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In the late 18th century many European countries were engaged in violent revolution. England was not one of them. Some historians credit a religious movement in that country with creating a climate that prevented such upheaval.

The Methodist Movement, spearheaded by John Wesley and his brother Charles, had its origins in the academic environment of Oxford. They were joined by a small group of other students in rigid religious rituals. Because of their methodical approach in their devotional and charitable activities they began to be called the “Methodists,” a derisive term.

This small group of people became known as the Holy Club. They rigorously practiced the spiritual disciplines of prayer, Bible study, fasting, and accountability but their religious fervor was not limited to such acts of piety. They regularly visited the prisons and hospitals. They established schools for poor children, offered basic medical care for those who could not afford it, provided housing for poor and elderly widows and their children, and much more.

The long term effect of this movement was due largely to the well-disciplined organizer, John Wesley. To what did he owe his strong faith, persistence, and tolerance?

Much is known about the impact of John’s mother, Susanna Wesley. She has been called the Mother of Methodism. “Her example of faith and religious reverence she set for her children inspired them to become powerful spiritual leaders and to launch the Methodist Movement.” Her constant devotion and strict discipline to the education and spiritual formation of her children certainly impacted John, the 15th of her 19 children.

Adam Hamilton* says, “If John learned about his faith from his mother, he learned how to deal with disagreements from his father and grandfathers.” His grandparents on both sides of his family were dissenters from the established Anglican Church but his parents were committed Anglicans. John “adopted a posture that is often called the via media- a middle way- that found truth on both sides of the theological divide.”

In one sermon that is among John Wesley’s most famous he said, “Though we can’t think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart? Though we are not of one opinion? Without all doubt, we may.”

Hamilton suggests that this spirit of Wesley leads us to “give them the benefit of the doubt. We assume the best in others, not the worst. We speak well of others, not poorly. We treat them as we hope to be treated. We listen more and talk less. We walk in other people’s shoes and try to understand what they believe and why. This does not mean we give up our convictions, but it does mean we test them.” The focus is intended learn what we have in common and to build bridges not walls.

It was this humble, listening, catholic spirit supported by a strong resolve to follow Christ wherever He would lead that transformed the religious practices and daily routines of people across England in the late 18th century. This helped to create a climate where social changes could be accomplished without widespread violence. One does not have to be a Methodist to see the value and to follow the precepts of Wesley but in doing so we just might make a better world.

Jamie Jenkins

*Revival: Faith As Wesley Lived It, Adam Hamilton, Abingdon Press 2014

 

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William PRITCHARD Jr. Obituary

What you are about to read is not what was planned for today. Rather I offer a tribute to a wonderful man who I wished everyone could have known. William Grady Pritchard, Jr. of Atlanta passed away on Saturday, July 28, a little less than a month before his 91st birthday.

His obituary described him appropriately as “a devoted Christian father, son, husband, partner, friend, leader, volunteer and athlete, who spent his life helping others and being a good friend to all he met. He will be remembered particularly for his kindness and generosity, along with his ability to make everyone feel welcome in his presence.”

Rather than chronicle Bill’s many achievements and the vast number of charitable organizations he supported I want to simply pass on three items that were included in the printed program for his memorial service today. Each of the pieces speak for itself and give you an insight into the character of this saintly man.

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My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end, nor do I really know myself; and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe the desire to please you does, in fact, please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know if I do this you will lead by the right road. I may know nothing about it. Therefore, I will trust you always, though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

-Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude

 

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To laugh often and to love much; to win the respect of  intelligent persons and the affection of children;

To earn the approbation of honest citizens and endure the betrayal of false friends;

To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;

To have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation;

To know even one life that breathed easier because you have lived… This is to have succeeded.      -Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion? Without all doubt, we may. Herein all the children of God may unite, notwithstanding these smaller differences.” —from a sermon in the Works of John Wesley

Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can as long as ever you can. 

-John Wesley

Jamie Jenkins

 

Often I am confronted with difficult issues and people are expressing drastically different opinions. Sometimes I agree with one perspective and disagree with others. What should I do? What do you do?

Do you just concede, give in? Does it seem like too much trouble and not worth it to fight/argue? No matter how much the issue is discussed or debated, nothing is going to change. No one will gain new understanding. Don’t fight it.

Another possible response is to determine that you are going to prove your position is the right one. Win this argument. Conquer! After all, in everything there are winners and losers and you are not going to be defeated. Your opinion will prevail.

Do you listen to all perspectives to see if there are some points that make sense, even if others do not. Are you willing to make an effort to understand where the other persons are coming from and learn from them. Compromise is an acceptable option.

Is it wise to simply accept or at least fail to object to anything that people throw at you? It has been said that silence speaks consent so is your reluctance to pose questions or objections a good alternative?

If you refuse to give in and are insist on winning, what is the collateral damage? Is it necessary to have victors and vanquished on every matter?

Is compromise is an alternative to conceding and conquering? Is it possible that no one has all of the right answers? Can anyone see all sides of an issue at one time? Can you moderate your views and opinions and still maintain personal integrity? Is it possible to have a win-win conclusion?

I believe there are absolutes. Issues on which there is no debate. Practices and perspectives that are essential to orderly and ethical living. But I believe most of what we argue about and are divided over are secondary issues for which there is more than one “right” answer. Even when we cannot agree, it seems the right thing to do is at least be civil and respectful of the other person.

If you know anything about the Bible you probably are aware that the leaders of the church in Corinth were not always of one mind. The Apostle Paul counseled them to “be in harmony with each other, and live in peace—and the God of love and peace will be with you” (2 Cor. 13:11 CEB). He did not instruct them to be in agreement on everything but to value one another enough to work to “harmonize” their attitudes and actions. They did not have to all sing the same note but to blend their various voices.

We can make beautiful music together but that means each of us sings our note. God help us!

Jamie Jenkins

 

 

 

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Have you ever walked up on a conversation and heard a remark that startled you? Amused or confused you? Since you didn’t hear previous comments or know the context, is it possible (maybe even likely) that you might come to a wrong conclusion about what was really said or intended?

Just about yeah..

Likewise I wonder how often we misunderstand a situation since we don’t know the full story. Sometimes we don’t have enough information or maybe we just have partial knowledge and thus cannot fully know.  Partial knowledge or the absence of context can lead to errors of judgment and faulty opinions.

Recently in preparation for a trip we bought a new piece of luggage that was “on sale.” We made the purchase because it was marked down more than 50% of the original price. What a bargain. NOT! After getting home I checked a major online retailer and discovered that the exact piece of luggage was available for $22 less than the “marked down” item at a local department store. If we had known the full story before making the purchase, we probably would have made a different decision.

A couple of weeks ago I stumbled upon a news story about violence in the West Bank. Since I have been to Israel many times I clicked on the link (https://www.cnn.com/videos/world/2015/10/20/bethlehem-palestinian-israel-mideast-backstory-wedeman.cnn). What I found was Ben Wederman, CNN Senior International Correspondent, explaining how they cover the situation in Bethlehem, West Bank. He explained that he had been covering the situation at the same spot for over 20 years. Every Friday afternoon about 3:00, youth gather and throw stones and other objects at the Israeli soldiers stationed nearby at the wall that separates the Palestinians from Israel. The soldiers respond with rubber bullets and tear gas.

I have watched this orchestrated protest demonstration from my Jacir Palace Hotel room which can be seen in the background. The conflict in Israel and the West Bank is real and I do not intend to minimize its significance. If you watch television news for very long you will likely see scenes of violence in that region of the world. It is not unlikely that you will view the happenings described by this journalist. If you don’t know the full (back) story, it can appear that the entire city of Bethlehem is in an uproar when in actuality just blocks away it is business as usual in the beautiful bustling West Bank city.

When faced with difficult situations where people of faith are compelled to respond, Christians will often ask WWJD, What Would Jesus Do? That is a legitimate question and offers guidance on appropriate behavior but it is all too easy to pull one incident out of the Bible and make it the standard for conduct in all situations. The danger of this “cookie cutter” approach to the Scripture is you often don’t get the full story.

Mr. Sheffield Thompson was a self-taught man with a photographic memory. Although he lacked a lot of formal higher education, he was a genuine intellectual. He told me many times, “We do not know the historical Jesus. We only know the cultural Jesus we have created.” I think he was saying that we looked only at the aspects of Jesus that confirmed our already held beliefs. We failed to see Jesus in full character and used our limited understanding to sometime justify our misunderstanding of what it means to be a follower of Christ.

God help us to know the full story and pattern our lives accordingly.

Jamie Jenkins

Over three decades ago a friend expressed his opinion and regret that, “The day of civil discourse is past.” I wonder how he feels today more than 30 years later.

I have opinions (on just about everything) and I am willing to share them- if you will listen. I am open to discussions, conversations, civil discourse- but not arguments. I know that I am not always right…nor am I always wrong. Sometimes I am neither. Sometimes I am both. And I am willing to give you that same consideration.

When I am “for” something it does not mean that I am “against” everything or anyone else. If you disagree with me, I will respect your opinion. I may be firm but I never want to be harsh. I will not demonize you. I believe it is important to separate issues from people. People are more important.

There are people who jump on every bandwagon. Ready to rally to any cause. I am not one of them and might rightly be accused of not responding to situations that are critical to the well-being of others. I understand that every good and just effort requires a champion if results are to be achieved, if change is to occur.

Elie Wiesel said, “Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” I agree. There certainly are things that require a response. Demand a word. But not everything.

Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.” He is right but everything does not need an immediate response and certainly not an angry and vindictive one. The ancient Greek, Euripides, reminds us that sometimes “silence is true wisdom’s best reply.”

Please do not misunderstand me. I believe that we need to be change agents and confront injustice and evil. That means that there are times when we stand up and speak up but we need to be careful to address issues and not attack persons. Malala Yousafzai, the youngest Nobel Prize recipient, suggests “The best way to solve problems and to fight against war is through dialogue.” That is true for any behavior or attitude that damages people.

Leah Ward Sears, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia, offers this counsel: “We need to begin again to raise civil discourse to another level. I mean, we shout and scream and yell and get very little accomplished, but you can disagree very much with the next guy and still be friends and acquaintances.”

I am thankful if you agree with me. At the same time it is OK if you disagree. I simply ask that we treat each other with respect and dignity. It just might be that we can accomplish more together than either of us can alone.

Jamie Jenkins

Aerial view of a neighborhood with mature trees in a chicago suburban neighborhood in summer. Deefield, il. Usa.

There was a time when I thought of neighbors only as the folks next door or those who lived close by. Most of them looked and talked pretty much like me. I have come to have a different understanding of neighbor.

The transformation of my concept of neighbor began in 1966 when I moved to western New York to attend school. The enrollment of no more than 250-300 students included students from All over the United States and many foreign countries. Their backgrounds were as varied as their ethnicity. It was my first truly multi-cultural experience.

Multiculturalism word cloud concept. Vector illustration Stock Vector - 44625860

Then came marriage and family. After our first child was born in 1971 we started watching a new and different kind of community on Sesame Street. Each day on Mr. Rogers Neighborhood everyone was invited to “please, won’t you be my neighbor.” Both of these new television programs presented a world of diversity and inclusiveness that contributed significantly to the formation of our world view.

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The county in which I live has a population of slightly more than 900,000 of which 62% are black, |Latino, and Asian. Seventeen years ago my wife and moved into our suburban neighborhood of 85 homes which has a wonderful mix of lifestyles, ages, religions, and races. My neighborhood is very different from what I experienced when I was growing up.

I have been watching the World Cup for the past four weeks. 32 national teams have competed in this international football (soccer) tournament which is hosted this year by Russia. The final match is scheduled for this coming Sunday, July 15. My family has engaged in much conversation about the matches although we are California, Mexico, Japan, and two cities in Georgia. This sporting event has also provided a wonderful way to connect and have conversations with all sorts of people. Hearing the names and seeing the faces of the players and fans has broadened my understanding that we all have more in common than we are sometimes aware.

New Logo for 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia by Brandia Central

My son and his family have lived in Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, Spain, and Mexico. They have also traveled extensively in the United States and much of the world. In his travel blog (www.anepiceducation.com) he wrote recently about how watching the World Cup has made him a better parent and a better world citizen. In a match this past weekend my granddaughter cheered for Russia because she has a friend in Spain who is from Russia.

I have had the words of a song stuck in my head since I sang it with the congregation of the First United Methodist Church in Rockmart, Georgia a couple of weeks ago. The song, written by Thomas S. Colvin focuses on our neighbors as it recalls the words of Jesus, following a conversation with a lawyer. Jesus said, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself” (Luke 10:27). The song is simple but profound.

Neighbors are rich and poor,
Neighbors are black and white,
Neighbors are near and far away.

Jesu, Jesu,
Fill us with Your love, show us how to serve
The neighbors we have from You.

These are the ones we should serve,
These are the ones we should love;
All these are neighbors to us and You.

Jesu, Jesu,
Fill us with Your love, show us how to serve
The neighbors we have from You.

God, help us to be good neighbors!

Jamie Jenkins

A friend recently had surgery and he told me that full recovery could take 6-12 months. Then he said, “I’ve got to find a ton of patience.” My reply was to assure him that I would join him in praying for patience. Then I asked jokingly, “Do you believe in miracles?”PatienceIt has been almost nine months since I had a fall and tore my rotator cuff. Seven months ago I had surgery to repair the damage. Physical therapy exercises have helped and I now experience only discomfort and soreness, not pain. I am able to perform simple functions that were complicated or impossible a few months ago. Tasks like putting on my socks, tying my shoes, scratching the opposite shoulder from the injured one, and feeding my belt through the loops behind my back.

I have made considerable progress but I am ready for this to be over. Patience is not one of my strongest character traits and I suspect I am not alone.

Dr. Robert Schuller is best known as an author, the founder of the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California, and the weekly Hour of Power television program. He espoused the philosophy of Possibility Thinking and suggested that “Inch by inch anything is a cinch.”  All it requires is patience.

Napoleon Hill says, “Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success.” While there may be some truth to that, I find it difficult to wait. To have patience. If Saint Augustine was right that patience is the companion of wisdom, then I can make no claim to being wise.

Patience Is Not The Ability To Wait, But The Ability To Keep A Good Attitude While Waiting

I understand that when we allow God to be in control of our lives one of the results is that we practice patience along with other “fruit of the Spirit.” We possess not only the ability to wait but we are not anxious and restless while we wait. The writer of the biblical Book of Hebrews admonishes those to whom it was written, “you have need of patient endurance to bear up under difficult circumstances without compromising, so that when you have carried out the will of God, you may receive and enjoy to the full what is promised” (Hebrews 10:36, AMP).

So, I will pray for my friend to have patience. I will also ask God to help me to do the same. Anyone else need to be included in my prayers?

Jamie Jenkins

Sam and Susan are folks you might never have known if it was not for two of their children. They lived in a small town and although they both were well educated neither of them were in high profile positions of leadership.

Sam’s career path was certainly not one that many would count successful. He spent over 40 years in a rather non-descript place. Many of the folks he worked with and for did not like him. Some of them even burned his house down- not once but twice. One of his associates had him thrown into jail because he could not immediately pay a debt. This was one of two times he spent in jail due to his poor financial status. Lack of money was a perpetual problem.

It could be easily argued that Susan was more gifted than her husband but there was no attempt to upstage or overshadow him. She gave birth to nineteen children but nine of them died as infants. Her primary role was to focus her attention on her children. She was the primary source of her children’s education and ultimately the prominent force in shaping their lives.

Sam was also a poet but never achieved any real fame or success as a writer. One account suggests that Sam “spent his whole life and all of the family’s finances” on one literary work that “was not remembered and had little impact on his family other than as a hardship.” In contrast, Susan’s writings were foundational to her children’s education.

Susan devoted several hours every day to her children’s education. She was a commanding presence and a profound influence in their lives. Sam failed to provide financial security for his family but his life was a demonstration of perseverance- holding on when suffering, tragedy and opposition came.

In different ways Sam and Susan profoundly impacted their children. Their influence can be seen especially in two of their boys, John and Charles, the founders of the Methodist Movement that changed the course of history in 18th century England and is a continuing spiritual force in the world today.

Stained glass windows depicting John and Charles Wesley.

Because of the impact of the Wesley brothers, the world knows Samuel and Susanna Wesley. In his book, Revival: Faith as Wesley Lived It, Adam Hamilton says that the boys learned a lesson from their father that would be essential to their future work by his example that “when suffering, tragedy, and opposition come, don’t turn away; turn to God. And don’t give up.” As for their mother, Hamilton says: “Susanna Wesley changed the world by shaping the heart and faith of her children and by her wise counsel and persistent prayers and encouragement.”

I suspect that Samuel and Susanna had no idea of the impact they were having on their children. There was no way they could have seen the effect of their teaching and example on their lives. They were just doing what good parents are supposed to do- live before their kids a life of faith and integrity and leave the results to God. The role of parents has never been easy but has always been important- and never more so than today.

Jamie Jenkins

 

 

 

 

 

I am going to tell you something about which I know very little. If you want to stop reading now, I understand.

Recently we had some water damage that required moving everything in our home office. Desk, bookcases, and the contents of a closet had to be relocated. It was an inconvenience but we managed alright.

The biggest problem was disconnecting all the electronics that we depend on. This involved our computer and related equipment. We have a wireless network that requires a modem and router. Additionally, our phones are connected through a device that routes our calls over the internet. This allows us to have a “home” phone without the high monthly expense that usually accompany it.

I also have a desktop device into which I scan receipts, business cards, and other documents and it stores them in digital files. Complicating matters even more is the fact that the cell phone reception in our house is abysmal without a device called a Microcell. This device furnished by our cell phone provider boosts the frequency to allow use of mobile phones inside the house.

You have probably concluded from my explanation above that I am somewhat technologically impaired. Nevertheless I managed to move all this equipment and maintain functionality over a several week period while the damaged flooring and walls were repaired.

Then came the happy day that all the repairs were completed and we could put everything back in place. It was going to be a bit of work but I had done so well with moving everything without losing connectivity. I was not worried. I should have been!

The web of gadgets, wires, USB ports, Ethernet cables, coaxial cables, power supplies and connections to a modem, router, CPU, monitor, etc. complicated by multiple user names and passwords presented quite a challenge. Eventually everything was reconnected properly but I could not get connection to the internet. After calling my ISP (I threw that in just to appear smarter than I am), the customer support person on the phone told me her equipment showed that I had a strong signal. She could not understand why I was not connected. The only thing left was to schedule a technician to come to my house. After agreeing to a time for the on-site tech support I hung up the phone and stomped around the house (this was not the first time during this process) in complete frustration.

Despair Alone Being Alone Archetype Archet

After a while of fussing and fuming I realized that there was one thing I had not done. What harm could it do? Maybe it would work. So I re-booted my computer. Turned it off, waited 20 seconds and then turned it back on. Voila! I am a genius! Everything began to work exactly as it should.

Photo of Reboot - Buena Park, CA, United States. Logo

Later (much later) I realized that the same thing probably happens in life, not just with electronics. Problems arise. Difficulties come. All my efforts fail to produce the desired results. Frustration sets in and I behave in very unseemly ways. I try everything I know and things don’t get better. The harder I try the more negative feelings take over. Why can’t I learn to stop? Step away. Shut down. Re-boot.

Sometimes you just need to get away from it all. That might mean a vacation or just going outside for a walk or a quiet moment. Disengaging from the task at hand can clear your mind and calm your nerves. Simply taking a break can give a different perspective and help to maintain or regain balance in one’s life.

When things are not going well, the psalmist encourages us to “be still,” to “quiet down before God (and) be prayerful before him” (Psalm 37:7). Re-boot!

Jamie Jenkins

 

 

 

Last week I shared William Arthur Ward’s Six Ethics for Life. Since then I came across Six Rules of Living that the late Rev. Billy Graham’s shared in his book, The Journey. I pass them on to you with my comments, not that my perspective is better or my manner of expression is superior.

MAKE IT YOUR GOAL TO LIVE AT PEACE WITH OTHERS

“As far as it is possible, live in peace with one another.” That was the advice given by the Apostle Paul centuries ago. Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount teaches that peacemakers are children of God.

Inspirational Image for Matthew 5:9

AVOID REVENGE

I have heard some folks say when they are wronged, “I don’t get over it; I get even.” Living by the law of retaliation is one way but it is not the best way. The end result of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” is that we will all be blind and toothless. Words of wisdom from the Bible offers an alternative:  “Turn away from evil and do good. Try to live in peace even if you must run after it to catch and hold it!” (I Peter 3:11 The Living Bible)

Before you embark on a journey of revenge dig two graves - ancient chinese philosopher confucius quote printed on burned wood board.

GUARD YOUR TONGUE

“It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell” (James 3:5-6, The Message). The tongue is a powerful tool for good or evil. Therefore we must be diligent with our speech.

Silence Talk Freedom Of Speech Woman Girl

NEVER REPAY EVIL WITH EVIL

Jesus instructed us to turn the other cheek. To “turn the other cheek” does not imply pacifism, nor does it mean we place ourselves or others in mortal danger (www.gotquestions.org). Rather it is an attitude that we must cultivate that chooses to return good for evil, love for hate, kindness for harshness, affirmation for insult.

One kind word can change someones entire day. Inspirational saying about love and kindness. Vector positive quote on colorful background with squared paper texture

TREAT OTHERS AS YOU WANT THEM TO TREAT YOU

“The concept occurs in some form in nearly every religion and ethical tradition and is often considered the central tenet of Christian ethics. It can also be explained from the perspectives of psychology, philosophy, sociology, human evolution, and economics” (Wikipedia).

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This is the Golden Rule. Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? If everyone practiced this, there would be no need for laws and everyone would have a wonderful life. Obviously it is not so easy and does not happen automatically. Nevertheless it must remain one of our guiding principles.

 

PRACTICE THE POWER OF FORGIVENESS

Forgiveness Is Not An Occasional Act, It Is A Constant Attitude

No one is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. When you are the “victim” of someone’s imperfect action, attitude, or words, you don’t have to wait for them to ask to be forgiven. It is possible to forgive so spontaneously that you rob the knife of its cutting edge. Forgiveness does more for the “forgiver” than for the “forgiven.” We forgive others when we let go of resentment and give up any claim to be compensated for the hurt or loss we have suffered.

As I said last week, there is no simple formula for rich and full living but these six principles are a good start.

Jamie Jenkins