JL's Corner

8/13/17
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. 
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
8/6/17

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.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
7/30/17

As most of you know I had back surgery on Monday, May 22nd.  The surgery was deemed a success and I did not feel any more pain in my back. However shortly after the surgery I started to have what they call “sympathetic nerve pain” in my right leg. I am not sure how they came up with that name but I can assure you that this pain is anything but sympathetic. It is the worst pain I have ever experienced and it is all consuming  so all one can do is try to make it through each day and night praying to God for strength to overcome the pain. My prayers have also been for God to take the pain away. Yet up till now that has not happened. I have learned much about myself, my faith, and my purpose through this struggle and since I am still having a lot of pain there must still be more for me to learn.  I thank you all for your many prayers sent up on my behalf and ask that you please continue to do so for each day continues to be a struggle. This morning I opened my devotional book to June 27th and this is what it said.
 
     “Rest with me a while. You have journeyed up a steep, rugged path in recent days. The way ahead is shrouded in uncertainty.  Look neither behind you nor before you. Instead, focus your attention on me, your constant companion. Trust that I will equip you fully for whatever awaits you on your journey.
 
     I designed time to be a protection for you. You couldn’t bear to see all your life at once. Though I am unlimited by time, it is in the present moment that I meet you. Refresh yourself in my company, breathing deep draughts of my presence. The highest level of trust is to enjoy me moment by moment. I am with you watching over you where you go.”  (From Jesus Calling, Sarah Young) Isn’t it amazing how God provides just what we need just when we need it. That short devotional met me right where I am at as if it were written just for me. This reassures me once again that God knows what I am going through and He is with me every step of the way and in that I find comfort, hope, courage and strength to go the distance.
 
     “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go for to you I lift up my soul. Rescue me from my enemies, O Lord for I hide myself in you. Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.” (Psalm 143:8-10)
 
Love, J.L.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
7/2/17

As most of you know I had back surgery on Monday, May 22nd.  The surgery was deemed a success and I did not feel any more pain in my back. However shortly after the surgery I started to have what they call “sympathetic nerve pain” in my right leg. I am not sure how they came up with that name but I can assure you that this pain is anything but sympathetic. It is the worst pain I have ever experienced and it is all consuming  so all one can do is try to make it through each day and night praying to God for strength to overcome the pain. My prayers have also been for God to take the pain away. Yet up till now that has not happened. I have learned much about myself, my faith, and my purpose through this struggle and since I am still having a lot of pain there must still be more for me to learn.  I thank you all for your many prayers sent up on my behalf and ask that you please continue to do so for each day continues to be a struggle. This morning I opened my devotional book to June 27th and this is what it said.
 
     “Rest with me a while. You have journeyed up a steep, rugged path in recent days. The way ahead is shrouded in uncertainty.  Look neither behind you nor before you. Instead, focus your attention on me, your constant companion. Trust that I will equip you fully for whatever awaits you on your journey.
 
     I designed time to be a protection for you. You couldn’t bear to see all your life at once. Though I am unlimited by time, it is in the present moment that I meet you. Refresh yourself in my company, breathing deep draughts of my presence. The highest level of trust is to enjoy me moment by moment. I am with you watching over you where you go.”  (From Jesus Calling, Sarah Young) Isn’t it amazing how God provides just what we need just when we need it. That short devotional met me right where I am at as if it were written just for me. This reassures me once again that God knows what I am going through and He is with me every step of the way and in that I find comfort, hope, courage and strength to go the distance.
 
     “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go for to you I lift up my soul. Rescue me from my enemies, O Lord for I hide myself in you. Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.” (Psalm 143:8-10)
 
Love, J.L.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
5/21/17

This Friday and Saturday we will be hosting the fifteenth annual U.P. Men’s Retreat out at the Upper Peninsula Bible Camp in Little Lake. This year we are pleased to have Brother Jerry Tallman as our featured speaker. I like to consider Jerry as a modern day “Barnabas” as he has been a great encouragement to me and countless others. Jerry is also an evangelist extraordinaire as by the grace of God he has been able to lead many people to Christ through personal evangelism, evangelism seminars and through his book entitled, “His Eternal Plan”. This year we have more than double the amount of men registered to attend than we have ever had before and so we are very excited and encouraged.
 
     Over the years that I have been a Christian I have been blessed by attending numerous lectureships, retreats, seminars, congregational singings, youth rallies, family encampments, Bible studies and other fellowship opportunities. These have helped to boost my faith, fill my soul, revive my spirit and allowed me to meet many brothers and sisters in Christ from all over the United States and even the world. God has given us the Body of Christ so that we might work together, play together, worship together, serve together and grow in our faith together. Oh what a blessing indeed.
 
     “The body is a unit, though it is made of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” (I Corinthians 12:12-13, 27)
 
    “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage on another and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:23-25)
 
     I know we live very busy lives but I pray that we would all make it a priority to participate in as many fellowship opportunities with the church as possible. It is critical to the health and well-being of the Body of Christ and to our very own spiritual walk of faith with the Lord.
 
Love, J.L.      
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
5/7/17


  On my recent trip downstate to Walled Lake I was impressed with the difference in climate within our own state. Once across the Mackinaw Bridge and heading south I noticed the outdoor  temperatures registered on the car thermometer slowly rising. The farther south I traveled the greener the grass became. As I continued south the buds on the trees turned into small leafs. Still further south the leafs were full and the foliage was green. By the time I reached my destination in the southeast corner of the state people were actually cutting their grass and the fruit trees were displaying  their magnificent full blossoms. It was as if I drove from early spring to early summer all within the same state. Today as I write this article back home in da U.P. I am looking out the window and there are no leafs on the trees, not a hint of any blossoms, the grass is still brown and it is snowing, quite hard. Yet have no fear fellow Yoopers eventually we too will be blessed by the new life of spring and early summer. It’s coming soon! (I hope)
 
     As we anxiously await the arrival of spring and summer I am reminded of something even better that all of us who are Christians are waiting for and looking forward to. It is the second coming of Christ. Yes indeed, it will be a great and glorious day when Jesus returns to claim all who are his. As the classic hymn portrays: “Jesus is coming soon, morning or night or noon, many will meet their doom, trumpets will sound. All of the dead shall rise, righteous meet in the skies, going where no one dies, heavenward bound.”
 
And even better yet, as Scripture so clearly portrays.
 
     “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.”  (I Thessalonians 4:16-18)
 
    “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.” (I Corinthians 2:9).
 
     I know we are all ready for summer to return. But are you ready for Jesus to return?
 
Love, J.L.    
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
4/30/17

This weekend I will be traveling downstate to attend the Mission’s Weekend at the Walled Lake church of Christ. Our brothers and sisters at the Walled Lake congregation have supported the work here in Marquette for many years. They also support the “Let The Bible Speak” television ministry here in the U.P. as well as other missions in the state and abroad. To say the Walled Lake church is “Mission Minded” would be an understatement. I always look forward to going down and meeting with the brethren and sharing what is happening up here in Marquette. Not only does the church there support the work here financially but they also have participated in our youth rallies, work projects at the building and their minister Roger Woods was our speaker at the men’s retreat last year. They also constantly keep us in prayer, send us cards of encouragement and support us in other ways. We thank God for their friendship, love, prayers and support!
 
     Helping and supporting one another in the Body of Christ is nothing new. It has been around from the very beginning of the church as recorded for us in the book of Acts.
 
     “Much grace was upon them all. There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostle’s feet. And it was distributed to anyone as he had need.” (Acts 4:33-35)
 
    “The disciples each according to his ability, decided to provide help for the brother living in Judea. This they did sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.” (Acts 11:29-30)
 
     Many of the smaller congregations of the Lord’s church like the ones here in the U.P. receive outside support from larger congregations down state and even farther south. Although it is our goal to become self-supporting we appreciate the kindness and generosity of those who by the grace of God have helped us along in that journey.
 
Love, J.L.