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Archive | January, 2013

Answering the Call

Ronnie McBrayer

By Ronnie McBrayer

My friends Scott and Karen worked for one of the largest missions organizations in the world. Mexico, Central America, the Middle East, and the Persian Gulf: Scott and Karen traversed the globe for nearly twenty years, aiding indigenous people groups and living out the love and witness of Christ. It all came to a grinding halt, however, when the mission organization for which they worked deemed their medical mission financially unsustainable, but completely for reasons other than shrinking dollars and cents.

Simply, not enough people were becoming Christians. Conversions. Baptisms. Increasing numbers of those who have “prayed the sinner’s prayer.” Public professions of faith. Churches being planted and cross-topped buildings being constructed. These were the outcomes that were required by the mission executives. When these outcomes were not forthcoming, the organization refused to keep pouring dollars into such an “unreceptive region.”

Scott and Karen pleaded with the mission’s executives to reconsider this decision. Their medical facility was serving an entire region of needy people, treating tens of thousands of patients a year. A part of the world that had been antagonistic was finding it increasingly difficult to hate those who were loving, medicating, and saving their children and elders. A mission executive responded to the pleas of Scott, Karen, and the medical staff with these words: “We have no obligation to the bodies of those whose souls are going to hell.”

Is this really the gospel? Is it “Good News” when we reduce the love of God to simple statistics or counting the numbers who pray a specific, mechanical prayer? Can we, with any integrity, disregard the crushing misery of people today, if those needs are not spiritual in nature, and say we are following the way of Jesus?

The “Good News,” as Jesus proclaimed it, is not an evacuation plan to rescue people from earth, or an insurance policy for the afterlife. Rather, it is a revolutionary strategy to redeem the sufferings of this world by putting the rule and reign of heaven inside people, something Jesus called the kingdom of God.

We have the chance, if we will take it, to become catalysts and conduits of the very real kingdom of God in today’s world, because the present – not the future – is where we follow Jesus. Today – not tomorrow – “is the day of salvation,” and the prayer “thy kingdom come” is more than words. It is our calling.

Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, speaker, and author of multiple books. You can read more and receive regular e-columns in your inbox at www.ronniemcbrayer.me.


Posted in Church ConnectionComments (0)

Joke of the Week

A Michigan State trooper pulled a car over about 2 miles north of the Michigan/Indiana State line. When the trooper asked the driver why he was speeding, the driver said he was a Magician and Juggler and was on his way to Ft. Wayne, IN to do a show at the Circus. He didn’t want to be late.

The trooper told the driver he was fascinated by juggling and said if the driver would do a little juggling for him then he wouldn’t give him a ticket. He told the trooper he had sent his equipment ahead and didn’t have anything to juggle. The trooper said he had some flares in the trunk and asked if he could juggle them. The juggler said he could, so the trooper got 5 flares, lit them and handed them to him.

While the man was juggling, a car pulled in behind the patrol car. A drunk got out, watched the performance, then staggered over to the patrol car, opened the rear door and got in. The trooper saw him and went over and asked the drunk what he thought he was doing.

The man laughed and said, “You might as well take my butt to jail, cause there ain’t no way I can pass that test!”

Posted in Arts & Entertainment, Joke of the WeekComments (0)

Hometown Idol to select state champion

Fifty-six Semi-Finalists to compete for top prize

Six area contestants will be among 56 semi-finalists, from Hometown Idol preliminary competitions, to compete for the title of Statewide Champion on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013, at 2 p.m. at the Michigan Theatre of Jackson, 124 Mechanic Street, Jackson, MI. Hometown Idol is a singing talent competition held at fairs and festivals throughout Michigan and Indiana.

The six area residents who will compete are: Cloie Bennett, 6, of Cedar Springs; Bruce Bennett, 37, of Cedar Springs (Cloie’s father); Alexis Lucarelli, 15, of Cedar Springs; Melodie Hardie, 14, of Pierson; Tabitha McNeilly, 32, of Howard City; and Haylee Perry, 15, of Morley.

Each contestant will have four minutes to sing and will be judged by an impartial panel on vocal performance, stage presence, appearance, singing technique and execution. The singer with the highest overall score will earn the top prize of $1,000!

Singers of all ages representing many styles of music will compete. Hometown Idol is a family-friendly show.

The event is open to the public. Admission fee is $5. Doors open at 1:30 p.m.

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Daddy Daughter dance

Get your tickets now

The 9th Annual Daddy-Daughter Dance is around the corner and tickets will be on sale at Cedar Springs Public Schools district office (Hilltop) from 8am-4pm Monday-Friday, and at Cedar Springs Middle School from 6-9 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The event will be held on Saturday, February 2, at the Cedar Springs Middle School. Doors open at 6:15 p.m. and the dance begins at 7 p.m. During the event there will be snacks and drinks, door prizes awarded, a craft project for each girl to create and take home, and a 5×7 photo will be taken of each father and daughter. These are included in the ticket price. In addition, there are special make your own stuffed animals by Tina’s Animal Workshop for sale. These animals will have special Daddy-Daughter Dance apparel available as well. Cost for a couple is $15, for a group of three is $18, and a group of four or more $20. This year all tickets must be prepurchased, meaning no sales at the door of the dance. So get your tickets early before they run out. They are only selling to 200 families and they are already going quickly. Only 80 left!

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8th Annual Rockford Youth Night

The Rockford Public Safety Department has announced that the 8th Annual Rockford Youth Night will be Friday, February 8 from 8 to 11 p.m., at MVP Sports Clubs. The public safety department is inviting kids in grades six through eight to have a great time in a drug-free, alcohol-free and tobacco-free environment, enjoying hours of sports activities or just hanging out. Activities include dodge ball, football, basketball, volleyball and open swim.

The Rockford Department of Public Safety will be joined by deputies from the Kent County Sheriff Department and Michigan State Police troopers. The officers from all three departments look forward to interacting with the kids in positive environment every year. “Youth Night is a blast. We always have as much fun as the kids,” said Rockford Officer Aaron Sawyer.

Youth Night is one of several community outreach events that the Rockford Department of Public Safety organizes every year. There is also National Night Out, Rockford Area Kids Triathlon, and Shop with a Cop. These programs are designed to provide a positive interaction between youngsters and the officers.

The cost of the event is $6.00 and includes pizza. Participants who pre-register will receive a t-shirt. Registration forms should be mailed into or dropped off at the Rockford Department of Public Safety. Registration forms can be picked up in person in the front offices of East Rockford Middle and North Rockford Middle School, MVP Sports Club– Rockford, at the Rockford Department of Public Safety and can be downloaded from the City of Rockford’s website. If you have any questions about registering for the event contact the Rockford Department of Public Safety at (616) 866-9557.

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Taking the scare out of bad-weather driving

An investment of an hour or so to have your vehicle checked will pay off and help make sure your driving experience is less frightful and more delightful.

An investment of an hour or so to have your vehicle checked will pay off and help make sure your driving experience is less frightful and more delightful.

(NAPS)—When the weather outside is frightful, a little advance preparation will take the scare out.

What to do

A few preventive vehicle maintenance steps can help keep you from being stranded in severe weather:

  • Check the battery and charging system for optimum performance. Cold weather is hard on batteries.
  • Clean, flush and put new antifreeze in the cooling system. As a general rule of thumb, this should be done every two years.
  • Make sure heaters, defrosters and wipers work properly. Consider winter wiper blades and use cold-weather washer fluid. Typically, wiper blades should be replaced every six months.
  • If you’re due for a tune-up, have it done soon. Cold weather magnifies existing problems such as pings, hard starts, sluggish performance and rough idling.
  • Check the tire tread depth and tire pressure. If you’ll be driving in snow and ice, consider special tires designed to grip slick roads. During cold weather, check tire pressure weekly.
  • Check the brakes. The braking system is the vehicle’s most important safety component.
  • Inspect the exhaust system for carbon monoxide leaks, which can be especially dangerous if you’ll be driving with the windows closed.
  • Check to see that exterior and interior lights work and headlights are properly aimed.
  • Be diligent about changing the oil at recommended intervals as dirty oil can spell trouble. Consider changing to “winter weight” oil. Check the fuel, air and transmission filters at the same time.
  • Keep the gas tank at least half full at all times to decrease the chances of moisture forming in the gas lines and possibly freezing.
  • Check the tire pressure of the spare in the trunk.
  • Stock an emergency kit with an ice scraper and snow brush, jumper cables, flashlight, flares, blanket, extra clothes, candles, matches, bottled water, dry food snacks and needed medication.

That’s the advice from the experts at the Car Care Council, the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers.

Free Guide

For a free copy of the council’s “Car Care Guide” or for more information, visit www.carcare.org.


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Hometown Happenings


Jan. 26: You are invited to the Izaak Walton League for a Winterfest Celebration on Saturday January 26 from 10am – 3pm at Ikes’ Conservation Center, 5641 Myers Lake Rd., ½ mile north of Cannonsburg ski area. Snow-shoeing, sledding, ice skating, snow games, archery, tracking & nature walk, bird-feeder crafts, (some activities depend of the weather), plus a bonfire & food! Good winter fun and it’s all FREE! This is a community event for all ages. Come and bring your friends and family. Watch for parking instructions. #4


TOPS weight loss support group

Jan. 29: Take off pounds sensibly (TOPS), a non-profit weight loss support group for men and women, meets every Tuesday at the Resurrection Lutheran Church in Sand Lake. Your first visit is free so come check out what TOPS can do to help you reach your weight loss goals! Exercise 8-8:30am (optional), weigh-ins from 8:30am–9am and the meeting starts at 9:15am. In case of inclemeent weather, meetings are cancelled if Tri-County or Cedar Springs schools are closed. Call Martha at 696-1039 for more information. #4


Rockford Rebels 12u Tryouts

Feb. 2: The Rockford Rebels 12u baseball team will be holding a tryout for remaining roster positions on the 2013 travel baseball team. Tryouts will be Saturday, February 2 at 3pm at the Rebels Training Facility located at 9330 Belding Rd., Rockford. To register and for more information, contact Micah Braman at 616-232-8422 or email: brama1mj@cmich.edu. #4,5p


Ground Hogs, Are They Out There?

Feb. 2: Come learn about this creature they call the Groundhog! What family is he from? Is he a nuisance or is he a wonderful little creature? Will he see his shadow (and who cares?). Learn all about the Groundhog with a Naturalist and a walk! Saturday, February 2nd from 9am – 12pm. Donation of $5 per person. Howard Christensen Nature Center, 16190 Red Pine Drive, Kent City. Pre-registration is NOT required, however registering is greatly appreciated. 616-675-3158. #4


Chess Anyone?

Feb. 4: Drop-in-chess at the library! All skill levels welcome. An adult is usually on hand to help you with your game or match you with a worthy opponent. Monday, February 4 at 6:30 pm. Sand Lake/ Nelson Township KDL, 88 Eighth St., Sand Lake. #4


Free Blood Pressure Check

Feb. 4: Metron of Cedar Springs will be providing free blood pressure checks on Monday February 4 from 1-3pm at Rite Aid, Cedar Springs. #4


Moose On The Loose

Feb. 5: Hang on to your antlers! KDL is celebrating the Michigan Reads picture book selection, Moose on the Loose by Kathy-Jo Wargin. Hear great moose stories, make your own antlers and more! Tuesday, February 5 at 10:30 am. Sand Lake/ Nelson Township KDL, 88 Eighth St., Sand Lake. #4


Children Stories for Preschoolers

Feb. 6: Listening to stories and exploring nature are two activities that most children enjoy. A naturalist will read stories to children ages three to five, and lead them on a walk to experience what the season has to offer. Stories include The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss and The Dreamer, by Cynthia Rylant. Wednesday, February 6th from 9am – 12pm. Donation of $3 per child. Howard Christensen Nature Center, 16190 Red Pine Drive, Kent City. Pre-registration is NOT required, however registering is greatly appreciated. 616-675-3158. #4


Valentines Dinner

Feb. 14: Members, bring in your friends to this special dinner and music. Tri-County Eagles in Sand Lake, Thursday, February 14th. Dinner from 4 – 8pm, Rib Eye steak, potato, garlic toast and salad bar, $11.75. Entertainment from 8 – 11pm by Rhythm Masters, Clint Gitchel & Jerry Roberts starting. #4

Posted in Hometown HappeningsComments (0)

Winter driving and tire tips

Tire pressure plays a critical role in the overall performance of tires. Air pressure should be checked when the tires are cool—not hot from driving.

Tire pressure plays a critical role in the overall performance of tires. Air pressure should be checked when the tires are cool—not hot from driving.

(NAPS)—Conditions such as snow-covered roads and black ice can make winter driving unpredictable. The good news is that preparing early for winter weather and anticipating and avoiding dangerous circumstances can help drivers maintain control and stay safe on the road.

To help, here are some tips from the experts at Cooper Tire & Rubber Company.

• Drive cautiously: For starters, double the anticipated stopping distance when braking anytime conditions are not dry. It will take longer to come to a stop in snowy or icy conditions.

• Do not assume a four-wheel-drive vehicle will stop faster than a two-wheel-drive vehicle—four-wheel drive offers no braking advantage.

• Always reduce speed during winter conditions.

• When purchasing winter tires, replace all four tires. Due to the different grip capabilities of summer, all-season and winter tires, the driver will not get all the handling and traction benefits if all tires are not replaced.

• Examine tread: The only part of a vehicle to touch the road is the tires, and tire tread is a vital part of handling, cornering, accelerating and braking.

• For winter weather driving, a general rule is the more tread depth, the better. A tire’s minimum tread depth should be more than 2⁄32 of an inch deep all around the tire. Drivers can check tread depth by using a U.S. penny. Insert the edge of the coin into the tread with Lincoln going in headfirst. If the top of his head is visible at any location on the tire, the tire is worn out and it’s time to replace it.

• While examining the tread, also look for signs of uneven wear or damage such as cuts, cracks, splits, punctures and bulges. These conditions shorten the life of tires and, if not corrected, further tire damage, tire failure or air loss may occur.

• Find tires made for the season. For example, Cooper Tire has been a proven winter tire brand for decades, providing high-performing and extensive product lines that cover more than 90 percent of vehicles, such as the Weather-Master S/T2, the Weather-Master WSC and the Discoverer M+S. All Cooper winter tires include a patented snow groove technology that retains snow in the tread grooves, capitalizing on the higher traction of “snow on snow” versus “snow on rubber.”

• Test air pressure: Tire pressure plays a critical role in the overall performance of tires. Underinflation creates excessive stress on the tire, while overinflation can cause uneven wear in addition to handling and braking issues.

• Tire pressure decreases by about one pound per square inch for every 10-degree drop in outside air temperature, so it is vital that drivers check the air pressure regularly as winter weather approaches.

• Drivers should follow the guidelines found in the vehicle owner’s manual or tire placard (or sticker) attached to the vehicle door edge to determine the correct air pressure for their vehicle’s tires. A common myth is that the tire pressure listed on the sidewall is the optimal pressure, while in reality it is the maximum pressure.

• Air pressure should be checked when the tires are cool, meaning they are not hot from driving even a mile.

• Should any of these checks reveal the need for required maintenance—or when in doubt about the condition of their tires—drivers should take vehicles to a tire dealer for a professional inspection.

• For more information on proper tire maintenance, visit www.coopertire.com.



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Drivers could be stuck in an emergency if they only have junk in their trunk

Only one in 10 drivers keep emergency supplies in their vehicle

-CAR-Trunk-junkFinding yourself stranded in your car due to treacherous conditions like snow, ice, poor visibility and slick roads only to discover you have junk in the trunk, rather than the necessary roadside emergency supplies, can place you and your family in jeopardy.

According to a new survey by State Farm® and KRC Research, more than 60 percent of drivers had some sort of “junk” (non-emergency supplies) in their trunk ranging from extra clothes and shoes to used food or drink containers. While 99 percent of drivers had at least one emergency supply in their vehicle, such as spare tire or jumper cables, a mere nine percent carried all the essential emergency roadside supplies, including:

• Jumper cables

• Spare tire

• Hazard triangle/road flares

• Flashlight

• First aid kit

• Water

• Blanket

“Even on a relatively short trip, you can find yourself stranded for several hours. From icy waters splashing up on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago to fog covering the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, it’s important to be prepared,” said Robert Medved, safety expert, State Farm. “These new findings highlight the importance of having the right emergency equipment so people can safely get back on the road faster.”

Medved also recommends drivers check at least twice a year to ensure the equipment is in working order. This means spare tires are properly inflated, first-aid supplies are current, all other supplies are fully stocked, and the cell phone charger is compatible with either a power outlet or an USB port in your car. Communication capability can be the number one lifeline in some roadside emergency cases.

How your junk stacks up:

New survey findings also revealed that sedan drivers (63 percent) are less likely to carry emergency supplies compared to SUV and truck owners (75 percent and 73 percent respectively). Also, only two in five drivers said they check that the emergency supplies in their vehicle are working at least twice a year, in line with what State Farm recommends.

State Farm encourages responsible driving every day of the year, and especially during cold weather months when inclement weather is more common. If you are stranded on the road, follow these tips:

• Pull off the highway (if possible), turn on your hazard lights and use a road flare or reflectors to signal attention.

• If you have a cell phone, call 911 and describe your location as precisely as possible. Follow any instructions from the dispatcher.

• Remain in your vehicle so help can find you.

• Run your vehicle’s engine and heater about 10 minutes each hour to keep warm.

• Open a downwind window slightly for ventilation and clear snow from the exhaust pipe to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

• Don’t waste your vehicle’s battery power. Balance electrical energy needs—lights, heat and radio—with supply.

• At night, turn on an inside light when you run the engine so help can see you.

• Keep emergency supplies like road flares, a flashlight, blanket, windshield scraper, jumper cables, spare tire and a first aid kit in your vehicle or trunk at all times.

• Keep your fuel tank at least 1/2 full at all times during bad weather.

Posted in OutdoorsComments (0)

Better late than never when it comes to winterizing your car

The last thing any driver needs is a vehicle that breaks down in cold, harsh winter weather. It’s not too late to have your vehicle checked, saving you from the cost and hassle of unexpected emergency repairs when severe weather strikes.

Battery – Keep the battery connections clean, tight and corrosion-free. Batteries don’t always give warning signs before they fail completely so it’s wise to replace batteries that are more than three years old.

Antifreeze – Antifreeze (coolant) should be flushed and refilled at least every two years in most vehicles. As a reminder, do not add 100 percent antifreeze as full-strength antifreeze actually has a lower freeze point than when mixed with water.

Brakes – Have the brakes checked. The braking system is the vehicle’s most important safety item and is key while driving on icy or snow-covered roads.

Tires – Check the tire tread depth and tire pressure. If snow and ice are a problem in your area, consider special tires designed to grip slick roads. During winter, tire pressure should be checked weekly as tires will lose pressure when temperatures drop.

Oil – Be diligent about changing the oil and filter at recommended intervals. Dirty oil can spell trouble in winter. Consider changing to low-viscosity oil in winter, as it will flow more easily between moving parts when cold.

Wiper Blades – Cold weather can affect the life of windshield wipers. Wiper blades that are cracked or torn, or that chatter, streak and don’t properly clean your windshield, should be changed. Check the windshield washer reservoir in case it needs fluid.

Be sure to keep your vehicle’s gas tank at least half full as that decreases the chances of moisture forming in the gas lines and possibly freezing. If you’re due for a tune-up, consider having it done as winter weather magnifies existing problems such as pings, hard starts, sluggish performance or rough idling. To help you drive smart and save money, visit www.carcare.org and check out the free digital Car Care Guide.

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