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!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Relax and Refresh - by Ben Barnes

Summer is such a great time to relax and refresh when life has been so busy during the school year.  Schedules loosen up. Naps are on the to-do list. Flip flops are appropriate in public again somehow.  Society relaxes a little bit. It’s great. Summer helps us back away from the harsh reality of work and school and keeping up tiring paces. It’s as if our bodies are telling us we weren’t meant to live life at the speed we’ve talked ourselves into living. 

Jesus kept a pretty fast pace. He was always going from one place to another, healing people, performing miracles and changes lives, then going to another place. I imagine his schedule was pretty full (especially with twelve people in his group). But he got away to rest, too. Mark 1 talks about Jesus getting away to be alone to pray.  I’m sure he needed that break from the tight schedule to just relax, sit back against a tree and talk with God. Maybe we should look at Jesus’ example and take time this summer to relax, to get away from the noise and the crowds, and to pray.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Prayer Changes Everything - by Susan Jensen

What does that really mean? Can we pray and ask God for anything we want and get it? No, God doesn’t give us everything we want like a big vending machine in the sky. He does what He chooses and He does what He know is best for us. There is also the factor of free will. God did not create us as robots, He gave us free will - the will to do what we choose, regardless of what He wants or knows to be the best for us. God allows free will; therefore, some things that happen are a result of that free will whether it was ours or the free will of another.

Some of you are aware that we lost my brother and father just a month apart from each other a few months back. Did I pray for my brother to live? Yes. Did he? No. I sadly accept the fact that even though my brother should have taken better care of himself, he didn’t. That was his free will, and his early death was in part a result of that. Did I pray for my father not to suffer through his trial of cancer? Yes. Did he suffer? Unfortunately, yes. My father did smoke for over 20 years, although not the last 30 of his life. He also worked in a profession that exposed him to asbestos for 30 years. Once again, his free will and free will in the world played a big factor.
So if I prayed, and these factors didn’t change, why did I pray? These weren’t the only factors. My prayers offered me and those around me peace, comfort, and strength that can only come from a loving God…a God who says, I know what it is like to see a loved one die, and He says My heart cries for yours.

My prayers and the prayers of others also made a difference for my brother and my dad. How comforting to know, that someone is remembering you before the God of the universe. Likewise, the prayers from faithful friends have helped my family through the toughest time we have ever had to face.
It has not been an easy year, but I know without a doubt, that my mother, sister and I have been blessed with a comfort that only comes from God. It still hurts, there are still tears, but I KNOW that prayer changes things. I have felt it. Most of all, I know that God will see us through and one day in heaven we will see Cliff and Dad again.

Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!    Psalm 66:20
*Come here Pastor Rod’s message entitled “Prayer Changes Things” at Redeemer UMC, DeWitt, Michigan this coming Sunday and Monday as he continues our summer series exploring the faith of Abraham.

Monday, July 11, 2016

The Wind Beneath My Wings: A Lesson from the Birds - by Debby Kloosterman

A couple of weeks ago, John was out of town and I decided to go out to breakfast by myself.  After enjoying a delicious omelet with spinach and mushrooms (my nod to healthy eating), I exited the restaurant to begin the tasks of the day. 

Overhead in the blustery gray sky, large birds flew against the direction of the wind.  As I observed their flight I noticed that they did not continuously flap their wings.  In fact, they would flap four or five times and then coast.  The aerodynamic design of the birds allowed the wind beneath their wings to hold them in flight and support their forward movement with seemingly minimal effort.  This sight reminded me of the many times that God instructs me to rest in Him, to cast my cares upon Him, and to rely on Him to work things out.

Why do I spend all my time flapping, worrying and trying to control outcomes that are not mine to control?  Maybe I need to allow God to be my hero and hold me up in trying times and regular days as well.  As the song made famous by Bette Midler says:

Did you ever know that you're my hero
And everything I would like to be?
I can fly higher than an eagle
For you are the wind beneath my wings
The apostle Paul continually repeats this theme in 2 Corinthians and again in Philippians:

2 Corinthians 1:8-10New Living Translation (NLT)
We think you ought to know… about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. 10 And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us.

Philippians 4:13
For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

God is more than able.  I just need to allow Him to be the peace, the power and the hero He longs to be.