DayBreaks for 9/27/19 – The Truck or the Shadow

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DayBreaks for 9/27/19: The Truck or the Shadow

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me – Your rod and Your staff comfort me. – Ps. 23:4

There is a wonderful story that is told about Donald Barnhouse, who was a great man of faith and servant of the Lord.  While his children were still very young (he had 3 at the time), his first wife, Ruth, died of cancer.  One can only try to imagine the feelings that assailed the grieved family!  On the day of the funeral, Mr. Barnhouse and his children attended the service at the funeral home and then got into their car to go to the cemetery for the graveyard service. 

As they drove to the cemetery, Dr. Barnhouse heard the crying of his children but he was so overcome with his own grief and heartbreak that he didn’t know what to say in an effort to comfort his small children.  As they drove, all of a sudden, a very large moving van drove immediately past their car and the shadow of the van momentarily threw them into the shade.  It was the inspiration that Dr. Barnhouse needed.  He turned to his children and asked them this seemingly very simple question: “Would you rather be run over by a truck or by a shadow?”  The children, perhaps thinking that he’d taken leave of his senses, quickly replied through their weeping, that they’d rather be run over by the shadow.  Dr. Barnhouse then said, “About 2000 years ago the truck of death ran directly over Jesus so that only the shadow of death would touch us.”

The point was clear: for those who are His children, death not only holds no fear for us, but it cannot harm us – it is nothing more than a shadow.  It has been nothing but a shadow for all believers since Jesus took the sting of death away and overcame it once and for all time.  Yes, the shadow of death still looms in the dark valley, but David seemed to sense when he wrote Psalm 23 that it was only shadows…that there is no reason to fear it for the Lord God is with us.

PRAYER: We praise You, Jesus, for taking away death’s sting and that You have protected us from what You endured!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/20/19 – Alaska Lessons #4 – Life

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Tree in Denali National Park, September 2019. Photo by Galen Dalrymple. 

DayBreaks for 9/20/19: Alaska Lessons #4 – Life

I sat on the porch of our cabin in Denali National Park one afternoon in silence and listened to the rustling of the leaves. Fall was coming to Denali, or maybe more correctly, winter was just around the corner. In the one week we’d been there, the fall colors had changed dramatically and the trees that surrounded our cabin shed copious amounts of leaves. As I sat there, listening, I watched them fall quietly to the ground. Winter comes quickly to the tundra – and in human life.

The story of life is portrayed in seeds and by deciduous trees that sprout leaves each spring, bearing them gloriously throughout the summer, yet surrender them to the inevitable in the fall. During winter, they appear dead.

I am well into the fall, perhaps early winter, of my life. I can look back across the years and recount memories of faces and places that are incredibly dear to me. I have lived a wonderful life!

But I know that the season of my life is well along. Many of the leaves of my life have spent themselves and fallen due to the inexorable march of time.

That’s not bad. In fact, it’s a good thing. We spend so much time fighting the inevitable but I think we should embrace it. You see, even as the leaves fall from the tree in fall and the tree, though just slumbering, appears dead in winter, the kernel of life is still harbored within, to be awakened by the gentle warmth of the sun when the right time has come.

For me, the time will come when I, too, appear to be dead, lifeless. But just as the tree “comes back to life” with the sun warms the earth, I will also come back to life when the Son shines his brightest.

All seasons of life should be cherished for the wonder that they are, the treasures they hold, and the promise that lies hidden within.

1 Corinthians 15:20-23 (NKJV) – But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.

PRAYER: Jesus, thank you for each season of life, including this season I am presently in. Let me welcome the winter because I know that after the sleep, life will erupt immortal! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/20/19 – Receiving a Death Sentence

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DayBreaks for 06/20/09: Receiving a Death Sentence

From the DayBreaks archives, June 2009:

I always find video clips of court sessions where the defendant receives a death sentence interesting.  It is the expression, or lack thereof, on the face of the defendant that interests me.  Sometimes there is no reaction, sometimes they are stunned, at other times they have a very strong physical reaction.  I have often wondered how it must feel to them at that moment when the sentence is read. 

Last week, my beloved boxer, Casper had a close call.  We were going out for our daily walk to the mailbox to get the bills and junk mail.  We’d barely walked out of the garage and he collapsed and struggled to get back up.  After a few seconds that seemed like hours, he gave up struggling and lay in my arms.  I felt for his heartbeat and could feel nothing.  He stopped breathing.  I was at first puzzled, hinking perhaps he’d hurt his hind leg, but then the reality hit me: injured legs don’t stop hearts or breathing.  And my worst fear came to mind: that Casper, like the last boxer I had before him, had dilated cardiomyopathy (an enlarged heart).  It is a relatively common problem in boxers and it had taken Ramses’ life when he was just 5 years old.  All I could think to do with Casper was hold him, talk to and pet him, and then it hit me: do CPR and see if you can get his heart beating and lungs working again.  So, I thumped him on the ribcage a few times, gave him a few breaths of air, and (praise God!) he came back.  Today, you’d never know anything happened by looking at him or watching him.

We took him to the vet who ran tests. I expected to hear the worst – to hear a death sentence pronounced on my beloved dog: “Casper has dilated cardiomyopathy.”  But instead, the vet said that the heart looked good, the EKG was perfectly normal.  So, the cause of the collapse remains a mystery.  It made me think, however, about death sentences.

It was the apostle Paul who referred to the sentence of death in 2 Cor. 1:9-10 (NIV): Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us…” 

In context, Paul is describing the sufferings they endured in order to preach the gospel.  I believe that when we were born, we all received a sentence of death due to our sin nature.  If you are born a human, you are born with that sentence hanging over your head.  You can’t avoid it by having your parents sign some kind of waiver.  The only way to avoid the death sentence is to be given a full and complete pardon by the Judge.  As Paul put it, we have been given the sentence of death so that we will rely on God rather than our own wiles and cleverness or our ability to excuse or argue that we’re not guilty of sin.  God has pronounced sentence: The soul that sins shall die and The wages of sin is death.

The problem is that we often fail to remember that we are under a death sentence until Christ gives us the reprieve and grants us real life.  Casper will die someday.  I will die someday.  But by God’s incredible grace, I shall live again.

Prayer: Father, death is such an enemy.  You have told us that the wages of sin is death, but the free gift You offer us is life through Christ Jesus.  May we consciously live in the awareness that all that is in this created world is passing away, including our physical bodies, and that we need the breath of Life more than we could ever imagine.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 3/22/19 – Even the Darkness Dazzles

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DayBreaks for 3/22/19: Even the Darkness Dazzles

In order to be God made man and to lead our exodus from this world to the next, Jesus had to die like we do: alone, with no particular glory. Otherwise he would have been an anomaly instead of a messiah, and it would have been hard for us to see what he had in common with the rest of us.

As it was, he died very much like those who died on either side of him, one of them begging to be saved from what was coming, the other asking to be remembered when Jesus got where he was going. Jesus could not do anything for the one who wanted to be spared, but he did a great favor for the other. He told him that the darkness was a dazzling one, with paradise in it for both of them.

Perhaps it was the transfiguration that helped remind Jesus of this dazzling world beyond: when light burst through all his seams and showed those gathered what he was made of. It was as if he experienced a flash-back of his pre-incarnation glory. If we had been allowed to intrude on that moment, it would have been because someone thought we might need a dose of glory too, to get us through the night. Some people are lucky enough to witness it for themselves, although like Peter, James and John, very few of them will talk about it later.

What the rest of us have are stories like the transfiguration and the crucifixion, and the chance to decide for ourselves whether we will believe what they tell us. It is a lot to believe: that God’s lit-up life includes death, that there is no way around it but only through, that even the that death darkness can dazzle.

1 John 1:5 (CSBBible) – This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light, and there is absolutely no darkness in him.

PRAYER: Thank you that there is no darkness in, or for, you and therefore the death darkness for your children dazzles with your glory! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 3/5/19 – Ready Every Day

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DayBreaks for 3/05/19: Ready Every Day

From the DayBreaks archive February 2009:

Robby Robins was an Air Force pilot during the first Iraq war. After his 300th mission, he was surprised to be given permission to immediately pull his crew together and fly his plane home. They flew across the ocean to Massachusetts and then had a long drive to western Pennsylvania. They drove all night, and when his buddies dropped him off at his driveway just after sun-up, there was a big banner across the garage—”Welcome Home Dad!”

How did they know? No one had called, and the crew themselves hadn’t expected to leave so quickly. Robins relates, “When I walked into the house, the kids, about half dressed for school, screamed, ‘Daddy!’ Susan came running down the hall—she looked terrific—hair fixed, make-up on, and a crisp yellow dress. ‘How did you know?’ I asked.

‘I didn’t,’ she answered through tears of joy. ‘Once we knew the war was over, we knew you’d be home one of these days. We knew you’d try to surprise us, so we were ready every day.'”

In Matthew 25 is the parable of the wise and foolish virgins who were invited to the wedding feast.  The wise virgins had enough oil to keep their lamps burning and were ready and waiting when the bridegroom showed up at the feast.  The foolish virgins had not exercised the foresight to prepare themselves so they were not ready when the bridegroom arrived. 

We need to be ready every day for a variety of things:

FIRST: we need to be ready for the arrival of the bridegroom.  It could be today that Jesus gets the word from the Father: “It’s time.  Go back and bring My children home!”  If that day is today, there is absolutely nothing that will stop it from taking place.  No one knows the day, except the Father.  Hence the need to always be ready!

SECOND: we need to be ready to die.  Jesus may or may not come today…and we may or may not live to see tomorrow.  It sounds trite to say it, but it is true.  Just recently in our town, a 19 year old boy from a nearby town came here for the yearly Citrus Fair.  He was hit by a car and killed.  I know he wasn’t expecting it, I can only hope and pray that he was ready.

THIRD: there are opportunities that only come up once in a while and we need to be ready to grasp the opportunities to show the love of Jesus each day even as he demonstrates his love to us daily.  Make it a point, right now, to love someone today in a practical way.  You might not have the chance again tomorrow.

Prayer: Help us to be watchful, Lord, and ready, for Your return, for our own death, and for the chances that come our way to love others in Your name!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

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

 

DayBreaks for 2/13/19 – I AM #3: The Life

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DayBreaks for 2/12/2019: I AM #3: The Life

John 14:6 (ESV) – Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me…”

In the early 1900’s, one doctor determined the weight of the human soul by weighing people just before they died and just after they died. He concluded the body of a person who has just died weighs 21 grams less than when they were alive – that was because the soul had left the body, therefore the soul must weigh 21 grams! (Lots of issues with his work!!!)   

Jesus claimed to be “the life”. He says that he came that we may have “life abundant”. Those two things suggest to me that he came to give us “life” by giving us himself, by abiding in us, not merely to give  us some quantitative number of years or a specific set of biological functions.

We believe life originates from God/Jesus. Jesus created everything that exists and therefore it stands to reason he created life. Only life can give rise to other life, only life can procreate. We are his children partly because he gave us life.

But as I thought about life in conjunction with the cessation of life – what we refer to as death – I became more and more convinced that Jesus doesn’t just give us “life” after we die. We who are his children have his very DNA (spiritually speaking) because he lives inside of us. We are begotten by him and that involves the passing along of DNA. It isn’t necessary for him to give us something new called “life” after we die because he lives in us and is already alive forevermore. Death can’t ultimately kill us because he lives within us, not because he’ll eventually give us life eternal. That which is made up of his DNA is already eternal. When we are resurrected, we will rise not because he reached into our graves and gave us something new, but because we have had life from the moment we became his and no one and nothing can take that away from us – not cancer, not heart disease, not murder, not sin and not the grave. So, in a sense, it won’t be us who rise, but Christ in us that pulls us upward out of the tomb or the depths of the sea. The grave couldn’t deny him 2000 years ago and it won’t deny him then. Nothing will prevent that eventuality from happening!

His life is our life: Galatians 2:20 (ESV) – I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

PRAYER: Let us yield our lives, dying to ourselves, so you may live in us more fully each day! In your name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 2/01/19 – No Pockets in a Shroud

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DayBreaks for 2/01/2019: No Pockets in a Shroud

From the DayBreaks archive, 2009:

Matthew 6:19-20: Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.

In his commentary on this passage, William Barclay has some interesting things to say.

FIRST: The Jews always connected treasure with character. It related to things like treasure versus morality/honor. The Jews had a saying, “…in the hour of a man’s departure, neither silver, nor gold, nor precious stones accompany him, but only his knowledge of the Law, and his good works.” We might want to argue a bit with some of that theology, but the basic point is accurate: when we leave this planet it’s not like moving from one house to another. We won’t be able to take anything of material value with us to our new home.

SECOND: It is important where we put our treasure, because if our hearts value the things of this world, we will have little or no interest in the world beyond this one. Once upon a time, Dr. Johnson, a Christian man, was being led through a noble and magnificent castle and its surrounding gardens. When he had completed the tour, he turned to his companions and said, “These are the things which make it difficult to die.” Can’t we all identify with that? Haven’t you seen a beautiful home, a beautiful plane, a beautiful boat, a beautiful tropical isle that enticed you even a little bit? That whispers in your ear, “Wouldn’t you really like to have me? Aren’t I beautiful?” And a part of us answers, “Boy, would I!” But we can’t let the things of this world cloud our judgment. The things here are temporary – not permanent. The permanent is what resides in eternity – either good or bad.

There is an old Spanish proverb that says it all very simply: “There are no pockets in a shroud.” If only we could remember that each day! Our focus would be clearer, our perspective heavenly and our hearts would be set on things of heaven instead of things on earth. We’d be more interested in things that are eternal rather than 401k plans, stock splits and a home backed up to the waterway or golf course.

Maybe you need to create a little sign and put it over your desk, in your car, or on your refrigerator or mirror at home with that Spanish proverb on it. I think I will. And when my heart feels the tug towards something of this world, I pray that the Spirit will remind me to look at the proverb and that He’ll re-adjust my mindset.

PRAYER: Give us clear hearts, clear eyes, and clear minds to discern the relative value of this world and all it would tempt us with, and the everlasting value of Your home!    In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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