January 2012

Investing in a Life

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My first few years of being a Christian were extremely exciting. I was 19 and just old enough to have made a small mess of my life, so repenting was easy. I welcomed the saving grace of Jesus Christ. A new life required a new set of friends, new job, and new outlook. Several years raced by and though there were ups and downs, life was grand for the most part. I had gone back to college and was involved in various leadership opportunities at my church. I surrounded myself with great Christian friends and had a supportive family.

Every Little Task

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On May 22, 2011, the city of Joplin, Missouri, was hit by an EF-5 tornado that killed more than 160 people and forever changed this community of 45,000. St. John's Regional Medical Center was destroyed. The six-mile path of devastation affected 7,000 homes and 500 businesses.

The Power of a Promise

"The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off--for all whom the Lord our God will call" (Acts 2:39, NLT).

I am a Nazarene healthcare chaplain. I became a chaplain because of the power of a promise. In 16 years I served five congregations. These frequent moves affected our children. An extrovert like his dad, Mark never met a stranger. Heather, though not exactly shy, needs to warm up to strangers before she feels comfortable. When Heather started high school, my wife, Jodie, and I promised her that where she began school, she would finish school.

Parenting Your Parents

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It happens several times every week. Someone calls, asking for advice as they try to transition mom or dad to an assisted living facility (ALF) or a nursing home.

Most of my 40 years of pastoral service have been with older adults. However, never has there been a time in my ministry when I have had so many inquiries from adult children as now.

It seems nearly everyone I meet is wrestling with issues that pertain to their elderly parents or grandparents.

Bigger Than My Little World

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In the past few years my wife and I have become empty nesters. One of our children graduated from college last year and the other one is attending a Nazarene university. When kids move away, parents have the opportunity to be reflective and remember all of those moments that led to the empty nest. It is hard for me to do that without going back to my college years| after all, I met my wife there. Now with our daughter at the same school, it seems that our family has come full circle.

Searching for Work

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Nearly 36 months ago, at the beginning of what is now referred to as "the great recession," a pastor invited those in the Sunday morning worship service needing a job or wanting to improve their current employment situation to come forward and pray. Soon, people were kneeling from one end of the wooden altar to the other responding to an offer of spiritual support and divine guidance in their search for employment in what was to become the worst recession in the U.S. since the Great Depression (1929-39).

The Messenger

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The poor, backward town of Itapucumi, Paraguay, did not have much of a future to offer five-year-old Miriam Merlot. Her single mother had left her in the care of her uncle, Silverio, in order to find work in the city. When measles outbreak hit the area, Miriam fell ill along with many others. The nearest hospital in the capital city of Asunción offered free medical care, but getting there cost money. Hope slipped as more and more people died. Surely frail little Miriam?s life was at risk.

Louder Than Words

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Dear Maurice,

I wish you and Benita could be with us here. The mountain air is crisp and the snow-capped peaks provide a majestic vista on the horizon.

News of your continued solid recovery from heart bypass surgery in the weeks since we were with you has buoyed our spirits. Keep up the good work!

Mark Holcomb: Helping Students Find Answers

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Mark Holcomb is the general president for Nazarene Youth International (NYI). At the General NYI Convention in 2009, he was elected to this role. He is university chaplain at Olivet Nazarene University (ONU). Previously, he was on the ONU faculty and has also served as a local church youth pastor. Mark and his wife, Terry, have two adult daughters, Kristin and Kelli, and three grandsons, Brayden, Jackson, and Bradley.