DayBreaks for 5/20/22 – Lessons Learned in Crucibles, #1

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DayBreaks for 5/20/20: Lessons Learned in Crucibles #1

Nearly all of us have had unplanned time for reflection during this COVID-19 lockdown. I suppose that like me, you’ve had many thoughts about it and that your thinking and emotions may have changed day by day – maybe hour by hour.

In my quiet time, I’ve been working my way through Ecclesiastes. It’s a strange, interesting and bewildering book. On the one hand, it’s doom and gloom, on the other it encourages us to enjoy our lot in life. In particular, yesterday I was reflecting on this: Ecclesiastes 6:1-7 (CSBBible) – Here is a tragedy I have observed under the sun, and it weighs heavily on humanity: God gives a person riches, wealth, and honor so that he lacks nothing of all he desires for himself, but God does not allow him to enjoy them. Instead, a stranger will enjoy them. This is futile and a sickening tragedy. A man may father a hundred children and live many years. No matter how long he lives, if he is not satisfied by good things and does not even have a proper burial, I say that a stillborn child is better off than he. For he comes in futility and he goes in darkness, and his name is shrouded in darkness. Though a stillborn child does not see the sun and is not conscious, it has more rest than he. And if a person lives a thousand years twice, but does not experience happiness, do not both go to the same place? All of a person’s labor is for his stomach, yet the appetite is never satisfied.

Pretty gloomy, eh? But think about it for a moment. As we sit in this COVID-19 world, we can learn something from this passage. It does seem strange and unfair that all we acquire or accomplish of a worldly nature in this life is stripped from us upon death, or even upon a strange turn of events in this life. A market downturn, a pandemic, a health issue – those things can strip us of our deluded security and even the option of enjoying the things we work for. All this tells me that if we find our purpose, meaning and enjoyment in things that can be so suddenly taken from us, aren’t we a bit on the crazy side?

I hope to spend more time during the lockdown – however long that may be – to readjust what gives me purpose, meaning and enjoyment and to refocus on that which can never be taken from me in this world or the next – Jesus.

PRAYER: Jesus, so much has been taken from so many during this pandemic and we long for a return of normalcy. I pray that we will use this time wisely to refocus on those things which nothing can ever take from us and find our greatest joy – the joy you designed us for – in drawing closer to you! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/03/20 – The Hallway Through the Sea #12 – Joy Comes Morning

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DayBreaks for 4/03/20: The Hallway Through the Sea #12 – Joy Comes in the Morning

From Christianity Today and Tim Dalrymple, 4/03/20:

Today’s musical pairing is Saint-Saëns’ The Swan performed by Yo-Yo Ma and Kathryn Stott. Note that all the songs for this series have been gathered into a Spotify playlist here.

“Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” – James 1:16–17 (ESV)

“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” – John 15:11

Day 12. 1,056,777 confirmed cases, 55,781 deaths globally.

At first it felt like a cramp. Like a long hand had reached into my chest, wrapped its fingers around my heart, and squeezed. I wondered if my body was dehydrated and the muscles in my chest were clamping down. Surely I could not be suffering a heart attack? I was only 38 years old, and I had just finished exercising at the gym. But the pain was not on the left side or the right side. It was in the middle.

I laid down in the hope it would pass. Slowly it became harder to breathe, harder to speak. We called an ambulance. My children were in the childcare room 30 yards away. Should I say goodbye, just in case? By the time my wife arrived, my face was ashen.

At the first hospital, tests showed “irregularities.” I should be moved to a different hospital. On the way, I heard the ambulance driver say the words “heart attack.” I sent text messages to the family of my birth. Apparently I’m having a heart attack, I said. When I arrived at the next hospital and entered the procedure room for a stent, I told the doctor, “I have a wife and young daughters,” in the hope it might inspire a little extra determination to keep me alive.

That’s what it felt like to have a heart attack. Then it felt like flashes of fear in the night as you wonder whether your heartbeat feels normal; a staggered coming-to-grips with the trauma of what occurred; concern your spouse should be provided for; grieving at the thought of your children standing over an early grave; taking more pictures than normal so they will have something to look back on.

Then it felt like—joy. Joy to be alive. Joy at the simple pleasure of drawing breath and feeling the sweet stillness of a moment. Joy at the way the sunlight feels when it lifts the water off your skin. Joy at the warmth of your beloved’s breath upon your cheek. Joy at how the glowing light dances across the embers of a fire, and the sparks tumble skyward.

Sometimes we need to view our lives through a mirror. In our sorrow we learn to appreciate joy. In loss we discover how much we have gained. Death reflects the sacredness and fragility of life.

One thing I have heard amid the pandemic is this: Is it okay to feel joy? Is it acceptable, when so many are suffering, that I am finding joy in additional time for stillness or for family? (Click this link to read the rest of the meditation.)

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 COLUMNS:

Out of the Depths

Chosen in the Furnace

The First Word and the Last

More . . .

Link to video with facts, symptoms and prevention tips about coronavirus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AITtaAAAdYc

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

 

DayBreaks for 3/25/20 – The Hallway Through the Sea, #5: Joy Is Wiser Than Sorrow

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DayBreaks for 3/25/20: The Hallway Through the Sea #5 – Joy is Wiser than Sorrow

From Christianity Today and Tim Dalrymple, 3/24/20:

For today’s musical pairing, listen to this selection from Max Richter’s recomposition of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons , with Mari Samuelsen on violin. You’ll forgive the quality of the recording when you see the quality of the performance. Listen to Richter’s original album here.

“If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”
Romans 8:31–32

“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
Philippians 1:21

Day 5. 398,107 confirmed cases, 17,454 deaths globally.

Is it premature to talk about joy? Countless people are suffering. Fear haunts our houses. Our cities are desolate, our schools shuttered, our hospitals overwhelmed. Fathers and mothers wonder how they will feed their children.

We mourn with those who mourn and weep with those who weep. These are devastating times. It is not wrong to grieve, or lament, or cry out.

And yet joy is like a gem, most valuable when it is most rare. When the world can find no reason for joy, that Christians do find reason is a powerful testimony.

Christian joy is more profound than simple happiness. There is nothing shallow or glib or naive about it. Christian joy, in the face of suffering, is a hard, rugged, and defiant thing.

The apostle Paul was acquainted with suffering. He was persecuted and beaten and shipwrecked. Yet he knew that this life is filled with the opportunity to discover and to follow Jesus Christ and in the next life we will be with him. What greater cause for joy could there be? Paul knows that the same God who gave the greatest gift will not fail to give us lesser gifts. So even when we are embattled, even when we are beset with suffering, we have cause for an undefeated joy. Our sorrow is rooted in our circumstances, but circumstances are fleeting. Our joy is rooted in the love of God, and the love of God lasts forever…

Click this link to read the rest of this meditation. 

Link to Christianity Today’s Facebook page: facebook.com/CTMagazine

PRAYER: Lord, though the night may be dark, let us look to the morning when joy will come in all its fullness! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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.

Timothy Dalrymple is president and CEO of Christianity Today. Follow him on Twitter @TimDalrymple_

PREVIOUS THE HALLWAY THROUGH THE SEA COLUMNS:

Out of the Depths

Chosen in the Furnace

The First Word and the Last

More . . .

 

Link to video with facts, symptoms and prevention tips about coronavirus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AITtaAAAdYc

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

 

DayBreaks for 9/30/19 – Pain and Joy

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DayBreaks for 9/30/19: Pain and Joy

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2009:

How would you feel if someone that you couldn’t see showed up to your door one day and offered you a deal like this one: “Hi!  I’m here to offer you a deal.  I know that you are concerned for your children.  Every loving parent is and you are clearly a loving parent.  Here’s the deal I’ve got for you: I will guarantee you generations of descendants.  I will make sure that they have a place to live.  I will see to it that they are taken care of and loved forever.  But, in order to have me do those things for you, your descendants will have to go through a few minor things, in particular, they’ll have to wait 400 years to get their land and in the meantime, they’ll be slaves to the most powerful nation on earth. How’s that sound? Do we have a deal?”

Chances are, you’d slam the door quickly and tell the visitor to “take a hike.”  And you’d have plenty of company. 

The scenario, of course, is not just a made-up story.  It really happened to a man by the name of Abraham and it is recorded in Genesis 15:13-14.  What is amazing is that Abraham essentially said, “Sure!  Sounds like a deal to me!”

We could always marvel about this grand old man of the faith.  He earned that nickname the hard way – by being tested and purified by the fire many times in his life.  I doubt than many, if any, living today would want to go through the same kind of testing to earn a similar nickname to “father of the faithful.”  But that’s not really the point that I’m after today. 

I’m sure that it was great for Abraham to hear that his children and their descendants would be cared for and loved by God.  But I’m also sure that it was very painful for him to hear about the 400 years of servitude that would precede their taking possession of the land of promise.  And so, at one and the same time, Abraham’s descendants because both his greatest joy…and his greatest pain.

If you look back at your life, isn’t that how it’s worked for you?  That the sources of your greatest joys become the sources also of your greatest pains, and that the things that have caused you the most pain often bring the greatest joys?  As Dr. Gerald Schroeder wrote in The Science of God, “If we mistake pleasure to be the avoidance of pain, we may miss some of the greatest pleasures in life, such as reaching the peak of a mountain or rearing children.  Ask parents the source of their greatest pleasure, and then ask them the source of their greatest pain.  It’s their kids every time.”

For all the complaining and moaning we often do about the pain in our lives, maybe we’re just too short-sighted to reflect back on the pain later and see how God has turned it into joy. 

PRAYER: Thank you for the many ways you teach us and for the fact that even our greatest pain can be turned into life’s greatest joy through your power!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/29/19 – The Deep Secret of Joy

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DayBreaks for 4/29/19: The Deep Secret of Joy

We all long to be joyful. Even those who are the most miserable would prefer joy to the bitterness that consumes them. But what is the secret to joy?

Some think it is in having abundance, or a child, or a great marriage, a career that is fulfilling and the like. I’d argue that those things can be taken away in a heartbeat and if those things, even those people, are the key to your joy, what do  you do then?

I think, upon reflection, that Martin Luther nailed it (no pun intended) when he said: The heart overflows gith gladness, and leaps and dances for the joy it has found in God. In this experience the Holy Spirit is active and has taught us in the flash of a moment the deep secret of joy. You will have as much joy and laughter in life as you have faith in God.

In what way is the amount of joy in our life directly proportional to the amount of faith we have in God?

Let’s try a few:

If we have faith in God, we will believe his words and promises are all true, including but not limited to:

  1. We are not his enemies, we are called beloved children;
  2. Our past is not held against us but is forgotten and all our guilt and shame removed;
  3. Our present is guided by his plan for us that is good and perfect;
  4. Our future is secured by his unshakeable might;
  5. We stand perfect and righteous in his eyes;
  6. We are loved with an unending and unfailing love;
  7. We have a protector who watches over us day and night;
  8. We have a provider who will meet every need;
  9. And the list can go on and on and on.

When we have that kind of faith in God, we must echo the words of great truth and hope: If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)

And that, my friend, knowing that there is no longer any condemnation and all the things above are true, cannot help but produce joy. Therein lies the DEEP secret of joy – a joy the world cannot take away. Let us think on these truths when we begin to lose our joy!

Prayer: Thank you for all these truths that irresistibly produce joy the more we come to trust in you!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 1/16/19 – When the Wine Runs Out

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DayBreaks for 01/16/2019: When the Wine Runs Out

The world famous Nobel Prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway was a person who went for it all. A newspaper reporter, ambulance driver during WWII, involved in the Spanish Civil War, friend to bullfighters as well as authors–he did it all. And, when he did it he did it to the fullest. In a manner of speaking he enjoyed the wine of life. But there came a day when the wine of joy ran out.

Carlos Baker records it in his biography of Hemingway in this way: Sunday morning dawned bright and cloudless. Ernest awoke early as always. He put on the red “Emperor’s robe” and padded softly down the padded stairway. The early sunlight lay in pools on the living room floor. He had noticed that the guns were locked up in the basement, but the keys, as he well knew, were on the window ledge above the kitchen sink. He tiptoed down the basement stairs and unlocked the storage room. It smelled as dank as a grave. He chose a double barreled shotgun with a tight choke. He had used it for years to shoot pigeon’s. He took some shells from one of the boxes in the storage room, closed and locked the door, and climbed the basement stairs. If he saw the bright day outside, it did not deter him. He crossed the living room to the front foyer, a shrine-like entryway five feet by seven feet, with oak-paneled walls and a floor of linoleum tile. He slipped in two shells, lowered the gun butt carefully to the floor, leaned forward, pressed the twin barrels against his forehead just about the eyebrows and tripped both triggers.

What are you going to do when the wine runs out? Hemingway turned to the easy way out, but it was the way out to what? He turned to a gun to deal with his pain. I would rather turn to Jesus and godly friends to help me through the pain. I hope you will, too.

Prayer: Father, in your children’s pain, let us feel your presence and love as never before and give us the wisdom and strength to run to your arms! Help us remember that the pain is only fleeting and that joy comes again in the eternal morning. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/06/18 – A Painful, Unasked Question

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DayBreaks for 8/06/18: A Painful, Unasked Question

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

1 Peter 3:15a (NIV) – But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have…

I must admit that I’m troubled.  I have been forced to look more closely into the mirror lately, and I am distressed by what I see.  I’m not talking about gray hair and wrinkly skin.  I’m talking about myself – the real me that hides somewhere inside this “fleshly tent” as Scripture so aptly put it.

I like to think of myself as a fairly upbeat, hopeful, cheerful and fun-loving person.  Who doesn’t want to think of themselves in those terms?  Have you ever known anyone who had a goal in life to be downcast, hopeless about everything, sad and determined to remain miserable all their life?  I don’t know anyone who set out with those life goals and I doubt that you do either.  I know some people who seem to have many of those negative characteristics much of the time – but it was never their great desire to be that way.  Somehow, life beat the tar out of them (or so is their perception of what life has done to them) and they are just that way now.  It is really sad.

But here’s what’s really bothering me: Peter seems to suggest that people will ask me (and you if you are a believer) about the hope that they see and observe in us, in our lives.  Here’s the painful question-that-never-is-asked: Why has no one asked me about the hope in me?  When is the last time someone actually came up to you and said, “Wow.  I don’t know what it is that makes you so positive, hopeful and upbeat.  What is it?  Can you tell me?”  Have you EVER had anyone ask you that question?  I don’t know that I have – and that really bothers me because it is contrary to the image I want to hold of myself. 

Could it be that we don’t know what it is to have hope?  Have we as believers surrendered our hope to the malaise and discontent and despair that flows through our world like a mighty ocean?  Or, if we do have hope, why is it not visible, why is it not causing people to ask the question that Peter alluded to?  Somehow, I believe Peter WAS asked that question, and I’ll bet he had the answer ready.

Will you join me in a pact to be more hopeful?  To let your hope show like brilliant rays of sunlight through the tall trees of despair?  It’s time that people asked us the question: “Why are you so hopeful?”

PRAYER:  Oh, Lord, I am deeply distressed that no one asks me the question!  Reveal to us, Lord, where our hearts and hope needs to change so that people feel that they can’t NOT ask us about our hope.  Fill us with undying hope for we have an undying future!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/20/18 – Was James Crazy?

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DayBreaks for 6/20/18: Was James Crazy?

In James 1:2-4, James wrote, Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Did you catch what James is suggesting?  “Consider it all joy”?  I mean, how many of us really wake up in the morning and say, “God, please send me trials today that I can be joyful!”  You’re much more likely to think: “James, you’re a nut.  Give me a break.  Every0one knows that trials are things to be avoided, not embraced!” 

Did James mean what he wrote?  Yes, I believe he meant EXACTLY what he said.  Pay close attention to his words or we’ll misunderstand what he’s trying to teach us.  He did not say: “Consider yourself lucky when trials rain down on your life a cloudburst.”  What he did say was this: “Consider it all joy.”  There is a difference between happiness and joy.

Larry Crabb perceptively wrote in his book, Shattered Dreams, “People who insist on happiness never find joy.”  We have a tendency to think that happiness and joy are the same thing.  They are not.  Happiness results when things we like and enjoy come to pass, but it is transient – it comes and goes.  Joy, however, is not something the comes and goes with the changing of circumstances.  Joy is a calmness that runs beneath life’s storms, it is a delight that settles the heart and gives the soul an anchor that holds fast in the midst of the greatest storms of life. 

May you experience both joy and happiness…but don’t confuse the two.  And if you can have only one – choose the joy that can rule in your heart even in the midst of various trials!

PRAYER: We thank You, God, for joy.  We thank you that in the midst of trials, we can have joy even though happiness seems far away.  May we have that joy knowing that in our trials, you are perfecting us and completing us as You please.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 5/14/18 – Robbed of Joy

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DayBreaks for 5/14/18: Robbed of Joy

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2008

There was once a man who had lived a long time.  Someone once asked him what it was that had robbed the most joy from his life.  The old man never hesitated, but answered simply, “Things that never happened!”

How much of my life have I spent worrying about things that might happen but which never did?  I can become frozen with fear and not let my children play in the front yard.  I can refuse to leave my house for fear of being in a traffic accident on my way to work.  I can never shake someone’s hand or hug someone or give anyone a kiss for fear of disease.  I can stop drinking water or eating food because it might be poisoned!  We all would tend to say that doing those things would be silly, yet we worry about many things.  Jesus knew someone like that and her name was Martha: “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Lk. 10:41-42).  What had Mary chosen? Jesus!

Jesus tells us not to worry about tomorrow because tomorrow will take care of itself.  We need to be focused on where we are right now in this day that God has made (Matt. 6:34).   The apostle Paul also counsels us to: Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:6-7).  Paul doesn’t say that we shouldn’t care about things – just that we not be anxious about them.  How do we do that?  We take everything to God as a request – and then we leave it there, with Him.  The result: His peace will guard and protect our hearts and minds.

Here’s three keys to happiness that you may find helpful in your walk with Him today (and tomorrow!!!):

Fret not – for He loves you, John 15:9: As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love”  He loves you now and forever!

Faint not – for He holds you, Psalm 139:10: …even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.  No one can snatch you from his hand!

Fear not – for He keeps you, Psalm 121:5: The LORD watches over you– the LORD is your shade at your right hand…  He will not slumber nor sleep, but always watch over you!

Don’t let things that you only imagine in your mind rob you of your joy in Christ!  It is that very joy that may draw your neighbors to Him through you!

PRAYER: Fill our minds with the joys of your promises and the certainty of your goodness so we don’t worry about things we shouldn’t. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 5/24/17 – The Shout of Victory!

DayBreaks for 5/24/17: The Shout of Victory

John 19:30 (NIV) – When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

The final words of Jesus from the cross have often been misconstrued.  Some movies have pictured Christ, with uplifted eyes, croaking out softly, resignedly, “It is finished” and then bowing his head and dying.  I don’t believe that is an accurate picture at all, and here’s why: when we compare the four gospels we find a very interesting thing. The other three do not tell us that Jesus said, “It is finished.” But what they do tell us that he died with a great shout upon his lips.  John doesn’t speak of a great shout, but instead tells us that Jesus’ very last words were, “It is finished.”  We can safely conclude that the great shout and the words “It is finished,” are one and the same thing.  In Greek, “It is finished” is one word — tetelestai — and that’s what Jesus shouted.  It was no meek or resignedly defeated word that he spoke.  He didn’t say, “It is finished,” in weary defeat; he shouted it out just like a person shouts for joy because the victory is won!  He seemed to be broken on the Cross, but he was NOT!  He was victorious on the cross!
Just in case you think I might be wrong, there’s another strong clue that makes this concept even more certain.  John says that Jesus bowed his head and gave up his spirit. The word that John uses is the word that was often used to describe someone setting their head back upon a pillow and entering into rest.  For Jesus the strife was over and the battle was won; and even on the Cross he knew the joy of victory and the well-deserved rest of one who has completed his task and can lean back, content and at peace.

What a wonderful picture – not of a quiet, broken Jesus on the cross, but of one who knows that it is finished, that it has been finished well, that it will never have to be repeated again.  The price for my sin has ALL been paid!

Do you believe that? That everything that it took for you to be saved and forgiven is finished? That there’s nothing more that you can add to make it more sure? That there’s nothing more that God needs to do for it to be true? That you, too, can rest your head knowing that it is all finished? Maybe the next time we get discouraged in our walk and relationship with Jesus, we would do well to shout out, “It is finished!”

PRAYER:  Will we ever really grasp the victory that was won on Your cross, Lord?  We hang our heads in shame that you had to pay such a price for us, yet we lift our eyes to you in gratitude and wonder for your love.  May we echo your words, “It is finished!” regarding our sinfulness.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.