DayBreaks for 9/17/20 – I Knew Who They Were

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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:

Barbara Brown Taylor, in Christian Century, created a word picture of Jesus at a feast.  Sometimes we have a hard time identifying with Biblical stories because they occurred in a time and place that is quite remote and distant to us.  The cultures were different, customs were different.  And it makes it hard for us to really grasp the dynamics of what was taking place.  So, I appreciated this prose picture that forced me to see the story of Jesus at this feast in a new and more modern light:

“So if I were putting together a sinners table at the Huddle House, it might include an abortion doctor, a child molester, an arms dealer, a garbage collector, a young man with AIDS, a Laotian chicken plucker, a teenage crack addict, and an unmarried woman on welfare with five children by three different fathers. Did I miss anyone? Don’t forget to put Jesus at the head of the table, asking the young man to hand him a roll, please, and offering the doctor a second cup of coffee before she goes back to work.

“If that offends you even a little, then you are almost ready for what happens next. Because what happens next is that the local ministerial association comes into the restaurant and sits down at a large table across from the sinners. The religious authorities all have good teeth and there is no dirt under their fingernails. When their food comes, they hold hands to pray. They are all perfectly nice people, but they can hardly eat their hamburger steaks for staring at the strange crowd in the far booth.

“The chicken plucker is still wearing her white hair net, and the garbage collector smells like spoiled meat. The addict cannot seem to find his mouth with his spoon. But none of those is the heartbreaker. The heartbreaker is Jesus, sitting there as if everything were just fine. Doesn’t he know what kind of message he is sending? Who is going to believe he speaks for God if he does not keep better company than that? I saw them eating and I knew who they were.”

Galen’s Thoughts: the people at that table were you and I.  We are all like those who sat at the table with Jesus.  And like them, we need His mercy and grace just as much, if not more.  I can’t help but wonder at which table we would have chosen to sit – with Jesus and the outcasts, or with the local ministerial association across the room.

PRAYER: Help your word to come alive to us today so we can see ourselves in every page and learn what it is that you want us to become!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

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 6/19/20 – To DO or to BE – That is the Question

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DayBreaks for 6/19/20: To Do or To Be – That is the Question

From the DayBreaks archive, June 2010:

“To be, or not to be, that is the question” is a phrase spoken by Prince Hamlet in William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 1. Hamlet is contemplating life, death and suicide, overwhelmed by life’s pain while also wondering if death is even worse than life. It is one of the most quoted lines in English literature.

This DayBreaks isn’t about suicide or death or life per se, so I hope you’ll continue reading.

The preacher said something this past Sunday that prompted the title of this DayBreaks.  When you think about it, which is more important as a Christian – doing the right things or being the right thing?  I grew up in a denomination where doing the right things was stressed – you had to do certain things and not do others if you were a “good” Christian. Some would say that’s works-based religion and I suppose they’d be right.

But if we asked Jesus which he’d prefer, I suspect he’d want us to be more than to do. He’d want us to be people of justice, mercy, compassion, to be a disciple, a lover of our fellow man. Sure, there’s a link between the being and doing – but if you are not being who you truly are, the works will die out soon enough.

And what are we to be? Well, someone said that “Sanctification is the process of becoming who we already are in Christ.” You see, in Christ we are already viewed as perfect – because we are IN him and his righteousness covers us fully and completely. But we know in our souls we are not perfect – hence the above saying about sanctification is spot on.

I am to be one who loves God above anything else in heaven or on earth. I am supposed to be honest, fair, loving, a healer of hurts, a righter of wrongs, forgiving, a walking, breathing imitator of Jesus. That’s what Jesus desires from us the most – to be like him. To do, or to be…the answer should be fairly clear to us all. Now, it were only that easy.

PRAYER: Jesus, don’t let us get distracted with busyness doing for you that we neglect who are to be in you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 2/20/20 – The Other Side, Part 1

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DayBreaks for 2/20/20: The Other Side – Part 1

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2010:

After preaching in Galilee, Jesus told his disciples he wanted them all to go to the “other side”.  We read that as simply referring to the other side of the lake, and at one level, that is true.  But it was also a technical term that describes the area of the Decapolis – a heathen, pagan, non-God honoring region populated by the 7 tribes that God had driven out of Israel when the Hebrews took the Promised Land.  It would be like saying, “I’m going over to the Dark Side” in Star Wars terminology – to a place where evil and pride and badness rules, led by Darth Vader and the evil Emperor.  The disciples knew well what it meant. 

As they cross the lake, a storm comes up – a bad one.  What made it worse for the disciples is that the people of the Decapolis worshipped a pagan god that they believed ruled over the weather and the sea.  It’s a bad omen – to those who believe in such things.  Jesus, however, is fast asleep.  When awakened, he calms the storm and they land near Bethsaida in the Decapolis.  Their greeting party is huge, consisting of one man and an entire legion of demons that possess him.  Other than that, they were apparently alone. 

This poor man had been cast out by his people because of his possession.  Jesus heals the man and sends the evil spirits into a swine of 2000 pigs who commit mass suicide by running over a cliff into the water.  (By the say, the pig was part of their pagan worship, too!)  When the townsfolk hear about these going’s on, they ask Jesus and his disciples to get back in the boat they came in on and go back to the “other side” (isn’t it interesting how both sides think the “other side” is whatever side they’re not on?)  When Jesus humbly turns to get back into the boat, the Man Formerly Known As Legion begs to follow Jesus as his disciple.  To my knowledge, this is the only time in Scripture where Jesus tells someone, “No.”  Always, it’s been Jesus extending the invitation: “Come!  Follow me!”, but not now.  Though the man begs, Jesus stands steadfast: No.  You must go tell your story to your people.  Go. 

A couple of chapters later (Mark 8), Jesus returns again with his disciples to “the other side.”  Only this time, a great crowd is present.  Why?  Apparently because one man, formerly possessed, went and told his people what Jesus had done for him and what mercy he had received from the Christ.  All because, it appears, of one man telling his story. 

Couldn’t Jesus have been more effective if he’d stayed and preached after casting Legion out?  I don’t know.  All I know is that Jesus, filled with Divine wisdom, knew it wasn’t the best way.  The people of the Decapolis wouldn’t have been ready to hear Jesus if not for the story of Legion.  They knew this man and even though they’d thrust him out of their communities – he was still “one of us” to these Decapolis dwellers.  He didn’t make them suspicious.  Jesus and his disciples may have had the opposite result.

So, we see the power of telling the story of what Jesus has done for us and of the mercy we found at his outstretched hand. 

Who is on “the other side” from you?  Who is it that you alone, of all God’s many peoples, may be able to reach for Jesus? 

Wouldn’t it be great if when Jesus arrives on the shores of Planet Earth this next time he is greeted by you and by a great crowd to whom you’ve told your story and they’ve become his followers, too?

PRAYER: Help us to not think in terms of “our side” or the “other side”, but to focus on telling the story of the love of Jesus!  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 1/28/20 – When Legends Die

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DayBreaks for 1/28/20: When Legends Die

I have been a Los Angeles Lakers fan since I was a kid in fifth grade and we lived in southern California, so when the news broke yesterday about the death of basketball legend, Kobe Bryant (along with his 13-year old daughter and 7 other people in a helicopter crash), I was stunned and saddened. Kobe was only 41, but 4 years removed from hanging up his sneakers. Many seemed immobilized by grief. Reactions came pouring in from every walk of life and corner of the globe in this day of instant, world-wide communications. It seems like such a tragic waste.

Alexa tells me that every day there are approximately 156,021 persons who die around the globe. Most of those are the nameless, faceless masses of humanity – people we have never met or even heard of. They lived and died in obscurity.

I couldn’t help but think today about a craftsman from a small village in Israel – fewer than 500 probably lived there – who died one day in a tiny backwater of the Roman world. His life was mostly lived in obscurity and ended in obscurity to those alive at the time. Only a small handful seemed to weep at his death. When he died, there was no mass communication and if people heard of it, it was slow in spreading and few there were who found it to be of interest.

Why didn’t Jesus give his life in the 21st century so everyone could hear about him like Kobe? I’ve heard the explanations but it confounds human wisdom for Jesus to have lived and died when he did – especially if the goal is to have the world come to know him and what he did for them.

I don’t know Kobe’s eternal destiny. I don’t know if he came to believe in the craftsman who died on the cross. I can only hope he did. But I do know this: for all his fame, wealth and glory, Kobe’s death couldn’t and didn’t save even a single human soul. And his fame couldn’t keep the helicopter in the air in order to save the lives of those nine aboard.  And all his world championships, MVP’s, Olympic gold medals and the hundreds of millions of dollars he made putting a ball through a hoop don’t matter at all to God. Kobe has faced the ultimate question: Who do you believe Jesus is? I can only hope and pray he knew the answer. 

Yet, the one who died two thousand years ago saved souls by the millions through his death. And yesterday, while the news filled the airwaves with news of Kobe’s passing, I didn’t see one story on the news about the king of heaven and what he’d done. It is not God’s way to be flashy, but to be humble and work invisibly.

How many of the 156,021 who died today went to heaven because of Kobe? None. Not one. How many went because of Jesus? I don’t know, but if they didn’t, it isn’t Jesus’ fault, but it could be partly mine. You see, like most of us, I was eager yesterday and today to talk about Kobe’s passing with my friends – far more eager to talk about that than I am to tell others about Jesus’ death for them. May God have mercy on my soul. 

One more thing as I contemplate the death of a legend. One very famous man and his daughter died yesterday that I know of, but the vast bulk of the remaining 156,019 died obscure deaths as far as the news is concerned. But with God no one dies in obscurity because Jesus tells us that God even knows when a tiny sparrow dies and we are of much greater worth than a tiny bird. We are known to him, he counts the hairs on our head and knows our name and he longs for us all to be with him. And he is counting on us to tell those around us that he loves them so that the 156,021 who will die tomorrow will live in His Presence forever.

My condolences to the Bryant family.

PRAYER: Jesus, thank you for living and dying for us. Help us to be eager to tell the world what you’ve done. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 9/05/19 – Imposing and Proposing

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DayBreaks for 9/05/19: Imposing and Proposing

NOTE: Galen is on vacation for the next couple weeks and may not respond to any comments until he returns on 9/9/19.

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2009:

I don’t think that there are many who would disagree that our culture has become very contentious.  It is clear in how the opposite sides of the political spectrum have labeled their opponents in the last election and in the current health care debate.  What has happened that Americans are now calling others “idiots”, “racists”, or insinuating that they are Nazi’s or worse because they don’t agree with the position and thinking of their opponents.  What has happened to civilized discourse, where women and men of conviction could respectfully and honestly disagree with one another without resorting to name-calling?  Have we become so immature as this would suggest? 

It isn’t just happening in the political world, either.  It happens to Christians – and sadly, sometimes Christians are not just the recipients, but the dispensers of such vitriol as well.  The balance of the world looks at Christians and labels us: ignorant, superstitious, old-fashioned, stupid, duped and the like.  Reminds me of Jesus’ words to us telling us to expect persecution because the persecuted him and the prophets before him.  And, he elsewhere told us that we’re blessed if we are persecuted for His name’s sake.

But is that persecution always without cause?  One of the most common complaints about Christians is that “You’re always trying to impose you views, beliefs and values on others!”  I fear that in some cases, that may be an honest and accurate description of how some Christians go about trying to Christianize the world.  And, I don’t believe, that’s Jesus’ model for evangelism.  Are we to share the gospel, and the Biblical worldview with others?  Absolutely!  It is not called the “Great Commission” for no good reason!  It is one, if not our greatest calling in this lifetime, to love others so much that we’d share truth with them about how they can be saved.  But that’s different than imposing one’s views.

Consider: how would you feel if you lived in a fundamentalist Islamic country, or in India where Hinduism is so strong, and you lived under a government that imposed those beliefs upon you as a Christian?  Simply put: we can’t impose our beliefs on others.  People must come to Christ freely – not by imposition nor by sword. 

So, what are we to do?  We are to propose a better way, not try to impose our viewpoint.  Jesus didn’t impose His view on the Pharisee or the apostle – He simply invited people to come and follow him and see if his way wasn’t better than what they had known all their lives.  In short, he proposed a better way.  We are to invite them to the marriage feast of the Lamb…not to put them in straight-jackets, truss them up like prisoners and force them to come.  It is “whosoever WILL…” that can come, not “whosoever is forced to come” that will find life.

As Rick Warren put it, as Christians (especially in our sharply divided culture in America today), we tend to see others as the enemy rather than as the mission field.  People are not our enemy – falsehood and Satan are the enemy.  People are simply lost…or found.  Let us be about the business of proposing a better solution.  We have nothing to fear from the honest exchange of ideas, for truth, handled rightly, will be seen for what it is.

PRAYER: Examine our hearts, Father, and reveal to us the attitude we have towards those who are not members of Your family.  Teach us to propose the truth and not to impose.  May Your Spirit give wings to the truth that we share!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/26/19 – North Star People

 

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DayBreaks for 08/26/19: North Star People

NOTE: Galen is on vacation for the next couple weeks and may not respond to any comments until he returns on 9/9/19.

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2009:

Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. – DANIEL 12:3

Due north in the sky is where you can find the star, Polaris.  Perhaps you know it by its more common name: the North Star.  For thousands of years now, when sailors or even astronauts are in need of directions or when they are lost, the first thing they do (assuming they don’t have GPS!) is to look for the North Star.  Once they’ve found it, it is possible for them to figure out where they are and how to get back on track. 

Surprisingly, the North Star (Polaris) is not the brightest object in the sky – in fact, it’s rather dim.  It’s slightly green (so I’m told).  Because it is at the tip of the very northern axis in the celestial view from earth, it doesn’t shift position throughout the night – it doesn’t move – it stays put.  It isn’t easy to find, but anyone can learn to find it.  A typical response by those who are shown where it is for the first time is to remark, rather surprisedly, “Huh.  I always thought it would be brighter than that.”

The point is this: we can be like the North Star to other people.  Shocking?  Perhaps, but here’s what Paul had to say about it in Philippians 2:14-16: Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life–in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.  (NIV)  There are several things worth noting about this verse:

FIRST: it is children of God that shine like stars in the universe – not just the “greats” like Peter, Paul, Mary, Esther and their ilk.  Every child of God can and should be shining like the northern star.

SECOND: it is in the dark world, a “crooked and depraved generation” that we are to shine.  We’re not supposed to wait until all is bright and airy – after all, can you see the stars when the sun is shining in its power?  Of course not!  It takes darkness for the stars (other than our sun) to be seen.  The day will come when we won’t shine – because the Son will be all the illumination that is needed when he appears.  But since the passage says we shine in a depraved generation – this verse isn’t talking about when we get to heaven or in eternity.  It is talking about shining NOW.

THIRD: how is it that we shine?  By the way we “hold out the word of life.”  That’s how we shine.  We hold out the Word of life by believing it, holding it out like we would a lantern or brilliant spotlight.  We hold it out so that others can grasp it.  We hold it out so that others can see by it and distinguish between the unfruitful works of darkness and the Light of the World that has come so that no one need stumble and fall again.

FOURTH: we can be like the north star in that we never change position.  We continually hold out the word of life…no matter what is going on in our lives.  Circumstances won’t change us…we should be stationary, steadfast.  As the words to the old song, O Thou Fount of Every Blessing put is, “Praise the mount, I’m fixed upon it, mount of Thy redeeming love!”  Fixed. Solid. Immovable.  The rest of the world may spin off into frenzied oblivion – the children of God won’t.

Right now, you are faced with a decision about how you’ll live this day.  You may be at work, college, high school – some other school – it matters not.  Wherever you are, if you are His child, you can shine like the north star and hold out the Word of Life to those all around you this day.  The question is: will you do it?

PRAYER:  Let us shine to this depraved generation, Lord!  Let us take the Word of Life into our hearts and hands and minds and hold it out to a world dying in the darkness.  Fix us as a star in the sky for all to see Your glory!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 2/7/19 – Just an 8-Watt Transmitter

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DayBreaks for 2/07/2019: Just an 8-Watt Transmitter

In 1972, NASA launched the exploratory space probe named Pioneer 10. Its main mission was to reach Jupiter and send back information about that planet. It was a bold plan because at that time no satellite had gone beyond Mars. As you may be aware, Pioneer 10 accomplished its mission and so much more. It swung past Jupiter in November, 1973, then passed Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. By 1997, Pioneer 10 was more than six billion miles from the sun. Despite that immense distance, Pioneer 10 continued to beam back radio signals to earth. The most remarkable thing was that those signals were powered by an 8-watt transmitter, which radiates about as much power as a bedroom night light. Not even the most optimistic scientist could have ever imagined what that little 8-watt transmitter could do.

So it is when you and I offer ourselves to God in faithful obedience. It’s just incredible what God can do through little 8-watt transmitters like me and you, when we’re turned on for him.

We all are transmitting something – joy or sadness, light or darkness, good or evil, faith or unbelief, trust or skepticism. You may not have great faith, but even mustard-seed faith is powerful. You may have heavy burdens right now – but finding peace in the midst of those troubles transmits a huge message. We are small, infinitesimal transmitters in this great universe, but what we transmits can traverse great distances to great effect. What are you going to choose to transmit today?

PRAYER: Let us be transmitters of truth, love, joy and the good news of a Savior who loves us this day, In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/26/18 – Godtalk

DayBreaks for 11/26/18: God Talk

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From the DayBreaks archive, November 2008:

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

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

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

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

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

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