Living As Fully FREE! (Sermon Audio)


This is the audio from the July 7, 2019 sermon, “Living As Fully FREE!”, shared by Tom Lemler at the North Wayne Mennonite Church.


Text: Luke 15:11-32

Here are the main points from the sermon:

In Christ, we are fully  . . .

  • Forgiven:
    • 1 John 2:12 — When we come home to the Father, our sins are fully forgiven because of Jesus . . . not because of us or our efforts.
  • Restored: 
    • 1 Peter 5:10 — Even through suffering and difficulty, and sometime because of them, we have a God that will fully restore us to Himself when we “come to our senses” and return to Him.
  • Equipped:
    • 2 Timothy 3:16-17 — The freedom we find by gazing into the perfect law of God’s Word will fully equip us for every good work He calls us to do..
  • Embraced:
    • Luke 15:20 — From wherever we are, our return to the Father will be met with a loving embrace.  His touch gives us the hope and courage to grow from the child He created to the son or daughter He designed us to be.

Until we find true freedom in Christ, the freedoms we chase after will only be temporary at best and will never fully satisfy.

When the Winds Blow

When the Winds Blow

Over Memorial Day Weekend this year, I traveled with International Disaster Emergency Service to the panhandle of Florida to listen to people’s stories as they continue to recover from a hurricane which devastated the area last fall.  IDES was on scene shortly after the hurricane went through and has been involved in disaster relief and recovery efforts through the coordination of resources and workers.  The trip I was on had been designed specifically as follow-up to listen to stories in order to find ways to better serve the emotional and spiritual recovery as well as the physical needs.

This week, in a small way, I experienced first-hand the stories that I consistently heard from people.  Sunday evening as we sat in the house, an isolated tornado formed and passed directly over our property.  There was no warning, just a horrendous sound and sudden loss of electricity that got our attention in time to go upstairs and realize that whatever had just happened was already past.  On one side of the house, large tree branches had been ripped from trees and blown to the north.  On the other side of the house a towering pine tree had come down and fell to the south.  As we’re surveying the damage, the tornado sirens finally go off making us wonder if another one is coming — there wasn’t, but in the moment there was nothing but uncertainty.

As I surveyed the house, it appeared the only damage to it was two crank-out windows that had blown out and off their hinges.  Using my phone, I was able to access limited information and learned that a tornado did indeed go through and had destroyed a daycare building just north of us.  I also learned that power wasn’t expected to be restored until sometime the next day — which for our neighborhood meant not just no electricity, but no water as we’re all on private wells.  

Anyhow, that’s a lot of background simply to introduce a few things that I heard from people recovering from hurricane Michael that I also experienced in a much smaller context than they did.

  1. When disaster strikes, confusion will generally follow.
  2. Our immediate response is probably a combination of our temperament and adrenaline.  I quickly grabbed a chainsaw and began clearing brush from the roadway.
  3. Once the adrenaline is gone, it is easy to feel overwhelmed.  After a restless Sunday night, I found myself staring at the mess on Monday morning wondering where to start.
  4. Disasters can bring out the best in people.  Once I began working on the cleanup Monday morning, it wasn’t long before the neighbors began theirs and we were soon working together throughout the day to clean up the three properties.
  5. Disasters can bring out the worst in people.  It didn’t take long on Monday morning before what I call “the vultures” started showing up — a steady stream of people with business cards and price sheets wanting to “help”.  I suspect some, and perhaps many, were legitimate businesses but not all appeared to be.  In the already present confusion of disaster, it is easy to see how many people are taken advantage of.
  6. Public servants just might be an oxymoron.  The help that one might expect to get from any level of government that those affected pay taxes to, will likely not be timely or  helpful.
  7. The “fog of disaster” can make it easy to see all the loss and difficulty while blinding a person to the good that remains.
  8. Learning to praise God before the storm makes it easier to praise Him during and after the storm.

I suppose there is more that I could add . . . and who knows, I may just come back and do so at a later time. 🙂  While going through this tornado hasn’t been pleasant, it was meaningful to me in that it confirmed so much of what I had taken away from our times of listening in Florida.  It helps me pray even more deliberately, and perhaps effectively, for those in the midst of disaster recovery.

In prayer,

Building On the PAST! (Sermon Audio)

Building On the PAST! (Sermon Audio)


This is the audio from the June 2, 2019 sermon, “Building On the Past!”, shared by Tom Lemler at the North Wayne Mennonite Church.


Text: Ephesians 2:11-22

“. . . built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.”

We tend to approach the past in one of two ways. 

One, we try to ignore it and thus learn nothing from it.  In this mode, we tend to remove/replace/destroy anything that we feel doesn’t have meaning regardless of the history and/or functionality to someone else.  

Two, we worship the past and still learn nothing from it.  In this approach, our “rose-colored glasses” keeps us from seeing things as they really were.  We hang on to things that represent who we once were regardless of whether we, or anyone else, are still being served by those things.

God’s approach in scripture seems to be that we would learn from the past so that we can be built up into the body He desires.  

Here are the main points from the sermon:

As we look back, we must make plans to build on  . . .

  • Promises:
    • Building on promises requires that we are people of our word.  When we build on the promises of God, we find a foundation that will never crumble, no matter how much it is shaken, because God always keeps His promises.
  • Actions: 
    • Building on actions requires that we acknowledge work that has already been done.  We are where we are because of the work done by those who have gone before us.  As Christians, we not only build on the work of the people in our immediate history, we build our life on the work done by God since the beginning of creation.
  • Sacrifices:
    • Building on sacrifices requires that we acknowledge and honor those who have given up things of value to them so that we can be where we are today.  There is no greater sacrifice that we can build our life upon than the sacrifice of Jesus to pay the penalty for our sin.
  • Triumphs:
    • Building on triumphs may sound like the best part, yet many of us struggle to “rejoice with those who rejoice.”  When we build on the victories we have experienced, we celebrate what has been accomplished while keeping our gaze fixed ahead on what is yet to be done.  Building a life that endures will require that we build it around the triumph that Jesus claimed over death.

Building on the PAST is how we are able to celebrate the work of God without becoming complacent to the extent that we no longer expect Him to work.  God wants us to take all of the lessons He will teach and use them to help others desire, seek, and have a relationship with His Son, Jesus.

Learning To SEEK God! (Sermon Audio)

Learning To SEEK God! (Sermon Audio)


This is the audio from the May 5, 2019 sermon, “Learning To SEEK God!”, shared by Tom Lemler at the North Wayne Mennonite Church.

Text: Isaiah 55:6

“Seek the LORD while he may be found;
call on him while he is near.”

Here are the main points from the sermon:

We SEEK God when we learn to  . . .

  • Serve God:
    • Joshua 24:14 — In a world filled with many voices claiming to be truth, we must choose to serve God in order to seek Him with a whole heart.
  • Expect God: 
    • Psalm 5:3 — Seeking God wholeheartedly requires that we learn to wait in expectation, trusting God to work in the time that is just right.
  • Engage God:
    • Deuteronomy 30:14 — As we grow in our desire and practice of seeking God, we must learn to engage every part of our being with Him.
  • Know God:
    • Psalm 46:10 — Perhaps the most difficult part of seeking God is the simplest part to say . . . be still and know.

Seeking God is not a “once and done” activity but rather a lifetime of learning.  When scripture teaches that we should “seek the Lord while He may be found”, it suggests that there could be a time when He can’t be found.  Our walk on this earth is the time given to us to seek God.  Once we are gone from the earth, whether through death or the Lord’s return, the time of seeking and finding will be over.

Seeking God: How Are You Seeking? (Session Three)

Seeking God: How Are You Seeking? (Session Three)


This is the audio of session three from the May 4, 2019 Seeking God Prayer Event held at Michiana Christian Camp.

This third session focused on the how of seeking God with an emphasis on the whole-hearted pursuit that God desires from us.   When you seek God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, you can be assured that you will find Him.  If you don’t really care if God is with you, you will likely not be aware of His presence.

Seeking God: Where Are You Seeking? (Session Two)

Seeking God: Where Are You Seeking? (Session Two)


This is the audio of session two from the May 4, 2019 Seeking God Prayer Event held at Michiana Christian Camp.

This second session focused on the where of seeking God . . . both where we seek from and where we seek at.  When you realize there is nowhere that you can hide from God, the possibilities of where to seek Him begin to expand exponentially.  If you’re not looking for God to be present where you are, you will likely not notice He is there.

Seeking God: What Are You Seeking? (Session One)

Seeking God: What Are You Seeking? (Session One)


This is the audio of session one from the May 4, 2019 Seeking God Prayer Event held at Michiana Christian Camp.

This first session focused on examining what or, more importantly, who are we seeking.  The value you place on what you seek will determine how much effort you put into seeking.  If you don’t know what you’re looking for, you will likely not know if you find it.