DayBreaks for 11/30/18 – Doubting Worshipers

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DayBreaks for 11/30/18: Doubting Worshipers

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2008:

I look forward to worship every Sunday morning.  I love music and we celebrate communion each Sunday.  I even usually manage to get something out of the message (in spite of the fact that I’m the one doing the preaching!)  I enjoy the fellowship before, during and afterwards, and the entire experience usually will draw me closer to God.

I must always guard and be aware of the fact that not everyone who is present is on the same page.  Goodness knows, there have been days when I’ve been in worship when I would have preferred to be somewhere else.  And I feel certain that the same can be said for people each and every Sunday.  Every Lord’s day when we gather, there are those who have had very trying and difficult experiences during the week.  There have been those who prayed asking for some boon from the Lord, only to get a “No”, or maybe no answer at all.  And that can be hard to take.  Others struggled in their relationships and may have had a fight with their spouse that very morning.  Been there, done that.

There’s an interesting scene in Matthew 28 where Jesus meets with his disciples after his resurrection.  The eleven (remember Judas is dead) show up on the mountain where Jesus will ascend, and as verse 17 says, When they say him, they worshipped him, but some doubted.  What a strange comment!  Have you wondered who it was that doubted?  It was apparently more than just one, for it says, “some doubted.”  Was it the majority or minority?  What was it that they doubted?  Were they still doubting the resurrection, even after several appearances?  Were they doubting His divinity?  Were they doubting that his flesh, as well as his spirit, had been raised?  How long did the doubting continue?  For an entire lifetime?  Did it ever fully end?  If so, when?  We simply do not know.  All we know, is that even though they were worshipping him, they still had doubt in their heart.

There is comfort to be found in that knowledge.  There have been times I’ve sat in worship and had my doubts – times when I’d been wrestling with God and what kind of God He really was.  At other times, I’ve doubted if He was there at all.  Thank goodness, I’ve got company – some of Jesus’ own immediate disciples! 

What does that tell us?  It tells us that Jesus accepts our worship – with our frequent doubts.  Jesus welcomed them, and their worship, even as their hearts and minds were filled with doubts!   When you are struggling with your faith, you might be tempted to think that you should stay away from worship because you’d feel like a hypocrite.  Don’t feel that way.  If Jesus accepted the worship of his followers on the mountaintop (knowing their hearts and minds), he will accept yours that comes from a heart of faith – even if there are doubts living side-by-side with your faith.

PRAYER: Father, I thank you that you understand our weak faith and our doubting hearts and that you still welcome us and our worship.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 11/29/18 – But I am Watching

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DayBreaks for 11/29/18: But I Am Watching

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2008:

I love to preach the good news!  I love to preach about freedom, healing – I love to talk about joy and meaning, purpose and love.  Those are all biblical themes.  But a preacher can’t just talk about the good, fuzzy-feeling things.  It is necessary to also preach about judgment, sin, punishment, righteousness, holiness, perseverance.  It’s easy to get in a rut and only talk about the good stuff.

The Word, however, has a way of pulling us up short and reminding us that there is not only a loving God who is eager and quick to forgive, but that this God is ever vigilant, watching all things.  This past week in my quite time, I ran across a passage that reminded me that God watches, that He sees…that He doesn’t miss a single thing.  Hosea 7:1-2 (NLT) – I wanted to heal Israel, but its sins were far too great. Samaria is filled with liars, thieves, and bandits! Its people don’t realize I am watching them. Their sinful deeds are all around them; I see them all!

I was grateful for this reminder, and you should be, too.  It is a warning, and maybe you don’t need warnings any more, but I still do and I suspect that you do, too.  It is good to be reminded that God wants to heal.  It is also good to remember that He sees us and our sinful deeds – he sees “them all!”   

It is important to remember that God not only watches and sees what we are doing, but what we aren’t doing, too.  We can sin both ways.

Today I will make choices about what I say, what I do, what I don’t say and what I don’t do.  So will you.  Remember this: God is watching.

Prayer: May we live in a constant acknowledgement this day that You are watching, and You see all.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 11/28/18 – God’s Bizarre Carpentry Shop

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DayBreaks for 11/28/18: God’s Bizarre Carpentry Shop

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2008:

Romans 8:28 (NASB) – And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

My daughter can do macramé – you know, that weird bit about cutting and folding a sheet of paper so that it resembles a swan or some other animal.  I have to admit, while she’s in the process of taking the piece of paper and beginning to fold it, I can’t start to imagine what in the world she’s making.  As she folds away in a meticulous fashion, I remain confused.  It isn’t until the end of the process that I can see what she was making, but I couldn’t begin to replicate what she’s done.

In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul had this to say (chapter 4:16-17, NIV): Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

Our first reaction to verse 17 is to think that Paul has totally lost his marbles.  “Light and momentary troubles”?  Are you kidding me?  Try telling that to the mother of a special needs child who requires 24-hour care, day in and day out.  Try telling it to the young man in the wilds of the hills in Afghanistan, or to his wife who struggles to raise 3 kids without his presence.  Try telling it to the person who has once more been diagnosed with cancer – after having beaten it once.  “Light and momentary,” you say?  Harumph. 

But Paul nonetheless claims it is so.  How can he say that?  Well, he says that, in God’s bizarre carpentry shop, that it is those very troubles that are achieving for us an eternal glory that outweighs those very trouble.  The word for achieving in the Greek means, “to make possible”, “to bring to pass.”  Paul says, that somehow (and this is way beyond me!), that our troubles from this earth will make possible our eternal glory.  I think it works like this: what is earthly must be torn down and removed so what is heavenly can start to be built.  It’s like tearing up a bad street to create a new paved one – until the old is torn out and removed, the new can’t be put in place.  And the troubles we have in this world are designed to encourage us to let go of this world and its attractions so that new, eternally glorious things can be put in their place. 

Oh, and one more thing.  Paul says the troubles are “light”, from the Greek, elaphros, which means “easy to bear.”  They are easy to bear only when we keep our perspective.  What is here is light (not of much weight) and temporary (of short duration).  What we await is an eternal glory that “outweighs” them (the glory is HEAVY, but not a burden) – and eternal.  Here’s Paul’s point: not all the troubles of this world are of greater weight nor longer duration than the glory of heaven.  That’s a perspective worth keeping!

Prayer: Lord, we don’t understand how You do it, but we thank you that our earthly troubles make possible our eternal glory.  The next time we are distress and in deep trouble, may we remember Paul’s perspective, and lean hard into eternal things!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 11/27/18 – Frozen Fishermen (and Home)

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DayBreaks for 11/27/18: Frozen Fishermen (and Home)

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2008:

It’s been some number of years now, but I used to take an annual 3-day fishing and camping trip with my friends, Ken, Larry and Tom.  We went different places each year, but it was always a highlight of our fall season.  We worked together at a company called Triad and had grown to be good friends over the years.  Our trips became so famous in the company that at company breakfasts after our get-away, we’d be asked about the trip or invited to show pictures! 

One year, we went to a place called Loon Lake.  We’d been there before and the fishing was usually pretty good, and at the time it was fairly isolated.  It was located at 6500 feet in the Sierra Nevada, about 50 miles off highway 50 that eventually goes into the south end of Lake Tahoe.  Having been there before, we thought we knew what we were getting in to.  We didn’t.

The weather was beautiful the first couple of days we were there and we had ice chests full of fish.  On our last night there, it was a bit cooler, and we crawled into the tent and our sleeping bags looking forward to one more morning of fishing. 

Morning dawned – cold and wet.  It had started raining during the night and we were as wet as we could be.  Temperatures had plummeted to near freezing.  As I recall, there were drips and drabs of ice mixed in with the rain.  As I had noted, we’d been to Loon Lake before and thought we knew what we were up against.  But since the weather had been nice before, none of us had brought rain gear.  But, being the manly men that we thought we were in our younger days, we still wanted to fish.  So, we cut neck and arm-holes in the trash bags we’d taken and put them on over our jackets and headed down to the lake to fish.  The only problem was that it was so cold that our fingers were too numb to bait the hooks.  So, two of the guys who were not as full of their “manliness” as the other two of us were, volunteered to keep their hands in their pockets to warm them up and then to bait the hooks while the other two of us fished.  We did that for a while – and the weather kept getting colder and windier and wetter.  It wasn’t long until we were all thinking the same thing: won’t it be great to get home and get a hot shower and warm up!

Well, we survived – no one lost any fingers or toes, and we left vast numbers of trout uncaught.  We were miserable, no doubt about it.  But how much more miserable would we have been if we didn’t have a clear picture of the homes and warmth to which we would return? 

So it is with this world.  This world is a white-out, a blizzard, trying to freeze the very life out of us.  And, for much of the time, we are to varying degrees and for varying reasons, miserable while here.  It is the heavenly vision, of the warmth of the Presence, of the warm welcome, of the place of comfort – that revitalizes us.  We don’t think of heaven enough, I fear.  Let the thought of heaven warm your heart and soul and give you the focus to keep going until you arrive at His house! 

Prayer: Lord, thank you for the vision that has the power to keep us moving forward, for the promised place of rest and reward that will make this life and it’s struggles seem like nothing.  When we start to lose hope, to freeze over, warm us with the vision of your eternal love, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 11/26/18 – Godtalk

DayBreaks for 11/26/18: God Talk

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From the DayBreaks archive, November 2008:

In his book, Living the Resurrection, the late Eugene Peterson told a story about his friend’s granddaughter, Charity.  It seems that Charity’s mom had gone to Chicago to visit Charity and Charity’s mom the week after Charity’s other grandmother had been there.  Now, Charity’s other grandmother is apparently a very spiritual, Christian woman, who loves to talk about God.  The morning after Charity’s second grandmother arrived, little Charity crawled into her grandma’s bed about 5:00 a.m. and said, “Grandmother, let’s not have any Godtalk, okay?  I believe God is everywhere.  Let’s just get on with life.”

At first blush, it appears that Charity is not (at 5 years of age!) all that interested in God, but I think that she might actually be wiser than it first appears.  Perhaps she is even blessed with an awareness that many older folk seem to lack: God is all over the place, and because of it, we can just get on with life and join Him in it wherever we are!

Besides that, there is the whole issue of “God-talk.”  Here’s some of Peterson’s reflections: ‘“Let’s get on with life,’ can serve as a kind of subtext for our pursuit of spiritual formation and how easily and frequently the spiritual gets disconnected from our actual daily lives, leaving us with empty Godtalk.  It’s not that the Godtalk is untrue, but when it is disconnected from the ordinary behavior and conversation that make up the fabric of our lives, the truth leaks out.”

What’s Peterson saying?  I think it’s just a fancy way of saying that we can talk about God all we want, but if our ordinary lives don’t reflect Him in the way we talk about Him, we won’t have any witness at all – the truth about us will leak out.  We CANNOT disconnect from God in our political, social, work, church, family, neighborhood.  If God is not part and parcel of everything in our lives, He will refuse to be a part of any of it. He wants the entire “us” – He wants to be in all parts of our lives and for us to submit all aspects of life to Him and His kingdom. 

PRAYER: May we invite you into every aspect of our day today, and all parts of our lives – and not just engage in Godtalk when it’s convenient.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 11/22/18 – Habakkuk & Thanksgiving

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DayBreaks for 11/22/18: Habakkuk and Thanksgiving

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2008:

This will be the kind of Thanksgiving this year that perhaps our country hasn’t seen since 9/11/01.  You can probably recall what your state of mind was like then.  If you were like most people, there was fear about the future, uncertainty about life and what could be expected in the coming years.  This year is no different – but for mostly different reasons.  This year, we’re faced with home foreclosures, businesses disappearing and jobs vaporizing, incomes and careers being threatened.  There is a great deal of uncertainty in our communities, our nation and around the world.  It might be wise to remember what Time magazine reported on at Thanksgiving time, 2001. 

In the cover story of Time Magazine’s Thanksgiving edition, Nancy Gibbs said Americans would reflect on what had been taken away and what could be salvaged as we sat down to our Thanksgiving meals. She said, “This is the kind of holiday we need right now, an intrinsically complicated one that comes at the end of a bitter harvest and yet finds something sweet to celebrate.”

That year, a Time/CNN poll suggested 75% of Americans said they would be more appreciative that year (2001) than previous Thanksgivings. Many planned to use the time around the table to rebuild relationships damaged by disagreements and disappointment. Others expected to use the holiday to reflect on the goodness of a God they previously doubted. The context of that Thanksgiving (and this one!) may be sorrow and fear, yet it can be marked by renewed hope and greater resolve.

In many ways, America’s thanksgiving reflects the words of the Old Testament prophet Habakkuk. Though he lived in perilous times, and feared the future, the prophet thanked God. He realized true thanksgiving finds its roots in the God of Heaven rather than His many gifts. Habakkuk wrote: Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. (Hab. 3:17-18, NIV)  — www.time.com/time/covers We Gather Together—Thanksgiving in the Post 9-11 World. November 12, 2001.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you, my friends!

Prayer: This day may we be deeply thankful for Who You Are, Who You Always Will Be, and What You Have Always Been!  May we be thankful for Your good gifts, but mostly may we be thankful because You are our God.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 11/21/18 – An Other-worldly King

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DayBreaks for 11/21/18: An Other-worldly King

Perhaps you have heard this story. It’s a great story: Many years ago, when Hitler’s forces occupied Denmark, the order came that all Jews in Denmark were to identify themselves by wearing armbands with yellow stars of David. The Danes had seen the extermination of Jews in other countries and guessed that this was the first step in that process in their countries. The King did not defy the orders. He had every Jew wear the star and he himself wore the Star of David. He told his people that he expected every loyal Dane to do the same. The King said, “We are all Danes. One Danish person is the same as the next.” He wore his yellow star when going into Copenhagen every day in order to encourage his people. The King of Denmark identified with his people, even to the point of putting his own life on the line.

It’s a wonderful story with a powerful point. The only problem is it isn’t true. It’s an urban legend. It’s been around for a long time and told thousands of times over. And now with the internet we are getting a lot of these legendary stories retold. Too bad! What an image for a king, identifying with his people.

“Are you the king of the Jews?” Pilate asked. “Is that your idea,” Jesus said to him, “or did others talk to you about me?” That’s how these legends get started. Other people talking about what other people have said. Jesus was essentially crucified on gossip and rumor. An urban legend had developed around his ministry that he was going to lead a revolt against Rome.

In his conversation with Pilate, Jesus finally does imply that he is a king. “My kingdom,” he explains, “is not of this world.” Not of this world. That’s what it takes. That’s what it takes to find a King who identifies with his people. A King of heaven, a King of kings from some place other than this world.

Prayer: Thank You, Jesus, for being a King who can identify with the common man and with our common struggles. Let that thought bring us comfort this day!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 11/20/18 – With Natural Affection

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DayBreaks for 11/20/18: With Natural Affection

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2008:

I heard the most disturbing thing on the radio today while I was driving in the car.  I almost stopped to weep when I hear it.  But first, let me give you a little background.

You may recall that in the past few years, several states have passed legislation that allows parents to bring a newborn to a hospital where the unwanted child can be left – no questions asked.  The intent, I’m sure, was good: that if the parent is unable or unwilling to care for the infant, at least it will have proper care, nutrition and a chance to be adopted and raised in a loving home.  I understand that – to some degree.  In some cases, the law was written that the child must be dropped off within 72 hours or so of being born. 

But, apparently, some of those laws were apparently written in such a way that it just says that parents can drop off their child at the hospital.  What I heard today was a report from some Nebraska, which has started having parents drop off children up through their late teens.  In some cases, they reported that the children could be heard saying to their mother, “Please, mom.  I promise to be good.  I won’t be any trouble.”  Can you imagine?  Can you even begin to imagine what it would do to a child to have your mom or dad or both drop you off at a hospital just because they don’t want you any more?  My heart breaks…

So, before our very eyes, we have seen these words come to pass, from 2 Timothy 3:1-4 (KJV): This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God…”

Doesn’t the actions of those who would abandon their children fit the description of “without natural affection”?  Doesn’t it sound like these are “lovers of their own selves” who are “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God”?  (Again, I am not interested here in having a political or cultural discussion about why in some cases it may be better for the baby.)  I can’t help but wonder if some of these parents are abandoning their children just so the parents don’t have the hassle of raising a teen. 

I am so grateful that our Father is not the kind of parent who will abandon us – even in our most rebellious times.  I think that, giving our sinfulness, it may be “unnatural affection” that He loves us – but it is Divine affection, the love of a Creator for His creation.  And God can’t help but love us, in spite of hating what we sometimes do.  He just loves us.  It is His natural affection for us caused him to say, in Hebrews 13:5b (NLT) – …For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never forsake you.

Prayer: Thank You, Father, that You are far better than us.  Give us the kind of love for our children that You have for us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 11/19/18 – Of Flowers and Birds

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DayBreaks for 11/19/18: On Flowers and Birds

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2008:

Perhaps life wasn’t all that different in Jesus’ day.  Of course, I know that then they didn’t have planes, trains and automobiles, nor x-rays or space shuttles or many of the things which are part of the modern world.  But those things aren’t life and they shouldn’t be confused with it.  Life is about getting up and facing each day and doing the best you can – and about all the millions of things that happen each day emotionally, spiritually and physically.  That’s what I mean when I say I don’t think life was that different in Jesus’ day. 

There’s been a world (literally) of worry lately.  Global economic collapse, wars, famines, diseases, natural disasters, fires, people fretting over the future because of the recent election – yep, there’s plenty of worry.  Many of my friends and congregants are retirees who had their retirement funds socked away in stocks and bonds, IRA’s and 401K’s.  Now, the retirement that they’d longed for and hoped for is either gone or mostly gone.  It’s enough to make anyone worry about the future.

It seems that there was plenty of worry to go around in Jesus’ day, too.   And believe it or not, they worried about the same things we do.  Just listen to these words from the sermon on the mount (Mt. 6:25-33, NIV):  Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

You see?  They were worried about life, drink, food, clothing – the stuff of everyday life for all of humanity since the beginning of time.  Jesus’ prescription is simple, but not what you might expect.  He doesn’t say, “You should have put your money in temple bonds and stocks.  Take what you’ve got left and move it into temple securities.”  Instead, he says: “Go spend some time looking at and thinking about birds and flowers.  See what that tells you about God and life.”  He tells us that we don’t need to worry (it’s more like a command, “So do not worry…”) because the pagans run after the “stuff” that daily life demands….and our FATHER knows that we need those things, too.  And being the kind of Father that He is, He won’t fail us.  But there is a requirement: seeking His kingdom and righteousness first – and then all those other things will be given to us.

Are you fearful of a job loss/termination?  Wondering if you’ll ever be able to recover your funds in time to retire as you’d hoped?  Worried if your house will ever be worth more on it again than you currently owe?  Are you worrying about ANYTHING?

If so, stop.  If you can, go outside right now and look at some flowers or birds (if you live in the frozen tundra somewhere, look at the trees instead of flowers!)  Look good, look hard, and look long.  All of those plants and birds are sustained by the Father’s hand.  And you are of much greater worth, and are far more precious to Him, than all the trees of the field.

PRAYER: Teach us how to stop worrying, Lord.  Help us to trust our Father for all things needed for real life and true life, and keep us from confusing “stuff” such as possessions and retirement accounts for life itself.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 11/16/18 – Stay In School

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DayBreaks for 11/16/18: Stay in School

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2008:

In New York’s East Harlem is a dilapidated old school for inner-city kids.  The buildings are in horrible shape – it looks like it could fall down at any time, and for the most part, the morale had fallen to even lower levels of repair than the buildings.  This is one of those schools that statistics paints with a dark and dismal picture for the students who attend there.  Within 3 years, most of the 6th graders there would have dropped out of school and become gang-bangers, or would be actively engaged in selling drugs or selling their bodies as prostitutes.  A great many would wind up in prison.  If history were to hold true to the pattern, most of these kids didn’t stand a chance.

But one day, a millionaire by the name of Eugene Lang was asked to speak at the school.  He accepted the invitation, and as he stood before the audience of 6th graders, he knew the grim tale of the statistics.  He’d begun his talk, but suddenly stopped.  He put down his notes on the podium and looked out at his audience, his heart filled with compassion.

With his voice and heart breaking, he said, “Stay in school.  Stay in school, and I will pay the college tuition for every one of you.”

The result: over 90% of the 6th graders present that day wound up graduating from high school and went on to college.  One young boy who was present that day described that transformational power this way: “I had something to look forward to, something waiting for me.  It was a golden feeling.”

Would it have been easier for the kids to drop out?  Sure.  But would it have been better?  Of course not.  Peter, Paul, Jesus, the Holy Spirit – all encourage us to stay in Christ’s school throughout our life.  There is something waiting for us far better than a college education or a career in law or medicine or business.  There is LIFE that awaits us – a glorious life far beyond anything we can conceive of.  We just need to stay in school.  Jesus has paid our tuition to heaven.  The debt has already been covered.  Will we accept it?

Prayer: Father, for Jesus and His payment on our behalf, we praise You.  For hope that keeps us afloat, we thank You.  For the promise of a better life, we exalt You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>