New Book’s Message Focuses on Uniqueness of Each Child

Written by Ann Byle on . Posted in Local

kateKatie Newell thinks in images, which plays well in her role as a graphic designer but plays even better in her new role as an author. Newell wrote and illustrated "I'd Rather Be A Dragon," a picture book that focuses on finding positive qualities and each child's uniqueness.

"We all have different qualities that make us who we are," said Newell, who lives in Lowell with her husband and three children ages 6, 8, and 10. "The world will do a good job pointing out the bad, but if we focus on the good the bad doesn't weigh us down so much."

Rock the Coast Returns

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

rockAfter a three-year hiatus, the inspirational Rock the Coast event has re-emerged in West Michigan at a new location and with a new outlook.

Set for May 19-20, the Christian music mini-festival has moved south from Muskegon to Holland at the Ottawa County Fairgrounds. "Reaching out to a new audience in the Holland area should give us the ability to see the event grow," said festival director Kevin Newton, spokesman for Alive On The Lakeshore, the non-profit group behind the event.

The organization already produces the Unity Christian Music Festival in Muskegon, which has drawn more than 50,000 persons over its four day schedule each August.

Sidewalk Advocates For Life Serve as Christ’s Hands, Feet to Mothers, Unborn

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

lisa (left to right): Lisa Snow and Margaret Murphy offer life-affirming alternatives to abortion to women who are about to enter the Heritage Clinic for Women. Lisa Snow doesn't consider herself to be an outgoing person.

Yet on Wednesdays you'll find her standing outside of the building at 320 E. Fulton, clutching pro-life literature and praying that the women and girls who intend to enter the Heritage Clinic for Women (HCFW) to abort their preborn children will give her the time of day.

Margaret Murphy breathes the same prayers and intent as Snow's. She stands in front of the same clinic's sidewalk on Thursdays.

Brown’s Sensible Shoes Series Expands, Continues to Draw Readers

Written by Ann Byle on . Posted in Local

shoesReaders familiar with Sharon Brown's Sensible Shoes novels will find the same deep heart and love for Jesus in Brown's third in the series, "Barefoot: A Story of Surrendering to God." She continues the spiritual formation journey of familiar characters Mara, Charissa, Hannah and Meg.

"My goals for this book and series are the same as they were in the beginning: that readers would encounter God as they read and that the books would cast a strong vision of what community can be like," said Brown, who lives in Ada. "I longed for the characters to be a reflection of our own fears and hurts and changes."

The four women meet at a spiritual retreat—all there for different reasons and at different places spiritually—and embark on a journey that cements their newfound friendship as they each grow closer to God.

A Red Light, Green Light Marriage

Written by Dan Seaborn on . Posted in Local

dan seabornFor a long time, red lights had a distinct way of causing dissention in my marriage. If you would've taken my wife and me and put us in any intersection that had a traffic light, you would've had the potential for an explosion of an argument.

I guess you could say I'm one of those guys who's easily distracted. If I'm driving and I have to stop at a red light, my center of focus scatters all over the place. I glance at the people in the car next to me, I watch squirrels and birds intently, I check out nearby architecture, I try to read the fine print on litter at the side of the road. Basically, I give my attention to everything but the colored circles dangling above the intersection in front of me.

Yeah, I'm that guy. Sorry if I've kept you waiting.

New Music Scoop Review: Wayburn Dean

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

dean Wayburn Dean West Michigan singer-songwriter Wayburn Dean is back with a new collection of inspirational  songs titled "Redeemed."
The former Acappella group member has a distinguished solo career, with multiple albums containing tunes which reached national charts.

Dean's latest effort (once again done in collaboration with his wife Janae) continues his track record of well-crafted, inspirational music featuring his soothing and soulful voice.

For example, the medium tempo "It's a Miracle" takes a pop setting with its smoothly sung tale of the miraculous power of God. The album's title song similarly benefits from the singer's silky vocals wrapped around the song's central message.
Another highlight is "Before the Throne," a slow ballad which is closest to Dean's former accapella sound with lush yet pointed background vocals.

Different Kids, Different Love?

Written by Dan Seaborn on . Posted in Local

dan seabornDan Seaborn There's no doubt that each of my four kids takes after me in their own unique way, just like each one takes after my wife too. There's also no doubt that all four are vastly different from the two of us—and from each other.

The apples didn't fall far from the trees, but it's fair to say they've rolled away a little. So as a parent, I often have to remind myself that my children—my own flesh and blood, the ones I've helped to nurture and raise—are people, just like anybody else.

They're real people, which means I have to work to relate to them just like I work to relate to others. Which means that the relating won't always feel like second nature.

Just like anybody else on the planet, each of my kids has a personality that I both enjoy and endure. They make choices I admire and argue about. They hold opinions that match and disagree with my own. Their attitudes I cheer for and despise.

GR Dream Center Starts With Request: Can I Be Your Friend?

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

Dream Center Leah and Greg Molchan co-founded the Grand Rapids Dream Center in August 2014. Greg and Leah Molchan have witnessed the Holy Spirit use some unconventional methods to open a person's heart to Him. Yes, that includes toilet paper.

"There was a woman in her 50s who lived a life of being a crack cocaine addict for 20 some years and was prostituting herself," said Leah. "She prayed for toilet paper that morning and we showed up with toilet paper. I knew her heart was softening and God was telling me to seek her out and I'll rescue her."

The Molchans are co-founders of the Grand Rapids Dream Center (GRDC), a movement-based, mission-focused ministry they launched in August 2014 that mobilizes volunteers to meet people's spiritual and physical needs.

Casting Crowns Unveils the “Next Thing”

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

casting crownsCasting Crowns features lead singer Mark Hall (center). (Drummer Brian Scoggin is 3rd from left) Brian Scoggin of Casting Crowns said his band's latest album "The Very Next Thing" really comes into the spotlight on their current tour. "We're playing nearly half of the songs from it during the concerts," said the drummer from his home near Macon, Ga.

"That's hard to do when you've got eight records of songs with everybody having their favorites they want to hear."

The million-selling, inspirational-pop band visits Van Andel Arena on March 23 with guest artists Danny Gokey and Unspoken (details below).

The title song "The Very Next Thing" sums up the album's theme: don't wait for the grandiose thing you'd like to do for God someday – just do the very next thing He asks.

Local Christian Bookstores Step Up As Family Christian Closes Doors

Written by Ann Byle on . Posted in Local

bakerBaker Book House Two Christian bookstores, Baker Book House and Kregel Parable Christian Stores, are eager to fill the void left by the impending closing of three local Family Christian Stores locations.

Family Christian announced late last month that it would close its nearly 250 stores around the country, almost two years after filing for bankruptcy. It is unknown when the local stores—on 28th Street, Alpine Avenue and 44th Street—will finally shut their doors.

Kregel Parable and Baker Book House are remaining open.

Profits Earned Respecting Scriptural Principles are Part of God’s Design, Plan

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

annAnne Rathbone Bradley: “There’s never been more hope that we’re going to eliminate abject poverty.” Anne Rathbone Bradley displayed on a projection screen a photograph of the Russian Federation's first president, Boris Yeltsin, who in 1991 visited a grocery store in Houston. It's clear in the picture he is captivated by the array of popsicles on display for sale.

"He's depressed and overwhelmed by what he sees," said Rathbone Bradley, vice president of economic initiatives for the biblical advocacy think tank, Institute for Faith, Work and Economics (IFWE), based in McLean, Vir. IFWE's mission is to inspire Christians to embrace a biblical understanding of work and economics, exemplified by greater creativity and increased human flourishing.

Local Gospel Quartet Still Searching

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

faithful Lead singer Jim Visser (2nd from right) and his group are looking for a new tenor singer The classified ad was straightforward it its pitch: "Local gospel group looking to fill position of tenor....currently taking auditions...." read the listing in the local Advance newspaper.

It's a small part of a larger search: The Faithful Journey Quartet has been looking high and low for a new tenor singer for over six months.

"Yes, we've been seeking in many different directions," said Jim Visser, lead singer and manager of the West Michigan-based group. "We've put a message on a (gospel music) magazine posting board, I've placed notices with some of the larger local churches, and other gospel quartets in the area know that we're looking," added Visser, 52.

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