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North Kent Pastors got talent

Pastor Craig Carter, of North Kent Community Church, rapped for the audience. Photo courtesy Wise Photography.

Pastor Craig Carter, of North Kent Community Church, rapped for the audience. Photo courtesy Wise Photography.

Local clergy sang musical parodies, danced righteous medleys, rapped with soul, and dazzled with Tae Kwon Do on Thursday, September 24, to raise funds for individuals in need throughout northern Kent County.

The second annual North Kent Pastors got talent event featured a spirited, yet friendly, competition of church leaders, from Rockford, Sparta and Cedar Springs. Close to 500 spectators and dozens of sponsors came to cheer on the pastors and pledge contributions to North Kent Community Services (NKCS).

More than $65,000 was raised, after expenses, for food and educational programs.

Pastor John Huizenga, of River Rock Church, tried some moonwalking. Photo courtesy Wise Photography

Pastor John Huizenga, of River Rock Church, tried some moonwalking. Photo courtesy Wise Photography

“We are grateful that these talented pastors graced the stage to help us raise these funds for families in our community,” said Claire Guisfredi, executive director at NKCS. “North Kent Pastors got talent continues to bring together a host of area leaders and generous community members to make a difference for so many of our own neighbors struggling simply to get by.”

The pastor that won the Judges’ Pick was Pastor Jon Huizenga, from River Rock Church, for his rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror.”

The pastor that won the popular vote was Fr. Mark Peacock from St. Patrick Parnell for performing a musical parody about Pope Francis.

North Kent Community Services is located at 10075 Northland Drive, at 12 Mile. For more info on NKCS, visit them online at http://nkcs.org/ or call 616-866-3478.

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The Power of Purpose

Pastor Craig Carter 

North Kent Community Church

1480 Indian Lakes Rd. • Sparta, MI 49345


“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).

Why am I here? Have you ever stopped and asked yourself this question? If you are like most people, we live our lives with no real sense of meaning or purpose. We can easily live as if we are just a victim, or the by-product of the life events happening around us everyday. Sometimes the events are so serious, or life altering, that we finally stop long enough to ask ourselves this question, “Why am I here?” “What is the purpose of my life?”

The above verse found in Ephesians chapter 2, gives us some powerful insight into this serious life question. If you and I lived in the days of the Apostle Paul and spoke Greek like he did, we would know that the word workmanship means work of art or one of a kind creation.  In fact, the Greek word used is POY-ay-mah, which means something that has been made and is where we derive our English word poem. Paul is saying, you and I are a one of kind creation, a work of art, a poem, with a very distinct meaning and purpose. From the day you were born, you were His Masterpiece. There is and never will be another one like you!

The first step in finding your purpose in life is acknowledging and never forgetting that God created you!  Every created thing has a purpose. That is how God designed it! Psalms 139:14 says, “I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Thy works, and my soul knows it very well.” God’s work of art was revealed in your life the day you were born. To many people bemoan their lives. They fall victim to life’s circumstances, forgetting that the very God of heaven created them and he did so with a purpose!

Step two in finding power in your purpose, is realizing you were also created to live in relationship with God’s son, Jesus. Notice the second part of this verse. We are his workmanship, “created in Christ Jesus.” This is reason so many lives lack meaningful purpose. They do not live in connection to, or in significant relationship with, Jesus. They may acknowledge Him, but never enter a real personal relationship with Him. This is what the Bible refers to as your second birth, or your new creation.  2 Corinthians 5:17 reads, ”Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” It is taking the next step in life. You first acknowledge that your natural birth was accident, but was by God’s design. Then out of gratefulness to Him, you enter a relationship with Him through his son Jesus Christ.  You acknowledge Jesus loves you and died for your sins. You receive His forgiveness for you and acknowledge He has a plan, a purpose for your life.

Lastly, You will find power in your purpose when you see that Jesus has good things for you to do, that His plan for you is good. Do not just dwell on all the negative in life. Learn to see and know that God has created you for good things. The prophet Jeremiah learned this truth when God said to him, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11). In fact, the end of Ephesians 2:10 says that God has ordained you to walk in them. Meaning they were a part of His plan for your life from the day you were born.  So, go live your life. Live it with power! Live it with purpose and meaning! You were born into this world as a work of God’s art. You were born to have relationship with Him and live it blessing others with the good God had blessed you with. So, start walking in them!

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Your attitude determines your altitude!

Pastor Craig Carter

North Kent Community Church

1480 Indian Lakes Rd.

Sparta, MI 49345

“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:1-).

Last week, I was in a meeting with a couple good friends. We were mentoring a group of 7th and 8th grade boys together. One of my friends was sharing this principle, “your attitude determines your altitude!” He encouraged all of us to check our attitude about others and life in general. He pointed out how our attitude truly does influence how far we will actually go in life.

Since that meeting, I have not been able to get that thought out of my mind and heart. Recently, life has brought a number of difficult circumstances and situations in my life that have certainly affected my attitude. I have realized again, that it’s my choice about how I decide to react. The above verse found in Colossians 3:1-2 came to mind. I was reminded how important it is to “set” my mind and my heart on the “things above.” This means to be heavenly minded, or to think on what the Word of God say’s, not on the things of earth, or the circumstances around me. So how have I found this verse helpful to me? First, I noticed Paul said, “If you have been risen with Christ…” That means “if” you are a Christian, or you have been born again, you are a new creature and you have a new nature! Your old nature and self, no longer control your life or thoughts. You have to power of Christ living in you and can “rise above” above a negative attitude. These circumstances do not have to get me down!

Secondly, Paul said to “Set” our mind and heart on things above. The word “set” means to determine or purpose to do it. It is a decision of our will. We can, as Nike says, “Just do it!” No excuses, purpose to set our mind or thoughts on godly things. Purpose to focus on truth, scripture that encourages and build us up, not on the negative thoughts of the world or our circumstances. Philippians 4:8 reads, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” Paul says change what your thinking! Change your sights, aim higher!  Increase your altitude by changing your attitude!

The other day I heard a story about a military pilot who was testing a new plane. The inside of the plane was not finished out, and one of the face panels was off. While in flight, he noticed a big fat rat gnawing at the wires. He knew he had a problem. So he radioed down to the control center, “Hey guys, we have a problem.” One of the commanders replied, “This plane is designed to fly at high altitudes, so immediately drive the plane high in the atmosphere, the rat will not be able to stand the pressure and will pass out or die.” So, that’s exactly what the pilot did and the rat immediately stopped chewing on the wires. The pilot saved both his life and the plane. The moral of the story is, drive the plane of your life higher! Set your mind and heart on godly principles and God’s Word. You want to rise above the negative circumstances? You want to “kill the rats” gnawing at your life? You want to avoid an emotional crash? Drive your plane higher! Instead of staying mad and angry about life and its circumstances, forgive and trust God.  Instead of being selfish because things are not going your way, be generous and bless someone else who is worst off than you! Instead of being stubborn, admit you were wrong and seek forgiveness and restoration in your relationships. Instead of complaining about the government and politicians, pray for them. In essence, stop stooping down to the behavior of others, choose to rise above it. Take the high road, be godly and set your mind and heart on things above.

In close, I leave you with this thought from my former pastor and mentor. He often asked,“Why do choose to walk with turkeys, when you can soar with the eagles?” Remember, your attitude will determine your altitude!

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C-obit-WeaverSeptember 7, 1956 – March 26, 2015

Please join family and friends of Patricia Lennox Weaver as we gather in a celebration of life, Saturday April 4th at 11:30am. Patty has not only blessed us with the memory of her mischievous smile and laughter, but also her loving family, Tom Sanders, Vallerie Merlington (Ross Merlington), John Weaver (Jenny Weaver), Amy Weaver, 8 grandchildren, and husband Darrell Weaver.

“Truly, it is in darkness that one finds the light, so when we are in sorrow, then this light is nearest of all to us” – Meister Eckhart

Memorial to be held at the North Kent Community Church, 1480 Indian Lakes Rd. NE Sparta 49354.

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Past pain turned into present purpose


Pastor Craig Carter

North Kent Community Church

1480 Indian Lakes Rd. | Sparta, MI 49345 

“Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, ‘Because I bore him in pain.’ And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, ‘Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!’ So God granted him what he requested” (1 Chronicles 4:9-10, NKJV). 

This verse tells a story about an amazing person. There have been many sermons preached about this man called Jabez, and his prayer to the Lord. Here are a couple thoughts that I think may be helpful to you.

First, Jabez was said to be “more honorable than his brothers.” We read after this that his mother named him Jabez because she bore him in pain. The name Jabez in Hebrew literally means pain. From birth, Jabez was given a “label.” Every time his mother called him for dinner, chores or other things, he was reminded of what she thought about him. When anyone used his name, he was identified with pain. Yet, Jabez was “more honorable than his brothers.” What does this mean? It means that despite the label placed on him, Jabez refused to be defined by this label. He rose above it. He trusted God. He prayed, and he walked in forgiveness. Jabez accepted God’s word, feelings and thoughts above the opinion of others.

How about you? Have you been labeled? Have you lived a life of pain or difficulty? Has it defined who you are, or have you risen above it? The bible tells us that even “though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me” (Psalms 27:10). Also, God has adopted us “by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:5-7). Through a personal relationship with Jesus, you are accepted and loved. Do not allow the labels of others or the pain of life define who you are. Know that you can, like Jabez, call out to God and he will hear your prayer and change your life.

Secondly, Jabez was known for his prayer. What he is remembered for is not some outstanding achievement, but a prayer. He did not win a great battle or erect a large building. He prayed a simple prayer and God answered it. When moving from the pain of your past to a purpose in your future, never forget that God hears your prayers. Jabez was praying that he might now be a blessing to others. He wanted his territory enlarged, so he could influence others with the same love and comfort he received from God. He wanted to be kept from evil and live a godly life, so he did not cause undue pain to others. Jabez’s prayer was never just about him. He was living in victory and wanted others to experience it, too. This is our purpose, too. God brings us through our pain, our past, and our troubles, and reminds us that they were never just about us. God wants to use you to bless others.

Are you dealing with your past, experiencing pain, or fighting labels? With Jesus Christ you can rise above it. If God is for you, who can be against you? Through God, “all things are possible.” God has a plan and purpose, and you will use your experiences to bless others.

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Former Muslim leader to speak at North Kent Community Church

Rev. Deo Mwamba

Rev. Deo Mwamba

The Rev. Deo Mwamba, a former Muslim leader who is now a Christian, will speak at North Kent Community Church, 1480 Indian Lakes Road NE, Sparta, on Sunday, December 14, at 10 a.m.

Mwamba was both a Sheikh and Imam. He graduated from the International Islamic University of Medina–Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where he received his Degree in Islamic Studies and Propagation of Islam. Deo was converted to Christ in 1998 and has since ministered and served with several ministries helping to reach Muslims for Christ.

He says, “I came to know Jesus through the Quran. I am so excited to know the truth and I decided to follow Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit and was baptized on the 5th of April 1998. After that, I lived secretly for a while because of my position as a Sheikh and Imam. I also feared that my life, together with the family, could be in danger after confessing that Jesus Christ is God and He is the One who will come back on the Day of Judgment.”

Deo will share more of his amazing testimony and encourage Christians about how to reach Muslims. He will also lead a dedication of 20 audio bibles (treasures) that will be sent to the nation of India. You will not want to miss the great service, presented by North Kent Community Church and World Missions, so be sure to invite friends. A reception luncheon will immediately follow the service.


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Power of Prayer

Pastor Craig Carter

North Kent Community Church

1480 Indian Lakes Rd. • Sparta, MI 49345



“Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance, but laying hold of His willingness”—Martin Luther.

For the last several weeks, I have been drawn to a more committed and deeper prayer life. Often we think, as Martin Luther wrote, that our prayers are somehow needed to “move” a reluctant God. When in reality, we are simply acknowledging and “laying hold” of God’s willingness. Do you see God as a willing person? Willing to listen? Willing to answer? Willing to provide? Willing to reveal and show His love to you?  Is your “picture” of God one of a willing Father or a resistant and reluctant God?

You see, your “picture” of God is critical to understanding prayer. It is essential to knowing Him as a loving and willing Father. Jesus taught this lesson to his disciples when he taught them about prayer in Luke chapter 11. We call this well known teaching of Jesus, “the Lord’s Prayer.” Luke 11:1-4 reads, “One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.’ He said to them, ‘When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us and lead us not into temptation.’”

Jesus had been with his disciples for some time now. They had witnessed him heal and deliver many people. They witnessed him repeatedly say, “I only speak what the father speaks,”  “If you have seen me, you have seen the father,” “I and the Father are one.” They also have witnessed him take time out of his demanding life and spend time in prayer. One day, upon returning from one of His prayer times, the disciples asked the Lord Jesus to teach them how to pray.  Their request was, “teach us how to pray, as John taught his disciples!” Notice this request? There was something different about how John was teaching people to pray. Jesus disciples knew about “prayer” but they wanted Jesus to teach them about the prayers that John’s disciples were praying. You see, up until this time, prayer was mainly one of reverence and adoration. Prayers, especially by the Pharisees and religious people, were known to be long and repetitious. In fact, Jesus warned us not to pray like this. So, what was different about these prayers?

As we read further in verses 2 – 4, we see that the Lord introduces the principle of praying to God as a Father. He includes in this communication our petitions and requests. We are encouraged to adore God as our Father and to share our requests and needs. In essence, He is saying, “please know you can ask your Father for what you have need of in your life.”

In fact, immediately following the Lord’s prayer, we see Jesus sharing a parable about a man who was rewarded for his persistence in asking for his need to be met. There was no rebuke, but a reward for his persistence! One translation says, he was rewarded for his “boldness.” As a child of God the Father, learn to communicate with him through prayer. Exercise your faith, your boldness, your confidence, during these times of pray. Make your requests and needs known.  For the Father’s ear is always listening. We are, as Luther said, “laying hold of His willingness.” Will you lay hold of it today? Will you be more consistent and persistent in your prayer life, because you know you have a willing Father who loves you. If so, you will begin to see the power of prayer in your every day life.


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Heard from heaven

Pastor Craig Carter

North Kent Community Church

1480 Indian Lakes Rd. • Sparta, MI 49345 



2 Chronicles 7:14: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (NIV)

It is Sunday, November 24, at approximately 9 p.m., and I am taking a moment to reflect on one of the most amazing “Community Thanksgiving Services” I have ever attended. Tonight, I had the privilege, as did hundreds of others, to hear three powerful testimonies from three different men in our community. These men shared their stories with honesty, vulnerability and great a deal of humility. It took a lot of courage for them to share. Ultimately, their stories were filled with love, forgiveness, and redemption in Jesus Christ. They revealed how amazing God was to hear their cries and heal their lives. Their changed lives and testimonies have inspired me to write this article and remind men everywhere that Jesus Christ loves them! In fact, I am convinced that we are in a season of healing for the lives of people, but men in particular.

The souls of men have been beaten and left for dead, by the culture and cares of this life. Men are searching for meaning and purpose now more than ever. They realize that the pursuit of success and the accumulation of possessions do not satisfy. Men are being driven to fill this void with so many things, yet none of them bring the peace that Jesus offers. The overriding theme in these testimonies was that they were men who had come to the end of themselves. They were tired and weary from the demands of life, and the expectations placed on them as men. They humbled themselves and turned to God. They found a loving God who cared and was willing to save and heal them. God showed them He was listening to their hearts. So, He lovingly reached down from heaven and healed them and brought them peace.

If you are a man reading this article, how are you doing?  Do you know God is listening? Do you know He wants to heal your heart and free you from your burdens? You, like these three men, can find comfort and assurance in knowing God will, “hear you from heaven” and heal you. The Apostle Peter offered us this great advice when he wrote, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you (1 Peter 5:6-7 NIV). If this is you, humble yourself! Cast your burdens on the Lord and he will remove them from you, because he cares for you!

Thank you to the three men who humbled themselves to God. Your lives are an inspiring example to us all!

Happy thanksgiving!


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Moments of Selah

Pastor Craig Carter

North Kent Community Church

1480 Indian Lakes Rd. N.E., Sparta, MI 49345


“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. Selah” Psalms 46:10-11 (NIV.)

If you are like me, you have purposed this summer to slow down the busyness of life and enjoy your summer.  However, it is the first part of August already and it continues to go by so fast. There is a saying in music, the “beat goes on.” Life does go on also, and it often tends to find a “rhythm” like a good song. However, the great songs and songwriters always place “musical rests” or pauses in the song. They have learned that they enhance the music and often drive home the purpose of the song or the lyrics. That is exactly what this word Selah means.

The word Selah is used 71 time in the Book of Psalms and 3 times in the Book of Habakkuk. Most Bible scholars agree that this word has various meanings, but most agree on three that are most common. The first is to pause or rest; secondly, to measure or meditate; and thirdly, to lift up.

The first meaning is to rest. This rest is not like a Sabbath, known for a specific or extended time off, but is one that denotes a brief pause or a break. The writer of Psalms is asking the reader to stop reading at that moment and take break from reading. Why are they asking us to take a break?

This leads us to the second meaning, which is to measure or meditate. The purpose of Selah (rest) is to take a moment and meditate or reflect. Remember the “Selah,” rest or break was purposely placed in the psalm, by the writer, to stop you. God the author of our life purposely places moments of “Selah” in our lives to stop us. He wants us to slow down, stop for a moment and take time to reflect on what He is speaking or doing in our life. These moments by God often come in various ways, vacations, summer breaks, seasons of life and even difficult or tying times. But like a great song, we must place them and acknowledge their purpose in our life.

Thirdly, Selah means to lift up. When we take the time to incorporate and allow God to place these moments in our life, we live stronger more refreshed lives. They also cause us to “lift up” our hearts and lives to God. We are able to “Be still, and know that He is God,” We stop long enough to remember that God has everything under control. We once again are refreshed by this truth and fact in life as a believer. So although summer continues to go by fast and life itself does not stop, purpose to incorporate moments of “Selah” in your life! If not, God may just schedule them for you. Regardless of the season, circumstances, or situations you face, take a break and reflect on God’s goodness and faithfulness. Be still and remember He is God.

Just a final note to remind our readers that on Sunday, August 25,at 11am, our annual UNITED SERVICE will take place at Morley Park.  It is our time collectively as churches when we take a scheduled “Selah” together. We pause from our own church schedules and together reflect on God’s goodness. We hope you can make it. We know you will leave refreshed.


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More than conquerors!

Pastor Craig Carter

North Kent Community Church

1480 Indian Lakes Rd., Sparta, 

Church Phone #: 550-6398

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35-39 NIV).

The Apostle Paul wrote these amazing words to the church in Rome. It was a group of people, whom the apostle Paul had never even met. Yet, he loved them so much, he wanted to remind them of God’s love for them. We see from this verse that he asks them a very simple, yet profound question. “Who or what can separate you from the love of God?” So, precious people of North Kent County, who or what can separate you from the love of God? I, like the apostle, have never met the majority of you reading this article, yet I am compelled to remind you of God’s love for you.

An amazing truth! I have found that it is easier for people to believe that God exists, than it is for them to truly believe that He loves them—that He is crazy, head over heels in love with them and concerned about every detail of their lives. If our understanding of God does not go any deeper than His existence, we will continue to believe that the things of this life have somehow separated us from His love. God’s amazing love convinced the apostle Paul that there was nothing that could separate him from it. Do you believe this? Or are you like many of us who struggle to believe it? If you struggle with believing or accepting the love of God, then I encourage you to simply say, “Lord, convince me!” Then sit back and watch Him show you that His love for you is not tied to your behavior, good or bad, but in His nature alone. The nature of God is love. That is why I am continually convinced myself that God enjoys convincing us of His love. Are you convinced yet?

Why the hoopla over convincing us of His love? Because it makes us more than a conqueror! Notice what the apostle Paul said in verse 37, “No, in all things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” We learn from this verse that his love reaches all things. There is not one area or circumstance of our lives that God’s love does not touch. Secondly, it makes us more than conquerors. The love of God not only gets us over circumstances but can keep us there. His love cannot only provide a job for the unemployed, but can pay every bill. His love cannot only save your marriage, but can make your love for one another thrive and flourish again. His love cannot only get you over depression but also can renew your hope and restore your joy for the future.  Now that’s being “more than a conqueror.” What made it possible? The love of God! Will you receive it today? Will you quit believing that God simply exists and start believing that he exists to reveal His love to you? If have never received God’s love, then open your heart and acknowledge this priceless truth, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him (John 3:16-17).” Enjoy the Love of God!

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