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What a Wonderful World

By Ronnie McBrayer

By Ronnie McBrayer

This coming week marks the birthday of a man who Bing Crosby called, “the beginning and the end of music in America.” Born in the sweltering heat of a New Orleans’ August, the grandson of former slaves, and suffering abject poverty, that man was Louis Armstrong.

Most people, even those who could not recognize Armstrong’s face or his contribution to Americana, can still sing along to his most iconic song: “What a wonderful world.”

Louis recorded and released “What a Wonderful World” in 1967. The southern states were fighting desegregation, and the U.S. Army was fighting in Southeast Asia. The Apollo 1 spacecraft was burning on the launch pad, and the Cold War was burning in Eastern Europe.

The Israelis were at war with their Arab neighbors, and police departments were at war with African Americans in Detroit, Milwaukee, Los Angeles, and DC. JFK was already dead, and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. would both be assassinated the following year. How could Louis Armstrong sing this song about rainbows and unicorns when the world looked like it was going to hell in a hand basket; when the world looked so un-wonderful (as it still does today)?

Armstrong answers that question. He said, “It seems to me it ain’t the world that’s so bad, but what we’re doing to it. All I’m saying is: See what a wonderful world it would be, if only we’d give it a chance.”

That conclusion hints of Scripture. God created this wonderful world and called it “good.” So what went wrong? We did. As crowning achievements of his creative project, humanity was to serve as the steward and curator of God’s world. It was, it is, and it will always remain humanity’s role to be creation’s protector; to maintain the goodness of God’s world. We have largely shirked that responsibility.

Yet, this blue ball hanging in the vast expanse of space that miraculously incubates all that is, must mean something to God, because God wants it to be wonderfully “good.” Thus, We throw ourselves into the fray of this fractured world—healing the sick, making peace among enemies, feeding the hungry, working for justice, protecting and sustaining resources, creating harmony—because we believe “it ain’t the world that’s so bad, but what we’re doing to it.” God’s intent and Armstrong’s words are tuned to the same melody: Let’s give the Wonderful World a chance.

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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ANDRES – BARTOSZEK

C-engage-AndresNicholas and Michele Andres of Cedar Springs are pleased to announce the engagement of their daughter, Meghan Kathleen, to Andrew Bartoszek, son of Mark Bartoszek of Grand Rapids and Nancy and Ken Deyman of Cedar Springs. Both the bride and groom are graduates of Cedar Springs High School. Meghan is a Senior at Aquinas College and Andrew is employed at Gem Plastics in Grand Rapids. They are planning an October 25, 2014 wedding.

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TODD ALLEN

 

In loving memory of Todd Allen, who passed away two years ago, July 30, 2012.

 

To be brave is to cry, but still to fight on,

And that’s what you did, our hero, our son.

The battle was hard, we thought we had won,

But still you fought on, our hero, our son.

The happiness you brought to the lives you have touched,

Will live on forever as you are loved so much.

 

Missing you,

Mom & Dad

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TODD ALLEN

 

July 30, 2012

 

May the wind of Heaven blow softly and whisper in your ear

How much we love and miss you and wish that you were here.

 

Laura, Drew, Piper

Grandma Helsel, Aunt Sandy, Aunt Tena, Uncle Mike

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TIMOTHY A. TOWNS

 

C-mem-TownsDec. 19, 1947 – July 31, 1994

 

It is hard to believe that it has been 20 years since you left us. Not a day goes by that we do not think of you. Thank you for being a wonderful Dad, brother and friend to all of us.

 

Charlie, Molly, Penny and Dan.  

 

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In Loving Memory

JOYCE “JO” LESPERANCE

June 2, 1946 – June 25, 2004

 

JACOB J. GROVER

February 21, 1942 – July 30, 2004

 

Deeply missed by spouses, relatives and friends

 

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Scott “Scotty” Raymond Hazel

Scott Hazel

Mr. Scott “Scotty” Raymond Hazel of Rockford, age 55, went to be with the Lord on Wednesday, July 23, 2014, after a short, but hard-fought battle with a rare cancer. He died surrounded and lifted up by his caring family and many friends. He was a wonderful husband to his wife of twenty-six years, Susan (neé Hand) Hazel, and a beloved father to his three kids, Rebekah, Kaitlin, and Cameron. Scotty was born on May 7, 1959 in Flint, Michigan to Raymond and Gloria (neé Schneider) Hazel. He has always had a close and loving relationship with all of his family, including his siblings Jeff and Nancy Morey, Lynn and Lee Bradfield, Denise and Pat Moriarty, Jim and Darcy Olson, and Tammy and Kevin Weissenborn; and many nieces, nephews, and cousins. He was preceded in death by his father Raymond Hazel; and brother Randy Morey. Scotty graduated from Flint Southwestern High School and attended Northern Michigan University, where the wilderness and school captured his true spirit. He went on to graduate from Grand Valley State University to become a well known and loved teacher and coach at Cedar Springs High School. He was also a coach for Rockford High School. He had a passion for his job and his students. Scotty was also an active member of the Rockford Baptist Church. His love for God was matched only by his zeal for people and life. This is apparent by all of the lives he touched and people he inspired. Scotty was a man of many talents; besides his amazing vocal ability, Scotty performed in a band, played various instruments, was an artist, carpenter, and outdoorsman. He also recently published a book, “Looking Out Windows.” He was a true Renaissance Man in a world obsessed with technology. He will be loved and missed by his family and many others. Visitation was held at the Cedar Springs High School on Monday July 28, 2014 and the funeral service was held on Tuesday, July 29, 2014 at the Cedar Springs High School Auditorium. In lieu of flowers, those wishing to offer expressions of sympathy are encouraged to make a contribution to the Hazel Children’s Memorial Fund to be made at any Fifth Third Bank branch office.

 

Arrangements by Pederson Funeral Home www.pedersonfuneralhome.com

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HANS KURT KALTENBACH

 

November 1, 1931 – July 16, 2014

 

Hans Kaltenbach, of Colorado Springs, Colorado, formerly of Cedar Springs passed away July 16, 2014 at Pikes Peak Hospice. Hans was born in Germany and came to Cedar Springs as an exchange student for the school year 1950-51. He stayed with the Roberts family. After the completion of the school year, Hans returned to Germany. He married his wife, Doris, in January, 1956 and they returned to live in Cedar Springs later that year. They remained in Cedar Springs until they moved to Colorado in 1972. He worked in various professions throughout his life, including construction, a machine shop, a business owner, and as a real estate agent. He is survived by his beloved Doris (Colorado Springs, Colorado), wife of 58 years, his son Roy (of Pueblo, Colorado), and daughter Peggy (Karl) Zinser (of Farmington, Michigan). He also had three granddaughters, Ashley, Allison, and Kayla, three great granddaughters, Makayla, Emily, and Madalyn, and one great grandson, Kaleb. A memorial service will be held at a later date.

 

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Let go or be dragged

Ronnie McBrayer

Ronnie McBrayer

By Ronnie McBrayer

A friend who has some experience with rodeo horses sent me a most picturesque proverb: “Let go or be dragged.” Whether this phrase was first spoken by a Zen master who had achieved enlightenment, or by a battered cowboy pulling cacti from his backside, it is the unmistakable truth.

Take my friend’s horses as an example. Training such animals requires lassoing, roping, and haltering. Incredible strength, patience, and stamina are needed to match a horse. But sometimes, as the proverb goes, the breaker becomes the broken. A point is reached where the trainer must regroup, or risk being ground into the corral’s dust.

Think of the little one who refuses to leave the playground. Haven’t you seen mothers and fathers, quite literally, hauling the kicking and screaming child to the car? What about the dog that finally catches the school bus he has been chasing for years? Now what does he do? Victoriously sink his teeth into the bumper like it’s a chew toy?

This much is certain: We all will face situations, diseases, circumstances, relationships, people, challenges and conditions that are larger, stronger, and longer-lasting than we are. We have two options and only two options in such encounters. We can keep fighting an unwinnable war, and whatever we have dug our claws into will drag us into a bloody pulp.

Or, we can accept our limitations and admit that we are not omnipotent. We can accept life for how it is, even when life isn’t fair (when is it really fair, anyway?). We can let go. And in this surrender—this little act of dying—we stop our suffering. We get to live again. For this is the counterintuitive way of the cross; the paradoxical power of Christ: We only live once we have died. We only gain by giving up. We only win if we surrender—let go or be dragged.

At first blush this sounds something like “Christianity for Weaklings,” and some will find it intolerable. “Give up? Surrender is for cowards and quitters!” Such objections ignore the fact that there are some things that cannot be changed by brute strength.

Further, such objections belittle the way of the cross. Read again those familiar crucifixion accounts of Jesus, and there you will see that letting go requires more than a noble struggle, more than hanging on – infinitely more. It requires everything. Let go, or be dragged.

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!

My sincere thanks to the Cedar Springs museum board for the honor they bestowed upon me at last week’s meeting.

It was a most touching moment when they unveiled a plaque with my name, that is to be hung in our library. A beautiful cake was served that topped off a memorable evening.

 

Betty L. Heiss

 

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