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Dana and I are so happy and blessed to add another member to our family tree – our lovely Caroline Maria Werner Young.  Can it be a week has passed since their happy wedding in the Cities?  We have so much to be thankful for in the wedding of these two who committed their lives before God – to each other and to His kingdom.

 

Indeed, on their wedding day, God extended His first of what we trust will be many graces in their lives.  The days around the wedding had been “African hot.”  The night before, just as the rehearsal came to an end and friends and family were driving across town to our dinner, a torrential rain came up to usher in the evening.  We were thankful to be in a room of candle and twinkle lights as the rain poured outside.

 

We had prayed and prayed for months about the weather for the wedding day since the couple had an outdoor ceremony planned at the place of their reception.  True, everything could be moved indoors if needed, but the hope was to be married outdoors in that beautiful setting.  According to pattern, the day of their wedding, Friday, May 25th, was a hot day too, but it was not as humid as it had previously been. It was sunny and bright (lovely for photos).

 

However, as we headed west toward the venue that afternoon, it was hard to not notice the dark clouds rolling in from that direction… and again the prayers began.  Through the next hour and a half as guests began to arrive, we watched the sky become darker and darker and the wind pick up dramatically.  Folks were checking local radar weather and reporting various things:  “Rain to pass through area quickly and then be gone”; “Hail in eight minutes”; and asking, “Can we delay the service maybe 15 minutes to let the storm pass?”  While others wondered openly what’s to happen, many of us kept praying.  At least once, our trusty crew of two went out to reset chairs upright which the wind had blown down and I wondered how we’d dry all those chairs well enough if the rain did come through.  At one point I was told plans were being made to move the chairs in from the amphitheater.  Not a tragedy, but not what our couple had hoped for.

 

Then, just 15-20 minutes before the wedding was to begin, the sky seemed to be brightening and the winds were becoming gentler.  And as we watched, our gracious God carefully moved that rain and wind to another location, giving us a most pleasantly calm, mildly warm, gentle evening (and dry chairs) for their lovely outdoor wedding.  The wedding went off at the appointed time and moved back inside for an altogether lovely reception and dance.  Just like the couple at the Canaan wedding, Bryce and Caroline received the first answered prayer of their wedded life!

 

Now as they go through life together, we pray that this young couple will always be mindful of the goodness of their God – our “abounding in loving-kindness” God!  We pray they will grow in strength together as they seek to bring Him glory in their newly created family and that God will lead and guard them always.  Amen.

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A very honoring funeral was given Uncle Warren on Thursday, May 31, 2018.  The pastor gave a straight gospel message and my cousin, Wade Shafer, Warren’s godson, ended the service with a very personal and heartfelt address with memories shared of Buddy Holly and beers being slipped to a certain nephew.   The demands of Uncle Warren’s enlisted service as a Green Beret in Cambodia during the Vietnam War were recognized; certainly that time would be defining for the rest of his life.  Thanks were given to those who cared so well for Uncle Warren in his later years and a special charge was given to Warren’s only daughter, Kelsie.

As I readied myself for the funeral, memories of better days than the latter were brought to mind: Uncle Warren’s crazy hula dance at our family reunion (grass skirt and coconut shells and all); handing over a large jar of his pocket change to my sister and me; helping my dad dig the hole for our outhouse at the lake; his amazing pasta meals and rice pudding; his business ventures – The Pantry restaurant and the camp grounds; how he most seriously reprimanded me to the point of reformation when as an upper elementary student I used a newly picked up phrase around him (“Oh my God”); his help to Dana and me during the ’97 flood; dancing at his first wedding with all the cousins; going to the first Star Wars movie in the late ’70s with him; etc.

In light of later years, Warren seemed to be the star of a tragedy, but it was good to recall better, lighter days – I will greatly miss that Warren.

– – – – – –

Warren LeClerc, 70, of Grand Forks, ND was called home by his Heavenly Father on May 24, 2018 at Dunseith Community Nursing Home, Dunseith, ND. Funeral services will be held on Thursday, May 31, 2018 at 11:00 A.M. in the Amundson Funeral Home in Grand Forks. Visitation will be one hour before service time. Burial will be Friday June 1, 2018 at 3:00 P.M. in Drayton, ND.

Warren Lyle LeClerc was born November 14, 1947 in Devils Lake, ND, the youngest of eight children blessed to Alex and Mae (Schumacher) Leclerc. He was tender-hearted and from a young age showed a special empathy for those less fortunate or treated disrespectfully.  Intuitively, throughout his life Warren could see when someone’s light was being diminished by the words and actions of others and felt called to intervene.

Warren attended school in Devils Lake, spending summers on the family farm near Drayton, ND. During the Vietnam War, he served with the 46th Airborne Green Beret, stationed in Thailand, an experience that would profoundly influence his life. He went on to attend Hartnell College in Salinas, CA where he also operated a hotel. In 1980 Warren was united in Marriage to Colette (Hefter) LeClerc. The couple made their home in Grand Forks where daughter Kelsie was born in 1986.

Warren had an entrepreneurial spirit, which combined with talent and passion for cooking led him to open The Pantry Restaurant in Grand Forks, where he served as co-owner and operator for many years. He later turned his rural Grand Forks property into an RV Park, welcoming travelers from several states and countries. Many returned annually and became dear friends. In 2000 Warren was hired as a security officer at Red River High School, retiring in 2014. He loved and cared about young people. His humor and willingness to truly listen and empathize with their personal struggles, big and small, endeared him to many students over the years.

A private person, who valued humility and championed anyone blazing their own unique path in life, Warren was also deeply spiritual. While peace often alluded him in his earthly life, He believed in his Lord and Savior and now knows the peace and joy that passes all understanding.

Warren is survived by his daughter Kelsie LeClerc, Grand Forks, ND, sisters Lillian (Gordon) Shafer, Detroit Lakes, MN and Rosalie (James) Ringstrom, Encinitas, CA; brothers Dale (Betsy) LeClerc, Monterey, CA, Ray (Judy) LeClerc, Grand Forks, ND, Ron LeClerc, Bismarck, ND; ex-spouse and friend Colette LeClerc, and many nieces and nephews, cousins, and friends. He was preceded in death by his parents, Sister Beverly Schmidt, brother-in-law Leo Schmidt; sisters-in-law Myrna LeClerc and Luella LeClerc; and many dear relatives and friends.

He is preceded in death by his parents, sister Beverly (LeClerc) Schmidt, and brother Gerald LeClerc.

 

~ Official obituary

Many of us are mourning the loss of an American era with the passing of a man, I think we won’t soon see the likes of again.  The beloved preacher and evangelist, the Reverend Billy Graham, passed away on Wednesday, February 21, 2018, and was laid to rest in Charlotte, North Carolina, after his March 2nd funeral.  He was 99 years old.  Among other endearing terms, Rev. Graham is being remembered as God’s Ambassador and America’s Pastor, having provided spiritual counsel for every United States president since Harry S. Truman (our 33rd) right on to Barack Obama (our 44th president).

When I think of Dr. Graham, I can’t help think of my Dad who always encouraged us girls to sit and listen whenever a crusade was being televised (on network T.V. no less). I never told dad or mom, but I responded to one of those crusades, back when we lived in town (so prior to 8th grade). I sent for the follow-up material too, writing to “Billy Graham, Minneapolis, MN – that’s all the address you need” as Billy directed us from every crusade.  What came was a summary of his Steps to Peace with God and a study of the book of John.

I attribute that experience to a sensitive period in my life when God was softening my heart and mind to his, eventually leading me to receive the gospel truth.  I would not fully put it all together until my college years when God through his Word in Ephesians 2:8-9 caused me to once and for all lay down my works which I had been trying to offer all my life as an acceptable arrangement; one which I hoped would make God pleased with me and lead me to eternal life.  My plan had been Jesus + me = salvation, never realizing that the only thing I could contribute to Christ’s offering, was the sin that made it necessary.  Using the small faith God gave me for just that moment, I gave all that I knew of myself (my whole sin-saturated self and my inadequate works) to all I knew of Christ (my only rescue).

During college, Dana and I would counsel for a Billy Graham movie or two (World Wide Pictures) at the Cinema Theater in town (now the WDAZ studios).  After one particular movie, The Prodigal, Dana was completely broken and rededicated his life to the Lord.

A highlight for us was counseling for the Billy Graham live crusade in Fargo the summer of 1987 when we were expecting Ashley. We brought my cousin Paul with us one of the days (who was living in Grand Forks at the time, in the restaurant business with my Uncle Warren).  I’m sad to say, though, that I seem to recall my dad was unable to go to Fargo with us to see Billy in person, amounting to a double loss since the entertainment was another of Dad’s favorites, Johnny Cash (and his wife, Rosalind).

Rev. Graham’s gravestone briefly summarizes his life – Preacher of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ – and then makes reference to John 14:6, “Jesus said to [Thomas], ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.'” One of my favorite Billy Graham quotes was printed on his funeral brochure:  “Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now.”  I pray God will enable me to be faithful and about the King’s work to the end – in whatever capacity I am able – just as the world has observed in the life of God’s good and faithful servant, Billy Graham.

Ah… This is Love!

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God,
and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.
Anyone who does not love does not know God,
because God is love. 


In this the love of God was made manifest among us,

that God sent his only Son into the world,
so that we might live through him.
In this is love, not that we have loved God

but that he loved us
and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 


Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
No one has ever seen God;

if we love one another, God abides in us
and his love is perfected in us.

1 John 4:7-12

– – – – –

 

 

In this well-known passage on God’s love, we see in the ESV that John uses love (or the beloved) no less than 15 times in six verses.  It is love, love, love all over this passage – “love one another”; “love is from God”; “God is love”; “if we love one another… his love is perfected in us”; etc.

 

But in the midst of this treatise on the love of God, we find in v10 the reason God can love us – “In this is love… [He] sent his Son to be the propitiation (satisfaction) for our sins.”  Propitiation – “a sacrifice that turns away the wrath of God and thereby makes God propitious (or favorable) toward us” (Grudem, p.575)a.

 

Those who have placed their sins under the blood of Jesus find God propitious toward them.  His just wrath on their sin has been fully satisfied by the sacrifice of his pure Son.  The modern hymn Before the Throne of God Above gets it right, “God, the Just, was satisfied to look on Him and pardon me.”

 

There is absolutely no trace of wrath left in the Father toward those who approach his throne, clothed now in Christ’s righteousness, not their impotent own.  Every last drop of wrath toward the believer was spent entirely on the Son.  What remains is only love, love, love toward his people.  Even when we don’t walk in our new natures, but instead give into the influence of our old man – when we sin against God – we can turn to Him in repentance and be assured of his Fatherly love toward us.  He may chasten us, true, but it is always done redemptively as we might with our own children – with our greater good in mind, coming from his all-knowing wisdom.

 

In this truth, the child of God can find assurance that what the sovereign God allows in his or her life is born solely from God’s unfailing love for them.  Our circumstances may prove hard to bear, but that is not the same thing as loss; God wastes nothing.  Under his watchful care, it can only work us good in our earthly lives or in eternity to come.

 

Of course, it must be mentioned that those whose lives are not hidden in Christ – who have not, by repentance and faith, applied Christ’s blood to the doorpost of their sinful hearts (cf. Exodus 12:13) – must bear the wrath of God in their own bodies.

 

Oh, but for the child of God – what a sweet and cherished doctrine is that of Christ’s propitiation which won the Father’s favor for us.

 

Ah… this is love.

 

 

a “Systematic Theology.” Systematic Theology, by Wayne A. Grudem and K. Erik. Thoennes, Zondervan, 2008, p. 575.

Surely, this is the time between times… our dear pastor calls it “the dawn.” After centuries and centuries of darkness, it is a time of hope rising, a new day has most-assuredly broken upon history now that God has walked among us.

 

Jesus alone did what we could not.  He lived righteously all his days on the earth.  He became our sin and bore its eternal penalty.  When all God’s wrath was spent on our sin, death had no further claim on Jesus and the grave could not hold him – He lives and has been given His promised place of eternal honor.  O yes, there is an enemy in the camp, but he is fatally wounded and his end is sure.  Even now the King makes preparation to come again in power and rightness.

 

Just as we are often unaware when dawn ends and day begins, so many move about unaware of the King’s sure coming.  Full Day will soon be upon us; soon Jesus will gloriously come again to set all things right.

 

When the dawn gives way to new Day, Jesus will draw those who are his into his marvelous safe kingdom where they will behold his beauty and know his goodness forever.  C. S. Lewis pictures for us the new Day in this way:  “All their life in this world and all their adventures… had only been the cover and the title page – now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read, which goes on for ever, in which every chapter is better than the one before.”

 

Still, we have this moment of time before full Day breaks.  For God says, “Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”  Do not waste the dawn.  When the True Light appears the gates will close in the wake of his procession.  Now is the time of favor.

 

I tell you, the Day is on its way. The King’s men will soon declare, “The term is over – the holidays have begun. The dream is ended – this is the morning” (Lewis’ The Last Battle).

Work for Night is Coming

On the cusp of the 20th century, William Booth (1829 – 1912), founder of the Salvation Army, wrote of his fears for the turn of the century.  Now looking back on the past 117 years we might see just how prescient he was as he wrote:

“I consider that the chief dangers
which confront the coming century will be:
religion without the Holy Ghost,
Christianity without Christ,
forgiveness without repentance,
salvation without regeneration,
politics without God,
and heaven without hell.”

Happily though, the following famous quote is also attributed to Booth.  With it we need not just wring our hands or flee to the mountaintops to search the skies for Christ’s sure coming.  Jesus said, “We must work the works of Him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work” (John 9:4).  Booth put it this way: “Work as if everything depended upon work and pray as if everything depended upon prayer.”

 

 

Elisabeth Elliot was this mom’s mentor in the young years of my parenting.  She spoke common sense; and she did not allow the fear of man to be a snare.  She plainly divided the Word of Truth and applied it to everyday, commonplace life whether it was popular or not.  She gave me a mantra in those early days which helped when I found it difficult to keep my head above water while rearing and oft-times homeschooling four extraordinary children.  It is brought to mind and found useful even to this day.  Her mantra? Do the next thing.

Somewhere along the way I had forgotten that this wonderfully practical advice came to Mrs. Elliot via an old poem.  Justin Taylor recently highlighted the poem (author unknown) in its full.  It helps to flesh out this simple saying and reminds us of the resource we have when we know not what else to do.  Over the years I’ve heard the variation – do the next right thing – which can be a helpful determiner when faced with a number of options.

On this new year, if we resolve nothing further, let us resolve to do this one thing – do the next thing.

Do the Next Thing,
author unknown

From an old English parsonage down by the sea,
There came in the twilight a message to me.
Its quaint Saxon legend deeply engraven
Hath, as it seems to me, teaching from heaven.
And all through the hours the quiet words ring,
Like low inspiration – Do the next thing.

Many a questioning, many a fear,
Many a doubt hath its quieting here.
Moment by moment, let down from heaven,
Time, opportunity, guidance are given:
Fear not tomorrow, child of the King,
Trust them with Jesus, do the next thing.

Do it immediately, do it with prayer,
Do it reliantly, casting all care.
Do it with reverence, tracing His hand,
Who placed it before thee with earnest command.
Stayed on omnipotence, safe ‘neath His wing,
Leave all results, do the next thing.

Looking to Jesus, ever serener,
Working or suffering by thy demeanor;
In His dear presence, the rest of His calm,
and the light of His countenance, be for thy psalm.
Strong in His faithfulness, praise and sing;
Then, as He beckons thee, do the next thing.