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Archive | Church Connection

You are stuck with you

 

 

By Ronnie McBrayer

By Ronnie McBrayer

On a visit to my hometown, I took the time to drive by the house that had been my childhood home. It was largely unchanged except that it seemed so much smaller. Surely, the house, and what I thought had been a sprawling front yard, had shrunk over the years. But the neighborhood itself had gone to seed.

Homes were completely abandoned. Once beautiful yards were overgrown. Everywhere I looked I saw the same thing: dilapidated, deteriorating, run-down houses. So what happened? It was a failure of vigilance more than anything else. Everyone moved out or moved on, and homes that aren’t lived in break down.

The same can be said for our hearts. By “heart,” of course, I’m not speaking of the cardiovascular system, but the mysterious, inner person. The admonition from the Hebrew sage goes: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” He was addressing the spiritual center of the person, for the heart can become as overrun as an abandoned home, as fallen into disrepair as a forsaken neighborhood if one doesn’t stay with it. And I mean exactly that: you have to occupy that space, living at the center of who God has made you.

It’s tempting to run away from who you are, moving out and moving on, but at the end of the day (literally and metaphorically) you have to come home to yourself. And home will not be a very pleasant place if you haven’t taken care of the space, if you have no center—no core—if you haven’t taken care of where you live. Put bluntly, you are stuck with you; and if you have let your heart go to seed, how can you ever be happy occupying a place like that?

Chris Hurst, a young songwriter from Nashville, asks this question: “How do you break a heart?” He answers, “You abandon it. Slip out in a moment of weakness and vulnerability; when it has turned its back. Leave it lonely. A heart cannot be crushed, pierced, or gagged. It must be neglected. Then and only then will it break.”

Guard your heart and you might learn to love the person God has made you to be and the life he has given you to live. Give your heart the attention it deserves, and you just might discover a wonderful place to call home.

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

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HAROLD E. SCHMALTZ

 

C-OBIT-schmaltz-webHarold E. Schmaltz, 80, died Sunday, April 19, 2015, at St. Mary’s Mercy Health Center, Grand Rapids. Mr. Schmaltz, of Cedar Springs was born January 17, 1935, in Owensboro, Kentucky, the son of George and Elsie (Martin) Schmaltz. He served in the U.S. Navy and attended Cheboygan County Normal and Central Michigan University. He is survived by eight children, two step-children, twenty-four grandchildren, and one great-grand child. Children and spouses are: Deborah Patterson of Cheboygan, Michigan; Robert and Michele Schmaltz of Muscatine, Iowa; Rebecca and Matthew Stanley of Huntington Beach, California; Gregory and Brandy Schmaltz of Cheboygan, Michigan; Rev. David and Andrea Schmaltz of Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina; Eric and Lisa Schmaltz of Alanson, Michigan; Fred and Jessica Schmaltz of Rowlett, Texas; and Susannah and David Tanis of Sparta, Michigan and grandson Cody who shared a special relationship with Harold; Amanda Watkins of Cedar Springs, and Elizabeth and Jason Holloway Concord, North Carolina. He is also survived by special companion, Betty Schillim and close friend John Colombia. Mr. Schmaltz’ life was remarkable. He was raised on a farm in the Belding area and was awarded FHA and musical accolades as a young man. After graduation, Mr. Schmaltz served in the Navy for a short time, after which he pursued a teaching career at the Tannery School in Cheboygan and Midland’s Greendale #4 School. During this time he met and married Virginia Carlson. Also, of special note, he worked on the first painting crew of the Mackinaw Bridge in 1957, a job of which he was particularly proud. Mr. Schmaltz had such an interest in history, writing, and journalism he was destined for the newspaper business where he worked as manager, publisher, advertising executive, news-writer and reporter for such notable newspapers in the region as the Clinton County News, Gratiot County Herald, North Kent Leader, The Greenville Daily News, The River Valley Shopping News, The Record in Howard City, and the Big Rapids Daily Pioneer newspaper. His articles and reports where enjoyed by mid-Michigan residents for decades. He wrote many historical summaries and memorials for local veterans and was beloved for doing so. Mr. Schmaltz spent many years also in Kentucky and Alabama continuing in advertising, news and magazine writing and farm chemical sales. During this period he met and married Joan Watkins. Harold was an avid outdoorsman and taught his family how to hunt, fish, and enjoy nature by exploring local parks and camping tours throughout the country visiting national parks and historical sites. Mr. Schmaltz was involved in leadership in such organizations as the Rotary Club, Jaycees, Chamber of Commerce, Republican Party Executive Committee, and was an actor and president of the Gratiot Country Players. During his service in these clubs and organizations he received many awards for merit and his communication skills, his favorite being the special commission to Kentucky Colonel. He will be missed by his family, friends and many others for his love and passionate service to our communities. Cremation has taken place and a memorial service will be announced for this summer.

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

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CLARA JO GUST

 

Clara Jo Gust, 94 of Cedar Springs, passed away peacefully Saturday, April 25, 2015 at Sanctuary at St. Mary’s. Mrs. Gust was born March 28, 1921 in Ovid, Michigan, the daughter of George and Nellie (Lockwood) Sillaway. She graduated from Cedar Springs High School, Class of 1939 as Salutatorian. She was a member of the United Methodist Church and had worked at Pollocks Department Store and the Red Flannel Factory. She was an avid golfer, bowler and bridge player. She enjoyed traveling and spending time in Florida, was a wonderful mother and had a special love for her grandchildren and great grandchildren. Surviving are her children, Gary (Lolly) Gust, Joanne Gust; son-in-law, Tom Finch; grandchildren, Jeff (Barb) Gust, Michelle Tackmann, Elissa Hughes & Mike Mondy, Zachary (Connie) Hughes, Zeke (Mandy) Finch, Brianna (Garry) Genao; great grandchildren, Jason, Brooke and Jacob Gust, Isabelle Tackmann, Afton Glynn, Elizabeth and Annabelle Finch; several nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her daughter, Beverly Finch; six brothers and sisters. The family will greet friends Tuesday, June 9, at 10:00 am until time of service at 11:00 am at the Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs. Pastor Steve Lindeman officiating. Interment Elmwood Cemetery, Cedar Springs. Memorials may be made to Susan G. Komen, 3949 Sparks Dr. SE, Suite 100, Grand Rapids, MI 49546.

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

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Thank You

Many thanks to all my great family, friends, caterer and band members for helping me celebrate my 90th Birthday (including the gifts/cards)! I am so blessed to have all of you to make my special day so memorable!

Lucille Middleton,

Arine & Naila

Dan, Teresa & family

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THOMAS W. SMITH

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THOMAS W. SMITH 

May 24, 1945 to May 1, 2012 

Dad,

Another year has gone by

and we’re sending our love

to your beautiful home

in heaven above.

You live on in our hearts

and our thoughts every day

We cherish the memories

that will never fade away……

Deeply Loved and Missed. 

Marty, Dawn, Yvonne, and family 

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BENJAMIN WALL

In Loving Memory of 

BENJAMIN WALL

Our loving Husband, Dad, Grandpa and Great Grandpa who joined the Lord fourteen years ago, April 30, 2001. Spring has come and so are all the memories of loving you. Our lives go on without you but nothing is the same. We have to hide our heartaches when someone speaks your name. Sad are the hearts that love you, silent the tears that fall. Living our lives without you, is the hardest part of all. You did so many things for us. Your heart was kind and true, and when we needed someone, we could always count on you. The special years will not return when we were all together, but with the love within our hearts a part of us went with you the day God took you home.

Greatly loved and missed by his loving wife Rosalynn; sons, Dennis (Cindy), Dean (Kristie); grandchildren Cory (Mandy), Zachary (Angie), Molly (Matt), Emily (Marshall), Nate (Kalle); great grandchildren, Megan, Cody, Allie, Abbie, Maddie, Izzy, Tristin, Ashley, Aubrey, Easton, Lilly and Landon Benjamin

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Overcoming your fear of risk

The-Springs-blurred-webPastor Barry Briggs

The Springs Church

135 N. Grant, Cedar Springs

 

Everybody can identify with fears. We all have them. Fear is universal. Some of us have fear of the dark, fear of falling, fear of lobsters, fear of falling on lobsters in the dark. Fear of the words “Some assembly required.” But the fear I want to talk about is a specific fear: the fear of risk. This fear keeps you from the opportunities that God wants to do in your life and through your life. The truth is we don’t seize many of the opportunities God lays before us because we’re afraid to take the risk.

For me, I fear talking to people that I’ve never met before. Strangers. I don’t know, maybe it’s the root word—strange. Here’s the thing, not talking to strangers is keeping me from opportunities to meet new people. The reason I know these are missed opportunities is because I have friends who talk to strangers and they always have these great God-stories. “I talked to this one guy. I’d never met him. We were at the mall. I invited him to church. I ministered to his family. We went on a cruise together. Now I’m in his will.” That kind of stuff! I never have those. Why? Because I’m afraid to talk to strangers that I don’t know.

Let’s turn the mirror on you. Let’s talk about your fears. What step are you afraid to take that would result in depth or closeness to God? The one that you know in your heart if you were to take that step things would change. Maybe, if you are honest, you’re afraid to be pushed out of your comfort zone. Or maybe you’re afraid to forgive someone who’s hurt you. Or maybe you’re afraid to ask for help for one of your relationships.

Peter is a great example of someone in the Bible who saw an opportunity, took a risk, and seized the opportunity. One day, as Peter was heading into the Temple to pray, he saw an opportunity to heal a man who was lame from birth. Peter healed him in Jesus’ name, which, as you can imagine, drew a large crowd and created yet another opportunity for Peter to share the Good News. In Acts 3:12 it says, “Peter saw his opportunity and addressed the crowd” (NLT).

Like Peter, God wants us to see the opportunities He lays before us, take a risk, and seize those opportunities. Here’s how: You need to first identify your personal fear. If you determine what that fear really is for you then it shrinks. It doesn’t mean you’re over it.  It just means it’s exposed and manageable.

Once you identify it, the second thing I’d encourage you to do is then confess your fear of risk to someone. Admitting that you are fearful of risks is hard to do, but once you get it out in the open others can support you.

So first, you admit your fear. Second, you confess it to someone else. Then third, take one risk—just one—that will challenge your fear. Then soon after, take another. What is that? That is facing your fear. This week let me encourage you to face your fear of risk head on by looking for a God-sized opportunity, taking a risk, and seizing the opportunity. And watch as God begins to work in you and through you.

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To Die Trying

By Ronnie McBrayer

By Ronnie McBrayer

Beginning in April of 1994, more than two decades ago this month, one million Rwandans were killed, after extremists in the majority Hutu population turned on the Tutsi minority. The movie Hotel Rwanda focuses on the 76 days in which Paul Rusesabagina, a hotel manager, transformed the luxury hotel, over which he was responsible, into a refuge for the terrified.

On the first day of violence, 26 people came to Paul’s home for shelter. They bet their lives on him, and it was a bet that paid off. At the end of that three-month massacre, Paul Rusesabagina had saved 1,268 people in his hotel. Somehow, Paul kept corn and beans in the kitchen; he rationed the water in the pool for drinking when militia cut the utilities; and he took all the room numbers off the doors and burned the registration records, so the roving bands of machete-welding killers would not know the identities of those under his protection.

At one point, Paul and his family were given the opportunity to escape. He packed his family’s bags. It was then the residents of his hotel came and begged him to stay. “Paul,” they said, “we know you are going to be leaving this place tomorrow. But please, if you are really leaving, tell us, because we will go to the roof of the hotel and jump. A better death would be to jump and die immediately.”

Paul said, “By that afternoon I had made the toughest decision of my life. I said to myself, ‘If you leave, and these people are killed, you will never be a free man. You will be a prisoner of your own conscience.’ I then decided to remain behind…and if I was to die, I would die helping my neighbor.”

So, who is your neighbor? That question is incidental, really, as anyone you meet along life’s way fits the definition. “Will you love your neighbor?” That is the primary question, and one we have the opportunity to answer daily.

Will we be called upon to love with the fearsome intensity of Paul Rusesabagina? It’s not likely, but I hope that when the time comes for us to leave this world, we die trying; we leave knowing we have helped and loved our neighbors. This is so much more than a story. It’s the way we save and heal the world.

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

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REVA MARVETTA BENEDICT

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Reva Marvetta Benedict, 88 of Holland, formerly of Cedar Springs, died Tuesday, April 21, 2015 at her home. Marvetta was born February 4, 1927 in Kewadin, Michigan the daughter of Espy and Edith (Wildi) Hubbell. She graduated from Elk Rapids High School in 1944 and had worked at Knape & Vogt for 28 years retiring in 1991. She had been a member of First Baptist Church, Cedar Springs and was presently attending New Vision Church, Holland. She was a 40 year very active member of the Cedar Springs American Legion Post 287 Ladies Auxiliary and the 40 et 8. Surviving are her children, Gerald (Joni) Nelson, Douglas Nelson and fiancee, Crystal Scott, Sarah Nelson; stepchildren, Herbert (Sandy) Benedict, Colleen Benedict; 14 grandchildren; 12 great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband, Herbert in 1995; four brothers, three sisters, a great-grandchild, and a stepson. The family will greet friends Thursday from 6-8 pm at the Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs, where services will be held Friday 11:00 am. Dr. Anthony Adams officiating. Interment Elmwood Cemetery, Cedar Springs. Memorial contributions may be made to the American Cancer Society or the Cedar Springs American Legion Ladies Auxiliary.

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

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BONNIE MILLER

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Bonnie Miller, age 74, of Howard City passed away April 21, 2015 at her residence.  She was born February 6, 1941 in St. Johns the daughter of George and Bonnie (Ward) Comer.  During her working years she worked as a Avon Rep for many years.  She also worked at the Dime Store and Red Flannel Factory in Cedar Springs.  She enjoyed computer games, gardening, sewing and going to the casino.  In 1973 she married James who survives.  Also surviving are four children, Norman(Katie) Miller of Orleans, Tammy (Al) Haskins of Howard City, Melissa Eerdmans of Belding, Helene (Louis) Hall of Cedar Springs;  15 grandchildren and many great-grandchildren and several nieces and nephews.  She was preceded in death by her parents and a daughter Brenda.  Private family services will take place at a later date.

Arrangements were entrusted to the Heckman Funeral Home of Howard City  

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