Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Where does it end
and something else begin?
And just what might
that something else be?

Courage: the power within
to face insurmountable odds
as if the odds don’t matter,
because they really don’t.

It doesn’t banish fear at all,
just keeps it in perspective;
ratcheting-up the power
of promise and possibility.

When others’ feelings are
of more concern than our own,
and a bigger picture is in focus,
courage is in the neighborhood.

In those deep-soaked,
courage doesn’t fade at the end;
it metamorphoses into
its silent sister, Hope.

© 2010 Todd Jenkins

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Tender Hands

(For all those who have been
knocked down too hard & often.)

Tender is a relative word;
depending on the subject,
depending on your situation,
depending on your expectation.

A farmer’s tender hands
can gently coax life from a crop
but you wouldn’t expect
to mistake them for silk.

A loved one’s tender hands
express love’s fragile emotions
whether they are sandpaper coarse
or Shea Butter smooth.

And then there’s God,
to whom we often attribute
anthropomorphic digits and extremities,
always expecting utmost tenderness.

Problem is, there are too many times
when our expectations come
face to face with life’s circumstances
that have run roughshod over us.

This we ask, beg, pray, dear Lord:
When life throws us under the bus,
let us firmly, clearly feel the touch
of your strong and tender hands,
in every hug, smile, tear, word, meal.

© 2010 Todd Jenkins

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Faith Factor

The television drama (There’s nothing remotely connecting it to “reality”, so I refuse to use that term.) “Fear Factor” has been on for years. I’ve only watched brief segments of the show as I surf the cable airwaves for worthwhile distraction. The show seems to be a competition to see which contestant is able to most quickly and completely navigate an obstacle course filled with fear-inducing animals or activities.

Our culture is filled with “Fear Factor” mentality. We are constantly warned that:
• what we have could be stolen or damaged;
• we don’t have the “right” (translated: expensive) or enough things;
• our children will be at a disadvantage if we don’t purchase them enough things or involve them in ALL the “right” activities;
• someone hates us and is out to destroy us, so we must practice preemptive hate to protect ourselves;
• there’s never enough, and we should hoard and protect all that we have.

The Sunday morning (and other days/times) gathering of Church is to declare an alternative reality. This other reality begins with the outrageous notion that all of creation belongs to God. As long as we speak in general terms, this isn’t too outrageous a claim. The universe is massive and, even collectively, humanity can hardly fool itself into claiming ownership of such vastness. It’s when we take it personally that things become difficult.

There is an old joke about two poor farmers who are sitting around the fire after a hard day’s work. One of them asks, “Joe, if you had a million dollars, would you share half with me?” His friend replies, “You know I would, Tom.” Tom asks again, “Joe, if you had two Cadillacs, would you give me one?” Again, the reply, “You know, Tom, as good a friend as you’ve been, if I had two Cadillacs I would share one with you.” The third time, Tom asks, “Joe, if you had two hogs, would you give one to me?” Joe stops short, “Tom, you know I’ve got two hogs!”

That’s the way we often view our possessions. It’s all God’s except, of course, for the things we own personally. The outrageous claim of the gospel is that we are Stewards, not owners. We have been entrusted with some of God’s creation “for a while.” This entrusting includes a responsibility to use creation—all of it—according to God’s plan.

That means we don’t have the option of “tipping” God (whether that’s 10%, 15%, 20% or more) and doing whatever we please with the rest. Our checkbook, credit card statement, and bank statement become theological documents. So does our calendar. With them we are declaring the extent to which we believe all creation is God’s.

If you’re expecting that this is the place where I tell you how you should spend your money and how much you should give to the church, I’m sorry to disappoint you. That’s an ongoing conversation between you and God. What I will tell you, is that the church is a place where that conversation can be shared, discussed, and gracefully lived out. Church is the place where the gift of Stewardship sinks in, and the joy and generosity of its practice are lived out. Collectively as a congregation, and as families and individuals, we have the opportunity to grow our faith and use our resources in ways that we believe God is directing. This is how we develop our “Faith Factor”, which is the most powerful antidote to “Fear Factor.”

© 2010 Todd Jenkins