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Archive | Church Connection

Getting excited about church

C-East-Nelson-UnitedPastor Herb VanderBilt 

East Nelson United Methodist Church

9024 18 Mile Rd. • Cedar Springs MI 49319

 

It made me glad to hear them say, “Let’s go to the house of the Lord!” Psalm 122.

 

When was the last time you got excited about going to church for Sunday worship? I know that there are days when all of us wished we could stay home especially this winter with all the cold weather and snow making it hard to get to church. How many times do you go home complaining that you didn’t get much out of the service? Guess what? You may have received more than you think. According to William Morrow even falling asleep in church may be good for you. After all it is the Easter season and getting woke up in the service may be a reminder of the Resurrection. William goes on to say that “fully 50% of what happens in a worship service is at the unconscious level of the mind.”In other words we don’t know how the benefits accrue. They just do. As long as you go there, your inner self is soaking up the messages, many even unspoken. You don’t have to take notes or remember the theme of the sermon or “meditation”. Go with your five senses open to absorbing the beauty of the music, the surrounding symbols that embrace you and the enacted ceremonies of unconditional love and acceptance…where else but in a religiously motivated community can you find people who befriend and support you?

Many people today have given up on the church saying that it is outdated and not relevant anymore. That is unfortunate because I have  found some of the most relevant and up-to-date ideas come from people excited to be a part of a community of folks who are all connected together in Love to help each other grow in faith. I’m glad to go into the house of the Lord.

 

 

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An Empty Tomb is not an Empty Promise

by Ronnie McBrayer

by Ronnie McBrayer

“The Mystery of Al Capone’s Vault” aired almost three decades ago this week, and at the time, it was the most watched syndicated television show in history. The charismatic host of the show that evening promised the unveiling of long-kept secrets, the unknotting of historical mystery, and priceless artifacts from where Capone once lived. That host was Geraldo Rivera.

Yes, before he had his nose broken on daytime television; before he had fat sucked from his buttocks and shot into his forehead; before he was sent packing from Afghanistan for disclosing the location of US troops; and before that viral shirtless selfie on Twitter, Rivera had long ago revealed how ill-advised some of his decisions could be.

With 30 million people watching to see mysteries solved and questions answered, the vault was opened revealing nothing—unless you consider an empty gin bottle to be of historical importance. The opening of Capone’s treasures was a story as empty as the vault.

I must confess that Easter can sometimes leave us feeling like Geraldo. On Resurrection Sunday we gather with the sold-out crowd and hear the report of Jesus coming back to life. “He is risen!” we are told, and his resurrection gives “hope for ourselves, for the world, and for the future.”

But is this a publicity stunt? How can one man’s resurrection centuries ago make any real difference within the scope of eternity? Isn’t this a metaphysical fraud used to boost Christianity’s ratings? Answering similar objections, the Apostle Paul wrote, “If Christ hasn’t been raised, then our faith is worthless.”

Unafraid to soften his words, Paul goes on to say that without Easter, Christianity is a farce; eternal life is a promise built on overhyped lies; God’s grace has been misrepresented; and those who adhere to the faith are as pitiful as Geraldo in a warzone (that line is not a quote from Paul, though he might have appreciated it).

Nonetheless, in rising from the dead, Jesus signaled that he would redeem humanity by overcoming all enemies, even death, and return the universe to wholeness. He will bring all of God’s creation back to life, making “life worth the living,” as the old song goes, “just because he lives.” So we confess this hope: “Jesus Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!” An ambitious confession? Yes, but confession that the tomb is empty is far more than an empty promise.

Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, pastor, and author. His newest book is “The Gospel According to Waffle House.” You can read more at www.ronniemcbrayer.me.

 

 

 

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CORNELIUS (NEAL) FEIKEMA

Cornelius (Neal) Feikema of Evart passed away Saturday April 12, 2014 at Autumnwood of McBain. He was 88. Mr. Feikema was born January 11, 1926 in Okaton, South Dakota  to Frank and Ann (DeGraaf) Feikema. He was a 1946 graduate of Evart High School. Neal married Winona Kushmaul in 1946 at Sears, Michigan. He was nearly a lifelong Evart area resident. Neal and Winona’s music was entertainment at many dances around Mid-Michigan. Neal retired from Liberty Dairy after working there for many years and retired from farming in 2004. He was active with the Michigan State Agriculture program and was a premier Angus breeder. Mr. Feikema was very involved in 4-H, the Osceola County Fair, and starting livestock shows and auctions throughout the state, judging at many of them. He attended the Evart and North Evart United Methodist Churches. Mr. Feikema is survived by his wife of 67 years, Winona of Evart, a daughter, Sharon Lamie of Middleville, son , Neal Duane Feikema of Evart, five grandchildren, six great grandchildren, one great great grandchild, eight sisters; Hermina Stoker of Lansing, Corena Cass of Evart, Josphina Tift of Florida, Francis Brackett of Big Rapids, Annette (Bruce) Giddings of Lansing, Chris Fabijancic of Lansing, Harlene Matlia of Lansing, Kathy Ohler of Lansing, four brothers; Don “Spike” Feikema of Clarksville, Arkansas, Fred (Ferne) Feikema of Evart, John (Jeanie) Feikema of Lansing, Frank (Ann) Feikema of Tucson, Arizona, and numerous nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents. Funeral services for Cornelius Feikema are Wednesday April 16th at the Corey Funeral Home in Evart with Pastor Tim Ford officiating. Visitation will be Tuesday April 15th 2pm to 4pm & 6pm to 8pm at the funeral home. Internment will be in the Osceola Township Cemetery.

Arrangements by Corey Funeral Home in Evart

 

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Ronny Merlington

Ronny Merlington

Ronny Merlington

 Ronny R. Merlington, 76 of Cedar Springs, died Sunday, April 13, 2014 at Spectrum Health-United Memorial Hospital. Ronny was born September 1, 1937 in Pierson, MI the son of Robert and Ruth (Madison) Merlington. He graduated from Sand Lake High School in 1955 and received a Bachelor degree from Michigan State University. He taught school in Sand Lake for 2 years and then for the next 36 years for Cedar Springs Public Schools. He was a coach for 20 years for football, basketball and baseball. In addition to his dedication as an educator, he had a passion for public service. He served as a Cedar Springs Council Member, Mayor Pro Tem, and Mayor. He was a member and chair of the Zoning Board of Appeals for 25 years. He was a member of Squadron 287 of the Sons of The American Legion and an officer and Detachment Commander of the entire state of Michigan and National Executive Committee Man. In retirement, he was a licensed trainer and enjoyed his horses and harness racing with his wife, Shirley. He was an avid hunter for his entire life and had a perfect record on successful deer hunts. Surviving are his wife, Shirley Ann (Misner); children, Dominic (Christine) Merlington, Robert (Amy) Merlington; grandchildren, Rebekah Merlington, Robert Burmeister, Kristofer Merlington, Ethan Robinson, Elizabeth Robinson; brother, Russel (Patricia) Merlington; sister, Rosalynn Wall; many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his brother, Rex Merlington and sister, Rosanne Morris. The family received friends Tuesday, April 15 at the Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs where services were held on Wednesday, April 16. Pastor Mary Ivanov officiating. Interment Elmwood Cemetery, Cedar Springs. Memorial contributions may be made to the Cedar Springs Museum, Cedar Springs Public Library, or the Cedar Springs Community Food Pantry.

 

 

 

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Too good to keep to ourselves

Grace-ChurchPastor Kevin Reed

Grace Evangelical Free Church

4714 13 Mile Rd, Rockford

 

 

 

Galatians 4:4-7: 4 But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba,Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. (NIV)

 

If you have placed your faith in Jesus, then you have a story. The Bible uses some amazing words to describe your story. Words like:

Redeem, which means to buy back from something.

Adoption, which means to welcome into a family by choice.

Sonship, which means you are no longer a slave but an actual child of the living God and, if a child, then an heir, which means you have a rightful claim to all the possessions of your Father!

And, most importantly, abba, which means that the Almighty God of the universe lets you climb up into his lap and call him daddy!

Our story goes something like this:  “Once I was a slave to my sin, but God sent his son to die on a cross and shed his blood, in order to buy me back from the penalty and judgment of my sin. By putting my faith in Him, he chose to welcome me into his family and make a son who has an inheritance, instead of a slave who has nothing. And most of all, he allows me to call him my Dad, as he promises to watch over and care for me all of my days.”

Now that is an amazing story! That is a story that is just too good to keep to ourselves!  Yet, many Christians do just that. They have a story that is so amazing and so wonderful, and it has the power to change the life of all those who hear it, and they keep it to themselves. If you are a child of God, then you have a story to tell that is far too wonderful and life-changing to be kept to yourself. You come in contact with people each day who need to hear this amazing story of a God who loved them so much he sent his son to redeem them and adopt them into his family. But if you aren’t going to tell them, then who will? God has placed special people into your life that he wants you to share this “too good to be true” story with. So why aren’t you sharing it with them?

At this time of the year, people are more receptive to the Gospel message than any other time, and they are more apt to come to church with you these next two Sundays than any other Sunday (besides Christmas) throughout the year. So, why not step out on a limb and tell someone about Jesus? Why not invite them to church on Easter Sunday? Why not step out of your comfort zone? After all, the good news about Jesus is just too good to keep to ourselves.

 

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Betty Jo Stults

In Loving Memory of 

Our beloved Mother, Grandma & Great-Grandma

Betty Jo Stults

November 4, 1938 to April 13, 2012

 

Until We Meet Again

 

Those special memories of you

will always bring a smile

if only we could have you back

for just a little while

Then we could sit and talk again

just like we used to do

you always meant so very much

and always will too

The fact that you’re no longer here

will always cause us pain

but you’re forever in our hearts

until we meet again

 

Deeply missed by your

Loving Daughter Cheryl and Son-in-Law Greg, and their family

Greg Jr., Pam, Samantha, Courtney

Roger, Tasha, Adrian, Ryan

Alicia, David, Corey, Tayla

Kristina and April

 

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Dean Richard Chapman

In loving memory of 

Dean Richard Chapman

October 24, 1966 to April 10, 1986

 

I wonder?

 

I wonder what it would be like if you were still with us

I wonder what your life would’ve become

I wonder if your dreams would have come true

I wonder if you’d be a successful architect

I wonder if you’d still be playing basketball

I wonder if you’d have more kids and how many

I wonder what kind of father you’d be

I wonder how all our lives would be different

I wonder if I’ll ever see you again

I wonder if you’ll remember me

 

Even though I only got to spend 13 years of my life with you in it, and it’s been 28 years since your death, I still miss you and wish you were here.

 

Love, 

Your little sister, 

Belinda

aka Boleggia Wart Knee

 

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JOHN E. FORTUNA

John E. Fortuna, II age 73 of Belmont, died Friday, April 4, 2014 at Spectrum Health – Butterworth Campus. John was born January 20, 1941 in Grand Rapids, Michigan the son of John and Nina (Griffin) Fortuna. He worked in Tool & Die and served an apprenticeship at Lear Siegler and then worked at Knape & Vogt, Auto Die and retired from General Motors on 36th St. in 2006 after 25 years. Surviving are his wife, Sally (Morris); children, John E. III and Jeannie, Jerry, Cindy (Fortuna) and Doug Ellinger; grandchildren, Lindsey and Griffin Fortuna, Riley, Ashton, and Triston Cherry; 1 step granddaughter, Megan Ellinger; mother, Nina Fortuna; sister, Joan and Bill Goss. He was preceded in death by his son Rick in 1991 and his father in 1997. The family received friends Tuesday, April 8 at the Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs where services were held Wednesday, April 9. Pastor Chuck Smith officiating. Interment Elmwood Cemetery, Cedar Springs. Memorial contributions may be made to Spectrum Health Hospice and Pallative Care, 4500 Breton SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49508.

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

 

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ARLENE RIECKMAN

15-obit-Rieckman-webArlene Rieckman (nee Wilson), age 82, of Cedar Springs, died Sunday, April 6, 2014. She was preceded in death by her children Patricia Rieckman and James M. Rieckman and a sister Patricia Petersen. Surviving are her daughters, Debbie Riddell of Middleburg, Florida; Mary Curler (Jerry) of Newaygo; six grandchildren, Michelle (Edward) Ross of Rockford, Kenneth (Kevin) Curler-Panter of Grand Rapids, Lindsey (Christopher) Robbins of Belding, Justin (Stacey) Riddell of Middleburg, Florida; Melissa Adams of Virginia Beach, Virginia and Lauren (Jason) Gay of Middleburg, Florida; her great grandchildren, Kayla, Christian, Maggie, Jamar, Josiah, Sariah, Rylee, Dominic, Madison, Jaylen, Kyle, Courtney; six brothers, Owen (Shirley), Fran (Nancy), Richard (Barbara), Larry (Paula), Tom (Claira) and Mike and two sisters, Dixie (Jerry) Kooienga and Barb (Barry) Philipp; many nieces and nephews and her beloved dog Jazmin. Friends may meet the family from noon until time of the service at 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 15 at the Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs. Per her wishes cremation has taken place. Memorials may be given to one’s charity of choice.

Arrangements by Bliss-Witters & Pike, Cedar Springs

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Carroll Shelby Graves

C-OBIT-GravesCarroll Shelby Graves passed away at his home in Cedar Springs, on Wednesday, April 2, 2014.  Carroll was born on December 12, 1935, in Rockford, MI the son of Shelby Leigh and Floy Althea (Hammer) Graves.  He will be sadly missed by his children:  Debra Slates (Stanley) of New Era; Deanna Saut (Randy) of Claysville, PA; Pamela Benedict (Randall) of Cedar Springs; Douglas Graves (Ellen) of Grand Rapids; Patricia Miller (Roger) of Sparta; Denise Collins (Paul) of Sand Lake; Melissa Hekkema (Mike) of Norton Shores; and Denise Graves of Sand Lake.  He will also be sadly missed by his 25 grandchildren, 34 great-grandchildren, his sister Shirley Grover, and his long-time companion, Patricia Thome.  Carroll was preceded in death by his wife of 47 years, Suzanne (Baribeau); and his sons Timothy Graves and Mark Graves. He served in the U.S. Marine Corp during the Vietnam War. Carroll was a tool and die maker, and retired in 2000.  He spent many years serving his church, Mary Queen of Apostles in Sand Lake, and his community.  As a young man he was active with the Rockford Jaycees and was the Rockford Scout Master.  He was involved with the Rogue River Art Association.  He was a member of the Knights of Columbus for 32 years, attaining the level of 4th Degree, serving for many terms as the Grand Knight, and also as the District Deputy.  Carroll very much enjoyed boating, fishing, camping, traveling, oil painting, and spending time with his large family. The family received friends Friday, April 4 at the Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs. Mass of Christian Burial is Saturday at Mary Queen of Apostles, Sand Lake. Rev. Fr. Lam Le celebrant. Interment Rockford Cemetery with military honors by the U.S. Marines. In lieu of flowers please make donations to the Huntington’s Disease Society of Western Michigan.

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

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