Weekend Words & Sunday Stanzas – 01/08/2012

Back in 2002, I was working at McDonald’s. There was a customer who came in complaining about the service she was receiving and ridiculing the employees for incompetence, laziness, and rudeness. When she left, one of my co-workers said “I hate chicken-lips.”

“What are chicken-lips?” I asked.

“Chicken-lips are people who act like chickens who think they have lips. They cluck about everything, and get in the way. In other words, they only make a lot of noise and accomplish nothing other than making others angry or sad.”

Now you know the back story to this poem.

Also remember:

Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.

When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

James 3:1-12

chicken lips

i should not say
the things i say
i should not think
the things i think
if someone mocks
i will not mock
if someone jokes
i will not joke
i will keep my mind open
i will keep my mouth shut
i will change my words
i will change my thoughts

Taken from deeper words for God from a simple man of God by daniel m  klem, page 16.

Savior or Friend?

Is Jesus your Savior?

Is Jesus your Friend?

A recent (in terms of all of Church history) fad is “Jesus is my homeboy” and things like that, in which God is our friend. This is based on Jesus’ words “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15)

I have no qualms with calling Jesus our friend. I enjoy singing along with “I Am a Friend of God” both on the radio/at a concert and in church. I like singing “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” when I have the opportunity.

It just seems we have lost respect of the Savior in most circles.

I think the focus is just misplaced. Am I friends with Jesus because He is my Savior? Do I love Him because of what He has done?

The meaning behind these questions is one of “why I have decided.” This is all well and good, but the focus should always start with Jesus.

1 John 4:19 says “We love because He first loved us.” We are friends of Jesus, because Jesus calls us friends. I do not want to limit the importance of us choosing to love Him in return, but it is because of God we even have a choice. It is by God’s grace that we are free to choose.

I wrote this poem on Sunday (01/01/12) that I think might help understand what I am saying:

My Savior is my Friend

My Savior is my Friend.
He became a friend of mine
through being my Savior.
Yet He paid my sinful fine
by wanting to be my Friend.

My Lord is my Savior.
He became the Lord of me
through being my Friend.
Yet He deserved my loyalty
long before He was my Savior.

My Creator is my Lord.
He is the Creator
having created everything.
I love and serve Him more;
my Creator, Friend, Savior, and Lord.

Why do you love God? What are you willing to do for Him?

You should ask yourself everyday these questions and “what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:4) Put another way, “who am I that You are mindful of me?”

Weekend Words & Sunday Stanzas – 01/01/2012

HAPPY NEW YEAR! HAPPY 2012!

Whether or not this new year brings a lot of joy or continued pain and heartache, I pray that you receive blessings from God. This could be finding Him for the first time, or it could be temporary relief from pain and suffering, or it could be even complete relief from pain and suffering. Just keep in mind that all of these blessings can come in ways we might not expect, and they may even be painful themselves.

This year, starting today, I will be posting here poetry and other works from my second book. I would like to see today’s poem be true, but as I just mentioned above God’s blessings can sometimes come through pain.

Be a Man

People say “Be a man!”
All I see when we act like men is
Fear
Pain
Suffering
Death
Instead I take it like a kid
I run to my Father and get
Love
Care
Healing
Life
I will not say “Be a man!”
I will say “Run to Dad!”

Taken from deeper words for God from a simple man of God by daniel m  klem, page 15.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

For the coming year,

The LORD bless you, and keep you;
The LORD make His face shine on you, And be gracious to you;
The LORD lift up His countenance on you, And give you peace.’
Numbers 6:24-26, NASB

Love and grace,

Daniel & Caitlin

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Love Is An Act of Faith

Love is an act of faith, and whoever is of little faith is also of little  love. — Erich Fromm (1900-1980)

There are so many things in my life which I could have achieved up to this point. There are so many things in my life which I could have done up to this point. There are so many things in my life which I could have experienced up to this point.

I have not achieved many of the things which may have been achievable. I have not done many of the things which I might have done. I have not experienced many of the things which I could have experienced.

And I would not change a thing.

For starters, I may yet achieve, do, and experience many of those things. I do not know, and frankly I do not much care. I am aware of some of these things, but there is no point dwelling on them longer than a moment or two. (“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34)

The things most cherished in my life are those for which I had to sacrifice. I gave up time, resources, and possessions to help others because I love them.

As James said:

What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”

Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.

In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

James 2:14-26

Jesus explained that “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.” (John 14:21) In Matthew 25:31-46, He explained what this looks like. It is those who put their faith and professed love into action by feeding the hungry, caring for the stranger and needy, and visiting the lonely and imprisoned.

The great thing about our Lord is that He teaches by example. God sent promises throughout the Hebrew scriptures to send a Savior. We were told that “God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.” (1 Corinthians 1:9, only slightly out of context!) He demonstrated this faithfulness and love through a miraculous birth, preparing others to hear Him by raising up a faithful witness (John, the baptizer), throughout His ministry by doing all of the things He said those who love Him would do, and going to a crucifix to die to take the punishment for our unfaithfulness. A few days later, He even conquered death and the grave by rising again and offering a hope for everlasting life to those who believe in Him. This is the gospel message. This is the good news. This is the good word. This is the truth.

As Paul said:

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

Philippians 2:5-13

If you truly have faith, you will love others. It is not only commanded, but it is a direct outgrowth of a connection with God. Christians should be the most loving people on the planet. A failure to love is a failure to walk with God. Fortunately, God came to help all of us who fail constantly!

Weekend Words & Sunday Stanzas – 12/25/2011

How about a new one! This past Sunday, 12/18, I wrote a poem that was inspired by “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” and, of course, Jesus Christ.

May we remember on this particular day (and everyday) that Jesus Christ was born to bring peace, salvation, and fellowship between God and humanity. He was born to die, but He was also born to live again! The real meaning of this season is not to celebrate the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, instead it is to celebrate our God loving us so much that He willingly limited Himself to be with us.

I love you so much, because He loves you so much and before I ever even conceived of loving you!

Merry Christmas, and may your next year be a blessing (however that may look) that brings you into deeper fellowship with our Lord and Savior.

Bells Have Been Ringing

Bells have been ringing from churches
for several centuries
Proclaiming Christ is alive
and ruling from eternity
Bells have been ringing from churches
declaring the birth of Christ
Ringing to remind us of our sin
and that He had to die
Bells have been ringing from churches
calling mourners to mourn
Calling others to pray for families
of lost daughters and sons
Bells have been ringing from churches
calling the faithful to prayer
Reminding everyone who hears
that the Savior still cares
Bells have been ringing from churches
joining a girl with a boy
Bringing of their loved ones together
to share in the loving joy
Bells have been ringing from churches
to declare the returning Son
Whom at the sound of trumpets blown
will unite with us as One

Responses to Christmas: The Least of These

This last part might be a bit fanciful, but one of the joys of Christmas is having some fun.

When Jesus was born, we read: “She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:7)

Immediately following His birth, we read: “When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’ So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.” (Luke 2:15-16)

Eight days after He entered our world, we read: “When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: ‘a pair of doves or two young pigeons.'” (Luke 2:22-24)

A while later, we read: “Magi from the east came to Jerusalem.” (Matthew 1:1)

What is connection in all of these?

Those are barely mentioned, if at all, in each segment of the story: the animals!

Think about it:

  1. Animals had to give up their place to eat for the night.
  2. Animals were left alone for the night.
  3. Animals had to die for the Lord!
  4. Animals had to help carry worshipers and gifts for the Savior of the world.

When Mary and Joseph laid Jesus in the manger, a feeding trough for animals, this meant that for at least that night and into the morning the animals gave up their dining table.

When the shepherds left their herd for the night, as I mentioned the other day, the sheep lost their security system for a while.

When Jesus was dedicated, two pigeons gave up their lives!

When the Wise Men journeyed from the East, it was their camels and horses who bore the brunt of the excursion and lose any comfort during the trip (though I am sure the Wise Men would have mentioned a thing or two about riding animals through desert and mountain paths).

Would you give up your dining table for a poor baby? Would you like knowing you were unprotected for the night? Would like to carry someone else’s belongings for hundreds of miles (or several dozen … no one really knows exactly how far they travelled)? Would you die for someone?

My take on these under-mentioned characters is this: they were unwilling participants … actually, more like unawares … in this story of our Lord’s birth, yet they can still teach us something.

There are times when God will call us to go hungry for the sake of the Kingdom.

There are times when God will call us to step out of our comfort zones for the sake of the Kingdom.

There are times when God will call us to give up our lives for the glorification of Jesus Christ.

I can almost guarantee you that these things happen frequently throughout our lives without us even realizing it.

Think of Chinese believers who are worshiping together in someone’s home, when authorities come in and break up the meeting.

Think of Asian/Arab believers who are going to church, and they get beat up as they walk for simply believing in Jesus.

Think of African believers who sit in prison for reading the Bible at home.

Think of the missionaries who die entering a town, yet their children are able to share the gospel with hundreds or thousands through their tragedy.

Think of that time you saw a man on the side of the street, begging for money, and you gave him or fast food sandwich to help him survive a couple more days.

We are all called to serve. We do not always get an angel or a star to warn us and guide us before our service starts.

Merry Christmas, and peace and joy from our Lord to you!