DayBreaks for 9/27/18 – Doorways Cut in Sod

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DayBreaks for 9/27/18Doorways Cut in Sod            

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2008:

The day after I write this, I will be conducting a funeral service for a woman I never met.  By all accounts she was a wonderful woman and she achieved a great deal in her life.  All that I’ve spoken to about her tell me how wonderful she was.  But there is a question that haunts me: I do not know if she was a believer.  I have some reason to think she was, and some to think she wasn’t.  I just don’t know.  I never had the chance to talk with her.  And so, as I stand before the congregants at her memorial service tomorrow, I will face the great dilemma that Christian pastors face at such times: what can be said about such a life?

Another DayBreaks reader recently sent me an email requesting prayer and some guidance as someone in their family had just ended his life after being married only 5-1/2 weeks.  Grief is a heavy chain at such times and it must be worn and cannot be easily discarded.  “Lord, into Your hands, we commit his spirit.”

Death is the great leveler.  Young and old, weak and strong, lowly and mighty – all will dine at the Reaper’s table.  For some, the Reaper is aptly named “the Grim Reaper,”, but to others, there’s nothing grim about him.

I am so relieved when I learn that someone is a Christian and that they’ve gone home.  Consider these words from the pen of Calvin Miller:

“I once scorned ev’ry fearful thought of death,

When it was but the end of pulse and breath,

But now my eyes have seen that past the pain

There is a world that’s waiting to be claimed.

Earthmaker, Holy, let me now depart,

For living’s such a temporary art.

And dying is but getting dressed for God,

Our graves are merely doorways cut in sod.”

Precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of His saints. – Ps. 116:15

PRAYER: Thank You, Father, that our days need not be lived in fear of death and dying, and that for Your children there is no grim reaper, but a Father’s arms that await us.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 9/24/18 – The Mayor of Waterford

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DayBreaks for 9/24/18: The Mayor of Waterford      

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2008:

In his book, Rumors of Another World, Philip Yancey tells of a visit he made in the town of Waterford, Ireland.  He went there to see the famous tomb craving on the stone marking the final resting place of Mayor Rice.  “Considered one of the finest monuments in Ireland, the stone carving portrays the devout Mayor Rice’s decomposing body being gnawed and devoured by toads, vermin, and insects.  The mayor died at a time when the shadow of the Black Death shrouded all of Europe.  ‘Whoever you are that pass by, stand, read, weep,’ says the mayor’s inscription.  ‘I am what you will be and I was what you are.’ 

“The physical world, no matter how attractive, has its limits.” 

It isn’t often that you visit a gravesite to see a picture of the person resting therein being consumed by vermin.  We would rather not think of such things – we’d rather think of the deceased as they looked when they were happy and full of life.  We would rather believe that all is well – even below the surface of the ground where our eyes cannot penetrate the murky darkness.  

But, such is not reality.  “From dust thou art, and to dust thou shalt return,” the Lord has decreed.  But that’s not us – it’s just the shroud we wore in life.  Still, the sentiments on the Mayor’s gravestone and the pictures carved there are a good reminder to us: we are mortal.  We are finite.  We are not destined to live in this world forever and ever, hallelujah and amen.  It will, certainly, come to an end, and we shall be like Mayor Rice.

Let us remember that, and remember that the allure of this world is a deadly siren song to divert us from the pathway to eternal life.

PRAYER: Give us perspective, Lord, that we may live wisely, redeeming the time.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/29/18 – Not for Two Minutes

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DayBreaks for 8/29/18: Not for Two Minutes

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

I have a lot of questions that I’d like to ask God.  I know that I have no right to ask Him anything – except that He seems to welcome our questions and He seems to even encourage them.  That doesn’t mean He always tells us the answer.

One of the most difficult questions that anyone can ask God is posed when they stand over the casket of a child.  Marshall Shelley, at one time an editor for a Christian magazine (Leadership), had a baby boy named Toby who was born at 8:20 p.m. on 11/22/91.  Toby died two minutes later, at 8:22 p.m..  Here’s what Marshall had to say: “My wife Susan and I never got to see him take his first steps.  We barely got to see him take his first breath.  I don’t know if he would have enjoyed softball or software, dinosaurs or dragonflies.  We never got to wrestle, race, or read…What would have made him laugh?  Made him scared?  Made him angry?”

It turns out that Toby was born with a very rare genetic disorder.  Three months after Toby died, Marshall and Susan’s two-year-old daughter, Mandy, died.  Understandably, in their deep grief, the Shelleys wrestled with their faith and their God.  “Why,” Marshall wrote, “did God create a child to live two minutes?”

I believe that God gave Marshall the answer that he and his wife needed to hear – an answer that I would not have anticipated.  Marshall shared that answer: “He didn’t.  [And] He didn’t create Mandy to live two years.  He did not create me to live 40 years (or whatever number he may choose to extend my days in this world).  God created Toby for eternity.  He created each of us for eternity…”

It seems that whenever we lose someone we love, or even a pet, we ask “Why?  Why is life so short?”  We are so earth-bound that we can’t see (or we fail to remember) that God didn’t create any of us for just a few minutes, years or decades on this earth.  We are all created to live in eternity and that is His desire for us.  It doesn’t take away the pain of loss that we feel in our hearts, but it gives us a different perspective with which to see the things that happen to us.  And perspective is something we so often lack in this world.

God made you for eternity.  For now, you are here.  Let’s make the most of the present while preparing for forever.

 PRAYER:  We are thankful, Father, that You didn’t just create us to live and few years and then be gone like the morning mist, but that You formed each of us for eternity.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/17/18 – The Hummingbird and the Vulture

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DayBreaks for 8/17/18: The Hummingbird and the Vulture

There are two birds that fly over our nation’s deserts: one is the hummingbird and the other is the vulture. The vultures find the rotting meat of the desert, because that is what they look for. They thrive on that diet. But hummingbirds ignore the smelly flesh of dead animals. Instead, they look for the colorful blossoms of desert plants. The vultures live on what was. They live on the past. They fill themselves with what is dead and gone. But hummingbirds live on what is. They seek new life. They fill themselves with freshness and life. Each bird finds what it is looking for. We all do.

That is the essence of Paul’s teaching: In life, there are two birds. The one bird looks for foolishness and stupidity, the other looks for wisdom. The vultures seek to fill themselves with the rotting flesh of drunkenness and debauchery, the hummingbird sobriety, freshness, and the Spirit. In the desert of this world you have your scavengers who are angry and ungrateful, but you also have those who hum a grateful hymn of thanksgiving. The irony is that you find what you are looking for.

In the fifth chapter of Ephesians Paul outlines proper behavior for good living. In this short passage he admonishes his readers to be careful how they live. He is brief and to the point. Three things we must do: be wise, be sober, and be thankful. It’s a short list but if we can orient our daily lives around these three-be wise, be sober, be thankful-we will transform not only our lives but also the lives of our family, friends, church, and neighbors.

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 8/13/18 – 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.

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.