DayBreaks for 8/31/18 – When Paul Got It Wrong

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DayBreaks for 8/31/18: When Paul Got It Wrong

First, let me say that I have the utmost respect for the apostle Paul. It is quite possible that more people will be in heaven because of his work than any other mere mortal who has ever lived. But that doesn’t mean he was perfect. In fact, I have found one place in Scripture where I’m convinced that Paul got it dead wrong. It’s here in 1 Timothy 1:15 (CSBBible) – This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” — and I am the worst of them.

Paul was right about why Jesus came, but Paul couldn’t possibly have been the worst of sinners because I am. Here I am, 66 years old, still struggling with sin! The things that should have died in my long ago are still struggles and it seems they shouldn’t be alive and kicking, not now, not this far along in the journey. What is wrong with me!?!? Why am I this way???

I am this way, I reckon, because I still carry about with me a fleshly body and a human nature that are by definition corrupt. There is nothing, we are told, that is within us and our earthly composition that is anything other than dead – and the dead smell bad, just like my sin smells bad – even and especially to me. 

My guess is that unless you are a total neophyte to the concept of sin that you either feel like I do or have felt this way when the enormity of your own sin sits on your shoulders like a great, immense anchor. And that, my friends, is depressing, isn’t it?

We would do ourselves a disservice if we stopped reading at verse 15, though, for Paul goes on to say this: But I received mercy for this reason, so that in me, the worst of them, Christ Jesus might demonstrate his extraordinary patience as an example to those who would believe in him for eternal life.

What do I do when my sin and struggles are crushing my spirit with shame, and when our enemy is tormenting me with guilt? I remind myself of verse 16, and of this verse (Rom. 8:1-2) – Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus, because the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death.

God sees my sin. He doesn’t like it but he doesn’t hate me for it – it just breaks his heart. But when I launch out into eternity, having trusted myself and my eternal destiny to the hands of Jesus, I shall not be disappointed, I shall not be put to shame, for I, even now, bear my great guilt no longer. I face no condemnation because Christ faced it for me, and for you. Glory be to God!

PRAYER: Lord, have mercy on me a sinner! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/30/18 – An Excellent Question

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DayBreaks for 8/30/18: An Excellent Question

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

I love a good question!  Good questions (and many DayBreaks readers have posed some really good ones to me in the past 11 years!) make one think!  And thinking is good, methinks!

It turns out that Blaise Pascal, a 17th century mathematician, philosopher and theologian, had a pretty good noggin and thought some pretty deep thoughts.  And, he asked some excellent questions. 

I have noticed in my life that no matter how good things are, or how happy I may be, that there always still seems to be something missing.  Even at my most happiest moments, there is an aching inside my heart that tells me that there is an absence that hasn’t been filled.  Why is that? 

That’s one of the things that Pascal wrestled with, too (hey – I’m in good company!), but he came up with an explanation for it that is worth pondering.  In the manner of great thinkers, he posed his answer in the form of a question so that we could wrestle with it on our own.  He said (paraphrasing): Do you miss something you’ve never had?  Here’s an example: have you ever grieved the loss of being able to fly?  No – while you may wish you could fly, it’s not something you’ve ever been able to do, so you can’t grieve the loss of it.  Have you ever grieved losing your third eye, or a third leg or arm?  No.  Why?  Because you’ve never had them to start with. 

But we do grieve a loss that we feel inside, this nameless and relentless longing for something that we no longer have.  And what is it that we are missing?  I think there are probably several things that we did once have, but which we have lost:

FIRST: innocence.  We were born and formed in the womb as innocent beings, but all too soon we lost our innocence and we grieve that loss.  Shame and guilt took the place of that initial innocence – and they stick with us!

SECOND: the full image of God that we were meant to bear was lost when we sinned.  We were meant to be more like Him than we are – surely Adam and Eve knew what this image was like when they walked and talked in the garden with God – being to being, in sinlessness.  We can’t do that in the same way now that they did – at least, not until we depart this world.

THIRD: the awareness of His Presence, heaven and home.  We came from God.  I don’t know where our souls were before we were conceived, or if they were created at that moment, but this I do know: we have a longing for a better place.  Where could that longing have come from if it were not implanted into our awareness by God?  Why would He do such a thing?  As a beacon, it calls us back to our true home and our true Father. 

Ecclesiastes 3:10-11 (NIV) – I have seen the burden God has laid on men.  He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

PRAYER:  Lord, you have put eternity in our hearts and we don’t comprehend it.  But we have a longing for Home, for our True Father.  May we follow that yearning beacon to Your (and our!) heavenly home!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/29/18 – Not for Two Minutes

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DayBreaks for 8/29/18: Not for Two Minutes

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

I have a lot of questions that I’d like to ask God.  I know that I have no right to ask Him anything – except that He seems to welcome our questions and He seems to even encourage them.  That doesn’t mean He always tells us the answer.

One of the most difficult questions that anyone can ask God is posed when they stand over the casket of a child.  Marshall Shelley, at one time an editor for a Christian magazine (Leadership), had a baby boy named Toby who was born at 8:20 p.m. on 11/22/91.  Toby died two minutes later, at 8:22 p.m..  Here’s what Marshall had to say: “My wife Susan and I never got to see him take his first steps.  We barely got to see him take his first breath.  I don’t know if he would have enjoyed softball or software, dinosaurs or dragonflies.  We never got to wrestle, race, or read…What would have made him laugh?  Made him scared?  Made him angry?”

It turns out that Toby was born with a very rare genetic disorder.  Three months after Toby died, Marshall and Susan’s two-year-old daughter, Mandy, died.  Understandably, in their deep grief, the Shelleys wrestled with their faith and their God.  “Why,” Marshall wrote, “did God create a child to live two minutes?”

I believe that God gave Marshall the answer that he and his wife needed to hear – an answer that I would not have anticipated.  Marshall shared that answer: “He didn’t.  [And] He didn’t create Mandy to live two years.  He did not create me to live 40 years (or whatever number he may choose to extend my days in this world).  God created Toby for eternity.  He created each of us for eternity…”

It seems that whenever we lose someone we love, or even a pet, we ask “Why?  Why is life so short?”  We are so earth-bound that we can’t see (or we fail to remember) that God didn’t create any of us for just a few minutes, years or decades on this earth.  We are all created to live in eternity and that is His desire for us.  It doesn’t take away the pain of loss that we feel in our hearts, but it gives us a different perspective with which to see the things that happen to us.  And perspective is something we so often lack in this world.

God made you for eternity.  For now, you are here.  Let’s make the most of the present while preparing for forever.

 PRAYER:  We are thankful, Father, that You didn’t just create us to live and few years and then be gone like the morning mist, but that You formed each of us for eternity.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/28/18 – The Old Man and the Gulls

 

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DayBreaks for 8/28/18: The Old Man and the Gulls

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

From Paul Harvey’s The Rest of the Story – The Old Man and the Gulls: “It is gratitude that prompted an old man to visit an old broken pier on the eastern seacoast of Florida. Every Friday night, until his death in 1973, he would return, walking slowly and slightly stooped with a large bucket of shrimp. The sea gulls would flock to this old man, and he would feed them from his bucket. Many years before, in October, 1942, Captain Eddie Rickenbacker was on a mission in a B-17 to deliver an important message to General Douglas MacArthur in New Guinea. But there was an unexpected detour which would hurl Captain Eddie into the most harrowing adventure of his life.

“Somewhere over the South Pacific the Flying Fortress became lost beyond the reach of radio. Fuel ran dangerously low, so the men ditched their plane in the ocean. For nearly a month Captain Eddie and his companions would fight the water, the weather and the scorching sun. They spent many sleepless nights recoiling as giant sharks rammed their rafts. The largest raft was 9 X 5. The biggest shark…10 feet long. But of all their enemies at sea, one proved most formidable: starvation. Eight days out, their rations were long gone or destroyed by the salt water. It would take a miracle to sustain them. And a miracle occurred.

“In Captain Eddie’s own words: ‘Cherry,’ that was the B-17 pilot, Captain William Cherry, ‘read the service that afternoon, and we finished with a prayer for deliverance and a hymn of praise. There was some talk, but it tapered off in the oppressive heat. With my hat pulled down over my eyes to keep out some of the glare, I dozed off. Something landed on my head. I knew that it was a sea gull. I don’t know how I knew, I just knew. Everyone else knew, too. No one said a word, but peering out from under my hat brim without moving my head, I could see the expression on their faces. They were staring at that gull. The gull meant food…if I could catch it.’

“And the rest, as they say, is history. Captain Eddie caught the gull. Its flesh was eaten. Its intestines were used for bait to catch fish. The survivors were sustained and their hopes renewed because a lone sea gull, uncharacteristically hundreds of miles from land, offered itself as a sacrifice. You know that Captain Eddie made it. And now you also know…that he never forgot. Because every Friday evening, about sunset…on a lonely stretchy along the eastern Florida seacoast…you could see an old man walking…white-haired, bushy-eyebrowed, slightly bent. His bucket filled with shrimp was to feed the gulls…to remember that one which, on a day long past, gave itself without a struggle…like manna in the wilderness.”

Galen’s Thoughts: Today, let’s remember that One who poured Himself…without a struggle…so that we might have the Bread of Life and the Living Water. And let our thankfulness cause us to never forget to do the same for others that need that Bread of heaven!

 PRAYER: Thank You, Lord, for how you provide for us all in miraculous ways each and every day. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/27/18 – I’ll be a Horse!

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DayBreaks for 8/27/18: I’ll be a Horse!

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

Meg F. Quijano related the following incident relating to her 5-year-old daughter, Lisa. When Lisa greeted her mom with the news that when she grew up she wanted to be a nurse, Meg was a bit taken aback. There was a time when nursing was thought by many to be a “woman’s job”. Quijano told Lisa she could be anything she wanted to be. “You can be a lawyer, a surgeon, a banker, President of the United States – you can be anything.” Lisa looked a little dubious. “Anything? Anything at all?” She thought about it, and then her face lit up with ambition. “All right!” she said, “I’ll be a horse!”

I ask a lot of kids what they want to be when they grow up, and I’ve never had one tell me that they wanted to be a horse. But I think there is something beautiful in that 5-year-old’s faith in what her mom told her. Her mom did say “anything”, didn’t she? And if mom said it, that was good enough for Lisa.

Jesus taught about the world of little children and their pure faith and trust – how they receive things on faith because someone they believed in said it was true (Mark 10:14-15). As we grow older we become less believing. Why? Because people and things we trusted let us down. We find out that mom and dad, big brother or big sister, grandma or grandpa didn’t keep their word about something. And that begins our journey into distrust. We no longer trust others – so we turn to the only one we believe we can trust – ourselves. And then things happen that we can’t handle. And again our faith is broken. We can no longer even trust ourselves. We get cynical and skeptical. Then along comes Jesus.

What is it that he wants from us? Simply to believe anything he tells us – like we once did with our parents. Does it seem foolish? Well, after you’ve been let down by humans many times, it probably does. Is it crazy? Maybe so. But let me ask you one question – and don’t answer it right away. Spend some time to REALLY THINK about this one, OK? Here it is: can you point to a single event or moment in your life where God failed to keep His promise to you? I can’t. There are times where I wondered if He was there, there were times where I wondered why He let things happen the way He did, but I can’t identify a single time He ever failed to keep a promise. And you know what? He never will.

Do you remember that old saying, “God said it, I believe it, that settles it”? Well, I guess that just about says it. That doesn’t mean our faith needs to be a totally blind faith at all. It just speaks to the reality and solidity of God’s pronouncements. If God said He would set you free from sin’s power – believe it! When He says He has forgiven your sin – believe it! With God’s help you can become anything – anything at all!

PRAYER:  How desperately we need to have faith like that of little children, Lord!  Give us eyes to see and hearts to believe that with you, all things are possible!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/24/18 – Soaring with the Turkeys

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(Yours truly in the blue suit)

DayBreaks for 8/24/18: Soaring with the Turkeys

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

On Tuesday night this week, I went to an indoor skydiving company (iflyworld.com – they have locations in lots of places!) and experienced what it would be like to skydive (without the risk of falling thousands of feet and smashing into the ground). They have a vertical cylinder that is maybe 40 feet tall and it has a net for the floor. There must be some very powerful fans below the netting that force air up at tremendous speed (the speed varies depending on your weight and how high you will be flying – the top speed I saw for some experienced flyers was 120mph!) so that you can “float” inside the cylinder. It was a great experience and a lot of fun! How did I do? OK, I guess. But I don’t think that any Navy SEAL’s are fearing that I’ll take their job away (though this place does help train the military).

While there was a “flight instructor” in the cylinder with those of us novices, I made a major discovery. It was harder to stay in the proper position than I would have ever imagined. When the wind is whistling past you at 90 miles per hour, it doesn’t take much to make you veer to one side or another. Something as easy as a bent leg, even just tipping your head downward or raising/tipping a hand slightly in one direction or another could send you spinning out of control. Fascinating…and you also had to think in reverse: instead of trying to make yourself as flat as you could to maximize the air pressure against your body, you really tried to make yourself smaller by arching your back.

What’s the point? Scripture talks about the wide path and the narrow path. It’s harder to stay on a narrow path than a wide one. And remember how James says that the tongue is an unruly evil – that like a small rudder it can turn an entire ship so it could even crash on the rocks? I found the same true with my “sky diving” adventure. And I was struck by James’ words.
It’s really easy to get our lives out of balance. It’s even easier to drift off the narrow path into sin. All it takes is a brief moment of mis-directed movement and you’re going to start to crash.

The warnings of Scripture are good warnings. Let’s pay attention, straighten up and fly right!

PRAYER: Father, it is easy for us to let our lives take us in directions we shouldn’t go. Keep up on the straight and narrow for your name’s sake! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/23/18 – The Cost of Unforgiveness

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DayBreaks for 8/23/18: The Cost of Unforgiveness

(Sorry for the missing DayBreaks yesterday. I got caught at night in a major traffic jam and didn’t get home until about midnight!)

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

When you think of forgiveness, what do you think of?  Do you think of your forgiveness by God?  If so, you probably think about the cost of your forgiveness, about how many times He has, because of Jesus, forgiven you.  Or perhaps, instead of God’s forgiveness towards you, you think about forgiveness from other people, or how you have had to forgive someone else. 

Maybe right now you are struggling with being able to forgive someone for something they have done for you.  In his commentary on the Letter to Hebrews, William Barclay made these observations about forgiveness: “There is one eternal principle which will be valid as long as the world lasts.  The principle is: forgiveness is a costly thing.  Human forgiveness is costly.  A son or a daughter may go wrong – a father or mother may forgive – but that forgiveness has brought tears.  There was a price of a broken heart to pay.  Divine forgiveness is costly.  God is love, but God is holiness.  God, least of all, can break the great moral laws on which the universe is built.  Sin must have its punishment or the very structure of life disintegrates.  And God alone can pay the terrible price that is necessary before men can be forgiven.  Forgiveness is never a case of saying: ‘It’s all right; it doesn’t matter.’  Forgiveness is the most costly thing in the world.”

It is costly to forgive someone else.  You have to give up your “right” to be angry.  You have to give up your “right” to get even – for revenge and to hurt them in return.  You may even have to give up your attitude of being superior because you were the injured party and you know that you would never have done something so terrible to anyone – ever. 

But think about the cost of not forgiving.  You get eaten alive by your anger, hatred and bitterness.  You can’t sleep because your mind is running at full speed about how wronged you were.  Your waking moments are consumed with thoughts of how to get even – how to hurt them like they’ve hurt you.  But worst of all, if we don’t forgive, we are in danger of being unforgiven ourselves: For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.  (Matt. 6:14-15)

Come to think of it, I don’t know if I agree with William Barclay.  After you weigh the evidence, it seems to me that forgiveness may be the second most costly thing in the world.  Failure to forgive may be even costlier!

PRAYER:  Father, give us hearts that are quick to forgive, not only for those things we’ve done which are wrong, but for those who have wronged us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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 8/21/18 – Against All the World

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DayBreaks for 8/21/18: Against All the World

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

A man by the name of Athanasius, an early bishop of Alexandria, strongly opposed the heretical teachings of Arius, who had declared that Christ was not the eternal Son of God, but a subordinate being. After suffering 5 exiles, Athanasius was finally brought before the Roman emperor Theodosius, who demanded that Athanasius stop his outspoken opposition to Arius’ teachings. The emperor reproved him and asked, “Do you not realize that all the world is against you?” Athanasius is said to have quickly responded, “Then I am against all the world.”

Most of you who read DayBreaks work in the secular world (or are students or home-makers). It’s difficult working in the world and trying to be a Christian. I know what it’s like – I worked in the secular workplace for years. I’ve seen how companies frown on employees exercising their right to express their faith. I’ve seen how something as innocent as a group of employees gathering together for breakfast before Christmas to sing Christmas carols can lead to protests from employees who are of other faiths. Those kind of things make it hard to express your faith in ways that are noticeable. So, we feel all alone – surrounded by disinterested (at best) co-workers or overtly hostile ones.

I imagine Peter felt that way when he denied the Lord. Where were the remainder of the apostles? Nowhere to be seen – but that didn’t mean they didn’t exist. They just didn’t “stick” together – they scattered and their faith was individually tested. I’d be willing to bet that you probably aren’t all alone – there are probably other believers who may be feeling just as isolated as you. (Remember how Elijah thought he was all alone, too, after fighting with the prophets of Baal? God reassured him that there were others who hadn’t bowed down to Baal.) More often than not, it is our fear of letting our light shine that keeps us feeling alone. And it is much easier to stand strong if we stand together instead of scattering like the apostles did at the crucifixion.

The need to take a stand is crucial. If we can’t do it now, what will happen when the day comes that you are truly alone? How will you fare then? Would you have the courage of Athanasius? Would I? Until then, find a brother or sister and start a workplace bible study at your lunch break once a week. You might find other brothers and sisters you didn’t know you had, and who knows, you might even have the privilege of leading a few others to Christ!

PRAYER: Father, give us the courage that makes us able to stand against “all the world”, whether it is before Presidents, kings or emperors.  As Your body in this world, may we draw strength from one another and stand strong for You and truth!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/20/18 – From the Perspective of Years

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DayBreaks for 8/20/18: From the Perspective of Years

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

At the risk of being premature and appearing to be wise and all-knowing, I’d like to share something with you that I think I have finally managed to learn in my 56 years of treading this earth.  Are you ready?  Here it is: life is not about now.  Oh, I know that there are bills that must be paid NOW, there are decisions that must be made NOW, there are chores and responsibilities that have to be met NOW.  Oh, yes…don’t forget taxes that must be paid!

But that’s not the stuff I’m talking about.  I’m talking about important things, things that I just wasn’t emotionally, mentally or spiritually equipped to even begin to grasp until now.  Perhaps it’s because I’m starting a new sermon series about all the things that Scripture talks about as being unseen that it’s just now coming clearer to me.  Still, I’ve struggled to find a way to express it myself, and then I finally ran across something that Elie Wiesel wrote in From the Kingdom of Memory that seems to me to say it perfectly.  (Wiesel, of course, is a holocaust survivor who has written and spoken eloquently about that horrific time in history, and about life in the aftermath.)

Here’s what Wiesel had to say that seemed to put this all into perspective for me: “Well, yes, at the time I was too young to understand that eternity does not exist except in relation to the present.  I was not mature enough to understand that it is eternity which lends this moment its mystery and its distinction.”

We are so preoccupied with living life to the full in the here and now, thinking that it is what is happening to us that gives life meaning and direction.  It is not so.  Surely, it must not be so!  It is what lies ahead that gives our lives now meaning and purpose, for we were not meant to live this life forever.  If the amount of time we spend here on earth versus in eternity is any indication of the relative importance, it is eternity that must dominate our consciousness and our thinking.  We must find the way to do this without abandoning the present, but also without ever making the fatal mistake of thinking that this life is what it is all about.

Have you noticed the context for this passage from 1 Corinthians 13:9-12? – For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

In the context, Paul seems to be speaking, at least partly, of eternity – it is then that we shall see face to face, we won’t be trying to hold on to foolish things of this world any longer.  All that occupies us here, tends to be childish compared to ultimate realities.

PRAYER: God, give us eyes to see this life through the clearer glass of eternity that our priorities and attention is focused on things above and not things below!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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 8/17/18 – 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.