Archives for the month of: November, 2012

I met Jesus on the beach last week. He was patiently teaching and encouraging others. He repeatedly tried to help them go beyond their comfort zones and take a risk. What he suggested was hard but when the people listened and practiced what he was teaching they began to experience the exhilaration of accomplishment.

It should be no surprise to meet Jesus in such a beautiful place and to find him in a servant role.

Jesus (the Spanish pronunciation is Hey-zus) and his brother Francisco are surf instructors at a beautiful secluded beach on the Pacific Ocean. They and their family operate a small palapa on the Playa Carrizalillo in Puerto Escondido, Mexico. The food and drinks at their little thatched roof facility on the beach are delicious and economical.

Just  up the steps from the beach is the Villas Carrizalillo where my family and I spent several wonderful days. The sunsets were spectacular every evening around 5:45 as we sat on the terrace overlooking the ocean and the cove below. The tropical beauty was breathtaking on the immaculately maintained grounds of this intimate and tranquil environment and the food in the on-site restaurant was outstanding. The owner, who lives in Barnesville, Georgia, and her staff provided excellent service.

The area around Puerto Escondido has been inhabited by indigenous people for centuries, but it was not until the 1920s that the town was founded as a fishing village and a port for shipping coffee from the coffee farms in the foothills of the SierraMadreMountains.

I met only one person named Jesus I experienced God’s presence in the faces of flower sellers at the Mercado Benito Juarez and the hospitality of the waiter at the ZicatelaBeach restaurant. We saw people who care for God’s creation as we observed the release of endangered baby sea turtles into the Pacific Ocean as a part of the ecology program of the Universidad Del Mar.

The hymn, Sing a Song of the Saints of God, (United Methodist Hymnal #712) suggests that we can meet God in the persons “we meet in school, on the street, in the store, in church, by the sea, (and) in the house next door. They are saints of God whether rich or poor, and I want to be one too.”

I am not suggesting that everyone we meet is a “saint of God” but I am reminded that the image of God is implanted in every human being and I believe that God is present everywhere. It should come as no surprise that we can meet God in every place and in all people.

A song from years ago suggests that “you’re the only Jesus some will ever see.” As we look for Jesus in others, let us be careful to allow Him to be seen in us.

Jamie Jenkins

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Today is Thanksgiving Day in the United States. I will miss the turkey and dressing. There will be no cranberry sauce or sweet potato soufflé. No pumpkin pie. This will be a different kind of Thanksgiving celebration. My usual feast will be replaced this year with Mexican delicacies.

Why Mexican? Because I am in Mexico. Why am I in Mexico? Because this is where my daughter is getting married.

Our family from Georgia and Japan will join Jennifer and her fiancé David, their friends, and David’s family from California in a special meal. I don’t know what I will eat today but I am sure it will be good. It will be good because we are all together for a very sacred and special occasion.

Tomorrow we will gather to share in the wedding ceremony when our beautiful brown eyed girl and a fine young man from Fresno vow their lives together “as long as (they) both shall live.” There will be no pipe organ. No processional down the long church aisle. It will be a non-traditional ceremony in a beautiful setting overlooking the Pacific Ocean. We will witness the exchange of vows and hear the promises they will make to each other. We will celebrate love shared and commitments made and joy beyond measure. We will give thanks that God has brought Jennifer and David together and that God will always be present as they lives their lives together.

We will rejoice as these two special people begin a new journey together. Their commitment to one another has been demonstrated over the past eight and a half years of their relationship. They will affirm their intention to hold each other “for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health” and remain constant in mutual support for the rest of their lives. We family and friends will pledge to support them in the years to come. We will pray for them and ask God to bless their marriage.

This Thanksgiving holiday will be extra special for me. I hope yours is too.

Jamie Jenkins

It seemed too pretty to be real. That was my thought as I stood in Letchworth State Park and looked out over the Genesee River gorge. It was fall and the colors of the leaves were so spectacular that they almost took my breath away. Growing up on the Gulf Coast, I had never seen anything like it.

Letchworth State Park, located in western New York State, is often referred to as the “Grand Canyon of the East.” It is one of the most magnificent areas in the eastern U.S. The Genesee River roars through the gorge over three major waterfalls between cliffs–as high as 600 feet in some places–surrounded by lush forests. And on that September afternoon over 45 years ago its beauty left this Alabama boy speechless (I know that is hard to believe).

Every year the colors of fall in north Georgia remind me of that spectacular view in western New York. The forests of our area and my neighborhood provide God with a wonderful palette that is made possible by the diversity of types of trees. Many of our trees remain green all year but if all the trees were evergreen, we would miss out on the colorful splendor that is enjoyed this time of the year.

In addition to the variety of trees in my back yard I also enjoy the variety of birds that visit the feeders we have placed there. The cardinals, finches, sparrows, and doves, are joined by an occasional hummingbird. They are different sizes, colors, and they sing different songs but they all provide beauty to our lives.

You can often see chipmunks scurrying across our back yard and there are plenty of industrious squirrels that somehow find a way to eat the bird’s food. Rabbits and deer are not uncommon in our neighborhood and we enjoy them- except when they eat my wife’s flowers. Just a few days ago we saw a beautiful red fox nearby. Last winter there was even a wild turkey that ambled through our neighborhood. These and more exotic animals (that are not found in my neighborhood) like my grandson’s favorite, the cheetah, the giraffe, the hippopotamus, elephant, and many others are examples of God’s creativity.

The residents of my neighborhood also provide an insight into God’s creativity. Although the architecture of the eighty-five homes in our subdivision is somewhat similar, the people represent a broad variety. There is wide range of ages from twenty-somethings to seniors who have been retired for many years (and at least one that will retire soon). There are families with small children and teenagers, single adults, couples with no children, and empty nesters. Our neighbors come from all over the nation and world. Our native languages are several. The pigment of our skin varies. It is a wonderful place to live.

I am listening to a collection of Jazz classics as I write but I enjoy a wide variety of musical genres. My culinary tastes also are diverse. One of my fantasies is to work my way down Buford Highway in Atlanta and eat at a different restaurant for every meal. I currently drive a Korean made automobile and my wife drives a vehicle made in Japan. In the past we have driven a variety of American and foreign made cars.

God has created a wonderfully diverse world and has given human beings extraordinary creative ability. We are different and we like different things. I am grateful for the variety I find in the everyday. Life would be extremely boring without it, wouldn’t it?

Jamie Jenkins

When I go through a drive through for my morning coffee or noon meal I want in quickly. I have come to expect “fast food” to appear magically. Poof! and it’s there.

If the screen does not change immediately to my desired website when I click on the address, I wonder why it is taking so long.

Advancements in technology cause seconds to seem like hours. We don’t have time to wait- even for a few seconds. Consequently our learned impatience can cause us to have knee jerk reactions to every situation and to speak without thinking.

Have you ever acted on something and then had second thoughts? Have you verbalized your thoughts before thinking them through? If you had taken a little more time before you responded would the results have been better? There are times when instantaneous action is needed. But most of the time an immediate response is not required.

Dr. Les Parrott is a psychologist, college professor, public speaker, and author of several books. He says first impulses are unconscious habits that are imbedded in our brain and they emerge automatically. They just pop up and we don’t give them a second thought. However, he suggests that when we give in to these involuntary impulses we often do not get the best results.

In his book, 3 Seconds: The Power of Thinking Twice, Dr. Parrott challenges us to resist the first impulse. He says “three seconds are enough time to give your first impulse a second thought. And that makes all the difference between wishing you could change things and actually transforming your life.”

The author does not say that every first impulse is always less than the best. But he asserts that there are six specific impulses that most of us accept without a second thought- and they do not serve us well.

It only takes three seconds to redirect a negative impulse in the human brain. That three seconds “separates those who excel from those who don’t,” says Dr. Parrott.

The six impulses that prevent us from achieving at the highest level are:

1. The impulse to give up before trying- because we feel helpless
2. The impulse to shun a challenge- because it feels daunting
3. The impulse to settle for the status quo- because we lack vision
4. The impulse to shirk responsibility- because it is easier to shift blame
5. The impulse to do the mere minimum- because that’s all that’s expected
6. The impulse to avoid taking action- because we fear failure

The author proposes what it takes to overcome these unproductive impulses. “It requires a momentary pause of three seconds to consider what we really want. It requires a suspension of our natural inclination to remember that we have a choice in what we will say, what we will do, and who we will be.”

If Dr. Parrott is correct, and I suspect he is at least on the right track, the same principle can be applied to our words which give expression to our thoughts. The Bible instructs us to be quick to listen and slow to speak (James 1:19). We are warned that the tongue is hard to harness and is very powerful (James 3:2-8). A three second delay in speaking could often spare us a lot of grief. That brief pause could allow the brain to redirect our thoughts and our words to a more productive end.

Lord, give us the patience to wait three seconds before we respond!

Jamie Jenkins

Recently a conversation ended with a person saying to me, “Everyday you can learn something.” That is true unless you are a “know-it-all.”

There is an internet website that allows people to enter what they learned today. It contains a lot of amusing and questionable data much of which I suspect could not be factually verified. Nevertheless, it provides some interesting reading. With that in mind I offer some of the things I have recently learned or re-learned.

  • The combined weight of all the ants in the world equals the combined weight of all the humans in the world. (Remember the disclaimer- everything I have learned might not be verifiable.)
  • 93% of Americans eat pizza at least once a month.
  • My 9 ½ year old grandson can juggle a soccer ball (with his feet, knees, and head) 204 times.
  • Adolf Hitler was once nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
  • There are friendly and nice people everywhere.
  • Mentone, Alabama is a great place to visit- especially on the 3rd Saturday of October.
  • Sports officials don’t always get it right.
  • The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies begin afresh each morning.
  • The best team does not always win.
  • A visit to the UnclaimedBaggageCenter in Scottsboro, Alabama is a good day trip from Atlanta.
  • Time with people you love is not “spent.” It is “invested.”
  • I enjoy being with people but I need time alone.
  • The Bible and the hymnbook are great sources of inspiration.
  • Laughter is good medicine.
  • Every 60 seconds a child dies from malaria.
  • Baseball Umpire Bill Klem and deaf player William E. “Dummy” Hoy are credited with the introduction of hand and arm signals by umpires to indicate whether base runners were safe or out, pitches were balls or strikes, and batted balls were foul or fair.
  • Life is good!
  • You can count on highway road construction everywhere you go.
  • You can teach an old dog new tricks.
  • If you have gold to sell, there are plenty of people ready to buy it.
  • My grandchildren are the greatest (an unbiased but unverifiable conclusion).
  • I am blessed to be married (for almost 44 years) to my best friend.
  • More than 200 million pumpkins are sold each year in the United States. during October. 90% of the pumpkins grown in the U.S. are raised within a 90 miles radius of Peoria, Illinois.
  • Frank Baum, who wrote The Wizard of Oz, came up with the name for Oz when he looked at his filing cabinet and saw A-N, and O-Z, hence “Oz.”
  • Barack Obama and Mitt Romney spent nearly $1.5 billion through September on their presidential campaigns-$26.86 every second this election cycle, more than $2.3 million every day.
  • Alabama’s constitution is the longest of all 50 states. It has been amended 800 times.
  • The world’s fastest computer can make 20,000 trillion calculations per second.
  • Sharks attack 50-75 people each year worldwide, with perhaps 8-12 fatalities, far less than the number of people killed each year by elephants, bees, crocodiles, lightning or many other natural dangers.
  •  Martin Juergens of Germany claims the moon has been the property of his family since July 15, 1756, when Prussian Emperor Frederick the Great presented it as a gift to his ancestor.
  • No word in the English language rhymes with month, orange, silver or purple.
  • The characters Bert and Ernie on Sesame Street were named after Bert the cop and Ernie the taxi driver in Frank Capra’s “Its a Wonderful Life.”
  • It takes 3,000 cows to supply the NFL with enough leather for a year’s supply of footballs.
  • The average American will spend $8O for Halloween costumes, decorations, and treats
  • God loves me … regardless.

Jamie Jenkins

What have you learned or re-learned recently?