Alive Together in Worship
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN There is no way I can even begin to list all those who contributed to the 151st meeting of the South Georgia Annual Conference. But I must say ...
Discipleship: One voice makes a difference
FOCUS ON THE VISION DENISE WALTON “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching ...
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God of the Little Things

June 26, 2017
PATHWAY TO HIS PRESENCE B.J. FUNK I like God’s words to Elijah, taken from 1 Kings 17: 2-4. I like them because these words show how personal God is when it comes to our care. He told Elijah to tell the evil King Ahab that there would be no rain for three years. Then God told Elijah His plan for taking care of him during those next three years of drought. “Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine east of the Jordan. You will drink from the brook, and I have ordered the ravens to...

Created for Connection

June 09, 2017
LEADERSHIP REALLY MATTERS ANNE BOSARGE REV. JAY HANSON I (Anne) am a baker. Bread, biscuits, cupcakes, muffins, pastries, scones, cookies… pretty much anything made with flour or sugar! I love the thrill of combining individual ordinary ingredients to create something amazing and delicious that brings others joy. Interestingly enough, when someone comments on something I’ve made they never remark on the tastiness of the baking powder, the texture of the eggs, or the deliciousness of the flour. ...

John Wesley helps a young man learn how to preach

June 09, 2017
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON John Wesley and a young Methodist preacher were walking along the street near the docks. Two fishermen’s wives got into an argument with each other. The two women began to shout, scream, and curse each other. The young preacher said, “Let’s get away from this; I can’t stand it!” Wesley said, “No, stay and learn how to preach…”  

A note to graduates

May 15, 2017
Dr. Hal Brady Congratulations to all 2017 high school graduates! Graduation from high school is a notable milestone, and you are to be congratulated upon reaching this very significant moment in your life and in the life of your family. In your transition from student to graduate, our nation is once again blessed with renewed creativity and the blessing of youthful idealism. With two of our own grandchildren graduating this year, I am particularly mindful of the significance of this moment. ...

John Wesley: Outdoor Preacher

May 01, 2017
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON It would be hard to list the various settings in which John Wesley preached the Gospel. He preached in small chapels, homes, great cathedrals, parks, meadows, mining pits, bridges, barns, you name it … Such outdoor preaching came with built in perils: rain, snow, mobs, heat, cold, wind, you name it … On one unusual day John Wesley was just beginning his outdoor sermon when an “unprovoked wasp” stung him on his lip! He feared the lip would swell preventing his ...

S3: The smartest decision I’ve made in ministry

May 01, 2017
GROWING IN GRACE BEN GOSDEN I want to tell you about the smartest decision I’ve made in ministry. The decision has nothing to do with a finance committee meeting. It has nothing to do with a perfect children’s minister I’ve hired. And it has nothing to do with a five-step evangelism plan. The smartest decision I’ve made in ministry was almost two years ago when I decided to form an S3 Group. What is S3, you ask? From the information on our conference website: S3 is a program for sustaining ...

The Approval of God

April 17, 2017
PATHWAY TO HIS PRESENCE B.J. FUNK Oswald Chambers writes, “Paul is like a musician who does not need the approval of the audience if he can catch the look of approval from his Master.” That sentence brought a flood of memories into my spirit for until recently I was that one who needed the approval of the audience. I believe that’s why God called me to be a pastor in my latter years and why he couldn’t call me in my youth. Breathing “Will you like me?” in and out each day, I would have been a ...

A cold night in Georgia

April 03, 2017
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON John Wesley only stayed in Georgia for 23 months. Most of that time was spent in Savannah, but he made five trips to St. Simons Island. After his return to England he often mentioned how hot it had been in Georgia. Not only was it hot in Georgia, it was also cold. On his last tip to St. Simons Island in January, 1737, he wrote in his journal that he spent the coldest day in his life on the island. He wrote that it was so cold the ink in his inkwell froze on a ...

Leadership lessons from the penguins

April 03, 2017
LEADERSHIP REALLY MATTERS ANNE BOSARGE REV. JAY HANSON In 2003 the San Francisco Zoo had a group of 46 birds that had lived there almost all their lives. They were comfortable and had grown accustomed to their rather lazy lifestyle. They would swim from time to time, but only for the purpose of cooling off and to make sue their feathers remained sleek and groomed. They had developed a familiar routine and were completely content. In 2003 the zoo welcomed six new penguins from Ohio. Upon their ...

After God’s Own Heart

March 20, 2017
Dr. Hal Brady People give and receive numerous compliments. He’s a great person. She’s a beautiful lady. He’s quite an athlete. She’s a class act. In the world of sports we often hear the expression, “He has color.” While I cannot exactly define it, I think you understand what it is. The athlete with “color” makes his easy plays look spectacular and his mistakes are readily forgotten. We like him just the way he is, rough edges or not. He has “color,” we say. But perhaps the greatest ...

Turn the tables over — 5 ways to be more innovative in ministry

March 06, 2017
GROWING IN GRACE BEN GOSDEN Are you tired of church as usual? I know I am. Pew Research says we’ve seen roughly a 7 percent increase among those who claim no religious affiliation over the last 10 plus years. We know this already. Church attendance is down across the board. As an annual conference we’ve challenged ourselves to a 10 percent increase in average worship attendance in order to grease the wheels of growth. But what, if anything, will make the difference? I believe now, more than ...

Unusual people John Wesley encountered

March 06, 2017
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON William Kingston, a man born without arms, came to see John Wesley of his own accord. He was remarkable in many ways. Earlier he had a “clear sense of the favor of God,” but after some months he was persuaded by some friends to join in a “favorite diversion” and lost sight of God. But God had now touched his heart again and he was once more in earnest to save his soul. Wesley describes him as of a middling height and size, with a pleasing look and voice, and an ...

Letting it go

February 20, 2017
PATHWAY TO HIS PRESENCE B.J. FUNK The first time I did it was before I was 30. I waited a long time before doing it again, not because I didn’t want to, but because it’s simply not the kind of thing I enter into lightly. Both times I was at a difficult place in my life, a crossroads where my strong desire for answers crossed my equally strong desire to please God. Something had to give. I was barren, and the heartache of not conceiving rested on my shoulders with pain that felt like a giant ...

Praying for Five: Forging Eternal Friendships Through Daily Prayer

Praying for Five: Forging Eternal Friendships Through Daily Prayer

February 06, 2017
LEADERSHIP REALLY MATTERS ANNE BOSARGE REV. JAY HANSON There are certain times when something happens that words are inadequate to describe. We know it was special … in fact, everyone in the room senses it, but none can fully articulate what happened. We say things like: “The magic happened,” “The room lifted and the Spirit fell,” or “It was palatable.” “You could feel the energy shift and the momentum build,” we might say. When you have experienced it and try to describe it, you begin to more...

Some strange characters John Wesley met

February 06, 2017
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON A man confronted John Wesley and urged him not to leave the Church of England. John assured him that he had no intention of leaving the Church of England. The man replied, “Then you should always read prayers because praying extempore is the same thing as leaving the Church!” The man went on to explain, “You cannot do two things at the same time. Therefore; if you think and pray you are doing two things at the same time. And that cannot be done!” Wesley ...

A letter to the President

January 23, 2017
Dr. Hal Brady Dear President Trump, Congratulations on becoming the 45th President of the United States. Though, in all honesty, I was not always pleased with some of your pre-election rhetoric, you won the election and I, along with countless Americans, are hoping for your best and the best for our nation as well. Party labels to me are not critically important, but political parties working together really are. For me, we have had enough squabbling among politicians and their parties and ...

5 things we could ALL resolve to do and be in 2017

January 09, 2017
GROWING IN GRACE BEN GOSDEN It’s that time again. New Year’s resolutions give us the chance to make goals to grow into better people. And, as disciples of Jesus Christ, making plans to grow and living into those plans are a big part of what we call “growing in grace.” Just in case you’re behind and haven’t made any resolutions yet, I’ve got five options here for you. Choose one of them. Try all of them. But I think any of them would help us grow in God’s love in the coming year. Be more kind. I...

Strange characters John Wesley met

January 09, 2017
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON One of the strange characters John Wesley met was clothed completely in purple. He told John that it was the duty of any person who could do so to be clothed in purple and fine linen and to dine on sumptuous fare every day. And that he would do abundantly more good hereby than he could do by feeding the hungry and clothing the naked. Wesley comment after this encounter was, “It is amazing what people can believe if they desire to do so!”  Have you found this ...

A Christmas miracle in April

December 19, 2016
PATHWAY TO HIS PRESENCE B.J. FUNK My lovely Christmas ball hangs on the back door of my kitchen, visible yet hidden away from the rest of our family gatherings. I keep the ball there to always remind me of the most influential woman in my life, the one who created the Christmas ball when I was a young girl. My sweet mama.  I remember watching her make this and other Christmas balls from a round piece of Styrofoam covered with cloth, ribbons and sequins. She kept a bowl of those balls on our ...

Some strange characters John Wesley met

December 05, 2016
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON John Wesley met up with some very strange people. His journal and diary are full of encounters with unusual characters. You have probably met a few yourself. One such unusual person approached John Wesley. His beard was snow white and reached down to his knees. He looked at John and told him that God wanted Wesley to let his beard grow and he should start immediately. He was probably thinking of Samson in the Bible whose strength was in his hair, and this ...

Living Thankfully

November 21, 2016
Dr. Hal Brady The real strength of Thanksgiving itself is not to be found in some kind of nostalgic look back at pre-colonial America. As important as that may seem, what are our needs for pilgrims tracking across the snow and Indians being included in a feast? Our need today is much more contemporary. Our urgent need in these days is for guidance or insight to know how to deal with the modern-day cynicism and despair that has gripped so many individual lives, communities, and our nation ...

Gratitude and the interconnectedness of life

November 07, 2016
GROWING IN GRACE BEN GOSDEN By the time you read this column we will be about 36 hours away from the end of this presidential election cycle. And I’m sure I’m not the first (or only) one to say: thank God!  2016 has felt like a year filled with picking sides, waging wars of words on those with whom we don’t agree, and questioning the very things that hold us all together. Presidential election cycles have a magical way of sowing seeds of division. But for Methodists, General Conference 2016 ...

John Wesley: Musician (continued …)

November 07, 2016
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON John Wesley strongly believed that music was a vital part of the evangelistic movement he was leading. His brother, Charles, was the hymn writer, but John was a strong advocate for singing the gospel message in worship. He is credited with introducing hymn singing into the English- speaking church. Here are some more of John Wesley’s directions for singing which were in his preface to Sacred Melody, 1761: “V. Sing modestly. Do not bawl, so as to be heard above ...

Satan is a Powerless Wolf

October 17, 2016
PATHWAY TO HIS PRESENCE B.J. FUNK Have you seen the TV commercial where a granddaddy is reading the story of the Three Little Pigs to his grandson? As the wolf approaches the pigs’ home of straw, he huffs and puffs to blow down the house. The child interrupts, “Kind of like you, Grandpa, when you huff and puff?” Grandpa explains, “That’s right. When you have COPD, it’s hard to get air in and air out.” The commercial continues as the wolf tries hard to blow down the house of straw, but he is ...

John Wesley: Musician

October 03, 2016
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON John Wesley introduced congregational singing to the English-speaking church. He published the following “Directions for Singing” in his “Sacred Melody” book of hymns: Learn these tunes before you learn any others; afterwards learn as many as you please. Sing them as they are printed here, without altering or mending them at all; and if you have learned to sing them otherwise, unlearn it as soon as you can. Sing all. See that you join with the congregation as ...

Needed: Neighbor!

September 19, 2016
Dr. Hal Brady While driving to a meeting not long ago, I passed a florist’s truck. I couldn't help but notice the advertisement on the side of the truck. The advertisement read: “Flowers whisper how you feel.” Undoubtedly, that’s true! Flowers do whisper how we feel. But perhaps even more, compassion whispers how we feel. In the familiar parable, the Good Samaritan, Jesus asked, “Which of these three do you think proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” The answerer replied, “...

Growing in holiness as we use social media

September 06, 2016
GROWING IN GRACE BEN GOSDEN Social media - it’s the double-edged sword of our time. It’s great because it lets us connect with others. It’s a way to keep up with old friends and even make new ones. It’s a powerful tool for communication. But as Spiderman reminds us, “With great power comes great responsibility.” If we’re being honest, social media is also a source for a lot of meanness, ugliness, and hurt – even if it’s all masked with “well, that’s my opinion” or “it’s my freedom of speech.”  ...

John Wesley, musician

September 06, 2016
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON Did you know that John Wesley introduced hymn singing into the English-speaking Church? When John was in Georgia he took some of the German hymns, added several others, took them to Charleston, and had them printed in 1736. It was probably the first hymn book in the Anglican (Church of England) denomination. Before John Wesley, English-speaking congregations chanted psalms, but did not sing hymns. Wesley enjoyed the hymn singing of the German Moravians on the ...

Wild Animals

August 15, 2016
PATHWAY TO HIS PRESENCE B.J. FUNK You know how you’ll be reading something you’ve read before in the Bible, and certain words jump out at you with new meaning? That happened for me this morning when I was reading in Mark and saw these words, “He was with the wild animals, and the angels attended Him.” (Mark 1: 13) The reference is to Jesus when he was led by the Spirit into the desert after his baptism. God had just voiced these beautiful words, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well...

John Wesley: Art Critic?

August 01, 2016
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON John Wesley was a man of many interests. He read everything he could find about electricity, medicine, and numerous other subjects. He was interested in architecture and art. Here is a quote from Wesley about art: “Of pictures I do not pretend to be a judge, but there is one, by Paul Rubens, which particularly struck me, both with the design and the execution of it. It is Zacharias and Elizabeth, with John the Baptist, two or three years old, coming to visit ...

American Family Life

July 18, 2016
By Dr. Hal Brady Who is the enemy anyway? Whites, blacks, Latinos, straights, gays, Muslims, Christians, immigrants, others … who? If what Congressman John Lewis said the other day is true, none of the above. Congressman Lewis stated, “We all belong to the same house.” Now, that statement has strong ramifications, and I may add, positive ramifications. The image here is that all Americans are part of the same family, with the same heritage, freedoms, and rights. Granted, all the family in ...

John Wesley’s advice about voting

July 05, 2016
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON If John Wesley were here today, what do you think he would say about the current political situation? In 1774 he met with those in a Methodist society who had votes in a coming election, and advised them: To vote, without fee or reward, for the person they judged most worthy; To speak no evil for the person they voted against; To take care their spirits were not sharpened against those on the other side. If we all took Wesley’s advice, our political atmosphere...

Dancing into Annual Conference

June 13, 2016
PATHWAY TO HIS PRESENCE B.J. FUNK There were many delightful and inspiring moments as the South Georgia Annual Conference convened in Tifton this week. Coming shortly after the General Conference held in Portland, Ore., our delegates showed amazing perseverance from the tiring few weeks of travel, meetings and questions required by the lay and clergy delegation to Portland. If South Georgia delegates came to Tifton with heavy hearts and questions about the future of our church, our concerns ...

From a visitor’s perspective

June 06, 2016
By Dr. Nita Crump, Southwest District Superintendent* One of the responsibilities of the Superintendent’s job is visiting churches on Sunday mornings. Jackson and I have visited approximately three-quarters of the churches in the Southwest district and will continue working toward our goal of worshipping with every church in the district. There are many things that I notice as we worship with the congregations throughout the district. I’m going to make several suggestions that perhaps will ...

John Wesley visits General Conference

June 06, 2016
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON General Conference of The United Methodist Church met recently for 10 days in Portland, Ore. Someone asked me what I thought John Wesley would say about the Conference. I know exactly what John Wesley said about another Conference held in 1764. He wrote in his journal: “I spent some hours at the General Assembly, composed of about a hundred and fifty ministers. I was surprised to find, one, that anyone was admitted, even lads 12 or 14 years old; two, that the ...

You’re more creative than you think!

June 06, 2016
LEADERSHIP REALLY MATTERS ANNE BOSARGE REV. JAY HANSON God is creative. I don’t think any of us would argue with this statement. As a matter of fact, the very first thing we read in the Bible is a narrative of God’s creativity – how He created something from nothing and called the world into being with nothing more than His Words and His breath! And did you know God’s creating wasn’t finished? Thousands of years later, God told Isaiah that He is continuing to create… For I am about to do ...

Standing in the Gap

May 23, 2016
By Dr. Hal Brady A unique television program went on the air in 1968 and continued filming until the year 2001. The program was “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” This amazing TV program served as a role model not only for neighborhoods, but for businesses, corporations, communities, and even churches. The late Mr. Rogers was a source of endless comfort because he valued the supreme worth of all persons. He made the marginal people of the world feel valued and accepted and affirmed. For Mister Fred...

General Conference: A Time to Listen?

May 02, 2016
GROWING IN GRACE BEN GOSDEN “The entire assembly fell quiet as they listened to Barnabas and Paul describe all the signs and wonders God did among the Gentiles through their activity.” (Acts 15:12) It seems like the lead up to our General Conference every four years mirrors that of each presidential election cycle – it gets loud, divisive, angry, and ugly. I think much of that is due to the fact that there’s a direct correlation between the two events. Both events seem to ask us to “take ...

John Wesley preaches at his home church

May 02, 2016
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON John Wesley had his “Heart Warming Experience” on May 24, 1738, on Aldersgate Street in London at a German prayer meeting. It transformed his understanding of salvation. Soon he was preaching all across England and Scotland in churches, parks, and wherever a crowd could gather.  He returned to Epworth, his home town, and attended St. Andrew Church, his home church. His father, Samuel served this church for 39 years. John was baptized in St. Andrew Church. He ...

How is the Christian life like a lemon meringue pie?

April 18, 2016
PATHWAY TO HIS PRESENCE B.J. FUNK To me, the best part of making a lemon pie is the meringue. After whipping the egg whites with a mixer, adding vanilla and cream of tartar, I watch for small peaks to form. Then, I dip a generous portion into the pie and spread that. More and more of the glossy whipped froth goes on top of that until the whole pie is covered with the soft, cloud-like white substance. But, now we come to my favorite part, that of playing gently in the meringue with a stainless ...

7 Ways to Lead Meetings that Motivate

April 04, 2016
LEADERSHIP REALLY MATTERS ANNE BOSARGE REV. JAY HANSON WOW! The other day at The Chapel Ministries we had the best board meeting! We had fun together, we remembered why we’re in ministry, we solved a few problems, listened to people’s experiences, and learned more about what it means to join God in ministry to our community through this church. We left refreshed and renewed with a clear direction and purpose. Are you wondering how you can have uplifting meetings that motivate people to action? ...

John Wesley preaches outdoors

April 04, 2016
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON After his heartwarming spiritual experience at a German prayer meeting on Aldersgate Street in London on May 24, 1738, John Wesley was soon banned from preaching in most of the churches in London. The pastors did not want him telling their congregations that we are saved by faith, not good works. George Whitefield invited John to come and see what was going on in Bristol where Whitefield was preaching in the fields. Wesley was reluctant to preach outdoors. He ...

Easter Says …

March 21, 2016
By Dr. Hal Brady For more than 50 years I stood in the pulpit on Easter Sunday morning and proclaimed, “Jesus Christ is Risen!” And the congregation responded, “Christ is Risen, indeed.” Almost needless to say, I made that proclamation by faith. If some of you reading this column are wanting proof that Jesus is alive, I can honestly say that I have none to give. No preacher, teacher or even the Bible can prove it. In none of the gospel accounts do we have an eye witness to the actual ...

After Aldersgate

March 07, 2016
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON After his heartwarming experience during a German prayer meeting on Aldersgate Street in London on May 24, 1738, John Wesley sat down and examined his Christian walk up to that point in his life. He felt that up until that experience he had been simply “going through the motions” in his spiritual journey. He was reading his Bible and saying his prayers as he had been taught at his mother’s knee. He was doing his duty and trying to be good. He felt that during ...

This Lent, discover God when you’re standing in line

March 07, 2016
GROWING IN GRACE BEN GOSDEN There’s something we all do at least once a day or maybe once a week. It happens in a variety of settings. It can happen unexpectedly – we think we’re in the clear. Or we can see it coming before we ever get there. What am I talking about? Standing in line, of course!  Have you ever thought about the different lines we regularly find ourselves in? We stand in line to check out at the grocery store, we wait in lines of traffic, some of us still wait in line at the ...

Memories of Mollie

February 15, 2016
PATHWAY TO HIS PRESENCE B.J. FUNK Every now and then, when I have an extra 10 minutes in my day, I like to iron my pillowcases. I hear you. Who does that anymore? Well, me, for one. I think that’s because there is something about the smell and look of a freshly ironed pillowcase that moves me into happy memories of Mollie. She worked for my family during my growing-up years. Memories of Mollie are always pleasant. She did everything well, but she was exceptional at two things. She ironed my ...

After Aldersgate

February 01, 2016
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON Some modern Wesley scholars seem to downplay John Wesley’s Aldersgate experience. They point out that earlier in Wesley’s life he dedicated himself to seek and serve God with all his energy. He indicated that “leisure and I have parted company.”  I believe that John Wesley was a young man on a quest during his time before Aldersgate. On May 24, 1738, at the German prayer meeting on Aldersgate Street in London when his heart was strangely warmed and he trusted ...

Peace under Pressure

February 01, 2016
LEADERSHIP REALLY MATTERS ANNE BOSARGE REV. JAY HANSON John 14:27, “I give you peace, the kind of peace that only I can give. It isn’t like the peace that this world can give. So don’t be worried or afraid.” It’s five minutes before your worship service starts and the computer has crashed in the tech booth, you’re missing three key volunteers, a child in the nursery is having a parent-detachment meltdown, and you spilled coffee all over your shirt.  In ministry, just like in life, things ...

Suffering and a few insights

January 18, 2016
By Dr. Hal Brady “Do not let your hearts be troubled,” said Jesus (John 14:1). Yet our hearts are troubled. They are troubled on every level – personal, societal, national, and global. Practically everywhere we look today we see tragedy, disaster, and hear warnings of tragedies to come. “Do not let your hearts be troubled ...” Stating it another way, do not be nervous, anxious, or fearful. Normally, this kind of talk is meaningless to anyone to whom it is addressed. Here, however, the speaker ...

More about Wesley’s Aldersgate experience

January 04, 2016
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON John Wesley wrote in his diary on May 24, 1738, “I went reluctantly to a prayer meeting in a house on Aldersgate Street.” It was a German prayer meeting in London. He continued, “There at quarter till nine while someone was reading from Martin Luther’s preface to the Book of Romans about the change that happens in the human heart through faith in Christ. I felt my heart strangely warmed and that I trusted Christ and Christ alone for my salvation…” What was read ...

New Year’s Change

January 04, 2016
GROWING IN GRACE BEN GOSDEN Change. That’s the theme of New Year’s, really. We mark the end of one year – with all of its success and regrets – and we begin the new year with a clean slate and a promise that this one will be the best one yet.  I don’t know if you’re a New Year’s resolution maker or not, but I am. New Year’s resolutions are all about looking back over the previous year and identifying ways to grow and become better. And what better time to reflect on growth than at the ...

Mercy notes

December 21, 2015
When you are sad or lonely PATHWAY TO HIS PRESENCE B.J. FUNK Mercy danced around me that day, but I was too preoccupied to notice. Mercy’s ballet was slow and beautiful, a soft melody preceding each step. Mercy was tender, kind and inviting. However, I had already given the key to my heart to grief, sadness, loss, and loneliness. Mercy would have to wait for better times, happier times. I did not want her to dance.  “Let me be,” I begged. “You cannot begin to understand the pain I feel, the ...

What’s Christmas all about?

December 21, 2015
By Dr. Hal Brady As someone suggested, “Charlie Brown isn’t the only one who asked, ‘what’s Christmas all about.’” Real people also ask it. Well, what is Christmas all about? Permit me to offer a few suggestions. Christmas is about God being with us! “And the word became flesh and dwelt among us …” (John 1:14). One of my favorite Christmas stories is about the little boy who was walking home one evening with his father from a Christmas Candlelight Service. This was in England during World War ...

John Wesley’s Aldersgate experience

December 07, 2015
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON On Wednesday, May 24, 1738, a very troubled John Wesley awoke early in the morning. Around 5 a.m. he opened his Bible and read, “There are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, even that ye should be partakers of the divine nature.” He opened it again and read, “Thou art not far from the Kingdom of God.”  That afternoon he visited St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. St Paul’s is a massive Gothic building which is 400 feet tall and dominates London’s ...

Joy in leadership

December 06, 2015
LEADERSHIP REALLY MATTERS ANNE BOSARGE REV. JAY HANSON Last week I, Anne, attended a Children’s Ministry conference with two of my friends and coworkers from The Chapel Ministries. While there, we had the opportunity to ride in a limo bus. The three of us were visibly excited about this opportunity and were snapping pictures and laughing at the ridiculousness that we would be so excited about a limo with neon lights, curved pleather seats and way too many cup holders. After the bus started ...

Meaningful experiences and inspiring examples

November 16, 2015
By Dr. Hal Brady A necessary ingredient of a good home is pictures – pictures placed by meaningful experiences and inspiring examples. I am a dog person, but I have had one cat in my life whose name was White Socks. She was a black cat with four white feet, and I really cared for that cat. When I was eight years old my father sent me to camp for two weeks at Bar Rest Boys Ranch in Warm Springs, Ga. It was basically where you go live with a horse for two weeks and learn to ride or you just don’...

A metric worth measuring

November 02, 2015
GROWING IN GRACE BEN GOSDEN Church metrics continue to be a moving target of evaluating the health and effectiveness of our churches. I’m reminded of that fact today as our conference journals hit mailboxes and we were bombarded by statistic upon statistic from the local churches across our conference. These numbers (we believe) offer a snapshot of how healthy (or not) our churches are. We look at things like number of new members, professions of faith, baptisms, active small groups, pastor ...

The edge of Aldersgate

November 02, 2015
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON John Wesley was convinced that a person could have a spiritual experience which would give them peace, joy, and victory over sin. His friend and fellow pastor, Peter Bohler the Moravian, had convinced him to study his Bible where he discovered numerous instantaneous conversions in the Book of Acts. Wesley then said, “I see it can happen, but that was back then in the Bible and I just don’t see it happening around me today.”  Peter Bohler said, “I can bring 10 ...

Fried chicken love

October 19, 2015
PATHWAY TO HIS PRESENCE B.J. FUNK Having fried chicken once a week was a given at my house. How well I remember coming in from school, starting my homework, and hearing the first sounds of grease popping on the kitchen stove. Soon, the smell of mama’s chicken permeated the air, filling every available space with its mouth-watering aroma. My sister and I practically raced to get the table set, put the ice in the glasses, and pour our sweet tea. I remember which piece each of us liked the best. ...

What illness teaches

October 19, 2015
Dr. Hal Brady Some years ago noted football coach Lou Holtz said something that most of us can relate to. He was speaking of the troubles we face in our lives. Holtz stated, “I know God doesn’t send us more troubles than we can handle, but sometimes I think he overestimates my ability.” I suppose we all feel that way at times. In our illnesses or troubles, who of us has not wondered if God hasn’t overestimated our ability? Like Lou Holtz and like you, at times, I’ve wondered about that during ...

A deeply troubled John Wesley

October 05, 2015
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON John Wesley returned from Georgia a deeply troubled young minster. His life had been shattered and he felt that he had no faith. Upon his arrival back in London he found a group of German Moravians. The Moravians had impressed him during a storm at sea and had blessed him while in Georgia. He befriended a young Moravian pastor, Peter Bohler. Bohler was 10 years younger than John. He spoke German and a little English. John Wesley spoke English and German. But they...

Changing tides

October 05, 2015
LEADERSHIP REALLY MATTERS ANNE BOSARGE REV. JAY HANSON I watched a young child, his older brother, their father, and grandfather labor for hours to build a beautiful sand castle. Shortly after its completion, the tide turned and started rushing in to destroy their beautiful structure.  This was the first time the young child had actually gotten to participate in the building of the family sand castle. He could not understand why nature would destroy their work, but his commitment to the ...

The power of a good deed

September 21, 2015
By Dr. Hal Brady Sometimes in a world of vastness we forget the power of a good deed or a loving act. It is still true that the healing of the wounds of a man on the Jericho Road has an influence far beyond Jericho or Jerusalem. To be sure, God often takes a single good deed and multiplies its significance. Through the magic of God’s grace that goodness shines and shines and shines. What is so powerful about a good deed, anyway? First, a good deed is powerful because it brings out our best! ...

A change is gonna come

September 08, 2015
GROWING IN GRACE BEN GOSDEN President John F. Kennedy once said, “Change is the law of life … those who only look to the past or the present will miss the future.”  I’m not entirely sure if President Kennedy was reflecting on his Catholic upbringing or not, but that is a very theologically astute observation. Change is the law of life with God. Transformation happens as a result of change. And God’s love calls us to continually change and grow. As good Methodists, we call this “moving on to ...

John Wesley and the Indians

September 08, 2015
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON One of John Wesley’s main goals in coming to Georgia was to preach to the Indians. He said, “I will hear the gospel afresh by preaching it to the innocent savages because they have no defense against the text.”  After he had met with some Native Americans he was very severe with them. He said, “They are liars, thieves, and murderers. They murder their own babies and they murder their own parents! They do not wish to learn and are not willing to be taught.” ...

The story of John Wesley's sisters

August 17, 2015
PATHWAY TO HIS PRESENCE B.J. FUNK I don’t know why I kept reading this book on John Wesley’s seven sisters, other than the fact that anything concerning John Wesley pulls me like a magnet. I wanted to understand more about his sisters and their apparent need for love, as the title suggests. “Seven Sisters in Search of Love” by Frederick E. Maser was not a particularly great read unless one has a keen interest in this family, in the kind of parenting that could produce two giants of faith like ...

Why attitudes matter

August 17, 2015
Dr. Hal Brady Arriving home one day, I was having a great deal of difficultly with my attitude. I had just come off the expressway and I was disgusted with some of the other drivers. I had had it with speeding drivers, reckless drivers, tailgating drivers, lane-changing drivers, and light-running drivers. Since no one was home when I arrived, I trudged to my study to cool down. In a few minutes I opened a book and almost immediately spied another minister’s sermon title. Instantaneously, I ...

Flip the way you lead volunteers

August 03, 2015
LEADERSHIP REALLY MATTERS ANNE BOSARGE REV. JAY HANSON Let’s talk volunteers. Think about Sunday service teams like ushers, greeters, parking lot people, coffee shop servers, Children’s ministry workers, and more. Would you describe your volunteer teams as passionate armies of fully equipped and deeply committed soldiers? Are people lining up to sign up to come aboard the battleship? Or does your volunteer system seem more like a sinking ship people can’t get off of quickly enough?  I’d like...

John Wesley's conflict with 'Beta' Hawkins

August 03, 2015
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON  While John Wesley was on St. Simons Island he had numerous encounters with Beta Hawkins, the doctor’s wife. She sent her maid to ask John to visit her in her home. Expecting trouble, he insisted that the maid promise to stay right with them and not leave for a minute during the visit. It was a good thing.  Wesley and the maid went into a small front bedroom in Dr. Hawkins’ home. Beta was not there at first. John sat on the bed. Soon Beta came in with both hands...

The pursuit of happiness

July 20, 2015
By Dr. Hal Brady Some years back an English author penned an essay on the illusion of happiness. He began the essay with the story of a young man who was facing a difficult and momentous decision. The boy asked, “Don’t I have the right to happiness?”' The author responded, “No, you don’t. And, if finding happiness is the chief pursuit of your life, you will never find it.” Many in our time are desperately searching for happiness, and that’s certainly not a bad goal. The problem, however, is ...

John Wesley does pastoral work on St. Simons Island

July 06, 2015
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON After four days travel by boat from Savannah to St. Simons Island, John Wesley took up ministry where his brother had left off. He visited from house to house. He discovered the best time for visiting his parishioners was right after lunch. The colonists would rise early, work hard, return home for a big lunch, then take a nap before returning to work in the afternoon. Just when they were about to take their nap after their big meal John Wesley would knock on ...

Our sacred spaces

July 06, 2015
GROWING IN GRACE BEN GOSDEN The longer I serve in a local church, the more I become aware how much our physical spaces – the spaces we use for worship, teaching, fellowship, and service – say a lot about the souls of our congregational life. We may not always pick up on this, especially if we’ve been a member of a church for many years. A place can become home quickly and we grow accustomed to the feelings we gain by being present while missing the details of the space itself. Nonetheless, ...

A Great Dream

A Great Dream

June 21, 2015
Recently, I read about a man named George Parkinson who dreamed for 40 years about earning a doctor of philosophy degree from the university. The First World War, however, took him as a chaplain. After that he experienced ill health, the Depression, and other professional responsibilities. All of that interfered, and it became necessary to postpone his plans. But he never gave up the idea. Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE w:LatentStyles DefLockedStat...

A prayer for pastors and churches in transition

A prayer for pastors and churches in transition

June 21, 2015
It’s that time of year again for many churches and pastors – time to say goodbye and hello. It’s a bittersweet time of year, really. On the one hand, change is exciting. New pastors mean new ideas. New churches mean new people to develop relationships and share ministry with. On the other hand, change is really hard. Some pastors are leaving great churches filled with many close friends – friends who have shared life’s ups and downs. Some churches are losing pastors who have meant a great deal ...

Death ... I just don't get it

Death ... I just don't get it

June 21, 2015
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How do you think?

How do you think?

June 06, 2015
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John Wesley helps his brother

John Wesley helps his brother

June 06, 2015
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Children: The Final Jury

Children: The Final Jury

May 17, 2015
Some years ago in Houston, Texas, a 2-year-old child was summoned for jury duty. The late Halford Luccock, Professor of Preaching at Yale Divinity School at the time, commented on the error and said, “That was a divinely inspired mistake, for the child is the final jury before which our civilization will be tried.” If how we treat our children is the final test, there are a couple of very important considerations. First, consider the fact that we are failing our children! Not everyone, of ...

Charles Wesley's troubles continue

Charles Wesley's troubles continue

May 03, 2015
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON Charles Wesley was living in a lean-to up against the fort at Fort Federica. He was charged with mutiny. Wesley said, “Mutiny? But I support what we are doing here and I support Oglethorpe.” Oglethorpe said, “Well, some of the men want to leave and they go to church. So we think you are behind this.” Wesley explained, “I have never seen these men in church in my life.” Charles didn’t have a teapot. That wouldn’t bother most of us. But an Englishman without his ...

What the clergy in Baltimore can teach the Church everywhere

What the clergy in Baltimore can teach the Church everywhere

May 03, 2015
GROWING IN GRACE BEN GOSDEN By now, we’ve all seen clips of the ongoing struggles plaguing Baltimore, Maryland following the tragic death and funeral of Freddie Gray. 24-hour news coverage has a way of emotionally wearing viewers out, and maybe that’s why we in South Georgia probably feel a little of the strain of the civil unrest. Rather than exhausting us more by offering some sort of trite reasons for one “side” or the other, I want to instead point us to one of the many rays of hope that has...

Praying for Others

Praying for Others

April 20, 2015
There is a cartoon of a little boy who seems out of sorts with the Almighty kneeling in prayer. In his prayer, he says, “Aunt Stella isn’t married yet, Uncle Hubert doesn’t have a job yet, and Daddy’s hair is still falling out. I’m tired of saying prayers for this family without getting any results.” The current issue of “The Christian Century” magazine has a report about a new social survey that was funded by the National Science Foundation. Supposedly, this multi-million-dollar study gives us ...

God opens and shuts doors

God opens and shuts doors

April 19, 2015
PATHWAY TO HIS PRESENCE B.J. FUNK I love the way our mighty God makes Himself available to us. He is holy and powerful yet He comes to our side as our dear friend to whisper His comfort, peace and guidance. This next line is one of my favorites. “God can open doors that no man can close, and close doors that no man can open.” I love this thought. It leaves nothing out, nothing to chance. It is clear and concise and looks to God as being completely in charge. If God wants a door to close in your ...

Focus

Focus

April 05, 2015
LEADERSHIP REALLY MATTERS ANNE BOSARGE REV. JAY HANSON Bishop King took this picture of me in Antioch on a hill that houses a cave called St. Peter’s Church. It was in this cave that the early followers of “The Way” would secretly meet with Peter, Paul and Barnabas to worship God. It was in this place that the followers of Jesus were first called Christians. Right below me is this field with sheep that appears unchanged by the centuries. In front of me, sprawled out as far as I can see, is the...

More troubles for Charles Wesley on St. Simons Island

More troubles for Charles Wesley on St. Simons Island

April 05, 2015
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON John Wesley was living in a lean-to covered with palmetto branches up against the fort at Frederica. He thought he would be staying in the tent with Oglethorpe, but that had not happened. The heat was getting to him. He was covered with insect bites. The women were driving him crazy, especially two of them: Beta Hawkins, the doctor’s wife, and Ann Welch, the carpenter’s wife. It is hard to believe these two women were as evil as depicted in Charles and John’s ...

We'd rather grumble

We'd rather grumble

March 15, 2015
A woman in her eighties, rigid and conservative, had become cynical. She thought everything modern was bad and every new change was a disaster. She complained to a neighbor, “It's a good time to be dead.” Now, few of us would be pleased at being compared with this glum person. But many of us, if we are honest, do not have much room to brag. We know that one of the things we do best – and perhaps most frequently – is grumble. And our grumbling tends to spill over into everything else. Like the ...

Charles Wesley's troubles on St. Simons Island

Charles Wesley's troubles on St. Simons Island

March 01, 2015
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON On March 9, 1736, Charles Wesley first set foot on St. Simons Island, Georgia. He wrote in his diary, “No sooner did I enter upon my ministry than God gave me, like Saul, a new heart…” However, that enthusiasm did not last long in Frederica Town. One of the first things Charles did in Georgia was to get Oglethorpe to pass a rule forbidding “the discharge of firearms on the Lord’s day.” Some of the people loved to go out shooting on Sunday. Charles was just ...

Five things the Church should stop for Lent

Five things the Church should stop for Lent

March 01, 2015
GROWING IN GRACE BEN GOSDEN Lent is the time of year where we look at our lives and do the hard work of being honest about things that might be keeping us from growing deeper in our relationship with God. Now, many use it as an excuse to deprive themselves of chocolate or caffeine or dessert. I say that’s fine so long as those things are hindering your faith life. If they’re not and you still want to give them up as an act of endurance for the next 40 days, then fine, at least add something new...

In times of grief

In times of grief

February 15, 2015
Since our daily newscasts show so many grieving people and since I have just finished reading about the death of legendary North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith, I want to address the subject of grief. Grief has been defined as “the natural response to any loss.” The key word is that it is natural. There is an orderly process people go through in dealing with grief. This process is nature's way of healing a broken heart. And keep in mind that there are no short cuts, no magic words or magic...

Remembering my baptism

Remembering my baptism

February 15, 2015
PATHWAY TO HIS PRESENCE B.J. FUNK On the first night of Winter Camp Meeting at Epworth By The Sea, Bishop King asked us if we still had our Baptismal Certificate. He said that as he has grown older, his baptism has also grown in meaning. Immediately, my mind went back to scenes from my childhood as I sat on Mama’s bedroom floor and asked the question she heard me ask every year on my birthday. “Is this the year, Mama? Is this the year I get to open the preacher’s letter to me?” “Not yet,” she ...

How leaders tackle HUGE problems!

How leaders tackle HUGE problems!

February 02, 2015
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John Wesley begins his ministry in Georgia and senses potential trouble

John Wesley begins his ministry in Georgia and senses potential trouble

February 02, 2015
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON After spending almost a month waiting for Rev. Quincey to leave Savannah, John Wesley became the pastor of Christ Church. He had waited on the ship “Simmons” and spent time with the Germans who came to Georgia with Oglethorpe. Finally, in early March 1736 he led his first worship service in the small public building on Bay Street. Almost at once he sensed potential trouble for himself and his ministry in Savannah. After that first worship service he wrote to his ...

2015's Top Ten

2015's Top Ten

January 17, 2015
David Letterman, on The Late Show, made it famous. Of course, I'm referring to “The Top Ten.” With great fanfare, every night Letterman presents the Top Ten direct from the “home office.” Sometimes Letterman’s Top Ten are way out, but they always draw considerable laughter and are usually quite entertaining. Over the years I have noted numerous other Top Ten list from other sources. These Top Tens have included the “Top Ten Liar's Lies,” the “Top Ten Recipes for Reindeer Snacks,” “Top Ten Most ...

John Wesley lays down the rules in Savannah

John Wesley lays down the rules in Savannah

January 05, 2015
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON In early March 1736, John Wesley gathered his new Savannah congregation together and lined out “how it was to be while he was their pastor.” He told them that they were going to have communion the “old-fashioned way,” which meant that in order to take communion they first had to go to confession with the pastor who would then give them a token which they were to then present at communion. He said, “I will not serve you communion if you do not have that token!” He...

Resolutions and New Habits for 2015

Resolutions and New Habits for 2015

January 05, 2015
GROWING IN GRACE BEN GOSDEN I’m currently reading a great book titled “The Power of Habit: Why We Do the Things We Do” by Charles Duhigg. The book looks at our daily habits and unpacks the science behind why we do the things we do. For example, it is believed that up to 40 percent of our daily activity comes from habits engrained in us instead of conscious choices. You might think you’re making a conscious decision to put on shoes, but the way you put them on the same way every time comes from a...

Bridging the Racial Divide

Bridging the Racial Divide

December 13, 2014
Rev. J. Michael Culbreth Sunday morning continues to be a time of deep racial division across our nation. Ninety percent of all African-American Christians worship in all-black churches and 90 percent of European Christians worship in all Caucasian churches. Chris Rice, the author of “More than Equals: Racial Healing For the Sake of the Gospel,” notes that only 5 to 7.5 percent of churches in the United States are considered to be racially diverse. Since all congregations need to be more ...

Two Trees

Two Trees

December 13, 2014
PATHWAY TO HIS PRESENCE B.J. FUNK The Christmas carolers sing out on a cold winter’s night: “O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree, Much pleasure thou can’st give me; How often has the Christmas Tree afforded me the greatest glee; O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree, Much pleasure thou can’st give me.” It is a message of hope and joy. In the distance, another tree is honored, the church choir lending their lovely sounds to this tree’s message. “On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross, the ...

Important Days in the Life of John Wesley: February 6, 1736

Important Days in the Life of John Wesley: February 6, 1736

November 25, 2014
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON On Feb. 6, 1736, John and Charles Wesley first set foot on Georgia soil after four months aboard the “Simmons” on their voyage across the Atlantic. They came ashore on Peppers Island in the mouth of the Savannah River. Today the island is called Cockspur Island. James Oglethorpe left the colonists in the care of the Wesleys as he sailed the 15 or so miles up the river to visit the town of Savannah. The Wesley brothers took a hike to explore their new home land. ...

Trust is earned

Trust is earned

November 25, 2014
LEADERSHIP REALLY MATTERS ANNE BOSARGE REV. JAY HANSON We don’t earn our salvation or our spiritual growth – they are gifts of grace that we receive. Even our faith is a gift of grace from God. As Christians we are comfortable with the concept of gifts that are given and not earned, but in leadership, that concept no longer applies. Positional authority, respect that is given simply because of one’s title or position, no longer exists in our society. Today we operate with the understanding that...

Stressed Out

Stressed Out

November 15, 2014
A former parishioner I hadn't heard from in 20 years telephoned me recently. There was a certain desperation in her voice. I remembered that she had been a youth in one of my churches. “Dr. Brady,” she said, “I am under great stress. My problem is twofold: my husband drinks and my father is ill and very dependent. In addition, my family has had a drug and alcohol problem. My brothers have been in trouble with the law and my parents frequently say to me, ‘You are our shining light. We keep going ...

Christians and Election Day

Christians and Election Day

October 30, 2014
GROWING IN GRACE BEN GOSDEN Well, it’s that time again. Election Day is upon us. It’s time to be bombarded by numerous campaign commercials, too many automated phone calls, and enough negative news commentary to make you begin to question the very meaning of our election process. Candidates want to appeal to our sense of duty and compassion. They spend loads of money to play on our fears and hope to somehow inspire us along the way. It’s probably a good thing every two years for Christians to ...

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