DayBreaks for 7/13/18 – If There Were No Tomorrow’s

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DayBreaks for 7/13/18: If There Were No Tomorrows

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2008:

I’ve already got plans for tomorrow…and for numerous days after that.  I am sure that you do, too.  It is a normal and very human thing to do.  As far as I know, humans are the only thing on the earth that formulates plans.  My dog may decide he’s hungry, so he gets up and walks over to bury his face in the food bowl, but that’s not planning.  I don’t think that he has ever had a thought like this: “Tomorrow I’ll get up, look out the window, bark at some birds, wander outside and chase lizards for 15 minutes to get exercise, take a nice, long cool drink, and then come in and slobber all over Galen.”  If he had thought such things, that would have been planning. 

My plans for tomorrow are varied.  Some will be just pure enjoyment, others are having to do with duties, and still others may or may not happen depending on how everything else works out and what might come up unexpectedly.  It isn’t necessarily bad to have plans: we’re told in the Proverbs that we should look at the ant and learn to prepare for the storms of life that may head our way – and that requires some planning.  We’re also told not to trust in our own plans, for they are flawed and our ways are not God’s ways.  If our plans for our lives and His conflict, guess whose plan will lose?

So, in planning, we need to always be aware that our plans are subject to Divine review and change.  There are some things, however, that I don’t think God would ever remove from our plans.  Obedience to the first and greatest commandment and to the second greatest commandment are two examples of such things.  Those things are always good – and delight God’s heart. 

Maybe that’s what makes it so sad (and vitally important) to contemplate the question: what if there were no tomorrows?  What relationships in my life would I want to improve?  What disobedience would I seek forgiveness for?  What repentance is needed?  Who would I talk to that I’ve been avoiding because of some silly disagreement or upset in the past?  Who would I want to see one more time?  Who would I want to tell about Jesus before my tomorrows ran out? 

The problem, of course, isn’t really in answering those questions I just posed, but in believing that some day our tomorrows will run out – and we just never know when that day will be upon us, like a lion on a wildebeest.  But, that day will come.  It’ll come for me, and it’ll come for you.  Like the children’s game of hide or seek, that time will come with the words, “Ready or not, here I come!”  And then we’ll be in its clutches. 

Since we don’t know when that day will come, doesn’t it make sense today – this VERY DAY – to begin taking care of some of those questions listed above, to fixing some of the broken things in your life?  What is ONE THING you will do today to start working toward the point that when the times comes that there are no more tomorrows for you, that you won’t leave this world behind with regrets?  You can’t fix it all in one day, but you can fix it one day at a time…as long as you have even just one tomorrow left. 

PRAYER:  Give us wisdom to know where to being to work with Your Spirit to fix up the brokenness we might leave behind if we have no more tomorrows.  Give us the courage to live each moment, let alone each day, as if it were our last.  Put the people on our heart that You have prepared to hear about Jesus, and let us speak His name to them while we still breathe.   In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 7/09/18 – Bertrand Russell’s Mathematical Equation

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DayBreaks for 7/09/18: Bertrand Russell’s Mathematical Equation

From the DayBreaks Archive, July 2008:

What lies at the heart of all things?  The answer you get will depend on who you ask and what their world view is.  An evolutionist would pretty much have to say that at the heart of all things is blind chance and some principle that came from who knows where, that champions “survival of the fittest.”  Given enough time, the evolutionist claims, all things are possible.  Theoretically, I suppose that’s true – but not nearly enough time has passed since the so-called “big bang” for the diversity and complexity of life as we can observe it on this planet alone to have taken place.  So – don’t let this next statement alarm you – we shouldn’t be here.

Closely akin to an evolutionary point of view is that of a more sophisticated scientist, or an atheist, such as the late Bertrand Russell.  It was Russell’s belief that if we were able to strip away all the mystery we see all around us in the universe so that we could get to the real heart of things, we would find a “mathematical equation.”  2+2=4, or something like that, only probably much more complicated.  Now isn’t that exciting?  Doesn’t that just warm the cockles of your heart to know that behind all this is math?  I hate math! 

I certainly don’t want to, nor do I believe, that this world and universe is all predicated on something that is as cold and impersonal as a mathematical equation.  I can’t accept that.  It isn’t possible to my way of thinking.  For one thing, it fails to explain this: if there is no Creator possessed of personality and intelligence but only cold math, how can human personality have come from something as totally cold and impersonal as that?  We speak of people having personalities (and I know some real characters!), we even talk about our pets having character.  On rare occasions we may even say that a building or some other non-living thing has “character”, but we mean it in a different way than when we’re talking about something alive and breathing.  Has anyone you’ve even known say of a rock in their yard that it has character, i.e., personality?  If they did, you’d gently put them into your car and drive them to a padded room somewhere.  How can personality come from something inanimate and as dead as a mathematical equation any more than personality is passed on to people by touching a rock?!

I prefer to believe that behind all the mystery of the universe is something much more than a mathematical equation.  I prefer to believe that there is a Creator possessed of infinite wisdom, capacity, of PERSONALITY that is not totally comprehensible, and that you and I have personalities because the Creator is a Personality, and He has given something of Himself to us – a spirit that is in His very image.  He made us all “characters” and gave us personalities so we could have a relationship, a personal relationship, with the One who made us.  Now that’s something to be excited about! 

PRAYER:  Thank you, Lord, for the delight of personalities!  Thank you for the rich variation in your creation.  Thank you that you want to have a relationship with us who were made from the dust of the earth – and given personality by the God who made it all!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/4/18 – Is This It?

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DayBreaks for 7/04/18: Is This It?

I find it interesting that some of the DayBreaks I wrote in years past are just as relevant, though perhaps in a slightly different context, than when they were first written.

From the DayBreaks Archive, June 2008:

Just this past week, the stock market fell 380-some points in one day.  It wasn’t the only day the market fell.  In fact, June was perhaps the worst month for the stock market since the great depression, according to one news source.  On the same day, oil prices surpassed $140 per barrel, and some were saying that it’ll blow past $150 very soon, in spite of the Saudi’s agreeing to pump some more oil.  The situation with Iran doesn’t look promising.  Due to the cost of energy, the cost of food is rising rapidly, General Motors is struggling to survive and other large companies that have seemed to be rock solid pieces of the American financial foundation are sinking.  People are being let go.  Inflation seems to be a real threat, even as the housing market continues to sink. 

Last Thursday night, my wife and I attended a financial seminar on retirement planning and received some good guidance on investments, etc.  One of the key thoughts that kept running through my mind was this: I’m so grateful that I’m not dependent on financial investments either for this life or the next.  Not even a million shares of Google could get me into heaven.  Nor can it feed my belly or assuage hunger. 

Does it scare me at all to see what is happening in America and the world?  Yeah, I guess it does a bit.  More because I worry about my kids and grandkids and what their world might be like.  God, however, isn’t affected by the falling stock market, rumors of wars, greenhouse gases, the price of oil or an uncertain future.  There is no such thing as an uncertain future to Him.

Amid all the panic, as Christians we can be lights in the darkness, projecting the truth of what we know in our hearts, simply this: this is God’s world and all will end exactly as He wills it – without exception. 

We, of all people, should not run around panicked about what may or may not be.  We, of all people, should be filled with peace, even as we see the world around us start to disintegrate at a faster rate because we know Who holds the future – and us – in His hands.

Is this the birth pangs of the end?  I honestly don’t know. Either way, let us lift our voices with John the beloved disciple and say, Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

PRAYER: Lord, you hold the times and the seasons in Your hand.  You alone have the wisdom to bring sense out of this chaos, to bring perfection out of such brokenness.  Let us be harbingers of the coming of the King, preparing the way for the coming of the Lord!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 5/28/18 – Pondering First Thought

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DayBreaks for 5/28/18: Pondering the First Thought

Have you been to the Grand Canyon?  I was unprepared for it the first time I’d been there.  I wasn’t very excited about seeing it.  After all, who needs to see a big ditch?  But I must confess, when I caught the first glimpse of it, I was hooked.  Mesmerized.  Spellbound.  It far exceeded anything I’d expected or imagined.  My first thought was simply, “Wow!”

When my wife materialized at the end of aisle and I saw her for the first time on our wedding day, I was struck with how fortunate I was to be marrying the most beautiful woman in the world. 

When I first saw my children, I think my heart may have stopped for several seconds as I was lost in contemplating the wonder of a newborn that was flesh of my flesh, someone who you instantly knew you’d die for even though you’d just beheld them for the first time.

First thoughts are sometimes hard to recall, but not when it’s about something important.  I’ve wondered about what Jesus’ first thoughts were when he came to earth.  I wonder if at times he was despairing about what he saw in the hearts of men, or if he held great hope even when he saw us stagger and fall. 

First thoughts and last thoughts say a lot about us.  What is my first thought when I see someone who is homeless?  What is my first thought when someone approaches the church asking for money?  What is my first thought when I see scenes of the devastation in Myanmar or China?  What will I think in the morning when I see that person at work that always causes problems?

The first thought of God about man that’s recorded in Scripture is “It’s very good!”  My opinion of mankind isn’t often as high as God’s.  That says more about me than about Him, and about how much I need to have the mind of Christ formed in me.

PRAYER:  Father, give me as much of Your mind and heart as I can bear so that I can think about humanity as You do!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 5/25/18 – One Week in Heaven

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DayBreaks for 5/25/18: One Week in Heaven

As of last night (5/24/18) my mom has been in heaven for one week. I don’t have anything special or profound to say today, but thinking about her there as brought me joy and peace. You see, she’d struggled with dementia for about the past 6-7 years and it had gotten really, really bad. It was one of those situations where you pray for the Lord to relieve the suffering and bring wholeness to her body and soul. And I believe he has done so.

I find myself wondering what it is like to transition from this earth to heavenly spheres. I don’t believe that for His children that they are ever alone because we have his very solemn promise to never leave or forsake us. So I don’t believe my mom was afraid or left alone for even a nanosecond. I believe she saw the Lord immediately and that he gently took her hand and walked her home.

I wonder how quickly we see our loved ones who have gone before. Does God give them a “heads-up” that someone they love is coming home so that they can meet them right away and have an unearthly celebration? I’d like to think so, but I really don’t know. I find comfort in believing that we do see the right away – and it seems just like God to do something like that for us. So I choose to believe that my mom has seen my dad again, that they’ve both been reunited with the little girl they lost in infancy, and with their parents.

How long does it take to meet the favorite characters from Scripture? (In a way, talking about “how long” is rather silly because there is no time there, but I can’t wrap my mind around that reality.) Has mom met Mary, Esther, Abraham, Daniel, Moses, Peter, John and David already? My daughter rather humorously mused that perhaps those folks have an appointment book so you can schedule time to meet them. I rather doubt that, but who knows?

So what is the point of all this? I guess it is simply this: the life to come will be utterly unlike this one. It will be incredibly glorious. It will be free from dementia, cancer, tears, pain and death. I believe those things because the Word declares them to be true. But I can’t imagine it. All I can do is get excited about this: 1 Corinthians 2:9 – That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” 

That is all I need to know to understand that whatever heaven is like, however it all works, will be absolutely terrific. What our loved ones who have gone before have seen and experience exceeds our wildest imaginings.

Mom, I love you and miss having you here, but I’m sure you are enjoying your one week anniversary in a place we cannot begin to even dream of.

PRAYER: How comforting are your promises, how great your assurances are to us, Lord. I thank you for leading my mom safely home and for the place you prepared for her. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 5/22/18 – A Premature Death

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DayBreaks for 5/22/18: A Premature Death

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2008:

How long do you expect to live?  Chances are, your answer will depend largely on how old you are right now.  The younger you are, the longer you expect to live.  It makes sense – but it isn’t always true. 

There are many ways to die: asphyxiation, heart attack, cancer, stroke, Alzheimer’s, poison, accident, drowning, failure of a parachute to open, shark attack, etc.  The list is endless.  But there are other ways to die, too, that don’t come to mind as regularly, and perhaps they are equally, or more, tragic than some of those mentioned.

Vietzslav Gardavsky, a Czech philosopher and martyr who died in 1978, wrote a book titled God Is Not Yet Dead, in which he wrote about this topic.  The terrible threat against our lives is not death, pain, nor any one of the myriad types of disasters that we frantically try to protect ourselves against.  The terrible threat, as Gardavsky put it, is “that we might die earlier than we really do die, before death has become a natural necessity.  The real horror lies in just such a premature death, a death after which we go on living for many years.”

We can become so paranoid about life and death and health and illness that we “die” prematurely.  It is easier to stop taking any risk (spiritually) and become a spiritual parasite that contributes nothing to the kingdom of God than it is to live fully as a human made in His image, committed to obedience and to live on the ragged edge of faith.  Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying that I’ve yet achieved that kind of total abandonment to God’s calling.  As Eugene Peterson put it in Run With the Horses, “It is easier to relax in the embracing arms of The Average.  Easier, but not better. Easier, but not more significant.  Easier, but not more fulfilling.”

Look back at your life with and for Christ this past year.  Have you been resting in the “embracing arms of The Average”?  If so, you’ve died prematurely.  Jesus can give you new life!

PRAYER:  Lord, we settle for settling.  We settle for mediocre.  We are afraid to live lives of reckless abandonment to the leading of Your Spirit.  Help us not to be entranced with being average and safe.  Lead us to life abundant!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 5/21/18 – Before and Now

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DayBreaks for 5/21/18: Before and Now

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2008:

Through some recent reading, I’ve been led to contemplate the importance of the human concept of our origins.  I know the Biblical concept: man was made in the very image of God.  We come from Him, we are to live for Him, and we will some day return to Him – and at that time we’ll all have to give an answer for how we lived in this world (Heb. 9:27). 

It’s quite a different story if you reject the idea of creation and of the existence of a Divine Being.  Without believing in a Divinely ordained destiny for all of creation (including mankind), you are left to believe that everything is the product of chance and mathematical probabilities.  It means that you were born for no reason other than a chance meeting of reproductive materials.  It means that your life has no teleos – no goal toward which it is moving.  It means that when you die, it’s done, period, over and out. 

Jeremiah, at one point in his life, had an encounter with God that reveals the fallacy of such thinking.  In Jeremiah 1:4-5 (NIV), he wrote these words: The word of the LORD came to me, saying,  ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.’”

God told Jeremiah wonderful things: “I knew you before you were even formed in the womb.  I didn’t just know that you were going to be, but I knew YOU.”  How could it be that God knew Jeremiah even before he was conceived?  It can only be that God had plans for a particular person (Jeremiah), and that God quite literally knew him.  That was the “before” in Jeremiah’s life.  And it was through understanding that he had a “before”, and a call for the present (he was consecrated) and that there was a purpose for his life (he was given as a prophet to the nations), that Jeremiah found meaning.  It is the “before” that gives the “now” meaning.

God didn’t just know Jeremiah before he was born.  He knew all of us.  David says that God knew every day that was appointed for him to live before he was born, that every thought he’d ever have and word he’d speak was known before he literally had a single thought.  In Ephesians, the great apostle Paul says that God chose us before the foundation of the world. 

What does all this mean for you and I?  It means that there is a definite purpose for our lives and that we are not to think our lives are meaningless, directionless and without value.  It means we don’t have to scurry around trying to find, or even to create, some kind of answers to life.  Instead, we can go to God to discover the reason and truth of our existence.   

Is it any wonder that there is so much despair among those who don’t know Christ?

PRAYER: Fill us, Lord, with the confidence that comes from knowing our before and how that shapes our now and directs our future.  Jesus’ name, Amen.

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