Archives for the month of: January, 2018

I grew up on the Gulf Coast in Mobile, Alabama. Except for five years in New York, I have lived my life in the Deep South. I have always enjoyed sports and in my environment that meant baseball, football, basketball, and tennis. Because of the temperate climate in the region ice hockey has not been high on my lists of competitive sports.

Atlanta Flames 1972-73 hockey logo

I saw my first live hockey game in the early 1970s at the Omni in Atlanta. The Atlanta Flames were a professional team of the National Hockey League (NHL) from 1972-1980. The team struggled to establish a fan base and were finally sold and relocated to Alberta, Canada.

NEW OLD STOCK CCM ATLANTA THRASHERS HOCKEY JERSEY JR L / XL NHL LICENSED

The Atlanta area’s growth and the migration of many people from the northern states led to a second NHL franchise being located in the city in 1997. The Thrashers played their home games in Phillips Arena, which had replaced the Omni as a downtown sports venue. I attended one of the team’s games before they met a similar fate as the Flames. They were and moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada in 2011.

Eight years before the Thrashers moved out of town a minor league hockey team relocated to the Atlanta area.  The franchise originated as the Mobile Mysticks but were rebranded as the Gladiators and moved to their new home in suburban Gwinnett County. In 2015, the Gladiators became the affiliate of the Boston BruinS, an NHL Team since 1924.

My two sons, my grandson, and I recently attended a couple of the Gladiators games at the Infinite Energy Arena. We knew none of the players on the Gladiators or their opponent the Florida Everblades. Prior to this, collectively the four of us had attended only a handful of games. It was a first-time experience for my grandson.

Gladiators Hockey Game Dec 2018

None of us had any real attachment to the team or much knowledge about the rules or how the game is played. Nevertheless we joined in cheering our hometown team. When something good happened for the Gladiators we shouted and applauded. When the referee called a penalty against “our” team, we booed. When the same call was made against the other team, we shouted our approval.

Hockey fans at stadium : Stock Photo

I have reflected on the experience of those two hockey games over the past few weeks. I have thought about the way we claimed the home team and was pleased when things didn’t go well for their opponents. We could have just enjoyed the game. The skating ability of the players. The speed of the game. The energy of the teams and the fans. We had no connection to the home team except that they were the Atlanta Gladiators. They represented us and the match was between “us” and “them.”

I wonder how many times the scenario of the hockey game is repeated in other facets of my life. How often do I see things as competition between “Us” and “Them?” Do I view the attitudes and actions of myself and others like me as “right and good” and those of others as “harmful and wrong.”

In examining my behavior at the hockey game I realized how easy it is to “see the splinter that’s in my brother’s or sister’s eye, but don’t notice the log in my own eye.” How easy it is to say to another person,” Let me take the splinter out of your eye,’ when there’s a log in my own eye.”

God, help me to guard against the “US vs. Them” mindset. Help me to see others as my brothers and sisters, creatures of equality and deserving of honor and dignity.

Jamie Jenkins

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Adults are often reminded that they are the role models for children to follow. that is true and we who have numbered enough years to be considered “adult” should take it seriously. However, that is not to say that all examples of how to live are restricted to those who have reached a certain age.

Child, Beautiful, Model, Little, Cute

“A little child shall lead them” is often quoted in an effort to accent the fact that adults can learn from children’s behavior. While it is true that younger people often provide insight into how we ought to treat each other, the stated quotation is taken out of context.

A post on the blog, Theologically Speaking, suggests that children often are “a fine example to us all and that we would do well to follow (them) in being more concerned about the needs of others.  However, I am startled at how often the phrase ‘And a little child shall lead them’ is taken completely out of context.  The original quote has nothing to do with children teaching or leading adults.”

The blogger is correct. The phrase is actually a quote from Isaiah 11:6 in the Old Testament.  “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them.” This is referring to a future era of peace and tranquility when the Messiah will reign. The text has nothing to do with a child leading adults.

People, Children, Child, Happy

Nevertheless, there is much we can learn from the example of children. Jesus used a child as the example of humility, a quality that He put at the top of the list of his prerequisites for entering the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:1-6). Someone said that humility is not thinking too little of one’s self; humility is just not thinking of one’s self. Children often lead us in humility.

Children also lead us in generosity. I know that you can witness a lot of selfishness in children. But when you do I believe it is a learned behavior. It is not their natural disposition.

Photo of Peachtree Road United Methodist Church - Atlanta, GA, United States

On the Sunday before Christmas Eve, the worshipers at Peachtree Road United Methodist Church in Atlanta learned about one of the church’s mission projects. This congregation has partnered with Start With One Kenya (http://www.startwithonekenya.org) to provide clean water to the people of Kenya. The Christmas Eve Offering last year was devoted to provide water filters to 10,000 homes in Lanet and on the Islands of Lake Victoria.

Start With One Kenya ... help by giving for a tax deductible donation that transforms lives.  www.StartWithOneKenya.org  Its Easy, Its Fast, and Its Secure

Due to this concentrated effort

  • Water Borne Disease Instances have been reduced by 89.9%
  • Water Borne Disease Instances for Children Under 5 years of age have been reduced by 93.9%
  • Money Spent on Doctor Visits and Medicines to treat WBD has been reduced by 93.0%
  • Number of Days of School Missed have been Reduced by 94.7%
  • Number of Days of Work Missed have been Reduced by 96.3%

These dramatic changes are the result of providing families with a $40 water filter that lasts 10 years.

Water Filters 1

This year the focus turns to Rongai, Kenya with approximately 15,000 households. Typhoid, Cholera, and Dysentery are devastating this area. It was announced that the goal for the next Sunday’s Christmas Eve Offering was $240,000 to match a gift of another $240,000. This money would provide water filters for the people of the Rongai region.

Water Filters 2

My granddaughter was with us in worship and, unknown to me, she took the offering card home. She completed the card and the next Sunday she put it and $80 of her money (the cost of 2 water filters) in the offering plate. When I learned of it and told her how proud I was of her, she said, “I would like to give 1000 water filters but I don’t have that much money.”

The Christmas Eve Offering totaled more than $266,000 but I suspect no one gave more proportionally than Felicia. A child shall lead them!

Jamie Jenkins

Happy New Year 2018 Everyone

At the beginning of a new year many people make New Year’s resolutions. It is an attempt to express one’s intention to “to change an undesired trait or behavior, to accomplish a personal goal or otherwise improve their life” (Wikipedia). I am not one of those people.

One study found 46% of participants who made common New Year’s resolutions (e.g. weight loss, exercise programs, quitting smoking) were likely to succeed, over ten times as much as those who decided to make life changes at other times of the year.

new year's resolutions : Stock Photo

Darin P. St. George, a personal trainer who works under the pseudonym Trainer X at Gold’s Gym in Natick, Mass., suggests that New Year’s resolutions are as fleeting as the rose petals littering the streets of Pasadena after the Rose Bowl parade has gone by.

Jason Elias, PhD, a staff  psychologist at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass. says it’s OK to make New Year’s resolutions, but only if you see them not as unbreakable promises to yourself, but as positive statements about possibilities.

“What New Year’s resolutions tend to be is a statement of your motivation of your intentions — like a bit of cheerleading for yourself.” He tells WebMD. “But the problem with that is that sometimes people set their goals too high, such as ‘getting my life back on track,’ and those things are way too big to keep track of, to know whether or not you’re even making progress on them.”

Since I do not engage in the tradition of making New Year’s Resolutions I cannot offer any personal experiences of success or failure at accomplishing them. I will not pass on any suggestions of their value but in the early stages of 2018 I want to share some advice given by one of the world’s greatest leaders.

Words That Ring Through Time: From Moses and Pericles to Obama - Fifty-one of the Most Important Speeches in History and How They Changed Our World (Hardback)

In his book Words That Ring Throughout Time, Terry Golway includes the words of  Moses, the great Liberator of the Jewish people 3000 years ago. After leading the Israelites for over 40 years, they are about to cross into the Promised Land. But Moses is faced with the reality that he will not enter with them. As he prepares for his death he addresses the people.

Moses Talks to His People

The Book of Deuteronomy contains Moses memories of the long and treacherous journey from exile in Egypt. As he prepares to turn over the leadership role to Joshua, “Moses issued a stern warning, leavened by encouragement and the promise of rewards for keeping faith in God” (Golway).

Hello January

 

With the first month of 2018 almost half gone, I offer the words of Moses as guidance for the future.

Listen obediently to God and keep the commandments and regulations written in this Book of the Law and turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

I set before you today life and what’s good versus death and what’s wrong. And I command you today: Love God, your God. Walk in his ways. Keep his commandments, regulations, and rules so that you will live, really live, live exuberantly, blessed by God, your God, in the land you are about to enter and possess.

But I warn you: If you have a change of heart, refuse to listen obediently, and willfully go off to serve and worship other gods, you will most certainly die. You won’t last long in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.

I call heaven and earth as my witnesses against you right now: I have set life and death, blessing and curse before you. Now choose life—so that you and your descendants will live by loving the Lord your God, by obeying his voice, and by clinging to him. That’s how you will survive and live long on the fertile land the Lord swore to give to your ancestors: to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.*

Jamie Jenkins

*Deuteronomy 30:10, 15-20 adapted from The Message, The Common English Bible, and The New International Version

Much of our identity comes from the formal and informal groups with which we relate or to which we belong. Civic clubs, charitable and political organizations, athletic booster clubs, religious groups, and many more appeal to different people. Recently I have become a part of the SSPS (Shoulder Surgery Patients Society).

SSPS is not an “official” group or organization but it has many adherents. I had no idea until a recent fall injured my left shoulder. After X-rays at the Urgent Care facility I was given a sling to support the weight of the arm. A follow up visit to an orthopedic doctor and an ultrasound determined that I had a torn rotator cuff and surgery was scheduled.

The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that act to stabilize the shoulder. These muscles are important in shoulder movements and in maintaining shoulder joint stability.

Illustration of three types of rotator cuff injuries.

Rotator cuff injuries occur most often in people who repeatedly perform overhead motions in their jobs or sports. Examples include painters, carpenters, and people who play baseball or tennis. The risk of rotator cuff injury also increases with age.

Once I started wearing the sling it was obvious to others that I had an injury and people from everywhere began to tell me of their experience with shoulder problems. One 90 year-old friend said he had the same problem and his doctor told him that surgery was not an option because at his age they would find “nothing but mush” in his shoulder. The physician that performed my ultrasound said there was “some degenerative decay” in my shoulder. I think he was telling me the same thing my friend had been told.

shoulder sling

I have been in the supermarket checkout line and have someone look at my shoulder and ask, “Rotator cuff?” When I reply in the affirmative I have heard many different scenarios based on the experience of other folks. Most of them have been horror stories. How terrible the surgery is, how long it takes to recover, and how much pain is to be expected. I have been told more than once that “you will never be 100% again.”

I had no idea that so many people had suffered a torn rotator cuff. In fact, it seems that those who have not are in the minority. Many well-meaning suggestions have been offered and some of them have been helpful. Others not so much so.

Four weeks after surgery and several times with a physical terrorist therapist I have increased the range of motion and look forward to beginning strengthening exercises after the shoulder repair has healed.

All things considered, it has been an interesting experience. I appreciate the genuine concern and empathy offered by strangers as well as close friends and acquaintances. Folks have been very helpful when they realize that some things take two hand/arms. Deference to one who has only “one good arm” has been welcomed at times and irritating at other times.

Another result of this injury is the awareness of how much I take for granted. Simple everyday functions are affected when one limb is weak. The discomfort from the shoulder makes it difficult to get comfortable enough to sleep. It is awkward at times to maintain balance and there are other irritating effects. I am fortunate that the injured shoulder is not my dominant one. Since I am right handed, it would have been much worse if I had fallen and hurt the right shoulder.

Ludlow Porch

Ludlow Porch (his real name was Bobby Crawford Hanson) was a southern humorist who hosted a radio show in Atlanta for many years. He was not the kind of talk show hosts that is most prominent today. He made people laugh with his spoofs and conversations with his regular “Wackos.” He would frequently refer to some experiences as “gnat bites.” They would not kill you but they were very irritating.

In the grand scheme of things this is just an inconvenience. It is not life threatening. I am not totally incapacitated. I am not in excruciating pain. This is just a gnat bite.

Jamie Jenkins