• play-button-blue
  • play-button-blue
  • play-button-blue
  • play-button-blue
  • play-button-blue
  • play-button-blue
  • play-button-blue
  • play-button-blue
  • "Pictured Rocks"

  • "From Churches to Beer"

  • Leap

  • Relevant Docs: "God Will Make a Way"

  • Relevant Docs: "Cookies"

  • Relevant Docs: "Art"

  • Relevant Docs: "Coffee"

  • Relevant Docs: "Blessings"

Featured Articles

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."

Card’s Biblical Lyrics, Music, Inspire Holiday Weekend.

Card235It was the day between Good Friday and Easter that singer-songwriter and Bible teacher Michael Card carried a Hudsonville audience through the Holy Week story at Grace Community Church.

Backed by the church's 40-voice choir and a small string section, Card's 80-minute, 16 song-set included many of his past ballads and anthems on Christ's passion, and several newer songs that fit the theme.

Terry’s Picks: April 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 April:

Mel Trotter’s New Emergency Shelter Gets Vulnerable Young Men Off Street, And Then Some

Mel Trotters YES 235(l to r) Mel Trotter Ministries community relations director Abbey Sladick and Adrienne Goodstal, vice president of programs, stand in the Youth Emergency Shelter’s common living area.Abusive homes, aging out of the foster care system and feeling intimated by older homeless men are key reasons why Mel Trotter Ministries launched its Youth Emergency Shelter (YES) for men ages 18-24 at its gospel rescue mission in downtown Grand Rapids, located at 225 Commerce Ave. SW.

Besides providing an overnight refuge for a maximum of six young men for a 21-day stay, YES's separate space provides immediate basic needs including meals, access to a bathroom and shower, clean clothing, a designated sleeping room and a living room style community area.

How to Diagnose and Recover from Bitterness

bpIf there is one emotion or attitude that can destroy someone's life it is bitterness. Bitterness is a monster that has destroyed marriages, families, churches and even nations. When a bitter spirit is loose somewhere there is no telling the damage and havoc it can bring about. The heart of bitterness is rooted in an unforgiving spirit toward someone or about something that happened to us in life. Bitterness is often easier to see in others, but very hard to see in ourselves.

If you went to a doctor for checkup, the doctor might check our blood, take our blood pressure, and measure our height and weight against standard targets. A number of tests and measurements could be taken. But is there a test for bitterness, hidden anger and resentment? While there may not be a specific test, there are some signs. Here are a few: Do we experience a loss of energy on a regular basis? Have we dropped out of things we used to enjoy doing? Do we spend less time with people? Do small things really bother us? Do we resent hearing sermons on grace, forgiveness and the Cross?  Do we share our faith with others?

Three W's For Parents

dan seabornIf there's one thing I've learned in thirty years of parenting, it's this: there's no pill you can take or give to your kids to make everything work out perfectly. Trust me—I've checked. These things just don't come in a bottle.

In parenting, then, it's important to establish some parameters for ourselves as we deal with our children. Over the years, I've built some guidelines for myself, and three in particular have been so beneficial that I'd like to pass them on.

I call them the Three W's .

Starfysh is Grand Experiment in Human Compassion to La Gonave Haitians

Starfysh cutline No. 1Starfysh founder/president Steve Edmondson prays with a mother and her gravely ill daughter.Dr. Steve Edmondson acknowledges he felt over his head when he launched Starfysh, a nonprofit grass roots movement that started with a simple idea that has since mushroomed to some ambitious initiatives intended to alleviate the abject poverty of the 100,000 people who live on the island of La Gonave, Haiti.

"Mine is a story of what God can do even when someone is ill equipped," said Edmondson, an affable man who's a family practice physician in Saranac and the founder and president of Starfysh. "It's since become obvious to me God had something bigger than I had in mind. Since then, I've tried to keep up with what God is doing with us."

Even The Lone Ranger Didn’t Go It Alone

lone rangerPeople sometimes think they can make it alone. But it's not so. Aristotle thought men and women were social animals. He got the first part correct. Human beings are indeed first, last, and always social.

But we're not animals. We're something different, a creation "a little lower than the angels" made "in the image of God." People who forget this sometimes end up feeling alone, or they end up going alone.

In the extreme, people who think they can go it alone end up kind of freaky weird. Think Howard Hughes, Bobby Fischer, maybe the Unabomber.

Panelists Make Biblical Case Against Death Penalty

Death Penalty and Faith Forum 235(l to r) Death penalty panelist included Shane Claiborne, Gail Rice, Bernard “Chris” Dorsey and Randy Steidl.Randy Steidl knows firsthand what it feels like to be sentenced to death. Bernard “Chris” Dorsey argues capital punishment undermines the Christian faith. Gail Rice, whose police officer brother was killed in the line of duty, believes the death penalty is disproportionally waged against minorities and the poor. And Shane Claiborne believes no one, including convicted murderers, is beyond redemption.

The four-member panel that comprised the death penalty forum was of varied backgrounds and experiences but all argued for the same conclusion: the death penalty should be abolished.

Best Selling List March

Bestsellers – March, 2016

1. If I Run – Terri Blackstock
2. Cold Shot – Dani Pettrey
3. Always Watching – Lynette Eason
4. Mermaid Moon – Colleen Coble
5. Restoration – Wanda Brustetter
6. Sensible Shoes – Sharon Brown
7. Room For Hope – Kim Vogel Sawyer
8. War Room – Chris Fabry
9. Two Steps Forward – Sharon Brown
10. Behold The Man – Brodie & Brock Thoene

New Music Preview: “So Break It” by Lamain

Lamain235Don't think academics when you're listening to the debut solo project from singer-songwriter Marty Lamain.

"So Break It," the seven-song release by the former Grand Rapids church music minster, just happens to double as Lamain's graduate school thesis (Lamain moved to Nashville two years ago to study vocal performance at Belmont University).

I give him an "A" for effort on this expressive and often soul-baring package of tunes.
The title track comes from a line in the ballad "It'll Take Something Beautiful." The lyrics tell of the emotional wall built by the writer to keep out pain and hurt, yet revealing a longing for connection. "It'll take something beautiful to break it down....so break it down," he invites.

Clean Comedy Brings Laughter to LaughFest

Sapp Henry235Henry Sapp This is the sixth straight year that West Michigan-based comedian Henry Sapp has been part of LaughFest.

"I've been in it since the very first one," Sapp said of his part in the annual 10-day festival sponsored by Gilda's Club of Grand Rapids.

But in the 2016 version the married father of two is actually headlining a show – scheduled for March 19 at Living Word Christian Center.
"They came to me and said, 'You've always brought (other comedians) in, why don't you headline this year?'" said Sapp, 45. "And I said...that would be sweet."

Calvin Prison Initiative is Force for Moral Rehabilitation

Calvin Prison Initiative 235Todd Cioffi is co-director of the Calvin Prison Initiative.Most inmates will never see beyond their prison walls while others eventually will be released, but what they share in common is a "moral rehabilitation" infused in their lives due to a newly accredited program called the Calvin Prison Initiative (CPI).

Up to 20 prisoners a year from any of the 31 prisons in the Michigan Department of Corrections system can apply to earn a bachelor of arts degree in ministry leadership. The program is a joint venture between Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary.

Encore Living Program Shows Seniors How to ‘Bear Fruit in Old Age’

Encore Alliance of Greater Grand Rapids 235Encore Alliance of Greater Grand Rapids president L. James Harvey with his wife of 63 years, Jackie. L. James Harvey knows he faces an uphill battle, but he is convinced there should be more in store for senior adults than while away their time after they retire. Want proof? God says so, said Harvey, president of the nonprofit ministry, Encore Alliance of Greater Grand Rapids' Encore Living Program (ELP).

"I've taken a look at the Bible from beginning to end on what it has to say about longevity," said Harvey, 85, whose background includes former president of Prince George's Community College in Largo, Maryland, dean of students at Hope College in Holland and vice president of William Rainey Harper Community College in Palatine, Ill., a suburb of Chicago, and author of Christian books.

Finding Genuine Love In a World of Disappointments

lentThe moment a person knows they are loved by someone things usually change for the better. The moment a person doesn't feel loved by someone you often have the beginning of trouble. That, in a nutshell, is how the world functions. Sometimes we try to complicate things, but it often boils down to how much or how little love people experience. The main problem we all have in life, however, is that almost no one told us this fact. As a result, people spend much of their lives trying to figure this out and then more time trying to fix it once the problem has been defined.

Terry’s Picks: March 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 March:

World Mission Unveils New Location

World Mission 1World Mission CEO Greg Kelley cuts the ribbon to an appreciative crowd.Staff and administrators at World Mission (WM) showcased its new headquarters to the public Feb. 26, 2016, but its aim to provide solar-powered audio Bibles to illiterate people living in Third World countries remains firmly intact.

WM chief executive officer Greg Kelley officially cut the ribbon inside WM's new facility at 4200 Alpine Ave. NW, Comstock Park, amid appreciative applause, which was then followed by two prayers, one said in Arabic and the second in English.
home app07 envelope
Submit News
RSS Feed
home app09 playVideos
faith-buttonPlease consider helping us by contributing to our publication. 

Donate directly or advertize your business on this site or in our newsletter.  It reaches thousands across West Michigan.