New Year’s Resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions

Dec 22, 2016

by Donna VanHorn You may be one of those folks who pooh-pooh the idea of New Year’s resolutions. If it has to do with promising to exercise more often, or taking decadent desserts off the menu, then I’m totally in your corner. Seriously though, I’m guessing that deep in your heart, you have at least secret regrets about some of your thoughts or behaviors in the year just ended. We all have a list of do-over’s we work on constantly. I know my list includes times when I spoke in anger and haste and hurt someone close to me. It also includes those moments when I could have ministered in my own unique way to someone needing what only I could offer. Sadly, I wasn’t tuned in and failed to see the moment. If we accept that we’re God’s children — an abundance of Scripture gives us that assurance — then His grace has already taken care of those do-overs. If we choose to do an instant replay of 2016, we’ll be aware of the moments when He upheld us in times of stress, or provided for us in times of need, or simply let us fly on our own to appreciate how He’s gifted us. As I look into this New Year, I appreciate that my vision isn’t perfect. There’ll be circumstances I can’t anticipate that will probably end up on next year’s list of do-overs. But what I do know is that by recommitting my life to Jesus Christ, as my Savior and Leader, the list will be marked “finished” even before I try to write it down next January 1. At the moment, I’m meditating on Psalm 23. Not the part we associate with funerals. Far from that, I’m seeing and loving the assurance the Psalmist gives me about the days and years ahead. Let these verses speak to your heart and encourage you as well, as you resolve to live in and with Him this New Year. “Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” —Psalm 23:6 For information about Donna’s devotional book,...

The Grace of God

by Andrés Jara Andrés has been involved in international media ministry for more than a decade As you walk on the streets you may see people struggling with different things, like gossip, pornography, alcoholism, depression, addictions, etc. The fact is that we all struggle, we all fall under the category of “sinners” and have fallen short of the glory of God. The difference is the grace of God. I am sure you have heard and read about the grace of God countless times, but it is important to read it again because His mercy is what takes you to your call in life. This message is for those who have a call from God. If you want to do great things, and I mean big things for His kingdom, this message is for you. If you think that you already got there, that is awesome, but this little article may not be for you. If you have a passion to serve the Lord and your goal is huge — you know what, it is possible to fulfill it. No matter what you are struggling with or if you are not “holy” enough, grace is for you. The same God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Paul, and many others, is the same God that has got your back. That is because He doesn’t look at your weaknesses; rather, His grace embraces you and gives you the strength to do what you really want to do for Him. Let’s look at the life of Peter – yes, the one who after 2,000 years people keep talking about. The Bible tells us that he didn’t have a glamorous job at the beginning. He was a fisherman, probably not the greatest since he was fishing all day long without success when Jesus met him for the first time. After walking with Jesus, Peter saw first-hand the miracles of God. Peter didn’t have enough faith as he was walking on the water to meet with Jesus on the Sea of Galilee. As he walked towards Him, he sank — yet, Jesus extended His hand and saved him. At the time of the crucifixion, Peter was the only disciple who denied...

Bridges Not Walls

by Donna VanHorn “Good fences make good neighbors,” wrote Robert Frost in his poem “Mending Wall.” It was written while Frost lived on his family’s farm in New Hampshire. My husband’s a New England native, and appreciates the practicality of stone walls. They were the tangible result of the region’s earliest settlers’ efforts to clear the land for farming. As they prepared their acreages for the first plantings, they pulled rocks and stones from the dirt and piled them in an orderly line along their properties’ boundaries. In his teens, my husband and his father roamed the back roads of Rhode Island looking for abandoned stone walls to “raid” for the backyard patio they were building. Once the project was done, they discovered there was a flat slate headstone that had inadvertently found its way into the terrace. But I digress. I can understand the logic of Frost’s maxim if it has to do with respecting each other’s possessions and personal space. On the other hand, it contradicts my Christ-centered concept of loving your neighbors so much you’ll take extraordinary steps to reach out to them to strengthen relationships. The parable of the Good Samaritan is just one of many examples Jesus shared with His followers. Building bridges to restore broken relationships, and to establish new ones, is what Jesus teaches us throughout Scripture. Ephesians 2:14 “For He Himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility.” Donna VanHorn and her husband, Jared, live in retirement in a West Des Moines, IA, suburb. Donna is a mentor to younger women and leads women’s Bible studies in her home. This is from a devotional series, her second publication. Mending Wall BY ROBERT FROST Something there is that doesn’t love a wall, That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it, And spills the upper boulders in the sun; And makes gaps even two can pass abreast. The work of hunters is another thing: I have come after them and made repair Where they have left not one stone on a stone, But they would have the rabbit out of hiding, To please the yelping dogs. The...

Heart Repair

Heart Repair

Jun 23, 2016

Introducing short devotional thoughts from a series by Donna Mae (Ochs) VanHorn. She graduated from Milton Union High School and later met, then married, her husband Jared while both were students at Milton College. They relocated to RI, Jerry’s home state, when he took a job with The Providence Journal. Her professional career has spanned several administrative support positions. Today, she and her husband live in retirement in a Des Moines, IA, suburb. They serve their two adult daughters, their families and their grandchildren in a variety of ways, and worship at Lutheran Church of Hope. Donna is a mentor to younger women and leads women’s Bible studies in her home. This devotional series is her second publication. She can be reached at dvstrawb43@gmail.com. Heart Repair Every once in a while, I struggle with what I’ve diagnosed as a hardened heart. Thankfully, it’s not an everyday thing. But, like the migraines that overtake me occasionally, I can sense when the “hard heart syndrome” is approaching. It’s characterized by the onset of negativism and criticalness. So this morning I decided to ask God to take a look at my heart. Symbolically, I took it from my chest and handed it to Him. I said it needed some repairs…some restoration and fine tuning. It feels very crusty in some areas and needs some sanding and filing to make it softer. It feels like it’s calloused! I told Him I could leave it with Him while He fixed it, because I know He has lots of customers. He said, “I’ll fix it while you wait.” While I waited, I was able to pray for family, friends, other things. When it was ready, He put it back in just the right place. He gave me the gift of peace. Go to God with your crusty heart. Talk to Him and be still with Him. He will do the rest. Psalm 51:10-12: Create in me a clean heart, oh God. (v.10)   from Devotional Thoughts by Donna Mae (Ochs) VanHorn In the first devotion titled “Heart Repair,” I wrote about handing my heart to God for some fine-tuning. Since then, I’ve heard of the song “Tell Your Heart To...

God’s Sabbath—Day of Rest and Gladness

God’s Sabbath—Day of Rest and Gladness

Apr 21, 2016

by Evelyn Gibson Riverside CA SDB Church In the very beginning when God created the earth, He crowned the week with the Seventh day, blessed it, and made it holy. No law was known yet. God wrote with His own finger in stone to remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy. It was the only commandment that included a reason: to acknowledge that the Everlasting God is Creator. Was it meaningless for Jesus in His short ministry to spend all that time teaching so often how to do well on the Sabbath? He reminded people that the Sabbath was made for man and that He is Lord of the Sabbath. We seem to be able to accept the symbol of communion because Jesus said to remember our Lord’s death until He comes. Yet why do we still want to resist that He really meant the earlier “Remember”? Satan’s tactics are still working. God placed the tree in the midst of the Garden of Eden to be seen, but not tasted. Satan made Eve doubt that God really meant that. What a disastrous event! The Sabbath continues as a symbol of God’s creative power. Sadly, He knew we would forget to the point of bowing to evolution and atheism. That’s why God told us to “remember” the only commandment that does. It’s His day! He deserves it! We honor Him; we love Him; it gives us joy. The Sabbath is the weekly symbol, a time uniquely blessed by God to remind us of His awesome creative capacity to accomplish what He promised and of His eternal rest. He is the Almighty. Let us worship...

Open Concept

“Open Concept” Donna S. Bond Shiloh SDB Church, NJ   “I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” — Philippians 4:11 (KJV)     My husband and I watch programs relating to buyingand/or renovating properties. Having grown up in 19th century parsonages and then bought only fixer-uppers we could afford, we are amazed at complaints and expectations prospective home owners express. While we see a magazine-picture-perfect kitchen, potential buyers’ comments range from “It’s dated,” or “needs to be ‘did over,’” to “won’t work for our family.” Everyone wants an “open concept” living space (Little House on the Prairie?). The master bedroom needs a walk-in closet and en suite (bathroom). “There’s no view of the ocean from my bed.” “Utility wires obstruct the view.” “The fourth bedroom is on the first floor.” (Wait 30 years!) “The third bathroom is near the kitchen.” “There’s only one sink in the en suite.” “The shower is set-in.” Carpet (once a luxury) “needs to go.” “There’s no man cave…or dance studio… or play room.” “The drawer pulls are too big.” When the final project is completed and the designer has furnished every stick of furniture, knick-knack, artwork, and dinnerware, everyone oohs and ahhs over the beautiful black-and-white décor which looks pretty much like the one-room living space we saw on yesterday’s show. Perhaps a grateful, open mind for the Lord’s provision would go far in enhancing contentment in “whatsoever state”!...