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Featured Articles

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.

Calvin Prof Reimagines Scholarly Work into Book for Lay Readers

book235James K.A. Smith wrote the book "Desiring the Kingdom" in 2009 under the banner of what he calls "advanced scholarship." Meaning he wrote it for other academics and scholars.

But that book got so much attention and prompted so many speaking engagements and questions that he decided to expand his premise, add to his original research, and write a new book that reaches general readers. "You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit" was recently released by Brazos Press, a division of Grand Rapids-based Baker Publishing Group.

"I thought 'Desiring the Kingdom' was kind of accessible for laypeople, but that turned out not to be so," said Smith, professor of philosophy at Calvin College. "And yet it got lots of attention and I got invitations to speak at churches and Christian schools. The audiences' eyes would light up at the ideas, but the book caused their eyes to glaze over."

God Colors Outside Lines of Phrase, ‘Mission Field,’ in the Lives of Tony and Kim Przybysz

Przybysz 235A blending of the family God put together: (l to r) Tony, Jesse, Kim and Levi.Many people associate the phrase "mission field" with Christians dispatched to a far-flung foreign country. Tony and Kim Przybysz of Plainfield Township discovered early in their 25-year marriage God wanted to color outside that expression's lines.

Their mission field includes adopting medically fragile children whose birth parents were no longer capable of raising them.

Their journey of following the Lord's will has had its share of joy, heartaches and testing of their faith, but they remain true to the focus the Lord has shown them.

Redeeming Experience Propels Big Daddy Weave

Big Daddy Weave 235"My Story," a new song by the inspirational pop band Big Daddy Weave, flows from an earlier song that represented a spiritual breakthrough for lead singer Mike Weaver.

"Really, this is just a continuation of what God's been doing - back from a time and place when I was not feeling good about myself," admitted Weaver, 40, on the phone from near his Mt. Juliet, Tenn. home.

Van Andel Arena to see ‘Outcry’

outcry235The highest-profile worship event of the year in West Michigan is The Outcry Tour, a collection of top worship leader/artists coming to Van Andel Arena at 6 p.m. Tues. April 19.

Kari Jobe, Hillsong Worship, Elevation Worship, Jesus Culture with Martin Smith and Brian Houston (Hillsong Church's senior pastor) are all part of the line-up.

The collection of artist-leaders is touring major venues across the country.

Jobe, a worship leader at one of the campuses at the huge Gateway Church, has visited Van Andel previously, performing several years ago on the Winter Jam Tour. And she comes to Grand Rapids as a new mother: her son Canyon was born in February.

GRIL Teaches Biblically-based Leadership Skills to Teens, Young Adults to Transform Communities

Grand Rapids Initiative 235Denise Fase is GR Initiative for Leaders executive director.Around Greater Grand Rapids are teens and young adults who have learned biblically-based leadership skills that they in turn make the most of to transform their schools, churches, related-ministries, businesses and communities.

What they learned didn't happen overnight. They committed and applied themselves with one of five programs that GR Initiative for Leaders (GRIL) offers at its Southeast Grand Rapids location.

Best Selling List April

Bestsellers – March, 2016

1. Brush of Wings – Karen Kingsbury
2. Atonement – Beverly Lewis
3. If I Run – Terri Blackstock
4. Room for Hope – Kim Vogel Sawyer
5. Sensible Shoes – Sharon Brown
6. Return to Paradise - Barbara Cameron
7. Burning Proof – Julie Cantore
8. Always Watching – Lynette Eason
9. Behold the Man – Brodie & Brock Thoene
10. God's Not Dead 2 – Travis Thrasher

Local author celebrates Oliver the Pug and her family’s healing in new book

pug235Alison Hodgson knew that eventually she would write about the fire that destroyed her home, but she didn’t think that story would also involve a pug named Oliver.

Hodgson’s first book, “The Pug List: A Ridiculous Little Dog, a Family Who Lost Everything and How They All Found Their Way Home,” released on April 5 (Zondervan, $15.99) and she and the dog have been on the run ever since.

They’ve been on local television, traveled to California and Colorado, and will make an appearance at Book Expo America in Chicago in May. Hodgson will also do a number of local events wherein she talks about the book and people fawn over The Real Pug Oliver, as he’s known on Instagram.

“The Beams Are Creaking” Opens April 14

Bonhoeffer photo245Dietrich BonhoefferThe life – and sacrifice – of pastor/author/teacher/theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer is highlighted in the latest Master Arts Theatre production, "The Beams Are Creaking."

The biographical drama, featuring local actor Tim VanBruggen in the lead role, opens April 14.

"The messages and themes that emote from this play are still relevant today," noted director Bob Karel.

Local National Day of Prayer’s Heart Including Sparking Revival, Unity

rhek235 Randy Hekman’s heart beats for revival and unity among believers in Jesus Christ.Randy Hekman’s big picture goal extends beyond people praying together for one hour during the local National Day of Prayer at Rosa Parks Circle in downtown Grand Rapids.

“I really want to see revival,” said Hekman, executive director of The Grand Awakening, a nonprofit he founded that desires to see a spiritual awakening sweep across a unified Body of Christ in West Michigan.

And because Hekman dreams big, he wants to see it impact the nation as well.

Gaither Vocal Band, Guests, Bring “First Class” Gospel Music

GVB 2016-235Singer Adam Crabb of the Gaither Vocal Band was part of group founder Bill Gaither's 80th birthday celebration last week. "It was a surprise party, and it went really well," said Crabb, 36, from near his home in Hendersonville, Tennessee.

Crabb is a relative newcomer to the celebrated group, which Gaither began in the early 1980s – a successor of sorts to his original Bill Gaither Trio. Crabb and fellow singer Todd Suttles joined the group just two years ago.

"When that first Gaither (Homecoming) video came out, that's what hooked our family into music," Crabb recalled of he and his four siblings who for many years sang as The Crabb Family. "We loved the music and the sound and the message. It's pretty wild how eventually God brings things full circle and now I'm singing with the group that really inspired me."
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