DayBreaks for 8/26/20 – The Convicted Centurion

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DayBreaks for 8/26/20: The Captivated Centurion

I don’t know how many people stood on Calvary’s hill and watched the brutal death of Jesus. We know who some of them were, but most are nameless and faceless. I know if I’d been one of them who just stood by and watched I’d probably want to be nameless and faceless, too.

We do know that there was a Roman centurion who attended and oversaw the crucifixion. The day started out for him like any other day of execution but it took a twist that he never, ever expected.

We don’t know his name or hometown. We only know six words that he uttered in his lifetime: Surely this was a righteous man.

I don’t believe for a second that he’d heard Jesus preach or witnessed any of his miracles. He’d probably heard the name given the uproar in the city on Palm Sunday and during the trial. He may have even laughed at the idea of that Jesus was a “king”.  He may have been in charge of the scourging – we simply don’t know.

Then he witnessed how Jesus died and that was all he needed to see to make his statement. What was it that prompted his declaration? It surely must have been the fact that it is when we are under hardship that others can see what we’re really all about, what we stand for, what we believe, how we react to the difficulties. In short, when we’re in pain is when our rawest character shows, unadorned by pretense. Our faith isn’t seen based on walking through a church door every Sunday morning – it is best seen when we are wracked with pain, suffering, in a hospital, ridiculed, mocked and literally or figuratively spit upon.

What he saw changed the heart of the centurion. I wonder how he felt that night when he returned to his cohort. What he saw was peace in the pain, forgiveness in the heart of suffering and betrayal, and words of righteousness and kindness.

We’ll never know if the centurion would have been moved by the words of the Sermon on the Mount. After all, any one of us could preach a sermon standing in a field of wildflowers. But, as Max Lucado put it, “…only one with a gut full of faith can live a sermon on a mountain of pain.” – No Wonder They Call Him Savior, Max Lucado

Chances are you’ll face some sort of adversity today. What would the centurion say if he watched you?

PRAYER: In the midst of our pain let our tongues, thoughts and actions point others to you, Lord! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 2/04/20 – Cod Liver Oil Evangelism

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DayBreaks for 2/04/20: Cod Liver Oil Evangelism

Jesus came preaching that “the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” What was there about that kingdom that got the fishermen and tax collector so excited that they left their livelihoods and even families behind to follow him? Maybe a more telling question is why are we not just as excited? Maybe we don’t understand what the kingdom is. Or maybe it just hasn’t been presented very well.  Maybe both.

There is a story of a woman who read somewhere that dogs were healthier if fed a tablespoon of cod liver oil each day. So each day she followed the same routine. She chased her dog until she caught it, wrestled it down, and managed to force the fishy remedy down the dog’s throat.

Until one day when, in the middle of this grueling medical effort, the bottle was kicked over. With a sigh, she loosed her grip on the dog so she could wipe up the mess. To her surprise the dog trotted over to the puddle and begin lapping up what had been spilled. THE DOG LOVED COD LIVER OIL. It was just the owner’s method of application the dog objected to.

Sometimes I think something like that has happened to the good news of the Kingdom of God. We present it so poorly that others are not captured by its attractiveness and its power. We have the most beautiful, wonderful story to tell the world. We don’t have to feel obligated to make people into Christians. The story, rightly told, has the power to do that through the Spirit. If even cod liver oil can be enjoyed, how much more the great news of God’s love for mankind! If we tell the story and no one responds, the problem isn’t with the story but in how it’s being told.

PRAYER: Let us tell the story in a way that is as beautiful and winsome as the story itself, Jesus! 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 09/14/18 – A Shaken Soul

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DayBreaks for 9/14/18: A Shaken Soul

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2008:

From Michael Card, From the Studio:

(Peter) went in and found that many had assembled; and he said to them, “You yourselves know that it is unlawful for a Jew to associate with or to visit a Gentile; but God has shown me that I should not call anyone profane or unclean.”  Acts 10: 27-28 NRSV

“Jesus can make anyone clean, even the last person on earth Peter would expect to be clean: a Roman soldier, [possibly] one of the very ones who had crucified Jesus.  What an earthquake in Peter’s soul!  It was direct assault on his most basic beliefs.  But Jesus had come to shatter and redefine everything.  Certainly it is a shattered Simon who makes his way, for the first time in his life, into a Gentile dwelling.  He will find there men and women like himself who want nothing less than to eat the true bread of heaven.  People who, though they live in darkness, have nonetheless seen a great Light!

“The crowd Peter would have crossed the street to avoid, would have denied meal fellowship with, seems now bathed in a new light.  He sees bright eyes and hungry faces. He looks out at men and women, boys and girls who will suffer every bit as much as he will in the years to come for their allegiance to Jesus. He looks out on brothers and sisters.”

Galen’s Thoughts: how would you and I have reacted if we had the chance to preach the gospel to the crucifixion detail that crucified Christ?  How would you and I have reacted if invited to preach to the high priest and scribes who had Him arrested, beaten, spit on and condemned?  Would we have done it, or would we have pulled back in revulsion?

Each one of us knows someone that we just find, well…repulsive.  Someone who has done something so heinous either to ourselves or to someone we loved, that we can’t even stand the thought of being near them.  Would you share the gospel with them?  If not, why not?  Do you believe that’s how Jesus would have acted?

Let us remember that we’re not called to go into all the world and preach the gospel only to those who are fine, upstanding citizens and likeable folk.  For the most part, those people didn’t listen to Jesus (in fact, it was the upstanding citizens of Judea who had him arrested and put to death).  The repulsive – those with leprosy, the lame and mute (who everyone believed were sinners or they wouldn’t have had those ailments – even the dead and the sick of many stripes and colors, were the ones who listened to Jesus and responded to him.  If we want to fulfill the great commission, we must carry the gospel to everyone – everyone – even the Hitler’s, bin Laden’s, Pol Pot’s and mass murdering rapists.  That’s our job.  How they respond is their choice.  God won’t ask us if we convinced them – but will ask only if we “went” in obedience to the command. 

PRAYER: Keep us from prejudice and pride that might lead us to not share the good news with those who are most eager to receive it.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/11/18 – Preferring the 99

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DayBreaks for 4/11/18: Preferring the 99

Matthew 18:12-14 (NIV) – What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.

This is a painful passage for me. Sadly, while I think it should also be a challenging and painful passage for the church, I think in many cases we read it and fly right past it.

This passage gets to the very core of God’s heart. Who is it that owns the sheep in the passage? It is God, certainly. And while he has a sheep-fold full of sheep, he isn’t content with that. He knows there is still one out there that hasn’t come home with him, that is lost and in grave danger.

So what does he do? He goes out looking for it. There is no guarantee that he will be able to bring it home…for the passage says And if he finds it…. Some sheep don’t want to be found, and perhaps even more sadly, some perish before they are found.

Pay attention to the last sentence. He is not willing that ANY of these little ones should be lost. It’s not that he’s content if just a handful are lost…he’s not willing for even a single one to perish.

Which brings me to the painful part. Why does my heart not beat with the same passion for the lost sheep?

I fear that the church as a whole (I know there are many exceptions) prefers the ninety-nine. We prefer the comfort of the sheep-fold and seldom, if ever, venture out. We like to hang with other Christians (at least, I hope we do!) But if we lose sight of the heart of God from this passage, we may have missed God entirely. This is precisely why Jesus came: not to celebrate with the 99 but to “go out”. Does Jesus like it when Christians enjoy each other? Of course. But he will quickly leave us behind to find a single lost one.

When is the last time you brought someone to Christ – not just to church – but to saving knowledge of Christ? We should all have the urgency of Oskar Schindler who when the war was over, was heartbroken that he’d not done more, that he could have saved one more. Where is that passion in us?

Church, let us be challenged. Let us go out with the great Shepherd to find the lost so that not ANY should be lost!  

PRAYER: Jesus, I confess that it is far easier to sit in the pew than to leave the sheep-fold to find a lost lamb. I confess I have done far too much of the former and not nearly enough of the latter. Change us, give us your passion, fill us with your mission, let us hear your heartbeat clearly. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 1/19/18: The Testimony of Dirk Willems

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DayBreaks for 1/19/18: The Testimony of Dirk Willems

From They Were Strangers blog, by my friend, Ryan McElvey, January 18, 2018:

He heard a loud CRACK, and seconds later the first cry for HELP echoed across the frozen water. Now, a choice had to be made: continue running for his own safety, or run back across the ice of Hondegat pond?

The year was 1569 and Dirk was being held for “rebelling” against the authority of the Dutch government by rejecting his own infant baptism and becoming re-baptized. He was locked in a residential palace prison which was surrounded by a moat and under guard. Dirk had been in prison so long that he had lost weight. He kept tightening his belt, but if a verdict wasn’t reached soon, he would eventually face a death of starvation.

As time wore on in captivity he began planning his escape by taking cloth rags and secretly knotting them together into a rope. Eventually he was able to make his rope long enough to suspend from the window of his prison onto the moat below. Dirk waited until a day when the moat was frozen, and then he lowered himself out of the window and onto its glassy surface. He shuffled across the icy moat away from the palace as quickly and quietly as he could.

But before he was even out of sight of the palace he heard a shout of alarm from the bulwarks. His escape had been discovered. Looking back he soon saw one of the guards running after him. Dirk continued to run, but he felt like his legs couldn’t move fast enough, and he realized that the meager food rations and sedentary life in prison had taken its toll on his body. With the guard gaining on him Dirk set out across the ice of Hondegat pond, hoping to gain some distance by shuffling over its slippery surface.

Then he heard a loud CRACK, and seconds later the first cry for HELP echoed across the frozen water. Now, he was faced with a choice: continue running for his own safety, or run back across the ice of Hondegat pond?

Had the Lord delivered Dirk from his enemy? Had Dirk now gained his freedom because the Lord had allowed the guard to fall through the ice to his death?

-Or-

Was the Lord giving Dirk the chance to love his enemy in radical obedience by going back to save him?

Dirk knew what he had to do. He turned around and went back. There in the icy hole his pursuer was bobbing in the water, crying out and desperately grasping at the air. In full Christ-like imitation Dirk laid down on the ice, stretched out his arms, reaching out to save his enemy.

But upon saving his enemy’s life, Dirk was immediately taken back into custody and held prisoner in a church tower, from which there was no way escape. Only four days after his recapture Dirk Willems was given the death sentence to be burned at the stake. The story goes that the wind was blowing that day, and because he wasn’t inhaling the smoke, it prolonged his death. His screams were heard from a great distance, but unlike the screams of the guard on Hondegat pond, no one came to Dirk’s rescue.

  1. . .  it seems so long ago, and yet the story echoes across history and we can still hear the cries from the broken ice. Do I love my enemy, or do I see his misfortune as “God’s judgement” on him and as an excuse to leave him behind?

Obviously, loving my enemy doesn’t always have the drama that Dirk Willems experienced, but is my spirit the same as his? What about the co-worker who takes advantage of me? The business that didn’t give me the product or service I paid for? The driver who cut me off? The backstabbing brother in Christ? Do I love in all these situations? Doing good in return for his bad, blessing in return for his curse, praying for those who mistreat me, giving freely to those who take from me?

Why did Dirk Willems go back and save his enemy, only to die for his act of mercy? And why should I love those who do me wrong?

Jesus tells me to love my enemies, because Jesus loves His enemies, even enough to die for them. . . to die for me. To Jesus, I am the guard struggling in Hondegat pond, and He reaches out to save me, only to die Himself.

“For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps. . . When He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but continued entrusting Himself to Him who judges justly.”     (1 Peter 2:21, 23)

PRAYER: Jesus, even though you commanded us to love our enemies, we find it often too much of a challenge to even love our friends as you have loved us. Give us hearts that love as yours does – even for our enemies, that we might be willing to die for them. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 1/11/18 – Everything Counts All the Time

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DayBreaks for 1/11/18: Everything Counts All the Time

From the DayBreaks archives, January 2008:

Life is chock-full of seemingly innocent little moments of decision.  You’ll make so many decisions today and do so many things that really aren’t very important.  For example: you’ll decide which shirt or dress to wear today – and all things being equal, it really doesn’t matter what you choose.  You’ll decide what to eat (although if you have health problems, that can be important!)  You’ll decide which bank teller to go to, which check-out line at the grocery store.  While we may agonize over which pair of sunglasses make us look the most cool, it’s really nothing more than a trivial decision.  Much of life revolves around trivial things.

But, there are things in life that aren’t trivial at all.  Consider this from the California Southern Baptist (3/2/2000):

“Recently, Dieter Zander, the pastor of the first GenX church in America, spoke at an Evangelism Conference about reaching people in the age of relativism.  He cited a Barna study that asked people to use single words to describe Jesus.  They responded, “wise, accepting, compassionate, gracious, humble.”  Then he asked them to use single words to describe Christians, they said, “critical, exclusive, self-righteous, narrow and repressive.”

“There is a difference between knowing the good news and being the good news, Zander said.  “We are the evidence!  Everything counts—all the time.”

“With previous generations, a strong preacher could give a good message, even if the church was hypocritical and critical and people would still get saved,” Zander continued, “but not anymore.  I’m seeing a change in what seekers are looking for.  Not something they can relate to.  They are looking for a transcendent God.  They don’t want to be entertained they want to be transformed.”

I think Zander had it spot on: “There is a difference between knowing the good news and BEING (emphasis mine, GCD) the good news.”  I realize that in a very real sense, we cannot be the good news.  Jesus came from heaven to give us the good news and be the good news for us!  But, how we act, what we say, even how we think – in a way we can be the good news or the bad news.  Why does the world think of Jesus in such high terms but Christians in such negative ways?  Could it be because we are not being the good news?  Because as the world looks at us, they don’t see Jesus in us at all, but our old sinful, carping and complaining natures? 

Every encounter we have with another human being is loaded with implications for eternity.  Yes – every single one.  What you say, how you act, what we do and even how we think about them matters.  GenX is still seeking a transcendent God, but for them, the proof of His existence is transformed followers of God, people in whom the love of Jesus is perfected by their treatment of others.  It is, after all, what Jesus said would be the one sign of true belief and discipleship.

When you have that casual conversation by the water cooler today – realize it isn’t as casual as it appears.  When you greet the clerk at the grocery store, be the good news personified.  When you come in the door at home at the end of your long and trying day, remember that God expects you to be the good news at home, too.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. (Romans 1:16 KJV)

PRAYER: Father, thank You for sending Jesus, the best news the world has ever known.  Help us to not only know him, but to live like him so the good news may be alive and strong within us.  Help us to realize that as Your children and ambassadors in this world, that everything we do makes a difference all the time.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

PRAYER: God, I know my own sin is enough to kill all the fish in the sea, yet you promise me you have washed me clean and that I am your child. Help us all to being to grasp that simple, yet profound, truth. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 12/15/16 – Dead Man Sitting

DayBreaks for 12/15/16: Dead Man Sitting

From the DayBreaks archive, 2006:

“In October 2005, an elderly man passed away while sitting in his parked car in Melbourne, Australia.  He remained that way for several days before his body was found and identified by city officials.

“After the man’s death, however, and two days before the discovery of his body, a police officer gave him a parking ticket and attached it to the windshield of his car.

“The head of the Maroondah City Council later apologized for the incident, saying: ‘It must be just so sad for the family, and we extend our sincere sympathies to them.’  He added, ‘It is simply a case of the parking officer not noticing.’”  – ABCNewsOnline, 10/21/05

I wonder about this old man.  As he sat in his car, did he feel a squeezing in his chest, a shortness of breath?  A pain inside his head?  Did he know he was staring death in the face?  Or did it all happen so fast that he didn’t even have a chance to think or feel anything?  If he’d felt something, might he not have rolled down a window, opened a door, and called for help?  Not knowing the details of the situation, I can imagine and picture all sorts of possibilities and questions.  But I’m sure that the man would have hoped for help to come.

But to spend too much time wondering about the man is pointless.  What I should wonder about is where everyone else was when this man was dying.  Several days passed as he sat there in the car, stone cold, unmoving.  People must have noticed the car sitting there for several days and a person in it.  Didn’t one of them take the time to go see if the man was OK?  Apparently not.  And the officer who even wrote the ticket may have assumed the man was just sleeping and, being polite, didn’t want to wake him.  I just don’t know, and I just don’t understand.

Is it any different each and every day when I look around me at the lives of those who don’t know Jesus?  They may be sitting in the cubicle next to you, walking through your checkout lane at the store, cashing your check at the bank.  They are there – and they are dying. 

I hope that we will not be as careless and un-noticing as the police officer who saw the car, saw the man, wrote the ticket, but never said anything to the man.  If someone, ANYONE, who had seen this old man in the car had come to him early on, he might have lived.  But they didn’t come, and he died. 

One of my greatest fears about the day of judgment is that some lost person that I knew in this life will look at me on that day as they are being led away and say, “Why didn’t you check on me?  Why didn’t you help me?”

Genesis 4:9 – Afterward the LORD asked Cain, “Where is your brother? Where is Abel?”  “I don’t know!” Cain retorted. “Am I supposed to keep track of him wherever he goes?”

The answer is: yes.

PRAYER:  May we have Your passion for the lost.  Give us Your eyes to see their future possibilities, both for glory and for horror.  May we be moved by Your Spirit to keep track of one another at all times and in all places.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 4/07/16 – The Gospel According to You

DayBreaks for 11/07/06: The Gospel According to You

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2006:

There’s a sweet old story translated for man,

But writ in the long, long ago –

The gospel, according to Mark, Luke and John

Of Christ and his mission below.

 

Men read and admire the Gospel of Christ

With its love so unfailing and true.

But what do they say and what do they think,

Of the Gospel according to you?

 

‘Tis a wonderful story, that Gospel of love,

As it shines in the Christ life divine,

And O, that its truth might be told again,

In the story of your life and mine.

 

Unselfishness mirrors in every scene,

Love blossoms on every sod,

And back from its vision the heart comes to tell,

The wonderful goodness of God.

 

You are writing each day a letter to men,

Take care that the writing is true,

‘Tis the only Gospel that some men will read –

That gospel according to you.  (Author Unknown)

 As I sit in my study and contemplate this poem, I’m forced to consider a very disturbing question.  It brought me face to face with the passage that Paul wrote in Galatians 1:9 – I will say it again: If anyone preaches any other gospel than the one you welcomed, let God’s curse fall upon that person.  What does the “gospel according to you” say?  How well does it resemble the “gospel according to Christ” – the one he lived – day in and day out?  We may have our moments of brilliance when we shine like stars in the universe for the glory of God, but we also have our moments (far too many!) when we’re mired in the pig-pen beside the Prodigal.  

So the question of the day is simply this: if someone were only to observe my life, what conclusions would they reach about Christ?

PRAYER:  Lord, let us be alert to the gospel that our lives are writing and may we be faithful carriers of the story and nature of Christ!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple.  All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 9/07/16 – The Man Who Came Back to Life

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DayBreaks for 9/07/16 – The Man Who Came Back to Life

John 12:9-11 (NLT) – When all the people heard of Jesus’ arrival, they flocked to see him and also to see Lazarus, the man Jesus had raised from the dead. Then the leading priests decided to kill Lazarus, too, for it was because of him that many of the people had deserted them and believed in Jesus.

Lazarus had become a spectacle and a curiosity piece overnight. His instant fame wasn’t because of something he’d done, but because of something that had been done to and for him. In some ways, it’s not that different from the Kardashian’s – I’ve yet to figure out why they are famous – what have they ever done to deserve all that attention?  But I digress…

Even though Lazarus hadn’t done anything to warrant the attention – he got it. After all – how often would someone have a chance to look at a man who was dead (and not just for 30 minutes, but four days!!!) and perhaps even to get to ask him some questions about his experience. I would have had tons of questions!

But there was a problem – he’d caught the attention of not just the masses, but the religious leaders had taken notice, too. I wonder: what because of Lazarus? The leaders succeeded in killing Jesus – did they make good on their plan to kill Lazarus, too?  Perhaps they didn’t kill him because once Jesus rose and the rulers were in a tizzy because of it, they may have forgotten about Lazarus. Perhaps they thought if they killed him and he rose, too, that it would only make matters worse so they decided to leave him alone.  Or, perhaps Mary, Martha and Lazarus moved to some obscure location and lived out the rest of a normal life. What we do know is they wanted to kill because he was a powerful part of the Jesus story and a walking witness – without even speaking a word! 

All those things don’t really matter – but what does matter is that those who are friends of Jesus are at risk if they lead/help others to believe in Jesus. Lazarus did. His life was a testimony to the reality of the power of Jesus as the Son of God.

All over the world there are brothers and sisters who are part of the Jesus story, too, who are risking their lives every day just because they are living testimonies of the reality of who Jesus is. Are you praying for them daily? Am I?

And what does my being alive say, if anything, about Jesus? Will anyone ever want to kill me because of the testimony of my life?

PRAYER: God, I confess that my first instinct is to count the cost of what something I might do for someone else means to me and my wishes and my goals and my “place”! Help me to know when it is right to count the cost and when it is right to simply say, “Here I am, Lord, send me!” In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.