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 TRUTH that Leads to Freedom

 “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.  Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. . . . So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.'”
John 8:31-32, 36 (NIV)

I had the privilege of sharing a sermon this morning from John 8:31-59 as I chose to address the topic of freedom on this Fourth of July holiday weekend.  I opened by reading a poem, Freedom, that God had put in my mind to write yesterday morning.  Then, as my custom is, I used a word of the sermon title as an acrostic to outline my sermon.  God calls His followers to know, live, and share a freedom that can only be found in the truth of Jesus who claims, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”

As we unwrapped “The TRUTH that Leads to Freedom”, we first looked at the Teaching that leads to freedom.  Jesus stated that by holding fast to His teachings we show that we are His disciples and will be set free by the truth of them.  Jesus made it clear in the story of the wise and foolish builders, that there is a difference between knowing the teachings of Jesus and actually putting them into practice.  It is by being a “doer of the word and not a hearer only” that we find the Teaching that leads to freedom.

The second point of the message addressed our need to practice a Repentance that leads to freedom.  Repentance is a word, and practice, that most of us tend to avoid because it requires an admittance that there is something not right in our life.  Often lost in a culture that loves to quote “judge not”, is the clear message of Jesus that He came not to call the righteous but to call sinners to repentance.  The real excitement in that last sentence ought to be the realization that Jesus came to call you and I to a Repentance that leads to freedom!

Through Jesus, we also gain an Understanding that leads to freedom.  Some of my favorite passages in the Bible are when Jesus addresses His disciples and refers to them as “dull” or asks them, “do you not understand?”.  I love these because it shows that Jesus knows that my understanding of who He is and the freedom He offers is a growing process.  In one of those passages there is an expressed concern about the keeping of some Jewish ceremonial practices to be considered clean.  Jesus explains that it is what is inside of a person that makes them clean or unclean  It is knowing, and trusting, the promises of Jesus to wash away my sins that gives me an Understanding that leads to freedom.

Perhaps the most difficult part of the message was this fourth point as I addressed the Traditions that lead to freedom.  I must make it very clear, it is not the traditions themselves that lead to freedom rather an examination and understanding of why I practice them.  Jesus made it clear to those accusing Him of forsaking the Law of God, as found in the Old Testament, that His intention was not to abolish the law, but rather to fulfill it.  He was keeping and fulfilling the law not for the sake of tradition but because he understood and believed the purpose behind it.  When we seek the old paths, paths founded in the truth of God’s Word, and walk intentionally in them as part of our relationship with God, we discover Traditions that lead to freedom.

Finally, we considered the Honor that leads to freedom.  Jesus could do and say the things He did while on earth because He wasn’t concerned about bringing honor and glory to Himself.  He was despised, ridiculed, rejected, and crucified all while living in complete freedom.  His stated goal was to not bring glory to Himself but to honor His Father.  It is so easy to get caught in the trap of compromise as we become afraid of what people will think of us.  Most of us want people to speak well of us and to honor us for our accomplishments and for who we are.  The problem is not so much in honoring people or being honored by people — God tells us to give honor to whom honor is due.  What keeps us from experiencing freedom is our desire to bring honor to ourselves.  It is when we make the focus of our life all about bringing glory to God that we can experience the Honor that leads to freedom.

Like the Jewish listeners in the days of Jesus, I think many people are disgusted with the idea that someone would set them free.  That original audience believed they were already free and had never been enslaved to anyone or anything — sounds rather familiar and contemporary to today’s culture, at least to me.  As much as we like to fight for our freedoms and shout to be heard, it doesn’t appear to be working all that well.  Perhaps it is time we turn to The TRUTH that Leads to Freedom!

In prayer,
Tom