DayBreaks for 8/22/19 – Drinking Your Own Kool-aid

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DayBreaks for 08/22/19: Drinking Your Own Kool-Aid

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2009:

Many of you will recall Jim Jones and the People’s Temple located in Guyana.  Jones was a charismatic leader by all accounts.  He had fanatically devoted followers who left behind families, homes, careers and jobs in America to follow him to a jungle “paradise” that was called Jonestown (that should have been a clue to the man’s ego.)  They moved after a magazine, New West, raised questions about the legality of some of their practices.  According to Wikipedia, after moving to Guyana, Jones developed a belief in something he called “Translation” – the idea that he and his followers would all die together and go to another planet to live in peace.  He even held mass suicide “practices” where followers would drink Kool-aid and fall to the ground as if they were dead in order to prepare for Translation. 

The day finally came when it wasn’t practice – it was for real.  A total of 914 people died in the mass poisoning – 638 adults and 276 children.  By the time that authorities arrived, many of the bodies were already in such a state of decay that there is some dispute about how many actually died.  It was not a pretty scene. 

I have often wondered about the mindset of those present in Jonestown on that fateful day.  It is hard for me to comprehend parents giving cups of poisoned Kool-aid to their little ones.  For me, it is almost as hard to understand how people could take the cup and drink it down themselves.

An old blog entry had a synopsis of an article from Vogue magazine by Jenny Sanford (the wife of the infamous Governor Sanford who was caught having an affair with an Argentine woman while lying about his whereabouts to his family and staff), where she was describing what it was like to watch her husband’s “addiction” to a woman with whom he was carrying on an affair.  The writer of the blog (my youngest son, Tim) noted this quote from Ms. Sanford: “Politicians become disconnected from the way everyone else lives in the world. I saw that from the very beginning. They’ll say they need something, and ten people want to give it to them. It’s an ego boost, and it’s easy to drink your own Kool-Aid. As a wife, you do your best to keep them grounded, but it’s a real challenge.” 

What struck me was her comment: “…and it’s easy to drink your own Kool-Aid” – a reference to what happened in Jonestown and how it was so deadly.  It isn’t just politicians who are quick to drink their own Kool-aid.  I fear we are all quick to believe our own deceptions and lies and to seek that which flatters and boosts our egos.  It is frequently said of sports teams or athletes that get too “fat” of a head that they “believe their own press,” i.e., they believe the things they say and think about themselves to an unhealthy and potentially fatal degree.

We do the same thing when we think we’re better than we really are, or when we think we can withstand a certain temptation that has always pulled at us – and we’ll get too close to it and wind up in the dirt like the families who died in Jonestown. 

God doesn’t give us poisoned Kool-Aid, nor does He want us to drink our own concoction.  Instead, He offers us the Living Water – water that is pure, sweet and gives us life. 

Maybe it’s time for us all to do some serious introspection to find out if we’re drinking our own Kool-Aid.

Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation. Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation. – Isaiah 12:2-3 (KJV)

PRAYER:  Our eyes are all too often blinded and our minds are dulled by our own press and impressions of ourselves, Lord.  Help us not to drink our own Kool-Aid, nor the Kool-Aid that anyone else would offer us.  Help us to seek and drink only Living Water!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

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DayBreaks for 8/21/19: Herein Is Love

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DayBreaks for 08/21/19: Herein Is Love

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2009:

Have you ever stopped to ponder the variety of ways in which God chooses to show us His love for us?  I am highly confident that the ways and means He uses to show us His love are innumerable and as infinite as the stars of the sky or the sand of the seashore.  Yet, sometimes we still wonder if He really, honestly, truly loves us. 

Flowers can speak to us of how He longs to whisper to us.  Mountain vistas that He created were made to sweep us off our feet.  The vastness of the universe on a cold, clear night speaks to us not only of His greatness, but of our importance to Him that caused the Psalmist to wonder aloud how amazing it was that He should care about and “visit” us.  The touch of a lover’s hand upon the skin excites us as does the gentleness of the breeze borne of the Spirit.  In all these things, and so many more, He speaks love to us.

Donald McDonald, in Behold Your God (1995), perhaps captured the thing that most ultimately is the proof of His love.  He said, “In the last analysis, God expresses His love for us not by putting another to suffer in our place, but by Himself taking our place.  He meets the whole cost of our forgiveness in Himself, exacting it of Himself.  He demands the ransom.  He provides the ransom.  He becomes the ransom.  Herein is love.

That God provided someone to suffer in our place is not the greatest measure of His love for us.  God could have commanded the archangel Michael to come to earth and die on a cross.  We don’t know for sure, but we must all assume that Michael, along with the balance of the heavenly host, are all without sin.  Could they not have been the sacrifice?  Why not?  Why didn’t God send one of them to suffer in our place?  To my very limited way of thinking, I have to believe that He didn’t do that because it wouldn’t speak to us of His love for us if He’d sent someone else, and secondly that it is not in keeping with His nature to not love to the “Nth” degree in a personal way. 

If a father is watching a drowning child struggle in the middle of a lake, would the loving thing be for the father to ask someone else to go an die in an effort to save the child, or to go himself?  Which would be love?  It’s obvious, isn’t it. 

God’s love isn’t shown just by Him having sent someone to die for us, but in coming to do it Himself.

Today, live with the thought that He loves you far more than you will ever know or imagine!

PRAYER:  For Your great love that is higher than the stars, deeper than the sea, and wider than eternity…Hallelujah!!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/20/19 – Perfect Perfection

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DayBreaks for 08/20/19: Perfect Perfection

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2009:

Perfection, in particular human perfection, is one of the rarest things on earth – if it exists at all.  The sports world shows how rare and short lived that perfection is.   For example, during the week of July 20, 2009, Chicago White Sox ace Mark Buerhle, pitched a no-hitter, but not just a no-hitter – he’d thrown a perfect game!  And that win moved the White Sox moved into a tie for first place.

In case you don’t know the distinction, there’s a big difference between a no-hitter and a perfect game.  In a no-hitter, it means no batter gets a hit against you, but you can walk batters, hit batters with a pitch, and your team can make errors on the field, and it still counts as a no-hitter.   In fact, you can even lose a no-hitter through some of those means.  Still it’s hard to pitch a no-hitter:  out of 2,430 regular season Major League baseball games played every year only a few no-hitters are pitched. As of July 2009, there have been a total of only 281 no-hitters thrown in the history of baseball. Most pitchers will never throw a no-hitter in their entire career.  The greatest pitchers in baseball may pitch two or three no-hitters in their career, with a few having thrown 4.

A perfect game is a much more difficult.  The pitcher not only must prevent all 27 hitters from getting a hit, he also cannot allow a single walk, he can’t hit any batters, and his team must not commit any errors!  Despite the thousands of Major League baseball games played every year and the tens of thousands of games that have been played over the history of baseball since the major leagues began in 1871, Mark Buerhle’s perfect game was only the 18th ever pitched.

But Buerhle didn’t stop there.  In his next start, he was again perfect for the first five and two thirds innings, setting the record for consecutive batters retired over a several-game stretch—45 batters up and down—but then, as it inevitably had to, human limitation took hold.  In the sixth inning, with two outs, Buerhle walked a batter.  Some hits followed.  He got out of that inning, but in the seventh he gave up more hits and was pulled from the game.  He had given up five runs on five hits, and the White Sox lost the game 5 to 3.  For the six games after his perfect game, the White Sox lost five of six games and fell several games behind the Tigers. 

Among human beings, if perfection is possible, it is only temporary.  Most of us may not achieve perfection at all in any sense in our human endeavors.  Have you ever loved perfectly?  Drew the perfect picture?  Developed and executed perfectly the perfect plan?  Parented perfectly?  Been a perfect child, sibling or friend?  Me neither.  Perfection just isn’t a human trait.  In fact, one could argue that a perfect game isn’t really perfect unless the pitcher never throws any balls out of the strike zone, etc.  But we like to pretend that we do things perfectly once in a while.  Perhaps it makes us feel better.  Or perhaps it is a deadly delusion.

Is perfection possible?  Yes, it is.  And if you are a Christian, believe it or not, you’ve been made perfect, not only for a temporary period of time, but eternally: Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. (Hebrews 10:13-14) 

You have been made perfect if you are in Christ.  Forever.

Now, go and celebrate THAT!

PRAYER:  Lord, it is hard to grasp and to feel that we are in any way, shape or form, perfect.  Sin besets us so frequently and causes us to despair.  We praise Your Name for the sacrifice that has made us already perfect in Your most holy eyes!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/19/19 – Who Signed Me Up for This?

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DayBreaks for 08/19/19: Who Signed Me Up for This?

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2009:

A woman named Linda is a teacher in Texas and she told the following story about one of her interactions with a first-grade student in her class on the first day of school.  “Accustomed to going home at noon in kindergarten, Ryan was getting his things ready to leave for home when he was actually supposed to be heading to lunch with the rest of the class.  I asked him what he was doing. “I’m going home,” he replied.  I tried to explain that now that he is in the first grade, he would have a longer school day. “You’ll go eat lunch now,” I said, “and then you’ll come back to the room and do some more work before you go home.” Ryan looked up at me in disbelief, hoping I was kidding.  Convinced of her seriousness, Ryan then put his hands on his hips and demanded, “Who on earth signed me up for this program?”

Haven’t you felt a little bit like Ryan at times?  We had a comfortable old life before coming to Christ.  By that I mean that we were on familiar ground, we didn’t feel very guilty because we may not have believed in such a thing as sin, we felt we were in control, and we may have even thought we were happy.  Then we became Christians and we find that life changed – not just in small, subtle ways, but in BIG ways.  The requirements are daunting—”Surely the Lord doesn’t expect me to forgive seventy times seven;” “Surely he doesn’t want me to turn the other cheek when someone hurts me;” “What does he mean, ‘take up my cross’?” “What’s this bit about I must be holy even as God is holy?  How can I possibly achieve that?!?!”

It isn’t long before you want to say, “Who on earth signed me up for this program?”  Stop and think about it.  In a way, no one signed you up.  In another way, your parents signed you up without your permission.  In order to get a proper perspective on this, though, I think we must reflect back on Ryan and his consternation for being signed up for a more rigorous schooling challenge.  Would it have really been to Ryan’s advantage to have remained in kindergarten the rest of his life, to have never gone on to higher demands and higher lessons learned?  Of course not. 

God could have said that when we came to Him, we could stay in kindergarten, as it were…and not have to grow or change or stop acting like little spoiled children.  Jesus never misled anyone about the cost of following him.  The cost is high: your own life put on your own cross.  Not literally (most likely) but your life is to be sacrificed to him.  Some may spend their entire Christian lives complaining to God about how hard the Walk is and how unfair it seems. 

Isn’t it about time we stopped complaining about what we signed up for and get on with living it out? 

PRAYER:  Lord, thank you that you have enrolled us in the school of the abundant life.  Help us not to complain about the lessons, but to accept them in faith knowing that they help us to grow into Your likeness.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/16/19 – Lessons My Dog Taught Me…about Snakes

DSC06520DayBreaks for 08/16/19: Lessons My Dog Taught Me – About Snakes

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2009:

(Written on August 10, 2009) – Well, what a day it has been.  Actually, what a 24 hours it has been.  Starting last night at about 9:30 p.m., Casper (our white boxer) discovered a rattlesnake about 6 feet up the hill behind our house.  At first I didn’t know what it was when I heard it – it sounded more like an electrical buzzing than the rattlesnakes you hear on TV.  Casper was jumping against a retaining wall at the edge of our patio that hold the hill in abeyance, and I eventually saw why: a rattler, about 2 feet long, that started slithering up the hillside toward some brush.  I immediately brought him back inside and blocked off the dog door so neither Casper nor Rainie (our other dog) could get outside and get bitten.  I then launched a frantic search for the ammunition for either the .22 or the shotgun. 

By the time I found the ammunition, the snake had crawled up under some brush, but I could still hear it, even though I couldn’t see it very well (it was dark, my eyes aren’t the best anymore, and the brush concealed most of it except for its tail.)  Since it was late, I used the .22 and not the shotgun.  I didn’t want to alarm the neighbors.  I thought I hit the snake…but perhaps it just jumped a couple of times.  Then it disappeared.  Laurel (my wife) was concerned about it, but I assured her that the snake wouldn’t come back during the night to bother the dogs.  As it turns out, I was wrong. 

We all passed a fairly sleepless night and every time the dogs got up to go outside, I listened…but heard nothing.  Nothing, that is, until about 5:30 a.m. when Casper went outside and I heard the very distinct sound that I’d heard the night before.  I raced out to the patio door, but before I got there, I heard Casper yelp.  As soon as it hit the door, I looked out and there was Casper, by then about 10 feet from the rattler that had curled up next to some flower pots on the deck.  I got him inside, but the snake was laying on concrete so I couldn’t shoot it with the rifle or shotgun for fear of ricochet.  I shut the dog door again to keep Casper and Rainie both inside, and that’s when I saw Casper bleeding from the nose.  He’d been bitten.  We hurried him to the emergency vet where they began anti-venom and we drove home, leaving him behind. 

When we got inside, we were stunned to see that Rainie had also been bitten and her snout was swelling.  We took her to the vet in town for treatment.  As of this writing, both dogs are still at the vet’s, in stable condition and expected to recover…we’re still praying about that at this moment.

This episode taught me a couple of things:

FIRST: Even a little snake can be horrifying deadly.  This wasn’t a large rattler by any means, but it is the little ones that are the most deadly because they are easily frightened and they’ve not learned to control their venomous injections – so they shoot the venom with, dare I say, venom!  A small snake can give you a bigger, more deadly dose of venom than a larger one would.  I would suppose that when Eve saw Satan, the serpent, in the garden, she wasn’t too alarmed.  I doubt that he looked like a hulking, menacing anaconda with fangs dripping with poison.  He probably presented himself in a beautiful, innocent, small looking form – she certainly didn’t seem to be alarmed by his appearance.  A little bit of Satan’s influence in our lives can destroy or disfigure.  It is often the seemingly innocent flirtation with something sinful that explodes into a full-blown affair, a pattern of theft, hatred, prejudice, etc.  Once the poison is in, it’s very hard to get it out.  And it always leaves a mark and causes great pain and distress.

SECOND: When you see something deadly, you better take deadly action yourself rather than playing around with it in a non-lethal fashion.  I was so wrong to be more worried about the possible noise of the shotgun going off and disturbing the neighbors than I was about the potentially deadly snake that was virtually on the doorstep.  Satan is out to KILL you…don’t be fooled.  Don’t think that just because you might have sent him packing the last time that he’ll stay gone.  He’ll be back.  He’ll be ruthless and he’ll be deadly…if you don’t cut his head off when you have the chance.  Don’t mess around with deadly things like sin in your life.  Kill it…NOW…before it might kill something you love!!!!

It looks at this time like our dogs will survive, yet they are paying a price for my reticence to kill the snake when I had a chance.  Don’t let your family or soul pay for your reluctance to take definitive action against the things that entice you!

PRAYER:  We need to be much more alert and savvy to Satan and his whereabouts in our lives, Lord!  Help us to be able to see him and recognize his poison early and to take effective action by the application of Your Spirit.  Lord, kill the sin-lust that rages in our heart and keep us pure and holy in Your eyes.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/15/19 – Where Happiness Is

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DayBreaks for 08/15/19: Where Happiness Is

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2019:

Where in life can we find fulfillment and joy and happiness?  Solomon tried many things, as have others throughout time.  Whereas Hebrews chapter 11 gives us a roll call of the heroes of the faith, let me give you a different kind of roll call today that reflects the results obtained by others when they sought happiness:

It is not found in unbelief: Voltaire was an infidel of the strongest sort.  He wrote: “I wish I had never been born.”

It is not found in money: Jay Gould, an American millionaire, had plenty of money and the things it could buy.  He, when dying, said: “I suppose I am the most miserable devil on earth.”

It is not found in position, fame or power: Lord Beaconsfield had plenty of those things, but wrote: “Youth is a mistake, manhood a struggle, old age a secret.”

It is not found in loose living and infidelity: Thomas Payne, in his last moments of life, cried out: “O Lord, help me!  God, help me!  Jesus Christ, help me!”  Colonel Charteris said: “I would gladly give 30,000 pounds to have it proved to my satisfaction that there is no such place as hell.”

It is not found in pleasure: Lord Byron, who reveled in pleasure throughout his life, wrote on his last birthday: “My days are in the yellow leaf, The flowers and fruits of life are gone, The worm, the canker, and the grief, Are mine alone.”

It is not found in raw power: The name of Napoleon the Great, truly represents a life lived about power.  As a lonely prisoner at St. Helena, he summarized his life this way: “Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and myself founded empires.  But on what did we found them?  On force!  Jesus Christ alone founded His on love, and today there are millions who would die for him!”

So where is happiness to be found?  Listen to Jesus: I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice and your joy no man will take from you.  (Jn. 16:22)  The answer is simple: in seeing Christ come as our friend and redeemer and not as our vengeful judge!

PRAYER:  Lord, hasten the day when the faith shall be sight and we shall turn our eyes toward the heavens and with great joy see Jesus coming again!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/14/19 – How Can it Be?

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DayBreaks for 08/14/19: How Can It Be?

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2019:

“O love of God, how can it be, that You my King, should die for me?”

How much has been written about the love of God?  It really doesn’t matter – even if the entire universe were filled with the writing, it wouldn’t be enough to cover the subject!  We believe in His love (most of the time), and we certainly WANT to believe in it always, but there are times when we just find it hard to believe that although John says He is love, that He loves ME. 

Why?  Why should He love you?  Why should He love me?  Is there something deep within you that requires Him to love you?  Is there something special about my character that causes Him to love me?  While we are all unique and special, is there something about us that God finds irresistible that compels or forces Him to love us? 

The question of “How could he love me?” is a common one, even when it lies unspoken on the lips.  It is also a question that I don’t think we can answer.  I know that I often don’t find myself all that lovable.  How can He find me lovable after all the things I’ve done?  Sure, we can say it’s because we’re made in His image…and it is true that we are made in His image.  But I don’t think that is sufficient to provoke love in His heart for us. 

In his book, The God I Don’t Understand, Christopher J. H. Wright said, “We will never understand why God has chosen to love us, other than the revealed truth that God is love.  It is simply and essentially God’s character and nature to love.  That states the truth, but it doesn’t explain it. … The love of God is generated and motivated within God’s own being, just as the light and warmth of the sun that we feel on planet Earth is generated within the sun itself and owes nothing to anything the earth or its inhabitants can do – other than to be orbiting within reach.”

It is probably just that simple: God loves us because He is God.  Period, over and out.  And if He is truly love, as John proclaimed, it should not be a surprise that He can love even one like me!

PRAYER:  Of all the things that You could have been, how grateful I am that in Your deepest nature, You are love!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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