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

Imagine

Sometimes I wonder
as I live life each day.
If today I met Jesus,
just what would He say?
Would He mention my Facebook,
or perhaps that “great” tweet?
Or would He question my absence
from the few at His feet?

Would He wink at that meme
that I knew wasn’t true?
But I just had to share it
to get back at you.
Would He ask why I’m so bent
on proving I’m right?
Did I honor His name
by joining that fight?

Would He ask any questions
that would give me a chance?
To explain the appearance
of my online “dance”?
I sidestep the truth
and I whirl around.
And get in my jabs
when opportunity is found.

Or would He just smile
and say, “Job well done!
You have lived life quite well
as you followed the Son!
You chose to use My Word
to help and to heal.
And stuck to its truth,
above how you ‘feel’”.

“My Word is a lamp
and a light to your way.
So stay true to it
in all that you say.
And be very careful,
when you say words are Mine.
That you’re not justifying
things you think are ‘fine’”.

“That lamp and that light
can only be lit.
When you speak Words of truth
and don’t add to it.
So, shine that light brightly
as you follow the Son.
And share My full counsel
with each and every one!”

© 2018 by Tom Lemler

As I was praying this morning during the morning building clean, I found myself seeking God regarding various social media posts, meme, and conversations that I’ve wanted to respond to over the past week or so.  While there is much good that can be accomplished through the tools of social media, there is a very real element of danger that exists in the ability to immediately share, post, or comment on things we’ve not spent any time talking to God about.  We see something that pokes us in one way or another and we “feel” that we just have to share it if we agree with it or comment if we disagree.  And far too often we use God’s Word out of context to add “power” to our opinion.  We play fast and loose with what He says His Word is about and instead of lighting a path so that people can see Jesus, we create confusion and conflict when there ought to be clarity.  Out of that prayer time came this poem as I considered what Jesus might say if He were to simply drop by my office for a visit today.  I suspect that the more deliberate I am about sitting at His feet and listening rather than having to have the “last word”, the more likely I will recognize His presence as I “walk in the light as He is in the light.”  I pray that you and I would be very careful in how we represent Jesus in all situations, but especially in our online presence.

In prayer,
Tom

Calming Touch

There are some times
I’m awakened at night.
To calm a sweet child
in the midst of her fright.
And often I realize,
words don’t mean as much.
As just being present
with a soft, calming touch.

I suspect that’s why God
placed us in family.
To be touched by His presence,
when each other we see.
To have someone with us,
through our darkest night.
Is not only calming,
it’s a beautiful sight!

So, as you live your life
and as I live mine.
May we each receive comfort
as we let God’s light shine.
And may all those around us,
be touched by our life.
In a way that brings peace
in the midst of their strife.

In the next interruption
of your comfortable rest.
I pray you are ready
to give others your best.
That you would be present
with just what they need.
And that they would see Jesus
in your very good deed!
© 2018 by Tom Lemler

There is very little that can get a parent’s full attention quite as quickly as being awakened by the sound of your child in distress.  In those moments, adrenaline can be a friend or foe . . . or a little of each.  As I was going about my work tasks and praying early this morning, I was thinking about the previous night and the care our daughter needed from my wife and I.  The first hints of a long night were the sounds of her throwing up in bed — which I can’t help much with without adding to the mess so it’s best I just stay out of the way if possible. 🙂  Once that was dealt with, it didn’t feel like we had done any more than just gotten back to sleep when it was the sounds of a seizure waking us up.  Part of the process of coming out of the seizure often includes a period of fear when help is wanted, even demanded, but words seem to do no good.  While quiet words may provide some comfort, it is really hard to tell, it is the soft, gentle touch that does the most to bring reassurance that we are with her.  Anyhow, that’s the background in my mind as I was praying this morning and this poem showed up to remind me of the power of being present in the lives of those who are frightened and suffering.  I pray that it encourages you and helps you to consider who God has called you to share His comforting touch with.

In prayer,
Tom
Thankful

Thankful

I pause to give thanks,
on this very day.
And when I would do so,
there’s much I should say.
The blessings of life,
we oft notice first.
But what of the things,
for which we do thirst?

I’m thankful for longing
to do what is right.
And thankful for faith,
which sees beyond sight.
I’m thankful for worship
that I long to give.
And thankful for God,
and reason to live.

I’m thankful for family
who walk by my side.
And gives me a safe place
when I need to hide.
I’m thankful for people
that I get to serve.
And thankful God gives me
what I don’t deserve.

And yes I am thankful
for His blessings too.
The turkey and pie
and time spent with you.
A family that loves me
and longs for my best.
And a God who prepares me
to enter His rest.

And so on this day
that we pause to give thanks.
I pray that it spreads
throughout all the ranks.
When a life of thanksgiving
becomes our new way.
We will find ourselves thankful
throughout every day.

©2018 by Tom Lemler

As we celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday here in the United States, I’ve been praying about being more thankful.  It seems that even in the midst of much to be thankful for, it can become far too easy to complain instead of giving thanks.  As I was praying, this poem came to mind as I thought about being thankful not just for the blessings of God, but also for the desires that He has placed in my heart.  I share this with the hope and prayer that God will continue to grow a heart of thankfulness in each one of us!

In prayer,
Tom

Looking For a Better Way

I paused today to cast a vote.
And wished I could have left a note.
To every candidate, win or lose.
I pray that wisdom you would choose.

Yet as I prayed, my faith was small.
For I’ve not seen wisdom much at all.
Your TV ads have made me weep.
Thinking each of you is just a creep.

A “preacher” reads from God’s good Book,
then calls his opponent a dirty crook.
Back and forth the name calling goes.
I’m not quite sure what they think it shows.

They dig up dirt on one another,
and fail to see their sister and brother.
And through it all I failed to hear,
anything but a constant smear.

They say that’s how the game is played.
So just accept it, don’t be dismayed.
Yet still I think as I stop and pray,
there has to be a better way!

What if change would sweep this land,
and every candidate took a stand.
To speak the truth in all they say.
And not attack in any way.

To let the voters know their views.
So at the ballot they could choose.
To say nothing bad of the other side,
so on truth we could decide.

And so today I cast a vote.
And wished I could have left a note.
To all who come in after me,
I ask you pray for what you cannot see.

Then trust in God and not in man.
And place your faith in His grand plan!

©2018 by Tom Lemler

I voted this morning with a sour taste in my mouth as the months of negative campaign ads had convinced me none of the candidates were the statesmen that this country needs.  I’m not saying none of the candidates were right for this country, just all of them were so busy telling me what a rotten person their opponent was that they didn’t convince me they were any better.  It is so easy to say “the other side started it” or “my preferred candidate wasn’t as mean as yours”, but the truth is that somehow we have come to accept bullying as appropriate in the political realm even while demanding something be done to stop it everywhere else.  I pray that somehow “we the people” would say, “Enough!!” I pray that we would find ways to voice our beliefs and opinions without being mean to one another.  I pray that we would look to why people feel strongly about the issues they do rather than attacking them for feeling differently than we do.  I pray that God’s love would fill us with His grace to such an extent that we would find attacks against anyone to be completely and utterly unacceptable!

In prayer,
Tom

The Act of SPEAK (Acts 26)

“Then Agrippa said to Paul, ‘You have permission to speak for yourself.'”
Acts 26:1

As we near the end of the book, I have to say it has been a joy to preach through the book of Acts!  It is filled with examples and lessons that I need to learn and apply.  As I continue to look at the “Acts of Acts” in this sermon series, it seems like each chapter has the apostles, or early Christians, involved in an act that we have a tendency to try to avoid.  Yet it was these very acts of God in their lives that transformed a fledgling group disciples in disarray into a mighty force that turned the known world upside down with the gospel of Jesus Christ.  We live in a time where we need such a transformation in the church and in the lives of the individuals who follow Jesus.

Paul continues his journey toward Rome in Acts 26 as he is brought before King Agrippa to be questioned regarding charges against him to be presented to Caesar.  Paul has appealed to Caesar but Festus and Agrippa have no idea what crime to tell Caesar that Paul has been charged with.  In an attempt to find answers, Paul is given the opportunity to speak.  As we continue to be prepared to give an answer for the hope that is within us, there are some lessons we need to learn regarding the Act of SPEAK. 

  • Stop:  The Act of SPEAK begins with what may seem like an unlikely place, the act of Stop!  Most of the time we are so quick to speak that we fail to stop and listen for what God wants said.  Paul had opportunity to speak about Jesus because he had first stopped and realized Jesus was truly Lord.  If we are going to give an answer for the hope that is within us, we must first stop and set apart Christ as Lord in our life.  God says that it is out of the overflow of our heart that our mouth speaks so it is imperative that we stop and fill our heart with the word of God before we open our mouth to speak.  .  When we are engaged in the Act of SPEAK, we must make sure we first Stop and listen for God’s direction and leading in what we say. 
  • Permission:  The Act of SPEAK also requires us to wait for Permission.  Paul had been a prisoner under Roman guard for at least two years before he was brought before King Agrippa and given permission to speak!  This is another important part of why we must stop before we speak — we need permission to speak into a person’s life.  When we speak truth into a person’s life without earning permission, the seed of truth often falls on a very hard heart.  It is through time and relationship that we soften the ground of a person’s heart and gain permission to speak so truth has an opportunity to grow when it is spoken.  James tells us that everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.  When we speak without permission, we are more likely to speak out of anger and reaction with no listening taking place at all.  We are able to grow in the Act of SPEAK when we invest time and love to gain permission before we speak.
  • Examples:  When you have stopped and gained permission, the Act of SPEAK requires that you share Examples.  When God uses you to speak His truth into a person’s life, He has prepared you for that purpose with examples that show His love.  As Paul is addressing the accusations against him, he begins by sharing his story and the example of how he went from being a pursuer of God to a follower of Jesus.  He even uses his life example of being a persecutor of Christians to explain his story.  God knows our history, both good and bad, and He knows how to use your example to help others see His goodness.  Far too often we try to hide parts of our example because it embarrasses us and we would just as soon people only knew the whitewashed version of who we are.  People need to know how God has transformed your life so they will believe the transforming power of God can change their life.  When it comes to living out the Act of SPEAK, sharing our example as God leads us to helps others to see how God can love and forgive them.
  • Admit:  The Act of SPEAK also requires that we Admit who we really are and what God has done in our life.  Paul reaches the point in sharing his example that he must admit the truth behind the accusations against him — that he believes in the resurrection of the dead through the power of Jesus.  Sometimes we are so afraid of what people might think that we given the opportunity to speak about our belief in Jesus, we fail to admit that what is seen is His power working through us.  When people comment or ask about our hope, our joy, our faith, our confidence, our whatever — do we admit it comes from Jesus or do we brush it off with some casual answer?  We must be careful to not claim credit for what God has done, and for what only God could do, in our life.  The Act of SPEAK gains its power from your willingness to admit that it is only Jesus that has given you any real hope.
  • Kindness:  The Act of SPEAK is only effective when done from a heart of Kindness.  It is hard for me to imagine Paul being given the opportunity to speak in his own defense after years in custody and his primary concern is not for his release, but for the salvation of his hearers.  When we speak with kindness, we speak out of concern for the other person not with our interest in mind.  We must constantly ask God to purify our motives when we have the opportunity to speak so that we would always look out for the interests of others above our own.  When our primary motivation in speaking to a person about Jesus is for our benefit or to make our life easier, then we are speaking out of selfishness and not kindness.  When living the Act of SPEAK, it is important to constantly evaluate our heart and motives so that genuine Kindness prevails.

So, how are you doing in living out and growing in the Act of SPEAK?  Do you Stop and take the time to listen to God before you speak?  Do you invest time and love to earn Permission to speak God’s truth to a person?  Do you share the real Examples of where you’ve been and what God has done in your life?  Do you willingly Admit that Jesus is at the heart of every good thing you have or do?  Do you speak with Kindness to everyone as you look out for their interests above your own?  I pray that your involvement in the Act of SPEAK will boldly show, and tell, the world that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior!