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About those 10 commandments

Courtland-OakfieldUMCRobert Eckert, Pastor

Courtland-Oakfield United Methodist Church

10295 Myers Lake NE, Rockford

 

They are found in the 20th chapter of Exodus and the fifth chapter of Deuteronomy. They are posted in courtrooms in the United States and the subject of lawsuits heard within courtrooms in the United States. They represent the pinnacle of what is universal, timeless, and sacred for some. They are historical artifacts to others. And what about commandment number six? Does it prohibit killing? Does it prohibit murder? Is there a difference?

If we were playing a word association game any one of those thoughts might have popped into your head when you saw “10 Commandments” in the title of this piece. By any chance, did “thou shalt not” come to mind? My perception is that the 10 Commandments have a reputation for being restrictive, judgmental, and damning. People read “thou shalt not” but hear “THOU SHALT NOT!!” Both Exodus and Deuteronomy describe the Decalogue as having been written by the finger of God and depending on how they’ve been delivered to us, they just might have come across as divine finger wagging.

With that kind of notoriety, the 10 Commandments could use some good press. I was pleased to encounter what I found to be a refreshingly positive take on these ancient injunctions recently. I was reminded that recitations of the 10 Commandments often omit their introductory sentence, their preamble, if you will: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery” (Exodus 20:2, New Revised Standard Version).

In the context of remembering where they had been and what their circumstances were while there, the 10 Commandments sound less threatening and more entreating. “I just brought you out of slavery; don’t slip back into it by worshiping false gods or by taking me for granted. Don’t go back to trying to solve your problems by means you already know to be ineffective. Don’t lie, don’t steal, don’t kill.”

Contributors to the Bible frequently speak of humankind as God’s children. Sometimes a parent has to say to a child, “Didn’t I just tell you [fill in the blank]?” Maybe the 10 Commandments are God’s way of saying, “C’mon, we’ve been through this. You’re free now. Don’t make yourselves slaves again.”

Human beings are plagued with self-destructive tendencies, bad habits, and addictions. We are trapped in cycles of behavior governed by the rubric that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. But there’s a wonderful little sentence in Galatians 5:1: “For freedom Christ has set us free” (NRSV).

Unlike what the Egyptians were to the Israelites, and unlike what our own insecurities and lusts are to us, God has no interest in being our task master. God desires to bring us out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. If the idea of commandments seems harsh to you, consider them as compassionate, heart-felt reminders that God loves you and truly desires only what is best for you.

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In Scorn of the Consequences

By Ronnie McBrayer

By Ronnie McBrayer

“If there was one last crust of bread in this town, it would be mine.” That’s a quote from a rather pretentious member of the clergy, stating how God would take care of him should the world come unhinged tomorrow. “Everyone else may starve, but God has promised me that I will always have enough.”

The spiritual mathematics of such self-confidence says: “I am godly, so I will always have what I want and will never go without.” The corollary for such a statement is also true: “If you are ungodly, then you will not always have what you need, and you will suffer.”

To hear advocates of this position explain, those who please God always land on top of the heap. Their cupboards are always full, their gas tanks never empty, their table always running over, and their checks never bounce.

But countless numbers of good and godly people have suffered, have gone without, have been tortured, have been chained in prison, and have died by stoning, firing squad, holocaust, and worse. They suffered, not because they possessed an inferior faith, a faith not big or strong enough to get them out of trouble, but because of their unwavering belief.

The writer of the book of Hebrews concludes that those who suffer this way are “too good for this world and earn a good reputation because of their faith.” Their stomachs didn’t growl be-cause their faith was defective. On the contrary, they suffered because of their virtue. These heroes of faith weren’t standing behind a pulpit, in the midst of chaotic times, bragging about how the last bread truck in town was going to make a special delivery to their home. No, they led a life of faith, a life lived “in scorn of the consequences,” to quote the late Clarence Jordan, taking integrity as its own reward.

After leaving the man who had called dibs on the last loaf of Wonder Bread in town, I was left to wonder myself. What happens to this kind of faith when the promised bread truck doesn’t arrive? What is the outcome when the pantry is found to be empty? When the last check bounces? When life produces more suffering than satisfaction?

I imagine a chink in this armor of belief makes for one incredible crisis of faith. And it should, because faith that leads to arrogance isn’t faith at all.

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

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VICKI LYNN MARION

 

30-OBIT-marionVicki Lynn Marion, 59, of Sidney Township, Stanton, died Friday, July 24, 2015 at her home. Vicki was born April 26, 1956 in Cedarville, Michigan, the daughter of Darwin and Viola (Marks) Minard. She loved gardening, being outdoors and kayaking. She was an amazingly strong woman, with the biggest heart and a mom to many. Surviving are her daughter, Lynn Marion of Cedar Springs; boyfriend, Jerry VanHolstyn; brothers, Keith (Diane) Minard, Steve (Charlene) Minard, Mike Minard; sisters, Darlene (Jack) Bonenberger, Barbara Minard, Sheila Minard-Brady; many nieces and a nephew. She was preceded in death by her husband, Mark Marion in 1996 and a nephew, Darwin “James” Minard. The family greeted friends Tuesday, July 28 from 12 noon until time of service at 1:00 pm at the Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs. Pastor Michael Shiery of Pilgrim Bible Church officiating. The family would appreciate memorial contributions to help with funeral expenses.

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

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MARK STEPHEN SCHUPP

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Mark Stephen Schupp, 54, of Howard City, went to be with his Lord and Savior on Sunday, July 26, 2015 while on a hiking trip with the youth group. Mark was born February 11, 1961 in Chester, Pennsylvania, the son of John and Doris (Williams) Schupp III. He worked in maintenance at Rockford Public Schools since 1989. Surviving are his wife, Cynthia (Owen); children, Stephen, David, Luke, Isaac, and Jenna; brothers, Kevin and Joel; sister, Linda Thomas; mother-in-law, Joyce Owen; brothers-in-law, Howard and Mick; special uncle and aunt, Clarence (Nancy) Hamilton. He was preceded in death by his parents and father-in-law, Moses Ray Owen. At the age of 20, Mark gave his life to the Lord under the influence of his friend and mentor, Rich Steptoe. He accompanied Rich in his bus ministry, inner-city ministries, and visitation. Mark will be remembered for being kind and caring, intent on being a warrior for Christ. He lived to serve others with an intense passion and took special pleasure in serving his beloved wife, Cindy, and their five children. He made life fun, coaching their basketball teams, taking them on trips, and creating adventures around their home. Life with Mark was never dull, as his creativity filled their lives with pirates, caped heroes, Indians, cavemen, knights, dinosaurs, fireworks, bonfires, zip lines, forts, tea parties, science lessons, woodworking, wrestling/boxing, and so much more. Every birthday was marked with a special Mark-created cake. Mark proudly invested in his children’s interests by attending sporting events, plays/musicals, and recitals. After all the fun, he was a dad willing to listen, read, talk, and fill his children’s lives with the Word of God. Mark was a member of the First Baptist Church of Newaygo where he taught an adult Sunday school class and was an AWANA leader. In the past, Mark served as a VBS coordinator, visitation team member, youth leader, and basketball ministry helper. His dedication to God was evident in how he served his church and community. When Mark met Cindy, he was a city boy. He let himself be led to the woods of Michigan and never looked back. He assimilated himself into her world, and together they created a life for their family. He worked alongside Cindy to help care for their family members, their children, and their church family. It’s this Mark that will be greatly missed, but we celebrate that he is now enjoying being in the presence of his Lord. The family will greet friends Thursday from 5-8 pm at the Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, in Cedar Springs. The celebration of life will be held Friday at 11:00 am at First Baptist Church, 233 S. Main St., Cedar Springs. Pastors Daryl Crawford, Danny Hicks, Mark Holman, Mike King, and Steve Mackey officiating. Interment at Algoma Township Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to Pine Ridge Bible Camp Sports Discipleship Ministry or to an education fund for Mark’s children.

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

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KORA LUCILLE DART

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Christopher and Trisha Dart of Cedar Springs would like to announce the birth of their daughter, Kora Lucille Dart. Kora was born on Wednesday, May 20, 2015 at 5:32 pm at Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She was 7 pounds, 15 ounces at birth and 19.5 inches. Kora was welcomed home by proud grandparents; Lee and Christine Mullennix of Cedar Springs, Michigan, and Ron and Carolyn Marr of Rodney, Michigan; great-grandparents Kay and Phil Hallock of Cedar Springs, Michigan, Marilyn Nance of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Diane and Dave Pollock of Pratts, Virginia and Mary Korreck of Palm Bay, Florida.

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A recipe for a healthy marriage

Pastor Jim Alblas

Pioneer Christian Reformed Church

3592 17 Mile RD NE, Cedar Springs

It’s common knowledge that summer is a very popular time for weddings. In my church, July ranks as the top anniversary month, with August not far behind. This summer, it’s likely that you will either get married, attend someone else’s wedding or at least send an anniversary card. Since the topic of marriage is popular right now, I thought it fitting to see what the Bible teaches us about what makes for a healthy marriage. While there are various places to turn to answer that question, I share with you what we find in the Old Testament book of Song of Songs.

Song of Songs chronicles the romantic journey of a man and woman from their courtship to their wedding day and into their married lives. What I found most profound is the continuous passion between the couple in all three stages. While they are dating, as seen in chapter one, listen to the words of the woman. “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth for your love is more delightful than wine.” And hear the man, “Your cheeks are beautiful with earrings, your neck with strings of jewels.” Then on their wedding day, the passion continues as seen in chapter three. She says, “Come out, you daughters of Zion, and look at King Solomon wearing the crown, the crown with which his mother crowned him on the day of his wedding, the day his heart rejoiced.”  And he replies by saying: “All beautiful you are, my darling; there is no flaw in you.”  But as we follow the story, we see how they keep up their passion, even as they get married. She says to her husband in chapter seven:  “Come, my lover, let us go to the countryside, let us spend the night in the villages. Let us go early to the vineyards to see if the vines have budded.” She wants to go out on a date with her husband and knowing him, he will certainly oblige. Their continued passion and even dating is a powerful lesson married couples can learn from.

Often, when people are dating, they speak passionately to one another, gaze lovingly at each other and enjoy frequent outings together. However, when a couple becomes married, sometimes those things lessen. Why is that? Perhaps during courtship we work hard to win each other over, and now, having been won over, we put in less effort. Maybe the excitement that comes, with something being new, naturally fades as it is no longer new. Whatever the reason may be, I say we learn from the continuous passion of this husband and wife. As married folks, we need to keep writing love letters and keep going out on dates; it’s an ingredient for a healthy marriage. It’s not the only ingredient; you also need love, respect, commitment and to keep God at the center of your relationship. But, when we combine a continued passion for God, with a continued passion for each other, we find a recipe for a healthy marriage.

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For a Ride

By Ronnie McBrayer

By Ronnie McBrayer

I’ve tried to stay out of this, but like the proverbial moth drawn to the flame, I can’t leave Creflo alone. The Creflo of whom I speak is Creflo A. Dollar, televangelist and pastor of the 30,000-member World Changers Church near Atlanta, Georgia.

I have to say that Creflo has the best name for a televangelist in the history of the genre. Dollar! And dollars, it appears, are what Brother Creflo is most concerned with. That’s what draws me to the scorching flame: His most recent fundraising effort. He needed a new airplane so he asked his followers to help him purchase of a Gulfstream G650, a $65 million aviation marvel.

If the man thinks he needs a $65 million jet, I don’t care. But for me, this is a problem: Coercion has more to do with Creflo’s financial success than faith.  Here is what Creflo said back in 2011 (when he was slumming around on a Gulfstream III). Preaching about what he would do – if he could – to those who did not put their tithes in the offering plate, he said:

“Red and blue lights would start going, the siren would go off, and a voice would go throughout the entire building, ‘Crook, crook, crook, crook!’ We’d line them up in the front and pass out Uzis and point them at all those non-tithing members…and at the count of three ‘Jesus-es’ we’d shoot them all dead… If we were not under the Blood of Jesus, I would certainly try it.”

At the end of all this recent tomfoolery Creflo said, “The devil is [trying to] discredit me because I’m showing people, Jesus.” This one really stuck me in the heart (as if the Uzi-wielding firing squad did not). Because Jesus “had no place to lay his head.” Jesus said, “Do not store up treasures here on earth;” and, “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and then you will have treasure in heaven;” and, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for the rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

Regardless, Creflo ended up with his new jet. Well, eventually he will, as its assembly is backlogged until around 2018. Maybe, if Jesus comes back by then, Creflo will take the Lord for a ride in it, because he’s already taken everyone else for one.

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

 

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100th Birthday

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BERTHA NORMAN

Look who is turning 100! Bertha Hockeborn Norman, lifelong resident of Rockford Michigan, will be achieving this milestone in her life on August 16, 2015. We would be honored if you could help us celebrate her special day by participating in a Card Shower! Wishing Bertha a Happy Birthday through a letter or card would definitely brighten her day! Please send cards to PO Box 346, Rockford, MI 49341.

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CHRIS JOHANSEN

 

Attention friends of Chris Johansen: Chris will be moving to Louisiana to be closer to her daughter, Tiffany. She currently lives at The Brook of Big Rapids, 14595 -215th Street, Big Rapids, MI 49307, near Menards. Stop in to visit or if you would like to talk to her before she goes call Linda at 616-696-9585 for more information.

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50th Anniversary

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ROGER & RUTH WRIGHT

Roger and Ruth (Hanes) Wright of Cedar Springs will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary on Saturday, August 1, 2015 from 1 to 4 pm with family and friends at Huggard Church, 8860 – 21 Mile Rd., Sand Lake. Roger and Ruth met in 1963. They were married at Ensley Baptist Church on August 6, 1965. Roger grew up in Rockford and Ruth was from Grant. They bought a dairy farm together in Rockford and lived there until 1991. In 1991 they moved to the Cedar Springs/Greenville area, where they continue to farm today. Ruth and Roger have one child, Alan (Lisa) Wright; four grandchildren, Michelle, Nicole, Casey and Danelle; four great grandchildren, Izzy, Alexis, Bentley and Ahri.

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