DayBreaks for 12/28/18 – The Power of Hope

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DayBreaks for 12/28/18: The Power of Hope

From the DayBreaks archive, December 2008: A school system in a large city decided to start a program to help hospitalized kids stay caught up in their studies. One day, a teacher who worked with the program was called to the school and given the assignment to help a young hospitalized boy stay caught up with his adverbs and nouns. The teacher arrived at the hospital and was shocked to learn the boy had been horribly burned and was in great pain. She managed to say, “I’ve been sent by your school to help you with nouns and adverbs.” She then delivered her lesson and left, feeling as if she’d accomplished very little. When she came back the next day, a nurse approached her in the hallway and asked, “What did you do to that boy?” The teacher felt she must have done something wrong and started to apologize. “Oh, no!” said the nurse, “you don’t know what I mean! We’ve been worried about that little boy, but ever since yesterday, his whole attitude has changed. He’s fighting back, responding to treatment. It’s as though he’s decided to live.” Two weeks later the boy explained that he had completely given up hope until the teacher arrived. Everything changed when he came to a simple realization, which he expressed this way: “They wouldn’t send a teacher to work on nouns and adverbs with a dying boy, would they?”

Galen’s Thoughts: Hope is so important. Perhaps you know someone right now who is struggling, ready to give up on life, on a marriage, on their kids. Maybe it is someone who has been fighting a battle with drugs, alcohol or cancer. What message of hope can you give them today? Perhaps all they need is a reassurance that you care – that God cares – for them and about them. Who do you need to call or talk to today so that you can share hope?

On the other hand, maybe you are the one who needs hope. Perhaps you feel like your life is hopeless and you’re ready to give up. You may have even been thinking about taking your own life. Try to understand what the boy came to realize: the teacher wouldn’t have come to him if the school and doctors thought he was hopeless and was just going to die. In the same way, the Teacher has come to you! God doesn’t send His Son/Spirit to us if we’re just destined to die! No, God has great plans for you and great things in store for you. Maybe you won’t see them on this site of eternity – but that doesn’t make them any less real or any less marvelous. And it certainly doesn’t make them less worth waiting for. Hope – it comes from knowing there are better things to come. For us Christians, hope should beat strong in our hearts!

Rom. 5:5: And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

Prayer:  Thank you, Lord, for the hope that keeps us moving ahead.  For those who are in despair and feeling hopeless as they face this near year, renew their hope through Your indwelling Spirit!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 12/07/18 – Bones of the Past

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DayBreaks for 12/07/18: Bones of the Past

From the DayBreaks Archive, 12/8/98:

A few years ago, a large group of Vietnam veterans met in New York to commemorate the Vietnam War and its effect on their lives. Many were still suffering emotional wounds from that conflict. A Vietnamese Buddhist monk came to the gathering and told a moving story. During the war, a young Vietnamese woman was killed, leaving behind her husband and young son. The husband, needing to provide for himself and the boy, traveled far and wide looking for odd jobs. Often he left the child with neighbors. After one long trip looking for work, the man returned to find his village demolished and his neighbors gone. Searching through the rubble, he found some small bones scattered around. He was sure that these were the remains of his son. He wrapped the bones in cloth and carried them with him everywhere he went. Many years passed, and one night the old man heard knocking on his door. He called out, “Who’s there?” “It is your son! My kidnappers set me free and I have spent many years trying to find you!” The old man yelled, “You are a fake and a cruel man. My son is dead. Leave me alone!” He would not open the door. The pounding continued for a while, but then it stopped. The young man gave up and left.

A heartbreaking story. Here was a man who obviously loved his son deeply. Yet he was too afraid to give up the bones that he’d carried for years. He never found the happiness that was knocking at his door because he was so determined to hold onto the bones of the past rather than live in the joy of the present.

Are you holding onto the bones of your past so much that you are denying yourself the joy that Jesus intends for you to have today? If so, you need to let the bones go. They are only bones and they are relics from the past that need to be discarded so you can answer the knocking at the door of your heart. Perhaps they were very precious to you – like the bones of his son to this old man in the story. I understand. God understands. But they are from the past and we must not live there or we will miss the blessings and opportunities that God has designed for today. Isaiah 43:18 contains God’s instructions for us in this matter: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.”

“Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 3:13-14

God gives us the choice: live with the bones of the past, or live in the here-and-now with the Lord of the past, present and future.

Prayer: Lord, let me find and know your joy today!  Help me forget the former things as I anticipate what is to come!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 8/03/18 – To Live in the Present

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DayBreaks for 8/03/18: To Live in the Present

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

I love to think about heaven – about what it will be like, about what we/I will do there.  I can hardly wait to hear the myriads of angels and the four living creatures singing at the top of their “lungs” to the praise of the One on the throne.  I can hardly wait to talk with Daniel, that great warrior/prophet who faced down kings and the powerful men of the earth.  I want to talk with Moses, I want to ask Abraham about the “sacrifice” of Isaac and what he told Sarah and when and how he felt throughout that experience. 

Likewise, I can find myself being drawn to living in the past.  Sometimes at night I dream about past friendships and experiences.  I love to reminisce and tell stories of our children and family.  I love to think about great times I’ve had with friends camping and backpacking in the high Sierra’s, or to talk about the sights of Glacier National Park, Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon – or even the sights, sounds and smells of St. Bernard’s Parish in New Orleans after hurricane Katrina. 

It is easy to get caught in living either in the future or in the past.  As Walker Percy put it, “To live in the past and future is easy.  To live in the present is like threading a needle.”  I don’t know about you, but at my age and with my vision, threading a needle isn’t the easiest task any more.  It’s a challenge.

Why is living in the present so difficult?  Because we love the escape that living in either the past or future provides.  It’s also why we sit so many hours in front of our television or playing a videogame or attending some form of entertainment.  It seems that we in America can hardly stand to live in the present.  We’re always looking for some manner of escape – either backward, or forward, in time. 

Jesus understood our tendency to worry about today and to try to escape from it.  In Matthew 6:34 (KJV), Jesus said that we should Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

Jesus is suggesting to us that we need to stay focused on today – to live in this day, in the present.  One day at a time is all we can handle!

PRAYER:  Jesus, help our minds not to wander from the serious business of living in the present and the challenge of serving You moment by moment.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 1/05/18 – What We Put In Affects the Future

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DayBreaks for 1/05/18: What We Put in Affects the Future

From the DayBreaks archive, 2008:

A psychiatrist in England made an interesting revelation at a conference in Wales.  Dr. Nick Warner revealed that a hymn penned in the mid-1800’s is the most common theme heard in what he termed “musical hallucinations.”  We all have a tune that gets stuck in our heads (also called an “ear worm”) but in a musical hallucination, the song is heard as if it were really being played.  About one in 10,000 people over 65 years of age report musical hallucinations.  They are most common in people suffering from hearing problems.

Dr. Warner and a colleague studied 30 elderly people who experienced musical hallucinations.  The tunes they heard ranged from “Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina,” to “Yes, We Have No Bananas.”  Over half of the people heard some sort of religious music, either hymns or Christmas carols.  Six of the thirty heard the same song, “Abide With Me.”  That is a statistically significant number considering the people did not have the opportunity to speak to one another about what they heard.

Dr. Warner believes the reason many people hear this song is that it brings sense of comfort and hope.  He said, “The words of ‘Abide With Me’ are tremendously uplifting, hopeful words about heaven and God not abandoning us when we are dying.”  Warner says, since we are becoming increasing secular, as the population ages, more people may start hearing the Beatles, or the Rolling Stones, because musical hallucinations tend to be songs people have heard many times. – —Reuters, ‘Abide With Me’ is Top Musical Hallucination, March 8, 2004

I’m sure that you’ve had songs that get “stuck” in your head that keep on playing over and over until you’re about to go nuts.  And if you’ve not experienced that, maybe I’ve had your share of music playing in my head. 

The human mind, created in all its wonder by God Almighty, is an amazing thing.  It can perform more complex calculations in a fraction of a second than any computer ever built – and by a large margin.  It constantly monitors our body’s chemistry and adjusts our blood pressure, heart beat, breathing, fluid balances, hormones and it does all those things without you ever giving it a thought.  The mind of man is truly a wonder. 

What we put into our mind is important.  We need to be careful what we put into our minds today, because it may return in unexpected ways tomorrow or 10 years or 30 years in the future.  It makes Paul’s passage from Philippians 4:8-9 (NIV) come to life: Finally, brothers whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praise worthy —think about such things. Whatever you have received or learned from me, or seen in me— put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

PRAYER:  Help us to fill our hearts and minds with thoughts of your goodness and songs of praise, so that in times of need, it is You that comes to mind and nothing else.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 11/27/17 – An Unpredictable Future?

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DayBreaks for 11/27/17: An Unpredictable Future?

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

How would you describe the future?  You might describe certain things that you want or hope to have happen in the future, but my guess is that at some point you’d couch your description in terms like, “If I could, I would…”.  I am always amazed at how many of the supermarket tabloids have covers that relate to some prediction of the future by people like Nostradamus, or some modern-day “psychic”.  There is something in us that would like (we think) to be able to predict or know what the future holds.  I think that we’re actually far better off not knowing myself.

When I speak of an unpredictable future, I am not talking about one that is unstable…just one that can’t be very well predicted by human experience.  As humans, we just don’t have the requisite knowledge or skill to be able to predict with any degree of certainty what will take place.  And that’s especially true because to some extent, our “possible” futures are based on our past and present experiences.  But what happens when something totally out of the realm of human experience intervenes?

In his book, Theology of Hope, Jurgen Moltmann mused on the topic of the future and what God’s promises mean related to the future: “A promise is a declaration which announces the coming of a reality that does not yet exist.  Thus promise sets man’s heart on a future history in which the fulfilling of the promise is to be expected.  If it is a case of a divine promise, then that indicates that the expected future does not have to develop within the framework of the possibilities inherent in the present, but arises from that which is possible to the God of the promise.  This can also be something which by the standard of present experience appears impossible.”

The future towards which we move cannot be predicted by any human, no matter how wise he or she may be.  It takes One who is not only all-wise, but all-powerful, to control the events so that the future finds it’s fulfillment for which it was planned.  Certainly, in Genesis when God makes his initial promises to humanity, he was declaring a reality that, at least in time, did not yet exist.  The future is not dependent on the experiences of your life, or of all our lives put together.  It is dependent only on the God who made and formed the promise and who shapes the future to His liking. 

What does the future hold?  I can’t predict it…but that doesn’t mean it isn’t predictable.  With God, all things are possible.  We think of Him interacting with the world as we know and experience it, but that is at least limited, if not false, theology. 

You don’t need to consult actuarial tables to know what the future holds.  They can’t tell you.  God can.  And He does tell us another thing about the future: we don’t have to worry about it because it’s in His perfectly capable hands!

PRAYER:  Thank you, Lord God Almighty, that you hold not only the future of the universe and the world but of each and every one of us who have put our trust in Christ, in your hands.  May we sleep well tonight knowing You are in control!   In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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 12/11/15 – To Him Belong Outcomes

DayBreaks for 12/11/15: To Him Belong Outcomes

From the DayBreaks archive, December 2005:

Deut. 29:29 – There are secret things that belong to the LORD our God, but the revealed things belong to us and our descendants forever, so that we may obey these words of the law. (NLT)

In the December 3rd issue of World magazine, Andree Seu wrote an article titled “The Next Thing” in which she talked about a woman who had learned to deal with the uncertainty and haphazardness of a busy life.  The woman has 5 children – and if you’ve got children, you know what a challenge one of them could be – let alone 5!  Yet, all indications to the contrary, this woman lived a very calm and peaceful life.  Ms. Seu found that this woman, named Laurie, had learned to separate the events of life into two categories: the things she can and must do something about, and the things that she cannot and must not do anything about, because they are the things that belong to God, not to humans.

As we draw closer to the time of Christmas, things are likely to get hectic for all of us.  This is one of the very busiest times of the year for ministers.  It will test us all to the max if we let it.  Here’s Ms. Seu’s thoughts on the matter: “Am I too busy these days?  Discouraged over duties left undone?  I will preach to myself that there is only one priority – the glory of God – and under that the several duties.  When these things come flying fast and thick, I will do triage and decide what should come “next.”  It’s God’s problem, not mine, to orchestrate the universe and make it all pan out. 

“Am I fearful?  Fear is a focus on phantoms of the theoretical future.  But the future is God’s, not mine; mine is only the present moment.  I am fearful because I’m thinking I have to live the rest of my life.  But I don’t.  I only have to live the next five minutes.  To me belongs obedience, to Him belongs outcomes.

If we could only focus on that last sentence – if we could only learn to leave to God the things, secret and otherwise, that belong to the Lord our God and not try to make them “ours,” we’d be much better off.  We’d have fewer fears, our discouragement would tend toward undetectable levels and we’d know that God is firmly on the throne. 

TODAY’S PRAYER: Lord, we are so prone to trying to take over the things that we have no business trying to control.  We try to take Your place and we forget that it is Your role to determine and decree outcomes – and that our job is to obey.  Give us obedient hearts, Lord, not hearts that challenge Your domain and responsibility.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2015 by Galen C. Dalrymple.