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Featured Articles

Duct Tape Families

dan seabornDan SeabornHave you tried to fix a child's toy or a kitchen utensil by conventional means only to have it break five minutes later? Do you remember the last time something broke and you didn't have the right tools at the time to fix it? I've encountered both dilemmas and have turned to duct tape for fast, effective relief. I've used duct tape, just like you, for almost every problem in my life. I've sealed leaky containers, fixed an old broom, held the door closed, and even had some fun with people.

But like everything in life, there are challenges even when it comes to handling duct tape. Challenges I don't like but are an inevitable part of the process. It's when you peel off a lengthy piece and just as you are about to apply it to the repair you are hoping to make, the piece of tape actually gets stuck to itself. The two sticky sides cling together like magnets and from my experience it is impossible to pull them apart. When duct tape adheres to itself, it stops being an effective tool to repair a particular item, but as a bonding product it provides an excellent example for us as to what can happen when we apply this kind of adhesiveness to our lives.

New Book, Movie Editions of Ben-Hur Releasing a Month Apart

ben235Carol Wallace never got through her great-great-grandfather's magnum opus Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, first published in 1880.

"I always lumped it in with books that were great stories but too boring to read, like The Last of the Mohicans and all of Jules Verne's books," said Wallace from her New York City apartment.

But she grew up in a house full of books and her dad was an American history buff keen on his ancestor Lew Wallace. Her parents attended the New York City premier of the 1959 movie Ben-Hur, and she enjoyed the book The Story of the Making of Ben-Hur, which released when the original movie came out.

Judah Ben-Hur is a Jewish prince betrayed by a Roman friend and sent into slavery. He survives and gains his freedom, and returns to Israel to exact revenge. But his encounters with a Nazarene carpenter named Jesus change his life.

Unity Festival Celebrates Music and More

Battistelli F. performingFrancesca Batistelli performs Wednesday night at UnityIt seems there's something new each year at the Unity Christian Music Festival in Muskegon.

Sure, there's still four days of great Christian music from bands such as Switchfoot and Newsboys, a kid's Fun Zone, low-priced food tents, and various vendor and non-profit displays.

But this year, get ready for the debut of "Art and Soul."

'We're always looking for ways to engage our guests in innovative ways," said Unity director of marketing Christopher VanOosterhout. "We have an artist (Tony Goodwin) coming to help guide participants through a session where they will find the truth of our loving God revealed in art."

At The Foot of the Cross

at the foot of the cross 235“Music artists and organizers pray before last year’s “At the Foot of the Cross”The fourth annual "At the Foot of the Cross" musical event is going under the big top.

"This year we have a large, high-peaked tent big enough to have the stage and the audience under," said founder/organizer Chris Moore.

It should improve conditions from last year's sun-scorching heat that left both the artists and audience uncomfortably warm.

The Sat. Aug. 6 event, featuring several area Christian music artists and ensembles, will once again be held outside of Family of Christ Church on Henze St. NW in Comstock Park – just west of the Alpine Ave. Walmart store.

The gathering's dramatic backdrop is a 20 foot high cross set up on the church grounds.
"The goal is still to showcase area Christian musicians, and regardless of church denomination to be together celebrating and worshipping the Lord," said Moore, himself a church worship leader.

Where They Are Now: 2nd Chance School Still Work in Progress, but Cowboy Church is a Hit

2nd Chance FOLLOW-UP 235 1 Ron Silverman continues to work to make his equine faith-based school, 2nd Chance, a reality.Editor's note: West Michigan Christian News begins a new occasional series that follow-up with ministries and people previously featured. We begin with Solon Township-based 2nd Chance School.

Ron Silverman's dream to launch a faith-based school in Solon Township for at-risk teens using horses and biblical training is still a work in progress but strides have been made to make his goal a reality.

Silverman succeeded in purchasing Calvary Assembly of God's church and its accompanying six acres on 17 Mile Road. He intends to use the building as an alternative year-round Christian school Silverman has named 2nd Chance School. Once operational, it would teach 30 boys and girls at a time.

Terry’s Picks: August 2016

EVENTSWest Michigan Christian web writer Terry DeBoer surveys the landscape for the area's faith-based arts and entertainment events over the coming month. Here are three highlights for August:

Drawing “A Line in the Sand” for 20 Years: The Dove Foundation

people watching235* Republished from our February 2011 edition

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing -Edmund Burke

GRAND RAPIDS - Dick Rolfe is an understated West Michigan native whose influence far exceeds this geographical area. In fact, like most prophets, he has more honor outside his own 'country.' The legendary Steve Allen, very first host of The Tonight Show, once told him: "Dick, you're a household name in Hollywood, but no one in Grand Rapids knows who you are."

Wife/Author Shares Journey of Parting in New Book

memoirCarol Rottman has journaled for most of her life, so it made perfect sense to journal about her husband Fritz's journey through Alzheimer's disease and cancer.

She didn't have as much free time as in earlier years, but when she had a few minutes she recorded thoughts, feelings and emotions during this difficult time. Those journal entries have become her newest book titled "A Memoir of Parting," which came out earlier this year through Principia Media.

"I'd think about something for several days before writing it down," said Rottman. "Looking back, the book feels real and honest because it was written while everything was happening. I wrote because I needed to work things out in my head."

“Combo” Concert Tickets Entice Christian Music Fans

Selah 235Selah There are a couple of "super combo ticket" deals for Christian music concerts this fall that might make you want to scoop up your tickets early.

One of the specials is in effect only through July 28: a ticket for both the Thur. Oct. 13 Jeremy Camp concert at Kentwood Community Church and the Fri. Dec. 16 Christmas concert with the inspirational trio Selah in Christ Chapel at Cornerstone University is $36.
At press time, separate Jeremy Camp concert tickets were not yet on sale, but the combo pass is likely a savings over purchasing tickets separately. (Tickets for just the Selah concert are on sale at $19 general admission, $25 artist circle).


A Dream Realized by Connor Orr, a student with Apraxia at Byron Center Christian School

donuntComstock Park, MI, July 15, 2016, Connor Orr, who was born with apraxia, had a dream realized this morning at Marge's Donut Den in Wyoming.

Connor loves to bake cinnamon rolls. He also loves Jesus. And when his 8th grade class had a Good Samaritan Project (GPS) this spring, he combined his two loves in a very savvy way. See, the GSP required students to use one of their God-given gifts to help someone in another country.

Connor took his gift of making cinnamon rolls and advertised them for sale on Facebook. He told his story, sold the rolls and made $583! He then took that money and donated it to World Mission in order that Treasures – solar-powered audio Bibles – could be sent to people who are oral learners so that they can hear about Jesus's love. Connor's donation will touch over 2000 people. That is called maximizing gift impact!

Administrators: Grand Rapids Christian Schools Intentionally Combat Racism, Traces City’s Underbelly

AMDG Architects Speaker Series 235cutline No. 1(left to right): AMDG Architects principal Peter Baldwin, Grand Rapids Christian High School chaplain Mark Kuiper and Grand Rapids Christian Middle School principal Ashanti Bryant discussed racism’s continued problems and solutions.The "Mustache Saga" remains a vivid example of how racism reared its head in Grand Rapids in the late 1960s, said Grand Rapids Middle School principal Ashanti Bryant.

Black male students who came of age in 1966-67 were ordered by white South High School administrators in the Grand Rapids Public Schools district to shave their mustaches.

Often times the deed was done in the hallway, said Bryant. It was a time when black civil rights leaders such as Jesse Jackson, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X all sported hair on their upper lip, and thus the mustache ban, which was eventually rescinded, was considered a slight against black students.

New Music Preview: "So Kind"

beal235Singer, songwriter and worship leader Dwight Beal is doing things a little differently on his first ever solo project.

After decades of self-producing music with long time musical partner John Grooters, Beal (a worship leader at Central Wesleyan Church in Holland), yielded the producer's role on his new effort to Tommee Profitt.

Profitt, of Grand Rapids, has worked with national Christian artists such as Britt Nicole and Colton Dixon.

Best Seller's List July

Bestsellers – July, 2016

1. Traces of Guilt – Dee Henderson
2. Sea Rose Lane – Irene Hannon
3. If I Run – Terri Blackstock
4. Brush of Wings – Karen Kingsbury
5. Third Target – Joel Rosenberg
6. Sins Of The Past – Henderson/Pettrey/Eason
7. Silence In The Dark – Patricia Bradley
8. No Other Will Do – Karen Witemeyer
9. First Hostage – Joel Rosenberg
10. Two Steps Forward – Sharon Garlough Brown

Prayer Bathes LIFE International’s Life-Giving Ministry

Life International cutline No. 1235 Prayer request are inserted in the stonewall of LIFE International’s prayer room.Tucked in the stonewall of LIFE International's prayer room/chapel are scraps of paper with prayer requests written on them. Resembling mini scrolls, they cover the gamut of personal, international and community prayers but share one commonality: They are the heart cries from people seeking answers from an all-knowing, all-loving God.

"The prayers are placed by individuals knowing that this space is solely dedicated to prayer and worship," said Bill Velker, LIFE International's director of prayer mobilization. "Even when no one is present, the worship music continues to play through the sound system and I believe people have a sense that their prayer requests are ever before the Lord."

Waterfront Worship Series Underway

Schultz mark at WOW 6-15 235 Mark Schultz performs at WOW again this year Aug. 28.It was a sunny and warm Sunday evening in downtown Grand Haven for the June 26 opening of the annual Worship on the Waterfront (W.O.W.) series in Waterfront Stadium. Opening night featured the local duo of John Grooters and Dwight Beal (also known as Grooters & Beal).

"Those guys led the crowd as only they can with many familiar worship songs and some original music," said Kathleen Bobeldyk, who helps book the artists for the weekly series.
A crowd estimated at more than 1,200 took in WOW's opening evening, a number sure to grow as summertime momentum builds and national acts take the stage.

Evil and the Power of the Cross

cross9The central story of the Christian Faith is contained in the Gospel. At its' heart the Gospel declares that Jesus died on the Cross to forgive our sin and rose from the dead to give us a resurrection or new life with the Lord.

For most of the Church world, the Cross then is the instrument that the Lord used to forgive sin through the Lord Jesus' atoning death. And while that is gloriously true, there is one aspect of the Cross that is not discussed much these days. The Cross was also the instrument that dealt a death blow to evil. You see behind human sin lies powers and principalities that are often hidden and unseen. For many Christians this dimension of the Cross is hard to talk about, but surely it is important.

Terry’s Picks: July 2016

EVENTSWest Michigan Christian News writer Terry DeBoer surveys the landscape for the area's faith-based arts and entertainment events over the coming month. Here are three highlights for July:

Trinity United Methodist Initiates Community Partnerships

Trinity UMC cutline 235 1 The Little Free Library is a standing example of how Trinity United Methodist is a resource to the community.Displayed on the grounds of Trinity United Methodist Church (TUMC) is a green wooden box with a Little Free Library sign affixed to that offers free books to passers-by. Nearby on the church's lush green lawn is a bowl of fresh water just in case neighbors' parched pooches need to slake their thirst.

Inside the church, the pounding rhythms to a "Fame: the Musical" song resounds as a group of students associated with stageGR rehearse for their June 30-July 1 performances at the Ladies Literary Club.

Finding a Leader

leader225Choosing a leader who is what you think he or she is, who actually will lead, and who will be able to step up to unknown challenges ahead is a tall order. Finding a leader is sometimes more difficult than following a leader.

American politics is replete with examples of leaders who turned out to be less than advertised. Herbert Hoover was a highly successful businessman; he'd get the country's economy moving. But the Great Depression overwhelmed him. Richard Nixon ran on a "law and order" theme. Need I say more?

Maranatha’s New Look Ready for Summer Ministry

The Martins235The Martins perform on August 6Gary Feenstra is finally back in his office and behind his desk.

The Maranatha Bible Conference executive director and his staff had to temporarily relocate during extensive renovations to the Lodge, the main guest room/office facility for the Christian conference/retreat ministry. "We're now using the building at full capacity as we touch up a few very minor things," he reported.

Acton University Speaker Exemplifies Sustainable Solution to Poverty

Acton Institute University cutline235 Magatee Wade: “I know the best way to serve God is to serve His favorite creation: us.”Magatte Wade is a convincing example of what an entrepreneur can accomplish when she decides the best way to veer from poverty is to possess the can-do determination to create wealth and prosperity for herself.

This is admittedly easier said than done, said Wade, who was one of four plenary speakers at Grand Rapids-based think tank, the Acton Institute's June 14-17 Acton University held at the DeVos Place in downtown Grand Rapids. The annual event drew 1,000 people from 75 countries.

The Cost Of Kids

dollarsPeople often ask young married couples when they're going to start having kids. Often the response those people hear is something like "We're gonna wait 'til it's affordable."

My wife and I had the same idea when we were newly married. But when it comes to having children, I've found that waiting until there's enough money is also a bit of a pipe dream.
Estimates these days show that raising children costs, on average, a half million dollars per child. Five hundred thousand bucks is no small chunk of change. In fact, divide it up over a span of eighteen years—newborn to adult—and you're looking at almost $28,000 per child per year. That's about $77 a day, almost $3 per hour, easily enough to make any parent look at their pay stubs and shudder.

Festival Features A Big Ticket Line-Up

Tomlin Chris235 Chris Tomlin returns to Big Ticket on June 23According to director Drew Spanding, a ticket to the Big Ticket Festival gets you something big.

"There's so much going on at the festival, but you're still only paying concert ticket prices," said Spanding, from his office in Gaylord, MI, site of the annual festival.

Christian music is at the forefront of Big Ticket, June 23-25 at the Otsego Country Fairgrounds.

Main stage headliners include TobyMac and Chris Tomlin (on the 23rd), Switchfoot (24th) and NeedtoBreathe (25th). You might expect to pay $35 (the festival's daily admission price) for a typical concert by such artists.

Love INC’s Collaboration Fosters Success in People’s Lives

Love INC1 235 Love INC of Allendale executive director Sonya Archer: “We take our denomination hat off at the door because we all serve the same God.”Sonya Archer issues a two-word reply of astonishment when asked what Love In The Name Of Christ (INC) of Allendale accomplishes for people.

"Oh, wow," said Archer, executive director of the nonprofit Christian ministry the last eight years.

"I don't know how to explain what we do. We just try to be really resourceful."

Best Selling List june

Bestsellers – June, 2016

1. Traces of Guilt – Dee Henderson
2. If I Run – Terri Blackstock
3. Brush of Wings – Karen Kingsbury
4. Sea Rose Lane – Irene Hannon
5. Behold The Man – Bodie & Brock Thoene
6. Sins Of The Past – Henderon/Pettrey/Eason
7. Atonement – Beverly Lewis Thin Ice – Irene Hannon
8. Two Steps Forward – Sharon Brown
9. Treasure Concealed – Tracie Peterson
10. Quieting – Suzanne Fisher

Praise Series Begins Fifth Season

Bill Colin wider shotBill Colin leads his Rockford Baptist praise team at Praise in the Park.The sounds of praise music are once again wafting through Garden Club Park in Rockford on summer Sunday evenings.

The annual "Praise in the Park" series – featuring Christian bands as well as praise teams from various northern Kent County churches – kicked off its fifth season on June 5, led by musicians from Rockford Baptist Church.

Although there was a cool breeze, the early evening turned out to be the sunniest part of the opening Sunday.

GR Festival Hosts Inspiring Arts, Artists

festival235The annual Grand Rapids Festival of the Arts (June 3-5) brings its usual array of Christian arts and entertainment events to its downtown stages and exhibits.

"All of the faith-based performances always get a good response from festival-goers of all ages," said Festival co-chair Becky Richard. "Many of the performances draw large crowds."

There are several church-affiliated ensembles which seem to appear every year.

Terry's Picks for June 2016

EVENTSWest Michigan Christian News writer Terry DeBoer surveys the landscape for the area's faith-based arts and entertainment and events over the coming month. Here are three highlights for June:

Upcoming Acton University is ‘All-Star’ Conference

Acton Institute University 235Mike Cook: “We put forth the principles that a free and virtuous society depends on a moral being who understands their relationship to God and their relation to people.”Mike Cook likens the upcoming Acton University to a cadre of outstanding athletes who are at the top of their game.

"When you think of the Acton University, you could think of it as the all-star game of economics and theology," said Cook, program manager of the economic think-tank, the Acton Institute.

The Acton Institute was founded as a research and educational institution in 1990 by Kris Alan Mauren and Father Robert A. Sirico, diocesan priest of Grand Rapids, and pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Grand Rapids. Sirico continues to serve as its president.

Its mission is to promote a free and virtuous society characterized by individual liberty and sustained by religious principles.

Leaving Memories Behind

dan seabornIt was an icy room with mints on every table and the smell of dead flowers clinging to the air. The curtains and carpet were that lush, slightly faded and dusty type, precisely the kind you'd expect. And in one corner, in a casket, lay Dave, a man I had known only fairly well while he lived.

I was there because I knew someone else in the family; they had asked me to be a part of the funeral proceedings. So I showed up and spent time with the people who had played starring roles in Dave's life. His wife was there, with their children and grandchildren and others. They had all lost the patriarch, and now they had to figure out how to move forward after his death.

Major Fall Concerts Announced

Switchfoot235Switchfoot Four newly-announced concerts will bring nationally-known, faith-based artists of various genres to West Michigan stages this fall. Now officially on the books are:

* Alternative rockers Switchfoot, with special guests Relient K, performing at 7 p.m. Sept. 29 at the Delta Plex Arena and Conference Center, 2400 Turner Ave NW.

* Gospel singer-songwriter Fred Hammond headlines the multi-artist "Festival of Praise" Tour 7 p.m. Oct. 20 at DeVos Performance Hall.

Escape Ministries Enables Holland At-Risk Youth to Reflect God’s Image

Escape Ministries1235Escape Ministries founder Willie Watt, Jr. affirms his ministry enables streetwise kids to see themselves the way God sees them.Willie Watt, Jr. is well aware at-risk youth are often labeled troublemakers whose futures are too often assumed dim. That's a key reason why he named his Holland-based nonprofit organization Escape Ministries.

"People need to escape from how the world sees them to how God sees them," said Watt, a former member of the Chicago street gang, the Black Disciples, who founded Escape Ministries in 2009.

Passion For Freedom

gen3235Has God Indeed Said...?

Those four words from Genesis 3 are the root cause of what is happening to the culture in America today. Many, like myself, wonder what is happening to the America we knew. We no longer recognize this nation. These feelings create doubt and even fear of today and tomorrow. To describe what is occurring is both simple and complex at the same time. It has been decades in coming and is progressing at warp speed. In simplicity, America has been repudiating the Judeo-Christian values of our founding replacing those values with postmodern leftist values that at their core deny absolute truth – in a word , SECULARISM, by either ignoring God or intentionally removing God.

Q&A with author Jane Kirkpatrick

theroadJane Kirkpatrick has written nearly 30 books, many making the New York Times or Christian bestseller lists. She's won numerous awards over the years, combining her love of writing and her interest in the history of Oregon, the state she calls home. Her most recent faith-based novels are A Light in the Wilderness and The Memory Weaver, both published by Revell. This Road We Traveled comes out in September 2016. Kirkpatrick was in Grand Rapids at the recent Calvin College Festival of Faith & Writing, and answered questions about her writing and life.

Q: How did you come to write your award-winning fiction?

Willie Watt: Passing From Death to Servant of God, At-Risk Youth

Escape Ministries 235Willie Watt, Jr., standing ringside at Escape Ministries: “I’ve always stated for me to ever believe in a God, He’d have to show Himself to me.”Growing up in the West Side of Chicago, Willie Watt, Jr. personally witnessed humanity's savage side.

But, adds the 49-year-old, he's also seen how the Holy Spirit can supernaturally bridge the chasm between the yearning to die and a craving to live for the Lord, from knowing only heartache to embracing love, from a steady diet of mistrust to an unshakeable faith in God Whose peace and love knows no boundaries.

"God has had my back so many times," said a tearful Watt, founder and executive director of Escape Ministries, a nonprofit at 202 East 32nd St., in Holland, that diligently works to give at-risk, marginalized young people alternatives to joining gangs. Details about Escape Ministries will be covered in an upcoming story.

Conference Grounds Celebrates New Worship Center

cgrounds235Dawn Bouman can't wait to hear how the music will sound in the new Worship Center at the Christian Reformed Conference Grounds (CRCG).

"We have top of the line audio and video opportunities," said Bouman, worship and program director at the campground/conference/recreation facility on Lake Michigan. "Actually, I'm both nervous and excited."

Best Selling List May

1. Brush of Wings – Karen Kingsbury
2. Traces of Guilt – Dee Henderson
3. If I Run – Terri Blackstock
4. Atonement – Beverly Lewis
5. Room for Hope – Kim Vogel Sawyer
6. Treasure Concealed – Tracie Peterson
7. Thin Ice – Irene Hannon
8. Return to Paradise - Barbara Cameron
9. Mermaid Moon – Collen Coble
10. Burning Proof – Julie Cantore

Do People Have the Power to Change Themselves?

angerHave you ever wanted to change something in yourself or others? It could be an anger problem or a judgmental spirit that is really bothersome to us or others. It might also be a troubling addiction that is taking away the joy of life and destroying a potentially great future. We may have tried to stop or change these things over and over, but nothing seems to happen.

All of this leads to a huge question. Do people have the power within themselves to do whatever they want to do in life? In other words, can we muster up enough "will power" to change our lives and destiny whenever we feel like it? Can we change our weight, stop a bad habit, change an attitude, stop an addiction, conquer a troubling sin or start over at any time, regardless of the issue?

Music Program Salutes Hymn Classics

Jim and Melissa BradyA talented collection of national Southern gospel groups along with a local choir head a "Gospel Music Hymn Sing" May 12 at the Jenison Center for the Arts.

"It seems in the last few years hymns have become a bit of a lost art in some churches that are singing the newer music," said Jim Brady, whose trio is one of the groups participating in the event.

Mincing Words

dan seabornHere are three. And three more. Now two. One.

How many words do you use in a day? Or how many do you type? Or how many do you think? How many do you hear and see?

Studies would tell you that the counts are in the thousands for each of us: words, words, words, all the time and everywhere. And even though through texting we don't spell out words as much, we are still thinking about the whole word. There are words on billboards, words all around the coffee cup, words set to music, words scrolling the screen, words carved into the bathroom stall.

Terry's Picks for May 2016

EVENTSWest Michigan Christian News writer Terry DeBoer surveys the landscape for the area's faith-based arts and entertainment events over the coming month. Here are three highlights for May:

‘War Room’ Filmmaker Coming to Grand Rapids

Stephen KendrickFilmmaker Stephen Kendrick and his brother, Alex, learned a sobering truth in 2002 when they read a national poll from George Barna's Ventura, Calif.-based evangelical polling firm, The Barna Group.

"The poll talked about how the church was no longer considered, in the culture, as one of the top 10 influences," Stephen Kendrick recently told West Michigan Christian News. "Movies, music and the Internet were like the top three."

It was hard-hitting news for two men who made their living as pastors at Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga.

MercyMe, Grand Rapids Symphony to Present Christmas Concert

MercyMe seated235The award-winning inspirational-pop band MercyMe is coming to West Michigan Nov. 29 for a special Christmas concert with the Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra.

Tickets for the general public are expected to go on sale May 16.

The concert – to be held in the spacious sanctuary of Resurrection Life Church in Grandville – follows a similar holiday event held there last December. The local symphony teamed with singer-songwriter Michael W. Smith and several church musicians, performing to a sold out audience of around 4,000.

New Music Preview: "Even So Come."

even so come235Originally teamed up in the former Tommee Profitt Band, Profitt and singer Brooke Griffith have a new worship collection titled "Even So Come."

Profitt (who lives in Grand Rapids) produced the new release. All the songs but one are "covers" of contemporary worship anthems.

The title track offers a version of the noted Passion song, adding close vocal harmonies undergirded by sweeping orchestral arrangements.

The pair also covers "Good, Good Father" (a Chris Tomlin tune), and a rendition of Francesca Battistelli's Grammy-winning "Holy Spirit," which shimmers with its keyboard touches while building on a crescendo of percussive sound.
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