DayBreaks for 1/04/19 – The Passing of the Shadow

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DayBreaks for 01/04/2019: The Passing of the Shadow

From the DayBreaks Archive, 01/05/09 (modified):

Whew.  The holidays are now over.  It is a bittersweet feeling, isn’t it?  On the one hand, I love the excitement and joy of the holidays, and the chance to share that with family, loved ones and friends.  I love the Christmas carols and was surprised to find some of them playing in the malls this year. I love the bright lights and colors, and yes, the nuts and chews of Christmas from See’s Candies!

But it isn’t long and the holidays that have been so long awaited are over and done with.  The family has returned to their own homes and gone back to work, the Christmas decorations have been pulled down and boxed away for another year, the candy is gone (thank goodness!) and the Christmas carols and tree have been tucked away for 11 months.  And – I’m tired. 

As I was reflecting on this one day, I was watching our old dog, Rainie.  She’s 12 years old now and she’s clearly winding down.  She walks with a strange, stiff gait because of some arthritis in her hips, and if you look into her eyes, they are not dark and clear – they are milky and a bit subdued.  She is afraid, or in a bit too much discomfort, to hop up on the bed as easily as she used to.  Now, at night, when she comes back into the house, she will whimper and whine before even attempting her leap of faith up to the top of the mattress.  And she huffs and puffs a lot more than when she was younger.  It saddens me to see this happening before my very eyes and to be powerless in the face of the inexorable march of time.  And then I realize, I am on the same march, head down as I trudge the pathway before me.

The passing of the holidays and the winding down of life have parallels that can teach us.  We start out exuberant, full of excitement and energy.  We hurry here and there because the world is so big and there is so much to see and do and we don’t want to miss a moment of it.  But then, as with Christmas, the holiday is over before you are even fully aware that it has begun.  Old friends and family are no longer around.  We find ourselves more fearful of running around too far from home, and we also whimper and whine as we rise or recline on our bed.  Not to mention the eyesight. 

This is the way of all flesh.  This is what makes our God and His promises so precious – He does not grow old, tired, and weary.  He doesn’t get cataracts.  His bones don’t ache and generate the whimpers that accompany old age.  And He promises us that the day will come when we will be like Him in that regard.  We try to imagine a life without any sort of pains or sadness and we cannot grasp even the tiniest crumb of that reality.  But we do long for it.  The life we so longed to live when we were younger has been spent somehow, somewhere – like a shadow passing in the night, soundlessly and quickly, not even leaving footprints behind.  Hold on to the fact that the shadow is passing, but it isn’t passing from daylight to darkness, but instead the shadow is passing to daylight, from earth to heaven, from mortality to immortality, from death to life.  And there shall be no more weeping.

PRAYER:  Lord, life often feels like both a blessing and a burden.  Thank you for the promise that you will make our joys even greater than anything we have experienced in this lifetime, and that you will remove our sorrows eternally.  Thank you, that Jesus “is the life!”  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

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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 11/03/16 – Many Ways to Lose Your Life

DayBreaks for 11/03/16 – Many Ways to Lose Your Life

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2006:

I try to get into the gym 5 times a week to exercise.  I must confess that many days I really don’t want to go in there and exercise.  But I do – primarily because if I don’t, my cardiologist will read me the riot act.  And it helps create the illusion, too, that by exercising, I will live healthy and well forever.  I know that’s an illusion, but it’s one that I like to hold close to my heart!

Part of my routine is riding the exercise bike.  B-O-R-I-N-G.  Sure, there are TV’s to watch if you’re so inclined, but I find my time is much better spent if I read something.  Sometimes, it’s a sports or outdoors magazine, sometimes it’s a book that I’m interested in.  Just recently, I was reading Outdoor magazine and they had an article about world-class mountain climbers.  They were recalling some of their harrowing moments on the side of mountains like McKinley, Everest, K2, etc.  One comment that was made by the wife of a climber who had died on Everest really struck me.  She said, “There are many ways to lose your life besides dying.”  In her case, she meant that her husband would have “died” if he’d not been able to climb mountains – to do the thing he so loved.

We live in fear of dying.  We decorate caskets with favorite sports team logos, line them with satin as if they were a jewelry box for holding diamonds.  Our fears can cause us to never take any more risk than is absolutely necessary: we can stay inside, never drive, never ride in a vehicle, never fly, never eat any food that we’d not grown organically ourselves, etc.  But that wouldn’t be much of a life, would it? 

Jesus said that he’d come to give us “life – an abundant life” – one that overflows.  We often think that Jesus came to bring us salvation – and that is true.  He did come for that.  But he also came so we could have abundant life.  He doesn’t just save us from eternal torment in hell, but he also saves us from living wasted lives.  What if you worked hard your entire life and when you get to the end you discover, as you lay in your room gazing at the things that surround you, that you’re not very happy with what you have and did with your life?  Jesus doesn’t want that to happen to us.  When we get to the end of this life, he wants us to be of the mindset that we’re grateful for the life we’ve had to live, a life we can look back on and see was well-lived, but mostly to have the attitude of: “It’s been a great ride so far, Jesus.  Now, let the REAL adventure begin!”

If you feel that you’re living a wasted life – one devoid of meaning – I don’t think you’re living the Jesus-life.  All you have to do is read the New Testament and you’ll see that his life and the lives of his disciples were anything but wasted, dull, boring and meaningless.  It was in serving God, and people, that they found joy, and that’s where we’ll find it, too.  There are many ways to lose your life, but only one way to find it!

PRAYER:  God, we long for the fully abundant life you have offered to us.  Help us put everything else aside that slows us down or distracts us from running full-speed into the adventure of eternity with You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/25/15 – Living the Cross LIfe

DayBreaks for 11/25/15: Living the Cross Life

Mark 8:34 – If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.   

What picture comes to you mind when you think of carrying your cross and following Jesus?  I usually think of the pathway up the hill to Calvary.  My mind goes immediately to the concept of carrying my cross to a martyrdom.  It’s probably only natural that it should seem that way, since the cross was a sign of death – much like a gallows or a guillotine would be in our age. 

But we should also contemplate that Christ not only died a cross-death, but he lived a cross-life.  If the cross is considered as a symbol of sacrifice, Christ most surely lived a cross-life, a life of sacrifice from before He came to earth until He returned to heaven.  He came not to be served to but serve all humanity.  Perhaps never did he demonstrate the cross-life more than when he took the towel and basin to the feet of his disciples.  Do you think for a single moment that Jesus couldn’t have called down ten million angels to free him from the grips of the guards who arrested him and led him to trial?  But he didn’t.  Why?  Because he was as committed to living the cross-life as well as enduring the cross-death.

When you look at the passage in Mark closely, it’s clear that Jesus isn’t really talking about denying ourselves in martyrdom.  That could be part of it, of course, but the invitation is to “follow him.”  Dead people can’t follow – only living people can follow him.  What he calls us to is to live the cross-life as he did. 

How are you going to emulate the cross-life of Christ today?

Copyright 2005 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

TODAY’S PRAYER: Father, today many things are going to seek our attention.  Most of those things, Lord, will not help us focus on you.  Lord, while we pray for the faith to die for the testimony of Christ, give us the courage this day and every day to live for Him!   In Jesus’ name, Amen.

DayBreaks for 3/09/15 – Living in the Resurrection

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DayBreaks for 3/09/15: Living in the Resurrection    

 

NOTE: Galen will be returning home from overseas today.  Prayers for safe journey are appreciated!  New DayBreaks will most likely resume tomorrow.  Today’s DayBreaks is from March, 2005.

John 11:17-25 – When Jesus arrived at Bethany, he was told that Lazarus had already been in his grave for four days. Bethany was only a few miles down the road from Jerusalem, and many of the people had come to pay their respects and console Martha and Mary on their loss. When Martha got word that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him. But Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.”  Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise again.”  “Yes,” Martha said, “when everyone else rises, on resurrection day.”  Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die like everyone else, will live again.”

This past week was not a really good one for several members of our church.  Two families lost loved ones from their extended family.  The cold, bony fingers of death were a little too close to home this past week.  I pray that they’ll be gone for some period of time.  Both deaths were rather sudden, and relatively unexpected.  But, when the Lord decides that our time is up, we must answer and we must go – no matter whether we are male or female, young or old, rich or poor, happy or sad – believer or unbeliever alike. 

I think that John 11 is my favorite chapter in the Bible.  The theological truths are profound, the human drama unrivaled, the full gamut of human experience, from life, to death, to resurrection and the surprise of new life are on display.  Jesus’ compassion and his fury at death are equally visceral.  Jesus had already raised other people from the dead by the time the story of Lazarus takes place.  But Martha, bless her heart, still somewhat rebukes the Lord for dilly-dallying around instead of coming at first word of Lazarus’ illness, and then she confesses, when asked, that she believes he will rise again in the resurrection.  Was she being coy – perhaps hoping that Jesus would raise him?  I don’t think so.  I think she had no such expectation.  When confronted with death we are forced to become realists.  Death is as real as real as it gets.  That is, unless Jesus is there.

Jesus tells her an amazing truth: I AM the resurrection and the life….  He doesn’t say, “I will be responsible for bringing the resurrection someday.”  No, He’s far more than the power behind the resurrection.  He IS the resurrection.  The Resurrection was standing in their midst, eating with them, laughing with them, weeping with them, teaching them, living for them, dying for them, and then living again.

B. Maurice said that this story made him very sad. How sad it is, he observed, that after 2000 years, the church has gotten most Christians only to the point to which the Pharisees got Martha: resurrection in the future, resurrection a week from some Tuesday. Only a handful have ever gotten past that point and made the leap of faith that Jesus got Martha to make: the leap to resurrection now – to resurrection as the fundamental mystery of creation finally manifest in his own flesh.

Will we live in the resurrected body in the future?  Yes.  All, Jesus says, who believe in him, will live again.  But will we live in the power of the resurrection NOW?  Will we continue to be afraid, fearful and timid creatures with no power, or will we live in Jesus now?  (It’s the same as living in the Resurrection, since He is the resurrection!)  Jesus had no fear – he feared nothing and no one because He knew what it meant to be the Resurrection.  Nothing could hold him, nothing could stop him, nothing can ever diminish him.  May we learn the secret of living in the resurrection each day for the rest of our lives!

Copyright by 2005 Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

PRAYER: Fill us, Lord, with Your glorious resurrection power today and every day throughout eternity!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 03/01/13 – Unless I Believed

DayBreaks for 03/01/13 – Unless I Believed                      

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Ps.27:13-14 – I would have despaired unless I believed I would see the goodness of The Lord in the land of the living. Wait for The Lord, Be strong and let your heart take courage Yes, wait for The Lord.

It has been a very hectic week…and it’s not over yet.  Maybe your week has been that way, too.  I’ve had two appointments with doctors this week, but that’s not what’s made it so hectic. 

My 85-year old mother has had dementia for some time.  About 10 days ago, she went into the hospital for relatively routine surgery to repair a hernia.  The surgery went fine – but something seems to have snapped in her mind.  She’s been incredibly delusional, paranoid, out of touch with reality – and even combative.  She, of course, doesn’t realize she’s doing those things or being that way.  We are told that with each passing day that the chances of her snapping back to the pre-surgery mental capacity dwindles.  This may be the new normal.  As I carry my mother’s power of attorney for medical care, my last few days have been swamped with phone calls from the hospital (that wants desperately and urgently to discharge her) and trying to arrange a suitable discharge plan in a place that can meet her physical and mental needs.  It’s become something akin to a marathon…but we’re being pushed at a sprinter’s pace by the hospital.  Just moments ago the latest plan fell apart.

Someone asked me today if I thought we’d ever get out of having so many crises.  My honest answer: probably, at least I hope so.  I could certainly echo the words of the Psalmist. 

It isn’t just when there are crises, though.  It’s ordinary life.  How many times would I/could I have despaired if I didn’t believe – if I didn’t truly think that before this life is over that we’ll once again see and experience the goodness of the Lord.  I know we’ll see and experience it in the “land of the dead” – that is the great Christian hope!  But it’s harder at times to believe we’ll see and experience it again in the land of the living.  All the travails of the past year, my two surgeries, a new ministry, raising support for that ministry – and now my mother’s failing health situation.  It sometimes just seems to pile up on us, doesn’t it?

And yet…we must confess that we will see His goodness even today – no matter what happens to us, we’ll see it if we slow down enough to think about it and look for it.  We’ll see it in the crispness of a new day He made, of the song of the birds (which I so much enjoyed today!), the sighing of the breeze, the wag of a dog’s tail, the gentle touch of my wife’s hand on mine, the voice of a friend.  Life – and joy – can get away from us unless we take the time to look for “the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living”.  It’s all around us.  Let’s not forget that!

PRAYER: Jesus, I wonder how you made it through your 30+ years here on earth after living all of eternity past in heaven’s delight.  It must have been very trying.  I am comforted by knowing you understand and that even this day we can see your goodness and that we will also see it in the world to come!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2013 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 06/27/11 – Changing Time Zones

DayBreaks for 06/27/11 – Changing Time Zones

NOTE: Galen is on Sabbatical until 7/11.  Until he returns, DayBreaks will be publishing prior devotions (that is, if Galen has access to the Internet!)  Thanks for your understanding!

Chronos and Kairos - Time Defined

Do you remember the old song by Jim Croce titled “Time in a Bottle”?  The lyrics described things he would do if he could control or bottle time.  Ever since Adam walked the earth, I would imagine that humans have been aware of the passing of time.  At some point in our lives, we become keenly aware of it and how it moves inexorably ahead.

Mythologically, Chronos (time) was the name of a short Greek god whose legs were muscular and whose heels were winged.  He moved fast.  He was bald and slick at the back of his head, but had lots of hair in the front.  The implication was that if you could grab him as he came toward you, you could take hold of him and make him respond to your wish.  But if you waited till he was past you, it was too late, for he was smooth-headed in the back and could not be grabbed once he had passed.

As I can testify, time moves rapidly!  I remember when one of my cousins, Denny, was 21 years old.  I thought he was soooo old.  In only a very few more years, my youngest will be 21.  Where has the time gone?  I remember when I was younger.  I had energy, I loved to get out and play sports, I could run forever and not get tired.  It seems like only yesterday.  But something happened between yesterday and today.  Now I’d rather watch sports than play them.  Now I can get a bit winded walking up a really long flight of stairs.  Sure, some exercise would help, but the youthful desire to go out and run and play has gone somewhere and I’ve not been able to find it.

Time is like oil – it is not a renewable resource.  It is finite and inexorable.  It moves at the same rate for everyone.

On my travels, I frequently pass through various time zones.  Depending on how far I travel on a given day, it can be very hard to adjust to different time zones.  God wants us to change time zones.  On the one hand, we sometimes act as if we will have this earthly life forever.  We put off the things that we shouldn’t put off because we think there will always be time for them later.  On the other hand, God wants us to not live with our eyes focused on the clock, but on eternity, where clocks are meaningless.  When we do that, our perspective changes and we aren’t as likely to make short term decisions that mortgage our eternal futures.

We probably tend to be stuck in one time zone or another.  Are you stuck living for today?  Perhaps you need to change your time zone!

Colossians 4:5 – “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.

Copyright 2001 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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