A census worker knocked on the door. A woman answered the door and the census worker introduced himself and asked: “How many people live in this place?” The woman replied, “Well, there’s James, and Sylvia, and Monique, and Devon.” The census worker interrupted and said, “I don’t need the names all I want to know is the number of people who live here.” The woman at the door replied, “Nobody here has a number. Everyone here has a name.”

Have you ever felt like you were “just a number?” That you really didn’t matter?

Discrimination — Stock Photo #51591693

There are many ways to make people feel like they are “just a number.” To relegate persons to the margins. Treat folks like outcasts. Unimportant. Unwanted.

Poverty-17

Bureaucratic structures have a way of pushing people to the side. To exhibit the belief that the process is more important than people. Society has a way of prizing some while devaluing others.

A popular television series several years ago tapped into the feeling that many have of being “somebody,” being known and valued.

The theme song* struck a chord with millions who understood that “Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got.
Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot.” They knew that “Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came. You wanna be where you can see, our troubles are all the same. You wanna be where everybody knows
Your name.”

The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah was assured that God knew him even before he was conceived and that his Maker had plans for him before he was born (Jeremiah 1:5). God reminded Jacob that he was a special creation whose name was known by the Creator (Isaiah 43:1).

In the perfect world everybody has value. Nobody is a number. Everybody has a name. Since our world is not perfect  we must be diligent in caring for one another and to make sure that no one is disregarded or treated disrespectfully.

Matthew 16:21–28, Jesus walks with His disciples

The Master Teacher, Jesus, taught us the worth of every individual. He said that even the smallest sparrow was valuable. The Creator, who took notice of even those little birds paid attention to the most minute detail of each human being (Matthew 10:29-31). In the Gospels, He regularly reminds us of the significance of those whom we call the “least” and the “outcast.” There are no “little” people with God. No one is “lost in the crowd.”  Every individual human being is precious to God.

Therefore, we are our commissioned to love and serve all people. Those who are prosperous and those who live in poverty. The well and the sick. Those who are on the top of the world and those who are crushed by the weight on their shoulders. The “up and comers” and those who are ” down and out.”

My wife says her mother made every one of her ten children feel like they were her favorite. She had a away of loving each one of them as if there was only one of them. I think God is like that. And we should be too.

Jamie Jenkins

*Where Everybody Knows Your Name Lyrics by Gary Portnoy and Judy Hart Angelo

 

 

 

 

 

 

image of traffic rules - rules - JPG

Keeping the rules may be a requirement of an orderly society but it is not enough just to “keep the rules.” Actions are sometimes just a way to put up a front that disguises the real person. Appearances do not always present an accurate picture.

Our actions are often prompted by political correctness or for personal gain. We must be careful not to prejudge the worth or value of something, by its outward appearance alone. A person may “act” right but in unguarded moments their true self is revealed. Judging a book by its cover is often misleading.

quotes by Confucius

Confucius said, “I have yet to meet a man as fond of high moral conduct as he is of outward appearances.” Jesus suggested that “keeping the rules” is just the starting point. It is the outward manifestation of how one should behave. But more importantly is how one thinks.

The Imitation of Christ by a Kempis Thomas:

“A sure way of retaining the grace of heaven is to disregard outward appearances, and diligently to cultivate such things as foster amendment of life and fervour of soul, rather than to cultivate those qualities that seem most popular” (Thomas a Kempis).

We may obey all the laws and rules of society but harbor hatred in our heart. God calls us to be more than “good law abiding citizens” but to be equally concerned for the best interest of others as we are for ourselves.

Amber Benson is an American actress best known for her role as Tara Maclay on the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She says, “There is so much more to this world than outward appearances. Our society basks in the illusion of normalcy every day, and hides from the truth every night.”

Ten Commandments Tablets

Observing the “thou shalt nots” (Exodus) is fundamental to right living. But Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) instructs us more fully on right behavior: He teaches us that

  • Resentment and bitterness is always destructive
  • Lust and violence have no positive value.
  • Faithfulness in marriage involves more than monogamy
  • A person’s word is their bond
  • Retaliation is never appropriate but love and respect is always right

The “Law’ is our school master that teaches us the baseline of right behavior. But it is only the starting point. It important to observe “the Law” but it points us to a deeper truth.

God judges persons differently than humans do. People look at the outward appearance; God looks into the heart.

Jamie Jenkins

 

Sometimes you just have to quit. Enough. Done. No more. However, that attitude does not necessarily mean that one is lazy or incompetent. It is simply the recognition that there is always more than one can accomplish and you have to establish a reasonable stopping place.

I am not encouraging people to be quitters. There are times when the work has to be finished. No suggestion that it is alright to be a slacker. Deadlines must be met but there is a need to maintain a balance between commitment and common sense. Some things can wait. Everything does not always have to be done NOW.

Blue Work Harder Neon Sign

I have the tendency to be a workaholic. My natural inclination is to work until the job is done. Keep your nose to the grind. One much wiser than I suggested that it is important to seize the day (Luke 9:62) but there are limits to staying focused on the task at hand.

There is a bit of a perfectionist disposition evident in my approach to a task. I believe that anything worth doing is worth doing well. I agree with the Apostle Paul who admonished folks to do everything in such a way that God would be honored (I Corinthians 10:31). However, that does not necessarily mean “working your fingers to the bone” is the only way to be faithful in a task.

There's a way to do it better - find it. - Thomas A. Edison

Sometimes you find a way to work smarter, not harder. And sometimes you just quit. Perhaps the task does not need to be completed, at least not at the moment. Perhaps you simply need a break. Then you can return to finish the work.

lenas-garden-1

I was reminded of this principle last week while I was doing some yard work. My wife is a Master Gardener and maintains a beautiful flower garden. She works hard at it and I pitch in a little by cutting the grass, trimming the shrubs, and occasionally digging a hole or two.

The few days of spring-like weather recently has brought out the daffodils and the trees are beginning to bloom. The roses that were cut back last fall are showing signs of new growth and you can see subtle signs of green in the dormant brown Bermuda grass lawn. So I decided to do my little bit in the seasonal transition.

August 10, 2010-2 020

I trimmed the rose over the arbor in the backyard. The ivy coming over the wall had sent out long runners that needed to be cut back. It was a good time to fertilize the trees and shrubs. The grass needed to be raked to clean up the trash and leaves from the winter. One task led to another. What started out as a few minutes of work turned into more than I had planned.

Thomas Edison said, “The three great essentials to achieve anything worth while are: Hard work, Stick-to-itiveness, and Common sense.”

Finally I decided I had done enough. At least for the moment. Everything else could wait until another day. Sometimes you just need to quit. The trick is to know when.

Jamie Jenkins

In last week’s post I gave incorrect information. In the post “All Errors Are Not Fatal” I said  Solomon, son of King David of Israel,  was “conceived out of wedlock.”

In fact, the son conceived by Bathsheba as a result of an extra-marital affair with King David died a week after his birth. 2 Samuel 12:15-23 tells that story. Then in verses 24-25 we learn of Solomon’s birth.I was not attempting to offer “alternative facts”- just poor writing.

I have corrected my error in the previous post. I am glad that “all errors are not fatal.”

I am practicing my breathing these days. Conscious of the need to take deep breaths and then slowly exhale. In. Out. Taking in fresh air and breathing out the carbon dioxide. It is good for my body, mind, and spirit.

We are now several days into the Lenten Season. This forty day period, not counting Sundays, leading up to Easter is a time for reflection and introspection. A time to slow down and focus on things that are important and eternal. A time to breathe.

It is a common practice during Lent to intentionally practice spiritual disciplines like prayer, fasting, and self-denial. Focusing on one’s personal and spiritual self leads to a closer relationship with God and a fuller realization of the purpose of one’s existence.

In addition to reading from my church’s devotional book, I have also followed my pastor’s suggestion and have been reading two chapters of the Gospels each day. There are 89 chapters in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John so one can easily read through those four books during Lent.

The Origins of Jesus Christ Matthew 1:1-25 Doing the whole series Lord Willing! Please Read, Like, Follow and Share! Thank you http://whatshotn.wordpress.com/2014/03/30/the-origins-of-jesus-christ-matthew-11-25/:

The first chapter of the Gospel according to St. Matthew begins with the genealogy of Jesus. The first sixteen verses list 42 generations from Abraham to Jesus. “Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac was the father of Jacob,” and so on down to “Joseph, the husband of Mary of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.”

I was tempted to skip those opening verses with all the names but I decided to trudge through them. Those verses trace the lineage of Jesus through 42 fathers with the mention of only one woman by name, Mary, in verse 16. In reading that long list I discovered something interesting in verse 6: “David was the father of Solomon whose mother had been Uriah’s wife.”

The Holy Family, the Holy Trinity, and You! | Get Fed | Catholic ...:

Mary is the only woman named in the genealogy. However one other woman is mentioned but not named. Bathsheba’s name is missing. Instead it says Solomon’s mother “had been Uriah’s wife.”

The biblical story of David is certainly one of success. This young shepherd becomes king. He defeats giants, lions, and bears. He is the envy of every man. Then he reaches a low point in his life.

The story is told in the 2 Samuel 11-12 in the Old Testament. David slept with another man’s wife while her husband was away at war. When he discovered that she was pregnant David devised a scheme to hide the truth. After this effort failed, David had Uriah killed and took Bathsheba to be his wife.

Nathan the prophet came to David and told him a story (II Samuel 12:1-7) that enabled David to see himself and his sin. From that encounter with Nathan, David penned the words of the 51st Psalm. The verses of this poem demonstrate David’s awareness that knowing God’s favor is far more important than everything else.

This Psalm takes on a very personal tone if we believe the Apostle Paul, that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” We don’t have to wait for an “emergency session” with God to learn and apply the principles of David’s experience.

When David was confronted with his sinfulness, he:

  • responded by calling on God for mercy and forgiveness (1-2)
  • acknowledged his wrong doing, confessed his “bent to sinning,” and trusted God’s forgiveness (4-9)
  • looked to the future and sought God’s help to be a different person. (10-12)

 

As a result of David’s extra-marital affair with Bathsheba, a child was born but died a week after his birth. Then David and Bathsheba were blessed with the birth of another son, Solomon. He would become one of Israel’s wisest kings. This story clearly illustrates that mistakes can have painful consequences. But it also shows how God can transform a mistake, even a serious one, into something good. All errors are not fatal IF we acknowledge our wrong doing, ask for forgiveness, and change our behavior.

O Lord, help us to know where we have sinned and give us the grace to follow David’s example so that we can be right with You and do right by others.

Jamie Jenkins

In this diverse and rapidly changing world new words continue to make it into our collective vocabulary. One of the latest for me is “otherize.”

I have just become aware of the word, which isn’t even in the dictionary yet. However, it has been popping in and out of use over the past several years according to linguist Ben Zimmer, chair of  the New Words Committee at the American Dialect Society and a language columnist for the Wall Street Journal.

Zimmer says that otherize has a long history all the way back to the German philosopher Hegel, who wrote in the early 19th century about consciousness of the self vs. the other. By the early 20th century in English writing, the other turned into a verb to describe the act of excluding a person or a group from a particular norm. Thus the idea of treating someone as outside of a particular dominant social group or social norm is generally what is meant by the word otherize.

Image result for images of US vs Them

Humans seem to have the tendency to put people into groups. This often creates an “Us vs. Them” mentality toward people who may be different from us in some way. One research report on a phenomenon called minimal group paradigm shows that people tend to favor a group bias even when they are categorized on relatively meaningless distinctions- eye color, what kind of paintings they like, or even the flip of a coin.

When we “otherize” we “polarize.” Something that’s been polarized has been split into two sides that are so different, it seems as though they’re from opposite ends of the earth — like the North Pole and the South Pole (www.vocabulary.com).

People are polarized by different ideas about government and social issues. Coke vs. Pepsi, Ford vs. Chevy, one sports team vs. another. There are many examples that polarize a population.

We need to be careful about blanket judgments. There may be people who we think are profoundly wrong, but it is not helpful to dismiss them because we disagree with them. It is possible to be passionate about something without stereotyping and demonizing individuals or groups of people with whom we disagree.

We must be careful of the “We/They” and “Us/Them” attitude. It is easy to think our way is better, our church is the “right” church, our behavior is more godly or patriotic than others. This mentality is destructive. Civil discourse and mutual respect are needed to counter otherizing.

The Apostle Paul said, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). All the major religions call people of faith to exercise mutual respect for their fellow human beings.he Center for Family Change offered suggestions on how to treat one marriage partner.

What is suggested applies equally in all relationships. The following paragraph is the advice from their website edited to apply to all persons.(http://www.centersforfamilychange.com/relationship_problems_respect.htm)

Mutual respect is a simple concept. It means you treat one another in a thoughtful and courteous way. It means you avoid treating each other in rude and disrespectful ways. You do not engage in name calling and do not insult or demean another person. It also means that you do not talk sarcastically to, or ignore or avoid the other person. Finally, mutual respect means that you view the opinions, wishes and values of the other person as worthy of serious consideration.

As a child I was taught that Jesus loved “all the children of the world.” I learned that all of them were “precious in his sight.” Surely that love continued as they grew up. If Jesus loved them, certainly we should love, serve, and respect all people too.

“By mutual respect, understanding and with good will we can find acceptable solutions to any problems which exist or may arise between us.” (Dwight D. Eisenhower)

Jamie Jenkins

 

Two days ago UPS tested truck-launched drones for package delivery in rural areas. The drone-equipped vans would only be used on rural routes where the company’s vehicles often have to travel miles to make a single delivery. The goal isn’t to replace drivers but to make them more efficient by allowing one driver to more quickly and efficiently deliver to several homes near one another.

UPS estimates that reducing the distance its trucks drive by just one mile per driver per day over one year could save the company up to $50 million. In another news story

In a separate story about the package delivery company, CNN reported last Sunday that UPS trucks almost never take left-hand turns. “By favoring right-hand turns at all times, unless a left is unavoidable, the carrier saves 10 million gallons of fuel each year, and avoids emissions equivalent to over 20,000 passenger cars.”

Who would imagine that such minor adjustments would make such major differences?

However, in reality little things mean a lot. One ounce of weight loss or gain per day equals 22.85 pounds in a year’s time.

If a person put $10 per month aside for 30 years, it would amount to $3650. If that money was invested at 7% interest compounded daily for 30 years, it would add up to $12,489.66, an increase of $8839.66. Little things mean a lot.

 

The No. 1 song of 1954 in the U.S. on the Billboard chart and in the U.K Singles Chart was a song recorded by Kitty Kallen. Since then Little Things Mean A Lot has been recorded by many artists from the big band sound of Harry James to country music legend Willie Nelson.

Blow me a kiss from across the room
Say I look nice when I’m not
Touch my hair as you pass my chair
Little things mean a lot

Give me your arm as we cross the street
Call me at six on the dot
A line a day when you’re far away
Little things mean a lot

Aaron Ben-Zeev, Ph.D., writing in Psychology Today, suggests thatLove is often described in terms of grand deeds, such as moving mountains. Love can indeed induce such deeds, but usually it is the little things that mean a lot more in love.”

He says further, “These little things, be they gestures, actions, or words, are the many small things that we do every day and that naturally express our heart. They are not the result of calculations or intentions, but are rather spontaneous expressions of what we feel moved to do.”

Jesus suggested that it is not always the “big” things that we do that make a difference. He realized that we could easily be overwhelmed by the challenges of life and the needs of the world. So He counseled us to realize that even a cool cup of water to someone who is thirsty is an important act. (Matthew 10:42)

Lord, help us to see the significance of little things in our daily lives and in our relationships with others.

Jamie Jenkins

There is a classic fable about a man who approaches three men working in a quarry. Each was asked what he was doing. The first man said, “What does it look like I’m doing? I’m breaking rocks.” The second man responded that he was building a wall. The third man said, “I’m building a cathedral.”

All these statements are true but all quite different. The first man did not look beyond the task and the sweat of the moment. He had a job to do and he was simply doing what he was supposed to until time to go home. Hour by hour, day by day it was the same. Breaking rocks.

The second man saw things a little differently. Breaking rocks was a way for him to support his family. This was his personal objective and he took it seriously. It was important to him for their survival but he had no goal beyond making a good living.

The third man said he was building a cathedral. That is a different perspective. Just like the other two men he was making a living breaking big rocks into little ones but he has a loftier vision that merely doing a job and making a living.

The different answers are an indication that their lives are also different. Terrence Moore suggests that “Their words measure the distance between the thoughtless and the thoughtful, between the pedestrian and the sublime.” He says further that their story is “a steady march from breaking rocks to building cathedrals, a story of transformation, a story…of self-transcendence.”

With startling clarity, this story illustrates that purpose has the power to transform not only our attitude about the work that we do, but the quality of our work as well

In his book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, Daniel Pink says that most methods of motivation are ineffective. He proposes that the most effective motivation must include purpose.

Image result for images of Rick WarrenRick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life, reminds us that the search for purpose in life has been elusive for many because they are looking at the wrong starting point- themselves. He says, “It all starts with God… Life is about letting God use you for his purposes, not you using him for your own purpose.  One’s identity and purpose is discovered through a relationship with God and realizing that the purpose for your life fits into a much larger cosmic purpose designed for eternity.”

 

The Westminster Shorter Catechism addresses the purpose for which we were created in question number one:  “What is the chief end of man? Answer: Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”

Jamie Jenkins

He has no business being there. Doesn’t he know that basketball is a game for big people? And the NBA of all places has no room for someone who is a foot shorter than the average player? What is he doing out there on the court in uniform? Doesn’t he know how absurd it is to think that he can play with the “big boys?”

All of the questions above might enter you mind the first time you see Isaiah Thomas. Then you watch him play.

I remember my eighth grade at Barton Academy in Mobile, Alabama. Jimmy Galloway. He might have been an inch over 6 feet but he was a “giant” on the basketball team of that public junior high school in 1957. Things have changed. A recent issue of Sports Illustrated had a story about Austin Wiley from Hoover, Alabama. He is an 18 year old, 6’11”, 255-pound basketball player at Auburn University.

The average American man in 2017 is 5-foot-9 1/2 . Ninety-five percent of adult men are 6-foot-2 or shorter. On the other hand, the average NBA player is around 6-foot-7. That means the average NBA player is more than nine inches taller than the average American man. That’s a lot.

In his book The Sports Gene, David Epstein estimates that the chances of a man who is between 6 feet and 6-foot-2 being a player in the NBA is approximately 5 in 1 million.

So what is 5’9” Isaiah Thomas doing on the basketball court when he is so much shorter and smaller than almost everyone else?

Well, on January 13 he had a game-high 28 points, including the game-winning shot with 2.4 seconds remaining as the Boston Celtics beat the Atlanta Hawks 103-101. After his 20 points in the final quarter of that game he leads the NBA with 334 fourth quarter points. They call him The King in the Fourth

Judging by all outward appearances, Isaiah Thomas should have chosen another life path. However, this guy known as The Pizza Boy, who celebrated his 27th Birthday a couple of weeks ago, earns a salary of $6.5 million this year.

Robert F. Kennedy said, “There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask why? I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?”

If things “are” that “should not be” for a basketball player, why can’t we believe for miracles in our lives and world? Jesus performed many miracles but He said that those who follow him would do even greater things. You talent is God’s gift to you. What you do with it is your gift to God. Believe Big.

Jamie Jenkins

The Word Warriors of Wayne State University believe that “we limit ourselves to words that are momentarily popular or broadly applicable, and so rob ourselves of English’s inherent beauty and agility.” Consequently this group of people are trying to help rejuvenate the language by “advocating for words of style and substance that see far too little use.”

“The English language has perhaps more words in its lexicon than any other,” said Jerry Herron, dean of WSU’s Irvin D. Reid Honors College and a member of the Word Warriors editorial board. “By making use of the repertoire available to us, we expand our ability to communicate clearly and help make our world a more interesting place. Bringing these words back into everyday conversation is just another way of broadening our horizons.”

One way this group of scholars in Detroit helps us to expand your vocabulary is through their annual list of words that we either have never known or have forgotten. They recently released their ninth annual list of words worthy of returning to regular use.

Here’s the words they recommend you start using:

Acedia: Spiritual or mental sloth; apathy.

Anfractuous: Indirect and containing bends, turns or winds; circuitous.

Blithering: Senselessly talkative, babbling; used chiefly as an intensive to express annoyance or contempt.

Bombinate: Buzz; hum.

Bucolic: Of or relating to the pleasant aspects of the countryside and country life.

Effulgent: 1. Shining brightly; radiant. 2. (Of a person or their expression) emanating joy or goodness.

Gauche: Lacking ease or grace; unsophisticated and socially awkward.

Guttle: To eat or drink greedily and noisily.

Mugwump: A person who remains aloof or independent, especially from party politics.

Stultify: Cause to lose enthusiasm and initiative, especially as a result of a tedious or restrictive routine.

You can pursue the meaning of these words and their proper use in a sentence if you wish. Then when you use them in conversation your friends and acquaintances will be impressed- or at least confused.

Although they have not been a part of my vocabulary, most of these words can be applied to my life in one way or another. There is no doubt that at times I am guilty of acedia. I certainly am blithering and gauche at times. I have been known to guttle. These are not very complimentary but can be used to accurately describe me and my behavior. But I think the one word that applies to me for which I offer no apology is mugwump.

I have never been called a mugwump (probably because most folks don’t know the word) but that is who I am, or try to be. I am not a person without an opinion. As a matter of fact, I have an opinion on just about everything and all too often I am willing to express it. However, it is clear to me that others have opinions that are different from mine and that is alright with me. I know that I can be wrong or that another opinion might offer a better or complimentary perspective.

While I hope my thoughts and opinions are respected, I make no claim to having a corner on the market of truth or wisdom. Mutual respect is very important and often I find that is often a missing ingredient in “party politics.” Elections, legislation, budgets, personnel, and a host of other issues tend to divide us in both secular and sacred settings.

 

 

If recognizing that the other person (or party) might have a better idea makes me a mugwump, this is who/what I am. I want to be willing to listen respectfully and when I disagree to be careful not to demonize the other person or ridicule their perspective.

As much as it is possible I want to live in peace with my fellow human beings loving them and respecting them at all times. I think that is what Jesus meant when he instructed us to “love one another… just as I have loved you” (John 13:34). And it is in keeping with the Apostle Peter’s admonition to “love one another, and be kind and humble with one another” (I Peter 3:8).

Jamie Jenkins