Links & Quotes (video edition)

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A short biography on the richest American who ever lived—

Brett Kunkle and Bobby Conway talk about exposing our children to atheistic ideas—

John Maxwell looks at Christopher Columbus through the lens of leadership development—

Murray Vassar rips apart Joel Osteen’s attempt to re-write and/or twist Scripture to fit his “prosperity gospel”—

WOOD TV8 has a feature on the ArtPrize exhibit out together by Adam Bird and Heart of West Michigan United Way, highlighting some of the Champions of Change in West Michigan.

[Tear-jerker warning!!] A mother has a special note for her adopted daughter on her wedding day—

Links & Quotes

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“‘God works for those who wait for Him’ (Isaiah 64:4). The proper connotation of saying God works for me is that I am bankrupt and need a bailout. I am weak and need someone strong. I am endangered and need a protector. I am foolish and need someone wise. I am lost and need a Rescuer. ‘God works for me’ means I can’t do the work.” —John Piper

“Pure holy simplicity confounds all the wisdom of this world and the wisdom of the flesh.” —Francis of Assisi

The Cedar Springs Post has a nice article about our residents which are featured in the Heart of West Michigan’s ArtPrize. Glad our town is so well represented!

This is pretty amazing: why the information in our DNA points to a Creator.

Eric Metaxas explains how the heroin epidemic in our country is a great opportunity for the church.

5 lies that lead to burnout.

[VIDEO] Cecile Richards admits under oath that Planned Parenthood has lied about providing mammograms—

And here is a list of how beyond lying to the public, Planned Parenthood continues to break the law!

Champions Of Change From Cedar Springs

The Cedar Springs Post has a nice article about the ArtPrize exhibit featuring some of us from Cedar Springs. And, for the record, I don’t feel like an “unsung hero,” as the gracious folks in Cedar Springs are always very kind!

Three Cedar Springs area residents are being recognized for their role in the community as “Champions of Change.”

Photographs of Brian Rosenberger and Amy Outwin, who founded the non-profit “Bless the Children,” and Craig Owens, who is pastor at Calvary Assembly of God, and executive director of the En Gedi youth center, are part of an exhibit by photographer Adam Bird titled “People helping people.” The exhibit is located at 118 Commerce Avenue at the United Way Center.

*N-Cedar1 residents featured Artprize Amy and Brian“These photographs are of a few of the people who are united in the common cause of improving our community. Each person is different, with their own story, their own reasons for why they do what they do,” explained Bird. “The photographs and stories are meant to remind all of us that there is no one type of person, no age group, no chosen few who control the evolution of our community; it is the concerted actions of everybody, through their investment of time and money that our community changes. We are all different, we can all work together, and that is what makes us strong.”

*N-Cedar2 residents featured artprize Craig OwensAmy and Brian founded Bless the Children to encourage and build the self-esteem and confidence of children by supplying new clothing items to those in need. Amy and Brian work from individual requests from teachers, and partner with Cedar Springs Public Schools and Kent School Services Network – KSSN. When a request is made, they deliver bags of jeans, shirts, shoes, coats, boots, hats, socks or underwear to the school, sometimes sneaking in and out without even being noticed.

Craig is Senior Pastor of Calvary Assembly of God Church and Executive Director of En Gedi Youth Center, which provides innovative afterschool programming for middle school students in Cedar Springs. Craig has a passion for the Cedar Springs area and also serves as a member of the Cedar Springs Planning Commission. 

*N-Cedar3 residents featured artprize quilt“The people that are featured in this ArtPrize exhibit have found a way to use their talents and skills to make the community a better place. It is our hope that others will be inspired and reach out to United Way to be connected to the needs in the community,” says Maureen Noe, President and CEO of Heart of West Michigan United Way. “The needs in Kent County are complex, but helping people is not. Supporting your community through financial gifts, speaking out on important issues, and lending your time and talent are simple, yet powerful, ways to help better our community.” 

ArtPrize attendees can visit the United Way Center at 118 Commerce Ave during ArtPrize to meet these Champions of Change—portraits and narratives will line the front windows along the United Way Center.

Champions Of Change

I was so honored to be nominated as a Champion of Change by some of the wonderful folks I work with in Cedar Springs. Truly honored! Adam Bird is a photographer, and he has partnered with the Heart of West Michigan United Way to create an ArtPrize exhibit that will encourage others to get involved in their community.

Here is a mosaic of all of the Champions of Change in the ArtPrize exhibit—

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If you would like to check out some of the other pictures Adam shot of me, please check out his amazing work here.

Here’s how you can help be a Champion of Change:

  1. Get involved in your community.
  2. Use the hashtag #ChampionsOfChange on social media to support those who are making changes in your community.
  3. Vote for the Adam Bird/United Way ArtPrize exhibit by voting for code 62350.

Links & Quotes

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Do you suffer from any of these? Things that hold us back from serving others.

Dave Barringer shares 10 subtle actions that you should pay attention to in your marriage.

“Let me warn you of second-hand spirituality; it is a rotten soul-deceiving deception. Beware of all esteeming yourself according to the thoughts of others, or you will be ruined. … O I do pray you, do not be satisfied with being persuaded into something like an assurance that you are in Christ, but do know Him—know Him for yourself.” —Charles Spurgeon

“Sinning is believing a false promise from the world above a true promise from God.” Read more in Jared Mulvihill’s post We Should Be Weeping.

Eurasia Northwest has a really cool infographic on the use of healing words in the Bible.

Seth Godin says, “The chances that everyone is going to applaud you, never mind even become aware you exist, are virtually nil. Most brands and organizations and individuals that fail fall into the chasm of trying to be all things in order to please everyone, and end up reaching no one. That’s the wrong thing to focus on. Better to focus on and delight almost no one.” Check out the rest of his post Almost No One.

[VIDEO] This year’s NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers is doing some cool stuff for kids―

Living Nativity

We love presenting the message of Christ’s arrival in Bethlehem to our Cedar Springs community.

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The Strength & The Story In Unity

© Lori Oxford Photography

© Lori Oxford Photography

Yesterday I had the honor of speaking at our annual United service in Cedar Springs. I shared something I noticed about the New Testament church: These Christians spent a lot of time together, and that togetherness became a source of strength and told a story to the those watching the Christians.

In passages like Acts 2:42-47 and Acts 4:32-35, we see Christians not only worshiping together, but actively involved in living out their faith. Luke, the writer of the Book of Acts, captures something that Eugene Peterson would summarize this way—

“Christians are a community of people who are visible together at worship but who remain in relationship through the week in witness and service.” 

This was not just Christians helping Christians, but Christians helping all the people in their communities. It was Christians who formed the first:

  • Blind asylums
  • Medical dispensaries
  • Hospitals
  • Orphanages
  • Elderly care home
  • Feeding programs for the poor

And this caught the notice of everyone. Aristides wrote to Emperor Hadrian about the Christians—

“They help those who offend them, making friends of them; do good to their enemies. They don’t adore idols; they are kind, good, modest, sincere, they love one another; don’t despise widows; protect the orphans; those who have much give without grumbling to those in need. When they meet strangers, they invite them to their homes with joy, for they recognize them as true brothers…. When a poor man dies, if they become aware, they contribute according to their means for his funeral; if they come to know that some people are persecuted or sent to prison or condemned for the sake of Christ’s name, they put their alms together and send them to those in need. If they can do it, they try to obtain their release. When a slave or a beggar is in need of help, they fast two or three days, and give him the food they had prepared for themselves, because they think that he too should be joyful….”

The Apostle Paul challenges followers of Jesus to constantly be growing in the outward demonstrations of our faith: to live our lives worthy of God’s calling, to get along with others, and to be making every effort to keep the bond on unity (see Ephesians 4:1-3).

With this in mind I have to ask myself: Am I doing this in my home town? Is there a strength and a story of Christ’s love that is told in my unity with other Christians? Am I helping to address the needs in Cedar Springs? What are people saying about Jesus because of my unity and service with other Christians?

I Like Giving (book review)

I Like GivingWhen you read a title like I Like Giving you might immediately think, “This is a book telling me to tithe, or give bigger offerings to my church, or support my local charity.” And you would be dead wrong. Brad Formsma’s book isn’t really about giving money away, it’s about giving yourself away.

Brad writes, “When we choose to give, we change, and the people around us change. When we move from awareness to action, miracles happen. When we allow giving to be our idea, a world of possibilities opens up before us, and we discover new levels of joy.”

Indeed, Brad weaves together his own personal stories, with stories from other givers, and even a healthy dose of medical and psychological research data to show us just how life-transforming and joy-producing it is when we are giving people. Not only are the gift receivers benefitted, but so are the gift givers.

Let me state it again: this book isn’t about giving your money to a charitable organization or a church; it’s about you seeing a need and finding a way to take care of that need. If everyone took on this mindset, just imagine how our communities would change!

One final thought from author Brad Formsma—“I don’t think we can ever overestimate just how profound the effects of giving can be. You can give without loving, but you can’t love without giving. The reality is that other people are watching how we live our lives, and what we do can have extraordinary effects in our communities. Generosity is for all of us. It is available to all of us, even when the cultural tide is moving in the opposite direction. Why not be brave and live differently?” (emphasis added)

Let I Like Giving be a springboard for you to live differently and to make a difference where you live!

I am a Waterbrook book reviewer.

Links & Quotes

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Some good reading from today…

“We were made not primarily that we may love God (though we were made for that too) but that God may love us, that we may become objects in which the Divine love may rest ‘well pleased.’ To ask that God’s love should be content with us as we are is to ask that God should cease to be God: because He is what He is, His love must, in the nature of things, be impeded and repelled, by certain stains in our present character, and because He already loves us He must labour to make us lovable.” —C.S. Lewis

“Our old history ends with the Cross; our new history begins with the resurrection.” —Watchman Nee

Chick-Fil-A closed for a very honorable reason.

A bit scary: Muslims’ attitude toward non-Muslims.

“It’s easy, and perhaps comforting, to think of all the things the church is doing to try to change the world. But the real question is, what are you doing? Sure, you go to church and try to live a good life. But how intentional are you when it comes to actually impacting the lives of the lost people you rub shoulders with every day?” —Mark Atteberry

“Whatever the currents of public opinion and governmental action, God’s message is constant and glorious. Whether it is a crime to defy Scripture or to defend it, the Church must preach it—both in season and out of season. This is her calling.” —Kairos Journal

Serving On Sunday

A couple of years ago a fellow Cedar Springs pastor told me about his plan for Service Sunday. His idea was to shorten his church service, so that his church could go serve in the community. I loved the idea so much that I said, “We want in on that too!”

So this past Sunday was our second year being involved with a couple of other churches in serving our community. I led a group that sang some old hymns at the Metron nursing home, others provided full service gas station attention for local motorists, others washed the windows of businesses along Main Street, others planted flowers, and on and on.

I wrote an article in last week’s Cedar Springs Post encouraging everyone to find ways to serve in our community every day (my article “Make Everyday Special” can be read by clicking here). I pray that our churches in Cedar Springs are known for their involvement in our community year-round.

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These pictures courtesy of Josh Schram, Rich Tolar, and Lori Oxford Photography.

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