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

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
Finding  Direction

Finding Direction

When life seems uncertain
and each path looks dark.
You should probably quit driving
and put it in park.
As you sit on the roadside,
wondering which way to go.
It’s a very good time
to ask the One who does know.

For darkness can’t stay
in the presence of light.
And finding direction
is easier with sight.
Much time is oft wasted
when we won’t stop to ask.
For help from the One
who created our task.

“Be still and know”,
is what He does say.
But that’s hard to do
when I’m driving my way.
So I shut down the engine
fueled by selfish desire.
And I look for direction
from the One who’s much higher.

And each time I seek Him,
I find he is there.
As He leads me beside Him,
and shows me His care.
It’s not always easy,
but He’s given His Word.
And the voice that speaks from it,
is the sweetest I’ve heard.

And just like a lamb,
to its own master’s voice.
I hear from my Shepherd
and I have to rejoice.
I’m no longer lost,
for I have been found.
As I live in His presence,
where His light does abound!

©2018 by Tom Lemler

As one who has been known to drive in the dark for long periods of time as I’ve looked for a destination, I suppose this poem is for me.  But I also suspect God put it in my mind for someone else also . . . perhaps you.  I think sometimes we have so closely associated movement with progress that we begin to believe that moving in any direction, even the wrong direction, is better than sitting still.  I have literally added hours to my journey at times simply because I didn’t stop in the darkness and find out exactly where I was in relation to where I needed to be.  While that can be a waste of time and fuel when it happens on the physical roads of life, it can be even more costly when it takes place on the spiritual path we are on.  I pray that you and I would learn to “be still and know that [He is] God.”  When life brings indecision and darkness, put it in park for a while and look to the One that is the Light of the World!

In prayer,
Tom