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Archive | Church Connection

Thanks for the Crud

Pastor Darryl Miller  

Sand Lake UMC

65 W. Maple, Sand Lake

South Ensley UMC, 

13600 Cypress, Ensley Township

 

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: Rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (NIV).

I recently gave a message based on this passage. God often reveals himself in the words he gives me but not in such an amazing way as when we looked at this passage. It is not an easy concept. Giving thanks in all things is easy when things are going well, but when the world seems to be crashing in around us things can seem different. Thankfulness comes much slower and with more effort. Not long after we looked at this passage at our church, a couple came to me and told of how they had begun to pray and give thanks for the cancer that the woman has been struggling with. Not surprisingly, they struggled with the idea of thanking a loving Savior for something as devastating as cancer, but they immediately noticed a difference. The anger, the resentment, (why did this happen to me?) and the anxiousness began to subside. Others came forward and told similar stories. Sure it goes against the normal way of thinking, but then again, God has often done just that. He is good at turning what we think is normal on its head; that’s why I love Him so!

C. S. Lewis once said: “How can we possibly learn to rely on God if the need never arises?” I have had several challenges on my life journey, not the least of which is being blind, but God’s presence has been there all the way. I have been able to connect with people who are leery of those who cannot understand what they are going through. And I have been able to steer some to a pastor friend who has different struggles and can relate to them because he has had experiences that I have not. And connecting with and building relationships with others who have had similar struggles brings us blessings as well. Winston Churchill once said: “If you are going through hell, keep going!” Soon we will celebrate Jesus victory over death. The victory came after struggle and pain. After His suffering on our behalf, He arose, victorious and enthroned. The struggle is part of the journey. Relying on God really does make us stronger. If you are struggling with challenges, let them bring you closer to God. Let Him reveal Himself in your life in ways you have never expected. Learn to lean on God and you will find a strong tower, a firm foundation, and a Savior who loves you.

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A Day to celebrate

 

 

By Ronnie McBrayer

By Ronnie McBrayer

On this weekend twelve years ago, what proved to be last of the McBrayer children was born. Now, as he approaches his teen years, our son will finally get something he’s wanted: his birthday to fall on Easter. He’s always thought it would be grand to share the day with Jesus, what with all the egg hunts, feasting, festivities, and snazzy clothes. I hope he enjoys it, because it will be more than a decade before he has another Easter birthday.

As you know, Easter is not a “fixed” holiday. Rather, it falls on the Sunday after the first full moon that occurs on or after the Spring Equinox. Consequently, Easter can fall on any date between March 22 and April 25 (and on those rare occasions, even on my son’s birthday).

Mercifully, I didn’t share all these lunar details with the birthday boy, of course. I just told him that if he were lucky, he would get to celebrate his birthday alongside the resurrection of Jesus four times in his lifetime. And if he’s as sturdy as his great-grandmother Artie was, he might even get five such celebrations.

But the truth of the matter is we get to celebrate every day, not just Easter Sunday. Celebration, in fact, is the Christian vocation. Because Easter is not so much a holiday about the past as it is a way of joyful, hopeful living for today—not tomorrow or reserved for after we die.

Adding to all the explanations of Easter’s dating and its various meanings are the usual sermons and songs about Easter as the doorway to heaven, an escape hatch from the troubles of this earth, or a coping mechanism for what lies beyond the grave. That’s fine for as far as it goes, but that’s not the main point the early church made in its proclamation about Jesus’ resurrection.

Rather, the point made by the first Christians was that because of Easter, everything about life has changed—life today—in the here and now. Quoting the late Marcus Borg, who was straightforward on the matter: “Easter is not for the sake of heaven later. It is about entering a relationship in the present that begins to change everything now.”

Indeed, Christianity is about getting in on Jesus’ gracious, revolutionary mission and experiencing life, full and running over, transforming us and the world. That’s reason to celebrate every day.

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

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In Loving Memory

C-mem-Goller-Sr-1Richard E. Goller Sr

9/21/30-4/04/11

C-mem-Goller-Jr-2Richard E. Goller Jr

12/27/51-4/05/09

Without them in it

The world hasn’t been the same

Those two dark haired hansome men

With the Goller last name

They made us laugh

They made us smile

They may have even made us mad

Every once in a while

But as most of you know

With their side slanting grins

They could liven the crowd

And bring laughter to friends

Reminiscing today

Not even time erases

The memory of their humor

As grins spread on our faces

We love and miss you Dick and Buzz!

The Goller Family

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PATRICIA LENNOX WEAVER

 

C-obit-WeaverSeptember 7, 1956 – March 26, 2015

Please join family and friends of Patricia Lennox Weaver as we gather in a celebration of life, Saturday April 4th at 11:30am. Patty has not only blessed us with the memory of her mischievous smile and laughter, but also her loving family, Tom Sanders, Vallerie Merlington (Ross Merlington), John Weaver (Jenny Weaver), Amy Weaver, 8 grandchildren, and husband Darrell Weaver.

“Truly, it is in darkness that one finds the light, so when we are in sorrow, then this light is nearest of all to us” – Meister Eckhart

Memorial to be held at the North Kent Community Church, 1480 Indian Lakes Rd. NE Sparta 49354.

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Myrtle Leona Powell

Myrtle Leona Powell, age 94, passed away peacefully at her home on Wednesday, March 25, 2015 with family by her side. Myrtle was preceded in death by her husband, Philip E. Powell in 2003. Myrtle will be lovingly remembered by her children, Lawrence & Janet Powell, Pat & Robert Stone, Connie & Loren Bass; 8 grandchildren; 9 great grandchildren; several in-laws, nieces and nephews; many cherished friends and neighbors. Funeral services will be held at the funeral home on Saturday, March 28, 2015 at 2:00 P.M. with Rev. Leonard Meyer officiating. Interment Solon Township Cemetery. Those who wish may make memorial contributions to Heartland Hospice of Michigan. www.hesselcheslek.com

Arrangements by Hessel Cheslek Funeral Home, Sparta.

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A March to Madness

Solon-Center-Wesleyan-webPastor Tom Holloway

Solon Center Wesleyan Church

15671 Algoma, Cedar Springs 

(just north of 19 Mile)

 

 

As I sit writing this article (which is late), I am wearing my Michigan State sweats and State Gymnastics t-shirt. I love March Madness, especially when my Spartans are playing as well as they are this year. But I don’t like madness in my life. I’m what you might describe as a control freak. I prefer to over-achieve, and I don’t like to fail.

I really don’t like to miss deadlines, and I stress out about letting other people down. Why is this article late? The first reason is the busyness of the Easter season. Throw in an auction for En Gedi on Friday, two weddings on Saturday, and my life is crazy busy. The second is an unforeseen tragedy.

The first is a matter of planning and stress control. For pastors the Easter season is one of both tremendous joy, and tremendous stress. Easter is the highlight of the Christian calendar, and the pinnacle of the church year. Some might call it Super Bowl Sunday for the church. When you plan ahead, it’s manageable. But tragedy strikes when you least expect it, and there is really no way to prepare yourself for it.

As we prepare for Easter, we are walking with Jesus as he approaches the cross. He tries to prepare His disciples for the tragedy that is about to befall them. I like to call it a March to Madness. Something is going to happen to them and it’s going to be devastating for a while (3 days to be exact). It’s going to test their resolve at the very core of their being. Though Jesus tried to prepare them for what was to come, they really didn’t get it. How could they?

This Sunday we will be celebrating “Palm Sunday,” where Jesus comes into Jerusalem triumphantly on a donkey and the people cheer and they love Him. They throw palm branches on the ground, and they shout, “Hosanna, Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” But soon those triumphant shouts of joy will turn to jeers and calling for the authorities to release the criminal Barabbas, instead of the Son of God, Jesus. The disciples must have been dumbfounded. How could this be? Why is this happening? What is God doing? How could He let this happen?

Then Jesus does something in the garden of Gethsemane that I think is key to this whole thing. He’s praying to His Father, and asks Him, is there another way? Can you take this situation from me? Then Jesus says, “Not my will, but Yours be done.”

I’ve found that in situations that I find myself in, especially the difficult ones, that there is something bigger in play. God is always trying to teach me something bigger than myself. We cannot avoid tragedy no matter what we do. Jesus says in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” You are guaranteed trouble, but I think despite these tragedies God wants to teach you something, as he did Michigan State basketball player Travis Trice, when he became ill in 2012 with a virus that no doctor could diagnose. He was sick for 8 weeks and lost 20 lbs. Travis said that while he was sick, he got a newfound outlook on life, and every day had new meaning. He saw God’s hand on his life, and his healing. In his illness there was a greater thing at work.

I believe that God wants to work in your life and my life in the same way, though we don’t always understand it. You can take comfort in 1 Corinthians 13:12, which says: “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”

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More than a change of scenery

 

By Ronnie McBrayer

By Ronnie McBrayer

 

“Repent” is a religious word I’ve heard most of my life, and to this day, it still makes the hair on the back of my neck stand with fright. As a child, I heard the call to repent burst from the lips of many a revival preacher.

With the evangelist’s bulging carotids, burning eyes, and angry finger pointing, I could feel the fires of hell licking at my heels. I repented every chance I got (whether I needed it or not). But for most, this kind of intensity is reserved for the sandwich-board-prophets of our time with the declaration that “The End Is Near.”

Still, we should not be robbed of a good word. But what does it mean? It means we must change our minds or turn around. It’s shorthand for starting over, to completely forsake one way of life and take up another. Repentance means our suspicion is replaced by compassion; vengeance is replaced by forgiveness; those we despised because of their race or color or gender are now accepted; and where there was greed, now is found generosity.

A couple of years ago a friend of mine went out and bought this huge, grotesque recreational vehicle that was a rolling luxury home. Satellite television; queen-sized bed; stainless steel appliances; Berber carpet; surround sound. This vehicle was a technological masterpiece, and I was scandalized.

If you’re going to go camping, go camping. Strap on a backpack. Hike a few hills and feel the burn in your thighs and in your lungs. Eat out of a can. Sit around a campfire. Sleep in a tent with a stream lulling you to sleep. Swat bugs. That’s camping. So I said to my friend, “Russ, you can go to the woods and never leave home!” He answered, “That’s the idea.”

We live our lives the same way. Yes, we need to change some things—our attitudes, our priorities, our biases. Instead, we often just rearrange the furniture, change our surroundings a bit, or adjust the landscape. We succeed in taking our dysfunction down the road with us, never experiencing anything that resembles transformation.

Repentance is not about saying a prayer or complying with the wishes of some wild-eyed preacher. It is about conversion. It is about a fundamental change in who you are, not just a change of scenery. Ultimately, it is about becoming who you were always made to be.

Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, blogger, pastor, and author of multiple books. Visit his website at www.ronniemcbrayer.net and listen to his talks by clicking on his YouTube channel.

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ROBERT E. HIBBARD

12C-mem-Hibbard-webROBERT E. HIBBARD

September 1, 1936 – March 28, 2007

We miss you.

Pat & Children

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LOIS JEAN HOLTON

 

Lois Jean Holton went to be with her Lord and Savior Thursday, March 19, 2015. She was born June 15, 1924 in Cedar Springs, Michigan to George and Alice (Sprague) Looman. She graduated from Cedar Springs High School in 1942. She was married to Keith Holton on August 24, 1944 by Keith’s father, the Rev. Peter Holton. Lois is survived by her three daughters, Georgia (John) Mareska of LaPorte, Indiana, Doreen (Barry) Chapman of Mason, Michigan, and Alice (Martin) Cottle of Sault Ste. Marie; sisters-in-law, Jeanie Looman of Long Beach, California, Lois Larson of Cedar Springs, Michigan, Glenna Thompson of Naples, Florida; brothers-in-law, Truman Hinton of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Earl (Donnalee) Holton of Grand Rapids, Michigan; cousins Jerry and Donna Wilcox of the Sault, and a special niece, Sandra Simmons of Cedar Springs. She is also survived by four grandchildren; Joshua Mareska, Jeremy Mareska,  Robert Vincent and Tamara Chapman, three great grandchilren, and many nieces, nephews and cousins. A memorial service was held on Wednesday March 25 at the First United Presbyterian Church with Pastor Mark Gabbard officiating.

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RACHEAL LEE ZACHOW

In Memory of

RACHEAL LEE ZACHOW

A little mite so full of love

Who stole my heart when she arrived

My heart’s full of happiness for the time that we shared

And for all of the reasons I had to care

That love has never wandered away

For it is here, forever to stay

Now 15 years have come and gone

The age that she was when God called her home

She shall rest in peace, sweet little “Sis”

For the memories of her are still held so close

Love Aunt Judy

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