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.

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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.

DayBreaks for 10/10/17 – Confidence Builders

DayBreaks for 10/10/17: Confidence Builders

From the DayBreaks archive:

Patrick O’Boyle once recalled the late-1940s Hyde Park “Speakers’ Corner” appearances of Frank Sheed, a Catholic author and publisher, with these words:

“Sheed could be devastating with hecklers.  Once, after Sheed had described the extraordinary order and design to be seen in the universe, a persistent challenger retorted by pointing to all the world’s ills, and ended shouting, “I could make a better universe than your God!”

“I won’t ask you to make a universe,” Sheed replied. “But would you make a rabbit—just to establish confidence?”

I suppose much of the human problem stems from the crazy idea that we could do things better than God.  We think we would make a world where there was no evil, no pain, no suffering; a universe where there are no hurricanes or stars that go super-nova – in short, we just think we could do better than God in just about everything. 

Have you ever really stopped to think how stupid such a thought is?  We who are as finite as a speck of sand in the entire universe are so proud and pretentious as to think we actually know better than God.  Hogwash! 

But when it comes to my own life, I’m really prone to think such things.  “God, having me suffer deprivation isn’t good for me.”  “God, there no good reason for what just happened to me!”  “God, I’m a faithful child of Yours, and things like this just aren’t right!” 

Maybe, when we have learned enough from life that we can see the interaction and inner-connectedness of every human thought and every human action on every other human, we would begin to get the tiniest bit of understanding about why things happen.  And, if we could see the eternal salvation that has come to who-knows-how-many-souls through hardship (which is usually God knocking on the top of our skull trying to get our attention!), we might think differently. 

At a Bible study I was teaching this past week, we were discussion Joseph and the period of time that he was left rotting in the prison after the cup-bearer was restored to his duties in the palace of Pharaoh.  It doesn’t seem fair to Joseph.  How could the cup-bearer forget the man who had interpreted his dream?  But, he did.  I’m convinced we should see God’s hand in that rather than just mere human frailty and forgetfulness.  Did Joseph have to learn more patience?  Did he need to learn to trust God more?  (Remember that Joseph had no inkling whatsoever that he would soon be the #2 man in Egypt.)  As I pondered those thoughts, another thought came to me: perhaps Joseph was left in the prison for another year or two (or longer) for the sake of some other human being, nameless and faceless and lost to humanity for about 3000 years now, who was also languishing in the prison? 

God’s ways aren’t our ways – but God can make rabbits, elephants and entire universes in the blink of an eye.  That should be a confidence builder for us to trust Him to know what is best for our individual lives!

PRAYER:  Father, thank you for all the things you’ve done to give us confidence in you.  Help us not to be so wise or smart in our own eyes that we think we can even begin to know better than you what is good for us.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 10/3/17 – How Long, O Lord?

DayBreaks for 10/03/17: How Long, O Lord?

Las Vegas. Violence. Bloodshed. Maimed bodies. Lifeless bodies. Families destroyed and wrecked. Lives ended, eternities begun. All by one man in a matter of moments.

I love this world. I hate this world.

Much will be said and analyzed over the next few weeks and months about the mindset of the man behind the massacre. The truth is that we will never fully know on this earth because he killed himself before he could be questioned. But I know this: whatever was in his mind was evil. Whatever drove him to do this could not be seen as good, not now, not ever.

At our church, we recently celebrated the 40th anniversary of the first Sunday worship. It was a time of great celebration and worship, giving glory to the One to Whom it truly belongs. One of the songs that were sung that morning was “Glory Is Yours”. I think it was originally done by Elevation Worship, and here’s a link to their YouTube version of the song. It is an awesome song about the awesome God we serve, but as I listened to it today after hearing about the Vegas tragedy, I was struck by the line that says, “Oh God, the glory is Yours, the kingdom has come and the battle is over…” It made me weep as I thought about the shattered lives in Vegas, in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Syria, China, Korea, the United States, England, France, Germany and on and on, for there are shattered lives everywhere. And I longed, oh how I longed, for the time when we can stand before the throne and sing those lyrics, Oh God, the glory is Yours, the kingdom has come and the battle is over… and it truly will be over once and for all. For though the kingdom has come, it is not yet fully present as long as things happen as they do in this world.

As I understand Scripture, things aren’t going to get better before the end. In fact, if anything, they’ll get worse or remain the same. So I’m not under any illusions about utopia before the second coming. What will it take to fix all the brokenness? The second coming. But that WILL fix it. Until then, what should we do? 

We should pray. Pray for changed hearts – including our own. Every heart has dark places that need the Light. Pray for those whose lives are broken and shattered around the world daily. Pray for those believers who are being beaten, tortured and killed for their faith.

What shouldn’t we do? We should not fear as believers. Why? Because, as I read today on the Elevation Worship website: For every fear, there’s an empty grave. And that really does make a huge difference, don’t you think? For fear of terrorism, of mass murderers, of those who can kill the body but not ever come close to touching the soul of those held in His hands can do their worst, but the empty grave changes everything. Our fears can be buried there because Christ has emptied the tomb so our fears can go there to die.

As “Glory Is Yours” says, there will never be anyone, anything like Him, and that gives me peace in this shattered world.

PRAYER: Jesus, heal those who are hurting. Drive the darkness out of our hearts with Your Light. And with saints throughout the ages, we cry out, How long, O Lord, how long? Even so, come Lord Jesus! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 9/18/17 – Living With an Intruder

DayBreaks for 9/18/17 – Living With an Intruder

Normally, I try to hold DayBreaks to a spiritual bent.  While today’s message is about spiritual things, it’s also about physical things.  Dick Peterson and his wife, Elizabeth, have been married for 37 years and they live in South Carolina.  They are fellow Christians, and today I’m sharing some of Dick’s writings.  For a number of years now, they have been living with an intruder: Elizabeth has MS.  This is just a part of the article, but I found it to be profound and thought-provoking.  It has certainly caused me to do some soul searching of my own.  I think that you may benefit from the part of it that I’m including.  You seldom find such gut-wrenching and soul-searching honesty. – Galen

“We both pray for healing.  With our families and our church, we agonize before God for a return to the day when Elizabeth can offer an open handshake instead of a permanently clenched fist, or take a flight of stairs without thought.

“But if we only grieve the loss, we miss the gain—that what this disease does to us may also be done for us.  Even as the MS steals abilities from Elizabeth’s life, a healing grows almost undetected inside.  When we talk about this, Elizabeth wonders aloud, “Did it really take this to teach me that my soul is more important to God than my body?”

“And I ask, “Is this what Jesus meant when he taught his disciples to serve?  When he washed their feet, did he look 2,000 years into the future and see me washing my wife’s clothes and helping her onto her shower seat to bathe?  Did it really take this to teach me compassion?”

“Could it be that God in his wisdom and love gives Elizabeth and me this disease to heal us from the inside out in ways he considers far more important than how efficiently nerve signals travel from her brain to her muscles?

“Whom do I love more?

“God’s healing can be sneaky.  We pray that Elizabeth will resume her old life; he wants her to assume a new life.  We long for change on the outside; he desires change on the inside.  We pray for what we want; he answers with what he knows we need.

“Is it wrong to want a whole, functioning body?  Not at all.  But though we focus naturally on the flesh, this disease compels Elizabeth and me to turn our minds to the Spirit.  The apostle Paul said, “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6, NASB).  How unexpected is that?

“Truth be told, Elizabeth and I are still learning the realities of that revelation.  She tells me that when she had no choice but to submit to multiple sclerosis, she learned how to submit to her Lord.

“And he has made me question whom it is I love.

“When I pray for healing, is it for Elizabeth?  Or is it because her healing would make life so much easier for me?  I challenge, “Aren’t you the God who heals?  I love her and I want her well.”  But in the back of my mind I know I also want her healed for me.

“In response to my challenge, Jesus asks me as he asked Peter, “Do you love me more than these?”  I think, He wants me to love him more than my wife?  So I reply with Peter’s words, “Yes, Lord, You know that I love You.”

“Tend My lambs” (John 21:15), he tells me.

“I care for Elizabeth.  She’s his lamb.  Doesn’t that show I love him?

“But what is he really asking?  He’s asking if I love him more than these things I say I want, the things I’d have if this disease would just go away.  Now my answer’s not nearly as glib.  Can I actually love God more than my wife, but not more than these things I say I want?  They’re not bad things: a happy, healthy life together, a stroll on the beach without a wheelchair to become bogged down in the sand, getting to church on time because she can dress herself.

“The exposure shames me.  Do I love him more than these?” – Dick Peterson, Christianity Today/Marriage Partnership Magazine, 2007

PRAYER:  Father, I am humbled by this couple and the lessons you’ve been teaching them, and us through them.  These questions gnaw at my inner being.  I can’t answer them, and although I can’t find the answers in myself, Lord, You know…You alone know how I would react, and whether or not I love you “more than these.”  Hear our humble confession and help us to learn what love truly means and does.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.