Body, mind, soul, spirit in old wood type

We tend to think of our bodies and minds as separate systems that function, for the most part, independently. Yet instinctively we know that is not the whole story. The way we think affects how we feel. If we think we are in danger, our body tends to experience stress, our hearts beat faster, and our palms get sweaty. If we think others love and appreciate us, our body responds with positive feelings.

The mind-body relationship has been a topic of conversation and research for centuries.  Scientists and philosophers have debated and attempted to explain mind-body interaction but there is disagreement about whether there is a rigid distinction between the mind and the body or are they uniquely unified.

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‘Wikipedia states that most modern philosophers maintain in their different ways that the mind is not something separate from the body. According to one academic journal, “The problem of the relationship between the mind and the body, is one that has always fascinated humanity across all cultures and in all times.” The next two sentences of explanation in that journal contain 104 words, 571 character and takes 10 lines of space. Two sentences- and the wording left me completely befuddled.

Researchers are continually finding evidence that the brain has a distinct power to manipulate the body’s physiology.  I cannot fully understand the debate but it appears to me they are much more entwined than we might assume. Thought processes and physical responses appear to be interrelated but I cannot offer a scientific or philosophical explanation.

Brain

Robert Jones is not a scientist or philosopher. He runs 3 successful martial arts schools, He says, “The mind is the master of the body. If we train and discipline our minds, the body will follow. Once the body and mind become focused and in tune, you will see that your whole life will seem to flow; like you are in the zone.”

 

Recently I heard an athlete talking about his conditioning routine. His belief was that if you train the brain the body would follow. He talked about both mental and physical exercises and suggested that the brain (mind) determined what the body could/would do.

Healthy concept, Spirit, Body and Mind

Ernest Holmes, author of The Science of Mind says, “Life is a mirror and will reflect back to the thinker what he thinks into it.” If he is correct, then how we think is very important. What our minds focus on will determine our character and our actions. Perhaps that is what the Apostle Paul knew when he gave this advice: “Finally, my friends, keep your minds on whatever is true, pure, right, holy, friendly, and proper. Don’t ever stop thinking about what is truly worthwhile and worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8 Common English Version).

Philippians 4:8 Inspirational Image

Jamie Jenkins

Love Is A Game That Two Can Play And Both WinWinston Churchill and I have something in common. We both believe that our most brilliant achievement was our ability to persuade our wives to marry us. There is nothing else that I have ever done that comes close to it.

Jamie and Lena- Valencia 2016-1

After forty-eight years of marriage to the same woman I can attest to the inestimable value of a life partner who loves you and supports you through good times and bad times. One who lives out the vows to love, honor and cherish. For better or worse. Richer or poorer. In sickness and in health. I also understand that having a good marriage requires a lot of patience and effort on the part of both persons.

divorce decree document and paper family figures Stock Photo - 10180323

Recently I saw a billboard that offered to help folks who wanted to “Undo the I Do.” There is no question that marriages can grow stagnant. Relationships can become strained. One or both parties may stray from their marital vows. With our human frailties and limitations, divorce sometimes may be the best alternative.

Every marriage has its ups and downs. Marriages that seem to be “made in heaven” often have to “live through hell” before they survive. Yet, in spite of everything, sometimes divorce might be the best choice. Marriage litigation experts can be helpful but I hope that everyone will try to “re-do” the “I do” before coming to the decision to make the marriage null and void.

Falling In Love

Mignon McLaughlin suggests that “A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.”  Falling in love may be easy but staying in love is an ongoing exercise.

Marriage therapy, communication, relationship advice:

There are many keys to a successful marriage. “Marriage, in its truest sense, is a partnership of equals, with neither exercising dominion over the other, but, rather, with each encouraging and assisting the other in whatever responsibilities and aspirations he or she might have” (Gordon B. Hinckley).

Sometimes maintaining marriage vows is depicted as a burden and a duty. Although it is a responsibility to be taken seriously, I do not see it as bondage. Instead I believe it is a privilege that provides rich rewards.

Happiness in marriage is doing little things for each other repeatedly. Common courtesies and kind deeds that are present before marriage continue in daily life. It has been said (humorously I hope) that when a man opens the car door for his wife it is either a new car or a new wife. While I understand that customs have changed and women certainly are not “the weaker sex,” little gestures of courtesy are still important in a marriage relationship. Each “serves” the other with gratitude. These “little” acts of affection make up the hundreds of tiny threads that bind marriage partners to each other.

The illusion that everything will just turn out magically without having to communicate thoughts, feelings, and needs in a relationship is an immaturity that will make true connection impossible.:

Another key to a healthy and happy marriage is the recognition that each person in the relationship is unique and it is not necessary that both persons thinks alike and share all the same interests and skills. Ogden Nash said, “Marriage is the alliance of two people, one of whom never remembers birthdays and the other who never forgets them.” That is to say it is a good thing when each one brings something different to the relationship and those differences are seen as complementary rather than competitive.

I am no expert on marriage and I have made many mistakes in my relationship with my wife. I am extremely grateful for God’s grace that has been extended to us as we have worked together to make our marriage as healthy and happy as possible. I realize what Franz Schubert said is true. “Happy is the man who finds a true friend, and far happier is he who finds that true friend in his wife.

Jamie Jenkins

 

Working Smarter, Not Harder...Literally

Work smarter, not harder is good advice. This axiom takes into consideration that there might be a better way to accomplish a task. Analytical data present options that may be preferable to the old way.

That is the central premise of a book by Michael Lewis. It is the story about the Oakland Athletics, a Major League Baseball (MLB) team, and it’s General Manager Billy Beane. A film based on the book starred Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill.

Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game proposes a better way to assemble a competitive team than how baseball insiders have done it in the past. The Athletics, and Beane in particular, believe that the use of computer-generated analysis to acquire new players produces better results than the system used for many years. The conclusion was that rigorous statistical analysis demonstrated better indicators of success. This strategy enabled the A’s to reach the playoffs in 2002 and 2003 in spite of having the third-lowest team payroll in the league.

If you are not a baseball fan, don’t quit reading.

Theo Epstein

In 2004 Theo Epstein became the youngest GM in the history of MLB when the Boston Red Sox hired him at the age of 28. Using the Moneyball approach, he led the team to six playoff appearances and two World Series titles (something they had not accomplished in 86 years) in nine seasons.

In 2011 Epstein resigned from his job in Boston to become President of Baseball Operations for the Chicago Cubs. His devotion to the data-driven analysis that helped teams identify and accumulate players with little-noticed but crucial strengths had succeeded inestimably in Boston. However, “a few weeks before spring training of 2012, in the ballroom of a budget hotel in Mesa, Ariz., Theo Epstein stood before nearly every person connected with the baseball operations of the Chicago Cubs and told them how the Cubs were going to win the World Series” (Fortune Magazine).

The magazine article was based on The Cubs Way: The Zen of Building the Best Baseball Team and Breaking the Curse, a book by Tom Verducci. He reported that “Epstein devoted the first three days of the session to on-field strategy: hitting philosophy, pitching philosophy, defense, and base running. But the entire last day was devoted to character. The Cubs, Epstein insisted, would acquire only players with outstanding makeup.”

Near the end of his tenure at Boston he came to understand that character and chemistry were strengths that could not be captured with a strictly analytic approach and “their absence was painfully clear as the team underwent a late-season collapse. The more the team lost, the more it broke apart from within. Players ­feuded with one another. The egos that had created cracks in the clubhouse while they were winning caused deep fissures as they lost.”

Epstein had put so much faith in numbers when he began as general manager of the Red Sox. “Now character did not just matter. It was essential to Epstein’s blueprint to win the World Series.” He gave his scouts very specific instructions about how to assess not only a player’s skills and abilities but the kind of person he was. How he treated other people. How he responded to adversity. What others- friends and enemies- said about him. His character.

Chicago Cubs 1908 & 2016 World Series Champions Team Photo (Size: 12" x 15") Framed

The brilliance of what the Cubs did was to put their faith not just in numbers, but also in the type of people they acquired. In 2016, five years of applying this new approach, the Cubs won their first World Series championship in 108 years.

Epstein understood that character counts!

Isn’t that what Jesus was implying when he told his disciples “Do not break your promise, but do what you have vowed to the Lord to do.” “Don’t say anything you don’t mean” (Matthew 5:33 CEV, MSG). Repeatedly the Master points his followers to a high standard of morality and instructs them to be genuine in their relationships.

Jesus wants us to know, character counts.

Jamie Jenkins

I woke up and looked at the clock. It is 5:00 and it is still dark. In my head I hear the words of Charles Wesley’s great hymn Christ the Lord is Risen Today.

Charles Wesley.jpg

It is Easter morning.

I remember the words of the Gospel of John: “Early in the morning of the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.”

Sons of men and angels say Alleluia.

She ran to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they’ve put him.”

Raise your joys and triumphs high. Alleluia.

Peter and one other disciple ran to the tomb and when they got there they saw that the grave clothes were still there but there was no body. The tomb was empty.

“They didn’t yet understand the scripture that Jesus must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to the place where they were staying.”

Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!

Mary stayed outside the tomb crying. Then Jesus appeared and spoke to her.

Jesus Reveals Himself to Mary Magdalene

“Mary Magdalene left and announced to the disciples, ‘I’ve seen the Lord’.”

      Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once He died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!

Later that same day while the disciples were behind closed doors Jesus came to them. He offered words of peace to their fearful hearts and he empowered them to go into the world to carry on His work of forgiveness and redemption.

      Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids His rise, Alleluia!
Christ hath opened paradise, Alleluia!

How could I stay in bed.

      Soar we now where Christ hath led, Alleluia!
Foll’wing our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like Him, like Him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!

      Hail the Lord of earth and heaven, Alleluia!
Praise to Thee by both be given, Alleluia!
Thee we greet triumphant now, Alleluia!
Hail the Resurrection, thou, Alleluia!

It’s Easter!

He is not here - for He is risen

Jamie Jenkins

 

Mobile, AL: Springhill Ave Mobile Al.

I grew up in Mobile, Alabama where Mardi Gras was a part of life. Although the celebrations in New Orleans are more well-known, Mardi Gras has its origin in my home town.

 

Mardi Gras arrived in North America as a French Catholic tradition in the 17th Century. King Louis XIV sent Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville and Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville to defend territory that included parts of what is now Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and eastern Texas.

Mobile, AL: Conde Charlotte Museum house 1822 Mobile, Alabama

The settlement of Mobile was founded in 1702 as the first capital of French Louisiana by Bienville. In 1703, fifteen years before New Orleans was founded, French settlers in Mobile established the first organized Mardi Gras celebration tradition in what was to become the United States. By 1720, the French capitol had been moved to Biloxi, Mississippi. In 1723, the capital of Louisiana was moved to New Orleans. It was not until 1837 that the first Mardi Gras parade was held in New Orleans.

Mardi Gras Poster

The festival of Mardi Gras that began in Mobile as a French Catholic tradition evolved into a mainstream multi-week celebration across the spectrum of cultures in Mobile (as well as New Orleans). The last couple of days became school holidays  regardless of religious affiliation.

As a boy growing up in Mobile I looked forward to Mardi Gras but I had no understanding of its religious significance marking the beginning of Lent the day after the last parade and Carnival ball. I have come to understand that “Mardi Gras Day” was also known as Fat Tuesday, a day to feast and celebrate before Ash Wednesday which was the start of 40 days of fasting and introspection for devout Catholics and many other Christians.

Mobile had a strong community of Roman Catholics and a variety of other expressions of Christianity. Unlike them, the religious environment in which I grew up did not give much emphasis to the Christian Year and accompanying traditions and liturgy. We celebrated the High Holy Days of Christmas and Easter and acknowledged the events of Palm Sunday. However the liturgical seasons of Advent and Lent were not a part of our tradition or practice.

Lent Concept Watercolor Theme

I have learned to value those periods of time that the Church has observed that have nurtured and enhanced the lives of Jesus’ followers.

A lit candle and the text holy week

The six weeks of Lent are about over. Holy Week began last Sunday with Palm/Passion Sunday when we remembered the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem but with the realization that the week would end sadly.

Today is Holy (Maundy) Thursday when we recall the last meal Jesus had with his disciples just before he would be arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Tomorrow is Good Friday commemorating the day that Jesus was crucified. How could such a tragic event be “good?” Jesus sacrificed himself to show the world the extent of his love for each person. He said, “When I am lifted up from the earth I will draw all people to me.” This “disaster” was transformed a couple of days later when Jesus arose from the dead.

My celebration of the Resurrection this Easter Sunday will have added meaning because of the period of introspection and the emphasis of sacrifice during Lent. I have consciously reflected on God’s love for humankind that was demonstrated in Jesus. I have the remembered the severity of his sacrifice. I have examined my life as I have prayed, read, and meditated.

Today I feel a tinge of pain thinking about the extent of Jesus’ suffering. The sadness I feel because of the abuse Jesus endured is mixed with a deep sense of gratitude for his extraordinary love for me and all people of the world.

Today I am taking a deep breath allowing the Holy Spirit to enliven me and lead me to a life of devotion to the Suffering Servant. You are invited to do the same.

 

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Spring finally arrived. The redbud trees, tulips, daffodils, azaleas, and dogwoods were welcome sights after the drab look of winter.

Cherry Blossoms

I got excited when I noticed buds on the cherry trees a few weeks ago. Then I worried that the blossoms would appear only to be killed by the last blast of cold weather. Fortunately the blossoms were wise enough to wait.

The trees have been in full bloom for the past few weeks and they are gorgeous. But their time has come to an end. By the time this is read the blooms will be all gone and the trees have sprouted green leaves for the rest of the season.

Cherry Trees 2

As the weather warmed, the cherry blossoms began to blow in the wind like snowflakes. That which had been picturesque became messy. Last week I became frustrated as I attempted to clean up the fallen cherry blossoms. I blew them out of the yard into the street so I could gather them up. When I would get a pile of them together a gust of wind would blow or a car would come down the street and they would scatter.

Finally I thought I had cleaned up all of the blossoms but as the breeze began to blow ever so gently another shower of the tiny white blossoms spread across the front lawn again.

This experience helped me to remember a few things about life.

  •  Life. Is not always neat. Things can get messy at times.
  • Nothing is forever. The Apostle Paul reminds us that even our human body is a temporary dwelling.
  • Life is cyclical. Good things/times come and go. “There is a time for everything under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1).
  • Change is inevitable- and can be very good. Aren’t you glad that we no longer heat our homes with fireplaces fueled by wood? And can you imagine navigating a new metropolitan area without a GPS? Can you remember when you had only three television channels to watch?
  • Everything has a price. A line from one of Carole King’s songs reminds us “If you want to be complete, you have to take the bitter with the sweet.” Gaining and losing are equally essential for life.
  • It is important to enjoy the good things in life but not to hold onto them too tightly.

I have welcomed springtime with all the beautiful offerings of Mother Nature. But I look forward to the warmth of summer that will give way to the changing colors of fall. Even cold winter will be welcome because the earth needs time to rest and be restored.

“So I (have) made up my mind that there’s nothing better for us men and women than to have a good time in whatever we do—that’s our lot.” (Ecclesiastes 3:22, The Message)

Jamie Jenkins

 

 

 

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.

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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.”