DayBreaks for 9/24/18 – The Mayor of Waterford

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DayBreaks for 9/24/18: The Mayor of Waterford      

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2008:

In his book, Rumors of Another World, Philip Yancey tells of a visit he made in the town of Waterford, Ireland.  He went there to see the famous tomb craving on the stone marking the final resting place of Mayor Rice.  “Considered one of the finest monuments in Ireland, the stone carving portrays the devout Mayor Rice’s decomposing body being gnawed and devoured by toads, vermin, and insects.  The mayor died at a time when the shadow of the Black Death shrouded all of Europe.  ‘Whoever you are that pass by, stand, read, weep,’ says the mayor’s inscription.  ‘I am what you will be and I was what you are.’ 

“The physical world, no matter how attractive, has its limits.” 

It isn’t often that you visit a gravesite to see a picture of the person resting therein being consumed by vermin.  We would rather not think of such things – we’d rather think of the deceased as they looked when they were happy and full of life.  We would rather believe that all is well – even below the surface of the ground where our eyes cannot penetrate the murky darkness.  

But, such is not reality.  “From dust thou art, and to dust thou shalt return,” the Lord has decreed.  But that’s not us – it’s just the shroud we wore in life.  Still, the sentiments on the Mayor’s gravestone and the pictures carved there are a good reminder to us: we are mortal.  We are finite.  We are not destined to live in this world forever and ever, hallelujah and amen.  It will, certainly, come to an end, and we shall be like Mayor Rice.

Let us remember that, and remember that the allure of this world is a deadly siren song to divert us from the pathway to eternal life.

PRAYER: Give us perspective, Lord, that we may live wisely, redeeming the time.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 8/17/18 – The Hummingbird and the Vulture

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DayBreaks for 8/17/18: The Hummingbird and the Vulture

There are two birds that fly over our nation’s deserts: one is the hummingbird and the other is the vulture. The vultures find the rotting meat of the desert, because that is what they look for. They thrive on that diet. But hummingbirds ignore the smelly flesh of dead animals. Instead, they look for the colorful blossoms of desert plants. The vultures live on what was. They live on the past. They fill themselves with what is dead and gone. But hummingbirds live on what is. They seek new life. They fill themselves with freshness and life. Each bird finds what it is looking for. We all do.

That is the essence of Paul’s teaching: In life, there are two birds. The one bird looks for foolishness and stupidity, the other looks for wisdom. The vultures seek to fill themselves with the rotting flesh of drunkenness and debauchery, the hummingbird sobriety, freshness, and the Spirit. In the desert of this world you have your scavengers who are angry and ungrateful, but you also have those who hum a grateful hymn of thanksgiving. The irony is that you find what you are looking for.

In the fifth chapter of Ephesians Paul outlines proper behavior for good living. In this short passage he admonishes his readers to be careful how they live. He is brief and to the point. Three things we must do: be wise, be sober, and be thankful. It’s a short list but if we can orient our daily lives around these three-be wise, be sober, be thankful-we will transform not only our lives but also the lives of our family, friends, church, and neighbors.

PRAYER: Father, help us choose the things that are beautiful to you and that lead to life! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/13/18 – God’s Autopsy

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DayBreaks for 8/13/18: God’s Autopsy

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

From FOX News, 8/7/08: “An Indian man who was knocked unconscious during a stampede of thousands of religious pilgrims on a steep Himalayan mountain path woke up as doctors were preparing to perform his autopsy, the Times of India reported.

“Mange Ram, 19, lost consciousness in the stampede that killed 150 people and was triggered by rumors of a landslide leading to a Hindu temple devoted to the goddess Naina Devi.

“Ram awoke in the hospital morgue Sunday in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh.

“When I woke up, I was in the middle of a row of bodies waiting for post mortem,” he told the Times. “My throat was parched and I asked for water. Towering over me the doctors and nursing staff at Anandpur Sahib Civil Hospital looked dazed. They must have been surprised to see a dead man come alive like that.”

“Sat Pal Aggarwal, a doctor on the pilgrimage, said little was done to see if victims of the stampede were still alive.  “People were dumped quite haphazardly into trucks without following any procedure or checking if they were alive,” he told the Times.

“Despite the huge loss of life, the pilgrimage continued only hours after the corpses had been cleared, according to the newspaper.”

Stories about people being prematurely thought dead and then buried alive give me the shivers.  It apparently happened to my great-great grandmother when she was coming across the plains in a covered wagon.  Creepy.  It is the stuff of nightmares.

Part of what makes such stories so scary is that we know we will all one day die.  Here in California, autopsies are mandated in nearly every case.  The purpose of an autopsy, of course, is to determine the cause of death – and to rule out foul play. 

We will die, and then comes a “judgment”, a pronouncement if you will, of the cause of our death.  That’s the easy part: sin is the reason we die (Romans 5:12.)  God already knows the cause of our death.  What God will inspect us for is to see whether or not we’ve had the cure for sin applied to our lives.

One other thing we can be certain of: when God checks us over and performs His autopsy on our spirits, He will make no mistakes – He will not think we were dead but were instead alive.  On the flip side, there may be many who think they are “alive”, only to be found out to truly be “dead”.  It happened to the church at Sardis: (Rev. 3:1) – These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead.

For the time being, there’s good news: as long as our souls are attached to our bodies, we can still “Wake up!” as God told the church at Sardis.  God not only is the examiner, but the healer: Col. 2:13 – When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ.

If God performed your spiritual autopsy today, would He find you dead, or alive?     

PRAYER: God, keep us from self-delusion and from drawing false conclusions about the state of our spiritual health!  May we wake up in time to the true nature of our hearts and hasten to the Great Physician for the healing we so desperately need!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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 7/31/18 – Living an Accidental Life

DayBreaks for 7/31/18: Living an Accidental Life

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2008:

From one day to the next, we form plans only to find that the day seldom goes as we’d planned.  Some things that we set out to do actually get done more or less as we’d planned them, but if your day is like mine, there are more unplanned things that happen in my life every day than I could ever anticipate.  There are interruptions that are totally unexpected – phone calls, drop-in visits, unforeseen actions by others that totally change the trajectory of my day.  It will happen to you today – bet on it.

There are many who live life this way on purpose, I believe – whose lives seem to careen from one accident to another.  And, if you buy the current thinking, I suppose it makes perfect sense.  As Neil Postman said about the scientific view of life and origins, in Science and the Story That We Need to Tell: “In the end, science does not provide the answers most of us require.  Its story of our origins and our end is, to say the least, unsatisfactory.  To the question, ‘How did it all begin’, science answers, ‘Probably by an accident.’  To the question, ‘How will it all end?’, science answers ‘Probably by an accident.’  And to many people, the accidental life is not worth living.”

Are you content thinking that your existence here on earth is purely accidental?  That when this world is all done with, that it will have all been an accident?  That your children happen to be yours by accident?  That whatever you achieve in life isn’t really an accomplishment, but an accident?  Where is there any hope or meaning in living an accidental life?

God has a much different view.  We are not accidents – God knew us before we were born.  The universe is not an accident, your mind is not an accident, your family and children are not accidents. 

Yes, we make our plans, and our days are full of what seem to be accidental encounters and events.  We can believe that if we choose.  But I, for one, cannot find any meaning in that, nor comfort.  I choose not to life an accidental life – or at the very least, to believe that my life – and yours, are not accidents, but rather generated in the thoughts and purposes of God.

PRAYER:  With each person that we meet and each event that crosses our pathway, may we seek Your purpose and wisdom!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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.

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.