those things serve, or do they serve any purpose at all?  (I have to believe that they do, or He would not permit them to happen.)  And so, I trust that Julian was right: that the day will come when we will not question God, but will KNOW.  Where we will not accuse Him of choosing the wrong way, for we will see with our own eyes and understand in our own hearts and minds that God did, indeed, choose the best way for everything, and that in the end, “all will be well.”

PRAYER:  Lord Jesus, as you know, It is hard to live by faith when we are alive in a world of such brokenness and unanswered questions.  Teach us to trust You, that there is a rhyme and reason to all things, and that in every decision You make, that You have chosen not only wisely, but perfectly.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 12/12/16 – Headlines in Heaven

DayBreaks for 12/12/16: Headlines in Heaven

“Bombing at Egypt’s main Coptic Cathedral kills 25”

“Amid Aleppo Offensive, IS Recaptures Syria’s Palmyra”

“Turkey Blasts Claimed by Kurdish Militants: Country Mourns”

“At Least 160 dead in Nigerian Church Collapse”

“Orlando marks 6-month anniversary of nightclub massacre”                                                    

Those were among the headlines on Sunday, 12/11, as I was writing this DayBreaks. Was that day unique? No, sadly those headlines could have been written on any day of the week, or perhaps more to the point: on every day of the week. Such are the headlines that comprise our daily earth-bound experience. Why is this the case? It’s for one reason and on reason only: this world is broken and it has been broken since the fall.

As I was pondering that point today, I couldn’t help but think about what the news headlines will be once that Jesus has returned and we are in the new heaven and earth in which righteousness dwells and all that has been broken has been fully repaired. How will that happen, I don’t know how God can make all that is broken whole, how He can undo and erase all the pain and make it right – not just right – but perfected. But I do believe that He will do that somehow, someday.

And when He does, I wonder if we’ll still have news – and if we do, what that news might be like:

“Joy reigns eternal in every portion of the creation”

“Not one person died anywhere today”

“Today, no one had an evil thought or did an evil deed”

“Throughout the universe today, everyone treated others perfectly”

“Peace and love rule the universe”

“Curious fact: no one has aged or got sick in the last ten trillion years”

I can hardly wait for those kind of headlines to be the kind I read.

Even as I long for that, I am struck by the realization that even though such will be headlines only in heaven, that it is we humans who make the headlines here on earth by what we do. That tells me that if I am sick and tired of this broken world, that it is this time-bound world that we have a chance, even now, to create some of those kind of headlines by the things we choose to do or say today. Want some uplifting headlines? Do something good for someone today, and every day, until we read our first set of heavenly headlines!

PRAYER: Jesus, help us be those who contribute to a better set of news headlines tomorrow than we experienced today as we help your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

DayBreaks for 12/5/16 – Traveling to the Unexplored Land

DayBreaks for 12/05/16: Traveling to the Unexplored Land

Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT) – For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

My oldest son was always captivated by maps. He would draw maps of imaginary places when he was younger, though I don’t think he does any more. Perhaps you’ve seen ancient maps of what were the unexplored portions of the world? Maps that portrayed the prevailing ideas of what lay beyond, the unexplored lands and the uncrossed seas? Maps from before the adventures of Marco Polo and Christopher Columbus and Ferdinand Magellan? How grotesquely inaccurate those maps were! How vastly they differed from what the explorer eventually found! How fantastic were the notions the ancients had about what was out there – a dropping-off-place, mammoth sea serpents to swallow up ships. But as things turned out, it wasn’t that way at all. You know, if Columbus had believed half the maps and legends of his time he would never have lifted an anchor!

Well, we are all on a journey traveling into the unexplored land, and we ought to be careful how we map it until we’ve traveled there. Certainly we shouldn’t let the future do things to us it never meant to do. For many, the future is a terrifying place – they don’t believe anything is there, or whatever it may be that lurks there is most likely, in their view, to be unfriendly at best.

It is my faith that the future means to be friendly; and I don’t think we ought to treat it as an enemy. If we do, and start in to do battle with it, I can tell you this: it’s a battle we can never win. Let those who believe never suspect it of standing over us with a club waiting for a chance to clobber us into the ground, or of lurking in the shadows to pounce upon us around the next dark corner. If the verse for today says anything, it says that we can, and should, look towards the Unexplored Land with joy and great anticipation, not just during this season, but always.

PRAYER: Father, I believe that when we travel to the Unexplored Land that it will be full of delights and surprises we cannot even imagine. Let it stir up in us excitement as our arrival in Your land draws closer and may it spur us onward until we are Home! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple.  All rights reserved.

 

DayBreaks for 11/01/16 – When He Comes Again

DayBreaks for 11/01/16 – When He Comes Again

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2006:

NOTE: Galen is taking a short vacation.

Where will you be?  What will you be doing?  Have you ever wondered what you’ll see and hear and how you’ll feel when the LORD comes to receive His own?  I have.  I’ve thought about it many times – even worried about it when I was young.  I was afraid he’d come at some time when I’d be away from my mom and dad and sister, and I’d be on my own – lost in the vast horde of humanity that will rise when summoned to the great judgment throne of God.  I look back at those fears now and know that they were childish and silly.  But the coming of Christ will be neither childish nor silly.  It will be spectacular.  It will be indescribable.  It will be, quite honestly, the culminating moment of all history.  I like, however, the way Max Lucado tried to make it real for us.  It stirred my heart, and I hope it stirs yours:


“You are in your car driving home. Thoughts wander to
the game you want to see or meal you want to eat, when suddenly a sound unlike any you’ve ever heard fills the air.  The sound is high above you.  A trumpet?  A choir?  A choir of trumpets?  You don’t know, but you want to know.

“So you pull over, get out of your car, and look up.  As you do, you see you aren’t the only curious one. The roadside has become a parking lot.  Car doors are open, and people are staring at the sky.  Shoppers are racing out of the grocery store.  The Little League baseball game across the street has come to a halt.  Players and parents are searching the clouds. And what they see, and what you see, has never before been seen.

“As if the sky were a curtain, the drapes of the atmosphere part. A brilliant light spills onto the earth. There are no shadows. None.  From whence came the light begins to tumble a river of color spiking crystals of every hue ever seen and a million more never seen. Riding on the flow is an endless fleet of angels. They pass through the curtains one myriad at a time, until they occupy every square inch of the sky.

“North.
South.
East.
West.

“Thousands of silvery wings rise and fall in unison, and over the sound of the trumpets, you can hear the cherubim and seraphim chanting, Holy, Holy, Holy.  The final flank of angels is followed by twenty-four silver-bearded elders and a multitude of souls who join the angels in worship.

“Presently the movement stops and the trumpets are silent, leaving only the triumphant triplet: Holy, Holy, Holy.  Between each word is a pause.  With each word, a profound reverence.  You hear your voice join in the chorus. You don’t know why you say the words, but you know you must.

“Suddenly, the heavens are quiet.  All is quiet.  The angels turn, you turn, the entire world turns and there He is. 

 “Jesus.

“Through waves of light you see the silhouetted figure of Christ the King.  He is atop a great stallion, and the stallion is atop a billowing cloud.  He opens his mouth, and you are surrounded by his declaration: “I am the Alpha and the Omega!” 


“The angels bow their heads.
“The elders remove their crowns.
“And before you is a Figure so consuming that you know, instantly you know:  Nothing else matters. 

“Forget stock markets and school reports.  Sales meetings and football games.  Nothing is newsworthy.  All that mattered, matters no more….for Christ has come.” – Max Lucado 

1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 (NIV) For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.  Therefore encourage each other with these words.

PRAYER:  Father, when we are prone to despair and be discouraged, help us to remember that the “day of the Lord” will, indeed, come, and that when it does, there will be nothing at all that matters except Jesus.  May we be eagerly ready!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 10/26/16 – Superhero Heaven

DayBreaks for 10/26/16 – Superhero Heaven

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2006, written by one of my sons:

The true explanation of all these questions is still stored up in the hidden treasure rooms of Wisdom, and will not come to the light until that moment when we shall be taught the mystery of the Resurrection by the reality of it; and then there will be no more need of phrases to explain the things which we now hope for. Just as many questions might be started for debate amongst people sitting up at night as to the kind of thing that sunshine is, and then the simple appearing of it in all its beauty would render any verbal description superfluous, so every calculation that tries to arrive conjecturally at the future state will be reduced to nothingness by the object of our hopes when it comes upon us.
– St. Gregory of Nyssa

My dad (that’s me, Galen!) employed several standard and sub-standard tricks to keep us kids in line during long summer road trips.  From the “sub-standard” category: When things got loud and out of hand in the car, he’d suggest we play a round of “First-Sleep-Longest-Sleep.”  This was a game of his own devising, a game which could only have been born of fatherly vexation on a long drive across the barren desert with three hollering, diminutive barbarians in the back seat.  The game’s objectives, of course, were two: 1) to fall asleep first; and 2) to wake up last.  You could “win” by doing either, but to achieve both was the ultimate triumph.  Needless to say, our enthusiasm for the game waned considerably after the very first round.
As an alternative to “games” like First-Sleep-Longest-Sleep, my dad would sometimes pose theological questions for us kids and invite us to speculate on them -and I know he took a real interest in our answers.  One question that cropped up frequently was: “What do you think heaven will be like?” Initial replies typically included:

“We’ll be with Jesus.”
“We’ll each live in our own mansion.”
“In heaven the streets are made of gold and the gates are made of giant pearls.”
“Nobody is ever sad or sick.”
“We’ll get to talk with Adam and David and Elijah.”

But though things started out tame enough, inevitably, as I recall, we’d begin to speculate about what super-powers we might possess in the hereafter.  Would we be able to walk through walls?  Would we be able to read each other’s thoughts?  Would we be indestructible?  Invisible?  Would we have superhuman strength?  Would we be able to fly?  We answered all of these in the affirmative.  How could it not be like that?  Heaven, as we imagined it, was a brightly lit playground where we could enjoy all the super-powers possessed by each of the members of the Super Friends and Justice League at once.

Heaven was where we all get to be superheroes – only without having to fight villains.  We get to rocket through the atmosphere just for thrills.  We get to sneak up and surprise people by suddenly materializing before their eyes.  We get to move mountains without breaking a sweat (with a flick of the wrist rather than by faith).  In heaven, it seemed to me, we got to play rough without the consequences.  No wonder we were anxious to get there; Superhero Heaven was where all little boys wanted to go.

Mostly, I think, this was harmless daydreaming, though I imagine my dad had to rein us in now and then.  But kids (okay, adults too) have a way of losing themselves in imaginative self-indulgence.  Like everyone raised in a Christian family, as I grew older I had to revisit and re-imagine such things.  Eventually, in college, I traded Superhero Heaven for a practically Buddhist or neoplatonic vision of the annihilation of the self in the One, or, alternately, a disembodied, semi-conscious state of beatitude in a realm of pure spirit.  Later, however, I came to understand that in some sense my childhood speculations about heaven, silly as they were, were actually more Christian than the subtle, ethereal visions of the philosophers and the Far East.  Superhero Heaven, at least, was tangible, incarnate, even if the rules of strictly earthly life didn’t apply.
The Christian doctrine of the Resurrection, difficult and vague as it is (cf. St Gregory’s quote above), is not compatible with visions of a state of pure spirit, or with the annihilation of the self.  The creedal affirmation of faith in the actual and literal “resurrection of the body” is non-negotiable Christian dogma.  We insist, there is continuity between our creation and our redemption: The God who created us holy and good in our flesh and bones by the dust of the ground and His “breath” is the same God who saves us by taking on and re-hallowing our flesh and bones and the dust of the ground, breathing out his Spirit upon us.

I don’t know if I’ll pose my father’s theological stumpers to my own children on our future summer road trips (though I’m sure to try out First-Sleep-Longest-Sleep).  Perhaps I will.  But in any case, I’ll do what I can to gently steer them away from Superhero Heaven.  And when my kids ask me from the back seat, Papa, what is heaven like? I’ll answer: “If you want to know what heaven is like, just look at Jesus.”  –  Look at Christ’s flesh and blood: crucified, resurrected, deified, at the right hand of the Father yet in our midst, tangible, taste-able. Our portrait of Christ is our portrait of heaven.

Beloved, we are God’s children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him… (I John 3:2)

PRAYER:  We are humbled by Your greatness and confess we are eager to know more about You and Your home.  Give us understanding, Lord, that we may serve You faithfully throughout this life.  And thank you that there really is a Superhero in heaven that gave Himself for us and by Whose power we will rise from the dust we are made of to become the heavenly creatures You long for us to be.  May we glimpse bright heaven’s glories, bright heaven’s Son!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 10/14/16 – It’s All About Exile

DayBreaks for 10/14/16 – It’s All About Exile

From the DayBreaks archive, 2006:

1 Chronicles 29:15 – We are here for only a moment, visitors and strangers in the land as our ancestors were before us. Our days on earth are like a shadow, gone so soon without a trace.

1 Peter 2:11-12 (NIV) – Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.  Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

From Doug Dalrymple, in his blog:

“In the 2nd century Christian apologetic, the Letter to Diognetus, we read:

“For Christians cannot be distinguished from the rest of the human race by country or language or customs. They do not live in cities of their own; they do not use a peculiar form of speech…
Yet although they live in Greek and barbarian cities alike, as each man’s lot has been cast, and follow the customs of the country in clothing and food and other manners of daily living, at the same time they give proof of the remarkable and admittedly extraordinary constitution of their commonwealth. They live in their own countries, but only as aliens. They have a share in everything as citizens, and endure everything as foreigners. Every foreign land is their fatherland, and yet for them every fatherland is a foreign land.

“To amend Khomiakov, if I may: Do not harness your heart, then, to anything but the Cross of Christ.

“Or, as we read in Hebrews: ‘Here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city which is to come.’  – Exile, my friends. It’s all about exile.”

Galen’s Thoughts: We should never get too comfortable in this “home” (or even too alarmed about current events) because that’s exactly what this world is NOT: home.  Sure, we were born here, grew up here, and we will die here, but it is not home.  Not for the Christian.  It is nothing more, and nothing less, than enemy territory, a foreign land that we must traverse before we leave for Home.

Hebrews 11:8-10 (NIV) – By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.  By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

We need to be focused and looking for that same city, living as responsible citizens in the here and now and helping others look for that City, too.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, the allure of this world for us humans is overwhelming.  We must accept the unseen by faith, while here we can see, taste, touch, smell and hear the sounds of life, or what passes for life in our experience.  Help us to fix our eyes on our Father’s land.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.