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Archive | Church Connection

The Man Behind the Curtain

By Ronnie McBrayer

By Ronnie McBrayer

By Ronnie McBrayer

What do Kenosha, Wisconsin, and Cape Cod, Massachusetts, have in common? Seventy-five years ago this week, these towns hosted the first public release for one of the greatest films ever. “The Wizard of Oz.”

I love the scene where Dorothy and her friends return to Oz’s throne room with the Witch’s broomstick, confirming that their assignment is complete. But the Wizard rebuffs them. He is about to renege on the handing out of home, brains, hearts, and courage.

Then, in the midst of booming voices, thunderclaps, and lightning bolts, Toto scurries over to a mystical shower stall and pulls back the curtain. “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain,” the Wizard warns. But the game is over. There is no great and powerful Oz. There is only Oscar Zoroaster Diggs from Omaha, Nebraska.

This scene reveals the truth on so many levels. There is nothing to be afraid of – especially when it comes to God. We have been told that God, the “Wizard,” is more terrifying than all the dangers of the world. We know we need God and all that he offers, but we might as soon throw ourselves out his palace window to escape his terrors than to remain in his presence.

Yet, this is all smoke, mirrors, curtains, and megaphones, for Jesus has done something even the legendary Toto could not accomplish. He doesn’t just pull the curtain back, he tears it asunder, showing us a God who isn’t playing games or hiding his true identity.

God is a compassionate, loving, heart-sick parent who refused to keep his distance from us, who decided he would no longer allow his name or reputation to be misrepresented, but would present himself as a mere mortal, that he might enter our sufferings and undo the chaos of his creation.

The coming of Jesus into the world was the coming of God into the world. And the cross of Jesus, in all of its foolish glory, did not change God – he has always been in love with humanity – it changes us. With no heavy curtain obscuring our perspective, we see that God is more gracious, more wonderful, more welcoming, and more loving than we previously imagined; there is no reason to be afraid of him. This is not a fanciful measure of “Somewhere over the Rainbow.” It is the place we call home, and there’s no place like it.

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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Get out there

C-East-Nelson-UnitedPastor Herb VanderBilt 

East Nelson United Methodist Church

9024 18 Mile Rd. • Cedar Springs MI 49319

Psalm 104:1-5: “Praise the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, you are very great; you are clothed with splendor and majesty. He wraps himself in light as with a garment; he stretches out the heavens like a tent and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters. He makes the clouds his chariot and rides on the wings of the wind. He makes winds his messengers, flames of fire his servants. He set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved.”

I know that the marketing campaigns have already reached the supermarkets and retail outlets with the plaintiff cry that it is time to go back to school. Well some of us are not ready for summer to be over just yet. In the words of one of the cruise line commercials, August is a time to “Get out there!”

This afternoon we got on the bikes and hit the trail. With all that is going on in our lives it just seemed right. We live in an artificial environment inside a dome of television, Internet, Facebook, and email.  While any one of these by themselves is not bad, one thing that they all have in common is that they are never ending.

When I grew up and we watched late night television, there came a point in the programming where they would show the flag, play the national anthem and then the screen went fuzzy. It was over for the day.

Now we live in a world that is seemingly non-ending. The television will play all night, email keeps coming in, people are constantly posting on Facebook, and you can shop at Meijer 24 hours a day. For some of us that means that we have lost our Circadian rhythm, or the internal clock that tells us when to be active and when to fall asleep.

One way to reset the internal clock is to get out into nature and allow God’s creation to anchor us once again to the foundation of the earth. August, with its long days and mild weather, is the perfect time to reset our body and soul, before all the business of the school year begins again.

Get out there!

 

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What a Wonderful World

By Ronnie McBrayer

By Ronnie McBrayer

This coming week marks the birthday of a man who Bing Crosby called, “the beginning and the end of music in America.” Born in the sweltering heat of a New Orleans’ August, the grandson of former slaves, and suffering abject poverty, that man was Louis Armstrong.

Most people, even those who could not recognize Armstrong’s face or his contribution to Americana, can still sing along to his most iconic song: “What a wonderful world.”

Louis recorded and released “What a Wonderful World” in 1967. The southern states were fighting desegregation, and the U.S. Army was fighting in Southeast Asia. The Apollo 1 spacecraft was burning on the launch pad, and the Cold War was burning in Eastern Europe.

The Israelis were at war with their Arab neighbors, and police departments were at war with African Americans in Detroit, Milwaukee, Los Angeles, and DC. JFK was already dead, and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. would both be assassinated the following year. How could Louis Armstrong sing this song about rainbows and unicorns when the world looked like it was going to hell in a hand basket; when the world looked so un-wonderful (as it still does today)?

Armstrong answers that question. He said, “It seems to me it ain’t the world that’s so bad, but what we’re doing to it. All I’m saying is: See what a wonderful world it would be, if only we’d give it a chance.”

That conclusion hints of Scripture. God created this wonderful world and called it “good.” So what went wrong? We did. As crowning achievements of his creative project, humanity was to serve as the steward and curator of God’s world. It was, it is, and it will always remain humanity’s role to be creation’s protector; to maintain the goodness of God’s world. We have largely shirked that responsibility.

Yet, this blue ball hanging in the vast expanse of space that miraculously incubates all that is, must mean something to God, because God wants it to be wonderfully “good.” Thus, We throw ourselves into the fray of this fractured world—healing the sick, making peace among enemies, feeding the hungry, working for justice, protecting and sustaining resources, creating harmony—because we believe “it ain’t the world that’s so bad, but what we’re doing to it.” God’s intent and Armstrong’s words are tuned to the same melody: Let’s give the Wonderful World a chance.

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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ANDRES – BARTOSZEK

C-engage-AndresNicholas and Michele Andres of Cedar Springs are pleased to announce the engagement of their daughter, Meghan Kathleen, to Andrew Bartoszek, son of Mark Bartoszek of Grand Rapids and Nancy and Ken Deyman of Cedar Springs. Both the bride and groom are graduates of Cedar Springs High School. Meghan is a Senior at Aquinas College and Andrew is employed at Gem Plastics in Grand Rapids. They are planning an October 25, 2014 wedding.

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TODD ALLEN

 

In loving memory of Todd Allen, who passed away two years ago, July 30, 2012.

 

To be brave is to cry, but still to fight on,

And that’s what you did, our hero, our son.

The battle was hard, we thought we had won,

But still you fought on, our hero, our son.

The happiness you brought to the lives you have touched,

Will live on forever as you are loved so much.

 

Missing you,

Mom & Dad

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TODD ALLEN

 

July 30, 2012

 

May the wind of Heaven blow softly and whisper in your ear

How much we love and miss you and wish that you were here.

 

Laura, Drew, Piper

Grandma Helsel, Aunt Sandy, Aunt Tena, Uncle Mike

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TIMOTHY A. TOWNS

 

C-mem-TownsDec. 19, 1947 – July 31, 1994

 

It is hard to believe that it has been 20 years since you left us. Not a day goes by that we do not think of you. Thank you for being a wonderful Dad, brother and friend to all of us.

 

Charlie, Molly, Penny and Dan.  

 

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In Loving Memory

JOYCE “JO” LESPERANCE

June 2, 1946 – June 25, 2004

 

JACOB J. GROVER

February 21, 1942 – July 30, 2004

 

Deeply missed by spouses, relatives and friends

 

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Scott “Scotty” Raymond Hazel

Scott Hazel

Mr. Scott “Scotty” Raymond Hazel of Rockford, age 55, went to be with the Lord on Wednesday, July 23, 2014, after a short, but hard-fought battle with a rare cancer. He died surrounded and lifted up by his caring family and many friends. He was a wonderful husband to his wife of twenty-six years, Susan (neé Hand) Hazel, and a beloved father to his three kids, Rebekah, Kaitlin, and Cameron. Scotty was born on May 7, 1959 in Flint, Michigan to Raymond and Gloria (neé Schneider) Hazel. He has always had a close and loving relationship with all of his family, including his siblings Jeff and Nancy Morey, Lynn and Lee Bradfield, Denise and Pat Moriarty, Jim and Darcy Olson, and Tammy and Kevin Weissenborn; and many nieces, nephews, and cousins. He was preceded in death by his father Raymond Hazel; and brother Randy Morey. Scotty graduated from Flint Southwestern High School and attended Northern Michigan University, where the wilderness and school captured his true spirit. He went on to graduate from Grand Valley State University to become a well known and loved teacher and coach at Cedar Springs High School. He was also a coach for Rockford High School. He had a passion for his job and his students. Scotty was also an active member of the Rockford Baptist Church. His love for God was matched only by his zeal for people and life. This is apparent by all of the lives he touched and people he inspired. Scotty was a man of many talents; besides his amazing vocal ability, Scotty performed in a band, played various instruments, was an artist, carpenter, and outdoorsman. He also recently published a book, “Looking Out Windows.” He was a true Renaissance Man in a world obsessed with technology. He will be loved and missed by his family and many others. Visitation was held at the Cedar Springs High School on Monday July 28, 2014 and the funeral service was held on Tuesday, July 29, 2014 at the Cedar Springs High School Auditorium. In lieu of flowers, those wishing to offer expressions of sympathy are encouraged to make a contribution to the Hazel Children’s Memorial Fund to be made at any Fifth Third Bank branch office.

 

Arrangements by Pederson Funeral Home www.pedersonfuneralhome.com

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HANS KURT KALTENBACH

 

November 1, 1931 – July 16, 2014

 

Hans Kaltenbach, of Colorado Springs, Colorado, formerly of Cedar Springs passed away July 16, 2014 at Pikes Peak Hospice. Hans was born in Germany and came to Cedar Springs as an exchange student for the school year 1950-51. He stayed with the Roberts family. After the completion of the school year, Hans returned to Germany. He married his wife, Doris, in January, 1956 and they returned to live in Cedar Springs later that year. They remained in Cedar Springs until they moved to Colorado in 1972. He worked in various professions throughout his life, including construction, a machine shop, a business owner, and as a real estate agent. He is survived by his beloved Doris (Colorado Springs, Colorado), wife of 58 years, his son Roy (of Pueblo, Colorado), and daughter Peggy (Karl) Zinser (of Farmington, Michigan). He also had three granddaughters, Ashley, Allison, and Kayla, three great granddaughters, Makayla, Emily, and Madalyn, and one great grandson, Kaleb. A memorial service will be held at a later date.

 

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