Archives for the month of: October, 2012

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Perhaps you noticed professional athletes wearing pink shoes or other folks wearing pink pins, ties or ribbons? This is to encourage us to join in the fight against breast cancer.

Unfortunately, most of us know at least one person who has had or now has breast cancer. My family has experienced this disease up close and personal. We lost two sisters, Gail and Maxine, several years ago. My oldest sister, Marie, was diagnosed this past year.

Breast cancer is a horrible disease. It strikes fear into anyone when told they have this disease. With my family history it would be easy and perhaps natural to live in fear that breast cancer is inevitable in my future. Living in fear is not how I want to live. The truth is I don’t know what the future holds. None of us really know what tomorrow will bring. We can only prepare as best we can and have faith that God will be with us whatever comes our way.

In recent months two friends, wonderful women, have been involved in terrible automobile accidents. They both experienced horrible trauma from significant injuries. One is slowly recovering from a broken neck and multiple broken bones. The other precious, saintly woman is in the care of hospice.

Both of these women were going about their daily routines when tragedy struck. When they left home they had no idea a life changing accident was in their future. They were just out to run errands, visit a friend, do a good deed.

Last week I left my house with a long list of errands to run. They were joyful errands. Things I needed to do in preparation for a trip to Mexico for our daughter Jennifer’s wedding next month. As I pulled out of our neighborhood I thought of my friends who had been in the car accidents. I prayed for Vicky and Barbara and thanked God for their influence in my life. I also prayed not to forget how precious, fragile and fleeting life can be. I asked God to help me not live in fear but to live life to the fullest so however long my life may be I can know I have truly lived.

There is an old gospel song that says it best.” Many things about tomorrow I don’t seem to understand but I know Who holds tomorrow and I know Who holds my hand.” My prayer for you is that you know Him too.

Lena Jenkins

I grew up in Mobile, Alabama a hundred years ago (almost). I remember you could buy bubble gum with a “tattoo” included in the package that could be applied with water and a little pressure. It was usually a cartoon character, a flower, or some decorative design. They were very temporary.

The only people I had ever seen with permanent tattoos were sailors or merchant seaman whose ships were docked in the port city. One of the most common designs was a heart with an arrow through it and sometimes the name of a sweetheart below it. There was also the American flag or the occasional dragon or some other creation. Often the body art was the result of a night on the town and too much to drink.

Things have changed. Tattoos are fairly common nowadays and they are not limited to men of the sea. Young and old, male and female, bikers and bankers, engineers and entrepreneurs, professionals and blue collar workers, preachers and painters, artists and athletes- equally decorated with simple or elaborate designs. They are tiny and huge. A little indiscreet symbol or the entire body is a canvas.

Another change in fashion since the days of my boyhood is the wearing of earrings. In those long ago days earrings were definitely accessories worn only by females. I was a grown man before they became fashionable for males. Nowadays it is not at all unusual to see a man with diamond studs or dangly decorations in their pierced ears.

And have you noticed that other body piercing has become more common?

Tattoos for both genders and men wearing earrings are pretty much mainstream now in our culture. I have never had a desire to have anything engraved in my skin and having holes punched in my ears or any other part of my anatomy for decorative purposes has never appealed to me. But that’s just me.

Although I don’t have any body art or piercings, it does not mean it is not alright for someone else to have them. I don’t really understand the attraction of these things but I guess it is not necessary that I do. I suspect there are things that I like and enjoy which others think are strange. Sometimes we “strain at gnats and swallow camels.”

There is a lot about life that I don’t understand or approve of but I am learning that many things don’t really matter after all. Human beings are complex creatures and each one is unique.

God give me the wisdom to discern what matters and devote myself to them and the tolerance to accept other things as they are.

Jamie Jenkins

It’s a fact. Even the best have bad days. After all no one is perfect. No matter how skilled a person is. No matter how committed they are to the task human beings are going to make mistakes.

It has been said that practice makes perfect but that is not true. Practice may make one better but it does not produce perfection.

Most mistakes, slip ups, errors- whatever you call them- are minor and most often no one notices. If you are a baseball fan (which I am), or even if you are not, you realize that was not the case last week for the Atlanta Braves.

It was the game to determine which team would advance in the post-season. One game. Win or go home.  The winner of this one-game playoff with St. Louis would decide who played on into October.

The Braves were the best defensive team in the National League during the regular season making only 86 fielding errors in 162 games. A little more than one in every two games. Then on October 5 the usually solid defensive players made three errors in one game.

Three separate players in three different innings threw the ball away. Each errant throw allowed runs to score that ultimately cost Atlanta the ballgame. Even the best have bad days.

There was another glaring error that shifted the fans attention away from the costly mistakes of their beloved Chipper Jones and the other infielders, Dan Uggla and Andrellton Simmons.

This was not a fielding error; it was an officiating blunder by a veteran umpire. In the sixteen years that Sam Holbrook has been working major league baseball games he has never been more the center of attention and the object of so much scorn. In the 8th inning he ruled that a popup in shallow left field hit by the Atlanta Braves shortstop was an out under the infield fly rule. The Braves were behind 6-3 and without this call they would have had the bases loaded with one out. Instead they had only two men on base with two outs.

We will never know if the umpire’s call caused the Braves to lose the game. What it did, however, was deflect criticism from the mistakes that the three infielders had made earlier in the game. Holbrook became the scapegoat on which rabid fans could cast all the blame for the loss.

The scene has been replayed on television many times since last Friday night. There have been countless words penned about the matter. We cannot forget it because we are constantly being reminded of the event.

Will Atlanta Braves fans ever forgive Sam Holbrook? It will be difficult because the frequent reminders embedded in the video archives of the media will keep it alive.

Human beings need to work at forgiving. Peter thought he was being generous when he asked Jesus if it was enough to forgive someone seven times when they had wronged him. Jesus replied, “Try seventy times seven.” I don’t think Jesus was suggesting that 490 is a magical number after which forgiveness is no longer required. After all if you have been counting, have you really been forgiving? Instead, he meant that forgiveness should be given in abundance.

It is easy to hold a grudge. To blame someone. But those negative thoughts harm you more than anyone else. You can forgive a person without excusing what they said or did.

Forgiveness is not easily offered- but it is essential for healthy living. Bernard Meltzer said, “When you forgive, you in no way change the past – but you sure do change the future.” That is true for Braves fans and for everyone.

The offense that Atlanta baseball fans experienced in that one ballgame pales in comparison to many human hurts. But I believe that Indira Gandhi was right. “Forgiveness is a virtue of the brave,” So, baseball fan or not let us learn to forgive and continue to pray, forgive us our trespasses as we forgive others who trespass against us.”.

Jamie Jenkins

“Buy her a diamond and we will give you a rifle.” I had no idea these two items would be competing options. But that is what the advertisements of a local jewelry company suggests. I have heard it on radio and seen in on billboard ads.

I am not a hunter or gun enthusiast and my wife is not crazy about a lot of jewelry (I am a lucky man).

“Hmmm! Should I buy myself a gun or should I buy a diamond for the love of my life?” I don’t understand. Those are not choices that would occur to me. I would never have to struggle with that decision.

I am glad that God created human beings with the ability to make choices.  People do not always act simply from instinct. We have the ability to weigh alternatives and make rational decisions. Our free will is a wonderful gift but it can complicate life.

Don’t misunderstand me. We do not always think things through thoroughly and even when we do, we often allow our emotions and desires lead us to make irrational choices. Wisdom is sometimes overruled by impulse.

Recently a star professional athlete in Atlanta was arrested for driving 95 miles per hour with a blood alcohol level almost twice the legal limit. Clearly he was not thinking rationally when he got behind the wheel of an automobile and started up the highway. Bad decision. Fortunately the police stopped him before he or someone else was killed by another drunk driver.

There is something in human nature that wants to “have our cake and eat it too.” We want what we want. But the reality is that there are trade-offs. Good and bad choices have consequences. Rewards and punishments.

The Rolling Stones reminded us that “you can’t always get what you want… but if you try sometimes… you get what you need.”

When our youngest child was 12 or 13 he said to his parents, “You don’t have to worry about me drinking, smoking, or using drugs.” That was a smart and wise decision that pleased us and one that he has stuck to. Good decision Jonas.

Roy Clark is a musician and singer. Although he is a very important and influential performer, he is probably best remembered as the co-host of the television variety show Hee Haw.

In one of his hit songs Clark described the frustration that many people experience with the routine of life. Every day is the same. When he comes to the stop sign at Oak Street on his way back home each day he ponders should he “turn right like I always have or left and leave it behind?” The country music song continues.

“A man must make his decisions

But he must consider the stakes

For everyman’s life is a gamble

It depends on the turns that he takes.”

The Old Testament leader, Joshua, reminded the ancient Israelites of God’s faithfulness in providing for them against enormous odds. He then calls them to “serve God honestly and faithfully.” He urges them to choose whom they will serve, the gods that others worship or the One who has created, sustained, and rescued them. He concludes by saying, “But my family and I will serve the Lord.”

Every day is filled with choices. And we have the right and the ability to choose, With God’s help, let us choose wisely.

Jamie Jenkins