Words That Build

I have a hammer
I do like to use.
But if I’m not careful
it will leave a bruise.
When I have a project
that needs some repair.
I consider its nature
and hammer with care.

When a project is fragile
and the material light.
I never would hammer
with all of my might.
Yet some things are stronger
and made of hard wood.
And a half-hearted tapping
would do it no good.

But more than just strength
for the project that’s planned.
I must consider
if the right hammer’s in hand.
If I don’t choose wisely,
I’ll destroy what is good.
Or wear myself out,
like I never should.

I must also be careful,
with the hammer in hand.
That I pay close attention
to where its blows land.
If I just swing wildly,
I’ll damage the wood.
Or hammer my fingers,
which never is good.

While this is all true,
of the tools that we use.
It’s not about hammers
but the words that we choose.
So choose your words wisely
for the task that’s at hand.
And build up each other,
the way that God planned!

© 2019 by Tom Lemler

As one who directs a preaching/teaching/writing ministry, I use a lot of words.  The effect of words on me heavily influences my approach to how I attempt to use words.  This poem showed up in my mind tonight and I believe it flows from an internal struggle that reoccurs in my life because of words that have been directed toward me.  Almost every time I preach, teach, or write, I find myself hearing two sets of words in my mind.  Both sets are actual words which have been spoken to me.  One set tells me I have no business doing what I’m doing and the other set tells me my teaching is powerful and effective.  Fortunately, I know which set corresponds with the truth of God’s Word and His gifting in my life, but that doesn’t always fully remove the sting of the other words.  What it does, however, is to drive me to consider more carefully the words I use.  I know the pain of words that are not used well and I consistently pray that God would always help me to use words, both in content and context, that would be helpful and not hurtful.  I pray that you and I would always choose words that build rather than words that tear down.

In prayer,
Tom

The Best Monday I’ve Had All Week!

The Best Monday I’ve Had All Week!

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A friend of mine, while serving as the preaching minister in a local church, became known for consistently saying, “Today’s the best Sunday I’ve had all week!”.  At first glance, it may be easy to chalk that up to it being the only Sunday in the week, but it was really a statement about attitude rather than frequency.  I’ve worked in ministry long enough to be certain he wasn’t saying that everything had gone just as he had wanted during the previous week, or that the events of the day were even going fully according to his plan.  No, I believe it was one tool of many which he used to remind himself and others that it was a day given by God and a day meant to be used to honor God — no matter what!

I thought about that example today as I worked through my morning routines on a Monday that is anything but routine.  While we often think of Monday as the start of a new work week, it almost always has baggage from the previous week hanging around.  For me, last week was filled with struggles and issues that remain unresolved but aren’t really within my ability or responsibility to resolve.  Nonetheless, they weigh on me and can have a tendency to fill my mind to the point of distraction and even discouragement if I let them.  With last week’s burdens still hanging over me, I woke up to fresh snow that I wasn’t expecting — meaning extra work to start the day.

But then my routine kicks in.  The sidewalks are cleared, the building is cleaned and prepped for the day, and I settle in to write the prayer guide for next week.  After some time with God, we settle in on a topic based on Colossians 3:2 which says, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”  Monday mornings I typically set aside to write the prayer guide that I will publish and send out the following week.  Some weeks the topic comes easily and other weeks it is a struggle to hear God clearly in regard to where the focus should be.  Some weeks I’m not sure who the primary audience is that God will use it to reach and other weeks I’m pretty sure it is meant to speak directly to me before it goes out to anyone else.

The reminders I worked on this morning were priceless.  Reminders to not worry, to be open to the instruction of Scripture, to allow the Spirit to fill my all of me including my mind, to be transformed by having a renewed mind, to engage my mind in prayer, and to surround myself with like-minded people who seek to honor God.  Yes, it’s the best Monday I’ve had all week — not because it is the only Monday I’ll have all week, but because it came with an attitude adjustment that calls me to reset my mind on the things of Christ.  Now that doesn’t mean the struggles are gone or resolved, they remain and some of them continue to grow.  What changes, and what must change, is how I set my mind in the midst of things beyond my responsibility and control.

The morning made me think of the photo I put at the top of this post.  It is one I took last Saturday and I would guess most people looking at it are drawn to the blue sky and bright white clouds.  Yet within the same photo is a base of drab browns and grays of a sparse winter landscape.  Your view of that photo is really dependent on where you set you mind, whether consciously or subconsciously.  On this best Monday you’ll have all week, it is time to set your mind on things above!

In prayer,
Tom Lemler  

Let GO! (Sermon Audio)

Let GO! (Sermon Audio)

 

This is the audio from the February 3, 2019 sermon, “Let GO!”, shared by Tom Lemler at the North Wayne Mennonite Church.

Text: Romans 12:1-2

Here are the main points from the sermon:

To let go and truly be a living sacrifice, we must Let . . .

  • God: 
    • Ephesians 4:11-13 — God has created each of us according to His great wisdom and design.  We need to let God be in charge and submit our life fully to Him so that His purposes can be completed both in and through us.
  • Others:  
    • Romans 12:6-8 — As we let God be in charge, we must also let others use the gifting God has placed within their life so that together we would glorify God.  Letting others must always been done in submission to them and us first letting God, otherwise others soon become our God.
Just Looking

Just Looking

What are you looking at? I mean, when you’re not reading this wonderful blog, what catches your eye on a regular basis? Is there any harm, or benefit, in “just looking”? Do you even give much thought to the things you not only see but to that which you allow your thoughts to rest upon for more than a moment?

Most of the major purchases I’ve made in life began as “just looking”. Sometimes the “just looking” phase is a research time in order to find the best possible solution to something that I actually need. Many times, though, the “just looking” is more of a dreaming or longing for something that I know I don’t need but somehow it has caught my attention.

I’m not sure there is a problem with just looking . . . other than it is not possible to do over some length of time. No, the problem typically lies in what we are just looking at rather than in the fact we are looking. It seems our thoughts, and then our actions, typically follow our line of sight. So, “just looking” becomes “just thinking” which, in time, becomes “just doing”.

From Eve “just looking” and seeing the fruit forbidden by God was “good for food” to the heroes of the “hall of faith” in Hebrews 11 who were “just looking” for a kingdom whose architect was God, the Bible is filled with stories of people whose actions were determined by the direction of their gaze. Some show the pitfalls of “just looking” in the wrong direction. Eve “just looking” at what God said was off limits. Lot “just looking” at the cities of the plains which were filled with wickedness. The people of Israel “just looking” at the nations surrounding them. Each followed their “just looking” with actions which led them into sin they probably thought they would never be involved in.

Others chose to fix their gaze on things of a more noble nature. Abraham was “just looking” for a land promised by God of which he did not know. Moses found himself “just looking” at God rather than the treasures of Egypt. The Bereans were “just looking” at scripture to see if what they were being taught was from God. Each of these, and many more, turned their “just looking” into a faithful pursuit of God even when the visible wasn’t always complete.

And then there’s David. David portrays the range that most of us deal with throughout our life. There are times, such as when facing Goliath, that he is “just looking” at God and not being distracted by the enemy. And then there are other times, such as His relationship with Bathsheba, when he is “just looking” at the things of this world in a way that he shouldn’t and it leads him deeper and deeper into sin. That is why God tells us to “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” When we live a life “just looking” at Jesus and the truth found in His Word, we will find our thoughts and actions will follow our gaze and be pleasing to Him.

So, what are you “just looking” at today? Where is it leading your thoughts? How will your actions be influenced by the things you allow your eyes to settle on today? Are there things you are doing now as a result of “just looking” in the past that you wish you had never gotten involved in? How about good things that your past “just looking” has led you to? What do those experiences tell you about what you ought to fix your eyes on today?

I pray that you and I would pay close attention to the things we rest our gaze upon so that the influences of what we say and do would lead us to a life pleasing to God.

In prayer,
Tom Lemler

Hold ON! (Sermon Audio)

 

This is the audio from the December 30, 2018 sermon, “Hold ON!”, shared by Tom Lemler at the Deer Run Church of Christ.

Text: Revelation 3:7-13 & Luke 18:1

Here are the main points from the sermon:

We Hold ON to the right things when we hold . . .

  • Open: 
    • The Door to Our Life – Revelation 3:20
    • Our Heart – Ephesians 1:18
    • God’s Word – James 1:22-25
  • Near:  
    • To God – James 4:8
    • To God’s Word – Deuteronomy 30:11-16
    • To One Another – Hebrews 10:24-25

A Happy Birthday Life

A long time ago,
but not so far away.
A baby was born
on this special day.
As this girl grew
with each passing year.
She faced life head-on
with hardly a fear.
When the time was just right,
at least in my mind.
This brave, fearless girl
I was lucky to find.

Happily ever after,
is how this story goes.
But that’s only in fairy tales,
everyone knows.
So in the spirit of truth,
it really has all been roses.
Though some have held thorns,
not fragrance to our noses.
But I’ve learned through the pokes
and sweet-smelling scent.
Though not always easy,
for this we were meant.

On this special day
as we celebrate you.
I’m so very happy
that you said, “I do”.
And I am so thankful
to God up above.
that we have each other
to share in His love.
So the happiest of birthday’s
to my wonderful wife.
I’m glad we’re together
in this journey of life!

I love you!!

 

© 2018 by Tom Lemler

Just a little poem I wrote for my wife’s birthday today!  It is a reminder that even in the ups and downs, sweet aromas and thorns, life can be made much better when the journey is taken together with the right person.  Though in reality, I have discovered it seems to have much more to do with being the right person than expecting someone else to be that person for you.  I pray that your journey is sweetened by the people that God brings into your life!

In prayer,
Tom

A Shepherd’s Life

I sit in the darkness,
keeping watch through the night.
My eyes become heavy
waiting for morning’s light.
The sheep were all safe
as I made one more round.
Checking for danger,
praying none would be found.

My brothers were sleeping,
as best as they could.
And soon we’d switch places
so I could rest as I should.
Then all of a sudden,
in the midst of the night!
We were surrounded by glory
which glowed like a light!

In the midst of this glory,
an angel spoke out.
To bring us the news
of what this night was about.
It frightened us greatly
to see such a thing.
Though the angel said, “Fear not,
good news I do bring.”

“The news is for you,
and all through the earth.
God’s keeping His promise
through the Messiah’s birth.
The baby you’ll find
is no ordinary one.
No, the one in the manger
is God’s only Son!”

When the message was given,
the sky was soon filled.
With a multitude of angels
who sounded quite thrilled.
“Glory to God,
and peace on the earth.
To all who are favored
by this Savior’s birth!”

With that glorious message
ringing loud in our ear.
We just had to check up
on what we did hear.
We rushed off together,
my brothers and I.
To see for ourselves
what was announced in the sky.

We arrived at the stable
and beheld such a sight.
What the angel had told us,
surely was right!
The baby was right there
with Mary and Joe.
So we spread the word
wherever we would go.

And when I returned
to those sheep in the night.
I couldn’t quit thinking
of that beautiful sight.
The angels were glorious,
that is for sure.
But they were no match
for the baby so pure.

My life had been changed
by a baby that day.
And from that moment on
I had something to say.
“Glory to God
and His peace on the earth!
My Shepherd has come down
to walk on this earth!”

I pray that you listen
to what I did learn.
And accept a great gift
that you never could earn.
The baby I welcomed
on that dark, lonely night.
Was given by God
to bring us His light.

So I no longer walk
in the darkness at all.
I’ve chosen to follow
my good Shepherd’s call.
And as I do follow,
He calls to you too.
Come join the Shepherd
and be made brand new!

© 2018 by Tom Lemler

As I was praying, cleaning, and working on some year-end teaching material early this week, part of this poem showed up in my mind.  I wrote down what I had but it just didn’t feel like it was complete — the story was only half told.  As I worked on a cleaning project today, several days after the original lines, the rest of the poem arrived.  I hope it was the poem I was supposed to write and not just the result of the cleaning product fumes. 🙂  I pray that you would know the joy of God’s presence not just at Christmas time, but each day that you live!

In prayer,
Tom