Archives for posts with tag: Apostle Paul

Why is my life filled with so much pain and struggle? What have I done wrong to deserve this? If I just had enough faith, this would not have happened! These and other comments reflect a misunderstanding of faith and life.

There are people who believe that faith in God will prevent tragedy and adversity. They espouse the understanding that God watches over God’s people and will shield them from all harm. They have scripture on their side and they quote verses like 2 Samuel 22:3 “My God is my rock—I take refuge in him!— he’s my shield and my salvation’s strength, my place of safety and my shelter.” Or “God is a shield for all who take refuge in him” (Psalm 18:30).

There are many more similar expressions of confidence that God looks out for God’s own- and I believe them too. But we have to consider the whole of the Bible and not just select verses.

The Bible contains many strong assertions that God will protect and prevent people of faith from suffering disaster. There are many examples where that is dramatically demonstrated and the faith of God’s followers is affirmed. Stories in the Bible and history contain details of people who trusted God and were spared. The Hebrew Children is an excellent example. King Nebuchadnezzar had them thrown into a fiery furnace but they were rescued without even the hair on their head being burned.

Trust God and everything will be alright! But Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego understood the possibility that they would not be spared. With that awareness they said, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us… But even if he does not…we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:17-18).

The story of Job is an interesting one. In spite of the fact that he had lost many of the things that were important, he refused to stop trusting God. He said, “Even if God killed me, I’d keep on hoping.” What about the Apostle Paul. It has been said that he is second only to Jesus as the most important person in the origins of Christianity and he certainly did not have an easy life.

Ok, so faith does not always prevent adversity but God will deliver those who put their trust in Him. Right? Yes but perhaps not exactly as we would wish.

Chapter 11 of The Book of Hebrews chronicles the exploits of many “heroes of faith.” Their mighty and miraculous deeds are listed and the writer suggests there are too many such people and stories to mention them all. But the record shows that there were others who were tortured, imprisoned, stoned, and persecuted in ways too horrible to mention. “Not one of these people, even though their lives of faith were exemplary, got their hands on what was promised” (Heb. 11:39-40 MSG).

“When disaster strikes, or calamity becomes the norm, there is no human logic that can explain all of the questions, ‘Why?’  There are things that, quite frankly, seem to make no sense at all.  Much of our human suffering appears arbitrary and senseless…One day every person faces eternity through death; better to believe in God through His son Jesus, and at least have the assurance of eternal life.  The trials of this life are temporary, even though they may seem to drag on forever.  Faith becomes the reality and evidence of what eternity will one day make vivid and real.”**

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Corinth, “ For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18, NRSV).

It is important to maintain faith in a loving and powerful God Almighty. To believe that all things are possible if you believe. At the same time one must realize that faith does not guarantee a victorious outcome in this earthly life. The words to a song by Mercy Me captures what I am trying to say.

I know You’re able and I know You can save through the fire with Your mighty hand. But even if You don’t my hope is You alone.

They say it only takes a little faith to move a mountain. Good thing. A little faith is all I have right now. But God, when You choose To leave mountains unmovable give me the strength to be able to sing it is well with my soul.”

Regardless of circumstances the important thing is to come to the end of this earthly journey and be able to say, “I have finished my course. I have fought a good fight. I have kept the faith.” Then you can be assured that you will receive God’s approval and the prize will be worth the journey (2 Timothy 4:7-8).

Jamie Jenkins
*”Even If” by MercyMe- writers: Bart Millard, Ben Glover, Crystal Lewis, David Garcia, Tim Timmons

**Why Should I Believe In A God Who Doesn’t Seem To Help? by Craig Blumel

 

 

As a child did you ever have your mouth washed out with soap because you said a “dirty” word? If so, those are not pleasant memories. Chances are pretty good that if you are reading this, you of an age when that is not going to happen again.

I have been thinking a lot about two dirty words lately. Actually there are three words but one of them is hyphenated. Are you ready? The words are “discipline” and “self-control.” They are not the kind of words that result in a soapy cleaning of the mouth but they are not among the favorite words of most folks.

Jennifer Cohen, says that “Self-discipline is the number one trait needed to accomplish goals, lead a healthy lifestyle, and ultimately be happy.”* While this may be true, discipline is something that most people find easier to impose on someone else than on themselves. It is not easy to exercise restraint over one’s own impulses, emotions, or desires.

I tend to articulate more easily in verbal rather than written form. One of the problems, though, is that I can go on and on trying to make my point if I sense that the hearer is not getting it or if I am having a hard time finding the right expression. I can rightly be accused of often talking a lot and not saying much.

In an attempt to discipline myself I have taken on writing assignments with deadlines. It started with accepting the responsibility of writing a weekly newspaper column. The editor expected me to have it ready by Monday and it was not to exceed 500 words. The timeline pushed me to get it done and the limited space required that I carefully selected my words. In later years my job included a weekly e-newsletter with some of the same limitations. Thoughts for Thursday that you are reading right now is an effort to continue that self-discipline even though it is not a requirement of employment and there is no compensation.

My daughter and son-in-law and another family came from California to visit over the Labor Day holidays. We had a wonderful time and food was at the center of much of our enjoyment. When I weighed myself after they had gone I realized that I needed to get serious about the weight I had been gaining.

I decided to begin a routine of walking several miles daily. Three or four miles in the morning. Three or four miles in the evening. At least 4-5 times a week. In the beginning I was faithful to the commitment I made to myself. Then other things took too much of my time. One day it was raining. It was hot in the evening. Then it turned cool in the morning. There are so many excuses that make it hard to discipline myself to keep up the routine.

Of course, discipline is needed not only to make you do things you would rather not do. It also serves a preventive purpose. It is imperative to exercise self-control to avoid actions or thoughts that are harmful to us or to others. One of the definitions for discipline in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary is “training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character.”

John MacArthur asks the question, “Why is discipline important?” Then he provides an answer. “Discipline teaches us to operate by principle rather than desire. Saying no to our impulses (even the ones that are not inherently sinful) puts us in control of our appetites rather than vice versa. It deposes our lust and permits truth, virtue, and integrity to rule our minds instead.”

One of the most famous studies of self-control is known as “the marshmallow test,” which found that children who were able to resist eating one marshmallow—in order to be rewarded with two in the future—later showed higher academic achievement than those who had wolfed the treat down immediately. The study’s results seemed to indicate that self-control is an innate ability with wide-reaching implications for our lives, but later studies have suggested that our self-control actually changes significantly over our lifetime, and can be improved with practice.**

Self-control is a desirable trait for every person and is essential if one is to live an honorable and decent life. I wish that discipline and self-control were the “one and done” kind of experience but I know it is not. It is a lifelong effort. The Apostle Paul includes self-control (self-discipline) as one of the nine fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) that characterizes followers of Jesus. The good news is that we are not alone in this lifelong exercise. God is present and willing to help us.

Jamie Jenkins

* https://www.forbes.com/sites/jennifercohen/2014/06/18/5-proven-methods-for-gaining-self-discipline/#4367ccb23c9f

**Psychology Today

I learned something in church a couple of weeks ago. That happens regularly for me. Although I have heard thousands of sermons, some very good and some very bad, I often hear something new or understand a well-known principle from a different and helpful perspective.

In his sermon the preacher mentioned an exercise that Stephen Covey suggested in his very influential book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, published 29 years ago. It has sold more than 25 million copies and continues to be one of the more significant offerings of the self-help genre.

Covey promotes what he labels “the character ethic“- aligning one’s internal and subjective values with external natural laws and timeless principles.  He insists that our values govern our behavior while principles, or natural laws, determine the consequences.

A key influence on Covey’s thinking was his study of American self-help books that he did for his doctoral dissertation. Most self-help books at the time focused on personality with an emphasis on public image, how you dress, how you perform in social interactions, positive mental attitude, skills and techniques to get people to behave in certain ways. He reacted to the emphasis on “the personality ethic.”

The author of this incredibly influential book believed that a person’s character rather than their personality was the driving force behind success. He suggested seven principles, or habits, that shape our lives.

Russell Marion Nelson Sr., an American religious leader and former surgeon, in a speech entitled “Begin With the End in Mind” speaking from his medical training said, “An elective incision is never made without planning to close it. The same principle is generally applicable in all fields, however. Track stars don’t begin a race without knowing the location of the finish line.” In Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Covey agreed.

According to Covey, “Begin with the end in mind” is Habit #2 of highly effective people. In addressing this practice the author presents an intriguing exercise. He suggests that you imagine you are at your own funeral. There are four people that are going to be speaking about you at your funeral.  One is a close family member (brother, sister, son, daughter, etc.), one is a close friend, one is someone you worked closely with, and the last is someone from your community (charitable organization, church, local government, social club, etc.).

Now write down what you would want each person to say about you at your funeral.  Think about all the things for which you want to be remembered. The object of this exercise is begin at the end of life and work backwards. What are the qualities that you want people to remember after you are gone? Once you decide how you want to be remembered then you begin to let those values shape your everyday life.

In an interview promoting The Book of Joy, the Dalai Lama said to Archbishop Desmond Tutu, his co-author and friend, “I imagine I will see your face at the moment of my death.” Archbishop Tutu had lived such a life that his friend would remember him with fondness.

As the Apostle Paul neared death he said, “I have done my best in the race, I have run the full distance, and I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7, GNT). Is that the way you want to be remembered? Is that what you want people to say at your funeral? More importantly, is that what the God of all Creation will say?

Now is the time to assure that others will have good things to say about us and The Master will say, “Well done!” The best way to be sure is to begin with the end in mind.

Jamie Jenkins

Nearly 1600 years ago St. Augustine of Hippo said, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” I agree with this ancient theologian and philosopher but I wonder what he would say today. Would he see a world that is much larger and complex or would he see a world that is smaller and interdependent? Would he recognize our similarities or our differences?

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Regardless, I agree that travel is life changing. It helps you to see a great big wonderful world but “travel makes you modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” (Gustave Flaubert).

In one of Willie Nelson’s songs he longs to get back “on the road again…making music with his friends.” I have no experience or desire to travel the same way Willie does but many experiences have been enhanced by others who have been on the journey with me. At the same time I think Mark Twain is right, “There ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.”

Whether it is the snow-capped peak of Japan’s Mt. Fuji, Israel’s Mt. Hermon, the Tyrolean Alps in Austria/Italy, or the Rocky Mountains in the western United States- photos and videos are not adequate. Books and journal articles are not enough. There is no substitute for being there.

Hummus in Israel/Palestine, a churro with cajeta in Mexico, fish and chips in England, Nasi Kandar in Malaysia. You can eat these foods anywhere but it is not the same as when you eat them “there.”

People can tell you about the great cathedrals of the world but no description can compare with actually standing in awe when you visit Notre Dame in Paris, St. Paul’s in London, the Cologne Cathedral in Germany, or St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

There is no way to fully appreciate the Parthenon in Athens, the Coliseum in Rome, the pyramids of Egypt, or the rose-red city of Petra carved into the hillside in Jordan without being physically present in those places.

One cannot comprehend the beauty and majesty of the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, the Great Barrier Reef, or the Northern Lights without traveling to those locations. Turia Park, Keukenhof Gardens, Bellingrath Gardens, and Monet’s Garden require a visit to Valencia (Spain), Amsterdam, Mobile, and Giverny in order to be captured by their splendor.

The significance of the beaches of Normandy, Pearl Harbor, the Cabinet War Rooms in London, Auschwitz, and Hiroshima cannot be understood unless you have been there.

A few years ago a friend and his family spent the Christmas-New Year holidays in a distant land where violence and tension provide daily news stories. After returning to Atlanta I asked him what was the most memorable part of that experience. He replied, “I realized that we are all alike. We want the same thing for ourselves and our families.” Maybe Aldous Huxley was right. “To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.”

I enjoyed a recent trip to England. We drove through the beautiful Cotswold region and stopped by William Shakespeare’s home in Stratford-Upon Avon. I saw the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Buckingham and Windsor Palaces. But the trip centered on places of significance to the Methodist Movement in the late 18th century. My faith was strengthened by traveling to places of my religious heritage as I learned about the Wesleys and the spiritual awakening that they fostered. Many trips to the Holy Land (Israel/Palestine) have made the stories of the Bible come alive.

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While the articles and podcast interviews of the website www.anepiceducation.com focuses on family traveling, there is so much truth to it’s tagline- “Travel is an education and the world is the classroom.”

Where do you want to go? What do you want to learn?

Jamie Jenkins

Best-Travel-Quotes--better-to-see

My next trips are to the Holy Land (March 11-22, 2019), Greece and Turkey to follow the journey of the Apostles (April 23-May 3, 2019), Holy Land (again Feb. 15-26, 2020) and to the Oberammergau Passion Play and European Capitals (Munich, Berlin, Dresden, Leipzig, Regensberg, and Prague- June 3-12, 2020.

Your are invited to join me. Contact me if interested.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What does the Apostle Paul, Bob Dylan have in common? They both understand that being human means living with internal conflict. They understand that no one is their best self at all times. Sometimes the less than desirable part of one’s personality expresses itself. It is a struggle as long as you live.

DylanbyBarryFeinstein

Dylan put it this way: “Most of the time, I’m clear focused all around. Most of the time, I can keep both feet on the ground. I can follow the path, I can read the signs. Stay right with it when the road unwinds…Most of the time.”

“Most of the time, my head is on straight. Most of the time, I’m strong enough not to hate. I don’t build up illusion ’till it makes me sick. I ain’t afraid of confusion no matter how thick… Most of the time.”

“Most of the time, I’m halfway content. Most of the time, I know exactly where it all went. I don’t cheat on myself, I don’t run and hide. Hide from the feelings, that are buried inside…Most of the time.”

The Apostle Paul said it like this: “What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise” (Romans 7:15 MSG).

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Born Robert Allen Zimmerman, Bob Dylan has been an influential figure in popular music and culture for more than five decades. In the 1960s he became a reluctant “voice of a generation” with lyrics that appealed to the anti-establishment culture of that time.

More recently Mr. Dylan became the first musician to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2016. It was perhaps the most radical choice for such an honor in the Swedish Academy’s 115 year history.

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Paul the Apostle was born about 5 BC into a devout Jewish family in the city of Tarsus, one of the largest trade centers on the Mediterranean coast. He received his education in Jerusalem at the school of Gamaliel, one of the most noted rabbis in history. 

The conversion of Paul on the road to Damascus.

Saul of Tarsus, as he was known, dedicated to persecuting the early followers of Jesus. One day as he was traveling on the road from Jerusalem to Damascus on a mission to “arrest them and bring them back to Jerusalem” the resurrected Jesus appeared to him in a great light and he was struck blind. After three days his sight was restored and his life’s mission changed. He became a devoted follower of Jesus and is often considered to be the second most important person in the history of Christianity.

Both Bob Dylan and the Apostle Paul understood the difficulty of living as one should. They knew how hard it is to be true to the values that give a person dignity and demonstrates the honorable quality of life.

Paul the Apostle in prison, writing his epistle to the Ephesians.

Paul said: “I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?” And he found an answer to his dilemma. “The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions” (Romans 7:24-25 The Message).

I am so glad that we are not left to struggle through life alone and that there is a solution to our struggles. The Prayer of Confession and Pardon that many Christians often pray sums it up:

“Merciful God, we confess that we have not loved you with our whole heart. We have failed to be an obedient church. We have not done your will, we have broken your law, we have rebelled against your love, we have not loved our neighbors, and we have not heard the cry of the needy.

Forgive us, we pray. Free us for joyful obedience, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Then the response to the prayer: Hear the good news: Christ died for us while we were yet sinners; that proves God’s love toward us. In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven!”

Glory to God. Amen.

Jamie Jenkins

 

When someone does you wrong do you get over it or do you get even? The tendency when you are offended or assaulted is to strike back. Retaliate.picture of retaliation - Revenge rubber stamp - JPG

Justification for retaliation is found in the concept of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” This is a part of Mosaic Law used in the justice system of the ancient Israelites. The principle of jus talionis or lex talionis is that the punishment must fit the crime and there should be a just penalty for evil actions. Justice should be equitable; excessive harshness and excessive leniency should be avoided.

It has been suggested that if everyone practiced “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” the result would be a world of blind and toothless people.

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Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness…. The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy, instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

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Is there a better way? Perhaps the law of reciprocity offers an acceptable alternative to the law of retaliation. The law of reciprocity means that when someone does something nice for you, you do something nice for them in return. The act of returning a kind gesture or favor basically goes without saying. Unfortunately the all too often mindset is that when someone does something harsh or unkind, we in turn act in like manner.

Jesus in white robes, sitting on a hillside by the sea, surrounded by a large group of people who are listening to His teachings.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus counters the teaching of personal retaliation: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, “Do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you” (Matthew 5:38–42).

These verses may be the most difficult verses in the Bible.

On another occasion Jesus taught that the practice of retaliation would not provide any positive results. Instead, he said “all who draw the sword will die by the sword.”

The Apostle Paul instructed the Christians of his day in this manner: “ Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even… if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.” (Romans 12:17-21, The Message)

“Evil is powerful, but good is more powerful. In fact, evil is so powerful that only good has the power to overcome evil. Darkness can be driven away only by light” (Jay E. AdamsHow to Overcome Evil). I think Jesus would agree- and so do I.

Jamie Jenkins

 

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

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.

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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.

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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

 

Thanksgiving 9

Today is the fourth Thursday in November. That means it is Thanksgiving Day in the United States.

In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared in one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. For the next two centuries days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states.

In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed that a national Thanksgiving Day be held on the final Thursday in November. Thanksgiving Day was celebrated on that day every year until 1939, when Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday up a week in an attempt to spur retail sales during the Great Depression. There was much opposition to Roosevelt’s plan, known as Franksgiving, and in 1941 the president signed a bill making Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday in November.

This past week I visited several people who are homebound or hospitalized. A common thread in all our conversations was thanksgiving. Repeatedly I heard expressions of gratitude and an acknowledgement that we are blessed beyond our imagination.

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Like many others I will gather with family and friends for an abundant feast today. We will eat a lot and watch seemingly endless football games. All of this is important because it nurtures our relationships, but thanksgiving requires more than a passive attitude.

I am thankful for my family who love me and has always supported me. Therefore I do everything possible to provide whatever they need.

I am thankful for God who loves me unconditionally. Therefore I devote my time, energy, and talents to serve God’s people in the Church and throughout the world.

I am thankful for good health. Therefore I attempt to take advantage of opportunities to learn and explore.

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I am thankful for the freedoms that I enjoy in this country. Therefore I will strive to protect and preserve them for everyone.

I am grateful for all my resources. Therefore I seek to use them not only for myself but for the benefit of humankind.

It would be impossible to list all the things for which I am thankful. There are so many and so many which I simply take for granted. If you are interested, you can take a look at a few of them in the postscript.

Last Sunday Rev. Bill Britt, Senior Minister at Peachtree Road United Methodist Church, said “We don’t give God thanks for our circumstances. We give God thanks in our circumstances.” I think that is what the Apostle Paul meant when he said, “In everything give thanks for this is the will of God for you.” All things that happen to us are not God’s will but God does desire us to always have an attitude of gratitude.

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Author and publisher Fred De Witt Amburgh said, “None is more impoverished than the one who has no gratitude. Gratitude is a currency that we can mint for ourselves, and spend without fear of bankruptcy.” Thanksgiving is not self centered or passive. People with grateful hearts give. According to philanthropist W. Clement Stone, “If you are really thankful, what do you do? You share.”

Thanksgiving is, after all, a word of action. In other words, it is “thanks-living.”

Jamie Jenkins

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P.S. Other things for which I am thankful:

A good cup of coffee in the morning

Grandchildren (and their parents)

Ice cream (especially on weekends)

A wife who love sports (and me)

A safe neighborhood

The internet (when it works)

Skype

A comfortable pair of shoes

Opportunities to travel and see the beauty of God’s earth and its people

An electric car that is fun to drive

Any automobile that gets me where I need to go

All the folks who volunteer in the church and other helping organizations

The Atlanta Braves (wait until next year)

People who give generously of their time, talent, and money for the benefit of others

The United Methodist Church that has nurtured me and my family

My wife’s love for flowers and the beauty of her garden

Music- everything from classical to blues

Story tellers

My children and grandchildren who roll their eyes at my corny jokes but love me any way

The comics and their creators- especially Get Fuzzy (Darby Conley), Overboard (Chip Dunham), Pearls Before Swine (Stephan Pastis)

People who are positive about life no matter the circumstances

A warm house and a comfortable bed at night

Good (clean) jokes

Gifted preachers who work at their craft and deliver meaningful and challenging sermons

Church choirs who work hard to learn their music and offer it in worship

The people of Peachtree Road United Methodist Church for embracing me and my wife

Rainy days and Mondays- and every day whatever the weather

My children’s spouses who love them and enrich our family