Casting Crowns Messages Combine Video, Music

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Casting Crowns 2Mark Hall (center) and Casting Crowns Casting Crowns has added a "picture story" to its latest record album.

Using the message of each of the new songs, the inspirational-pop band is releasing 11 video segments to tell a through-the-generations story covering five decades in a family's life.

"We thought, let's create a movie that builds around the songs," said lead singer-songwriter Mark Hall. "Not a music video, but about people just living their lives with the songs simply in the background."

The tunes on their "Only Jesus" release offer backdrops for the video segments.

One recently issued video features the song "In the Hands of the Potter." In the storyline, a granddaughter follows in her ill grandmother's footsteps by taking up pottery and art (watch online). It continues the family story established in the previous six episodes.

An “Unrelenting” Easter Message

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Last SupperJesus (actor Kyle Warmington, center) and the Last Supper scene from last year’s drama One of the more obscure stories in scripture turns out to have an Easter theme in the latest drama staged by Blythefield Hills Baptist Church in Rockford, set for April 18-20.

"Unrelenting" - the title of the production - describes the love of God, pursuing his people through the lives of Old Testament figures right into the story of Jesus' life, death and resurrection.

"It's a modern version of (the Old Testament prophet) Hosea," said director Vicki Modert, Blythefield's head of worship ministries. Modert and her writing team fashioned the original script.

A contemporary couple's marriage is strained with rumors of the wife's infidelity. Even when the truth comes to light, the college professor forgives her and "buys her back," exactly as God told Hosea to do for his unfaithful wife.

Two Authors Launch Children’s Books at Baker Book House

Written by Ann Byle on . Posted in Local

GoodnewsEasterBaker Book House will play host to two separate book launch parties for new children's books. Best-selling children's author Glenys Nellist will present her new book "Good News! It's Easter" during storytime at 10:30 am Thursday, April 11. And debut author Josh Mosey presents "3-Minute Prayers for Boys" at 6:30 pm Tuesday, April 16.

Family Network of Wyoming Serves Community with Respect

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

Family Network Cutline No. 1Sandy Jenkinson stands in Family Network of Wyoming’s warehouse area where a variety of where canned goods, paper products and bottled water are stored. When people line up to receive groceries at the Family Network of Wyoming, they receive more than a week's worth of food.

They also experience respect from the cadre of volunteers and two-person staff who keep this Christian nonprofit humming with purpose.

"Most importantly, we try to treat everybody with a little dignity and respect so they leave feeling good," said Sandy Jenkinson, an assistant to executive director Dale Echavarria.

Resurrection in Focus for Andrew Peterson

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Peterson AndrewCredit-GilesClement 1521-RetouchedAndrew Peterson (photo by Giles Clement)Rare is the song that ends on a "suspended chord."

But the Andrew Peterson composition "God Rested" does exactly that. And the song provides a hinge-point in the artist's resurrection series showcase, which he brings to Byron Center on Sat. April 13.
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"God Rested" refers to the literal internment of a dead Christ, and is the last song in a musical prologue. It's the jumping off point to his collection "Resurrection Letters Vol. 1," full of joyful songs of Christ's victory over the tomb.

But a listener is left hanging with anticipation on that final note.

"We are living in a time of that suspended chord," said Peterson, 44. "We know we have a promise of Christ's return but we're in a tension of expectation and longing."

The very next song is "His Heart Beats." Its poignant resurrection depiction opens with the line "His heart beats, his blood begins to flow; waking up what was dead a moment ago."

Local Pair Helps Influencers Find Balance Between Serving God and Building Platform

Written by Ann Byle on . Posted in Local

Influence Front CoverTwo local authors, both working on their first books, faced the struggle many authors face: how to build a platform and serve God at the same time. Publishers are quick to say “Your platform isn’t big enough,” but authors, speakers, and ministry leaders can feel squeamish about promoting themselves and their work in order to collect followers on social media, blogs, and websites.

Shannon Popkin, author of “Control Girls: Lessons on Surrendering Your Burden of Control from Seven Women in the Bible” (Kregel), and Kate Motaung, author of “A Place to Land: A Story of Longing and Belonging” (Discovery House), faced those struggles like many authors do. They join forces to take a deep look at platform and following Jesus in their new book “Influence: Building a Platform that Elevates Jesus (Not Me),” which released in January.

“The tension is that if you want to pursue an agent or book contract or get accepted as a speaker at a conference, you have to already have a following,” said Motaung, host of Five Minute Friday, an online community for Christian writers. “But as Christians called to elevate Christ and humble ourselves, how can we be true to our convictions yet put ourselves out there?”

New Music Review: Underdog

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Underdog  The gonz  2019The hard-working, West Michigan rap/hip-hop artist Ty Gonzalez (The Gonz) has a new collection of songs detailing his background and determination to share his message.

"Underdog" is largely the story of his life. From his upbringing ("Grand Rapids Made") to his busy schedule ("I Don't Sleep") and his life's musical mission ("Passion"), Gonzalez reveals his heart as he lays out his faith-based journey to serve his Savior.

There are tell-tale local references. A radio clip of the West Michigan Whitecaps baseball championship broadcast opens one of the tracks. Baseball was a large part of life for the Comstock Park native, who played the sport in high school and college and spent a chunk of his youth around Fifth Third Ballpark.

Christian Rap/Hip-Hop Tour Lands in West Michigan

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

KB  purpleIt's one of the biggest road shows in Christian rap/hip-hop – the Unashamed Forever Tour – back after a six-year hiatus with an all-star lineup of faith-based artists. Headlined by the award-winning Lecrae the tour features a variety of talents all under the Reach Records label.

One of those artists is KB (Kevin Burgess, pictured), who says the roster comes together under a cohesive theme.

"It's about the eternal aspects of our existence and what we do that impacts that," said KB, 30, from Nashville. "There's a universal message about being unashamed, and I think every artist in their unique way is beating that drum."

There will be plenty of on-stage collaborations as well as some solo time. "We've put together something special that a lot of folks will enjoy," he promised.

They're off to a good start – the first two weeks worth of shows were sold out in major markets such as Houston and Atlanta.

Musically Weaving Their Way

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Big Daddy Weave table shotMike Weaver (center) and Big Daddy Weave Mike Weaver said his band's new music fits hand-in-glove with the artists' renewed outlook.

"A lot of things were hitting us, but this has been like the Lord saying we've turned the corner," said the lead singer of the inspirational-pop group Big Daddy Weave.

It's been nearly four years since the band issued its last album. But after a stretch of life challenges, their new ballad "Alive" has been released and will be followed by an entire new collection later this year.

"This is a season of rest, even as we're touring," said Weaver, 43, on the phone from Nashville.

Big Daddy Weave comes to Hudsonville for a performance on March 29.

Degage Ministries ‘excited’ to Launch $6 Million Project

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

Degage New Building Cutline No. 1An exterior rendering of Degage’s construction project.More space to shelter distraught women. A larger dining room. A surgical recuperating area. And a new kitchen to bake more of those hard-to-resist Pauls' Mom's Cookies.

Degage Ministries is moving forward with plans to expand services to the area's homeless and low-income families, made possible by a $6 million construction project.

"We feel strongly that God is calling us to this bigger role and now is the time," said Marge Palmerlee, Degage's executive director. "We need to be able to address those immediate needs and not have people sleeping in their cars, on the street and under bridges. We're excited to be able to address those needs that have been identified in our community that is vital for health and welfare."

Construction will start in the spring and take about a year to complete. The goal is to keep serving people during construction, Palmerlee said.

"The plan is to not have to shut down," she said.

More to “The Breakup Song” Than Meets The Ear

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Battistelli Francesca - Main Press ImageFrancesca Battistelli performs March 24 in Holland Singer-songwriter Francesca Battistelli wondered how listeners would react to "The Breakup Song."

"I loved that it caused them to think...where is she going with this?" she said of the anthem on her latest album.

No, it's not the story of a past relationship or any kind of romantic entanglement. Instead, it's a musical statement rejecting fear and its undue influence in a determined believer's life.

The song's music video  with more than 10 million views, depicts a phone call in which the artist tells fear that "you don't own me" and "the no vacancy sign on my heart is lit up."

The New York native showcases the song on her tour which comes to Holland, Mich. on March 24.

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