DayBreaks for 4/20/17 – Almost Home

DayBreaks for 4/20/17: Almost Home

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2007:

The little town of Franklin, TN, was the sight of one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War.  In the space of only 5 hours, 7000 men were killed and thousands of others wounded.  In that short amount of time, northern troops alone used up 100 wagon loads of ammunition.  Accounts written at the time described bodies being stacked six or seven deep for more than a mile along the Columbia Pike.  No one had ever seen anything like it.  The state of Tennessee didn’t have enough money to turn the entire area into a state park to commemorate the battle, but in the battleground stands the Carter house that now serves as a museum and memorial to this bloody battle. 

As terrible as the battle itself, there was one person who died on that day over 140 years ago that is arguably more tragic than the other 6999.  As the battle of Franklin raged, the Carters’ youngest son, Todd, was outside.  He was running for the shelter of home when he was struck down and died, virtually in the shadow of the house.  He was taken into the home dead.  Even today, more is probably written about that young boy who died in the battle than about any of the others who died. 

Several things about this story that struck me: 

First of all is the power of the death of the innocent.  It just doesn’t seem right when a young child is struck down because of the violence of adults.  Yet it happens.  And when the innocent die, people take notice.  An absolutely perfectly innocent person was struck down by our violence and sin.  And similar to Todd Carter, much has been written and said about him.  Jesus Christ, the innocent, was killed by us and for us.  He was almost home when he was “hit”, but he died willingly as a sacrifice – not running in terror. 

Secondly, I thought about how close we can come sometimes to being “home free” only to fail to actually arrive there.  We can’t control the people and events around us.  We know our intent – to get home safely – but sometimes things interfere with our well-laid plans, and in the shadow of the rooftop we fall.   I am very thankful that God is the One who will get us home.  I rejoice that He recognizes that I can’t make it on my own, that I alone would surely be cut down by Satan’s bullets.  He is able to handle our eternal destinies (2 Tim. 1:12).  We need to finish the race well, 2 Tim. 4:7-8, and not die in the home stretch.

The saddest thing, though, is to hear about those who are almost on the porch of the house and ready to enter, but who Satan snatches at the last moment.  The story of Paul’s defense before Agrippa is heart-wrenching, from Acts 26:28-29a: Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”  Paul replied, “Short time or long– I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am….”  There is no evidence Agrippa “made it home”.  How tragic and sad.

There are those today who are almost home but who aren’t quite there yet.  What a tragedy if we let them languish so close to heaven’s door. 

PRAYER: Thank You, Father, for the innocent Christ who died for us.  Help us to understand that we don’t control the events that swirl around our lives, but that in You, we are safe forever.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 3/22/17 – The Time Has Come

DayBreaks for 3/22/17: The Time Has Come

NOTE: Galen is traveling this week. This week’s DayBreaks will be from the May 2007 archives.

John 17:1 – After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.

“The time has come.” 

These words should haunt us, coming as they do from Jesus’ lips.  John, and the other gospels writers have taken us on an amazing journey of discovery of the Son of God.  His power has wowed us.  His love has stunned and surprised us.  His tenderness has given us hope.  And now, can’t you hear the weariness in his voice? 

How we view the arrival of something depends on what we anticipate that “something” will be like: good or bad, blessing or trouble, peace or distress.  I hate it when the appointment comes when I’m supposed to go to the dentist.  I’ve taken others to the hospital for major surgery, and the dread is palpable as we travel in the car.  We hate the moment when we are due to pile into the car for a trip to the funeral parlor for a service for a loved one who has died.  On the other hand, we rejoice when the time has come to leave for the airport to pick up your spouse or children or grandchildren whom you haven’t seen for a long time, or to go to Disneyland or for a much needed and long anticipated 3-day fishing retreat away from the noise and troubles of the world.  In either case, the anticipation can be excruciating. 

Either the sadness and dread can drive us into the ground, or the joy we anticipate gives us the butterflies in our stomachs that makes it hard to keep our feet on the ground when we walk.  In many cases, we don’t know what to expect – and the anticipation, the unknowingness involved – makes us nervous and anxious, hopeful yet not too hopeful lest we should be disappointed.
The time has come.  With Jesus, it wasn’t a question of anticipation for he knew fully what to expect.  He had known all his life – he knew why he’d come to this earth.  Every event of his life had led to this tipping point, this fulcrum.  And when the time comes, what does Jesus do?  He prays.  How did he feel about this “time” which had come?  We see mixed emotions:

FIRST: In the garden we see his human side, struggling and fearful of the great anguish and suffering that lay ahead, begging with the Father that this cup, and this time, could pass.  And who can blame him?  Think of your own most terrifying and dark moment – didn’t you cry out for it to pass?  Didn’t you cry out for God to take it away?  Jesus was as human as we are.  He had all the same feelings as we do.  His nerves fired pain impulses just every bit as exquisitely and perfectly as those of any other human being.  He made no exceptions for himself when it came to being able to identify with us in our humanity, he permitted himself no indulgences or luxuries to bypass human suffering.

SECOND: In Hebrews 12:2, and here, we see something about how the Divine side of Jesus dealt with this time.  He was God – every bit as much God as he was human.  As God, he could see the future outcome of events and happenings, and he could foresee the joy at the end of this “time” which had come.  And that joy was your face and my face.  It was being able to see us eternally before the throne of God in heaven in His Presence, and knowing that it was because of this “time which has come” that it would be made possible.  That joy, of seeing his brothers and sisters redeemed from the pit of hell and cleansed from the stench of sin, that gave Christ the power to move into this time which has come, and pray, Glorify Your Son, that Your Son may glorify You.

The time has come…what does that mean for you and I?  It means the time has come for us to be done with our past lives of sin and rebellion, to put our faithlessness and infidelity to God in the past.  The time has come for us to walk by faith, not by sight.  The time has come for us to take up our cross and follow him.  The time has come for the church to rise up in the power of the Spirit and speak truth into the world once again.  And ultimately, the time will come for us to face our own death and destiny.  Jesus had prepared himself along the way for the moment when his time would come.  Have you?

PRAYER: For Jesus’ resolve in the hour of his trial, Father, we are eternally grateful.  For strength for our own time which has come, we beseech Thee.  For the courage to speak truth into the world and the lives of those around us, we plead.  For Your mercies, which are new every morning, we give You praise.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 12/5/16 – Traveling to the Unexplored Land

DayBreaks for 12/05/16: Traveling to the Unexplored Land

Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT) – For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

My oldest son was always captivated by maps. He would draw maps of imaginary places when he was younger, though I don’t think he does any more. Perhaps you’ve seen ancient maps of what were the unexplored portions of the world? Maps that portrayed the prevailing ideas of what lay beyond, the unexplored lands and the uncrossed seas? Maps from before the adventures of Marco Polo and Christopher Columbus and Ferdinand Magellan? How grotesquely inaccurate those maps were! How vastly they differed from what the explorer eventually found! How fantastic were the notions the ancients had about what was out there – a dropping-off-place, mammoth sea serpents to swallow up ships. But as things turned out, it wasn’t that way at all. You know, if Columbus had believed half the maps and legends of his time he would never have lifted an anchor!

Well, we are all on a journey traveling into the unexplored land, and we ought to be careful how we map it until we’ve traveled there. Certainly we shouldn’t let the future do things to us it never meant to do. For many, the future is a terrifying place – they don’t believe anything is there, or whatever it may be that lurks there is most likely, in their view, to be unfriendly at best.

It is my faith that the future means to be friendly; and I don’t think we ought to treat it as an enemy. If we do, and start in to do battle with it, I can tell you this: it’s a battle we can never win. Let those who believe never suspect it of standing over us with a club waiting for a chance to clobber us into the ground, or of lurking in the shadows to pounce upon us around the next dark corner. If the verse for today says anything, it says that we can, and should, look towards the Unexplored Land with joy and great anticipation, not just during this season, but always.

PRAYER: Father, I believe that when we travel to the Unexplored Land that it will be full of delights and surprises we cannot even imagine. Let it stir up in us excitement as our arrival in Your land draws closer and may it spur us onward until we are Home! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple.  All rights reserved.

 

DayBreaks for 10/14/16 – It’s All About Exile

DayBreaks for 10/14/16 – It’s All About Exile

From the DayBreaks archive, 2006:

1 Chronicles 29:15 – We are here for only a moment, visitors and strangers in the land as our ancestors were before us. Our days on earth are like a shadow, gone so soon without a trace.

1 Peter 2:11-12 (NIV) – Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.  Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

From Doug Dalrymple, in his blog:

“In the 2nd century Christian apologetic, the Letter to Diognetus, we read:

“For Christians cannot be distinguished from the rest of the human race by country or language or customs. They do not live in cities of their own; they do not use a peculiar form of speech…
Yet although they live in Greek and barbarian cities alike, as each man’s lot has been cast, and follow the customs of the country in clothing and food and other manners of daily living, at the same time they give proof of the remarkable and admittedly extraordinary constitution of their commonwealth. They live in their own countries, but only as aliens. They have a share in everything as citizens, and endure everything as foreigners. Every foreign land is their fatherland, and yet for them every fatherland is a foreign land.

“To amend Khomiakov, if I may: Do not harness your heart, then, to anything but the Cross of Christ.

“Or, as we read in Hebrews: ‘Here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city which is to come.’  – Exile, my friends. It’s all about exile.”

Galen’s Thoughts: We should never get too comfortable in this “home” (or even too alarmed about current events) because that’s exactly what this world is NOT: home.  Sure, we were born here, grew up here, and we will die here, but it is not home.  Not for the Christian.  It is nothing more, and nothing less, than enemy territory, a foreign land that we must traverse before we leave for Home.

Hebrews 11:8-10 (NIV) – By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.  By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

We need to be focused and looking for that same city, living as responsible citizens in the here and now and helping others look for that City, too.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, the allure of this world for us humans is overwhelming.  We must accept the unseen by faith, while here we can see, taste, touch, smell and hear the sounds of life, or what passes for life in our experience.  Help us to fix our eyes on our Father’s land.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

 

 

DayBreaks for 10/04/16 – You Are Mere Men

DayBreaks for 10/04/16 – You Are Mere Men               

Galen is traveling this week…

From the DayBreaks archive, 2006:

Psalms 82:5-8 (NLT) – But these oppressors know nothing; they are so ignorant! And because they are in darkness, the whole world is shaken to the core.  I say, `You are gods and children of the Most High. But in death you are mere men. You will fall as any prince, for all must die.’  Rise up, O God, and judge the earth, for all the nations belong to you.

The first part of this Psalm talks a lot about the oppressors and powerful people in this world.  Truly, the world is full of powerful people.   Some are good, some are evil – most are the latter.  Maybe it’s just me in my advancing years, but it seems that the world grows more and more corrupt each day, and that those who are evil draw power to themselves like a magnet draws iron shavings.  Should we be surprised?  Shouldn’t we expect that the father of lies and evil would give power to those who demonstrate to him their willingness to serve him and use it to further his purposes? 

But that makes me ask: how much more is God willing to give His infinite power to those who serve Him?  Yet God does it not through political power or will, but through other means.  Were there been more powerful or influential people in the 20th century than Mother Theresa or Billy Graham?  You see, God’s power isn’t manifest in high office, but in high service. 

The Psalmist then reminds us that all are, at least by virtue of origin, children of the Most High, but in death they are nothing more than any other human – dead human flesh.  As Solomon encouraged us, it is good to remember our destiny – that we will all one day lie in death’s embrace.  The question of the hour is: will we rise from that death to take up a new residence in heaven or in hell?

I’ve seen so much sickness and disease lately, and I’m forced once again to examine my own mortality and that of others.  It needs to give me a greater sense of urgency for eternal souls than I currently have.  For a while after my bypass, I was keenly aware of my mortality.  But now that I’m nearly 15 years into my re-plumbed heart, I’ve lost some of the sense that I’m mortal.  Yet, as I see my breathing after walking up hill become more labored again, I’m reminded that I shall not pass this way again, and that I need to get it right the first time through.  God will judge the earth – and that includes you and me.

PRAYER:  Lord, awaken us to our greatest needs and help us to put trivial pursuits aside for that which will last forever.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 4/12/16 – Our Most Innate Need

DayBreaks for 4/12/16 – Our Most Innate Need

Have you ever heard of Maslow’s Heirarchy of Needs? It was the work of psychologist Abraham Maslow in which he attempted to explain what humans need in order to reach full self-actualization. It is often presented in the shape of a pyramid with physical needs at the base of the pyramid, then working upward through safety, love/belonging, esteem and finally, self-actualization (being all you were meant to be) at the pinnacle of the pyramid. The idea is that each of the lower levels must be achieved before one can “grow” to the next level. It is interesting and holds a certain amount of truth to it, I suppose.

But, not everyone agrees with Maslow. Pat Morley suggests something quite different: that the most innate need humans have is to feel/be significant.

It is interesting that there are many who believe that Christianity only makes people feel small and insignificant because of the focus on a huge, great God that is not only omnipresent, but omniscient and omnipotent. And indeed, contemplating a Being like that should rightly make us feel small – until we get to know Him better.

There are three things in Christianity that I think address this most innate need (according to Morley).

FIRST: God created us in His image, not in the image of a stone or caterpillar. Most people believe that humans are of infinitely more value than a cow or sheep or snake. They may not know why, but I believe it is because there is a human intuition and nature that responds to its Creator and knows that it is in some way like our Creator. And that gives us value. And not only were we made in our image, but His love for us made Him take on our likeness to rescue us!

SECOND: people need a sense of destiny – a sense of purpose. If I am to believe what many in the world suggest is the case about humans, life is nothing more than a series of chance encounters – much like atoms that bang against each other but with no greater purpose or calling. If that is true, there is no real meaning in work or relationships – they are just random collisions of mortals doomed to die and rot and turn back into dust again. There is no legacy in such a life.

THIRD: The futility of a life lived in the deep belief that we are nothing more than chemicals and electrons that will just revert to nothing more than elementary particles and our consciousness and identity are no different than that of a snail or slug is truly depressing. In such a world, what purpose can there be in existence? But God says He has a plan for us, for our good and not harm, and that our destiny is to live in an eternal body, in an eternal place, engaging in eternal relationships and nothing but joy! That kind of a future speaks to a huge purpose that God has for us – HUGE.

Remember today: you are not nothing. You are not snail slime. You are made in the image of God, He has a purpose for you and your life, and He has an eternal plan for you! Isn’t that something incredible!!!!!

PRAYER: Thank You, God, for giving our lives meaning – and hope! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 11/04/15 – The Effort to Get Home

DayBreaks for 11/04/15: The Effort to Get Home

From the DayBreaks archive, 11/04/05:

BIZARRE NEWS – Wednesday, December 29, 2004  –  FORT VALLEY, Ga. – “Some people will do anything to get home to their family. One man walked almost two miles with a bullet hole in his head to die surrounded by loved ones if that was his fate. Larry Taylor had been walking to a friend’s house when a man came up to him and asked to use his cell phone. When Taylor said no, the robber pulled out a gun and shot him in the head. Bleeding severely from the wound, Taylor stumbled through the streets until he made it to his mother’s house, only to discover she had moved to a nursing home. After all this, Taylor was finally reunited with his family and was able to spend Christmas recovering from the trauma.”

All I can say is that Mr. Taylor must be one pretty tough dude.  I’m sure that the thing that kept him going must have been his motivation to be at home with his family.  With each step, he must have wondered if he’d see them again, if he could hang on and make it home before he died.  I can’t imagine the reaction of the people who were living in his mother’s home – and his disappointment at not finding his mother there.  Still, there seem to be some lessons here:

FIRST: We would do well to emulate Mr. Taylor’s desire to get “home.”  He was clearly a driven man – a clear goal and destination kept calling him onward in spite of the pain.  We are encouraged again and again by Scripture to “persevere” and “keep pressing on” in order that we can arrive safely at our destination.  Clearly, our efforts to make our way home can flag when we get tired or discouraged, and our motivation sags with the result that we lose sight of what was once so precious to us.  We need to hang tough – like Mr. Taylor.  The effort to get home may be monumental – but it is worth it.  No, we’re not saved by our works…but we were created for “good works in Christ”…and that takes effort!

SECOND: This world is full of disappointments.  Mr. Taylor must have been grievously disappointed when he got to where his mom lived only to find she’d moved!  It made me wonder about the relationship between Mr. Taylor and his mother.  But even though we are still sorely disappointed at times in life, just as Mr. Taylor found someone to help him, so we, too, find the One who wants to help us.

THIRD: Mr. Taylor was bleeding severely as he trod the path homeward.  Jesus bled profusely as he trod a pathway, too…the one up Calvary, not so that He could get home, but so that we could get there. 

Rev. 12:10-11 (NLT) –Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens, ‘It has happened at last — the salvation and power and kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ! For the Accuser has been thrown down to earth — the one who accused our brothers and sisters before our God day and night. And they have defeated him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of their testimony. And they were not afraid to die.’

TODAY’S PRAYER: Father, help us to remember the path that Jesus walked in order to ensure that we could safely reach home.  Give us the strength for each day that we can hang in there as we make our way through life, and let us be available to help those who are stumbling through this life’s journey.    In Jesus’ name, Amen.