DayBreaks for 9/07/20 – An Empire of Ruins

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NOTE: I am on a “retirement/anniversary” trip and will be out until late September. In the meantime, I’m sharing recycled DayBreaks for 2010. Thanks for your understanding!

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2010:

John Koessler wrote the following in his blog, and I thought it was worth sharing: “In Christ and the Meaning of Life, German theologian Helmut Thielicke tells the story of a young [soldier] who reached out to pick a bouquet of lilacs and uncovered the half-decayed body of [another] soldier beneath the bush: ‘He drew back in horror, not because he had never seen a dead man before—he drew back because of the screaming contradiction between the dead man and the flowering bush.’”

“Thielicke notes that the soldier’s reaction would have been different if the man had come upon a dead and faded lilac bush instead: ‘A blooming lilac bush will one day become a withered lilac bush—this is really nothing more than the operation of the rhythm of life—but that a man should be lying there in a decayed condition, this was something that simply did not fit, and that’s why he winced at the sight of it.’”

“We can only understand the mystery of death if we see it through the lens of Adam’s rebellion against God. We are pilgrims who traverse an “empire of ruins” with death as our fellow traveler. Unable to rid ourselves of this cheerless companion, we attempt to rehabilitate it instead, treating death as if it were a neighbor and not a trespasser.

“We clothe it in our best dress and apply make-up to its waxen features. Laid out before us in stiff repose, death looks as if it were merely asleep and if we do not look too carefully, we can almost convince ourselves that it has a beating heart within its breast and warm blood pulsing through its veins. We whisper to ourselves that it is not as alien as it first appeared. But this fool’s dream vanishes the minute we attempt to embrace death, finding that it repays our kiss with only sorrow and loss.

“Death is not a natural stage in the cycle of human development. Death is a curse. The presence of death is an intrusion. It is “natural” only to the extent that nature itself suffers from the stroke that fell upon Adam as a consequence for his sin. Nature endures death but not willingly. It groans in protest, loathing the bondage to decay which death has brought upon it and yearning for the glorious freedom of the children of God (Romans 8:21). Death is “the last enemy,” a tyrant who acts on sin’s behalf and whose sway over us was finally broken at the cross but will only be fully realized at the resurrection (Romans 5:21; 1 Corinthians 15:26).

“Death is our enemy but, like the law, it is also a schoolmaster that leads us to Christ. Death’s hard lesson exposes the true nature of sin. Indeed, the law and death are strange allies in this mysterious work. In the hands of God both act as a goad, puncturing our denial and prodding us to turn to Christ for relief from death’s sting.”

PRAYER: Teach us to number our days, Lord, and learn the lessons we should from our mortal lives so we are more prepared for our home in heaven with You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen. Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 6/30/20 – The Good Land Where Things Die

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DayBreaks for 6/30/20: The Good Land Where Things Die

It seems to be a rule that for there to be new beginnings, new life, that things must die. The NT speaks of this in various ways: Jesus spoke of how a kernel of wheat must fall into the ground and die for a new plant to grow, we are told that if we want to have life we must die to our own life, we are even told to put to death the “old man” so a new man can life and as Jesus told Nicodemus, we must be born again.

As humans, of course, we don’t think of death as being good. Our pets die and we grieve, our dreams die and we are disheartened, our friends and family die and we are crushed by the dark enemy. We are told that flesh and blood (at least as we know it) cannot be part of the world to come – that we will need new bodies fit for an eternal life, not a temporal one.

Perhaps instead of fighting all forms of death, we should look for the benefits of death. It is good that some things die, after all. Fortunately, there is a place – a good land, a very special and holy place – where things die. Where is it? It’s found at the foot of the cross.

At the blood soaked ground at the foot of the cross is where my shame dies for all the things I’ve done that I don’t want anyone to know about. Why?  Because Jesus took my shame. My guilt dies there as the blood drips from Jesus’ hands, feet, back and side. Why? Because Jesus took my guilt on him. My fear of dying dies there because Jesus would prove a mere three days later that death has no choice but to yield to glorious life because of Jesus power. My sense of insignificance dies there when I think of the blood he shed and what he endured because of one thing and on thing only: he loves me and I matter to him. My fear of the future dies at the foot of the cross because by what he accomplished there, there is no longer any condemnation for me.

But along with the death of those things that I take to the foot of the cross, there is new life springing up from the moistened soil. I can now live a new life without shame and guilt plaguing me. I can face the future, as the song says, because he lives and promises me I will live, too (and he’s proved he can pull off that “trick”). And I need never feel insignificant, unimportant, unwanted, uncherished ever again because in the good land where things go to die, any doubt about those things was erased.

PRAYER: What holy ground is this, Lord Jesus, that we are invited to the ground at the foot of your cross where bad things die and good things spring up filled with eternal life! In your magnificent name we pray, Amen!

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 6/11/20 – The God Who Never Answers Prayers

DayBreaks for 6/11/20: The God who Never Answers Prayers

From the DayBreaks archive, June 2010:

This past Saturday, we had a Celebration of Life service for one of the godliest and most grace-filled women I’ve ever had the chance to meet.  She’d been a faithful member of our congregation for a number of years before she finally lost her struggle to cancer.  It wasn’t her first bout with that enemy – I know she’d fought and defeated it at least twice before it rose up too strong to be overcome.  It was a wonderful celebration we had – this woman was truly a saint and it showed through those her life had touched.  It was a celebration – but also a reminder that there is an enemy named death.

In Greek mythology, Hades, the god of the Underworld, the god of the Dead, was the most hated of all the immortal beings because he was held to be the only god who never answered prayer.  Never. 

The exception that proves the rule is the story of Orpheus and Eurydice.  Orpheus was the greatest of mortal musicians.  When his beloved wife, Eurydice, died, he simply could not accept the finality of that loss.  So he took his harp and journeyed to the Underworld where he played so beautifully, sang so poignantly of grief and sorrow, that tears of molten iron ran down the normally immovable face of Hades, and for the only time ever recorded, he relented. Eurydice would be permitted to follow Orpheus back into the world of the living, the world of the sun. But he must not look behind him until they had both safely emerged from the darkness of Hades’ realm back into the sunlight.

So imagine Orpheus’ feelings as he begins the long walk by himself through the dark tunnel.  He sees the small point of light at the end, and he begins to hear faint footsteps, growing ever louder and more solid, as Eurydice begins to resume physical form and follow behind him.  He desperately wants to look backwards and see her again, to confirm that it is her footsteps that he hears approaching behind him!  But he dare not. 

At the point where they only had one more step to go before Orpheus’ quest to regain Eurydice would be completed, at that instant when one more step would mean his goal would have been achieved and her life would have been snatched back from stone-faced Hades, at that moment she stumbles against a stone and cries out in pain, and by instinct, without thinking, he turns to catch her and keep her from falling.  But he has broken the ban, he has violated the requirement, he has transgressed the taboo.  And so he turns only to see her for one intolerably heartbreaking moment reaching for him as she evaporates and fades back into the mist, forever lost in the darkness.

Perhaps the hardest thing about Death to accept is that impenetrable wall brutishly erected across your path, that steel door slammed in your face.  It simply doesn’t matter how important and essential the departed loved one has been to your life, you aren’t getting him back.  That is what makes it the great and final Enemy: “The last enemy to be defeated is death” (1 Cor. 15:26).

And that is what Jesus overcame not just by his own resurrection, but by raising Lazarus and the son of the widow from Nain!  Should it be any wonder to us that the people were filled with terror and awe when the dead man sat up and began to speak?!  

Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out–those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. – John 5:28-29  This is the last, great and final hope of Christianity – that the stone wall will be shattered, that the steel door will be destroyed…and so we shall be forever with the Lord!

We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words. – 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18

PRAYER: I thank You that YOU are a God who hears the prayers of those who cry out to You, and that You will one day answer even our prayers to see and be with Your saints of all ages once again!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 5/05/20: The Meek Helper of God

2010 Haiti earthquake | Effects, Damage, Map, & Facts | Britannica

DayBreaks for 5/05/20: The Meek Helper of God

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2010, but very appropriate for this time in our lives and history.

Death has been a frequent visitor in the island nation of Haiti since January 12, 2010.  For the few short moments that the earth shook, and in the days immediately following, nearly 230,000 died.  Nearly everyone I met there had lost a family member or friend in the earthquake.  Because of the poverty of the nation, death has knocked frequently on the door for  every generation.  Death is viewed as our enemy – the Word describes it as the final enemy which will be defeated by the great Lord at the end of time. 

The power of God is perhaps nowhere better demonstrated than in how God can use even this enemy for his purposes.  Thomas Brooks was an English Puritan preacher and author in the 1600’s. Though he’s best known for his many books and theological treatises, we have several of his sermons in print, some of which are funeral sermons. In one funeral sermon, Brooks reminds his listeners that for the believer, death not only ceases to be our conqueror; death actually becomes God’s meek helper. He wrote: “Death is another Moses: it delivers believers out of bondage, and from making bricks in Egypt.” He continued:

“Remember this—death does that in a moment, which no graces, no duties, nor any ordinances could do for a man all his lifetime! Death frees a [person] from those diseases, corruptions, temptations … that no duties, nor graces, nor ordinances could do …. Every prayer then [when we die] shall have its answer; all hungering and thirsting shall be filled and satisfied; every sigh, groan, and tear that has fallen from the saints’ eyes shall then be recompensed. That is not death but life, which joins the dying man to Christ!”

Even the most powerful, and final, of our enemies, can be made to kneel before the Lord Almighty.  

PRAYER: God, thank you that we can trust You even in the moments of our death!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2010, 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 4/29/20: The Hallway Through the Sea #24 – The Last Enemy

An Unearthly Child — The last enemy that shall be destroyed is Death…

DayBreaks for 4/29/20: The Hallway Through the Sea, #24 – The Last Enemy

The following is the latest in a series of daily meditations amid the pandemic. For today’s musical pairing, “Song for Athene” by Sir John Tavener. All songs for this series have been gathered into a Spotify playlist.

But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. … The last enemy to be destroyed is death. – 1 Corinthians 15:20–22, 26

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will all be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” – 1 Corinthians 15:51–54

Meditation 24. 3,094,829 confirmed cases, 215,461 deaths globally.

In the days preceding my grandfather’s death, he was wholly unresponsive. A heart attack and a belated resuscitation had left his brain without oxygen for an extended time. Though we were told he was no longer really there, we brought him home and the family kept watch by his bedside. The silence was leavened with hymns and prayers.

Death, for my grandfather, did not come like a violent plunge. It was more like his soul was water on the shore and it slowly receded into the sand. The beating of his heart, the pulsing of his blood, the rise and fall of his chest all grew gentler until they were almost imperceptible.

Then, in the last possible moment, his eyes opened. His arms rose off the bed and extended toward the ceiling, toward the skies, toward the heavens. Stunned, the family whispered encouragement. “It’s okay to go,” they said. His arms fell. And he was gone.

Mortality is much on our minds these days. Here in the United States, we have surpassed a million confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus. It began on the far side of the planet and has left a ruin of death and devastation wherever it has gone. More Americans have died from the disease than from the entire Vietnam War.

Grandfathers and grandmothers. Brothers and sisters. Parents and children and grandchildren. Friends and colleagues. Countless Americans are grieving their loss, and countless more are grieving overseas. How many will lose people they love before the virus is defeated?

When we lose a loved one, our souls strain against the veil. We come to the end of ourselves and our powers to see. We may wonder whether we will ever really see them again. How confident are we, really, that we will find one another again on the far side of the veil?

We do not, if we are honest with ourselves, really know what happens to the souls of the dead. Not, at least, in the same sense we know the names of our children or the number of rooms in our home. But that does not mean we cannot be confident. Trust can be stronger than knowledge when it is rooted in the being of God…(Click here to read the rest of this devotion.)

Link to Christianity Today’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/CTMagazine

 

DayBreaks for 4/27/20 – The Hallway Through the Sea #22 – To Those Who’ve Lost Loved Ones

Romantic dinner for two - prepared by you! - Mariposa Farms

DayBreaks for 4/27/20: The Hallway Through the Sea, #22 – To Those Who’ve Lost Loved Ones

The following is the latest in a series of daily meditations amid the pandemic from Christianity Today. Today’s installment comes from Daniel Harrell, editor in chief. For our musical pairing, we introduce you to Scottish fiddler Hanneke Cassel and her compilation of joy from fellow fiddlers worldwide, “Pure Dead Brilliant Livestream Finale.” All songs for this series have been gathered into a Spotify playlist.

Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. – 1 Thess. 4:13–14

Meditation 22. 2,761,121 confirmed cases, 193,671 deaths globally.

When you’ve lost someone you love, the grief books say to make plans for holidays and birthdays and other important dates. Be ready to be overwhelmed by emotion and memories and the throbbing pain of loss.

When it came to my first wedding anniversary after my beloved wife, Dawn, died of pancreas cancer, I wanted to mark it well. Dawn and I differed on how to do this when she was alive. I was always a “celebrate the actual date” person while she was more of a proximity celebrator: Wait for the weekend and the babysitter to do it right. At the same time, right did not necessarily mean extravagant. Dawn was both Scottish and the daughter of missionaries. Doing it right usually included doing it cheap. Not me. I liked to splurge. Fancy dinner out. A show, a trip, something new, flowers and earrings, rent a convertible, dress up, make it memorable.

Dawn was usually game and always a good sport—but deep down she longed for more than any singular moment would provide. She craved continuity, integration, connection, emotion, and internality. As I read through her journals after she died, I saw she wrote and wrote about her passions and core loves, her spiritual crests and crashes—but not one single sentence about our “memorable moments,” no mention of an anniversary, birthday, or holiday. The deeper places were where the significance lay.

I remember a sermon on the Israelites crossing the Jordan in the Book of Joshua—a moment in time with potential for either transformation or tragedy. Bewildering is how much the Promised Land on the other side of the river can look just like the desert side left behind. (This is true, I’ve seen it while in Israel. It’s desert on both sides of the Jordan.) The sermon went on about our need to move forward despite the lure to turn and go back. With death and loss, there is no going back, no matter how much you’d give for just one minute more of the way life was.

Søren Kierkegaard wrote, “Our life can only be understood backwards, but it has to be lived forwards.” In contrast to dreams and ideals, Kierkegaard (as an existentialist) emphasized existence: What is real and painful is more important than any ideal.

Though disposed toward despair, Kierkegaard nevertheless saw life’s hard reality as an invitation to faith. Not faith in the positive thinking or even the doctrinally coherent, but faith as that passionate commitment to Christ in the face of uncertainty, a risk of belief that demands loss of self for love’s sake. True love aims at the actual people in your life, not imaginary conceptualizations of how you believe or might wish these people should be. True love earnestly absorbs disappointments and overcomes faults as Christ has done in his love for us.

This requires a constant discipline of forgiveness. My wife wrote, “Forgiveness is agreeing to live with the consequences of another person’s sin. You are going to live with those consequences anyway whether you like it or not, so the only choice you have is whether you will do so in the bondage of bitterness or in the freedom of forgiveness. No one truly forgives without accepting and suffering the pain of another person’s sin. That can seem unfair and you may wonder where the justice is in it, but justice is found at the foot of the cross, which makes forgiveness legally and morally right.” … (Click here to read the rest of this devotion.)

Link to Christianity Today’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/CTMagazine

 

DayBreaks for 4/13/20 – Random Thoughts on Easter

resurrection-morning-iis | Walnut Creek Presbyterian Church

DayBreaks for 4/13/20: Random Thoughts on Easter

NOTE: The Hallway Through the Sea will return tomorrow, but for today I want to share some quotes that are timely given the week just past.

We often speak of “God with us” at Christmas. “God with us” as a precious child in a manger is preferable to “God with us” as a despised man hung to die. But the manger is not the central symbol of our faith. The empty tomb isn’t either. Christians decided early on that the sign of their faith would be a cross.” – Daniel Harrell, Christianity Today

Galen’s Thoughts: we sing about Emmanuel at Christmas as we should. We like the thought of Jesus becoming man to show us what God is like, to know he identifies with us. The truth about Emmanuel doesn’t stop with the birth of the Messiah, though. God was with us not only in the manger and in working for a living, but in his death – as he will be with us in ours, too. Even then it isn’t finished – in fact it never will be – for he will be with us in our resurrection and then forever.

To suffer and die—whether at the end of a long life or too terribly soon—is the one way we will all be like Jesus without even trying. Paul goes so far as to say we’ve been crucified already, that as far as God goes we’re as good as dead now (Gal. 2:19–20). Paul goes on to insist we’re raised now too—buried in baptism and raised by faith (Col. 2:12). For Christians, our future is so certain it’s like we’ve died and gone to heaven already.” – Daniel Harrell, Christianity Today

Galen’s Thoughts: there is nothing wrong at all with thinking about our death in the future tense. We all have a sense – perhaps even some sort of hope – that we are immortal and that we may just happen to be the one case of a human who escapes the grasp of the grim reaper. But in our hearts, we know that’s not the case. In a deeper sense, we have died, and we have already been resurrected. Is it just wishful thinking? I don’t believe it is. We will join Jesus in death, but also in life. It is a fait accompli – as good as if it had already happened to us.

The Resurrection is not a timeless truth about the immortality of the human being, or the reassurance that everything works out in the end. The Resurrection takes place in a graveyard, a reminder that, left to ourselves, every one of us will retreat to the dust from which we came.” – Russell Moore, Christianity Today

Galen’s Thoughts: We shall return to the dust. It is only fitting that the resurrection requires graveyards. But after the resurrection happens, there will be no graveyards anymore. The fact that the Resurrection happened there was intentional and a reminder that as surely as Jesus died and rose, we shall follow in his footsteps as surely as the Son rose on Easter morning.

PRAYER: Thank you for holy week and all the reminders and lessons it has to teach us, Lord. We glorify you for your great power that defeated our gravest enemy and that promises and guarantees our greatest joy! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2020, Galen C. Dalrymple.

 

 

 

DayBreaks for 1/28/20 – When Legends Die

Image result for Kobe Bryant

DayBreaks for 1/28/20: When Legends Die

I have been a Los Angeles Lakers fan since I was a kid in fifth grade and we lived in southern California, so when the news broke yesterday about the death of basketball legend, Kobe Bryant (along with his 13-year old daughter and 7 other people in a helicopter crash), I was stunned and saddened. Kobe was only 41, but 4 years removed from hanging up his sneakers. Many seemed immobilized by grief. Reactions came pouring in from every walk of life and corner of the globe in this day of instant, world-wide communications. It seems like such a tragic waste.

Alexa tells me that every day there are approximately 156,021 persons who die around the globe. Most of those are the nameless, faceless masses of humanity – people we have never met or even heard of. They lived and died in obscurity.

I couldn’t help but think today about a craftsman from a small village in Israel – fewer than 500 probably lived there – who died one day in a tiny backwater of the Roman world. His life was mostly lived in obscurity and ended in obscurity to those alive at the time. Only a small handful seemed to weep at his death. When he died, there was no mass communication and if people heard of it, it was slow in spreading and few there were who found it to be of interest.

Why didn’t Jesus give his life in the 21st century so everyone could hear about him like Kobe? I’ve heard the explanations but it confounds human wisdom for Jesus to have lived and died when he did – especially if the goal is to have the world come to know him and what he did for them.

I don’t know Kobe’s eternal destiny. I don’t know if he came to believe in the craftsman who died on the cross. I can only hope he did. But I do know this: for all his fame, wealth and glory, Kobe’s death couldn’t and didn’t save even a single human soul. And his fame couldn’t keep the helicopter in the air in order to save the lives of those nine aboard.  And all his world championships, MVP’s, Olympic gold medals and the hundreds of millions of dollars he made putting a ball through a hoop don’t matter at all to God. Kobe has faced the ultimate question: Who do you believe Jesus is? I can only hope and pray he knew the answer. 

Yet, the one who died two thousand years ago saved souls by the millions through his death. And yesterday, while the news filled the airwaves with news of Kobe’s passing, I didn’t see one story on the news about the king of heaven and what he’d done. It is not God’s way to be flashy, but to be humble and work invisibly.

How many of the 156,021 who died today went to heaven because of Kobe? None. Not one. How many went because of Jesus? I don’t know, but if they didn’t, it isn’t Jesus’ fault, but it could be partly mine. You see, like most of us, I was eager yesterday and today to talk about Kobe’s passing with my friends – far more eager to talk about that than I am to tell others about Jesus’ death for them. May God have mercy on my soul. 

One more thing as I contemplate the death of a legend. One very famous man and his daughter died yesterday that I know of, but the vast bulk of the remaining 156,019 died obscure deaths as far as the news is concerned. But with God no one dies in obscurity because Jesus tells us that God even knows when a tiny sparrow dies and we are of much greater worth than a tiny bird. We are known to him, he counts the hairs on our head and knows our name and he longs for us all to be with him. And he is counting on us to tell those around us that he loves them so that the 156,021 who will die tomorrow will live in His Presence forever.

My condolences to the Bryant family.

PRAYER: Jesus, thank you for living and dying for us. Help us to be eager to tell the world what you’ve done. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 12/31/19: Trust the Catcher

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DayBreaks for 12/31/19: Trust the Catcher

From the DayBreaks Archive, 12/31/09:

The year is at a close. The decade is done (depending on how you count the start of a decade!) What will the coming year hold? Birth, life, and death. Chances are good that some who read this DayBreaks won’t be alive this time next year. Certainly, someone you know will die in the next year.

In her introduction to Henri Nouwen’s book, The Only Necessary Thing, Sue Mosteller relays a bit of Nouwen’s thoughts about death and life: “Speaking of death and eternal life, Henri leads us to glimpse the reality of our approaching death, not as something fearful and traumatic, but more as a ‘return to the womb of God’ (p. 190). Communion with God grows deep inside us and we gradually learn a trust so tangible that we begin to imagine our death as a ‘letting go’ of the swing on the flying trapeze. Henri quotes the trapeze artist Rodleigh, who says, ‘When I fly to Joe, I have simply to stretch out my arms and hands and wait for him to catch me and pull me safely over the apron behind the catchbar…the worst thing a flyer can do is to try to catch the catcher.’ ‘Dying is trusting the catcher,’ says Henri. ‘Don’t try to grab Him; He will grab you. Just stretch out your arms and hands and trust, trust, trust.'”

Trusting in God is to trust Him as the Catcher. I don’t get the sense from Jesus’ words on the cross that he was worried about trying to grab onto God:“Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. (Luke 23:46) I sense nothing in his words except absolute trust that the Father was more than able to catch him regardless of what Jesus did at that point.

The story has been told for years about the man who was standing alone on the edge of a cliff when the ground beneath him crumbled and the man plunged over the edge. About 15-20 feet down, he managed to grab a branch that protruded from the cliff face. Desperately holding on, he began crying out for help. No one was there – no one heard. So finally, the man calls out to God: “God, please save me!” To his surprise, he hears a voice: “Do you trust me?” The man, struggling to maintain his grip, replies, “Yes, God, I trust you!” To which God replies, “Then let go…”.

Only God can catch us. Only God is worthy of our trust. But faith and trust are sometimes hard to come by, especially when faced with the ultimate conclusion of this worldly life. During this next year, as you see friends and loved ones die, if they are believers you can have great confidence that God will “catch” them. That death, for the believer, is a trip home, to our origin. It is not something to be feared.

The time will eventually come for all of us – and we must launch out into eternity with nothing in our hands – trusting Him to catch us and land us safely on the other side.

As far as tomorrow – I am not afraid. God can catch me. He can catch us all regardless of the date, regardless of the circumstances. Until then, “just stretch out your arms and hands and trust, trust, trust.”

PRAYER: Lord, you have carried us in your arms from the moment we were born and you will carry us until the day we die.  Thank you for being with us this past year and for the assurance that no matter where we are, you will be with us in the coming year, too.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 12/10/19 – A Message for the Grieving

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DayBreaks for 12/10/19: A Message for the Grieving

Do you remember your first brush with death?  It might have been the death of a pet, or when you first saw road kill.  For some, the first touch of death is for a human who was loved but now gone.  It matters little what the first encounter was, for we will most certainly encounter death numerous times during our few years.  People have wondered since the dawn of creation about the dead – where are they, is there a place they go to, if so – what is it like?  Will we see them again?  For Christians, the questions are a bit more focused: do the dead in Christ go to be with him right away, or do they go to some kind of “holding tank” until the end?  Or, are they even conscious until the resurrection?

It appears that the Christians at Thessalonica had questions about such matters and the apostle Paul wrote partly to bring their questioning to an end.  Paul had several things to say that were instructive:

FIRST: We want you to be quite certain, brothers, about those who have died, to make sure that you do not grieve about them, like the other people who have no hope. (1 Thes. 4:13, JB)  As with any group of people, they’d seen loved ones die and be buried.  And they wanted to know more about their plight.  And, thankfully, God wanted them to know more about their status, so He had Paul pen these words.  There are some who will read this that will experience their first Christmas without a particular loved one. Let God speak to you through the words of Paul this year to give you comfort.  But Paul goes on:

SECOND: I want you to know what happens to a Christian when he dies so that when it happens, you will not be full of sorrow, as those who have no hope.  For since we believe that Jesus died and then came back to life again, we can also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with Him all the Christians who have died. (1 Thes. 4:13-14, TLB) What is God telling us in this passage?  That we will see our believing loved ones again.  This passage also hints at something another verse will make even more clear: where the dead believers go in the interim – that Jesus will bring them “with him” – so they must be where he is.

THIRD: For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.  If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me.  Yet what shall I choose?  I do not know!  I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far.”(Phil. 1:21-23, NIV)  Where does Paul say he would go if he departed this life?  “To be with Christ.” 

Just a day or two ago, I was exchanging email with a friend whose wife (both he and his wife are Christians) passed away this past summer, and I asked him how he was doing during this holiday season.  He replied to me, and I wrote back and simply said, “This year she’ll be celebrating Christmas with the One who was born in the stable.”  I believe that with all my heart – she is presently with the Lord, and when He comes back, she’ll come with Him – as will all our loved ones who have died in Christ.

I want to remind us all that the holidays are very difficult times for people who face them alone for the first time – for all who will have an empty chair at the family gathering this year.  Please – reach out to them and share this part of the good news with those who are in Christ – let God speak peace through you to encourage them as to the fate of their loved ones.

PRAYER: Thank You for Your great and exceedingly precious promises and reassurances to us, Lord!  Please give comfort to all those who have lost believing loved ones during this year and make us be instruments of Your grace and comfort.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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