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Archive | Church Connection

Thank you

The family of Jarrod Lee Welch would like to thank everyone for your support, calls and cards in the passing of JL and a special thanks to Aunt Deb and Uncle Philip Eadie.

Thank you from Shane, Kathy, Don and Joan, 

Cory and Angela Welch

Brother, Chris and sister, Anisa Mortensen

Gary and Connie Welch

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Thank you

Thank you to all our friends and family for making our 50th Anniversary on August 29th a great celebration!

Gary and Helen Johnson

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More Than We Can Bear

By Ronnie McBrayer

By Ronnie McBrayer

Legendary animator Chuck Jones created or produced some of the greatest cartoons, working on projects ranging from “Bugs Bunny” to “The Grinch” to “Tom and Jerry” and “Pepe LePew.” His greatest creation was the duo of  “Wile E. Coyote and The Road Runner.”

The outcome of each of their stories was predictable. The Road Runner would “Meep, Meep” and escape, and Wile E. would go cascading off a cliff for the umpteenth time. But miraculously, he would never die.

Gravity wasn’t his only challenge; he also suffered from those absurd contraptions he purchased from ACME, machinery he thought would help him catch his nemesis. A Bat-Man outfit, a dehydrated boulder, earthquake pills, a painted tunnel – but none of them ever worked. But after each failure, and they were legion, Coyote would scrape himself off the desert floor or crawl from beneath some crushing avalanche, and soldier on, “bloody but unbowed.”

Faced with his body of work, some have opined that Wile E. is a model in resiliency, an example to us all to keep on keeping on. I’m not so sure about that. The Coyote’s creator may have made him unflappable and indestructible, but our Creator did not provide us with such qualities.

Life can be too much for us sometimes, and it’s best to admit it. I know that cuts against the grain of our determined, conquering egos, but it is the truth nonetheless. There are simply too many falls off too many cliffs; too many stupid, self-inflicted wounds; too many times when we have had to spatula up what is left of us from the floor; too much exhausting pursuit without the proper pay off.

So, don’t believe the proverb that, “God won’t put more on you than you can bear.” The Bible never says such a thing, and life—any life outside of a cartoon desert—doesn’t validate it either. What do we do about it? Ask anyone who is in recovery. The steps that lead to restoration and healing begin with the confession that we “are powerless,” and we “only a Power greater than ourselves can restore us.”

Admitting our limitations does not prevent us from living robust, powerful lives. As these spill out on the ground like a catapulting Coyote going over a cliff, it is then – and only then – that God can do in us what we can’t do on our own.

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


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Robert Steele

Robert Steele

Robert W. Steele, 70, passed away Sunday, September 6, 2015 at St. Mary’s Mercy Health Center. Mr. Steele was born October 16, 1944 in San Jose, California, the son of William and Ruth (James) Steele. He enjoyed fishing and euchre and spending time with his family and grandchildren. Surviving are his children, Kevin (Christine) Steele, Debbie (Eric) Townes, Thomas Steele & Crystal Wrench, Kyle (Cheryl) Steele, Andrew (Branin) Steele; 12 grandchildren; 6 great-grandchildren; brother, Walt “Butch” (Robbie) Steele; many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents; wife, Linda in 2013; great-grandson, Jesse Lewis; sister, Luella Bunker; brothers, James, Howard, and Chuck Steele. The family  greeted friends Thursday from 6-8 p.m. at the Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs. There will be no funeral service. Private family interment Elmwood Cemetery, Cedar Springs. Memorial contributions may be made to the National Kidney Foundation.

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

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Love is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive

Father Lam T. Le, Pastor

St John Paul II Parish

3110 17 Mile Rd NE, Cedar Springs


A Reflection on the Visit of Pope Francis to the United States of America

C-Pulpit-popeMuch excitement surrounds the first visit of Pope Francis to the United States of America from September 22-28. The Pope has a busy schedule, first visiting the White House in Washington, D.C., then traveling to New York City to address the United Nations, and most importantly, presiding over the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia. The World Meeting of Families is an international gathering that was founded by Pope (now Saint) John Paul II in 1994, and is held every three years to promote and encourage families throughout the world.

The 2015 theme of the World Meeting of Families says it all: “Love is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive,” which emphasizes the impact that the love and life of families has on society. Why does the Pope put so much emphasis on strengthening family life among Catholics and non-Catholics? The answer is, I believe, found in three important paragraphs (1655-1657) of the Catechism of the Catholic Church that his immediate predecessor Pope Benedict XVI put much effort in preparing. It is important to fully quote them:

Christ chose to be born and grow up in the bosom of the holy family of Joseph and Mary. The Church is nothing other than “the family of God.” From the beginning, the core of the Church was often constituted by those who had become believers “together with all [their] household.”  When they were converted, they desired that “their whole household” should also be saved.  These families who became believers were islands of Christian life in an unbelieving world.

In our own time, in a world often alien and even hostile to faith, believing families are of primary importance as centers of living, radiant faith. For this reason, the Second Vatican Council, using an ancient expression, calls the family the Ecclesia domestica [domestic Church]. It is in the bosom of the family that parents are “by word and example . . . the first heralds of the faith with regard to their children. They should encourage them in the vocation which is proper to each child, fostering with special care any religious vocation.”

It is here that the father of the family, the mother, children, and all members of the family exercise the priesthood of the baptized in a privileged way “by the reception of the sacraments, prayer and thanksgiving, the witness of a holy life, and self-denial and active charity.” Thus the home is the first school of Christian life and “a school for human enrichment.” Here one learns endurance and the joy of work, fraternal love, generous – even repeated – forgiveness, and above all divine worship in prayer and the offering of one’s life.

As the Pope visits our country to encourage, strengthen and bless families throughout the world, it is good for us to ask ourselves this question: “What am I doing to strengthen my family?” and more importantly, “What am I doing to make God present in my family and community?” Let love be our mission and let our family be fully alive in Christ.

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A dog’s life—a good life

By Ronnie McBrayer

By Ronnie McBrayer

Mark Twain said, “The more I know about people, the better I like my dog.” Agreed. My family has a little pup named “Mo,” a stray we temporarily took in, until he could be permanently placed elsewhere. Mo so effectively wormed his way into our hearts, he became an irreplaceable part of the family.

Now, poor Mo isn’t very bright. Lift one of his ears and look in, and you can see straight through to the other side; but what he lacks in IQ points, he more than makes up for in sweetness and happiness. Mo wakes up every morning as if he has just won the lottery, boundlessly full of joy at the prospects of another day. He attacks every single meal and gobbles down each treat as if it were filet mignon. He becomes deliriously euphoric when taken for a walk. He greets every newcomer with wet kisses and a wagging tail.

And his favorite thing in the whole world is to crawl into your lap while you drink your morning coffee, or beg for a belly rub while watching the evening news. In fact, that’s about the extent of his demands. All he requires is a little affection, and he has no other expectations.

Maybe that’s the secret to both canine and human happiness—to find satisfaction in what you have. Maybe that’s what Jesus was getting at when he mentioned the “birds of the air” and the “lilies of the field” (or dogs sleeping at the foot of your bed). They don’t toil or spin, sow or reap, fear or worry, because they simply take what life gives them, joyfully.

Ask yourself this one candid question: How different would your life be if you were truly content with what you have, with the life you have been graced with, instead of being disappointed over what you don’t have? Your answer will reveal that happiness is not something you try to find. It is all around you; just accept it.

No, you don’t have to be very smart to be happy. Here is how: Greet each morning with gusto. Savor the little enjoyments of life, for there are many. Be happy to take a walk or get some exercise. Be kind to those you meet along the way, and love the people around you without reserve or hesitation. That’s a dog’s life, and that’s a good life.

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





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The Power of Purpose

Pastor Craig Carter 

North Kent Community Church

1480 Indian Lakes Rd. • Sparta, MI 49345


“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).

Why am I here? Have you ever stopped and asked yourself this question? If you are like most people, we live our lives with no real sense of meaning or purpose. We can easily live as if we are just a victim, or the by-product of the life events happening around us everyday. Sometimes the events are so serious, or life altering, that we finally stop long enough to ask ourselves this question, “Why am I here?” “What is the purpose of my life?”

The above verse found in Ephesians chapter 2, gives us some powerful insight into this serious life question. If you and I lived in the days of the Apostle Paul and spoke Greek like he did, we would know that the word workmanship means work of art or one of a kind creation.  In fact, the Greek word used is POY-ay-mah, which means something that has been made and is where we derive our English word poem. Paul is saying, you and I are a one of kind creation, a work of art, a poem, with a very distinct meaning and purpose. From the day you were born, you were His Masterpiece. There is and never will be another one like you!

The first step in finding your purpose in life is acknowledging and never forgetting that God created you!  Every created thing has a purpose. That is how God designed it! Psalms 139:14 says, “I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Thy works, and my soul knows it very well.” God’s work of art was revealed in your life the day you were born. To many people bemoan their lives. They fall victim to life’s circumstances, forgetting that the very God of heaven created them and he did so with a purpose!

Step two in finding power in your purpose, is realizing you were also created to live in relationship with God’s son, Jesus. Notice the second part of this verse. We are his workmanship, “created in Christ Jesus.” This is reason so many lives lack meaningful purpose. They do not live in connection to, or in significant relationship with, Jesus. They may acknowledge Him, but never enter a real personal relationship with Him. This is what the Bible refers to as your second birth, or your new creation.  2 Corinthians 5:17 reads, ”Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” It is taking the next step in life. You first acknowledge that your natural birth was accident, but was by God’s design. Then out of gratefulness to Him, you enter a relationship with Him through his son Jesus Christ.  You acknowledge Jesus loves you and died for your sins. You receive His forgiveness for you and acknowledge He has a plan, a purpose for your life.

Lastly, You will find power in your purpose when you see that Jesus has good things for you to do, that His plan for you is good. Do not just dwell on all the negative in life. Learn to see and know that God has created you for good things. The prophet Jeremiah learned this truth when God said to him, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11). In fact, the end of Ephesians 2:10 says that God has ordained you to walk in them. Meaning they were a part of His plan for your life from the day you were born.  So, go live your life. Live it with power! Live it with purpose and meaning! You were born into this world as a work of God’s art. You were born to have relationship with Him and live it blessing others with the good God had blessed you with. So, start walking in them!

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A Harborous disposition

By Ronnie McBrayer

By Ronnie McBrayer

Sociologist Robert Putnam wrote a book some years ago entitled, “Bowling Alone.” Bowling, unbelievably, is the most participated in sport in America. Annually, more people bowl than any other single sport. But, fewer people are bowling in leagues than any other time in US history. Thus, people are “bowling alone,” in isolation, not in community and connection with others.

Putnam uses this as a metaphor for our society. While technologically linked (more than ever), we interact far less with people, and are more disconnected, than at any other time in human history. The result is less and less social cohesiveness and civility, breeding conflict, distrust, hostility, and competition.

People of faith, ironically enough, have a solution for this problem. In a word, it is hospitality. Hospitality, as used in the New Testament, is not the act of being nice, though a little kindness would go a long way in this world. Rather, hospitality is openness to the stranger. William Tyndale, one of the first persons to translate the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts of the Bible into English, translated hospitality as, “a harborous disposition.” To create safe harbors, safe places for others to come in from the storm and find safety, wholeness, and welcome—this is hospitality.

A cursory look at the word hospitality shows that Tyndale was on track. Hospital is the root of the word, and a hospital, originally, wasn’t a high-tech medical facility. A hospital was a guesthouse for pilgrims, who were traveling long journeys. These were hostels, hospitals, or hospices, which is the Latin root.

Obviously, hospice has been transliterated directly into English. But hospices, in the original sense of the word, don’t belong exclusively to the healthcare industry; and it’s not just for the dying. Hospitality is a requirement for all weary travelers on their long, varied journeys; and that is, indeed, the work of the church.

Hospitality is an invitation for the stranger to feel welcomed; for the outlier to find a home; for the exhausted to find rest; and for the traveler to resupply for the trail ahead. Hospitality, practiced properly, is to do no less than fulfill the words of Jesus who said, “As you do for the least of these, you do for me. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me in.”

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


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Happy 55th Emerald Anniversary


Bruce & Myrna Chapman

September 3, 1960 to 2015

Love is patient and kind,

love is not jealous or boastful,

it is not arrogant or rude.

Love does not insist on its own way,

it is not irritable or resentful,

it does not rejoice at wrong,

but rejoices in the right.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

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Delores June “Dee” VerDuin

Delores June “Dee” VerDuin, age 83, of Kentwood formerly of Cedar Springs, went to be with her Lord on Tuesday, September 1, 2015. She was preceded in death by her husband, Frank; and her son, Frank, Jr. She will be lovingly remembered by her son, Terry and Darlene VerDuin of Caledonia; her daughter-in-law, Susan Bertot of Baltimore, Maryland; grandchildren, Jamie VerDuin, Charlee VerDuin, Jody Owen; great-grandchildren, Emilee and Erik VerDuin, Chandler and Beck Owen; brothers, Ronald Francis, James Francis; sisters, Suzanne VanDyke, Susan Houlihan; many nieces and nephews.  As Dee requested, cremation has taken place. Visitation will be held Tuesday, September 8, from 11am – 12 noon at Carlisle United Methodist Church, 1084 – 76th St. SW, where a memorial service will begin at 12 noon. Pastor Mike Ramsey will officiate. The VerDuin family invites all to remain at church for a luncheon following the service. Dee will be laid to rest by her husband at Solon Center Cemetery, Cedar Springs. Memorial contributions may be made to Carlisle United Methodist Church.

Arrangements by Stroo Funeral Home, www.stroofuneralhome.com


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