DayBreaks for 2/20/18 – Worthless Confetti

Related image

DayBreaks for 2/20/18: Worthless Confetti

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2008:

CATANIA, Sicily – Grandparents often share their sage advice with youngsters to teach them the values of life. A five-year-old Sicilian boy took his grandfather’s wisdom a bit too literally when he told him, “money is just worthless trash.”   The very next day the grandson helped his 33-year-old father get rid of his “trash.” The boy found a wad of cash in his dad’s wallet and tore it up into little pieces until it was unusable. Just in case, he threw the remains out of the window. It turns out the wad of money was actually his father’s entire monthly salary. Now it’s just worthless confetti.

Some lessons in life are expensive.  Some are learned through the school of “hard knocks.” 

Although the story doesn’t say how the father reacted to his son’s “help” in getting rid of his “worthless trash” money that was an entire month’s income, I can only imagine.

I’ve recently done two memorial/funeral services and I’ve been struck by the things in life that are important to us.  I’ve been observing the American way of grief and find it fascinating.  The things that we think have value are suddenly and sharply put into clear focus when someone we love dies.  It’s just a pity that the focus doesn’t last longer than it does, for all too soon we forget the lessons learned in the house of mourning and return to our own ways of pursuing things that are at the very least of questionable value.

How much of life is taken up with the pursuit of “worthless trash!”  How much better off we’d be if we spent our time, effort and energy in pursuit of Jesus.  As I stood, even on the day that I write this, beside the open casket of a warrior of God who served Him faithfully for many years, I am forced once again to confront my own values and pursuits and to confess that they need adjusting. 

The day is coming when all that I’ve done or ever will do in this world will be either burned up or left behind to others.  How true is the saying: “Only one life, ‘Twill soon be past.  Only what is done for the Lord will last!”

Don’t waste your life making confetti.  Make a difference that will survive death and your journey to eternity. 

PRAYER: Give us wisdom to recognize the things of real value and the strength to pursue them.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

Advertisements

DayBreaks for 2/13/18 – The Message of the Folded Napkin

Image result for folded napkin

DayBreaks for 2/13/18: The Message of the Folded Napkin

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2008:

A DayBreaks reader sent this to me and it’s well worth passing on (I’m sorry, I don’t know who originally wrote this):

“Why did Jesus fold the linen burial cloth after His resurrection?
“The Gospel of John (20:7) tells us that the napkin, which was placed over the face of Jesus, was not just thrown aside like the grave clothes.  The Bible takes an entire verse to tell us that the napkin was neatly folded, and was placed at the head of that stony coffin:

Early Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. She ran and found Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved. She said, “They have taken the Lord’s body out of the tomb, and I don’t know where they have put him!” Peter and the other disciple ran to the tomb to see. The other disciple outran Peter and got there first. He stooped and looked in and saw the linen cloth lying there, but he didn’t go in. Then Simon Peter arrived and went inside. He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there, while the cloth that had covered Jesus head was folded up and lying to the side.
I have come to believe that any detail that God has chosen to include in scripture has significance if we can only see it.  So, why did John make note of the napkin that was folded neatly by the burial clothes?  Is it really significant?  Yes!
“In order to understand the significance of the folded napkin, you have to understand a little bit about Hebrew tradition of that day. The folded napkin had to do with the Master and Servant, and every Jewish boy knew this tradition. When the servant set the dinner table for the master, he made sure that it was exactly the way the master wanted it.  The table was furnished perfectly, and then the servant would wait, just out of sight, until the master had finished eating. The servant would not dare touch that table, until the master was finished. Now if the master was done eating, he would rise from the table, wipe his fingers, his mouth, and clean his beard, and would wad up that napkin and toss it onto the table. The servant would then know to clear the table. For in those days, the wadded napkin meant, “I’m done”. But if the master got up from the table, and folded his napkin, and laid it beside his plate, the servant would not dare touch the table, because the folded napkin meant, “I’m coming back!”

I also think it is significant where Jesus left the napkin.  He could have folded his napkin at the Last Supper and laid it neatly on the table.  We don’t know that he did that or not and Scripture certainly doesn’t mention it.  But Jesus leaves the folded napkin at the edge of a grave as if to tell us that he’s coming back to the place of the dead once more and that when he does, he’ll do the same thing that he’d done with Lazarus just a few chapters earlier in John. 

It’s one thing to say you’ll come back to a dinner table to eat – but another thing entirely to say you’ll come back to the place of death and bring life with you!  If your life is “dead” right now, think about the folded napkin and rejoice in the silent message it brings!

PRAYER: Almighty Lord Jesus, ruler of all things, thank you for the simple message of the folded napkin and the hope that it brings us as we live out our days on earth!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 2/05/18 – The One Who Eats His Children

Image result for Chronos by Goya

Saturn (Chronos) Devouring His Son – Goya. 1819-1823.

DayBreaks for 2/05/18: The One Who Eats His Children

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2008:

Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NIV) – There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven…

John 2:4 (NLT) – How does that concern you and me?” Jesus asked. “My time has not yet come.

Matthew 26:18 (NLT) – As you go into the city,” he told them, “you will see a certain man. Tell him, `The Teacher says, My time has come, and I will eat the Passover meal with my disciples at your house.’

Time.  We often speak of it as being our most precious commodity, and although we describe it that way, we don’t often live like we believe it.

The Greek language was so incredibly rich and powerful.  Where we basically have one word for time in English, there were at least two words in the Greek that were commonly used for time.  They believed that time had two faces: one that was good and one that was evil.  Each had a name.  The word chronos (from which we get chronometer, chronicle, chronograph, etc.) was the name of a lesser Greek god, but he wasn’t a good and kindly god.  No, he was ravenous and mean.  He was pictured as a cannibal that was always eating and was never filled or satisfied.  Goya and Peter Paul Rubens both painted pictures of Chronos, wild-eyed, consuming his own children.  This is time that is bound by the clock, that runs on a tight schedule, that is a point in time as a second, minute, hour, day, week or month.  And those who are driven by time pressures are the children that Chronos devours, insatiably, unendingly.  And they’re in agony as he chews away at their flesh and sinews.  Someone shared with me today the idea that not only were living things and the physical things of the universe subjected to tyranny with the fall, but that perhaps time itself was corrupted in some way – turned into Chronos from what had been kairos in the garden.

The other Greek word for time was kairos.  This is not time as we think of it.  In fact, the Greeks would have thought of it this way: instead of asking “What time (chronos) is it?”, they would have asked “What is this time (kairos) for?”  Kairos is time that is unhurried, laden with great potential and possibilities.  It is time that is redeemed by some beautiful, glowing and uplifting purpose.  It is the kind of time that Jesus used when he said, “My time has come.”  In essence, Jesus was proclaiming: “This is the long expected and hoped for time, the very purpose for which I have come is about to be fulfilled.”  Unlike the children of Chronos, the children of kairos seek possibilities, opportunities, wonder in the moment in which their lives are enveloped.

God lets us choose the kind of time we will follow.  We can be driven and consumed by the incessant ticking of the clock on the wall, or we can live in the present moment as the gift of God that it is and search out all the meaning and purpose we can find, for there will never be a shortage of purpose in the lives of believers.

PRAYER: Thank you, Lord, for the time of our lives!  Thank you that we can not be driven and devoured by time, but that we can relish it and trust You in the middle of the turning seasons to give our moments beauty and meaning.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 2/02/18 – The Hands of a Father, #1

Image result for old hands

DayBreaks for 2/02/18: The Hands of a Father, #1

From the DayBreaks archives, 1/28/98: (this DayBreaks was written one week after my father died in 1998)

I remember as a child laying in the church pew (I was really young, OK?) and my dad would be resting his arm on the back of the pew with his fingers dangling down towards me.  I’d play with his fingers and hands while the preacher did his thing.  I remember thinking how powerful and strong my dad’s hands were.  He was a farmer then, so you know that they were broad, calloused and hardened from difficult work.

Last week as I sat by my father’s deathbed and I held his hand in mine, the situation had changed.  Once upon a time, it was my dad’s hand that enveloped mine.  Times when I was afraid, times when he was afraid for me (that I’d run into the road or something like that), times when he was trying to keep me from falling.  And certainly times just when he wanted to hold my hand or I wanted to hold his.

They say that at some point in our lives that the child becomes the parent and the parent becomes the child.  I guess that is what happened to my dad and I last week.  No longer could he hold my hand, now it was my hand that surrounded his and it was I who was trying to provide the comfort and assurance that I could. Yet for as much as my heart yearned to keep him from slipping off into eternity, I was powerless to stop it. And for his sake, I’m grateful that even as my hand had to let go of his, I know our Father had taken his hand to lead him home.

As I sat by his bedside holding his motionless hand, I thought about how many times the Father has held my hand and I’ve taken it for granted.  Psalm 37.23-24: If the LORD delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand.   Daniel 5.23b: But you did not honor the God who holds in his hand your life and all your ways.

I couldn’t begin to tell you how many times my dad held my tiny, weak hand in his.  I wonder how many times God has held my hand and I’ve been so insensitive that I didn’t even recognize it.  But there are even worse things than not recognizing His hand.  I have a choice to withdraw my hand from His (indeed, isn’t that exactly what we do every time we sin?).  I also have a choice to not take the hand that is offered to me (the way of escape from temptation is to take His hand and walk with Him through the test).

If I had the chance for my dad to hold my hand again, I’d grab it in a heartbeat.  I hope and pray that I’ll be as eager to let God hold my hand on this journey through life.  And I pray that I’ll never again be so insensitive to the Father’s hand upon my life.  My prayer for you is the same.

PRAYER: Lord, how desperately we need Your hand to hold ours!  We tremble in fear at the roaring of the world when we think we are alone.  May Your Almighty hand reassure us that we are never alone and we are never to fear with our Father at our side.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 1/31/18 – Screaming in the Darkness

Image result for conflict of will

DayBreaks for 1/31/18: Screaming in the Darkness

From the DayBreaks archives, January 2008:

From Michael Card’s Immanuel: Reflections on the Life of Christ:  “When Jesus was arrested in Gethsemane, he was already bloody before anyone laid a hand on him.  He had been fighting a battle that would make certain the final outcome on Calvary.  Without Gethsemane, there would have been no Golgotha. The blood and water that flowed from his wounds on the cross were preceded by bloody sweat that poured from his pores as he suffered the agony of a death more painful than the physical death on the cross, the death of the will.”

“Gethsemane literally means “place of crushing,” a place where olives were crushed for their oil.  That name took on an infinitely deeper meaning when Jesus knelt down there to pray that night in the garden.  He was both a man and a child in Gethsemane.  Full of courage, it was a man who faced not an uncertain death, but one that was fully known to him.  Jesus looked the Father in the face with mature, though anguished, honesty and said, “If there is any way for this cup to pass, let it be so!”  The torment of the garden was the confrontation between the Son, whose perfect obedience came crashing down against the human desire to say, “My will be done!”  Jesus began to die in the garden.”

“Did Jesus want to go to the cross?  The garden of Gethsemane tells us, no.  Obedience is perfected not in doing something you want to do but in doing the last thing in the world you want to do.  That is why his sweat flowed with blood.  A man knelt in the garden, a man of unspeakable courage and obedience.  A Man of Sorrows…”

“Yet a child also knelt down there to pray.  We hear the tones of a child in Jesus’ plea, “Abba, anything is possible for you!”  Jesus’ words sound like a child’s cry to his father for help, not a theological statement about an all-powerful Universal Being.  (Every father is, at least for a little while, omnipotent to his children.)  He was a child, screaming in the darkness, as if he were having a nightmare, only this was not a dream.”

Galen’s thoughts: This is apparently the closest Jesus ever came to hanging it up and not going through with what God wanted from him.  Does it scare you to know how close he came?  It was only a few short letters and a twist of the words from “..not my will but thine…” to “…not thy will but mine…”.  We were that close.  If Jesus had refused to surrender his own will we would have been doomed.

The will dies hard, doesn’t it?  As you wrestle with your will and the role it plays in the sin in your life, find comfort in the fact that Jesus knows how hard it is for our own will to die within us.  He, the very Son of God, knew the struggle, too.  He can identify with me when I struggle to put the knife to the heart of my own will.  But he also shows me that it can be done.  The struggle is winnable. He proved it.

PRAYER: The struggle is great within us, Lord, to decide whether to follow you or follow our own ways.  Strengthen us in our obedience to be like our Lord.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 1/29/18 – So It Is True

Image result for truth

DayBreaks for 1/29/18: So It Is True

From the DayBreaks archives, January 2008:

There are those who would tell us that anything we want to believe is true.  I can only laugh.  As if my believing anything makes it true!

I recently spent some time with a friend who was stricken with breast cancer that spread over the course of years into her bones, and now it has spread into her brain.  We went to high school together – and in fact, I wrote about her earlier this week.  I was blessed to go and sit by her side for a while, to hold her hand and reminisce as best we could with her in the condition she’s in.  It is a terrible thing to see the toll that cancer takes on the body. 

At one point in the conversation, as we were starting to talk about how she wanted her memorial service done, she teared up, her lip began to quiver, and it was clear that the spectre of death was very real and close to her at that moment.  It is quite something to look into the eyes of one who knows they are already part way through death’s door.  I’ve been asking myself a lot in the past week or so how it must feel to go to sleep at night and really not know if you’ll awaken again in this world. 

As she cried, I whispered to her, “God loves you.”  She whispered back: “I sure hope so.” 

Death, like its master, Satan, stealthily watches to take its victims – sometimes as a thief in the night, sometimes in broad daylight.  Often, he gives no warning, and thus it is that the Bible gives us the admonition to be prepared to meet not only our Maker, but death, at any time.  We need to pay more attention to that admonition than we do. 

The agnostic professor J. H. Huxley, was on his death bed.  His nurse has told the tale of how, during the very last moments of his life as he lay there dying and breathing his very last breaths, he suddenly opened his eyes and looked up, apparently seeing something that was invisible to mortal eyes.  After staring a short while, he whispered, “So it is true.”

It is true that we are mortal – although we don’t sometimes think death will really come to ME.  But beyond that, it is true – there is a God and we will meet Him.  It is also true that this God loves us deeply.  Why do we resist the idea of God and eternal life so much?  Perhaps because it seems too good to be true.  Perhaps it’s more a matter of thinking that after the things we know we’ve thought and done and not done in life that God must be very, very disappointed and angry at us.  I’m sure he’s disappointed in things we do and he hates the evil we do….but he still loves us. 

It is when we are on our own deathbed that we will come face to face with our faith, and the One in whom that faith has been placed.  May His mercy rest on us all.

PRAYER:  For all who are facing death, Lord, we ask Your Presence, and for Your Spirit to move in their hearts, even as it did for the thief on the cross, and lead them to Paradise through faith in Your beloved Son!  Comfort us in the hour of our death, Lord, and let us wake to see Your face.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 1/25/18 – The Rails of Life

Image result for railroad tracks

DayBreaks for 1/25/18: The Rails of Life

From the DayBreaks archives, January 2008:

This past Tuesday night when we got back from being with our youth group, I had a phone call waiting on our answering machine.  It was from the mother of a good friend of mine from high school.  I’d not heard this woman’s voice for probably 38 years (could I possibly have graduated from high school that long ago??!!).  She was calling to tell me that my friend, Lesley, who has struggled with cancer for years, is very near the end of her struggle, and that “we’re counting down the days.”  What a contrast to the phone call we received just before going to youth group that night from our youngest son, letting us know that he and his wife are with child – their first.  We were, of course, ecstatic!

As happy as I was and am for our son and his bride, I was crushed by the news of Lesley.  This “girl” (I still think of her as I knew her in high school) has had a difficult life.  Within a few months after we graduated, she was riding in a car when she was struck by a train and severely injured.  It was touch and go to see if she’d live or die.  She was left with some permanent issues from that accident, but she did survive and went on to become the mother of 3 boys. 

When she was first diagnosed with cancer, her husband left her.  He said he couldn’t deal with it.  Eventually, she found another man – a good one – who loved her for who she was and in spite of her cancer, they married.  For years, they fought her cancer side by side.  Now, the end of the fight is near.  Her mother asked me if I would do her daughter’s memorial service.  Such things are the great privilege of a friend and pastor.

As I thought about this situation, in conjunction with the passing of a young girl from our community with cancer, I shared at the youth group last Tuesday night some thoughts about death and loss.  God’s timing, though strange to us, is always perfect.  Little did I know as I stood there with the youth that I’d get to put into practice so quickly the things I was talking about.  We showed a NOOMA video that made the observation that we can choose whether or not we become bitter about life and what happens, and also that we can choose to focus on what we’ve lost instead of what we have.  Good lessons.

Then, on Wednesday morning, I got an email from a DayBreaks reader with an interview from Rick Warren, whose own wife has been stricken with cancer.  In the interview, he talked about life, it’s ups and downs, and how we often think of life as a series of peaks (the good times) and valleys (the bad times) – and how we move from one to the other so often.  But then he went on and made an observation that I thought was really good.  He said that he didn’t see life as peaks and valleys, but more like a pair of train tracks.  One rail is good, one rail is bad, and they run in parallel throughout our life. 

As I considered Lesley’s situation and the impending memorial service, I realized how true the words were from the video and Rick Warren, and how well they fit together.  The train of our life runs on both tracks…the question is, which track are we going to focus our emotions on?  There is always good and bad…simultaneously.  Perhaps that’s why the apostle Paul encouraged us to consider the good things and “think on these things.”  If we don’t, the badness of the other rail can do us in and lead us into bitterness and depression. 

For those of us who are left behind (and today, 1/21/2008, is the 10th anniversary of my father’s passing to glory), we can choose life over death, joyful memories over painful ones, happy times over sad, love and laughter over loss.  We can claim once again and for all time the memories that mean so much to us of those we have loved and lost. 

And one more thing: we can hold with confidence to the truth that God is busy making everything new, restoring all the loss – and that someday, we’ll see that with our own wonder-filled eyes.

PRAYER:  Thank You, Lord, for our friends and family.  Thank You for the hope of all things being made new, and for the ability to choose to see the good and not just the bad.  You are awesomely wonderful, Father!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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