Archives for posts with tag: choices

I am a proud man.

Depending on how you interpret the statement above I am either a very fortunate human being or an arrogant individual.

The Bible cautions that “pride comes before disaster and arrogance before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18 CEB). One source defines pride as “a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.” This definition allows for pride to be a positive or negative emotion, depending on what prompts the feeling. It can be self-centered or other oriented.

Wikipedia describes pride as “an inwardly directed emotion that carries two common meanings. With a negative connotation pride refers to an inflated sense of one’s personal status or accomplishments… With a positive connotation, pride refers to a satisfied sense of attachment toward one’s own or another’s choices and actions, or toward a whole group of people, and is a product of praise, independent self-reflection, or a fulfilled feeling of belonging.”

Merriam Webster defines pride as “a feeling that you respect yourself and deserve to be respected by other people, a feeling that you are more important or better than other people, or a feeling of happiness that you get when you or someone you know does something good, difficult, etc.”

According to John Maxwell, author of many books on leadership, “There are two kinds of pride, both good and bad. ‘Good pride’ represents our dignity and self-respect. ‘Bad pride’ is the deadly sin of superiority that reeks of conceit and arrogance.” Christian author and speaker, Joyce Meyer, says “Pride is an independent, me-oriented spirit. It makes people arrogant, rude and hard to get along with.”

In other words, pride can be viewed as a virtue or a vice.

Ernest Hemingway believed, “All a (person) has is pride. Sometimes you have it so much it is a sin. We have all done things for pride that we knew were impossible. We didn’t care. But a (person) must implement his pride with intelligence and care.”

With all that said, I am a proud man. It is up to you how you understand that.

I am proud of my family- my wife, three adult children, their spouses, and two grandchildren. I am proud of my country. I am proud to be a Christian. I am proud to be a United Methodist clergy person (retired).

I hope I am not “puffed up with pride,” arrogant, or obnoxious. I don’t think I am blind to imperfections. I, and all of the above mentioned of which I am proud, are not always right. I (we) are not necessarily better than any other. We are different, but not superior.

I am proud of who we are and pray that God will continue to mold and shape us until we become all that God intended for us to be.

Jamie Jenkins

*This was first posted on Thoughts For Thursday on July 9, 2015.

When a friend of mine is driving he will ask his passengers, “If you were going to (wherever they are going), which way would you go?” This is a wise decision since he has a poor sense of direction.

It’s alright to ask for assistance when driving. After all, isn’t that what we are doing when we enter a destination into our GPS? It’s another thing when the advice is unsolicited.  Like “You should be in the lane to the right.” Or, “The light is about to change.” Or, “Better slow down, you’re going to get a ticket.” You know the kind. Nobody likes backseat drivers.

I wonder if God feels the same about people who offer advice and instruction to the Almighty. The Creator offers direction but it is questioned. An alternative is offered but a “better” way is suggested.

Humans are created with the ability to make choices- to think for themselves- but we are finite beings who cannot always see clearly. Our vision is limited but God sees all things from beginning to end. Nevertheless we often offer God advice on what is best for us. In effect, we are backseat drivers on the road of life. We want God to be in the driver’s seat but we feel out of control and so we second guess God’s ability to guide us in the right direction.

I am willing to allow God to be in the driver’s seat but I seem to assume the right to be a backseat driver. To question God’s knowledge and wisdom. To doubt that God knows what is best for me. Joyce Meyer says, “Trusting God is simply believing that He loves you and knowing He’s good, He has the power to help you, and He wants to help you.”

I want to do what God wants me to do, how God wants me to do it, and when God wants me to do it. I believe that God knows and cares about all of the circumstances of my life. I don’t really want to be a contrarian- but often I am. I seek to live like a Child of God and to conduct myself in a manner that honors God but I find it difficult not to be a backseat driver.

The psalmist said, “(God), You will show me the path that leads to life; your presence fills me with joy and brings me pleasure forever” (Psalm 16:11, GNT).

I agree with the psalmist. I know it is true! But I guess I am like the man who said to Jesus, “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24). With that confession, my prayer and hope is reflected in the hymn by Joseph Gilmore.

Lord, I would place my hand in Thine,
Nor ever murmur nor repine;
Content, whatever lot I see,
Since ’tis my God that leadeth me.

He leadeth me, He leadeth me,
By His own hand He leadeth me;
His faithful foll’wer I would be,
For by His hand He leadeth me.

Jamie Jenkins

 

Dating made easy. That’S what the sign said and offered a web address.

Man and Woman Sitting Together in Front of Table

It has been a long time since I was single and dating. And I am certainly no expert on the subject (just ask my wife). However, I do not remember it being “easy” and I imagine that it has probably become more complicated and nuanced since then.

stock photo of online dating - Illustration depicting a computer screen shot with a internet dating search concept - JPG

One online dating service recognizes that “you’re more substance than just a selfie” and it promises “to make meaningful connections with real people.” Another boasts that it has facilitated “more dates, more relationships, & more marriages than any other dating or personals site.” I have no first-hand experience with an online dating site so I do not argue with their claims and they may provide a much needed service. But I cannot believe that they can make dating easy.

In a recent Psychology Today article Dr. Robert J. Maurer does not suggest that dating can be made easy but he says it can be made simple. He says he has found that there is “only one essential predictor of future relationship health. (And) It is not the criteria people usually look for: shared interests, the same religion, similar incomes.” No, he suggests that you ask one “cliché question:” So, how come someone as wonderful as you is still single?”

The idea, according to Dr. Maurer, is “your date will hopefully hear this question as a compliment” but you can learn a lot about them from their answer.

Dating is not the only complicated life experience to which we often seek short cuts and easy answers. Take shopping for instance. You are in the market for an automobile and there are so many choices. Body style, color, optional equipment, gasoline engine or hybrid or electric- and a multitude of other things about which you have to decide. Wouldn’t it be easy if the auto makers offered only one make and model, one color, and no optional equipment?

Restaurant cafe menu, template design. royalty-free restaurant cafe menu template design stock vector art & more images of menu

When you eat out do you have difficulty with the menu? So many choices. Wouldn’t dining out be easy if there was only one entre on the menu? No daily specials. No choice of how you want your steak or burger prepared.

Street, Stock, City, Shopping, Travel, Times Square

Entertainment would be easy if there was only one theater in town playing only one movie. One home town sport/team to cheer. One television channel to watch.

Life in general can be very complicated. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everything was clearly right or wrong. No alternatives. Every decision had only one option. There were no forks in the road.

Obviously easy is not always better. While it might not matter what car we drive or how we entertain ourselves, there are choices that really make a difference.

stock photo of choice - Taking decisions for the future man standing with three direction arrow choices - JPG

I wish life to be more manageable- and it can be but there is no silver bullet or magical answer. I believe there are some absolutes in life. Everything is not up for grabs. On the other hand many, maybe most of the vital choices, are not always clear.

So how do we make good choices in the things that really matter? I believe that we are not alone in our efforts to choose and live wisely. God is with us to guide and guard us in life. “Anyone who needs wisdom should ask God. Wisdom will certainly be given to those who ask.” (James 1:5, Common English Bible). When we are not sure, “God will show how to distinguish right from wrong, how to find the right decision every time.” (Proverbs 2:9, Living Bible)

Life cannot be made easy but if we “trust God from the bottom of our heart (and) don’t try to figure out everything on our own” life can be better. If we “listen for God’s voice in everything we do, everywhere we go- God will keep us on (the right) track.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Jamie Jenkins

 

love,romance,illustration,woman,graphic design,business,man,isolated

Dating made easy. That’s what the sign said and offered a web address.

Man and Woman Sitting Together in Front of Table

It has been a long time since I was single and dating. And I am certainly no expert on the subject (Just ask my wife). However, I do not remember it being “easy” and I imagine that it has become more complicated and nuanced since then.

Midsection of Couple Holding Hands at Beach Against Sky

One online dating service recognizes that “you’re more substance than just a selfie” and it promises “to make meaningful connections with real people.” Another boasts that it has facilitated “more dates, more relationships, & more marriages than any other dating or personals site.” I have no first-hand experience with an online dating site so I do not argue with their claims and they may provide a much needed service. But I cannot believe that they can make dating easy.

Photo of Robert J Maurer

In a recent Psychology Today article Dr. Robert J. Maurer does not suggest that dating can be made easy but he says it can be made simple. He says he has found that there is “only one essential predictor of future relationship health. (And) It is not the criteria people usually look for: shared interests, the same religion, similar incomes.” No, he suggests that you ask one “cliché question:” So, how come someone as wonderful as you is still single?”

The idea, according to Dr. Maurer, is “your date will hopefully hear this question as a compliment” but you can learn a lot about them from their answer.

used car signs

Dating is not the only complicated life experience to which we often seek short cuts and easy answers. Take shopping for instance. You are in the market for an automobile and there are so many choices. Body style, color, optional equipment, gasoline engine or hybrid or electric- and a multitude of other things about which you have to decide. Wouldn’t it be easy if the auto makers offered only one make and model, one color, and no optional equipment?

menu as inspiration. See the grid

When you eat out do you have difficulty with the menu? So many choices. Wouldn’t dining out be easy if there was only one entre on the menu? No daily specials. No choice of how you want your steak or burger prepared.

Entertainment would be easy if there was only one theater in town playing only one movie. One home town sport/team to cheer. One television channel to watch.

movie theater, Canada

Life in general can be very complicated. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everything was clearly right or wrong. No alternatives. Every decision had only one option. There were no forks in the road.

Obviously easy is not always better. While it might not matter what car we drive or how we entertain ourselves, there are choices that really make a difference.

I wish life could be more manageable- and it can be but there is no silver bullet or magical answer. I believe there are some absolutes in life. Everything is not up for grabs. On the other hand many, maybe most of the vital choices, are not always clear.

stock photo of choice - Taking decisions for the future man standing with three direction arrow choices - JPG

So how do we make good choices in the things that really matter? I believe that we are not alone in our efforts to choose and live wisely. God is with us to guide and guard us in life. “Anyone who needs wisdom should ask God. Wisdom will certainly be given to those who ask.” (James 1:5, Common English Bible). When we are not sure, “God will show how to distinguish right from wrong, how to find the right decision every time.” (Proverbs 2:9, Living Bible)

Life cannot be made easy but if we “trust God from the bottom of our heart (and) don’t try to figure out everything on our own” life can be better. If we “listen for God’s voice in everything we do, everywhere we go- God will keep us on (the right) track.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Jamie Jenkins

Headstones 3

Cemeteries are interesting places to visit. The headstones often give insight into the personality and character of the deceased. Some of them are humorous. For instance, the headstone on Margaret Daniel’s grave at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia has the following inscription: “She always said her feet were killing her but nobody believed her.”

Headstones 6

Other grave markers have religious implications. One common inscription for a Christian is “Absent from the body but present with the Lord.” Some of them express this same sentiment more creatively. For example, on a grave from the 1880’s in Nantucket, Massachusetts: “Under the sod and under the trees lies the body of Jonathan Pease. He is not here, there’s only the pod. Pease shelled out and went to God.”

The purpose of the grave headstone is often to praise the humble virtues of the person who has died or to remind us of the bond between the living and the dead. Many graves have markers that simply list the name of the deceased with the dates of their birth and death. The two dates are separated by a dash (-).

Headstones 7

Some say life is from B to D. From birth to death. But what is between B and D? It is a C. But what is a C? It is Choice. Our life is a matter of choices. While the two dates are significant, the in-between time is extremely important. What happens between the beginning and end of earthly life. Our choices make a difference- sometimes momentarily, sometimes eternally.

Understanding the purpose of our life is essential for a meaningful existence. Mark Twain said, “The two most important days in your life is the day you were born and the day you find out why.” I believe that every person is made by God and for God and until they understand that, life will never make sense.

Purpose 1

Centuries ago the leader of the Israelites counseled the people to hold God in the highest regard and serve God honestly and faithfully (Joshua 24:14). American author Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. suggested that the purpose of life is “to be the eyes and ears and conscience of the Creator of the Universe”

Although ancient Joshua and the more contemporary Vonnegut lived centuries apart and their lives were very different from each other, both provide us with sound advice. I think they both would agree with the psalmist that human beings are the crown of God’s Creation with wonderful abilities and tremendous responsibilities (Psalm 8). Og Mandino put it this way: “You are not the momentary whim of a careless creator experimenting in the laboratory of life… You were made with a purpose.”

According to the Westminster Shorter Catechism, the ultimate goal and purpose of humankind is to glorify God and to enjoy God forever. So what happens in this life- between birth and death- is extremely important. The choices we make determine our future both now and forever.

purpose 2

Lord, help us today to choose wisely and live faithfully as children of God.

Jamie Jenkins