April 2016

Choosing Faith over Fear

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We live in a world inundated with fear. A sense of danger lurks in the shadows. Our comfort zones evaporate all around us. Muggings, drive-by shootings, workplace violence—we can feel our security threatened by hateful hands. And unbelievably, now we must face the reality of global terrorist threats inflicting harm on innocent citizens. Questions roll around in our heads as we attempt to negotiate daily life. Is it safe to take public transportation? Should I cancel my next airplane trip? Can I safely take my family to a sporting event at the local stadium?

What Did Jesus Sing?

I cannot imagine a long-haired Jesus strumming a guitar and belting out a ballad. I can’t visualize Him clapping and toe-tapping to praise choruses. Can you see Him singing at a Bill Gaither “Homecoming” event?

Images of Jesus Christ singing may seem strange since the Bible never pictures Jesus singing as he worked in the carpenter shop, let alone to an audience. Did His mother Mary ever make the boy Jesus take piano lessons? Did he “ompah” on a tuba in the synagogue school marching band? Ever solo the Sabbath anthem in a choir robe?

Putting Feet to Our Words

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Recently someone asked me an intriguing question: What statement should the Church of the Nazarene make about human suffering such as the hardships caused by immigrant displacement and environmental crises? My mind froze as I tried hurriedly to devise an appropriate response to these global issues that impact hundreds of thousands of people. The problems seemed so big and unmanageable that I could not get my head around a strategy that would bring relief to the suffering of individuals caught in these dilemmas.

Q&A: Sacraments

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Q: What are the sacraments and what does it mean to be “sacramental?”

A: To be “sacramental” is to embrace a theology that views creation as filled with God’s presence and is therefore sacred and holy. It is to affirm the words of Genesis 1:31, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.”

Being the Church: An Extreme Experience

Extreme sports are very popular these days. We seek to escape routine by experiencing something challenging such as swimming with sharks or co-piloting a jet fighter. People hate to feel bored. While the church isn’t called to stage Bungie jumps or survival challenges in the jungle, being part of a “community that confesses Jesus Christ as Lord,” as expressed in our eleventh article of faith, should be far from boring. In fact, participating in the church should be a vibrant, exciting and challenging experience for all Jesus Christ’s disciples.

Immigrants, Refugees, or Angels

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What will you do when you discover that your new neighbor speaks a language unlike yours, dresses “strangely,” has a different skin color, cooks odd food, goes to another kind of prayer center, and is just not what you are accustomed to? Such a scenario is likely to occur these days, and we must ask ourselves, How do we, as the body of Christ, respond?