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 7/30/19 – Vanished From Sight

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DayBreaks for 07/30/19: Vanished from Sight

From the DayBreaks archives, July 2009:

A recent story from the Associated Press told a fascinating story about hoarding which holds Christian implications.  “Jesus warned against piling up money on earth, because money comes and goes. A sad reminder of the vulnerability of money came with the June 2009 news story of an elderly woman in Israel who had hidden her life savings of one million dollars in her bed mattress. Every night she slept on one million in American dollars and Israeli shekels. She must have felt very secure with her fortune literally inches away, holding her up each night—especially since 2008 and 2009 had been disastrous years for banks and financial institutions as the world economy suffered its worst recession in decades. What’s more, she had had a bad experience with a bank and had lost trust in them. Whom could she trust? No one! In fact, she did not tell even her own daughter where all that fortune was hidden.”

And that was the wealthy woman’s big mistake. One day her daughter decided that the mother needed a new mattress. Who knows, maybe she sat on the bed, and it felt a bit lumpy—one of those ten thousand dollar lumps perhaps—and she thought, “What a cheap bed this is!” She decided to replace the mattress. She wanted to present the new mattress as a surprise gift, so the new mattress was delivered without her mother’s knowledge, and the old, lumpy mattress went into the garbage.

How pleased the daughter must have felt as she watched the delivery men put the new mattress in place and haul the old mattress out to the truck. Imagine the smile on her face when she brought her mother into the bedroom and presented her surprise gift. Somehow her elderly mother did not put two and two together right away. After a night of sleep on her new mattress, however, she woke up and suddenly realized what had happened to her life savings. She literally screamed.

A video news report of this story showed the daughter walking through a garbage dump hunting for the lost mattress. News reports showed workers combing through the trash as bulldozers moved piles of garbage attempting to uncover the lost treasure.

Truly there is no sure way to safeguard our worldly treasures – and they will all be taken from us at one point or another by life or death. 

PRAYER: Help us to truly believe that the only things in life that are worth pursuing are the eternal ones.  In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

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

DayBreaks for 7/05/19 – The Angel and the King

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DayBreaks for 07/04/19: The Angel and the King

From the DayBreaks archives, July 2009:

Recent days saw the passing of Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson.  Farrah Fawcett was one of Charlie’s Angels, and was considered and eulogized by some as being “America’s Angel” (meaning America’s favorite angel).  Michael Jackson, of course, was called the “King of Pop.”  Interesting how both are being idolized in the press.

Both deaths, of course, were sad and tragic, but the reactions (especially to Michael’s death) seems to me to be way over the top.  People weeping who never knew him at all, making all sorts of outrageous statements about how the thing that had given their life something beautiful and hopeful are not just outrageous, but revealing and sad.  It reveals the depraved status of our souls when people have been raised without a God-consciousness and awareness of where meaning comes from.  I mean, if people think that the only thing that can give them joy in life is a moon-walking singer – no wonder they weep in desperation when that singer is gone.  How spiritually bankrupt has our culture become?

I didn’t know Farrah nor Michael.  They had kudos here on earth.  What was their reception like beyond the veil of tears?  God alone knows.  But of this I am confident: their fame meant nothing to God.  He wasn’t impressed with either “America’s Angel” or “The King of Pop”.  He wasn’t impressed with their looks, their ability to dance or sing or act.  The only thing He cared about was looking at their heart to see if it was covered with the blood of Jesus.  I can only hope such was the case.

The same will be true for each person who reads this message and for all those who never read it.  Earthly achievement just doesn’t impress God at all, nor does He want us to find our meaning and joy in things of this world.  He has offered us so much more and created us for vastly greater things. 

PRAYER: Teach us a wise perspective on what has value and what You search for in us, Lord.  Help us learn that things of the spirit are far more critical and valuable than anything of the flesh.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/3/19 – The Great Bailout

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DayBreaks for 07/03/19: The Great Bailout

From the DayBreaks archives, July 2009:

There has been a lot of talk about bailouts lately.  Banks, investment firms, big companies, car manufacturers…maybe even your next door neighbor have received a bailout.  Not being very smart economically, I don’t know if these were the right thing or not, but I certainly have my opinions on the matter!

But that’s not the kind of bailout that I want to talk about today.  I want to talk about people who bail out when things get tough.  This past week, we had Vacation Bible Camp at our church and I observed lots of behavior from the campers, helpers and teachers.  Most of it was all very good, but even VBC campers and workers are humans, and during the course of a hectic week, you are bound to see all kinds of human behavior.  Including some teens who were helping who received some needed correction from an adult – but who then didn’t show up the next day.  They’d made a commitment to help for the week.  But they broke their commitment.  They bailed out.

Commitment seems to be a dirty word, or at the very least, a word which has lost its meaning in our day and age.  We wonder why kids aren’t committed to anything.  In many cases, all we have to do is look at their home life to find out.  Many are not living with their biological mom and dad…their parents divorced (maybe more than once) and the children learned a lesson about “commitment.”  Their parents perhaps bounced from job to job when they grew frustrated or got angry…and instead of working it through and sticking it out for the benefit of the family, dad quits his job and can’t find another one.  And the children learned another lesson about “commitment.”  They have heard mom and dad say things such as, “Sure, I’ll take you to the zoo this weekend,” only to find that when the weekend rolls around, mom and dad are too busy or too tired.  And the children learn another lesson about commitment.

So many children lack commitment to anything these days (or so it seems to me).  To find the reason why, we have to look no further than our own mirror. 

Jesus knows about commitment and he modeled the importance of it to us.  He committed himself to death on a cross in order to redeem us from a fate that we rightfully earned – eternal damnation.  When your kids want to know about commitment – tell them about Jesus.  And then live a life of commitment for them to see and emulate.

PRAYER: We are weak and tempted to run when the heat is turned up on us, Lord.  Help us to be people who keep their commitments and teach our children to do likewise!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/02/19 – Earning Trust

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DayBreaks for 07/02/19: Earning Trust

(NOTE: sorry about no DayBreaks yesterday, our internet was down!)

From the DayBreaks archives, July 2009:

The year was 1921, the city was New York.  Dr. Evan Kane is performing a routine appendectomy.  He’s done this over 4000 times in his 37-year medical career, so it’s old hat to him.  But there are two things that this time are different, that make this a special operation. 

First, Dr. Kane was concerned about the dangers of general anesthesia and he is doing this surgery using local anesthesia.  It wasn’t easy finding a volunteer to go through this surgery because no one knew for sure how well local anesthesia would work in such a surgery.  Many of Dr. Kane’s associates agreed with the dangers of general anesthesia, but volunteers were hard to come by.  Finally, Dr. Kane found a volunteer willing to undergo the experiment.  He’d looked long and hard for a volunteer before he got one. 

As it turns out, the surgery was successful.  The patient experienced only mild discomfort and was released two days later. 

Thanks to the courage of the brave volunteer, local anesthesia was shown to be an effective treatment option that in many cases is highly preferable to general anesthesia.

The second special thing about this surgery is that the volunteer was Dr. Kane himself.  Yep – he operated on his own appendix under just local anesthesia.  Why did he do this?  First, of all, he was convinced of what he believed and was willing to “put his money where his mouth was.”  Secondly, he couldn’t persuade anyone else to try it, so he became a patient in order to convince other patients that they could trust him as the doctor.

This is the core of the gospel and our great hope.  Christ became one of us, enduring the things we endure, suffering the things we suffer, identifying with us in our humanity.  Because he did that, we can trust him and that he understands!

PRAYER: Thank you for giving us proof that you believe in our worth, and that you understand what our lives are like when we struggle and hurt!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/26/19 – Unfulfilled Expectations

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DayBreaks for 06/26/09: Unfulfilled Expectations

From the DayBreaks archives, June 2009:

The boy was 10 years old. He was known as Phineas. His grandfather, in his will, had left him an island – Ivy Island. Phineas had never seen the island, but dreamt of it often. He pictured how he’d build a house, raise cattle and grow prosperous. But he’d never seen it. All that was about to change. After several requests and years of asking, his father finally agreed to take him to see the island. The father, young boy and a hired hand climbed into the wagon and slowly made their way toward the coast of Connecticut. Finally, as they crested a hill, the father told Phineas that if he ran to the tree line and looked toward the sea, that he’d see his island. The young boy leaped down from the wagon, ran though the trees and caught his first glimpse of Ivy Island – the place of his dreams. However, what he saw wasn’t what he expected. Instead of a beautiful, green island surrounded by the beautiful blue sea, he saw 5 acres of swampy marshland.

Phineas grew bitter and it affected the rest of his life. In fact, later on, Phineas (who was to become known as P.T.), coined the phrase, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” You know him as P.T. Barnum, the circus huckster who lured people with promises of freaks and absurdities.

There is something about bitterness that is ugly. Scripture talks about bitterness in this way from Heb 12:15: See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.

Brain tumors are sometimes very difficult to remove because they grow “roots” that intertwine with the brain stem and other parts of the brain. These roots are very difficult, if not impossible, to extract. Bitterness has the same potential to get into our heads and grow into all the little, dark places where it settles in and makes itself at home.

When it seems like life lets you down, we can become bitter. The promise of a raise wasn’t kept, the recognition that was earned wasn’t delivered, the marriage that was supposed to last forever doesn’t. These are facts of life. They do happen and they happen in some way or form to everyone.

What do you do about it? First, in the Hebrews passage, part of the solution seems to be to not overlook God’s grace – rather than meditating on the wrong has been done to us, focus on how much we have received from God that we had no right to expect. Second, realize you can’t stay in a protective shell – you have to move on. You could choose to shelter your heart if your love has been betrayed, but what a horrible life that would be! Love again – take the risk. Let Jesus bring you healing. Don’t give bitterness a place to grow in your heart. It was meant to hold God’s love, not bitterness.

PRAYER: Give us hearts that hold no bitterness.  Give us eyes to see that we deserve nothing from You.  Give us hope in Your eternal love for us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/17/19 – It’s the Little Things

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DayBreaks for 6/17/19: It’s the Little Things

From the DayBreaks archive: June, 2009

I’m not good at remembering birthdays, anniversaries or dates when special things have happened.  Just ask my wife.  She is wonderfully tolerant of me, and after years of marriage, has come to understand that there’s a good chance that I’ll forget something special about any given day.  Still, I try to remember and do something special on her birthday, Mother’s Day, our anniversary or some other special day.  And, bless her heart, it doesn’t have to be some “big” thing.  In fact, she’ll often say something to the effect that “It’s the little things that matter.”  What she’s trying to say is that if it is a little thing I thought of and it came from my heart, she’d rather have that than something that means nothing to me – or to her. 

Truly, little things matter.  Sometimes they matter a great deal.  We love to visit Civil War battlefields, for example: Manassas (Bull Run), Antietam and Gettysburg.  In anticipation of those visits, I’d researched those battles.  I am most fascinated by Gettysburg – I’ve been there twice and can’t wait to go again.  The battle there raged for 3 days with over 50,000 casualties.  Lincoln was right when he called it “hallowed ground.” 

I can’t help but think about the battle and how it waxed and waned…how it could have been avoided or won or lost by one small decision, a choice, that could have gone either way.  No one planned for a battle there – the Confederate troops went to Gettysburg because they heard that there were shoes to be had in the town – and many of the troops were marching without shoes.  So, a decision to go there to seek shoes, of all things, led into the greatest battle ever fought on American soil. 

Consider the Confederates decision not to push the attack at the end of the first day when they had overwhelming advantages in numbers.  By that one decision, it gave the Union troops time to get to Gettysburg and settle upon the high ground – easily defensible.  Consider the Union commander’s decision to deploy troops on a hill (Little Round Top) at the southern end of the area, where no fighting had taken place.  Some of the fiercest fighting would occur there on day two, and if the Union troops had not been present and held their ground, the entire Union army would have been flanked and the war would most likely have been over.  Consider Lee’s decision to attack the center of the Union line on day three, believing that they’d break there – in spite of the advice of his “war horse” General Longstreet – who said such an attack would be disastrous – and it was, as Pickett’s charge failed with horrendous loss of life.

Single decisions.  Thousands of lives affected forever.  History changed.  Reputations made or destroyed.  Life is like that.  And here’s perhaps the scary thought: spiritual decisions have eternal ramifications, not just ramifications for our three-score and ten years.  What kind of decisions are you making?  Where will they lead you?  What will their effect be on those around you – and on those you love – both now and beyond the grave?

Prayer: Lord, we cannot know the full impact of the decisions we make on ourselves, let alone on others, so we pray for Your wisdom to guide our decisions and make them wise.  May we honor Your will with the choices we make this day.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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