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.

DayBreaks for 1/25/17 – The Danger with Eternal Youth

DayBreaks for 1/25/17 – The Danger with Eternal Youth

From Doug Dalrymple’s blog, dated 1/5/07:

A life devoted to instant gratification produces permanent infantilization: ‘At sixty-four…tastes are what they were at seventeen.’ In our society, the telescoping of generations is already happening: the knowledge, tastes, and social accomplishments of thirteen-year-olds are often the same as those of twenty-eight-year-olds. Adolescents are precociously adult; adults are permanently adolescent.  –  Theodore Dalrymple, ‘The Dystopian Imagination’

In the first sentence above, Dalrymple is quoting Mustapha Mond, a character from Huxley’s Brave New World.  In the novel, Mond is an ‘Alpha’ and the resident World Controller for Western Europe.  As I recall, he keeps a forbidden Bible in a safe and is one of only two living people known to have read Shakespeare (‘John the Savage’ being the other).  As Dr. Dalrymple notes, Mustapha Mond might as well have made his observation of our own day.  Last September I wrote:

“Perhaps this is the natural progress of a culture that idolizes youth and sex, that devours its children and discards its elderly.  The generation gap disappears while, from their respective ends of the ladder, adults descend and children ascend toward a universal, middle state of fragile, uncertain adolescence.”

Perhaps.  But why this idolization of youth and sex, this devouring of children and discarding of elderly, in the first place?  The celebration of youth and strength is nothing new, nor is lechery, nor resentment toward those to whom we owe much.  Why should it be so difficult for westerners in particular to reconcile themselves to growing old?  Is it, as Theodore Dalrymple suggests, a “life devoted to instant gratification” that produces “permanent infantilization?”  I suspect that’s begging the question again.  Perhaps it’s simply that the bogeyman of Death looms larger and fiercer as the image of the reconciling Cross and the Empty Tomb fades in the cultural memory.  With a specter like Old Bones gaping at us in the foreground, and no savior to precede us, we’re inclined to flee, as best we’re able, in the opposite direction.
In any case, let’s not be too hard on our young people: it’s not easy to grow up these days.  Those of us fortunate enough to have known living examples of well-adjusted maturity and reconciled old-age have less excuse, of course.  But for those with video-gamer grandpas who divorce at 60 to pursue younger prospects, and plastic-surgeried grandmas who dress and talk like sixteen-year-olds, what can we really expect of them?  That’s the trouble with eternal youth.  –  D. Dalrymple, Scrivener blog, 1/5/07

Galen’s Thoughts: the Western culture in particular idolizes youth and decries any mention of old age – let alone death in advanced years.  It almost seems that our culture finds something shamefully distasteful about white hair and creaky bones and minds.  We live in denial of advancing years and approaching death, and we “flee…in the opposite direction.”  And the problem with eternal youth is that we never grow up, we never get wiser, just more and more foolish.  Would it not be better to honestly face the future that awaits us all – whether we reach old age or not?  Death is our next door neighbor throughout our entire lives, you know.  We’d be wise to contemplate our meeting and how we wish to face “Old Bones”, for face him we shall.  In a culture where the cross and empty tomb are shuffled off into ancient lore and the realm of make-believe instead of accepted truth, we must not run to eternal youth as the answer, but to the Eternal One for THE answer: Jesus.

PRAYER: Help us to spend our days on this earth not seeking physical beauty, or a life of care-free mindlessness content to frolic during our time “upon the stage”.  Give us wisdom to contemplate our end, and our beginning, in You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 10/31/16 – Forgiveness and Present Realities

DayBreaks for 10/31/16 – Forgiveness and Present Realities

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2006:

NOTE: Galen is taking a short vacation.

Psalm 79:8-9 – Oh, do not hold us guilty for our former sins! Let your tenderhearted mercies quickly meet our needs, for we are brought low to the dust. Help us, O God of our salvation! Help us for the honor of your name. Oh, save us and forgive our sins for the sake of your name.

As I read and meditated on this passage, I found it interesting that David pleads with God to not hold us guilty of former sins.  What about the present ones?  What about all our future ones still waiting to be born? 

Surely, the plea is that God not hold us guilty at all, for we haven’t committed present or future sins yet – and at some point they will all be “former” sins – certain when we stand in judgment they will all be former!  Yet in a way, I suppose that we can only ask for forgiveness for the things that we have done – not for things we may yet do.  Our confession should be specific.  We cannot confess the truthful, yet painful, details of sins we’ve not yet committed. 

The Psalmist makes no claim to deserve such favor from God, only holding on to the “tenderhearted mercies” that belong to God, which David is confident will be quickly poured out to meet the needs of those who have humbled themselves.  Interestingly, his plea for God’s help is not for our sake or benefit, nor is it because we deserve it, but for the honor of God’s name.  Have you thought about how it would look if the Lord’s people are destitute forever, if there is no relief from the guilt and shame of sin, no ultimate vindication for those who cling to their faith like a drowning man holds to a piece of wood?  If such were the case, why would anyone want to be a follower, to be able to say “O God of OUR salvation”?  At some point, salvation must become a much more present reality than the way we experience it today, else there is nothing to draw us to it.  So, it is for the sake of the Lord’s name that we pray for His mercy to be poured out.

The day will come when the present reality is, pure and simple, the eternal reality.  At that time, all my sins will be in the past, already forgiven.  As I struggle through this life, that truth gives me strength to face another day full of hope and reassurance.

I am far too prone to see the benefits of God’s mercy and forgiveness and favor for my own benefit and comfort.  I need to learn to seek his mercies for the sake of His name.  How often do my reactions to unpleasant things in this life dishonor his name?  If I truly learn to celebrate His mercies for His name’s sake, I’ll be much better off and He will be glorified.

PRAYER:  Father, sometimes it is hard to believe that You forgive us so freely, for we know that there is nothing in us that could cause You to love and forgive us.  Help us to understand that You forgive us for Your own honor and sake, and that regardless of Your motive in forgiving us, that Your forgiveness is real and eternal.  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 7/15/16 – Let Me Be That Kind of Bum

(Note: the above picture is not Oscar Childs!)

DayBreaks for 7/15/16 – Let Me Be That Kind of Bum

From the DayBreaks Archive, July 2006:

Tony Campolo was at a conference I attended and he told a story about a bum in Sydney, Australia.  It seems that for a period of about 9 years, there was a particular bum who always hung around the train station in Sydney.  It seems that as people would be waiting for their train, he would approach them, cautiously but respectfully, and ask them a question: “If you died tonight, do you know where you’d spend eternity?”  Then he’d disappear. 

Apparently, Campolo traveled to Sydney from time to time, and twice while he was there, he encountered two different men, 2 years apart, who shared a story with him about a bum that they’d encountered at the train station who had made them think about life and death, and who had reached them for Christ with a simple question.

Some years later, on another visit to Sydney, Mr. Campolo was on a radio show, being interviewed, and someone told him the story of a man named Oscar Childs.  Oscar Childs was a bum who hung around the train station, asking people if they knew where they would spend eternity.  In a matter of minutes, the phone lines of the radio show were flooded with calls as hundreds of people phoned in to tell stories of how Mr. Childs had helped lead them to Christ as they’d waited in the train station.  It seems that Mr. Childs had just died.  He was a bum, just a bum, and he died as a bum…but what a legacy he left behind him (or actually carried with him) for eternity!  In this world Mr. Childs had little to nothing, but he wasn’t primarily concerned about this world.  He was concerned about the next and about taking as many people with him to heaven as possible.  Talk about meaning and purpose in life – talk about doing something that will live on after we’re long gone!  Mr. Childs died a happy man and he will live in eternity with many friends he made in a train station in Sydney.

PRAYER:  In our hurry, Jesus, we get carried away with the rush to get somewhere, to achieve something.  And in most cases, what we’re trying to achieve isn’t very important at all.  And we sacrifice the things that are truly important for a handful of dust.  Give us hearts that are eager to share You and your love with those who so desperately need to know You.  Thank You for examples of people like Mr. Childs, a brother we have never met, but whom we someday will.  Give us courage like lions for you!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 5/02/16 – Just a Glimpse

DayBreaks for 5/02/16 – Just a Glimpse

From the DayBreaks archives, May 2006:

Exodus 33:18 (NIV) – Then Moses said, ‘Now show me your glory.’

If you had one thing that you could ask God for, what would it be?  I’m not sure what I would ask for.  It’s like the ago old question about what you’d do if you found a bottle on a beach with a genie in it and had 3 wishes.  But of course, God is not a genie – He’s something much, much greater and more powerful and important.  He’s not someone to be trifled or toyed with. 

Moses, I’m sure, asked God for many things during the 40 years that he led Israel, but there was one time that he asked God for something very personal.  He asked for God to show him His glory – in short, to see Him.  And incredibly, God granted his request.

Here’s what I find interesting about this.  There have been times when I’ve gone to see a professional sports team play – usually with one of my sports “heroes”.  Once I’ve seen them, I want to see them again…to watch them play as often as I can.  Moses, however, never asks to see God again after this one time.  I don’t think for a moment that it was because Moses was disappointed in what he saw – quite the contrary.  I think that probably Moses just plain didn’t feel the need to see Him again – one glimpse was enough. 

And so it shall be for us.  One glimpse of God in glory – ALL of His glory – will be enough to last an eternity!  But there’s even better news – we won’t only get one glimpse of God in glory – we will be forever in His Presence, to constantly and permanently behold His glory.  Can you picture it?  

PRAYER:  Holy God, how amazing it is to us to even contemplate getting to see You just once!  But to think of beholding your great glory for all eternity takes our breath away.  Even thinking about the moment of beholding the Lamb who died for us is enough to make us fall to our knees and thank You for Your great love and mercy!  Thank You for filling us with Your joy!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/8/16 – Things We Won’t Do in Heaven

DayBreaks for 4/08/16 – Things We Won’t Do in Heaven

How much time do you spend thinking about heaven? My guess is that we don’t spend enough, though there is a danger that we can become so “heavenly-minded that we’re of no earthly good”! God told us about heaven because He wants us to long for it, to strive for it, to persevere to reach it. It is motivational.

When you stop to think about it, what are things that we do here that we won’t do in heaven? Some of them come readily to mind:

We won’t age.

We won’t get sick.

We won’t die.

We won’t cry tears of pain or sorrow.

And, of course, there’s another big one: we won’t sin.

All of those things will be nothing more than echoes (if even that) of a long distant, forgotten past. And not one of us will more their passing. Sure, there won’t be taxes or bills to pay, either, but those pale in comparison to the “big ones”.

But on Sunday, the preacher also made another observation that I’d not thought about before. You see, when we get in heaven, we won’t be witnessing any more. Our chances to do that will be over and gone. In heaven there won’t be anyone to witness to in the sense that we talk about witnessing to someone in order to win them to Christ – because everyone there will already have been won to Christ!

We aren’t there yet, through, are we. In the story of the rich man and the beggar Lazarus, the rich man is in torment after his demise. He begs to be able to go back and witness to his family, to tell them the truth…but he is told it is not possible. How his heart must have been crushed at those words!

If you’re reading this, you’re not in heaven yet. That means you still have a chance to witness to not just your family and friends, but anyone who will give you the time of day.

What good reason can you think of not to witness? I can’t think of one, either.

TODAY’S PRAYER: God, make us bold! Give us Your power! Let us be your witnesses wherever we go and at all times while we still can! For our loved ones who are wandering, we plead Your intervention. For our friends who don’t know You, give us the courage to speak as so if possible, to bring them to glory forever. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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