Archives for the month of: April, 2014

I was stopped at a traffic light when I saw a sign posted in the grass beside the street. In simple block letters it read: “Psychic Help, All problems solved.” I was intrigued, amused, and a bit irritated.

All problems solved! That is a rather audacious claim. Not some. Not many or most. ALL! And the claim was not that the circumstances could be improved. A solution was promised.

I thought to myself that surely no one would really take this seriously. No one would believe that. But I knew better. People are looking for easy answers to their problems. They want someone to “fix it.”

You can see products advertised all the time that promise astounding results. They are on the shelves of retails stores everywhere. Television infomercials offer miraculous claims and, if you act now, they will give you a second item for free.

Politicians regularly promise change that will make our lives better and it won’t cost the taxpayer anything. In a speech to the Detroit Economic Club President Bill Clinton said, “No wonder Americans hate politics when, year after year, they hear politicians make promises that won’t come true because they don’t even mean them.”

People lose money every day because they believe somebody’s claim that they can make a fortune with an investment that is supposed to yield astronomical returns. Although we know it, we should heed Theodore Parker’s advice. “Magnificent promises are always to be suspected.”

We have heard it so many times that you would think it had sunk in. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Pass it up or at least check it out before accepting the offer.

Many time people fall prey to predators who offer easy answers and unrealistic claims because their lives seem out of control. Gordon Atkinson said, “When life seems chaotic, you don’t need people giving you easy answers or cheap promises. There might not be any answers to your problems. What you need is a safe place where you can bounce with people who have made some bad hops of their own.”

In other words, there is not always an easy way out of your dilemma or a quick solution to address the problem. Sometimes you have to learn from your own mistakes, and from the experiences of others.

Ludicrous promises are abundant. Beware of anything that promises everything. However, some extraordinary promises are true and the experiences of millions of persons over centuries of time validate them. In the Bible Jesus promises forgiveness and full life (Luke 7:36-50, John 10:10). Seems ridiculous but I have found it to be true. Check it out.

Jamie Jenkins

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Much of my money goes to three “T’s”

The first “T’ is taxes. I do not like them. I fuss about paying them. But I understand the reasons for them.

Sales tax, property tax, estate tax, gift tax, gasoline tax, hotel tax, sin tax, export and import taxes, Social Security tax, Medicare tax, Unemployment tax, tobacco and alcohol taxes, and the list goes on.

April 15 every year we Americans are acutely aware of income taxes. I dread it and each year I promise myself that I will keep better records next year in order to lower my tax liability.

I remember my oldest child’s first pay check from a “real” job. He was appalled at how much his employer deducted for taxes. He was upset about the amount and that it was not optional.

Although paying taxes can be painful, I understand the value gained from that source of revenue for our government. I am grateful for the services that are provided from that income. I am thankful for police and fire protection, good roads, good schools, and the myriad of other things that are possible because we dutifully pay our various taxes.

The matter of taxes comes up in the life of Jesus as recorded in the Bible. On one occasion he instructs Peter to catch a fish where he would find money for taxes in the fish’s mouth. Another time Jesus’ detractors tried to trick him by asking if it was right to pay taxes to Caesar. His answer: “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”

The second “T” is the tip. Tipping is a part of American culture. If you go to a restaurant for dinner, there is an expectation that a tip will be left for your server. Many restaurants even provide a guide for the amount that is appropriate. This is not the custom in all countries of the world. However the service industry in this country is structured where wait staff are paid a very minimal wage (not the federally mandated minimum wage) and are dependent on tips for their income.

Waiting tables is hard work and I always try to be generous with the tip. There are other services that I receive from people who deserve better pay than they are getting. I am glad to ante up for their benefit.

The third “T” that I am committed to is the tithe. The Old Testament of the Bible has a lot to say about giving the “first fruits” to the Lord and instruction is given to “bring the tithes and offerings into the storehouse.” I understand that the context of that statement was different from the church of today. But I believe giving the first tenth of my income to the work of God through the Church is a solid biblical principle.

I learned from my mother that everything I have is because of the generosity of God. Making the tithe my first financial priority is a way of acknowledging the Source and demonstrating my gratitude for what I have received. By “giving to God first” I am also reminded that how I use/spend the remainder is a sacred trust and one that I should assume prayerfully not only for my good but for the benefit of all humankind.

Jamie Jenkins

I just returned from a trip to The Netherlands and Belgium and I saw more museums than you can shake a stick at.

Of course there was the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam that contains more than 8,000 items of history and art, including Rembrant’s famous painting The Night Watch. Nearby is the Van Gogh Museum that houses the works of that Dutch artist.

A different kind of museum in the beautiful city of canals is the Anne Frank House. This is the place where this young girl and her family hid during the Nazi persecution of the Jews during World War II. During the two years they were in hiding, Anne kept a diary that was later published by her father, the only family member that survived the Holocaust.

As we walked the streets of Amsterdam and marveled at the architecture and the restaurants and shops lining the many canals, we passed a Museum of the Bible which we did not explore.

Throughout our journey museums seemed to be everywhere. Every town and city had its museum of local history and culture. There was the Maritime Museum and more than one museum of cheese making.

Waffles and beer were the boasts of Belgium. It is reported that there are more than 1,000 types of Belgium beer, many of which have their own unique glass. In one of the town squares there was the Belgium Museum of Beer which we did not visit.

In the lobby of our hotel in Amsterdam there was a brochure advertising one of the most unusual museums, the Museum of Prostitution. We passed on that one for sure!

In Arnheim, Belgium there is a museum that commemorated the World War II Battle of Arnheim Bridge. The museum houses many historical documents and artifacts of this disastrous battle for the Allied Troops during Operation Market Garden in September 1944. This event is the story told in the movie “A Bridge Too Far.”

We also visited several churches that contained museum type works of art and beauty. The Antwerp Cathedral was an architectural masterpiece where two of Peter Paul Rubens most important works, the Elevation of the Cross and the Descent from the Cross, were displayed. This church built over the site of a 9th century chapel also had a 14th century marble statue of the Madonna.

Bruges, Belgium is a beautiful city but I was a bit disappointed in cathedral. It was undergoing complete restoration and as a result, much of the interior was inaccessible and almost all the rest was engulfed in scaffolding. However, the highlight of that visit was to view Michangelo’s statue of the Virgin and Child.

Ghent is third largest city in Belgium, located where the Scheldt and Leie rivers merge. In the Cathedral of Ghent we saw the 15th century altar piece, the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, which was one of the stolen pieces of art recovered from the Nazis before they destoyed it during the Second World War. This and the Virgin and Child were featured in the recent movie, Monuments Men.

I enjoyed all of the museums we visited but I was a bit saddened by the cathedrals. The architecture of each of them was awesome. The stained glass windows were truly works of art and the many statues and paintings were amazing. I am glad they exist and have protected these wonderful works of human hands. But they seemed more like museums than churches.

Maybe I am being too harsh in my criticism. Maybe if I was thee this coming Sunday I would see throngs of people amidst all those wonderful works of art celebrating Palm Sunday and the start of Holy Week for Christians. Maybe. I hope so.

Jamie Jenkins