Rise Above

Rise Above

Sometimes I sit and start to think
the hardest part of life.
Is finding ways each lonesome day
to live above the strife.
Troubles come and troubles go
but do they disappear?
It seems that when I turn around
I always find them near.
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised
for Jesus said it’s true.
That in this present world and age
trouble will be with you.

But even in the darkest hours
Jesus left us with some news.
Just how we face the troubles
is up to us to choose.
To follow in their winding path
into the darkest night.
Or turn and find a lasting peace
from One who is the Light.
In clinging tight to Jesus
He lifts us above the fray.
And helps us see more clearly
as we follow in His way.

And if it sounds too easy
I surely must confess.
It requires more of God
as I become much less.
My thoughts, and plans, and dreams, and such
I carry to His feet.
And give them all to Him each day
as He makes me complete.
So on I go through good and bad
with eyes fixed far above.
And rise above the noise and strife
as I’m wrapped up in God’s love.

© 2019 by Tom Lemler

One of the great things about the gift of writing that God has given me is that it helps me to see patterns in my life.  While it reveals some patterns of discouragement in the midst of turmoil I can’t control, it also serves as a reminder of how God has carried me in the midst of those times and continually sets my feet on solid ground as I rest in His presence.  Today is one of those days when the mind is swirling and as I went about my morning work this poem showed up to remind me that God doesn’t necessarily remove the storm, but He will always be present with me as we go through it together.  I pray that you are encouraged to find peace in God’s presence even in the midst of the world’s trouble.

In prayer,
Tom

Raindrops

Out of the darkness
the cold raindrops fall.
They seem to be driven
by some unknown call.
They land on my head
and they stream down my face.
As I try to get out
of this cold, sullen place.

I hurry inside
to a comfortable place.
And realize these “raindrops”
still stream down my face.
Yet there is no comfort,
just a sense of great loss.
As sit down in front of
a lone, empty cross.

I ought to be cleaning,
but can’t seem to move.
As I think of the love
the cross surely did prove.
For people unworthy
and sinful as I.
The God of creation
hung there to die.

And while I considered
this terrible cost.
I knew that without it
I still would be lost.
For that cross is quite empty,
and so is the grave.
The One who has risen
has the power to save!

So, on this dark morning
with much on my mind.
I sit with my Savior
where peace I do find.
Though the storms of this life
still hammer my abode.
I have Someone much stronger
to carry the load!

© 2019 by Tom Lemler

I was awakened in the middle of the night by the familiar sounds of my daughter in a seizure.  After sitting with her and providing some element of comfort through that, I couldn’t sleep and she wanted my place in bed so I headed to work quite early to get started on the cleaning for the weekend.  As I walked through the cold rain to my truck and then from my truck to the church building, I knew I was carrying with me a great deal of hurt, pain, and confusion.  I soon found myself just sitting in the darkness with God and found this poem residing in my mind.  I’ll eventually get to the cleaning, but will do so knowing that the weight of my burdens is being handled by Someone much more capable than I.

In prayer,
Tom

Mind the GAP! (Sermon Audio)

Mind the GAP! (Sermon Audio)

 

This is the audio from the April 7, 2019 sermon, “Mind the GAP!”, shared by Tom Lemler at the North Wayne Mennonite Church.
(I didn’t remember to turn the recorder on until after the sermon introduction, but this audio contains all three main points.)

Text: Ezekiel 22:30

“I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none.”

Here are the main points from the sermon:

As you stand in the gap, you must pay close attention to mind the . . .

  • Goal:
    • Philippians 3:14 — In a world where long-term goals are often set aside in exchange for temporary pleasure, we must avoid falling into the gap that exists between where we are and the eternal goal for which we have been called heavenward.
  • Attitude: 
    • 1 Peter 4:1 — Some say that attitude is everything which makes it critical that we don’t get lost in the gap between a worldly attitude and the attitude of Christ that ought to be ours.
  • Promises:
    • 2 Peter 3:9 — When everything around us seems to demand instant results, we must pay close attention to no get caught up in the gap that exists between our timetable and God’s when it comes to His faithfulness in keeping His promises.

As children of God, we ought to be standing in the gap on behalf of the country we live in, our churches, and our friends and families.  Not only should we “mind the gap” in our own life, we ought to be helping our brothers and sisters avoid the many temptations that lurk in these gap areas.

SET Your Mind! (Sermon Audio)

SET Your Mind! (Sermon Audio)

 

This is the audio from the March 3, 2019 sermon, “SET Your Mind!”, shared by Tom Lemler at the North Wayne Mennonite Church.

Text: Colossians 3:1-17

“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”

Here are the main points from the sermon:

To set your mind on things above, you must . . .

  • Secure your mind: 
    • Colossians 3:5-11 — We secure our mind when we not only take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ, but we put to death every thought and desire that would lead us in the ways of the world.
  • Equip your mind:  
    • Colossians 3:12-14 — We equip our mind when we fill it with the things of the Spirit.  God’s desire is that our thoughts would be filled with Him and His ways.  When the fruit of God’s Spirit fills our mind, it is then equipped to act in Christ-like ways..
  • Train your mind:
    • Colossians 3:15-17 — We train our mind when we take the tools we have been equipped with and learn to use them for God’s glory.  Our thoughts will eventually lead to action, so we will know our mind is set on things above when our actions reflect the training we have received from God’s Word and from those who have shared His Word with us through their lives.

Walking Together

I  headed outside
to go for a walk.
To spend time with God
where we could just talk.
We spoke about this,
and then some about that.
I do have to say,
it was quite a nice chat.

But it was much more
than just sharing a word.
I knew as we talked
that I had been heard.
As tears filled my eyes
from a heart that did ache.
His presence assured me,
my burden He’d take.

When I become weary
with too much to bear.
He asks for it all
as I cast my care.
So as we walked together,
by faith and not sight.
I knew that my load
could soon become light.

The burdens are present
but the weight is not mine.
It’s off of my shoulders
as this yoke does align.
When yoked with my Savior,
He carries the weight.
So I’ll keep walking with Him
all the way through His gate!

© 2019 by Tom Lemler

I have been praying a lot lately for family members, friends, acquaintances, and others that are dealing with a wide variety of health issues.  After a late afternoon lunch, I went to the park to just spend some time walking and talking with God.  As I did so, at least two things happened.  One, I found there were tears flowing down my face which isn’t something that is usual for me.  Two, this poem showed up in my mind to remind me of the truth of God’s presence even when my heart aches for individuals who are facing so much uncertainty in their health.  I pray that these words reach those that will find encouragement through them and that God would use them in the lives of others as He has in mine.

In prayer,
Tom

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!

DSCN0424

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