DayBreaks for 9/24/20 – For the Long Haul

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NOTE: I am on a “retirement/anniversary” trip and will be out until late September. In the meantime, I’m sharing recycled DayBreaks for 2010. Thanks for your understanding!

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2010:

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance;and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.  –  Romans 5:1-5

Fred Craddock, in an address to ministers, caught the practical implications of consecration. “To give my life for Christ appears glorious,” he said. “To pour myself out for others … to pay the ultimate price of martyrdom – I’ll do it. I’m ready, Lord, to go out in a blaze of glory.

“We think giving our all to the Lord is like taking a $1,000 bill and laying it on the table – ‘Here’s my life, Lord. I’m giving it all.’

“But the reality for most of us is that he sends us to the bank and has us cash in the $1,000 for quarters. We go through life putting out 25 cents here and 50 cents there. Listen to the neighbor kid’s troubles instead of saying, ‘Get lost.’ Go to a committee meeting. Give up a cup of water to a shaky old man in a nursing home.

“Usually giving our life to Christ isn’t glorious. It’s done in all those little acts of love, 25 cents at a time. It would be easy to go out in a flash of glory; it’s harder to live the Christian life little by little over the long haul.”

PRAYER: It is hard to persevere, Lord.  We would much rather have it done with!  Fill us with the assurance that perseverance creates proven character and that the character that grows in us will result in hope that will never disappoint us.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 8/28/20 – Pilate’s “Almost” Moment

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Surely “almost” is one of the saddest words in the dictionary, in fact, maybe it should be a synonym for “sad” or “tragic”: “I almost finished school”, “I almost played pro ball”, “I almost got married”.

While we’re familiar with Herod’s response to Paul, “Almost you have persuaded me to be a Christian”, there is another unspoken “almost” that is tragic. Pilate “almost” set Jesus free (of course, I know it was God’s plan for the crucifixion, but from Pilate’s standpoint, I feel sure he must have second-guessed his decision). Yet according to Luke 23:22 we find out that he didn’t because “…their voices prevailed.

Pilate could have stuck with the voice of his own conscience that he could “find no fault in the man”.  Or he could have heeded the voice of his wife who warned him to have nothing to do with Jesus. He could have listened to the silence of Jesus himself, but he didn’t. He heard the voices of the crowd.

Pilate let his own pride, show of power and fear rule the day. Satan’s voices (through the words of the crowd) swayed the day.

Isn’t it true that Satan’s voice often leaves us thinking, “I almost did what was right” when we listened to Satan instead of doing what we knew was right?  “I almost was faithful to my vows”, “Just once won’t hurt anything”, “Everyone else is doing worse things” and the like. Those are “almost” moments in our lives. Satan fills our heads with rationalizations.

In No Wonder They Call Him the Savior, Max Lucado wrote: “…there is no darker hell than the one of remorse…It’s one thing to forgive yourself for something you did. It is something else to try to forgive yourself for something that you might have done, but didn’t.”

God, like Jesus, stands silently pleading. He won’t shout down the crowd. He shouldn’t have to. We know we regret the “almost’s” of life where we’ve let him down and failed to do what we could have done that would have been obedient.

Don’t listen to the voice of Satan or of the crowd. Don’t live with “almost” regrets.

PRAYER: Father, help us know that “almost” obedient is not even close to true obedience. Help us live in a way that we won’t have regrets because we disobeyed! In Jesus’ name, Amen. Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 5/15/20 – The Problem with Legalism

Legalism

DayBreaks for 5/15/20: The Problem with Legalism

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2010:

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus makes many shocking statements that take our breath away.  For example, he equates hatred/anger with murder and lust with adultery.  Those are not messages that we like to hear, because we’ve been guilty of both hatred and lust if we will be honest enough to admit it.  But he just keeps spinning such statements off non-stop.  And, he finally tops them all when he says, “Be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.”  Ah, thanks for that one, Jesus…that one’s simple (NOT!)”

Many who heard him that day were the Pharisees and scribes who were always spying on him, trying to learn more about him and his movement – not so they could join in worshipping him – but so they could put an end to it.  The Pharisees and scribes seemed to have a competition going between the two groups to see who could be the most holy.  They REALLY took holiness seriously!  They committed themselves to keeping the Law, to obedience.  They documented every law (613 according to them, with 248 commands, 365 prohibitions and 1521 “flavors”), wrote dissertations on the nuances of each one.  Why?  Because they wanted to be sure that they knew what the Law required so they could obey it and not break it in any way.  They were fanatical about holiness…even if they were misguided and proud of their fanaticism. 

And, in a crowd surrounded by such people, Jesus makes his bold statement: “Be perfect, even as you Father in heaven is perfect.”  Most of us would say that is not possible – in fact, we’d say it was impossible.  But the Pharisees and scribes would have loved it. 

The problem should be clear.  The problem isn’t that the Pharisees and scribes were fanatical about holiness with all their definition of the Law and what it meant and required.  The problem is that they were not fanatical enough.  They needed to reach a state of perfection in their legalism (both in terms of what the Law really meant and taught) and in their obedience to it.  In short, they could never be legalistic enough if they wanted to be saved that way.  They just didn’t want to admit it.

Those who insist on legalistic formulas for salvation today are just as misguided – and just as confused.  Anyone who says, “If you can’t obey better than that, you’ll never get to heaven” has totally missed the point.  Is obedience important?  Sure…but it is not the mechanism of salvation – never has been, never will be.  Want to disagree with me?  Let me ask a simple question: if obedience is that important to salvation, how many times can a person be disobedient before they are doomed?  100?  1000?  10,000?  If there were a number, Jesus would have told it to us and we’d be able to keep track.  But another part of the problem is that sometimes we sin without being aware of it: I offend through some careless words, I fail to give thanks when I should, I set up an idol in my heart that I’m not even aware of as an idol.  Legalists are fond of saying that one unforgiven sin is enough to send a person to hell.  And I’d agree with that.  The key has to do with the forgiveness of Jesus and God’s grace.  Jesus paid the price on the cross for every single one of my sins – past, present and future.  That’s why Paul could say that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  Jesus doesn’t have to go back to the cross and die again each time I sin for the simple reason that he paid the price, “once and for all” for sin.  My salvation is not based on any level of obedience, but on my acceptance, by faith, of the all-sufficiency of the sacrifice of Jesus.

The motive for obedience is to please God and be a blessing to others.  It is not for salvation – or we are all doomed because we can never be legalistic enough in our obedience to achieve it. 

PRAYER: Lord, we want to honor you with our obedience, but help us understand that we will never be good enough, wise enough, obedient enough, to be saved unless we are perfect like the Father is perfect.  Thank you, Jesus, for applying your perfect holiness to us through your blood! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/14/20: Dead Mummies or Living Disciples?

Hear the voice of an ancient Egyptian mummy, thanks to British ...

DayBreaks for 4/14/20: Dead Mummies or Living Disciples?

NOTE: The Hallway Through the Sea will return as more become available.  

I’ve always been fascinated by mummies. Having just come out of the time when we remember the Resurrection of Christ Jesus, it seems a bit of a timely topic though the stories of mummies coming alive are pure fantasy.

There is a parallel here, though. The sad truth is that many of us are like mummies – all wrapped up tightly in ourselves and we’re content that way. We don’t want to be unwrapped. In fact, we can come unwound at the thought of coming out of our safe tomb or stepping out in faith. But Jesus calls all believers out of the tomb, sets us free and calls us to move beyond ourselves into a life of faith, commitment, obedience and service.

On the old Merv Griffin Show, Merv was interviewing some body builders. As he was looking at the guys with all these muscles, he asked a powerful question: “What do you use these muscles for?”

One guy answered by flexing his muscles in one of those body builder stances. But Merv said, “No, you don’t understand. What do you USE all those muscles for?” The guy said, “I’ll show you.” And he flexed again in another stance.

Again Merv said, “No. You still don’t understand my question. Read my lips. What do you USE them FOR?” The guy posed again.

We’ve come out of Holy Week and are hopefully filled with excitement and joy and hope. That’s good, but what will we do with that excitement and energy? Jesus has called us out of the tomb, set us free and commands us to move beyond ourselves into a life of faith, commitment, obedience and service. When we just come to Church and sometimes read our Bibles and just enjoy the fellowship but nothing else, then we’re like those body building guests or like mummies, still wrapped up in ourselves.  And there’s no life there. 

What will you do to carry the blessings of Holy Week out to others, even in this time of lock-down?

PRAYER: Jesus, open our eyes to see opportunities around us even as we are sheltering in place and give us your wisdom to know how best to carry the message of hope and service and love to others at this time! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2020, Galen C. Dalrymple.

 

 

 

DayBreaks for 4/08/20 – The Hallway Through the Sea, #14 – The Price of Faith in a Pandemic

Faith over Fear': Thousands Place Crosses in Yards to Celebrate ...

DayBreaks for 4/07/20: The Hallway Through the Sea #14 – The Price of Faith in a Pendemic

From Christianity Today and Tim Dalrymple, 4/07/20:

For today’s musical pairing, listen to this from Bach’s “Concerto in D Minor by Víkingur Ólafsson.

“Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: ‘If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.’
“‘Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’’”
Luke 14:25–30

Meditation 14. 1,412,103 confirmed cases, 81,103 deaths globally.

There are times and places when the church lives in such peace and abundance that faith becomes an inexpensive thing. What cost another generation their lives and livelihoods costs us Sunday mornings and a modest tithe.

The temptation for those of us who wish to invite everyone into the fold of the faithful is to lower the cost of faith even further. Perhaps, we say, faith no longer requires so much sacrifice. Perhaps the time of suffering is past. In fact, there may be no cost to faith at all. Perhaps it’s the opposite. Perhaps faith paves the way to greater health and wealth.

Jesus was never so eager to keep a crowd that he minimized the costs of faith (see John 6:60–66). He could not have been clearer that following him requires enormous sacrifice. “Whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” Every person should count the cost.

Jesus understood something we have forgotten. When we lower the cost of faith, it becomes something other than faith. A cheap counterfeit. An elegant mantle of piety around the shoulders of an essentially secular life. If we lower the cost further still, it becomes something no one values. Eventually no one is willing to “purchase” what seems so common and unremarkable, what requires so little sacrifice.

The Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard wrote that the church had become filled with “admirers” when what Christ wants is “imitators.” As we enter into Holy Week as so many are suffering and dying in the pandemic, Jesus does not invite us to be mere admirers of the way he carried his cross nearly two thousand years ago. He invites us to be imitators, to carry our own crosses and follow in his footsteps today…(Click this link to read the rest of the meditation.)

PRAYER: Help us, O Lord, to be imitators and not merely admirers of Jesus. Help us to take up the cross for others, as you took up the cross for 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 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 3/19/20 – Pay Attention to the Candy

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DayBreaks for 3/19/20: Pay Attention to the Candy

From the DayBreaks archive, March 2010:

If you’ve not heard about some of the crazy demands of musicians, athletes, movie stars, etc., you’ve been away from planet Earth for a while.  Some of the requests are infamous: outlandish requirements made by music celebrities in their contracts with concert promoters are not oddities.  One of the most notorious came from the rock band Van Halen.  Each contract insisted that “a bowl of M&M’s be provided backstage, but with every single brown M&M removed.”  If the band arrived and saw that the bowl had any brown M&Ms in it, they were free to cancel the concert and receive full payment.  Who knew a bunch of hard-rockers could be such divas, right?

But wait.  There was a good reason behind the clause.  The absence of those M&Ms was a test and was put in place because even life itself could be at stake.  In his book The Checklist Manifesto, author Atul Gawande, quoting from lead singer David Lee Roth’s memoir, shares the story behind the M&Ms:

Roth explained [that] … “Van Halen was the first band to take huge productions into tertiary, third-level markets. We’d pull up with nine 18-wheeler trucks, full of gear, where the standard was three trucks, max. And there were many, many technical errors—whether it was the girders couldn’t support the weight, or the flooring would sink in, or the doors weren’t big enough to move the gear through. The contract rider read like a … Yellow Pages because there was so much equipment, and so many human beings to make it function.” So just as a little test, buried somewhere in the middle of the rider, would be Article 126, the no-brown-M&Ms clause. “When I would walk backstage, if I saw a brown M&M in that bowl,” [Roth] wrote, “well, we’d line-check the entire production. Guaranteed you’d run into a problem.” The mistakes could be life-threatening … In Colorado, the band found that the local promoters had failed to read the weight requirements and that the staging would have fallen through the arena floor.

Van Halen’s ridiculous-at-first-glance contract demand illustrates the principle from Luke 16:10: Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.

PRAYER: Keep us from thinking that our little bending of the rules and indiscretions are too small for You to notice.  Help us be faithful in ALL things!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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 3/12/20 – A Harder God to Believe In

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DayBreaks for 3/12/20: A Harder God to Believe In

I don’t know who said this, but I found it resonated with my own spirit:

“What I am displeased with is my own living of life.  I feel an acute sense that I ought to have done better with the circumstances I was given.  This is one of the reasons why it cut me so deeply when people suggested that suffering is God’s discipline — because I find it so very, very easy to believe in a God who is profoundly disappointed in me. 

“It seems utterly natural to believe in the Disappointed God, because I myself am disappointed.  He must be even more disappointed, I think, because his standards are so much higher than mine.  How could he not be disappointed?  That makes complete sense to me.

“It’s the other God, the God who does not experience that kind of disappointment, the God who sees me the way that Prodigal Son’s father saw him — that is the harder God for me to believe in.  It takes work for me to believe in that God.” 

It takes me no effort whatsoever to believe in a God who is very thoroughly disappointed in me.  I am now a minister of the gospel, but it took me nearly 25 years to get to this point – 25 years of secular work.  Yes, I was serving in the church all that time, but not in what I believe I was called to do.  And even though I can see how, in His wisdom, He has used all the things I did and learned in the secular work world to be a better pastor (though I still have much to learn!), I can believe He might have been frustrated with me for not going into the ministry right away (as I considered doing.) 

And, even if I concede to myself that I was still serving God and perhaps even doing what I was supposed to be doing for those 25 years, I can still look at my life and think, “Galen – you really should be further along than you are in your faith walk with Jesus.  Your faith is still shaky.  You still struggle with some of the same old sins that have plagued you for years.  You quench the Spirit from time to time – far too often, actually.  You are not generous.  You can be envious.  You could be a much better husband than you are and a better pastor to the flock, too.”  Those thoughts come easily.  And I’m sure that similar thoughts come easily to you in your own situation.

What a change took place in my life when I learned that God was running towards me to embrace me and weep at my feeble attempts to come to Him!  Do I believe that that God is real – that He is the God I’ve sought to serve all these years?  Yes…but it is harder.  It is harder to accept grace than to live with the whip of the lash.  I feel I deserve the lash, but instead of the lash on my back, I feel the Father’s arm as He puts on the robe of righteousness that Christ wore around His shoulders.  I feel His tears against my cheek – not tears of sadness or despair, but tears of exultant joy.  He takes pleasure in me…and that’s a hard God to believe in.

PRAYER: How desperately we need reminders that You run to us, not from us, and that You rejoice in us through Jesus!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 3/06/20 – That Real Love Requires

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DayBreaks for 3/6/20: What Real Love Requires

“‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mk. 12:31)

That verse from Mark’s gospel is not Jesus expressing a desire, a preference or a wish for us, but it is a command.

Have you ever really thought about the why  behind the giving of this command? I don’t mean “Why does Jesus want us to love one another?” as the answer to that should be blatantly obvious. I mean, why did Jesus feel the need to command us to love our neighbor?

I could be wrong, but here’s my thinking: true love requires a command because otherwise we probably wouldn’t do it. That may sound strange because we might think that love is something that just “happens” to you on a starry summer night when you meet that certain someone and – boom! – you’re hooked and in love and will live in love happily ever after.

Anyone who has had any experience at all with love will tell you that’s a load of bunk. If it were only that easy and permanent! Look around – divorce and broken families abound – because love just ISN’T that easy nor permanent. Neighbors don’t love one another. Love is hard…and when the going gets hard it is a fact that too often the person we thought we’d love forever and who’d love us forever gets “going” to..right out the door.

Our culture has created a fantasized caricature of love that you see on the movie screens, read in the trash novels and on TV. It’s all glorious, glamorous, wonderful and passionate – until it no longer is and then it’s time to find a new person to love.

But that’s not God’s way. God wants us to grow in love, not surrender it when it no longer feels romantic. Thus the command that we are to love our neighbor as ourself. Would you abandon yourself? No. Like it or not, we’re stuck with ourselves. We need the command of God to remind us that our love is to stick it out through thick and thin and not look for reasons to stop loving.

PRAYER: Lord, deliver us from foolish romanticized notions of what it takes for love to last and let us learn to obey your command to always love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 1/29/20 – Veterinarians and Taxidermists

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DayBreaks for 1/29/20: Veterinarians and Taxidermists

It was during the 2000 Democratic convention that someone commented that there wasn’t much difference between the views of Joe Lieberman and George W. Bush. When he heard that, Lieberman said, “That’s like saying there is no difference between a taxidermist and a veterinarian, because in both cases you get your dog back.”

This DayBreaks isn’t about politics, but about Christians, non-Christians and freedom. There are some Christians who bring light, salt and hope to the dark world while the light of other “Christians” doesn’t shine into the darkness. It is a very, very sad and tragic commentary that the world can’t tell the difference between Christians and non-Christians. The blame for that doesn’t fall on the non-Christian, but squarely on the shoulders of Christians.

Why has our light faded? Perhaps because we’ve taken our freedom in Christ to mean we can do anything we want without repercussions. We think that’s what freedom means – being able to do anything my heart desires. If that’s what we think Christian freedom is then we’re sadly mistaken. As Steve Brown points out in A Scandalous Freedom, the real freedom Christ died to give us compared to the freedom that many Christians experience is like the difference between the vet and the taxidermist: with both you get your dog back but one collects dust while the other jumps, slobbers and barks!

There is something about freedom that scares the church and as a result many continue in bondage and that’s a real shame because Jesus went to so much trouble to really set us free.

The freedom we have been given isn’t to do anything I want without fearing consequences, it’s about being freed from the eternal consequences of my sin and from the fear of death, but even more, it’s about being free to say “no” to the things that would make it hard for my light to shine, to say “yes” to doing God’s will, not my own. If ever there was a free person, it was Jesus – and even he prayed for the Father’s will, not his own.

Are you still enslaved? You may have gotten your “dog” (life) back, but are you just gathering dust?

PRAYER: Lord, awaken us to the fact that we have misused our freedom and misunderstood it. Help us be living beings full of the joy of being freed from our own will and freed to do yours. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 12/06/19 – Which One is Crazy?

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DayBreaks for 12/06/19: Which One is Crazy?

There are plenty of people in this world who think that Christians are a bunch of crazies who should be put into a looney bin.  I can understand that point of view, actually.  There is plenty in the Good Book that seems crazy when you stop to think about it.  That doesn’t mean it isn’t true – in fact, it is actually an indicator of the truth of the story.  No one would have made up these kind of crazy things: people past childbearing holding their toddlers on their knees, a big boat that saved the human race, young boys felling giants with one projectile, people receiving sight, a virgin birth, the dead being raised.  It’s pretty wild stuff, and I for one can totally understand how unbelievers think we may be nice people by and large, but that we’re not playing with a full deck.

Surprisingly, some Christians think other Christians are crazy, too.  This is usually a label that one believer gives to another when the recipient of the label takes the Word at face value and tries with all their power to live out what they believe to be true.  One might call it fanaticism, another craziness.  Either way, it’s sad that we should ever think someone is crazy for trying to live out the Word as they feel led to do by the Spirit.

In Crazy Love, Francis Chan describes the dilemma when talking about how his family, led by their convictions, moved into a house half the size of their previous home so that they would have more money to give to the Lord’s work and more time as well.  The cynics said he was crazy.  Francis’ response to them was: “…in the context of eternity…am I the crazy one for selling my house?  Or are you for not giving more, serving more, being with your Creator more?  If one person ‘wastes’ away his day by spending hours connecting with God, and the other person believes he is too busy or has better things to do than worship the Creator and Sustainer, who is the crazy one?  If one person invests her or his resources in the poor – which according to Matthew 25, is giving to Jesus Himself – and the other extravagantly remodels a temporary dwelling that will not last beyond his few years left on this earth, who is the crazy one?

When people gladly sacrifice their time or comfort or home, it is obvious that they trust in the promises of God.  Why is it that the story of someone who has actually done what Jesus commands resonates deeply with us, but we then assume we could never do anything so radical or intense?  Or why do we call it radical when, to Jesus, it is simply the way it is?  The way it should be?

“Obsessed people are more concerned with obeying God than doing what is expected or fulfilling the status quo.  A person who is obsessed with Jesus will do things that don’t always make sense in terms of success or wealth on this earth.  As Martin Luther put it, ‘There are two days on my calendar: this day and that day.”  (Lk. 14:25-35; Mt. 7:13-23, 8:18-22; Rev. 3:1-6)

How crazy are you?

PRAYER: Lord, give us the faith to do crazy things in the eyes of the world, but which are truly reflections of trust in Your promises.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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