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Archive | Church Connection

Happy Birthday RILEY LUTZKE

C-b-day-Lutzke

 

Riley Lutzke will be turning one on November 26, 2014.

Happy Birthday, Son! Hope you have a wonderful day.

 

Love,

Daddy

 

Also wishing Riley a very Happy Birthday is Nona and Grandpa Bill.

We love you very much Buddy.

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LEE & CHRIS MULLENNIX

C-ANNIV-MullennixLee and Chris Mullennix celebrated their 30 year wedding anniversary on November 2, 2014. It was celebrated by renewing their vows. Family and friends attended.

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Hope is a dangerous thing

by Ronnie McBrayer

by Ronnie McBrayer

“Let me tell you something, my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane.” So said Red Redding to Andy Dufresne in that masterpiece, “The Shawshank Redemption.” Morgan Freeman (as Red) and Tim Robbins (as Andy) have never been better.

For the uninitiated, “Shawshank” is about prison life. It is a story about guilt, innocence, friendship, love, struggle and injustice. It is a story about hope, and how hope can keep a man alive, even though Red had given up on hope long ago. Hope is a cruel joke, in his estimation, that convinced gullible people to long for something that was impossible to attain.

Old Red’s view is largely consistence with the ancient philosophers who used hope as a synonym for dashed expectations. It was nothing but starry-eyed, false anticipation. Modern philosophy hasn’t changed this view, as Red could have easily been channeling Nietzsche who thought of hope as the malevolent instrument that simply prolonged human suffering.

Still, Andy Defresne told Red that hope was “the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.” In fact, that is hope’s exact definition. It is what never dies. More than human longing, more than personal aspiration, more than some head-in-the-cloud dream, it is the stuff of endurance.

Look at those who have survived the worst atrocities; the survivors always have some intangible power to bend, but not break, under the pressure. These individuals endured, persevered, and suffered the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,” while taking “arms against their sea of troubles.” But when the battle had ended, they were found intact; hurt, but alive; battered, but not defeated. They had resiliency, a synonym for hope.

Vaclav Havel, the Czech playwright who became the first president of the Czech people after the fall of the Soviet Union, defined hope as well as Andy Dufresne. He said, “Hope is not optimism. It is the certainty that life has meaning, regardless of how it turns out…I am not an optimist, because I’m not sure everything will end well. I just carry hope in my heart.”

Yes, “hope is a dangerous thing,” but not because it can make people crazy. It is dangerous to the status quo; it gives people the tenacity to “keep on keeping on.” It gives people the power to change their world. And right now, in this world, that would be “the best of things.”

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

 

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Real Men (part two)

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. Supposedly a real man looks like an Adonis, acts macho, and always wins. In reality, a real man is defined not by what he looks like, but who he is! Real men for the most part do not look like the latest “hunk” of a movie star or sports legend. He may not have rippling muscles, or stand over six feet tall, he may not even have a full head of hair. Real men are comfortable in their skin and have made their share of mistakes, and will make more.”

The previous paragraph introduced part one of a three part series on “Real Men.” The first devotional dealt with “Becoming Men of Courage.” Today we will focus on “Becoming Men of Action!” Hollywood does know what film genres appeal to men—action films. It is because we tend to want to do or fix something about a given situation.  And like fictional Tim Taylor from Home Improvement, the more explosions and power the better!

Biblically (1 Cor. 9:27 – 10:14) there are a number of principles that will help us become Men of Action in our homes, communities, and work places. There are four principles to keep in mind.

First, be aware of the danger of becoming a castaway. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified (1 Cor. 9:27 ESV). The word “disqualified” is a word that means: failing the test; unqualified; worthless; useless; unworthy; disapproved. In other words, let’s live this life according to the rules—God’s rules—so that we don’t end the task and find we’ve been disqualified for rule infraction.

Second, let’s learn from our mistakes. “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it” were the words of Edmund Burke, a member of the House of Commons in England during the Revolutionary War. Prophetic words, for each generation seems to adopt the philosophy of doing things their own way, only to repeat the mistakes of the past. We, too, can learn to avoid the mistakes of the past such as idolatry, immorality, infidelity, and disloyalty (1 Cor. 10:7-10).

Third, let’s avoid overconfidence. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall (1 Cor. 10:12 NIV). Have you ever watched as an athlete runs across the field of play and trips for no apparent reason? Overconfidence happens much more than one might think. We often do the routine things that perhaps we’ve done for years, and lo and behold, we mess it up! Distractions? Mind was elsewhere? Remember, self-confidence without Christ-consciousness is a prelude to disaster.

Fourth, deal victoriously with temptation. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it (1 Cor. 10:13 ESV). Temptation is not sin. We all deal with it (“common to man”).  Note too, that as a child of God, we live in a controlled environment (“God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it”). I’m reminded over and over again that He has his hand on the thermostat and He knows how much heat I can stand.

So how should I deal with temptation? Glad you asked! I ran across the following list many years ago that I’ve refined and hope will be of help to you.

Reside in Christ. He is our only escape (Heb. 2:18). Rejoice by Faith. Do it by faith until you can do it with your whole heart (Jms. 1:2; Rom. 5:3). Remain consistent. Hang in there—you can do it—persevere (Jms. 1:12). Request ahead of time. We must prepare ahead of time, before the test starts (Mt. 6:13; 26:41). Retreat! For some things, the only course of action is to run (1 Cor. 10:14; 2 Tim. 2:22). Remove the means. Don’t set yourself up for failure. Get rid of those things, practices or places that trip you up (Rom. 13:14). Replace bad influences. (Prov. 13:20; Phil. 4:8). Refuse to take the low road.  The low road is the path of convenience and compromise.

Keep in mind as you deal with temptation, it’s not based upon what you think you can bear, but upon what God knows you can handle! Hang in there my friend. You can make a difference for His Kingdom!

 

 

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CAROLYN GREEN

C-obit-Green-fcMrs. Carolyn Green, age 88, left us on Sunday November 16th, 2014 surrounded by her adoring family after a short but valiant battle with cancer. Carolyn grew up in Ensley Center, Michigan, in the loving care of her parents who were dairy farmers. Carolyn was valedictorian of the 1944 class of Sand Lake High School. Upon graduation, she moved to Cedar Springs to live with Dr. and Ruth Branyan where she worked as a receptionist and practical nurse. She met her late husband, Tom Green, at a Bingo stand on Farmer’s Day in Cedar Springs. After a short courtship they were engaged on Christmas day, 1946, and were married on March 2nd, 1947. For several years, side by side, they owned and operated The Rockford Body Shop in Rockford, Michigan. Carolyn was an extraordinary seamstress, making matching dresses for her girls, prom dresses, wedding dresses, and everything in between. One of her favorite past times was playing penny slots at the casino. Their most enjoyable activity was camping with their grandchildren and spending time at Lincoln Lake. Tom and Carolyn enjoyed traveling together, often visiting their grandchildren wherever they went. Carolyn’s priority and joy in life was taking care of her family, putting their needs above all else. She was an example of unconditional love to all she met. Carolyn was preceded in death by her parents, Glenn and Lillian Gillette, her brother Roger Gillette, and her beloved husband, Tom Green. Carolyn is survived by her children, Patricia and Phil Cranney of Morley, Holly and Jack Frey of Sand Lake, and Sherry Williams of Grandville; her “daughter” Penny Harvey; five grandchildren, Chad Cranney and Nicole Mason, Dirk and Nicole Cranney, Nicole and Mark Robinson, Tom and Krista Frey, and Wade and Elizabeth Green; nine great-grandchildren, Katelynn, Brooke, Sophia, Gage, Erika, Lane, Luke, Ethan, and Alexandria; and her great-great-grandsons, Ronan and Damian; brother, Ralph Gillette; nieces and nephews; and honorary granddaughters, Taylor and Allison. A funeral service for Mrs. Green will be Thursday, November 20, 2014 at 2:00pm at the Pederson Funeral Home, 127 N. Monroe Street in Rockford with Fr. John Kirkman officiating. Relatives and friends met with the family at the funeral home on Wednesday, November 19, 2014 from 2-4 and 6-8pm. Interment will take place in Elmwood Cemetery in Cedar Springs. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be given to the Humane Society of West Michigan, 3077 Wilson NW, Walker, MI 49544.

Arrangements by Pederson Funeral Home, Rockford

www.pedersonfuneralhome.com

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GORDON HENRY SHELLER

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April 16, 1936-November 18, 2010

4 years have passed, but not a day goes by that we

don’t think about and miss you. We are going to love you forever and ever, Amen.

 

Sad are the hearts that loved you

Silent are 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 happy years will not return

When we were all together, but

With the love within our hearts

You’ll walk with us forever.

So, if we could have a lifetime wish

A dream that would come true,

We’d pray to God with all our hearts

For yesterday with you.

A thousand words can’t bring you back,

We know because we’ve tried,

And neither will a million tears,

We know because we’ve cried.

You left behind our broken hearts

And happy memories too,

We treasure all these memories,

But wish we still had you.

So in the quiet cemetery,

Where gentle breezes blow,

Lies a beloved man who left us 3 years ago.

His place of rest we visit,

We put flowers there with care,

But no one knows our heartache

as we turn to leave him there.

Though his smile is gone forever

and his face we cannot touch,

Still we have the memory of the

husband, dad, grandpa, great-grandpa

that we loved so much.

His memory is our treasure

with which we’ll never part.

God has him in his keeping,

But we have him in our hearts.

With love from your family,

Sharon, Debbie, Dutch, Mike, Amanda, Monica, Gregory, Heather, Christopher, Joshua, Jordan, Nathaniel, Zachary, Mackenzie and Adilyn-Grace

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RONALD R. BURT

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December 9, 1955 – November 22, 2012

 

Wonderful memories of one so dear,

Treasured still with a love sincere.

In our hearts he is living yet,

We love him too dearly to forget.

 

In loving memory,

Sharon, Heather and Linsay

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Thank you

Thank you to all the voters from the City of Cedar Springs. I appreciate your votes and support from our community.

 

Rose Ellen Powell

City Councilmember

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Thank God Anyhow

Pilgrim-BiblePastor Mike Shiery

Pilgrim Bible Church

West Pine Street | Cedar Springs

 

 

“Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls–

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, and He will make me walk on my high hills.” (Habakkuk 3:17-19 NKJV)

What do you really know about the first Thanksgiving in America? There is much more to the story than what most people realize. In 1620 there were 102 Pilgrims; 56 of them died due to starvation, disease and the cold winter. In 1621, 46 Pilgrims and 91 Indians met to give thanks for a bountiful harvest and for the preservation of their lives. Those people had every reason to be depressed and discouraged, but they were thankful anyhow.

The keywords found in Habakkuk 3:17-19 are “though” and “yet.” Habakkuk is saying, “I sure don’t understand all that is happening, but I am going to thank God anyhow!” Let’s look at these verses and see that regardless of how things may look on the surface, we have a reason to “thank God anyhow.”

We can thank God that His sovereignty never changes. Habakkuk 3:17-18a reminds us that circumstances change, but God never does! We may not be able to rejoice in our situation, but we can always rejoice in our Sovereign. Habakkuk is painting a bleak portrait of the future, but he looks away to a God who is always the same.

He is the One we can depend on in desperate times, we can trust in troublesome times, we can believe during unbelievable times, and we can lean on Him at all times! We may not always know what He is doing, but we can always trust Him to do what is right.

Habakkuk 3:18b tells us that we can thank God for our salvation. Things might be bad in this life, but things do not affect my salvation. Salvation does not depend on things going well, salvation. Salvation does not depend on things going well, salvation rests solely on the grace and power of God! Life is uncertain at best. One phone call or doctor’s visits can changes everything; salvation is eternal in nature.

Thank God that His strength never collapses. Our strength does not lie within us, the Lord is our strength. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13 NKJV). When we are unable to stand, He enables us. When we can’t go on, He helps us. When we are in the deep valley, He leads us to higher ground.

“Deer’s feet” and “high hills” speaks of the mountain tops where the deer is free from the dangers found below. Habakkuk is telling us that God enables him to rise above his circumstances and the God gives him the strength to stand above the battle and enjoy freedom in the Lord!

When life happens and we are left reeling with the impact of bad news and tragic events, lets choose to thank God anyhow. As Larry Petree wrote years ago:

Thank God for the valley I walked through today, 

Thank God all my burdens were lifted away, 

Thank God for the mountain I’ve had strength to climb, 

And when the sun just won’t shine, “Thank God.”

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Count your blessings

by Ronnie McBrayer

by Ronnie McBrayer

In the churches of my youth we sang an old hymn entitled, “Count Blessings” at every Thanksgiving service. I can still recite the first stanza from memory: “When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed; when you are discouraged, thinking all is lost; count your many blessings, name them one by one; and it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.”

A Sunday School teacher once challenged my Primary Bible Class to do exactly as the song implored: “Count your blessings.” She handed out sheets of wide ruled notebook paper accompanied by fat, yellow, #2 Ticonderoga pencils. A dozen eight-year-olds went to work listing all of our heaven-sent assets.

Have you counted your blessings lately, naming them “one by one?” I know all the big things would be on the list: family, nation, shelter, food, children or grandchildren. But to list all of our blessings, even the little things, would take a considerable amount of time, longer than a brief Sunday School lesson would allow. Still, it’s worth the time to make such a list. Maybe you could start with A and work through the alphabet to Z, concentrating on the little, often assumed, godsends.

I’ll get you started: Air conditioning. Band aids. Coffee. Distilleries (particularly those in Canada). Electricity. Football. Garrison Keillor. Hamburgers. Ireland. Jackson Hole. Krispy Kreme. Live Oak trees. Music. Newspapers. Online banking. Picnics. Quinoa. Refrigeration. Smoked Almonds. Tennis. Urinals (the ones that flush automatically). Vacations. Willie Nelson. X-Rays. Yogurt. Zyrtec.

And that’s just the first list that rolled from my mind, a stream of consciousness! This list could be reproduced a thousand times over with little thought, just observation, because blessings constantly rain down upon me. God’s ever-present grace surrounds me, if only because I am fortunate enough to live at a time and in a place like this.

It’s not that complicated. Take the time to look around your life and count your blessings—one by little one—if you dare. Give thanks to God for what you have, what you have experienced, for the grace you have received, and for the people you have known.

Try to remember that Thanksgiving is more than a holiday, more than a day off, more than a circled date on a calendar. It is a way of life. Remembering this might change your perspective about things. It might change your attitude. It just might change your life.

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

 

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