Archives for posts with tag: life

God of all Creation and Giver of every good gift, we join in praising You for Who You are. Thank You that Your hand has been and will be upon this land. By Your grace You have guided our leaders in the past and we pray for Your wisdom and counsel for our leaders of today. Our hearts are full of thanksgiving for those who have guided us and the many who have given their lives to guard us.

By Your grace You have enabled this country to be a great nation. You have blessed us beyond measure and we recognize that privilege comes with responsibility. Help us to continue to open our hearts and hands to share Your love to all persons. Help us to be kind and generous, loving and accepting as we embrace all of Your children who are yearning to be free.

Enable us to focus on what pleases You and that unites us as a nation. Help us never to forget that all people are created equal and granted the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Remind us regularly that these basic rights are not to be denied any human being.

O Lord, help us to know that greatness is not measured in military might or economic success. Enable us to understand that political power and governmental policies do not make us great but as we follow Your Divine Leadership we will be united as one great nation.

Lord, the truth is that we don’t know how we should pray, but we trust You to know our desires and to fulfill Your will in us and through us- as individuals and as a nation. We are one nation under God and we want to submit our own wills and ways to You so that we might be a holy nation and godly instruments to do Your work in the world. This is our hope and we ask you to lead us as we work for it and wait for it with patience.

Hear our prayer, O Lord, for we offer ourselves to You as we 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

 

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

 

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

Man and Woman Sitting Together in Front of Table

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jamie Jenkins

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Spring finally arrived. The redbud trees, tulips, daffodils, azaleas, and dogwoods were welcome sights after the drab look of winter.

Cherry Blossoms

I got excited when I noticed buds on the cherry trees a few weeks ago. Then I worried that the blossoms would appear only to be killed by the last blast of cold weather. Fortunately the blossoms were wise enough to wait.

The trees have been in full bloom for the past few weeks and they are gorgeous. But their time has come to an end. By the time this is read the blooms will be all gone and the trees have sprouted green leaves for the rest of the season.

Cherry Trees 2

As the weather warmed, the cherry blossoms began to blow in the wind like snowflakes. That which had been picturesque became messy. Last week I became frustrated as I attempted to clean up the fallen cherry blossoms. I blew them out of the yard into the street so I could gather them up. When I would get a pile of them together a gust of wind would blow or a car would come down the street and they would scatter.

Finally I thought I had cleaned up all of the blossoms but as the breeze began to blow ever so gently another shower of the tiny white blossoms spread across the front lawn again.

This experience helped me to remember a few things about life.

  •  Life. Is not always neat. Things can get messy at times.
  • Nothing is forever. The Apostle Paul reminds us that even our human body is a temporary dwelling.
  • Life is cyclical. Good things/times come and go. “There is a time for everything under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1).
  • Change is inevitable- and can be very good. Aren’t you glad that we no longer heat our homes with fireplaces fueled by wood? And can you imagine navigating a new metropolitan area without a GPS? Can you remember when you had only three television channels to watch?
  • Everything has a price. A line from one of Carole King’s songs reminds us “If you want to be complete, you have to take the bitter with the sweet.” Gaining and losing are equally essential for life.
  • It is important to enjoy the good things in life but not to hold onto them too tightly.

I have welcomed springtime with all the beautiful offerings of Mother Nature. But I look forward to the warmth of summer that will give way to the changing colors of fall. Even cold winter will be welcome because the earth needs time to rest and be restored.

“So I (have) made up my mind that there’s nothing better for us men and women than to have a good time in whatever we do—that’s our lot.” (Ecclesiastes 3:22, The Message)

Jamie Jenkins

 

 

 

I woke up and looked at the clock. It is 5:00 and it is still dark. In my head I hear the words of Charles Wesley’s great hymn Christ the Lord is Risen Today.

It is Easter morning 2016.

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I remember the words of the Gospel of John: “Early in the morning of the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.”

Sons of men and angels say Alleluia.

She ran to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they’ve put him.”

Raise your joys and triumphs high. Alleluia.Easter 2

Peter and one other disciple ran to the tomb and when they got there they saw that the grave clothes were still there but there was no body. The tomb was empty.

Easter 1

“They didn’t yet understand the scripture that Jesus must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to the place where they were staying.”

Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!

Mary stayed outside the tomb crying. Then Jesus appeared and spoke to her.Easter 3

“Mary Magdalene left and announced to the disciples, ‘I’ve seen the Lord’.”

Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once He died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!

Later that same day while the disciples were behind closed doors Jesus to them. He offered words of peace to their fearful hearts and he empowered them to go into the world to carry on His work of forgiveness and redemption.

Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids His rise, Alleluia!
Christ hath opened paradise, Alleluia!

How could I stay in bed.

Soar we now where Christ hath led, Alleluia!
Foll’wing our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like Him, like Him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!

Hail the Lord of earth and heaven, Alleluia!
Praise to Thee by both be given, Alleluia!
Thee we greet triumphant now, Alleluia!
Hail the Resurrection, thou, Alleluia!

It’s Easter!

Jamie Jenkins

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

Purpose 1

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

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

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

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

Jamie Jenkins

Live Life 3

Two news stories caught my attention recently. One item was in the entertainment section and the other was on the sports page. They were on the same day and at first glance had no similarities. But I saw a very important principle shared by each.

Judi Dench

The first story was an interview with Dame Judi Dench who is back on screen in “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” a sequel to the surprise hit of 2011-12.

Roger Moore, writing for the Tribune News Service said, Dench, like her character Evelyn, isn’t interested in retiring although she is 80 years old. She keeps working even as she suffers from age-related macular degeneration, making it impossible for her to read scripts (she has them read to her).

Dame Judi said, “I heard a lady, a doctor, on the BBC the other day, saying ‘I cannot WAIT to retire!’ She was something like 58. And I thought, ‘What IS she going to retire to do?’ I am very, very ANTI-retirement. What DO you do with your time? What do you do with somebody elderly in your family? What do you do if you ARE that elderly person? … Best to get on with something.”

She starts each day “with a little checklist, everything I want to do that day. And if I don’t finish it, I just carry it over to the next. It’s a way to keep looking forward.”

John Jenkins

The other story was about a professional basketball player, John Jenkins of the Atlanta Hawks. He is in his third year in the NBA and he is not one of the big name “star” players. It’s been a rough road for Jenkins. After missing much of last year with back trouble that eventually required surgery, he has been in just 12 games this season and played only nine minutes. It looks like he might be traded to another team

Opportunity has knocked only a few times for John Jenkins this season. Still, when called, the Hawks shooting guard has answered. The headline for the news story was “When Duty Calls, Jenkins Is Up For It.”

Kyle Korver, who is in his 12th NBA season said of Jenkins. “The way he approaches every single day — his habits, his work ethic, dedication — even though he hasn’t gotten the opportunity that he has been hoping for, he has been unbelievable to me in just how positive he has stayed and how he has kept on working.”

“You have to step up,” Jenkins said. “At least for me, that’s what I think when I go in there. I have to play as hard as I can.” Veteran player Elton Brand said, “He could complain but he doesn’t. He just plays his role.”

Eighty year-old actress Dame Judi Dench and John Jenkins, who will have his 24th birthday tomorrow, exhibit the same attitude. One of them is in the sunset years of life and the other is in the prime of life. But they both have a positive attitude about life and their career. They are talented in different ways and each one gives it their best every day.

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The Psalmist prayed, “Lord, teach us to live well! Teach us to live wisely and well!” (Psalm 90:12, The Message). Dame Judi and John Jenkins are examples of people who are attempting to do that. Lord, help us all to do the same. Live well. Love a lot. Do our best. Fulfill the purpose God has for us.

Jamie Jenkins