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.

Links & Quotes

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I really enjoy my work with the En Gedi Youth Center. Our annual auction was a huge success, thanks to the generous people in Cedar Springs, and a local report wrote a story about this successful event.

“Never reduce Christianity to a matter of demands and resolutions and willpower. It is a matter of what we love, what we delight in, what tastes good to us.” —John Piper

“The man who has a hope for the next world goes about his work strong, for the joy of the Lord is our strength. He goes against temptation mighty, for the hope of the next world repels the fiery darts of the adversary. He can labor without present reward, for he looks for a reward in the world to come. He can suffer rebuke, and can afford to die a slandered man, because he knows that God will avenge His own elect who cry day and night unto Him. Through the Spirit of God the hope of another world is the most potent force for the product of virtue; it is a fountain of joy; it is the very channel of usefulness.” —Charles Spurgeon

“Fast growth comes from overwhelming the smallest possible audience with a product or service that so delights that they insist that their friends and colleagues use it. And hypergrowth is a version of the same thing, except those friends and colleagues quickly become even bigger fans, and tell even more people. Often, we get sidetracked when we forget about ‘smallest possible.’ If you make the audience you’re initially serving too big, you will dilute the very thing you set out to make, avoid critical mass, and compromise the magic of what you’re building. You’ll make average stuff for average people instead of something powerful for the few. By ‘smallest possible’ I don’t mean, ‘too small.’ I mean the smallest number that eventually leads to the kernel of conversation that enables you to grow.” —Seth Godin

[VIDEO] An interesting discussion: Can postmodernists live a consistent life?…

Fight The New Drug

Fight The New DrugPornography is ripping off our culture.

It’s robbing youth of their innocence. It’s robbing women and children of their dignity. It’s robbing married couple of intimacy in their relationship. It’s fueling the sex trafficking industry.

Porn is a drug that is addicting, and its destroying lives!

Fight The New Drug is confronting this addiction head-on.

Science shows that the same parts of the human brain “light up” when someone views porn, as if they were taking drugs. This is what not only gives pornography its addictive nature, but then something even worse begins to happen: the law of diminishing returns kicks in.

The law of diminishing returns says that in order to get the same “high” someone has to take stronger drugs, or take them more frequently. So porn users have to look at harder and harder material, or they have to view it more and more often.

Fight The New Drug is coming to Cedar Springs. Local youth pastor Chris Anton has helped coordinate this much needed event to make students, teachers and parents aware of the drug-like dangers of pornography. The En Gedi Youth Center is making this event available on Friday, May 8, at 3:30pm in the Cedar Springs High School auditorium.

Here’s how you can help:

  • Pray for open hearts and minds at this event.
  • Give financially to help cover the expenses for this event.
  • Tell the teenagers, parents and teachers that you know about this event.
  • Attend this event with your teens.

Let’s help save our culture from the ravages of the destructive drug of pornography.

Links & Quotes

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“May we have none of our own-manufactured graces about us. May we have nothing but that which is minted in Heaven, and is therefore made of the pure metal. May we have no grace, pray no prayer, do no works, serve God in nothing except as we depend upon His strength and receive His Spirit.” —Charles Spurgeon

“Above God, there are no higher courts. If God is the One Who acquits you—declares you righteous in His sight—no one can appeal, no one can call for a mistrial, no one can look for other counts against you. God’s sentence is final and total. So hear this, all who will believe on Jesus, and become united to Christ, and show yourself among the elect: God is the One who justifies you. Not a human judge. Not a great prophet. Not an archangel from heaven. But God, the Creator of the world and Owner of all things and Ruler of the universe and every molecule and person in it, God is the One Who justifies you [Romans 8:33].” —John Piper

Here is a very nice article about the En Gedi Youth Center, the organization for which I have the privilege of serving as the director.

“It is very possible that if we were more thoroughly Christians the world would more heartily detest us, and if we would cleave more closely to Christ we might expect to receive more slander, more abuse, less tolerance, and less favor from men.” —Charles Spurgeon

[VIDEO] Amazing time-lapse pictures of solar activity from NASA—

Links & Quotes

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The folks from The Overview Bible Project have a huge infographic about the 12 tribes of Israel. Check it out!

“The God who in the old creation did all this, can He not work today? He made the world out of nothing, can He not make new creatures without the aid of human will? His Word fashioned the creation of old, and His Word can work marvels still.” —Charles Spurgeon

“This verse [Psalm 119:67] shows that God sends affliction to help us learn His Word. We should ask how affliction helps us understand God’s Word and keep it. There are innumerable answers, as there are innumerable experiences. But here are five: (1) Affliction takes the glibness of life away and makes us more serious so that our mindset is more in tune with the seriousness of God’s Word. (2) Affliction knocks worldly props from under us and forces us to rely more on God, which brings us more in tune with the aim of the Word. (3) Affliction makes us search the Scriptures with greater desperation for help, rather than treating it as marginal to life. (4) Affliction brings us into the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings so that we fellowship more closely with Him and see the world more readily through His eyes. (5) Affliction mortifies deceitful and distracting fleshly desires, and so brings us into a more spiritual frame which fits God’s Word more.” —John Piper

[VIDEO] Duane from DW Video has a new project for any organizations operating in Michigan called “Buy Local.” I did a promotional video for the En Gedi Youth Center which turned out pretty nice. (By the way, if you’re in Michigan and you would like to have a free promo done by Duane for your organization, please click here.)

Links & Quotes

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Some great reading I came across today.

I am so blessed to work at the En Gedi Youth Center every day. Here’s a great article on the youth center in Mlive.

[INFOGRAPHIC] Where Did Your Tax Money Go?

“Are you becoming more sweet-spirited, more like Jesus? Are you looking soberly in the mirror each day and praying, ‘Lord, I want to conform to Your image in every area of my life’? Or has your bitterness taken root, turning into rebellion and hardness of heart? Have you learned to shield yourself from the convicting voice of God’s Spirit?” —David Wilkerson

“Prayer at its holiest moment is the entering into God to a place of such blessed union as makes miracles seem tame and remarkable answers to prayer appear something very far short of wonderful by comparison.” —A.W. Tozer

“I find that when I think I am asking God to forgive me I am often in reality (unless I watch myself very carefully) asking Him to do something quite different. I am asking Him not to forgive me but to excuse me. But there is all the difference in the world between forgiving and excusing.” —C.S. Lewis

EnGedi Youth Center

EnGedi Poster 2013I am so privileged to work as the director of the EnGedi Youth Center. EnGedi is a Christ-centered after-school program in the Cedar Springs schools.

Each afternoon we provide the students with a healthy snack, and opportunity to get some tutoring or some homework help, and then lots of classes and sports opportunities. The relationships I’ve made this school year with both the students and their parents have been so rewarding!

EnGedi needs your help.

This is a privately funded 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. So EnGedi is dependent upon the contributions of businesses, churches, and individuals to provide our operating funds. On Friday, May 17, you have a chance to help us reach even more students in Cedar Springs by participating in our fundraising auction.

There will be silent auctions, live auctions with auctioneer Art Smith, desserts, and lots of other fun activities.

Here’s how you can help:

  • Donate items that we can auction off
  • Make a cash donation to EnGedi
  • Attend the auction on May 17 and bid on lots of great items

We have a corporate sponsor who will match each dollar spent at our auction up to $10,000. That means for every $1 you spend, EnGedi gets $2. It’s a WIN all the way around.

If you would like to be involved, or if you have any questions, please click here to email me.

Going Up, Please

I’m leading a fun discussion at the En-Gedi Youth Center with a bunch of excited 6th Graders. Our class is called “An Elevation, A Mirror, And A Guy Called Bob” which is based on John Maxwell’s book Winning With People.

In Winning With People, Dr. Maxwell shares 25 principles for improving our interpersonal skills. In my class at the youth center, we’ve already covered the lens principle, and the elevator principle.

The elevator principle basically says that we can only take people up or take them down in our interactions with them. There are no “neutral” interactions. I’m encouraging our students to always take people up.

One way we do that is by pausing to T.H.I.N.K before we speak. Before speaking, ask yourself, “Is what I’m about to say…

  • True
  • Helpful
  • Inspiring
  • Necessary
  • Kind?”

This isn’t just good advice for 6th Graders. We all would do well to remember to T.H.I.N.K. As Winston Churchill said,

“By swallowing evil words unsaid, no one has ever harmed his stomach.”

Could You Be A Missionary?

When I say missionary, what images come to your mind?

  • …a remote wilderness?
  • …a third-world country?
  • …asking churches and friends to support you financially?
  • …packing up to leave your home for years at a time?
  • …learning a new language?

Yes, many of our missionaries do all of these things. But if this is your only concept of missions, you’ve missed something important.

When Jesus told His followers that they would go out as witnesses (missionaries) for Him, He began with—

…you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem… (Acts 1:8)

The first place He sent them was to Jerusalem.

  • This was a missions opportunity right in their neighborhood.
  • They already knew the culture.
  • They already knew the language.
  • They didn’t have to pack up and leave their family behind.

Missions is not always far away. Sometimes it’s in your own neighborhood!

In Cedar Springs, I am really excited about the neighborhood missions opportunity we have with the En-Gedi Youth Center. This is an after-school mentoring, tutoring, life-skills-building place for students from 6th Grade and up.

If you want to make a difference in the lives of our youth, please consider this missionary opportunity. Even if you only have an hour a week to give, the return on that investment of time could make an eternal difference in some student’s life!

If you’d like more information, check out the En-Gedi Facebook page, or leave a comment below.

A Beautiful Mess

I’m a neat-and-tidy guy. I like everything to be in its place, so clutter drives me crazy.

So you can imagine how this proverb initially stuck me…

Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest. (Proverbs 14:4)

A loose translation goes like this: If you want something to be productive, you sometimes have to put up with a mess.

Oh boy!

I’ve been learning that lately. In my interim role at the En Gedi Youth Center, in our own church’s Impact youth group, even around my house the “messiness” means people are there. I could have everything all spiffed up, but then that would mean no kids … no laughter … no ministry … no life-changing interactions.

So I’m learning that I’ll take the mess to get the interaction with others.

Lord, help me appreciate the beautiful messes in my life!

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