DayBreaks for 7/19/18 – Don’t Waste Your Bypass

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DayBreaks for 7/19/18: Don’t Waste Your Bypass

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2008:

If you’ve been a DayBreaks reader for some time, you almost certainly know that I had a quad bypass at 49 years of age.  I wasn’t overweight, my cholesterol wasn’t bad – but my genes were/are!  I remember as a young child reading stories from Reader’s Digest about the first heart bypass operations and the amazing heart/lung machine.  I was fascinated by the stories and the technology, thinking it was wonderful – but I certainly never thought I’d be on the receiving end of it. 

Recently, Marvin Olasky, editor in chief of WORLD Magazine, found himself unexpectedly undergoing a bypass operation of his own.  Like mine, his was unexpected.  In the June 28 – July 5 issue, he wrote about his experience and the impact it had on his life.  I will vouch for what he says: it is an experience that DOES make you contemplate life – and death – and the things that are important and the things which are not. 

John Piper, a pastor and author from Minneapolis, was facing cancer surgery when he pointed out that “The aim of God in your cancer (among a thousand other good things) is to knock props out from under our hearts so that we rely utterly on Him.”  Olasky then goes on with some of his own musings and more of Piper’s thoughts: “Amen – because even if we take heart in percentages when we should not, we know that the long-range certainty (unless Christ returns first) is 100 percent fatality.  It’s disconcerting to attain the label ‘cardiac patient.’  But here’s chapter 40 of Isaiah: ‘All flesh is grass…the grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God will stand forever.’”

“Bottom line: if you look in the mirror and see yourself as anything other than a future cardiac, or cancer, or something else patient, you’re fooling yourself.  Piper writes, ‘You will waste your cancer if you think that beating cancer means staying alive rather than cherishing Christ….You will waste your cancer if you spend too much time reading about cancer and not enough time reading about God.’ 

“One of Piper’s most intriguing comments: ‘You will waste your cancer if you treat sin as casually as before…Pride, greed, lust, hatred, impatience, laziness, procrastination….All these things are worse enemies than cancer.  Don’t waste the power of cancer to crush these foes.  Let the presence of eternity make the sins of time look as futile as they really are.’

Piper concludes, “You will waste your cancer if you fail to use it as a means of witness to the truth and glory of Christ.  Here is a golden opportunity to show that He is worth more than life.  Don’t waste it.”

We often think of suffering as a way in which we learn valuable lessons.  If you are facing cancer, cardiac disease or some other illness, or even if you’re just facing “life” (isn’t it interesting how we describe ourselves as facing life instead of facing death – when as Olasky noted, that’s the 100% certainty we all face), don’t waste the lessons that come with a whiff of fatality.

PRAYER:  Thank You, God, for the valuable lessons and reminders of the real certainties.  May we not run in fear from the valuable lessons that You send our way, but learn from them that we might live each day more wisely!   In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 7/6/18 – Failure to Thrive

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DayBreaks for 7/06/18: Failure to Thrive

From the DayBreaks Archive, July 2008:

FTT.  Do you know that that means?  If you’re a nurse or doctor, you probably do.  It is shorthand for “Failed to Thrive” and it is used when a baby or child does not gain weight or grow.  I didn’t know that until I read an illustration from John Ortberg just this past week that enlightened me:

“FTT—my wife first introduced me to those initials. Nancy was a nurse when I first met her. There were many parts of nursing for which she did not care. But she loved diagnosis. To this day there cannot be too many episodes of Grey’s Anatomy or ER for her.  She is constantly telling me her private diagnoses of people—even total strangers—based on their skin color. She can tell you how long you have to live if she gets a long look at your face and the light is good.

“But of all the diagnoses I ever heard her discuss, FTT is the one that sticks in my mind. Those initials would go on the chart of an infant who, often for unknown reasons, was unable to gain weight or grow.

“Failure to thrive.

“Sometimes, they guess, it happens when a parent or care-giver is depressed, and the depression seems to get passed down. Sometimes something seems to be off in an infant’s metabolism for reasons no one can understand, so FTT is one of those mysterious phrases that sounds like an explanation but explains nothing.

“Failure to thrive.

“I didn’t know why it struck me as so unspeakably sad until I read Dallas Willard’s The Spirit of the Disciplines, a book that has affected me more than any book other than the Bible, from which Dallas actually gets his best ideas.

“Dallas writes that although we have tended to think of the word salvation as the forgiveness of sins or the escape from punishment, it actually has a much more robust meaning for the writers of Scripture: “the simple and wholly adequate word for salvation in the New Testament is ‘life.’ ‘I am come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly.‘ ‘He that hath the Son hath life.‘ ‘Even when we were dead through our trespasses, God made us alive together with Christ.‘ “

“This is the human condition.  FTT.

“Thrive is a life word; a word full of shalom. Thriving is what life was intended to do, like a flower stubbornly pushing through a crack in the sidewalk. It is why we pause in wonder at a human being’s first step, or first word; and why we ought to wonder at every step, and every word. Thriving is what God saw when he made life and saw that it was good. “Thrive” was the first command: be fruitful, and multiply.”

Galen’s Thoughts: how sad it must be for a nurse to see what appears to be a perfectly healthy baby or child, who for some unknown reason, fails to thrive…and dies.  Can it be any less painful for God to see what He created suffering from the same illness spiritually?  Even some Christians seem to suffer this syndrome.  If we are “alive together” with Christ (can anything be more ALIVE than Christ?!?!?!?), why do we look and act so dead?

PRAYER:  You are the Source of Life and of life abundant, Lord.  Don’t let us FTT, but awaken us through Your very Spirit of LIfe!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/3/18 – Light and Life

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DayBreaks for 7/03/18: Light and Life

From the DayBreaks Archive, July 2008:

This past week at our Vacation Bible School, one of the craft projects involved sunflower plants.  It was intended to illustrate the fruit of the Spirit that is patience.  Did you know that there are “motor cells” on the underside of the sunflower that cause the sunflower to track the sun as it moves across the sky, and those cells cause the plant to change the way it faces as the sun transits the heavens.  You see, sunflower plants are smart enough to track the sun (the technical word for such plants is heliotropes.)  As people we seem to have much more difficulty tracking the Son!

As I looked recently at John 1, I was struck again by these words: John 1:4 (NLT) – Life itself was in him, and this life gives light to everyone.  As I read verses 1-4 this time, I was reminded once again that the Word was already there in the beginning, that He was with God and He was God and that all things that exist were made by Him.  But the passage eventually arrives at the incredible statement in verse 4: Life itself was in him…  He didn’t get life from somewhere else.  If there is life, it exists because it comes from Him and no where and no one else. 

But what caught my attention this time was the last part of verse 4. …and this life gives light to everyone.  Now if you were to ask a biologist or botanist, they’d tell you that you need light first in order to have life.  But this verse says that even the light comes from the life that is in Christ.  If it is a question of the chicken or the egg, at least in this case we know the answer: life predates light.  The life that was in the beginning with God and which was God later spoke light into existence.

Jesus is life.  “I am the way, the truth, and the LIFE…”  He meant what he said!  “And in Him is no darkness at all.”

PRAYER: Lord Almighty, I long to see You in all Your glorious light.  I long to see the Life that became the Light of the world.  Thank You for life, and life abundant.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 5/22/18 – A Premature Death

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DayBreaks for 5/22/18: A Premature Death

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2008:

How long do you expect to live?  Chances are, your answer will depend largely on how old you are right now.  The younger you are, the longer you expect to live.  It makes sense – but it isn’t always true. 

There are many ways to die: asphyxiation, heart attack, cancer, stroke, Alzheimer’s, poison, accident, drowning, failure of a parachute to open, shark attack, etc.  The list is endless.  But there are other ways to die, too, that don’t come to mind as regularly, and perhaps they are equally, or more, tragic than some of those mentioned.

Vietzslav Gardavsky, a Czech philosopher and martyr who died in 1978, wrote a book titled God Is Not Yet Dead, in which he wrote about this topic.  The terrible threat against our lives is not death, pain, nor any one of the myriad types of disasters that we frantically try to protect ourselves against.  The terrible threat, as Gardavsky put it, is “that we might die earlier than we really do die, before death has become a natural necessity.  The real horror lies in just such a premature death, a death after which we go on living for many years.”

We can become so paranoid about life and death and health and illness that we “die” prematurely.  It is easier to stop taking any risk (spiritually) and become a spiritual parasite that contributes nothing to the kingdom of God than it is to live fully as a human made in His image, committed to obedience and to live on the ragged edge of faith.  Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying that I’ve yet achieved that kind of total abandonment to God’s calling.  As Eugene Peterson put it in Run With the Horses, “It is easier to relax in the embracing arms of The Average.  Easier, but not better. Easier, but not more significant.  Easier, but not more fulfilling.”

Look back at your life with and for Christ this past year.  Have you been resting in the “embracing arms of The Average”?  If so, you’ve died prematurely.  Jesus can give you new life!

PRAYER:  Lord, we settle for settling.  We settle for mediocre.  We are afraid to live lives of reckless abandonment to the leading of Your Spirit.  Help us not to be entranced with being average and safe.  Lead us to life abundant!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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 3/21/18 – Without a Doubt

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DayBreaks for 3/21/18: Without a Doubt

From the DayBreaks archive, 2008:

How strange are the mysteries of God!  To paraphrase: “If you want to find your life, you must lose it.”  Or, “He that is the greatest shall be the least among you.”  “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.”  Certainly, perhaps the greatest understatement in the history of the universe was when God declared, My ways are not your ways, nor my thought like your thoughts.  For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so are my thoughts above your thoughts. 

It seems strange that in dying, death was defeated.  Christ took death in both of his arms and pulled it into his mortal body, and in doing so, defeated it.  Through the resurrection, death and its power were forever broken and we need not fear the moment of our physical death for one second longer.  This is the peace that Christ has bought us: that we have been reconciled to God the Father through Jesus’ atoning death and resurrection.  All that previously stood between us has been removed, torn down, ripped asunder like the veil in the temple. 

“He died, but he vanquished death; in himself, he put an end to what we feared; he took it upon himself, and he vanquished it; as a mighty hunter, he captured and slew the lion.  Where is death?  Seek it in Christ, for it exists no longer; but it did exist, and now it is dead.  O life, O death of death!  Be of good heart; it will die in us also.  What has taken place in our head will take place in his members; death will die in us also.  But when?  At the end of the world, at the resurrection of the dead in which we believe and concerning which we do not doubt.” – Augustine, Sermon 233

It is one thing to stand at the gravesite and hope for resurrection.  It is another, as Augustine put it, to “believe and concerning which we have no doubt.”  It is through a life of close fellowship with God that such confidence comes.  The resurrection was the first fruit of Christ’s victory – a victory that he is eager to share with each of his children!

PRAYER: Lord, it is difficult for us to believe and accept that death holds no power as we see people dying all around us.  May we, as we celebrate Christ’s victory over death, clearly understand that it is our victory, too.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 1/29/18 – So It Is True

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DayBreaks for 1/29/18: So It Is True

From the DayBreaks archives, January 2008:

There are those who would tell us that anything we want to believe is true.  I can only laugh.  As if my believing anything makes it true!

I recently spent some time with a friend who was stricken with breast cancer that spread over the course of years into her bones, and now it has spread into her brain.  We went to high school together – and in fact, I wrote about her earlier this week.  I was blessed to go and sit by her side for a while, to hold her hand and reminisce as best we could with her in the condition she’s in.  It is a terrible thing to see the toll that cancer takes on the body. 

At one point in the conversation, as we were starting to talk about how she wanted her memorial service done, she teared up, her lip began to quiver, and it was clear that the spectre of death was very real and close to her at that moment.  It is quite something to look into the eyes of one who knows they are already part way through death’s door.  I’ve been asking myself a lot in the past week or so how it must feel to go to sleep at night and really not know if you’ll awaken again in this world. 

As she cried, I whispered to her, “God loves you.”  She whispered back: “I sure hope so.” 

Death, like its master, Satan, stealthily watches to take its victims – sometimes as a thief in the night, sometimes in broad daylight.  Often, he gives no warning, and thus it is that the Bible gives us the admonition to be prepared to meet not only our Maker, but death, at any time.  We need to pay more attention to that admonition than we do. 

The agnostic professor J. H. Huxley, was on his death bed.  His nurse has told the tale of how, during the very last moments of his life as he lay there dying and breathing his very last breaths, he suddenly opened his eyes and looked up, apparently seeing something that was invisible to mortal eyes.  After staring a short while, he whispered, “So it is true.”

It is true that we are mortal – although we don’t sometimes think death will really come to ME.  But beyond that, it is true – there is a God and we will meet Him.  It is also true that this God loves us deeply.  Why do we resist the idea of God and eternal life so much?  Perhaps because it seems too good to be true.  Perhaps it’s more a matter of thinking that after the things we know we’ve thought and done and not done in life that God must be very, very disappointed and angry at us.  I’m sure he’s disappointed in things we do and he hates the evil we do….but he still loves us. 

It is when we are on our own deathbed that we will come face to face with our faith, and the One in whom that faith has been placed.  May His mercy rest on us all.

PRAYER:  For all who are facing death, Lord, we ask Your Presence, and for Your Spirit to move in their hearts, even as it did for the thief on the cross, and lead them to Paradise through faith in Your beloved Son!  Comfort us in the hour of our death, Lord, and let us wake to see Your face.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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