July 2017

Not An Escape

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The Church of the Nazarene has always avoided adopting a particular position concerning end-time events. It has consistently affirmed the basic belief in the second coming of Christ as the consummation of history. Like the Apostles’ Creed, which is the classically accepted summation of the essential elements of the Christian faith, it simply affirms the belief that Jesus Christ “ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.”

Why HOW Doesn't Matter Much

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The Christian faith is founded upon the faithfulness of God. On page after page of the Old Testament, God demonstrates His faithfulness. He is the God who can be trusted. He is holy love. He will always to be true to Himself. “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who maintains covenant loyalty with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations” (Deuteronomy 7:9 NRSV).

Consequently, ancient Israel knew God would be faithful, though fulfillment often came in surprising forms.

Ask the Right Questions

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“How is your church doing?”

We get this question a lot. In many seasons of life it’s a welcome opportunity to testify to the goodness of God. Unfortunately, there are also seasons where this question evokes nothing but dread. We think of families leaving our church, finances dwindling, or arguments over music style or carpet color—and we feel small, inconsequential, a failure.

That’s why we suggest thinking through this situation by talking about . . . golf.

The Habitat of Scripture

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As someone raised in the Church of the Nazarene by committed Nazarene parents and grandparents, the Bible has always been central to my life and my faith. Growing up, I studied the Bible in my daily devotions, in Sunday school, in Bible quizzing, and in Vacation Bible School, just to name a few. Family game nights often were spent playing Bible trivia. The Bible was always something to be studied and learned.

This Is Our Hope

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“We believe in the resurrection of the dead, that the bodies both of the just and of the unjust shall be raised to life and united with their spirits—“they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.”

16.1. We believe in future judgment in which every person shall appear before God to be judged according to his or her deeds in this life.

Q&A: Old Testament Law

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Q: From the early era on, the church has not observed the feasts, festivals, and dietary laws that God commanded in the Old Testament. Why not?

A: This question relates to the bigger question of what Christians should do with the laws in the Old Testament. Rabbis tell us there are 613 different laws dealing with everything from worship to sex to eating. Do these still apply to Christians? Or have they been set aside or replaced?

Q&A: Christian Mindfulness

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Why are so many Christians willing to believe and share only one side of stories? Shouldn’t we be more mindful?

A: It has happened to all of us. We hear a story, an out of context quote, or a prayer concern, and we assume (often incorrectly) that we know the entire story. A college-age child comes home on a holiday break and tells us what the professor said in the classroom. A prayer partner confides in us about a marital frustration. A friend shares a sensationalistic news headline on Facebook.

The Means of Grace

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Wesleyan spirituality includes a particular method for growth in God’s grace (which is why Wesleyan Christians are often called Methodists). This method begins with what has traditionally been called the General Rules, what we now call the Covenant of Christian Character.1 These rules are not a legalism, but a help in our growth in grace and Christlikeness.

Seasons of a Congregation

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I thought those parables about scattering seed, planting vineyards, and chasing sheep were as out of date and ancient as my childhood. I grew up in the country picking strawberries every summer for my dad. My uncles farmed corn, beans, and watermelon. I could run the baler as well as any of my cousins.

But I left that a long time ago. And when I entered the ministry, I somehow got the impression that these agricultural metaphors Jesus used just weren’t relevant anymore. In modern times we need new images—business, technology, science. I was wrong, though.

Peace Be With You

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Friends talk about our ever-changing world and our roles as Christians in it: They call attention to daily news headlines reminding us that winds of change blow continually across the globe. They speak of the developing picture of national leaders and shifts in governments around the world. They remind me of the advancements in science and technology that bring innovation at break-neck speed.

Then they ask, “What does it mean to be the church in this new world?”

Your Theology is Showing

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On a few occasions in my ministry I have heard comments that seemed to disparage the value of theology in our everyday life. One example was in a local church board meeting.

“Brother Middendorf,” the man said with a flourish, “We don’t want a pastor who will be throwing theology around at us. That stuff just confuses people.”

In the awkward silence that followed, several people started to speak, but no one seemed to quite know how to respond. One or two seemed to nod, but most of those around the table were surprised and uncertain.

The Reformation(s) of the Church

Reformation before Luther

Though the catalyst to the series of events known today as the Protestant Reformation was sparked in 1517 by Martin Luther’s posting of his 95 theses to the church doors at Wittenburg, the Church had long before been engaged in the process of reformation. In fact, one could argue that ever since the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, God has been reforming. The Church continues its process of reformation today.