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  • Relevant Docs: "Blessings"


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  • Psalm 1


  • Relevant Docs: "Cookies"


  • Psalm 23


  • Relevant Docs: "Art"


  • Relevant Docs: "Coffee"


  • Relevant Docs "Legacy"


  • The Thanksgiving Guest


  • Acting Like a Tourist?


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  • What About Change?


  • The Last Presentation


  • Signs


  • He Is


Featured Articles

Is Your Stock Rising?

dan seabornDan Seaborn My stock fell hard the other day. I watched it happen. I thought that I had made some good choices in regard to my investments. But my stock fell and it fell hard.

Oh, I'm not talking about money. Did you think I meant the Dow Jones? No way! I'm talking about me. I made a decision with my family and I thought I made the right choice. I was pretty sure, in fact, that the case I was making that was proving my point was really going to make my stock rise. In other words, make them really believe in me. But instead, I shot myself in the foot and my stock plummeted. I made the wrong call, the wrong decision and it was a disappointment to my family.

Gospel Quartet Singer Going Solo

Visser Jim 2018-1 Gospel singer Jim Visser Jim Visser is in a transition time.

The founder-singer of the West Michigan-based Faithful Journey Quartet is branching out into a solo music ministry and will leave the quartet at the end of the year.

"I had thought about doing solo music... but figured it would never happen. I'm a quartet guy," said Visser, 53, from his Lowell area home.

"But it was a process – including struggling with God – and it was laid on my heart and God gave me some good music," he added.

Now the suburban Wyoming native, who runs a construction business, has a solo CD and dozens of concerts under his belt. But he continues to sing in Faithful Journey with Scott Roon, Dennis Deters and new tenor Tom Corkins.

"Scott, Dennis and I have been together the whole seven years in the quartet," reflected Visser. "This is not an easy decision (to leave) and I did not take it lightly."

Marvin Sapp Receives Ministry Honor

Sapp. Marvin GMA Honor 2018Marvin Sapp accepts his award from the Gospel Music Association West Michigan pastor and national gospel music artist Marvin Sapp has received national honors for his Christian ministry impact.

At a May 8 banquet event in Nashville, the Gospel Music Association (GMA) recognized Sapp and several others for "significant contributions to the world through their humanitarian efforts as well as their talents."

Sapp, who has received several awards and honors over the last year, said his motivation has remained the same throughout his career. "The goal was never to receive awards," he said in his acceptance speech. "I just wanted to give God the glory. That was my goal then, and is still my goal now."

Legacy Christian Students Share Hand-written Memoirs with Holland Home Residents

Legacy Christian Schools Holland Home Cutline No. 1From left: Amelia McCann had the pleasure of interviewing LouAnn Myers. Amelia McCann went exploring earlier this year and found inspiration.

Her and 19 other second graders from Kentwood-based Legacy Christian School traveled in January to Holland Home's Breton Woods campus to interview senior residents about their achievements and what the Lord has done for them through the years.

Then on May 11, the students returned to Breton Woods and were matched again with the same residents they interviewed in January to read to them the handwritten memoirs they composed. Their stories were bound into a book.

The students also sang as group to the residents and enjoyed an ice cream social with one another afterward.

Corinth Quilters Sew, Donate Beauty and Warmth to Those in Need

Corinth Reformed Church Quilters Cutline No. 1From left: Ruth Biesberock, Debi Rose, Viola “Vi” Eaton, Dorothea “Dort” Koopman and Roxanne Edema display some of the Corinth Quilter’s handiwork. Every second and fourth Tuesday starting in the fall and continuing through spring, about 30 women gather at a building called the Summit located behind Corinth Reformed Church in Byron Center to create beauty and warmth for a host of people they will never meet.

They accomplish this important undertaking by making quilts of various sizes: baby quilts, twin size and double bed size and lap quilts from bolts of fabric that are donated toward their ministry known as the Corinth Quilters.

CD Review Beacon Light

Beacon Light CD cover - Loud Drive HomeArea faith-based rap/hip-hop artist Beacon Light has a new album filled with musical and spoken word riffs and raps with numerous contributing guests. With this effort the artist adds to his arsenal as an accomplished writer/performer.

The theme of the album reflecting his renewed outlook is noted on the online video.

One highlight among the selections is "Sleeping On Me," with guest Spencer Kane. The song's video shows the care taken in conveying its message: don't go through life comatose.....wake up!

Area Concert Forecast Heating Up

Heller JJ stripesSinger-songwriter JJ Heller is one of the artists performing in West Michigan this summerWinter hung on for so long in West Michigan that it seemed presumptuous even to think about summer. But the weather has moderated and now it feels right to look ahead at the area’s summer concert scene.

Terry’s Picks: May 2018

EVENTSWest Michigan Christian News writer Terry DeBoer surveys the landscape for the area's faith-based arts/entertainment/enrichment events over the coming month. Here are three highlights for May:

Hudsonville Couple Launches One Saved International to Provide Aftercare to Children Rescued From Sex Trafficking

One Saved Cutline No. 1Sarah Hess: “God is just using the Protestant church to make His name great and set a fire for the people and really that’s our only hope of combating child sex trafficking.” They have been abused physically and sexually and a couple living in Hudsonville want to usher healing into the lives of Filipino children.

There are between 60,000 to 100,000 children in the Philippines involved in prostitution rings, according to the United Nations International Children's Fund (UNICEF). Worldwide, more than two million children are exploited in the sex trade.

Helping those children find hope and healing through the gospel are Jeremy and Sarah Hess who founded One Saved International, a nonprofit that provides aftercare and restoration to children rescued from sex trafficking.

Longtime Team Returns to Christian Radio

Tommy  Brook studioBrook Taylor and Tommy Dylan of JQ-99
Tommy Dylan says he and on-air partner Brook Taylor have received all kinds of warm wishes over the last three months hosting the new "Tommy & Brook" morning show on Christian radio JQ-99 (WJQK-FM 99.3).

"There's been a lot of new listeners that have come over," said Dylan of fans who have followed them to their new radio home.

The veteran team spent more than nine years doing mornings at cross-town "Star 105.7", a mainstream adult contemporary outlet. Now they're in front of both old and new listeners. He said the broadcasting tandem has received positive feedback during remote broadcasts and from both listeners and advertisers. "And as we anticipated, the JQ listeners have been very welcoming," said Dylan.

The Testimony of Zach Williams

Williams Zach rec. Grammy 1-28-18Zach Williams won a 2018 Grammy Award for his album “Chain Breaker” The story behind the faith – as well as the music – of singer-songwriter Zach Williams speaks of the power of prayer and perseverance.

Arguably the most-awarded artist in Christian music over the past year with one of the most successful debut albums in recent memory, Williams and his break-out song "Chain Breaker" have a story to tell about his life's journey. He comes to Zeeland April 22 for a concert.

"I grew up around music," recalled Williams, 37, during a recent phone interview. "My dad played (guitar) and led worship in church and I was there every Sunday and Wednesday."

"I knew all about Jesus and Scripture stories and had a head knowledge of him. I went forward at church camp and called myself a Christian but there was never a heart change."

Jesus and the Children Sculpture Welcomes Community, Affirms Children’s Dignity

Jesus and the Children Sculpture No. 1Sophia Putz and Jack Walker served as the statue’s models. Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." (Matthew 19:14).

Monsignor R. Louis Stasker said his two-prong goals for the recently dedicated bronze statue, Jesus and the Children, at the Basilica of Saint Adalbert plaza is to affirm God's love for the world's most vulnerable — children.

The 1,500-pound sculpture is also way of saying to the community at large all are welcome.

Paul, Apostle for Christ is a Remarkable Movie

Capture12Paul, Apostle for Christ features a striking performance by James Faulkner as Paul. Reverend, serious and focusing on the love of Christ, Faulkner nails the role. The use of scripture is well utilized throughout the film. Instead of reading the words of Paul, we hear him utter them. A few members of the underground church want to attack the blood-thirsty Romans. Paul tells Luke, played by Jim Caviezel (who played Jesus in Passion of the Christ), "We cannot overcome evil with evil. Only good overcomes evil." He also gives the almost identical quote which is taken from Romans 5:20, "Where sin abounds, grace much more abounds". Paul continues to emphasize the love of God, especially when dealing with those who seek vengeance.

God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness makes a great point: God is Still Not Dead!

Capture11This third film in the God's Not Dead series takes a different approach this time around. The first two in the series focused on fighting for one's religious beliefs and freedoms. This one is more about forgiveness and loving people, even when they don't agree with your view of God. God's Not Dead: A Light in Darkness deals with a story about the struggles between today's liberal society and the church. Pastor David Hill (David A.R. White) has been at St. James church since he was a kid and his dad pastored the church. Now, he is the pastor. He is challenged by Hadleigh University and his friend, Thomas Ellsworth (Ted McGinley), who represents the college. Ellsworth and the college want to enforce an eminent domain policy and seize the land the church is built on in order to add on to their college buildings. Pastor Dave isn't ready to leave, and he refuses to back down—at first. Normally a mild mannered man, Pastor Dave winds up in jail.

Candace Cameron Bure events nearly sold out at Baker Book House

candacecameronburewebsiteCandace Cameron BureCandace Cameron Bure, actress and author of the new book "Kind is the New Classy: The Power of Living Graciously," will visit Grand Rapids and Baker Book House on April 25-26. The star of "Full House" and "Fuller House," as well as numerous Hallmark movies, will meet guests at several event at the bookstore.

"Response to the announcement of Candace's visit was huge," said Sue Smith, manager of Baker Book House. "It was so big that we scheduled several additional events."

Bure was originally scheduled for a Q&A/book-signing on Thursday, April 26. The 250 tickets sold out within four hours, according to Smith, with more than a thousand people indicating on bookstore social media their interest in attending.

Top Fiction Authors to Meet Readers at first Fiction Readers Summit

conferenceFifteen top Christian authors gather on May 11-12 for the inaugural Fiction Readers Summit at DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel and Baker Book House in Grand Rapids. Authors including Mesu Andrews, Dani Pettrey, Colleen Coble and others will participate in panel discussions and meet readers.

The event will feature Christian authors whose work covers a wide swath of genres including historical, contemporary, romance and mystery. Local authors participating in the event are Susie Finkbeiner, Sharon Garlough Brown, Tracy Groot, and Lynn Austin.

C.S. Lewis Portrayal Coming to Grand Rapids

mclean Max bwActor-author Max McLean A stage play probing the spiritual journey of famed author and Christian apologist C.S. Lewis is coming to DeVos Performance Hall in Grand Rapids on Sat. June 16. Tickets for "C.S. Lewis Onstage: The Most Reluctant Convert" went on sale Monday April 9.

The creative force behind the one-man production is actor Max McLean who wrote the play and assumes the title role. The script is gleaned from Lewis' books and essays throughout his academic and writing career in his native Great Britain. His best-known work is the popular "Chronicles of Narnia" series, but he has a rich catalog of theological volumes such as "Mere Christianity" and "Miracles." He died in 1963.

Celebration…Good News, Continuing Themes for Irish Band

Rend CollectiveChris Llewellyn (middle) and Rend CollectiveA point to ponder: what did the Irish born-and-bred band Rend Collective do on St. Patrick's Day this year?

"We were actually playing a show that day, and we even taught some Irish dancing," said lead singer Chris Llewellyn during a late March phone interview. "We had to bring the party for St. Paddy...it's up to the Irish."

Celebration has always been high on the Rend Collective priority list. And a joyous thread winds throughout the faith-based group's latest album, "Good News."

Terry’s Picks: April 2018

EVENTSWest Michigan Christian News writer Terry DeBoer surveys the landscape for the area's faith-based arts/entertainment/enrichment events over the coming month. Here are three highlights for April.

Billy Graham Was The Same in Public and Private, Says Cornerstone President. But Who’s Next in Line?

Joseph Stowell Billy Graham cutline No. 1Joseph Stowell: “Everything he was in public, he was in private and more in fact.” Evangelist Billy Graham, who held his first evangelist crusade in 1947 at the former Civic Auditorium in Grand Rapids, was humble and genuine, said the president of Cornerstone University, who served on the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association board for about 12 years.

Whether preaching to a throng of people at his evangelistic crusades or engaged in a private tête-à-tête, his character was consistent, Cornerstone's Joseph Stowell said of Graham who died Feb. 21.

Debut Novelist Pens Tale of Love and Mystery

Joanna Davidson PolitanoJoanna Davidson Politano, who lives near the Michigan/Indiana border, is drawing fans thanks to her debut novel Lady Jane Disappears. Aurelie Harcourt, whose father died in debtor's prison, takes over his serial novel writing under the pen name Nathaniel Droll. Droll is one of the most popular writers in Victorian England; but as Aurelie continues her father's story, she bases it on family with whom she is sent to live—but who have no idea it's their guest exposing their world.

Ann Byle: Tell us a little about your writing journey and your debut novel "Lady Jane Disappears."
Joanna Politano: The novel evolved as I wrote it over nine months or a year. It started out as a fun thing I did during my daughter's nap time, then became a more formal project. I had decided to set aside my publishing goals to raise a family but God said no. He said, "It's noble but not what I want you to do."

Imagining the Power of A Song

MM-Press-seated tableMercyMe, (from left) Barry Graul, Nathan Cochran, Bart Millard, Robbie Shaffer, Mike Scheuchzer "I Can Only Imagine," the award-winning, inspirational hit song, has been around for two decades.

Now re-popularized by a new movie of the same name, the uplifting ballad continues to be the trademark of singer Bart Millard and his band MercyMe.

"It's like the song that won't go away," smiled Nathan Cochran, bass guitar player of the band during an interview from Dallas, Tex. "But it's a song that is really special to us and we're not complaining about that at all." 

Third Day One More Time

Third Day - hier rez w 3Third Day (from l.) Mark Lee, Mac Powell, David CarrThird Day, the Christian music pop-rock band with a 25+ year history and numerous hit songs and awards, is saying farewell. The band has scheduled a final, 12-date concert tour this spring, which includes a June 22 stop at DeVos Performance Hall in Grand Rapids. But tickets, which went on sale Fri. March 9, are hard to come by
.
There was the usual ticket "pre-sale" period for a day or so prior to the "on sale" date. Pre-sale is limited to select fans or others who have a special ticket purchase code with only a small number available.

The general public went online fast and furious at 10am March 9 – but many soon saw the post on Ticketmaster.com: "Oh-no! These tickets went fast and we're unable to find more right now." More recent visitors to the ticketmaster website also saw prices above face value.

Hire for Hope Founder Grateful Safe Haven Ministries Helped Her Replace Distress for Courage

Hire for Hope cutline No.1Ashley Ward donates 10 percent of her revenue to Safe Haven Ministries because she wants to help abused women realize they can be more than they currently are. Ashley Ward has many reasons to smile.

In early 2017, the 28-year-old launched Hire for Hope LLC, her socially conscious recruiting firm that helps fill mid- to senior-level positions for West Michigan companies.

It's been so successful that she recently hired her first full-time employee, with an eye on adding one or two more staff members by the end of this year or early 2019.

To help accommodate her growth, Ward has plans to move her recruiting business out of her home office in Rockford and relocate it to downtown Grand Rapids.

Battered and Bruised

dan seabornDo you have days where your face feels swollen, your eyes are like slits from being half shut and your body aches all over? You feel beat up and yet no one has laid a hand on you? It's one of those days where either a group of negative issues has been piling up or you are emerging from a litany of several days where you've dealt with very difficult issues. Emotionally, you feel battered and bruised.

Some of us do a good job of hiding it. We may cake on a little make up to brighten our face. We wear a bright colored shirt to try and offset the dark feeling in our soul. We laugh but it's just a sound not an expression of joy. Some people reading this article right now are dealing with a battered and bruised spirit. And sadly, in many situations, the source is a complex family situation. Even if the culprit is outside your family, the effect it has on you will affect your family. That's why I want to offer a few suggestions that may help encourage you through the process.

‘Plantation Jesus’ Spells Out How to Forgive, Walk Toward Unity

Plantation Jesus Cutline No. 1Skot Welch: “Christians need to understand when one part of the body suffers, we all suffer.” While Skot Welch's long-time friend, Rick Wilson, lay in a hospital bed fighting for his life, the two made a pact.

"When I met him in the hospital and he told me of the diagnosis, he said, 'If I go to heaven, you need to finish the book and if I stay, I'll finish it,'" recalled Welch.

Wilson died of lung cancer March 5, 2014. And while he had wrote the majority of the book titled "Plantation Jesus: Race, Faith, & A New Way Forward," Welch was left with the daunting task of completing it and thus fulfilling his promise.

Welch and his wife, Barbara, are lead pastors of the Kentwood campus of Stones Church. For eight years, Skot Welch co-hosted with Wilson the radio program, Radio in Black and White, which discussed multiracial, multicultural and multiethnic relationships and featured live callers.

New Music Review – Cameron Blake

Cameron Blake Fear Not CD higher resLocal church worship leader and singer-songwriter Cameron Blake's latest CD has been garnering attention in a variety of places.

"Fear Not" – his third solo effort – features numerous guest artists in its addressing the sticky topic of fear. It sends out a call to look to love as a solution.

Blake (his given name is Cameron Warne) leads worship and is serve team leader at River Rock Church, which meets at Rockford Christian School on Belding Rd. NE. But his probing, contemporary-folk tunes have touched ears throughout the area's mainstream music community.

Cold-war Espionage Offers Significant Takeaways for Christians Today

Greg Forster cutline No. 1JPGGreg Forster said Whittaker Chambers’ found his true purpose in life when he surrendered to the Lord. “By turning to God, he was discovering who he really was,” said Forster. Whittaker Chambers risked his career, reputation and family when he disavowed communism and walked away from working as a Soviet spy.

Nowadays, his conversion to Christianity exemplifies why the only way to live life is by God's principles and not humankind, a conservative scholar said recently as guest speaker at the Acton Institute's Lecture Series.

Chambers (1901-1961) was a senior editor for TIME Magazine who wrote the autobiography Witness, initially published in 1952 that has since been reprinted, which details his life as an agent in the Fourth Section of Soviet Military Intelligence from 1932 to 1938, where he coordinated espionage activities with high-ranking United States government officials. Witness explains Chambers' exodus from communism and his conversion to Christianity.

Terry’s Picks: March 2018

EVENTSWest Michigan Christian News writer Terry DeBoer surveys the landscape for the area's faith-based arts/entertainment/enrichment events over the coming month.

Here are three highlights for March:

TobyMac Digs Into Hits Deep

TobyMacSinger-songwriter TobyMac suggests that the name of his "Hits Deep" tour has a double meaning.

"It's supposed to be 'hits' all night long," he said of his long catalog of top-charting Christian radio tunes. "But it's also songs that have hit listeners in a deep way – that's always the hope for my songs," he added during a recent phone interview.

At age 53, Toby McKeehan (his given name) has the luxury of a rich musical history, with seven solo studio albums to his credit. The latest is the Grammy-winning "This Is Not A Test," which offers a half dozen hits for his current concert set list.

Concerts a Key For Faithful Fan

Cooper John and VanderMayRob VanderMay (right) and John Cooper Rob VanderMay can tell you that ten times is not enough.

For the tenth time the Kentwood resident saw the Christian rock band Skillet when they headlined the Winter Jam tour last month at Van Andel Arena.

Now he'd like to see them for Number 11 - when the band performs in Muskegon April 28 along with For King & Country.

"Yeah, I'd say Skillet is my favorite artist," said VanderMay, 29, as he recalled the band's booming, pyrotechnic-flavored Jan. 7 set that filled Van Andel to the rafters. Featured were classic tunes such as "Whispers in the Dark" as well as their very latest, "Feel Invincible."

Love Me or Love Me Not

dan seabornIt's summer and flowers are in full bloom! As a young boy I remember picking flowers for a particular girl I liked. I would sit on the grass, check to be sure none of the guys were around and begin to pull off the petals one by one. As I plucked, I would repeat a series of phrases in a sing-song voice, "she loves me, she loves me not, she loves me, she loves me not," until all the petals were gone. The very last petal would tell me whether she loves me or she loves me not.

Summer-time Awakening Institute Stimulates Teens’ Worship Gifts

Awakening Institute Cutline No. 1This year’s Awakening Institute is June 10-15.Holland-based Hope College adjunct associate professor in the music department Jim DeBoer is the founder and director of Awakening, a weeklong focus for students entering grades 10th through 12th in the fall who want to hone their worship gifts to use in the church.

This year's Awakening is June 10-15 and costs $500 per student. Scholarships are available. Tuition includes lodging at Hope College, food, a T-shirt, water bottle, backpack and busing students to different locations.

New Music Review: “The Second City – Part 1”

Malcolm Steven cd cvr - second city pt 1The busy West Michigan native Steven Malcolm has released "The Second City – Part 1," the first of four extended-play projects scheduled for 2018.

Calling the four new songs "an ode to my past," Malcolm says these selections are his most biographical to date.

His father was a Jamaican immigrant who was deported when young Steven was just 10 years old. The elder Malcolm had been born in Montego Bay, also known as "The Second City." But the title also refers to the transformed new life found in Christ (a brief video testimony is available online.

Baker Book House Sells Eerdmans Inventory at Discount Prices

booksReaders looking for bargain prices on unique books will find shelves of surprises at a sale running Feb. 12-17 at Baker Book House.

Baker Book House purchased thousands of titles left over after Eerdmans Bookstore closed in late 2017. Now Baker is offering those books at 50 percent discount during the week-long event. Students can get an additional 10 percent discount with a student ID, and all sale guests can register to win a $100 shopping spree at the store.

"We're excited that we were able to purchase the Eerdmans volumes, and to offer them at discount prices to our customers, " said Sue Smith, manager at Baker Book House. "There is a rich mix of inventory that will be of interest to a wide range of readers."

Economist: Children Need Two-Parents, Not ‘Irrational’ Sexual Revolution

Jennifer Roback Morse cutline No. 1Jennifer Roback Morse: “The conscience is developed inside the family and this is completely compatible with Christian teaching.” The sexual revolution touted unbridled freedom and pleasure, minus the consequences.

But economist Jennifer Roback Morse, founder and president of the Lake Charles, La.-based Ruth Institute, a nonprofit to end family breakdown by energizing survivors of the sexual revolution, sees sexual "liberation" that became widespread in the 1960s to 1980s in a far different light.

"The sexual revolution is irrational, it is impossible and it cannot stand on its own," Roback Morse said recently at the conservative think-tank, the Acton Institute. "It requires force and a lot of propaganda. Just because it's ridiculous doesn't mean it's harmless. It's a totalitarian movement that no Christian should have anything to do with."

Terry’s Picks: February 2018

EVENTSWest Michigan Christian News writer Terry DeBoer surveys the landscape for the area's faith-based arts/entertainment/enrichment events over the coming month. Here are three highlights for February:

Concert Scene Shaping Up For New Year

Heath Brandon Brandon Heath performs Mar. 16 in HudsonvilleLet's not let the 2018 get too far along before we scope out the West Michigan Christian concert scene through this winter into the spring. And maybe we can get a hint of some summer concert action as well.

There are a couple of arena-sized events – literally.

Local Author Releases New Book for Writers

PBK15RenderAnn Byle has interviewed close to a thousand people throughout her career as a freelance writer for local and national publications.

Now she's used that interview experience to fashion a practical book for Christian writers. "Christian Publishing 101: The comprehensive guide to writing well and publishing successfully—for new authors, editors, and students" is based on interviews with publishing professionals and book authors who provide advice in what could be called a "writer's conference in a book."

When writers go to a conference, often they cannot attend every session due to scheduling overlaps. With this book, that's not a problem. "I don't expect people to be interested in every single chapter," Byle said. "I tried to come up with a wide range of topics to apply to many different genres."

New Music Review: Debra Perry & Majestic Praise

Debra Perry  CD CoverWest Michigan's multi-talented Debra L. Perry and her ensemble Majestic Praise have a new, praise-filled recording showcasing a mixture of styles.

"Conqueror" takes hold with its ear-grabbing title track featuring syncopated percussion and lyrical phrasing right from the scriptures.
Perry includes numerous Grand Rapids area musicians whom she has worked with through the years. The Bethel Seventh Day Adventist Choir contributes on "You Are God." A GRPS music teacher, Perry singles out the Coit Creative Arts Academy Honors Choir in "Look At Me Now" with a danceable sound and a bit of hip-hop style lyric.

Pastor-Author Affirms Generosity is God’s Intended Super Power for Humankind

Laura Sumner Truax Cutline No. 1Rev. Laura Sumner Truax: “When we start to live generously, we start to uncover the truth.” Most pastors would perform a celebrative dance if their church received a $1.6 million windfall, but the bonanza initially proved to be a time of spiritual hand-wringing for Rev. Laura Sumner Truax, senior pastor of LaSalle Street Church, a 300-member nondenominational congregation in downtown Chicago.

"I remember feeling so apprehensive," said Sumner Truax, guest speaker Jan. 11 at Calvin College's annual January Series. "I wondered would we survive this blessing. We were facing some pretty big church challenges. We had a big hole in our budget that was growing in a neighborhood that was rapidly gentrifying. We always had bigger dreams than we could ever fill. There were lots of pressure points around us."

Critter Barn a Gem that Teaches Public ‘Miracles’ of the Farm

Critter Barn Cutline No. 1(from left): The late Florence Henderson and Critter Barn executive director Mary Rottschafer with the Christmas Bunny. Mary Rottschafer compares her three-acre farm to a precious stone that offers the public year-round lessons in agriculture, compassion, life and death and yes, even a front-row seat to miracles.

Just don't make the mistake of calling Rottschafer's Critter Barn, 9275 Adams Street in Zeeland, a petting zoo.

"I feel there's a gem here that unfortunately society doesn't have much access to," said Rottschafer, the Critter Barn's founder and executive director.

"The Critter Barn is a educational farm that teaches children agriculture, how our food is raised and how creation sustains us because that was the plan from the Garden of Eden," continued Rottschafer. "We minister to a lot of children who are less fortunate or are challenged. We give God the glory for the farming community and help kids experience the miracles of the farm, which are unlimited in number throughout the year."

Terry’s Picks: January 2018

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 January:

Winter Jam Veterans Return for 2018

Jason Roy 2nd from right and Building 429Jason Roy (2nd from right) and Building 429Jason Roy and his band Building 429 know the rhythms of the road on the giant Christian music tour called Winter Jam.

"We've done this tour five or six times," recalled Roy during a recent phone interview. "And every time it has felt like the fans are a great big family and are really fired up."

Since the late 1990s Winter Jam has played large venues across the country, including more than a decade's worth of shows at Grand Rapids' Van Andel Arena. With 10 music artists, an inspirational speaker and a modest at-the-door admission charge, the tour has played to as many at 700,000 persons annually.
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