Monday, September 19, 2016

Better & Stronger - by Tammy Bowman

This week I will begin following a strict 16-week marathon training schedule…YIKES! I say “YIKES” because this will be my 3rd marathon and I mentally and physically know what to expect. This is extremely exciting, but it also terrifies me a bit.  I know that I will experience moments of running highs that will include reaching distance goals, achieving a faster pace, and braving through challenging weather conditions. But there will also be moments of running lows including exhaustion, blisters, body aches and pains, challenging Michigan weather conditions, and I usually trip and fall a couple times.

I have been preparing myself over the past year to get physically prepared to not just run 26.2 miles but to make it through the 4 months of training. I feel that I have properly prepared myself physically but that doesn’t always ensure that things will go the way I plan. There will be a lot of unexpected bumps along the way, but I know that after I cross that finish line in Disney World, I will be a better and stronger person for having gone through it.

Even more so, I hope to be a better and stronger Christian when I cross that finish line.

I have been reading the book Soul Detox by Craig Groeschel and it has helped me to focus my thoughts, mind, attitude, actions and soul towards Christ in all that I do. When I run, I am alone a lot with my thoughts and I spend a lot of time in reflection. Knowing that I will have hours of alone time terrifies me a bit too. Like most people, I fill up my days doing things, being busy. Sometimes it’s just easier to be distracted then to be challenged with focusing on Christ. Even as I write this blog, I am distracted.

“What about you? What’s your greatest fear? Can you choose to trust God with it? Be as honest with yourself as you can. This is really important. In my experience, the further away I get from God, the more the what-ifs of this world begin to pile on, trying to suffocate me with fear. But the closer I am to God, the more I’m able to trust him, and the less hold the things of this world have on me. Choose. Tell God what it is you’re afraid of. Then trust him no matter what.” Craig Groeschel, Soul Detox

Not only is it difficult to face my own fears, it is painful to even begin to identify and admit those fears. Sure, foam fingers scare the mess out of me but I’m not talking about those kinds of fears. I’m talking about the ones that I think about when I have time in solitude. The painful fears that I’m not sure I’m fully ready to give up control on. The ones that for some reason I am holding on to because I know that when I give them to God, he will not only make me face them but he will use them to make me a better and stronger Christian.

Beginning a training program is always a little scary, because I know the process of improving is sometimes painful.  As Christians we tend to take the same approach.  Admitting our fears and facing them to become better will be painful, but in the end all the time and effort will have made a lasting difference and will bring us closer to God.


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

"A Man My Age" - by Kelvin Fizzell

As many of you know, I celebrated my 65th birthday this past May. I had not been spending a lot of time reflecting (some read agonizing) on my age. I would generally go about the daily activities of life without giving it a second thought.
During a recent office visit, to review some routine tests, the doctor began the evaluation with the phrase “well, for a man your age”… I vaguely remember some discussions about cholesterol, blood pressure, yada, yada, yada… Honestly, the phrase “for a man your age” kept resonating in my mind! “A MAN MY AGE”… Had I been overlooking something? Was I supposed to be looking at life thru older lenses? Was I supposed to be acting differently? Was I supposed to slow down…not try to accomplish as much? Be more like “a man my age”?
During everyday life, self-doubt, apprehension, lack of self-confidence, or even the questioning of one’s faith can easily creep into our daily thought. If or when it does, God has this amazing capacity/timing for offering support and strength when we really need it. One needs only to be receptive in order to hear His guidance and direction. For this “man of my age” dilemma I was struggling with, God’s message came to me during a sermon series Pastor Rod offered on Sundays at Redeemer Church over the recent summer months. The sermons talked about a man from the Old Testament of the Bible by the name of Abraham. Abraham was well into his late 80’s when God asked him to do the unexpected…to pack up everything that he owned and to move to a land far away, from his family, and from everything that he had ever known in his life. Interestingly, God did not begin instructing Abraham by saying…I have something special for “a man your age” to do. God simply presented His vision to him. To God, Abraham’s age was inconsequential in the matter. Even though Abraham himself wondered why God would ask him to do all this as a “man of his age”, he faithfully did what God had asked of him. By being faithful, and overlooking his own self-doubt regarding his age, Abraham went on to build a great nation as God had promised that he would.
As we grow in years, it’s tempting to develop a mindset that discourages us from being open to opportunities that God places in front of us. This attitude should be put aside in every way. We should not be concerned with being “a person of our age”, but rather being “a person for all ages” when it comes to serving the Lord.
After this, Abram had a vision and heard the Lord say to him, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I will shield you from danger and give you a great reward.” Genesis 15:1 NIV

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Decisions - by Diane Lantzy

A little three year old boy I know (who will remain nameless to protect the innocent) was bitten at day care recently.
The teacher asked: “Why did he bite you?”
The perhaps less then innocent little boy replied: “He had his reasons.”
As adults, we think we have moved past this type of behavior but unfortunately, it often just changes formats. I certainly have done things that haven’t been done for the right reasons and then I am surprised when these actions come back and bite me (at least I am speaking figuratively now). On the other hand, there are times when I should take action but am afraid of the consequences so do nothing to avoid getting bitten.
I face many decisions each day – some are more important than others. When I struggle with any decision, there are many verses from the Bible that are helpful to me. Here are a couple:
“Let the wise listen and add to their learning and let the discerning get guidance.:"  Proverbs 1:5
I can always use good advice from godly friends.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”  Philippians 4:6
Remembering that God is always with me helps comfort me especially when I am worried that there may be negative consequences of a well thought out decision.
Listening to others, reading the Bible and talking to God is always a good path to take.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Change - By Suzie Unruh

So these last few weeks and the next few weeks bring a lot change in my life … at work and within my family. Not only are we switching from summer to fall (which means checking the kid’s closet), a change in work schedules, a change in school buildings /school schedules / school pick-up and drop off times, a change in switching from gearing up every night for summer camp to school, homework, school lunches and everything else that comes with it. Changes at work with managing and learning the new Redeemer Church website (which is very exciting), to changing where my husband and I will serve on Sunday mornings with Christian Education starting on September 11th.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed! This year I find myself looking at things differently - I have made the choice to look at things differently.

I am welcoming change; change brings reflection into my life.  One, I’m lucky God blessed me with three great kids - that have a home with a closet full of clothes. I am blessed to see God’s work and the change of the seasons. Lucky to live in a community with great, safe schools, where my kids can grow, learn, and make new friendships. Lucky to be part of Redeemer Church, a church that is growing and its purpose is to bring love, joy and Jesus to this world.

With all the changes happening in my life, I am changing on the inside – grateful for living this life … grateful, for another day to live this crazy, beautiful changing daily life.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

What's New? - by Pastor Rod

It’s hard to believe but we are in the middle week of August.  Most of us in this congregation and community value the summer months for relaxation, vacations, travel, and spending more time with our families.  And while those things are also important to us, this is also a busy time for the staff at Redeemer as we prepare for the fall. 

Our staff is preparing for the return of fall programming – Christian Education for children, youth and adults; several outreach opportunities; Welcome Weekend; and more.
Some of the “new things” that you will experience this fall are:

·         We will be launching a new website in a few weeks – giving us a more up-to-date look that is compatible with all devices and more ease of access to all the ministries and opportunities here at Redeemer.

·         With the help of a graphic artist, we developed a new logo.  While there are many core theological doctrines and values that do not change…how we market ourselves to the community is constantly changing.  We hope that it invites people who may be far from God or looking for a church home to come to Redeemer and encounter God, find hope, and experience grace.

·         This summer we changed the look on stage in the Worship Center.  We’ve moved the drums, added some new musicians – all in a desire to grow people and provide our congregation with a quality worship experience.

·         On August 3, we held our first Summer Fun Night.  This was an outdoor event – planned for the community.  In partnership with Tiffany Funeral Home in Lansing, we hosted nearly 500 adults and kids as we enjoyed food, fellowship and lots of fun.

·         Two Mission Teams shared the love of Christ, this summer, in Haiti and in Eastern Kentucky…using their spiritual and vocational gifts to bring help and hope to those in need.

·         Scores of students and adult staff experienced the joy of Christian camping at places like Christian Athletic Camp and ACT Camp at Wesley Woods.  The inspiration, encouragement and impact for Jesus Christ that is experienced in each of these camps will make an eternal difference.

·         We continue to be a resource for many pastors and churches in the West Michigan and Detroit Annual Conferences (soon to be the Michigan Area of the United Methodist Church).  We believe that “the local church is the hope of the world” and we have a responsibility to help strengthen and revitalize churches that are struggling.

·         Being the largest UMC in the Lansing area and strategically located near the Bishop’s office and Area Ministry Center (located in DeWitt) – we are asked to host numerous Conference meetings and events.  On October 9, we will host the Installation Service for 3 new District Superintendents.

·         On September 17, we will host a national event – The Radical Disciple Making Conference – led by Bill Easum, Bill Tenny-Brittian, and Scott Musselman nationally known church consultants.
I am excited every day to wake up and be part of a church that is dynamic and making a difference in the lives of people in this community and beyond.  But know that we can’t do it without you.  Please pray about how you can best serve and give as we continue to expand our reach and make a Kingdom impact.

Pastor Rod

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Defining Moments - Sue Campbell

I like to spend quiet time reflecting while I’m digging in my gardens.  As one thought led to another, I started thinking about defining moments in my life – death of a parent, going to college, getting married, having kids, starting to work at Redeemer, etc.  That led me to question:  “just what is a defining moment?” 

Here are a couple of definitions:
·        an event that typifies or determines all subsequent related occurrences
·       a point at which the essential nature or character of a person, group,etc., is revealed or identified

Interesting…and better yet, here are some synonyms:
·         moment of truth
·         critical moment
·         turning point
·         point of no return

Wow – some of the defining moments in my life have been good while others have been bad.  But I don’t think I ever thought of any of them as a “point of no return!” 

However I am wondering how have I revealed my character during those times?  Could people tell that I’m a Christ-follower?  Was it apparent that I try to put my trust in God’s hands?  Did I show the Fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control? 

Hmmm…good questions…  

Because I have free will to make choices, I know there will be more defining moments in the future.  In preparation of them, I’m praying that God reminds me that the ultimate definition of me is that I am a child of His.  That there is never a point of no return to His open arms.  And that if I continue to trust and obey Him, and be in His Word, the Bible, I can use those defining moments to reflect His glory to others.   

Thursday, August 4, 2016

The Magnificence of Niagara Falls - by Sandy Hrostowski

Our first vacation in five years and what a powerful vacation it was. I had never been to Niagara Falls and knew very little about the area on the Canadian side. On one of our walks along the really wild rapids, I learned that it was a class 6 rapid. This is the only one in the world and considered completely impassable and illegal to be on. As I made a video of the rapids, I was awestruck by the sound and the power the water was making. I had never heard such a thunderous noise before.

We were able to go under the Falls by going down an elevator and then walking through a tunnel. There were a couple of places where you could actually walk out very close to where the Falls were raining down 60 million gallons of water per minute. Amazing!
Many might not know that I am afraid of heights. I can only climb three steps on a ladder before my legs start shaking. I went on a ride called the Aero ride over the Niagara Whirlpool. My husband would not go and thought I was a bit crazy for doing it. He said “What if it falls”?  I told him my heart and soul are ready to meet my Lord and God, so if that’s the way he wanted to bring me home, well than what a ride. I was glad I went, as all my trust and faith were placed in Jesus.  When I got off the ride (besides saying “Praise God”) my legs were still shaking.

Seeing the Falls and all the sights and sounds it makes, gave me a glimpse of the thunderous sound and power our Lord will make when He returns for his people...  I won’t be afraid, but my knees may still shake!