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Tea and apple pies


By Ronnie McBrayer

By Ronnie McBrayer

When our friend first moved to our hometown in the Deep South, it was a culture shock. Raised on the slick windy streets of Chicago, he had never eaten grits; did not know what chicken and dumplings were; had not the foggiest idea about pork rinds; and had never been to a church homecoming with “dinner on the grounds.” Nor had he encountered the Southern hospitality dripping from the mouths and handshakes of his new neighbors.

One evening as he and his wife were beginning to settle into these alien surroundings, there was a knock at the door. Out on the stoop was a sweet, small-town Southern lady, gray-haired with apple pie in hand. She gave the usual “welcome to our town” speech and finally ended with an invitation for her new neighbors to join her for worship at the First Baptist Church the next Sunday.

“No ma’am,” said my friend. “I’m an atheist.” The poor woman looked at him, dumbstruck. To relieve the tension she turned to his wife: “What about you, dear?” Again, the answer was shat-tering: “No, I am afraid not. I am Jewish.” The charming saint from the First Baptist Church turned and left, taking her apple pie with her.

It used to be that everyone we met was a bit like us. Not anymore. From religion and race, to politics and lifestyle, the diversity that now surrounds us is far greater than anything we could have imagined a generation ago. So, in shock, we exercise kindness toward those who are like us, and we keep our apple pies away from those we find different than we ourselves. This is hardly hospitality, Southern or otherwise.

In this day and age of connection and social media, we are actually more divided and disconnected than ever. A large reason for this is the lack of face-to-face community, especially with those we consider different.

An Asian tea tradition can inform us here. It is common for Eastern cultures to share tea with strangers as a means of sincere welcome. It’s much more than a quick shot of caffeine. It is an act of hospitable community building, because the more times strangers share tea together, the more like true friends they become.

Tea and apple pies.There just might be something to sharing these with our neighbors that will be good for all of us.

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


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EPSON scanner imageBeverly A. Odren, 81, of Cedar Springs, went to be with her Lord and Saviour on Friday, August 14, 2015 at her home. Bev was born January 1, 1934 in Solon Township, Michigan, the daughter of Peter and Marjorie (Clingan) Hanna. She retired from Cedar Springs Public Schools Reading Center and had been a lifetime and very active member of First Baptist Church, Cedar Springs. She was a very loving and caring mother, grandmother, great grandmother, sister and friend. Surviving are her children, Keith (Marva) Odren, Kent (Peggy) Odren, Karla (Dennis) Glerum; grandchildren, Peter (Monika) Odren, Derek (Jacqui) Odren, Anna Odren, Julie (Matt) Whitehead, Mary (Aaron) Aniszko, Tim (Amy) Glerum, Jon Glerum, and Andy Glerum; great grandchildren, Geneva, Eli, Zach, Isiah, Monroe, and Max; sisters, Myrna Weidenfeller, Doris (Ron) DeJong; brother, Don (Nancy) Hanna; several nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her husband, Charles in 2000. The family greeted friends Monday, August 17 from 5-8 pm at the Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs. The service was held Tuesday 11:00 am at the First Baptist Church, 233 S. Main St, Cedar Springs. Pastor Jim Howard officiating. Interment Solon Township Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to the First Baptist Church.

Arrangements by Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home

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50th Anniversary


Robert and Ruthan Hawkins of Ensley Center will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary on Friday August 21st, 2015.  God brought them together at a young age, they fell in love and were married at Pierson Bible Church on August 21st, 1965.  Robert grew up in Ensley Center and Ruthan was originally from Pierson. In 1967 they bought a dairy farm in Ensley Center and raised their family there and it is where they continue to farm side by side today. Robert and Ruthan’s home has always been open to those that needed a helping hand, a listening ear, or some of Ruthan’s amazing home cooking. Robert faithfully served the community for many years as the chief of the Sand Lake Fire Department with Ruthan supporting him all the way. God has blessed them with five children, nineteen grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.

“Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

Corinthians 13:4-5

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50th Anniversary


Please join us as we celebrate 50 wonderful years of marriage on Saturday, August 29th at 2 pm at our home, 1401 – 19 Mile Rd, Cedar Springs. We are celebrating 50 years of growing old together and hosting an open hours party. Call 616-696-1086 if you need directions or have questions.

The secret of their success is: “You just have to work at it.”

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32C-obit-Lee-webIrene Marie (Hawley) Lee, age 60, of Hessel, Michigan, died on August 7, 2015 in Petoskey, Michigan. She was born on May 1, 1955, in Cedar Springs, Michigan, to George and Marjorie (Wert) Hawley. Irene grew up in Cedar Springs and attended Kent City High School. She worked at Lehnart Dairy Farms in Sand Lake. She met Thomas Lee later in life, and married on November 14, 1998. Irene took great pride in being a caregiver to her mother for many years. Irene was a very fun and happy person. She liked hunting, flower gardening, playing cards and dice, and loved going to the casino. Irene is survived by her husband, Thomas Lee; sisters, Denise VeltKamp, Bonnie Clayton, Jennie Magoon, Kathy Trader, Margaret (Mike) Carriere; brothers, George (Gayle) Hawley, Tim (Jenny) Hawley, Jeff (Dawn) Hawley, Sam Hawley, Brian Hawley, and Kris (Nicole) Hawley; and many nieces and nephews. Irene is preceded in death by her parents; brothers-in-law, Clinton VeltKamp, Bob Clayton, and Norm Trader. Memorial service will be held August 30, 2015 at 1 pm at the Pierson Bible Church, 101 Grand, Pierson.

R. Galer Funeral Home in Pickford, Michigan is serving the family. Condolences may be sent to the family at www.rgalerfuneralhome.com.

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32C obit nielsenThorval “Bo” Nielsen, 81 of Cedar Springs, died Friday, August 7, 2015 at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans. Bo was born September 29, 1933 in Cedar Springs, Michigan, the son of Vern and Lillian (Pritchard) Nielsen. He graduated from Cedar Springs High School and attended Davenport College. He served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. Bo attended the East Nelson United Methodist Church, was a member at the Cedar Springs Historical Society and active at the Museum, the Cedar Springs American Legion, and a lifetime member and very active in the Red Flannel Rod and Gun Club. He was a lifetime builder in the Cedar Springs area, enjoyed hunting and fishing, and loved his family and spending time with his sons. Surviving are his wife, Sharon (Buchholz) whom he married on December 6, 1958; sons, Brian (Deborah), Alan (Rhonda); grandchildren, Ryan (Molly), Lauren (Will) Buttars; great grandchildren, Kendall and Mason; brothers, JC, Walter (Helen), Ivan (Phyllis), Eugene (Shirley); sisters, Nina Middleton, Karen (Leonard) Deyman; in-laws, Otto (Marion) Buchholz, Alvin (Patricia) Buchholz, Joyce (Richard) Johnson, Lois Garvey; many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, one brother; one sister; and one brother-in-law. The family greeted friends Tuesday, August 11 from 6-8 pm at the Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs where the service was held Wednesday 11:00 am. Pastor Herb VanderBilt officiating. Interment with military honors at East Nelson Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association, 25200 Telegraph Road, Suite 100, Southfield, MI 48033.

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

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32C-mem-Morehouse-webCARL C. MOREHOUSE

AKA: Country Carl

September 8, 1933 – August 13, 2014

Keeping you in our thoughts and holding you close to our hearts.

Love and miss you,

Your wife, Theresa, all your family and all your friends.

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Got Enough?

C-Cedar-Creek-Community-Church-LandscapePastor Dick Nichols

Cedar Creek Community Church

2969 14 Mile Road, Sparta


During his ministry, Jesus made many references to the “Kingdom of God,” along with instructions for those who choose to follow him here. Jesus said, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal,” and later, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:19, 21, King James Translation).

One of the more earthy stand-up comedians of our time has made a career of poking fun at the quirks of people. One of his favorites is our tendency to accumulate stuff—to the extent that there is a whole new industry of storage units where we pay others to watch over our abundance of stuff.

The obvious question is “What is stuff?” The answer depends on each individual’s preferences. For me, along with other stuff, I have accumulated enough books to read, that if I read 20 hours a day, 365 days a year, I may be able to read through them in another 200 years. There can be no doubt Jesus knows our human nature, especially when we look at this time of consumerism we live in.

So many of us have a desire to acquire, whether for bragging rights or just simply to show it off, even though we know having possessions just to possess them leads to greed. This is a big problem, made even worse by our modern idea that Jesus’ words are merely proverbs—that they are a good moral target, but not something people in the real word can actually do.

We live in a culture that bombards us with the idea that there is always something more; something we need to have in order to be happy. Advertisers are paid big bucks to convince us that we need something better, newer, bigger or faster than whatever they convinced us to acquire just a little while back.

It isn’t only that we live in 2015, and everything was better back in 1973, 1917 or even back in ancient times; let’s not kid ourselves. King David in the Old Testament didn’t have enough in 985 B.C.,  and neither did many others mentioned in the bible as examples for us—let alone what Judas felt he needed, with more silver than he had already stolen. It isn’t that we need more than we have; no, we already have enough and don’t know it. I think it would be accurate to call this time in which we live, “the age of discontent.”

We aren’t forbidden to have any possessions, as some in the past have interpreted scripture; what we are strongly warned about is the inordinate desire for more that affects our relationship with God and others. Jesus continued on in Matthew chapter 6, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33 KJV).

God is deeply concerned with the desires of our heart. If that desire is to please and glorify God, our heart, hands, mouth and feet, will respond to his word and the leading of the Holy Spirit to share love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, patience and self-control. Generally, if we will stop and consider what we already have in this land of freedom, we will know that we have enough.

Got enough? The writer of Hebrews states, “Let your conversation (living) be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5 KJV).  Paul wrote, “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content” (1st Timothy 6:6-8 KJV).

The truth is that the more worldly things we desire and/or worry about, the less attention we will pay to loving God with all our heart, soul, and mind, and advancing the Kingdom of God. May you find the peace that only Jesus can give. That is something neither money nor stuff can buy!

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The Elvis in me—and you


By Ronnie McBrayer

By Ronnie McBrayer

Raised in a fundamentalist household, that “filthy rock music” was not allowed. No Rolling Stones. No Bob Dylan. No Pink Floyd or Jimi Hendrix. The only artist that got a pass was Elvis Presley.

When he tore through “How Great Thou Art” or “Peace in the Valley” like a rhinestoned, side-burned angel, well, my parents could suddenly forgive him for his worldliness, hip-gyrating, and other devilishness. Interestingly enough, in his lifetime, Elvis was nominated for a Grammy 14 different times and received the award three times. But none of these were for his rock music. All three were for his gospel recordings.

In the end, as we once again reflect on the anniversary of his death, the man was a contradiction. He was the King of Rock and Roll, yet his highest career achievement was in gospel. He had 150 albums reach gold or platinum status, but the songs he played the most often were the spirituals and hymns he learned in church as a child.

He was the icon of the sexual revolution, said to be depraved by the older generation, had some 10,000 doses of pain killers and amphetamines prescribed to him in his last year of life, but still called the Bible his favorite book. He died with a dozen substances in his bloodstream, but with a book about Jesus clutched to his chest. He was a conflicted person. But aren’t we all?

Paul said, summarizing the human condition, “When I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. There is a war within me.” Solzhenitsyn wrote the same: “The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties but right through every human heart.” We are all the combination of darkness and light, good and evil, right and wrong.

I often heard the story of the two wolves growing up, an old Cherokee tale. Everyone has two wolves that live inside of them, as the story goes. One is evil. The other is good. These two are always fighting, one trying to beat the other. The one that will win is the one that is best fed.

We each have a bit of Elvis within us—our better angels and howling devils competing for dominance. It’s no secret which will win. That part of us that we nourish will always carry the day.

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

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God has the power to provide

The-Springs-blurred-webPastor Barry Briggs

The Springs Church

135 N. Grant, Cedar Springs


If I were to ask you, “What are you lacking today?” You might say, “I need more energy… I need more money… I need more emotional support… I need a job.” Chances are you have a shortage somewhere in your life right now. All of those things that you’re lacking in your life really happen for a reason. You don’t know that God is all you need until God is all you’ve got.  Sometimes God allows a shortage in your life to show you that He has the power to provide whatever it is you are lacking.

This was true for a prophet in the Old Testament named Elijah. The Bible tells us in 1 Kings chapter 17 that during a 3-½ yearlong drought “the word of the Lord came to Elijah: ‘Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan.  You will drink from the brook, and I have ordered the ravens to feed you there.’ So he did what the Lord had told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook. Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land” 1 Kings 17:2-7 (NIV).

What is a ravine? A ravine is a natural rut. It’s a long, narrow gorge. Ravines are dark, cold, and lonely. In Hebrew, Kerith means “cut off.” And Elijah was cut off from everything—his friends, social interaction, and what was happening in the world. He was all by himself.

You might be in an emotional Kerith right now. You’re going through a time that seems dark and cold and deep and lonely.

During this time, God supernaturally provides for Elijah in an unusual way. He has ravens bring food and drop it down to him. This is not exactly gourmet food. Where do birds get their food? Off other people’s plates. They find a little piece of meat here and a little piece of bread there. For a year, Elijah’s eating leftovers at best. At worst, he may be eating a dead carcass that they picked up somewhere. So this is not exactly a Sandals vacation. He’s in this pit, and his only support is from God. He has food that God has provided from the ravens, and water that God has provided in the brook. Remember: You don’t know that God is all you need until God is all you’ve got.

Then in verse 7 it says “The brook dried up.” Maybe you are in a situation right now where the brook has dried up in your life. The money’s not there. The friend isn’t there.  The support isn’t there. The energy isn’t there. Your health isn’t there. Things have dried up in your life.

What do you need to remember when the brook dries up in your life—relationally, emotionally, financially or whatever? You need to remember that God allows brooks to dry up to keep me from depending on the brook.

Elijah was in this rut for a year. It would have been very easy for him to just forget about God and focus on the birds and the brook, because they are supplying his needs. He doesn’t have to work; it’s all right there. The birds bring the food and the brook gives the water. If you depend on a bird every day to drop food down to you, week after week, month after month, for a full year, pretty soon you’re not thinking about God.  You’re thinking about, “Is the bird on time?” And if the water is coming down the brook each day, you might just start to assume it’s always going to be there.

So God says, “Whatever you’re trusting in, if it’s not Me, I’m going to turn it off. You’ve been trusting in your job for your security; we’ll just turn that off.  You’ve been trusting in your health; we’ll just turn that off.  You’ve been trusting in a friend; we’ll just turn that off.”

God says you must trust in Me and Me alone.

So what are you lacking in your life right now? What do you need that has dried up?  Whatever it is, God has the power to provide it. Trust in Him. The Bible promises in Philippians 4:19 that “God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus” (NIV). Why don’t you take a moment right now to pause and pray and ask God to meet that need in your life?



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