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Archive | Church Connection

The Faith to fall 

By Ronnie McBrayer

By Ronnie McBrayer

There I stood, in front of the climbing wall. You know the behemoth: a slick, black wall, with colorful rubberized grips peppered across its face. The climber gets fitted with a harness and hard hat, and off he or she goes to the top to ring the bell of conquest. I tried, with my friends mostly jeering rather than cheering,  but I couldn’t do it.

Climbing wasn’t the problem. I’ve got mad monkey skills and a gorilla grip. It was the height. I have a morbid case of acrophobia, and nothing makes me pop out in hives or go looking for a toilet bowl to hug like being faced with traversing an unstable structure that is more than 10 feet high.

What made this incident all the more challenging were the last words of the attendant as I mounted the wall: “When you get to the top, you have to let go.” There was no climbing down (because of the tension on the safety rope), and there was no backing out. When you reached the terminus, wherever that was on the wall, the only way down was to free-fall. I got halfway up the wall and froze like a bug stuck to a windshield. The thought of letting go and falling, of trusting a ½-inch rope to save me, was too much for my anxious mind to overcome.

How much faith did it take to climb that wall? None. It took strength, balance, and a plan of attack; but not faith. It took faith to fall, and I didn’t have very much of that to give. As long as we can keep conquering, going, achieving, or getting better, stronger, and higher we feel like everything is okay. But what happens when our strength runs out; when all our plans for climbing higher fail? What happens when we can no longer focus? What happens when control is taken from us or when we are forced to let go? That’s when faith is required.

We have to bet on God, by falling into the grace and infinity of what cannot be proven or explained. What most of us call faith is actually nothing more than human determination. It is confidence in our own ability, and that is nothing that resembles trust in God whatsoever. It’s only when we are ready to let go that we are ready to believe.

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

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Congratulations

21C-Congrats-Hall

NICOLE HALL & JOSHUA HALL

Congratulations to Nicole Hall and her brother Joshua Hall, both graduates of Cedar Springs High School. Nicole graduated April 25, 2015 from Grand Valley State with her Masters of Science in Speech-Language Pathology. Joshua graduated May 9, 2015 from Ferris State with his Bachelor of Science in HVACR Engineering Technology and Energy Management.

We love you both,

Rob & Shelli Hall, Boppa & Nana Hanna, Grandma Hall, Uncle Al & Aunt Sandra, Austin & Alyssa

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Terrance Arthur Gage II

C-OBIT-gage-webTerrance Arthur Gage II 39 of Cedar Springs, passed away on Thursday, May 21, 2015 from accidental injuries. Terry is now walking with the Lord. Terry was met by his Grandpa and Grandma Middleton, Grandpa Gage, Aunt Laurie and Grandson Israel. He was born July 31, 1975 in Lakeview, MI. Following graduation from High School Terry enlisted in the U.S. Navy, he very proudly served his country for 20 years retiring in July of 2014. He traveled a lot while in the service and his daughters were able to travel with him. Terry loved to cook and was known as the chef. He was learning to make bowls from different kinds of wood, enjoyed auction sales and flea markets and loved to hunt. He was always helping people and spending time with his family and friends. He was looking forward to seeing his son Kevin graduate from high school and his daughter Ashley from business college in Virginia. He will be missed by his family and friends. Surviving are the love of his life, Marti; daughters, Mykenzie, Ashley (Danny) Lopez, Kayli (Warren) Armock; son, Kevin; two grandson and one granddaughter whom he loved very much; father, Terry (Judy) Gage; mother, Carol Rowe; grandmother, Carol Gage; Marti’s parents, Charlie (Reta) McKee; sisters, Debbie (Tim) Prins, Sue (Joe) Molyneux, Colleen Maycroft, Chris (John) Sweeny; brothers, Paul (Jane) Ringler, David (Cheryl) Finnila, Todd Finnila; many aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins. The family greeted friends Wednesday, May 27 from 11:00 am until time of service at 1:00 pm at Solon Center Wesleyan Church, 15671 Algoma Avenue, Cedar Springs. Pastor Tom Holloway officiating.

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

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Donald A. Wollander

C-OBIT-wollander-webDonald A. Wollander, 79 of Cedar Springs, went to be with his Lord and Savior on Monday, May 25, 2015 at Vista Springs. Don was born February 3, 1936 on his parent’s farm in Sand Lake, MI the son of Edward and Ada Wollander. He worked for Meijer for 32 years and was a lifelong attendee of Huggard Bible Church. His real passion was farming which he did his whole life. Don was an honest and caring person, who loved people and often put others and their needs before himself. He also was a nature photographer and had won international awards. Surviving are his wife, Shirlee, whom he married on October 29, 1983; and many cousins. Visitation will be held Thursday from 2-4 and 6-8 pm at the Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs. The service will be held Friday 11:00 am at Huggard Bible Church, 8860 21 Mile Road, Sand Lake. Pastor Rick Malone officiating. Interment Elmwood Cemetery, Cedar Springs. Memorial contributions may be to Great Lakes Hospice, 4069 Lake Dr. SE, Suite B11, Grand Rapids, MI 49546.

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

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Crystal M. Gould

 

C-OBIT-gould-webCrystal M. Gould, 84 of Sand Lake, died Wednesday, May 20, 2015 at Metron of Cedar Springs. Crystal was born June 11, 1930 in Sparta, MI the daughter of Newton and Ethel (Muir) Teesdale. She was a member of the Sand Lake United Methodist Church, Secret Pal Club and the Federated Garden Club. Crystal enjoyed being a homemaker and caring for her family, she was a wonderful wife, mother and grandmother. Surviving are her children, Gerald (Eunice) Gould, Lloyd Gould, Barbara Gould, Carl (Margaret) Gould; grandsons, Chad (Tammy), Jeff, Kevin (Angie) Adam, Kyle and Cody; 6 great grandchildren; 2 great great grandchildren; brothers, Roger (Geraldine) Teesdale, Larry (Karen) Teesdale; brothers-in-law, Joe (Lena), Art (Linda), Sim (Patsy), Guy (Marilyn); sisters-in-law, Betty Gould, Glenice (Ken) Van Loozenoord, Judy (Jerry) Troupe; many nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents, stepfather, Alvin “Jake” Magoon; husband of 61 years, Wayne in 2014; sister, June Cisler. The family will greet friends Tuesday from 2-4 and 6-8 pm at the Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs, where services will  be held Wednesday 1:00 pm. Pastor Darryl Miller officiating. Interment Sand Lake Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to Sand Lake United Methodist Church.

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

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Happy 90th Birthday

tomsharpeold tomsharpeyoung

TOM SHARPE

Happy Birthday, to Tom Sharpe, who turns 90 this year. The family would like to invite all that know Tom to come celebrate with him. There will be a reception on Saturday, May 23, 2015, at the Sand Lake VFW hall, starting at 5 pm.

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Waller-Slocum

C-engage-Waller

Gordy and Lauri Waller, of Sand Lake, are pleased to announce the engagement of their daughter, Jacklyn Waller, of Howard City, to Justin Slocum of Howard City. Justin is the son of Don Slocum, of Howard City, and Mechelle Merlington, of Grand Rapids. Jacklyn is a 2003 graduate of Tri County High School and Justin is a 2004 graduate of Tri County High School. A June 27, 2015 wedding is to take place in Big Rapids, Michigan.

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Joan C. Reed

C-MEM-JoanReed2Joan C. Reed

August 7, 1931—May 13, 2004

If roses grow in heaven

If roses grow in heaven, Lord

Please pick a bunch for me.

Place them in my Mother’s arms

and tell her they’re from me.

Tell her I love her and miss her,

and when she turns to smile,

place a kiss upon her cheek

and hold her for a while.

Because remembering her is easy,

I do it everyday,

But there is an ache within my heart

That will never go away.

With love from your family

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Your attitude determines your altitude!

Pastor Craig Carter

North Kent Community Church

1480 Indian Lakes Rd.

Sparta, MI 49345

“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:1-).

Last week, I was in a meeting with a couple good friends. We were mentoring a group of 7th and 8th grade boys together. One of my friends was sharing this principle, “your attitude determines your altitude!” He encouraged all of us to check our attitude about others and life in general. He pointed out how our attitude truly does influence how far we will actually go in life.

Since that meeting, I have not been able to get that thought out of my mind and heart. Recently, life has brought a number of difficult circumstances and situations in my life that have certainly affected my attitude. I have realized again, that it’s my choice about how I decide to react. The above verse found in Colossians 3:1-2 came to mind. I was reminded how important it is to “set” my mind and my heart on the “things above.” This means to be heavenly minded, or to think on what the Word of God say’s, not on the things of earth, or the circumstances around me. So how have I found this verse helpful to me? First, I noticed Paul said, “If you have been risen with Christ…” That means “if” you are a Christian, or you have been born again, you are a new creature and you have a new nature! Your old nature and self, no longer control your life or thoughts. You have to power of Christ living in you and can “rise above” above a negative attitude. These circumstances do not have to get me down!

Secondly, Paul said to “Set” our mind and heart on things above. The word “set” means to determine or purpose to do it. It is a decision of our will. We can, as Nike says, “Just do it!” No excuses, purpose to set our mind or thoughts on godly things. Purpose to focus on truth, scripture that encourages and build us up, not on the negative thoughts of the world or our circumstances. Philippians 4:8 reads, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” Paul says change what your thinking! Change your sights, aim higher!  Increase your altitude by changing your attitude!

The other day I heard a story about a military pilot who was testing a new plane. The inside of the plane was not finished out, and one of the face panels was off. While in flight, he noticed a big fat rat gnawing at the wires. He knew he had a problem. So he radioed down to the control center, “Hey guys, we have a problem.” One of the commanders replied, “This plane is designed to fly at high altitudes, so immediately drive the plane high in the atmosphere, the rat will not be able to stand the pressure and will pass out or die.” So, that’s exactly what the pilot did and the rat immediately stopped chewing on the wires. The pilot saved both his life and the plane. The moral of the story is, drive the plane of your life higher! Set your mind and heart on godly principles and God’s Word. You want to rise above the negative circumstances? You want to “kill the rats” gnawing at your life? You want to avoid an emotional crash? Drive your plane higher! Instead of staying mad and angry about life and its circumstances, forgive and trust God.  Instead of being selfish because things are not going your way, be generous and bless someone else who is worst off than you! Instead of being stubborn, admit you were wrong and seek forgiveness and restoration in your relationships. Instead of complaining about the government and politicians, pray for them. In essence, stop stooping down to the behavior of others, choose to rise above it. Take the high road, be godly and set your mind and heart on things above.

In close, I leave you with this thought from my former pastor and mentor. He often asked,“Why do choose to walk with turkeys, when you can soar with the eagles?” Remember, your attitude will determine your altitude!

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Unconditional love not unconditional surrender 

 

 

By Ronnie McBrayer

By Ronnie McBrayer

We are a nation fond of building stone monuments to the past, and the past we are most quick to memorialize is our history of war. An index of major US monuments reads like a catalogue of conquest. Our most iconic memorial of stone is Arlington National Cemetery. Hundreds of thousands have been buried there, and in a few short decades, it will reach capacity.

It is right to honor the men and women buried in those places, but we do them a disservice if we do not remember them in such a way as to stop filling the ground with the fallen dead of war. Or, at the very least, to reduce those numbers; to learn from the cycle of history, and work furiously to end our dependence upon warfare.

On this Memorial weekend, let us fervently honor those who unselfishly gave their lives, but let us vigorously refuse to glorify the violence that took those lives. After all, “War,” as the often maligned William T. Sherman said, “is hell. It is folly, madness, a crime against civilization. And even its success is over dead and mangled bodies with anguish and lamentation.”

For me to say “war is not the answer” is to do more than quote a Marvin Gaye song. It is to confess faith in Christ as the way to peace and reject the false promises of war. War promises us that when the last battle is fought, the last bomb is dropped, the last enemy is slain, and the last soldier is put to rest in sacred soil, then we will have a world at peace. Yet, war is waged without end, and our cemeteries continue to fill.

The world we want—a world where swords are beaten into plowshares, where mercy and justice flow down like the waters, where every tear will be wiped away from our eyes, and where there will be “no more death or sorrow or crying or pain”—is the world constructed by the unconditional love of God, not the unconditional surrender of our enemies.

So let us gather at our cemeteries and memorials of stone, around the tombs of the known and unknown who gave their lives. And as people of faith, let us also gather around another stone—the stone rolled away by the power and love of Christ, the only love that will bring peace to 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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