DayBreaks for 1/17/20 – The Great Depression

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DayBreaks for 1/17/20: The Great Depression

From the DayBreaks Archive, January 2010:

There’s a movie out that you really should see if you haven’t already.  It’s James Cameron’s Avatar.  If you can, you REALLY should see it in 3D (there’s both a 3D version of it and a 2D version.)  I can virtually guarantee you that you’ve never seen anything like it in terms of movie-making.  It is literally breath-taking in scope, achievement and visual effects.  You feel as if you are in the jungle on Pandora (the name of their planet). 

It is a movie that also, if one has an eye for it, packs lots of messages and evokes many responses.  Here’s one that I don’t think anyone really anticipated: 

From the Huffington Post, Tuesday, January 12, 2010: Avatar-Induced Depression

“The beautiful alien planet Pandora depicted in James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’ is so captivating that some audience members are becoming depressed and even suicidal when they fail to find meaning in real life after the film is over.

“Writes Jo Piazza for CNN: On the fan forum site “Avatar Forums,” a topic thread entitled “Ways to cope with the depression of the dream of Pandora being intangible,” has received more than 1,000 posts from people experiencing depression and fans trying to help them cope. The topic became so popular last month that forum administrator Philippe Baghdassarian had to create a second thread so people could continue to post their confused feelings about the movie.

“Here are just a few of the ways people are coping on Avatar Forums:

“I just watched avatar a few weeks ago and I’m feeling depressed and sad. It’s like I want to reach out and be in Pandora. I’d do anything to be in Pandora. I’ve tried so hard to dream about me being on Pandora but it hasn’t worked.”
“Ever since I went to see ‘Avatar’ I have been depressed. Watching the wonderful world of Pandora and all the Na’vi made me want to be one of them. I can’t stop thinking about all the things that happened in the film and all of the tears and shivers I got from it. I even contemplate suicide thinking that if I do it I will be rebirthed in a world similar to Pandora and the everything is the same as in ‘Avatar.'”
“Because, at this point, there isn’t pretty much anything else that can be done. Until the release of DVD/BluRay. But even that won’t take away all of the depression. Because you know you can never actually go to Pandora, as it exists only in our imagination… sigh… :(“

“Whether or not these posts are for real there is reason to believe the affliction is rooted in legitimate despair.”

Let me say first, that those I know who have gone to see the movie have not had these kinds of reactions.  Why?  Because the people I’ve talked to about the movie are Christians…and perhaps, just perhaps, we aren’t “depressed and sad” because we understand what the longing is that these folks are experiencing because we’ve found the answer: Jesus. 

As awesome as the world of Pandora is in the movie, it can’t hold a candle to heaven.  As Paul said (he and John are the only humans who’ve ever seen it as far as I know for sure!), it isn’t possible (nor permissible) to discuss what it is like.  I was driving to a meeting early one morning recently as the sun was rising over the eastern hills of the Alexander Valley where we live, and I was captivated by the beauty of that sunrise.  I started talking with God about what heaven would be like.  Are there colors there?  Revelation describes things with color…so there must be.  But are they the same colors?  Will they be different, vastly richer and more beautiful?  I have to believe so.  I can’t believe anything about heaven would be nearly as dull as things on this earth.

As the sun rose, I thought about God’s glory.  He can’t help but be glorious.  It’s not like he wakes up each morning thinking, “I think I’ll be glorious today.”  He can’t help it.  Wherever He goes, His glory arrives before Him like the rays of the sun arrive before the sun is fully up.  And His glory follows after Him as the rays of the sun still light the sky once the sun has set.  As that sunrise came, I realized that the glory of heaven will far outshine anything we can dream of, hope for, long for.  And we don’t need to despair, because our inheritance is being kept for us by God Himself.  Who do you think will be able to take it away from Him?  No one!

Don’t despair.  There’s a place far better than Pandora.  It’s called heaven.

PRAYER: Let Your glory shine on us and led us unto a life lived in the glory of Your eternal day!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 1/16/20 – Can’t Touch This

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DayBreaks for 1/16/20: Can’t Touch This

From the DayBreaks Archive, January 2010:

Chrysostom, the ancient Church Father, was a beautiful example of true Christian courage. When he stood before the Roman Emperor, he was threatened with banishment if he still remained a Christian. Chrysostom replied, “You cannot, for the world is my Father’s house; you cannot banish me.”

“But I will slay you,” said the Emperor.

“No, but you cannot,” said the noble champion of the faith again, “for my life is hid with Christ in God.”

“I will take away thy treasures.” “No, but you cannot,” was the retort; “in the first place, I have nothing you know anything about. My treasure is in heaven, and my heart is there.”

“But I will drive you away from man, and you shall have no friend left.” “No, and that you cannot,” once more said the faithful witness, “for I have a Friend in heaven from whom you shall not separate me. I defy you; there is nothing you can do to hurt me.”

How does an ordinary human get such courage?  It surely doesn’t come from our human nature.  It comes from the Spirit of boldness that we have as part of the indwelling of the Spirit…the very Spirit that was in Christ Jesus.  There has never been a braver, more courageous and fearless man than Jesus. 

What we have is secured, not by the power of Rome or the United States, it is not kept by a refrigerator or a preservative additive, it is kept by the power of the Almighty God.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. – ESV, 1 Peter 1:3-5

PRAYER: Give us courage to live in the power of Your Spirit and to be fearless like Jesus!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 7/18/19 – Two Thieves, Two Destinies

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DayBreaks for 07/18/19: Two Thieves – Two Destinies

From the DayBreaks archives, July 2009:

Luke 23:39-43: One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: ‘Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!’ But the other criminal rebuked him. ‘Don’t you fear God,’ he said, ‘since you are under the same sentence?  We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.’  Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ Jesus answered him, ‘I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.’

In The Jesus I Never Knew, Philip Yancey suggests, quite appropriately, that the two thieves represent the choice of all humanity – the decision about what to do with the person on the center cross.  The first thief picked up the taunts of the religious leaders, suggesting that Jesus should save himself, but his heart betrayed him – for he meant it only in jest.  In his mind, here was a “messiah” who couldn’t even save himself, let alone the people or a thief on a cross.  He saw a powerless messiah.  The other thief had better vision, and not seeking delivery from his painful death, simply asked to be remembered in Jesus’ kingdom.

There are several lessons here:

FIRST: Many have made the same mistake as the first thief, who saw a powerless God, a powerless Christ, and have rejected him as a result.  Who needs a messiah who is crucified, spit upon and beaten and who doesn’t retaliate?  Such a messiah would appear to be a spineless wimp unworthy of the label of “man”, let alone “God”.  Gods are supposed to be powerful!  The problem is that when some look at Christ’s apparent powerlessness on the cross, they see God’s impotence instead of proof of His love.

SECOND: It doesn’t take much to find God’s favor.  The second thief never said, “I believe you are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”  He didn’t live a good life.  Quite the contrary, but he alone of everyone in scripture called Jesus “king” in a non-mocking way.  He saw something in the quiet carpenter from Nazareth that made him believe there was a coming kingdom – and it was something he wanted.  God doesn’t ask much from you or me – just belief in His Son, and the plea from a heart that is dying to be granted mercy.

THIRD: There are benefits to being close to death and suffering.  They sharpen our focus like nothing else so we can see what really matters.  It is a tragedy that we seem to have to reach the end of the rope of life before we realize we need something else to hang on to.

The Romans, fed on stories of the power of Jupiter, saw nothing to admire in the crumpled form on the center cross.  The Jews, reminiscing about the deeds of God to lead them out of Egypt, saw nothing to admire, either.  But a sinner saw it all – and today is in paradise as a result. 

Two thieves – two crosses – two different destinies.  What do you see and what will you do with the man on the center cross?

PRAYER: Help us to understand, Father, that we make many choices each day about what we will do with the man on the center cross.  Help us to make the decisions that honor Him – the decisions that obedient disciples would make for His glory!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 2/11/19 – I AM #1: The Way

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DayBreaks for 2/11/2019: I AM #1: The Way

John 14:3-6 (ESV) – And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me…”

One can’t blame Thomas. Jesus had just said he was going away without saying where he was going. Bless his heart, Thomas wanted to find Jesus again once he’d gone away, so what Thomas was really asking was, “How will we find you? What path to what place must we follow?”

Jesus’ reply wasn’t what Thomas expected, I’m sure. Where was Jesus going? To death, to the tomb…and then ultimately back to pre-incarnation glory. If we want to find Jesus again after his going away, not only is he the destination, but also the way to get there.

What is a “way”? A path – like a path through the jungle or dense forest. Without pathways through such places we’d get lost and die. The irony here is that not only is Jesus the destination, and the path, but as long as we stay on the path we will not be lost for in addition to being the path, he has promised to never leave us – he walks the path with us.

Stay on the path with him and you will  find him…walking beside you all the way.

PRAYER: Lord, in our search for meaning and happiness and fulfillment we take so many detours off the path to the left and right, thinking “This time it’ll work!”, only to find that the only pathway to that which we hunger for is you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/21/18 – A Song for Your Funeral

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DayBreaks for 9/21/18: A Song for Your Funeral          

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2008:

Have you given much thought to your funeral or memorial service?  What would you like to be sung, read, said?  I think it’s time well spent to consider such things and let loved ones know how you’d like them to celebrate your life. 

Not surprisingly, many people have a favorite song or two that they want to have sung or played at their service.  Here’s some recent data from Ananova about what songs are popular these days at funerals:

“AC/DC’s Highway to Hell is becoming one of the most requested funeral tunes in Australia.

“Ding Dong the Witch is Dead from The Wizard of Oz, and Another One Bites the Dust by Queen are also popular, reports the Daily Telegraph.

“Funeral managers at Centennial Park, the largest cemetery and crematorium in Adelaide, said only two hymns still rank among its top 10 most popular funeral songs: Amazing Grace and Abide With Me.

“Highway to Hell, which includes the line: “Going down, party time; My friends are gonna be there too”, is just outside the top ten, with Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven.

“Leading the funeral chart is crooner Frank Sinatra’s classic hit My Way followed by Louis Armstrong’s version of Wonderful World.

“Some of the more unusual songs we hear actually work very well within the service because they represent the person’s character,” Centennial Park chief executive Bryan Elliott said.

“Among other less conventional choices were Always Look on the Bright Side of Life by Monty Python, Hit the Road Jack, and I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead.” – Ananova, Copyright 2008

What does it say about modernity that people would want “Highway to Hell” instead of Christian hymns at their services?  It seems a slap in the face, on the surface, but it shouldn’t surprise us.  In a world where there is no belief in hell (but there is belief in heaven), we’ve allowed hell to become a joke, a “cute” lyric for a song – picturing it as party time with one’s good friends.  Perhaps it’s an attempt at wiping clean the slate of consciousness that keeps nagging the sinner for what they’re doing.  After all, if you can turn something as serious as hell into a joke, there’s nothing left to be afraid of, and you can eat, drink and be merry without fear of consequences. 

Perhaps a more sobering question isn’t “What song do you want played at your funeral?” but this question: “Which song would best describe your life before you died?” 

PRAYER: We deceive ourselves so easily into thinking that You are only a God of love, and not also a God of justice.  Don’t let us fall for cute lyrics when something as important as human souls are at stake.  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 3/20/18 – Between a Rock and Heaven

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DayBreaks for 3/20/18: Between a Rock and Heaven

From the DayBreaks archive, 2008:

Some people have trouble making decisions about even the most trivial of things.  I’ve had the dilemma myself.  Just today when I went to the Burger King (not something I do often!), I was torn between getting the Angus steak burger or Tenderoast chicken.  I would have preferred the steak burger, but went for the chicken so I wouldn’t feel as guilty.  Silly, isn’t it? 

There are decisions that are not trivial at all.  Who to marry?  What career to pursue?  What home to buy is a pretty big one, too.  We make other important decisions sometimes by default and without a lot of conscious thought: who will be my friends?  I can’t remember ever really asking myself that – it seems that my friends are my friends because we’ve spent time together and it just turned out that way rather than as the result of a conscious decision. 

As we near Holy Week, let’s not forget these words from Henri Nouwen (“A Spirituality of Waiting,” The Weavings Reader): “Jesus went to Jerusalem to announce the Good News to the people of that city. And Jesus knew that he was going to put a choice before them: Will you be my disciple, or will you be my executioner? There is no middle ground here. Jesus went to Jerusalem to put people in a situation where they had to say yes or no. That is the great drama of Jesus’ passion: He had to wait upon how people were going to respond.”

Nouwen is right: up until Jesus showed up on Holy Week, the people really had little to choose from.  There were plenty of rabbis, of course, but only One who made the kinds of demands that Jesus was about to make on them.  Up until he arrived on the scene, people had no choice to speak of: they could choose between sin or a life spent trying to perfectly live the law.  Neither were very attractive nor would either yield good results.  One was destined to lead to shame, degradation and dissolution, while the other would lead to frustration, guilt, discouragement and failure.  But when Jesus offered something different during and after Holy Week, people for the first time had a choice.

Jesus also said that he came to bring a sword.  A choice is much like a sword – it will cut things and make them separate.  There can be no middle ground, there is no living in the space that the sword cut through.  You must be on one side or the other.  It’s not popular these days to be exclusionists, but that’s what Jesus was.  “You are either for me or against me” and “I am the way, the truth and the life – no one comes to the Father BUT BY ME.”  As much as we might wish it were otherwise, that’s the plain and simple truth.  We don’t do anyone favors when we soft pedal the choice that Jesus puts before us – in fact, if we do soft pedal it, we are doing people a great disservice.

We must say either yes or no to Jesus.  The world is waiting to see what we’ll choose. And we need to put that choice in front of the world, too.

PRAYER: Lord, give us hearts and minds of wisdom that when we hear Jesus’ invitation to choose, we will make the right choice that leads to life eternal.  Give us the courage of the truth to speak the truth about the only Way, the only Truth, and the only Life.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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