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Tag Archive | "East Nelson United Methodist Church"


C-East-NelsonPastor Herb VanderBilt 

East Nelson United Methodist Church

9024 18 Mile Rd. 

Cedar Springs MI 49319


 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4  

Based in this passage of scripture from the Book of James, I have had many opportunities for joy this past month. We are remodeling our daughter’s kitchen, putting in base cabinets, a pre-molded countertop and a new sink. Each step has been filled with multiple tests of patience and ability. And although there are a few existing challenges, there is joy in the finished product, and a growing in knowledge of the right and wrong way to plumb a sink.

James, however, is not talking about remodeling projects. He is speaking to the dispersed Jewish Christians who are struggling in the faith and dealing with the challenges of being a Christian. The letter is addressed to those Christians who have been scattered throughout the then known world and are far away from where they started and are learning that in order to live out their faith, there are many trials and temptations that come.

James is telling them and all of us that to have a mature faith, we need to expect trials. In fact, it is through these trials that a strong mature faith can develop. As we share our trials and temptations with each other, we also need to keep encouraging those who are going through a trial to keep trying.

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C-obit-WolfeHeather Wolfe, 47 of Cedar Springs, passed away on Tuesday, December 23, 2014 at home surrounded by her family. Heather was born August 2, 1967 in Greenville, Michigan, the daughter of Donald and Lynne (Grannis) Zank. She enjoyed being a wife, mother, working on the farm, raising calves and being a 4H Mom. She had worked for Cedar Springs Public Schools Food Service and Latch-Key Child Care for 16 years. She was very involved in East Nelson United Methodist Church and had been Treasurer, a Trustee and President of the Women’s Group. We will all miss her smile, infectious laugh and positive spirit. She will be a bright ray of sunshine from Heaven. Surviving are her husband, David; children, Brandon (Ashley), Bayley, Brock; stepchildren, Nathan (Lynette), Jessica, April; grandchildren, Carter, Brynlee, Dawson, Felix, Alexis; mother, Lynne Zank; sister, Heidi (Steve) Reed; brother, Hod (Kris) Zank; several nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her father. The family greeted friends Sunday, Dec. 28 at the Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs where services were held Monday, Dec. 29. Pastor Herb VanderBilt officiating. Interment East Nelson Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to Tri-County Country 4H or Celebrate Recovery at Blythefield Hills Baptist Church.

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


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Our security

Pastor Herb VanderBilt 

East Nelson United Methodist Church

9024  18 Mile Rd. Cedar Springs MI 49319


Ephesians 6:10-18: Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. 

It is a dangerous world today and it seems that our foundation of security is being challenged. We live in the most advanced and prosperous country in the world and yet a little thing like a virus has shaken our security. When I saw a picture of the protection suit that Ebola health care workers have to wear it reminded me of the words from the apostle Paul to the little struggling church in Ephesus, who was not struggling with a virus but with evil. Today we still struggle with dark forces that keep us from connecting with God and each other.

The image portrayed in the text from Ephesians is roughly the armor that was worn by foot soldiers at the time, but we can also apply it to the protection gear that we see on the news every day. One of the issues with the previous failure of the hazmat suit was it left open skin exposed, and in Paul’s description he reminds us that we need to put on the full armor of God.

I tried to imagine what this kind of armor is. In ancient times it was hard and tough materials like leather or steel, but in our metaphor today it is high tech polymers and plastics that are designed to be water-proof and germ-proof but at the same time light weight. In other words, the armor of God does not have to weigh us down or be a burden. In fact, the armor of God that Paul is talking about to this little church in Ephesus is invisible to the eye but is something that we feel surrounding us.

Each piece listed on the suit of armor is important. Even the Hazmat suit, as we have found out, is not perfect and has some gaps. And so it is with our defense against all of the hazards of this world today. I think that is why Paul reminds us not just to hide behind our shield but to stay vigilant, stay alert and keep praying in the spirit. The true enemies in this life are not germs, viruses or even bad people; they are those temptations that we face every day that try to separate us from God. The Apostle Paul reminds us in the letter to the Romans that not even death can do that. With His armor in place, nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Jesus Christ.


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Happy Birthday EDITH TISDEL

C-Birthday-Tisdel-webHappy Birthday


May 7, 2014


A celebration of Edith Tisdel’s 98th Birthday was held on Sunday, May 4th at East Nelson United Methodist Church.


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Getting excited about church

C-East-Nelson-UnitedPastor Herb VanderBilt 

East Nelson United Methodist Church

9024 18 Mile Rd. • Cedar Springs MI 49319


It made me glad to hear them say, “Let’s go to the house of the Lord!” Psalm 122.


When was the last time you got excited about going to church for Sunday worship? I know that there are days when all of us wished we could stay home especially this winter with all the cold weather and snow making it hard to get to church. How many times do you go home complaining that you didn’t get much out of the service? Guess what? You may have received more than you think. According to William Morrow even falling asleep in church may be good for you. After all it is the Easter season and getting woke up in the service may be a reminder of the Resurrection. William goes on to say that “fully 50% of what happens in a worship service is at the unconscious level of the mind.”In other words we don’t know how the benefits accrue. They just do. As long as you go there, your inner self is soaking up the messages, many even unspoken. You don’t have to take notes or remember the theme of the sermon or “meditation”. Go with your five senses open to absorbing the beauty of the music, the surrounding symbols that embrace you and the enacted ceremonies of unconditional love and acceptance…where else but in a religiously motivated community can you find people who befriend and support you?

Many people today have given up on the church saying that it is outdated and not relevant anymore. That is unfortunate because I have  found some of the most relevant and up-to-date ideas come from people excited to be a part of a community of folks who are all connected together in Love to help each other grow in faith. I’m glad to go into the house of the Lord.



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Teach us to pray

Pastor Herb VanderBilt

East Nelson United Methodist Church

9024 18 Mile Rd. Cedar Springs


“One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of the disciples said to him, ‘Lord, Teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.’ He said to them, “When you pray, say Father…” (Luke 11: 1-2a.)

What follows these words is the very familiar words of the Lord’s Prayer, which is still an excellent model of how to pray today. So why did the disciples ask Jesus how to pray? Certainly prayer was not unusual in Jewish culture as there are several references to people praying. What was so different about Jesus and his prayers? The other question that came to me while I read these words again is how do we learn to pray? Is there a right way to pray? Why are people reluctant to pray aloud or to lead our groups to pray? These are all legitimate questions to ask ourselves during Lent, as we consider what part prayer takes in our Journey of Hope.

Many people, who grow up in the church, learn to pray as young children. I think the first prayer that I learned was at the dinner table, “God bless this food…” As adults however many people become uncomfortable when asked to pray or to pray aloud in public. According to the book that I am reading, Let the Whole Church Say Amen, by Lawrence Hall Stookey, one reason that so many people today are confused about how to pray is because they have never been taught. Just like the disciples, people need to have prayer modeled for them. One of the reasons many are hesitant to pray out loud is because people think that they have to pray “In King James” i.e. using thee or thou or wouldst or beseech, words that we really don’t use anymore. The reason Jesus’ disciples were so interested in learning how to pray like Jesus is that Jesus didn’t use extremely formal language to talk to God the Father; in fact he used the term “Abba,” which literally translated means “Daddy.” If a young child falls down and hurts himself, how does he talk to his parents? Does he say, “Father, if it is not too much trouble, can you consider coming to give me some help?” No, they most likely will say “Daddy, I am hurt, come help me!” Certainly we can pray to our Heavenly Father that way, too. Prayer is simply that—talking to God, the God who created us and formed us in his image. The God who has promised to always be with us, he doesn’t require a special invitation, so we don’t have to ask him to be with us, because he already is.

Prayer is like any other kind of speech or language; we need to practice. Practice praying, listening to Him and then teaching others. “For Yours is the kingdom, the Power and the Glory forever. Amen.”

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Pastor Herb Vanderbilt
East Nelson United Methodist Church
9024 18 Mile Road, Cedar Springs

“Praise the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, you are very great; you are clothed with splendor and majesty. He wraps himself in light as with a garment; he stretches out the heavens like a tent and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters. He makes the clouds his chariot and rides on the wings of the wind. He makes winds his messengers; flames of fire his servants. He set the earth on its foundations, it can never be moved.
You covered it with the deep as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains. But at your rebuke the waters fled, at the sound of your thunder they took to flight; they flowed over the mountains, they went down into the valleys, to the place you assigned for them” Psalm 104:1-8.
When we talk about creation in the Bible, many people think that we are automatically talking about the story in Genesis 1 but this is not the only place in the Bible we learn about creation. Psalm 104 is one of the many “creation” writings attributed to David. In fact, not only do these Psalms echo the Genesis story but they are in an art form that in some ways is even more graphic than the depiction we see in the first chapter of the Holy Book.  My wife and I strolled through the streets of Grand Rapids looking at some of the over 1500 creations that have been entered into Art Prize 2011. Each piece is unique and reveals something that the artist sees or feels. Some of the entries have the artist present and many are willing to talk about their work and explain the meaning.  This is a special treat, getting to know the artist and their creation. They are often very passionate about their work and it shows.  The passion of the artist in Psalm 104 also comes through the verses that are rich in color and feeling. This is truly a piece of art of the highest quality. Many of the pieces of art in Grand Rapids will be scattered a long way far from here, but the collection of the Psalms we have with us as long as Bibles are printed. Sometimes God seems to be far away and distant but when we read a Psalm like 104 once again the creator touches our heart and mind, once again he, like creation itself is real again.

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This is the day

Pastor Herb Vanderbilt
East Nelson United Methodist Church
9024 18 Mile Road, Cedar Springs

Psalm118:19-24: Open for me the gates of righteousness; I will enter and give thanks to the LORD. This is the gate of the LORD through which the righteous may enter. I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation. The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the LORD has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

This text contains a wake up call. In fact, we sometimes use it that way in summer camp. Early in the morning I often encounter a young person looking like they are not quite awake yet, their clothes are wrinkled like they slept in them all night (and probably did!) and their hair is going in several directions.  As the Camp Dean, It is always interesting to look them in the eye and hit them with this phrase, “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” If nothing else it usually results in a sheepish smile just before they break into a dead run to find someone to tell what just happened to them.

Sometimes we go though life feeling just like that young person at camp, a little groggy and dulled to what is going on around us, or why it is that we have been placed here on this earth. Sometimes we just need a little wake up call.

The text today from the Psalmist also reminds us of the wake up call that was given by a man who lived over 2000 years ago. Not any man, but a man who was also God and was sent to deliver the ultimate wake up call. This passage also reminds us of the day when that man Jesus came riding into Jerusalem like a war hero or a conquering general, just what some of his followers were waiting for.  They were prepared to celebrate when He would start an earthly Kingdom, kick out the Romans and return the Israelite nation to the greatness it once had.  Finally they could get rid of all the foreigners and just live for themselves.  Jesus comes in like he is going to do that and then “Hello! That is not why I came here,” they get the wake up call. He came, not for an earthly kingdom but a heavenly one. Not just for the Jews but for all people. Through Him we are all made righteous and may enter into the gate of the Lord. If this is not the best news that you have heard all day, then, hello!  “This is the day the lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

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The Gift of Prayer

East Nelson United Methodist Church

9024 18 Mile Road, Cedar Springs

Pastor Herb Vanderbuilt

“For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” Colossians 1: 9-14.
Advent is a wonderful time of year filled with excitement and anticipation. Emmy and I have spent the last couple of days in an out of gift shops with Christmas carols providing the proper spirit for this season of giving.  As I looked at all the merchandise I could not help but think of where all these precious items are going to end up. Some, of course, will be lifted high on Christmas day for all to see. Many will be eaten in the next weeks to come. And, of course, there are the ones that will soon be hanging in the closet hoping to one day see the bright lights again. Then I thought to myself, is there a gift that doesn’t end up like this, is there truly a gift that keeps on giving? The words of our text remind us that that God’s spirit is the everlasting gift. Part of the tradition of giving gifts at Christmas time is to remind us of God’s gift of his Son and so we give gifts to the people we know. This is a great tradition. This year East Nelson has decided to also give gifts to people we don’t know. Through the help of our contacts in the local schools we adopted three families within our community and each of us will have the opportunity to bring a gift for someone in these families. Besides bringing a gift however the apostle Paul is reminding us that we also need to hold this person or persons,  in prayer.  Some of us are blessed to have family and friends around us at this time but many others are separated from loved ones and friends. Paul knows about this separation but still found time not only to keep in touch but also to remember them in prayer  which is as priceless as any gift. We don’t often think of prayer as a gift but it certainly is, maybe the most important gift of all. So as we come to the sanctuary this Advent season let us come not only with the gifts we bring for others but with a prayer as well.

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