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Archive | Church Connection

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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Frandsen – VanSetters

12C-engage-Frandsen-web

After a romantic proposal on the shore of Lake Michigan on Christmas Eve of 2013, Michael VanSetters and Andrea Frandsen will become husband and wife on April 11, 2015. Michael and Andrea will be married at Crossroads Church in Rockford with a reception to follow at Rockford Sportsman Club. Michael is employed by MOS, a division of Xerox. Andrea is employed at Fifth Third Bank in Grand Rapids.

May God bless you both on your wedding day and your married life together.

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Into the light – John 3:1-19

cs-united-methodistPastor Steve Lindeman

Cedar Springs United Methodist Church

140 S. Main St.

Cedar Springs, MI  49319

 

In the movie Shrek, when Donkey thinks that Shrek has been mortally wounded, he says, “If you see a long tunnel, stay away from the light.” Of course, Shrek was fine, but why would he say that? Why would his friend say, “Don’t go towards the light?” Historically, light has been associated with the presence of God, and darkness with his absence. In many documented near-death experiences, people have described a bright, warm, comforting light. We see this theme of light and dark also played out in the Gospel of John. The Christ, the Word, is greeted in the opening verses of the Gospel, The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone.

During this season of Lent, we often hear the story of Nicodemus—a story that is very similar to that of many Christians in our world today. It is a story of growth, and a story of hope. We first encounter Nicodemus just before we hear the classic words of John 3:16. We are told that he approaches Jesus at night. Just like many people today who are walking in darkness, Nicodemus comes to Jesus looking for guidance and direction.

The author of John tells us that Jesus responds to Nicodemus’ questions by teaching him that he must be born again—born of the Spirit. We aren’t told how Nicodemus responded, but I picture him scratching his head, not completely understanding, as he walks back into the night.

But there is hope. Nicodemus appears again later in the Gospel of John. This time he is with his fellow Pharisees as they mock the temple guard for failing to arrest Jesus. Nicodemus, in his own, still incomplete way, stood up for Jesus. He asked his colleagues to give Jesus a fair hearing and questioned the legality of their actions. I can see the signs of a growing faith here—of the Spirit within him. He is willing to speak up for Jesus, in the light of day.

Our final experience with Nicodemus is at the very end of the Gospel of John, right after the crucifixion of Jesus. Nicodemus was there, with Joseph of Arimathea, to collect and care for the body of our Savior.  This man who had first gone to Jesus in the dark, went to the cross to take the lifeless body, wrapped it with spices and linen and helped to lay him in the tomb. Those words that Jesus spoke to him must have been ringing in his ears: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” John 3:16.

Approaching the light of Christ can be a powerful theme during this season of Lent, as we journey with Jesus to the cross. How do we stand up for Jesus, even in very little ways? Do we take these actions in the light of day? The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. May we embrace the light of Christ as we prepare to celebrate his resurrection on Easter.

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He who has ears

By Ronnie McBrayer

By Ronnie McBrayer

One autumn afternoon, my twin sister and I were ripping up the soil in my grandmother’s fallow garden. My sister, in her clod-crushing zeal, miscalculated the distance between us and I was summarily whacked on top of the head with a garden hoe.

My parents were called and they arrived to whisk me away to the office of Dr. Jerry Barron, one of only three doctors in town. Dr. Barron, sadly, was a community acknowledged quack, but on this afternoon he was the only option. See, Dr. Thompson did not work on Wednesdays, and nobody really visited Doc Hill anymore, not unless it was a matter of life and death.

So, it was with great trepidation that I was dragged into an examination room, where Dr. Barron separated me from my parents, asking them to remain in his clinic lobby. He, his two nurses, and an office receptionist held me down to place a dozen stitches in my scalp.

I twisted and turned, convulsed and screamed, begging someone to explain what was happening. They continued their work, never saying a word to me. Finally, I screamed at the top of my lungs, “Will someone please talk to me!”

That was the magic phrase. Dr. Barron and his team of tormentors stopped what they were doing. He looked me in the eyes, finally explained what they were trying to do, how long it would take, and how much it would or would not hurt. I then lay perfectly still until the procedure was complete. I only needed someone to listen to me.

Listening is largely a lost art. Medical professionals run us through their offices like cattle through a chute. Politicians stubbornly ignore our voices. Our children discount our counsel. Trusted friends won’t lift a gaze from their glowing capacitive screens to look us in the eyes.

As I get older I understand more and more why Jesus often said, “He who has ears let him hear,” before uttering some mind-blowing instruction. Because for the most part, we do not use those two fleshy instruments attached to the sides of our heads.

I wonder what would happen in our homes, office cubicles, classrooms, doctor’s offices, church sanctuaries, and houses of legislation if we who have ears took the time to actually use them. We just might discover the greatest advancement in the history of human communication—the ability to not say a single word.

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.

Posted in Keeping the FaithComments Off

HENDRIK J. SCHRIEVER

C-obit-schriever-webHendrik J. Schriever, 80 of Cedar Springs passed away on Monday, March 16, 2015 and is now resting in the arms of Jesus. He was born August 15, 1934 in Bosward, Netherlands the son of Hendrick and Marie (Brands) Schriever. He served in the U.S. Army from 1957 – 1959. He was a welder and steel worker for 60 years working for Haven Bursh, Valley City Sign, Couturier Iron Craft, and Industrial Resources. He had been a deacon and elder at Pioneer CRC in the 1990’s. Surviving are his wife, Geraldine “Gerri” whom he married on June 3, 1960; daughter, Loriann Meno; grandchildren, Stacie (Ken) Aalsburg, Tiffany Meno, Matt Cowling; brothers and sisters in the Netherlands, Bert, John, Nuy, Willameana, and Rieka; many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by a son, Scott; two granddaughters, April and Emily; and two sisters. The family will greet friends Friday from 10:00 am until time of service at 11:00 am at Rockford Springs Community Church. Pastor David Vander Meer officiating. Interment Blythefield Memory Gardens, Belmont. Memorial contributions may be made to Rockford Springs Community Church.

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

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DENNIS E. SOSNOWSKI

C-obit-sosnowski-webDennis E. Sosnowski, 70, of Cedar Springs, was called to his heavenly home on Monday, March 16, 2015. Dennis was born May 23, 1944 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the son of Stanley and Rosemary (Huckleberry) Sosnowski. He served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. He enjoyed fishing, hunting, camping, family outings, cooking and watching TV. Surviving are his wife, Vivian; children, Scott (Lisa), Rick (Lynda), Jeff (Welarchie), Angela and fiance, Walt Honeycutt; grandchildren, Jennifer, Amanda, Marica (Zach), Cody, Michael, Haley, Wyatt, Ashley (Mike), and Tyler; 6 great grandchildren; brother, Pat (Dawn) VerDuin; sister, Jill (David) Mancewicz. The family will greet friends Friday from 2-4 and 6-8 pm at the Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs. The funeral service will take place Saturday 11:00 am at Rockford Springs Community Church. Pastor David VanderMeer officiating. Interment East Nelson Cemetery. Memorials to Children’s International or Love a Child.

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

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Real Men – Part 3

First-Baptist-church-currenPastor Jim Howard

First Baptist Church

233 S. Main, Cedar Springs

 

“What is a real man? By the standards of today, a real man is someone who doesn’t exist except in the imaginations of those in Hollywood and the marketing industry. Today, we deal with Becoming Men of God (1 Timothy 4:6-8; 2 Peter 1:5-7). You will discover that by embracing this final step, the first two will follow.

Paul’s words to Timothy are very appropriate for what we need in our lives today. The first thing to note is that we should be men who are given to a life of instruction. “In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following”  (1 Tim. 4:6, NAS). Paul says we ought to teach (“pointing out”) the Word, be “nourished” by the Word and be obedient (“follow”) to the Word. Teaching a subject demands that one know the subject. Try teaching a subject, you will find yourself studying to stay ahead of the students. The word “nourished” would be better translated “trained” which requires little explanation.

Becoming men of God also means that we should be given to a life of exercise. “Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:7-8, ESV). First Paul tells us where NOT to spend our time. There is much in this world on which we waste time. Not the least of which are the fanciful tales that some people spin! I stand in absolute amazement at what people will believe today without checking the facts. We are being programmed to accept at face value what we are told. Never mind that it’s not true. There is one thing about the Word of God that you can hang your hat on, it can stand the test of scrutiny. Truth will be truth no matter what the circumstances. Truth doesn’t change!

Finally, men of God are given to a life of Godliness! “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love” (2 Peter 1:5-7, NKJV). This is an interesting verb here in that it reflects a command with the idea that we are to aggressively, passionately pursue the virtues listed.

Becoming a real man essentially boils down to three things: having a clean heart (a relationship with Jesus Christ); having clean hands (keeping short accounts with God); and having a clean mind (aggressively pursuing a passion for godliness). Remember Paul’s words to Timothy, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine (that which is right), for reproof (that which isn’t right), for correction (how to get right), for instruction in righteousness (how to stay right), that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17, NKJV).

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