DayBreaks for 8/13/18 – God’s Autopsy

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DayBreaks for 8/13/18: God’s Autopsy

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

From FOX News, 8/7/08: “An Indian man who was knocked unconscious during a stampede of thousands of religious pilgrims on a steep Himalayan mountain path woke up as doctors were preparing to perform his autopsy, the Times of India reported.

“Mange Ram, 19, lost consciousness in the stampede that killed 150 people and was triggered by rumors of a landslide leading to a Hindu temple devoted to the goddess Naina Devi.

“Ram awoke in the hospital morgue Sunday in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh.

“When I woke up, I was in the middle of a row of bodies waiting for post mortem,” he told the Times. “My throat was parched and I asked for water. Towering over me the doctors and nursing staff at Anandpur Sahib Civil Hospital looked dazed. They must have been surprised to see a dead man come alive like that.”

“Sat Pal Aggarwal, a doctor on the pilgrimage, said little was done to see if victims of the stampede were still alive.  “People were dumped quite haphazardly into trucks without following any procedure or checking if they were alive,” he told the Times.

“Despite the huge loss of life, the pilgrimage continued only hours after the corpses had been cleared, according to the newspaper.”

Stories about people being prematurely thought dead and then buried alive give me the shivers.  It apparently happened to my great-great grandmother when she was coming across the plains in a covered wagon.  Creepy.  It is the stuff of nightmares.

Part of what makes such stories so scary is that we know we will all one day die.  Here in California, autopsies are mandated in nearly every case.  The purpose of an autopsy, of course, is to determine the cause of death – and to rule out foul play. 

We will die, and then comes a “judgment”, a pronouncement if you will, of the cause of our death.  That’s the easy part: sin is the reason we die (Romans 5:12.)  God already knows the cause of our death.  What God will inspect us for is to see whether or not we’ve had the cure for sin applied to our lives.

One other thing we can be certain of: when God checks us over and performs His autopsy on our spirits, He will make no mistakes – He will not think we were dead but were instead alive.  On the flip side, there may be many who think they are “alive”, only to be found out to truly be “dead”.  It happened to the church at Sardis: (Rev. 3:1) – These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead.

For the time being, there’s good news: as long as our souls are attached to our bodies, we can still “Wake up!” as God told the church at Sardis.  God not only is the examiner, but the healer: Col. 2:13 – When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ.

If God performed your spiritual autopsy today, would He find you dead, or alive?     

PRAYER: God, keep us from self-delusion and from drawing false conclusions about the state of our spiritual health!  May we wake up in time to the true nature of our hearts and hasten to the Great Physician for the healing we so desperately need!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 7/19/18 – Don’t Waste Your Bypass

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DayBreaks for 7/19/18: Don’t Waste Your Bypass

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2008:

If you’ve been a DayBreaks reader for some time, you almost certainly know that I had a quad bypass at 49 years of age.  I wasn’t overweight, my cholesterol wasn’t bad – but my genes were/are!  I remember as a young child reading stories from Reader’s Digest about the first heart bypass operations and the amazing heart/lung machine.  I was fascinated by the stories and the technology, thinking it was wonderful – but I certainly never thought I’d be on the receiving end of it. 

Recently, Marvin Olasky, editor in chief of WORLD Magazine, found himself unexpectedly undergoing a bypass operation of his own.  Like mine, his was unexpected.  In the June 28 – July 5 issue, he wrote about his experience and the impact it had on his life.  I will vouch for what he says: it is an experience that DOES make you contemplate life – and death – and the things that are important and the things which are not. 

John Piper, a pastor and author from Minneapolis, was facing cancer surgery when he pointed out that “The aim of God in your cancer (among a thousand other good things) is to knock props out from under our hearts so that we rely utterly on Him.”  Olasky then goes on with some of his own musings and more of Piper’s thoughts: “Amen – because even if we take heart in percentages when we should not, we know that the long-range certainty (unless Christ returns first) is 100 percent fatality.  It’s disconcerting to attain the label ‘cardiac patient.’  But here’s chapter 40 of Isaiah: ‘All flesh is grass…the grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God will stand forever.’”

“Bottom line: if you look in the mirror and see yourself as anything other than a future cardiac, or cancer, or something else patient, you’re fooling yourself.  Piper writes, ‘You will waste your cancer if you think that beating cancer means staying alive rather than cherishing Christ….You will waste your cancer if you spend too much time reading about cancer and not enough time reading about God.’ 

“One of Piper’s most intriguing comments: ‘You will waste your cancer if you treat sin as casually as before…Pride, greed, lust, hatred, impatience, laziness, procrastination….All these things are worse enemies than cancer.  Don’t waste the power of cancer to crush these foes.  Let the presence of eternity make the sins of time look as futile as they really are.’

Piper concludes, “You will waste your cancer if you fail to use it as a means of witness to the truth and glory of Christ.  Here is a golden opportunity to show that He is worth more than life.  Don’t waste it.”

We often think of suffering as a way in which we learn valuable lessons.  If you are facing cancer, cardiac disease or some other illness, or even if you’re just facing “life” (isn’t it interesting how we describe ourselves as facing life instead of facing death – when as Olasky noted, that’s the 100% certainty we all face), don’t waste the lessons that come with a whiff of fatality.

PRAYER:  Thank You, God, for the valuable lessons and reminders of the real certainties.  May we not run in fear from the valuable lessons that You send our way, but learn from them that we might live each day more wisely!   In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/18/18 – Ever Increasing Glory

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DayBreaks for 7/18/18: Ever Increasing Glory

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2008:

There is a fascinating verse in Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, in chapter 3, verse 18: 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.  Today I want to share another thought that struck me as I meditated on this verse and my uncle Dale’s homecoming. 

First, as I wrote yesterday, Paul notes that it is our unveiled faces that reflect the Lord’s glory.  We were created and made in the image of God.  Jesus, you recall, was the exact image of the Father according to Paul’s writing to the Colossians.  As humans, our true faces, the true “us”, is veiled.  It is hidden from sight, and therefore, we struggle to reflect the Lord’s glory.  But when we, like Dale, have passed from this vale of shadows, casting aside the flesh that has veiled the Lord’s glory for our lifetimes, our faces will reflect the Lord’s glory more perfectly than ever before. 

But, Paul goes on and notes that this is an ongoing process: “we are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory”.  I used to think that the process was more-or-less finished when we died.  But Paul says, “ever-increasing glory” to describe our future.  If Jesus is the perfect image of God, and God is infinite, it stands to reason that we will never reach the perfect image of His likeness, for then we would have to become infinite, too.  And so, I believe that possibly this is why Paul wrote, “ever increasing glory”.  For all eternity we will grow more and more like Jesus – reflecting his glory more perfectly with every trillion years that pass.  The end result?  “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”  1 Jn. 3:2  “We shall be like him.” It doesn’t say we’ll be identical to him – but “like’ him, but our glory, unlike his, will be ever increasing. His can’t increase, for it is infinite already! 

Dale has become like him already, Dale has seen him, Dale has been held by him, Dale has joined the eternal song of the Lamb.  And he awaits us there.  We’d do well to remember C.S. Lewis who said that we’ve never met mere mortals.  Everyone we meet has an eternal destiny.  And each one we see, whether in Louisiana, Oregon, Iowa, California, India or Iraq, has a spirit that needs what God alone can give. Lewis’ said that if we could see one another as God sees us, we’d be tempted to fall down and worship at the feet of those who are headed to glory.  Dale has experience that glory, and I believe if we were to see him now, we’d be speechless.

PRAYER:  We can’t begin to comprehend the eternity that You have planned for us, Jesus.  How exciting it is to think that we will grow more and more into Your image throughout all eternity!  Let that process start in us now, as we await what we will become through Your tender kindness!   In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 3/31/18 – Saturday, the Glorious Silence

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DayBreaks for 3/30/18: Saturday – the Glorious Silence

From the Perimeter holy week devotion guide, by Caleb Click:

1 Corinthians 15:3-5 (ESV) – For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.

“Buried.” In our Easter celebrations, the death and resurrection of Jesus receive most of our attention and with good reason. The heart and soul of the Christian faith rests on those realities. But here, in 1 Corinthians 15, Paul says that it was of first importance not only that Jesus died and rose, but that he was buried. Christians across the centuries have echoed those words of Paul in the Apostle’s Creet, saying with one voice, …he was crucified, died, and was buried. Sitting at the very center of it all is this reality often confessed but rarely considered: that Jesus’ body joined bullions before him in a tomb, that he entered the grave and for three days remained inside, closed off from the world of the living. But why? Why does this matter?

But this mystery doesn’t stop there. It sweeps us up with it. Romans 6:4 says: We were buried with him by baptism into his death.  Colossians 2:12 announces that we who are in Christ have been buried with him in baptism.  In the gospel story, Saturday’s mourning has as much importance to us as Friday evening’s despair and Sunday morning’s joy. Again, the question: why?

I think the answer is this: burial is a goodbye. It’s recognition that the life of the one we loved is gone and what remains in their place is only silence That the words they once spoke live on only in our recollection. That their touch exists only in memory. That the person with all their vitality and power is gone. Saturday morning is the disciples’ coming to terms with a Jesus they think is no more.

And here is why that matters, why it’s such gloriously good news. Jesus wasn’t simply a man who died; he was the spotless lamb upon whom our sins were laid (John 1:29). The disciples mourned on Saturday, but they didn’t realize that it wasn’t Jesus who was no more; it was our sin. It was everything we once were. When he rose Sunday morning and left the tomb, our sins stayed inside. Buried. Silenced. A memory and recollection stripped of its power. We don’t continue in sin because we were buried with Jesus and, while we have been raised, the old man still lies buried in that tomb, never to leave again (Romans 6). We don’t fall captive to the lie of thi world that our hope is in our performance, because the body of flesh was cut away and cast into a tomb from which it will never escape, and we now stand in the resurrection life of Jesus Christ (Colossians 3).

TODAY’S PRAYER: Father, we recognize that the burial of Jesus was a goodbye. A goodbye to our sin and its condemnation. To the person we were before Christ. To the life we once lived and the power the flesh once had over us. Thank you that the glorious good news of a silence does not leave us in pain as the disciples first thought, but one that truly makes us free. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 3/21/18 – Without a Doubt

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DayBreaks for 3/21/18: Without a Doubt

From the DayBreaks archive, 2008:

How strange are the mysteries of God!  To paraphrase: “If you want to find your life, you must lose it.”  Or, “He that is the greatest shall be the least among you.”  “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.”  Certainly, perhaps the greatest understatement in the history of the universe was when God declared, My ways are not your ways, nor my thought like your thoughts.  For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so are my thoughts above your thoughts. 

It seems strange that in dying, death was defeated.  Christ took death in both of his arms and pulled it into his mortal body, and in doing so, defeated it.  Through the resurrection, death and its power were forever broken and we need not fear the moment of our physical death for one second longer.  This is the peace that Christ has bought us: that we have been reconciled to God the Father through Jesus’ atoning death and resurrection.  All that previously stood between us has been removed, torn down, ripped asunder like the veil in the temple. 

“He died, but he vanquished death; in himself, he put an end to what we feared; he took it upon himself, and he vanquished it; as a mighty hunter, he captured and slew the lion.  Where is death?  Seek it in Christ, for it exists no longer; but it did exist, and now it is dead.  O life, O death of death!  Be of good heart; it will die in us also.  What has taken place in our head will take place in his members; death will die in us also.  But when?  At the end of the world, at the resurrection of the dead in which we believe and concerning which we do not doubt.” – Augustine, Sermon 233

It is one thing to stand at the gravesite and hope for resurrection.  It is another, as Augustine put it, to “believe and concerning which we have no doubt.”  It is through a life of close fellowship with God that such confidence comes.  The resurrection was the first fruit of Christ’s victory – a victory that he is eager to share with each of his children!

PRAYER: Lord, it is difficult for us to believe and accept that death holds no power as we see people dying all around us.  May we, as we celebrate Christ’s victory over death, clearly understand that it is our victory, too.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 1/29/18 – So It Is True

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DayBreaks for 1/29/18: So It Is True

From the DayBreaks archives, January 2008:

There are those who would tell us that anything we want to believe is true.  I can only laugh.  As if my believing anything makes it true!

I recently spent some time with a friend who was stricken with breast cancer that spread over the course of years into her bones, and now it has spread into her brain.  We went to high school together – and in fact, I wrote about her earlier this week.  I was blessed to go and sit by her side for a while, to hold her hand and reminisce as best we could with her in the condition she’s in.  It is a terrible thing to see the toll that cancer takes on the body. 

At one point in the conversation, as we were starting to talk about how she wanted her memorial service done, she teared up, her lip began to quiver, and it was clear that the spectre of death was very real and close to her at that moment.  It is quite something to look into the eyes of one who knows they are already part way through death’s door.  I’ve been asking myself a lot in the past week or so how it must feel to go to sleep at night and really not know if you’ll awaken again in this world. 

As she cried, I whispered to her, “God loves you.”  She whispered back: “I sure hope so.” 

Death, like its master, Satan, stealthily watches to take its victims – sometimes as a thief in the night, sometimes in broad daylight.  Often, he gives no warning, and thus it is that the Bible gives us the admonition to be prepared to meet not only our Maker, but death, at any time.  We need to pay more attention to that admonition than we do. 

The agnostic professor J. H. Huxley, was on his death bed.  His nurse has told the tale of how, during the very last moments of his life as he lay there dying and breathing his very last breaths, he suddenly opened his eyes and looked up, apparently seeing something that was invisible to mortal eyes.  After staring a short while, he whispered, “So it is true.”

It is true that we are mortal – although we don’t sometimes think death will really come to ME.  But beyond that, it is true – there is a God and we will meet Him.  It is also true that this God loves us deeply.  Why do we resist the idea of God and eternal life so much?  Perhaps because it seems too good to be true.  Perhaps it’s more a matter of thinking that after the things we know we’ve thought and done and not done in life that God must be very, very disappointed and angry at us.  I’m sure he’s disappointed in things we do and he hates the evil we do….but he still loves us. 

It is when we are on our own deathbed that we will come face to face with our faith, and the One in whom that faith has been placed.  May His mercy rest on us all.

PRAYER:  For all who are facing death, Lord, we ask Your Presence, and for Your Spirit to move in their hearts, even as it did for the thief on the cross, and lead them to Paradise through faith in Your beloved Son!  Comfort us in the hour of our death, Lord, and let us wake to see Your face.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 1/25/18 – The Rails of Life

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DayBreaks for 1/25/18: The Rails of Life

From the DayBreaks archives, January 2008:

This past Tuesday night when we got back from being with our youth group, I had a phone call waiting on our answering machine.  It was from the mother of a good friend of mine from high school.  I’d not heard this woman’s voice for probably 38 years (could I possibly have graduated from high school that long ago??!!).  She was calling to tell me that my friend, Lesley, who has struggled with cancer for years, is very near the end of her struggle, and that “we’re counting down the days.”  What a contrast to the phone call we received just before going to youth group that night from our youngest son, letting us know that he and his wife are with child – their first.  We were, of course, ecstatic!

As happy as I was and am for our son and his bride, I was crushed by the news of Lesley.  This “girl” (I still think of her as I knew her in high school) has had a difficult life.  Within a few months after we graduated, she was riding in a car when she was struck by a train and severely injured.  It was touch and go to see if she’d live or die.  She was left with some permanent issues from that accident, but she did survive and went on to become the mother of 3 boys. 

When she was first diagnosed with cancer, her husband left her.  He said he couldn’t deal with it.  Eventually, she found another man – a good one – who loved her for who she was and in spite of her cancer, they married.  For years, they fought her cancer side by side.  Now, the end of the fight is near.  Her mother asked me if I would do her daughter’s memorial service.  Such things are the great privilege of a friend and pastor.

As I thought about this situation, in conjunction with the passing of a young girl from our community with cancer, I shared at the youth group last Tuesday night some thoughts about death and loss.  God’s timing, though strange to us, is always perfect.  Little did I know as I stood there with the youth that I’d get to put into practice so quickly the things I was talking about.  We showed a NOOMA video that made the observation that we can choose whether or not we become bitter about life and what happens, and also that we can choose to focus on what we’ve lost instead of what we have.  Good lessons.

Then, on Wednesday morning, I got an email from a DayBreaks reader with an interview from Rick Warren, whose own wife has been stricken with cancer.  In the interview, he talked about life, it’s ups and downs, and how we often think of life as a series of peaks (the good times) and valleys (the bad times) – and how we move from one to the other so often.  But then he went on and made an observation that I thought was really good.  He said that he didn’t see life as peaks and valleys, but more like a pair of train tracks.  One rail is good, one rail is bad, and they run in parallel throughout our life. 

As I considered Lesley’s situation and the impending memorial service, I realized how true the words were from the video and Rick Warren, and how well they fit together.  The train of our life runs on both tracks…the question is, which track are we going to focus our emotions on?  There is always good and bad…simultaneously.  Perhaps that’s why the apostle Paul encouraged us to consider the good things and “think on these things.”  If we don’t, the badness of the other rail can do us in and lead us into bitterness and depression. 

For those of us who are left behind (and today, 1/21/2008, is the 10th anniversary of my father’s passing to glory), we can choose life over death, joyful memories over painful ones, happy times over sad, love and laughter over loss.  We can claim once again and for all time the memories that mean so much to us of those we have loved and lost. 

And one more thing: we can hold with confidence to the truth that God is busy making everything new, restoring all the loss – and that someday, we’ll see that with our own wonder-filled eyes.

PRAYER:  Thank You, Lord, for our friends and family.  Thank You for the hope of all things being made new, and for the ability to choose to see the good and not just the bad.  You are awesomely wonderful, Father!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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