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Archive | Church Connection

Dancing, not marching

By Ronnie McBrayer

By Ronnie McBrayer

There is a story about two monks walking along the road when they come to a river. A beautiful woman is standing there. She can’t figure out how to continue her journey. So one of the monks picks her up in his arms—something he was absolutely forbidden to do, for touching a woman was against his vows—and he carries her across to the other side. Then, all parties continued on their journey.

After a few hours, the second monk was unable to remain silent about this misconduct. He blurts out, “How could you pick up that woman? It was against the rules!” The first monk replied, “Are you still carrying her around? I put her down hours ago.”

This is an instructive tale about two different approaches to spirituality. One can be mastered by a tightly controlled list of “dos and don’ts,” or one can move with the spirit. While the latter is not without its pitfalls, the former is certainly rife with peril. Managing our spiritual lists becomes a heavy, taxing burden.

Eugene Peterson, in his paraphrase of the Bible called “The Message,” gets right at this by casting new light on Jesus’ words from Matthew 11: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. You’ll recover your life…Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.”

The “unforced rhythms of grace.” I don’t think there is a more incomparable phrase, and nothing any higher to which anyone could aspire: to express the life of faith with freedom, harmony, and loving kindness. What liberation; and I’m speaking not simply of Peterson’s translation but the Christ-infused spirit behind the words.

For the way of Jesus is indeed effusive and free-flowing. Nothing about it is coercive, heavy, or manipulative. Jesus does not require the imposition of shame, false guilt, “sacred” extortion, or browbeating to keep people on the path. Maybe that is why “rhythm” is such an appropriate word; because following Jesus is much more like dancing than it is marching.

Do you want to live the free and gracious life? Partner with Jesus. Move with him. Stay in step with him. When the music of mercy plays, follow his lead, and you’ll find yourself enjoying faith rather than enduring it. Following Jesus leads to recovery, not religion; to empowerment, not exhaustion; it leads to the laying down of our burdens. It leads to grace.

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

 

 

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LAMBERT GEORGE WROBLEWSKI

C-obit-WroblewskiLambert George Wroblewski, known to all that loved him as “Bud,” loving husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather left us peacefully to go Home, on Monday, October 6, 2014, at home with family present. He left many fond memories, but the most memorable are the memories of him walking his dogs, working diligently in the garage, camping, playing cards and sharing his views on politics and world topics, but most of all, spending time with his family and dear friends. He served his country proudly in the Navy as a machinist mate during WWII and left with honorable discharge after his service was complete. He then served as a Detroit police officer from 1949 to 1974. He was privileged to be a motorcycle police escort for Presidents Eisenhower, Truman, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon. He completed his service in Detroit, moved to the Newaygo area with his family, and continued to serve as a Newaygo County Sheriff Deputy, then finally retired. In his retirement he enjoyed his time as a Michigan State Park host.

He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Jacqueline; son Daniel (Stephanie) and granddaughter Danielle (fiancé Ross); son Eric (Karen) and granddaughter, Valorie and great-granddaughter Emily, grandson, Benjamin, grandson Matthew (Tiffany) and great-granddaughter Cloe, great-grandson sEthan, Declan and Tadhg; grandson Matthew; daughter Jackie (Mike) and grand- daughter Yvonne, great-grandson Gabriel, grandson Dean (Alicia), great-grandson Evan and great-granddaughter Ripley, grand-daughter Joy (Channing) and great-granddaughter Veada; son Adam (Sonja) and granddaughter Amber, grandsons Joseph and Aaron.  Memorial services will take place at 11:00 am on Friday at Christ the King Catholic church with Father James Wyse presiding.  Visitation will take place on Friday from 10 am until time of services at 11 am. In lieu of flowers memorials to: MICOPS.org or Sophia’s House, Mercy Health Grand Rapids.

Arrangements by Heckman Funeral Home, Howard City

 

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ROZILLA S. “POLLY” LEVESQUE

 

 

Rozilla S. “Polly” Levesque, 67 of Cedar Springs, died Thursday, October 2, 2014 at Metron of Cedar Springs. Polly was born April 26, 1947 in Boston, Massachusetts the daughter of Harvey and Rozilla (Chase) Roberts. She had been a paralegal for several law firms in the East before coming to Cedar Springs. Cremation has taken place and there will be no services. She will be buried in her family plot in Mount Feake Cemetery, Waltham, Massachusetts.

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

 

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RAYMOND E. FISHER

 

In Memory of our dear husband and father, Raymond E. Fisher. October 5, 2005.

 

Lily G. Fisher and family

 

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MARY JANE MIDDLETON

 

October 10th 1992

 

At birth we boarded the train and met our parents, and we believe they will always travel by our side. However, at some station our parents will step down from the train leaving us on this journey alone.

As time goes by, other people will board the train; and they will be significant, i.e. our siblings, friends, children, and even the love of our life. Many will step down and leave a permanent vacuum. Others will go so unnoticed that we don’t realize they vacated their seats. This train will be full of joy, sorrow, fantasy, expectations, hellos, goodbyes, and farewells. Success consists of having a good relationship with all passengers, requiring that we give the best of ourselves.

The mystery to everyone is: We do not know at which station we ourselves will step down. So, we must live in the best way, love, forgive, and offer the best of who we are. It is important to do this because when the time comes for us to step down and leave our seat empty, we should leave behind beautiful memories for those who will continue to travel on the train of life.

Lastly, I thank you for being one of the passengers on my train.

We love you. We miss you.

Dad, kids, grandkids & Miss Lila

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Trust and faith in God

Cedar-Christian-ChurchPastor Ryan Black

Cedar Springs Christian Church

340 West Pine Street, Cedar Springs

 

 

The Bible tells us that when we put our trust in our Lord Jesus Christ and obey His commandments, we are bound to achieve great and marvelous things through Him. But many of us have been involved in situations that resulted in frustration and disappointment. We thought we had faith in God’s power, only to see the results not go our way. Sometimes, we need a clearer understanding of what faith really is.

Faith is not just a concept that fulfills a mere wish. True faith is complete confidence in the Lord Jesus Christ, which makes us follow His footsteps. (Hebrew 11:1)  In the book of Daniel, we are reminded of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who refused to worship the golden image created by King Nebuchadnezzar. Because of their stand for God, they were thrown into a fiery furnace. In faith, they believed that their God could deliver them. Their perseverance demonstrated the elements that are required of true faith in God and they came out without a single burn. They trusted in God even if things would not have turned out as they had expected.  Faith in Jesus Christ calls for total reliance on Him, even when some things do not always make sense to us. The trio knew they could trust in Him because they understood His nature, which does not change. They understood that God is in control of everything in Heaven and on the earth.

God has given us an opportunity to choose and to decide. Sometimes we are bound to be tested and he again assures us in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that he will never let us be tempted beyond what we can endure. After the great challenges that we must all undergo, we can be victorious and emerge as stronger men and women of God. It’s not necessary that we go looking for trials and tribulations. They will find us. But when faced with them, our Heavenly Father gives us strength to overcome.

In 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, Paul was assured by the Savior that His grace is sufficient and that his strength is made perfect in weakness and his response was just amazing. He said, “I take pleasure in my infirmities, in accusations, in necessities, in persecutions, in distress for the sake of Christ.” He realized that during his very weakest moment is when he became very strong. Not strong in his own might, but strong in the Lord, allowing the Holy Spirit to empower and live in him.

When we trust in God, He is more than willing to provide help when we desperately need it. It doesn’t matter how challenging the situation is. This gives God’s spirit room to live in our heart so that He can constantly talk to us and lead us in the right direction.  True faith is based on trusting the Lord Jesus Christ and His ever willing desire to meet our needs. Daniel 3:15 says, “For surely He blesses and prospers only those who fully trust in Him.”

Faith in Jesus Christ is more than a system, tradition, or belief. He is a Person who knows our needs, feels our pain, and sympathizes with our weaknesses. In exchange for our trust, He offers to forgive our sins, to intercede for us, and to bring us to His Father. He cried for us, died for us, and rose from the dead to show that He was all He claimed to be. Conquering death, He showed us that He can save us from our sins, live His life through us on earth, and then bring us safely to Heaven. He offers Himself as a gift to anyone who will trust and follow Him (John 20:24-31).

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Hard of hearing

By Ronnie McBrayer

By Ronnie McBrayer

A husband and wife had been married for many years when the husband began to fear that his wife was going deaf. He implemented an informal exam. With his wife in the kitchen, the husband asked from the den, “What’s for dinner?” She didn’t answer. He repeated the question over and over, each time moving closer, and each time received no response.

Finally, he was directly behind her asking his question. His wife whirled on her heels and shouted, “George, for the hundredth time, I said we’re having chicken!” Often, others listen just fine; we are the ones who are hard of hearing, especially when it comes to describe deafness to the Spirit.

Maybe God used to speak to you, he once whispered in your ear, or stirred in your soul; or maybe you have never had such a sensation of God speaking at all. Regardless, now you’re stone deaf, but might be thinking it’s God with a hearing problem.

The troubling thing is, when someone’s hearing begins to erode, his or her life gets louder, only magnifying the problem. The TV volume is cranked up to the decibels of a jet fighter. Warning bells and alarms are ignored. Communication becomes difficult, a game of escalating voices.

Bring that scenario into the realm of faith. While we want God to shatter his perceived silence with thunderclaps, earthquakes, and firestorms, why should he speak to us over the noise of our lives? Why would he add to the commotion? His voice will only get lost; and it does, in the dissonance that surrounds us.

My friend David Beavers says it impeccably: “Along life’s way, you lose you. Your life gets covered, buried, and numbed out with addictions, distractions, medications, and busyness of all kinds. If you don’t believe me, spend the day alone, without a phone, book, or computer. There, listen to and observe the insane, obsessive, cyclical and compulsive chatter that drives you—inside and out. It is nothing more than noise, and noise is the problem.”

So, you might not be hard of hearing at all. It could be the pandemonium within and without; the sound and fury that has been absorbed into your heart, mind, and very soul. We have to turn down the volume around us, not to hear ourselves think, but to hear anything—even the Maker of the Universe—when he gently speaks our name.

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

 

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Patricia M. Wright

Patricia WrightPatricia M. Wright, 66 of Cedar Springs, went to be with her Lord and Saviour on Thursday, October 2, 2014 at Heartland Health Care Center, Grand Rapids. Patti was born August 2, 1948 in Grand Rapids, MI daughter of Harold and Neoma (Brille) Richardson. She had retired from Brookcrest Nursing Home. She enjoyed attending her grandchildren’s sporting events, traveling and camping. She loved her church, Solon Center Wesleyan of which she was a member. Surviving are her husband, Willard; children, Bill (Glenda) Wright, Bob Wright, Jim Wright, Linda Raisanan, Craig (Marsha) McIntyre, Diane (Terry) Lantz, Brenda (Rich) Stafford, Rachel (Tommy) McIntyre, Kristy Ciesielski; 21 grandchildren; 9 great grandchildren; brothers, Bob Richardson, Ed Richardson. She was preceded in death by her parents; sister, Helen; son, Jerry. The family greeted friends Tuesday, Oct. 7 from 11:00 am until time of service at 1:00 pm at Solon Center Wesleyan Church, 15671 Algoma Avenue, Cedar Springs. Pastor Tom Holloway officiating. Memorial contributions may be made to Hospice of Michigan.

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

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BENJAMIN G. HYRNS

C-Mem-Hyrns-webIn Memory of

BENJAMIN G. HYRNS

April 28, 1930 – October 4, 2004

 

What a wonderful gift God gave us, to have had Ben in our lives. We will always hold on to a lifetime of memories and remember all of those great qualities.

 

Wife Helen, Steve and Cathy, Bill and Sue; grandchildren, Kamie and Stephen, Jason and Michelle, Ben, Lindsey and Matt, Zeb and Janell; greatgrandchildren, Benjamin, Faith, Hunter and expecting additional great grandchildren.

 

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WILLIAM (CHARLIE) PARKER

 

C-Mem-Parker-webJuly 7, 1928 – October 2, 2013

 

To some you may be forgotten, to others a part of the past. To us, who loved and lost you, your memory will last forever because God only takes the best.

 

Sadly miss by wife Doris; brother, Leon and Dorothy; nephews, Gene and Kimberly, Jeff and Terri, Jamie and Sarah and families.

 

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