DayBreaks for 8/8/17: What Are You Building?

DayBreaks for 8/08/17: What Are You Building?

From the DayBreaks archive, 8/8/2007:

In the San Jose area of California stands an impressive house, but it has a strange history.  It’s called the Winchester Mystery House.  It was home to the widow of the inventor of the Winchester rifle, and after he and their only child died, Mrs. Winchester seems to have gone crazy.  At the very least, she became obsessed with the occult.  As a result, she began a huge building project that would last 38 years – and then it only stopped because she died.  Based on statements and things she wrote, she apparently came to believe that as long as she kept building on the house, that she would not die. 

For 38 years, sixteen carpenters worked full time on the house.  At its largest expanse (it has since been partly destroyed by fire), the house contained 2000 doors and 160,000 windows (that’s more windows than are in the Empire State Building.)  Two front doors were installed at an incredible price of $3000 (a huge sum of money in those days), and yet those doors were only used 1 time – by the workmen who installed them.  Throughout the building are secret passageways, stairways that lead only to the ceiling and no further, doors that open into solid brick walls.  All of this was designed for one purpose: to confuse death.  To prevent death from finding her. 

It didn’t work.  Construction was still going on when death found and overtook her.  “Death wasn’t confused at all.  Death has a wonderful sense of direction.” (Ortberg, Love Beyond Reason

Why are we such a busy people?  No one has ever moved faster than we do, yet it seems that we accomplish less and less.  But why are we so busy?  Perhaps because we’ve made poor choices and we have to work two jobs to make ends meet.  Or, maybe it’s deeper than that.  Maybe we scurry about so in order that we don’t have to think about death, maybe at some subliminal level we (like Mrs. Winchester) believe that as long as we stay busy, we’ll keep on living.  We may fear that the moment we stop, we’ll collapse and die, or that we’ll have time for thoughts about death and dying will enter our heads and we try to prevent that by staying busy.

Ortberg continues: “…don’t forget one thing.  Don’t forget that the truck will come one day and take it all away.  Don’t forget that one day Death will come.  It will not be confused.  It will know just where to look.”

Wouldn’t we all be a lot wiser to give more thought to our demise and the condition of our lives and souls at that point in time? 

Ecclesiastes 7:1-2 (NIV) A good name is better than fine perfume, and the day of death better than the day of birth. It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart.

Every day you are building something.  The question is, will what you are building last beyond the rim of this world?  

PRAYER: Father, we struggle to find contentment, thinking we can find it in all the wrong places and in all the wrong ways.  Teach us to be content with what we have in this world, but to never be content in how much we have of You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>


DayBreaks for 03/29/11 – The Cost

DayBreaks for 03/29/11 – The Cost

“If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. 27 And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple. 28 “But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? – Luke 14:26-28


Count the cost first....

You’ve probably read or heard that passage before.  Jesus is talking, as make clear by the first phrase, about the cost of discipleship.  His point?  It’s not cheap.  It is costly.  It involves things like crosses, and crosses were instruments of death and torment.  He counsels us: …don’t begin until you count the cost. We are duly warned, if we are wise!  Deitrich Bonhoeffer, in his very appropriately named book, The Cost of Discipleship, said “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”  A clear reading of Jesus’ statements in the gospels is all that is needed to help us understand that Jesus believed the cost of being his disciple would be sky-high.


But, there’s a flip side to this that we need to keep in focus as well.  In his work, Radical, David Platt observed, “But I wonder if the cost of discipleship is even greater.  The price is certainly high for people who don’t know Christ…in a world where Christians shrink back from self-denying faith and settle into self-indulging faith.”  He goes on to note that the cost of non-discipleship is also high for those who are poor and starving.  The church in America owns over $230 billion in property and buildings.  Over $10 billion is spent each year on new construction.  How many mouths could be fed for that amount of money – and which would a disciple choose?  Which do you think Jesus would choose – feeding the starving, or building a new educational wing or sanctuary?  (Never in the NT did Jesus even suggest building a building as a place to worship God – on the contrary, as Platt notes we are to build people who are the new temple for His glory.)

The cost is great to Christians, too, if we fail to live as disciples.  The wealth of this world may make an enticing incentive to ignore our Lord’s example in caring for the poor, but the parable of the pearl of great price or the buried treasure reveal to us what we LOSE if we aren’t willing to pay the price of discipleship.

To not be a follower of Jesus is a far higher price to pay than dying for Him could ever be.

PRAYER: Lord, we are fearful of the price of following too closely in Jesus’ footsteps for we fear what might happen to us if we do.  Keep us mindful of the cost that will be paid, not only by us, but by those who don’t know Christ and who are poor in this world if we are unwilling to pay the price of discipleship!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2011, Galen C. Dalrymple  ><}}}”>

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