Archives for posts with tag: generosity

My twelve year-old granddaughter is a very positive and happy person. She wants to talk and hear about positive things. At times I understand that she is simply naïve but I appreciate the fact that she has a positive outlook and wants to see the best in everything and everyone. And she tries very hard to be the best person she can be.

Recently I heard a response to the question of why the news media seem to always report only “bad” things. The reason given was because “bad news” is not the norm. There are far more stories of “good news.” The exception to the rule makes something newsworthy. Therefore tragedy, hostility, and other unseemly attitudes, words, and acts are reported because they are the exceptions.

I am not sure that is actually the reality but it is one perspective and possibility.

One of my teachers had a saying that bad news goes around the world twice before good news gets its shoes on. It certainly does seem that bad news travels faster than good news. Word of a robbery seems to spread much farther and faster than a report of a random act of kindness. Road rage makes the headlines but the many motorists who are patient and tolerant are seemingly absent.

I am often reminded that we see and hear what we are looking and listening for. Our ears perk up at juicy gossip and our eyes widen when we see something unseemly.

Today as I was driving I saw blue lights flashing in the distance. Instinctively I slowed down and expected to see an accident or someone receiving a ticket for violating the traffic laws. Maybe even a person being arrested for some criminal act.

But I saw something very different. Two police vehicles were diverting traffic around a stalled minivan and two officers were changing a flat tire for the driver of the stranded automobile. That was a surprise but a welcome sight. The officers were white and the motorist was black. The officers were male and the driver was female.

There are so many reports these days about white law enforcement officers inflicting violence on black citizens and headlines about men exploiting women. Nothing that I say here is intended to make light of these incidents. Violence against any human being is never justified and is even more detestable when it comes from persons in authority or from racist and/or sexist attitudes.

The experience I am reporting is meant simply to remind us that acts of kindness, generosity, gentleness, mercy, and respect occur all the time. We must not allow the “exceptions,” as horrible as they are, to lead us to believe that civility and human dignity have disappeared from our society. That charity and hospitality are things of the past.

What I saw today also sensitizes me to situations where I can be helpful. It reminds me to pay attention to those around me who might need assistance or support. It helps me to remember that no good deed is small. It aids me in focusing on others and not to be so self-centered. It reminds me to look for opportunities to “live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward (me)” (Matthew 5:48, The Message).

Jamie Jenkins

 

As is my custom I was present for worship at church last Sunday. The sermon was based on Micah 6:8. “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”

The following was the Pastoral Prayer at that service of worship.

Loving God, You are a great God and a good God. Compassion, kindness, mercy, and generosity match Your power and might. You are great and worthy of our praise.

We gather in this place this morning after a week of tumult and trouble. We need respite from the anger, hostility, and harshness of our world. Our spirits are troubled by the struggles for power and control. Our hearts ache for those who are in distress and face an uncertain future.

We pray for those whose names have just been mentioned in our hearing and for the persons and needs that we hold in our hearts. For all who are sick, suffering, or mourning we pray that they will feel Your great love and will be reassured that they are in Your hands and that You offer healing, help, and hope.

We pray for persons whom we know only through the news media. For the accusers and the accused, the victims and the violators, the powerful and the vulnerable, the leaders and the followers, persons in places of responsibility and the common laborer. O Divine Creator, help us to realize that all are Yours and Your grace is available to everyone.

Help us to understand that You call us to do what is just, to adhere to the high standards of morality that we expect from others, to show constant love and generosity to our neighbors, co-workers, family, and strangers and help not to think too highly of ourselves as we live in in community and in fellowship with You.

Help us and all people everywhere to experience the grace You offer through Your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Give us the will to follow His example of justice accompanied by mercy and kindness.

Father God, teach us how to live with a sense of right and wrong. Encourage us and guide us in our efforts to provide equity and protection for the innocent while promoting justice and mercy for all people. Help us to show love to our fellow humans and to be loyal in our love toward You.

Hear our prayer, O Lord, as we join our voices to pray as Jesus taught us:

Our Father, which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, As it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those that trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, The power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Jamie Jenkins

Adults are often reminded that they are the role models for children to follow. that is true and we who have numbered enough years to be considered “adult” should take it seriously. However, that is not to say that all examples of how to live are restricted to those who have reached a certain age.

Child, Beautiful, Model, Little, Cute

“A little child shall lead them” is often quoted in an effort to accent the fact that adults can learn from children’s behavior. While it is true that younger people often provide insight into how we ought to treat each other, the stated quotation is taken out of context.

A post on the blog, Theologically Speaking, suggests that children often are “a fine example to us all and that we would do well to follow (them) in being more concerned about the needs of others.  However, I am startled at how often the phrase ‘And a little child shall lead them’ is taken completely out of context.  The original quote has nothing to do with children teaching or leading adults.”

The blogger is correct. The phrase is actually a quote from Isaiah 11:6 in the Old Testament.  “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them.” This is referring to a future era of peace and tranquility when the Messiah will reign. The text has nothing to do with a child leading adults.

People, Children, Child, Happy

Nevertheless, there is much we can learn from the example of children. Jesus used a child as the example of humility, a quality that He put at the top of the list of his prerequisites for entering the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:1-6). Someone said that humility is not thinking too little of one’s self; humility is just not thinking of one’s self. Children often lead us in humility.

Children also lead us in generosity. I know that you can witness a lot of selfishness in children. But when you do I believe it is a learned behavior. It is not their natural disposition.

Photo of Peachtree Road United Methodist Church - Atlanta, GA, United States

On the Sunday before Christmas Eve, the worshipers at Peachtree Road United Methodist Church in Atlanta learned about one of the church’s mission projects. This congregation has partnered with Start With One Kenya (http://www.startwithonekenya.org) to provide clean water to the people of Kenya. The Christmas Eve Offering last year was devoted to provide water filters to 10,000 homes in Lanet and on the Islands of Lake Victoria.

Start With One Kenya ... help by giving for a tax deductible donation that transforms lives.  www.StartWithOneKenya.org  Its Easy, Its Fast, and Its Secure

Due to this concentrated effort

  • Water Borne Disease Instances have been reduced by 89.9%
  • Water Borne Disease Instances for Children Under 5 years of age have been reduced by 93.9%
  • Money Spent on Doctor Visits and Medicines to treat WBD has been reduced by 93.0%
  • Number of Days of School Missed have been Reduced by 94.7%
  • Number of Days of Work Missed have been Reduced by 96.3%

These dramatic changes are the result of providing families with a $40 water filter that lasts 10 years.

Water Filters 1

This year the focus turns to Rongai, Kenya with approximately 15,000 households. Typhoid, Cholera, and Dysentery are devastating this area. It was announced that the goal for the next Sunday’s Christmas Eve Offering was $240,000 to match a gift of another $240,000. This money would provide water filters for the people of the Rongai region.

Water Filters 2

My granddaughter was with us in worship and, unknown to me, she took the offering card home. She completed the card and the next Sunday she put it and $80 of her money (the cost of 2 water filters) in the offering plate. When I learned of it and told her how proud I was of her, she said, “I would like to give 1000 water filters but I don’t have that much money.”

The Christmas Eve Offering totaled more than $266,000 but I suspect no one gave more proportionally than Felicia. A child shall lead them!

Jamie Jenkins

Related image

Seen on a billboard: “Live generously and life will reward you royally.” I don’t know what it had to do with the well-known brand of liquor it was advertising but I liked the slogan.

A recent Huffington Post blog reported that researchers have discovered that the area of the brain that is responsible for our cravings and pleasure rewards, lights up when we give to a charitable cause showing the link between charitable giving and pleasure. They assert that “this response to giving is the physiological reason behind the ‘warm glow’ or that good feeling you get when you give and why you may choose to spend money on others or charity compared to yourself.”

A couple of years ago the New Republic published an interview by Jordan Michael Smith with sociologists Christian Smith and Hilary Davidson, authors of The Paradox of Generosity, which presents the findings of the Science of Generosity Initiative at Notre Dame. Researchers for the initiative surveyed 2,000 individuals over a five-year period. They interviewed and tracked the spending habits and lifestyles of 40 families from different classes and races in 12 states, even accompanying some to the grocery store.

 

The result is among the most comprehensive studies of Americans’ giving habits ever conducted. They concluded that people who are generous with their money are healthier and happier.

The sociologists believe that “it’s circular. The more happy and healthy and directed one is in life, the more generous one is likely to be. It works as an upwards spiral where everything works together, or it works sometimes as a downward spiral if people aren’t generous.”

These two reports agree that our brains seem to suggest that the joy of being a gift’s giver may eclipse that of being its recipient.”

Maybe that is what Jesus meant when He said “Give to others, and God will give to you. Indeed, you will receive a full measure, a generous helping, poured into your hands—all that you can hold” (Luke 6:38). It certainly affirms the words of the Apostle Paul that it is “more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). I like the way The Message puts it: “You’re far happier giving than getting.”

Although we are happier and healthier when we give, the purpose of generosity is to benefit others. Tom Stoddard understands that we will give sacrificially for our children and those whom we love and he rightly states, “The trick in life is to take that sense of generosity between kin, make it apply to the extended family and to your neighbor, your village and beyond.”

Jamie Jenkins

 

I don’t always pay attention to commercials on the radio and television but one caught my attention recently. It was not because of any bargains that were offered or any catchy slogan or tune. Neither was it due to a new product that was being offered. Actually nothing was mentioned about any merchandise for sale.

The announcement was that this giant retailer had donated $4 million to more than 80 Habitat for Humanity affiliates. This donation will build 40 houses and increase support for more than 60 affiliates. A fully stocked pantry would also be provided to each house that will be built by employees of the company providing these funds.

This generous contribution came from Publix Super Markets Charities, a not-for-profit organization that has $400 million worth of assets under management. The organization was founded as the George W. Jenkins Foundation in 1966 to improve the communities served by the supermarket chain. After Jenkins’ death, the foundation’s name became Publix Super Markets Charities.

George W. Jenkins

George Washington Jenkins Jr. was born Sept. 29, 1907, in Warm Springs, Ga. He was one of eight children of a general store owner. He was 12 when he started working in his father’s store. When he was 16, the boll weevil destroyed the area’s cotton crops and caused economic disaster for the general store.

Jenkins moved to Atlanta with his family and began working at a series of odd jobs including a job working for the Piggly Wiggly grocery chain. After his move to Florida the store where he was employed did not do well and eventually was sold. When that happened  he said, “I turned in my apron, took the money I had saved to buy a new car — about $1,300 — and in 1930 opened my own store next to the one I’d left.”

Publix 4

That same year Jenkins formed a corporation, Publix Food Stores Inc., and today the private corporation which is wholly owned by present and past employees is ranked No. 81 on Fortune magazine’s list of 100 Best Companies to Work For 2015 and was ranked No. 8 on Forbes 2014 list of America’s Largest Private Companies. The company’s 2014 sales totaled $30.6 billion, with profits of $1.74 billion. Based on 2014 revenue, Publix is the thirteenth largest U.S. retailer and thirty-fifth in the world.

Publix 2

The phenomenal success of the supermarket chain is very impressive and their commitment to customer service is a basic tenet of the company. But what caught my attention in the radio commercial was the closing comment attributed to its founder George W. Jenkins.

Jenkins was once asked, “If you hadn’t given away so much, how much do you think you would be worth today?” Without hesitation, he replied, “Probably nothing.”

Giving 9

I don’t know if that would have been the case but I do believe that all we really have is what we give away.

Jamie  Jenkins

Charity 2

As the wipers cleared the rain from my windshield I saw a woman with a small boy in tow. They did not have an umbrella or anything to keep them dry in this summer downpour. They probably lived in one of the many apartments along this street near my house. I suspected that they heading for the bus stop which was a couple blocks away. The rain was so heavy that they would be soaked before they got to the shelter.

I wanted to help but I did not know how.

Although my motive would have been pure, you just don’t stop on the street and offer people a ride. Even when the weather is bad.

Since I drive an electric vehicle (EV) most of the time, I don’t have to get gasoline for my car. But the hotdogs at the QT are the best- and they are inexpensive. So I occasionally stop in and get a hotdog loaded with ketchup, mustard, onions, sauerkraut.

Charity 3

One day recently as I got out of my car to go inside to prepare my “nutritious” and cheap meal, a young man standing nearby asked if I had any spare change. Should I give him money? Should I offer to buy him some food? Should I ignore him? I wanted to help but I was not sure of what to do.

During the years I served as pastor of a local church there were many occasions when persons would stop by the church or my house (everybody seemed to know where the Methodist minister lived) in need of financial assistance. The stories were all too similar. Their grandparent or parent had died and they were traveling to the funeral when they had car trouble that took all their money. They needed money for gas, food, or lodging. Often there were small children in the car.

I always wanted to help but I was not always sure what to do.

Charity 7

Every time I am approached by someone seeking assistance (handout) I am conflicted. I want to help but frequently I feel like I am being scammed. Even when I sense that the need is legitimate I am not sure what will really help and what will simply encourage irresponsibility. If I “help,” I am troubled with whether I did right or not. If I refuse the request for assistance, I wonder if this is one of the times when I failed to be compassionate.

I don’t think I will ever get past the dilemma described above. There will always be situations when I just won’t know what to do. I will continue to struggle to be caring but not an “easy mark.” I will be a sucker on some occasions and I will probably be a stingy Grinch at other times. I am reconciled to that reality.

Charity 4

However, I have found a way to be compassionate,  generous, and responsible with the resources God has entrusted to me. I give to the church that nurtures me because I know it is a good investment in the health and well being of many people locally and globally. I also give to organizations and causes that really meet the needs of humans beings and have proven to be trustworthy and wise in the way they use the funds provided to them.

Charity 1

When I see homes being built for families that otherwise could never afford one, I know that Habitat for Humanity is a good choice for my donations. Knowing what Compassion International does in places of extreme poverty around the world, I feel comfortable providing support through them. I have seen the good work and gladly support Action Ministries Atlanta as they seek to lead people out of poverty by providing hunger relief and educational opportunities to our metro area neighbors in need. Honduras Outreach, Inc. has transformed lives in rural Honduras and now in Nicaragua.

UMC Cross and Flame

Since I am a United Methodist, I support many of the agencies and ministries of the United Methodist Church that have proven themselves to be effective in serving the needs of people.  The United Methodist Children’s Home in Decatur has been serving children and their families since 1871. Murphy Harpst Children’s Center in Cedartown provides a safe and nurturing environment where severely abused and neglected children can heal and thrive. I have seen the benefits of Wesley Woods Senior Living as it has been a leader in helping people age with grace. I am heavily involved with Imagine No Malaria, a denominational initiative determined to eliminate death and suffering from malaria. These are just some of the places I am willing to give because I know I am really helping others.

Charity 6

There are times when I want to be helpful but I do not know what to do. But there are other times when I know exactly what to do. And I am trying to do it!

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

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