• play-button-blue
  • play-button-blue
  • play-button-blue
  • play-button-blue
  • play-button-blue
  • play-button-blue
  • play-button-blue
  • play-button-blue
  • play-button-blue
  • Counterfeit Love?


  • How Evil Works


  • Are selfies really new?


  • Sex and the Bible


  • Mooning for Jesus


  • Godmercials


  • littering


  • Is July 4th Worth Celebrating?


  • Listen to Donkeys


Get the eEdition Newsletter

Featured Articles

New Music Review: “Cynic Heart”

Hopkins Rick song cvr Cynic HeartLocal singer-songwriter Rick Hopkins tells his story of overcoming cynicism with his new song "Cynic Heart."

"I wrote this song on the back end of a period of deep cynicism and anger," said Hopkins from his home in Saranac east of Lowell.

"Thinking that the Church might not be worth being a part of, I was deciding whether I wanted to stick with it or not," admitted the father of four.

But his new church in his local community lifted the veil on the "bride of Christ" and put him back on the mend – on the way to beating back the forces of cynicism.

What It’s All About: "A Matter of Faith"

FaithA new Christian film is now in theaters, in a limited release. It is a powerful story, filmed at Aquinas College and locally in Grand Rapids. Here is the synopsis for "A Matter of Faith":
- A Christian girl goes off to college for her freshman year and begins to be influenced by a popular Biology professor who teaches that evolution is the answer to the origins of life. When her father suspects something happening, he begins to examine the situation and what he discovers completely catches him off guard. Now very concerned about his daughter drifting away from the faith, he tries to do something about it.

This is a bold movie that unashamedly stands for creationism. The film features veteran actors such as Harry Anderson ("Night Court") and Clarence Gilyard ("Walker Texas Ranger"). It introduces a new talent as well, Jordan Trovillion, playing one of the main characters, Rachel Whitaker. This is a topic that most people are interested in and have strong feelings about, creationism vs. evolution. It is also about not being steered away from one's faith in God.

"Playing Saint"

Zachery Bartels 225Zachery Bartels wrote a string of screenplays while a student at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary as a welcome diversion from reading a stack of theological treatise. Years later, one of those scripts was converted into a suspense novel with Grand Rapids as its geographical backdrop.

That rewrite resulted in the recent publication of his debut novel titled, “Playing Saint.” Published by Thomas Nelson, the narrative centers on Peter Saint, pastor of a mega church Bartels describes as a prima donna whose life takes an abrupt turn that lands him on the wrong side of the law.

To avoid a public scandal, Saint agrees to consult with the police on a series of brutal murders linked by strange religious symbols scrawled on each victim. He is clearly out of his element.

Growing Pains Will Stretch You

grandkids225A woman, who is also a developmental psychologist, recently wrote an article for the New York Times entitled, “When They’re Grown the Real Pain Begins.” She’s not talking about her muscles or bones; she’s referring to her children. The article talks about how she thought that once her children left the house, her job as mom would be complete. Then one of her adult sons experienced a very tough year filled with a broken relationship, a job loss, along with a devastating injury, and she realized she was wrong.

Once she heard about his challenges, she started formulating a plan that would help solve her son’s problems. She was respectfully told by him that he just wanted her sympathy, not her solutions. Through her article she simply wanted to share the pain she felt at seeing her son going through something so difficult and not be able to help him directly.

Kari Jobe Coming to Grand Rapids

Jobe Kari w Cody Carnes2Kari Jobe with fiancé Cody Carnes on the Red Carpet at the Oct. 7 Dove AwardsKari Jobe is extra busy this fall.
    
Not only is the singer-songwriter currently on a nation-wide concert tour, but she’s also preparing for her wedding day in late November.
   
“Yea, I think when we’re in Grand Rapids, we’ll be about three weeks out,” said Jobe noting her Nov. 1 stop at Sunshine Community Church.
    
“Fortunately I think I’ve got pretty much everything done – just some last minute things with my mom, but those will be easy,” Jobe said during a phone interview from San Antonio, Tex.
    
It was just on Oct. 7 that the artist was at the annual Gospel Music Association Dove Awards in Nashville, where she won an award for top Praise and Worship Album of the Year (“Majestic”), and performed her song “Forever.”

Tribes Church: The Fruition of a Dream

Damon and Newman 1Dawn Scott Damon is co-founder and co-pastor of Tribes Church and Julian Newman is its co-founder and lead pastor. The newly shampooed carpets and freshly painted hallways are conspicuous indicators Tribes Church in Rockford is crackling with a new mission that came about when the former St. Stephen Lutheran Church congregation opted to birth a legacy church.

Tribes Church’s first worship service was Oct. 12, which drew 253 adults and children.

“It is the fruition of a dream,” said Dawn Scott Damon, co-founder and co-pastor of Tribes Church. Tribes Church’s pastoral team includes co-founder and lead pastor, Julian Newman.

“God’s grace was on everything,” added Damon. “Nothing went wrong, which was just a miracle.”

The 13,627-square foot Tribes Church, at 6070 Kuttshill Ave. NE, is formerly St. Stephen Lutheran Church, which was later renamed three years ago Rockpointe Lutheran Church before it was repurposed as the Wesleyan affiliated Tribes Church.

Tribes Church is a multi-cultural church based in part on a dream Newman received from God 16 years ago to break the barriers of race, generation and class to redeem Greater Grand Rapids with Christ’s love.

Upbeat Results for ‘Praise in the Park’

praise in the park2     Richard Moll is bringing a good report Oct. 13 to the Rockford City Council about last summer’s “Praise in the Park” series in downtown Rockford.
   “There were 18 Sunday evening events put on by 12 churches, two Christian bands, and two individuals,” said Moll in a recent newsletter.
    This was the third summer for the Sunday evening series, which features inspirational/praise music at no charge provided by a variety of area artists – most of them worship teams from northern Kent County churches.

Step Up

kids2An estimated one-third of children will live in a stepparent home before the age of 18 and 50% will have a stepparent at some point in their lifetime. Approximately one-third of all weddings in America today form stepfamilies. An estimated 40% of women will live in a married or cohabiting stepfamily home at some point. There’s plenty of research and statistics that add up to a lot of families trying to assimilate but probably not blending.

Although some families do a great job mixing together, other families really struggle trying to relate. Part of the problem may stem from people trying to grow their new family too fast. They want instantaneous results having grown up in a click-here kind of world.

A Look Behind the Leader: Zack Ferrell of Christ Community Church

ferrell Zack2    Zack Ferrell took the road through Nashville en route to his new position as worship leader at Christ Community Church on Forest Hills Ave. SE.

     “I was born in southern Michigan but we moved to Nashville where I spent the majority of my growing up years,” said Ferrell, 24, during a recent interview.

     But the worship leader returned to Michigan just last summer and began work at Christ Community in August.

     “It’s been an interesting journey with relocating and getting plugged in here,” he said.

Local Pastor, Historian Adds Depth to New Study Bible

kentdobson225For Pastor Kent Dobson, finding ways to engage readers with Scripture is part of his job. As a writer and former schoolteacher, he found an outlet for his love of the Bible, teaching and history thanks to his work on the new “NIV First-Century Study Bible.”

The “NIV First-Century Study Bible” released in September and is published by Zondervan. Mars Hill Bible Church will host a book launch party on Sunday, Oct. 5, following the 11 am church service, and Dobson will speak at the Kregel Parable Christian Stores/Cornerstone University 2014 Pastors Breakfast on Oct. 7. He will speak on “Millennials and Bible Engagement” followed by a Q&A.

Terry’s Picks: October 2014

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 October highlights:

*Sara Groves – The inspirational singer-songwriter performs at 7 p.m. Thurs. Oct. 16 in Grace Community Church, 3500 New Holland St. Hudsonville. Through 10 studio albums and several special projects, Groves has woven thoughtful insights and introspection through her eyes of faith and into her music and life. Among her song collections are “Conversations,” “All Right Here,” and “Fireflies and Songs.” She burst onto the Christian music scene more than a dozen years ago, claiming a Dove Award nomination as New Artist of the Year. General admission tickets are $12, and can be ordered by pone at 800-965-9324 or at www.itickets.com. For more information contact the church at 616-669-6507 or www.solagrace.org.

Don’t Be Left Behind in Seeing 'Left Behind'

leftbehind"Left Behind" (2014) is a gripping and dramatic apocalyptic movie that is a must-see film! It is crisply directed by Vic Armstrong, featuring a strong script based on the book by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. A previous film based on the book starring Kirk Cameron appeared in theaters in 2001. The excellent actors in this movie all hit the right note. The new movie stars Nicolas Cage and Chad Michael Murray, in addition to Cassi Thomson, Nicky Whelan and Lea Thompson.

The synopsis states: The most important event in the history of mankind is happening right now. In the blink of an eye, the biblical Rapture strikes the world. Millions of people disappear without a trace. All that remains are their clothes and belongings, and in an instant terror and chaos spread around the world. The vanishings cause unmanned vehicles to crash and burn. Planes fall from the sky. Emergency forces everywhere are devastated. Gridlock, riots and looting overrun the cities. There is no one to help or provide answers. In a moment, the entire planet is plunged into darkness.

Christians in Business: Baumann Building


baumannBack row from left to right Jordan Venard, Chelsea Schipper, Nick Wesseldyke, Chris Barense, Mary Wilson, Ammie Bouwman Front row from left to right Brad VanderZwaag, Marci Baumann, Mike Baumann, Eric NykampMike Baumann, of Baumann Building, started out as a farmer. He had a love for being outside, but didn’t want to farm the rest of his life, so Baumann attended a tech center to learn the trade of framing and building. He began his building career working for another builder and ended up running a crew. Soon after marrying his wife, Marci, in 1997, Baumann told his boss that in a few years he’d like to go on his own and start an excavating or building company. The next day, Baumann showed up for work and was informed this would be his last week on the job. After just two weeks of marriage, Baumann found himself unemployed.

“God was good, and the next day I went to work. I’ve worked every day since then that I wanted to work,” Baumann recalled. The day he lost his job, Baumann started making phone calls to friends in the industry. A man he knew had work for him, and Baumann started framing the very next day.

Grand Rapids Church More Than Ready for “Art Prize”

MurmurationThere’s likely no church in West Michigan more involved in Art Prize than Monroe Community Church, on Monroe Ave. NW just north of downtown Grand Rapids. 

“Our church art gallery is also our sanctuary, so the Art Prize exhibits surround us as we worship on Sundays,” note Steve Fridsma, one of several church members on an art selection panel.

Art Prize is an open, international art competition featuring more than 1,500 works of art exhibited at more than 170 locations around the Grand Rapids area. Voters have a say in who wins the hundreds of thousands of dollars in prize money.

Monroe Community has been an official Art Prize venue in all six years of the event.
    
“I believe that Art Prize is consistent with our church mission statement: Connecting our downtown community with our life-changing God,” said Fridsma, who is the church’s official Art Prize liaison.

Prayer in the City

prayAn Area-wide Prayer Meeting will be held Thursday September 18, from 7pm to 9:30pm at Fair Haven Church in Hudsonville. This is a great opportunity to network with others in the body of Christ, seek God's will as a group, be encouraged in listening prayer, and build the Kingdom of God

This meeting is to help us to know each other better and strengthen the unity of our network of prayer people. We will discuss calling and gifting and share our unique passion and desires. This will include a time of prayer to bless and encourage one another. Personal prayer Ministry will be offered at the end of the evening for specific needs.

Community Wide Hymn Sing

singingThe church I attended as a child used to host a hymn-sing once a month on Sunday nights, a common practice at many churches of that time. The hymn-sing was an important function of the church, and well attended because it allowed everyone to participate in the worship process. Quite frankly, the hymn-sings were upbeat and fun at a time when the church services tended to be pretty solemn. My dad and I frequently attended theses hymn-sings, not only at our church, but often we would go to other churches for their hymn-sings as well. Dad wasn't great at articulating his faith, but he sure could sing about it! "He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today..." "In that old rugged cross stained with blood so divine, a wond'rous beauty I see..."

Rend Collective On Tour

rendcollective2Chris Llewellyn (2nd from left) and Rend CollectiveThe inspirational-worship band Rend Collective has introduced many of its fans to a musical oddity called a “jingling johnny.”

“I guess it’s a percussion instrument,” surmised lead singer Chris
Llewellyn during a recent phone interview.

“But it has a string attached, a bicycle horn and other noisy things,” he added of the strange looking contraption – just one of many traditional instruments used by the Irish born-and-bred music group.

Prayer Walk, Artists Raise Awareness for Sex Trafficking Victims

bluecandel5The inaugural Blue Candle Prayer Walk Against Sex Trafficking is a unique collaboration between four artists, trafficking outreach programs, and volunteers eager to raise awareness about this insidious crime.

“During the walk itself we’ll be praying for victims of trafficking, the people who walk alongside them in healing, first responders, and for the community to become more aware of the issue,” said Mary Monsma, one of the coordinators. “We’re hoping for 100 to 200 people. We’ll carry blue candles during the walk and have a lighting ceremony at the end.”

Perspective: Do We Have an “Incarceration Problem?”


 border5A new misnomer has tunneled into our vocabulary. What we once called the problem of crime has been renamed “The Incarceration Problem” by neo-reformers who seek reduce the prison population using early release, lighter sentences, or no sentence at all. Yet their nearsighted view focuses only on the effect, while failing to address the obvious cause: crime. Furthermore, the entire argument cannot withstand the test of reason, as it is built on three baseless assumptions: 1) convicts are unfairly incarcerated; 2) incarceration fails to make the public safer, and 3) incarceration should prioritize rehabilitation over justice.

New Music Review: WOW Hits 2015

wow3It’s the annual “gold standard” in contemporary Christian music.

“WOW Hits 2015” comes to stores on September 30 – two CDs full of recent/current hit songs by premier contemporary Christian music artists which will carry you into the new year.

Top songs by top artists is a winning combination and the annual “WOW” CDs (and their various spin offs) have sold tens of millions of copies since they debuted in 1995.

    
Here’s part of the latest WOW “big hit” list – “We Believe” by Newsboys, “Do Something” Matthew West, “Thrive” Casting Crowns, “Shake” MercyMe, “Speak Life” TobyMac; and the hits just keep on coming.

Author, Pastor Addresses Critical Issues of Church and Culture

Ingram ChipPastor Chip Ingram is eager to address the cultural issues that are so much a part of our times, including sexuality, homosexuality, abortion, the environment and politics. His message is most strong when it comes to the church and these topics.

"These are the defining issues, but behind all of the topics is the church's belief in the authority of Scripture, and whether we believe what Scripture says is Truth or not," said Ingram, senior pastor of Venture Christian Church near San Jose, CA, and former president of Walk Through the Bible. "Our base issue is that we're not sticking with what Scripture truly says."

Ingram will be in Grand Rapids on Tuesday, Sept. 16, to speak at Sunshine Community Church as part of a book tour to promote his new title "Culture Shock: A Biblical Response to Today's Most Divisive Issues," released by Grand Rapids-based Baker Books in August. The book is an effort to apply the Bible to the most pressing cultural issues of the day, and is rooted in biblical exposition and personal stories.

Terry's Picks for September 2014

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 September:

*Kathy Troccoli – The singer-songwriter/author co-hosts the “Hope’s Alive” conference Sept. 12-13 at Corinth Reformed Church, 129 100th St. SE, Byron Center. The conference designed for women has sessions from 7-9 p.m. Friday and 9a.m.-12:30p.m. Sat. Included are presentations, worship, and a “Heart to Heart” session as well as concert with Troccoli. Also at the conference are singer-worship leader Michelle Margiotta and several other special guests. General admission group rates for 10 or more tickets begin at $29. Individual tickets begin at $33. Premium seating is also available. To order and for more info, www.itickets.com, 615-478-0247.

Hillsong Worship Coming to Grand Rapids

Hillsong Worship David WareWorship leader David Ware explains his hesitancy in referring to his Hillsong Worship musical events as “concerts.”

“We just pretty much do exactly what we would do when we’re at church,” explained Ware, 28, of worship at the huge Hillsong Church in Sydney, Australia.

“From the lighting we use, the graphics, the lyrics on-screen…everything so the people can engage and worship with us.”

The Summer of Our Lives

endofseasonSuch fantastic plans I had for this summer. I had a pile of books I wanted to read to my children, topics such as our bodies, peer pressure, boys and dating, healthy eating, and the adventures of that dear fella—Winnie the Pooh. And then there were the camping trips filled with frogs and camp store licorice and ice cold lemon tea. And showing the children the delights of the garden—peonies and ants, lilies and slugs. Fantastic plans they were.

A Look Behind the Leader: Moses Mares of Calvary CRC, Holland

Mares MosesTuesdays are big for Moses Mares of Calvary Christian Reformed Church in Holland, Mich.     

“My whole day is wrapped up in planning for worship the following Sunday,” said Mares during a recent interview.     

“I look at the scriptures and the teaching topic, I make sure I get proper music packets together, I research stories behind the songs and plan for our weekly rehearsal that we have that night.”     

Author Lysa TerKeurst talks about new book “The Best Yes”

Lysa TerKeurstLysa TerKeurst is author of the bestselling books “Made to Crave” and “Unglued,” and is founder and president of Proverbs 31 Ministries. She talks to West Michigan Christian News about her new book “The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands,” available in bookstores in August.

WMCN: What prompted you to write “The Best Yes?”

Lysa TerKeurst: For a couple of years I’ve been praying that God would “unrush” me. I had realized that either I was going to set and run my schedule, or it was going to run me. How I set my schedule determines how I run my life, and how I run my life determines how I spend my soul. I kept getting the sinking sense that I wasn’t spending my soul well.

New Music Review: Artist: Jake Down & The Midwest Mess

Jake Downs and Ghost ShipWest Michigan singer-songwriter Jake Down (aka Jacob Pauwels) and his band Midwest Mess have a new acoustic-based four-song collection – “Ghost Ship.”
    
It’s a follow up to their release of last year, “Shipwreck.”
    
In fact, one of the new songs is a thematic carry-over from the earlier project. “Shipwreck Pt. 3: Ghost Ship” is an occasionally haunting reminder that in a world of confusion, storms and tattered sails, “what should have sunk…spirit gives life.”

Faith-Based DVDs Are Doing Well

Son Of God2Fortunately for the Christian, there are a lot of wonderful DVDs which have been released or are soon to be. Son of God was released on June 3, 2014, and is still ranked number four in Amazon.com’s bestseller rankings among faith and spiritual movies. It is ranked number nineteen in the drama category. It grossed nearly $60 million at the domestic box office. This is the Roma Downey and Mark Burnett film starring Diogo Morgado as Jesus and is one of the more accurate portrayals of His life.

God’s Not Dead is to be released August 5, 2014. It stars Kevin Sorbo and Dean Cain. It is a compelling story as Sorbo plays a philosophy professor who begins his class by demanding that his students sign a paper stating that God is dead. One brave young pupil named Josh refuses to sign and is told by the professor that he must debate the topic in front of class and give evidence that God is not dead. Josh agrees. He later learns why the professor is bitter toward God. A subplot involves Dean Cain’s character, named Mark, a self-absorbed man who ignores his girlfriend when she needs him the most and his elderly mother who is living in a nursing home and suffering from dementia. Yet the lesson is made clear in the film: one can’t outrun God. The movie has made over $60 million at the box office thus far.

Veteran Turns Heart and Hands to Helping Fellow Vets

habitat and FHHMichael Hyacinthe has a heart for veterans, especially our nation’s wounded warriors. A former Nave SeaBee himself, Hyacinthe knows what it’s like to come home after serving his country.

That heart for veterans and his Christian faith have guided him into two roles that have veterans at the center. First is the non-profit Fashion Has Heart, which utilizes the power of creativity to help wounded veterans rehabilitate and helps them reintegrate into the broader society.

Upcoming Exodus Movie Looks Promising

exodusThe upcoming movie, Exodus: Gods and Kings, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Christian Bale as Moses, looks promising according to The Dove Foundation’s CEO Dick Rolfe, The movie is scheduled to be released on December 14 this year. After he recently viewed a trailer for the picture that just hit the internet and movie screens, we spoke with Mr. Rolfe about the film.

When asked about his expectations and hopes regarding the movie, he replied, “I am looking forward to watching the re-telling of The Ten Commandments. From the just-released trailer, it appears to be a well-made epic-scale motion picture. The special effects are much more impressive than the 1956 version, benefitting from technological advances in filmmaking.

“I hope that 20th Century Fox learned something from Paramount’s epic debacle, Noah, which has not yet recovered its production costs in gross domestic box office. That’s what you get by turning a Bible story over to a director who’s an avowed atheist. Fox has a chance to redeem the studio system by making certain that Exodus: Gods and Kings accurately tells the story of Moses and the Hebrews’ escape from Egyptian tyranny. My guess is they will succeed.”

New Music: Shawn McDonald's "Brave"

shawn mc donaldSinger-songwriter Shawn McDonald has taken a bolder approach in his latest album.     

And one result: the title song, “We Are Brave,” became the veteran artist’s first No. 1 Christian radio hit.

Ever since his acoustic-driven break out hit “Gravity” nearly 10 years ago, the artist has occasionally surfaced with new material, mixed in with a couple of live projects.

“Brave” carries more “electronic” effects than his early work. Some of the songs were produced by David Garcia, providing a more pop-influenced sound for McDonald.

Pregnancy Care Center Has New Director, New Vision

collenFor Colleen Geisel, new executive director of Alpha Women’s Center of Grand Rapids, this is a revisioning time at the center. She and the staff are narrowing their vision to not duplicate services available at other organizations, adding services not being offered elsewhere, and discovering which things they do well.

“We’re in a position to grow exponentially thanks to our facility and our location,” said Geisel, who has been director for three months. She and her family returned to Grand Rapids after 12 years working and serving in Asia.

“I had no intention of taking the job, but I walked into the building and the Spirit of God was in this place. I could not leave,” she said. “God called me into ministry in 1991 at Calvary Church and he won’t let me do anything else.”

A Look Behind the Leader: Marie Elzinga of Pathway Community Church, Byron Center

Marie-Elzinga-worshipleader-introMarie Elzinga, music coordinator at Pathway Church, doesn’t have to go far to report to the church pastor.

Steve Elzinga, Pathway’s lead pastor, is also her husband.

“We communicate about what he has planned for the following week and I help make sure we gets things done,” said Marie about her worship responsibilities.

Among those are selecting and preparing music – transposing chords and writing lead sheets for worship team members – planning the weekly rehearsal and making sure everyone is “on the same page.”

Pathway has a single Sunday morning worship, in generally a blended style.     

Sign up for our eNewsletter

No Worries - we will NOT use your email for anything other than receiving West Michigan Christian in your inbox.

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.