January 2010

Q&A: Discerning Folklore from Fact

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In each issue, a forum of pastors, laity, theologians, and church leaders respond to your questions on subjects such as doctrine, theology, Christian living, and the church. Send your questions to Holiness Today, Church of the Nazarene Global Ministry Center, 17001 Prairie Star Parkway, Lenexa, KS 66220| E-mail: holinesstoday@nazarene.org. The editor regrets that all questions cannot be printed, acknowledged, or answered.

Designed to Make a Difference

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Everyone on the planet is designed to make a difference. No matter our age or stage, married or single, living in the city, the suburbs, or the country, with little education or a PhD, with lots of money or little—each of us, as a believer, is on this planet to make a mark.

The greatest mark we can make is to show others who God is. Scripture makes clear: "Each person is given something to do that shows who God is," Paul writes to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 12:7, TM).

So what is that "something to do" for me? For you?

How do I find my "something"?

Here I Am

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"Excuse me, I must pray now," she says as the call to prayer echoes throughout the neighborhood. Graciously, she removes herself from the small concrete-floored, plywood-walled room where we are visiting. Sweat drips down our faces as we listen, the asbestos roof allowing no relief from the sweltering heat.

Careful Conversations

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The rebuke was painful for two reasons: I deserved it and I should have known better. My careless words could have deepened wounds in a divided congregation. I was sharply reminded of my moral and community responsibility to exercise stewardship over what I say and do.

I had spoken as a 'poster child' for a disease that plagues our culture. It undermines Christian discipleship and discredits the Church. The disease is intemperate and ill-informed speech.

3 Ways to Stop Feeling Invisible

Nobody knows me. Nobody cares about what I do. For too many people these are familiar feelings. Whether assisting customers, mowing lawns, teaching classes, preaching sermons, or distributing worship folders, people need to feel valued.

Ironically, one of the least known people of the Bible helps us deal with feelings of insignificance. The little-known prophet Haggai is tucked away in a spot where pages are seldom turned. One short Old Testament book. Two chapters. Thirty-eight verses. Easily missed.

A Talk with My Best Friend

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Jesus cares about our friendship with Him! "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you" (John 15:13-15).

Q&A: Avoiding Gossip

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Q: I work for a Christian organization. Recently, a coworker shared a health concern about me with another coworker, who shared it with another. By the time I found out, this rumor - quite false - had been passed to a number of our coworkers. I not only had to set the record straight, but had to do so without gossiping about the person who started the rumor. It seems that in the faith community, we're rather good at sharing "concerns" without checking facts or going to the source. Isn't this the opposite of what we're supposed to do?

Bringing Light to Children

It was mid-December, but a rush of cold air did not hit my face. Rather, it was the blush of summer sunshine bathing the countryside as I peered out the van window. I was in South Africa on a field trip to Soweto. The destination was Slovoville Child Development Center. As the van pulled onto the property, the look of desolation was in sharp contrast to the sun rays casting shadows under the few trees that provided minimal shade.

Take it From a Drink Like Me

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How lucky can you get? I'm cheap-the best value in town. I'm popular - I swear by my own name to make you self-assured, hip, and suave. You can purchase me in a six-pack at your nearest Wal-Mart, and you and two of your friends can chug-a-lug the likes of me in no time flat.

As the default option of an educated society I get a lot of good press, actually. I get the notoriety of those who consume me, mess up big-time, and beat the system. I get unparalleled publicity as the proud sponsor of major sporting events.