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Archive | Church Connection

The wisdom to wait

By Ronnie McBrayer

By Ronnie McBrayer

Two monks lived together in a monastery for decades. In time they both died and the first monk awoke to discover that he was in heaven. But he realized that his friend wasn’t with him, so off to the lower realms of eternity he traveled, and that’s where he found his friend, now a worm, digging in a pile of manure.

He said, “I’m going to rescue my friend and bring him back to heaven.” With that, the monk commenced to digging. Before long the worm wiggled out and barked, “Get lost! I’m happy here!” But the heavenly monk grabbed hold of the worm and started tugging and pulling, but the harder he worked at it, the harder that worm clung to his pile of manure.

This story is an adaptation of a Zen tale meant to communicate an important point: If someone isn’t ready to change, if they are truly committed to the manure pile, there’s little you can do about it. And, the more you dig in to help, the more tenacious their grip on the compost will become. Simply, you can’t make someone change. It’s not within your power to do so.

In the teachings of Jesus, we have a similar story known as “The Prodigal Son.” A young man took his fortune, and ran away to a far country and promptly exhausted his enormous wealth. He ended up working on a hog farm, living in a pigpen. Meanwhile, his loving father remained at home waiting, and never chased the boy down, though he must have known the disaster that had overcome his son.

The father was wise enough to know that his son had to come to the end of himself, and attempting to intervene before the young man was finished with the pigpen, would have only resulted in frustrating failure for all parties.

I suspect we all have people in our lives that we want to help—addicts, codependents, emotional junkies. Friends or family who go running over Fool’s Hill every chance they get. We can’t change them, rescue them, or make them see the error of their ways.

We can only wait, hope, and pray that they, like the prodigal, will reach the end of their rope and turn their will and life over to a Power greater than themselves. And, when this happens, then, we can be there to help dig them out.

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

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GLEN REED

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Glen Reed, aged 94, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, went to be with the Lord on Sunday, August 23, 2015, surrounded by his loved ones. Glen was born October 22, 1920 to Oscar and Ruth Reed. He was preceded in death by his parents; brothers, Harold, Robert and sister Mary Ridgeway and is survived by his brother Charles (Madelin) Reed, sister Alice Sluijer, both of Sand Lake, Michigan; sister-in-laws Selma Reed of Sand Lake, and Grace Reed of Largo, Florida; brother-in-law Lester Ridgeway, of Trufant, Michigan; lifelong friend Clay Palmer of Grand Rapids, Michigan; and many nieces and nephews. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, August 29, 2015 at 2 pm at Huggard Bible, 4 miles east of Sand Lake on the corner of Tisdel and 21 Mile. Pastor Rick Malone officiating. In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be given to Huggard Bible or Sand Lake United Methodist Church.

Arrangements by Memorial Alternatives, Grand Rapids

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EDWARD J. SMITH

 

Edward J. Smith, age 89, of Sand Lake passed away at his residence on August 22, 2015.  He was born April 12, 1926 in Lakeview, the son of John and Margaret Smith.  As a teenager, Ed worked for his brother, Francis, at Smitty’s Garage in Lakeview.  He also worked delivering coal in the Lakeview area.  He served his country in the US Army during WWII and was a member of the Sand Lake VFW Post.  After the war he worked for Dohler Jarvis in Grand Rapids and Toledo as a die cast repair man, retiring after 35 years. Ed never lost his love for auto mechanics and was noted in Sand Lake for being able to fix most anything.  He was always willing to help neighbors and the Village of Sand Lake with repairs.  Many children learned how to repair their bicycles from Ed.  Ed loved to fish, hunt and camp. He enjoyed riding motorcycle and fast cars. He also loved to restore old cars and tractors.  Ed and his wife Laura could often be found sitting on the swing in their front yard.  In his senior years Ed rarely missed Friday music at the Howard City Senior Center. Surviving are his wife Laura; children, Dan (Jane) Smith of Pierson, Margaret Merritt of Sand Lake, Sandra (Harold) McConnell of Sparta, Edward (Karin) Jr. Smith of Ohio, Randy (Roxie) Smith of Texas, John (Cheryl) Smith of Sand Lake, Lori (Scott) Wesche of Howard City; 23 grandchildren and 24 great grandchildren and one great great grandchild; one sister Dorothy Briggs of Muskegon; and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, two brothers, Francis and Ray Smith and one sister Charlotte Rogalewski. Funeral services will take place on Saturday, August 29th at 11 am at the Heckman Funeral Home in Howard City with burial in the Pierson Cemetery, where Military Honors will be conducted by the Howard City VFW Post.  The family will greet friends on Friday, August 28th  from 2-4 and 6-8 pm and prior to services on Saturday. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Howard City Senior Center, 132 E. Edgerton, PO Box 399, Howard City, MI 49329  Attention Delores Becker.

Arrangements by Heckman Funeral Home, Howard City

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JOSEPH SCOTT CASTINE

 

Joseph Scott Castine, 61, of Cedar Springs, died Friday, August 21, 2015 at Mercy Hospital, Muskegon. Joseph was born January 16, 1954 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the son of Ramon and Jacqueline (Skokna) Castine. He was a very hardworking, dedicated, loyal and kind person. He had a great sense of humor and loved to laugh. Surviving are his son, Joseph and fiancee, Prudence Parker; brothers, Ramon, Gregory; sisters, Debra Hilton, Johnee Doering; nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents and a daughter, Penny Marie. The family greeted friends Tuesday, August 25 at the Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs. There was no formal service. Private family burial will be held at Elmwood Cemetery, Cedar Springs. Memorial contributions may be made to the Red Flannel Queen Scholarship Fund.

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

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ROBERTA ANN SPRAGUE

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Roberta Ann “Bobbie” Sprague, age 64, of Cedar Springs, formerly of Big Rapids and Morley, went to sleep in Jesus on Tuesday, August 18, 2015. She was born on April 19, 1951 in Lansing, the daughter of Christian and Dorothy (Carter) Bentley. Bobbie enjoyed doing crafts, loved her church family, and was always ready to help anyone. She is survived by her husband, Philip Sprague of Sheridan; two children, Daniel (Dorothea) Yarrington of Rockford and Sapphire Yarrington of Rockford; three grandchildren; four sisters, Juanita (Mike) Crooks of Morley, Lorenda Lytle of Sears, Laura Stahle of Cedar Springs, and Cheri (John) Gerst of Reed City; two brothers, Richard (Ruth) Bentley of Hersey and Alan (Bunny) Bean of Hopewell, Virginia; many nieces and nephews; and her great aunt Alice Marrs. Bobbie was preceded in death by her parents; one brother, James Bentley; and three sisters, Marjorie Winstone, Leah Finney, and Beverly Earnest. Also preceding her were her aunt and uncle, whose home she grew up in, Abner and Beatrice Lehman. Funeral services for Bobbie was held at 11:00 am, Monday August 24, 2015 at the Mohnke Funeral Home in Big Rapids. Her family greeted friends on Sunday from 5:00 to 8:00 pm and Monday from 10:00 am until the time of service. Interment will be at the Pine Plains Cemetery in Big Rapids.

Share a memory or express condolences at www.mohnkefuneralhome.com

Arrangements by Mohnke Funeral Home

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JARROD LEE WELCH

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February 21, 1972 – August 17, 2015

Jarrod Welch, 43, of Sparta, passed away on Monday, August 17, 2015 at Spectrum Butterworth Hospital. He was born on February 21, 1972 in Greenville, Michigan. Jarrod was a great outdoorsman. He went fishing, camping, scuba diving, riding his motorcycle, hunting and gardening any chance he got. He also enjoyed music and thunderstorms. He valued his time spent with family and friends. He is survived by his wife, Kathryn (Bricault) Welch; his parents, Gary and Connie Welch of Sand Lake; his grandparents Don and Joan (Tramper) Welch of Sand Lake; his son, Shane Welch; his step-son, Robbie Bricault-Peckham; his brothers Cory (Angela) Welch, Chris Mortenson; his sister, Anisa Mortenson; many nieces and nephews and friends. He was preceded in death by his “brother-in-spirit” Billy Lincoln. A celebration of life will be held on September 12, 2015. Details will follow on Facebook in the near future. In lieu of flowers, donations in Jarrod’s name will be accepted at www.gofundme.com/JarrodWelch. All funds will be used to pay for medical expenses and to support the family during this time. Jarrod will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved him.

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Don’t lose your joy

Cedar-Christian-ChurchPastor Ryan Black

Cedar Springs Christian Church
340 West Pine Street, Cedar Springs

 

Does God want us to be happy? There seems to be some good evidence in scripture that God does want us to be happy and have joy in our lives (Romans 15:13). There are a variety of possibilities that one can appear to find joy and delight in the things of this world. We can seek joy in our families, friends, wealth and even our health. We can find joy in our careers, school, and of course, the countless forms of entertainment. These are all wonderful things we can enjoy and we should give God praise for many of these blessings. However, we must always make sure that the blessings do not become the source of where our joy comes from.

Our joy needs to come directly from God for who He is, and not for what He has blessed us with. If the joy in your life comes from the blessings you have received, then your joy can be taken away from you. You may also find yourself chasing the blessings thinking they will give you your happiness. If God is the source of your joy, your joy will never be removed or taken away from you (John 16:22) despite the blessing or blessings that are removed from your life.  This is why someone can lose a job and still be happy. This is why someone can receive a bad health report and still be at peace. This is why someone can be going through a family crisis and still feel comforted. Not that these things won’t sting or hurt for a moment, but God is our source of joy, not the blessings. While it’s great to enjoy the blessings and we need to thank Him for these blessings, we must not forget that we need to give Him the glory because He’s a loving God not just for the way we have been blessed. Unfortunately, many see it that way and will blame God for their lack of blessings and therefore think that they cannot have happiness.

God loves each and every one of us. Many have been blessed in different forms but as long as God is the foundation of our joy and happiness, it can never be taken away.

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Tea and apple pies

 

By Ronnie McBrayer

By Ronnie McBrayer

When our friend first moved to our hometown in the Deep South, it was a culture shock. Raised on the slick windy streets of Chicago, he had never eaten grits; did not know what chicken and dumplings were; had not the foggiest idea about pork rinds; and had never been to a church homecoming with “dinner on the grounds.” Nor had he encountered the Southern hospitality dripping from the mouths and handshakes of his new neighbors.

One evening as he and his wife were beginning to settle into these alien surroundings, there was a knock at the door. Out on the stoop was a sweet, small-town Southern lady, gray-haired with apple pie in hand. She gave the usual “welcome to our town” speech and finally ended with an invitation for her new neighbors to join her for worship at the First Baptist Church the next Sunday.

“No ma’am,” said my friend. “I’m an atheist.” The poor woman looked at him, dumbstruck. To relieve the tension she turned to his wife: “What about you, dear?” Again, the answer was shat-tering: “No, I am afraid not. I am Jewish.” The charming saint from the First Baptist Church turned and left, taking her apple pie with her.

It used to be that everyone we met was a bit like us. Not anymore. From religion and race, to politics and lifestyle, the diversity that now surrounds us is far greater than anything we could have imagined a generation ago. So, in shock, we exercise kindness toward those who are like us, and we keep our apple pies away from those we find different than we ourselves. This is hardly hospitality, Southern or otherwise.

In this day and age of connection and social media, we are actually more divided and disconnected than ever. A large reason for this is the lack of face-to-face community, especially with those we consider different.

An Asian tea tradition can inform us here. It is common for Eastern cultures to share tea with strangers as a means of sincere welcome. It’s much more than a quick shot of caffeine. It is an act of hospitable community building, because the more times strangers share tea together, the more like true friends they become.

Tea and apple pies.There just might be something to sharing these with our neighbors that will be good for all of us.

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

 

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BEVERLY A. ODREN

 

EPSON scanner imageBeverly A. Odren, 81, of Cedar Springs, went to be with her Lord and Saviour on Friday, August 14, 2015 at her home. Bev was born January 1, 1934 in Solon Township, Michigan, the daughter of Peter and Marjorie (Clingan) Hanna. She retired from Cedar Springs Public Schools Reading Center and had been a lifetime and very active member of First Baptist Church, Cedar Springs. She was a very loving and caring mother, grandmother, great grandmother, sister and friend. Surviving are her children, Keith (Marva) Odren, Kent (Peggy) Odren, Karla (Dennis) Glerum; grandchildren, Peter (Monika) Odren, Derek (Jacqui) Odren, Anna Odren, Julie (Matt) Whitehead, Mary (Aaron) Aniszko, Tim (Amy) Glerum, Jon Glerum, and Andy Glerum; great grandchildren, Geneva, Eli, Zach, Isiah, Monroe, and Max; sisters, Myrna Weidenfeller, Doris (Ron) DeJong; brother, Don (Nancy) Hanna; several nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her husband, Charles in 2000. The family greeted friends Monday, August 17 from 5-8 pm at the Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs. The service was held Tuesday 11:00 am at the First Baptist Church, 233 S. Main St, Cedar Springs. Pastor Jim Howard officiating. Interment Solon Township Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to the First Baptist Church.

Arrangements by Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home

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ROBERT & RUTHAN HAWKINS

50th Anniversary

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Robert and Ruthan Hawkins of Ensley Center will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary on Friday August 21st, 2015.  God brought them together at a young age, they fell in love and were married at Pierson Bible Church on August 21st, 1965.  Robert grew up in Ensley Center and Ruthan was originally from Pierson. In 1967 they bought a dairy farm in Ensley Center and raised their family there and it is where they continue to farm side by side today. Robert and Ruthan’s home has always been open to those that needed a helping hand, a listening ear, or some of Ruthan’s amazing home cooking. Robert faithfully served the community for many years as the chief of the Sand Lake Fire Department with Ruthan supporting him all the way. God has blessed them with five children, nineteen grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.

“Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

Corinthians 13:4-5

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