Monthly Archives: November 2007

Charlestown, IN Church of the Nazarene

I was 5 years old when my folks bought an 80 acre farm in southern Indiana. While there were other factors, one of the reasons was that they wanted my sister and me to attend a smaller school rather than one of the large Indianapolis schools. I grew up on that farm and it is the only childhood home I remember. My mother was a second generation member of the Church of the Nazarene, so she sought out a Nazarene church for us to attend. Charlestown was 17 miles away, and there was a thriving Nazarene church there. Dad didn’t go to church at that time, but we became “every service members” at Charlestown Nazarene. Mom had roots in Indianapolis Westside and Eastside Nazarene churches, but so far as we kids were concerned, Charlestown was our church. From my point of view now, we were “only” there for 13 years. However, those were my growing up years, from 5 years old through high school graduation. Charlestown Nazarene was where I settled things with the Lord. When I was 16 I preached my first sermon to a kind, gentle, and supportive Wednesday night prayer meeting crowd. I was president of the youth group that met before Sunday night services. Everyone came, teens and grandmas alike, as we presented a program from Aldersgate Teen Topics. I played my trombone on Sunday nights, sang in the choir on Sunday mornings, and testified in Wednesday night prayer meeting. The people prayed for me and bragged on me. When I was 18 our family, with my father in poor health, sold the farm and moved to Florida. I soon went off to college and all our connections with southern Indiana began to dissipate.

It has been nearly 40 years since we moved away. I’ve been back, of course, several times through the years. In fact, around 20 years ago I was the preacher for a revival at Charlestown Church. The days of big attendance were already past and the church was made up of senior adults, many of them had been there during my growing up time there. Aside from that, Charlestown Nazarene has found its way into many of my sermon illustrations and it is certainly part of my spiritual DNA. Who I am today was shaped in part by that church.

Last night, something brought Charlestown Nazarene to mind and I decided to see if the church had a website. At first I couldn’t find anything. Then, on the district website I found the church listed with a photo, but also the word “closed” in the listing. I emailed the district office and received the reply this morning that Charlestown Church of the Nazarene was closed a couple of months ago. Receiving that news is like hearing that an old friend has died.

I guess writing this is, for me, a bit like giving a eulogy for the church. My heart is heavy, but I am also thankful for all the church did for me. Today, I remember Charlestown, Indiana Church of the Nazarene.

In God

I’ve been rereading Richard Foster’s “Freedom of Simplicity” and, while I won’t burden him with this thought, I will credit him with having sparked it. Foster talks about the “Divine Center” and describes how everything in our lives must be oriented toward that Center. Otherwise, he says, all the elements of our lives will vie for dominance and our lives will be filled with indecision and struggle. This struggle isn’t so much a battle between good and evil. Instead, it is a struggle between good and best.

Foster calls us to surrender all there is about us to God, and thus, put him at the Center of our lives. When we do that, all the “good” things are properly aligned with His purposes for us.

As a believer in a deeper work of God that enables us to walk in the Spirit I love the picture here of my Centering on the Lord. We tend to express our Christianity from the “me” point of view: “Come into my heart, Lord Jesus” and “Come in and be Lord of my life.” Actually, it might be better for us to think less about Jesus coming into us as our coming into Jesus.

Jesus doesn’t want to make me into a better person. He wants to make me into new a new person. That doesn’t happen by his giving me a spiritual tune up or even by his moving into the mess that is my life. It happens when I surrender self to him and begin, by his grace, to live a life that is in orbit around that “Divine Center.”

I think this is a terrific view of entire sanctification. I surrender all rights to myself and, instead of thinking it is all about me, I move into the Lord, immersed in his purposes for me.