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Archive | From the Pulpit

My God is BIG

Pastor Robert P. Smith

First Baptist Church 

233 Main St, Cedar Springs, MI 49319


Children boast to each other about their fathers. “My dad is smarter than your dad.” “Oh, yeah? My dad is stronger than your dad.” “Oh, yeah? Well, my dad is bigger than your dad.”

The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 8:5-6, “For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many gods and many lords—yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.”

Most Americans believe in a god. According to a 2017 Pew Research Center study, 80 percent of Americans believe in a god, but only 56 percent believe in the God of the Bible. Most people believe in a god that protects and rewards them, but few believe they will be judged or punished by it.

What kind of god do most people believe in? It is a god of their own making. It is a god made in their own image. It is a god that fits in their hands. It is a domesticated deity. It is a god just like them. Their god likes them. Their god looks the other way. Their god leaves them alone. This kind of god doesn’t interfere with their life. This is not God.

The God of the Bible is not a god. The God of the Bible is God. He is the LORD God Almighty. He is the Living God. He is the only True God. He is the LORD of Lords and KING of Kings. There is no god like God.

There is good reason to capitalize the letter “g.” Yes. This is out of respect. This is because of reverence, but more than respect and reverence, this is reality, “The LORD our God, the LORD is one” (Deuteronomy 6:4 ESV).

J.C. Ryle, an Anglican bishop, wrote in his book, Practical Religion, “Beware of manufacturing a god of your own: a god who is all mercy, but not just; a god who is all love, but not holy; a god who has a heaven for everybody, but a hell for none …The hands of your own fancy and sentimentality have made him. He is not the God of the Bible, and beside the God of the Bible there is no God at all.”

How can we know God? The Gospel of John in chapter 14 and verse 9 records that Jesus, God’s Son, said, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” A Christian knows God the Father through God the Son and by the Spirit he “… boasts in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:31 ESV). The God of the Bible is BIG and He is my God!

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Happy PI day!

Pastor Darryl Miller | Sand Lake & South Ensley United Methodist Churches|616-636-5659

“Everything of God gets expressed in him, so you can see and hear him clearly. You don’t need a telescope, a microscope, or a horoscope to realize the fullness of Christ, and the emptiness of the universe without him. When you come to him, that fullness comes together for you, too. His power extends over everything” Colossians 2:9-10 (The Message).

I’m writing this on Thursday—3.14—otherwise known as PI day. The value of PI is 3.14. Actually, the value is infinite as far as we know! It is just a day when some of us have a little fun because of the date. However, the truth is that the value of PI is very important. A quick Internet search will show that it is used in most calculations for building and construction, quantum physics, communications, music theory, medical procedures, air travel, and space flight, to name a few. What a wonderful discovery it was for us to find. 

I got to thinking about how there are so many wonderful things like PI woven into creation and how wonderful it is to have a God who not only wove them into creation but made it so that we could find them. He seems to want us to see Him in things like this. 

I don’t usually use paraphrased bible translations like The Message but sometimes the wording is truly wonderful. Despite all the amazing discoveries that we make, God is right there in the midst. He doesn’t make it hard to find Him; we only need to open our eyes and our hearts. He is eager to be a part of our lives. We don’t need to go looking under every rock; He is standing in front of us with His hands outstretched waiting for us. I don’t know about you but this is a comforting thought to me. How wonderful to have a God who actively seeks us out. 

PI day is fun but God is life changing, lifesaving, and life itself. Look for Him in good times and in bad and you will find Him. It is His promise. Have questions? Check out a church near you, we love to give answers! And fortunately we know the source of all the answers!


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Goodbye Uncle Charlie

Rev. David Vander Meer, Rockford Springs Community Church | 5815 Fourteen Mile Rd NE, Rockford, MI 49341

My uncle just died. It may be that you knew him. He was best known as Uncle Charlie, of the Children’s Bible Hour, later known as CBH, and now, Keys for Kids. This man just loved kids and loved to tell them about his best friend and savior, Jesus. When my wife and I visited him on the day before he passed away, he shared with us his favorite verse.

The verse is Philippians 1:6: Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

Uncle Charlie believed in the power of Christ to bring change in a little boy or girl’s heart. Adults’ too. This is why, from 9 years old to 84 years old he was involved in this ministry of sharing the power of Christ. He did not put confidence in himself to change hearts, but in Christ’s power to change hearts. He knew this power of Christ was brought to anyone who personally believed in Him and surrendered to His will.

But what made Uncle Charlie keep going all those years was the persistent power of Christ that not only began the work of changing a person but also could finish the work. Change can take time, and effort, and sometimes the need to work through failure. But in this text, Paul the apostle relied on the persistent power of Christ to change the believers in a town called Philippi. Uncle Charlie learned to trust the power of Christ to do the same in his world. And we need to trust Christ to change hearts in our world, too. Today, thousands of adults, who once were children, have been touched by the power of Christ through Uncle Charlie’s confidence in Christ.

We are planning to celebrate the grace of God in Uncle Charlie’ life on Saturday, March 16, at Calvary Church on East Beltline, at 1 pm.  We sure would be honored if you came and sang with us: “Boys and Girls for Jesus, this our earnest prayer.”   

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He said wut?!

Pastor Bill Dixon. Solon Center Wesleyan Church. 15671 Algoma Ave, NE, Cedar Springs

Have you ever heard someone say something so shocking that it made you take a step back and say to yourself, he or she said wut?!. A few weeks ago, I started a series called, He Said Wut?! As a church, we began to look at a few shocking things that Jesus said about everyday stuff like, anger, lust, marriage, promise-keeping, retaliation, and loving our enemies. 

Throughout this section of scripture, which begins in Matthew chapter 5 verse 21, Jesus follows a pattern. He always starts off by saying, “You have heard it said…” or something similar to that and then He goes onto mention an Old Testament Law. After this, Jesus always goes onto say, “But I tell you…” which is Jesus’ way of saying, listen to what I’m about to tell you. 

I want to do is share with you just one of the topics that Jesus addresses. It is a topic that is out of control in our world today—anger. Listen to what Jesus has to say and then I will point out a few things for you to chew on. 

21 “You have heard it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgement.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgement. Again, anyone who says to his brother, Raca, is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You Fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell. 23 Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has anything against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. 25 Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. 26 I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.” (NIV)

Jesus equates being angry with…murder. Here is what I believe Jesus is getting at. I believe that He is saying that if you are angry with your brother (could mean anyone) you are no better in God’s eyes than someone who literally takes an innocent life. I believe He is saying that if you are angry with your brother (again, could mean anyone), you are a murderer. So, are you a murderer? Maybe not in your own eyes, but in God’s eyes you are. 

Before you decide to stop reading hear me out on a few things. 

1: Jesus is not saying that all anger is bad. There is such a thing as good or righteous anger. We know this because the Bible clearly teaches that God gets angry. And we know that God is good so there must be such a thing as good or righteous anger. In fact, if you look at the Gospels, Jesus gets angry. Go and read Matthew 21:12-13. Not long after Jesus entered Jerusalem for the last time, He entered the synagogue (Jewish Church) and looked around and saw that a lot of people were doing things that they should not of have been doing. So, what does Jesus do? Listen to what was written… 

“Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling droves. It is written, he said to them, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of robbers” Matthew 21:12-13 (NIV).

There are plenty of things going on in our world today that should make us angry, especially as Christians. The problem is our anger often times goes off the rails and becomes unrighteous/sinful. Jesus is talking about the type of anger that holds grudges towards others. He is talking about the times when we say and do things that are meant to hurt others—maybe not physically, but emotionally and spiritually. 

Here is the second point I want you to chew on. 

2: Jesus is clarifying (making known) the spirit of the law. 

The spiritual leaders of the day had the letter of the Law down pat. They knew and understood that God did not want them to murder folks. Many of us have the letter of the Law down pat as well. We get it. Murdering people is bad. But here is the thing. Jesus makes it clear that stopping short of murdering people is not good enough. He is making it clear that, like the leaders of His day, we are missing the spirit of the law. 

God is not interested in us becoming people who just stop short of literally murdering each other. No. He is interested in us becoming people who constantly value others. In other words, God is interested in us becoming people who constantly treat others with dignity, respect, and love. This is the spirit behind the law of ‘Do not Murder’ (Exodus 20:13). 

Let me end with a few questions: 

1: Are you in need of open-heart surgery? The reality is, unrighteous/sinful anger is a heart problem. Matthew 15:19 makes this clear. If this is you, if you are struggling with anger (valuing others), do this. Stop what you are doing and go to the Lord. Ask Him to do what only He can do, and that is this, to forgive you and to begin to transform you inside out by the power of His Holy Spirit. 

2: What is one relationship that you have that needs reconciling? Have you done or said something to someone in the past or maybe recently that has caused an offense? Instead of ignoring that you have wronged someone, here is what you need to do. First, ask God for forgiveness (1 John 1:9) then, go to the person, acknowledge your error, ask them for forgiveness, and then do everything in your power to bring about reconciliation to that relationship (read again verses 23-26). 

God wants us to become people who constantly value others. Who constantly treat others with dignity, respect and love. 

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Tragedy Strikes

Rev. Bill Johnson

Cedar Springs United Methodist Church


The Cedar Springs community has the marks of a haven of peace with history, quality of life and deep roots. We love our traditions and relish the predictable customs. People retreat from the rat race in major metro area some 20 miles south of Exit 104. We engage with the big city when we must, for work or entertainment, or maybe school; we tolerate, but don’t really choose more time than necessary there. We chose to live here.

And then our world explodes. 

As I prepare this week’s column for the Post, our community is reeling with the news of multiple fatalities in Solon Township. Tragedy, especially when children are involved, upends our way of life. We wonder how such horror can visit our quiet community. This doesn’t happen here! There is no way to prepare for such an invasion of our peaceful environment. It is simply unconscionable. 

The details are still forthcoming, but the scenario is all too familiar. We know that mental health played a role, and that whoever took life, out of grief, or anger or depression, could not bear the turmoil and so chose the only way that seemed possible to end the pain.   

The Psalmist knows the story: “I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, that he may hear me. In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying; my soul refuses to be comforted. I think of God, and I moan; I meditate, and my spirit faints” (Psalm 77:1-3).

What word shall people of faith speak in these times? Can we offer hope for a hurting world when hell breaks loose so close to home? Yes, we can. Thoughts and prayers are always appropriate but the complexities of mental health require more. Communities of faith can model openness toward dealing with mental health crises. 

We can offer acceptance to those who live on the margin, demonstrating our belief that “light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5 NLT). 

We can be present with those who are afraid, or are in pain. 

We can advocate for increased public money for research in the causes and prevention of mental illness.  

We can walk with those who appear to be struggling. We can listen for cues of sadness, anger or confusion. We can make room for conversation, showing we are not afraid to talk about it. 

We can encourage people to get help. We can get help for ourselves. 

We can resolve to avoid the temptation to sweep mental illness under the rug and instead face it with compassion, justice and mercy. Each of us can pledge to listen more. 

The author of the New Testament Letter of James reminds us “Someone might claim, ‘You have faith and I have action.’ But how can I see your faith apart from your actions? Instead, I’ll show you my faith by putting it into practice in faithful action” (James 2:18).

What is God saying to you? 

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What love looks like

Pastor David Ward | Pilgrim Bible Church | 361 Pine Street, Cedar Springs

What does love look like? According to pictures at your local jewelry store, love features white sand beaches, happy faces and, of course, a big shiny diamond! Reality programming suggests loves comes in limited sizes and shapes. However, such thinking has yielded more terms like “photoshopped” and “catfishing” than actual enduring relationships. Too many people are left feeling rejected, isolated and alone.

A healthy relationship starts with a healthy self-image. The Bible teaches us that we are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). He knows our name and developed a plan for us before we were ever born (Psalm 139:16). Regardless of whether anyone else knows or notices us, in spite of the circumstances that preceded this moment, God knows us and values us individually. How could and how much does God love us? John 3:16 tells us that God loves us so much that He sent His Son, Jesus to rescue us from the curse of sin’s punishment and make a way for us to share eternity, together with Him.

God demonstrated that a quality relationship is based on giving rather than on getting. True love flows out of voluntary service rather than abusive demands. Spouses are taught to submit to each other, to look out for each other’s needs (Ephesians 5) because love is patient and kind, not demanding its own way (1 Corinthian 13:4). A truer picture of genuine love is the elderly couple leaning on each other after a lifetime together. Their age and ailments amplify, rather than diminish their love. 

The best way to find such a love for your life is to start with loving God first. Jesus told us, if we put our relationship with God first, the rest would follow (Matthew 6:33). As we learn to love Him, we learn how to love others, what healthy love looks like. As we are confident in God’s love, we are less susceptible to unhealthy distortions that surround us.

The country songwriter warned of “looking for love in all the wrong places.” Too many have felt the sting of unrealized dreams and expectations, the pain of broken hearts and homes. The good news is that God is a God of second chances. He specializes in taking the wreckage of broken and battered hearts and rebuilding them into something beautiful. May I challenge you to rediscover God’s love for you? It’s there you will find the real love you for which you are searching!


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Heart of Faith

Pastor Inge Whittemore

East Nelson Church 9024 18 Mile Rd., Cedar Springs MI. 49319 | (616)- 696-0661 | eastnelsonumc@yahoo.com

I was blessed to visit the place where it is believed that Jesus fed 5,000 people with a few loaves and fishes. I was on a tour of the Holy Land and we’d taken a picturesque boat ride across the Sea of Galilee to where the Church of the Loaves and Fishes stands in commemoration. It is not far from the town of Capernaum. 

I thought about the people who chased after Jesus and met up with him the next day asking for yet another sign. “Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35 NIV).

The people shook their heads in disbelief. They were stuck in their old thinking and couldn’t really hear Jesus. I thought about the trust needed to accept the life- giving bread of Jesus. It means we need to have faith that God will provide all we need. It also means that by trusting in God we will be satisfied but the problem is some of us always want more.

We need real soul food. The questioners ask Jesus for a sign but they had already received a sign. This story, told in all four gospels, tells of people being fed by a few loaves and fish and it is so similar to the wilderness story of bread. Manna was plentiful and easy to receive for the wandering Israelites.   

Are we eating from the bread of today? Are we stuck on our ways of worship, our political thought, our ideas of strength and opportunity? Are we eating a low calorie kind of diet of religious convenience that satisfies our own particular wants, rather than dining at the table loaded with the food that endures. Are we holding on to our manna overnight only to discover it’s spoiled and we are hungry again in the morning?

You see, this is not a just past tense story of how Moses gave bread and Jesus fed the thousands. It is a current story of how God gives bread even today. Those questioners of Jesus may have eaten bread (and fish) the prior day on the hillside but they missed the miracle that happened then and was still happening because the true “Bread of Life” stood directly in front of them. They missed it.

Martin Luther tells us that the whole of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection are summed up in just two little words—for you. The body of our Lord Jesus Christ given for you. The blood of our Lord Jesus Christ shed for you.

This is the heart of faith! The God of all creation is the same God who loves us so much that he gave his life for ours on the cross and gives himself in simple bread and wine. Don’t go hungry! Don’t starve yourself! Come to the table and eat.

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A Simple invitation

Pastor Kevin Reed

Grace Evangelical Free Church

4714 13 Mile Rd, Rockford

 

 It’s not that difficult, but for some reason it’s terrifying. We know it’s important and a good thing, but every time we plan to do it, the fear talks us out of it. It could change that person’s life, but we don’t know if it will upset them. What am I talking about? I am talking about the simple action of inviting someone to church. 

We all know people who don’t go to church, yet the sad reality is that many Christians interact on a daily basis with non-church attenders and never invite them to come to a Sunday service with them. The list of reasons varies as to why we don’t invite others to church, but if I am being honest, none of the reasons are good. 

A simple invitation to join you in church could forever change the course of someone’s life. It could be the spark that heals their marriage or brings healing in a relationship that is strained. It could be the very nudge they need to come back to church or to give it a try for the first time. 

We often believe the lie of the enemy that if we ask someone to come to church they will be offended, but that is simply not true. I can’t tell you how many conversations I have with people who showed up at church and had their life changed simply because someone personally invited them. Sometimes they come that very week they are invited, and sometimes it takes a few months or years before they accept the invitation, but whether or not they come isn’t our responsibility. Our job is simply to take the risk, and ask the question. 

So, let me ask you a couple questions. Who in your life do you know that doesn’t go to church? When are you going to invite them?

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Today salvation has come to this house – Luke 19:1

Father Lam T. Le, Pastor

St. John Paul II Parish

3110 17 Mile Rd

Cedar Springs, Michigan 49319

616-696-3904



With the Christmas season over, we return to the ordinary of our lives. A reading of Luke 19: 1-10, specifically the calling of Zacchaeus, reminds us that the love of God is exciting, powerful, and extraordinary. 

When Jesus passed through Jericho, Zacchaeus the tax collector sought to see him. Short in stature, “he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus, who was about to pass that way” (Lk 19:4). Reaching the place, Jesus “looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house” (Lk 19:5). The Gospel indicates: “he came down quickly and received him with joy” (Lk 19:6).   

The two actions of Jesus were to look up and to speak to him, and the two actions of Zacchaeus were to come down and receive the Lord with joy. Together, these four actions changed the life of a person. For the interest of length, let us focus on one action of Jesus, namely his “looking” up at Zacchaeus. 

The verb to “look” is unique in biblical language.  It is the kind of looking that would change the reality being seen. Jesus looks into the depth of the soul of Zacchaeus.  

The contemporaries of Zacchaeus looked at him with ill regard. In fact, as a tax collector during that era, people would have regarded Zacchaeus as a cheater, because tax collectors normally collected more than what they should for their own personal gain.  

Jesus, however, gave Zacchaeus a redeeming look. Reaching into his soul, Jesus saw a wounded man who was open for healing; a greedy man who was also open to absolute generosity; and finally, a sinful man that was capable of total transformation. Jesus saw Zacchaeus’ weaknesses, but also his potential. Jesus’ look conquered the heart of Zacchaeus and led him to receive Jesus with joy. “Today salvation has come to this house” (Lk 19:9).

We are all longing for that redeeming look from the Lord. Amen. 

 In addition to being the priest of St. John Paul II Parish, Cedar Springs, Father Lam also proudly serves as Pastor of Mary Queen of Apostles Parish, 1 W Maple Street, Sand Lake, MI. 49343. Phone 616 636 5671.

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The First Question

Pastor Kristi Rhodes of Hillcrest Community Church 5994 18 Mile Rd. Cedar Springs, MI 49319

Aaah, a new year! Each year is an opportunity for a fresh start. But then, so is each week. Actually, so is each DAY! Today is the first day of the rest of your life! I am certainly not the first one to say that, but the question is, why do we wait even another minute to make positive changes in our lives?

One of the things I have done each year for several years now is to read the entire bible in a year. There is actually an app on my phone to keep me on track with this. A few days ago, I was reading about when doubt first entered the world. Did you know that the very first question in the Bible was presented by Satan to Eve in order to cast doubt on the goodness of God? Look it up, it is in Genesis chapter 3. “Did God really say…?”  

Do you ever find yourself doubting whether God’s way really is the best way? Do you find yourself wondering whether, even though God says it is wrong, something is worth trying anyway?

God gave humankind everything they could possibly want. The entire created world was made for us to enjoy. Every possible need was provided for us. Yet despite God’s perfect provision of everything good, humans looked for something more and gave in to the temptation to take the forbidden fruit. It all started with doubts about God planted by the enemy of our soul in the form of a question. Behind the question, “Did God really say…?” is the demonic lie that God is withholding from you something that is really exciting.  

Eve’s first mistake was to even engage with the snake in conversation in the first place. We are created to converse with God, not the devil. The devil fools Eve, like he still does with us today, that there will be no consequences to her sin, to disobeying God.  The consequences to this one choice changed the entire course of mankind in the world.  

But Jesus made a choice that would change the course of life for all eternity! He chose to come to earth and pay the penalty for all the sins of the world, restoring a perfect relationship with the Father for all who will believe and receive Him.

There are certainly consequences to the choices we make. Each day as well as each year is an opportunity to choose the journey God has marked before us. On this journey, He promises to lead us, to guide us, to protect us, to provide for us, to show us mercy, grace and love. There is an excitement for life with God unmatched by anything the world will ever be able to even come close to.  

My prayer for every one of you reading this today is that you will make a firm commitment to follow God’s path marked out for you this year. If you stay the course, I guarantee God will not disappoint you.


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