W H Y N O W ?

W H Y   N O W ?

Dec 30, 2014

W H Y   N O W ?  — Donna S. Bond      Shiloh SDB Church, NJ     “Go home today. Have a biopsy tomorrow,” was the advice of two ER doctors in Janesville, WI, on opening day of Conference 1992. I had found a lump on my neck during the Conference President’s sermon in Milton, WI, on the previous day and asked Dad to take me to the ER, hoping to get an antibiotic and be on my merry way.   “Why now?” I screamed inwardly. It was easier to understand why NOT now: As Women’s Board President I had responsibilities during the coming week.   I had just signed a contract for my first full-time job in 14 years, to begin September 1. Counting on my new job, we had purchased a second vehicle and put braces in two teenagers’ mouths. I had just attended my 25-year class reunion in White Cloud, MI, where middle-aged classmates affirmed, “You look great!” Why now?   Why Now Answer 1: We loaded our station wagon with disappointed offspring and headed back to New Jersey, a 900-mile trip, a full week sooner than we had planned. Vice President Ruth Probasco was ready and able to carry out “my” responsibilities at Conference.   Why Now Answer 2: As a long-term sub during the 1991-92 school year, the Board of Education had been forced to give my family health benefits beginning May 2. With zero-to-minimal coverage in previous months and a diagnosis of Stage 3 Hodgkin’s disease, God’s providence was unmistakable!   Why Now Answer 3: I was able to continue working without loss of income. The Board had recently established a sick bank policy and I was the second one to benefit from it! Even though I was new to the system, coworkers were allowed to donate their sick days to my account. I missed 4-6 days each month for seven months and was paid for all of them due to the generosity of 30-some new friends. Who orchestrated all of that at just the right time?   Why Now Answer 4: My illness came at just the time in my life when I needed affirmation of my...

Young Adult

Young Adult

Dec 30, 2014

Young Adult — Karissa St.Clair    The Connecting Church    Milton, WI     There once was a little girl who was filled with joy and happiness. She loved Jesus and loved who He was creating her to be. She had no doubt in her mind about whether or not God loved her, and she rested in His loving arms daily. Then, a dark cloud came over her and sucked away her joy. She ran away from God, not understanding what was happening and thinking what she did was her fault. She was filled with grief, guilt, and shame. That little girl was me when I was 7 years old. At that time I was sexually abused by one of my family members. That started a cycle of sin that lead to hurt and pain that ripped the innocence from me throughout my life. It took years for me to forgive God, forgive myself, and to understand that what had happened to me was not my fault. I look back on everything and I thank God because this whole circumstance eventually drew me so much closer to Him than I was when I was a little girl. But what I can’t get out of my head is one question: Where was the church? I was always told “the church isn’t a building, it’s a group of people.” So I ask again, where was the church? Why is the church hiding from sexual sin? Why are we not grabbing ahold of this and exposing it for what it really is? In 1 Corinthians 6:18 it says, “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body but an immoral man sins against his own body.” Sexual sin is crushing people from the inside out. It hurts not only other people but also yourself. There are people sitting in our pews, hurting, with no where to go, thinking that they have nobody that understands what they are going through. And the church isn’t talking about it! Why aren’t we talking about sexual abuse, pornography addictions, sex outside of marriage, masturbation, and things of the like? The church needs to stop hiding...

A Resolution

A Resolution

Dec 30, 2014

A Resolution  — Elianna Chroniger      Alfred Station SDB Church, NY One evening, early in January, a family was gathered at their dining room table for supper. Harold Jones, the father of this quaint group, asked his family what kind of resolutions they were planning on carrying out for the next year. His wife, Kristi, was ready with her answer in a heartbeat. She said, enthusiastically, “I joined the gym downtown, and I’m going to work out every morning for 45 minutes after I take the kids to school!” Harold smiled and allowed his eldest son, Jeremy, to answer next. Jeremy, a freshman at the local college, gave his dad a quick look and said, “I was thinking about maybe joining the school’s soccer team. I guess that my resolution is to work hard and make the team.” Kristi squealed in delight at her son’s proposition. Harold chuckled at his wife’s reaction and moved on to his daughter Delia. He questioned, “Delia, how about you?” Delia, a junior in high school, shied back into her chair and asked if her dad could come back to her. He eagerly agreed in order to save her some embarrassment. Next up was Mark. Being a seventh grade boy, Mark thought he knew best and quickly shouted out his resolution, “I promise to have a girlfriend this year!” Kristi choked on the water she had just taken a sip of, and Harold said, “Mark, I think you’re a little young to be making that kind of a promise.” Delia was giggling as she said, “Dad I’m ready! My resolution is to make more friends at school! I never have anyone to talk to and I think some friends to hang out with might make me like school a little more.” Kristi gushed, “Oh Delia, that’s a wonderful idea!” Harold nodded in agreement and moved on to their youngest, Melody. Melody was only in fourth grade. However, she knew a lot for one so young. Harold inquired, “Melody, honey, what is your resolution for this year?” Melody thought for a while, and finally said, “Well, first I have a question.” Mark groaned, and Kristi shot him a look while...

That Was Then; This Is Now

That Was Then; This Is Now

Dec 30, 2014

“That was then; this is now.” — Rev. Paul Manuel. Ph.D.      German SDB Church, Salemville, PA     Much of life involves a series of changes, some of which are large, others of which are small. Many of those changes test our ability to respond with wise choices, consistent with our commitment to God. Dealing with changes, whether large or small, and making the choices they require, is often a matter of perspective, of viewing life (as much as possible) from God’s perspective and realizing the wonder of His grace along the way. In some cases, it means recognizing a particular change is permanent, and there is no going back: That was then; this is now.   When first diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, I was a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin in Madison and knew nothing about the disease. A doctor at the hospital there recommended a series of steroid infusions he said might force it into remission. I followed his advice and thought no more about the matter, going on to finish my degree and continuing my involvement in the martial arts, an activity I had begun sometime earlier.   Eighteen years later, having been in pastoral ministry for quite a while, the MS returned—there is no (further) treatment for the kind I have—and I steadily lost the ability to move about without assistance. (After forty years, I taught my final martial arts class last year, from a walker.) Noting the obvious physical difficulty I was having, the deacons and elders at the church wisely recommended that I seek early retirement. The physical change is permanent, and there is no going back: That was then; this is now.   To be sure, “now” is certainly different from what I experienced before, but God has not changed. He still enables me to choose how I will respond to this change. While I miss being physically active and being more fully engaged in ministry, I also realize that the more I can align my perspective with His perspective, the more my response to this change will accord with His will and the more I realize the wonder of His grace along the way....

Spotlight on Church Planting: Planting the Grace SDB Church in Minneapolis, MN

Spotlight on Church Planting: Planting the Grace SDB Church in Minneapolis, MN

Dec 30, 2014

Spotlight on Church Planting: Planting the Grace SDB Church in Minneapolis, MN — Pastor Greg Olson     In Bible College, I remember questioning why we, as Christians, kept most of the laws that Jesus Himself did, but not all. I understood that many commandments wouldn’t apply to me directly — many are related to sacrifices and other activities in the Temple, and I’m not a priest. Others are only for women. But, of the remaining commandments that could be applied to me, I had been taught to obey all but a select few. I was taught that I could ignore the dietary laws and laws pertaining to special days — like the weekly Sabbath and the annual festivals (which are also called Sabbaths in scripture) because they were all “ceremonial” and not “moral” laws. But nobody could show me in Scripture how to determine which were which.   Years later, after I was married, my wife and I began to look into this question together when we were introduced to the Messianic movement. Messianic congregations keep those last few commandments that most other Christians ignore.   While we enjoyed some great teaching, at one of these congregations in particular, we found that their incorporation of Jewish culture — while not biblically wrong — led many Christians to believe that everything they were doing that was different was just cultural (and therefore optional) including the keeping of those last few commandments like the Sabbath. Grieved by this, we felt called to start something new — a church that culturally felt like any church that met on Sunday, but kept all the commandments that applied to us.   From the beginning we saw it as very important that this new church be accountable to a denominational authority because we had seen how some “independent” churches were really just benevolent dictatorships (and some weren’t even benevolent). I contacted two different denominations about planting a church with the vision we had without success. The first one was willing to give it a try, but would require that we allow infant baptism. The second one just said I was trying to promote legalism.   Giving up on planting a...