Archives for posts with tag: Bible

Last week I suggested that there is a better way to live than always trying to get even. I asserted that retaliation for offenses or injuries is not the best way to reach a satisfactory conclusion.

The wisdom of the Bible offers the following advice: “A gentle answer quiets anger, but a harsh one stirs it up” (Proverbs 15:1, Good News Translation). Jesus told his followers to “not take revenge on someone who wrongs you. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, let him slap your left cheek too…love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Mt 5:38, 44).

The day after last week’s post I heard a story of one person who followed this course of action with dramatic results. What I learned about this man has stayed with me all week so I am passing it on to you- partly to purge my mind and also to share the dynamic witness of Jacob DeShazer.

Jacob DeShazer, was a bombardier in the storied Doolittle raid over Japan in World War II. At age 27 he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corp wanting to be a pilot but was assigned to be a bombardier instead.  He was among the small group of men selected to be a part of what has become known as Doolittle’s Raiders.

On April 18, 1942, crewmen in 16 Army Air Forces B-25 bombers, commanded by Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle (a Ph.D. from M.I.T) flew from the carrier Hornet on a daylight bombing raid that brought the war home to Japan for the first time since the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Corporal DeShazer was among the five-member crew of “Bat Out of Hell”, the last bomber to depart the Hornet. His plane dropped incendiary bombs on an oil installation and a factory in Nagoya but it ran out of fuel before the pilot could try a landing at an airfield held by America’s Chinese allies.

Take Off Order  16  Tail # 40- 2268  "Bat Out of Hell"-- Target: Kobe -- Pilot Lt. W.G.Farrow, Co-Pilot Lt. R.L.Hite, Navigator Lt. G.Barr, Bombardier Cpl. J.D.Shazer, Engineer Gunner Sgt. H.A. Spatz --- Crash landing, China coast, Japanese POWs

The five crewmen bailed out over Japanese-occupied territory in China and all were quickly captured. In October 1942, a Japanese firing squad executed three of the captured crew. Corporal DeShazer and the other survivors were starved, beaten and tortured at prisons in Japan and China. He endured 40 months in solitary confinement living in 6×9’ concrete cells with no heat or light and with only starvation rations.

Holy Bible Closeup. Holy Bible on the Small Aged Wooden Table. Stock Photo - 36163238

Although he was not a Christian he asked his captors for a Bible. Later he wrote, “In the month of May 1944, a guard brought me the book, but told me I could have it only for three weeks. I eagerly began to read its pages. I discovered that God had given me new spiritual eyes and that when I looked at the enemy officers and guards who had starved and beaten my companions and me so cruelly, I found my bitter hatred for them changed to loving pity.”

He began to realize that Jesus was onto something with his instructions about how to treat other people. So, instead of spitting at the Japanese guards, he began to be pleasant and greet them with “Good Morning.” Before long the guards’ attitudes and actions became less violent and angry.

A few days after the war ended he was freed from imprisonment. Upon returning home, he enrolled at Seattle Pacific College (now Seattle Pacific University) and received a bachelor’s degree in biblical literature in 1948. In December 1948 he returned to Japan with his wife as missionaries in the Free Methodist Church.

Fuchida file photo [670]

In 1950, he met Mitsuo Fuchida, the Japanese naval flier who had led the Pearl Harbor attack and had become a rice farmer after the war. Through contact with DeShazer Mr. Fuchida became a Christian and an evangelist who made several trips to the United States to meet with Japanese-speaking immigrants. After 30 years in Japan doing missionary work DeShazer returned home. He died at age 95.

 

Jacob DeShazer is one who followed the “better way.” God help us all to follow his example.

Jamie Jenkins

Advertisements

Ted French shared my love for ice cream and he introduced me to a new flavor, Sugar Free Chocolate Caramel Pecan. On a Tuesday night. I try to discipline myself to eat sweets only on weekends but he said since it was sugar free it would be alright. I accepted his rationale and indulged. Yummy!

I was eating lunch with friends the last time I saw Ted. He rolled up beside me in his motorized chair and handed me a bowl of that delicious ice cream. This particular brand was not sold in retail outlets so the only place I knew to get it was at the restaurant where I first ate it with Ted.

I often longed for that frozen treat. Then I learned that it was made at a creamery I passed regularly. One day the desire to have some Sugar Free Chocolate Caramel Pecan ice cream was too much. So I stopped by the nondescript building that houses the creamery. I inquired if they sold to the public and was told that they did.

“I would like some of the Sugar Free Chocolate Caramel Pecan flavor,” I said. When I was told it came in only one size I said, “That’s fine. I’ll take it.” In a couple of minutes a man arrived from the freezer with a 3-gallon container of ice cream. I thought to myself, “Wow!,” as I took the giant container from him and headed to my car.

Ice Cream 3

There was no one at home (thankfully) when I arrived so I began to rearrange everything in our freezer to make room for this huge carton of ice cream. Needless to say, making room for it was not easy. When my wife came home and opened the freezer she was surprised at what she saw (duh!). But it was OK (?) since she understood how much I like ice cream.

Three gallons of ice cream is a lot! Especially when you eat it only on weekends. Under an ultimatum that it had to be gone before Thanksgiving, we finished it last weekend. And I was glad to see it go. I still like ice cream and I will want some more Sugar Free Chocolate Caramel Pecan flavor in the future but I will enjoy other flavors for a while.

I suspect that you have heard the expression “too much of a good thing.” Well, my ice cream experience described above was certainly that. It was a reminder to me that just about anything in excess is not good. There are so many options available that it is difficult to choose and since we cannot decide, often we try it all. Food, entertainment, leisure, you name it and there is more than can reasonably be accommodated.

excess 10

A menu at a restaurant can be overwhelming. Appetizers, salad and soups, entrees, desserts- and they all sound wonderful. Purchasing an automobile is a daunting experience because there so many makes, models, trim types, colors, accessories. Want a night of entertainment? There seems to be almost unlimited possibilities: movies, performance theaters, action games, sports… the list goes on.  Decide to stay at home and watch television and you can choose from hundreds of channels after you decide between cable, satellite, or one of the many online streaming offerings. How can one not over indulge?

We are captives to the enormous amount of possibilities so we tend to do, eat, watch, and engage more than what is necessary, usual, or specified. I accept the reality that I am inclined to over indulge and I constantly seek to practice moderation- restraint, avoidance of extremes or excesses.excess 9

Philosophy and all major religions emphasize moderation as a key to wholesome living. To avoid excess in actions, desires and even thoughts leads to a healthier lifestyle.

The Book of Sirach is a book of ethical teachings from approximately 200-175 BC. It appears in the Old testament of the Catholic Bible but except for some Episcopal and Lutheran Bibles it and the other 12-15 books of the Apocrypha do not appear in Protestant Bibles. Some Protestant churches include it in their lectionaries and as a book proper for reading, devotion, and prayer. Its influence in early Christianity is evident. Concerning moderation Sirach says, “My child, test yourself while you live; see what is bad for you and do not give into it” (Sirach 37:27).

Words of another very wise man of long ago also recommends restraint in the advice: “Moderation is better than muscle, self-control better than political power” (Proverbs 16:32, The Message).

I know it in my head but it needs to move into my heart and hands. I want to enjoy the good that God provides but I know that too much of a good thing can be bad.

Jamie Jenkins

I thought I would never see it again but there it was. Gasoline under $2 a gallon. That is more than a dollar a gallon less than a year ago. Motorists are saving a lot of money but what are we doing with all the savings?

We can spend it, invest/save it, or give it away.

Giving 5

“Money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver” (Ayn Rand). The same can be said of time. Both time and money are at our disposal. One might seem to have more than another but everyone has the option of how to use them.

Money can be used to acquire “things” that creates a false sense of security and value. Or it can be invested or saved for future needs and opportunities. And, of course, it can be a wonderful resource to assist others. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, said it is wise to “get all you can, save all you can, and give all you can.”

Saving 1

One recent news story reported that with the cheaper gasoline prices many motorists were opting to buy bigger automobiles that get less mileage per gallon than the smaller cars they currently own. In other words, they have chosen to spend the savings provided by the lower fuel costs.

A person might receive a bonus at work or an unexpected gift comes their way. The first thought may be to remember Benjamin Franklins famous saying, “A penny saved is a pent earned’ and they put those extra funds to work for them in any variety of investment or saving opportunities.

Saving 5Then there is the other option for your “savings.” You can give it away. Most folks don’t have to look very far see places to make a contribution to someone in need or to a church or other reputable charitable organization. It has been said “if you always, give you will always have.”

In a commencement address at Vassar College, Stephen KIng, the celebrated author whose books have sold over 350 million copies, said, “I give because it is the only concrete way of saying that I am glad to be alive… Giving…[puts our focus] back where it belongs- on the lives we lead, the families we raise, the communities which nurture us.”

The Bible says, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back” (Luke 6:38).

Giving 1

The money we have, whether saving or earnings, can be used in a variety of ways. Lord, teach us to manage the resources wisely.

 

 

Jamie Jenkins

Last Sunday the preacher at Peachtree Road United Methodist Church suggested to his listeners that they have a lot in common with people all over the world. He emphasized the opening words of The Lord’s Prayer are “Our Father.” When we say those words we acknowledge that we are a part of God’s family which includes many siblings who don’t all speak the same language, have the same skin pigment, or practice their religion the same way.

Bishop Woodie White

The preacher was retired United Methodist Bishop Woodie White and he urged us to seek common ground with all of our brothers and sisters.

The bishop reminded us that the measure of one’s love for God was determined by one’s love for others. His biblical text said that if a person “does not love persons whom he has seen, he cannot love God, who cannot be seen.” (I John 4:20-21). No exceptions!

I agree with Bishop White. I wish I had never read these words because as he said, once you have read them you can say you don’t understand them, you don’t like them, or you don’t believe them. But once you have read them you cannot say you don’t know.

I find it hard to love some people, even those who are “like” me. When it comes to people who are not like me, the task is much more difficult. In fact, at times it seems impossible.

C.S. Lewis says it is very simple (Oh, yeah?). He instructs us not to “waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; [but] act as if you do.” In other words when you behave like you love someone you will soon find that you have actually come to love them.

My life would be much easier if the Bible had not told me that if I love God I must love others. Love for people and love for God cannot be separated.

Love One Another 2

Loving in the abstract is not difficult. Loving “up close and personal” is a bit harder and it is not optional for those who follow Jesus. He left us no choice when He said, “I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other. This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other” (John 13:34-35).

OK, I can probably find it in me to love those with whom I share common values and goals. It is not always easy but I can do it. Although it is a struggle at times, I can love my family and friends. It is a different story with a lot of other folks. But when you read the scripture you understand it like Bishop White said in his sermon- “there is no wiggle room.”

Love One Another 1

Oswald Chambers puts it this way: “(Jesus)  is saying, ‘I will bring a number of people around you whom you cannot respect, but you must exhibit My love to them, just as I have exhibited it to you. This kind of love is not a patronizing love for the unlovable— it is His love, and it will not be evidenced in us overnight. Some of us may have tried to force it, but we were soon tired and frustrated’.”

In the late 1960s the Youngbloods, an  American folk rock band, was a “one ht wonder” with their song “Get Together.” The lyrics called on us to “Come on people now smile on your brother. Everybody get together; try to love one another right now.”

Love God. Love people. It is not easy but I am going to try harder.

Love One Another 4

Jamie Jenkins

Today is Thanksgiving Day in the United States. This national holiday is typically a day of feasting with family and friends and more football games than you can shake a turkey leg at. There are three NFL and two NCAA college games today. If that is not enough to satisfy you, there are 66 other college games and 12 more NFL games this weekend.

And, of course, tomorrow is Black Friday. It seems that this day for shopping just about overshadows the gathering of family and friends and surpasses the glut of football games.

All of this and more clouds my thinking as I prepare to reflect on thanksgiving. I thought about recapping the history of this national holiday. Then my mind went to memories from past family gatherings on the fourth Thursday of November. I considered describing my favorite foods of the season. Or I could tell you about different traditions associated with this special day.

Instead I want to consider some of the attitudes and actions of thankful people. Not what thankful people do but what thankful people don’t do.

thankful-people-who-are-happy

Thankful people don’t complain. If a person’s heart is truly filled with gratitude, they are generous in their praise of others and expressions of gratitude for their blessings. When one truly appreciates life and all that it offers, there is no time or desire to register complaints. Thankful people focus on what they have rather than complain about what they do not have. Grateful people see things in proper perspective and recognize that things could always be worse so they celebrate regardless of the circumstances.

People who are truly thankful don’t complain, they find reasons to be grateful. Matthew Henry, who wrote a commentary on every book of the Bible, was once robbed. The thieves took everything of value that he had. Later that evening he wrote in his diary these words, “I am thankful that during these years I have never been robbed before. Also, even though they took my money, they did not take my life. Although they took all I had, it was not much. Finally, I am grateful that it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed.” He had every reason to complain but instead he was thankful.

thankful

Thankful people don’t hoard. Truly grateful people are generous with whatever they have and find pleasure in sharing with others. Their security is not related to things so there is no need to guard their possessions. Stockpiling material things or refusing to share privilege or power is a symptom of selfishness, insecurity, and ingratitude.

It is obvious to me that the more we hold onto things the less thankful we are. The more we give away the more reason we have to give thanks. Thankful people really believe that it is more blessed to give than to receive.

Thankful people don’t forget. They recognize that everything one has or achieves is not necessarily the result of their own ability, intelligence, or ingenuity. Many factors contribute to the benefits and blessings a person may possess. Thankful people remember the kindness and generosity of others.Genuine gratitude recognizes the contributions of individuals and realizes that opportunities and resources have been available to them that others might have been denied.

Hope-for-each-day-spirit-of-thankfulness (1)

While there are at least these three “don’ts” to thanksgiving, there are some things to do. Do give thanks, rejoice don’t complain. Do give thanks, be generous not tight. Do give thanks, don’t forget what others have done for you and most of all, remember God, who gave us His son for our salvation and has provided for us life eternal and life abundant.

Jamie Jenkins