Mean Old World

 “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” —Eph. 2:19-22.

“This is a mean old world to live in all by yourself,” says the great soul singer Sam Cooke.

Each day we see this reality when we hear stories of people who give up due to loneliness or disconnection. We know that during the most vulnerable times in our lives, we especially need to hear comforting voices and see the faces of brothers and sisters in Christ who are there for us.

The song that Sam Cooke recorded in the early 1960s is not as much about the state of the world—which we know has its problems. Its focus is upon the “all by yourself” aspect.

The song recognizes what we all know: when we isolate ourselves or feel isolated for any reason, the dark world around us seems darker and lonelier!

The discouraging moments of life become exponentially more discouraging when we are alone.

Thankfully, even from the very beginning, God recognizes the need for community (see Gen. 2:19). God creates Adam and Eve “in His own image” (Gen. 1:26-27), because community is at the heart of what it means to be created in God’s image.

For Christians, the Community of Faith (the Church) is not an optional add-on to the Christian life. It is essential for us if we are to become what we have been created to be. In the context of the people of God, this “mean old world” becomes a place of mission and of redemptive possibilities. When we walk with one another through this world’s ups and downs, we are better able to “endure all things” and to be “more than conquerors through Him who first loved us” (Rom. 8:37).

This week, can we be intentional about being supportive of one another in this “mean old world”? Can we allow our weekly gatherings to prepare us to engage the world with the love of Christ together?

We need each other. It’s nearly impossible to live faithfully in this world all by ourselves, but God has made us part of His family. Let us seek out the lonely and brokenhearted, and let us help one another to overcome the desperation that keeps us from what we’re created to be.

Prayer for the Week:

Almighty God, whose Son had nowhere to lay his head:
Grant that those who live alone may not be lonely in their
solitude, but that, following in His steps, they may find
fulfillment in loving you and their neighbors; through Jesus
Christ our Lord. Amen.
(from the Book of Common Prayer)

Charles W. Christian is managing editor of Holiness Today.

New church-mission in Venezuela

From Nazarene Missions International comes this wonderful news!  Please pray for the success of this new outreach opportunity in Venezuela. 

Church of the Nazarene in Venezuela enters new territory

Puerto Auachucho, Venezuela

Venezuela First District Evangelism Coordinator Alfredo Gómez and his team opened a new church-type mission 11 October in the Amazon State. The mission is located in the La Florida neighborhood in the city of Puerto Ayacucho.

After months of prayer, District Superintendent Jimmy De Gouveia and Gómez decided to start the pilot church in Amazon State, which is one of the largest states in the country, with a population of 175,000. Until now, the Church of the Nazarene has not had a presence in the state.

Gómez designated Yenny Vargas as leader of the mission. She will receive training in a local evangelism program called “The Route of Hope,” JESUS film, and other evangelistic tools.

On 12 October, Vargas, Gómez, and the rest of the team walked through the community to invite the residents to a showing of the JESUS film. Of the 20 people that came, 12 made a profession of faith. That weekend, the church held its first Sunday service.

Church of the Nazarene South America

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When you pray, remember that this country is in deep financial crisis which is having a serious impact on every person who lives there.  Food, medicine and even gasoline has become difficult to obtain.  Unemployment is over 50% and over 10% of the population have fled in the past three years, according to Reuters News.  There is great need for the joy and salvation of our Lord.

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Thank you

A sincere thank you to all of our country’s military veterans who have contributed part or all of their lives to assuring our continued freedom and way of life in the United States.  THANK YOU!

PASTOR DARRELL ROBINSON will be here Nov. 18th

JOIN US! Sunday morning, Nov. 18th to hear PASTOR DARRELL ROBINSON from the City Hope Church of the Nazarene.

Pastor Robinson is the founder of Word on the Street Ministries in Pittsburgh, PA. He is also co-founder of Final Word of The Lord Ministries which is a cyber-bible study for men. Having participated in over 600 domestic and international missions, he brings the Word as a revival preacher.

Doors open to the Fellowship Hall at 9:30 for a $2 breakfast and service will begin at 10:55. We invite you to attend this exceptional sermon and worship time.

A little Food for Thought

What if you woke up this morning and had everything/only all that you thanked God for yesterday?

“Thank you” are words that are slipping away from our culture, both verbally and non-verbally.  In many cases, they are slipping away from our prayer life as well.  It costs nothing to be grateful, but it might cost everything if we continue to ignore His blessings.

May you be blessed today according to His Will.

Delayed Obedience

Written for Coffee Break with Holiness Today.

So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the wilderness, where your ancestors tested and tried me, though for forty years they saw what I did. That is why I was angry with that generation; I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.’ So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’” See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. (Hebrews 3:7-12)

The call of God is a process. Whether it is a call to vocational Christian ministry (i.e., the pastorate) or the calling to another vocation, the initial prompting, ongoing preparation, and necessary affirmation in God’s call are spread out over a lifetime.

My own calling to vocational ministry probably came most clearly to me when I was 16 years old. The clarity of this call was affirmed by my local church pastor who, to this day (over thirty years since that initial sense of calling) still serves as an encouraging voice to me.

However, my own desire to define God’s calling on my life lead to several years of misery on my part as I tried to chart my own course instead of submitting fully to His will.

A turning point in this struggle came when I placed a desperate phone call to another pastor in the wee hours of the morning during my freshman year of college. I explained to him that I was struggling with my calling and that I was so miserable that I had not been able to sleep adequately for weeks.

His response was quick and simple: “All I can advise you to do is to remember that delayed obedience is disobedience.” He then hung up, leaving me even more frustrated. This frustration lasted until I honestly confessed to God that, although I had initially embraced His calling to ministry, I had gone off track by seeking to define His calling in my own terms. I had postponed full surrender to the direction of God’s Spirit. I had delayed my obedience until I accomplished what I thought I needed. I was disobeying!

Over 25 years later, I cannot claim that I have always immediately obeyed God’s call. Nor have I always immediately responded to God’s corrections or change of plans. However, I can attest to the peace and fulfillment that comes when we, with the help of God’s Spirit, say “yes” to His plans for our lives.

I continue to learn and appreciate the benefits of saying “yes” sooner rather than later!

Prayer for the Week:

“O Jesus, I surrender myself to you,
take care of everything! Amen.” (Don Dolindo Ruotolo)

Charles W. Christian is managing editor of Holiness Today.

Unforeseen circumstances!

We are sad to announce that we will not be able to offer our marriage seminar on October 5 &6, due to unforeseen circumstances.  If this was something you were considering or would like to attend in the future, please contact us and we will keep you updated.  Thank you for your understanding.

In This Together; Why we worship in His church

In This Together

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Coffee Break

“The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’” (Gen. 2:18)

In the context of a recent conversation with a student about theology, we discussed the difference it makes when our approach to the Bible and theology emphasizes individuals or the community. Of course, God cares about both. God created us as unique individuals and cares for our individual needs. However, we often overlook the fact that God created us for community.

We are built to be part of a community: namely, the community of God known as the Church.

This pattern begins in creation itself. Human beings are the image of God together: “So God created humankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them” (Gen. 1:27). What some translations refer to as “man,” “humankind,” or “humanity” is not about a specific individual gender. Rather, it is human creation itself that comprises the “image of God.” Humanity is incomplete if we think of it simply in individualistic terms (“it is not good for the man to be alone”).

This passage has been used, even in Scripture, to make important statements about marriage, but the passage is about even more than that. Non-married people are also part of the “image of God” described in Genesis 1:27. The bigger emphasis of this passage and the greater narrative of all of creation and redemption is that we are built to be in community: we are in this together!

The implications are many, but John Wesley highlighted a few in his ministry during the great revivals of the eighteenth century. For Wesley, salvation is not simply about being right with God; it is also about finding a place in God’s community (the Church). In fact, God teaches us who we are really created to be by placing us in a community that teaches, encourages, corrects, and gives us a broader perspective in regard to the bigger picture of God’s kingdom.

This is one reason why we not only worship God individually and privately, but also together as the body of Christ when we gather in harmony to sing, pray, give, proclaim, and encourage. We are built for this.

In fact, trying to participate in the Kingdom of God without participating in the community of God gives us an incomplete faith, since it is only by allowing ourselves to participate in God’s community that we can most fully participate in the image of God and discover why we were created.

An old country song proclaims, “Me and Jesus got our own thing going.” That kind of statement is popular in our overly-individualized and self-focused culture, but it is not the message of the Bible. The “thing” that Jesus and I  have “going” has everything to do with my Spirit-led connection with and participation in the community that God calls us to—God’s own community, the Church.

Prayer for the Week:

Almighty and ever-living God, ruler of all things in heaven
and earth: Hear our prayers for this church family. Strengthen
the faithful, arouse the careless, and restore the penitent.
Grant us all things necessary for our common life, and bring
us all to be of one heart and mind within your holy Church;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (from The Book of Common Prayer)

Charles W. Christian is managing editor of Holiness Today.

Written for Coffee Break with Holiness Today. 


The Last of Three

Sukkot is the last of the three annual pilgrimage festivals: Passover, Pentecost or Shavu’ot and Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles. In addition to the fact that it was an agricultural feast time, it is also a time that looks toward the future, a prophetical time -– when the end of this world occurs and Jesus comes to tabernacle (live) among His people. There will be a 1000 year reign when Jesus rules with a rod of iron and peace finally comes. However, that’s only a partial fulfillment of Sukkot. For the final fulfillment of Sukkot will be when the New Jerusalem comes down from heaven and becomes the capital city for all the world, when God comes forever to tabernacle (live) among His people.

Have a great day in the Lord! Rejoice in the LORD always and again I say rejoice!!

Pastor Ann