JL's Corner

Saturday afternoon I attended the Vintage Snowmobile Association of Marquette’s annual Antique and Vintage Snowmobile Show. It was a bright and sunny day and the old sleds were lined up in all their glory for our viewing. I like to attend this event each year because it always takes me back to my childhood. When I see the old Ski Doo I am reminded of the rides my dad used to take me on. He would have me sit on the front and away we would go to the Mullet Lake Shivaree or out through the woods trails in the darkness of night. Oh it seemed like we traveled so far a distance but when I grew up I could see that we had actually only gone a few miles. Or the Scorpion Stinger II that was just like the sled my grandpa bought for me when I was only nine years old. I wore out three tracks on that machine as I pretended I was racing in the “I 500”.
Where else but in the good old U.S.A. and in particular the U.P. of Michigan can one go to an event where the highlights are a “Loudest Pipes Contest” and an “Engine Blow Up Contest.” That’s right we all stood around as contestants revved their souped up old machines with tuned exhaust systems in front of a decibel registering device to see who’s sled was the loudest. Three machines tied for first at 125 decibels! The next contest allowed individuals to guess how long a snowmobile engine would run without any oil in it before it blew up. Hey, what can I say, it is a long winter up here!
Do you ever wonder what God must think of us as He looks down and sees the many different activities we are involved in? I don’t know if it is like a father teaching his children how to ride a bike, or study for algebra or study the Bible. Or like a grandfather watching his grandchildren play and learn their way. A few things I do know are that He loves us and delights in us and He has given us everything we could ever need for our physical lives and wellbeing here on planet earth. And most importantly He has given us His Son as our Savior.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His One and Only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
“As for the saints who are in the land they are glorious ones in whom is all my delight.” (Psalm 16:3)
Love, J.L.

As we watch the winter Olympics we are impressed by what these incredible athletes who are the very best in the world in their specific disciplines can do and rightfully so for they have achieved greatness. Whether they are gliding across the ice on figure skates spinning in circles that make us dizzy just watching, or  sliding the heavy granite rock towards the bull's-eye as teammates frantically broom the ice in front of it. Whether they are flying high through the air off the ski jump or the half pipe, pounding through the moguls or trying to negotiate the high speed turns on the downhill ski course. They are all amazing and their feats are impressive!
But what I am really impressed with is you. Yes you! For it is you who have continued to work on your marriage having been together with your spouse for five, ten, fifteen, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty years or more. Or it is you who have raised your children to be respectful, kind, loving, fair and honest. Or could it be you who have quietly gone about your daily business always trying to do what is right and just and fair even if on some days you do not really feel like it. Is it you who have cooked and cleaned, done loads of laundry, picked up after the kids, driven all across the land to cheer whatever sport or function your children were participating in. Or maybe it is you who faithfully puts in your forty or more every week to bring a paycheck home, and when you are home you fix the leaky sink with the slow drain, snow blow the driveway, help the kids with the homework and dream about taking a nap. Could it be you who helps out at the church building, fixing this and repairing that, filling communion trays, teaching a bible class, washing the windows, scrubbing the toilets, vacuuming the floors, shoveling the walk and picking someone up who needs a ride. Or it is quite possibly you who have recently been baptized into Christ and are now walking by faith each and every day of your new life in Christ. Yes, brothers and sisters it is you, because day in and day out you are in many different ways extending the grace that God has bestowed upon you through the death, burial and resurrection of His Son Jesus the Christ.
“Let us throw off the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:1-2) 
Love, J.L.
Today I had to go to the dentist for a tooth extraction. Yea I know it was not very  fun. It is not that there was all that much discomfort involved with all the modern numbing agents used. But there certainly was this sense of loss. A part of my body is now gone for good and certainly I will miss it. When I came home from the dentist and let our dog Jayla out of her crate she immediately came partially up on my lap and smelled the side of my mouth the procedure was done on. She then kind of nuzzled herself into me and I petted her for a while. It was as if she immediately knew that something had happened to me and thus came forward to provide, as best as she knew how, comfort.
I wonder how aware we are of what might be going on within the many people that we have contact with each day. Is someone struggling with some physical pain? Is someone dealing with an emotional struggle? Has someone been hurt by careless or intentional hurtful words hurled at her? Is someone struggling with severe challenges at his workplace? The list of potential problems facing individuals that we know or come in contact with is virtually endless. But do we even know? Do we even care? Are we even trying to be aware? If my little dog who in no way even knows that I went to the dentist can be aware and try to provide comfort; should not I be able to do the same for another human being, a brother or sister in Christ, family member, work or school mate, friend, neighbor or even casual acquaintance? I need to at least try.
“Therefore as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”  (Colossians 3:12
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)
Love, J.L.

Another Super Bowl has come and gone with this year’s underdog Philadelphia Eagles outdueling the New England Patriots to become the champions of the NFL. The big story is that of the Philadelphia quarterback Nick Foles. Nick is the second string quarterback who was called into duty when the starter went down with a year-ending knee surgery. Subsequently Nick then went from backup quarterback to starter and ultimately to Super Bowl MVP. Nick, a man of faith when interviewed after the big game gave glory to God as did a number of his teammates including his head couch. Nick holding his daughter while standing on the podium seemed to take it all in stride believing that God has much bigger plans for him than being a record setting professional football quarterback; a place that many would think is the pinnacle of life.  Nick wants to continue to study to be a minister using his football achievements as a platform for reaching out to High School students. Nick wants to help them find their way through the many distractions of their teenage years, especially the social media craze.

I suspect that I and most of you who read this article will probably never become a professional athlete. Yet God has each of us in a special place that we too can use our lives to glorify God. Our life experiences, walks of faith, struggles and victories have helped to prepare us to share the love of Christ right here and right now wherever we are. If you are a disciple of Christ you have a story to tell. Nick never knew that God would take him as far as He did and we never know just how far God can take us. But if we are faithful and open to His plans for our lives we can be assured that He can and will do amazing things through our lives. Consider these words of Mordecai as he persuades Esther to help save the Israelites from annihilation.
“Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this.” (Esther 4:12-14) 
Love, J.L.

Last week in the midst of a big snow storm my older UTV plow vehicle broke down. I drove over to the local auto mechanic Joe and Sons here in Gwinn and explained my problem. Even though they primarily work on cars and trucks not UTV’s, the young Lad Aaron, who is one of the mechanics  there said he would be glad to look at it for me if I could bring it in the next day. Then much to my surprise they offered to come over and plow out my driveway for me! Later they called me and said they found the problem, would order the part and have it installed as soon as the part arrived. When they called me to tell me it was done I went and picked  up my machine and when I looked at my bill there was no charge for them plowing me out. Now that is what I call good old small town service.
Then I got to wondering what kind of small town service the church in Marquette provides for the members of our community. Do we make it easy to come and join us for services? Do we look for more ways to help people who are in need or do we just do the minimum? How welcoming are we? Do we make guests feel at home the first time they visit? Do we show them the love of Christ?
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me. I was sick and you looked after me. I was in prison and you came to visit me.” (Matthew 25:35-36)
“Keep on loving each other as brothers. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:1-2)  
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity let us do good to all people.” (Galatians 6:9-10)
Love, J.L.

As I sit writing this article we are under a winter storm warning for what might possibly be the worst storm of the year. Large accumulations of heavy, wet, snow are expected across the region both today and tomorrow and it is starting right now. Normally this would not bother me one bit but wouldn’t you know it that this would be the time that my little plow vehicle would be broken down. It is just bad timing I guess. There are of course no guarantees in life. Even if your car or truck or other vehicle has a manufacturer’s warranty that does not mean that it will not break down. Once again I am reminded that everything we see, hear, touch, and own is all on loan. That is right, even if you have something in your possession that is bought and paid for it is still only on loan for we are but stewards of everything that God has provided for us. We were born naked and no matter how hard we may try we will leave this earth with no physical possessions.
 There are however a few guarantees that God has shared with us in His Holy Scriptures, the Bible. One is something every man and women on planet earth must face. Another is something we cannot buy, rent, or lease, for it is a free gift. And the last is the greatest guarantee of all time.
“Just as man is destined to die once; and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.”  (Hebrews 9:27-28)
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23
“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession to the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:13-14)
So, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!
Love, J.L.

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” (Psalm 119:105)              
My son and daughter in law were recently driving home from work one evening when the hood of their car flew open shattering the windshield and causing the rear view mirror to come flying off into their laps. All of a sudden they could not see where they were going for the hood was blocking their vision. After just a few seconds that probably seemed more like hours my son was able to carefully navigate the car off to the side of the road. It was a very scary situation for sure, but thank God they were fine and did not get into an accident. The hood and the windshield of the car however did not fare out so well. Seeing where we are going is very important when we are driving down the roadway. So too, having clear vision when we are traveling down the roadways of life is very important. Oh we may be able to stumble along by ourselves for a while but it sure is helpful to have some guidance. So where do we obtain the guidance we need. We turn to Him who knows us best, our Creator, Father God. It is He who out of love allowed us to come to earth with freedom to choose our own course. In His great love, He did not leave us alone but He provided a guide, a spiritual road map to help us achieve success in our journey and to make it home.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks he must believe and not doubt.” (James 1:5-6)
“Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” (Psalm 25:4-5)
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
“Let the wise listen and add to their learning and let the discerning get guidance.”  (Proverbs 1:5)
Happy Trails To You. Love, J.L.

When I got home from Men’s Monday Night Football and Bible Study I turned on my television to finish watching the college football national championship game between Alabama and Georgia. It turned out to be a fantastic finish in overtime with the Alabama Crimson Tide coming out on top to be named national champions. There were the usual interviews after the game with very happy Alabama players and very dejected Georgia players. At one point the cameras caught a player with his head buried in the shoulder of one of his coaches and it was apparent that he was overcome with emotions. To me the outcome of the game did not really matter all that much. I was rooting for Georgia but I certainly was not heartbroken when they lost for I had nothing invested. But to that young man who had devoted countless hours of training and preparation, workouts, sweating, pain and practice throughout not only this year but throughout his life, it meant everything. That is the difference between a player on the field and a fan casually watching the game from home.
We may be able to draw some parallels in the Lord’s church. There are many who are deeply devoted to Christ and His church. They are involved with and concerned about all activities of the church. Whenever the doors are open they are there helping out, and generally taking part in anything that is going on. They are also there working behind the scenes doing the things that are necessary to maintain and improve the operations of both the physical church building and the spiritual wellbeing of its members.  They are not afraid to devote extra time and resources because the church is near and dear to them. There are also many in the Lord’s church who are may we say more casual Christians. They attend Sunday services every couple of weeks or so, they might attend a Bible study once in a great while but for the most part that is about it. Now which do we suppose are more like me watching the game at home and which are more like the young man crying on his coach’s shoulder? Which are you?
“Instead speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Him who is the head that is Christ. From Him the whole body, joined and held together by ever supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” (Ephesians 4:15-16)
Love, J.L.  

Today, school was called off due to high winds, blowing snow and frigid temperatures so my wife Pam was home enjoying a day off. She started looking through and old cook book from the 1990’s that the Traverse City church of Christ had put together. As she thumbed through the pages I asked her to please read out loud the names of those who provided their recipes. It was a quick trip down memory lane as I pictured in my mind each sister and even a few brothers in Christ and yes even I had a recipe in there. Some have passed away and some like us have moved away but the memories of many enjoyable pot luck fellowship meals with our dear friends still brings me great joy. The following is a copy of “Life’s Recipe”, author unknown that was included in the cook book. Enjoy!
1 cup of good thoughts, 1 pound of good deeds, 1 cup of consideration for others, 2 cups of sacrifice for others, 3 cups of forgiveness, 2 cups of well-beaten thoughts. Mix these thoroughly. Add tears of joy and sorrow and sympathy for others. Fold in 4 cups of prayer and faith to lighten other ingredients and raise the texture to a great height of Christian Living. After pouring all of this into your daily life, bake well with the heat of human kindness. Serve to all you come in contact with and give to them a loving smile!
“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17)
Love, J.L.

Last year it was the Dallas Cowboy’s running back Ezekiel Elliot who after scoring a touchdown jumped into the Giant Salvation Army Kettle near the back of the end zone. This year the Seattle Seahawk’s nickel back Justin Coleman did the same thing after scoring a touchdown off an interception. Each player was charged with a fifteen yard unsportsmanlike penalty costing their respective team’s substantial field position. Both players knew they were not allowed to do this, but they did it anyway. Why? Seems the oversized kettle was just too great of a temptation so they hopped right in
Before we get too carried away wagging our fingers at them for their foolish antics, we might just want to take a personal inventory of the many things we have done wrong in our lives. Even though we knew the actions were wrong we went ahead and did them anyway. And sometimes it seems as though knowing it is wrong makes the temptation even stronger. I mean when we see a sign that says “Do Not Touch” or “Do Not Enter,” what do we want to do? We want to touch and we want to enter. Temptation leads to sin and sin leads to death so instead of flirting with temptation we ought to turn and run whenever we see it.
“Each one is tempted when by his own evil desire; he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full- grown, gives birth to death.” (James 1:14-15)
“So I find this law at work. When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law, but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:21-25)
Let’s all try to steer clear of temptations and not hop right into sin this year. And may we always be thankful for our great redeemer.
Happy New Year!
Love, J.L. 

I drive a 2002 Chevrolet Silverado 4x4 pickup truck. The factory color is “Victory Red” and although it is fifteen years old, when it is clean it still looks pretty good. But during most of the winter months here in the U.P. of Michigan the color changes to a dull white. Yes indeed the county here is not afraid to use salt on our roads in the winter and for that I suppose we should be happy. But as I make my commute from Gwinn to Marquette each day my truck gets bathed in a saltwater bath. I cannot be positive but I am pretty sure that the other day when I opened the garage door I could hear it rusting.
Many things that help us in life also have some sort of side effects. X-rays show the Dr. what is going on inside of us but they also expose us to radiation. Medications can help fight diseases, lessen pain, and cure ailments but they can also be hard on our liver and kidneys. Salt on our roads can melt the snow and improve driving conditions but it is very hard on metal fenders, rocker panels and tailgates.
The beautiful nativity scene with the new born baby in swaddling clothes being held close by his loving mother eventually gives way to a man being crucified, large nails pounded through his hands holding him close to the cross, a crown of thorns pushed down on his head, and blood flowing freely.
“For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.”          (I Peter 1:18-20)
The gift of salvation that brings us not only the joy of this season but the joy of every season came to us at a very great cost. In order for us to be forgiven of our sins Jesus had to die.
Love, J.L.

The forecasters had it right this time as the temperatures were in the single digits, the north wind was whipping and the snow was blowing and drifting. A few of us brothers however still had our Men’s Monday Night Bible Study and Football gathering. Afterward I cleaned the snow off my windshield, put my truck in four wheel drive and began the twenty five mile trek home. As I made my way I noticed the winds were making what looked like mini tornadoes as they lifted the snow off the ground back up into the air. At different points throughout my journey home I found myself driving through white outs where I could barely see the road.  The only thing that really helped was to follow the two tracks cut through the snow by previous travelers. However once I got on the side roads of my neighborhood I was welcomed by the Christmas lights on my neighbor’s home and soon I knew I would have my truck safe inside the garage.
As we travel through life sometimes we have to navigate through difficult times. Illnesses, surgeries and their subsequent recoveries, loss of loved ones, personal struggles whether they are physical, emotional, or spiritual. We search within and without, above and beyond looking for the way to make it through to the other side, to make it home where we will be safe and sound.
Through the Bible God has provided us with a road map, a compass, an owner’s manual, a guide to help us navigate through life and to find our way home to be safe with Him for eternity. Jesus said in John 14:6 that He was: The Way and the Truth and The Life and that no one could come to the Father except through Him. The Psalmist wrote this:    
“Thy Word is a lamp to my feet and light for my path.” (Psalm 119:105)
Jesus is much more than a baby born in a manger, he is the Savior of the world Follow Him and He will help you through whatever life throws at you as He leads you home.
Love, J.L.

There will without a doubt be many of you out there who have had to deal with some kind of pain in your life, whether that be physical, emotional or something other. I personally have been battling with back pain and now foot pain for quite some time. In my quest to find relief I have contracted the services of five different doctors, three different chiropractors, two physical therapists, three massage therapists and an acupuncturist. All of these professionals have told me that they will be able to help me through their services, procedures, surgeries and exercises. To this date however I have still not found relief or healing from any of them. There are many things that can help or hinder us as we live out our lives here on planet earth. But it has been said that there are only two things that are for sure or guaranteed for all. And they are death and taxes. However I would like to share with you one other that I have found to be true in my life and that is forgiveness of sins. When I believed in Jesus, repented and was baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit for the forgiveness of my sins and to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit all my sins were washed away by the blood of Jesus my savior. And if my physical ailments are ever to be healed that too will come from Jesus. Thank you for your continued prayers for that to happen for me.
“A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. So many gathered that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and after digging through it, lowered the mat the parlayed man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said the paralytic, ‘Son your sins are forgiven.’ Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, why does this fellow talk like that? Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them. ‘Why are you thinking these things?’ Which is easier to say to the paralytic, Your sins are forgiven, or to say Get up take your mat and walk? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins, He said to the paralytic, ‘I tell you get up, take your mat and go home.’ He got up took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, ‘We have never seen anything like this!” (Mark 2:12)
Love, J.L.

Thanksgiving was followed by “Black Friday” which was followed by “Small Business Saturday” which was followed by “Cyber Monday” and there may be something for Tuesday that I do not know about. Wow, that could certainly entail a lot of shopping if one were to participate in all three shopping events. Consumers are enticed by sale items, deep discounts and even giveaways. And so there are many who take part in some or all of these sales purchasing an array of items that will all eventually wear out, break or go out of style.
I wonder what would it take to have people line up outside of our church buildings very early on Sunday morning waiting for the doors to open just so they could get a good seat? As it is we are still trying to figure how to get our members to show up on time or show up at all for Bible Study and Worship. What might we need to offer?
“When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her ‘Will you give me a drink?’ (His disciples had gone into town to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?’ (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her. ‘If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.’ ‘Sir,’ the woman said, ‘you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?’  Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’ The woman said to him, ‘Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”  (John 4:7-15)
The gift that Jesus offers has already been bought and paid for by his very life. It’s value is priceless, it will last an eternity, and it is all that needs to be offered. Each person must decide whether they will come to Him or not.
“For the wages of sin is death, but he gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
Love, J.L.