DayBreaks for 6/30/20 – The Good Land Where Things Die

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DayBreaks for 6/30/20: The Good Land Where Things Die

It seems to be a rule that for there to be new beginnings, new life, that things must die. The NT speaks of this in various ways: Jesus spoke of how a kernel of wheat must fall into the ground and die for a new plant to grow, we are told that if we want to have life we must die to our own life, we are even told to put to death the “old man” so a new man can life and as Jesus told Nicodemus, we must be born again.

As humans, of course, we don’t think of death as being good. Our pets die and we grieve, our dreams die and we are disheartened, our friends and family die and we are crushed by the dark enemy. We are told that flesh and blood (at least as we know it) cannot be part of the world to come – that we will need new bodies fit for an eternal life, not a temporal one.

Perhaps instead of fighting all forms of death, we should look for the benefits of death. It is good that some things die, after all. Fortunately, there is a place – a good land, a very special and holy place – where things die. Where is it? It’s found at the foot of the cross.

At the blood soaked ground at the foot of the cross is where my shame dies for all the things I’ve done that I don’t want anyone to know about. Why?  Because Jesus took my shame. My guilt dies there as the blood drips from Jesus’ hands, feet, back and side. Why? Because Jesus took my guilt on him. My fear of dying dies there because Jesus would prove a mere three days later that death has no choice but to yield to glorious life because of Jesus power. My sense of insignificance dies there when I think of the blood he shed and what he endured because of one thing and on thing only: he loves me and I matter to him. My fear of the future dies at the foot of the cross because by what he accomplished there, there is no longer any condemnation for me.

But along with the death of those things that I take to the foot of the cross, there is new life springing up from the moistened soil. I can now live a new life without shame and guilt plaguing me. I can face the future, as the song says, because he lives and promises me I will live, too (and he’s proved he can pull off that “trick”). And I need never feel insignificant, unimportant, unwanted, uncherished ever again because in the good land where things go to die, any doubt about those things was erased.

PRAYER: What holy ground is this, Lord Jesus, that we are invited to the ground at the foot of your cross where bad things die and good things spring up filled with eternal life! In your magnificent name we pray, Amen!

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

DayBreaks for 5/25/20 – The Baggage of Life

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DayBreaks for 5/25/20: The Baggage of Life

Then Samuel brought all the tribes of Israel near, and the tribe of Benjamin was taken by lot. He brought the tribe of Benjamin near by its clans, and the clan of the Matrites was taken by lot; and Saul the son of Kish was taken by lot. But when they sought him, he could not be found. So they inquired again of the LORD, “Is there a man still to come?” and the LORD said, “Behold, he has hidden himself among the baggage.” 1 Samuel 10:20-22

What a fascinating passage!  Saul has been chosen to be king over Israel.  Yet, when the time comes to receive his kingship, where is he?  Hiding “among the baggage.”  Hiding in the “stuff” that was around him!  It’s easy to hide in “stuff”, isn’t it?  It might be hiding in the noise of a busy place, hiding among our possessions, even hiding in a crowd at church so that we don’t have to stand up and be counted and take a step of faith.  Saul shrank from it, and I know I’ve pulled back many times when I needed to take a stronger stand. 

The baggage that burdens us can also be guilt, shame, anger, fear or any of a number of emotions.  They can become crippling at times.   And our baggage can keep us from becoming what God wants us to be and prevent us from doing what he wants us to do.

Jesus invited us to take off the burdens that bow our backs and to exchange them for his yoke – a light yoke.  Jesus hasn’t come to give you guilt, despair, shame or fear.  He came to take all those things – and many more – off your shoulders.  He bore all of them on His shoulders for you.  Will you lay them down at his cross and walk away without your baggage?             

PRAYER: Thank you for lifting our burdens off our backs, Lord, and for inviting us to be free from the things that would haunt us ceaselessly!  Once we lay our burdens down at your feet, give us enough faith that we can walk away and leave them behind us forever.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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

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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 1/20/20 – The Lion Chaser’s Manifesto

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DayBreaks for 1/20/20: The Lion Chaser’s Manifesto

From the DayBreaks Archive, January 2010:

This was sent to me by a friend and I thought it worth sharing, especially if you’re a bit down:

Quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death. Set God-sized goals. Pursue God-ordained passions. Go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention. Keep asking questions. Keep making mistakes. Keep seeking God. Stop pointing out problems and become part of the solution. Stop repeating the past and start creating the future. Stop playing it safe and start taking risks. Accumulate experiences. Consider the lilies. Criticize by creating. Find every excuse you can to celebrate everything you can. Live like today is the first day and last day of your life. Don’t let what’s wrong with you keep you from worshiping what’s right with God. Burn sinful bridges. Blaze new trails. Worry less about what people think and more about what God thinks. Don’t try to be who you’re not. Be yourself.  (Mark Batterson, author of In a Pit With a Lion On a Sunny Day)

There are so many parts of this that I find encouraging and inspiring, but perhaps the one that challenges me the most is this one: “Go after a dream that is destined to fail without Divine intervention.”

What dreams have you had in your life?  What’s become of them?  Do you still have any?  If so, what are they?  Do any of them involve God and His kingdom and your role in it? 

When it comes time to do something for God, do you purposely select something that you believe God wants you to do, but which you know has absolutely zero chance of becoming reality unless God shows up in mighty and powerful ways?  Or, do you tend to select things you think you could do on your own with maybe just a tiny bit of help from others (just in case God doesn’t show up)? 

It puts a whole new spin on faith, doesn’t it?

PRAYER: God, I confess that I’m often a coward and my faith isn’t predicated on the God I can’t see, but on my thoughts of what I think is possible.  Have mercy on us for our weak faith, and fill our hearts with not our dream, but Your dream!  Help us to dare great things with You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 12/31/19: Trust the Catcher

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DayBreaks for 12/31/19: Trust the Catcher

From the DayBreaks Archive, 12/31/09:

The year is at a close. The decade is done (depending on how you count the start of a decade!) What will the coming year hold? Birth, life, and death. Chances are good that some who read this DayBreaks won’t be alive this time next year. Certainly, someone you know will die in the next year.

In her introduction to Henri Nouwen’s book, The Only Necessary Thing, Sue Mosteller relays a bit of Nouwen’s thoughts about death and life: “Speaking of death and eternal life, Henri leads us to glimpse the reality of our approaching death, not as something fearful and traumatic, but more as a ‘return to the womb of God’ (p. 190). Communion with God grows deep inside us and we gradually learn a trust so tangible that we begin to imagine our death as a ‘letting go’ of the swing on the flying trapeze. Henri quotes the trapeze artist Rodleigh, who says, ‘When I fly to Joe, I have simply to stretch out my arms and hands and wait for him to catch me and pull me safely over the apron behind the catchbar…the worst thing a flyer can do is to try to catch the catcher.’ ‘Dying is trusting the catcher,’ says Henri. ‘Don’t try to grab Him; He will grab you. Just stretch out your arms and hands and trust, trust, trust.'”

Trusting in God is to trust Him as the Catcher. I don’t get the sense from Jesus’ words on the cross that he was worried about trying to grab onto God:“Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. (Luke 23:46) I sense nothing in his words except absolute trust that the Father was more than able to catch him regardless of what Jesus did at that point.

The story has been told for years about the man who was standing alone on the edge of a cliff when the ground beneath him crumbled and the man plunged over the edge. About 15-20 feet down, he managed to grab a branch that protruded from the cliff face. Desperately holding on, he began crying out for help. No one was there – no one heard. So finally, the man calls out to God: “God, please save me!” To his surprise, he hears a voice: “Do you trust me?” The man, struggling to maintain his grip, replies, “Yes, God, I trust you!” To which God replies, “Then let go…”.

Only God can catch us. Only God is worthy of our trust. But faith and trust are sometimes hard to come by, especially when faced with the ultimate conclusion of this worldly life. During this next year, as you see friends and loved ones die, if they are believers you can have great confidence that God will “catch” them. That death, for the believer, is a trip home, to our origin. It is not something to be feared.

The time will eventually come for all of us – and we must launch out into eternity with nothing in our hands – trusting Him to catch us and land us safely on the other side.

As far as tomorrow – I am not afraid. God can catch me. He can catch us all regardless of the date, regardless of the circumstances. Until then, “just stretch out your arms and hands and trust, trust, trust.”

PRAYER: Lord, you have carried us in your arms from the moment we were born and you will carry us until the day we die.  Thank you for being with us this past year and for the assurance that no matter where we are, you will be with us in the coming year, too.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 12/10/19 – A Message for the Grieving

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DayBreaks for 12/10/19: A Message for the Grieving

Do you remember your first brush with death?  It might have been the death of a pet, or when you first saw road kill.  For some, the first touch of death is for a human who was loved but now gone.  It matters little what the first encounter was, for we will most certainly encounter death numerous times during our few years.  People have wondered since the dawn of creation about the dead – where are they, is there a place they go to, if so – what is it like?  Will we see them again?  For Christians, the questions are a bit more focused: do the dead in Christ go to be with him right away, or do they go to some kind of “holding tank” until the end?  Or, are they even conscious until the resurrection?

It appears that the Christians at Thessalonica had questions about such matters and the apostle Paul wrote partly to bring their questioning to an end.  Paul had several things to say that were instructive:

FIRST: We want you to be quite certain, brothers, about those who have died, to make sure that you do not grieve about them, like the other people who have no hope. (1 Thes. 4:13, JB)  As with any group of people, they’d seen loved ones die and be buried.  And they wanted to know more about their plight.  And, thankfully, God wanted them to know more about their status, so He had Paul pen these words.  There are some who will read this that will experience their first Christmas without a particular loved one. Let God speak to you through the words of Paul this year to give you comfort.  But Paul goes on:

SECOND: I want you to know what happens to a Christian when he dies so that when it happens, you will not be full of sorrow, as those who have no hope.  For since we believe that Jesus died and then came back to life again, we can also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with Him all the Christians who have died. (1 Thes. 4:13-14, TLB) What is God telling us in this passage?  That we will see our believing loved ones again.  This passage also hints at something another verse will make even more clear: where the dead believers go in the interim – that Jesus will bring them “with him” – so they must be where he is.

THIRD: For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.  If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me.  Yet what shall I choose?  I do not know!  I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far.”(Phil. 1:21-23, NIV)  Where does Paul say he would go if he departed this life?  “To be with Christ.” 

Just a day or two ago, I was exchanging email with a friend whose wife (both he and his wife are Christians) passed away this past summer, and I asked him how he was doing during this holiday season.  He replied to me, and I wrote back and simply said, “This year she’ll be celebrating Christmas with the One who was born in the stable.”  I believe that with all my heart – she is presently with the Lord, and when He comes back, she’ll come with Him – as will all our loved ones who have died in Christ.

I want to remind us all that the holidays are very difficult times for people who face them alone for the first time – for all who will have an empty chair at the family gathering this year.  Please – reach out to them and share this part of the good news with those who are in Christ – let God speak peace through you to encourage them as to the fate of their loved ones.

PRAYER: Thank You for Your great and exceedingly precious promises and reassurances to us, Lord!  Please give comfort to all those who have lost believing loved ones during this year and make us be instruments of Your grace and comfort.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/12/19 – On a River that Winds on Forever

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DayBreaks for 11/12/19: On a River that Winds on Forever

This past weekend I buried my mother’s ashes next to my father in a rural cemetery in Iowa near where they both were born. As we drove to Iowa and as I lowered the container of her ashes into the dark, cold ground, I couldn’t help but think about life.

My first thought was how 90 years of life were, at least in some fashion, reduced to a box of ashes. I realize that’s not the entire picture – not by a long shot – but the mortal remains of my mother were reduced to a box 9”x10”x5”. When I die my ashes will occupy a similar space. But life is much more than the dust from which we were formed.

One of my favorite songs at the moment is Ends of the Earth, by Lord Huron. It contains a line near the end that struck me as I drove across Illinois into the state of my birth that goes like this: “I’m on a river than winds on forever.”

The day will come when my mortal life reaches its conclusion. But just as with my mother and father, that will not be the end of ME. We think of death as being the cessation of life. If we limit our thinking to the life as we have experienced it since our birth we are not seeing life clearly. From the moment of my conception I have been on a river that winds on forever. The river won’t stop flowing when my body dies. I will not be dead. I will be truly alive for the first time. From the time I was conceived my cells started to die as well as replicate and multiply. But when this river that now carries me toward eternity flows onward and actually deposits me on that eternal shore, for the first time in my existence there will no longer be cells that mutate or die. There will be life..and only life that will wind on for the numberless eons of eternity.

Jesus claimed to be the Living Water. He is that River that carries me onward, nudging me day by day to that eternal shore.

PRAYER: For the gift of an unending life I am grateful, Lord. Let me learn to live well here so that I can live well forever. Thank You for this amazing journey! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/07/19 – The Tragedy of Life

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DayBreaks for 11/07/19: The Tragedy of Life

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2009:

What are your plans for the rest of your life?  Are you planning for and looking for a “day” to arrive when you will do this, or that, or stop doing something (like work) so that you can “really live”?  We are all, to some extent, awaiting something to change so that we can feel freer or can retire only to do what we want to do and not what we have to do.  So, we make plans…

Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” Otherwise you are boasting about your own plans, and all such boasting is evil. – James 4:13-16 (NLT)

Is there anything wrong with making some plans?  No, there’s not.  There are plenty of scriptures that teach us that very lesson by encouraging us to even look at creatures as simple as the ant who stores up for the rainy season.  So, I don’t think that’s what James had in mind when he wrote his epistle.  What is wrong is that we take God out of the entire scheme of things and forget about what He may want, or what He may do.  That’s always the key message I’ve taken away from this passage.  In a way, it’s like making myself into God and deluding myself into thinking that because I planned something, that it will inevitably happen because of who I am. 

But perhaps there’s another message for us in this passage that I’ve missed.  Remember the old saying about “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today”?  Our plans tend to involve the future.  We put things off that are unpleasant (tasks we don’t like) or that are delightful (like taking the time to enjoy something God has given us – like our present level of health.)  We put off so many things! 

But is not part of the argument from James that we don’t know if tomorrow will come?  Therefore, we should live life today – not always looking to the future.  If we don’t, we’ll be deaf and blind to what God has already placed immediately before us, we will fail to appreciate enough the blessings of today if we are so focused on how we will enjoy things in the future (even eternal life!) 

Richard L. Evans said: “The tragedy of life is not that it ends too soon, but that we wait so long to begin it.”  We are told that we “have eternal life” (1 John 5:13, among others).  Why aren’t we living like it? 

PRAYER: Lord, may we find the glory in each day and the blessing in each moment rather than being consumed by bitterness, despair and longing for the future.  Open our eyes to allow us to live in eternal life this day and every day hereafter.  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.  ><}}}”>