12/20/2009

The Rest of the Story...

The rest of the story... The powerful effect of a single sermon by John Wesley.

...Ho Ho Ho... have a Merry Christmas! ;-)

So what do you think?

keith drury

16 comments:

::athada:: said...

Cheers!

Dan said...

Great story. Donald W. Dayton's "Discovering an Evangelical Heritage" also highlights Wesleyan roots that are sometimes overlooked.

Craig Moore said...

Now that is good Capitalism. Makes me want to go out and buy a six pack of Guiness!

Chap said...

This is a story that affirms two important principles.
1. Capitalism can be a great good and in the hands of an authentic Jesus follower will always benefit humankind. Christian business persons should be leading the way in blessing their employees.

2. Authentic generosity is never coerced.

J.B. Chapman said...

SLAINTE!!!

Rev. Vecchi said...

1 Timothy 4:4-5 (NIV) says, "For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer."

I haven't researched anything about Arthur, and know about him only the things that Keith said about him in the column. But from that little bit of info, it certainly appears that Arthur walked the walk, which seems to me to be greatly much more important than talking the talk which harps on the doctrine which says that alcohol is to be avoided.

Pete Vecchi said...

For some reason this sometimes signs me in as "Rev. Vecchi" (as it did when I posted my previous comment) instead of a "Pete Vecchi". While both are accurate, the former sounds too formal for me. I prefer the latter, especially in this type of format.

Pete Vecchi said...

After re-reading Keith's intro to the column, I realize that I may have missed the intent of the column, which seems to be "the effects of a single sermon."

So to comment on that, I will say that it is absolutely true that we never know when what we say will affect someone's life in a major way. That doesn't just go for preachers; some of the most life-changing comments I have heard have been from people who were not preaching, but rather simply talking.

At the same time, the truth of the matter is that very often, by the time a person hears and/or reacts to those "life changing" words, the Holy Spirit has already been at work in a person's life and heart previous to his/her hearing those comments.

I often liken it to a person cutting down a tree with an axe. Every chop of that axe makes progress towards felling the tree, but it might be the 498th chop that actually makes the tree fall. Oftentimes that 498th chop seems to get all the attention, but the 1st, 16th, 212th, and 342nd chops (as well as the other ones not specifically mentioned) all played a vital role in allowing that 498th chop to fell the tree.

As a preacher, I have to remind myself quite often that just because today's message didn't produce visible results, that doesn't mean that the Holy Spirit wasn't using it. Maybe it was the 423rd chop in a situation that will take 498 chops. But every so often, it's gratifying to be present and involved with the "chop" that finally brings the desired result!

Jake Hogan said...

Pete: It's like your mom's cooking growing up. You may not remember most or even any of the meals she made, but you know that they were good for you and are the reason you're still around.

Keith--thanks for this interesting story! I had no idea about this. It appears the only socially-responsible thing for me to do now is to go grab a pint!

John Mark said...

It seems that many of your readers will blissfully miss the pint of this story. I personally plead the fifth here, as indulging in the Guinness family brew would definitely end up a rum deal for me. so, no, I won't drink to that..

To the point. I'm trying to remember sermons which were life-changing, or even memorable over the long term for me. I can think of a few. I don't know if I have ever preached one. I read somewhere that most pastors see preaching as their primary gift, and the same article said that most pastors are average preachers at best. So we remain faithful and hope that we can be used to help someone, even if our legacy never includes anything like this.

John Mark said...

Oh, I remember an article in Books and Culture by a Wesleyan turned Calvinist who delightfully told that Wesley enjoyed a glass of wine now and again. Somehow this helped justify his divorce from Wesleyan theology.
We can't put God in a box, can we?

Keith Drury said...

JOHN-MARK. I believe you are right, John Wesley took a little wine from time to time--abstaining from drinking wine was not even on their radar at the time in that culture… Wesley was at the fringe of insisting that nothing master him—in one private struggle with temptation he mourned how he was unable to master his addiction to… tea! Really! Addiction to tea?

BUT Wesley did rail angrily against hard drinks and trafficking in it… Wesley went so far (in his sermons on earn-save-give all-you-can) to say a Christian could not honestly earn their living from trafficking in hard liquor. Like all preachers he lived with people “implementing obedience” in strange ways…

It was the American Methodists who joined the American temperance movement and insisted on total abstinence from all alcohol (except communion wine—that did not become non-alcoholic until the late 1800s when Welch applied pasteurization to grape juice to produce a non-alcoholic wine primarily for communion at first). United Methodists still call today for total abstinence and in some districts insist on it for all ministers (though some fall short of this standard quietly).

One wonders if Wesley were to witness the abuse of alcohol in Ireland today (or here) if he would be a tee-totaler or would allow a bit of wine or “grog” today? Would he affirm Arthur’s company’s implementation of his caring-for-employees-and-the-poor or would he reject the whole business as improper way for a real Christian to earn money?

Chap said...

This story raises a lot of questions in my mind also about government, business and religion. With the potential passage of this health care legislation...it will "coerce" individuals, businesses into many significant moral dilemmas and decisions. The list are many.
This story however highlights that "the church" is the answer since the human heart is the problem. Government is always regulating human behavior/sinfulness (which is necessary at times, but usually extremely ineffective and at times forces us into making worse moral decisions).
If however, Jesus changes someones heart from the inside out through people like John Wesleys or John Does we have more contemporary Arthur Guiness' in the world.
The problem, I fear is that the more government "takes care of us" the less individuals feel responsible to care for one another. The more government forces individuals into decisions they don't want to make (paying for abortions, overwhelming debt) the more likely we'll see a "boston tea" party like rebellion against a real or perceived totalitarian state.
We believers have a lot of work to do.

ChrisTabone said...

The Fruits of our labors, as Pastor-Theologian, is most of the time unseen. We preach messages that God has placed on our hearts and pray, and pray, and pray that the message does not fall upon deaf ears. But, that is truly up to the Spirit. We must be faithful, like Wesley to preach that message no matter the result.

I am reminded of a time I was given a great opportunity to share the gospel with a group of junior high students. At the of the message an altar call was given and no one moved, no one raised a hand, no one did anything at all. I was very discouraged. I felt that if I had just preached better, things would have been different. I placed all the attention on me, and not the work of the Spirit.

I had moved away from that church a month later (in order to go to college out of state) and when I came back for a visit, I remember a female student leading a bible study group that day. I remember her because she was from a Jewish family that was very turned off by the church. But that night I preached she was visiting the youth group with a friend and was exposed to the Gospel for the very first time.
She stopped me and hugged me when I walked in the door and thanked me for that message, because it changed her life.

I share this, not to puff me up, because I am but a mouth piece for God, but to say we must never place the attention on our selves, but always be reminded that we preach Christ and Christ alone, because who knows... you could have an Arthur in that room.

Dave Ward said...

Fascinating post...really. Oh if I could only have one sermon like that, just one. The wonderful thing, really wonderful, is that you don't know if you do until you're gone. That's a blessing.

Courageous preaching of "truth to power" though in this story is inspiring. I am not sure if there is another more challenging and inspiring element of Wesley's regular preaching than his views on generosity and wealth.

The way he spoke of it though, wealth is the death of Christianity without this kind of generosity.

Thanks for the inspiration!

Pastor Rod said...

I know this is not the main point of the article, but I find it interesting nonetheless.

"The water in Ireland, indeed throughout Europe, was famously undrinkable, and the gin and whiskey that took its place was devastating civil society. It was a disease ridden, starvation plagued, alcoholic age, and Christians like Arthur Guinness--as well as monks and even evangelical churches--brewed beer to offer a healthier alternative to the poisonous waters and liquors of the times."
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