“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.

stock photo of medical personnel - portrait of successful medical team - JPG

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

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Coca Cola Company Classic Logo

If you grew up in the southern part of the United States you know that Coke is a cold carbonated beverage that comes in many flavors. If you are from any other part of the world Coke may have a different meaning.

plastic,isolated,paper,isolate,achievement,vertical,container,business

Everyone knows that Kleenex is any brand of facial tissue but technically it is a registered trademark of Kimberly-Clark Worldwide, Inc. Who does not understand that Jello is any gelatin dessert. These are two examples of many product names that, due to their popularity, have become the generic name for a general class of product. Other examples of trademark registered names that are viewed similarly are Thermos, ChapStick, Dumpster, Band-Aid, and Velcro.

The origin of product, place, and commodity names is often lost. People just repeat and accept them without any thought.

Jimmy Carter

Jimmy Carter Boulevard is named after a former Governor of Georgia and President of the United States. Martin Luther King Boulevard reminds most of the current populace of the Civil Rights leader who modeled Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy of non-violent resistance. But will people who travel those roadways a hundred years from now give any thought to the persons for which they are named?

I live about a mile from where Medlock Bridge Road and East Jones Bridge Road intersect. Does anyone ever ask who these people were after which their roadways are named? Where were the bridges? What stream or chasm did they cross? My house is just off Bush Road. Most folks have no clue that one of the original Bush families lives in the 1950s ranch style house at the entrance to the subdivision.

Los Angeles  - The Utah Jazz played with a heavy heart then took the court and showed the love for...

Sports fans may support their favorite teams with great enthusiasm but do they know or care about their team names? How did the Major League Baseball Team in Cincinnati come to be called the Reds? An NBA team in Utah named the Jazz?

 

 

 

Why are there buildings that sport names like Quicken Loans Arena and Sun Trust Park but you don’t go there to get a loan or conduct your banking business?

 

Certain images and memories come to mind when you hear some names. Rockefeller and Carnegie project images of wealth. You think baseball and home runs when you hear the names Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron. What would golf be without Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer? Michael Jordan is synonymous with Michael Jordan. Football without Vince Lombardi?

You cannot discuss great music without the names of Mozart and Bach being a part of the conversation. Alexander the Great and Napoleon will forever be remembered as great conquerors. Martin Luther and John Wesley made their mark in history as religious reformers.

Blessings are not just found in hearing the word of God but also applying it to your life. (James 1:22) #NotOfThisWorld

Centuries ago followers of Jesus were called Christian because of their devotion to the One they believed was Unique and they patterned their lives after Him. I wonder what the name “Christian” means in today’s world.

Jamie Jenkins

Can we agree to disagree? That is the question posed by Gracie Bond Staples in the Atlanta Journal Constitution last week. Quoting Wes Parham, and organizational analyst, she suggested that the “hater mindset… (is) taking hold of the country, creating virtual echo chambers that confirm our biases rather than challenge them.” This way of thinking prefers “to dismiss any views that are contrary to their own.”

Gracie Bonds Staples, KIRO 7

Staples said, and I agree, that “simply having an opposing view is not the issue. The issue is when we view people with opposite views as the enemy.” Parham goes on to say when we disagree the tendency is to think “you are not like us, and because you’re not like us, I don’t have to treat you with civility and respect.”

Staples writes from the perspective of a practicing Christian. I do not know about Parham’s religious beliefs but both exhibit a kindred spirit with John Wesley, the social and religious reformer of the 18th century. In his sermon on “A Catholic Spirit” (1755), the Anglican priest and father of the Methodist Movement asserted that “love is due to all mankind.” In his Christian understanding that means that we are supposed to love all people because Jesus instructed his followers not only to love those who thought and acted like you but to “love your enemies, bless those cursing you, do good to those hating you, and pray for those accusing you falsely, and persecuting you” (Matthew 5:43).

Wesley goes further to say, “Although every man necessarily believes that every particular opinion which he holds is true (for to believe any opinion is not true, is the same thing as not to hold it), yet can no man be assured that all his own opinions, taken together, are true. To be ignorant of many things, and to mistake in some, is the necessary condition of humanity.”

Wesley continues, “Every wise man, therefore, will allow others the same liberty of thinking that he desires they should allow him, and will no more insist on their embracing his opinions than he would have them to insist on his embracing theirs. He is patient with those who differ from him, and only asks him:  ‘Is your heart right, as my heart is with your heart?’ If it be, give me your hand.”

This does not necessarily mean that either person would change their opinion. Wesley explains, “Keep your opinion and I will keep mine, and that as steadily as ever. You need not even endeavor to come over to me, or bring me over to you. I do not desire you to dispute those points, or to hear or speak one word concerning them. Leave all opinions alone on one side and the other: only give me your hand.”

Believing that love is more powerful than anything else, let us seek to maintain a spirit of civility and a respect for all human beings regardless of our differing opinions. God help us!

Jamie Jenkins

I had a fall a few months ago and injured my shoulder. I tore the rotator cuff, a group of muscles and their tendons act to stabilize the shoulder. This type of injury is fairly common occurring most often in people who repeatedly perform overhead motions in their jobs or sports.

An illustration of the shoulder joint and tendons.

The risk of rotator cuff injury also increases with age. Aging and a hard fall combined to cause my injury. Sometimes physical therapy solves the problem but some cuff tears require surgical repair.

A woman slips and falls on ice.

My injury required surgery after which I was given a sling to stabilize and support my arm. The surgeon told me in a follow up visit a few weeks later that I did not have to wear the sling all the time and he did not want my arm to be “glued to my side.” In other words, I was to move the injured arm as much as possible to prevent the shoulder from freezing up. I understood what the doctor said but it was extremely painful to do move that arm.

The surgeon and many people who have had rotator cuff surgery told me that recovery would take a long time and it would be hard. They are correct. Yesterday marked 4 months since surgery and 3 months since I began physical therapy. Things are better but I have still have a good way to go for full recovery.

One day during a physical therapy I heard one of the therapists tell another patient that “You have re-program your brain.” I am learning that is a very big part of recovery.

When we are injured, physically or emotionally, our brain signals us to protect ourselves. It is difficult to deal with the pain and easy to avoid it. If it hurts to move the shoulder, my brain tells me to keep it stationary. If is it painful to acknowledge words or actions that hurt me, it is easy to deny or try to forget. But things won’t get better if we avoid the issue.

Surgery and hard exercises are helping me to recover from a rotator cuff injury. Something similar also helps to overcome emotional injuries. All of our experiences and the feelings that accompanied the experiences are stored in our brain. Memories of painful experiences are tough to deal with but facing them honestly is the first step in overcoming their paralyzing grip.

Mike Robinson* says, “Many people bury the memories of wounds and injuries caused by negative words, actions and attitudes rather than face the pain. In doing so, they also bury the possibility of healing.” A long time ago I discovered a book by David Seamands, Healing for Damaged Emotions, that was very helpful to me in dealing with painful memories. Robinson and Seamands both offer counsel to help heal emotional hurts that are every bit as real as physical injury.

 

It would have been foolish of me to deny that my shoulder hurt and refuse medical solutions. It is equally valid to seek spiritual help for emotional pain. We are physical, emotional, and spiritual beings. God wants us to be healthy in all three aspects of our life.

Jamie Jenkins

(http://www.barnabasnetwork.com/emotional_healing_2)

This time last week millions of people were remembering the death of one man and yesterday they remembered another. Their deaths were separated by over 2000 years of history.

Jesus, Christ, Christianity, Catholic, Church, Cross

Seven days ago on Holy Thursday Christians around the world recalled the last hours Jesus would have with his closest followers before he was betrayed and put to death. Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4, 1968.

Although Jesus and King believed in many of the same principles and practiced them at great risk, I am not trying to make them equals. Jesus was the Son of God and Son of Man. Dr. King was a human being and disciple of Jesus. Jesus lived, died, and was resurrected. King’s body rests in a tomb in Atlanta.

When they arrived they found the large stone rolled away from the tomb. (There had been a violent earthquake and an angel of the Lord had descended and rolled it back. The guards were so frightened and shaken they had run off). – Slide 2

Both men championed the cause of the poor and oppressed. They spoke out against injustice and acted on their beliefs. The Bible record shows many encounters between Jesus and the marginalized people of his day. He was accused of associating with the riff-raff of society. And he was intentionally guilty. The life of Martin Luther King, Jr. clearly illustrates his commitment to justice and equality for all. His beatings and arrests are proof that his words were not just pious platitudes but principles by which he lived.

Love and hate were both equally shown to Jesus and King. The biblical account and the news reports describe the intensity of support and rejection for both of them. Each of them died a violent death. One was executed by the Roman government at the insistence of the crowd in Jerusalem. The other was the victim of an assassin’s bullet on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis.

There are similarities to their life and death, but the immediate reaction to the death of these two men was very different. Jesus’ death left his followers frightened and confused. Their leader on whom they had placed their trust was gone and they did not know what to do. They hid for fear of their lives. In contrast, King’s death sparked violent protests around the country. Those who had followed him were angry and aggressive.

Although the short term result of the death of these two charismatic leaders is different, the long term effect is similar. Over twenty centuries of history has validated the positive effect of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. Those who followed his teaching and example carried his message to every part of the world and countless others have believed and their lives have been transformed.

Kevin Cokley, writing in the Dallas News, said, “The assassination of King was arguably the most consequential for the course of American history and permanently changed the psychology of black people and challenged America’s ideals.” The death of this “drum major for justice” gave impetus to a movement that changed the face of America and the world.

Justice, Right, Legal, Lawyer, Word

The world is very different 50 years after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. and 2000 years after the crucifixion of Jesus. Their willingness to die for a cause led to much positive change but one does not have to look far to see that there is still much more to be done. We must continue the struggle to insure civil and human rights for all people.

In the beginning God created a perfect world. No reasonable person would suggest that it has remained in that state of perfection but it is the task of all people to work together to make the world a better place for everyone. God help us!

Jamie Jenkins

Holy Week

Today is a special day on my calendar. Holy Thursday falls in the middle of what has been called “The Week That Changed the World.” Between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday, it is the day that Christians remember Jesus’ arrest that led to his death the next day, Good Friday.

Palm Sunday

On Palm Sunday we commemorate the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem. Surrounded by Multitudes of folks gathered along the road from the Mt. of Olives into the city of Jerusalem. They greeted him as royalty and sang his praises.

Last Supper of Christ Stock Picture

On Holy Thursday Jesus celebrated the Passover meal with His disciples. This meal would be the last time Jesus would spend with his disciples and he tells them what is to happen.

At The Last Supper, “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:26-28)

Good Friday

Tomorrow is the day which commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus and his subsequent death. Good Friday? What they did to Jesus was definitely not good

Characters in a B.C. Comic a few years ago were engaged in conversation. One of them said, “I hate the term ‘Good Friday’.” His friend asked, “Why?” The reason, he answered, “My Lord was hanged on a tree that day.” The questioner replied, “If you were going to be hanged on a tree that day and he took your place, how would you feel?” “Good” was the response.

The day commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus is “good” because of the results of Christ’s death. “For Christ died for sins once and for all, a good man on behalf of sinners, in order to lead you to God. He was put to death physically, but made alive spiritually.” (I Peter 3:18)

Jesus’ death was the payment for sin. When we accept that gift our sins are forgiven and we are given right standing with God. God’s mercy and grace make salvation possible and we receive the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ.

This is why Good Friday is good- and the week is holy. But the best is yet to come. Just wait until Easter Sunday!!

Jamie Jenkins

My alarm sounded at 4:30 AM a couple of Saturdays ago. That is not my normal getting up time but I had to start the day early in order to join about 200 United Methodists for a Civil Rights Heritage Tour. Four busloads of folks from Peachtree Road, Cascade, Ben Hill, and Glenn Memorial United Methodist churches along with students from Clark Atlanta University and Candler School of Theology at Emory were headed to Birmingham, Montgomery, Selma, and several rural communities in Alabama.

16th st Baptist Church.jpg

The first stop on our tour was at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham. The first black church in Birmingham, Alabama was organized in 1873 as the First Colored Baptist Church of Birmingham. The congregation has worshipped at its current location since 1880 and the modern brick building that houses them was erected in 1911.

Because of segregation, this church, and other black churches in Birmingham, served as a meeting place, social center, and lecture hall for a variety of activities important to the city’s black citizens. W.E. DuBois, Mary McLeod Bethune, Paul Robeson, and Ralph Bunche were among the many noted black Americans who spoke at the church during its early years.

The church became the focus of the world on Sunday, September 15, 1963 at 10:22 AM when four African-American school girls attending Sunday School died in a dynamite blast. The bomb, set by Ku Klux Klansmen, ripped through the side of the church killing 14 year old Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley, and Addie Mae Collins, and 11 year-old Denise McNair. More than 20 other members of the congregation were injured.

During the next two days we visited several monuments and memorials to leaders and martyrs of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. Our guides for the tour were family members of persons who had been leaders in the Movement and had very personal, as well as historical, information and stories to share.

Pettus Bridge

The two-day trip culminated as we joined hundreds of others to march across Edmund Pettus Bridge over the Alabama River commemorating what has been called Bloody Sunday, May 7, 1965, when hundreds of civil rights protesters, led by Rep. John Lewis and others, were brutally beaten by Alabama State Troopers and local police. Our walk across the bridges was very  different with local police and state troopers escorting the crowd, providing traffic control, and security.

The weekend trek on part of the Civil Rights Trail reminded me of a part of our history that is shameful. It accented the destructive nature of bigotry and racism and fueled my resolve that discrimination and mistreatment of any person must not be tolerated. I also realized, that although there is much left to be done, we have made significant progress in race relations and human rights.

Another truth was made clearer: God can bring good out of evil. The story of Joseph in the Bible tells how his brothers sold him into slavery but years later he would say to them, “You planned something bad for me, but God produced something good from it” (Gen. 50:20, The Message).

Outrage over the death of the four young girls helped build increased support behind the continuing struggle to end segregation—support that would help lead to the passage of both the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In that important sense, the bombing’s impact was exactly the opposite of what its perpetrators had intended” (History.com).

A visual reminder of that is in the form of a large stained glass window of the image of a black crucified Christ, given by the people of Wales.  The window is located in the rear center of the sanctuary at the balcony level.

As we visited the various sites and as we marched through Selma I remembered the words of a song:

We will work with each other
We will work side by side
We will work with each other
We will work side by side
And we’ll guard each man’s dignity
And save each man’s pride
And they’ll know e area Christians by our love!

Jamie Jenkins

 

 

Winter weather prevailed when I left on February 2 for a trip to the Holy Land. The high that day was 42 degrees. Three weeks later I returned to see evidence that spring was just around the corner.

Bradford Pear (Pyrus calleryana 'Bradford') in bloom.

All the way home from the airport I saw Bradford Pear trees with their bountiful and beautiful white blossoms. As I neared my house I saw a Redbud tree and a Japanese Magnolia tree in all their brilliance. When we arrived at our house the daffodils in our front yard greeted us.

Closeup photo of the beautiful Redbud blossoms

The words of the Hymn of Promise came to my mind. “In the cold and snow of winter there’s a spring that waits to be. Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.” (full lyrics below).

Atlanta Braves 2018 spring training

After unpacking and getting a good night’s rest I checked in on the Braves Spring Training which began while I was away. I miss not being present in Florida as the team begins preparation for the regular season. It was good to hear about the promising young players like Ozzie Albies and Ron Acuna and the team leaders like Freddie Freeman and Julio Tehran.

One more, I know you can : Stock Photo

A couple of days after returning from my travels I got started back with physical therapy for my surgically repaired shoulder. Progress from a torn rotator cuff has been slow and painful but after a few weeks of therapy I can see progress in my range of motion and reduced discomfort.

The next day there were seven babies baptized during the worship service at my church, Peachtree Road United Methodist in Atlanta. We recalled that “Jesus gave a special place to the children.” We were reminded that “Through the Sacrament of Baptism we are initiated into Christ’s holy Church. We are incorporated into God’s mighty acts of salvation and given new birth through water and the Spirit. All this is God’s gift, offered to us without price.”

The parents of the children being baptized all promised to “nurture these children in Christ’s holy Church, that by your teaching and example they may be guided to accept God’s grace for themselves, to profess their faith openly, and to lead a Christian life.”

The congregation vowed, “With God’s help we will so order our lives after the example of Christ, that these children, surrounded by steadfast love, may be established in the faith and confirmed, and strengthened in the way that leads to life eternal.”

PRUMC Habitat for Humanity Build

That same morning I heard of the church’s plan to build their 46th Habitat for Humanity Home because we believe that every person should have access to a decent, safe and affordable place to live. Also an announcement was made about The Great Day of Service, Saturday, March 24. This is our annual community volunteer day when all ages put their faith in action as they serve those in need across Atlanta. Each year during Lent, nearly 1,000 church members and friends take this Saturday to make helping others a priority. 

Great Day of Service 2017

We were also informed of the plan to help “Fill the Pantry for Buckhead Christian Ministries” as we work together to prevent hunger and homelessness for those facing life-changing events such as a job loss, a reduction in work hours or a medical problem.

This year’s Lenten Offering will be used to support the 16 agencies and ministries with whom our church partners in the Greater Atlanta area to make a difference in the lives of others. We were encouraged to give something up during this season and to give the money that we would have spent on what we are giving up to this offering.

I am grateful for these and other signs of hope!

Jamie Jenkins

HYMN OF PROMISE (words and music by Natalie A. Sleeth, 1986)

In the bulb there is a flower; in the seed, an apple tree;
In cocoons, a hidden promise: butterflies will soon be free!
In the cold and snow of winter there’s a spring that waits to be,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

There’s a song in every silence, seeking word and melody;
There’s a dawn in every darkness, bringing hope to you and me.
From the past will come the future; what it holds, a mystery,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

In our end is our beginning; in our time, infinity;
In our doubt there is believing; in our life, eternity,
In our death, a resurrection; at the last, a victory,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

 

 

Unless you have been outside this solar system you know that Rev. Billy Graham died last week at the age of 99. His body was brought to Washington, D.C. to lie in state in the U.S Capitol Rotunda February 28-March 1(today).

According to the news media the tradition of lying in honor (in the case of private citizens) and lying in state (for members of the government) dates back to 1852. Since then, only 31 individuals, including 11 U.S. presidents, have been chosen to be honored in such a way. Billy Graham became the 34th overall, and only the fourth private citizen to receive this distinction.

Rev. Graham’s body lies in a simple pine plywood casket made by inmates at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, Louisiana. The casket has a wooden cross nailed on top.

There has been much written about one of the most influential spiritual voices for decades. So rather than add to all the verbiage I will let him speak for himself.*

ON SANCTIFICATION: “Being a Christian is more than just an instantaneous conversion—it is a daily process whereby you grow to be more and more like Christ.”

ON MONEY: “There is nothing wrong with men possessing riches. The wrong comes when riches possess men.”

ON COURAGE: “Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spine of others are often stiffened.”

ON HARDSHIP: “Mountaintops are for views and inspiration, but fruit is grown in the valleys.”

ON COMFORT: “Comfort and prosperity have never enriched the world as much as adversity has.”

ON COMMUNITY: “Churchgoers are like coals in a fire. When they cling together, they keep the flame aglow; when they separate, they die out.”

ON JUDGING OTHERS: “It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge and my job to love.”

ON HONESTY: “Don’t ever hesitate to take to [God] whatever is on your heart. He already knows it anyway, but He doesn’t want you to bear its pain or celebrate its joy alone.”

ON JESUS: “Many people are willing to have Jesus as part of their lives—as long as it doesn’t cost them anything. They may even profess faith in Jesus and join a church. But Jesus to them is almost like an insurance policy—something they obtain and then forget about until they die. What keeps you from being His disciple?”

ON BIBLE READING: “The very practice of reading [the Bible] will have a purifying effect upon your mind and heart. Let nothing take the place of this daily exercise.”

ON GOD’S LOVE: “Sin is the second most powerful force in the universe, for it sent Jesus to the cross. Only one force is greater—the love of God.”

ON EVANGELISM: “The greatest form of praise is the sound of consecrated feet seeking out the lost and helpless.”

ON SALVATION: “Salvation is an act of God. It is initiated by God, wrought by God, and sustained by God.”

ON HOPE: “I’ve read the last page of the Bible. It’s all going to turn out all right.”

Jamie Jenkins

https://relevantmagazine.com/god/14-billy-graham-quotes-helped-shape-american-christianity-update-new

Picture credits: Photos by Russ Busby

Billy Graham and Arnold Palmer in 1968- photo by Russ Busby

Proclaiming God’s Word, New York City, 1969 – photo by Russ Busby

Mr. Graham at his final Crusade in New York City, 2005 – photo by Russ Busby

 

 

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.

DylanbyBarryFeinstein

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).

Untitled

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.

people,illustration,adult,vertical,portrait,man,religion,veil

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