"I remember feeling so apprehensive," said Sumner Truax, guest speaker Jan. 11 at Calvin College's annual January Series. "I wondered would we survive this blessing. We were facing some pretty big church challenges. We had a big hole in our budget that was growing in a neighborhood that was rapidly gentrifying. We always had bigger dreams than we could ever fill. There were lots of pressure points around us."
Just don't make the mistake of calling Rottschafer's Critter Barn, 9275 Adams Street in Zeeland, a petting zoo.
"I feel there's a gem here that unfortunately society doesn't have much access to," said Rottschafer, the Critter Barn's founder and executive director.
"The Critter Barn is a educational farm that teaches children agriculture, how our food is raised and how creation sustains us because that was the plan from the Garden of Eden," continued Rottschafer. "We minister to a lot of children who are less fortunate or are challenged. We give God the glory for the farming community and help kids experience the miracles of the farm, which are unlimited in number throughout the year."
"We've done this tour five or six times," recalled Roy during a recent phone interview. "And every time it has felt like the fans are a great big family and are really fired up."
Since the late 1990s Winter Jam has played large venues across the country, including more than a decade's worth of shows at Grand Rapids' Van Andel Arena. With 10 music artists, an inspirational speaker and a modest at-the-door admission charge, the tour has played to as many at 700,000 persons annually.
The story of Mary and Joseph is incredible for a number of reasons. For example, consider how Mary finds out that she is going to have a baby. She's visited by an angel of the Lord who reveals that she will become pregnant through a divine action. She's only about 13 years old and is engaged to Joseph who is probably in his late teens. Joseph learns about the pregnancy but initially he doesn't know about the spiritual intervention.
Therefore, he thinks Mary's been unfaithful to him because he knows he's not been with her. He's left with a tough decision to make. If he accepts Mary's pregnancy, the community will say that he's broken the law by sleeping with her prior to marriage. If he publicly divorces her, he runs the risk that she'll be stoned to death for adultery. Out of compassion, he considers divorcing her privately and not making it a public issue. While he is contemplating his decision, he is also visited by an angel of the Lord who tells Joseph he should go through with the wedding and not be afraid.
"I have a testimony now that's great and I'm not ashamed to share it with people who will listen," said Hill, 68. "If I see someone who doesn't have hair (because of chemotherapy treatments), I'm not intimated to go up to them. I just share how God got me through my battle and He can get them through it too, and one of these days they'll have hair again just like me."
Hill initially assumed she had suffered a stroke in March 2015 when her husband of 48 years, Ron, drove her to Mercy Health Southwest Campus (formerly St. Mary's) in Byron Center.
Instead, she was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma that resulted in a malignant tumor confined only in her brain.
Hoekstra, contemporary worship director at First Evangelical Covenant Church in Grand Rapids, features pop-rock settings for his inspirational lyrics. Some of the words are directly addressed to God, carrying Psalm-like strains of worship.
The highlight there is "Your Love." Beginning at a slower tempo, the song builds to an anthem-esque climax before offering its final, simple prayer, "Lead me out of darkness into your great light."
"There's a real resurgence in people wanting a Christian education," said Pott. "We want to be an academic school and we want to be a school that does best practices, but we also want to make sure this is distinctively Christian."
"It's not artist-focused, it's message-focused," said Grant during a phone interview before a tour performance in Kennewick, Wash. "There's something about these Christmas concerts that is very galvanizing as the audience connects with each other and with the people on stage."
Even though she had been writing for so long, Thompson didn't publish anything until Barnyard Bully in 2016. Thompson said she would get 90 percent of the way through a project and then move on to something new. After attending writers conferences she decided to begin looking into marketing and self publishing. She learned a lot from the internet—and from self-published author friends who made mistakes for Thompson to learn from—and published Barnyard Bully.
Now Reitz reveals her life-long struggle with body image, self doubt and insecurity in her new book "You Are Beautiful: A Model Makeover from Insecure to Confident in Christ," recently released by FaithWords.
"When I was in high school, there were certain themes that kept popping up in my life, things I struggled with. I felt God tugging on my heart and felt I'd go into women's ministry at some point in my life," said Reitz, who is moving from Florida back to Michigan, where she grew up, this month.
Cordero was inspired to write The Magic Snow Globe by the rise of the internet and smartphones, and the effect of both on kids' imaginations.
"I see a trend happening where young children are on their phones or tablets and are constantly bombarded by technology. Whatever happened to people just reading?" Cordero said. She made this observation many times, to which her husband responded, "What are you going to do about it?" Thus, The Magic Snow Globe was born.
I'm not writing this article to settle any debates, but rather my goal is to talk about the meaning of this day for you and your family. Maybe it will help you decide whether you should shop till you drop or give in to a tryptophan-induced nap on Thanksgiving Day.
It's time again for our annual Christmas concert preview. And as usual there are plenty of seasonal events to choose from.
The "season" actually backs up into November, but this listing will concentrate on those which actually occur in December.
The month starts up with a blast from "Hark Up" with four performances Fri-Sun Dec. 1-3 at DeVos Center for Arts and Worship at Grand Rapids Christian High School.
Building on its wide-ranging approach to solving emotional, spiritual, physical and financial abuse and sexual assault are new initiatives intended to amplify its capacity to provide hope and healing to those maltreated.
New executive director
Megan Hopkins was tapped as SHM's new executive director, a role she's held as interim executive director since May.
"When I started as director (in July of last year) there were 38 members," recalled Glasper during a recent interview. "And this year that has grown to 67." (The Calvin group presents its annual fall concert at 3 p.m. Sun. Nov. 19 - see details below).
"The Garden," centered by its vulnerable yet hopeful title song, captures an emotional journey which culminates in the realization of God's healing of the soul. (Jobe brings her musical tour featuring "The Garden" to 20 Monroe Live on Sun. Nov. 12 – see details below).
"My sister and I were pregnant at the same time – she was a few months ahead of me," recalled Jobe, 36, from her Nashville area home.
"I made it because I surrendered; God changed my life," said Johnson. "I'm blessed. To surrender your will means taking yourself out. There's no pride, no arrogance. I serve the King."
Then, without hesitation, Johnson recites Proverbs 3 5-6: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight."
I worked with teens for many years, and in that time, one of the most frustrating aspects of my job was dealing with parents who had a Mulligan mentality, moms and dads who were using their kids' lives to make up for the past. It was as if the sons and daughters were do-over's—I really sliced that first one, but I'll aim better this time around.
But the experience of the Oct. 17 award ceremonies and surrounding activity left a strong impression.
"Last night was like a dream," he posted to Facebook followers the day after the Dove festivities.
The effort to unsuccessfully integrate Timothy Christian School — and the scriptural lessons learned from the fracas — was recounted at a recent panel discussion held at Calvin College's Chapel.
The 1960s dust up eventually birthed the CRC's Office of Race Relations.
"What I love about this story is that it allows parents to engage with their child on a serious topic in a lighthearted way," explained Joel Schoon-Tanis, the Holland-based artist who did the colorful pictures in the 32-page book.
The underlying topic is the lack of clean water in rural Africa. That circumstance forces many residents to travel long distances each day for a basic need that we take for granted.
But there's more to her artistic renderings than meets the eye when they were displayed on Degage's windows at 144 S. Division Ave. during the international art competition that ran from Sept. 20 to Oct. 8.
The drawings are homage to Degage Ministries when Petchauer found herself homeless and in need of positive ways to rebuild her life.
Sapp performed some of the songs on the new "Close" CD on Sept. 29 to several hundred fans and friends at Lighthouse Full Life Center Church on Madison Ave. SE.
The Acton Institute, 98 E. Fulton St. in downtown Grand Rapids, is a think tank whose mission is to promote a free and virtuous society characterized by individual liberty and sustained by religious principles.
Mollie Ziegler Hemingway, senior editor at The Federalist, spoke recently to a capacity audience inside the Acton Institute's Mark Murray Auditorium. She said the media repeatedly demonstrates it is out of touch with the time-honored values of the majority of its dwindling audience that looks askance at the veracity of its reporting.
Here are his three picks for October:
Monroe Community Church on Monroe Ave NW just north of downtown Grand Rapids is one of five finalists for the Art Prize "Outstanding Venue" award. Juror Larry Ossei-Mensah selected the finalists from among 170 venues participating in the annual arts competition, which draws hundreds of thousands of visitors to the city each year.
"As far as we can tell, we're only the second church ever to be recognized with this 'shortlist" designation," said Steve Fridsma, the church's Art Prize team leader.
Harris also will become the first female to helm the school — or perhaps not.
According to Harris, who's been Kuyper's provost since 2013, that distinction should go to Johanna Timmer, who founded the newly formed Reformed Bible Institute in 1939 — later renamed Reformed Bible College and now Kuyper College.
The delicate ballad faces the issue of suicide, and how God can use caring friends to intervene in a troubled life.
The artist said she started writing the song two years ago after a conversation with a friend.
It's a large, tree-like sculpture that actually gives forth the sounds of applause, echoing the refrain of Isaiah 55:12, "....the trees of the field will clap their hands."
"That verse has always been a favorite of mine," said Dave Vander Molen of Grandville, creator of the wood, metal and plexiglass work.
"I love that image of a tree....it has spoken to me for a number of years."
Any formal biography of Ehlers lists his hometown as Pipestone, a city in southwest Minnesota. Actually, that's the location of the hospital where he was born and the county seat where birth records are kept. His "real" hometown was in nearby Edgerton, a small Minnesota community of around 700 at his 1934 birth.
"We've been in the process of extending ourselves to befriend and partner with a number of churches, particularly smaller churches that don't have as many resources," said lead pastor Matt Zania. "We opened the door to a relationship with Northland; Ben Phebus, the pastor, open the door to a multisite partnership."
Sunday, September 17, is the official kickoff of the new partnership, with long-time BHBC pastor Don Pearson taking on the role of Northview campus pastor.
Its new digs equate to about 500-square more space where a staff of 42 work at what is Mission India's world headquarters; another nine regional directors work off-site.
"We could have renewed the lease (in Grandville) but we wanted to see what was available," said Mike Jackson, Mission India's vice president of finance and administration. "This one came up here and in the right price range for us."
"We invite people to shop in our warehouse and see what's in there, and also visit the bookstore to see the specials there," said Scott Watson, bookstore manager.
Hundreds of titles will be 60-80 percent off, and all Eerdmans titles will be at least 50 percent off, Watson said. The bookstore's usual discount of 20 percent will apply to books by other publishers.
All of this means one key thing: there's a whole new batch of parents out there who are going to be newly exposed to the life-threatening grips of In-law Syndrome.
In-law Syndrome (ILS) is a unique disease that appears in parents whose children are married. Parents whose children are unmarried seem to be largely unaffected by ILS; however, in some instances the onset of the disease is premature, brought on when a child gets engaged, begins dating, or (in most severe cases) develops a crush on that other kid in the playpen.
Since it's founding 21 years ago by the former Roosevelt Park Community Christian Reformed Church in partnership with the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee, RPM has grown to include 25 programs. Services range from employment help, to counseling and legal services, to youth development, community enrichment and tax services, as well as support services, such as translation of documents.
"We've never had a summer reading program quite this large before," said Becca Niswonger, hospitality coordinator for the store.
One of the most popular events was the Cars party, where kids could build and decorate "cars" from boxes and sit in them while they watched the movie Cars. Susie Finkbeiner, mother of three summer reading program participants, said, "It tapped into their creativity. They got to make the cars into their own personality by adding bumper stickers!"
The three-song EP is highlighted by the anthem "Worship 'til Heaven." With its crisp background vocals and instrumental flourishes, it's a masterfully-arranged and performed invitation to praise.
The title song "Everything I Got" begins as a slower ballad, but builds as the lyrics echo the scriptural challenge to give "my life as a living sacrifice."
"Big League Dreaming" takes listeners on a tour through his youthful goal of sports heroism to his newer pursuit of musically communicating gospel truth.
The title track's music video (online) visually tells the story. Raps such as "Triple Crown" and "No Shame" carry the baseball metaphor. But "Bottom of the Ninth" actually reveals his new passion: "...It's time to rap, ain't nobody stop me....walk and not be faint, like an eagle I soar..."
Christian music artists with a similar outlook are preparing their West Michigan concerts for this fall. And many of those artists are coming freshly adorned with 2017 Dove Award nominations.
The 48th annual Dove Awards are sponsored by the Gospel Music Association and are considered one of the top awards for faith-based music artists. Nominees were announced August 9 at a Nashville news conference, with award ceremonies set for Oct. 17.
- Evangelicals Must Adopt Christian View of Leisure to Influence Culture, Says Scholar
- UNITY Poised for a Festive Experience
- Terry’s Picks: August 2017
- Educator Tills Education’s Soil With Biblical Botanical Roots
- Digging Deeper With Lifehouse
- Hudsonville-based International Needs Serves as Jesus’ Hands, Feet Worldwide
- Band Members Testify To New Life
- A Mile In Your (old) Shoes
- Radio Team Now In New Ministry Pursuits
- CeCe Winans Showcases Long-Awaited Album
- Bethlehem Lutheran Opens Intergenerational Center
- Terry's Picks: July 2017
- Truth, True Truth, Truthiness, and Post-truth in America
- New Music Review: Close
- After Graduation, Remember This
- Get on Your Bikes and Pedal: RIDE GR Opportunity to have Fun, Pray Alongside Fellow Bikers
- Actress Shares Her Real Life Story
- Summer Praise Series Underway
- Princess Party, Local Author Put Focus on Girls
- Justice Conference Founder to Speak on White Privilege
- Zondervan and Gazelle Sports Welcome Legendary Female Olympic Track Star to Grand Rapids
- Baker Book House Offers Summer Reading Programs for Kids, Adults