Archives for the month of: June, 2017

hallmark: SPRINGFIELD, OR - OCTOBER 28, 2015: Hallmark greeting cards selection at a grocery store supermarket.

Hallmark Father’s Day card: “Dad, thanks to your lectures I never change horses in the middle of a job worth doing, I know the squeaky wheel gets the worm, and I never count my chickens until I’ve walked a mile in their shoes … And you thought I wasn’t listening.”

It is easy to “hear” something different from what is really said. Sometimes it is because we are distracted and we simply misunderstand. On other occasions we “hear” what we want to hear; our mind is already made up. Language, culture, experience, age and a variety of other things facilitate or prevent good communication.

The Burning Bush

I believe the same things that make it difficult for us receive messages accurately from human sources also come into play when God speaks to us. God conversed with Adam in the first garden. God told Noah to build an ark. God spoke to Moses in a burning bush. Paul heard His voice on the way to Damascus.

And I believe God speaks to us in these modern times.

Discerning the Voice of God: How to Recognize When He Speaks by [Shirer, Priscilla]

“Hearing God speak” may mean different things to different people. God treats each of us as unique individuals. None of us are cookie-cutter people. Because of that, God doesn’t “speak” the same way to all of us. Throughout history God has spoken to people in many ways.

My wife is often the voice of God to me. Oh, she is not some mystical creature with a special connection to God but I am convinced that her opinion and wisdom has provided divine guidance, comfort, and assurance. There are others throughout my life that have also served that role.

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Hearing the “voice of God” through another human being can be most effective and most difficult. It seems illogical that mere humans would be the medium for the Divine Other to communicate with creatures like us. The psalmist asks ““Why do you care about us humans? Why are you concerned for us weaklings?”(Psalms 8:4, CEV).

An interesting story in the Bible is found in the 18th chapter of Genesis. “One hot summer afternoon Abraham was sitting by the entrance to his tent near the sacred trees of Mamre, when the Lord appeared to him. Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. He quickly ran to meet them” and offered hospitality. As they relaxed and enjoyed the refreshments one of them told Abraham that he and his wife Sarah were going to have a son. Sarah overheard the conversation and laughed to herself because both of them were very old.God had promised Abraham and his wife Sarah that they would have a son and their descendants would become a great nation as numerous as the stars. The problem was that both were now too old to have children. (Genesis 12:1-3, 15:14, 17:15-22, 18:9-15). – Slide 1

Remember that at the beginning of the story we are told that “the Lord appeared” to Abraham but the narrative said that Abraham “saw three men” standing nearby. I don’t know what either of them looked like but apparently they looked like ordinary human beings to Abraham. The guest who predicted that Sarah would have a baby is identified as God. Responding to Sarah’s laughter the guest says, “I am the Lord! There is nothing too difficult for me.”

The author of Hebrews in the New Testament admonishes us “to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.” And who knows, God might even show up.

Jamie Jenkins

I have become increasingly concerned over the “Us vs. Them” attitude that I see and hear regularly. Too many groups and individuals operate on the basis that anything different is bad. “We” must oppose “them.”  More than that, we see “them” as the enemies of “us” that must be stopped or destroyed.

I understand that there are people who espouse harmful philosophies and I know that all ideas are not for the benefit of the larger community. However, I find it impossible to believe that “we” are always right and “they” are always wrong. Whoever the “we” or “they” are.

There are many people who subscribe to the “Us vs. Them” approach to all matters. I am not one of them.

Some folks see anyone whose culture or language as different and probably dangerous. I am not one of them.

Many people believe that everybody is out for themselves. Wanting something for nothing. I am not one of them

Many politicians and John/Jane Does propose that Red/Blue States have the right perspective on all political issues and the other will lead the country to ruin. I am not one of them.

The attitude of a lot of people is that if your skin color is different from mine, I have to keep an eye on you. I am not one of them.

According to conversations I hear and read from individuals in leadership as well as common ordinary citizens, it seems that it is alright to use demeaning terminology and derogatory words to describe others. I am not one of them.

It is common for people to assert that anyone who holds a different position on religion, politics, social issues or virtually anything is your enemy. I am not one of them.

Us vs. Them

Sports fans often depict fans of an opposing team as bad people to be avoided. I am not one of them.

Someone always wins and someone always loses. That is the attitude that I sense in many people. I am not one of them.

Old Way and New Way signs, Life change conceptual image

I know people who always see change as bad. It is better to keep things the way they are. I am not one of them.

There are Christians who believe that they alone interpret the Scriptures correctly and know the mind of God  I am not one of them

Jeff Chandler, writing about working relationships says, “On the surface, we discuss compassion, empathy, and understanding but down at a personal level, there are grudges, alliances, and interactions that are the complete opposite. There is a growing contingency of US vs THEM which doesn’t seem like a good way (to work together).”

“Unless we are very, very careful,” wrote psychologist-turned-artist Anne Truitt, “we doom each other by holding onto images of one another based on preconceptions that are in turn based on indifference to what is other than ourselves.”

Loving and gracious God, help us to see our fellow human beings as brothers and sisters and treat everyone with respect. Enable us to understand that “we” might be wrong and “they” might be right on some things. Help us to work side by side with each other to  “guard each one’s dignity and save each one’s pride.” So that others “may know we are Christians by our love.”

Jamie Jenkins

Perhaps you have enjoyed dinner and a movie at one of the places where a restaurant and movie theater combined in one facility. Or maybe you have been to a “dinner theater” (sometimes called dinner and a show) that combines a restaurant-style meal with a staged play or musical.

If you are a baseball fan in Atlanta you might want to check out the Chop House at the Braves new Sun Trust Park. Situated in right field of the stadium, it has three levels, including two party decks and a new field level which can be turned into a large group area directly behind right field. A full menu affords many choices of food while you enjoy the hometown team win the game (at least that is what you hope for).

Waffle House photo of: The Sign

Although each of the aforementioned experiences may be good, I have a better, and more economical  alternative. Go to any Waffle House and sit where you can see the food being prepared. I guarantee that you will be entertained and amazed as you watch the skills of the short order cooks. Don’t tell Waffle House but I think they should charge extra for seats that allow you to be so well entertained.

Waffle House® restaurants are not intended to be entertainment venues but they certainly can be. The “unbeatable combination of good food with outstanding service” have made it a “beloved icon of the South” the first Waffle House opened on Labor Day 1955 in the Atlanta suburb of Avondale Estates. The original restaurant, which was sold by the chain in the early 1970s, has been restored using original blueprints and is now open as a museum.

Image may contain: food

Don’t let the name fool you. The menu includes many choices not just for breakfast but lunch and dinner as well. And all Waffle House restaurants are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year- the doors are never locked.

The original founders of the Waffle House brand both died in 2017 within two months of each other. Joe Rodgers Sr. passed away on March 3, 2017. Tom Forkner passed away on April 26, 2017.[9]

All food is prepared fresh, cooked to order and served on real china at every Waffle House. The kitchen is out front and in full view- and that is the where the entertainment comes in.

Waffle House photo of: The crew

On a recent visit to a Waffle House near my home our party of four enjoyed pecan waffles, bacon, eggs cooked to order, grits, raisin toast, and hashbrowns scattered, smothered and covered (one of many combinations available), and coffee. Two cooks and three servers provided excellent service- and good food- to us and the other 20-25 customers.

We sat at a booth close to and with a good view of the food preparation area. To fully appreciate the scene you must understand that nothing is written down. The servers shout out the orders in a language only understood by the grill operator and they use a system to make sure orders are right that is too complicated for me to understand or attempt to explain.

Carlos Whittaker describes his experience as a Waffle House short order cook this way: “Being a Waffle House cook was without a doubt, the hardest, most mind consuming job I have EVER had. 5 days after training on the grill in the afternoons from 2-4, they threw me into the fire. 6:30 am, that next Monday morning…’Bacon egg and cheese plate on 2 like 1! Waffle Up! Hashbrown scattered covered smothered chunked topped and diced. Ham and Cheese Omelet with extra cheese on 2 like 1! Pull a Ham!’ This was the first 90 seconds.” 

Good short order cooks/grill operators must have skills in many areas including communication, customer service, hand-eye coordination, sense of taste and smell, stamina, and teamwork (http://www.snagajob.com/job-descriptions/short-order-cook). In spite of the requirement of being multi-talented, these people are not highly compensated for their labor. The Board of Labor Statistics reports that the mean annual wage is $23,130. Servers make even less.

Consider Waffle House for your next dining out experience. You don’t have to dress up. The environment is pleasant. The entertainment is free. The service and food will be good and you won’t spend a lot of money. You won’t regret it, but be sure to leave a generous tip.

Jamie Jenkins

 

Last week I write about my recent visit to Cuba and my plans to return in October (you are welcome to join me). I spoke of the enjoyment of the experience and mentioned a few of the places we visited.

I could expand on the sites and people. There is much that could be said about the economic condition of the island nation just 90 miles from the United States. The pros and cons of the U.S. embargo could easily provide fodder for a long political discussion. I could compare and contrast the economies and governments of the two countries.

Instead, I want to share something which spoke to me about poverty and wealth and transcends the understanding of these two particular cultures.

image of worship - priest and worship at the catholic altar - JPG

On Sunday morning group leaders on the ship provided worship experiences for both Protestants and Catholics. Although attendance was voluntary, I am glad that I went. While Father Damien celebrated mass with the Catholics on board the ship, Rev. Bob Brown, one of the Protestant ministers, led a worship service in which we were introduced to a new song.

Cuando el Pobre (When the Poor Ones) is a Latin American hymn from 1971 written by J. A. Olivar and Miguel Manzano.  The English translation is by George Lockwood.

Bible

The hymn is a meditation on Matthew 25: 31-46, the parable of the great judgment, focusing on verses 34-36: “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me’” (NIV).

The United Methodist Hymnal editor Carlton Young notes: “The central teaching (of the hymn) is the classic liberation motif that God in Christ is seen and experienced in the plight of the rejected of society: the homeless, the poor, and the parentless. In life’s journey, we are closer to God when we love them and share from our abundance of food, clothing, and shelter. Those who choose the alternative—greed, hate, and war—will ‘go away into eternal punishment’” (Matthew 25:46a).

CUANDO EL POBRE (UMH #434)

When the poor ones who have nothing share with strangers,

When the thirsty water give unto us all,

When the crippled in their weakness strengthen others,

[Refrain]

Then we know that God still goes that road with us,

Then we know that God still goes that road with us.

When at last all those who suffer find their comfort,

When they hope though even hope seems hopelessness,

When we love though hate at times seems all around us,

[Refrain]

Then we know that God still goes that road with us,

Then we know that God still goes that road with us.

When our joy fills up our cup to overflowing,

When our lips can speak no words other than true,

When we know that love for simple things is better,

[Refrain]

Then we know that God still goes that road with us,

Then we know that God still goes that road with us.

When our homes are filled with goodness in abundance,

When we learn how to make peace instead of war,

When each stranger that we meet is called a neighbor,

[Refrain]

Then we know that God still goes that road with us,

Then we know that God still goes that road with us.

 
Jamie Jenkins