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Archive | Church Connection

Looking into mirrors

Thomas M. Doherty, Superintendent

North Michigan Conference

Free Methodist Church, USA

Writing for The Springs Church



Maybe you have been at a carnival or watched a program on TV where people enter a room full of mirrors. Some of the mirrors reflect an image that is wider, or taller, or even varied in shape related to the person who is looking into the mirror.

 In life we have mirrors, of a sort, that reflect truth to us. The Law of the Old Testament has been described as an instructor that shows us where we do not measure up. The New Testament shows us how we can, in Christ, fulfill the Law of God and live at peace with God.

Without the mirror of the Law we would never know things were out of order in our lives. The whole of scripture acts as a mirror to show us how we can reflect the image of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit too plays the role of a mirror. John 16:8 tells us that the Holy Spirit will be sent from heaven to convict the world of sin. 

The key with all mirrors is to believe what they reflect, unless they are the funhouse mirrors of the carnival. I have been troubled that the world doesn’t seem to know that their lives don’t measure up to the law and they don’t seem to feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit. More troubling to me is that one of the key reasons for this is the church is not believing and acting on what the mirrors of the scripture and the Holy Spirit are showing us.

We look into the mirror of the truth of the Word of God and rationalize that we aren’t too heavy, or our hair doesn’t look that bad. I know in my mind’s eye I see myself as that 28-year-old with dark hair and a red beard; and when I look into the mirror I see that 50-plus-year-old guy with short hair (to reduce the white on my head and a white beard). If I didn’t see that and saw the 28-year-old man there would be something wrong with me.   

The church almost does the opposite. The Word of God describes a strong, growing healthy body of Christ and we, through rationalizations and compromise, look into the mirror and see a broken down, wore out church just trying to survive. 

There is something wrong with our sight and I want to suggest two elements that will help us see truth as God presents it. First, we need to honestly examine ourselves to see if our lives reflect a true, full, uncompromising love for Christ. We would all profess our love for Jesus, but what does the evidence of our lives say.

First, do we have an ever-deepening sense of love in our hearts for Christ and the things that are important to him? What dominates our focus? Please don’t rationalize. What do we spend our time thinking about? What do we spend our time doing? How do we spend our resources? What breaks our hearts? Is Jesus truly our first love? Do we love Him more than anything or anyone; so much so that in comparison we hate these other things and people?

 Second, do we believe? Or do we rationalize? Not an intellectual belief, but I’ll risk my life on it, type of belief. The bible teaches us that confessing Jesus Christ as Lord and believing that God the Father raised Him from the dead is the only pathway to salvation. Our life does depend on believing this truth.

The bible says that the harvest is plentiful and the labors are few; therefore pray to the Lord of the harvest that He would send out labors into the harvest. And then he sends those who pray to the Lord of the harvest.  Do we believe that there are people who Christ died for, who are waiting to hear the gospel message?

I believe that if the church would love Jesus in real, practical ways, and believe that the Word of God is true, the World would see both the truth of how their lives are lacking and the transforming power of Christ in lives surrendered to Jesus.

These are core principles for church planting and revitalization. If we love Jesus enough we will love the people and things that are important to Him and be willing to step out of our boats into the water. We will be willing to bring the life-changing message of Jesus to people and circumstance that are in the midst of the stormy seas of life.

We will also be willing to be changed by the people we are reaching out to. Not changed in our principles but changed by new perspective and focus; reevaluating how, where, who and why we deliver the message of peace.

I believe that God is calling us as a church to really listen to those we are trying to minister to. I have been listening, and it is reinvigorating me as a Christian. Listening to those of the harvest, combined with looking into the mirror of the Word and His Spirit, will necessarily change us.  ,This change should impact our churches and will impact the development of new churches.  New wine skins for a new generation.

God’s call seems clear to me and God is looking for partners, people who hear His call, to work with and be a part of this next great move of God. 

May we all be caught up in the next great move of God’s Spirit and help with the plentiful harvest of souls.


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Theodore John Laninga, “Ted”, passed away Monday, October 30, 2017 at 11:30 a.m. Ted was preceded in death by his sister, Wanda and his mother, Marilyn Laninga. Surviving are 5 daughters, Skye, Veronica, Beth, Rosie and Kathy; six grandchildren, Jacob, Theodore, Lisanna, Raven, Dylan and Lilly; brothers, Bob and Jim; sister, Verna; and multiple extended family members. Ted was honest, hard-working, self-sacrificing and a die-hard Star Trek fan. There will never be another person who could fill his shoes. As he would say “Hugs and Kisses, Bye”.  An informal luncheon to say “Goodbye”  was held on Wednesday, November 1st from 12:00-3:00 p.m. at his home in Sand Lake. Those wishing to make a donation in Ted’s memory may do so to Skye Woodcock or Rosie Laninga; all donations will be used to provide his headstone.

Arrangements by Hessel Cheslek Funeral Home, Sparta

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Troy Duane Petersen, age 50 of Cedar Springs, passed away unexpectedly on Wednesday, October 25, 2017. Preceding Troy in death are his grandparents, Irving & Myrtie Petersen and Frank & Ada Castle and a nephew, Anthony Petersen. Troy is survived by his parents, Duane & Connie Petersen of Cedar Springs; son, Shawn Petersen of Berkley; sister, Kim Rockinger of Cedar Springs; brothers, Jeremy (Kelly) Petersen of Alto, Aric (Amber) Petersen of Cedar Springs; nieces, Sailor Rockinger, Nautica Rockinger, Bianca Petersen, Avery Petersen all of Cedar Springs, Ada Petersen of Alto; nephews, Brayden Petersen and Owen Petersen, both of Alto and many aunts, uncles, and cousins along with lots of special friends. Troy loved to be outdoors. It didn’t matter if he was hunting, fishing, watching a sporting event or at the mud bogs, if he was outside and in the sun, he was having fun. Troy enjoyed watching sports, especially football and NASCAR, going downhill skiing and riding his snowmobile. However, Troy’s favorite thing was spending time with his friends and family, especially his nieces and nephews. Visitation with Troy’s family was held on Monday, October 30, 2017 from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. at Faith Lutheran Church in Sidney. Memorial services for Troy were held at 11:30 a.m. on Monday at Faith Lutheran with Pastor John Autio and Pastor Greg Cooper officiating.

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Roy Elijah Bills, 81, of Howard City, Michigan, went to be with the Lord October, 24, 2017 after a long, courageous battle with pancreatic cancer. An artist, a home builder, and all-around people lover, Roy left behind many friends and family members who remember him with love. He was a story teller who loved to tell jokes. Each year, he gave away hundreds of jars of pickles, tomatoes and freezer jam to everyone in town, family members, and anyone who dropped by for a visit. Roy was a great and respected man, husband, father, brother, uncle, grandfather and great-grandfather. Roy is survived by first wife of 25 years, Ann E. (Wright), mother of his children: daughter Rachel A. Bills (Ed Tusing), son Leroy (Yog) and wife (Kathy) and daughter Melody Mazurek. He married Arlene (Force), his wife and partner for 38 years. Arlene brought four sons into the marriage whom Roy loved. They are: Dennis (Cheryl) Force, Don (Cindy) Force, Dave (Lisa) Force, Scott (Toni) Force. Roy has 14 grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren and several nieces and nephews. Surviving also are three of Roy’s siblings: Louise Culver, Luella Ludlow and Lorraine Moore (Phil). Preceded in death are siblings: Robert, Wayne, Raymond, Ray, Loretta Scram and Roger. Roy wanted everyone to know that his life-long best buddy, Bill Spence, was by his side through his illness and the last days of his life. For more information and stories about Roy, visit the Heckman Funeral Home web site. Family received visitors at Heckman Funeral Home, 225 E. Edgerton St., Howard City, MI, on Friday, Oct. 27 from 6-9 p.m. A funeral service was held at the VFW hall in Howard City, 1001 Ensley St. at 11:00 a.m. Interment to follow at Reynolds Township Cemetery, W. Almy Rd. in Howard City. A meal was served afterward at the VFW hall. In lieu of flowers, family requests donations be given to the VFW or Faith Hospice.

Arrangements by Heckman Funeral Home, Howard City

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Gregg F. Gunnell, 63 of Durham, North Carolina passed away Wednesday, September 20, 2017 at Duke University Hospital. Gregg was born July 19, 1954 in Grand Rapids, Michigan the son of V. Fred and Carollee (Crane) Gunnell. He graduated from Houghton High School in 1972 and the University of Michigan with a PhD in Biological Anthropology and Geology. He was the director of the Division of Fossil Primates at Duke University Lemur Center, Durham, North Carolina. Gregg spent more than 40 years studying fossils hidden in layers of rock for clues to what kinds of animals lived there, what they looked like and how they changed over time. He first fell in love with fossils as a teenager, when his uncle took him to a quarry to look for trilobites. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in anthropology in 1976 and 1979, and completed a doctorate in anthropology and geology in 1986, all at the University of Michigan. After finishing his Ph.D., he worked for more than two decades alongside his graduate advisor Philip Gingerich as coordinator of the vertebrate fossil collections in Michigan’s Museum of Paleontology. While an undergraduate at Michigan, he went on his first expedition to Bighorn Basin in northwest Wyoming to dig for mammal bones in the approximately 50-million-year-old rocks. Over the next four decades he would spend several months a year looking for fossils in far-flung places including Wyoming, Indonesia, Pakistan, Sumatra and other locales. Armed with screens and chisels and often crawling on all fours, he was able to recognize the knobby shape or textured surface of a single worn tooth or bit of jawbone in seemingly barren rock. At night, Gunnell and his colleagues would sit in the camp cook tent identifying and cataloging the day’s fossil discoveries. “Gregg was astonishing in this respect,” said paleontologist Jonathan Bloch of the Florida Museum of Natural History, who got his start collecting fossils in Wyoming with Gunnell in the early 1990s. “He could identify mammal species based on partial teeth with only one or two cusps remaining.” It was grubby, trying work. Those who accompanied him in the field recall waiting in international hotels for days for collecting permits, enduring long, bumpy drives through the backcountry and watching dust storms obliterate their makeshift camps. Known for his warmth and dry sense of humor, “Gregg could lighten the mood on the hottest, dustiest, most awful fossil-less days in the field,” said Northeastern Illinois University professor Lesa Davis, who worked alongside Gunnell for eight summers in Wyoming in the 1980s and 1990s. He was often the breakfast cook, “a particularly thankless job of getting up before everyone else in the morning to cook for 12 or so cranky people,” Davis said. “When he wasn’t in the field he was globe-trotting to museums in Europe or Africa, discovering fossils in drawers passed over again and again by others who hadn’t recognized their significance,” said Gunnell’s former student Doug Boyer, now a faculty member at Duke. His frequent travels to museums and dig sites took him to every state but Rhode Island and more than 30 countries. Much of Gunnell’s early career was focused on primates, but his work took a turn in 2000, when he traveled to Tanzania as part of an international team of scientists invited to excavate an ancient lake bed. There they found the fossil skeleton of a tiny thumb-sized animal that turned out to be a bat, dubbed Tanzanycteris. Thus began Gunnell’s research on the origin of bats, delicate-boned animals he was attracted to, he said, because their rarely preserved fossils “interest nobody.” He became accustomed to dispelling myths about these misunderstood creatures. “Bats are not blind,” Gunnell told an audience at Canada’s Royal Tyrrell Museum in 2016. “And the last place they would ever want to be is in your hair. Trust me.” Gunnell joined Duke in 2011 to take the helm of the Duke Lemur Center’s Division of Fossil Primates, a collection that today contains roughly 32,000 fossil specimens from Egypt, Madagascar, Colombia and Wyoming, ranging from 55 million to 500 years old. Some specimens are represented by a single tooth, a bit of jaw or a partial skull, others by complete skeletons. Housed in an unassuming brick building at 1013 Broad St., two miles from the heart of campus, the collection is widely considered one of America’s most important resources for the study of primate evolution. Colleagues describe Gunnell as pivotal to enabling more students and scholars to use the collection, the life’s work of the late paleontologist Elwyn Simons. Under Gunnell’s leadership, use of the collection increased more than five-fold. He would even invite researchers to stay at his house to save money on lodging while visiting the fossils from abroad. He also won multiple grants, including one from the National Science Foundation to make 3-D scans of the fossils and put them online, thus making them available free of charge to anyone with internet access, without having to travel to Durham. Gunnell edited three books and published more than 120 scholarly papers, not only on bats and early primates but also on ungulates, pangolins, carnivores, snakes, lizards, fish, and geology and stratigraphy. “Gregg had no care about awards, personal gain or fame,” said University of Michigan paleontologist Bill Sanders, Gunnell’s friend and collaborator for over 30 years. “He did science for the right reasons — for the thrill of discovery and the desire to find things out, to learn about the natural world.” Along the way he supported and encouraged a generation of students. His colleague Erik Seiffert of the University of Southern California noted, “the field of vertebrate paleontology would literally be smaller if it had not been for Gregg taking so many students under his wing and giving them the opportunities and encouragement that they needed to move forward and be successful.” “Gregg took a bunch of us into some of the toughest collecting anywhere and taught us how to find fossils where they were few and far between,” said Gunnell’s longtime friend John-Paul Zonneveld, now a paleontologist at the University of Alberta. “I’m honored to have been part of that group.” Surviving are his parents, Fred and Carollee Gunnell; sister, Katie (Daniel) Webber; nephews, Corey (Maureen) Webber and daughter Casssandra; and Coleton Webber. A memorial service will be held Saturday, November 11 at 11:00 a.m. at the United Methodist Church, Cedar Springs. The family will greet friends at 10:00 a.m. Pastor Karen Sorden officiating. A luncheon will follow in the fellowship hall. Private interment Solon Township Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to Duke University Division of Fossil Primates online at http://lemur.duke.edu/discover/division-of-fossil-primates/ or mail to Duke Lemur Center, 3705 Erwin Road, Durham, NC 27705. Make check to Duke University and place, “in memory of Gregg Gunnell” in the memo line. 

Arrangements by Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, 

Cedar Springs.

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October 7, 1982 – November 4, 2005

Some days it can still 

Sneak up on you and

Take your breath away.

Grief never dies, just

Like the love we shared,

With our beloved Timmy.

We love and miss you so much.

Dad, Mom, Stevie and Nathan

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Clarence L. “Moose” Miller age 80 of Sand Lake, died Tuesday, October 24, 2017 at his home. Mr. Miller was born January 26, 1937 in Detroit, Michigan the son of Roy and Catherine (Newville) Miller. He graduated from Montrose High School and was a member of their Football Hall of Fame. He served in the U.S. Army from 1956 – 58 and retired from AC Delco in Flint after 32 years of service. Moose enjoyed fishing, hunting, golfing, camping and cooking. Surviving are his wife, Maxine (Frey); children, Ron (Julie) Miller, Lyle (Brian) Miller; stepchildren, Colette Bergman, Dolores (John) Nagelhout, Kevin (Joann) Parker; 11 grandchildren; 19 great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents, 3 brothers and 1 sister. The family will receive friends Thursday from 6-8 pm at the Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs where the service will be held Friday 11:00 a.m. Visitation will be held Friday at 10:00 a.m. Pastor Darryl Miller officiating. Private family interment Crandall Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to Spectrum Health Hospice.

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

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Carleton E. Proctor, age 70 of Sand Lake, went home to be with his Lord on October 20, 2017 at his residence.  He was born October 12, 1947 in Jackson the son of George and Esther Proctor.  During his working years he worked in construction.  He enjoyed hunting, fishing, working in his gardens but most of all he loved to spend time with his family. Surviving are his wife Sally; two daughters, Kristina ( Mark ) Hubbard, Gail Proctor; two step-daughters, Tammy Horst, Teri Corrick; four grandchildren, Dale Hubbard, Dawson Hubbard, Lacey Poulson and Taylor Horst; three sisters, Cathy Henry, Sarah Ellison and Colleen (Bob) Burian; and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents; an infant daughter, Tina;  brothers, Jack and Allen and a sister, Virginia.  Funeral services will take place on Thursday at 3 p.m. at the Pine Grove Community Church on (M- 82 ) with Pastor Dan Wolters officiating with burial in the North Ensley Cemetery. The family will greet friends at the church from 1 p.m. until time of services at 3 p.m.

Arrangements by Heckman Funeral Home, Howard City

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So the Bible is wrong again…

Pastor Darryl Miller

Sand Lake/South Ensley United Methodist churches 



A month or so ago, a news article showed up in the national papers. The article, titled New DNA results disprove the Bible, told of an archeologist who found remains of a Canaanite that were around four thousand years old. The DNA from the remains was compared to people living in Lebanon today and they were found to be a match. In the Bible, God told Joshua to kill every living thing in Canaan. According to the DNA test, this could not have happened so the bible must be wrong. Well…we already know it did not happen—not because of DNA results but because the Bible says so. At the end of the book of Joshua, God tells him that he is old and he has only started the task. In fact there is a list of the areas that were not yet conquered in the book of Judges, which include Lebanon. Also in the book of Judges, an angel scolds the people for not obeying the command to destroy all the peoples of this area. Therefore, in reality the DNA results actually prove that the Bible is correct. You just have to read it all and not just the part that says what you want it to say.

I find it interesting that two thousand years ago Jesus intimidated the leaders of His time because He had a power and an authority that they did not understand. However, they should have because it came from the God that they claimed to represent. Now two thousand years later Jesus is still intimidating people because of the same reasons. He has power and authority that many do not understand and do not want to understand. The good news is that we who know Him do not need to be intimidated by Him; instead we get to celebrate with Him. Repeatedly the Bible is proven true. Archeology and other sciences show the truth in God’s word. The best proof of His word is the transformed lives that we experience in Him. If you don’t know Him then you should get to know Him. You will understand the peace and love that the world just cannot seem to understand, because it comes from a place that the world rejects but believers know and experience. Visit a local church and see for yourself!

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Crystal M. Pike 85 of Sand Lake, passed away Thursday, October 12, 2017 at her home. Crystal was born May 3, 1932 in Lake City, Michigan the daughter of Harry and Helen (Thomas) Proctor. She was a bookkeeper working for CS Manufacturing over 20 years. She loved to knit, crochet, and spend time with her grandchildren. She enjoyed fishing and living on the lake and had wintered in Florida for over 25 years. Surviving are her children, Alan (Pam) Pike, Steve (Sandy) Pike, Darryl (Teresa O’Brien) Pike; grandchildren, Haley Pike, Tracy (Joe) Cooper, Shana (Brad) Hambelton, Jessica Pike, Cory (Brittany) Pike, Cody (Elizabeth) Pike, Casey (Emily) Pike; 11 great-grandchildren; sister, Barbara (Jerry) Hansen; sister-in-law, Guelda Schultz. She was preceded in death by her husband, Eugene in 1990; brother, Melvin Proctor; daughter-in-law, Sandy Pike. The family greeted friends Sunday at the Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs where the service was held Monday 11:00 a.m. Interment Trufant Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to Team Cora.

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

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