Tuesday, June 24, 2014

New Website

I just posted a new blog on my new website (www.gabejenkins.com). If you've been following this site, switch over to my new site and you can subscribe to receive all future posts. Below is a link to my latest blog post.


Monday, May 26, 2014

Now Available!

After a few years in the making, my book, "Deep Waters: God's Invitation To Go Deeper", is available through my website. Read more at www.gabejenkins.com.


Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Joy of Being "That" Family

It wasn’t like we were stepping foot in a “Higgins” boat, preparing to storm the beaches of Normandy on D-Day. We weren’t boarding the ill-fated Titanic. We were, however, on the precipice of what could be an extremely frightening situation—boarding a plane with three kids under the age of five.

Eyeballs locked on us like we were terrorists as we first made our way down the undersized aisle. Ashley was carrying our three-month-old drooling baby (Owen), and we also had our four-year-old (Avery) and two-year-old (Sophie) in tow. I noticed that people began fervently praying as we approached. I initially thought we were carrying a strong anointing, but then I realized people were praying that they wouldn’t be stuck next to us.  One older gentleman even said, “Keep walking.” In that moment I realized we were “that” family.
We did keep walking—more like shuffling—as we made our way to aisles 25 and 26. Unfortunately, our seats were split between two separate rows (3 in row 25 and 1 in row 26). Ashley displayed heroic courage as she said, “You sit behind us, and I’ll sit here with the kids.” She planted herself in the middle seat, placed Owen on her lap, and instructed Sophie to sit on her left and Avery on her right. I watched from a safe distance as one person after the next walked by and did a double-take. I also witnessed others sitting near us, who apparently were stuck with the bad luck stick, each pull out their saucer-like- headphones. I guess they came prepared.

Ash doing her thing--without even looking.
I could have pulled out my own headphones and slipped into “nap-land”; However, better judgment prevailed as  I remembered I didn’t desire to sleep in the garage or live a life of married celibacy. I poked my head over the seat every few minutes, at first asking how I could help, and then just trying to catch a glimpse of greatness. I was in awe of watching Ashley navigate the situation. She looked like she had 8 arms as she changed diapers, pulled out snacks, gently stroked the side of Sophie’s face, picked up Owen’s pacifier after it had fallen for the hundredth time, and even found time to hand me some food through the cracks of the seats. What a gal.

There were moments when the kids teetered on the verge of a breakdown, but Ashley pulled hard on the yoke each time to prevent the spiraling nosedive.  People continued to stare, but I think she was slowly but surely winning the affection of those in the surrounding rows.

The flight was out of Washington D.C., so it was naturally filled with political lobbyists, aids, and others who maintained a frenzied pace in life.  Many appeared to be single and ambitious—which meant they had extra large headphones. They were people who understood “juggling”, but their juggling was designed to achieve career and political goals, not prevent child tantrums. When they weren’t staring at us, they were staring at their computer screens trying to beat some approaching deadline.  It reminded me of something Walt Harrington had written:

“I worked in Washington, D.C., for fifteen years. It’s a city that has arrived where the rest of America wants to go. It had the highest average household income in the country, the highest proportion of male and female professional workers, the highest percentage of people with college degrees. Yet it’s a city where people don’t have friends—they have associates. It’s a city of frenzy, with working husbands and wives racing to day care before the dollar-a-minute late charge kicks in at 6 p.m. It’s a city that honors work and achievement over all else, where people live for future ambitions without relishing present accomplishments. It’s a city where people seem incapable of living in the moment. It is a city without memory. And Washington is America’s future.”

While this isn’t true of everyone who calls D.C. home, it’s still a scary picture. I looked around the plane and saw the flame of ambition burning brightly. As I watched people momentarily pause from their work in order to watch my family, I wondered if they had any desire to have kids of their own. Were these up-and-comers in the political and corporate world wrongly praying that God would spare them from the sheer terror of having kids and becoming “that family?” Perhaps they’ve sat on too many planes with crying children, and they’ve shopped in too many grocery stores filled with red-faced-open-mouthed-screaming-kids.  They think they know better.
I admit that having young children will try you at the depth of your soul.  My kids have been the red-faced-open-mouthed-screaming-kids on more than one occasion. Just recently, they were all three screaming in unison. It sounded like a bad Dwight Yoakum song, and I wished I could have pulled out my own satellite-dish- sized-headphones. The challenge of raising kids is easy to see—and hear. Anytime kids have a meltdown, eyeballs are naturally attracted to the unfolding scene. People seem to enjoy watching kids meltdown, as long as those kids don’t share their last name and are not sitting next to them on the plane.

What’s harder to see for onlookers is the joy of being “that” family. It’s the joy of having your young daughter wrap her little arms around your neck and give you a kiss on the cheek. It’s the joy of watching a two-year-old trying to learn how to wink.  It’s the joy of seeing a three-month-old baby light up the room with a smile.  It’s the joy of seeing a 30-year-old pretty little blonde gal wink at me through the seats. It’s the joy that results from doing life together as family.
It’s certainly messy and challenging, and at times embarrassing, but it’s beautiful. I can’t think of a better way to spend my life. I can’t think of a better legacy to leave. 

The stares became less frequent as the flight went on, but I started to notice a different stare. It was the gaze of a four-year-old named Avery, with big blue eyes looking out upon a big blue sky. She said, “Wow. That’s a big world out there.”
Yes, it is Avery.

But it’s a lot more beautiful because of children like you.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Deep Water Book Intro

I've been in the process of writing a book for quite some time. It's been a difficult journey, not just because writing a book is hard, but because God isn't interested in watching me pass on rote information. As I've worked on the book, He's worked on my heart. I thought the book would  exclusively be for the benefit of others, but I was very wrong. I now see how much it was meant to be a fresh invitation for me.  I'm almost done with the project, and I've had several people ask what the book is about. I thought it would be easier to provide the introduction for the book so you get the idea. I'm sharing this on the blog, because you have been the readers that have encouraged me to press on with this writing thing...So, thank you.

--The name of the book is: DEEP WATERS

I’ve been dreaming about this moment for a long time. I’m standing on the shore of the Pacific, looking out upon the endless miles of expansive ocean. The sound of the waves brings a smile so large that it rivals the stretch of the horizon. I take my first step into the frigid waters and every cell in my body is called to attention. I didn’t expect the water to be this cold, but the adventure that calls is worth the temporary feelings of discomfort.

The ocean floor is a gradual slope leading to a steep drop off several hundred yards off shore. That’s where I’m headed, but the sting of the cold water only intensifies as I venture deeper. I glance back at the beach to see several people gathered. They’re not carrying boards; they just came to watch. They seem to be comfortable, smiling, carrying on in conversation as they watch thrill seekers chase waves.

As a young boy growing up in the land-locked state of Kansas, I could only dream of what it would be like to ride upon the power of the ocean, to surf. The only waves in Kansas are waves of golden brown wheat oscillating in the wind. Today my opportunity has finally arrived.

Less than twelve months ago, I compiled a list of ten desires that I want to see fulfilled this year. Near the top of my list was surfing. I prayed a simple prayer and asked God if He would provide the opportunity. I had all but forgotten about this prayer when my brother called a few months later to extend an invitation to join him on a surfing weekend near Monterrey, Ca.

Excitement filled my soul as I realized my prayer was being answered. I booked my plane ticket, followed by a quick internet search of prime surfing locations near Monterrey. I wanted to see the waves for myself, so I typed in surfing near Monterrey on You Tube. The first video that appeared was from a local news station, and the story was about a man who had just been attacked by a shark in the very waters we would be surfing.

That story is replaying in my mind as I sit on the board with my legs dangling into the murky ocean. I am now in fairly deep water, and I can’t see anything that may be swimming around me. My imagination is kind enough to start playing the JAWS theme song. The chattering of my teeth reminds me I’m still cold. Perhaps the spectators gathered on the beach were the smart ones. I force my attention back on the waves and remind myself why I’ve come. After several minutes of letting smaller waves pass beneath my board, I decide to go deeper. I’m paddling through thick sea weed, but the allure of the larger waves beckon me to keep going.

Now I’m in the ideal spot. I turn my board around and look over my shoulder, waiting for the power of the ocean to sweep me up, and with a smile on my face and hair blowing in the wind, gloriously usher me to shore while the gallery of spectators cheer me on.

I see my wave and start paddling. I let out an excited holler as I feel the initial surge, and I try to pop up on my board, but I quickly lose my balance and smack my face hard against the water. Not exactly what I had in mind.  I can picture the gallery laughing. Perhaps that’s why they sit on the beach—they want to see others wipe out.  It’s ok, though, because I’m in deep water. This is where adventure happens.


For years, I was a spectator on the beach. I watched others live with great faith and follow Christ into deeper spiritual waters, but I was comfortable in about knee-deep water. This was just enough to make me feel like I was a Christian, but I still maintained complete control. Anytime God beckoned me to go deeper, the sting of discomfort and the fear of the unknown re-focused my attention back to shore and the pleasant activities I enjoyed.

All this time on the beach was creating a sort of sunburn—I was having fun in the moment, but I didn’t realize I would experience the pain of the burn later. In order to create my own entertainment, I started living a lifestyle that wasn’t congruent with what God wanted. This provided momentary bliss as I forgot about the dull ache in my soul, but I couldn’t run forever. I finally hit my knees on a cold, January night and came face to face with the reality of my life. I surrendered to Jesus. I told Him that I can’t live this way anymore. The days of calling myself a Christ follower but rejecting the reach of His hand were over. Take me deeper, Jesus was my simple prayer.

God surely answered that prayer, and it’s been quite a journey. I had no idea what I was missing out on, the richness of life and the abundance of joy and peace that are available through a deeper relationship with God. This book was birthed out of a simple desire to help others discover the same. Whether you’re still not sure about the idea of faith, or if you’ve been walking with Christ for decades, the call is still the same: come deeper.

My prayer is that you don’t read this book like you would a recipe book, looking to be told exactly what to do in order to create a deeper relationship with God. Your walk with Christ was never intended to be a cookie-cutter journey that looks exactly like someone else’s. God is far too mysterious for that kind of simplicity. But, there are some overarching ideas that are true about your journey as well as mine.

First, we’re invited to know Jesus intimately. We are not called to simply know about Him, but He wants us to know Him. This is actually possible. He wants us to learn to recognize what He’s doing in our lives on a daily basis, to learn to hear His voice, and to possess a radical obedience as we set our sights on following Him. This is the focus of the opening section of the book.

As we follow, He’ll surely lead us into the deep water of the Father’s heart, which is the focus of the second section. Jesus always has been and always will be passionate about revealing the Heavenly Father. He wants you to experience the same love He experienced. This love originates in the heart of the Father, and Jesus wants to take you there. We’ll discover a matchless level of love that can’t be adequately translated into words—we’re just left to experience it. We’ll find a generosity and level of kindness that draw us even closer to God. We’ll discover more and more of the wonder and privilege of being called sons and daughters of this perfect Father.

As the great Scottish writer George MacDonald stated, “Because we are sons of God, we must become sons of God.” The third section probes how Jesus leads us into the deep water of our own hearts. This journey is designed to lead to a greater revelation of our identity. He’ll help us align our lives to reflect the truth of what we carry in our redeemed hearts. After all, we’ve been created to bear the image of a Glorious God, and we most glorify Him when we live from the heart.

Lastly, the fourth section will explore how Jesus guides us into the deep and living waters of the Spirit. He wants us to drink from the only fountainhead that can truly satisfy—the Spirit of God. He wants to see us become people marked by His distinguishing presence and living lives of power and purpose.  

This is the heritage for the people daring enough to push off from shore and follow Him into the deep.

Won’t you come along?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Victoria's Real Secret

This is a follow up to yesterday’s post about a recent Victoria’s Secret commercial that played during a football game this weekend. The mostly nude model “confidently” walked the catwalk while striking different provocative and suggestive poses. At the same time, my wife walked into the room wearing pajamas, she had a burp cloth draped over her shoulder, and she was holding our drooling two-month-old baby. Read the post here for the rest of the story.

I think we’ve all seen Victoria’s Secret ads from time to time. They work hard at making them hard to miss. Whether you’re walking through the mall with your children, or you’re simply trying to enjoy a football game on a Sunday afternoon, these exposed women seemingly appear out of nowhere. The flesh bombardment typically leaves parents in an awkward position where they do whatever they can to distract the innocent eyes of their children.

The recent commercial episode left me thinking about how thankful I am for my wife. She’s real. She’s present. And she’s a beautiful person inside and out.
I also started pondering the following question about the model: What would make a woman stand up before millions of people, wearing something minuscule, and flaunt herself in such an attention-seeking manner?

Perhaps it’s in part to the paycheck, but I think the real driving force is something much deeper. In fact, I think if Miss Victoria’s soul were laid as bare as her body, a surprising secret would surface—“I’m really insecure.”
You may correlate the model’s actions with confidence, and maybe she is confident in the moment, but I believe the motive behind the action is laced with insecurity. If I had to guess (obvious generalization because I don’t know her unique story), she is probably still searching for the answers to the questions that reside in the hearts of all young girls: Am I lovable? Do I matter? Do I have what it takes?

These questions are central to a girl’s story, and I believe the father primarily carries the answer. My daughters are crazy about my wife. She gets most of their love and affection, but I’ve noticed they bring their questions to me. I was awake for about 4 minutes this morning before the questions started flying.

Avery lifted her arms out to the side, tilted her head, and said, Daddy, what do you think of my clothes? That was just the beginning. It’s common to hear the following at our house: Daddy, watch me dance. What do you think of the picture I colored, daddy? Will you play chase with me, daddy? Do you want to dress up as a prince, dad?
The questions behind the questions are extremely important, and we must tune our ears to hear them.  What do you think of me, daddy? Am I loveable? Am I adorable? Am I worth pursuing?

Fathers have the capacity to deliver an answer that will establish identity, strength, security, and success. On the other hand, they also have the capacity to deliver an answer that can lead to a life of searching. Too often, for a variety of reasons that may include busyness, distraction, or the reality that a father never received love from his father, fathers answer this question with a thundering silence that leaves a chill in a girl’s soul for years to come. The question can be ignored and pushed into the deeper regions of the heart, but it can also smother and suffocate. A girl will seek an answer, whether it’s from her prom date, college boyfriend, or captivated computer screen audience.
I recently watched a fascinating interview of a woman who spent numerous years as an “actress” in the adult film industry. She shared her story and the true secrets of her heart. The truth was that she despised the sexual acts required of her job, but she kept coming back for some reason. In a moment of candid honesty, with tears in her eyes, she shared the story of how her dad rejected her and kicked her out of the house at age 12. The questions of her heart were surely answered, but they were devastating answers. She spent the next twenty years seeking a different answer. It was a quest that ravaged her body, soul, and spirit.

I’ve seen these same questions surface on numerous occasions while I've provided counseling at a women’s medical clinic. I’ve listened to some tragic stories. I’ve witnessed rivers of tears. And I've realized that the questions don't die, whether she's in her teens, thirties, or sixties.  
I’ve also watched as many women have received a new answer from a Father they never knew existed. I’ve had the privilege of introducing them to their Heavenly Father, a Father that showers them with love and acceptance on a daily basis. I’m convinced that He desires to reveal this truth to each of His daughters, and I believe He will do it in a way that is deeply personal.

I’m also convinced that fathers have been given a weighty responsibility. I carry a conviction that if I fail to answer the questions of my daughters’ hearts, I will watch them set foot on a path they were never intended to travel. It’s a path of loneliness, heartache, unhealthy and damaging relationships, and possibly even appearances in embarrassing television commercials.
For many dads, you have already been showering your daughters with affirmation. Keep going! For others, the thought of engaging your daughters in this manner brings a knot to your stomach. I encourage you to push beyond the fear. Get on their level, look into their precious and twinkling eyes, and tell them how much you love them. Then, wake up tomorrow and do it again. It’s one of the most important things you can ever do.  

And perhaps at the end of your life, your daughter will look into your fading eyes and deliver some powerful words of her own:
Dad, you’ve always been my hero.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Have You Heard?

I often find myself springing off the couch and diving across the living room floor on Sunday afternoons during NFL games.  It’s not because I’m wildly celebrating the latest Broncos’ touchdown, nor is it because I’m reenacting the circus catch my eyeballs just witnessed. I’m actually just trying to get to the remote control in order to change the channel during commercial breaks so my kids aren’t subjected to the onslaught of vulgar commercials.

I was watching a game this weekend when the network quickly cut to break. The next sight was of a scantily clad woman strutting down a catwalk wearing next to nothing. The commercial, of course, was for Victoria’s Secret lingerie.  At the exact same time, my wife walked into the room wearing pajamas, she had a burp cloth draped over her shoulder, and she was holding our drooling two-month-old baby. It was a perfect picture of fantasy versus reality.
Ashley glanced at the commercial, and said, “Who can compete with that?” It was a good question, and I’m sure countless women have pondered the same thing—especially in a culture where provocative commercials seem to be the standard tool for marketing. 

In this case, Victoria was hardly whispering a secret. Her message was loud and clear (as with all commercials of this nature). The not-so-subtle message being declared with ear piercing volume was that YOU NEED THIS TO BE SATISFIED.   In essence, they want to capture your attention in order to plant a lie in your heart that you are missing out.

I assured Ash that she doesn’t have to “compete” with the illusion on the television screen. In fact, it’s actually quite the opposite--Miss Victoria Secret can’t compete with my pajama-wearing-burp-cloth-sporting bride.  Reality ultimately trumps fantasy every time. There is substance and joy in reality, but there is nothing but empty promises and harsh consequences with fantasy.
We see this truth clearly portrayed in the Garden.  Didn’t Satan come against Adam and Eve with the same essential lie that he’s telling today? “God is holding out on you,” he snarled, “You need this to be happy.” They turned their backs on friendship with God in order to pursue something that appeared to be pleasing to the eye. In the end, they were left with heartache, shame, and continual frustration.

The apple may change from person to person, but the lie surely remains. The enemy of your soul is terrified of the possibility that you may actually discover true and lasting joy. This is important for numerous reasons, but mainly because the joy of the Lord is your strength. He fears a joyful and strong version of you, so he continues to play the same deceitful card time and time again. He wants you to neglect what you currently have. He wants to distract you and cause you to look over the fence.

I'm reminded of the old saying: If the grass is greener on the other side, it's probably because you're not watering your own grass. I think there is a lot of truth in that simple statement. Watering our own grass requires work and intentionality, but it is surely the path to happiness. The happiness and joy that God desires for you to experience.

The happiest people I know are those who have embraced this truth.  They are faithful in their marriages. They are engaged with their kids. They are intentional in their friendships. They are content with their work.  They have discovered that they don’t need a hotter spouse or a bigger house, but they just need to appreciate what they already have. I see it in the contentment and joy that appears in their countenance.  It’s almost as if they know something the rest of the world hasn’t figured out yet.

I guess you can call it a secret.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Field of Dreams

I’m currently leaning back in my squeaky chair and looking out my second story office window. It’s a great view that overlooks a local school’s football field, and further up on the ridge is the western boundary of a partially scorched Black Forest.

A little more than three months ago, I watched out this same window as helicopters armed with giant buckets tried desperately to squelch the hellacious flames that were roaring out of control in the forest, less than two miles from where I was sitting. It was a scene right out of a movie, and unfortunately a scene right out of my memory.

Twelve months prior—almost exactly to the day—I watched as a different wildfire rudely barged into our city limits and left a path of destruction that left hundreds of people without homes. It was a sight I had hoped I would never witness again, but sadly my eyes were viewing something that seemed to be an instant replay from the previous year. 

Today’s window view is quite different. I just watched as a young boy (probably 3rd grade) dressed in a red polo and tan khakis, ran with a football, dodged imaginary tacklers, and did a spin move into the end zone. He spiked the ball with as much strength as he could muster, and he lifted his arms in celebration as the imaginary crowd chanted his name. He thought nobody was looking, but I gave him a standing ovation from my office. It was, again, a scene right out of my memory.

Watching the young boy dream about making would be tacklers look foolish reminded me of my childhood. I would often ride my bike to the local football field, put on cleats that were two sizes too big, and pretend I was suddenly orchestrating a historic fourth-quarter comeback in front of 75,000 screaming Notre Dame crazies. 

I’m assuming khaki boy and me aren’t the only two who have ever acted out such audacious dreams. I recently went on a run and witnessed a young boy playing basketball in his front driveway. He dribbled between his legs and attempted a turn-around buzzer beater—which he missed badly.  He was quick to allow room in his imagination for one more second on the clock in order to sprint to the hoop and kiss the ball off the backboard for the real winning bucket. He, too, threw his arms in the air and celebrated—and then tried to act cool as he realized somebody had actually witnessed his heroics.

His dream wasn't about to end in failure.What kid dreams of coming up short? Not once did I get tackled short of the goal line as time expired in my dreams--nor did I see the young boy today get flattened by an imaginary Brian Urlacher. He scored every time, and he celebrated with vigor after every score.

 Isn’t it interesting that kids have a natural capacity to dream big? Not only do they dream, but they dream about victory and beauty. Little boys dream about being the hero and little girls dream about being the beautiful princess.  

And then they grow up.

Don’t get me wrong—adults still dream. We still harbor in our hearts a picture of what the future will look like, but the nature of the picture changes drastically as we get older. Beauty and victory often disappear, and instead the colors become more dark and dreary. It’s almost as if the paintbrush changes hands and a new artist begins his work.

Mark Twain once penned, “I have lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.” 

Isn’t this easy to allow? We buy into a picture of the future that gives far too much room for fear and worry. Somewhere along the way we subconsciously ask the Master Artist to put down His paintbrush, and we allow the enemy to paint a safer picture that doesn’t require faith or hope. 

It feels safe because we all know that hope is risky business. Hope involves jostling your heart from its slumber and putting its neck on the line. And besides, this is hostile territory. Tragedy strikes. Houses burn. Jobs vanish.  Relationships crumble—and so do city walls. 

The Bible tells a story about a courageous man who carried a big dream in the midst of tragic circumstances. Nehemiah heard the report that Jerusalem’s walls had been broken down and its gates burned. When he heard the news, he sat down and wept for days. He mourned and fasted, and then he prayed and began to dream about rebuilding a wall and a city.

I’m intrigued by his ability to seek God’s vision after such a tragic event. His heart didn’t retreat to the basement of his soul. He was not about to allow the artist of destruction to paint the final picture in this story. 

I’m even more intrigued by God’s ability to turn a blackened canvas into a masterpiece. He’s quite good at creating beauty from ashes. God, through the obedience and faithfulness of Nehemiah, made sure the wall was completed and hope was restored—even in hostile territory.  

God is still doing this today. He knows the plans that He has for you, and they are plans for hope and a future. He's rewriting your script and painting a new picture. As we allow God’s dreams to become our dreams, we will experience the arrival of hope and passion. Perhaps the kind of passion that once resided in us as kids.

Why shouldn't we recover our ability to dream the right kind of dreams?  Let's allow our hearts to be the field in which God plants the seeds of His dreams. And when the shot doesn't fall and we are forced to taste a dose of reality, let's not hang our heads and give up, but rather let's leave room for one more second on the clock.

I just started praying this over my own life, and my eyes naturally shifted from my computer screen to the window again. The clouds are hanging over the ridge in a way that is eerily similar to the smoke plumes from last summer. If I squint, I can even see the torched trees that remain. An ugly reminder of reality.
But, I can also see the field. 

A reminder to dream anyway.