This is the first of a new venture.

For the past five years I have written a weekly e-newsletter. This allowed me the privilege of beginning each week with many people on Monday morning. We were coming off the weekend and anticipating whatever God might lead us into during the next few days.

Paul Williams and Roger Nichols wrote a song that was recorded by the popular brother-sister duo Richard and Karen Carpenter. One recurring line said that “rainy days and Mondays always get me down.” Many folks begin each week in that mood- reluctant to return to what they perceive as the drudgery of routine.

The intent of my Monday Morning musings was to inspire, inform, challenge, and motivate readers to relate the Good News to real life. Some times my thoughts were worthy of being read but I suspect often they reflected more my own personal struggles and growing pains with little value to others. Nevertheless, the knowledge that there were people expecting something to pop up in their email inbox on the first day of the week was a good imposed discipline for me.

The value of that discipline and the encouragement of some of the people who found my offerings helpful motivated me to launch this new venture. Instead of starting our weeks together, Thoughts for Thursday will be an attempt to carry us “over the hump” of the week and move forward with an attitude of gratitude for the good things that God is doing for us and an expectancy that God will use us for good to others.

Yesterday was the 43rd running of the Peachtree Road Race. Lena and I joined 60,000 others on this 10K (6.2 mile) run/walk from Lenox Square in Buckhead down Peachtree Street to Piedmont Park. We missed it last year but are glad we were able to participate this July 4th. It is a fun way to celebrate the holiday.

There were several things I observed that I want to pass on because they represent principles that can be applied in many settings including the church.

First of all, the planning and organization was exceptional. From arriving at the race site to the finish line and beyond, the attention to detail was extremely evident. The routes were very clearly marked. The resource stations and necessary directions/instructions were well identified and easily understood.  A lot of places I go, churches and businesses, could learn from the race planners about how to assist guests and customers to find their way around an unfamiliar facility.

Hundreds of volunteers are necessary for an event of this magnitude and they all seemed to be very friendly, well trained, and efficient. Managing this enormous crowd of participants required exceptional skill and they did it well. Whether it was getting the waves of racers to the start line in an orderly manner, snapping photographs, handing out water along the route, distributing the coveted T-shirts at the finish line or many other responsibilities, everyone seemed to be conscientiously doing their part. What would we do without such dedicated volunteers?

The celebratory atmosphere was contagious. It was like a gigantic block party and everyone was glad to be there. It was early in the day. The weather was typical forAtlanta-hot and humid. There were crowds of people and a lot of noise. Nevertheless it seemed that of all the places in the world, this was where everyone wanted to be. Shouldn’t it be that way when we come to worship at the church?

A diverse crowd of thousands of spectators lined the streets from start to finish and they constantly encouraged the racers. At the start line racers were advised, “Fast to the left. Slow to the right.” I had the right side curb all the way- and I needed the encouragement of the crowd. They rang bells, held signs, and gave high fives. Repeatedly you heard shouts of, “You’re looking good!”  “Good job!”  “You’re almost there!” “Keep up the good work.” It is amazing what a difference a little affirmation makes. Not once did I hear anyone speak negatively or suggest doubt that I and the others would make it to the finish. Not one discouraging word.

I have never been one to wear clothing that promoted anything. It has never made sense to me why I should pay to advertise someone’s product or service. Billboards, television and radio commercials, newspaper and magazine advertisements cost money. Why are they not paying me if they want me to advertise for them? But when I heard that my church was giving out T-shirts to those who would participate in the race, I got one. I joined the folks from Home Depot, Waffle House, UPS, and Reebok and proudly promoted Peachtree Road United Methodist Church as I made my way to the finish line (yes, I did finish). The community needed to know that the corporate and commercial enterprises were not the only ones who served their community.

I will recover and will be ready for next year’s 44th Peachtree Road Race. In the meantime I am going to try to apply the lessons I learned yesterday.

I look forward to sharing with you every Thursday morning. Your feedback is welcomed and you are encouraged to invite others to subscribe to Thoughts for Thursday.

Jamie Jenkins,