DayBreaks for 3/8/18 – The Perils of a Cold Heart

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DayBreaks for 3/08/18: The Perils of a Cold Heart

NOTE: Galen is traveling this week.

From the DayBreaks archive,  March 2008:

An early candidate for 1998’s “Darwin Award” (an annual “award” given to the stupidest thing that someone did during the year – usually awarded posthumously), from Remy, France: “Jacques LeFevrier left nothing to chance when he decided to commit suicide.  He stood at the top of a tall cliff and tied a noose around his neck.  He tied the other end of the rope to a large rock.  He drank some poison and set fire to his clothes.  He even tried to shoot himself at the last moment.  He jumped and fired the pistol.  The bullet missed him completely and cut through the rope above him.  Free of the threat of hanging, he plunged into the sea.  The sudden dunking extinguished the flames and made him vomit the poison.  He was dragged out of the water by a kind fisherman and was taken to a hospital, where he died of hypothermia.”

I’ve wondered what makes people contemplate suicide.  I understand financial stress, grief, despair, anxiety, depression, etc. – at least at some level.  I’ve never reached the point where I felt that life was so hopeless that I had no other option.  I have had friends who have committed suicide and it is heartbreaking.  I don’t know what problems were hounding Mr. LeFevrier, but he was determined to leave nothing to chance.  As it turns out, it wasn’t the noose, the poison, the fire, the pistol or the fall that took his life.  It wasn’t even really something external – but something internal.  His core body temperature fell to such a low level that his organs couldn’t do their job – his heart and brain stopped.

So it is with us.  It isn’t the things around us that will prove our undoing – it is what is within us.  Matthew 24:12 says: Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold… .  We can spend great amounts of energy and time to make sure the circumstances surrounding our life are just right, leaving no stone unturned in our efforts.  We can install backup system after backup system to make sure our life is planned to the smallest detail.  But you know what?  Those things don’t matter.  They are just details.  What matters is what is within.  Is your heart on fire after God, or is it cold and unfunctioning?  When Jesus once again comes crashing through the barriers of time and space with a trumpet blast and the earth and the heavens are consumed with flaming fire all the backup plans we may make prior to then will go up in smoke – literally!  But it is the heart and what is in it that will determine what happens next.

What is your core heart temperature?  What are you doing to fuel the fire of your heart towards greater love and service to God and His creation?  Mr. LeFevrier never would have guessed in his wildest dreams that he would have died of coldness.  I hope and pray that coldness doesn’t claim any of us!

PRAYER: You are a consuming fire, Your Spirit appeared as tongues of fire…light our hearts on fire that they may never grow cold, lest we die.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 9/22/16 – Only If We Despair

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DayBreaks for 9/22/16 – Only If We Despair      

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/19/2006:

Copyright © 2006 Christianity Today. September 2006, Vol. 50, No. 9, Page 118

“But it is important for Christians not to confuse the existence of bad news with our reaction to the bad news—and here it is useful to look at The Screwtape Letters.

“C. S. Lewis’s famous novel was conceived and written during World War II, when so much looked bad. One of the most striking moments in the story arrives when the inexperienced junior devil, Wormwood, chortles over the horrors of war. Screwtape sternly admonishes his nephew not “to forget the main point in your immediate enjoyment of human suffering.” In war, says the senior devil, people die. But hell gains nothing from mere human misery and death, he warns. It is the state in which people die that matters.

“Lewis is not suggesting that we celebrate our suffering or that we stand blind to the suffering of others. His point, rather, is that Christians should not mistakenly think that bad news here on earth means Satan is winning. Men have done terrible things to each other ever since Eden. The horrors of war—like the other pains and scars of life—pose a challenge to faith. Lewis suggests that what truly matters is how we meet that challenge: the battle, that is, in the spiritual realm.

“As the writer of Hebrews said to discouraged believers, “Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the Cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Heb. 12:1-3).

“Lewis’s vision of Satan is far more useful and scary than Hollywood’s. The film industry loves making movies about hell. In these high-budget visions of the underworld, demons usually emerge to do bad things to people, causing death and destruction here on earth. The hero either slays them or works some mystic incantation that sends them back, after which life on earth returns to what it was before. The demons are just like other Hollywood bad guys: terrorists, serial killers, the ruthless rich out to rule the world. In these visions, the bad thing about Satan is that he wants to do bad things to us here and now.

“C. S. Lewis’s marvelous imagination, by contrast, should remind us that this vision is dangerously wrong. The terrible tragedies that befall the world work to Satan’s benefit only if we despair. Suffering, as Screwtape reminds his nephew, often strengthens faith. Better to keep people alive, he says, long enough for faith to be worn away. The death of a believer is the last thing the Devil wants.”

Galen’s Thoughts: Sometimes I’m tempted to think that Satan loves misery and death.  I’m not sure that’s right.  After all, I rather doubt that Satan licks his chops when he contemplates his own fate in eternal hell.  So Lewis’ point is a good one: he only relishes death of humans when they die without Christ.  He’d much rather that we as believers stay alive long enough to give him more time to beat us up, to wear down our resolve and surrender to the suffering of this world, blaming it on God with the result being that we reject Him.  I don’t know about you, but I, for one, don’t want to give Satan that satisfaction.  How much better that we spend our time, not in thinking that the suffering is what matters, but that the souls of men and women are what truly is important.

PRAYER:  We are a depressed and discouraged society.  The enemy even attacks us from within the sheepfold, Lord!  But help us stay focused on the ultimate realities with which we are faced.  Help us to realize that our despair plays into Satan’s hands.  May we find comfort and assurance and sustenance beside You in green pastures beside the still waters.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

DayBreaks for 8/11/15 – A Long Day’s Journey of the Saturday

DayBreaks for 8/11/15: A Long Day’s Journey of the Saturday 

From the DayBreaks archive, 2005:

Psalm 6:2-3 – Be merciful to me, LORD, for I am faint; O LORD, heal me, for my bones are in agony. My soul is in anguish.  How long, O LORD, how long?

I’m actually just back from vacation this week.  I needed it.  I’d been pretty worn out the past few weeks.  We had lots of house guests this summer who came and stayed, a few weddings and we just finished our Vacation Bible School on July 29, and it all seemed to just be one thing right after the other without stop.  You know the feeling.  Sometimes life just seems slightly over the edge, doesn’t it? 

George Steiner wrote: “We know of the Good Friday which Christianity holds to have been that of the Cross.  But the non-Christian, the atheist, knows of it as well.  This is to say that he knows of the injustice, of the interminable suffering, of the waste, of the brute enigma of ending, which so largely make up not only the historical dimension of the human condition, but the everyday fabric of our personal lives.  We know, ineluctably, of the pain, of the failure of love, of the solitude which are our history and private fate.  We know also about Sunday.  To the Christian, that day signifies an intimation, both assured and precarious, both evident and beyond comprehension, of resurrection, of a justice and a love that have conquered death…The lineaments of that Sunday carry the name of hope (there is no world less deconstructible.)  But ours is the long day’s journey of the Saturday.”

Our dilemma comes because we live in the nether world between Good Friday and Sunday.  In short, we live on Saturday…stuck half way between the injustice of the world and sin and death and weariness and desperation, and the promise of justice, holiness, everlasting life, eternal energy and the fulfillment of all things.  While most of us who have Saturday off from work long for that day to arrive each week, that “day” we really long for hasn’t arrived yet.  By faith, we can see it just around the corner from where we live.  With age, we hear its footsteps on the gravel path leading to our door. 

In the movie, Gladiator, Djimon Hounsou plays a gladiator friend of General Maximus (played by Russell Crowe.)  At one point in the movie, they speak of their families and wonder if they will ever see them again.  Hounsou says something to this effect: “I believe I will see them again.  But not yet.  Not yet.”  The longing in his voice is palpable.  That is how I long for Saturday to be over and for “Sunday” to arrive, for when it happens, I will see the Savior face to face.  I expect that day to come, but not yet, not yet.

PRAYER: We wait, as patiently as we can, for your return, and with joy for what that day will bring! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 04/25/12 – Prayer and the Ceiling

DayBreaks for 04/25/12 – Prayer and the Ceiling

It certainly is a common enough phrase that “Sometimes it just seems my prayers can’t get past the ceiling.”  Why is that the case?  Because it is a common experience of nearly everyone I know who has ever prayed that there are times it seems that God just doesn’t hear – that our prayers never get out of the room in which we find ourselves, or that the ceiling is lead-lined and stops not only x-rays but prayers from passing through.

I’ve said it on more than one occasion.  It is difficult to pray when one feels as if God can’t hear you.  It’s maybe even worse to think that He won’t hear you or because you’ve convinced yourself that you’re such a horrible sinner that He doesn’t even want to hear you anymore.

I liked something I read today that was written by John Ortberg in the Spring 2012 edition of Leadership Magazine in an article called Fighting the Good Fight (I’ll share more from that article in the next few days).  Here was his observation: “People often speak of feeling frustrated that their prayers never make it past the ceiling. Of course, if the Spirit of God is present right here right now, they don’t have to make it past the ceiling—God is already on this side of the ceiling.”

As with most of our perceptions about God, our perception that He doesn’t hear our prayer is flawed.  There is no magical ceiling through which our prayers must pass, no level of holiness me must first reach before He will listen, no sin to great that will cause Him to turn from us when we are turning to Him in repentance.  In fact, He was in the room waiting to hear from you before you even thought about praying.

“God is already on this side of the ceiling.”  I like that.  I hope that if you’re in one of those times right now where it seems He is not hearing, you’ll remember He’s in the room with you…listening!

PRAYER: Forgive us for our weakness that makes us doubt Your desire to hear us, to listen to us, and to respond to our requests and cries, especially in those times which seem to be the darkest to us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

I Am 2 is now engaged in a project to provide temporary shelter, food, water and adult care to 37 orphans in Migori, Kenya.  We are trying to raise up an army of compassionate people who will each contribute whatever they can – even $5-10 each, to help us provide care for these children until our partner in the project, BrightPoint for Children, can secure sponsorships for these 37 kids.  If you want to contribute, follow this link and scroll down to find the “Donate” button: Help the 37 Migori Orphans

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