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Archive | Church Connection

Keeping Warm?

Courtland-Oakfield-United-Meth

Pastor Robert Eckert

Courtland-Oakfield United Methodist Church

10295 Myers Lake Ave., Rockford

 

 

King David was old and advanced in years; and although they covered him with clothes, he could not get warm” 1 Kings 1:1 (New Revised Standard Version).

The character of King David in Hebrew scripture is an enigma. He becomes a hero while still a child and grows into a “man after God’s own heart.” As his life draws to an end, however, he sinks into a winter of discontent. His condition has less to do with physical age and more to do with regrets. The wunderkind of courage, poetry, and conquest turned out to have feet of clay.

Driven by lust he plotted and successfully pulled the strings to accomplish the death of a man whose wife he had taken for himself, only to experience the gut-wrenching grief of seeing the child, who was the product of his illicit union, die in infancy.

Having led his armies to victory after victory establishing and securing the borders of ancient Israel, he is then disqualified by God from building a temple because of the wars he has waged and the blood on his hands.

Ruminating on moral failures and setbacks is a sure way to bring a chill to our souls that is difficult to overcome when guilt is undeniable and remorse is relentless. Imagine the bitter glare on David’s face when an insensitive attendant asked, “keeping warm?”

The Bible also tells a story of resuscitation when the prophet Elisha bends over a child lying dead on a mat “putting his mouth upon his mouth, his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands.” As life returns to the boy “the flesh of the child became warm.”

It’s reminiscent of the account of the advent of humankind recorded in the second chapter of Genesis, where God is said to have “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.”

God, the breath of life, eye-to-eye and hand-to-hand contact, they add up to warmth.

Trying to stave off the cold of this unforgiving winter we’ve been living through? You know what your mother told you … layers. Trying to stave off the cold of the unforgiving memories of past mistakes? Try layers of breathing in God’s grace, upon layers of honest connections of the heart with people you love, upon layers of offering yourself in service to the needs of others.

 

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50th Anniversary: Duane and Connie Petersen

50th Anniversary

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DUANE & CONNIE PETERSEN

 

Duane and Connie Petersen were married for 50 years on February 8, 2014. Their children are: Troy Petersen of Cedar Springs, Kimberly Rockinger of Cedar Springs, Jeremy and Kelly Petersen of Caledonia and Aric & Amber Petersen of Cedar Springs. They have eight grandchildren. Friends and family are invited to join them in celebration on Saturday, February 15th at the Solon Township Hall, 15185 Algoma, Cedar Springs. No gifts please.

 

Their secret to a long and successful marriage is: “We believe in our love for each other and our family with lots of communication.”

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60th Anniversary: Robert and Jean Snow

60th Anniversary

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ROBERT & JEAN SNOW

 

Robert and Jean Snow of Ensley will celebrate their 60th Wedding Anniversary on February 13, 2014. Their children are: Donald and Debra Snow of Belmont, Denise Heiss of Rockford, James Snow of Grand Ledge, Brian and Gail Snow of Howard City and Dana and Diane Spence of East Lansing. They have 13 grandchildren and two great grandsons. A family dinner is planned to celebrate the occasion.

 

Faithfulness and hard work are the key to their success.

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Thank You

On behalf of our daughter Kimberly Fisk, we would like to thank the Cedar Spring Community for all their generosity given to her when her home burned down Dec. 4th, 2013. Thanks to the White Pine Family Medical Center and the Cedar Springs School district and so many others within the community, our daughter, her boy friend Mike Ingersoll, and her daughters Kendell and Lonnitta had a awesome Christmas. Now family and friends have pulled together to put on a benefit for their family. The benefit is to help them rebuild. (There was no insurance.) It will be held Feb. 22, 2014 at the VFW Hall in Sand Lake, MI starting @ 3 pm. Once again the Cedar Spring community has been ever so generous, we have received many donations for the benefit from several local companies thus far and others are anticipated. It has been very heart warming on how generous everyone has been. We will never be able to thank everyone enough for their help.

 

From the bottom of our hearts Thank You and God Bless: Ken & Lonnitta Fisk

 

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Sharpening one another

Pastor Jim Alblas

Pioneer Christian Reformed Church
Cedarfield Community Center

3592 17 Mile Rd., Cedar Springs

In Acts 18 we meet a group of Christian people named Aquila, Priscilla and Apollos. This trio is a highlight for any Biblical reader not just because they had some pretty cool names but also because they teach us a very important and practical lesson. Aquila and Priscilla were a married couple that were very helpful to Paul in his work as a Christian missionary. They most notably worked together in the city of Corinth promoting the name of Jesus Christ. Likewise, Apollos was a valued ministry worker who we first learn about through his ministry efforts in the city of Ephesus. Apollos was described as a learned man with a thorough knowledge of the scriptures who spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately. 

However, when Aquila and Priscilla made there way to Ephesus and heard Apollos speak, it says that they invited him to their home to explain the way of God more adequately. That’s kind of shocking because he already had a thorough knowledge of the scriptures. Someone in their position might be a little intimidated to extend such an invitation especially with the credentials that Apollos boasted. However, both Aquila and Priscilla knew that there were things that Apollos needed to be strengthened in and felt it important to help him with these. Perhaps what’s even more shocking is that Apollos was willing to be tutored by this couple. Someone in his position might be too prideful to accept such an invitation, but instead he welcomes it. Apollos recognized that he didn’t know it all, and looked forward to becoming even more learned about Jesus.

What Christians today can learn from this is the importance of sharpening one another. Proverbs 27:17 says: As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. People in the church should always be asking two questions: first, who can I help to draw closer to God? And secondly, who can help me draw closer? No matter how long or short we’ve been in the church, there is knowledge, insight and spiritual growth that others can help us with, and we can help them with. There should be no pride, no doubting our ability to help others, just sharpening. This is what we see from the trio in Acts 18 and look what happens as a result. Apollos goes on to the city of Achaia and was a great help to the believers there and vigorously refuted the nonbelievers. He was strengthened by the sharpening that Aquila and Priscilla offered. Later on, we also see Aquila and Priscilla start a church in their home. Its not just being sharpened that helps, but when we actively sharpen others, it puts a charge in us too.

Let us be like Aquila, Priscilla and Apollos—not too afraid to sharpen others and not too prideful to be sharpened.

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More than Words

by Ronnie McBrayer

by Ronnie McBrayer

Frederick and Elizabeth Noble got married on New Year’s Day, 1941. It was World War 2 and Frederick was on a 48-hour leave from his British Tank Regiment. Between military assignments, Frederick took time to write love letters and send telegrams back to Elizabeth; hundreds of them. Mostly he wrote about home and how much he missed his new bride.

Finally, Frederick did make it home, and rarely did he leave Elizabeth’s side again. The two settled in the English countryside and raised a large, beautiful family. After both had died, their children opened a tea chest that contained almost every love letter Frederick and Elizabeth had ever exchanged. Many were from the war years, but some were exchanged late in life, while the couple was in their 90s.

Yet, the collection, in and of itself, is unremarkable. What gives the collection power, is what gives all such things their power: The love that brought them into being, for each word was driven by devotion. Every sentence was constructed with affection. Each paragraph served as a confession of a love stronger than death. Indeed, Frederick and Elizabeth both died just days apart. Love had truly made the two, one.

Have you ever received such a love letter? Do you have a collection of such words, words motivated by adoration, words from your beloved? Actually, you do. It’s that best-selling book of all time; that leather-bound volume shoved into the nightstand drawer or sitting ragged and dog-eared on the kitchen table. Or if you prefer, it’s downloaded as an app on your mobile device. It’s the Bible, and yes, it is a love letter written to you.

“A love letter? I thought the Bible was a book of religious laws, full of condemnation, genocide, hard to pronounce surnames, and the occasional children’s story. Isn’t it just a bunch of words?”

Might you look deeper, for the Bible is a powerful thing, enlivened by God’s Spirit and constructed by divine affection? “For God so loved the world,” the familiar text says, “that he gave his only begotten Son.” That’s a summary of the whole, forever shattering the concept that the Bible is just a collection of printed pages.

No, it is a love story; a love letter. It is a doorway to experience Christ, the Christ who genuinely loves us – more than mere words – the Christ who just couldn’t live without us.

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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50th Wedding Anniversary

C-ANN-Magoon2C-ANN-Magoon1RON & SUE MAGOON

 

Ron and Sue Magoon of Cedar Springs, will be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary on Saturday, February 1, 2014. In their years together, they have seen their children, Rhonda and Chad, both get married and have been blessed with a wonderful grandson, Zach and a beautiful granddaughter, Leah. Ron is now retired and they have enjoyed having more time to spend together. Through it all, their love for one another continues to deepen and grow stronger. A family dinner is planned to celebrate their special day.

 

The secret of their success is commitment, love and devotion.

 

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Stone Soup

Pastor Darryl Miller  

Sand Lake UMC, 65 W. Maple, Sand Lake

South Ensley UMC, 13600 Cypress, Ensley Township 

 

You may have heard the story of Stone Soup in one form or another. A poor man or peddler comes into a village and goes door-to-door asking for food. At each house he is turned away with the occupant saying that they only have a small portion of potatoes or carrots or something else, never more than one thing and never much. The man goes to the town square and starts a fire under a pot of water into which he places a stone. As the townsfolk come along and ask what he is doing, he says he is making stone soup. The people offer the small items they all have and soon the whole community is sharing in a pot of wonderful soup made of all their bits. In a way, that is how we take care of each other even today.

We, in the faith community think (for the most part) that this is a good way to do things—together. There are many small churches in the area that do all they can for the community they serve. But when we get together and pool our resources, we can do so much more. And it doesn’t stop there. The same works for individuals.

Churches are asked often to help those who are struggling and what a great blessing it is when a number of individuals who have no ability to give monetarily to a church are willing to give of their time and talents to make a difference for their neighbors in need! So much is accomplished by these wonderful people! We may not have a lot to give, but what we do have can make a huge difference in the lives of our communities.

How often have you heard or said yourself “I’m only one person, what can I do?” The truth is—a lot! None of us knows everything—despite what my uncle claims about himself! But we all know something. I used to work in construction and it took an awful lot of us to put together a building. Electricians, heating people, plumbers, carpenters, and the list goes on. If we had tried to do the job alone, we would never have finished and if we had, well… I’m not sure I’d want to live in it! But all of us together made something that will last a long, long time. The same is true of all of us.

Together we can make a difference that will last a long, long time. Helping those in need in the name of Christ makes a difference in the world. And that is what we are supposed to do. Just remember that when you do something for someone else out of the goodness of your heart and in the name of Christ, you are not alone! God is with you and so are all of us who are brothers and sisters in Him.

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Like a rock

by Ronnie McBrayer

by Ronnie McBrayer

This year Bob Seger will celebrate his tenth anniversary in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. His songs and persona are legendary. My personal Seger favorite is “Like a Rock,” and it has nothing to do with Chevrolet pickup trucks. I associate the lyrics with the evening of my high school graduation: “I stood there boldly, sweatin’ in the sun, felt like a million, felt like number one; the height of summer, I’d never felt that strong, like a rock.” And then the refrain, a refrain Seger wrote about himself as a younger man: “Like a rock, I was strong as I could be; like a rock, nothin’ ever got to me; like a rock, I was something to see; like a rock.”

Seger captures the years of youth, perfectly. It is a time of unbridled optimism, strength, and arrogance. A young person can do anything, be anything, try anything, and overcome anything. No challenge is too big, too tough, or too much. Honestly, youngsters need this kind of bravado and audacity when life is just getting started. But he or she will also learn that do-everything, dare-anybody, defy-anything of youthfulness, doesn’t last.

We live a little while and experience a few disappointments. We bury loved ones, suffer loss and betrayal, age, have our hearts broken, or muddle through a couple decades of muted frustration. Then we learn, and this learning is as absolutely necessary as youthful strength, that we really aren’t like a rock—at least not anymore. Life, like erosion, has a way of reducing the hardest stone into sand.

But the recognition that we won’t always be “standin’ arrow straight, chargin’ from the gate, and carryin’ the weight,” is not cause for despair. It is liberation. It is deliverance from the “try-harder-and-do-more” life. It is release from the totalitarian, gladiator ethic of “If it’s going to be, it is up to me.” It is surrender, and surrender is where life begins.

“If you try to hang on to your life,” Jesus said, “then you will lose it.” This “hanging on” includes our personal arrogance and stubborn self-reliance. We learn to let these go, not because we have hopelessly given up, but because we have given over. We have exchanged our failing abilities and life for the power of God and his life. We have learned to live a life entrusted to the Rock that is Christ.

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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Congratulations Kevin De Canter

Congratulations Kevin De Canter

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We are so proud of you and your accomplishment!

 

Hugs & Kisses

Your Family

 

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