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Overcoming your fear of risk

The-Springs-blurred-webPastor Barry Briggs

The Springs Church

135 N. Grant, Cedar Springs


Everybody can identify with fears. We all have them. Fear is universal. Some of us have fear of the dark, fear of falling, fear of lobsters, fear of falling on lobsters in the dark. Fear of the words “Some assembly required.” But the fear I want to talk about is a specific fear: the fear of risk. This fear keeps you from the opportunities that God wants to do in your life and through your life. The truth is we don’t seize many of the opportunities God lays before us because we’re afraid to take the risk.

For me, I fear talking to people that I’ve never met before. Strangers. I don’t know, maybe it’s the root word—strange. Here’s the thing, not talking to strangers is keeping me from opportunities to meet new people. The reason I know these are missed opportunities is because I have friends who talk to strangers and they always have these great God-stories. “I talked to this one guy. I’d never met him. We were at the mall. I invited him to church. I ministered to his family. We went on a cruise together. Now I’m in his will.” That kind of stuff! I never have those. Why? Because I’m afraid to talk to strangers that I don’t know.

Let’s turn the mirror on you. Let’s talk about your fears. What step are you afraid to take that would result in depth or closeness to God? The one that you know in your heart if you were to take that step things would change. Maybe, if you are honest, you’re afraid to be pushed out of your comfort zone. Or maybe you’re afraid to forgive someone who’s hurt you. Or maybe you’re afraid to ask for help for one of your relationships.

Peter is a great example of someone in the Bible who saw an opportunity, took a risk, and seized the opportunity. One day, as Peter was heading into the Temple to pray, he saw an opportunity to heal a man who was lame from birth. Peter healed him in Jesus’ name, which, as you can imagine, drew a large crowd and created yet another opportunity for Peter to share the Good News. In Acts 3:12 it says, “Peter saw his opportunity and addressed the crowd” (NLT).

Like Peter, God wants us to see the opportunities He lays before us, take a risk, and seize those opportunities. Here’s how: You need to first identify your personal fear. If you determine what that fear really is for you then it shrinks. It doesn’t mean you’re over it.  It just means it’s exposed and manageable.

Once you identify it, the second thing I’d encourage you to do is then confess your fear of risk to someone. Admitting that you are fearful of risks is hard to do, but once you get it out in the open others can support you.

So first, you admit your fear. Second, you confess it to someone else. Then third, take one risk—just one—that will challenge your fear. Then soon after, take another. What is that? That is facing your fear. This week let me encourage you to face your fear of risk head on by looking for a God-sized opportunity, taking a risk, and seizing the opportunity. And watch as God begins to work in you and through you.

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To Die Trying

By Ronnie McBrayer

By Ronnie McBrayer

Beginning in April of 1994, more than two decades ago this month, one million Rwandans were killed, after extremists in the majority Hutu population turned on the Tutsi minority. The movie Hotel Rwanda focuses on the 76 days in which Paul Rusesabagina, a hotel manager, transformed the luxury hotel, over which he was responsible, into a refuge for the terrified.

On the first day of violence, 26 people came to Paul’s home for shelter. They bet their lives on him, and it was a bet that paid off. At the end of that three-month massacre, Paul Rusesabagina had saved 1,268 people in his hotel. Somehow, Paul kept corn and beans in the kitchen; he rationed the water in the pool for drinking when militia cut the utilities; and he took all the room numbers off the doors and burned the registration records, so the roving bands of machete-welding killers would not know the identities of those under his protection.

At one point, Paul and his family were given the opportunity to escape. He packed his family’s bags. It was then the residents of his hotel came and begged him to stay. “Paul,” they said, “we know you are going to be leaving this place tomorrow. But please, if you are really leaving, tell us, because we will go to the roof of the hotel and jump. A better death would be to jump and die immediately.”

Paul said, “By that afternoon I had made the toughest decision of my life. I said to myself, ‘If you leave, and these people are killed, you will never be a free man. You will be a prisoner of your own conscience.’ I then decided to remain behind…and if I was to die, I would die helping my neighbor.”

So, who is your neighbor? That question is incidental, really, as anyone you meet along life’s way fits the definition. “Will you love your neighbor?” That is the primary question, and one we have the opportunity to answer daily.

Will we be called upon to love with the fearsome intensity of Paul Rusesabagina? It’s not likely, but I hope that when the time comes for us to leave this world, we die trying; we leave knowing we have helped and loved our neighbors. This is so much more than a story. It’s the way we save and heal the world.

Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, blogger, pastor, and author of multiple books. Visit his website at www.ronniemcbrayer.net.

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Reva Marvetta Benedict, 88 of Holland, formerly of Cedar Springs, died Tuesday, April 21, 2015 at her home. Marvetta was born February 4, 1927 in Kewadin, Michigan the daughter of Espy and Edith (Wildi) Hubbell. She graduated from Elk Rapids High School in 1944 and had worked at Knape & Vogt for 28 years retiring in 1991. She had been a member of First Baptist Church, Cedar Springs and was presently attending New Vision Church, Holland. She was a 40 year very active member of the Cedar Springs American Legion Post 287 Ladies Auxiliary and the 40 et 8. Surviving are her children, Gerald (Joni) Nelson, Douglas Nelson and fiancee, Crystal Scott, Sarah Nelson; stepchildren, Herbert (Sandy) Benedict, Colleen Benedict; 14 grandchildren; 12 great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband, Herbert in 1995; four brothers, three sisters, a great-grandchild, and a stepson. The family will greet friends Thursday from 6-8 pm at the Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs, where services will be held Friday 11:00 am. Dr. Anthony Adams officiating. Interment Elmwood Cemetery, Cedar Springs. Memorial contributions may be made to the American Cancer Society or the Cedar Springs American Legion Ladies Auxiliary.

Arrangements by Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs

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Bonnie Miller, age 74, of Howard City passed away April 21, 2015 at her residence.  She was born February 6, 1941 in St. Johns the daughter of George and Bonnie (Ward) Comer.  During her working years she worked as a Avon Rep for many years.  She also worked at the Dime Store and Red Flannel Factory in Cedar Springs.  She enjoyed computer games, gardening, sewing and going to the casino.  In 1973 she married James who survives.  Also surviving are four children, Norman(Katie) Miller of Orleans, Tammy (Al) Haskins of Howard City, Melissa Eerdmans of Belding, Helene (Louis) Hall of Cedar Springs;  15 grandchildren and many great-grandchildren and several nieces and nephews.  She was preceded in death by her parents and a daughter Brenda.  Private family services will take place at a later date.

Arrangements were entrusted to the Heckman Funeral Home of Howard City  

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Tips for dealing with potholes


Be vigilant—extra vigilant


Stating the obvious here: it’s best to avoid hitting potholes whenever possible. That’s easier to do if you’re driving cautiously, and not tailgating, so you have more time to see and react to any potholes you’re approaching.

Potholes aren’t always obvious in the daylight; they’re even harder to spot in the dark. Make sure your headlights are working and your windshield is clear.

Be extra cautious around puddles—they could be potholes filled with water. Since water is a critical component to forming potholes, that puddle may be at work creating one as you drive through it.

Keep a firm grip on your steering wheel as potholes can cause your vehicle to change direction suddenly. Don’t swerve into an occupied lane. No one wants pothole damage to escalate to a collision causing further damage or injury.

Vehicle maintenance helps

Unquestionably, hitting potholes can damage your vehicle. However, there are some things you can do to keep it to a minimum.

• Make sure your tires are properly inflated. Over- or under-inflated tires fare worse when they tangle with a pothole. Tires showing excessive wear or bulges in the sidewalls won’t hold up as well to potholes, either.

• Have your vehicle’s suspension and steering components checked out by a qualified mechanic. Steering that is in good condition and responsive can help you avoid hitting potholes. Remember that shocks, struts and springs in good shape help cushion the blow.

There’s a technique to this

There are often two schools of thought on driving through potholes: speeding up to “jump” over them and jamming the brakes hard to hit them as slowly as possible. Both might work occasionally but the best way is somewhere in between.

If you see a pothole ahead and can’t safely steer to avoid it, it’s best to slow down, then release the brakes before you hit the pothole. This helps to reduce the speed at impact as well as give your suspension the full range of travel to absorb the impact. If you can’t avoid the pothole, straighten your wheel to hit it squarely and roll through. Hitting a pothole at an angle can transfer the energy of impact in ways more likely to damage your vehicle.

You hit one. Now what? 

Tire and wheel damage are common in pothole hits. Look them over for obvious damage. Is your car now pulling one way or the other? You may need to get your steering realigned. Is your vehicle now “bottoming out” or bouncing? That could be damaged suspension. You probably should get your vehicle checked out and repaired, if necessary. A properly maintained vehicle can help you avoid all sorts of road hazards.

Help us take care of it

Whether you hit a pothole or you missed it, you can save your fellow motorists the headache and costs of repairs by reporting it. If it’s on a city street or county road, report it to your city public works department or county road commission. If it’s on state trunkline (I, M or US route), submit it to MDOT’s Report a Pothole webpage (find link at www.michigan.gov/mdot) or call it in to the Pothole Hotline at 888-296-4546.

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The perfect car tips for any trip


(BPT) – Across the country people are planning to take longer road trips this year. If you plan to be one of them, here are five maintenance tips to consider for today’s cars.

* New tires? “For four-wheel drive cars and trucks, buy new tires as a complete set,” says RockAuto.com Engineer and Vice President Tom Taylor. “Mixing old and new tires or just mixing tire brands can create small differences in tire diameter that may be enough to overheat and damage four-wheel drive parts.”

* What spare tire? Adding air to the spare used to be all that was needed, but many newer cars do not have a spare tire. They may have “run-flat” tires or come equipped with an air compressor and sealant. Become familiar with your vehicle’s spare tire system before you leave town and decide if it is adequate. Maybe you will want to upgrade to a full size spare.

CAR-Car-tips2* Why new struts? Pushing down on a fender and counting the bounces is not a good test for the shocks and struts on modern cars. “Some people are happy that their struts seem to be lasting forever but they don’t realize that the struts actually wore out thousands of miles ago,” says Taylor. “Bad struts lead to unnecessary wear on a whole slew of additional parts including the brakes, rubber boots, suspension bushings and engine mounts.” For the safest handling and braking, replace your struts and shocks at 50,000 miles or at the mileage recommended by the manufacturer.

* Just the belt? Modern engine belts last a long time. Most car owners do not resist when their mechanic tells them it is time to replace the belts after many miles or years. “Owners should listen to their mechanics when they are told the belt tensioners need to be replaced along with the belt,” says Taylor. “Those are the spring-loaded pulleys that keep the belt at the correct tension. Putting a new belt on old tensioners can mean premature wear on the new belt or damage to the alternator or other components spun by the belt.”

* Hose looks new? New engine hoses also now last much longer than they used to. Hoses do eventually fail and the damage often starts in the hose’s inner layers where it is out of sight. A burst radiator hose still means a disrupted trip and today’s aluminum alloy engines are often even more susceptible to heat damage. Follow the guidance of your repair manual or mechanic on when to replace hoses.

Some owners may get away with leaving a radiator hose untouched for decades, but for the rest, common sense assessment of risks and rewards shows why these tips are worth following.

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DNR fisheries experts offer opening-day tips

Michigan’s state fish—the brook trout—becomes fair game statewide on the last Saturday in April. 

Michigan’s state fish—the brook trout—becomes fair game statewide on the last Saturday in April.

Fishing may be a 12-months-a-year sport in Michigan, but there’s little doubt that the last Saturday of April is one of the biggest days of the year for anglers. It marks the opening day of trout fishing, statewide on more than 80 percent of the state’s trout streams, as well as the season opener for walleye, pike and muskellunge on the inland waters of the Lower Peninsula.

Like many anglers, a fair number of Department of Natural Resources fisheries personnel will take to lakes and streams very soon. Here’s what some of them have to say about opening-weekend opportunities:

Mark Tonello, a fisheries biologist out of Cadillac and a trout aficionado, says anglers must rid themselves of preconceived notions.

“Don’t pigeonhole yourself into one river,” Tonello said. “What if you get up there and the river you chose is running 4,000 feet per second and all mud? You might want to look at smaller waters, further upstream, where it may be clearer.

“And use all weapons available,” he continued. “A lot of good anglers I know go ready for anything. If there are hatches going off, they’ve got their fly rods and are ready to match the hatch. But if there’s no hatch, they’re ready to throw spinners. And if that’s not working don’t be afraid to try bait.”

Anglers seeking muskellunge on opening day should concentrate in shallow-water areas, say Michigan DNR fisheries biologists.

Anglers seeking muskellunge on opening day should concentrate in shallow-water areas, say Michigan DNR fisheries biologists.

Tonello said anglers shouldn’t be afraid of competition.

“Opening weekend tends to be one of the busiest weekends of the year, but we have so much water, you can find places to fish,” he said. “A good hint is to start with our trout regulations maps that are all color coded—you can catch trout from any of those streams.

“And don’t be afraid to contact the local biologist,” Tonello said. “As a biologist, those are some of my most enjoyable phone calls, when someone calls and says, ‘I’m heading up to Cadillac, can you give me tips on where to fish?’”

Walleye anglers will likely be spread between rivers and lakes and anglers should wait until right before opening day to decide where to fish.

“Last year there were a lot of fish still in the river for the opener,” said Tim Cwalinski, a fisheries biologist in Gaylord. “This year we’re warming up a little more quickly and we didn’t get as much snow, so the fish may be further along this spring than last spring. On our big lakes—Hubbard, Grand, Long, Burt and Mullet, for instance—there are going to be fish in close, near the river mouth, but your best bet is probably going to be fishing really, really slowly. Trolling won’t cut it.

“If they’re still spawning, they’ll be in rocky, cobble areas in 2 to 10 feet of water,” he continued. “If they’ve finished spawning they’ll be out deeper. Males hit the spawning grounds first and stay on the grounds longer; there are fish there all the time, but there are aggressive fish there only part of the time. So don’t be afraid to fish well into evening. That’s what I’ve found on some of these big lakes.”

Fisheries biologist Jim Baker, of Bay City, whose management unit includes the tributaries that feed Saginaw Bay, says a lot will depend on what happens weather-wise the couple of days immediately preceding the opener.

“If you get a big rain and the rivers get high and muddy, it can be hard to catch fish,” Baker said. “But we think the fish will be spawning late because it was so cold, so there should be a lot of fish left in the river when the opener arrives. Most of the guys will be vertical jigging with jigs, baited either with minnows or twister tails, but after the crowds dissipate, we know some guys troll up and down the rivers with Rapalas and they do pretty well.”

Muskellunge enthusiast Don Barnard, a fisheries technician out of Bay City, says the colder water around opening day means anglers should downsize their baits.

“I use smaller baits in the spring than what they use in summer and fall,” he said. “In fall we use 10- or 12-inch baits. The advice is to scale that down to about 8 inches or less in the spring. I use a smaller bucktail or twitch bait, 6 to 7 inches.

“A lot of anglers like to sight fish for spawning fish,” Barnard continued. “Spot them and cast to them.”

Barnard said he often fishes reservoirs and creek mouths.

“Fish the north end of the lake where it gets more sunlight and it warms up a little faster,” he said. “Fish 6 to 8 feet of water, not any deeper than that. The fish are going to be up trying to sun themselves.”

Pike anglers should follow the same strategy.

“We like to fish them shallow around the opener,” said Jody Johnston, a fisheries technician out of Crystal Falls. “A lot of times they’re up very shallow—I wouldn’t be afraid to throw up in 2 feet of water. That’s where some of those nicer fish hang out, especially if you get a wind that is blowing the warm water into the shallows.”

Gary Whelan, the fisheries biologist who runs the DNR research team out of Lansing, says pike anglers should use bass techniques, only more so.

“Use the biggest flies and lures you’ve got,” he said. “I like to fish rivers, and pike will take large streamers like you use for bass—deceivers, Clouser minnows, zonkers—something that looks big and offers a lot of motion. But make sure you use some sort of shock tippets or heavy leader.

“If you’re casting lures, use spinnerbaits or body baits like Rapalas—the biggest ones you’ve got.”

To get more tips and information, including Family Friendly Fishing Waters, the June 13-14 Summer Free Fishing Weekend, and season rules and regulations, visit www.michigan.gov/fishing.

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Birds and Wind Turbines

By Ranger Steve Mueller

By Ranger Steve Mueller

Recently wind turbines were briefly discussed in my nature niche column. Since then an environment report on Michigan Radio regarding wind turbine placement addressed important migration paths for birds along Lake Huron. I had mentioned how birds have their own superhighway routes in the sky.

Monica Essenmacher started an online discussion regarding inappropriate turbine placement. She stated, “Geronimo wind bullies its way out of bird-safe industrial wind-turbine placement. Plans are to go ahead with 50 turbines in an important bird area, where 168 already stand in the path of hundreds of thousands of bird and bat migrants.”

Kimberly Kaufmann, Director Black Swamp Bird Observatory, replied, “Another blatant example of the complete and utter failure of voluntary guidelines. It absolutely sickens me to watch these things penetrate the most sensitive bird areas while the industry thumbs its nose and is then allowed to hide evidence of the real impact to birds.

“Another reminder that this isn’t merely a battle; it’s a war on habitat.”

Kimberly Kaufmann further commented, “Activism requires absolute dogged diligence. We have to tell the story over and over and over and over and over in every possible way. People generally get burned out and give up just when their message is starting to reach the right people.

“Effective activism demands a tremendous amount of time, hard work, experience, and very thick skin! Getting people to take action on anything is a challenge, but this issue is exceptionally hard for people.

1) Most people understand that climate change is real and that we desperately need a cure for our addiction to fossil fuels

2) No one ever wants to discuss the real problem: the fact that the world is overpopulated and unsustainable

3) With no regulations, the industry controls the mortality data, so we never get an accurate assessment of the real environmental impact.

4) The industry is supported by so much $$ and embroiled in so much politics that they control almost everything.

5) Organizations don’t want to be considered “anti-green” by speaking out against any alternative to fossil fuels.

Kim said, “Don’t give up, Monica. There’s still a lot of important work needed. Fighting for transparency of the post-construction monitoring data should be high on your list. We’re currently fighting that battle in Ohio with the state’s largest wind factory.”

Remember, there are many that support you, and as we continue to fight for transparency, people who care about birds and wildlife will be more inclined to join the battle if we can show them just how many of their favorite birds are being impacted.

In my nature niche articles, I strive to suggest how we can behave responsibly toward other species sharing Earth’s Ecosphere. Like Kim mentioned, it is necessary that human numbers do not exceed the Earth’s sustainable carrying capacity. Previously I mentioned we could reduce the number of people on Earth by 40 percent if we simply wait until we are in our 30s to bear children. This would result in three generations living at once instead of five generations. It is an individual choice to select the age we bear children.

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at odybrook@chartermi.net Ody Brook, 13010 Northland Dr, Cedar Springs, MI 49319-8433 or call 616-696-1753.

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Michigan fire season builds during Wildfire Prevention Week


Most of Michigan’s wildfires occur in the spring – April, May and June. According to the Department of Natural Resources, which is responsible for wildland fire protection on 30 million acres of state and private land, April is when wildfires start becoming a problem. The DNR is using the state’s annual observance of Wildfire Prevention Week, April 19-25, to remind the public about the dangers of wildfires.

“One out of three wildfires in Michigan is started by someone who did not take proper precautions or obtain a burn permit before burning yard debris,” said Dan Laux, DNR fire prevention specialist. “Many people look outside and think the snow and spring rains have taken the edge off the wildfire danger, but that’s not the case.

“The dried leaves, needles and brown grass from last year are still there. When the weather is warm, folks want to get out and clean up their yards. They don’t realize that all it takes is one strong wind gust catching an ember to ignite a wildfire.”

He added that with the brown dead grass, it could be damp from showers in the morning but if the sun comes out and the winds pick up there can be fires that afternoon. That’s how quickly conditions change.

Laux said this is why planning is so vital before a match is even lit.

A person is required to get a burn permit prior to burning brush and debris in Michigan. Residents in the northern Lower Peninsula and Upper Peninsula can obtain a free burn permit by visiting www.michigan.gov/burnpermit or by calling 866-922-2876. Residents in southern Michigan should contact their local fire department or township office to see if burning is permitted in their area.

In addition to obtaining a burn permit, the DNR recommends people take the following steps to help prevent wildfires:

*Pay attention to the fire danger in your area. Don’t burn debris when conditions are dry or windy. Unsafe burning of leaves, brush and other debris is a main cause of wildfires.

*Consider composting or mulching yard debris rather than burning it.

*Clear away flammable material surrounding the fire so it won’t creep into dry vegetation.

*Keep campfires small, and do not leave before they are fully extinguished.

*Be sure and douse fires with plenty of water, stir, and add more water until everything is wet.

*Do not cover a campfire with soil; it may simply smolder before coming back to life.

*Embers can reignite. Make sure they are out completely.

“Be safe and smart when it comes to fire,” Laux said. “Fire prevention is everyone’s responsibility.”

For more tips on how to safeguard homes and property from wildfire risk, please visit www.michigan.gov/preventwildfires.

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Row 1: Nick Scott, Ethan Brown, Bradley Barnard, Paul Krajewski, Brendan Johnson, Kyle Sanders, Bryce Lenardson, Dylan Tanis, Kevin Galloway, Cam Patin.  Row 2: Coach London, Drew French, Brayden Harper, Alex Robinson, Brandon Sypka, Cole Davis, Rider Swanson, Austin Nielsen, Coach Schlump. Missing are:  Brandon Eadie, Nick Rethamel

Row 1: Nick Scott, Ethan Brown, Bradley Barnard, Paul Krajewski, Brendan Johnson, Kyle Sanders, Bryce Lenardson, Dylan Tanis, Kevin Galloway, Cam Patin.
Row 2: Coach London, Drew French, Brayden Harper, Alex Robinson, Brandon Sypka, Cole Davis, Rider Swanson, Austin Nielsen, Coach Schlump.
Missing are:  Brandon Eadie, Nick Rethamel

The Red Hawks boys golf team photo was not available when we ran sports schedules a few weeks ago featuring all the spring sports teams. This is your spring 2015 golf team.

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