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Featured Articles

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.

Same Old Marriage Issues

danseabornDan SeabornBob's the kind of guy who you'd think has it all together. He prefers his clothing crisp, his hair clean-cut, his problems solvable, his life in order. This is a man people go to for answers. With 40 years of marriage under his belt—with kids and grandkids growing like weeds—it would be fair to assume that Bob has mostly figured out home life by now. There's no surprising the guy anymore, you'd think.

Grand Rapids Church, Pastor ,Step up to Help Flint

water235Volunteers in Flint help unload donated waterGrand Rapids pastor and national gospel recording artist Marvin Sapp wanted to do something more.

The leader and co-founder of Grand Rapids Lighthouse Full Life Center on Madison Ave SE was already scheduled to speak at a February revival at a church in Flint. But when the city's plight with dangerous lead levels in its water supply came to light, Sapp knew something else needed doing.

"We can't sit idly by and watch this.....and not do what we can to help," he said.
And so Sapp's congregation raised funds and sent to Flint a semi-trailer of 17,000 bottles of water which were distributed by The Church of the Harvest on Flint's northwest side (truck and delivery were donated by Corrigan Transportation).

New Community Church Sprouts 2nd Location for its Counseling Center

Lew Vander Meer cutline No235The Jefferson Avenue location will an extension of New Community Church’s Community Recovery Counseling Center and provide space for two congregations: Greater Glory Missionary Baptist Church and Take Hold Church.Rev. Lew Vander Meer, senior pastor of New Community Church in northeast Grand Rapids, confirmed the church’s counseling ministry is in the throes of extending its outreach in the former Garfield Park Reformed Church.

Vander Meer said the 90-year-old building located at 1975 Jefferson Ave. SE will be used for its Community Recovery Counseling Center (CRCC), a 12-step recovery ministry that addresses a host of addictive and mental health challenges from a biblical perspective. CRCC is open to the public and provides counseling for all ages. An average of 150 to 200 people avail themselves to CRCC.

Vander Meer’s son, Mark, is CRCC’s founder and director.

Does a President's Religion Matter?

abeAbraham Lincoln is near universally considered the greatest president in American history. Many scholars also regard Lincoln as America's greatest "civil theologian.

Interestingly, Lincoln remains the only president who used the name Jesus Christ rather than simply God in his public utterances. And his Second Inaugural Address delivered March 4, 1865, stands as one of the most impressive theologically infused orations in American political history.

Open To A “God Moment”

Hopkins Rick235 Rick Hopkins and his wife Nicole Are you open to God's leading each and every day? Even in surprising, unexpected ways?

On a recent Grand Rapids morning, Rick Hopkins found himself with an unanticipated opportunity for ministry. His story reveals the blessings that can come when you act on the Spirit's prompting.

Rick made the following Facebook post after his unusual morning: "I just had one of those moments where God became very real. I went into work even earlier than normal today and got there at 6:30am. The coffee machine at work was busted. It's never been busted. So I decided to drive to Biggby near Beltline and 28th, one that I don't normally go to.

Area Women Invited to “Get Real”

Tammy Trent235Tammy Trent Tammy Trent said she's looking forward to returning to her native West Michigan to be a presenter at the "Get Real" womens' conference, Feb. 19-20 at Community Reformed Church in Zeeland.

"We women carry so much with us – the weight of family, children, work, caring for husbands or parents and trying to be the glue of the family," said the singer-author-speaker from her Nashville, Tenn. office.

"This will be a chance to get together as girl friends and let it go for a day or two, and see the surprises and challenges in realizing that we're not alone, and to see how God can show up for us in this moment."

First United’s Celebration of the Arts Extols Creative Gifts from God

Celebration of Arts 2016 235. 1Catherine McClung’s “Birds of the Bible” was the 2015 first place winner.The winter doldrums stand a good chance of being dashed for those who experience First United Methodist’s 43rd annual Celebration of the Arts (COF).

The Feb. 12-24 juried spiritual arts festival will display artwork submissions from 190 artists who live within a 150-mile radius of First United, located in downtown Grand Rapids at 227 East Fulton Street.Admission to Celebration of the Arts is free and open to the public.

Pilots for Christ Expands Gospel-Outreach via Free Transportation

Pilots for Christ 235Lori Layne is president of the Michigan chapter of Pilots for Christ.Dennis Emmons was a homeless, penniless man dying of brain cancer when Lori Layne agreed to fly to Houston and transport him to the Sparrow Hospital in Lansing. In and out of consciousness, Layne succeeded in receiving an answer from him that served as a comforting balm to his estranged sister.

Layne, president of the Michigan chapter of Pilots for Christ (PFC), flew Emmons to Michigan in 2011 at the request of his sister. Between the drugs to manage his pain and the disease itself, Emmons was not always coherent.

Best Selling List February

Bestsellers – February, 2016

1. Thin Ice- Irene Hannon
2. Mermaid Moon – Colleen Coble
3. First Hostage- Joel Rosenberg
4. Cold Shot – Dani Pettrey
5. War Room – Chris Fabry
6. Cup of Dust- Susie Finkbeiner
7. Always Watching – Lynette Eason
8. Two Steps Forward – Sharon Brown
9. Restoration – Wanda Brunstetter
10. Sensible Shoes – Sharon Brown

Terry’s Picks: February 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 February.

January Series Speaker Recounts Need as Palestinian Pastor to ‘Cast a Bold Vision’

Mitri Raheb235 Rev. Mitri Raheb: “I learned how to have the courage to go against the grain and to swim upstream.” Rev. Mitri Raheb lives and ministers in Bethlehem, Palestine, an area of the world that requires him to walk a cultural and religious tightrope.

He has witnessed his hometown reduced to rubble and shattered glass. Yet through it all, God had a plan, Raheb said recently at Calvin College’s January Series, which marked its 29th anniversary this year.

January Series Speaker Exhorts Christians to Bravely Pursue Justice

Kurt VerBeek235 Kurt VerBeek: “We’ve got to stop listening to the culture’s lie that our safety and comfort is a top priority.” There are 1,379 references in the Bible related to justice, according to Kurt VerBeek, who accomplished his personal Google search of the word to gird himself for a difficult future he knew he would encounter when he and his staff decided to walk a tightrope for change in a Central American country rife with corruption.

By standing up for victims of violence, labor and land-rights abuse and government corruption in Honduras, organizations around the world, including Transparency International and the United Nations, are increasingly recognizing VerBeek, Association for a More Just Society (AJS) as a pioneer in achieving justice for the poor, said VerBeek, director of Calvin College's Justice Studies semester in Honduras and co-founder of the AJS, a Christian justice organization that focuses on Honduras. VerBeek recently spoke at Calvin College's January Series.

January Series Speaker Urges Biblical View of Immigration

Salguero January Series cutline235Gabriel and Jeanette Salguero co-lead the multiethnic Lamb’s Church in New York City.Some ministers understandably prefer not to mix together in their messages current-events and politics. Rev. Gabriel Salguero is not one of them.

Speaking recently at Calvin College's January Series, Salguero shared the stage with his wife, Jeanette, who translated his message from English to Spanish.

Michael Card to Perform in Hudsonville

Card Michael235Michael Card is a teacher, author, singer-songwriter, recording and performing artist, scholar and speaker. He often juggles several roles at the same time.

The Tennessee native comes to Grace Community Church in Hudsonville on Sat. March 26. The day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday is ideal for a concert based on the themes of his recent album and book "A Violent Grace: Meeting Christ at the Cross."

The album draws from several of his previous songs dealing with Christ's passion, death and resurrection. Long time fans will recognize such titles as "Ride On to Die," "Love Crucified Arose" and "Known By The Scars."

January Series Speaker Explains Why an Inclusive Church Still Needs to be Realized

Leroy Barber 235 Rev. Barber delivered a passionate appeal to include people who are not part of the majority culture.Sweat beading his bald pate, Rev. Leroy Barber made it clear early-on he had more in mind than delivering a feel-good sermon.

Barber, who spoke during Martin Luther King, Jr. Day at Calvin College’s January Series, delivered a passionate appeal for missions boards and churches to reexamine the reasons why mostly-white leaders are recruited to accomplish the Lord’s work, specifically to spread the gospel abroad and help the underprivileged in the United States.

Spangler Writes of the Bible’s ‘Wicked’ Women in 15th Book

Wicked Women coverAnn Spangler and friend Jean Syswerda wrote "Women of the Bible: A One-Year Devotional Study of Women in Scripture" back in 2008. Since then Spangler has wanted to dig deeper into what Scripture says about some of those 52 women they featured.

The result of that desire is Spangler's new book "Wicked Women of the Bible" (Zondervan), which digs deep into the lives and times of 20 women from Eve to Mary Magdalene.

"I wanted to do something more in depth because I'm always looking for fresh ways for myself and others to engage with Scripture," she said. "The Bible can be intimidating, but it's also life giving and life changing."

Thirsty Ground

Thirsty Ground Holdfast Cover235The West Michigan Christian pop-rock band Thirsty Ground has a new five-song collection titled "Hold Fast."

It contains four new tunes, plus a re-make of one of its earlier songs.

The EP opens with the musical plea "Let's Not Forget," a reminder of the sacrifice of Christ for our salvation. Its straightforward message is framed with a rockin' chorus that sets it apart.

Family Progress: Try Ceiling Words

danseabornI'm convinced that the phases of child development are what turn parents into broken records. As kids grow up and mature, time passes in phases. Kids are newborns, toddlers, children, adolescents, adults.

With each chunk of time that comes and goes, parents often find themselves emphasizing different concepts and principles with each phase. Sometimes it can take months and years for these ideas to catch on, and in the process parents get stuck using the same old phase-phrases:

Lifetree Café Fosters Community, Conversation and God’s Unconditional Love

Lifetree 1 235 Oakdale Park CRC Senior Pastor Emmett Harrison and Lisa Ayers discuss how their parents raised them.Laid-back and non-confrontational, the Lifetree Café that meets Wednesday nights at Oakdale Park Christian Reformed Church in Southeast Grand Rapids is intended for people who likely would not hunker down in a church pew and listen to a minister drone out a sermon.

Instead, a Lifetree Café meeting offers people an opportunity to watch a video or PowerPoint presentation about a current affairs topic and discuss their viewpoints about it while sipping a cup of coffee and munching on a snack. No one at these meeting criticizes another person's point of view or waves a judgmental finger.

Radio Broadcasting in Europe

7thref235Seventh Reformed Church, Grand Rapids, Michigan is pleased to announce a contract with Pan American Broadcasting to air weekly on Voice of Europe (1368 kHz, 846 kHz, and 567 kHz) as from December 6, 2015. The thirty-minute radio programme, titled "Truth for Today", will air in English, and will feature the expository ministry of senior minister Dr Tim J. R. Trumper. The broadcast can be heard on Sunday evenings on all AM frequencies and on Internet streaming at the local time of 7:30–8:00 p.m., repeated at 11:30 p.m.–Midnight (CET [GMT +1]). Broadcast from Padua, Northern Italy, "Truth for Today" will reach Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, Switzerland, parts of Southern Germany and Southern France, and Vatican City. The streaming is available on IRRS/EGR channel, and through multiple random plays over the week on All Gospel Radio 24/7.

Best Selling List January

Bestsellers – January, 2016

1. Painter's Daughter – Julie Klassen
2. First Hostage- Joel Rosenberg
3. Sensible Shoes- Sharon Brown
4. Come Rain or Come Shine- Jan Karon
5. Two Steps Forward – Sharon Brown
6. War Room – Chris Fabry
7. Cup of Dust- Susie Finkbeiner Photograph – Beverly Lewis
8. Taken- Dee Henderson
9. Thin Ice- Irene Hannon
10. Story Keeper – Lisa Wingate

Ruined for the Ordinary

perspectives135Are you ready to be "ruined for the ordinary"? That's what one man said will happen when you take Perspectives!

"Perspectives on the World Christian Movement" is a powerful, in-depth course on God's heart for all nations and His Kingdom purpose for all Christians. In fourteen sessions with fourteen passionate, experienced instructors you will gain a fresh perspective on the biblical, historical, cultural, and strategic aspects of God's global cause.

Area Concerts Take Shape for New Year

rendcollective235 Rend Collective performs March 12 at Sunshine Community ChurchAfter starting 2016 with a bang thanks to the huge "Winter Jam" tour, the West Michigan inspirational concert calendar is settling down a bit. But more events are on the way, stretching right through the winter and into the spring.

Some of the music artists are making return visits.

SowHope Inspires World’s Neglected People: Impoverished Women

Sow Hope235 Mary Dailey Brown, co-founder, president and CEO of SowHope, has impacted more than 56,000 women in the world by funding projects in 15 countries.Mary Dailey Brown's work as a White House staff photographer for Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but she wouldn't trade that job for what she's doing now as co-founder of the international charitable organization, SowHope.

Since its founding in 2006, SowHope's programs have impacted more than 56,000 impoverished women living in 15 Third World countries.

Hope for a prosperous future

By "impoverished," Dailey Brown is referring to women who earn $2 a day or less.

Calvary Carpet Care is ‘all about God’s Kingdom’

Calvary Carpet Care235(l to r) Jeff Hoos is the president and Paul Klokkert the vice president of Calvary Carpet Care.Three years ago, Jeff Hoos and his wife, Sarah, moved from Illinois to Holland without completely knowing what God had in store for them. Jeff was certain, though, the Lord was leading him in far different direction from the one he knew as the owner of Classic Carpet Care, in Arlington Heights, Ill.

"We were discerning God's leading," said Hoos. "The Lord said to move out here to Holland. We didn't know exactly what we would do. We thought maybe we'd enroll in a Bible college."

EaRN Works With Those Needing Support Finding a Career, Updating Job Skills

EaRN 235Fletcher Cochran is the executive director of the Employment and Resource Network and Ken Soper is its founder and Master Career Counselor.Thankfully, the Great Recession is in the rearview mirror of history. But there is still work to be done for those who want to learn how to remain employable, are searching for a new career, or need to know how to find work, say the founder and executive director of the nondenominational ministry, Employment and Resource Network (EaRN).

"Unemployment is very low, but that doesn't tell the whole story," said Fletcher Cochran, executive director of EaRN. "We still have people in transition who want to identify the vocation that is right for them and develop search plans."

Terry’s Picks: January 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 his three highlights for January.

New Year’s Resolutions

NewYearsResolutions2Ever notice how New Year’s Resolutions are often about how we wish we were different?  Lose weight.  Lower golf handicap.  Watch less TV.  Quit smoking.  Quit drinking.  Quit less-than-useful habit du jour.  Get out of debt.  Off-load stuff accumulating in the basement, the attic, the garage.

The moral of the story is that a lot of us want to improve ourselves and our lives, or at least our general condition.  But we have this problem called the human predicament.  As Pogo famously said years ago, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”  It’s not family nor friends.  Not our environment.  Not even the economy that keeps us from fulfilling our dreams.  It’s us.

Guiding Light’s ‘Keep GR Warm’ Accepting Winter Clothing Donations

Keep GR Warm 235 Guiding Light Mission’s Back to Work program director Matthew Holmes is in charge of sorting through the Keep GR Warm donations.So far, winter's cold snap has not invaded West Michigan like it has in previous years. However, the staff at Guiding Light Mission knows Jack Frost's raw chilliness is a momentary reprieve.

It's for that reason GLM recently launched its initiative called Keep GR Warm.

This is not the first year GLM has accepted donations of coats, blankets, gloves, hats and socks, said its executive director Stuart Ray.

Christmas Eve Services Blossom

XmasEveFlier235As Cornerstone Church planned its services for Christmas Eve this year, it realized that more is better.

Between the three locations of the multi-site, Grand Rapids area church there are nine Christmas Eve services at times ranging from noon to 10 p.m.

"Because we are trying to reach people who typically don't attend church, we spread the service times out during the day to make it convenient rather than expecting the family to adjust their schedule around us," said Ken Nash, director of multi-site/worship and a teaching pastor.

Women of Faith Theatre Event Planned

Women of Faith theatre event235A live/film event featuring a Women of Faith "experience" is coming to theatres in West Michigan this February.

The interdenominational Christian ministry – which for 20 years has hosted arena gatherings for women featuring prominent speakers, authors and music artists – is planning its first ever cinematic event at theatres nationwide, including multiplexes in Grand Rapids, Holland, Muskegon and Kalamazoo (see details below).

During 2015 Women of Faith (WOF) presented its "Farewell Tour" which included many of the ministry's most popular presenters such as speaker/authors Patsy Clairmont and Luci Swindoll and singer Sandi Patty.

Matthew West Returns With Jam

West Matthew Christmas235Matthew West gets in the Christmas spiritSinger-songwriter Matthew West is back on board the giant Winter Jam tour, coming to VanAndel Arena on Sun. Jan. 3 (see details below).

The Christian music artist will perform more true-life-story songs from his latest CD, "Live Forever."

"The whole record theme is about moving forward," said West of songs such as "Day One" and "World Changers".

West's last three albums have all been based on testimonies found in true stories sent in by fans – gleaned from the tens of thousands of emails, letters and messages he's received. Many of the resulting songs have been assisted by videos introducing viewers to the people involved. Two examples are "Hello, My Name Is" (about Jason, a reformed drug addict) and "Forgiveness" (a mother who forgave the drunk driver who cuased a car crash that killed her daughter).

Degage’s Upcoming Christmas Store is Wrapped in Dignity

Degage Christmas store cutline No. 1Degage’s Christmas store offers its patrons a place to buy gifts with dignity.Christmas is the time of year when people anticipate giving presents to loved ones. That same desire holds true for the homeless and disadvantaged who often can't afford to purchase gifts. Enter Degage Ministries, 144 South Division Avenue. The Heartside District ministry is hosting its Christmas Store on Dec. 16 and 17 for the people it serves.

All the merchandise cost $5 or less, said Liz Warners, Degage's volunteer and development coordinator. Items for sale range from comforters to coffee makers, soaps, cleansers, hairnets, hygiene products, candles and underwear.

‘Twas the Night

christmasnativityIt's that time of year again. The period when we take a moment and reflect on the awesome Christmas story that many people first remember hearing as little children. I thought it would be good for us to take a moment and go back to that childhood and contemplate this beloved writing.

"'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring..." Wait, wait, wait. See, that's what most people think of when they remember the Christmas story. But that's not the authentic account of Christmas.

Best Selling List December

Bestsellers – December, 2015

1. Two Steps Forward – Sharon Brown
2. Taken – Dee Henderson
3. Painter's Daughter – Julie Klassen
4. Cup of Dust- Susie Finkbeiner
5. Story Keeper – Lisa Wingate
6. Chasing Sunsets – Karen Kingsbury
7. Photograph – Beverly Lewis
8. Come Rain or Come Shine – Jan Karon
9. War Room – Chris Fabry
10. Steams of Mercy – Lauraine Snelling

Turning Pointe’s ‘The Promise’ Moving Example of Dance Bringing Beauty to a Broken World

Turning Pointe cutline No. 1 Sarah Morin (in foreground) is among 60 dancers are a recent rehearsal of Turning Pointe’s Christmas favorite, “The Promise.”Unlike many teens whose faces are found buried in their smartphones, dance students Hannah Beath and Sarah Morin willingly dedicate their spare time to mastering the cabriole, pirouette and other dance moves.

They are quick to say their dancing serves a higher purpose, which will be self evident when they are their young colleagues perform a Christmas favorite titled, "The Promise."

Object lessons brighten Christmas for Kids and Adults

Christmas Object Lessons235Christmas can easily become all about gifts and decorating and great food, but thanks to a new book even the simplest Christmas object can open the door for learning.

"Christmas Object Lessons" offers 45 Scripture-based lessons that help children (and adults) keep Jesus at the center of the season. From bells to cookie cutters, holly to ornaments, from snowmen to wrapping paper, author Verna Kokmeyer offers a short story, Scripture verse, discussion question, prayer and simple activity to add depth and meaning to these classic objects.

"I love that object lessons can make complex, theological concepts simple and easy to understand," said Kokmeyer. "Then, when you see that object later you remember that lesson."

Kokmeyer is no stranger to object lessons. She's been writing books full of them for two decades. She's written object lesson books for toys, animals and sports, with "Object Talks from Sports Kids Love" recently republished by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas ($9.95). LPC also publishes "Christmas Object Lessons" ($9.95), which is available locally at Baker Book House, 2768 E. Paris Ave. SE.

Crossroad Bible Institute’s New Director Avows Love for Prisons’ Marginalized

Crossroad Bible Institute 1235Lisa Blystra: “CBI is really demonstrating God’s love and sharing the truth of His Word.”Earlier this year, Lisa D. Blystra assumed the leadership helm at the Kentwood-based Crossroad Bible Institute because of the ministry's ability to point prison inmates and ex-offenders to a better future through its Bible correspondence courses thanks in part to its worldwide partnerships with churches and affiliates.

"My love for marginalized people and my passion to have churches reach out and realizing what Crossroad Bible Institute is doing so well are the reasons I sought this position," said Blystra, who in September was unanimously tapped by CBI's board of directors to serve as the nonprofit prison ministry's executive director.

Terry’s Picks: December 2015

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 December:

*Open Eyes Christmas Concert – A good dose of holiday hip-hop, with dance, DJs and spoken word featuring Beacon Light (aka Brandon Clahassey) and other area artists starts at 7 p.m. Fri. Dec. 11 at The Edge, 735 Ritzema Ct. SW, Grand Rapids. The Edge is a hip-hop church where Beacon Light is a worship leader. "Open Eyes" is the title of his forthcoming album. Other performers include Steven Malcolm, Mark Evans, Edify and Michael Nobody, all centering on a Christmas theme. Tickets range from $5 to $11.54. For more information visit online.

Holiday Concerts Have Contemporary Tradition

Wells Bob235Bob WellsSome old and some new Christmas performances dot the West Michigan calendar in early December.

Musical director Chris Hansen says the annual "Hark Up" Christmas presentation is subtitled a "Symphonic Celebration of Hope."

"We have 35 string players with us, including the (Hudsonville) Unity Christian Orchestra," he said of the student ensemble directed by Sara Jager. Other guests include violinist Susan Mora of the GR Symphony, cellist John Smith and violist Brysien Beer.

The "Hark Up" production features hundreds of singers, dancers, instrumentalists and multi-media in an original show called "Sing A New Song," and is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Dec. 4 and 5 and 3 p.m. Dec. 6 in DeVos Center for Arts and Worship at Grand Rapids Christian High School.

New Christmas Music Preview

Christmas Goes Gosp vol 2 hier rez CD coverFollowing up last year's successful multi-artist collection, here comes "Gospel Goes Christmas Vol. 2," with songs of the holiday from an almost entirely different roster of top gospel artists.

A welcome addition is Marvin Sapp, a Grand Rapids pastor (Lighthouse Full Life Center Church) as well as a national recording and performing artist.

His song for the collection, "Holy," is taken from his Christmas album of two years ago, "Christmas Card."

Signs of Significance

billboard235Digital billboards are making their way into the world. Although old-fashioned billboards still dominate most major highways and thoroughfares, digital billboards can be seen locally along Interstate 196 near Holland and on U.S. 131 in Grand Rapids. They are very colorful and bright, but depending on what time you drive by, you may see a different ad than someone else. Your exposure to a certain advertisement can be hit or miss.
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