Archives for the month of: February, 2015

Free Will 1

Have you ever had an “Aha!’ moment? A time when something just leaps out at you and gives you a new perspective, new insight? That happened to me on a recent trip to Israel. I had been there many times but I “saw” something new on this visit.

About half way down the western side of the Dead Sea is an oasis called En Gedi.

188

One of my favorite stories from history is set in this desert spot. Saul, the first king of Israel, had been rejected in favor of a young shepherd boy from Bethlehem named David. Saul in his anger pursued David to kill him and David fled for his life.

King Saul learned that David was in the wilderness near En Gedi.  So he took three thousand men and went to look for David. During the search Saul went into a cave to use the restroom, not knowing that David and his soldiers were hiding in the very back of the cave.

When David’s soldiers saw Saul they said, “Now is your chance. Your enemy has walked right in and you can do to him whatever you think best.” So David quietly crawled close to Saul without being noticed but instead of killing him, he cut off a corner of Saul’s robe.

Immediately David felt horrible for what he had done. David believed that God had chosen Saul as king so he would not allow his soldiers to attack the king. Saul then left the cave. David then called out to Saul to let him know that he had the opportunity to kill him but had refused to do so.

I have known that story for years. I have read it and told it many times. I know that David exercised free will in sparing Saul’s life. He could have killed Saul and been justified in doing so but he chose to let Saul live. In spite of Saul’s determined pursuit with the intention of killing him, David chose to save a life rather than take a life.

Free Will 5

Some people think that every detail of one’s life is determined by events of the past, over which a person has had no sort of control. But David’s action, or inaction,  is a clear demonstration of free will, a capacity that is unique to human beings. The ability to make choices. To do as you see fit.

In An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, David Hume thought that free will (or “liberty,” to use his term) is the “power of acting or of not acting, according to the determination of the will: that is, if we choose to remain at rest, we may; if we choose to move, we also may.… This hypothetical liberty is universally allowed to belong to everyone who is not a prisoner and in chains.”

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes… and the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility.” We are afforded opportunities every day, many times every day, to choose how we act or react to a variety of situations. The choices we make every day determine our character.

Free Will 7

I agree with J.K. Rowling. “It is our choices… that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” David exhibited a respect for human life and a devotion to God when he chose to let Saul live. The decision he made in this circumstance gives real insight into his character.

Most daily decisions do not carry the same weight as the decision David made in the cave at En Gedi. But every step we make is influenced by each previous step. Each thought or deed builds upon previous ideas or actions. We may choose wrongly and later have to take corrective measures but if we are wise we will be careful in the choices we make and the actions we take.

God has not created us to be robots or puppets. We are endowed with the ability to choose. God help us to choose wisely.

Free Will 3

Jamie Jenkins

 

Note: You can read the entire story of David and Saul at En Gedi from I Samuel 24 in the Bible.

 

 

Advertisements

Laughter 4

There are many situations that cause us to cry. Tragic events and sad occasions cannot be avoided and the tendency for tears should not be stifled. But it is important to keep things in perspective and maintain balance. There is a time to weep and a time to laugh.

“There is a time to weep and a time to laugh.”

                                                               (Ecclesiastes 3:8)

Radio personality, Ludlow Porch (his real name was Bobby Crawford Hanson), made a distinction between a humorist and a comedian. He said that a humorist is one who sees life in a funny way while a comedian is one who tells funny stories. People with either of those gifts are extremely important. They help us to laugh.

Laughter 6

I like comedy but don’t watch a lot of the television sitcoms. One reason is because I have some hearing loss and I often miss or misunderstand some of the dialogue. Also cultural, generational, and political differences have a lot to do with humor. Recently I realized there is another compelling reason why I don’t enjoy much of the sitcoms- laugh tracks.

Canned laughter is a big negative for me whether it is on Modern Family, Black-ish, or The Big Bang Theory. I don’t need to be prompted to know when something is funny. Besides, there could not possibly be as many really funny moments as are indicated by the programmed laughter.

Laughter 9

Regardless of my dislike for sitcoms there are many people who obviously enjoy them. That is good  because laughter is good medicine. A wise man once said, “A happy heart is good medicine and a cheerful mind works healing…” (Prov. 17:22 AMP). Dr. Robert Segal says, “When laughter is shared, it binds people together and increases happiness and intimacy.”

 

Laughter also triggers healthy physical changes in the body. Humor and laughter strengthen your immune system, boost your energy, diminish pain, and protect you from the damaging effects of stress. Best of all, this priceless medicine is fun, free, and easy to use. One pioneer in laughter research, William Fry, claimed it took ten minutes on a rowing machine for his heart rate to reach the level it would after just one minute of hearty laughter.

Laughter 7

My 12 year-old grandson was visiting us a few years ago and one day he said to his grandmother (my wife), “Nana, let’s laugh.” And they did. For the next several minutes they and I laughed until we were exhausted. Deep belly laughs. Take-away-your-breath laughs. Once we started it was hard to stop. When we finally quit laughing I had a sense of cleansing and wellness. It was like we had just completed an exhausting and exhilarating physical workout. It felt so good.

Are you ready? Let’s laugh!

Jamie Jenkins

 

Laughter 8

PATIENCE 2

I am writing this from the airport in Newark, New Jersey. I arrived here about four hours ago from Tel Aviv. The uneventful flight landed right on time and I slept for several hours on the 12 hour flight, which is unusual for me. This trip began two weeks ago with the cancellation of my outbound flight from Atlanta due to what the media called a historical winter storm.

Processing through passport control and customs went smoothly this morning and I was told that I needed to re-check my bag to Atlanta. I was then directed to the Transfer Desk where I learned that my flight had been cancelled due to freezing rain. I was re-booked on a flight that departed five and a half hours later. Just what you want to hear after being up 24 hours.
PATIENCE 1
I am not a good wait-er and I am not always flexible but I tried to take it in stride. After all as the ticket agent said, “We can’t control Mother Nature.” Even if we could I am glad that we are not in control of the weather. As bad as things may be at times, I am sure it would be much worse if we decided when the rain or snow came and if we managed the temperature and climate. What a mess that would be.

So I settled into the “comfortable” environments of the Newark Liberty Airport.

I am sure I do not fully understand the axiom “tribulation works patience” but I doubt that it was intended for situations like my interrupted travel. Whatever the situation, when things don’t go like we planned, the results may be unpleasant or painful but often the unexpected changes result in a wonderful experience.

PATIENCE 4

Unexpected circumstances often provide excellent opportunities to develop and practice patience.  And “patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next” (Romans 5:3, MSG).
Life is not always orderly and predictable. Our path is often through hills and valleys with curves and rough places at times. Detours occur and we may not reach our intended destination on time or not at all. Through it all we have the opportunity to learn and grow. After all, life is more about the journey than the destination. God help us to relax and enjoy the ride.

PATIENCE 5

Jamie Jenkins