WELLSPRING

SUNDAY MORNING WORSHIP | 9 + 11 AM

"Instead of praying nervously, God gave me the courage to pray boldly."

On January 5th, our Tide (college and young adult) and UNITED (high school) groups headed into downtown Grand Rapids to share love with, listen to, provide physical needs and share the gospel with anyone who was in need. We asked Nate Van Cleave about his experience:

WC_DTOutreachEtemplate1024x.jpg

Outside the Comfort Zone

When the opportunity to serve the church comes up, I usually will try to jump on it. I love to serve and I love talking to people. So why is it that I always feel so nervous when the opportunity to serve is through evangelism? 

How God Showed Up

God provided courage to me, and he also showed up in the way he led me to the people I He wanted me to talk to that day. They were kind and easy to talk to, and were the first people I met on an evangelism outreach who had ever asked me to pray for them. I wanted to just hug them for asking me, but they needed prayer, so I prayed with them. Instead of praying nervously, God gave me the courage to pray boldly and with love and compassion for those men. 

An Answer to Prayer

God answered my prayer for courage. He also knew in my heart that I needed to have a positive experience on this trip because I had been getting discouraged from previous outreaches that were kind of discouraging. Whether it was just outright rejection, or feeling like I was annoying people, my form of evangelism just hadn’t been working like I had hoped. So after this outreach I have this excitement and newfound peace in knowing God is with me when I’m obedient to Him and I share His love and His word with others. 

True Joy in Serving Others Together

I want to encourage everyone to participate in these outreaches whenever you can! The people that go (that I notice) have such joy about serving it makes my heart happy to see so many give up a Saturday afternoon to go evangelize to those who need Jesus. And it’s such a blessing to able to have community with other Christians in your church that you might not have even known before! 

Please continue to pray for the world of people who need Jesus as their Savior and for the college and youth ministries at Wellspring Church.

2019 Ice Camp was a Blast!

On January 4-6, students in 7th and 8th grades went to the Ice Camp Winter Retreat at Miracle Camp in Lawton, Michigan for a dynamic time of building relationships, worshiping God and having a great time together with the goal of encountering Jesus Christ in a personal and effectual way. Thank you for your prayers!

We wanted to share a couple of testimonies from a couple of the leaders on the trip!

“I had a great conversation with one of our girls after the worship session on Saturday night. She asked me how we know 100% that we are saved. After talking with her, she said that this weekend was the first time (since she gave her life to Christ at an early age) that she has felt the working of the Holy Spirit in her heart. How amazing to confirm to her that she was truly sealed with the Holy Spirit. What a joy to be a part of that with her.” — SABRINA

“What an incredible weekend it was! We had some really good conversations one on one about what it looks like to have your identity in Christ and not in the world. We talked about questions like ‘What does a Godly friend look like? Am I that kind of friend?’ One of the girls prayed and asked the Lord to give her a special Godly friend that she could walk through life with. God enabled me to deepen my relationships with these girls so that we could have Godly lifelong connections with each other. I’m so thankful for Wellspring and the work that is happening in our body of believers!” — EMILY

Thanks for your prayers Wellspring! If your student went on this trip, we encourage you to have a conversation with him or her about some of the concepts that were taught, the worship or the way they connected with God, the leaders, or each other. Please continue to pray for the Youth Ministry at Wellspring Church!

2019 Ice Camo.jpg

Advent: Great Blessing to Great Proclamation

And here they were. About thirty days after Jesus’s birth, Mary and Joseph went to Jerusalem to present Him to God as their first born. It was a part of the Jewish law passed down since the time of Moses.

Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,

“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation
that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the [nations],
and for glory to your people Israel.”

And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. (Luke 2:25-33)

The angel announced Him. The shepherds praised Him. Mary and Joseph named Him. And now, Simeon proclaims God’s salvation. The God who saves, Jesus, is the good news of great joy. Just as the angel announced and Simeon proclaims, that good news is for all people. Even though we live in a world today where there are still nearly 1,000 ethnic groups who have never had contact with someone who could tell them the good news of great joy, we know one day they will hear. The Apostle John tells us,

And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you [Jesus] to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” (Rev 5:9-10, emphasis added)

The blessing of Christmas is not about what happens Tuesday morning around the Christmas tree, even though the giving of gifts, the love we feel for our family and friends, the hope for peace, and the traditions we celebrate emanate from those magnificent events surrounding the birth of Jesus more than 2,000 years ago. The great blessing of the Christmas story is God invading human history as a precious baby to give Himself so that others could also see His salvation, just as Simeon. Then, just as Simeon, we have the privilege to proclaim it to every tribe, language, people, and nation.

­—Michael Cooper

Advent: Great Joy for a Great Many

by Michael Cooper

It is hard to imagine their situation. Nine months before, Mary was young, unmarried, and told she would become pregnant; an even greater miracle than what had happened with her relative Elizabeth. She learned from Gabriel that her baby would be great and would be called the Son of the Most High. He would reign from the throne of David over the house of Jacob, and His kingdom would have no end. Joseph was honorable yet perplexed when reassured by an angel in a dream that Mary’s pregnancy was by the Holy Spirit. They were both told to name the baby Jesus.

“And at the end of eight days, when He was circumcised, He was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.” (Luke 2:21)

The Apostle Peter tells us that there is no other name under heaven by which we can be saved (Acts 4:12). It is the name that is above every name and at the sound of that name, the Apostle Paul tells us, every knee will bow and tongue confess that He is Lord (Phil 2:9-10). His Hebrew name means “God saves” and it is that name, the one given to Him by Mary and Joseph, we proclaim around the world.

A recent convert from Islam shared,

“I understand that Jesus is the only way to go heaven and receive a blessing from God. I confessed my sins before God and I cry to Him for my sins. I have peace in my heart and understand that Jesus forgave my sins. I accepted Jesus as my personal Savior and Lord and decided to follow Him. I started to read my Bible regularly and pray to God. Now, I am sharing about God with other Muslims among our own people and through me many people accepted Jesus as their Savior and Lord and are obeying the word of God. I want to give thanks to God that He has chosen me for His kingdom. I give all glory and honor to Jesus because He is my Lord whom I worship day and night. Jesus is my Heart. I love Jesus because He loved me first.”

A wonderful testimony of how God saves, yet, it is hard to imagine that there are still places on the planet that have never heard the name of Jesus. More than two millennia after the angelic announcement of good news of great joy that is for a great many, not all have heard. In 1900, there were only 880 million people who did not know the name of Jesus. Today, because of population growth, there are 2.1 billion who have never heard the name that Mary and Joseph gave their newborn baby. Even so, the proclamation of that name brings great joy for a great many. Now, it is for us to proclaim it to a great many more.

Remembering 2018, Looking with Hope to 2019

The evening of Sunday the 16th is going to be a great time. It’s a time where we will stand up together as a family and proclaim the faithfulness of God as a church body and remember His goodness and His work in 2018.

How did God work in your life in 2018? What victories and joys do you recall? How did God provide in a miraculous way? What new friendships and relationships did God provide to you?

Maybe it wasn’t such a fun and carefree year. Maybe your 2018 contained struggle or deep heartache. Maybe there was a loss of a loved one. Perhaps 2018 was a year through which you were only able to endure by the grace and strength of God.

Maybe 2018 was the year of great breakthrough. Maybe you saw the fulfillment of a promise or the answer to long time of prayer. Again, these joys are only by God’s grace.

Let’s mark 2018. Let’s remember God’s faithfulness as we go forward with our eyes fixed on Him.

Romans 8: 38-39 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

You are invited to join us on Sunday the 16th for our annual meeting. We will celebrate with carols, cookies, cocoa and worship, and we want you to be a part of it!

Advent: Great Joy Gives Great Praise

Joseph and his betrothed, Mary, arrived in Bethlehem some time before Jesus’s birth. They traveled the eight-day journey along the Jordan River from Nazareth most likely with a caravan as there were always dangers along those roads. Luke tells us that once they arrived in the city of their ancestors, they could not find a room. So, other accommodations were made to provide for an obviously pregnant relative. Then, He was born.

We tend to add more to the Christmas story like Mary traveling on a donkey, although it is hard to imagine a pregnant woman on the back of a beast of burden for eight days. Or, the birth occurring in a stable, even though stables were not in use in Palestine at the time. We add the inn keeper who said there were no vacancies, although inns would not have been in a city such as Bethlehem and Luke’s account never even mentions an inn keeper. We even add a cold December night to the birth though shepherds would hardly be keeping watch of sheep outside in winter. These things add color to the story of Jesus’s birth although they are not mentioned in Scripture.

Erwin Lutzer, former pastor of Moody Bible Church in Chicago, once said something to the effect that there would be no cross if there were not a cradle. True. Yet, while there is a certain cuteness to the image of a cradle surrounded by animals with Mary and Joseph kneeling on a bed of straw in a stable gazing at their new born Son under the glow of a star as shepherds and three wise men arrive with gifts, the actual story is much more profound.

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. (Luke 2:15-20)

Photo by Jessica Lewis from Pexels

Photo by Jessica Lewis from Pexels

The shepherds great fear had been turned to great joy and their great joy would turn to great praise. So, they go “with haste” to find what they had heard from the angel. Christ the Lord was indeed born! And there He was, exactly like the angel had announced.

The color we sometimes add to the story of the birth of our Savior can distract us from what Scripture says: the shepherds found Jesus just as they had been told. What the angel announced was indeed true! Christ had come! A Savior was born! We have no idea how many babies had been born in Bethlehem at this time or on this day, but His was different. He alone was lying in a manger wrapped in swaddling cloth. And if this were true, as the shepherds experienced, then he must be the Savior. Just as in the field after the angelic announcement when the chorus sang, “Glory to God in the highest,” so now, the shepherds, departing from the child, sang their praise. It was all about God’s glory! The great giver gave a great gift that brought great joy and resulted in great praise.

So, here’s a question for the season. What would happen if we genuinely understood that Christmas was about God’s glory? How would that change our lives? It changed the shepherds. Their great joy gave God great praise and they told everyone about their awesome experience. 

Advent: From Great Fear to Great Joy

December is a great time of year. Children are getting excited about Christmas. Parents are frantically looking for the best shopping deals for gifts. College students cannot wait for the final exams to be complete. Families are scouring for the best Christmas tree. And in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the season, we are reminded that Jesus was born.

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:8-14)

That first Christmas must have been incredible. It was an announcement like no other to a group of people who were of no consequence. I’m not sure what great fear feels like, but it had to be intense. Here was a group of shepherds with their sheep at night; a pitch-black darkness that would have been illumined only by the stars. The shepherds, ever so vigilant and constantly on alert from all sides, would have no doubt encountered fierce wolves who would surround their prey in the cover of darkness. With courage and bravery, they successfully thwarted many attacks by these predators.

On this night, however, they were filled with great fear like nothing they had ever experienced. Heaven had opened up to the shepherds. They were all at once surrounded! But, not by wolves. It was the glory of God himself, shining down on them with the announcement of good news for all people. It was the ultimate Christmas gift, delivered in the most awesome manner and it would change their great fear into great joy.

After more than 2,000 years, that good news is still being delivered here and around the world. Sometimes I hear stories of the gospel coming to Muslims and Hindus through the announcement of a messenger in a dream or vision. More often, the gospel is shared through personal testimonies of faithful saints, like you and me, who have experienced the great joy of the Savior. And, it always brings God glory when the gift is shared with others. In the midst of the hustle and bustle of the season, the story of the shepherds reminds us to be aware that there are people we will encounter at work, in our neighborhoods, on the bus, or at the shopping mall who might be overwhelmed with great fear but ready to hear the good news of great joy that is for them.

­—Michael Cooper