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 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.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 6/7/17 – The Cold Season of Life

DayBreaks for 6/07/17: The Cold Season of Life

From the DayBreaks archives, June 2007:

It may seem strange, now as the rays of the late-spring sun pour themselves willy-nilly through the window and dance on the floor to be writing about a cold season of life, or of “the winter of our discontent.”  But, ideas, like guests, sometimes come when they choose, and who can tell where and when the Spirit will move with an idea or thought or a challenge?  So, without fear of being called crazy, I write today to share some thoughts about the cold season of life, as inspired by Jamie Langston Turner, from Winter Birds, posted in Christianity Today, 5/30/07:

“I am in the cold season of life, and the words that come to mind as I rise in the morning are these: “Now, is the winter of our discontent.” I borrow them from William Faulkner, a fellow Mississippian, who lifted them from Shakespeare, who put them into the mouth of the Duke of Gloucester, also known as Richard III. Though I am hardly the villain Richard III was, I am no saint. Though I have not murdered, I have used words to maim and destroy. Though I repudiate the notion of conscience, as did Richard, I do not rest easy at night. Often when I wake in the morning, it is after few hours of troubled sleep. I cannot sleep long for fear that I will let go of living. Rather a winter of discontent than no winter at all.”

Galen’s Thoughts:

In fairness, I don’t yet think that I’m in the cold season of life.  I do find the mornings a bit more chilly than it seems they were just a year or two ago.  Can anyone say, “Circulation?”  Part of the challenge is that, in the final analysis, we never know when we are in the cold season of life.  Many are struck down in the springtime, when the flower and bloom of life should just be appearing.  Yet, little did they know, they were in the cold season of life.  Still, I must agree with the writer, that it is better to have a winter of discontent than none for a variety of reasons:

FIRST: if we are in the advanced years, we have had the blessing of a life – whether good or bad.  And how intriguing it is that even those who have lived what we might think are the most difficult and hard lives are often the most grateful.  They’ve learned that life isn’t about what you have, but about Who you know and what you’ve invested your life in that matters.  So it was that in the cold season of his life, the apostle Paul could say, “I am ready to be offered up…”. 

SECOND: memories.  There are good things to remember in looking back.  Memory was important to Israel – even the memory of the captivity and Exodus, the memories of the exile, were important because they resolved to learn from those things.  It is instructive to note that after the Exile, the Jews never again involved themselves in idolatry.  Even in the cold season of life we can look back and remember the warmer, sun-filled days that quickened our breath and heartbeat, and give thanks to the One who gave us such simple joys.

Yet, I must protest the woman’s statement about not being a saint.  Who among us saints is really a saint?  We’ve not earned the title, after all.  We have maimed and destroyed in our own ways, time and time again.  And we do not rest easy for it.  Yet if we are to accept God as God and His Word as the Truth that sets us free, believer – you are a saint.  No less than 62 times in the NT is the term applied to Christians.  Never because of our outstanding performance, but because God through Christ has made us holy and righteous.  Believe it?

PRAYER: Thank you for the days of our lives, the moments and instances, like snapshots, that live on in our memories!  May our longing vision to see you grow stronger as the days grow colder.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/28/17 – Why Christ HAD To Rise

DayBreaks for 4/28/17: Why Christ HAD to Rise

Note: Galen is traveling this week.

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2007:

Easter is over, but Christ is still risen!  It seems that many forget in the hustle of everyday life that such an earth-shattering event really did take place.  Maybe saying it was earth-shattering is a bit strong – many alive on the face of the earth at the time never heard about it in their lifetimes – they just didn’t have that opportunity.  And being such scientifically minded moderns as we are, we find it a bit hard to believe that something that happened so long ago in the days of yore when science was, well, rather unscientific, we may be a bit skeptical about the resurrection. 

In John 20, it says (talking about the disciples after Jesus resurrection and before Jesus had appeared to them), They did not yet understand the Scriptures that Jesus had to rise from the dead.  I can hardly blame them, even though Jesus had told them numerous times, in very plain language, that he would rise from the dead on the third day. 

But this year, as I read that passage, I was struck by the simple word “had”.  It is a significant word – the writer could have said that they didn’t understand that Jesus would rise from the dead, but that’s not what he said.  John said Jesus “had” to rise from the dead.  And that got me thinking.  Why did Jesus have to rise?  Several reasons, I think:

FIRST: If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, it would mean that there was something (death) in the universe that is more powerful than God, which is impossible given the definition of God and His omnipotence.  If Jesus (God with us) could not raise himself from the dead, he couldn’t possibly have been God.  But if he could raise himself from the tomb, then surely He must be God!

SECOND: Life has, in spite of appearances, always been stronger than death.  Consider how it works with a grain of wheat: one grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, but that one grain of wheat gives life eventually to thousands of grains of wheat in subsequent generations.  Think of the great people of the past and what comes to mind?  Is it not their life, and not their death?  We speak of such people as “living on” in their deeds, words, thoughts.  And, who hasn’t seen a seed that has sprouted and grown through inches of asphalt, cement or even rock?  Why?  Because life is stronger than death, and Jesus was “the Way, the Truth, and the LIFE.”

FINALLY: I preach and teach about the cross a great deal.  I make no apologies for that.  But recently I have wondered if I’ve emphasize that too much and underemphasized the resurrection of Christ.  After all, the apostles went everywhere teaching and preaching the resurrection.  Many people were crucified during the time of Christ – but what made him unique was the resurrection!  What good would it have been if Jesus had lived a sinless life and if God had accepted Jesus’ sacrificial death for us, but Jesus hadn’t risen?  Paul is clear in Corinthians: if Christ isn’t risen, then there is and will be no resurrection for anyone.  Here’s the point: if Jesus perfect life ended with the grave, our sins could have been forgiven, but so what?  If he didn’t rise, we won’t rise.  We’d lie in the grave and become dust and remain dust – eternally.  And those are some of the key reasons Jesus had to rise from the dead.

Let me share the brilliant observation by theologian Jaroslav Pelikan: “If Christ is risen from the dead, then nothing else matters; if Christ is not risen from the dead, then nothing else matters.”  You see, it all depends on Christ and his resurrection.

PRAYER: I thank You, Father, for the little word “had” – that Jesus “had” to rise from the dead.  Thank You that He did rise, and that because he has risen, nothing else in this universe really matters.  The reality of His resurrection is the dominant fact of all the universe.  May we live as if we truly believe He is risen from the dead!.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 2/23/17 – Why the Gospel Makes No Sense

DayBreaks for 2/23/17: Why the Gospel Makes No Sense

1 Cor. 1:23 – (KJV) – But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness…

2 Cor. 2:15-16 (NLT) – Our lives are a fragrance presented by Christ to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those being saved and by those perishing. 16 To those who are perishing we are a fearful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this?

If you listen to the hucksters on TV, the show that’s on Monday evenings called “Heroes” is a “smash hit.”  Interesting.  I’ll admit that I’ve seen it, and I do find it interesting – more for the characters than anything else (the story seems to drag on endlessly and I wonder if it will ever get to the climax of the story at all!)  The premise of the show is that there are various people in the world who have some sort of super power to do different kinds of things – and they are all needed to save the world.  The key seems to be a young blonde cheerleader who has the gift of being able to not be killed.  She has even “killed” herself several times to prove to someone else that she has the gift – she’s thrown herself off towers, intentionally crashed her car, etc., and while she should be dead, she instantly “cures” and is fine.  A bit far fetched?  You bet it is.

And that’s just why the gospel is so hard for some folks to believe.  It makes no sense.  The passages above in Paul’s letters to the Corinthians describe the extremely difficult task of the gospel: to Jews, the crucifixion of Jesus was a stumblingblock because only the most perverse criminal would be hanged on a tree and the Messiah would never die anyway.  To the Greeks, who were very logical thinkers that needed to understand the reason and logic behind something, to say that one other person’s death could remove all the sin of the entire world was ludicrous, foolish, if you will.

In the second passage, Paul says that our lives are a fragrance presented by Christ to God.  It’s not a fragrance we present – Christ presents it, reminding us of the incense that would be burned in the temple that rose to God to please Him, symbolizing prayer.  Our lives are to be a prayer to God, that Christ presents.  But, just as not everyone likes the smell of Chanel No. 5, not all like the scent we give off.  To those who are dying without Christ, we, well, how can I put this bluntly?  We smell like dead, decaying flesh – repulsive, the kind of smell that would make anyone turn away and throw up.  But those who are being drawn to God smell it as the sweetest, most precious perfume.  And then the stunning question: Who is up to such a task? 

Why doesn’t the gospel make sense?  I think Andy Crouch hit it on the head when he summarized it in one sentence: “There is no culture where the gospels horizons make sense – because it starts with the resurrection of a dead man.”  Why does Christianity smell like death?  That’s why…it starts with a dead man – much like the little cheerleader who dies and comes back, and who would believe it?  But somehow, some do…through the work and calling of the Spirit that transforms the smell of death into sweet perfume. 

It’s not our job to make the gospel smell like perfume.  It will smell like what it is to different people.  The catch is that we never know who will smell it as perfume and who will perceive it as a foul stench.  What if no one had told you about Christ crucified?

PRAYER:  Our minds seek to understand and reason things out, Lord, and sometimes in so doing, we wind up destroying ourselves and others.  Thank you that you have allowed us to smell the fragrance of life in Christ.  Help us to carry that scent to others, trusting in you to make it beautiful.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 12/16/16 – Losing the Plot

DayBreaks for 12/16/16: Losing the Plot

From the DayBreaks archive, 2006:

I have seen a few movies in my life where, when I left the theater, I didn’t have a clue what the movie was about.  I’ve read some books that I felt that way about, too.  Needless to say, they weren’t my favorites!

Sometimes, I lose track of a much more important plot line: that’s the plot line of my life.  And therein is the problem in a nutshell: we think life is all about us – MY life.  I guess it’s normal, but that doesn’t mean it is right.  In I Am Not but I Know I Am, Louie Giglio put this into a great perspective:

“And how would we know when we have slipped back into the story of us?  We know when we see these telling signs:

“When I live like I’m privileged, I have lost the plot.  In other words, when I start acting like I deserve a certain outcome or a higher standard of life, I have failed to strike the fatal blow to self and am living like I actually have rights in this world apart from God.

“When I am demanding, I have lost the plot, insisting that God and others meet my needs on the timetable that I see fit.

“When I act pompous, I have lost the plot, thinking that I am somebody while only proving that I haven’t had a good look at God today.

“When I crumble under the pressure, I have lost the plot, declaring that the outcome of life rests squarely on my shoulders, not His.

“When I start protecting, I have lost the plot, marking turf as though it were actually mine and forgetting that everything I have comes first from above.

“When I crave the spotlight for myself, I have lost the plot, losing sight of the story line and the one true Star.  And when I do it, I waste one of life’s fleeting changes to make my life truly count by amplifying Him.

“When I fail to celebrate the successes of others who are living for His fame, I have lost the plot, thinking that possibly we are on different teams when we actually share supporting roles in the same story.

“When I dwell on feelings of being unloved, unnoticed, or insignificant, I have lost the plot, abandoning the miracle of knowing God on a first name basis.”

Let’s not forget who the story of all Life is about. 

PRAYER:  Father, thank You for inviting us to play a role in the greatest story ever told.  May we do our part well in order to bring honor to Him who purchased us with His blood.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 12/15/16 – Dead Man Sitting

DayBreaks for 12/15/16: Dead Man Sitting

From the DayBreaks archive, 2006:

“In October 2005, an elderly man passed away while sitting in his parked car in Melbourne, Australia.  He remained that way for several days before his body was found and identified by city officials.

“After the man’s death, however, and two days before the discovery of his body, a police officer gave him a parking ticket and attached it to the windshield of his car.

“The head of the Maroondah City Council later apologized for the incident, saying: ‘It must be just so sad for the family, and we extend our sincere sympathies to them.’  He added, ‘It is simply a case of the parking officer not noticing.’”  – ABCNewsOnline, 10/21/05

I wonder about this old man.  As he sat in his car, did he feel a squeezing in his chest, a shortness of breath?  A pain inside his head?  Did he know he was staring death in the face?  Or did it all happen so fast that he didn’t even have a chance to think or feel anything?  If he’d felt something, might he not have rolled down a window, opened a door, and called for help?  Not knowing the details of the situation, I can imagine and picture all sorts of possibilities and questions.  But I’m sure that the man would have hoped for help to come.

But to spend too much time wondering about the man is pointless.  What I should wonder about is where everyone else was when this man was dying.  Several days passed as he sat there in the car, stone cold, unmoving.  People must have noticed the car sitting there for several days and a person in it.  Didn’t one of them take the time to go see if the man was OK?  Apparently not.  And the officer who even wrote the ticket may have assumed the man was just sleeping and, being polite, didn’t want to wake him.  I just don’t know, and I just don’t understand.

Is it any different each and every day when I look around me at the lives of those who don’t know Jesus?  They may be sitting in the cubicle next to you, walking through your checkout lane at the store, cashing your check at the bank.  They are there – and they are dying. 

I hope that we will not be as careless and un-noticing as the police officer who saw the car, saw the man, wrote the ticket, but never said anything to the man.  If someone, ANYONE, who had seen this old man in the car had come to him early on, he might have lived.  But they didn’t come, and he died. 

One of my greatest fears about the day of judgment is that some lost person that I knew in this life will look at me on that day as they are being led away and say, “Why didn’t you check on me?  Why didn’t you help me?”

Genesis 4:9 – Afterward the LORD asked Cain, “Where is your brother? Where is Abel?”  “I don’t know!” Cain retorted. “Am I supposed to keep track of him wherever he goes?”

The answer is: yes.

PRAYER:  May we have Your passion for the lost.  Give us Your eyes to see their future possibilities, both for glory and for horror.  May we be moved by Your Spirit to keep track of one another at all times and in all places.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen Dalrymple.