DayBreaks for 9/27/18 – Doorways Cut in Sod

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DayBreaks for 9/27/18Doorways Cut in Sod            

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2008:

The day after I write this, I will be conducting a funeral service for a woman I never met.  By all accounts she was a wonderful woman and she achieved a great deal in her life.  All that I’ve spoken to about her tell me how wonderful she was.  But there is a question that haunts me: I do not know if she was a believer.  I have some reason to think she was, and some to think she wasn’t.  I just don’t know.  I never had the chance to talk with her.  And so, as I stand before the congregants at her memorial service tomorrow, I will face the great dilemma that Christian pastors face at such times: what can be said about such a life?

Another DayBreaks reader recently sent me an email requesting prayer and some guidance as someone in their family had just ended his life after being married only 5-1/2 weeks.  Grief is a heavy chain at such times and it must be worn and cannot be easily discarded.  “Lord, into Your hands, we commit his spirit.”

Death is the great leveler.  Young and old, weak and strong, lowly and mighty – all will dine at the Reaper’s table.  For some, the Reaper is aptly named “the Grim Reaper,”, but to others, there’s nothing grim about him.

I am so relieved when I learn that someone is a Christian and that they’ve gone home.  Consider these words from the pen of Calvin Miller:

“I once scorned ev’ry fearful thought of death,

When it was but the end of pulse and breath,

But now my eyes have seen that past the pain

There is a world that’s waiting to be claimed.

Earthmaker, Holy, let me now depart,

For living’s such a temporary art.

And dying is but getting dressed for God,

Our graves are merely doorways cut in sod.”

Precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of His saints. – Ps. 116:15

PRAYER: Thank You, Father, that our days need not be lived in fear of death and dying, and that for Your children there is no grim reaper, but a Father’s arms that await us.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 3/26/18 – The Proclamation

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DayBreaks for 3/26/18: The Proclamation

From the DayBreaks archive, March 2008:

SARPOURENX, France – A mayor in southwest France has threatened residents of his village of Sarpourenx with severe punishment if they die because there’s no room in the cemetery. Mayor Gerard Lalanne posted an ordinance in the council offices advising the village’s 260 residents that “all persons not having a plot in the cemetery and wishing to be buried in Sarpourenx are forbidden from dying in the parish.” It added, “Offenders will be severely punished,” Homes Worldwide said. The 70-year-old mayor, who is hoping to be re-elected in local elections, told journalists, “It may be a laughing matter for some, but not for me.”  

Easter is coming but will soon be over and I shall miss it once it’s gone.  Of course, there’s no reason we can’t revel in the joyful proclamation “He is not here, he is risen!” all year long – and indeed, we should.  It is at the very heart of the Christian message, for if Christ is not risen from the dead, we’d have no greater hope or joy than any other religion whose founder lies moldering in the grave. 

I would imagine that mayor Lalanne issued his proclamation rather tongue-in-cheek.  I just don’t think that one can legislate the prevention of death.  Try as one might, you will never be able to keep cemeteries from filling up.  The human march toward death is certain and inexorable.  The bell tolls for we. 

Jesus would take a different approach than Mayor Lalanne.  Jesus is a realist – we will all die, and after that face judgment.  But rather than filling up cemeteries, Jesus is all about emptying them out through the resurrection.  And we need never fear another thing: there is no message such as “There’s no room at the inn,” or “Heaven is full…no vacancy.”  If Easter is about anything, it is about room – room at the foot of the cross, room in an empty tomb, room in cemeteries where the dead are raised and room in heaven for “whosoever will” that desires to come home to the Father. 

PRAYER: Lord, we believe that the day will come when all who are in the grave will hear your voice and every grave will open and surrender to You.  May we never lose hope, may we invite all we know to come home!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/13/17 – The Risk of Mortality

DayBreaks for 11/13/17: The Risk of Mortality

NOTE: Galen is traveling.

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

I’ve got to admit, I’m a bit of a news lover.  I am constantly checking to find out what’s going on in the world.  I find it fascinating.  More often than not, what I find fascinating is the way in which the news is reported, or even the idiocies that are claimed in the news story itself. 

For many of us, on 11/07/07, some great news came out from the Associated Press (imagine that!)  It seems that some medical studies have been done recently that suggest that being overweight isn’t really as bad for you as we’d all been led to believe.  Here’s part of the article:

“This is a very puzzling disconnect,” said Dr. JoAnn Manson, chief of preventive medicine at Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “That is a conundrum.”

“It was the second study by the same government scientists who two years ago first suggested that deaths from being too fat were overstated. The new report further analyzed the same data, this time looking at specific causes of death along with new mortality figures from 2004 for 2.3 million U.S. adults.

“Excess weight does not uniformly increase the risk of mortality from any and every cause, but only from certain causes,” said the study’s lead author Katherine Flegal, of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Galen’s Thoughts: I’ll bet many of you feel better after reading this, don’t you? 

What a fantasy world we live in!  Did you catch the bit of fantasy as you read through this portion of the report?  Here it is: “Excess weight does not uniformly increase the risk of mortality from any and every cause…”  Hum.  Now isn’t that interesting?  When you stop to think about it, what is the risk of mortality that we all face?  Isn’t it 100%?  I seriously doubt that, fatness or thinness aside, anyone’s risk or dying (sooner or later) will go above 100%, or below 100%.  I think that our risk of mortality is pretty doggone fixed right there at 100%, period.

It was just last night that I lay in bed thinking about mortality.  I’m a 55-year-old male, non-smoker.  I watch what I eat and try to not consume too much cholesterol or saturated fats.  I force myself to eat salads when I’d much rather be snacking down on some juicy steak.  Bluch…  Why?  To reduce my “risk of mortality”.  I’ve already had one quadruple bypass.  What are the odds of my reducing my risk of mortality to 98%, or 70%?  Z-E-R-O. 

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t take care of our bodies – they are the gift of God and the temple of the Holy Spirit according to Scripture.  I’m just pointing out, once again, that our risk of mortality is 100% and we’d better get used to that idea instead of trying to pretend that it won’t happen. 

When I was young, I couldn’t really conceive of dying.  If it would ever happen, it would be someday way off in the future, decades away – in fact, so far away that it might as well have been something that would only happen in Never-Never Land.  Now, given my family history, I might be lucky to make it another 15 years before mortality overtakes me.  How ready am I?  Good question.  How ready are you?

PRAYER: May we live this day as if it is our last, may we live tomorrow, if we are granted it, in gratefulness and thanksgiving.  May our lives be fully swallowed up in the Risen One!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 10/31/17 – Where Things Go to Die

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DayBreaks for 10/31/17: Where Things Go to Die

Yeah, I know it’s Halloween, and there will be “zombies” walking around carrying buckets and bags for candy tonight. There will be other “undead” creatures wandering the sidewalks and streets, but this DayBreaks doesn’t really have anything to do with dead things like that. But it does have to do with where things can go to die.

I lived on the farm as a kid, and it wasn’t unusual for a cat or a skunk to go into a crawl space that ran under the side of the corn crib when it came their time to die. You typically wouldn’t see them – you’d smell them before you noticed that they were no longer around. And even for us humans, we have places we tend to die: at home, in a hospital, at a convalescent center. After all, we will all die and we need a place where we can do that.

But what I’m interested in today is a lyric from a song in worship on Sunday that talked about the place where all our sin and shame goes to die. That place? The cross of Jesus, of course!

What does it mean that our sin and shame can truly go there to die? It means that I don’t need to feel crushed any longer by the sin in my life, no matter what that sin may be. It is dead. It is nailed to the cross. And I also no longer have to be weighed down with my shame for all that I’ve done, and all the good that I know I should have done, but which I left undone. That shame, the reports of those things, will never be revealed as I’ve been washed clean and carry the shame of my deeds and thoughts no longer. And if my shame were to be revealed, rather than being embarrassed by it, I should exult in the greatness and completeness of His forgiveness and grace. Instead of dying of my shame, my shame died so I can exalt His greatness!

Some dead things, like cats in a crawl space, stink. My sin and shame is dead, too, and the scent of the grace of Jesus accompanies my soul. In the Father’s eyes, it is as if those things never happened for the price was paid that took those things away…forever!  

PRAYER: Thank you for providing the perfect place for our sin and shame to die and be hidden for eternity! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 8/17/17 – Falling Stars and Fleeting Days

DayBreaks for 8/17/17: Falling Stars and Fleeting Days

Note from Galen: Sorry for all the DayBreaks repeats these past few months. I happen to be in a very busy season of life right now. Oh, yeah, yesterday was my anniversary, so I took the day off from DayBreaks! I appreciate your understanding!

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2007:

On Sunday evening, 8/12, some friends and my wife and I sat out on our deck and watched about 2 hours worth of the Perseid meteor shower.  I’d read about it before, so I was familiar with what it was.  Basically, for those who may not know, it’s when the earth passes through the tail of a comet (Swift-Tuttle) that originates in the Perseus constellation.  The effect of passing through this comet’s “tail” has been observed for over 2000 years, and if you missed it, don’t worry: it happens every summer and peaks at about August 12 each year.  Some of the effects we observed were rather insignificant – faint streaks of light that happened so quickly that you didn’t dare blink or you’d miss them entirely – but others were very bright and left a long, glowing streak across the sky as the particles flamed out in the atmosphere.

There is a song by Fernando Ortega in which he contemplates God’s protection and Presence with us.  In that song, one line goes as follows: “My days are passing by like falling stars that blaze across the night sky and then they are gone…”  The Perseids gave me new perspective on exactly what that means.  And I paused in my heart to take stock of my life.  Life truly does fly by like blazing “falling stars”, does it not?  Scripture talks about it as a mist that appears for a short time and then vanishes…I think Fernando’s take on it is more apt and seemingly (at least to me) much more realistic.  Blink, and you miss it.  Blink, and it is gone, over, done.

I don’t know how long the Lord will permit me to abide on the face of the earth.  I’m 55 years old now (65 as of 2017).  From the actuarial tables, I’ve got maybe 10 years left.  10 years.  The first 20 went by so quickly, and the years from 20 to 40 even faster.  Let’s not even discuss my perspective on how fast I got from 40 to 65.  It’s frightening to contemplate.  And if I’m lucky and blessed, I may see another 15-20 years, but with the history of cardiac problems in my family, the odds are probably against that happening, but God knows. 

So, what am I to make of all this?  I suppose there are several things that come to my mind:

FIRST: I wonder what it will actually be like to die.  It struck me with new force that it’s an experience we can’t really prepare ourselves for – we just don’t know how it feels until we go through it.  Last night as I contemplated this, I wished I could ask my father what it’s like – since he’s been there and is now at home with our Lord.  I will NOT escape that experience, no matter how much I might wish to, or how good I’ve been.  I can only say that I hope it will be like falling asleep and waking up to see the Lord’s face smiling at me. 

SECOND: I ponder all the things that I’ve wanted to do in life, but that I’ve not yet done.  Places I’d like to see.  Friends I’d like to see “one more time.”  Problems and temptations that I’d like to “overcome” before I say my final farewell to earth and fly to meet Him.  Some of those things are unimportant – such as the places I’d like to see.  But what haunts me is the thought: “As I lay on my death bed, what will be my biggest regret?”  If I could answer that question and then manipulate human history and events, then I’d put that question to rest.  But, alas, I cannot manipulate life, and I don’t know until I reach the moment of death what will be my biggest regret at that moment in time.  But, methinks it’s worth thinking about. 

THIRD: I can see the holes in my character, and their size is humbling.  I see many of the faults in my obedience and love for God and others.  Those are humbling, too.  So what’s a man or woman to do who stops long enough to take stock of life and a future of unknown and uncertain duration?  I don’t know about you, but I take great comfort in these words of Scripture from Paul’s pen in Philippians 1:3-6 (NIV) – I thank my God every time I remember you.  In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.  I’m glad that Paul didn’t say that he himself would have to complete what God had started.  How much better that the one who began that work in us (God Himself!) will see to its completion in ME…and in you!  Although it is beyond my ken and comprehension, I have God’s word on it.  And if that’s not good enough to launch out into eternity, then what is?

PRAYER: Thank You, Father, for falling stars and the sweet days of life that flee from east to west in the twinkle of an eye.  Life is sweet, Lord, and it is precious.  May we remember what a great gift this is that You’ve given us.  Thank You for Your Faithful Word and Promise to bring us to spotless perfection in Christ Jesus.  You are amazing.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 1/23/17 – Don’t Be Afraid of Things Dying

DayBreaks for 1/23/17: Don’t Be Afraid of Dying Things

John 12:23-24 (NLT) – Jesus replied, “Now the time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives.

We have an aversion to death and dying things. We don’t like to watch anything that is dying. For some people it is so strong that they won’t even visit those who are dying or diagnosed with a deadly disease because it is too uncomfortable. It is my belief that this is innate within us because death is an enemy and adversary. Yet in the verse above, Jesus speaks a universal truth: the death of a single seed that is sown in the ground brings forth an abundant harvest of life.

While losing physical life is hard, there are other things that are perhaps even more painful for a person to “live” through, for example, the loss of dreams. Dreams die hard and they take a toll on us when it happens. But loss of hope is perhaps even more sad and tragic.

Perhaps you find yourself right now having lost a loved one, a spouse, a child, a job, a dream. Perhaps you’ve given up hope as your hope died. I think Jesus would tell you not to be afraid of things dying, because when something dies, new things come to life.

While your hope and dreams may lie shattered right now, take heart for new life and new hopes and new dreams may be just around the corner. A new life awaits you not just in heaven, but while you continue to sojourn here.

PRAYER:  Jesus, loss is hard for us to deal with. Help us to trust in the principle of new life springing from things that have died because you are the one who gives life and as long as you live we have nothing to fear.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 11/16/16 – The Flesh Will Not Die Quietly

DayBreaks for 11/16/16: The Flesh Will Not Die Quietly

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2006:

In my capacity as a pastor and as a former associate chaplain for the police department in the town where we used to live, I have had the occasion to be present at several deathbeds to watch people die and leave this world behind.  Some have been old, others young, some of the deaths were expected, some were not.  But one thing that never ceases to amaze me is how hard the body fights to continue to live.  Even those who are dying of horrible diseases, who have suffered tremendous indignity and pain for years untold, seem to have the same thing happen when the time actually comes: the body fights to stay alive.  The flesh seems to have a mind of its own at those moments.  I know that some of those who I watched die would much rather have departed and gone a long time ago, but the flesh would not die quietly.  I think it is because we were not made to die in the beginning – and it is a vestige of that fact that makes the body fight to the bitter end.

We will all die someday, and we all hope our passing will be peaceful and calm – and quick.  But Paul, the great warhorse missionary, put it in a different perspective in 1 Cor. 15:31 when he wrote: I die every day–I mean that, brothers–just as surely as I glory over you in Christ Jesus our Lord.  In what sense did Paul die every day?  I believe he was stating his goal, even his desire, that each and every day he would die to himself, to his wanting his own way and desires more than he wants those of the Lord.  And certainly, it is true that THIS part of the flesh doesn’t die quietly.  It fights to the very end to dominate our spiritual selves.  Paul understood something that we may not yet have grasped: that if we want to have life after this life, we need to die before we die. 

You know the verses as well as I: if we strive to save our lives, we will lose them, and if we lose our lives for Jesus sake, we will find real life.  Other verses talk about putting to death the old man, the old nature that is fleshly and out of alignment with God and things of the Spirit.  The flesh dies hard.  But it must die if we are to be fully pleasing to Him.  

PRAYER: Father, when pride fills our hearts about something we’ve done, please let us glimpse Jesus.  Let us see His glory and be put into a proper sense of perspective that we may be truly humble before You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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