As we journey toward General Conference, Stay Calm, Stay Connected, Stay the Course
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN Attendance at the Way Forward district meetings has been outstanding. With nearly 500 people present in Columbus, nearly 400 in Statesboro, and ...
Slow Down
OUR CONNECTION MATTERS NITA CRUMP 35Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36Simon and...
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Encouragement Matters

September 17, 2018
Dr. Hal Brady The National Day of Encouragement occurs every year in the United States on September 12. This special day started in 2007 at Harding University in Searcy, Ark. and is intended as a day dedicated to the uplifting of those around us. The idea, of course, is for Americans to make specific acts of encouragement by words and deeds to others on this specific day, with the hope that this way of living will become a reality in our everyday lives. The point of this National Day of ...

3 practices to prepare for YOUR District Conversation

September 04, 2018
GROWING IN GRACE BEN GOSDEN Bishop Bryan is busy traveling the Conference speaking with members of each district of South Georgia about General Conference 2019 and the work of the Commission on a Way Forward. As we prepare for the conversations in our respective districts, I want to share three important practices I think we all should engage in as we enter into potentially difficult conversations. (I realize that three districts will have already had their event by the time you read this ...

John Wesley’s marriage

September 04, 2018
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON John Wesley had discussed with a friend whether or not it would be a good thing for him to marry, and on February 2, 1751, he decided to do so. He was 47 years old and his bride, Molly Vazelle, was a wealthy widow with four children. She was 41 years old. Her merchant husband had died four years previously. It is interesting that this marriage occurred just days after John had urged Methodist ministers not to marry unless there were exceptional reasons to do so....

When did garbage become entertainment?

August 21, 2018
PATHWAY TO HIS PRESENCE B.J. FUNK When I was growing up, my daddy emptied our garbage cans every other day. If he didn’t, the cans would fill to overflowing. If the garbage was in the kitchen, he took it out more often so that leftover food would not begin to smell. If you had asked me what I knew about garbage, I would have considered that a weird question. I wasn’t supposed to know anything about garbage. It belonged out of our house, and daddy saw to that. Around 40 years ago, the late ...

What is Jesus asking you?

August 07, 2018
LEADERSHIP REALLY MATTERS ANNE BOSARGE REV. JAY HANSON How would you define “a consuming intimacy with God?” How long has it been since you were hungry and thirsty for a deeper relationship with Him? Those questions and many like it have filled my thoughts lately and have caused my heart to deeply desire living in a constant state of intimacy with God. But how do we achieve that level of intimacy? Recently my practice has been to read a passage of scripture several times while imagining myself...

Better Together

August 06, 2018
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON Wesley told his followers that they should support their local Church of England and go there for worship and Holy Communion. Some asked him, “But what should we do if the pastor teaches doctrines we do not believe, like predestination? Or if he says there can be no Christian perfection this side of heaven? Or preaches against enthusiasm?” Wesley would reply to them and to us today, “In that case you should simply and quietly get up and leave the sanctuary. Do ...

Being Neighborly

July 23, 2018
Dr. Hal Brady You know the story. I once saw it mimed by a youth group in a worship service. The wounded person was stretched out on the floor in the chancel area. A figure representing the priest came up, took a look and turned his back. Next, another figure representing the Levite came up, took a look and turned his back. At this point in the worship service, all of us present confessed our sins of omission and commission in unison and received absolution (forgiveness). Then, the Samaritan ...

A Way Forward (… with help from the Church in Ephesus and Mr. Rogers)

July 09, 2018
GROWING IN GRACE BEN GOSDEN   This summer, Trinity United Methodist Church (Savannah) is kicking off a new sermon series called, “Won’t You Be a Neighbor?” that follows the Ephesians thread of the lectionary. The church in Ephesus had to struggle with what it meant to form a meaningful community of faith. Paul writes to them at length about important aspects of being the Body of Christ: reconciliation between separate groups (Ephesians 2), how we’re bound together in God’s powerful love ...

John Wesley’s comment on the uniqueness of Methodism

July 09, 2018
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON John Wesley wrote, “There is no other religious society under heaven which requires nothing of men in order to their admission into it, but a desire to save their souls. Look around you, you cannot be admitted into the Church or society of the Presbyterians, Anabaptists, Quakers, or any other, unless you hold the same opinions with them, and adhere to the same mode of worship. “The Methodists alone do not insist on your holding this or that opinion; but they ...

Grace Gifts

June 25, 2018
PATHWAY TO HIS PRESENCE B.J. FUNK When I was a young girl, I stood by my mother at the kitchen sink and watched her as she separated stalks of celery, washing each piece before she gave it to us at supper. She taught me that there is a part of the celery stalk that has a sweeter taste than the rest of the stalks. When all of the stalks are pulled away, there lies within the celery a beautiful surprise. It’s called the heart of the celery, and it has a deeper, sweeter taste than the rest of the ...

Patience required with new pastor

June 25, 2018
New preachers need time to adjust to new congregations Many Methodist churches across south Georgia received new pastors two weeks ago. Pastors and people are starting to get acquainted with each other. To the average person it might seem simple for a new pastor to learn a new church. Preaching is preaching wherever one serves, right? Church leadership is the same in every church, right? Well, yes and no. Every congregation is a unique organization, even if, like The United Methodist Church, ...

Cleaning the Cobwebs

June 10, 2018
LEADERSHIP REALLY MATTERS ANNE BOSARGE REV. JAY HANSON   The other day I was sitting in bed reading a book when my son Jacob, a high school freshman, came in the room to talk to me about the busy schedule of the week ahead.   Before he started speaking, I noticed him standing in front of me looking up at the corner ceiling with a questioning look on his face. I turned to see the object of his attention and was confused – all I saw was the empty corner of my bedroom. He pointed up at the ceiling ...

Getting Rich

May 29, 2018
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON Someone complained that John Wesley was getting rich by preaching all across England. He replied, “For what price would you preach with all your might, not in an easy manner, 18 or 19 times every week, and this throughout the year? What shall I give you to travel seven or eight hundred miles, in all weather, every two or three months? For what salary will you abstain from all other diversions than doing good and praising God? I am mistaken if you would not prefer...

The Power of a Noble Dream

May 14, 2018
By Dr. Hal Brady   In a certain classroom in New Hampshire, a youth was asked to give an oral report to his classmates. Each attempt ended in embarrassing failure. Recalling his experience, he confessed: “I could not speak before the school. Many a piece did I commit to memory, and recite and rehearse in my own room, over and over again, and yet, when the day came, when my name was called, and all eyes turned to my seat, I could not raise myself from it. When the occasion was over, I went home ...

Strange people John Wesley encountered

April 30, 2018
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON   John Wesley met some very strange people. None were stranger than the man at Dewberry who charged up out of the congregation at Wesley and in a rage struck him with all his might on his face. The blow was so violent as to bring tears into Wesley’s eyes, but without a moment’s hesitation, according to Christ’s precepts, John Wesley turned his other cheek. Amazed and confounded, the fierce assailant fell back and sought to hide his face. From that time on he ...

The Financial Way Forward

April 30, 2018
GROWING IN GRACE BEN GOSDEN   In this season of our church where we’re seemingly obsessed with finding “a way forward,” I want to share about a different kind of way forward I’ve recently found. I didn’t need to appoint a commission. And, thankfully, I don’t think my church will split over the fact that we’ve offered this opportunity to find a way forward. Is this newfound “way” a solution to our divisions over human sexuality? No. But I do think this way offers a faithful and responsible way to...

Whiners, blamers, and complainers

April 16, 2018
PATHWAY TO HIS PRESENCE B.J. FUNK   I wonder if God ever thinks about adding a PS to His Ten Commandments, preceded by one simple explanation: “Since I already know you won’t obey these ten, try this one: P.S. Get over yourself!”   Some of the phrases that attach to that statement, like ribbons flying behind a kite, are “Me first,” “My way,” “Notice me,” “Hear me,” and “Why me?” Right now, before even reading further, you may already be thinking of someone – maybe more than one – whose shoulder ...

Great insights from Henry Cloud

April 03, 2018
LEADERSHIP REALLY MATTERS ANNE BOSARGE REV. JAY HANSON   The author of numerous incredible books, Henry Cloud has become one of my go-to authors and I try to read everything he writes. Recently I had the opportunity to sit down with him and take some notes as he shared with a small group of pastors. The following are a few of my notes from his sharing: 1. Stay Replenished.To stay in ministry you need to make sure your soul stays replenished. Your Tank Level       -           When pain and ...

John Wesley and the Bible

April 03, 2018
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON John Wesley claimed to be a man of “One Book,” the Bible. He knew that the Holy Scriptures were the foundation of our faith and our guide for living the Christian life. Yet, there was no one of his era who knew more about many books than John Wesley. He was widely read in the classic and in contemporary literature of his own day. For example, John Wesley read everything Ben Franklin wrote about electricity. In search of remedies, he studied the medical writings ...

Being who your dog thinks you are

March 19, 2018
Dr. Hal Brady   The late Norman Vincent Peale, American minister and author, once said that there are three questions we should ask ourselves about any business transaction. Is it legal? Is it balanced? Will it make me feel good about myself? Here, Dr. Peale is talking about character.    I simply cannot over-estimate the importance of character. Character has been defined in many ways. Character is what you are in the dark. Character is who you are when no one else is looking. Character is who ...

Canoeing the Mountains: Daring to take your church “Off the Map”

March 06, 2018
GROWING IN GRACE BEN GOSDEN Change. It might as well be a four-letter word because it strikes most of us as something ugly and profane. No one likes to change. As human beings we are biologically wired to enjoy something called homeostasis — the state of equilibrium and balance when all is well and nothing is changing. Change is especially difficult in the church. As the world around us rapidly changes, the church tends to be the one place where we can find refuge from the storm. The ...

John Wesley – a traveling preacher

March 06, 2018
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON John Wesley was a traveling preacher. He was always on the move sharing the Gospel of Christ wherever he went. It has been estimated that John Wesley spent one half of his waking hours traveling. He rode his horse more than 250,000 miles across England.  John Wesley spent 23 months in Georgia. It took him four months on the ship before he even arrived at the mouth of the Savannah River. While in Georgia he made 10 trips between Savannah and St. Simons Island. He...

Satan is a Powerless Wolf

February 19, 2018
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 ...

Quiet Trust

February 05, 2018
LEADERSHIP REALLY MATTERS ANNE BOSARGE REV. JAY HANSON Isaiah 30:15 (CEV), “The holy Lord God of Israel had told all of you, ‘I will keep you safe if you turn back to me and calm down. I will make you strong if you quietly trust me.’”  I (Anne) am an evaluator and assessor by nature. I think it’s the teacher in me. I worked as an elementary classroom teacher for seven years, then went on to write curriculum for the Department of Education.  Assessment and evaluation are wired into my DNA. ...

Watch those grandmas

February 05, 2018
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON In his sermon on The Education of Children, John Wesley urges parents to make sure to never give children the things they cry for. He says that if you give children the things they cry for you will only teach them to cry for more. Wesley taught that parents must teach their children to obey them else they will never learn to obey God. He even went so far as to caution against praising your children lest you build their pride. Much of what he taught about ...

When Love is Authentic

January 22, 2018
Dr. Hal Brady In our time, the word,”Love” and it’s meaning have come in for a number of cheap shots. There is a kind of lip service to the whole idea of love, but everybody knows you can’t take it seriously. How desperately in our world today, we need to be reminded again that for Jesus, love is not simply one virtue among many others. For him, love is actually the foundation, the basic yardstick, for all norms in how we are to behave and act toward one another. Authentic love, then, is not ...

Canoeing the Mountains: The Speed of Trust and Our Adaptive Challenge

January 08, 2018
GROWING IN GRACE BEN GOSDEN I ended my last column with a phrase I first read in a book written by now-Bishop Bob Farr: “Adapt or die.” I believe what we face in our local churches, districts, annual conferences, and beyond is an adaptive challenge. Ron Heifetz distinguishes two types of challenges — technical and adaptive — and notes the difference as follows: “The technical is defined as those that can be solved by the knowledge of experts, whereas adaptive requires new learning.”  If we’re ...

The John Wesley Covenant Renewal Service

January 08, 2018
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON John Wesley discovered a worship service which was used in the 1600s to encourage believers to renew their covenant with God. He revised the service and used it as a Watch Night Service in his London headquarters, the Foundry. He also used the service as he traveled to various Methodist Societies across England.  His journal indicates wonderful responses to these Covenant Renewal services. Some of them lasted for three or four hours! He often scheduled them for ...

John Wesley’s Christmas activity

December 18, 2017
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON On Christmas Day, 1738, just a few months after his Aldersgate Experience when he felt his heart strangely warmed and he trusted Christ and Christ alone for his salvation, John Wesley sat down to write his rules for groups who want to grow in grace together. These rules were designed to help groups who wanted to help members become more Christ-like. It was important that all members covenant together to keep these conversation in strictest confidence. Meet each...

Wrapped in such an ordinary package

December 18, 2017
PATHWAY TO HIS PRESENCE B.J. FUNK God came to earth wrapped in an ordinary package. His birthing room had a dirt floor, his crib contained remnants of dried animal feed, and instead of “Lullaby” being played over a hospital loud speaker at the birth of a child, there was a mixed chorus of animals braying loudly, possibly over the intrusion of this couple and their baby. Here is a simple illustration of how that happened. In that land called heaven, the Son, Jesus, stood up one day, gave the ...

Leadership is caught more than taught

December 04, 2017
LEADERSHIP REALLY MATTERS ANNE BOSARGE REV. JAY HANSON We’ve entered cold and flu season. This is the time of year when germs seem to be lurking, powerful and invisible on every surface. Because of the nature of these sneaky germs, it’s nearly impossible to go through a cold and flu season without at least once coming down with a case of the sniffles. Have you ever thought about the fact that great leadership is caught more than taught? Just by being around a great leader others can “catch” ...

Susanna Wesley’s Rules for Raising Godly Children

December 04, 2017
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON Susanna Wesley’s Rules for Raising Godly Children: Eating between meals not allowed. Take medicine without complaining. Obey parents (break their self-will).  How will they ever obey God if they do not obey their parents? Teach them to pray as soon as they can speak. Require all to be still during Family Worship. Teach them to cry softly so as not to disturb others. Give them nothing that they cry for. To prevent lying, punish no fault which is first confessed ...

Being thankful makes everything better

November 20, 2017
Some time ago I ran across a statement that is worth pondering. It went like this: “The greatest blessing lacking in life is the willingness to see our blessings.” To my mind, this is something to mull over, not only because it is the thanksgiving season but because this is a true reality. Perhaps this is the point of Jesus traveling through Samaria, when a group of lepers call out to him for help. These lepers desperately desire to be healed. Rather than healing them immediately, however, ...

Canoeing the mountains

November 06, 2017
GROWING IN GRACE BEN GOSDEN In 1804, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark were commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson explore a new territory America had just purchased from the French (known as the Louisiana Purchase) to find a trade route via the Pacific Ocean. At this point, no one had dared to go west of the Mississippi, so Lewis and Clark set out with their expedition party, known as the Corps of Discovery, and canoes to paddle their way to the Pacific Ocean. Lewis and Clark were ...

John Wesley’s advice on dealing with controversy

November 06, 2017
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON Near the end of his life John Wesley said that 50 years earlier a good man gave him advice for which he had ever since had reason to bless God. The “good man” was the Archbishop of Canterbury. The advice was: “If you desire to be extremely useful, do not spend your time and strength in contesting for or against things as are of a disputable nature, but in testifying against open and notorious vice, and promoting real spiritual holiness.” Wesley thought that was ...

Do we have the right to ask God to bless America?

October 16, 2017
PATHWAY TO HIS PRESENCE B.J. FUNK Four days after the Las Vegas massacre, I sat in a filled civic center in Tallahassee, Fla., listening to a teaching by David Jeremiah. He was, as expected, wonderful. But what happened at the end had just as great an impact. One of his gifted vocalists sang “God Bless America,” and as she did, I asked myself, “Do we even have the right to ask God to bless America?” With division sweeping our great nation, angry voices accompanied by violence filling our ...

John Wesley and “Old Jeffrey”

October 02, 2017
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON Did you know that the Wesley family had a very active ghost in the Epworth parsonage? While John Wesley was off at Oxford strange things began to happen back at Epworth. Footsteps were heard in the night coming up the stairs. Loud banging occurred. A noise like a chain being dragged startled everybody in the house. When this would happen their dog, “Jack” would crawl under the bed. Jack was a large Mastiff who was usually fearless. These noises seemed to get ...

Offense or Defense?

October 02, 2017
LEADERSHIP REALLY MATTERS ANNE BOSARGE REV. JAY HANSON It’s officially fall and that means football season – kids are playing on fields at the local Rec. Department, middle schools, and high schools. College football games determine our schedules on the weekends and NFL football fans come to life on Monday nights. No matter what sideline you find yourself on or which set of bleachers you’re cheering from, at some point, you’re either calling for more offense or defense. Along with the offense ...

Remembrance and Hope

September 18, 2017
Dr. Hal Brady With most of our attention riveted on Hurricane Irma, the 16th anniversary of 9/11 quietly passed by. Oh, to be sure, there were some observances and rightly so. And it was also appropriate and necessary that we focused on the monstrous Hurricane Irma. However, Tuesday morning, September 11, 2001, will live forever in our memories. That was the day of the unthinkable. Who will ever forget the terrorist attack on our nation – those planes crashing into the World Trade Center and ...

John Wesley’s two-day experiment

September 05, 2017
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON John Wesley tried a two-day experiment in sharing his faith. He decided that for two days he would only speak to others about godly things if the Holy Spirit directly prompted him to do so. At the end of this two-day experiment he concluded: 1) That he spoke to none at all, even when he rode many miles with them in a coach except for a few words when setting out. 2) That he had no cross to bear and soon went to sleep. 3) That he had much respect shown to him and...

Why I am committed to being UNITED in the Methodist Church

September 05, 2017
GROWING IN GRACE BEN GOSDEN There’s a cute Disney movie that came out about 15 years ago called “Lilo and Stitch.” It’s the story of an alien that crash lands on earth and befriends a curious and fiesty young girl named Lilo. The movie follows their hijinks as they learn the value of family bonds. There’s a great line in the movie where Lilo teaches Stitch one of her native Hawaiian sayings: “Ohana means family…and family means no one gets left behind.” I remember a conversation I had with a ...

We need more than a moment of silence

August 21, 2017
PATHWAY TO HIS PRESENCE B.J. FUNK I just watched one network’s morning show about the recent unrest in Barcelona, Spain. I listened intently for any message about turning to prayer. I didn’t hear one. One lady said of the attacks, “We just all huddled down and cried.” Am I naïve to wish that she had said, “We just all huddled down and prayed?” The horribly gruesome scenes focused on the hate that caused these attacks, on the training of Isis through their 400 page Playbook (how odd is that ...

John Wesley and predestination

August 07, 2017
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON John Wesley said that Methodist belief is a “hair’s breadth” from Calvinism (predestination). By that he meant it is God’s grace that saves us. We cannot save ourselves. You do not simply choose to become a Christian. You respond to the grace of God which reaches out to you! God seeks you. Then you respond. You can never respond until God knocks on your heart’s door. But you can say “yes” to God or “no.” Wesley says you can choose to be a Calvinist (believe in ...

SHINE!

August 07, 2017
LEADERSHIP REALLY MATTERS ANNE BOSARGE REV. JAY HANSON Ephesians 5: 8-9 (CEV), “You used to be like people living in the dark, but now you are people of the light because you belong to the Lord. So act like people of the light and make your light shine. Be good and honest and truthful.” Have you ever been around someone who shined God’s character so brightly you felt as if you’ve seen a glimpse of the Father Himself? Have you ever been in a church where God’s presence was so thick you could ...

Getting through the night

July 24, 2017
Dr. Hal Brady A student at Harvard came to see the great Boston preacher Phillips Brooks one day. The student shifted from one foot to the other and with some hesitation and said, “Dr. Brooks, I’d like to talk over some of my doubts with you, but I don’t want to upset your faith.” Phillips Brooks threw back his head and laughed. As a matter of fact, he laughed and laughed until the student laughed with him. And that laughter did more to answer that student’s questions than anything Phillips ...

John Wesley found some alive churches and some dead ones

July 10, 2017
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON John Wesley liked to preach in congregations that were alive together in Christ. But he often found congregations that were dead. In his journal he would comment about such congregations, saying such things as, “That poor, dumb congregation didn’t understand as much as the benches upon which they sat.” Or, “The mules which brought them to church understood more than they.” He told one church they were “the stupidest, most stubborn congregation he ever saw.” ...

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 ...

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 ...

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