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Archive | Church Connection

Living in gratitude

Father Lam T. Le, Pastor

St. John Paul II Parish

3110 17 Mile Rd. Cedar Springs

 

November reminds us of that the great civil holiday in the United States of America—Thanksgiving. If you attend Church on that Thursday morning with a Catholic community, chances are you will hear Luke 17:11-19:

As he continued his journey to Jerusalem, he traveled through Samaria and Galilee. As he was entering a village, ten lepers met [him]. They stood at a distance from him and raised their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!” And when he saw them, he said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” As they were going they were cleansed. And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a Samaritan. Jesus said in reply, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?” Then he said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.” 

Let’s reflect upon the importance of the gift of healing for these ten lepers.

Leprosy is a terrible illness for those who lived before and during the time of Jesus:  According to Mosaic law, those who were inflicted with this illness were declared unclean by the priest, and they were prevented from encountering others so as not to make them unclean (Lev. 13:45, 46; Deut 5:2). Jesus, in the Gospel today, not only healed the ten lepers but also instructed them to “Go show yourselves to the priests” (Lk 17: 14). Jesus made this command so that the priests could declare them clean and thus not only would physical healing be complete, but their emotional well-being would also be restored.

Sadly, only one person returned to thank Jesus and that led the Lord to say, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?” (Lk 17: 17-18). Jesus called the Samaritan leper who returned to give him thanks “this foreigner” as a reminder for us of the mutual animosity between Jews and Samaritans. From the Jews’ point of view, the Samaritans were “the illegitimate” siblings and were unclean. Samaritans, considered to be unclean by Jews, constructed their own place of worship, a temple on Mt. Gerizim, erected in the fourth century B.C. Jesus highlights the thankfulness of the cleansed Samaritan leper as an example to His contemporaries and to all of us as well: the characteristic of being people of God is not whether we are born as a Jew or Samaritan, but it is in living a life of gratitude to God who heals all of our spiritual leprosy, namely sin which damages our relationship with God and with one another.

So, on Thanksgiving, don’t forget to gather in Churches or houses of prayer to show gratitude to the Lord for the many gifts, especially for healing of our spiritual leprosy by the Blood of Christ poured out on the Cross.

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Better Things

Pastor Craig Carter

North Kent Community Church

1480 Indian Lakes Rd. • Sparta, MI 49345

 

Heb 12:24: “And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that better things…” – KJV

In light of the current election and all the other stress we cannot help but feel going on in our country, I am reminded of a simple thing my mother used to share with me when I was a child and struggling with whatever life was bringing me at that moment. She would say, “Everything will be ok, son, and things will get better.” Things usually did get better and it was often a change in my perspective. I will share some Scripture that promises us “better” things. Things may or may not get better, but as Christians, we remain hopeful because a God who loves us always has our best or better interest in mind.

Better Things

We see according the Hebrews 12:24, that the blood of Jesus Christ speaks “better things” than the blood of Abel. You may remember this story about two brothers named Cain and Abel. Unfortunately, Cain allowed his heart to become hardened towards God and his brother, and thought the answer to his rejection was to kill his brother. Ever since, Abel’s blood has “spoken from the ground” it was spilled on. It has cried out for justice. The good news is that Jesus’ blood shed at Calvary speaks of better things. It says there is mercy, forgiveness, and hope. It says, although we deserved justice, He was willing to give us better. If that is not better, I do not know what is!

Better Hope

Hebrews 7:19 says, “For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.” The blood of Jesus Christ provided a better Hope. A Hope not simply founded in the wishes and dreams of our own life, or current circumstances, but on the life of Jesus Christ. It permits us to “draw close to God.” To have a relationship with the one who tells us that nothing we experience or face in life, will ever leave us hopeless. Hope always makes things better.

Better Promises

Heb 8:1-6  says, “But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.”  The blood of Jesus provided the assurance of “better promises.” We have the blessing of the New Testament, full of wonderful promises to those who believe them. My favorite is found in Hebrews 12:5. This verse promises that God will “never leave you and never forsake you.”

Better and Enduring Substance

Heb 10:34 states,  “For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.” What a blessing to know that the blood of Jesus purchased eternal things.  We live a life so focused on temporal things. Things that never provide the love, joy, peace and assurance we are looking for. Yet, through Christ, we have a better and enduring substance; one full of eternal assurances. That is why we are encouraged as Christians to “store up things” in heaven where moth and rust can not corrupt.

Better Country

Heb 11:16 reads, “But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.” This verse speaks of our eternal home called heaven. A place where Jesus said he went to prepare for us; a place where all those who have received salvation through the shed blood of Jesus will go when they die. A place where every tear will be wiped away and joy and peace will be ours for eternity. Now, this place is clearly better than the alternative—a place that we do not often talk about, but is real none-the-less—a place called Hell. A place of eternal separation from God, where no joy or peace will ever be found.  That’s why I desire the “better country.” How about you?  It’s simple to go there. Just thank Jesus for shedding His blood for your sins. Tell Him you are sorry for thinking other things are “better” and receive Him into your life.

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WILLIAM R. WOUDWYK

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William R. Woudwyk, 62 of Cedar Springs was relieved of his suffering on Saturday, October 29, 2016 from a long courageous battle with cancer. He was born August 12, 1954 in Grand Rapids, Michigan the son of Tony and Alice (Gort) Woudwyk. Bill enjoyed hunting, fishing, camping, game nights and most of all his family. Surviving are his wife, Kathy; children, Amy Lewis, Bill (Rachel) Woudwyk; grandchildren, Trey and Gavin Lewis, Aubrey, Aiden, Ethan, Nate, Gabe and Autumn Woudwyk; sister, Pat Zink and husband, Bill Vajda; brothers, Tom (Carolyn) Woudwyk, Steve (Char) Woudwyk; mother-in-law, Loretta Elliott; many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents and father-in-law, Clifford Elliott. A special thanks to Spectrum Health Hospice for their care. The family will greet friends Saturday, November 12 at Courtland Township Hall, 7450 14 Mile Road, Rockford starting at 11:00 am. A memorial service will be held at 12 noon with a luncheon to follow. Pastor Jim Ikerd officiating. Memorial contributions to Pioneer CRC Building Fund or Spectrum Health Hospice.

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

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THANK YOU

After 38 wonderful years of child care I am retiring. Thank you to all the parents who let me love and care for their children.

Thank you,

Kids Korner/Darlene Cliff

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TIMMY BROWN

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October 7, 1982 – November 4, 2005

I thought of you today,

but that is nothing new.

I thought about you yesterday

and days before that too.

I think of you in silence,

I often speak your name.

All I have are memories

and your picture in a frame.

Your memory is a keepsake

from which I’ll never part.

God has you in His arms,

I have you in my heart.

Love, 

Mom & Dad

Stevie & Nathan

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BARB VAN HOUTEN

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In memory of my dear friend, Barb Van Houten, who passed away 7 years ago today on November 5, 2009. So many times I’ve needed her opinion, so many times I’ve wanted to cry on her shoulder, so many times I’ve wanted to celebrate something with her. So many times, I’ve wanted to shop with her, have breakfast with her, and see the fall colors with her. Her favorite season!

You’ll always be my sweet Barbarino!

Love, Robin

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SUE FROST

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August 27, 1967 – November 2, 2013

Those we love can never be

more than a thought apart,

as long as there is memory,

they’ll love on in the heart.

Loving you always and forever.

Your Mom

Sharon Cramer

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From the Pulpit: Pastor Ryan Black

Cast your cares on the Lord

Are many of your life activities worrisome? I believe the most obvious answer is yes! God recognizes and understands this hardship, which is why He tells us to “Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall” (Psalm 55:22). Even many in the medical field would agree that “An anxious heart weighs a man down” (Proverbs 12:25).

If we look at the Bible, Christ speaks to us about letting our fears and uncertainties govern our lives. This is captured through a moment in the Gospel of Luke 10:38-42:

Jesus entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” 

Don’t you think we can easily sympathize with Martha? At one time or another, we are like Martha overwhelmed by all the activities of our lives. We find ourselves trying to do what everyone else expects. We are going in many directions and then we become irritable, resentful and angry.

Christ’s gentle rebuke was for anxiety and distraction. We have no need to be anxious when we can go to the throne room of heaven and simply ask Him. Worrisome issues can lead to a separation from our spiritual life. God encourages us to balance our activities by adding prayer and Scripture with serving others. Surprisingly, when we add balance to our lives foolish anxiety vanishes. We don’t have to worry because we can simply let God know our needs. God does not want us wringing our hands with worry over things in this life.

Next time you find your day driving you crazy, give yourself a break. Take a deep breath and remember Our Lord’s rebuke and meditate on it.

Pastor Ryan Black

Cedar Springs Christian Church

304 Pine St. Cedar Springs, MI

 

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Fries with that?

Pastor Dick Nichols

Cedar Creek Community Church

2969 14 Mile Road, Sparta

 

I would like to share a modern parable with you.

A man named James, wanting to do something special with Mark, his five-year-old son, asked if there was anything special the boy would like to do. He responded that he would like some McDonald’s french fries. As they drove to town, Mark told his dad he could almost taste the fries already. They parked and Mark excitedly headed for the door. When it was their turn in line, he told the person at the register, “I want a super-size order of fries.”

The anticipation in his son’s eyes was radiating as Dad took out his wallet and paid for the fries and a drink. Mark could hardly wait to sink his teeth into the fries as his dad said grace over the food, and eagerly started in on the fries at the word “amen.” James was overjoyed to see his little boy so happy over something so simple, and decided to join in the fun. He reached over to get a couple of fries for himself, and to his surprise, Mark quickly put his arms like a fort around the fries to protect them, saying, “No, these are mine.” Shocked, his dad pulled his hand back, not believing what had happened.

It was a disappointment that his son didn’t consider that he was the one who provided them. “I was the one who paid for them,” he thought. “I let him have twice as much as he would normally have gotten. Not only that, but I’m over 6 feet tall and over 200 pounds, I could just take all the fries if I wanted, or I could go back up and get so many fries he couldn’t possibly eat them all.”

As James thought about it, one or two fries really would not have made much of a difference for him that day. What he really wanted was for his son Mark to invite him into the wonderful little world he had made possible for his son. He  wanted his son to be willing to share the very blessing that he had provided.

In Luke’s gospel, we read that Jesus told a parable of a rich man whose land yielded a harvest so large that he could not store all the crops in his barns.  As a result, the man decided to tear down his current barns and build larger barns in their place. With the use of 11 personal pronouns (I, my, mine), he expressed one of the most selfish and self-centered passages in scripture.

Jesus concluded his parable with, “But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:20-21- King James Translation).

There is nothing wrong with wealth, as long as God is thanked and glorified, and the wealth is shared. Being rich is not a sin, being selfish is. Everything we have has come from God, and is a blessing. If we consider everything as coming from our own efforts, our possessions will be a curse.

Neither poverty nor wealth renders one immune from selfishness. Some poor people share unselfishly with people in need, while others hoard a piece of bread. The problem is not wealth but selfishness, a character trait of a sinful heart.

But “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9, KJV).

Like that Dad James, God desires to sit down at the table with us for some fellowship. When God reaches over to use some of the blessings that He has given to us, let’s not say, “No God, these are mine. Go get your own.” Instead, let’s gladly share what He has provided.

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SCHUMACHER – LENARDSON

41c-wed-lenardson-web**photo by Mackenzie Jeanne Photography

SCHUMACHER – LENARDSON

Ricky Lenardson and Christine Ellis are proud to announce the marriage of their daughter Brittany Lenardson to Evan Lee Schumacher. Evan is the son of Michael Schumacher and Joann (Ignasiak) Uhl.

Brittany is a Cedar Springs 2011 graduate and 2016 Grand Valley State University graduate in Engineering and Evan is a 2008 graduate of Almont High School and a 2015 Grand Valley State University graduate in Engineering. They met while at GVSU in the engineering program. The wedding was held on September 24, 2016 in Imlay City, Michigan.

They are pictured with their “daughter,” Millie Schumacher.

Congratulations and may your lives together be blessed because you both are such blessings to everyone you know!

Love you both from Mom and Dad!

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