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Tag Archive | "Pastor Barry Briggs"

MYRTLE LOUISE ELDRED


C-obit-Eldred

Myrtle Louise Eldred, age 99, went to be with her Lord and Savior on Friday, July 15, 2016 at her home. She was born on March 2, 1917 in Gillette, Wyoming to Guy and Elsie (Terrill) Moyes. When Myrtle was six months old, the family moved to Cedar Springs where she resided the rest of her life. She attended Cedar Springs Schools and was the valedictorian of the Class of 1935. On September 4, 1937 she married Max Eldred who preceded her in death in 2007. Together, they raised two sons, Russell (Mara) of Cedar Springs, and Jack (Mary) of Frederick, Maryland. From 1965 to 1973, Max and Myrtle owned and operated the Cedar Springs Elevator and later were co-owners with their son Russell, of the White Creek Country Estates. Myrtle served as the treasurer of both businesses and as the treasurer of the Cedar Springs Free Methodist Church (now The Springs) where she was a devout and faithful member. In later life, Myrtle and Max enjoyed traveling to Hawaii, Alaska, Europe, and China. Surviving, along with her sons and daughters-in-law are a sister, Doris Stark; grandchildren, Anitra, Michael (Ann), Sean (Caryn) and Brandon (Wendy); seven great-grandchildren; sister-in-law, Margaret Eldred; many nieces and nephews; special friend and caregiver, Marion Liley. The family will greet friends Thursday, July 21 from 9:30 a.m. until time of service at 11:00 a.m. at The Springs Church, 135 N. Grant St. Cedar Springs. Pastor Barry Briggs officiating. Interment Elmwood Cemetery, Cedar Springs. Memorial contributions may be made to The Springs Church.

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

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What will make America great again?


The-Springs-blurred-webPastor Barry Briggs

The Springs Church

135 N. Grant St., Cedar Springs

With the 2016 presidential election cycle well underway, there are a lot of ideas circulating about what will make America great again. Some suggest we need to build a wall. Others that we need Medicare for all. Or boots on the ground. Or for Wall Street to pay its fair share. Or income equality. Or new pipes. Or… or… or…

But will these ideas cut it? What in fact will make America great again?

I believe the answer is in the Bible. It’s not a new idea. It’s actually about 3,000 years old. And its unlike anything I’ve heard from any of the presidential candidates.

In the Old Testament, in 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV), God tells us what will make America great again. He says, “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 I will hear from Heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

God says if you want to make America great again, if you want Me to heal your land, there’s four things you need to do.

First, humble yourselves. Why is that important? Why does God start with humble yourself? Because the source of all of our problems is pride. The root of every single one of our problems is this: I think I know better than God does what will make me happy. That kind of pride disconnects us from God on a personal level, on a corporate level, and on a national level.

Second, we need to pray. Jesus taught us this. Luke 18:1 (CEV) it says, “Jesus told His disciples a story about how they should keep on praying and never give up.”  Notice we’ve got two choices: keep on praying or give up. In life you’re always doing one or the other. You’re either keeping on praying or you’re always giving up. If you don’t keep on praying, then you’re going to give up. And if you give up, you’re not going to keep on praying. It’s your choice. I have to decide, “Am I going to keep on praying or am I going to always give up?” Those are the options.

Third, we need to seek God. The truth is very few of us are seeking God seriously. Most people want only enough of God to bless them but not enough to bug them. They want God to be just a little slice of their life. But seeking God is not something you do in your spare moments. It’s not a casual pastime. “Oh, you know, nothing is on television, so I guess I’ll go seek God.” No. Seeking God is a serious pursuit. It’s a primary focus.  Hebrews 11:6b (NIV) tells us that “…[God] rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”

If we want God to make America great again we need to humble ourselves, pray, seek God, and then there’s one other thing He says to do—we need to turn from our wicked ways.

Acts 3:19 (NIV) encourages us to “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.”

We desperately need that. We desperately need times of refreshing that come from the Lord in our nation. We need that in our cities. We need them in our schools. We need times of refreshing that come from the Lord in our economy, in our businesses. We need them in our marriages. We need them in our churches.  We need times of refreshing in our personal lives.

So I suggest we humble ourselves, and we pray, and we seek God’s face, and we turn from our wicked ways. If we do, God promises to make America great again. And, unlike politicians, God always keeps His promises.

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How to have a worship-filled feast


The-Springs-blurred-webPastor Barry Briggs

The Springs Church

135 N. Grant St., Cedar Springs

 

The famous “theologian” Andy Rooney had this to say about Thanksgiving: “The emphasis is more on what we have for dinner this Thursday than it is on any other holiday. Once you’ve given thanks on Thanksgiving, there isn’t much else to do but watch football and eat.”

Is that true? Is Thanksgiving just a quick prayer followed by food and football and maybe a little online shopping? Thanksgiving can be so much more; in fact, it is intended to be. More than food, more than football, more than door busters, Thanksgiving can be a day of worship, and a chance to share a meal in Jesus’ honor. But how?

I’d like to share three secrets with you for turning an otherwise traditional Thanksgiving meal into a worship-filled feast.

Secret #1: Read a Thanksgiving Psalm together after you sit down to the table and before you say grace.

Colossians 3:16-17 (NLT) says, “Let the words of Christ, in all their richness, live in your hearts and make you wise. Use His words to teach and counsel each other. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.  And whatever you do or say, let it be as a representative of the Lord Jesus, all the while giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”

One of the ways you can turn your Thanksgiving meal into an opportunity for worship is to incorporate Scripture into it. Reading a Thanksgiving Psalm before the meal lets the words of Christ live in your hearts and sets the table for a worship-filled feast. Some great Thanksgiving Psalms from the Bible include Psalm 30, 32, 34, 40, 66, 100, 116, and 138.

There are lots of ways to do this. Here are two: everyone gathered could read the Thanksgiving Psalm together in unison, or one person could read it out loud for the whole group. Be creative and have fun.  After you read the psalm, go around the table and have each person share what they are thankful for.

Secret #2: Give thanks before and AFTER the meal.

Deuteronomy 8:6-10 (NLT) reads, “Obey the commands of the Lord your God by walking in His ways and fearing Him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land of flowing streams and pools of water, with springs that gush forth in the valleys and hills. It is a land of wheat and barley, of grapevines, fig trees, pomegranates, olives, and honey.  It is a land where food is plentiful and nothing is lacking…When you have eaten your fill, praise the Lord your God for the good land He has given you.”

I’m assuming most of us give thanks before our Thanksgiving meals. But the idea of giving thanks afterward may be foreign to many of you. Giving thanks after a meal is a tradition that has been lost by most Christians, especially Protestants.  But it is a tradition that goes back to the earliest believers, and to Jewish practice as well. Tertullian, a famous early church theologian wrote, “We do not recline at a banquet before prayer be first tasted; in like manner prayer puts an end to the feast.”

Jesus Himself gave thanks before and after meals. We see Him modeling this at the Last Supper where He gave thanks for the bread at the beginning of the meal, and gave thanks for the cup at the close of the meal.

We get our word “gratitude” from the word “grace.” So saying grace before or after a meal literally means to give thanks or to give gratitude. After we have finished eating and our stomachs are full, it is only natural to express our gratitude to God for all He has blessed us with. Like Deuteronomy 8:10 says, “When you have eaten your fill, praise the Lord your God for the good land He has given you.”

This year you might want to start a new Thanksgiving tradition of giving thanks after your done eating in addition to saying grace before your meal.

Secret #3: Make your meal a time for serving others, sharing love, and seeking reconciliation.

A quick sprint through the New Testament shows how thankful Paul was for his brothers and sisters in Christ. Romans 1:8a (NLT): “Let me say first that I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you…” 1 Corinthians 1:4 (NLT): “I always thank my God for you and for the gracious gifts He has given you, now that you belong to Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:3 (NLT): “Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God.”

Thanksgiving is a great time to follow Paul’s example and share with others how thankful we are for them.

The truth is, for Christians this should be a daily practice, not just once a year on Thanksgiving. Acts 2:46-47 (NIV) describes how the first Christians lived a thanksgiving lifestyle on a daily basis.

“Every day they continued to meet together in the Temple courts.  They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

From the beginning Christians have broken bread and eaten together.  The act of breaking bread together is rich with symbolism. Jesus broke bread with His disciples at the Last Supper, making it symbolic of forgiveness and reconciliation.  Jesus fed a crowd of 5000 people with broken pieces of bread from 5 loaves, making it symbolic of care and compassion.  In the Old Testament the ritual of breaking the Passover bread symbolizes God’s power to deliver His people.

Thanksgiving incorporates all of this symbolism. It is a time for forgiveness and reconciliation, a time for care and compassion, and a time to give thanks for all that God has done to save us.

Turn your Thanksgiving meal into a worship-filled feast by having each person share what they thank God for in another person at the table.  Again there are lots of ways to do this, so be creative.  As dishes are being passed the person who is passing could tell the person they are passing to what it is about that person they are thankful for.

At the end of the day, our Thanksgiving meals should always be held in Jesus’ honor.  Jesus was the guest of honor at many meals.  I’m reminded of Matthew’s party, the meal at Zacchaeus’ home, when Jesus visited Mary and Martha’s home, and when Jesus visited Peter’s mom.

For those of you who are really extreme you might consider leaving an empty chair at the head of your table to symbolize that this meal is in Jesus’ honor and to remember that He is present with you.

This year, try some of these ideas to turn an otherwise traditional meal into a worship-filled feast. By incorporating Scripture, prayer, serving and sharing into your Thanksgiving meal you can do just that.

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Overcoming your fear of risk


The-Springs-blurred-webPastor Barry Briggs

The Springs Church

135 N. Grant, Cedar Springs

 

Everybody can identify with fears. We all have them. Fear is universal. Some of us have fear of the dark, fear of falling, fear of lobsters, fear of falling on lobsters in the dark. Fear of the words “Some assembly required.” But the fear I want to talk about is a specific fear: the fear of risk. This fear keeps you from the opportunities that God wants to do in your life and through your life. The truth is we don’t seize many of the opportunities God lays before us because we’re afraid to take the risk.

For me, I fear talking to people that I’ve never met before. Strangers. I don’t know, maybe it’s the root word—strange. Here’s the thing, not talking to strangers is keeping me from opportunities to meet new people. The reason I know these are missed opportunities is because I have friends who talk to strangers and they always have these great God-stories. “I talked to this one guy. I’d never met him. We were at the mall. I invited him to church. I ministered to his family. We went on a cruise together. Now I’m in his will.” That kind of stuff! I never have those. Why? Because I’m afraid to talk to strangers that I don’t know.

Let’s turn the mirror on you. Let’s talk about your fears. What step are you afraid to take that would result in depth or closeness to God? The one that you know in your heart if you were to take that step things would change. Maybe, if you are honest, you’re afraid to be pushed out of your comfort zone. Or maybe you’re afraid to forgive someone who’s hurt you. Or maybe you’re afraid to ask for help for one of your relationships.

Peter is a great example of someone in the Bible who saw an opportunity, took a risk, and seized the opportunity. One day, as Peter was heading into the Temple to pray, he saw an opportunity to heal a man who was lame from birth. Peter healed him in Jesus’ name, which, as you can imagine, drew a large crowd and created yet another opportunity for Peter to share the Good News. In Acts 3:12 it says, “Peter saw his opportunity and addressed the crowd” (NLT).

Like Peter, God wants us to see the opportunities He lays before us, take a risk, and seize those opportunities. Here’s how: You need to first identify your personal fear. If you determine what that fear really is for you then it shrinks. It doesn’t mean you’re over it.  It just means it’s exposed and manageable.

Once you identify it, the second thing I’d encourage you to do is then confess your fear of risk to someone. Admitting that you are fearful of risks is hard to do, but once you get it out in the open others can support you.

So first, you admit your fear. Second, you confess it to someone else. Then third, take one risk—just one—that will challenge your fear. Then soon after, take another. What is that? That is facing your fear. This week let me encourage you to face your fear of risk head on by looking for a God-sized opportunity, taking a risk, and seizing the opportunity. And watch as God begins to work in you and through you.

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Learning to pray


Pastor Barry Briggs

The Springs Church

135 N. Grant, Cedar Springs

 

 

Prayer may be the least understood, yet the most powerful action in a Christian’s life. It’s not just reciting a few trite religious words; it’s communicating with the God of the universe who wants to have a relationship with you.

I was thinking this week, why prayer is so difficult for people? Here’s what I think: We’ve had limited exposure to authentic prayer. The bottom line is this—a lot of us just don’t know how to pray. We haven’t been taught how to pray. Maybe the only time we’ve even heard prayer was around the Thanksgiving table or something like that. And because of that we don’t know how to pray or what to say. The reality is prayer is just telling God what’s on your heart.

Why else is it difficult? We think I’m not important enough for God to listen to me. I mean, after all, I can’t even get the cable guy to listen to me.  I call and he puts me on hold. And I wait. And I wait. Then, when I finally talk to the cable guy, what happens? He can’t even pinpoint a time when he’ll be here. “Sometime between sun up and sun down,” he says. So you stay home all day waiting for him to show up, you leave for five minutes for lunch, and he jumps out from behind the bushes where he was hiding and puts a note on your door that reads, “Sorry I missed you. I’ll be back… maybe.” We have those experiences all the time and we think, “If people don’t even want to talk to me or listen to me why would God?” But God isn’t like the cable guy. What you have to say is important to God. If you were important enough for Jesus to die for, you’re important enough to be heard.

We also believe that prayer doesn’t work because, when we’ve asked God for things in the past, He didn’t answer. Or He didn’t answer them quick enough. We are so into instant answers. We think God is like a vending machine; we put in our prayer request, push a button, and out drops an answer. And, because God doesn’t answer prayer that way, we think prayer doesn’t work.

The truth is God does answer prayers. What I’ve found in my own spiritual journey is that a lot of times God answers prayers based on what I need, not on what I want. I want a lot of things that maybe aren’t in God’s big picture and best plans for me.

The Bible tells us in Psalm 66:20 (NLT), “Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw His unfailing love from me.”

Prayer can be learned, so let’s get practical. Here’s a couple suggestions:

Call on God first. What does that mean? It means that tomorrow morning, when you wake up, have these words be the first words that come out of your mouth, “Good morning, God.” Just try it. Start out your day tomorrow in prayer.

Get alone. Have a place where you talk to God. Maybe it’s in your car, maybe it’s in the shower, or maybe it’s in your bedroom. Find a place where you can get alone with God and just talk to Him.

Prayer doesn’t have to be awkward or confusing or uncomfortable. In fact, it’s not supposed to be. You can learn how to pray. Maybe learning to pray is the next step you need to take.

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