JL's Corner

As I sit here this morning watching the news, I am overwhelmed with the tragedy that is unfolding from Las Vegas, Nevada. At this moment there have been fifty-eight people killed and over five hundred wounded in a massacre by an evil gunman. This senseless violence seems incomprehensible to any logical person. We are horrified, saddened, and angered at what has taken place. So what do we do? What can we do? First and foremost we can pray for all those people who are being directly affected by this shooting. Those who have lost loved ones, those who are fighting for their lives in the hospitals and their families.  On a broader scale we might wonder what else we can be doing in a world where chaos, murder, violence and terror seem to be running rampant. As Christians each of us has a responsibility to share the good news gospel of Jesus Christ, to bring light into the darkness, and to love other people. Can we make a difference? Of course we can because when we do what God tells us to do He is with us, empowering us and amplifying the actions. There is still hope but people need to know where that hope is and that hope can only be found in Jesus Christ our Lord. Consider this prayer of the Apostle Paul and let it enlighten the eyes of our hearts.
     “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, they fullness of him who fills everything in every way.”  (Ephesians 1:17-23)
Love, J.L.
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (I Corinthians 13:13)

   All summer long I do not recall the temperature ever reaching ninety degrees but on Sunday September 24th we reached ninety one degrees. As I stood behind the pulpit I looked out at the brothers and sisters in Christ and for a minute I thought I was preaching to a small congregation in the Deep South with many fanning themselves with the bulletin and others wiping their foreheads with a hankie. When I was finished I noticed that my shirt was soaking wet in the back. Man it was one hot Sunday morning!
     Later in the afternoon we went swimming in the lake as the leaves were falling off of the trees. It seems crazy I know swimming at the end of September but that is the way the weather seems to have been. I have found that it is better to no longer go by what the date on the calendar is but rather what the thermometer reads and adjust your activities from there. Later in the week there is supposed to be a cold front coming through and we will have more autumn like temperatures so we can adjust once again and get the flannel back out.
     The weather is not the only thing that is unpredictable. Much that occurs in our daily lives is unpredictable. We make our plans sure enough, but in a moment’s notice everything can change. These unexpected happenings ought to remind us that we need to always be ready to go with the flow and give thanks to God who has given us another day of life and the very breath we breathe. And yes once again we must remember that God is the one who is in control, not us.
     “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. Anyone then who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.”  (James 4:13-17)
Love, J.L.

Driving along U.S. 2 just West of St. Ignace there is a beautiful stretch of Lake Michigan beach. The state has made room along the roadway for parking so that travelers can stop and take a break and walk along the beach or swim in Lake Michigan. This year the water level is so high that the beach is pretty much non-existent as the lake level is right up to the dunes. I can remember just a few years ago stopping there and throwing the Frisbee for our dog. At that time there was plenty of beach. In fact people were very concerned about the low water levels and some were even in a panic saying that they would never recover. In my short time living here on planet earth I have seen a few big cycles. Back in the 1980’s the lake levels were so high that there was flooding in many lake homes. Five years ago the lake levels were so low that grass and trees were starting to grow where this was once a lake. And now after a very rainy summer here we are once again with very high water levels. Oh how short sighted we are and how quickly we forget that God is the one in control, not us. Therefore let us recognize His sovereignty and praise Him!
     “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the waters.” (Psalm 24:1-2)
     “Come let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before Him with thanksgiving and extol Him with music and song. For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods. In His hands are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to Him. The sea is his, for He made it, and His hands formed the dry land.” (Psalm 95:1-5)
Love, J.L.

On Monday morning I was watching the television news reporting on Hurricane Irma with all of its devastation and destruction which at that time was starting to leave Florida and continue on up the east coast through Georgia and the Carolina’s. The scenes were absolutely incredible
     Now I normally do not read the ribbon that runs across the bottom of the television screen but on this day I happened to look at it for a minute and there was a steady flow of people’s names running across the screen. At first I did not know what they were there for but then I noticed 9:11 between each name and then I realized that these were the names of the victims of 9:11. The names just kept on going by for as long as I was watching because there were so many people who lost their lives in that terrorist attack. Those were not just names on the screen those were someone’s mother or father, brother or sister, parent or child, friend and co-worker. And so we remember.
      There is a moving business that I pass by every time I drive into town. On the side of their trucks it reads: “We Move Your Life”. Now obviously they are talking about all of our earthly possessions such as our furniture, clothes, electronics, appliances, cooking utensils and personal items. However there is an implication that this is what is most important to life, for life.
    The physical things of life are nowhere near the importance of life itself. No matter how much money we have spent on cars, homes, furniture, electronics and appliances they all pale in comparison to the value of life itself. And on top of that is the relationship between us and God.
    “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world, the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does, comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” (I John 2:15-17)
     Let’s be sure our focus is on what really matters to both our life here on earth and eternal life in heaven. 
Love, J.L.   

Last Sunday a good family friend and brother in Christ Doug Derose passed away. After fighting the good fight, finishing his race and keeping the faith, Doug went on to receive his crown of righteousness. Although we are happy for his gain we are sorry for our loss. As the Apostle Paul said: “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21)
I first met Doug along with his wife Genny and their rather large family back in Traverse City when I had just become a Christian. Even though there was a church much closer to their home I was very impressed by the fact that they drove some eighty miles to come and worship with us simply because they had such a close relationship with the church there. Doug was a man large in stature and he would unfold himself from the driver seat of the jam packed minivan full of children. Once out he would proudly proclaim, “she’s only got 278,000 miles on her and plenty more trips to church and back in her!” 
Once while I was still in college studying for the ministry I and a couple of other ministry students held a gospel meeting at the Summit church of Christ which was the Derose family’s home church. They invited me to stay with them for the weekend. We split and stacked wood together and had fun doing it. We sat around in their living room raising the roof singing songs of praise to our Great Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ. We attended the gospel meeting together digging deep into God’s Word and of course we enjoyed some of the best cooking ever. It was a weekend that none of us will forget.
Since then I moved to Marquette and they moved to Kentucky. Their children are all grown up now and moved out of the house. Yet, just a few years ago some of the family came and visited us in Marquette. They had bought a motor home and were on vacation. Doug jovially declared that we were right on the way even though it was actually hundreds of miles out of their way. Wouldn’t you know it, that Sunday afternoon we were having a picnic and congregational singing  at Presque Isle Park. The Derose family joined us.
Doug instilled in his family the importance of fellowshipping together with brothers and sisters in Christ and they are still doing so today. It didn’t matter how far they had to drive either, if the Body of Christ was assembling they were going to be there. What a great example and testament to this wonderful brother in Christ. I feel privileged to have known him. Please keep the Derose family in your prayers.
Love, J.L. 

It was a beautiful Sunday morning and the Lord’s church was assembled together to worship our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ. We began our time of worship together by singing “Our God is and Awesome God”. Then we prayed, sang more songs of faith and praise, observed the Lord’s Supper and then I shared a message from God’s Word, the Holy Bible. Following worship we continued our fellowship together with a wonderful meal prepared by some of the best cooks in the U.P. Then we celebrated the birth of Aiden Bradley with a baby shower. Later in the afternoon I presided over a funeral service for my cousin who recently passed away. At the first event everyone was happy and joyous as the presents were opened for the new little bundle of joy. A new birth with his whole life still ahead of him.  At the second event there was a lot of weeping and mourning. A husband, brother, father and grandfather was now gone.
      Later that week I presided over a wedding ceremony for a wonderful young couple who are just beginning their life together. And so goes the cycle of life and the work of a minister. As a minister I am present at all these different stages of life and thus am reminded of the brevity and precious gift of life here on planet earth. From the baby shower, to the wedding, to the funeral it all happens so relatively quickly. Thus it seems that we should all make the very best of our time here and most importantly is our relationship with God. Sin separates us from God and the only way to be redeemed is by the saving work of Jesus on the cross of Calvary. Have you obeyed the gospel and been reunited with God through faith in Jesus being immersed in the waters of baptism? If so, great, you are ready for whatever comes next. If not, why not make today the day of your salvation.   
    “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4:13-15)
Love, J.L. 

Friday night I was blessed with the privilege of performing a renewal of marriage vows for a wonderful couple who were celebrating their fiftieth wedding anniversary. It was a beautiful ceremony complete with a white wedding dress, bride’s maids and a best man.
     Sunday afternoon after church services we had lunch with a couple that I had the privilege of performing their wedding ceremony four years ago at a gorgeous outdoor setting overlooking Manistique Lake in  Curtis.
     Sunday evening we celebrated my son and daughter in law’s seventh wedding anniversary with ice cream cones at the Yooper Scoop in Gwinn.
    Throughout the bible weddings and marriages are used to picture larger truths. In the Old Testament, Israel is the bride and wife of the Lord.
     “For your Maker is your husband the LORD Almighty is His name, the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, He is called the God of all the earth.” (Isaiah 54:5)
     In the New Testament that imagery is applied to the church.
     “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery but I am talking about Christ and the church.”  (Ephesians 5:31-32)
     Some of the commonalities of a marriage between a husband and a wife and Christ and the church are obvious. For either one to work these elements must be present: commitment, surrender, sacrifice, forgiveness and love, to name a few. God loves us, forgives us, sacrificed His Son Jesus for us, is committed to us and Jesus surrendered to the will of His Father by dying on the cruel cross of Calvary. We love God because He first loved us. We need God’s forgiveness. We must surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ being buried with Him in the watery grave of baptism. We must commit our lives to Him. We too must be willing to make sacrifices in our lives for Christ and His church.
     “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory. For the wedding of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean was given her to wear.” (Revelation 19:6-8)
Have you said yes, I do, to Jesus?
Love, J.L. 

Last Sunday we hosted a sendoff picnic party at our home for Riley Debelak and Ansley Watson. Riley will soon be heading down to Harding University to begin his studies in the CAMT, center for advanced ministry training program. Riley was baptized into Christ two years ago and since then he has been on fire for the Lord. We have been blessed on many Sunday mornings by his song leading abilities. In my absence during back surgery recovery Riley took a few turns preaching and also led our young adult class for which I am very thankful. Riley has grown up here in the church in Marquette. We all know him, love him and will miss him.
     Ansley Watson came to us just a couple of years ago when she accepted a two year contract with WLUC TV 6, the same television station that broadcasts Let The Bible Speak. Ansley was a part of the TV 6 morning show on the air at six in the morning so you had to get up early to see her. Ansley did an excellent job while here so we are not surprised that she has been offered a job with another television station in a larger market. Ansley has been a bright light while here in Marquette and we will miss her smile, outgoing personality, beautiful spirit and participation with the church here.
     Now when a smaller congregation like the one here in Marquette sends off two young, vibrant and active members like Ansley and Riley it certainly leaves a rather large hole. We love them and will certainly miss them. However, rather than being sad we should be glad for them as they both are looking at exciting futures and certainly they will be a blessing to the church families that will welcome them into their fold.
     We wish both Riley and Ansley the very best in the next chapter of their lives and we will be keeping them in our prayers. One important thing to also remember is that in the body of Christ it is never good bye, but rather God be with you till we meet again, for in the blood of Christ we are all bound together for eternity. When the time for Jesus to leave this world was drawing near he encouraged his disciples with these words.
    “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me where I am.” (John 14:1-3)
Love, J.L.