Archives for the month of: March, 2016

The headline caught my attention: Jenkins Standing Tall, Finding Consistency.

It was the middle of the Lenten season, a time of introspection and discipline. The theme at my church was “The Courageous Life.” I was being challenged to boldly practice my faith.

The March 6, 2016 news story had nothing to do with spirituality or me. It was a story about a professional baseball player, Tyrell Jenkins (no relation). The St. Louis Cardinals drafted this young Texan, just out of high school, in the first round of the 2010 Major League Baseball Draft. He played four seasons in the Cardinals minor league system before they traded him to the Atlanta Braves. He was named the Braves’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year at the end of the 2015 season.

Change in delivery pays off for Braves prospect Jenkins photo

At the time I read the article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, major league baseball spring training was into its first full week and Jenkins was in camp with the Braves. He had made some adjustments in his pitching style that seemed to improve his delivery.  “He’s 6-foot-4, and he (has been) pitching like he is 5-foot-10,” Braves manager Freddi Gonzalez said. He has “straightened up” and was “going downhill” which gave “good life on his fastball.”

You do not have to understand that baseball jargon to know that the manager was pleased with what was happening. This change in form also provided more consistency in controlling where this young prospect threw his pitches. “Standing tall, finding consistency” increased the right-handed pitcher’s chances of making the big league roster.

Eight days later the Braves decided to send Jenkins to their Triple A Gwinnett Braves.

I am not a professional baseball player but this story spoke to me. For most of my life I have struggled to “stand tall” and be consistent in my personal and spiritual life. There have been many situations that have called for someone to stand up for what was right. Striving for consistency in what I say and how I act has always a challenge.

Sometimes I have succeeded. Many times I have failed. I may not make the “big league” but I have been given another chance- many times. After years of effort I am still trying to “straighten up” and live a “good life.” Failure will still be in my future but hopefully growth will also occur. In the meantime I am counting on the grace of God as I make progress toward the ultimate goal- to live in such a manner that one day the Lord will say, “Well done good and faithful servant!”

Jamie Jenkins

 

 

 

I woke up and looked at the clock. It is 5:00 and it is still dark. In my head I hear the words of Charles Wesley’s great hymn Christ the Lord is Risen Today.

It is Easter morning 2016.

easter 4

I remember the words of the Gospel of John: “Early in the morning of the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.”

Sons of men and angels say Alleluia.

She ran to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they’ve put him.”

Raise your joys and triumphs high. Alleluia.Easter 2

Peter and one other disciple ran to the tomb and when they got there they saw that the grave clothes were still there but there was no body. The tomb was empty.

Easter 1

“They didn’t yet understand the scripture that Jesus must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to the place where they were staying.”

Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!

Mary stayed outside the tomb crying. Then Jesus appeared and spoke to her.Easter 3

“Mary Magdalene left and announced to the disciples, ‘I’ve seen the Lord’.”

Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once He died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!

Later that same day while the disciples were behind closed doors Jesus to them. He offered words of peace to their fearful hearts and he empowered them to go into the world to carry on His work of forgiveness and redemption.

Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids His rise, Alleluia!
Christ hath opened paradise, Alleluia!

How could I stay in bed.

Soar we now where Christ hath led, Alleluia!
Foll’wing our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like Him, like Him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!

Hail the Lord of earth and heaven, Alleluia!
Praise to Thee by both be given, Alleluia!
Thee we greet triumphant now, Alleluia!
Hail the Resurrection, thou, Alleluia!

It’s Easter!

Jamie Jenkins

 

 

 

Today is the last day of Holy Week. We have celebrated Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. Now we anticipate the Resurrection, for tomorrow is Easter Sunday.

I have not posted this week because everything I thought about seemed so shallow or had been said many times and much better than I could have. I participated in Palm Sunday six days ago, I have been in midday worship services five days this week, and a Maundy Thursday evening Communion Service. My soul has been fed and my life enriched by the different voices  and these experiences.

This morning a blog that I follow by Steve Harper popped up in my email inbox. It struck a chord with me so, rather than comment on it or try to put it in my words,  I pass it on to you. Perhaps it will be helpful as you prepare for Easter Sunday. You can access it at the link below.

https://oboedire.wordpress.com/2016/03/26/in-sight-the-necessity-of-holy-saturday/#like-6345

Jamie Jenkins

 

 

 

Good News 2

It is not unusual to hear of someone getting shot. Or someone robbing or killing folks as they walk the streets of their city. Or a purse snatching. Those stories have become commonplace and fill our newscasts. But I have a different story to tell you.

Good News 1

A friend had been running errands and shopping. After returning home and unloading the things she had bought she realized her purse was missing. The last time she remembered having it was at Walmart when she was loading her purchases into her automobile.

She figured she had left it in the shopping cart or perhaps had left it on the car and it fell off as she drove away. And that was about an hour ago. Her purse was probably lost for ever with her ID, credit cards, and money. Surely she would never see her purse again.

With little hope of a positive outcome my friend and her husband rushed back to the store hoping against hope. When they came to the spot where her car had been parked it was no surprise that there was no sign of her purse or its contents. Perhaps whoever found it might have thrown the purse in a nearby trash can after taking her valuables. But the trash can yielded nothing.

Good Deed 1

With hopes dwindling and dread growing they went to the customer service desk inside Walmart. With little expectation of an affirmative answer she inquired if anyone had turned in a purse in the last hour. As expected she was given a look of “you’ve got to be kidding.” However, minutes later the store employee returned from a side room with her purse AND nothing was missing.

My friend responded, “Hallelujah! Thank you Jesus!” and the store clerk replied, “God is good!”

There has never been a doubt in my mind that God is good but I have not always felt so confident that people are good. There is so much badness and meanness on display in the world that it is easy for goodness to be overlooked. The attention given to violence and hatred and greed outweighs any emphasis on compassion and  integrity and honesty.

Honesty 2

One of my teachers long ago had a favorite saying: “Bad news goes around the world twice before good news gets its shoes on.” In other words, we hear and spread “bad” news much more regularly and rapidly than we tell “good” news.

The attitude demonstrated by my friend and her husband reflects the attitude of cynicism that is all too common. We have been conditioned to expect the worst. We have been taught to believe that evil is more prevalent than good. An incident like this lost purse encourages us and reminds us that there are a lot of good people in the world. Thank God!

Jamie Jenkins

 

Who has not heard of John Lennon? Paul McCartney? Ringo Starr? George Harrison? The Fab Four. The Beatles.

Read the rest of this entry »

Self Sufficiency 12

I think I am a rather low maintenance individual. You can ask my wife to be sure. I realize I cannot make it alone but I tend to think that I am an independent person for the most part. I don’t whine about my circumstances (too often) and I don’t require a lot of attention.

At this point I can see eyes rolling in some of you who are reading this. Your experience with me or your perception of me is somewhat different from the image I am projecting. I get that. No one really knows themselves fully. Our self awareness is not always on target.

I saw a cartoon the other day in which one elderly woman says to another, “I think my house is haunted. Every time I look in the mirror some old woman gets in the way so I can’t see myself.” The image we hold of ourselves is easily skewed and reality evades us. Even when we see things clearly it is easy to rationalize our weaknesses and offer excuses for our failures.

Self Sufficiency 4

Self awareness is important for good relationships and personal mental health. If we live with an illusion of who we really are, others will find it difficult and we will never realize our full potential.

 

I hope that my assessment of myself as “low maintenance” is accurate. If not, feel free to give me your perspective and I will try to learn from you so I can become all that God created me to be.

Self Sufficiency 1If I am wrong about my need for support and attention or if my feeling of self sufficiency is simply a fantasy, I need to know it so I can make necessary adjustments to become a healthy person. If I require more than I think I do from others, it will be helpful to be aware of it so I can seek out persons who can and will provide balance and wholeness.

I find fulfillment in giving to others and offering support for persons in need but I understand that giving and receiving go hand in hand. Being on the receiving end is difficult for me. I am much more comfortable when I am the one offering help. That trait is not necessarily a good one because human relationships require give and take interactions. Breathing in and breathing out.

“Individuals motivated by self-interest, self-indulgence, and a false sense of self-sufficiency pursue selfish ambition for the purpose of self-glorification.” -C.J.Mahaney

I am sure that I have held God and others at arm’s length with my “I can do it by myself” attitude. My over-dependence on my own abilities is a liability, not an asset.

A truly healthy individual is one who knows and properly uses their strengths and acknowledges and seeks help in their areas of weakness. An over emphasis of one’s strengths leads to egoism and narcissism. Lack of awareness of one’s weaknesses and failure to address them can result in undesirable consequences.

Self Sufficiency 8

The Apostle Paul teaches us that we are incomplete without each other. We are admonished to “pour ourselves out for each other in acts of love” and to “move rhythmically and easily with each other, efficient and graceful” (Ephesians 4).

Jesus teaches us that we are not sufficient on our own. He said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, then you will produce much fruit. Without me, you can’t do anything” (John 15:5).

Self Sufficiency 15

Psalm 8 extols the greatness of humankind. The psalmist says that when we examine all that the Creator has made, human beings are a minute but important part of the plan with significant abilities and responsibilities. However, we are not all sufficient. We depend on God’s protection and provision. We are not alone in this earthly endeavor. John Wesley reminded us, “Best of all, God is with us.”

And we need God!

“Self-sufficiency is the enemy of salvation. If you are self-sufficient, you have no need of God. If you have no need of God, you do not seek Him. If you do not seek Him, you will not find Him.” –William Nicholson

I am who I am but I am incomplete without others and, most importantly, without God.

Jamie Jenkins