The Honest Truth

The Honest Truth

Let’s just be honest
     between you and I.
When I hear these words,
     I must wonder why.
Is what you have told me
     up to right now.
Been short of the truth
     in some way or somehow?

Have we become so much
     afraid of the crowd.
That we can’t speak the truth,
     we can’t say it out loud?
We sugar coat answers
     and make them sound good.
And wonder why we feel
     we’re misunderstood.

Everything’s fine,
     no problems, we say.
But inside our mind
     the clouds are all grey.
We’re hurting and dying,
     it’s painful inside.
But all of the while
     our smile is spread wide.

You can’t tell the truth,
     what will people think?
You tell on them,
     you’re branded a fink.
So problems do fester,
     bad actions do grow.
And we have been silenced
     so no one will know.

When we’re less than honest
     we live life in fear.
That someone will speak up
     and someone will hear.
There is a solution
     that God says is so.
Let your yes be yes,
     and let your no be no.

So next time you’re tempted
     to be less than true.
Be sure to remember
     that just isn’t you.
To live under pretense
     just shouldn’t be.
When you walk in the truth,
     the truth sets you free!
© 2015 by Tom Lemler

My mind seems to be wired differently than what the average person’s is. There are times when I am asked about something that I would much rather say the “polite” thing that I know is the expected answer but I just can’t do it. I was told by an eldership in years past that I was too honest because I couldn’t put the right “spin” on information. Sometimes I desperately want to do just that so I fit in, am accepted, avoid arguments, and so many other reasons but I find that there is something in my wiring that doesn’t allow that. I am able to keep things to myself as long as no one asks, but so often when people do ask about specific things they don’t seem to really want an honest answer. Anyhow, I’ve been in a mental fog/funk for a few days for some reason and I’m not really sure if there was a specific trigger point or reason for this poem, but I believe God gave it so I ought to share it. I pray that it accomplishes whatever purpose He has in mind for it.

In prayer,
Tom

A Prophet’s Life

Some say it’s a gift,
     but I’m not so sure.
To see what could be
     if our choices were pure.
Just take a look back
     to the prophets of old.
And see what it got them
     when they were quite bold.

They’d speak up for God
     and proclaim forth His Word.
Yet the people would live,
     like they had never heard.
Things haven’t changed much
     as I look around.
Insist on life God’s way
     and few friends will be found.

It seems we’ve grown smarter
     than ever before.
We have better methods,
     our wisdom is more.
God couldn’t mean
     what it looks like He said.
Our own understanding
     beats the words that are red.

Yet faithful I must be,
     no matter the cost.
Anything less and
     my soul will be lost.
What God says still matters
     and I must be true.
To not only live it,
     but speak it to you!
© 2014 by Tom Lemler

The poems had disappeared from my mind for a while but for some reason several of them showed up in my mind all mixed up last night. This is one I sorted out and I think all the lines belong to this poem. 🙂

In prayer,
Tom

Honesty

There’s something I’ve noticed
     that really seems strange.
When it comes to truth,
     we think there’s a range.
There are bold lies and white lies,
     and “honest to God”.
And all kinds of gray space
     that really seems odd.
Whatever happened
     to yes and to no?
And keeping our word
     wherever we go?

To keep to my word,
     and make sure it’s true.
Should be how I live,
     when I talk with you.
I must be careful
     to weigh every word.
So only the truth,
     is that which is heard.
To make up a story,
     so I don’t look bad.
Will only bring problems,
     the worst that I’ve had.

Image is everything,
     at least we’ve been told.
So we make up a story
     and hope that it’s sold.
Our yes isn’t yes,
     and our no isn’t no.
We consider our image
     and we answer so-so.
We hide the true facts,
     that we don’t want seen.
And tell a new version,
     where the truth is quite lean.

This doesn’t mean
     you should tell all you know.
Some things are private,
     from your mouth should not go.
But that is a story
     for another day.
About speaking the truth,
     this poem will stay.
When we cover up
     the truth with a lie.
Our reputation
     has begun to die.

We must be careful
     that we don’t deceive.
By the impression
     that we try to leave.
We should not have to
     swear this is true.
Our word should be good
     when given to you.
The things that we value
     will carry more weight.
When we are honest
     in all that we state.

So when you are thinking
    that truth can’t be found.
Open the Bible,
     take a good look around.
The truth that is Jesus,
     does show us the way.
And calls us to choose;
     in our speech, there’s no gray.
To be fully honest,
     in word and in deed.
Is a teaching of Jesus
     that we ought to heed.
©

It seems like we live in a time where so many people have lost sight of the value that God places on honesty. In the past I’ve had ministry leaders tell me I’m too honest; that I needed to be more creative with the facts to give people an impression that was different from what was true. It also appears common to play loose with Bible texts to try to prove what we want. As I watched some of that unfold on social media, I spent time with God listening to His voice and He gave me this poem. I pray that it is an encouragement to each of us to live an honest life in our pursuit of God.

In prayer,
Tom

Opinions

We all have opinions
      that we hold to as fact.
They are often seen
      in the way that we act.
We stand up and shout
      in a voice that is loud.
I simply know more,
      it’s not that I’m proud.
We see this in others
      throughout the whole day.
But to see it in my life,
      there’s simply no way.

It seems far too often,
      and without any proof.
We repeat what we hear
      from the top of the roof.
We hear what we like
      and we make up our mind.
We’re so very certain,
      that the truth we don’t find.
We think we’re important
      if we know it all.
So we fail to notice
      that we’re bound for a fall.

We live in a time
      when it’s easy to do.
To let people know
      just what is our view.
I see it on-line,
      in response to all news.
They’re only right
      if they do what I choose.
It is quite amazing
      what people believe.
There’s no rhyme or reason,
      to the comments they leave.

If things are done one way,
      it’s completely wrong.
But do them the other,
      they sing the same song.
You can’t win for losing,
      is what some will say.
But I choose to believe
      there’s a much better way.
I need to be careful
      before I reply.
Before I do answer,
      I ought to ask, “Why?”

Not only ask why,
      but ask what is true.
That my answer is godly,
      not just my own view.
To consider the matter
      beyond what is shown.
And try to see clearly,
      as if their shoes were my own.
What I think doesn’t matter,
      if it’s really off-base.
And I only know that,
      when I seek my God’s face.

So when I read something
      of which I don’t agree.
I look to God’s Word
      to see if it’s me.
When there is a difference
      of opinion, not fact.
I guard my words closely
      and watch how I act.
I choose to know one thing
      and it’s always true.
It’s more than opinion,
      that God does love you.
©

Social media seems to make it easy for people to express their opinions with little regard for truth, fact, or even the whole story.  As I was reflecting this morning on comments I have read about various postings and news items, God put this poem in my mind.  I pray that it helps you to consider the words you use and examine the difference between opinion and truth before you feel obligated to comment.

In prayer,
Tom

Perception

I parted some water
     only last night.
It stacked up beside me,
     it was quite a sight.
I walked right between it,
     each side was a wall.
And I wasn’t too worried
     that either would fall.
Before you start thinking
     that I’ve lost my mind.
The water was frozen,
     it was the snowflake kind.

That may not seem funny,
     or maybe it does.
Our mind paints a picture
     of what is and what was.
And so very often,
     it is hard to see.
Anything different
     than I thought would be.
We’ve all heard some stories
     that just can’t be true.
At least ‘til we see them
     from a different view.

So when you do question
     a story that’s bold.
Look at it closely,
     see what really was told.
When we start to listen
     beyond “I am fine.”
We may just discover
     a valuable mine.
To understand others
     is quite a great gift.
Our world would be different
     if we all made this shift.

It will not be easy,
     I know it is hard.
Sometimes we get burnt
     and our spirit feels charred.
We don’t have to agree
     on every detail.
We still work together
     so neither will fail.
So when your perception
     fills you with much doubt.
Look from all angles
     as you figure it out.

Perception’s a problem
     when we start to pray.
It’s so very hard
     to see things God’s way.
We hold to His promise
     He said in His Word.
But sometimes the answer
     isn’t quite like we heard.
When you expect one thing
     and it’s not what you get.
Look at it from God’s view
     and you should be all set.
©

I was spending time with God this morning and thinking about the work I did last night clearing walks and realizing that it was water that was stacked up on either side of me — just not liquid yet.  This poem appeared in my mind as a look at the perceptions we have based on our understanding, often a one-sided understanding, of a person, an event, or even God. I pray that you constantly look at things from God’s perspective to give clarity to your perception.

In prayer,
Tom

Truth

It’s cold and it’s snowy
     outside of the door.
But I’m warm and cozy,
     asleep on the floor.
I know what you’re saying,
     that you’d like to see.
Asleep and still writing
     that just can not be.
It may not seem likely —
     it may not seem real.
I”m only sharing
     the things that I feel.

If you just don’t like it,
     that’s fine with me.
You can do something useful,
     like watch “reality” TV!
It’s really not funny
     the things we accept.
As true and important
     though the facts are inept.
We read and we study,
     we search through the ‘net.
To prove what we want to,
     and the rest we forget.

As my mind does wander,
     and goes to and fro.
I consider what’s in it
     and I think of the snow.
It doesn’t matter
     if I say it is hot.
I can say it forever,
     but still, it is not.
The point to this story,
     is about to come.
I can’t make my own truth,
     It comes from the Son!

Okay, I went out to clear the snow from the driveway at home and another poem fell out of my head. I pray that this reaches the person God gave it to me for.

In prayer,
Tom Lemler

©

The Act of CORRECT (Acts 19)

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 
2 Timothy 3:16-17

It is 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.

As we arrive in Acts 19 in our sermon series we find Paul arriving at Ephesus and evidently noticing a need to correct some incomplete teaching.  Because we don’t have a full time-line of the events, it seems to be an interesting approach as Acts 19 opens with Paul finding some believers and the conversation that Luke finds worth writing down revolves around a simple question, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”.  I’m guessing that I’m not alone, but I’ve never even thought of asking that question of a group of believers as I travel and meet new people!  I believe there was either something about the fruit of their life, or perhaps knowledge of the incomplete teaching of Apollos, that led Paul to suspect that they had not been immersed into Jesus Christ.  And so, Paul takes on this Act of CORRECT in order to bring some believers into a greater understanding of their belief in Jesus.  We’re typically not good at the act of correct because we miss some important elements — and because they are missing the outcome is often worse than the beginning.  Instead of letting our past failures keep us from the good work of correction, let’s look at some lessons we can learn from the example of Paul’s as we consider the need to be skilled in the Act of CORRECT.

  • Concern:  At the very heart of being effective in our attempts to correct is a need to have genuine concern!  Too often, our attempts to correct are simply born out of a desire for everyone to agree with our opinion.  Paul’s act of correction was designed to express his concern that the believers were not fully informed of, therefore not fully obedient to, the commands and promises of Jesus.  When we approach the act of correct out of genuine concern for others, we always begin by examining and allowing God to purify our motives.  Real concern will usually soften our approach to correcting honest mistakes and simple oversights.  Sometimes our attitude in the act of correct makes our attempts appear to be more of an act of condemn.  Correction is always more effective when it is obvious the one doing the correcting has great, and real, concern for the one being corrected.  When God calls you to grow in the Act of CORRECT, recognize that God’s desire is that your interaction with people would be done from an attitude of Concern.
  • Obedience:  Also at the very heart of the Act of CORRECT is an unwavering act of Obedience!  Correction by its nature is designed to bring someone, or something, into line with an existing standard.  For the act of correct to work within a church family, it must always center around an obedience to God’s Word and a desire for the family to be brought up to the standards set by God.  After hearing that the believers had not received the Holy Spirit, had not even  heard of the Holy Spirit, Paul’s next question is interesting — “Then what baptism did you receive?”.  There was an evident assumption because they had believed in Jesus that they had been baptized!  Their intent was to respond to Jesus in obedience but they had only heard of John’s baptism of repentance.  Paul’s act of correct calls them to a more accurate obedience to which they responded by being immersed in the name of Jesus Christ.  Too often, we forget that it really is all about obeying Jesus and we make our attempts to correct people all about getting them to obey us!   For our Act of CORRECT to be effective, we must always center the need to correct around a full Obedience to the Word of God.
  • Repentance: The act of correct also calls for repentance — not only in the life of the one being corrected, but also in the life of the one correcting!  Because we associate repentance so closely with a turn from evil, we often miss that it really is all about a change of direction or a change of mind in the way we think.  The act of correct is simply calling on people to have a change of mind or direction in the way they respond to Jesus.  A similar change of mind is often needed in the “corrector” so that the correcting is really being done out of concern and obedience to God.  Sometimes we do the right things with the wrong motives and God needs to apply the act of correct to us in order to bring about repentance.  In Acts 19 some Jews were evidently known for driving out evil spirits and when they saw the effectiveness of the name of Jesus in doing so, they thought they would join the bandwagon.  Unfortunately for them, an evil spirit could see them as pretenders and instead of coming out of the man it possessed it attacked and beat seven of the Jews at once.  It was this revealing by God of the imposters that brought many believers into the open with their acts of repentance and confession.  God uses many things to get our attention with the desire that we would recognize anything false within us and turn to Him in repentance.  When we are growing in the Act of CORRECT, we also grow in the act of Repentance as we change our way and our mind to be more like Jesus and call others to do the same.
  • Rejection: We like it when the act of CORRECT brings about repentance in people — even in us!  Unfortunately, there are times when the response is one of Rejection rather than repentance.  While it is not nearly as pleasant to talk about, it is important to understand that even when correcting is done out of genuine concern and complete obedience to God’s Word, the will of mankind still has the option to reject the correction.  Throughout the book of Acts we see the Apostles and early Christians preaching, teaching, and correcting yet not everyone who hears responds in a positive way.  Most of the time it seems like the magnitude of the acts of acceptance and genuine repentance is met with a corresponding and magnified force of rejection.  I include this point because we must realize the rejection is not really of us, but of the one who sends us.  Fortunately, the rejection of our work of correction is not always the end of the story.  We must continue on, trusting that God will continue to work with the seeds we are planting.  The Act of CORRECT lived out in our life not only finds acceptance at times, but will often find strong Rejection that we must not take personally.
  • Excuses:  Sometimes instead of outright rejection, the act of CORRECT is met with Excuses.  While there were many who repented of the evil they had clung to, there was another group in Ephesus that made excuses for why they couldn’t accept correction.  If you look at them in Acts 19, you will probably notice they are actually quite common excuses we use to hold on to things we shouldn’t — “It will cost us time, money, and/or business.” . . .  “It disrupts our normal routine of life.” . . .  “What about our reputation?” . . . “That’s not the way we do things here.”.  Do any of those sound familiar?  It has been said that an excuse is just the skin of a reason stuffed with a lie!  We want our excuses to sound right, but really we know they’re not.  When God calls us to be involved in someone’s life through the act of correct, we must be willing to put aside our excuses and be obedient.  When we are on the other side and God is using someone to correct us, it is imperative that we knock the lie out of the excuses  we use and accept the correction God wishes to bring.  To honor God in the Act of CORRECT, we must call out, and be done with, Excuses wherever they are found.
  • Change:  At the heart of the Act of CORRECT is a call to change!  We must never forget that God’s desire for all of us is that we are changed — transformed into the image of Jesus Christ through the power of His blood and the help of His Spirit.  Very few of us like change.  We resist the act of correct because we don’t want to admit we’re wrong, but also because we don’t want to move out of our comfort zones.  Before we try to correct the actions or attitudes of someone, we must thoroughly examine if the desired correction will bring about change that results in a more Christ-like person or if the correction is designed to make a more “me-like” person.  Jesus says that unless we change and become like little children we will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  I’m pretty sure that means we all need to take the idea of change seriously.  It is within this act of Change that it is important to apply the teachings of Jesus and fully remove the plank from our own eye before we try to remove the speck from our brother’s eye.  For God to use us in the Act of CORRECT we must allow Him to always be involved in the Change that must take place.
  • Truth: Another vital element to the Act of CORRECT is the act of Truth!  It is the act of truth that has the power to dispel excuses and overcome rejection.  When we hold fast to the Word of God as being truth and use it as the sole basis for the act of correct, we are able to set aside the pettiness, favoritism, and partiality that far too often creep into our attempts to correct others.  It is when we value truth that we are willing to accept correction in our own life.  As one who was headed in a very wrong direction when confronted with the truth of Jesus, Paul would speak and write boldly about the need for the truth of Jesus to be foundational in life.  In talking with people who claimed to be following God yet were in great need of correction, Jesus stated, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.  Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  As we are involved in correcting and being corrected, we must never forget that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life!  When we spend the time needed to fully engage in the act of CORRECT, we must do so while standing on the foundation of Truth.

So, how are you doing in living out and growing in the Act of CORRECT?  Do you fully approach people with a genuine Concern?  Are your efforts and motives completely in Obedience to God?  Do you keep true Repentance in mind as a desired outcome?  Do you recognize your role as a servant and ambassador of Jesus so that you’re better prepared should people Reject Him?  Do you constantly put aside Excuses and pray that God will help you to see through them?  Are you one who seeks Godly Change in your life, as well as in the lives of others?  Will you be committed to God’s Truth being the foundation for all correction?  I pray that the act of CORRECT expressed through your life will boldly show the world that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior!