DayBreaks for 10/22/20 – Standing Within Inches of God

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It really happened, you know. The ten apostles (Judas was dead and Thomas was MIA) were huddled in a locked room, fearful for their lives. After all, if the one they’d hoped was the Messiah was killed, what was to stop them – mere followers – from being killed themselves? I can identify with fear – can’t you?

Then, incredulously, in the middle of the room Jesus appeared. Some might take it that he was a hallucination of fevered, grieving minds. That’s why his next appearance with Thomas added to the ten is so important – they touched him and you can’t do that with hallucinations.

What is so fascinating is how this “simple” appearance changed history. A rag-tag uneducated group of nobodies from backwater villages throughout Israel received a commission to tell the world what they’d witnessed. And you know what? They did exactly that! Not only did they tell the world, they died for the privilege of carrying that message.

What changed? Had they simple re-read the prophets and gained insight? No. They stood within inches of God. Sure, they’d stood next to Jesus, talked to him, walked with him, watched him before. But he hadn’t been dead during those encounters. And when he appears this time, he had been dead, really truly dead. But there he was! That’s something only God can do. It changed them and the world forever.

Imagine how you would feel and how you might be changed if your dead mother or father, brother or sister, friend or enemy who had died was to suddenly appear next to you!

Those eleven, plus others, went throughout the world because they could all say, “All I know is he was dead and now he is alive!”

They changed the world. Some say it would be impossible to replicate what they accomplished – that the world is just too big, complicated and evil for it to happen again.

But is it? After all, if God can die and then miraculously appear alive in the middle of a room once, couldn’t he move us all to change the world yet again?

After all, if one has stood within inches of God nothing can ever be the same again.

PRAYER: Lord, give us the faith to see you standing in our midst, sending us out to tell the world that though you were dead, yet you are alive forevermore! In Jesus’ name, Amen. Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 6/11/20 – The God Who Never Answers Prayers

DayBreaks for 6/11/20: The God who Never Answers Prayers

From the DayBreaks archive, June 2010:

This past Saturday, we had a Celebration of Life service for one of the godliest and most grace-filled women I’ve ever had the chance to meet.  She’d been a faithful member of our congregation for a number of years before she finally lost her struggle to cancer.  It wasn’t her first bout with that enemy – I know she’d fought and defeated it at least twice before it rose up too strong to be overcome.  It was a wonderful celebration we had – this woman was truly a saint and it showed through those her life had touched.  It was a celebration – but also a reminder that there is an enemy named death.

In Greek mythology, Hades, the god of the Underworld, the god of the Dead, was the most hated of all the immortal beings because he was held to be the only god who never answered prayer.  Never. 

The exception that proves the rule is the story of Orpheus and Eurydice.  Orpheus was the greatest of mortal musicians.  When his beloved wife, Eurydice, died, he simply could not accept the finality of that loss.  So he took his harp and journeyed to the Underworld where he played so beautifully, sang so poignantly of grief and sorrow, that tears of molten iron ran down the normally immovable face of Hades, and for the only time ever recorded, he relented. Eurydice would be permitted to follow Orpheus back into the world of the living, the world of the sun. But he must not look behind him until they had both safely emerged from the darkness of Hades’ realm back into the sunlight.

So imagine Orpheus’ feelings as he begins the long walk by himself through the dark tunnel.  He sees the small point of light at the end, and he begins to hear faint footsteps, growing ever louder and more solid, as Eurydice begins to resume physical form and follow behind him.  He desperately wants to look backwards and see her again, to confirm that it is her footsteps that he hears approaching behind him!  But he dare not. 

At the point where they only had one more step to go before Orpheus’ quest to regain Eurydice would be completed, at that instant when one more step would mean his goal would have been achieved and her life would have been snatched back from stone-faced Hades, at that moment she stumbles against a stone and cries out in pain, and by instinct, without thinking, he turns to catch her and keep her from falling.  But he has broken the ban, he has violated the requirement, he has transgressed the taboo.  And so he turns only to see her for one intolerably heartbreaking moment reaching for him as she evaporates and fades back into the mist, forever lost in the darkness.

Perhaps the hardest thing about Death to accept is that impenetrable wall brutishly erected across your path, that steel door slammed in your face.  It simply doesn’t matter how important and essential the departed loved one has been to your life, you aren’t getting him back.  That is what makes it the great and final Enemy: “The last enemy to be defeated is death” (1 Cor. 15:26).

And that is what Jesus overcame not just by his own resurrection, but by raising Lazarus and the son of the widow from Nain!  Should it be any wonder to us that the people were filled with terror and awe when the dead man sat up and began to speak?!  

Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out–those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. – John 5:28-29  This is the last, great and final hope of Christianity – that the stone wall will be shattered, that the steel door will be destroyed…and so we shall be forever with the Lord!

We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words. – 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18

PRAYER: I thank You that YOU are a God who hears the prayers of those who cry out to You, and that You will one day answer even our prayers to see and be with Your saints of all ages once again!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 5/12/20 – The Compassion of Jesus

Widow of Nain -

DayBreaks for 5/12/20: The Compassion of Jesus

Luke 7:11-15 – Soon afterward Jesus went with his disciples to the village of Nain, and a large crowd followed him. A funeral procession was coming out as he approached the village gate. The young man who had died was a widow’s only son, and a large crowd from the village was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart overflowed with compassion. “Don’t cry!” he said. Then he walked over to the coffin and touched it, and the bearers stopped. “Young man,” he said, “I tell you, get up.” Then the dead boy sat up and began to talk! And Jesus gave him back to his mother.

Like most people, I have always been fascinated by the stories of Jesus raising the dead. I suppose that it’s partly because it shows power beyond anything I can imagine, but maybe even more because it builds confidence that when I will need him to do the same for me some day that he’s up to the task.

The grieving mother was in desperate straits without a husband or a child to care for her. The villagers knew it, but so did Jesus.

There are three things I’d like to focus on here:

FIRST: Jesus’ attention is fixed on the mother, not the dead son. It is her that he approaches, her that he addresses in the depths of her sorrow.

SECOND: it is worth noting that Jesus doesn’t require a confession of faith from the woman before he takes action to ease her anguish. Her bone-shaking sorrow and fear was enough to trigger a miracle from the Lord.

THIRD: immediately after encouraging her to not cry, he walks to the bier and speaks to the dead man. That alone would seem strange enough – for dead people can’t hear, right? Wrong. On multiple occasions the dead hear the voice of Jesus and there is an immediate response.

What should we make of all this? In the midst of our fear, confusion and sorrow, Jesus notices. His compassion doesn’t require earth-shattering faith statements – and in some cases, apparently doesn’t require faith at all. And finally, if you are a Christian, Jesus spoke to you when you were dead in sin and you heard. And the day is coming when you will be dead in body but even that won’t block out his voice. You, too, will hear and rise even as the young man in this passage!

PRAYER: I am so grateful that you have such compassion on us even when we have weak or no faith at all. Help us to hear your voice, not only when we are dead, but while we are alive! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 4/13/20 – Random Thoughts on Easter

resurrection-morning-iis | Walnut Creek Presbyterian Church

DayBreaks for 4/13/20: Random Thoughts on Easter

NOTE: The Hallway Through the Sea will return tomorrow, but for today I want to share some quotes that are timely given the week just past.

We often speak of “God with us” at Christmas. “God with us” as a precious child in a manger is preferable to “God with us” as a despised man hung to die. But the manger is not the central symbol of our faith. The empty tomb isn’t either. Christians decided early on that the sign of their faith would be a cross.” – Daniel Harrell, Christianity Today

Galen’s Thoughts: we sing about Emmanuel at Christmas as we should. We like the thought of Jesus becoming man to show us what God is like, to know he identifies with us. The truth about Emmanuel doesn’t stop with the birth of the Messiah, though. God was with us not only in the manger and in working for a living, but in his death – as he will be with us in ours, too. Even then it isn’t finished – in fact it never will be – for he will be with us in our resurrection and then forever.

To suffer and die—whether at the end of a long life or too terribly soon—is the one way we will all be like Jesus without even trying. Paul goes so far as to say we’ve been crucified already, that as far as God goes we’re as good as dead now (Gal. 2:19–20). Paul goes on to insist we’re raised now too—buried in baptism and raised by faith (Col. 2:12). For Christians, our future is so certain it’s like we’ve died and gone to heaven already.” – Daniel Harrell, Christianity Today

Galen’s Thoughts: there is nothing wrong at all with thinking about our death in the future tense. We all have a sense – perhaps even some sort of hope – that we are immortal and that we may just happen to be the one case of a human who escapes the grasp of the grim reaper. But in our hearts, we know that’s not the case. In a deeper sense, we have died, and we have already been resurrected. Is it just wishful thinking? I don’t believe it is. We will join Jesus in death, but also in life. It is a fait accompli – as good as if it had already happened to us.

The Resurrection is not a timeless truth about the immortality of the human being, or the reassurance that everything works out in the end. The Resurrection takes place in a graveyard, a reminder that, left to ourselves, every one of us will retreat to the dust from which we came.” – Russell Moore, Christianity Today

Galen’s Thoughts: We shall return to the dust. It is only fitting that the resurrection requires graveyards. But after the resurrection happens, there will be no graveyards anymore. The fact that the Resurrection happened there was intentional and a reminder that as surely as Jesus died and rose, we shall follow in his footsteps as surely as the Son rose on Easter morning.

PRAYER: Thank you for holy week and all the reminders and lessons it has to teach us, Lord. We glorify you for your great power that defeated our gravest enemy and that promises and guarantees our greatest joy! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2020, Galen C. Dalrymple.

 

 

 

DayBreaks for 4/09/20: The Hallway Through the Sea #15 – The Resurrection Has Not Been Cancelled

Divine Intention of the Resurrection from Romans 6 - Redeemer ...

DayBreaks for 4/09/20: The Hallway Through the Sea #15 – The Resurrection has Not been Cancelled

From Christianity Today and Tim Dalrymple, 4/08/20:

For today’s musical pairing, listen to Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy,” commonly played on Easter Sunday but here rendered in a distilled, outdoor version.

“I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.” – Philippians 3:10–11

Meditation 15. 1,495,051 confirmed cases, 87,469 deaths globally.

Sister Benedicta Ward produced the most widely used translations of Sayings of the Desert Fathers and Lives of the Desert Fathers. I studied those works with her at her home in Oxford over the course of a beautiful spring. The books recount the practices and teachings of early Christian hermits and monks who made their homes in the most barren parts of Egypt.

I found myself in those discussions frequently referring to “dying to oneself.” Eventually she lifted her head and held up her hand. “We die to ourselves, yes,” she said. “But only so we can come alive to who we were really made to be, Christ within us.”

It was a gentle rebuke and it passed in a blink. But I have never stopped hearing those words.

In this season of affliction and this Holy Week, we approach the day on which we remember the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. With so much suffering around us and within us, it’s natural and right to reflect on the suffering of our Savior. But even in the darkest of times, we should never stay there. Jesus didn’t.

The Cross by itself is an extraordinary act of love and self-sacrifice. But it cannot be separated from the empty tomb. Apart from the empty tomb, Jesus is not a savior at all. Apart from the empty tomb, the story of the cross would be a story of the death of hope and the defeat of God.

This is not unknown to those of us who are followers of Jesus Christ. We have already experienced a foretaste of the resurrection. We have experienced Christ bringing new life—bringing his life—forth within us. We are, each of us, living proof that God brings life into the dead places. We only truly live when we die and Christ lives in us.

Church doors are closed. Schools are no longer meeting. Businesses are shuttered. Restaurants and cafés are empty, cinema screens are dark, and concert halls are silent. Countless meetings and gatherings, weddings and funerals, conferences and events have been canceled.

The resurrection is not canceled…(Click this link to read the rest of the meditation.)

PRAYER: We implore you, O Lord, bring life out of death again today. Let it start in us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Link to Christianity Today’s Facebook page

The Hallway Through the Sea is a series of daily meditations from the president and CEO of Christianity Today, written specifically for those struggling through the coronavirus pandemic. It will address our sense of fear and isolation and also the ways we find beauty and truth and hope—and Christ himself—in the midst of suffering. The title of the column alludes to the passage of the Israelites through the Red Sea. We are a people redeemed from our enslavement to sin, yet we find ourselves living between where we were and where we are meant to be. Danger looms on both sides, but our hope and our faith is that God will deliver us through the sea and into the land of promise. If you wish, you can follow Timothy Dalrymple on Twitter @TimDalrymple_

PREVIOUS THE HALLWAY THROUGH THE SEA MEDITATIONS:

Out of the Depths

Chosen in the Furnace

The First Word and the Last

More . . .

 

DayBreaks for 12/26/19 – Twice Wrapped, Twice Freed

Image result for swaddling clothes

DayBreaks for 12/26/19: Twice Wrapped, Twice Freed

It was during the night that the Savior was born. In the darkness. How ironic that the Light chose to be kindled in the dark, but also how meaningful!

There are those today who have set up elaborate and expensive arrays searching for life in the universe. It is a hot topic among astronomers and astrophysicists to name a few. Many movies have been made speculating on whether or not the life that might be out there is friendly or if it will be hostile toward humanity. As a Christian, though, I have to say that we already know there is intelligent life out there in the universe– and we know what that Life is like. It is not filled with hate – but it is filled with love. We know that because of the event we celebrated yesterday – the birth of a baby, wrapped in “swaddling clothes” who came to bring Light and Life, to seek and save the lost. We saw that life, that love, because we have seen Jesus.

Now, however, Christmas is over. The baby in swaddling clothes will be packed up and stowed away for another year. But if Christmas means anything, it is in how it points forward to the next great “holy day” of the Christian calendar, Easter Sunday.

We don’t know when Christ was actually born, but we do know much more certainty about when he died. Again, the irony strikes me: at his birth he was wrapped tightly in strips of linen cloth (that’s what swaddling clothes were in the first century) and when he died, he was once again wrapped tightly in linen strips even as he was at his birth.

As with the birth, so with the death: he quickly left the swaddling clothes behind and he likewise burst forth from the second set of wrappings in great glory.

The end of Christmas starts the great story rumbling forward and points to the coming celebration of his death, burial and the defeat of death for us.

As we leave Christmas behind, let us begin even now to look forward to our next great celebration.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, we have celebrated your birth but we cannot stay at the manger. Even as the swaddling clothes held you only temporarily, we look toward the grave wrappings that could not bind you any more than death could, in total awe and wonder for your finished work on our behalf. Help us start now to prepare for the rest of your story. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 12/13/19 – Two Impossibilities

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DayBreaks for 12/13/19: Two Impossibilities

When we stop to consider the workings of God throughout history, we are challenged over and over to try to grasp the actions of a God who not only isn’t fazed by “impossible” things, but who specializes in making the impossible possible.  How can one simply speak and things come into existence?  It is a mystery to me.  How can One take the dust of the earth and form a being that is as complex as a human – and then give that dust and clay life?  The questions could go on and on: how can barren wombs and the womb of a virgin give birth?  How can a blind man receive sight by just a word?  How can one escape a den full of ravenous lions without a scratch, or the flames of a furnace without even a hint of smoke?  How can a fisherman walk on water?  How can a few fish and loaves feed over 5000 with more left over than when the entire undertaking started?  How?  Because God’s hand was in each and every one of those things.

Some folks work desperately hard to keep God out of their lives and out of their world.  They cry “separation of church and state” in an effort to eliminate any conversation about God.  They must deliberately choose to believe that which is truly unbelievable: that all that exists in its nearly infinite complexity and beauty “just happened.”  (Where’s the logic in that?) 

I liked this when I read it: “Despite our efforts to keep him out, God intrudes. The life of Jesus is bracketed by two impossibilities: a virgin’s womb and an empty tomb. Jesus entered our world through a door marked “No Entrance” and left through a door marked “No Exit.

It was at Christmas that the wooden manger held the baby that came from the virgin’s womb – and there could be “no entrance” that way as we all know.  All of us, that is, except God, Who wasn’t fazed by the complexities of that at all.  And it was a wooden cross that put Him in a tomb in death – a door marked “No Exit”.  Again, to God it was no more than a mere technicality – and the “No Exit” sign over the tombs of all was removed once and for all. 

Don’t ever think that it is impossible for God to enter the hearts of even those who are most closed to Him.  He came into the world in an “impossible” way and He can come into hearts in miraculous ways, too.  And He has certainly shown that the “No Exit” that hangs over the tomb is nothing more than a wet paper tiger that He tore to shreds at his resurrection. 

Pray for Him to make entrance to hearts that are sealed off against Him and draw comfort that He opened the way through his life, death and resurrection, to eternal glory.

PRAYER: We thank You that there is nothing too hard for You – whether it is to come into the world in an impossible way, or to give life to the dead!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/20/19 – Alaska Lessons #4 – Life

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Tree in Denali National Park, September 2019. Photo by Galen Dalrymple. 

DayBreaks for 9/20/19: Alaska Lessons #4 – Life

I sat on the porch of our cabin in Denali National Park one afternoon in silence and listened to the rustling of the leaves. Fall was coming to Denali, or maybe more correctly, winter was just around the corner. In the one week we’d been there, the fall colors had changed dramatically and the trees that surrounded our cabin shed copious amounts of leaves. As I sat there, listening, I watched them fall quietly to the ground. Winter comes quickly to the tundra – and in human life.

The story of life is portrayed in seeds and by deciduous trees that sprout leaves each spring, bearing them gloriously throughout the summer, yet surrender them to the inevitable in the fall. During winter, they appear dead.

I am well into the fall, perhaps early winter, of my life. I can look back across the years and recount memories of faces and places that are incredibly dear to me. I have lived a wonderful life!

But I know that the season of my life is well along. Many of the leaves of my life have spent themselves and fallen due to the inexorable march of time.

That’s not bad. In fact, it’s a good thing. We spend so much time fighting the inevitable but I think we should embrace it. You see, even as the leaves fall from the tree in fall and the tree, though just slumbering, appears dead in winter, the kernel of life is still harbored within, to be awakened by the gentle warmth of the sun when the right time has come.

For me, the time will come when I, too, appear to be dead, lifeless. But just as the tree “comes back to life” with the sun warms the earth, I will also come back to life when the Son shines his brightest.

All seasons of life should be cherished for the wonder that they are, the treasures they hold, and the promise that lies hidden within.

1 Corinthians 15:20-23 (NKJV) – But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.

PRAYER: Jesus, thank you for each season of life, including this season I am presently in. Let me welcome the winter because I know that after the sleep, life will erupt immortal! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/22/19 – When Jesus Crashed the Party

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DayBreaks for 4/22/19: When Jesus Crashed the Party

We sometimes give Satan way too much credit. We need to remember that he is just a created being – an angel, although the leader of the fallen angels – and as such does not know everything. The angels, we are told, didn’t know what God was doing in the greatest story ever told. Let your imagination dive into the day Jesus crashed Satan’s party.

For millennia, Satan had been engaged in a war against God. Many times it appeared he’d gained the upper hand, only to be proven wrong. But when Jesus died, a great party must have started among the fallen angels. Satan, undoubtedly, was leading the revelry that proclaimed Satan’s victory of God. I feel confident he was boasting of how he’d outsmarted God and had gotten Jesus killed, foiling God’s plan. And for a period of something like 36 hours, the party in hell knew no limits as Satan ranted and bragged and proclaimed his great victory and God’s defeat.

But then, early in the Sunday morning quiet of a sealed tomb, Jesus crashed Satan’s party in the quietest possible way when his dead heart beat once. The twice, then building up to a steady rhythm and his first gasping breath as the lungs what had been breathless filled.

We tend to think that no one witnessed the resurrection. That’s not true. The angels saw it…including Satan. Perhaps the first breath almost skipped notice, but as Satan realized what happened, he must have screamed in terror, knowing that his boasting had all be a lie. With that first heartbeat, the first breath, Satan knew he’d been outsmarted – again – by the Almighty God, and that with that first breath, Satan was not only doomed, but eternally, irrevocably and utterly defeated. Hell must have become truly deathly silent  as the reality of their predicament became undeniably clear to all.

I hope you’ll take time to listen to this song, His Heart Beats, by Andrew Freeman. The lyrics are here. Check the lyrics as you listen to the song.

And now, because of Jesus’ heart that started to beat, it is our turn to join the party that will last forever.

Prayer: Thank you, Jesus, for defeating death, the grave and Satan! Let the eternal celebration of your great victory come soon! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for Easter Sunday, 4/21/19 – This Was More than Just a Man

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DayBreaks for 4/21/19: This was More than Just a Man

Today is a glorious day because we focus on the greatest event ever – the resurrection of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Today I want to share a song that has come to bless me in so many ways. I pray it will enrich your appreciation of His being risen as you worship him this day.

Hope is Alive – Kristine DiMarco

Hope is Alive – Kristine DiMarco (concert version)

Matthew 27:54 (NIV) – When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”

Prayer: All glory and praise to the Lord Jesus forever and ever! Thank you that our hope, You, are alive today! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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