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Thank You

A big thank you to our families, friends and neighbors for prayers, food, flowers and cards. The United Methodist Church ladies for the nice luncheon and to Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home for the excellent service. Also, thank you to Courtland Rescue for your efforts.

 

The Family of Beverly Parker

 

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Thank You

We want to thank our families, friends and neighbors for the many acts of kindness, flowers, memorials, cards and prayers. Thanks also to The Springs Church and Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home for their kind servies.

 

“Love the people God sent you – one day He is going to need them back – and we know not how soon.”

 

The family of Bruce Eldred

 

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What Is wrong with the world?

By Ronnie McBrayer

By Ronnie McBrayer

“Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose,” goes the French proverb credited to Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr: “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” It’s not that a society or person organization cannot be transformed. But such change is often cosmetic or superficial. Reality isn’t altered at the deeper, more profound levels.

Simply examine today’s news feeds. There is conflict in the Middle East; fresh bloodshed in Iraq; a looming humanitarian catastrophe in Africa; upheaval with Russia; political unrest at home; is it 2014, 1985, 1978, 1959, or 1913? Has nothing changed within these geopolitical situations? Of course, everything has changed.

There have been new regimes, new faces, and new promises; the old guard has passed; generations have come and gone; the young and the restless have replaced the traditional and the settled. But the root issues and causes – things like greed, selfishness, sexism, patriarchy, racism, and tribalism, remain untouched.

Leo Tolstoy said, “Everyone thinks of changing the world; but no one thinks of changing himself.” Everything we see in the larger world is a reflection of the individual, human heart. So we can’t begin with the world. We have to begin with our own hearts.

One of the greatest British writers of the 20th century was G.K. Chesterton. My favorite essay of his is a tiny one written to his local newspaper, The London Times. The editors solicited responses from the paper’s readership by asking this question: “What is wrong with the world?” Hundreds of long, verbose letters poured in. Then eminent authors and leading thinkers of the day responded with essays. The shortest and most powerful response to “What is wrong with the world?” came from Chesterton.  He wrote: “Dear Sirs, I am.”

If anything about this world is going to change, it will be you, and the change cannot be cosmetic, superficial, or an artificial cover-up. Change must be at the heart, deep within, where our darkness lurks, our transgressions take shelter, and where all our spiritual neurosis is born.

So while I’m quoting Karr, Tolstoy, and Chesterton, I’ll add one more great philosopher to the list. Bob Dylan wrote, “There’s a battle outside and it’s ragin’. It’ll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls, for the times they are a changin’.” True, but the real battle is on the inside, for if the world is going to change, the change must begin right there.

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

 

 

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Seeing vs. hearing

Pastor Jim Alblas

Pioneer Christian Reformed Church

Cedarfield Community Center

3592 17 Mile Rd., Cedar Springs

Cedarfield Community room

 

 

Jesus once said, “a prophet has no honor in his home town”  (John 4:44). He was referring to prophets of long ago as well as Himself who experienced persecution in their hometowns. However, one day when Jesus was in his home region of Galilee, the people welcomed Him. It seemed as though a prophet was finally being honored in His own country until we learn why they had welcomed Him.

In John 4:45 it says: They had seen all he had done in Jerusalem. (Jesus had performed many miracles in Jerusalem.) They welcomed Him because He had performed flashy miracles and they wanted to see more. They were excited about what Jesus was doing, but weren’t very interested in listening to what He was saying. Jesus expressed his frustration over this when a man came to Him seeking a miracle; he wanted Jesus to heal his sick son. Jesus responded by saying, “Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders you will never believe” (John 4:48).

Sometimes in the church today, we too, can place too much of an emphasis on what we see from God rather than what we hear from Him. We have a tendency to get excited and place our confidence in The Lord when we see Him performing mighty acts. Don’t you find yourself excited when you see God bring a new couple to the church, or when He fills the offering baskets or when He repairs a broken relationship? There’s nothing wrong with getting excited about seeing those things, but will we still be excited and confident in Him when we don’t see those things happening? If all we have is the Word of God, but no affirming visuals to go with it, is that enough for us to still honor Him with our excitement and trust?

It can be difficult to do this, but it’s important that we do because God doesn’t always perform miracles. Sometimes the bank account is low, a rift remains between friends and we haven’t seen a new face in church for awhile. The good news, however, is that if we turn to His word (The Bible) and listen to what He says to us, we will find everything we need to remain excited and confident in Him despite the lack of visuals. The man with the sick son came to understand this.
After Jesus had expressed his frustration, he said to the man, “You may go, your son will live” John 4:50a). Notice how there was no visual yet, no proof that the son would live, all the man had was the word of Jesus. But it says, “He took Jesus at His Word and departed” (John 4:50b). You can imagine the sense of excitement and comfort he would have experienced as he placed his trust not in what he saw, but in what he heard. We can experience the same thing. Until God decides to move in a powerful visual way, be excited even now, by focusing upon and trusting in what God says.

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Love is the final word

By Ronnie McBrayer

By Ronnie McBrayer

Rabbi Irwin Kula collected an assembly of audio recordings in the days after the September 11th terrorist attacks; final conversations of those in the towers as they called home, spouses, parents, partners, friends, and left voice mails.

What he discovered was this: All the final conversations he had in his collection were about love. Not a single person used his or her last breathe to say, “Kill [them] for what they have done…Be sure to get revenge…I hate them for what they did to me…Avenge my memory.” Every last word was an “I love you” of some variety.

Rabbi Kula said, “Then I recognized what the real experience behind religion is…it is about love…and it’s no more complicated than that. As a rabbi, and I think priests, ministers, and monks, we’ve made it a lot more complicated than it is. When you make it more complicated than it is, you lose the experience.”

As I understand the Bible, particularly as I read it through the lens of Jesus of Nazareth, God isn’t much into religion. He’s not interested in carving up the world along tribal or cultic lines. He’s not officiating a spiritual contest, declaring winners and losers in who can most strongly declare how right they are. That’s all much too complicated.

Rather, Jesus came to reveal God’s love to us, to draw it out of us, to show us that love is the beginning, the means, the path, and the end; it’s the only road to travel. I suppose this makes me an “exclusivist;” one who denies that all religious paths are equal and simply have their own unique twists and turns along the way.

No, I do not believe such a thing, for the morbid irony is that religion brought down those iconic towers more than a decade ago. Hard. Inflexible. Dogmatic. Immovable religion (and such religion can be perpetuated as easily by we who are “Christian” as any other group).

God surely can’t be associated with anything of the sort, no matter what name it is called or however right and correct it purports to be. God must be—absolutely must be—in what is loving, absolving, and just, not destructive. For love is what saves us. It is what gives us life. It is the only thing that overcomes hate and injustice. It is the final word.

Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, pastor, and author. His newest book is “The Gospel According to Waffle House.” You can read more at www.ronniemcbrayer.me.

 

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Thank you

Thank you to our families, neighbors, and friends for the prayers, flowers and cards. The American Legion Post #287 for the luncheon and the Bliss-Witters & Pike funeral Home for their services.

The family of Bill Morris

 

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MILFORD “MICK” WESCHE

 

 

Mr. Milford “Mick” Wesche, age 69, passed away on Sunday, September 7, 2014, surrounded by his loving family at his home. He grew up on a small farm on 19 Mile Road in Cedar Springs, where his parents, Raymond and Mildred (McIntyre) Wesche had a few cattle. While in high school, he helped his Uncle Jim and Aunt Kletis on their farm, and continued until they sold their cows. Mick graduated from Cedar Springs High School in 1962 and from Central Michigan University in 1966. While in college, Mick worked at Wolverine World Wide, earning a beginning pay of $1.25 per hour. In 1966, Mick started teaching the sixth grade for Rockford Public Schools and retired after 40 years. During his teaching career, Mick was very proud to be of assistance in developing the Sixth Grade Camp program. He was a well-respected teacher by his co-workers and students. As his grandson Alex said, “He was an old man stuck in a 6th graders body, but he made every minute of every day spent at the house or the trailer or with the kids the most enjoyable time imaginable.” Mick was an avid reader and crossword enthusiast. He enjoyed being the first person to read the newspaper at Ward’s Hair Place every third Monday morning, especially so he could solve the crossword puzzle. He was also one of the first persons at Rockford Ambulance Service to be a Certified EMT and used his experience for many years as a paid, on-call volunteer. Mick also served on the Rockford Planning Commission for seventeen years. Mick met and married Alice Marie Skelonc and felt his greatest achievement in life was in raising his children and in helping with his grandchildren. The memories and experiences of vacationing and camping with his family and Alice’s family were a highlight. Mick is survived by his loving wife Alice; his children, Andy and Tonya Wesche, Aaron and Agnes Wesche, Amy and Brian Lovall, and Alissa Wesche; grandchildren Jacob, Shane, Harleigh and Karissa Wesche, Alexander Wesche, and Logan and Ava Lovall; mother, Mrs. Mildred Wesche Robertson; brothers and sisters, Ronald and Marcella Wesche, Joyce and John Hansen, Kenneth Wesche, and Nancy and Tim Gerlich; Alice’s family, Mrs. Barbara Skelonc, Richard and Mary Skelonc, Steve and Marie Skelonc, Gerald and Jenny Skelonc, Donald and Cindy Skelonc, Karen and Dennis Clelland, and Carl and Mary Skelonc; and numerous nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his father, Raymond, his step-father, Earl Robertson, his father-in-law, Martin Skelonc, and his very special aunt and uncle, Jim and Kletis McIntyre. Relatives and friends met with the family at the Pederson Funeral Home on Wednesday, September 10, 2014 from 2 to 4 pm and 6 to 8 pm and one hour prior to the funeral. The Mass of Christian Burial will be offered on Thursday, September 11, 2014, at 11:00 am at Assumption BVM Catholic Church with The Rev. Peter Vu presiding. Interment will be at Rockford Cemetery. Those planning an expression of sympathy are asked to consider Krause Memorial Library, 140 E. Bridge St., Rockford, MI 49341 or the Rockford Education Foundation, PO Box 777, Rockford, MI 49341.

Arrangements by Pederson Funeral Home www.pedersonfuneralhome.com

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Celebrating family

Pastor Darryl Miller  

Sand Lake UMC, 65 W. Maple, Sand Lake

South Ensley UMC, 13600 Cypress, Ensley Township

 

As I am writing this, we are preparing for our upcoming camp. Each year our two churches go camping together at what we call “Family Camp.” This is a wonderful time of fellowship and celebration of God’s wondrous creation. It is called family camp because all our church family comes together. The great thing is that many of those there have long since left the area for jobs or other reasons. Some came as children but as adults no longer attend our churches. Others are friends of former campers who continue to come even though their friends have passed on. In other words, it is a true family; people from all over who come together and love each other.

There is a good lesson in this. I love to work with people from other denominations, remembering that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ. Who better to share the wonders of God’s handiwork with than your family? All walks of people, all different views, all children of the living God sharing time and fun together. What kind of world would we have if we could do this every day! Recognizing each other not as “those people who go to that other church” but as fellow heirs to God’s kingdom—a true family.

Hey, let’s face it. In my family, we don’t all get along all the time, but we do love each other. Yes, sometimes we have different opinions and ideas but we are still family. And that is how God made us. We love to sit on the dunes and share communion as the sun sets over Lake Michigan. This is something that we, the children of God, have in common. And this brings all of us together. Mike Warnke once said, “we will all be on the same side eventually, so why not start now?” He was talking about the divisions in the churches. But when God’s people come together, amazing things happen! Share a meal with your family (not just at Christmas, Easter, or Thanksgiving) and remember that your neighbors are family, too!

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Stay in School

By Ronnie McBrayer

By Ronnie McBrayer

The Buddha said, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” Well, ready or not kids, your teachers are showing up in classrooms everywhere. It’s time to crack open the books, slip the surly bonds of summer, and head back to school.

My counsel is to stay in school as long as you can; not to avoid the employment line or devour your parents’ purse but to learn all you can, and to learn to become a learner. For when you stop learning, the proverb goes, you’ve stopped living.

This applies even to those who have the parchment hanging on the wall, those in well-established careers, and to those who haven’t set foot onto a schoolyard in decades. We are always in school, or at least we should be, and those who feel they have matriculated to the point, in life or faith, where we think we know it all, or at least we know enough, we haven’t graduated. We have quit.

When we refuse to learn anything more, we become fixated, immature masters of minutia, nothing more, and life grows incredibly small—looking like old men and women stuffed into preschoolers’ chairs. Mystery is murdered, discoveries dry up, and gone is the joy and excitement of new, daily revelation.

How many treasures are forfeited by those who “know that they know what they know,” but they have learned nothing new in decades? Their minds and hearts are as closed as a freshman’s Algebra book. In the words of Russian giant Leo Tolstoy, “Even the strongest current of water cannot add a drop to a cup which is already full.”

Maybe the always returning school year is an act of redemption, really, for we get another chance to learn our lessons; to take the same course, again and again if necessary, so we can get it right; to pick up the material that we have not yet mastered or refused to heed, and to go deeper.

Still, I suppose that every student, from the Kindergartener beginning to read to the old man learning new tricks, feels like he is being crushed by the repetition of the classroom. But God’s classroom isn’t a form of punishment. The lessons must be learned for our own maturation and well-being and the Teacher knows this. He is giving us every opportunity to succeed—if only we will.

Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, pastor, and author. His newest book is “The Gospel According to Waffle House.” You can read more at www.ronniemcbrayer.me.

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Thank You

The family of Janet Riggle would like to acknowledge and extend a heartfelt thank you to Metron of Cedar Springs for the quality of care given our mother during her stay there, and for the compassion and many acts of kindness shown us by the staff at her passing. It meant so much to us.

 

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