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

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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.

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DayBreaks for 1/18/18 – If We’d Been There

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DayBreaks for 1/18/18: If We’d Been There

From the DayBreaks archive, January 2008:

More from John 11 today: John 11:43-44 (NIV)  – When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out! The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.

I can’t hardly imagine the spectacle around the tomb of Lazarus.  Like most tombs of that time, it was either a cave-like structure carved horizontally into the rock, or a vertical hole in the ground.  Either way, such tombs would have a stone placed over the entrance for at least three reasons: to keep out the wild animals that would tear at the decaying flesh, to keep out vandals that might try to steal any valuables and to keep in the stench of decay. 

We know from several of the verses that people were gathered around.  They’d most likely accompanied Mary and Martha as they made their way to the tomb – it was customary for the mourners to travel together at such times.  And we know that Jesus asked “them” to move the stone.  What we often forget is what else Jesus asked “them” to do. 

When Lazarus came back to life, he was still wound up by the grave wrappings.  I don’t know if Lazarus “floated” out of the tomb, or hobbled mummy-like to the entrance, or hopped.  We don’t know and it doesn’t really matter – somehow Lazarus got there.  But even as he drew his first breath, he may have started to think he was suffocating because of the wrappings around his head and chest.  The wrappings needed to come off.  And Jesus gave the job to “them”.  Surely, if Jesus could raise Lazarus from the dead, surely Jesus was capable of removing the grave clothes, either by hand himself, or miraculously.  But he didn’t.  “They” had to do it.

What would you have done if you were one of “them”?  I can imagine several reactions if I try to put myself in their place.  Consider these possibilities and contemplate what you might have done:

ONE: I might have gotten a good whiff of the scent of death (I somewhat doubt that just because Lazarus was alive, that the smell that had been trapped in the linen was gone) and thought, “No way!  I think I’m going to throw up!”

TWO: if I was a perfectionist, I might say: “I’ve never unwrapped a dead person before.  How do you do it?  What if I do it wrong?”

THREE: I might have been too puzzled to do anything.  I might have thought, “This can’t possibly be happening.  There’s got to be some other explanation for this.  Lazarus must not have been dead – we must have buried him prematurely!  It’s a miracle he survived!”

What’s the point of all this?  Simply this: I wonder how we respond when Jesus invites us to do something.  Are we willing to dive into the stink that ministry can sometimes be in order to do what He asks of us?  Are we worried that we’re not good enough or don’t know enough to do what He asks?  Would we seek for another way, some other explanation?

We didn’t have the incredible privilege of witnessing the events of John 11 with our own eyes.  But Jesus still invites us, just as he invited them, to join him in what He does.  Will we?

PRAYER:  Sometimes, Lord, we are frightened and confused and feel too incapable of doing anything meaningful or well enough in life.  We get so down on ourselves because of the enemy’s constant attacks and our all-too-frequent failures to feel we can be of any use to You.  And so we do nothing.  Help us to spring into faithful action when we hear Your voice.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 12/22/17 – The Man Who Loved Mary

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DayBreaks for 12/22/17: The Man Who Loved Mary

Matthew 1:19 (ESV) – And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.

He is the forgotten man – the man in the shadows. The man who takes a backseat at every Christmas season and yet he is there quietly supporting his beloved, Mary. He is never mentioned by Paul in any of his writings, and the earliest gospel, Mark, does not mention him either. Some look to Joseph as the patron saint of workers as he was a laborer. Some translate his work as “carpenter”, but the term means laborer or craftsman meaning he could have been a carpenter, stone mason, metal worker or some other artisan. He was last mentioned in Scripture in Luke when Jesus was twelve. Had he been present at the crucifixion, he would have been responsible for the body of Jesus, but that job fell to Joseph of Arimathea. Most believe that he died long before the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.

This morning, as I read the verse above from Matthew 1, I was struck in a new way as I read about Joseph. When I’d read it before, I tended to just skim over it, but for some reason, not today. Joseph was a just man – a “good” man, if any can be called that. I tried to imagine the feelings that must have welled up inside him when he heard that Mary was with child. I would imagine that there was some anger initially, yielding to disappointment and heartbreaking pain as he had to have assumed she’d been with someone else (at least until his visit from the angel informed him otherwise). Do you know how that must have felt? Can you imagine it?

But the scripture goes on to say that he was unwilling to put her to shame. Why? There can only be one reason that I can think of: he loved Mary. Deeply, passionately and without reservation – he loved her.

And then comes the visit from the angel and his soul is flooded with relief – at least partially. The relief in knowing she’d not slept with someone else had to be palpable, but yet there was a lingering problem – a problem that would only grow for nine months: Mary was pregnant and it could not be hidden. So when Joseph accepted the words of the angel at face value, he was also accepting the fact that he, too, would be the object of scorn and ridicule, that he would be suspected of having defiled Mary prior to the wedding. So why did he willingly accept it? I believe there are two reasons: 1) he was a just man – a good man who didn’t want to bring shame to Mary and have her bear it all by herself; 2) he loved her with all his heart.

Christmas is a season that is all about love. We speak often of God’s love for us in sending Jesus. We see the beaming face of Mary, alight with the glow of the star and oil lamps as she cradles her newborn Son and we can see the love in her eyes at the miracle she holds. And there, in the background where he has been content to be for two thousand years, stands Joseph, a just man who loved Mary.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for the example of love of this man of the shadows, Joseph. May we love so selflessly! In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 12/4/17 – What We Shall Be

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DayBreaks for 12/04/17: What We Shall Be

From the DayBreaks archive, December 2007:

What do you think heaven looks like?  We read of the streets of gold and the city gates being made up of a huge, single pearl each.  There are descriptions of the river of life that flows through the city and the trees that bear fruit along its banks.  Incredible creatures are there, too, according to Revelation: myriads upon myriads of angels, archangels, and don’t forget the fascinating four living creatures that stand before the throne itself.  What do they look like?  John describes them somewhat for us, but even then, it’s a mind-boggling and mind-stretching scene to try to imagine.  Then, don’t forget the glassy, crystal sea.  It must be beautiful to look upon!

And of course, there’s the Lamb and the Father and the Spirit – all pictured in various places throughout Scripture, but most intriguingly, perhaps in Revelation. 

So, what is it that you think will be the most amazing thing to see?  Will it be God Himself?  Will it be when our eyes are opened and we can see the Spirit?  Will it be the Lamb who was slain before the foundation of the world?  I am sure that when we see Them, it will be beyond our imagining, even though we’ve read about them in John’s apocalypse.  And I’m sure that the four living creatures won’t disappoint, nor will the sight of the angel, Michael, the leader of God’s heavenly army.

But, as I thought about it the other day, while not the most glorious sight, but perhaps the most surprising, may be those who have been at last perfected by the blood of the Lamb.  Not even the most beautiful actress or actor at their finest will begin to compare to a perfected human being.  We’ve never seen a perfected human in the 21st century.  There was only One human who ever lived that was perfect – all that the Father Creator meant for Him to be.  Only one century was privileged to see that.  But even then, his flesh wasn’t perfected – it was subject to decay and failure, just as ours is. 

As I sat during Thanksgiving and watched my family around the table, in the front room, in the kitchen, and I watched them with wonder in my heart and delighted to hear their interactions and laughter, I looked at my wife and thought: won’t she be incredible in heaven?  (I think she’s wonderfully incredible now!)  She’ll have no flaws of any kind, nor will I.  In heaven, we will be perfected – all God ever meant for us to be.  Won’t it be a glorious sight to see?

John 1:14 (NIV) – The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

1 John 3:2 (KJV) – Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

PRAYER:  Lord, we can’t imagine the delights of Your home, and our home!  We wait with patience, we will finish well, Lord, by Your grace and great power, as we look forward to the day when You complete Your mighty work in us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 11/20/17 – In Due Time

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DayBreaks for 11/20/17: In Due Time

NOTE: Galen is traveling…again.

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

“Somewhere over the rainbow, bluebirds fly, somewhere over the rainbow, why then, oh why, can’t I?”  Every heart carries dreams and hopes and ambitions.  I’ve always wanted to be able to fly (without being in an airplane.)  I know other people who have dreamed of sailing the south Pacific or climbing some of the earth’s tallest mountains.  Others dream of being a police officer, astronaut, explorer, singer, dancer or actor.  Hopes and dreams are an essential part of life. 

In Discipleship Journal, Carole Mayhall tells of a woman who went to a diet center to lose weight.  The director took her to a full-length mirror.  On it he outlined a figure and told her, “This is what I want you to be like at the end of the program.”  Days of intense dieting and exercise followed, and every week the woman would stand in front of the mirror, discouraged because her bulging outline didn’t fit the director’s ideal.  But she kept at it, and finally one day she conformed to the longed-for image.  – Daily Bread, August 8, 1990

For a long time, as a child, I wanted to be either a brain surgeon or astronaut.  When I started off to college, I was torn between pursuing a career in medicine or in ministry.  For over 25 years, I did neither, although I took classes that could have led in both directions.  The thrill of holding someone’s physical life in my hands during surgery was intoxicating.  The adventure and wonder of flying through space to the moon caught my imagination. 

What we dream of and long for help to shape what we actually become.  That’s partly why Scripture says “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”  (Phil. 4:8)  We’re also told that we are what we think about in our hearts.  We’re told what our vision should be: to lock our eyes on to Christ and to become like him.  Pretty heady stuff, when you think about that one!

The absence of dreams (a vision and focus for life) can be equally serious: we can wind up just drifting along and one day we bump into shore and we are something that we never wanted to be, stuck somewhere in a place we never wanted to be.  God wants more for us, for you, than that. 

I have been out of high school now for a staggering 47 years (as of 2017).  Even if I’d pursued a career in medicine, I would have been out of college for 35 years or so.  Are there days when I still wish that I was a neurosurgeon or astronaut?  Yeah, there are.  But they’re a lot less frequent now.  Here’s what I want to be when I grow up: I want to be Christ-like.  It is hard to imagine that such a thing is possible, but Peter says it is in 2 Peter 1.  2 Corinthians 3:18 (NIV) 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.

Like the woman in front of the mirror who saw the shape of what she wanted to be gradually became the shape she actually was, let us all fix our eyes on the perfect Image, the exact Image, of God.  And in due time, if we don’t grow weary, we will take on that Image to His everlasting glory.

PRAYER:  Jesus, it’s hard to believe that we could come to look like You.  Help us to keep looking at You and to You, our perfect example.  May we regain what we were meant to be that we have lost through sin.  Help us to be patient with ourselves, even as You patiently shape us.   In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 11/16/17 – As If

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DayBreaks for 11/16/17: As If

NOTE: Galen is traveling…again.

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

Playing God.  It’s something that we accuse doctors of doing at times, or even other folks who are trying to control everything and everyone.  It’s a ridiculous concept, if you really stop to think of it.  Perhaps that’s why movies like Bruce Almighty found such an audience – it probed the depths of what it might be like if some bumbling human tried to take on the job of God.  And, God Himself challenged Job with the concept – almost saying point blank: “If you think you could do a better job, give it a spin!”  Job, fortunately, was wise enough to not take Him up on the offer. 

Here’s a different twist on the notion:

“Losing PlayStation privileges or being confined to a room would be hard enough for most children, but at the tender age of ten, Sajani Shakya almost lost her status as a living goddess.  In the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal, living goddesses—called Kumari—are chosen from the same Hindu caste as Buddha and worshiped as deity.  As Sajani soon learned, with the elevated status came elevated expectations.  Under no circumstances was she ever to leave the country.  Nepalese authorities were outraged, then, when she chose to travel to the United States to participate in a documentary that was being filmed about the Kumari tradition.  Upon her return, she received notification of termination from goddess status from Jaiprasad Regmi, chief of the government trust that manages the affairs of the living goddesses.  However, after a little pressure from the public and Sajani’s own remorse, the government has since offered a reprieve.  Sajani will retain her title if she faithfully goes through an intense cleansing process that washes her of the sins of the countries she has visited in her travels.” – AP, 7/21/07

There is a huge difference between God and the gods of men.  As if any human, or a group of “authorities” could strip a real God of His Godhood.  It can’t help but make me wonder what definition of “god” the Nepalese were operating under.  It’s preposterous to think that we can take away God’s “Godness”. 

To some extent, they are right: with greatness (and if anything constitutes greatness, surely that would be “Godhood”!) come expanded expectations.  We just need to be careful of what expectations we place on Him.  Do you expect Him to do your bidding?  Do you view Him as the Heavenly Answer-man?  In the real God we see a great dichotomy: He is the one who gives answers, he is the one who can do anything, yet we often approach him by telling him what he should do in any given situation.  And if He doesn’t, we might be tempted to lose faith in Him (in essence, stripping Him of His God-ness) in our hearts and minds. 

The Truth is that God doesn’t need us to declare Him as God.  He knows who He is.  Our problems is that often we don’t know who we are in relation to Him! 

PRAYER: Help us to grow in appreciation and awareness of Your greatness this day.  Teach us that we are nowhere close to being able to do Your job and to humbly walk before You.   In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 11/13/17 – The Risk of Mortality

DayBreaks for 11/13/17: The Risk of Mortality

NOTE: Galen is traveling.

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

I’ve got to admit, I’m a bit of a news lover.  I am constantly checking to find out what’s going on in the world.  I find it fascinating.  More often than not, what I find fascinating is the way in which the news is reported, or even the idiocies that are claimed in the news story itself. 

For many of us, on 11/07/07, some great news came out from the Associated Press (imagine that!)  It seems that some medical studies have been done recently that suggest that being overweight isn’t really as bad for you as we’d all been led to believe.  Here’s part of the article:

“This is a very puzzling disconnect,” said Dr. JoAnn Manson, chief of preventive medicine at Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “That is a conundrum.”

“It was the second study by the same government scientists who two years ago first suggested that deaths from being too fat were overstated. The new report further analyzed the same data, this time looking at specific causes of death along with new mortality figures from 2004 for 2.3 million U.S. adults.

“Excess weight does not uniformly increase the risk of mortality from any and every cause, but only from certain causes,” said the study’s lead author Katherine Flegal, of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Galen’s Thoughts: I’ll bet many of you feel better after reading this, don’t you? 

What a fantasy world we live in!  Did you catch the bit of fantasy as you read through this portion of the report?  Here it is: “Excess weight does not uniformly increase the risk of mortality from any and every cause…”  Hum.  Now isn’t that interesting?  When you stop to think about it, what is the risk of mortality that we all face?  Isn’t it 100%?  I seriously doubt that, fatness or thinness aside, anyone’s risk or dying (sooner or later) will go above 100%, or below 100%.  I think that our risk of mortality is pretty doggone fixed right there at 100%, period.

It was just last night that I lay in bed thinking about mortality.  I’m a 55-year-old male, non-smoker.  I watch what I eat and try to not consume too much cholesterol or saturated fats.  I force myself to eat salads when I’d much rather be snacking down on some juicy steak.  Bluch…  Why?  To reduce my “risk of mortality”.  I’ve already had one quadruple bypass.  What are the odds of my reducing my risk of mortality to 98%, or 70%?  Z-E-R-O. 

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t take care of our bodies – they are the gift of God and the temple of the Holy Spirit according to Scripture.  I’m just pointing out, once again, that our risk of mortality is 100% and we’d better get used to that idea instead of trying to pretend that it won’t happen. 

When I was young, I couldn’t really conceive of dying.  If it would ever happen, it would be someday way off in the future, decades away – in fact, so far away that it might as well have been something that would only happen in Never-Never Land.  Now, given my family history, I might be lucky to make it another 15 years before mortality overtakes me.  How ready am I?  Good question.  How ready are you?

PRAYER: May we live this day as if it is our last, may we live tomorrow, if we are granted it, in gratefulness and thanksgiving.  May our lives be fully swallowed up in the Risen One!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.