Archives for the month of: February, 2018

What does the Apostle Paul, Bob Dylan have in common? They both understand that being human means living with internal conflict. They understand that no one is their best self at all times. Sometimes the less than desirable part of one’s personality expresses itself. It is a struggle as long as you live.


Dylan put it this way: “Most of the time, I’m clear focused all around. Most of the time, I can keep both feet on the ground. I can follow the path, I can read the signs. Stay right with it when the road unwinds…Most of the time.”

“Most of the time, my head is on straight. Most of the time, I’m strong enough not to hate. I don’t build up illusion ’till it makes me sick. I ain’t afraid of confusion no matter how thick… Most of the time.”

“Most of the time, I’m halfway content. Most of the time, I know exactly where it all went. I don’t cheat on myself, I don’t run and hide. Hide from the feelings, that are buried inside…Most of the time.”

The Apostle Paul said it like this: “What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise” (Romans 7:15 MSG).


Born Robert Allen Zimmerman, Bob Dylan has been an influential figure in popular music and culture for more than five decades. In the 1960s he became a reluctant “voice of a generation” with lyrics that appealed to the anti-establishment culture of that time.

More recently Mr. Dylan became the first musician to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2016. It was perhaps the most radical choice for such an honor in the Swedish Academy’s 115 year history.


Paul the Apostle was born about 5 BC into a devout Jewish family in the city of Tarsus, one of the largest trade centers on the Mediterranean coast. He received his education in Jerusalem at the school of Gamaliel, one of the most noted rabbis in history. 

The conversion of Paul on the road to Damascus.

Saul of Tarsus, as he was known, dedicated to persecuting the early followers of Jesus. One day as he was traveling on the road from Jerusalem to Damascus on a mission to “arrest them and bring them back to Jerusalem” the resurrected Jesus appeared to him in a great light and he was struck blind. After three days his sight was restored and his life’s mission changed. He became a devoted follower of Jesus and is often considered to be the second most important person in the history of Christianity.

Both Bob Dylan and the Apostle Paul understood the difficulty of living as one should. They knew how hard it is to be true to the values that give a person dignity and demonstrates the honorable quality of life.

Paul the Apostle in prison, writing his epistle to the Ephesians.

Paul said: “I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?” And he found an answer to his dilemma. “The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions” (Romans 7:24-25 The Message).

I am so glad that we are not left to struggle through life alone and that there is a solution to our struggles. The Prayer of Confession and Pardon that many Christians often pray sums it up:

“Merciful God, we confess that we have not loved you with our whole heart. We have failed to be an obedient church. We have not done your will, we have broken your law, we have rebelled against your love, we have not loved our neighbors, and we have not heard the cry of the needy.

Forgive us, we pray. Free us for joyful obedience, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Then the response to the prayer: Hear the good news: Christ died for us while we were yet sinners; that proves God’s love toward us. In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven!”

Glory to God. Amen.

Jamie Jenkins



Dinah Washington won a Grammy Award in 1959 for Best Rhythm and Blues Performance with a song entitled What a Difference a Day Makes.  It was originally written in Spanish by Maria Grever. The English lyrics were written by Stanley Adams in 1934. The most successful early recording, in 1934, was by the Dorsey Brothers, although it was first recorded in English by Cleveland crooner Jimmie Ague.(

What a Difference a Day Makes

In the song things changed dramatically in a twenty-four hour period. Lonely nights and dreary days are transformed into sunshine and flowers. A rainbow appears where once there were stormy skies. According to the song, all of this changes “Since that moment of bliss that thrilling kiss.” Romance!

Aileen Quinn in Annie (1982)

The idea of drastic and instant positive change is also sounded in the song Tomorrow from the Broadway musical production of Annie. The title character lives in a miserable orphanage run by the terrible Miss Hannigan. But good fortune comes Annie’s way when she is given the opportunity to spend the Christmas holidays in the home of billionaire Oliver Warbucks. Annie repeatedly sings “Just thinkin’ about, tomorrow clears away the cobwebs and the sorrow, till’ there’s none.” The song pronounces an optimistic view of life as she continues, “When I’m stuck with a day that’s grey and lonely, I just stick out my chin, and grin, and say, ‘Oh, the sun’ll come out tomorrow so you gotta’ hang on till’ tomorrow come what may.”

It is true that things can change dramatically overnight, or in the blink of an eye. Adversity can be overcome. Failure can become success. Defeat can be transformed into victory.

But all change that comes quickly is not positive. Health can deteriorate. Fortunes can be lost. Relationships are destroyed. Lives can be snuffed out. In an instant!

It is important to maintain a positive attitude. But things do not always work out like we hoped and planned. When positive thinking comes up short, when the difference a day makes is devastating, what do you do? Where do you turn?

Wisdom of the ages suggests that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present[a]help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). David, the King of ancient Israel gives good advice: The Lord is my solid rock, my fortress, my rescuer. My God is my rock. I take refuge in him! He is my shield, my salvation’s strength, my place of safety” (Psalm 18:2).

Jamie Jenkins

Do you have a sibling, co-worker, or friend who gets all the attention and accolades and you feel like you are invisible? If so, you can probably identify with Charles Wesley.

Charles Wesley

Charles and his brother John were key figures in a significant historical and religious movement in 18th century that sought to reform the Church of England. The movement was a part of what some defined as “a dramatic, divinely inspired return to true Christianity (that) balanced the moral budget of the British people.”

The Wesley brothers were leaders of a small group of believers and fellow students at Oxford University in the first quarter of the 1700s. They became known as the Methodists because of their methodical devotion to prayer, frequent attendance at Holy Communion, serious Bible study, and regular visits to the prisons.

John is most often credited with being the “founder” of Methodism primarily because of his organizational ability and his preaching. Charles lived in his brother’s shadow. However I believe the case can be made that Charles’ role was equally important. Nevertheless he is often referred to as the “forgotten Wesley.”

It has been said that Charles Wesley averaged 10 poetic lines a day (2 hymns a week) for 50 years. He wrote more than 6,500 hymns,* 10 times the volume that could be claimed by the only other candidate, Isaac Watts, who many regard as the world’s greatest hymn writer. The compiler of the massive Dictionary of Hymnology, John Julian, concluded that “perhaps, taking quantity and quality into consideration, (Charles Wesley was) the greatest hymn-writer of all ages.”

The Hymn Writers: Charles Wesley

In describing Charles’ work, Julian says, “The saying that a really good hymn is as rare an appearance as that of a comet is falsified by (his) work; for hymns, which are really good in every respect, flowed from his pen in quick succession, and death alone stopped the course of the perennial stream.”

The famous preacher Henry Ward Beecher declared, “I would rather have written that hymn of Wesley’s, ‘Jesus, Lover of My Soul,’ than to have the fame of all the kings that ever sat on the earth.” Not bad commendation for the “forgotten” Wesley. One who lived in his brother’s shadow.


Jamie Jenkins


*Some of the well-known and favorite hymns of Charles Wesley include:

Hark the Herald Angels Sings

And Can It be That I Should Gain

O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing

Love Divine, All Loves Excelling

Jesus, Lover of My Soul

Christ the Lord is Risen Today

Soldiers of Christ, Arise

Rejoice! The Lord is King!


state of israel | Here’s a map of Israel as things stand today:

You must be crazy. You are going to get yourself killed. That or some similar comment is what I have heard every time I am preparing to visit Israel. And I have been there more than two dozen times over the past four decades.

My first trip to the region (known as Israel, Palestine, West Bank) was in 1981. At that time I spoke with an elderly man who had traveled to the Holy Land every year starting in 1966. He told me that he always was confronted by people who believed he was putting himself in danger and could not believe why he would do something so foolish. Thirty-seven years later I face the same situation.

There is no question that there is conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis. There is even conflict within those two groups. There is no denying that there are incidents of violence as a result of the differences of opinion about ownership of the land. To suggest that there is no tension and no abuse of human rights would be foolish. Nevertheless, I have never felt unsafe or at risk as I have traveled throughout the region. And I know hundreds, probably thousands, of persons who have experiences similar to mine.


During the time when Manuel Noriega was the de facto ruler of Panama a group form my church went to Panama on a work mission. Noriega had strong political ties to the United States but he was not very popular with many of the Panamanian people. In a conversation with the church leader with whom the team was working the question was raised, “What do the people of Panama think about us Americans?” The reply was, “They love you. They just don’t like your government.”

Peace out. Photo by Sharon Altshul

Over the years of traveling to the Middle East I have found the Israelis and Palestinians to be warm and friendly people. Their opinions about their government and ours does not prevent them from being welcoming and kind. Tourism is one of Israel’s major sources of income and benefits all of the people in the land. One report indicates that 3.6 million tourists arrived in Israel/Palestine in 2017. While the ideological and political struggles are ongoing, people from all over the world are welcomed.

The faithful in prayer. Photo by Jaeheon, Kim.

A shop keeper sits across from his shop in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City. Photo by Sarah Tuttle-Singer

Israel offers a plethora of historical and religious sites, beach resorts, archaeological tourism, heritage tourism, and ecotourism. One source suggests that Israel has the highest number of museums per capita in the world. A large percentage of the tourists come to visit sites of significant to three of the major religions of the world- Judaism, Islam, and Christianity.

Many people are afraid to go to Israel because of the frequent news reports of violence. We hear daily of random acts of violence in schools, churches, shopping malls, and on the streets of cities and small communities all over the United States. But we don’t stop sending our children to school. We don’t quit shopping at the mall or attending sporting events and concerts. We don’t stop going to our places of worship.

We live in a dangerous and violent world. I realize there is a real possibility of encountering violence in Israel but I do not believe it is more likely than in Atlanta, Chicago, Las Vegas, Newtown (Connecticut), or Sutherland Springs (Texas).That is our reality but we cannot allow this “new reality” to sap us of our enthusiasm for life or the adventure and education of travel.

Jamie Jenkins