Archives for posts with tag: forgiveness

In my quieter moments I realize how blessed I am. When I think about it I marvel at the richness of my life. Each year has grown better than the last.

On this National Day of Thanksgiving there are more things to be thankful for than I can begin to imagine but below are a few.

I AM THANKFUL FOR…

A warm and dry place to sleep at night.

A safe neighborhood.

Good friends.

My good wife of 50 years (come December 28).

My three wonderful children and their equally wonderful spouses.

My two exceptional grandchildren.

The call of God on my life and God’s willingness to let me serve in the Church.

The opportunity to learn from my mistakes.

The privilege and freedom to vote.

People who allow me to disagree with them without demonizing me.

Teachers.

Clean water.

Retirement.

Good health.

Freedom of religion.

A good sermon- and I hear one every Sunday at my church.

A good church choir- and I hear one every Sunday at my church.

The opportunity to travel and experience this great big wonderful world.

The amazing advances in modern medicine.

Music that entertains, inspires, and instructs.

Technology- when it works.

A reliable automobile that gets me where I want to go.

Folks who do what they say they will do when they say they will do it.

People who say “You’re welcome” instead of “No problem” when I say “Thank you.”

Ice cream.

A winning season for the Braves and Atlanta United.

Coffee in the morning.

Volunteers who serve with no expectation of reward.

The forgiveness of my sins and the grace of God to keep on forgiving.

The following Prayer of Thanksgiving was offered during last Sunday’s worship service. I share it with you today.

Gracious God, creator of all things, you have given us much to be thankful for: this place of worship, the blessings of this day, the world around us.

Apart from you we can do nothing. With you we can do everything. By the power of your Holy Spirit we live and serve you at home, at work, and at play.

We remember how much we have, in the face of a world that says we need more. We are reminded of your graciousness as we see those who go without. Yet in the face of little, you give us much.

The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. Give us the courage and the strength to put our hands to plow your fields. As we do, help us to remember the laborers who first shared with us the Good News.

As we prepare to gather with family to give thanks and feast upon the blessing s of a day set apart for rest, Bread of Heaven, Water of Life, fill us until we want for nothing. Pour out yourself for us. Let us take, eat, and see that the Lord is good.

With grateful hearts we give thanks. Amen.

Jamie Jenkins

 

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Last week I shared William Arthur Ward’s Six Ethics for Life. Since then I came across Six Rules of Living that the late Rev. Billy Graham’s shared in his book, The Journey. I pass them on to you with my comments, not that my perspective is better or my manner of expression is superior.

MAKE IT YOUR GOAL TO LIVE AT PEACE WITH OTHERS

“As far as it is possible, live in peace with one another.” That was the advice given by the Apostle Paul centuries ago. Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount teaches that peacemakers are children of God.

Inspirational Image for Matthew 5:9

AVOID REVENGE

I have heard some folks say when they are wronged, “I don’t get over it; I get even.” Living by the law of retaliation is one way but it is not the best way. The end result of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” is that we will all be blind and toothless. Words of wisdom from the Bible offers an alternative:  “Turn away from evil and do good. Try to live in peace even if you must run after it to catch and hold it!” (I Peter 3:11 The Living Bible)

Before you embark on a journey of revenge dig two graves - ancient chinese philosopher confucius quote printed on burned wood board.

GUARD YOUR TONGUE

“It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell” (James 3:5-6, The Message). The tongue is a powerful tool for good or evil. Therefore we must be diligent with our speech.

Silence Talk Freedom Of Speech Woman Girl

NEVER REPAY EVIL WITH EVIL

Jesus instructed us to turn the other cheek. To “turn the other cheek” does not imply pacifism, nor does it mean we place ourselves or others in mortal danger (www.gotquestions.org). Rather it is an attitude that we must cultivate that chooses to return good for evil, love for hate, kindness for harshness, affirmation for insult.

One kind word can change someones entire day. Inspirational saying about love and kindness. Vector positive quote on colorful background with squared paper texture

TREAT OTHERS AS YOU WANT THEM TO TREAT YOU

“The concept occurs in some form in nearly every religion and ethical tradition and is often considered the central tenet of Christian ethics. It can also be explained from the perspectives of psychology, philosophy, sociology, human evolution, and economics” (Wikipedia).

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This is the Golden Rule. Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? If everyone practiced this, there would be no need for laws and everyone would have a wonderful life. Obviously it is not so easy and does not happen automatically. Nevertheless it must remain one of our guiding principles.

 

PRACTICE THE POWER OF FORGIVENESS

Forgiveness Is Not An Occasional Act, It Is A Constant Attitude

No one is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. When you are the “victim” of someone’s imperfect action, attitude, or words, you don’t have to wait for them to ask to be forgiven. It is possible to forgive so spontaneously that you rob the knife of its cutting edge. Forgiveness does more for the “forgiver” than for the “forgiven.” We forgive others when we let go of resentment and give up any claim to be compensated for the hurt or loss we have suffered.

As I said last week, there is no simple formula for rich and full living but these six principles are a good start.

Jamie Jenkins

Holy Week

Today is a special day on my calendar. Holy Thursday falls in the middle of what has been called “The Week That Changed the World.” Between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday, it is the day that Christians remember Jesus’ arrest that led to his death the next day, Good Friday.

Palm Sunday

On Palm Sunday we commemorate the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem. Surrounded by Multitudes of folks gathered along the road from the Mt. of Olives into the city of Jerusalem. They greeted him as royalty and sang his praises.

Last Supper of Christ Stock Picture

On Holy Thursday Jesus celebrated the Passover meal with His disciples. This meal would be the last time Jesus would spend with his disciples and he tells them what is to happen.

At The Last Supper, “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:26-28)

Good Friday

Tomorrow is the day which commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus and his subsequent death. Good Friday? What they did to Jesus was definitely not good

Characters in a B.C. Comic a few years ago were engaged in conversation. One of them said, “I hate the term ‘Good Friday’.” His friend asked, “Why?” The reason, he answered, “My Lord was hanged on a tree that day.” The questioner replied, “If you were going to be hanged on a tree that day and he took your place, how would you feel?” “Good” was the response.

The day commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus is “good” because of the results of Christ’s death. “For Christ died for sins once and for all, a good man on behalf of sinners, in order to lead you to God. He was put to death physically, but made alive spiritually.” (I Peter 3:18)

Jesus’ death was the payment for sin. When we accept that gift our sins are forgiven and we are given right standing with God. God’s mercy and grace make salvation possible and we receive the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ.

This is why Good Friday is good- and the week is holy. But the best is yet to come. Just wait until Easter Sunday!!

Jamie Jenkins

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.

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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

 

Today is Thanksgiving Day in the United States and I have much for which to be thankful. I am thankful for (not necessarily in this order):

– comfortable shoes that fit

– one shoulder that does not hurt

– the Atlanta Braves baseball team (but I am not happy with the front office for recent rules violations).

-my wife of 49 years (in 35 Days)

– my three children and their spouses

– my church where my faith is nurtured by excellent preaching, exceptional music, and friends that are invaluable

– good health (for a man my age)

– the rhythmic sound of ocean waves crashing onto the shore

– civil discourse where mutual respect is practiced

– the privilege of living in the United States

– the Bible and the guidance it gives

– opportunities to travel and experience the wonderful world and it’s diverse peoples and cultures

– my bed and pillow when I return from traveling

– opportunities to serve others

-blues singers like Etta James, B.B. King, Diana Krall, Muddy Waters

– my extraordinary grandchildren (a biased opinion but true nonetheless)

– ice cream

– the laughter of children

– people who are smarter than me who don’t make me feel like an idiot

– Skype webcam

– air conditioning (I live in the Deep South)

– people who love me in spite of myself

– the Comics- especially Peanuts, Pearls Before Swine, Get Fuzzy, Baby Blues, Zits, and Garfield

– preachers, politicians, and other public servants who know it is not about them

– the Church (with all it faults)

– teachers

– the diverse community in which I live

– good food and good friends

– quiet time

– coffee in the morning

– Alex Trebeck and Jeopardy

– hats that protect my bald head from the cold and sun

– neighbors who look out for each other

– soul (southern) food and cornbread

– growing older without getting “old”

– folks who are not like me who like me

– God who loves and forgives me

Jamie Jenkins

 

 

 

 

 

I am practicing my breathing these days. Conscious of the need to take deep breaths and then slowly exhale. In. Out. Taking in fresh air and breathing out the carbon dioxide. It is good for my body, mind, and spirit.

We are now several days into the Lenten Season. This forty day period, not counting Sundays, leading up to Easter is a time for reflection and introspection. A time to slow down and focus on things that are important and eternal. A time to breathe.

It is a common practice during Lent to intentionally practice spiritual disciplines like prayer, fasting, and self-denial. Focusing on one’s personal and spiritual self leads to a closer relationship with God and a fuller realization of the purpose of one’s existence.

In addition to reading from my church’s devotional book, I have also followed my pastor’s suggestion and have been reading two chapters of the Gospels each day. There are 89 chapters in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John so one can easily read through those four books during Lent.

The Origins of Jesus Christ Matthew 1:1-25 Doing the whole series Lord Willing! Please Read, Like, Follow and Share! Thank you http://whatshotn.wordpress.com/2014/03/30/the-origins-of-jesus-christ-matthew-11-25/:

The first chapter of the Gospel according to St. Matthew begins with the genealogy of Jesus. The first sixteen verses list 42 generations from Abraham to Jesus. “Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac was the father of Jacob,” and so on down to “Joseph, the husband of Mary of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.”

I was tempted to skip those opening verses with all the names but I decided to trudge through them. Those verses trace the lineage of Jesus through 42 fathers with the mention of only one woman by name, Mary, in verse 16. In reading that long list I discovered something interesting in verse 6: “David was the father of Solomon whose mother had been Uriah’s wife.”

The Holy Family, the Holy Trinity, and You! | Get Fed | Catholic ...:

Mary is the only woman named in the genealogy. However one other woman is mentioned but not named. Bathsheba’s name is missing. Instead it says Solomon’s mother “had been Uriah’s wife.”

The biblical story of David is certainly one of success. This young shepherd becomes king. He defeats giants, lions, and bears. He is the envy of every man. Then he reaches a low point in his life.

The story is told in the 2 Samuel 11-12 in the Old Testament. David slept with another man’s wife while her husband was away at war. When he discovered that she was pregnant David devised a scheme to hide the truth. After this effort failed, David had Uriah killed and took Bathsheba to be his wife.

Nathan the prophet came to David and told him a story (II Samuel 12:1-7) that enabled David to see himself and his sin. From that encounter with Nathan, David penned the words of the 51st Psalm. The verses of this poem demonstrate David’s awareness that knowing God’s favor is far more important than everything else.

This Psalm takes on a very personal tone if we believe the Apostle Paul, that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” We don’t have to wait for an “emergency session” with God to learn and apply the principles of David’s experience.

When David was confronted with his sinfulness, he:

  • responded by calling on God for mercy and forgiveness (1-2)
  • acknowledged his wrong doing, confessed his “bent to sinning,” and trusted God’s forgiveness (4-9)
  • looked to the future and sought God’s help to be a different person. (10-12)

 

As a result of David’s extra-marital affair with Bathsheba, a child was born but died a week after his birth. Then David and Bathsheba were blessed with the birth of another son, Solomon. He would become one of Israel’s wisest kings. This story clearly illustrates that mistakes can have painful consequences. But it also shows how God can transform a mistake, even a serious one, into something good. All errors are not fatal IF we acknowledge our wrong doing, ask for forgiveness, and change our behavior.

O Lord, help us to know where we have sinned and give us the grace to follow David’s example so that we can be right with You and do right by others.

Jamie Jenkins

The Mirriam-Webster dictionary defines love as “a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person” but the word is often used in ways that has caused the real meaning to be lost. Rather than an expression of affection, the word is commonly used to indicate taste or enjoyment or as a synonym for lust and passion.

I love ice cream. I love my new car. I love the Atlanta Braves- even when they lose. I love spring time. I love to travel. These and other uses of the word love has diminished its significance.

Jesus said that love was the one undeniable characteristic of persons who would follow him. He said, “This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.” (John 13:35, The Message)

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OK, so we are to love one another but what does that mean? What is “love?” An extensive definition is given in the Apostle Paul’s first letter to the Church in Corinth (I Corinthians 13). He presents a long list of the qualities and characteristics of love. He sets an extremely high bar when he says that love is more powerful than faith or hope.

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Among other things, I have come to understand that one significant characteristic of love is understanding acceptance. Understand and acceptance. A woman who had been caught in the act of adultery was brought before Jesus. Her accusers reminded him that their law called for her to be killed by stoning and they asked his opinion of what they should do with her.

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Jesus stooped down and began writing in the sand. When the accusers continued to press him for an answer, he said, “Let the one among you who has never sinned throw the first stone at her.” When they heard this, one by one they drifted away. When they had all gone, Jesus asked the woman, “Where are they all—did no one condemn you?” Then he said to her, “Neither do I condemn you. Go home and do not sin again.”

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Jesus understood the woman and accepted her as she was. That does not mean that he agreed with her actions or approved of her conduct. He loved her as she was even though he encouraged her to change her ways.

 

It is important to note that love and “like” are not the same. I had a college roommate who irritated me with his music and his insensitivity to others. His attitudes and actions made it difficult to like him. However, as I learned about the difficult circumstances of his life I understood him, accepted him as he was, and learned to love him.

Anais Nin, in A Literature Passion: Letters of Anais Nin and Henry Miller, said “What is love but acceptance of the other, whatever he is.”

 

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I am grateful that God does not wait for me to be “acceptable” before He loves me. I am glad that God loves me not because of what I do or think but in spite of my thoughts, words, and deeds.

I pray that I will be able to love others like God loves me.

Jamie Jenkins

 

 

 

Perfection is a goal that can never be achieved. No matter how good a person is, no matter how hard one tries- nobody is perfect.

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It is seldom that our imperfection appears for all the world to see. Stephen Gostkowski was not so fortunate last Sunday.  Over 51 million people were watching his shortcoming and millions more read or heard about it through news media or friends.

Gostkowski is an American professional football player for the New England Patriots. He is the most accurate kicker in the team’s history and one of the most accurate kickers in the history of the National Football League. He holds the record for highest average points per game scored over a career (8.67 points per game as of the end of the 2014 season).

He is the Patriots’ all-time leading scorer, the team’s all-time leader in field goals, and he holds the NFL record for consecutive extra points- 523 times the kicker has successfully executed the point after a touchdown.

Nine years since he missed one- until last Sunday.

ESPN said the missed kick early in the game “had lasting ramifications throughout Sunday’s AFC Championship Game.” If he had made the extra point, his team would not have had to attempt a two-point conversion that was intercepted with 12 seconds left in the game resulting in the Denver Broncos winning 20-18 and advancing to the Super Bowl.

Gostkowski said after the game that he felt like the miss “lost the game” for the Patriots. “It was my fault, 100 percent. I just didn’t hit a good kick.”

PERFECTION 3

Teammates and coaches rallied to Gostkowski’s defense. They acknowledged his contribution to the team’s winning efforts all season long. “It’s not Stephen’s fault at all,” special-teams captain Matthew Slater said. “We definitely wouldn’t be here [in the AFC title game] without him.”

Teammate Rob Gronkowski said. “It’s a team game. It’s not one individual’s fault. You can’t put it on the hands of Stephen.”

Cornerback Logan Ryan called him “the best kicker in the league”and other teammates had similar messages. In spite of all the support, Gostkowski said. “I never would have thought missing a kick in the first quarter would be the difference in the game, but that’s why you’ve got to be good all the time.”

PERFECTION 1

Stephen, no one can be “good all the time.” Everybody makes mistakes. No one should give less than their best but nobody is perfect.

What do you do when your best is not good enough? Winston Churchill said, “Sometimes doing your best is not good enough. Sometimes you must do what is required.”

Lawrence D. Elliott said in a Huffington Post blog, “Admitting when we just don’t measure up is difficult for many people. They believe it’s a sign of weakness to admit one’s deficiencies.” He goes on to say, “Although it does sting, the realization that you’re not good enough should not be an ego-crushing experience. It’s a recurring thing in our lives, so we’d better learn how to deal with it. It happens in all areas of our existence.”

PERFECTION 6

Christian singer Amy Grant confesses, “I did the best I could, and in some arenas my best was not good enough. I’ve made some bad choices.” That is true for all of us but we must learn to forgive ourselves. Most importantly, we must learn to accept forgiveness and affirmation. Nobody is perfect.

Forgiveness is a divine attribute. We need to learn to accept it for ourselves and to offer it to others.

Jamie Jenkins

There he was in the center seat with the broadcast team. Laughing, telling stories, and reminiscing. Then he was greeted with loud cheers by the sell out crowd of over 46,000 people at the All Star Game this week. I was a little surprised.

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I guess I should not have been surprised. After all, this was happening in Cincinnati where Pete Rose played and coached the Cincinnati Reds baseball team for 22 years including 3 years as non-playing manager. The Hit King is a home town hero.

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Rose is the all-time Major League leader in hits (4,256), games played (3,562), at bats (14,053), singles (3,215), and outs (10,328). He played in 17 All Star games. And yet he remains an outcast in Major League Baseball.

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In August 1989, three years after he retired as an active player, Rose agreed to permanent ineligibility from baseball amidst accusations that he gambled on baseball games while playing for and managing the Reds, including claims that he bet on his own team. Two years later the Baseball Hall of Fame formally voted to ban him and all others on the “permanently ineligible” list from induction.

In 2004, after years of public denial, Rose admitted to betting on baseball and on, but not against, the Reds. Sports writer Tim Brown said  that he is on “his self-inflicted journey – the crimes against baseball, the cover-up, the lies, the life on a game’s periphery.”

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Rose, 74, received special permission from Rob Manfred, Commissioner of Baseball, to appear on the field at the All Star Game as one of the Franchise Four selected by the Cincinnati fans. In an interview after the game Rose said, “I’m the one who screwed up, see, so I can’t get mad at anybody why I’m not where I belong or why I did this or why I did that.” Manfred is expected to meet with Rose at some point to discuss an application for reinstatement, although a date has not been set.

Many sports fans point to the recent steroid scandals and players who got what looked like only a slap on the wrist for violation of the rules. In comparison they believe that Rose has surely paid for his misdeeds and all should be forgotten.

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The Bible suggests that we should be generous with forgiveness. I agree. On one occasion in the scripture people were ready to punish a woman severely for her transgressions. Jesus refused to condemn her and told her to “go and sin no more.”

Have the consequences of Pete Rose’s actions been sufficient? Should he be reinstated to baseball? What Would Jesus Do? I don’t know.

Jamie Jenkins