DayBreaks for 1/04/19 – The Passing of the Shadow

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DayBreaks for 01/04/2019: The Passing of the Shadow

From the DayBreaks Archive, 01/05/09 (modified):

Whew.  The holidays are now over.  It is a bittersweet feeling, isn’t it?  On the one hand, I love the excitement and joy of the holidays, and the chance to share that with family, loved ones and friends.  I love the Christmas carols and was surprised to find some of them playing in the malls this year. I love the bright lights and colors, and yes, the nuts and chews of Christmas from See’s Candies!

But it isn’t long and the holidays that have been so long awaited are over and done with.  The family has returned to their own homes and gone back to work, the Christmas decorations have been pulled down and boxed away for another year, the candy is gone (thank goodness!) and the Christmas carols and tree have been tucked away for 11 months.  And – I’m tired. 

As I was reflecting on this one day, I was watching our old dog, Rainie.  She’s 12 years old now and she’s clearly winding down.  She walks with a strange, stiff gait because of some arthritis in her hips, and if you look into her eyes, they are not dark and clear – they are milky and a bit subdued.  She is afraid, or in a bit too much discomfort, to hop up on the bed as easily as she used to.  Now, at night, when she comes back into the house, she will whimper and whine before even attempting her leap of faith up to the top of the mattress.  And she huffs and puffs a lot more than when she was younger.  It saddens me to see this happening before my very eyes and to be powerless in the face of the inexorable march of time.  And then I realize, I am on the same march, head down as I trudge the pathway before me.

The passing of the holidays and the winding down of life have parallels that can teach us.  We start out exuberant, full of excitement and energy.  We hurry here and there because the world is so big and there is so much to see and do and we don’t want to miss a moment of it.  But then, as with Christmas, the holiday is over before you are even fully aware that it has begun.  Old friends and family are no longer around.  We find ourselves more fearful of running around too far from home, and we also whimper and whine as we rise or recline on our bed.  Not to mention the eyesight. 

This is the way of all flesh.  This is what makes our God and His promises so precious – He does not grow old, tired, and weary.  He doesn’t get cataracts.  His bones don’t ache and generate the whimpers that accompany old age.  And He promises us that the day will come when we will be like Him in that regard.  We try to imagine a life without any sort of pains or sadness and we cannot grasp even the tiniest crumb of that reality.  But we do long for it.  The life we so longed to live when we were younger has been spent somehow, somewhere – like a shadow passing in the night, soundlessly and quickly, not even leaving footprints behind.  Hold on to the fact that the shadow is passing, but it isn’t passing from daylight to darkness, but instead the shadow is passing to daylight, from earth to heaven, from mortality to immortality, from death to life.  And there shall be no more weeping.

PRAYER:  Lord, life often feels like both a blessing and a burden.  Thank you for the promise that you will make our joys even greater than anything we have experienced in this lifetime, and that you will remove our sorrows eternally.  Thank you, that Jesus “is the life!”  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

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DayBreaks for 8/20/18 – From the Perspective of Years

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DayBreaks for 8/20/18: From the Perspective of Years

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

At the risk of being premature and appearing to be wise and all-knowing, I’d like to share something with you that I think I have finally managed to learn in my 56 years of treading this earth.  Are you ready?  Here it is: life is not about now.  Oh, I know that there are bills that must be paid NOW, there are decisions that must be made NOW, there are chores and responsibilities that have to be met NOW.  Oh, yes…don’t forget taxes that must be paid!

But that’s not the stuff I’m talking about.  I’m talking about important things, things that I just wasn’t emotionally, mentally or spiritually equipped to even begin to grasp until now.  Perhaps it’s because I’m starting a new sermon series about all the things that Scripture talks about as being unseen that it’s just now coming clearer to me.  Still, I’ve struggled to find a way to express it myself, and then I finally ran across something that Elie Wiesel wrote in From the Kingdom of Memory that seems to me to say it perfectly.  (Wiesel, of course, is a holocaust survivor who has written and spoken eloquently about that horrific time in history, and about life in the aftermath.)

Here’s what Wiesel had to say that seemed to put this all into perspective for me: “Well, yes, at the time I was too young to understand that eternity does not exist except in relation to the present.  I was not mature enough to understand that it is eternity which lends this moment its mystery and its distinction.”

We are so preoccupied with living life to the full in the here and now, thinking that it is what is happening to us that gives life meaning and direction.  It is not so.  Surely, it must not be so!  It is what lies ahead that gives our lives now meaning and purpose, for we were not meant to live this life forever.  If the amount of time we spend here on earth versus in eternity is any indication of the relative importance, it is eternity that must dominate our consciousness and our thinking.  We must find the way to do this without abandoning the present, but also without ever making the fatal mistake of thinking that this life is what it is all about.

Have you noticed the context for this passage from 1 Corinthians 13:9-12? – For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

In the context, Paul seems to be speaking, at least partly, of eternity – it is then that we shall see face to face, we won’t be trying to hold on to foolish things of this world any longer.  All that occupies us here, tends to be childish compared to ultimate realities.

PRAYER: God, give us eyes to see this life through the clearer glass of eternity that our priorities and attention is focused on things above and not things below!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

PRAYER: Father, help us choose the things that are beautiful to you and that lead to life! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/10/18 – Listening to the Explosion?

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DayBreaks for 8/10/18: Listening to the Explosion?

Listen to this statistic: knowledge is exploding at such a rate – more than 2000 pages a minute–that even Einstein couldn’t keep up. In fact, if you read at a normal reading rate for 24 hours a day, from age 21 to 70, and retained all you read, you would be one and a half million years behind when you finished. (Campus Life)

An amazing statistic, isn’t it? Now for a real shocker: when do you suppose that statistic was compiled? It may alarm you that these statistics do not take into account the Internet – not at all! They do not even take into account the personal computer. And, why not? It is because the statistics are from 1979.

One source I consulted said that the sum of human knowledge is doubling every 12 hours! Think about that for a minute. Think about what you were doing yesterday afternoon, just 12 hours ago. Think about how much knowledge and information there was since the beginning of time until that time just 12 hours ago. And now for something really depressing (especially if you are trying to stay on top of what’s happening in your work/school, let alone in the world as a whole): while you were sleeping overnight the amount of knowledge you need to learn to just keep up doubled. What are we to do? How can we feel grounded, rooted?

We can’t know it all, nor should we expect to. But it is crucial that we learn not the glut of information that is screaming down towards us on the information super highway, but that we learn something that will sustain us for the days to come, even for eternity. In the words of Jesus, the Prophets from of old proclaimed: It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me. (John 6:45, NIV) What God’s word teaches us is timeless and need not change, grow or expand. But are we so busy trying to stay relevant with human knowledge that we are no longer listening to God?

Daniel 12:1-4 (NIV) – At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people–everyone whose name is found written in the book–will be delivered. Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. But you, Daniel, close up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge.

PRAYER: Guard our hearts and minds by Your Word and Spirit, Lord! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/03/18 – To Live in the Present

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DayBreaks for 8/03/18: To Live in the Present

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

I love to think about heaven – about what it will be like, about what we/I will do there.  I can hardly wait to hear the myriads of angels and the four living creatures singing at the top of their “lungs” to the praise of the One on the throne.  I can hardly wait to talk with Daniel, that great warrior/prophet who faced down kings and the powerful men of the earth.  I want to talk with Moses, I want to ask Abraham about the “sacrifice” of Isaac and what he told Sarah and when and how he felt throughout that experience. 

Likewise, I can find myself being drawn to living in the past.  Sometimes at night I dream about past friendships and experiences.  I love to reminisce and tell stories of our children and family.  I love to think about great times I’ve had with friends camping and backpacking in the high Sierra’s, or to talk about the sights of Glacier National Park, Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon – or even the sights, sounds and smells of St. Bernard’s Parish in New Orleans after hurricane Katrina. 

It is easy to get caught in living either in the future or in the past.  As Walker Percy put it, “To live in the past and future is easy.  To live in the present is like threading a needle.”  I don’t know about you, but at my age and with my vision, threading a needle isn’t the easiest task any more.  It’s a challenge.

Why is living in the present so difficult?  Because we love the escape that living in either the past or future provides.  It’s also why we sit so many hours in front of our television or playing a videogame or attending some form of entertainment.  It seems that we in America can hardly stand to live in the present.  We’re always looking for some manner of escape – either backward, or forward, in time. 

Jesus understood our tendency to worry about today and to try to escape from it.  In Matthew 6:34 (KJV), Jesus said that we should Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

Jesus is suggesting to us that we need to stay focused on today – to live in this day, in the present.  One day at a time is all we can handle!

PRAYER:  Jesus, help our minds not to wander from the serious business of living in the present and the challenge of serving You moment by moment.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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.

DayBreaks for 2/16/18 – The Jewish Sabbath Secret

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DayBreaks for 2/16/18: The Jewish Sabbath Secret

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2008:

Luke 23:50-54 (NIV) – Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea and he was waiting for the kingdom of God.  Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body.  Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid.  It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin.

It would be hard to find someone who doesn’t know at least something about the Jewish Sabbath.  Anyone who knows the Ten Commandments is familiar with the command to set one day aside to rest and be recreated.  Yet because of cultural differences between the ancient Jews and modern day people, we miss some key elements that we should not miss.

The passage above from Luke 23 tells us the reason that Jesus was taken down from the cross in such a rush – and in John, it also tells us that the approaching Sabbath was the reason the legs of the thieves were broken and Christ’s side was pierced.  The Jews didn’t want such things happening on the Sabbath – it would have been flat wrong to their way of thinking and belief. 

Bear in mind the time of day when Jesus died…it was in the late afternoon, shortly before 6 p.m.  Sabbath would begin promptly at 6:00 p.m. because the ancient Jews counted time from sundown onward.  Today, we use the convention that a new day starts just after midnight, but the Jews felt it started the evening before.  In reality, even though our clock tells us a new day starts at 12:01 a.m., for all intents and purposes, most of us think of the new day starting when the sun comes up.

Why is that important?  And what does it have to do with the meaning and purpose of Sabbath itself?  A lot, I think, and it has spiritual ramifications: we start the day out with getting ready to go to work, to begin our labors.  The Jews, on the other hand, started their day out with a time of feasting and giving thanks, and then with sleep.  What difference does that make?  I think it says a lot about who is in charge of our lives and our times.  The Jews began their day with a meal and thanksgiving to God, and then instead of working, they laid down to sleep through the night.  On the other hand, we start it out with a quick breakfast (often hurried without time for leisurely giving of thanks) and running off to work to control our destinies.

By worship and then sleeping, the Jews were acknowledging that this new day was from God, and that they could rest in that knowledge.  Sleep is a very real kind of self-relinquishment or self-abandonment.  When we’re sleeping, we’re helpless.  Someone could steal in and murder us or rob us and we’d be oblivious to it.  When we are sleeping, we relinquish all attempts at making money, controlling life, controlling others, being successful.  When we sleep, we are acknowledging our weakness – that we MUST rest.  But the God who watched over Israel (and over us) never sleeps nor slumbers.  And by sleeping first in the day, the Jews showed their trust in God for all that each day would bring.

I know that we aren’t going to be able to change the way the world views time these days, but in our hearts, maybe we’d be wise to recognize our laying down to sleep as the start of a new day – reminding ourselves that we can rest in, and because, of God who never takes His eyes off of us.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for new days and new beginnings, and for inviting us first and foremost to rest in you, knowing you are ever vigilant!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 2/06/18 – Sanctifying Time

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DayBreaks for 2/06/18: Sanctifying Time

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2008:

In his book, The Rest of God, in which Mark Buchanan talks about Sabbath, he mentions the need for us to be engaged in “sanctifying time.”  It might seem strange when you think about it: after all, aren’t we sanctified?  If people are sanctified, how can you “sanctify time”?  And what would that mean?

The word “sanctify” in the Hebrew is the word that means “to betroth”.  Let that sink in for a second.  Betrothal – like Mary and Joseph.  Pledged to be married.  Committed to be married to that one person and no one else.  To be “set apart” for that one person that you love and who loves you.  Now, take that concept and apply it to time – especially “Sabbath time.”  Sabbath – rest – was a requirement.  It was up there with the other 9 commandments that formed the Decalogue.  None of us would dare to think too lightly of the commands “Thou shalt have no other gods before me”, or “Thou shalt not murder”, “Thou shalt not commit adultery”, “Thou shalt not steal,” etc.  Yet we tend to think that somehow this command of God to observe a time of rest is a minor command compared to the rest of the 10.  God sure doesn’t seem to think so. 

God instituted the idea of rest, of a period of time that we are to “set apart”, to betroth ourselves to if you will, because He created us from dust and He knows we are not able to keep going forever like He can without getting tired.  He knows how close we are at any given moment to returning to the dust from which we came – it is we who lack that awareness more often than not.  And because of that, God said: “Rest.” 

And so what is the purpose for the resting?  There are numerous things, but for now, we are to “set apart, betroth” a certain period of time to rest…and worship.  What did Israel do on the Sabbath?  They celebrated God, His blessings, His greatness…they worshipped Him for all He was worth.  That’s why such a strong word as “betrothal” is used to paint the picture of Sabbath…we are to be betrothed to those kinds of things as we rest.  Does that mean we have to go to church when we’re resting?  Absolutely not (even though from time to time during one of my sermons I’ll catch people ‘resting’ in their chairs)!  You can worship God at your desk at work, laying in the hammock, lounging by the pool, sitting in the shade with some lemonade and a good book – you can worship and reflect on Him anywhere. 

The problem with our leisure (what we think of as our day of rest) is that they’re not very leisurely at all.  We run into them pell-mell and without reservation – and we wind up more tired than when we started.  But the worst thing about it is that we usually leave God entirely out of our thinking at those times.  We’ve left the Holy out of our day of rest.

When is the last time you betrothed yourself to a time of rest and reflection on the One who has given you each day of your life and filled it with wondrous things?  We need that kind of rest!

PRAYER: Father, that you that you know our frailties and our deepest needs, including our need to rest in You.  Help us to sanctify time spent with You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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