JL's Corner

5/6/18

This year spring seems to have been exceptionally slow in arriving but as our calendars turn to May we are hopeful that it is indeed on the horizon.  I have lived in the U.P. for sixteen years now and this is the latest I have seen snow on the ground and ice on the lake. However I have recently been reminded that my historical perspective is rather short. After having viewed the Kaye E. Barker stuck in the ice off Marquette I read an article in the Mining Journal that told me ships have been stuck in the harbor even later than this. “In late April 1917, a report in the Mining Journal predicted that navigation would open within the week but this prediction proved overly optimistic. Reports throughout the month of May detail a total of 15 ships getting stuck in the ice, some for up to two weeks.” (Mining Journal, Wednesday April 25, 2018)

Indeed our perspectives on many things are very limited. None of us will probably live to be one hundred or more. The United States of America has only been around for less than two hundred and fifty years and it has been less than two thousand years since Jesus walked this earth.  So, as we wait for things to happen, prayers to be answered and seasons to change let’s remember that our schedule, our timing and our view are very limited.

David in the following Psalm shared how his patience in the Lord eventually paid off. Why should the same not be for us?

“I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD. Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust.” (Psalm 40:1-4) 

The Apostle Paul likewise encourages us to hang in there and never give up. 

“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” (Romans 12:11-12)

Grace and Peace to you all as we wait for spring to eventually get here!

Love J.L.

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4/29/18

I rarely get the opportunity to serve at the Lord’s Table but on this particular Sunday we had a guest speaker preaching our sermon so I was asked to. After Jeremy shared about the relevance of being reminded of how important the Lord’s Supper is we passed the emblems to the congregation. We had a larger attendance than usual and as we were passing the fruit of the vine all three of us men that were serving noticed that we were running low on cups. As we stood at the back of the auditorium I looked in my tray and saw one cup. When I asked Jeremy if we needed to split it three ways he smiled and said: “No, there were three cups left and we had just enough for all of us.” Imagine that, just enough for all of us. What are the odds? Miniscule of course, when God is involved.  How many times in our lives when we have been called upon to serve, to lead, to give, to provide, have we thought we did not have what it would take to fulfill the need. I wonder when will I ever learn and trust more completely. How about you?
 
“When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things. By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. ‘This is a very remote place,’ they said, ‘and it’s getting very late. Send the people away so they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.’ But he answered, ‘You give them something to eat.’ They said to him, ‘That would take eight months of a man’s wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat? ‘How many loaves do you have?’ he asked. ‘Go and see.’ When they found out, they said ‘Five and two fish.’ Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to set before the people. He also divided the two fish among them. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand” (Mark 6:34-44)

Love, J.L. 
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4/22/18

Sunday we had to cancel worship services due to the raging blizzard outside. Strong winds and heavy snows made driving nearly impossible and certainly very unsafe. School was canceled both Monday and Tuesday as the snows just kept on falling and the winds kept on blowing. Having lived now in the U.P. for the last sixteen years I am used to seeing a big snow storm or two in April. Usually it is of the heavy wet variety and it falls on mostly bare ground melting away in a couple of days. This year however the temperatures are quite cold and the two feet of snow we have received has landed on top of the two feet of snow we still had on the ground. It literally looks and feels like the middle of January. In comparison, last year at this time I went for a boat ride! And these unseasonably cold temperatures along with the snow storms have not been limited to the U.P. Many of the northern states have been hit. This is one of the coldest openings to the major league baseball season ever recorded. Many games have had to be cancelled while others were played in the snow and in temperatures near the freezing mark. I suppose this just puts an exclamation point on the fact that we are not the ones in control down here on planet earth.
 
“Now listen, you who say, ‘today or tomorrow we will go to this city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. Instead you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4:13-14a,15).          
 
Think Spring while you lace up those snow shoes.

Love, J.L
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4/15/18

This morning I received and email from a brother in Christ, Chuck, who lives in Vienna Austria. Seems he and some others have been studying the bible with some Iranian refugees at their house church. He sent me the video of two of them being baptized into Christ in a small inflatable pool that they had filled up in their house. As I watched first this young woman and then this young man being immersed into Christ I found my eyes tearing up. The looks on their faces as they came up out of the water washed in the blood of the lamb, free from their sins, and now living with the gift of the Holy Spirit. There were huge smiles and tears of joy as they rejoiced in their new salvation. Praise God!
 
We also had a two of baptisms here in Marquette a couple of weeks ago. Two sisters, Hannah and Haley Young were both baptized into Christ. Again the looks on their faces when they came up out of the water were of great joy. My eyes started to tear up, but I was not alone as there were hugs, tears and smiles all around the room.
 
I have had the privilege of baptizing quite a few people over the years and each time a new brother or sister in Christ comes up out of the water you can feel that something incredible has just happened. That is because it is the grace of God in action. It is because of the gospel, the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Heaven has come down and glory has filled our souls.
 
Friends, we all have someone in our life that we can share the gospel with. Let us ask God to help us obey the “Great Commission” Jesus left us with. 
 
“Then Jesus came to them and said: All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  (Matthew 28:18-20)

Love, J.L.
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4/8/18

After receiving a foot of snow last Saturday and with more snow and cold temperatures forecast for this week it appears we are still stuck in winter mode U.P. here. In fact our yard has as much snow accumulated on it as it did back in January. So I suppose one could still get out there and enjoy some winter sports like snow shoeing, cross country or downhill skiing, snowmobiling or even making a snow man. But being at this point of time in April I think that most of us are just looking forward to the snow melting, starting spring cleanup, and feeling some warmer temperatures. I mean, let’s just get on with it already. April showers are supposed to be rain showers that bring May flowers not snow showers that bring shovels and snow blowers back out.
 
As usual we eventually come to realize and accept that spring, just like many other things in life, do not come along on our timetable. We are generally impatient and in a hurry not understanding that everything comes in its own time. The single person looking for a mate, the employee striving to advance in the company, the teenager just wanting to get through school, the patient hoping for a full recovery, the worker focusing on retirement, the Christian looking forward to the return of Christ.
 
“But do not forget this one thing, dear friends. With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (II Peter 3:8-9)

“Be patient, then brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield is valuable crop and how patient he is fort the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm.” (James 5:7-8)
 
Think Spring! Love, J.L. 
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4/1/18

As a young boy I grew up in Catholicism and there was great importance placed on this week. I think I was around ten years old and I remember going to Good Friday Mass and being deeply affected by the sermon about Jesus dying on the cross. That afternoon, after services we went home and it was a beautiful spring day with bright shining sun. Then all of a sudden a huge storm blew in and the skies turned pitch black. I thought, wow, this is just what it was like when Jesus was crucified. So I stood there staring into the darkness until the rain started pouring down. Then I went into the house assured of the fact that Jesus really did die for our sins. I will never forget that day and I can now look back on it as one of the many ways God reached out to me preparing me for the one day that I would obey the gospel, repenting and being baptized for the forgiveness of my sins and receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit just as it says in (Acts 2:38)
 
“At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachtani?’ which means, ‘My God, My God why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:33-34)
 
What I was assured of way back when I was a little boy was only part of the gospel. For Jesus not only died but he was also buried and rose from the dead on the third day. The resurrection is our hope as Christians. It proves that Jesus is indeed the Son of God and the Savior of the world.

“Now brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve.          After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time” (I Corinthians 15:1-6)
 
Happy Easter!
 
Love, J.L.
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3/25/18

As I sat at the gate waiting to board the aircraft in Minneapolis for the final leg of my trip home I saw two young men walk up, briefly talk to the agent and then board the aircraft. One man was wearing a captain’s uniform and the other also donned flight crew attire. In my estimation neither of these men could have been older than twenty five and they were going to pilot the jet! Time for more prayers. As we taxied toward the runway I kept hearing the engines being revved up and then back down again. Once we were airborne we banked hard left, then hard right numerous times, the engines would rev up and then slow back down. Now I am not a frequent flyer but I have flown plenty enough to know what sounds and feels normal and what does not. It kind of reminded me of what it is like when a new driver is learning how to drive a stick shift vehicle. As we neared Marquette and began our descent once again the engines were revving up and down and since my seat was over the wings I could see the flaps going up and down as well. As the young pilot made his approach to the runway I had my concerns, but finally with a hard bump we landed. Hallelujah!
 
I certainly was not in control of that flight and for a time I really wondered if I would walk off that aircraft. But then I remembered once again that if my time is up I could be killed in a plane crash or slip on the ice and hit my head on the pavement while walking to the mailbox. God is the one who is in control. Not me not you, and certainly not the young captain for Delta Airlines.
 
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10).
 
“Many are the plans in a man’s heart but it is the LORD’S purpose that prevails.” (Proverbs 19:21)
 
Love, J.L.  
 
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3/4/18

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.
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2/25/18

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.
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2/18/18
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.
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2/11/18

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.
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2/4/18

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.