Archives for the month of: February, 2013

I am driving on the expressway and a voice tells me to get into one of the two left lanes. I am driving 75 MPH (yes, I know the speed limit is 65) but without hesitation I obey. This sound that attempts to emulate the human voice is coming from my GPS. Nevertheless, I comply with its directions.

As I relax in my recliner at home the voices on the television tell me that I can erase the aging spots, grow my hair back (do I want to?) or at least recover my youthful look by coloring it, or gain boundless energy from one small container of liquid. And I believe them and buy their products.

A voice comes over the intercom and says: “This is your pilot. Just relax and enjoy the ride. The crew and I will get you safely to your destination.” So I relax and read a book, listen to music, watch a movie, or enjoy the scenery out the tiny little window. Just like I am supposed to.

My financial adviser recommends how to manage my (limited) resources or suggests a good investment and I follow the counsel.

A friend says, “Try it. You’ll like it.” and with little if any thought I sample something new. I see others engaged in some activity that appears to be fun and I am invited to join them. So I plunge right in.

A situation occurs and I am about to do something or say something and an inner voice suggests I should act differently or temper my language. Call it what you will- conscience, intuition, common sense- when this occurs I often debate and argue with that voice from inside me. I question whether this is wise counsel or good advice.

In my daily devotions or when I read the Bible, the words of the prophet or the Apostle Paul or Jesus are often so contrary to rational thinking or contemporary societal standards. I am challenged by the words they are speaking to me but I cannot immediately embrace and follow them.

Many “voices” that we hear create confusion and can lead us astray. Others offer wise counsel and solid advice. How do we discern which ones to follow and which to ignore?

The Bible tells us that Jesus is the Good Shepherd. If we are among His “sheep” and follow Him, we will recognize and listen to His voice. His instructions will guide us and guard in our living (John 10:26-28). His voice comes to us in many ways but if we are living in close relationship with Jesus, we can distinguish His voice from all others.

Jesus said He would not leave us to fend for ourselves. He promised to send One to be with us- an Advocate, a friend, a Counselor, a Helper- to lead us in the right way (John 14:15-18).

The hymn, In the Garden, reminds us that God is always available to walk with us and talk with us. Charles Austin Miles wrote the lyrics to that song in 1912. They simply affirm what the Scriptures tell us. And they are still true today.

Lord, help us to listen to your voice and turn a deaf ear to the voices that would lead astray.

Jamie Jenkins

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What do you do when you are down? When things are bad? Long ago I heard the advice to “smile, things could be worse.” And someone said, “So, I smiled and sure enough, they were.”

There are all kinds of advice about what to do when things are not the way you want them to be. You can pray. Find a distraction. Realistically assess the situation. Help someone who needs you. Scream. All of these options, and many more, can be helpful at times.

The Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, The Sound of Music, opened on Broadway in 1959 and was adapted to film in 1965 starring Christopher Plummer and Julie Andrews as Maria.

One of the most popular songs from the play is sung as the young nun Maria, played by Julie Andrews,  is about to leave the convent to go serve as governess of the seven children of the von Trapp family. In the movie it is moved to a scene where the children are frightened by a terrible thunderstorm and Maria sings to comfort them.

Maria sings of things she chooses to fill her mind when things are not good. She says, “I simply remember my favorite things and then I don’t feel so bad.”

Some of my favorite things:

• The taste of ice cream (any flavor)
• A webcam visit with my grandchildren (and their parents)
• A runner being thrown out at 2nd base
• A nap in my recliner
• Lena’s laughter
• The smell of freshly cut grass
• Anything sung by B.B. King, Aretha Franklin, or Etta James
• Sunsets (I like sunrises too but they come too early in the day)
• My morning coffee and newspaper
• The feeling of accomplishment for a job well done
• The births of my children
• Methodists singing the hymns of the church
• Daffodils in the spring
• The Yoshikawa’s visit to Atlanta
• Dec. 28, 1968
• A “treasure” found at an estate sale
• The fresh smell of an orange being peeled
• Seeing Pope John Paul II at St. Peter’s basilica in Rome
• A friend’s embrace
• My first and only World Series game- Mets vs. Orioles in 1969
• Bishop L. Scott Allen laying hands on me and ordaining me
• Songs of birds in the morning
• Sound of summer rain storms
• Honesty of children
• Smell of meat cooking on a grill
• Fragrance of tea olives
• A shower after a hot summer day
• The voices of my family
• Visits to Caesarea on the shores of the Mediterranean in Israel
• Family time and my daughter’s wedding in Mexico

These are a few of my favorite things I remember to lift my spirit when I am “feeling sad.” What are some of yours?

Jamie Jenkins

A major office supply company has a slogan: “That was easy.” They even sell a big red button that you can press and hear that exclamation. While that might be cute, if you expect everything to be easy, you are going to be frustrated and bewildered much of the time. Life has taught me that.

It has been said that nothing is simple but in fact, a lot of things are simple. That is not the same as being easy.

Personal financial management is simple. Spend less than you earn. Simple, yes. Easy, no. In spite of the simplicity, living that way can be hard. There are many things to be desired. It seems at times you just have to have more. And there are more “buy now, pay later” plans than you can shake a stick at. Disciplined living is the antidote to frivolously wasting your money. It is not easy.

Good health habits are simple. Eat right. Exercise. Get enough sleep. Unless there are hereditary factors that affect one’s health, the answer to good health is simple. There would not be so many unhealthy people if it was easy.

The principles of safe driving are simple:  mind your speed, be courteous, watch the other drivers, avoid distractions. Simple. But if it was easy there would be much fewer accidents and injuries.

The key to good interpersonal relationships is simple. Treat everyone the way you want to be treated. How hard is that to understand? Saying it and knowing it is easy. Practicing it can be tough.

The Ten Commandments are very clear. Simple. Keeping all of them is hard.

Jesus taught us to be generous. “Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity” (Luke 6:38, The Message). Simple but if it was easy we would not hold on so tightly to what is “ours.” Greed would not be so common.

The Apostle Paul said he knew what he ought to do. How he should live. He said, “I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes… I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway… It happens so regularly that it’s predictable… I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me?”

“The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions…” (Romans 7:15-25).

The life of faith and faithfulness is no walk in the park. It is not easy. We don’t have to be “perfect” but we must keep on pursuing the goal of maturity knowing that we are not alone. God is on our side and the Holy Spirit is present to aid us in our efforts.

Jamie Jenkins