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Archive | Church Connection

Shhh! Quietude

Pastor Dick Nichols

Cedar Creek Community Church

2969 14 Mile Road, Sparta

 

This winter is truly one to be remembered; we have been given weather at record or near-record levels. But if we only remember this winter for snow, wind, ice and cold, we may be missing out on something even more unusual… quietude. Quietude is defined as “a state of stillness, calmness and quiet in a person or place.”

As I am writing this, there is a stillness in this room, away from the hustle and bustle of what I have become accustomed to as a normal day.  Yet outside, the wind and snow are anything but calm and still. The contrast between outdoors and indoors today leads me to believe that all too often I shortchange myself with all the commotion, noises and hubbub that I surround myself with in life.

I speak for myself today, but I am also confident that even though quietude is something we are generally uncomfortable with, it would certainly be a pleasant place to visit more often for everyone.  It is true that sounds can be a comfort, I’m thinking of the words we exchange in verbal communication, or the sounds of a wonderful piece of music being played, and the sounds of children playing. The prophet Isaiah wrote in God’s word, “My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest” (Isaiah 32:18; New International Version). This pretty well describes a desirable state to be in when we communicate with God.

That scripture paints an ideal place to be, but that isn’t something we will ever experience 24/7 in this life. This isn’t to imply that we can’t visit there occasionally. When we have a choice, we would choose quietude over noisiness when we want to have a conversation with someone we really want to hear from. It is God’s desire that we know he is with us, and if we desire his presence and assurance, we need to be where he speaks, that by avoiding distractions, we can confirm his voice.

While I look outdoors today, it certainly doesn’t appear to be a picture of quietude, and still here on the inside I am at peace, inside from the winter storm, but also inside myself even though life is still making quite a stir.

Some noise is imposed upon us, especially in public places, and yes there are times those noises can be enjoyable, even comforting as we are assured we are not alone. But we can also know that we are not alone in quietude. “He says, be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.  The Lord almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress” (Psalm 46:10-11 NIV).

We should be about devoting ourselves regularly to times of seeking God in silence and quietude. “I say this because I know what I am planning for you, says the Lord, I have good plans for you, not plans to hurt you. I will give you hope and a good future” (Jeremiah 29:11 The Inspirational Bible).

Did you hear that?

Posted in From the PulpitComments Off

All That Once Was Good

by Ronnie McBrayer

by Ronnie McBrayer

“Pitchers and Catchers report!” It’s as sure a sign of the coming spring as erupting dandelions. Yes, the return of baseball is a bellwether of warmer days, even if baseball itself should expect a somewhat chilly reception these days.

Critics say the games are too long and tedious. Smart, run-scoring strategy has been replaced by brutish free-swinging for the cheap seats, say baseball’s purists. And don’t even get tongues wagging about that Yankee third baseman.

For my own part, I’ve had a suspicion about the game for some time. After the players’ strike of the mid 1990s I lost faith. The more recent scandals involving performance enhancing drugs and the obscene amounts of money paid to mere mortals for throwing and striking a rawhide ball have done nothing to reclaim my confidence. And have you taken your kids to a game lately? To park, $30. For tickets, $75, $60 for sodas and snacks. And forget the souvenirs. I can’t swing that kind of cash.

What makes all of this so difficult to take is the fact that some of my fondest memories center on baseball. Some of my fondest memories were also made at church; in the little “church in the wildwood” of my formative years.

The pew bottoms were made of wooden slats that creaked and groaned during the service, pinching this little boy’s behind and picking holes in my mother’s pantyhose. On August nights I can recall the fiery summer revivals in that old house of worship – fiery in preaching and temperature – as I struggled to understand all that was going on.

Was this church “better” than what I have experienced as an adult? Probably not. Was it simpler, more sincere? Probably so. Major League Baseball and much of the church in America have arrived at the same place. Both are more driven by market and commercial forces than by a true sense of what they are. We are all the worse for it.

Terence Mann in “Field of Dreams,” may have captured the sentiment best. Standing in that enchanted cornfield-turned-baseball-diamond, he says, “They’ll walk out to the bleachers; sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon…along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes…This field, this game: it’s a part of our past. It reminds us of all that once was good; and it could be again.” May it be so.

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.

 

Posted in Keeping the FaithComments Off

Do you want to be successful?

TheSpringsPastor Barry Briggs

The Springs Church

135 N. Grant, Cedar Springs

 

 

Do you want to be successful? Successful at work, successful in your relationships, in your marriage, as a parent, successful in life? We all want to be successful. I’ve never met anybody who wanted to be a failure in life. The problem is we often define success the way our culture defines success. Our culture tells us if you want to be prosperous and successful, you need to work hard. If you work hard and rise up the ladder and push it to the grindstone, and if you’re willing to do what others won’t do, you will be successful. There’s nothing wrong with working hard; the only problem with working hard in order to be successful is that you can work hard at the wrong thing. You can give your life to something that you shouldn’t give your life to. You can spend all your time doing something and the thing you’re doing isn’t the thing that God created you to do.

Our culture also tells us if you want to be prosperous and successful you need to make a lot of money. Again, nothing wrong with making a lot of money, but the trouble with gauging success by the amount of money you have is that there is always someone who will have more. Besides that, you can lose your money at any moment. If you tie success to money, and the money goes away, your success is gone. And beyond that, you can’t take your money with you when you die anyway. So if success is based on how much money you have, and you leave it all behind when you die, then at the end of your life you haven’t been successful. A lot of people confuse wealth with success. You can be wealthy and be a failure at life. Your net worth is not the same thing as your self-worth. The two don’t go hand in hand.

But our culture tells us if we work hard and make a lot of money will be prosperous and successful. We’re also told if we want to be prosperous and successful we need to invest well, we need to live in the right neighborhood, we need to drive a certain car, we need to have a particular look, and we need to know the right people. And again, there’s nothing wrong with any of these things, but the problem with saying that good investments, and a nice house, and a name brand shirt equals success is that you can have all of those things and still miss the point of why you are here on planet earth.

What if success is something different, and what if the path to success is something altogether different?

After Moses died, God tapped Joshua on the shoulder and said, “I want you to be my replacement for Moses. This would be the ultimate test of Joshua’s life—to see whether or not his leadership was sufficient for the task that God challenged him with. Do you think Joshua wanted to be a successful leader? Of course he did, just like you want to be successful. In Joshua 1:8 God told Joshua how to be successful. He said, “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful” (NIV).

God says if you want to be successful you need to know My Word. That’s not what I would have guessed. I would have thought He would have said, “Joshua, if you want to be prosperous and successful, if you want to take the Promised Land, if you want to defeat all your enemies, you will need to be the strongest and have the best weapons and work really hard, and work over time, and invest well, and meet the right people and make the right connections.” But that’s not what God told him.  God said, “If you want to be successful don’t let My Word depart from your mouth, meditate on it day and night, and be careful to obey everything in it.”

Here is true success in life: To stay in the Word of God until we find the will of God so that we can walk in the ways of God. God has a different way of defining success than we do. We define success in what you have, what you achieve, what you own. God doesn’t define success that way. The Scripture makes it clear that God defines success in different ways—right living, peaceful relationships, being in harmony with God and other people. That’s success in God’s eyes, and it is only found through knowing and living the Word of God.  My encouragement to you this week is to spend some time in God’s Word so you can be successful in the things that truly count.

 

Posted in From the PulpitComments Off

MELDON S. PITT

C-Birthday-Pitt-webHappy 90th Birthday

MELDON S. PITT

February 23, 1924

 

WWII veteran joining the ranks of the few who are still around.

Celebrating his 90th Birthday!

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WALTER KILTS

Happy 87th Birthday

WALTER KILTS

 

Walter Kilts will be celebrating he 87th Birthday on March 2nd. If you would like to participate in a card shower, send cards to: Walter Kilts, Cedarfield Community, Cedar Springs, MI 49319.

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REX J. MORRIS

 

January 16, 1931 to February 22, 2010

 

This day is remembered and quietly kept, no words are needed.

We shall never forget, till we meet again.

 

Your family.

 

Posted in MemorialComments Off

MYRTLE M. (FEUTZ) HEINZ

Myrtle M. (Feutz) Heinz, 81 of Sand Lake, died Tuesday, February 18, 2014 at St. Mary’s Hospital, Grand Rapids. Myrtle was born January 24, 1933 in Cedar Springs, Michigan the daughter of Earl and LaFern (Helsel) Blackall. She enjoyed gardening, cooking, baking, reading and the Detroit Lions. She loved her family very much. Surviving are her children; Michael (Michelle) Feutz, Steven (Tina) Feutz, Greg Feutz, Julie (Dan) Sturgeon, Terri Miles; stepchildren, Joseph (Susan) Heinz, Margaret Heinz, Katherine Barton, David (Wanda) Heinz, Phyllis (Rick) Tryon, Mary (Arne) Engevik, Philip (Monica) Heinz, Karl Heinz, Gretchen (Jim) Cunnington, Ron Kunst; grandchildren, Corey Feutz, April Feutz, Jeremy, Daniel, Kaili and Megan Miles, Emily Sturgeon, Melanie Kindsvatter, Jeremy Kindsvatter; great grandchildren, Alexis, Jaiden, Brenden, Nathan, Ethan, Abigail; many step grandchildren and great grandchildren; sisters, Earlene Ferrante, Lea Moline, June (John) Medendorp. She was preceded in death by her husband, Joseph Heinz; daughter, Patricia Feutz; grandchildren, Rachel Feutz, Joseph Feutz. The family will receive friends Friday from 2-4 and 6-8 pm at the Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs where services will be held Saturday 1:00 pm. Pastor Michael Cisler officiating. Interment Elmwood Cemetery Cedar Springs. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Faith Hospice, 2100 Raybrook SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546.

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

Posted in ObituaryComments Off

Marjorie B. Beardslee

Mrs. Marjorie “Marge” B. Beardslee, age 106, went home to her Lord and Savior on Saturday, February 15, 2014. Born on December 1, 1907 to Abner and Cora Hillman and was raised in Lakeview, for which she was so pound of her “country” heritage. Marge attended Central Michigan University and taught for both the rural school system and for the Kent City District. Marge and her husband Wendell owned and operated an art store in Cedar Springs, where she was able to express her immeasurable love for oil painting and had become the accomplished artist that she was. Marge is survived by her son Robert D. (Eileen) Brimmer; fourteen grandchildren; 35 great grand children; 26 great-great-grandchildren; numerous nieces, nephews and cousins and very special friend Gertrude. She was preceded in death by her beloved husband of 57 years, Wendell J. Beardslee; daughter and son-in-law Sharon and Norman Pike; her parents; brother Roy Hillman; and sister Gladys Hashover. A visitation will be held from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at Pederson Funeral Home, 127 N. Monroe Street NE, Rockford, MI 49341. The funeral service will take place at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, February 20, 2014, Pastor Ken Menefee officiating at Pederson Funeral Home. Expressions of sympathy or memorial contributions may be made to the American Cancer Society, 129 Jefferson Avenue SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503; or to Mel Trotter Ministries, 225 Commerce Avenue SW, Grand Rapids, MI 49506.

www.pedersonfuneralhome.com

 

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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.

 

Posted in From the PulpitComments Off

50th Anniversary: Duane and Connie Petersen

50th Anniversary

C-ANNIV-Petersen

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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