Kiamichi Trip

I went to the mountains
     of the Kiamichi.
To spend time with God,
     so I’ll share what I see.
It was a great gathering
     of men young and old.
This side of heaven,
     the greatest I’m told.
As I sat among them,
     and looked all around.
A group that is greater,
     nowhere could be found. 

Artie and his family
     direct the whole camp.
They do it so well,
    each one is a champ!
That’s not really the truth,
     is what they would say.
God directs the camp
     as He leads each day!
As I watched and listened,
     I could see this was true.
Their heart is to serve,
     first God, and then you. 

The days started early,
     with breakfast by seven.
Then worship began,
     to remind me of heaven.
The preaching was powerful,
     the men were quite bold.
Some of them young,
    some not, I am told.
The morning was full
     of music and fun.
Three powerful sermons,
     that was just session one! 

After feasting on God’s Word,
     we did break to eat.
Then back to the steel tent
     and return to my seat.
More powerful preaching
     and music galore.
A soul that is thirsty,
     could ask for no more!
But more surely came,
     I do confess.
As God’s men did gather,
    and His Spirit did bless! 

Down to the creek,
     to baptize a young man.
Who listened to God’s Word
    and followed His plan.
This was just the first one
      to take place this week.
As people did listen,
     and God’s face they did seek.
The joy of the angels
     was shared among men.
As men turned to God
     and away from their sin. 

The week was intense
     but relaxing too.
My body was tired,
    but my spirit made new.
Each of the mornings,
    our direction was set.
A reminder of God’s plan,
     so that we don’t forget.
God created the church,
     and created mankind.
We must follow His way,
     not whatever we find. 

There was a day,
    we had a short break.
So out through the woods,
     a walk I did take.
It was not crowded,
     it was just God and I.
Though some of His creatures
     did scurry nearby.
I walked in the stillness,
     took in all I saw.
God’s presence did fill me
     as I walked in awe. 

The break was refreshing,
     I was hungry for more.
So we gathered together
     for what God had in store.
I thought that I went there
     for a purpose I knew.
But God’s plan was different
     as I listened and grew.
To represent His work,
     He is doing through me.
Is not as important
     as I thought it would be. 

The last day did rain,
     creating a mess.
But God was still able
     to teach and to bless.
There were many surprises,
     I really can’t tell.
Just what is the reason
     that I liked it so well.
That is not quite true,
     I freely must say.
It’s because of God’s presence,
     because He led the way. 

The time finally came
     when I had to head home.
But one of the blessings
     was found in a poem.
It was not just in a poem,
     that God spoke to me.
But it seemed every session
     had some poetry!
As one God has given,
     poems that I share.
God said quite loudly,
     “I can use them, so there!” 

There is so much more
     I could write in this rhyme.
But my mind’s nearly empty
     and I’m out of time.
God gives to His children,
     gifts that they should use.
Sometimes we like them,
     some are not what we’d choose.
This is a great lesson
     that God taught to me.
When I went to the mountains
     of the Kiamichi! 

© 2014 by Tom Lemler

I went to the Kiamichi Men’s Clinic for the first time and was truly blessed by the entire experience.  As we stopped for the night on the way home, a good friend said I ought to write a poem about the trip.  As I was falling asleep that night, and then on the rest of the drive back home, this poem began to appear in my mind.  I pray that it is a blessing to you as it brings glory to God and accomplishes His purposes for it.

In prayer,

Returning The Gift

I’ve been posting discussion questions from the Wednesday evening small group I am leading through the book of 1 Samuel at Deer Run.  I am going to begin writing a series of blog articles to correspond with each week’s discussion questions.  Some time back I wrote the first article, Caution: Objects In Life May Not Be What They Appear, dealing with lesson 1.

This blog post contains some thoughts connected with lesson 2.

It is easy to get surrounded by, and caught up in, the hustle and bustle of Christmas.  Christmas parties, events, concerts, and programs all clamour for our attention at a rate that often makes it hard to even catch our breath.  In the midst of all the busy-ness, many of us struggle to find just the right gift.  We want something full of meaning and value.   Something that will be cherished and held on to for years to come. 

Imagine receiving that perfect gift — the one you have been longing for your entire life.  Experience the joy, the satisfaction, the relief of having your long-standing request answered.   Okay?  Do you have it?  Now give it back!

I can hear you because the sound is an echo of me.  WHAT!?!?  Are you crazy?

That tends to be my reaction to the stuff of “value” that I receive, but what about the things of real value?  In the book of 1 Samuel, Hannah is childless and longs for a child.  We find her pouring out her heart to God asking for the one thing she wants most.  God hears, and answers, her prayer by giving her a son — Samuel.  But wait . . . part of her request was a promise to give this child back to God.  She seemed to know that this gift she was asking for would not be hers to keep.  Her willingness to not only make the promise, but to keep it and give Samuel to the service of the Lord was a blessing to the entire nation as Samuel would lead them in an extended time of peace.

So, what have you asked of God?  What have you received from God?  Are you grasping on to it, trying desperately to keep it to yourself?  Or are you returning it back to God for His use?  The Bible teaches that “every good and perfect gift comes from above”.  God is the provider of all good things.  His desire is for us to return them to Him and allow Him to use them in ways that far exceed what we could do with it on our own. 

One of the great gifts we have is our life.  God has given us life itself and He asks us to trust Him enough to give our life back to Him.  Jesus said, “whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.”  God can, and desires to, do great things in our life if we will surrender fully to Him.  The apostle Paul puts it this way, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20) 

God’s greatest gift to mankind was the sending of His son Jesus to be born, to live, to die, to rise again so that payment could be made for my sin.  It is my choice to return the gift of my life for Him to use according to His great design and plan.  How about you?



Finding The Perfect Gift

Here in the United States, the Christmas shopping season has arrived.  Yesterday, “black Friday”, was the unofficial start — a day when multitudes of people stand in lines at stores through the night for the chance to find the “perfect gift” at the “perfect price”.  Many times, the rudeness level of America skyrockets on this day as patience grows thin and tempers flare among people striving to obtain satisfaction by finding the ultimate bargain before someone else beats them to it.

I think it would be amazing to follow the life of a few of these perfect gifts over the next year.  I wonder how many of them will bring the life-changing satisfaction that the purchaser anticipates?  How long the joy will remain in the life of the gift recipient?  Will the excitement of something new outlast the credit card debt required to obtain it?  How many lives will be truly transformed because of the perfect gift found for them on “black Friday”? 

I didn’t participate in the shopping frenzy yesterday.  I did make it to the local Menard’s to look at bathroom medicine cabinets, but there wasn’t anything I needed badly enough to make me wait among the crowd of people lined up to check out.  No, my day was spent at home with family — my immediate family and members of the extended family that stopped by throughout the day.  It was a joy to see the little ones playing with a box of old toys.  Nothing fancy in it; just a few cars, a truck, tractor, some blocks, and other “old-fashioned” toys.  Yet even those “simple” toys weren’t necessary as the play turned to the box itself and then to some plastic containers from the cupboard. 

The perfect gift?  It was here!  The peace, joy, and contentment found among family who love one another and have no need to “one-up” anyone.  The pleasure of sharing a meal and the simplicity of spending time together with this family will not lose its luster like the expensive gifts being bought and sold in the stores.  The work that it takes to maintain the relationships is worth the value of the gift that it is. 

As you think about the gifts you want to give and the gifts you want to receive this Christmas, meditate on these words from James 1:16-18:

“Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers.  Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like the shifting  shadows.  He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.”

This Christmas season, don’t be deceived by the glitter and sparkle of the advertising industry.  Don’t expect to find the perfect gift on the shelf of any store — it won’t be there.  You may find some nice things, but they won’t be the “good and perfect gifts” that the Father really wants for you to have.  The things you give and receive may complement the true gift, but they will never match it.  It is so easy to be deceived about what we need, what we have to have, what we must give, that we miss the gift of Jesus.  The Father’s choosing to give us birth through the word of truth — through Jesus — is the greatest gift of all

May you and I recognize the truth that “every good and perfect gift is from above”.  May we do more than recognize that truth, may we reflect it in the things we do and say.  May we constantly thank God for the good and perfect gifts that only He can provide.  May we keep the things of this world in proper perspective as we acknowledge God’s gift this Christmas season and each day that we live.