Archives for posts with tag: Gratitude

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 have been through a lot in my life,” he said. Then the young man talked about the health issues he had experienced in his soon to be twenty-four years. He had surgery to remove a brain tumor and then he was diagnosed with a very rare form of cancer.

The survival rate for children who had this type of cancer was 40-70%. The prognosis for people over 18 was not nearly as good- less than 15%. Over the past 30 years there were less than 500 cases of adults with this form of cancer in the United States and the United Kingdom.

The cancer began in his lungs and then spread to the bone in his left arm. Chemotherapy and radiation reduced the size of the tumor. Then surgery removed the rotator cuff and the deltoid, the muscle forming the rounded contour of the human shoulder. He said the upper four inches of his left arm were “metal bone.” Two and a half weeks ago he was declared cancer free. “In reality I am a dead man walking,” he remarked.

As I listened I was struck with this young man’s attitude. There was no hint of bitterness or anger. No whining. Just a deep sense of gratitude for the knowledge and compassionate care of the medical personnel that treated him.

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Harry Emerson Fosdick said, “It is not what life brings to us in its hand but what we bring to it in our spirit that makes the difference.” This twenty-something man exhibited the kind of attitude that I wish was present in more people. He was an exceptional example that adversity does not have to make us bitter. If we respond as he has, difficulty can make us better.

Positive Attitude

Later in the same day that I overheard the aforementioned comments I visited two people in a rehab facility recovering from a fall. They were both decades older than the young fellow who had “been through a lot.” Because of their injuries their lives had taken a dramatic turn but they too had a hopeful and cheerful attitude and were doing what was needed to recover.

Cross that bridge

The Apostle Paul’s instructions were to “give thanks in every situation because this is God’s will for you.” I don’t believe he was suggesting that facing difficult times was what God wanted for you. Rather he was trying to help us realize that the only disability in life is a bad attitude and folks want to be around other folks who maintain a positive outlook.

Jesus said, “In the world you have trouble. But be encouraged! I have conquered the world.” (John 16:33)

Tom Stoppard reminds us that after all is said and done, “A healthy attitude is contagious but don’t wait to catch it from others. Be a carrier.”

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

 

 

 

 

 

A religious leader prayed, “Lord, I thank you that I am not like these other people” (Luke 18:11). He went on to enumerate some of the ways he was unlike others. He was not “greedy, dishonest, or an adulterer.” Those are certainly undesirable qualities and it is alright to express gratitude to God for enabling you to avoid such practices. But the Pharisee’s prayer was one of arrogance, not humility.

Most likely if you are reading this you can rightfully acknowledge good qualities that you possess and point to behavior that is honorable. With God’s help you have avoided some of the undesirable conduct and destructive attitudes that can be observed in others. But if we are honest with ourselves we recognize that we are no better than any other human being regardless of who we are or what traits we exhibit. It is a good thing to give thanks for God’s help in shaping our character but arrogance is never appropriate.

During this holiday many of us will also pause to give thanks for the things we have that enrich our living. We know that “Every good gift … comes from heaven; it comes down from God, the Creator” (James 1:17, Good News Translation). It is right and a good thing to give thanks to our Heavenly Father for all of our blessings.

At the same time we express our gratitude to God for the many things that enrich our living, let us be mindful of others who are not so fortunate. Whether it is good health or possessions or privilege, there are many other equally deserving people who lack those things for which we are thankful. Our thanksgiving should produce humility in us as we realize how blessed we are and lead us to discover how we can share our abundance.

On this Thanksgiving Day (and every day) “It is a good thing to give thanks to God, to proclaim God’s constant love every morning and God’s faithfulness every night.” (Psalm 92:1-2).

Happy Thanksgiving Wishes

Jamie Jenkins

 

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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.”

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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.”

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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

 

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

 

 

 

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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