Archives for posts with tag: friends

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

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Birthday

I celebrated another birthday last week. No big deal. But it is a big deal. Every year is a gift from God and I am grateful.

There was no party (didn’t want one) but there were a lot of birthday greetings from friends and family. A good morning hug and kiss from my wife of almost 49 years. Phone call from my daughter in California. A webcam with my oldest son and his family (especially the grandchildren). A trip to Mercedes Benz Stadium for an Atlanta United soccer match with my younger son. Dinner, compliments of a very dear friend. Nothing is better than to know that you are loved and appreciated by the folks who are closest to you.

family and friends

I remember years ago when one of my nephews asked me how old I was. “I replied that I was thirty. By the look on his teenaged face I must have appeared to be ancient. 30! His expression indicated that he thought I was surely on my last leg. He probably could not imagine that I would still be alive 44 years later.

I can remember when I thought persons my age were “old.” I still catch myself referring to people just a few years my senior as “old” or “elderly” although I don’t feel that way about myself. You are probably thinking, “He is out of touch with reality,” and you may be right.

There are many benefits to aging especially if one enjoys good health, and I do. I am alright with getting older. I just don’t ever want to get “old.” In thinking about the aging process I came across the following “Prayer of an Anonymous Abbess” by Margot Benary-Isbert.

Lord, thou knowest better than myself that I am growing older and will soon be old. Keep me from becoming too talkative, and especially from the unfortunate habit of thinking that I must say something on every subject and at every opportunity.

Release me from the idea that I must straighten out other peoples’ affairs. With my immense treasure of experience and wisdom, it seems a pity not to let everybody partake of it. But thou knowest, Lord, that in the end I will need a few friends.

Keep me from the recital of endless details; give me wings to get to the point.

Grant me the patience to listen to the complaints of others; help me to endure them with charity. But seal my lips on my own aches and pains — they increase with the increasing years and my inclination to recount them is also increasing.

I will not ask thee for improved memory, only for a little more humility and less self-assurance when my own memory doesn’t agree with that of others. Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be wrong.

Keep me reasonably gentle. I do not have the ambition to become a saint — it is so hard to live with some of them — but a harsh old person is one of the devil’s masterpieces.

Make me sympathetic without being sentimental, helpful but not bossy. Let me discover merits where I had not expected them, and talents in people whom I had not thought to possess any. And, Lord, give me the grace to tell them so. Amen.” (Margot Benary-Isbert)

Life is good but another birthday brings with it the realization that life on earth is not forever and I am reminded of the psalmist words: “So teach us to number our days that we may gain a wise heart.” (Psalm 90:12)

Jamie Jenkins

 

oze1671

The pursuit of happiness is one of the “unalienable rights” which the Declaration of Independence says has been given to all human beings by their Creator. However, happiness is often considered elusive and fleeting. Nathaniel Hawthorne said that “happiness is as a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but which if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.”

happy-quotes-and-sayings-4

Recent research suggests that happiness can be attributed to three major sources: genes, events and values. Data suggests that if we understand them we can improve our lives and the lives of others.

According to the researchers, data on happiness remain fairly consistent. Arthur C. Brooks reports in the New York Times that every other year for four decades, roughly a third of Americans have said they’re “very happy,” and about half report being “pretty happy.” Only about 10 to 15 percent typically say they’re “not too happy.”

Although there are demographic differences that can affect the statistics, about 48 percent of our happiness is inherited from our parents. Studies further suggest that isolated events control up to 40 percent of our happiness at any given time. Social scientists say that we can control the remaining 12 percent if we pursue four basic values: faith, family, community and work.

The website www.lifehack.org offers another formula for happiness: Letting Go + Acceptance + Gratitude. This suggests that the best things you can do with your life is to “let go of what was and what will be and be okay with it, thankful for it, and appreciate it.”

aaeaaqaaaaaaaaihaaaajdixmdg3owzhlwm4n2mtndfkzc1iowzllwnmzjqwzjgzztliza

In a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers at University College of London have provided another formula for happiness. They created an equation that accurately predicted the happiness of over 18,000 people. Participants in the study completed certain decision making tasks. Then researchers used MRI imaging to measure their brain activity and asked them repeatedly, “How happy are you now?” This testing resulted in the following equation:

FORMULA FOR HAPPINESS

You will have to do your own research to figure out what all that means.

The suggestions based on studies that are offered above are worth considering, but I commend the following to you as a formula for happiness that I think will work.

Rev. Bill Britt, Senior Minister at Peachtree Road United Methodist Church in Atlanta, offered another formula for happiness in his sermon last Sunday.* He based it on Philippians 4:4-7 in the Bible.

  • Be gentle
  • Don’t worry about anything
  • Pray about everything
  • Be thankful for all things

Actually Rev. Britt gave only three steps. I have added one: Be gentle. The Message translates those two words in verse 5: “Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you’re on their side, working with them and not against them.”

This formula sandwiched between “The Lord is near” and “the peace of God which passes all understanding will guard your hearts and minds” offers a simple but effective process for pursuing happiness.

Jamie Jenkins

*Rev. Britt’s sermon can be viewed at http://www.prumc.org

 

History has recorded many tyrants, despots, and dictators. They have destroyed civilizations and wreaked havoc wherever they have been. Inestimable damage has resulted from their autocratic and violent reigns. Currently terrorists are creating chaos and destruction throughout the world.

Whether they rule a nation, control a radical religious or political faction, or espouse racial bigotry, they are all bullies. Some are powerful political or religious figures while others are angry societal misfits. They are all bullies.

“Everyone likely has a bullying story, whether as the victim, the bully, or as a witness.” (Michael Honda)

We have heard a lot recently about bullying among children and youth but bullies are not only nasty kids or mean teenagers. Bullies come in all shapes, sizes, and ages. They don’t all capture the news headlines or make a big splash. But they cause immeasurable harm to individuals and groups of all sizes.

Bullies may be aggressive drivers, pushy salespersons, bossy friends, co-workers, or angry strangers. They are the kid who steals a classmates lunch money. They are the boss that uses their position of power to harass those who are less powerful. They are close friends, neighbors, and family members.

Bullying can include repeatedly making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, or excluding someone from a group, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

You may not call them bullies but you know them. You have encountered them. With their words and actions they use intimidation, threats and fear. They play mind games of manipulation and control. They cause much emotional and physical  damage.

The Irish Times (Dec. 12, 2015) reported that “one third of trainee doctors say they have experienced bullying and harassment at work, according to a survey by the Irish Medical Council. The survey also found that over half of trainee doctors – 56 per cent – have witnessed someone else being bullied or harassed.”

“Bullying is a national epidemic.” (Macklemore)

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, asserts that “matters of workplace harassment (bullying) have gained interest among practitioners and researchers as it is becoming one of the most sensitive areas of effective workplace management… Under occupational health and safety laws around the world, workplace harassment and workplace bullying are identified as being core psychosocial hazards

Bullying never has to do with you. It’s the bully who is insecure. (Shay Mitchell)

Bullies are unhappy and unhealthy people who act out in inappropriate ways that inflict harm on others in an effort to boost their own sense of self-worth. They will continue to have their way at the expense of others and cause harm until we stand up to them and say “no more.”

We must recognize the strength that lies within each one of us- whether the bully is a radical Islamic terrorist, a family member, a friend, or whoever. We must resist the efforts of bullies to force their agenda upon us. We must not allow any individual or group to destroy our dignity as children of God.

In the beginning of this new year let us pledge to be present for those who feel they have no voice. To stand with those, near and far, who are oppressed. To oppose anyone who will attempt to impose their ideas and ideals upon us or others through intimidation and harassment. Let us join Jesus in his mission “to set free the oppressed, downtrodden, and bruised” (Luke 4:18).

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.

Thanksgiving 6

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.

Thanksgiving 7

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.

Thanksgiving 3

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

Thanksgiving 1

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