More to “The Breakup Song” Than Meets The Ear

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Battistelli Francesca - Main Press ImageFrancesca Battistelli performs March 24 in Holland Singer-songwriter Francesca Battistelli wondered how listeners would react to "The Breakup Song."

"I loved that it caused them to think...where is she going with this?" she said of the anthem on her latest album.

No, it's not the story of a past relationship or any kind of romantic entanglement. Instead, it's a musical statement rejecting fear and its undue influence in a determined believer's life.

The song's music video  with more than 10 million views, depicts a phone call in which the artist tells fear that "you don't own me" and "the no vacancy sign on my heart is lit up."

The New York native showcases the song on her tour which comes to Holland, Mich. on March 24.

“Church Basement Ladies” Return For More

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Rise Up O men - threesomePastor Gunderson (center) deals with both Carl and Mavis in “Church Basement Ladies: Rise Up, O Men” Attention church basement ladies everywhere. The men are about to engulf your territory!

That's the humorous premise of "Rise Up, O Men," the sixth installment of the popular stage musical-comedy series "Church Basement Ladies."

"The roosters have invaded the henhouse," smiled executive producer Curt Wollan from a stop in Palm Springs, CA.

The production comes to Byron Center's Van Singel Fine Arts Center on March 26.

The setting is familiar to long time fans: East Cornucopia Lutheran Church in rural Minnesota back in the 1950s and 60s when church basement kitchens were a social hub with their own pecking order.

Starlight Ministries Helps Transition Grieving People on the Road to Healing

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

Starlight No. 1From left: Gwen Kapcia, director of program development and a certified thanatologist and executive director Bev Thiel say the goal for Starlight Ministries is to serve as a path through people’s pain so they can see God working in their lives.Greg and Jolynn VanWienen's 10-year-old son Seth was killed in November 2007 when a car struck him while he was crossing a road.

It was the death of their son that birthed in 2009 the Hudsonville-based Starlight Ministries, a Christ-centered peer-to-peer support nonprofit that meets people where they are in their pain without judgement. Starlight also has an outreach in the Muskegon area. Meetings are held at area churches in both locales.

Starlight initially started as a balm solely for grieving kids, but its focus soon expanded to other ages, said Bev Thiel, Starlight's executive director.

"It started for just kids but within a few short weeks the parents were all waiting in the other room supporting each other while the kids were in group so they added the adult group right away," said Thiel.

Artist Dealing With Life Elements

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Toby Mac fedora and Tshirt"Evidently we just can't get enough of Grand Rapids," said singer-songwriter TobyMac, on the phone from near his home in Franklin, TN.

He's returning to West Michigan March 10 with his "Hits Deep" tour at Van Andel Arena (details below). That's barely a year after performing there to a sold-out crowd. Plus his visit last September during the Luis/Andres Palau CityFest. "We love us some Grand Rapids," Toby grinned.

But this time he's coming with a new album, "The Elements," released last fall. His previous project, "This Is Not A Test," came in 2015.

PRC’s Cradles of Grace Nurtures Sense of Community for Single Moms

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

Cradles of Grace Cutline No. 1In the foreground stands Marissa Gonzales, Pregnancy Resource Center’s support manager and behind her, Beverly Zahl, PRC’s client services director. The women affirm Cradles of Grace is a bridge for single mothers to find the strength of community. They have chosen life instead of abortion, yet for many pregnant women and single moms the question that still looms over them is: what now? The Pregnancy Resource Center's Cradles of Grace (COG) has some answers.

Meeting weekly at different times and locations in the Grand Rapids area, COG affords pregnant woman and single mothers an opportunity to realize the strength that comes with being a member of a community of like-minded people.

Gatherings start with sharing a provided meal while their children are taken care of, followed by Bible studies, goal-setting strategies, and encouragement for healthy life choices.

Forgiveness, Like No Other Power On Earth

Written by Dr. Rex M. Rogers on . Posted in Local

forgiveYour son steals the family car and eventually calls three weeks later from three states away. Your spouse has been unfaithful. Your pastor absconds with several thousand dollars of your church's funds. You are the focus of a slanderous attack that undermines your reputation. Your business partner finds some way to cheat you, legally, and walks away with your investment. Your father or mother have been gone for two decades, but you're still haunted by the memory of how one or both wronged you.

The "normal" response pattern to any and all of these circumstances might include disbelief, hurt, anger, bitterness, and maybe vengeance. Some people might even argue that such emotions are justifiable and understandable.

People expect a certain amount of "righteous anger." It's a part of our American code of individualistic ethics. Kill or be killed. Hallowed self-defense. John Wayne rides again.

Comedian Returns to His GR Hometown

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Michael Jr. 2019For comedian Michael Jr., it's all about coming home.

"I get to come to my hometown – my brother and sisters are all around the area and it's gonna be great," said the Grand Rapids native from his home near Dallas, TX.

Michael brings his "In The Moment" comedy tour to Grand Rapids First Church on Sunday March 3 (details below).

It's right here in West Michigan where the Ottawa Hills H.S. grad honed his comedy chops – his second ever "club" date was in the old Comedy Den in Cascade Township.

The Mixed Blessing of Multiple Versions of the Bible

Written by Dr. Rex M. Rogers on . Posted in Local

bibleMultiple versions of the Bible are now a part of the landscape. Perhaps we're used to it, and perhaps not? In any event, it was not always so, and I'm not sure we've yet figured out how to navigate this ever-changing terrain.

I was raised in a Christian home—in the best sense of that phrase. I was regularly taken to church before I was born, and much more after that, so thanks to my parents I've been attending Bible-believing churches for over sixty years. This doesn't make me an expert on all things ecclesiastical, and certainly does not mean I always choose well and wisely. Far from it. But maybe like some of you it makes me "experienced," and thus reasonably adept at detecting changes over time.

Honor Brings More Opportunities for West Michigan Resident

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Sapp Henry 2019Henry Sapp has begun yet another journey. This month the Kentwood resident was named a W.K. Kellogg Foundation Community Leadership Network fellow. And in March he embarks on an 18-month program of instruction, mentoring and practical experience in the foundation's efforts to create transformational change toward a more equitable society.

"This is an opportunity for some intense training and skill-building, said Sapp, 48, of the fellowship honor.

After some initial inquiries Sapp decided to apply for the program, which was in line with his current involvement with area non-profits – including the Better, Wiser, Stronger boys' mentoring organization.

Sapp was selected as one of 80 candidates from across the country, to help spur the foundation's goal of advancing racial equity and racial healing and creating sustainable solutions.

Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) partners with the Kellogg foundation. CCL President John Ryan was impressed with the high caliber of new fellows.

Local Author Offers Thriller Set in the Future

Written by Ann Byle on . Posted in Local

travisTravis Thrasher has written everything from children's books to suspense novels to cowriting with big stars; he's lived all over the United States as well as Munich and Australia. And now he's settled in West Michigan and written a novel set in the near-time future that pits Big Tech against the forces of God.

"My editor at WaterBrook sent an email to me and other authors asking for proposals for novels dealing with the persecuted church," said Thrasher, who lives with his family in the Grandville area. "I had tons of ideas; this one grew into something organic. It's a standalone, but there are storylines not tied up so there could be other novels."

Thrasher will talk about and sign copies of "American Omens: The Coming Fight for Faith" at 7 pm Thursday, Feb. 21, at Baker Book House in Grand Rapids.

Christian Healthcare Centers Fosters Biblical Approach to Medicine

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

Christian Health Centers Cutline No. 1Christian Healthcare Centers president and CEO Mark Blocher: “It just struck me that the direction of our culture, the direction of our politics, and what was happening to medicine, was becoming increasingly secularized and frankly paganized.” Mark Blocher, president and CEO of Christian Healthcare Centers (CHC), remembers the feedback he received from people when he kicked around the idea of launching an insurance-free Christian primary care practice.

They thought it was encouraging that a Christian-based healthcare practice would operate without co-pays and deductibles, but instead, a monthly fee akin to paying a gym membership.

But, they added, could it really be done?

"People told us you couldn't do this," Blocher said in a recent interview at CHC, 3322 Beltline Ct. NE, in Grand Rapids. '"You guys are nuts. There's no way that you're going to do this.'"

Now they know better, said Blocher. CHC opened for patients in July 2017.

To understand what makes CHC unlike other primary care centers – both Christian and otherwise – stems in part from Blocher's concerns about the history and current condition of the U.S. healthcare system he says is both secular and pagan. This trend reaches back to when former President Bill Clinton charged his wife, Hillary, to launch in 1993 a Task Force on National Health Care Reform, referred to pejoratively as "Hillarycare."

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