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 8/7/18 – Words Are Loaded Pistols

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DayBreaks for 8/07/18: Words Are Loaded Pistols

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

Have you been described as a person of many words?  Most of us are more afflicted with the running-off-at-the-mouth disease than closed-mouth disease.  We like to hear ourselves talk, probably because we think we have something worth saying.  Sometimes that is true, but sometimes, perhaps most often, it’s a delusion. 

Did you know that on October 14, 1912, the life of outspoken and energetic presidential candidate, Theodore Roosevelt was saved by his many words? 

Roosevelt had just completed one term as our nation’s president, and was reapplying with the voters for the job.  As he left his hotel in Milwaukee on that particular day, he stuffed his thick, wordy campaign speech in his breast pocket.  He was soon confronted by a gun-toting bartender who fired at rough-and-tumble Teddy, hoping that Roosevelt would suffer the same fate as his predecessor, President McKinley, who’d been assassinated.  The bullet did crack one of Roosevelt’s ribs, but the thickness of his speech probably saved him from death as the bullet struck the large sheaf of paper that he’d put into his pocket shortly before.

While many words were life-saving in this one incident, generally the more words you spit out, the more trouble you bring on your own head.  Jean Paul Sartre once wisely observed, “Words are loaded pistols.”  Now, just in case you don’t like what Sartre had to say on the topic, your Creator dispensed this sage perspective: When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise. (Prov. 10:19, NIV).

“Words are loaded pistols.” Indeed they are. They can protect and defend, but they can also maim and kill.

Words—choose them carefully.  Spend them carefully.  And make sure you err on the side of saying too little rather than too much.  Your life might be at stake.

Matthew 12:36-37 (NIV) – But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.

PRAYER:  Help us Lord, to be people of few words.  May the words we speak be Your Words, not ours!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/19/18 – Don’t Waste Your Bypass

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DayBreaks for 7/19/18: Don’t Waste Your Bypass

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2008:

If you’ve been a DayBreaks reader for some time, you almost certainly know that I had a quad bypass at 49 years of age.  I wasn’t overweight, my cholesterol wasn’t bad – but my genes were/are!  I remember as a young child reading stories from Reader’s Digest about the first heart bypass operations and the amazing heart/lung machine.  I was fascinated by the stories and the technology, thinking it was wonderful – but I certainly never thought I’d be on the receiving end of it. 

Recently, Marvin Olasky, editor in chief of WORLD Magazine, found himself unexpectedly undergoing a bypass operation of his own.  Like mine, his was unexpected.  In the June 28 – July 5 issue, he wrote about his experience and the impact it had on his life.  I will vouch for what he says: it is an experience that DOES make you contemplate life – and death – and the things that are important and the things which are not. 

John Piper, a pastor and author from Minneapolis, was facing cancer surgery when he pointed out that “The aim of God in your cancer (among a thousand other good things) is to knock props out from under our hearts so that we rely utterly on Him.”  Olasky then goes on with some of his own musings and more of Piper’s thoughts: “Amen – because even if we take heart in percentages when we should not, we know that the long-range certainty (unless Christ returns first) is 100 percent fatality.  It’s disconcerting to attain the label ‘cardiac patient.’  But here’s chapter 40 of Isaiah: ‘All flesh is grass…the grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God will stand forever.’”

“Bottom line: if you look in the mirror and see yourself as anything other than a future cardiac, or cancer, or something else patient, you’re fooling yourself.  Piper writes, ‘You will waste your cancer if you think that beating cancer means staying alive rather than cherishing Christ….You will waste your cancer if you spend too much time reading about cancer and not enough time reading about God.’ 

“One of Piper’s most intriguing comments: ‘You will waste your cancer if you treat sin as casually as before…Pride, greed, lust, hatred, impatience, laziness, procrastination….All these things are worse enemies than cancer.  Don’t waste the power of cancer to crush these foes.  Let the presence of eternity make the sins of time look as futile as they really are.’

Piper concludes, “You will waste your cancer if you fail to use it as a means of witness to the truth and glory of Christ.  Here is a golden opportunity to show that He is worth more than life.  Don’t waste it.”

We often think of suffering as a way in which we learn valuable lessons.  If you are facing cancer, cardiac disease or some other illness, or even if you’re just facing “life” (isn’t it interesting how we describe ourselves as facing life instead of facing death – when as Olasky noted, that’s the 100% certainty we all face), don’t waste the lessons that come with a whiff of fatality.

PRAYER:  Thank You, God, for the valuable lessons and reminders of the real certainties.  May we not run in fear from the valuable lessons that You send our way, but learn from them that we might live each day more wisely!   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.

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

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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 1/17/18 – God’s Face Streaked with Tears

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DayBreaks for 1/17/18: God’s Face Streaked with Tears

From the DayBreaks archive, January 2008:

This past week, our small town suffered a great loss.  A young girl, Courtney, was struck down at the tender age of 16 by Ewing’s sarcoma – a rare form of cancer.  She’d become somewhat of a “celebrity” (in a good sense) in our town for her valiant struggle for the past two years.  Her death has hit our town hard and made us all again aware of the presence of the last enemy that will someday be destroyed.

Perhaps my favorite chapter of the entire Bible is John chapter 11 – the story of the raising of Lazarus.  The emotion of the chapter is intense, the message precious. 

First of all, we need to realize that God is a Spirit.  Spirits don’t have eyes, arms, legs, backs or beards.  Spirits are, well…spirits.  Since I’ve never seen one, I can’t tell you what a spirit looks like, but they don’t have bodies per se.  And that complicated things for God.

When God wanted us to know what He was like, He couldn’t just come down in His Spirit and show us.  (I don’t even know if spirits are visible!)  And that’s why the incarnation was so critical.  For us to see God, we had to see something in the form of flesh and blood.  And that takes us to the story of Lazarus.

The shortest verse in the bible – you know it and can quote it – “Jesus wept.”  Perhaps that’s the shortest verse in Scripture because God knew that for the most part, we’re not very good at memorizing Scripture.  But I think it’s the shortest verse in Scripture for a different reason: God knew how important it would be to us so He made it a simple verse that we could remember.

As Jesus stood at the grave of his friend, Lazarus, John says that Jesus was “deeply moved in spirit and troubled.”  Unlike some political candidates or actors, the tears on Jesus’ face were real, just like ours.  They were no act.  They tasted salty, just like ours.  John saw those tears himself.  Think about that.  When Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus, for what may have been the first and only time, humanity saw tears run down the face of God.  And it made such an impression on John that he kept it hidden in his heart until he wrote his gospel and shared it with us.

We needed to know that God weeps with us as we stand at the gravesite.  We need to know that He remembers what it felt like to see death take a loved one in its cold, clammy hands.  We need to know that God, with tears running down his face over what has become of His creation, steps forward at moments like that and says, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” And we certainly need to know that as Jesus stands before the resting place of the dead – the most impenetrable fortress of all – he speaks: “Take away the stone.  Lazarus, come forth!” 

It says that those last words were spoken with a loud voice.  Jesus didn’t whisper into the darkness of the tomb, wondering if he could pull this off.  If he hadn’t been sure of his power to do what he was doing, he might have whispered the words where no one could hear – just in case it didn’t work out.  But he didn’t.  He shouted it out so that everyone would know that he held power over the fortress of death.

And as life returned to Lazarus, I feel sure that the tears disappeared from the face of God, to be replaced with smiles and laughter and eyes that sparkled with delight as his friend came forth from the tomb. 

When you weep – remember, God’s face has been streaked with tears.  He knows.  He understands. 

PRAYER: Oh, God, I’m so glad that You have tasted tears.  It is beyond precious that You chose to weep in front of us so that we would know Your love for us.  When we weep, remind us that You still know, You still feel, You still care.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 12/07/17 – Shattered Dreams

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DayBreaks for 12/07/17: Shattered Dreams

NOTE: Galen is traveling for the next few days.

From the DayBreaks archive, December 2007:

Who among us hasn’t had dreams that were destroyed by one of the twists and turns of life?  Dreams die hard, and they hurt when they die.  We must live with the knowledge and in the presence of that death for the rest of our days.  And sometimes, the ghosts of those dreams come back to haunt us.

I spoke today with a woman who recently became a Christian and who attends another church.  She told me that in her new congregation she doesn’t seem to find the power to overcome things that she once sensed in her prior church, and it has led her to wonder if God is angry at her, if He’s left her because of something foolish or accidental that she’s done.  I’m sure that we’ve all wondered where God was when life became too much to bear. 

Much of modern advertising is designed to convince us that if we have more in life that we’ll get more out of life.  Not so, says Larry Crabb, in Shattered Dreams: “Satan’s masterpiece is not the prostitute or the skid-row bum.  It is the self-sufficient person who has made life comfortable, who is adjusting well to the world and truly likes living here, a person who dreams of no better place to live, who longs only to be a little better—and a little better off—than he already is.”

When it comes to spiritual things, we are all bankrupt before the Father.  People who have true joy are God-dependant, not self-sufficient.  They yearn for a better relationship with Him through difficult times and find their joy in that relationship, not the fulfillment of their dreams. 

What gives you the greatest fulfillment in your life?  If it’s not God and His Kingdom, we need to rethink our priorities and dream different dreams.

Matthew 5:3 Matthew 5:3 (KJV) – Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

PRAYER:  We humans have a hard time with contentment, Lord.  We want and do not have, and we don’t especially want the things that are best for us, like some medicine that might taste bad.  Help us learn to trust in Your wisdom for our lives and for what will bring us true joy and meaning.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.