DayBreaks for 8/8/17: What Are You Building?

DayBreaks for 8/08/17: What Are You Building?

From the DayBreaks archive, 8/8/2007:

In the San Jose area of California stands an impressive house, but it has a strange history.  It’s called the Winchester Mystery House.  It was home to the widow of the inventor of the Winchester rifle, and after he and their only child died, Mrs. Winchester seems to have gone crazy.  At the very least, she became obsessed with the occult.  As a result, she began a huge building project that would last 38 years – and then it only stopped because she died.  Based on statements and things she wrote, she apparently came to believe that as long as she kept building on the house, that she would not die. 

For 38 years, sixteen carpenters worked full time on the house.  At its largest expanse (it has since been partly destroyed by fire), the house contained 2000 doors and 160,000 windows (that’s more windows than are in the Empire State Building.)  Two front doors were installed at an incredible price of $3000 (a huge sum of money in those days), and yet those doors were only used 1 time – by the workmen who installed them.  Throughout the building are secret passageways, stairways that lead only to the ceiling and no further, doors that open into solid brick walls.  All of this was designed for one purpose: to confuse death.  To prevent death from finding her. 

It didn’t work.  Construction was still going on when death found and overtook her.  “Death wasn’t confused at all.  Death has a wonderful sense of direction.” (Ortberg, Love Beyond Reason

Why are we such a busy people?  No one has ever moved faster than we do, yet it seems that we accomplish less and less.  But why are we so busy?  Perhaps because we’ve made poor choices and we have to work two jobs to make ends meet.  Or, maybe it’s deeper than that.  Maybe we scurry about so in order that we don’t have to think about death, maybe at some subliminal level we (like Mrs. Winchester) believe that as long as we stay busy, we’ll keep on living.  We may fear that the moment we stop, we’ll collapse and die, or that we’ll have time for thoughts about death and dying will enter our heads and we try to prevent that by staying busy.

Ortberg continues: “…don’t forget one thing.  Don’t forget that the truck will come one day and take it all away.  Don’t forget that one day Death will come.  It will not be confused.  It will know just where to look.”

Wouldn’t we all be a lot wiser to give more thought to our demise and the condition of our lives and souls at that point in time? 

Ecclesiastes 7:1-2 (NIV) A good name is better than fine perfume, and the day of death better than the day of birth. It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart.

Every day you are building something.  The question is, will what you are building last beyond the rim of this world?  

PRAYER: Father, we struggle to find contentment, thinking we can find it in all the wrong places and in all the wrong ways.  Teach us to be content with what we have in this world, but to never be content in how much we have of You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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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 10/04/16 – 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 7/01/16 – Wise Philosophy

DayBreaks for 7/01/16 – Wise Philosophy

Galen is on vacation. From the DayBreaks archive, June 2006:

Psalms 39:4-7 (NLT) – LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered, and that my life is fleeing away.  My life is no longer than the width of my hand. An entire lifetime is just a moment to you; human existence is but a breath.  We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing. We heap up wealth for someone else to spend.  And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you.

Our congregation has been hit hard recently with unexpected illnesses.  Some have been to parents of members who are well advanced in years.  Somehow, those things are not as surprising as when they happen to little ones.  We have a family in our church right now who has a little boy (3-1/2 years old) who is lying in Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care unit at Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford University, waiting for a heart transplant.  This little boy suffers from a fatal heart disease and the only hope for him (barring God’s miraculous intervention which we are all praying for) is a heart transplant.  He suffered cardiac arrest around the first of the month and has been on a respirator since then and since having a partial “artificial heart” implanted to help keep him alive until a suitable transplant heart becomes available. 

That just isn’t the way it’s supposed to happen.  When unexpected things happen to little ones, we’re shocked, stunned and grieved beyond words.  Why do these things happen?  I’m not really looking for an answer in the philosophical/religious sense, but I think that one of the many lessons we can, and should learn from these types of things is this one: life is short and so very precious.  It doesn’t really matter if it’s someone in their 80’s or 90’s (life is still short, even if you do live to be that age) or a newborn. 

Someone once came up with this insight:

“Live for Him today – for tomorrow may be too late” versus “Live for today – for tomorrow may never come.”

What a difference between the two attitudes and outlooks.  One is very self centered – living for today implies that we are living for ourselves, for our own existence, and that if we don’t live for today we may regret it when tomorrow comes because we will have missed out on experiences that we could have enjoyed in this life.  The other is outward focused – living for Him – and not worrying about experiences we might miss out on.  In reality, it’s trading one set of experiences in life (and eternity!) for another based on a value judgment that we make. 

We must decide, given the few frail years that we are allotted, where we will place our greatest value and attention.  On ourselves and living for what we can get out of life here and now (because tomorrow may not come), or for Jesus because if we don’t live for him today, we may never live for him (or with him)!

Which of these two philosophies best represents the way you live your life?  What evidence do you have to back up your thinking?

PRAYER:  We have so much to learn, Lord, and we are so prone to trying to learn from all the wrong sources.  Thank you for the reminders in your word that life is uncertain, that death is certain, and that eternal destinies are realities that we must all come to grips with.  Help us to have wisdom to live for You today, trusting that in the end, it will have been absolutely the wisest, and best thing to do.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 2/16/16 – Death Was Arrested

DayBreaks for 2/16/16: Death Was Arrested

There is a wonderful new Christian song out there titled Death Was Arrested. Brandon Coker was describing it to some of his friends, describing how he was walking through a cemetery when he came across a tombstone with these words engraved into it: Here rests what was mortal of Samuel Burr, Age 42. In search of health far from his endeared home, death arrested his progress on 2nd of April 1831. Quietly he fell asleep in the Christian hope of immortality and glory forever. Oh the vanity of man in his best estate. Traveler pause and drop a tear at a grave of one so highly worthy and so deeply lamented and learn wisdom for eternity.

The phrase, “death arrested his progress” stirred the imagination and led to contemplation of how in this world death does, indeed, arrest progress…sooner or later, we shall all experience the end of our earthly “progress”.

That, however, needs to be balance and contrasted with what Christ did on the cross. Through his death, he arrested death and overcame it…and though we will all still die, we have his promise from John 11:25-26 (NLT) – Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?”  

The lyrics to the song, and the link to the song, are the rest of today’s DayBreaks. Be blessed!

V1: Alone in my sorrow dead in my sin
Lost without hope with no place to begin
Your love Made a way to let mercy come in
When death was arrested and my life began
V2: Ash was redeemed only beauty remains
My orphan heart was given a name
My mourning grew quiet my feet rose to dance
When death was arrested and my life began
CHORUS
Oh your grace so free
Washes over me
You have made me new
Now life begins with you
It’s your endless love
Pouring down on us
You have made us new
Now life begins with you
V3: Released from my chains I’m a prisoner no more
My shame was a ransom he faithfully bore
He cancelled my debt and he called me his friend
When death was arrested and my life began
V4: Our savior displayed on a criminal’s cross
Darkness rejoiced as though heaven had lost
But then Jesus arose with our freedom in hand
That’s when death was arrested and my life began
That’s when death was arrested and my life began
POST CHORUS:
Oh we’re free free
Forever we’re free
Come join the song
Of all the redeemed
Yes we’re free free
Forever amen
When death was arrested

And my life began.

Link to listen to this song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m1fEJC0JtBw 

TODAY’S PRAYER: Thank you, Jesus, for defeating death and giving life to those who were dead! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, all rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 5/25/15 – They Watched Them Die

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DayBreaks for 5/25/15: They Watched Them Die

“Many have been there.  Your grandfather, parents, perhaps aunts, uncles, cousins, sons and daughters – they were there.  They saw friends killed by the enemy.  It changed them. To see people die is a horrific thing.

“Nothing can erase that from your mind.  No one can understand it fully unless you have been there.  I have not been there, but I have heard the stories.

“They knew that it was inevitable that some would die.  In every war, some have died.  One a day like today, we honor those who have died standing up for others.  Perhaps you know people who know people who died in wars.  Maybe you know people who died.  We grieve with you as you grieve with us.  Wars are horrific.  In every war, some have died.

“Think today about the current wars and the next ones.

“There will be more of this: more killing and more people we know who know people who will give their lives as an ultimate sacrifice.  It will not end for a long time.  We don’t know how long, and we don’t know how many more will die.  It is heartbreaking and depressing.

“What is our hope?  In every war, some have died, except in one war.  In that war, only One died.  His Father watched him die.  He died, so that those who believe would have life, the life that is eternal.  All who believe have life, even after death.

“He is our only hope for ending all wars.  How will he do it and when?  We don’t know.  In the meantime, we have to live as followers of Him and think deep thoughts about overt and hidden wars, weapons of mass destruction, nuclear arms and conflict.

“Today, on this Memorial Day weekend, we remember and honor those who have died in all the wars to protect us, and we remember the One who have His life to end all wars.

“To those of you who watched them die, I want to say we are thankful that you are still here.  Don’t let us forget your friends.” – Author Unknown

Remember well this day those who no longer walk among us.

PRAYER: Thank you, Prince of Peace, for those who also stand watch over us and protect us.  Thank you for their courage and their sacrifice, and we pray you comfort all who have loved them and lost them.  Thank you for ultimately winning the war against war and we long to see that become reality. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 3/16/15 – The Last Enemy

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DayBreaks for 3/16/15: The Last EnemyA Lenten devotion by Fr. Robert Barron:

“We are halfway through Lent which means the passion and death of Christ are slowly coming into view. At this point, I would like to spend a little time contemplating what God thinks of death.

“To put it simply, God hates death and wants nothing to do with it. Listen God speaking through the prophet Ezekiel: I will open your graves and have you rise from them. These words are spoken just after the marvelous scene of the enlivening of the dry bones.

“There is an important clue here, by the way. Those dry bones were there because a battle had been fought on that spot. Death, the fear of death, the threat of death-all of this broods over human life and grounds sin and oppression. All sin, which involves the terrible clinging to self and attacking of others, ultimately flows from a fear of death. Every tyrant who has ever ruled has succeeded only by instilling in people the fear of death.

“But what if death – as we know it and experience it – is not at all what God intended? What if it were something that God wanted to deal with once and for all, to get rid of? The book of Genesis tells us clearly that death came from sin. Death as we experience it – as something fearful, horrible, terrifying – comes from having turned from God.

“But Jesus came primarily as a warrior whose final enemy is death. I know how easy it is to domesticate Jesus, presenting him as a kindly and inspiring moral teacher, but that is not how the Gospels present him. He is a cosmic warrior who has come to do battle with all of those forces that keep us from being fully alive.

“Throughout the Gospels, Jesus deals with the effects of death and a death-obsessed culture: violence, hatred, egotism, exclusion, false religion, phony community. But the final enemy he must face down is death itself.”

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, we long to see the last enemy finally and totally rendered powerless and defeated forever!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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