A Grandfather's reflection on the birth of his grandson

Good morning!

 

Ya never know the magnitude of a given day.  But God does. And I am thankful.  I wrote a letter to my son and grandson this morning. I wanted to share this joy with my family, my church family.  Thank you for your love, faithfulness, and unity in the Gospel.

 

Psalm 145:10–13

 

            All your works shall give thanks to you, O LORD,

                        and all your saints shall bless you!

            They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom

                        and tell of your power,

            to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds,

                        and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.

            Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,

                        and your dominion endures throughout all generations.  (ESV)

 

 

Yesterday morning, I arose with an early call that I was needed. I put on my Pops hat and gladly went to help my son and daughter-in-law.  While little Eleanor and I played, her little brother was about ready to enter this wonderful and confused culture.  My heart could slide or rise in a hundred different directions, but verses from Psalms and Proverbs flooded my mind and then my heart. "Trust in the Lord, Tom, with all your heart...."  Whatever happens today and tomorrow and in the next 20 years is held in the palm of His Hand.  The Good.  The Bad.  The Joy.  The Sorrow.  ALL controlled by a mere whisper of Divine Providence.  And there I rested. And there I rest.

 

So around 10am yesterday, by the grace of God and the perseverance of a daughter-in-law who truthfully told me of the "curse" a few hours earlier, she bore a son, and my son, who just "yesterday" was playing catch with me with his little mitt, was now a daddy with a son, and a sweet daughter. Both are treasured by family, and family is treasured by all. Or should be. Life's sweetest (and hardest) moments are experienced by families.  God knows something about that, as He created family. 

 

Our Father, Who art in Heaven, hallowed by Thy Name...in our family.  We love family because He first loved us.  We love our church family because He first loved us. For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son (which I cannot fathom now, but I will thank Him forever.)  His precious Son. The Head of our family.

 

Today, while my body can be groggy, my soul can be happy.  There is great joy and sometimes great sorrow, which is mingled in most families.  Including mine.  But on this day, November 9, 2018, I remember November 8 with much joy primarily.

 

Ames Thomas Clemmons was born yesterday. And while I was stunned at his arrival, God was just smiling. The Word of God says that He has known Ames from before the foundation of the World.  He was indeed fearfully and wonderfully made by the Creator of Life.  Zack and Erin were chosen to birth Ames into our world and into our family.  This is quite a mystery, which only means unknown to me but known to God. He reveals His love in many ways, but this gift of life is certainly one of His most beautiful.

 

As I remember the painting of Jesus holding a little one, a tiny sheep in His arms, I remember little Zachary.  And now, big Zachary holds little Ames.  A namesake, yet I pray he makes much of the Name above every name one day.  Yes, one day, Ames, you will hear these words from your daddy, “Jesus loves you”. You probably already have. Indeed, your heavenly Daddy loves you more than your dad and your granddad combined.  And I know he will show you the picture -

 

“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Luke 12:32

 

So, on this day after you were born, Ames, your Pops says “Amen”. So be it!

 

 

We joyfully welcomed Ames Thomas Clemmons on Thursday, November 8, 2018 at 10:04am.  He weighed 7 pounds and 3 ounces and is 20.5 inches long.

 

To God be all the glory, Great things He has done.

 

In Christ’s love and ours,

Pastor Tom, Melissa, and the family

(aka Pops and Missy)

 

Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,

and your dominion endures throughout all generations. Psalm 145:13

 

 

Posted on November 9, 2018 .

Brothers: A joyfully-serious challenge for 2018

Good morning Brothers,

 

I hope you had a good Christmas day with family.  I'm sure many did and some, perhaps, did not.  Yep.  Reality.  This is what my calling is.  To tell the truth.  To bring up tough subjects.  And by His Spirit, I am called to bear witness to tough truths that we Christian men need to hear or be reminded of.

 

So, for those who had a joyful day with family, I say "awesome", and have you thanked God yet? Really stopped and knelt down and humbly thanked God? The reality is that some of our Brothers likely experienced a tough day.  Perhaps not even on the outside, they spoke with family, they carried on conversations with relatives, they even helped clean up perhaps, but inside....INSIDE, there was turmoil.  Old wounds surfaced.  New wounds were inflicted.  And a day of hopeful joy turned into a nagging sense that something is very wrong here.  

 

On this day after Christmas, God had me up early and thinking about many spiritual realities...mine and others.  No less than 5 men or families contacted me yesterday one way or the other....some with good news, some with questions, important questions, some with pain.  So I spent time last night and early this morning in prayer...asking God to give me His wisdom to share with others, because my wisdom is so inadequate compared to His. I like to stop and listen to God, to get up early to open His Word because I am a treasure hunter.  I treasure God's wisdom and find that I need more and more..."God, lead me to truth.  Give me your grace and wisdom so I might share it with others."  And as I read Acts 25 and 26, I heard from God.. I will share some of these nuggets of gold this coming Sunday, but for now, let me just say this...Paul told men "in power" that repentance is needed and then deeds in according with repentance were necessary.  True.   

 

Brothers, this is an excellent time to repent of what we haven't done in 2017 and to ask God to lead us into 2018 as godly prayer warriors, faithful husbands, engaged fathers, servant sons, leading our families spiritually.  We must not abdicate our leadership role to the culture.  God has called us to lead.  and this begins at home.  I sat all three of my sons down last night and had "the talk" with them...it was Spirit-led....because it was hard to launch the discussion really. The talk focused on what being a godly man is all about.  Not the first time I have done this, but I needed to speak into their lives again. I had their attention, which doesn't happen every day.  The talk was about a lot of things, being a godly man...dad's successes and failures in 2017...ya know, real life...real Christian life. Told them the most important thing they could do is to Follow Christ.  All else pales in importance.  Yes, life involves success and failure, and I prayed that God would give me wisdom...words to impart not just to their minds but to their hearts....how obeying God is the key to success in this life...and that rebelling against Him will destroy...many things - including their relationships.  I asked them to pray for me that I might lead well.  I shared some fatherly wisdom, and I hope that I stop and share more in 2018...time is short...and there are a few key moments when we can speak and know they are paying close attention to what we're saying.  Life is too busy.  We have to lead and intentionally STOP the "busy-ness" sometimes. 

 

So, I rambled some there but back to the point...Brothers we cannot be reactive to our present reality.  Can we be pro-active, godly men - godly thinkers and doers in 2018?  Not only in our homes but in our church family? God doesn't want our excuses, He wants our obedience.

 

Would you join me in repenting from being too passive in our daily spiritual leadership?  The stakes are too high to just coast into the deadly, worldly atmosphere we breathe and then react to what hits us...and them....our precious families.  God-given families.  God-given roles and responsibilities.  Well, what are we to do?  I say we FIGHT!  Put on the Armour of God.  And Lead...spiritually lead our homes and our church.

[10] Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. [11] Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.

Thank you for reading all this....gotta run...time to engage.

Pastor Tom

Psalm 59:9–10

 

[9] O my Strength, I will watch for you,

for you, O God, are my fortress.

[10] My God in his steadfast love will meet me;

God will let me look in triumph on my enemies. (ESV)

Posted on January 1, 2018 .

Are You Saved?

I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. (Psalm 101:3a ESV)

I debated writing a 101:3 fighter email to just the men of the church or whether I should just send it out to the entire church...so I did both through this Blog. ;o)

Good morning all...are you fighting the good fight of faith....or are you experiencing a rough week, month, life?  And your faith feels forced, hypocritical, or downright gone?  Are you saved? 

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12-13 ESV)

 

You don't hear that said much anymore.  "Are you saved?"  "Have you been born again?" At least that directly.  Our salvation is not based on a prayer we said a decade or three ago and it's surely not based on my spouse's faith or my parent's faith.  I guess sooner or later we all have to inspect the fruit in our lives...you know what I mean...the spiritual fruit.  

 

By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. (John 15:8 ESV)

 

So, I guess we are are fruit-inspectors...of our own lives most importantly. We need to stop comparing our walk with another's walk. Look at the log in our own eye, right? So, what do you see...when you look at the fruit trail in the path behind you? Last month? Last year? Last 30 years?

 

Has there been a growing humility?  A growing sacrificial life?Laying down your life for your wife?  your family?

 

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. (John 15:13-14 ESV)

 

You are not a friend of Jesus if you don't obey Him...and long to trust Him, and prove to be His disciple...bearing much fruit (of the Spirit living in you)....so if you're not a friend of the Lord Jesus, do you know Him? Does He really know you?

 

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another. (John 15:16-17 ESV)

 

Do you love Him? Do you love your spouse? You will love (read sacrifice your life for) your bride if you know love Jesus. You can't "do your own thing" and claim to be a Christ-follower...if you insist in this brief life to follow yourself, I guess you're be a "self-follower" then? Deadly.

 

Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. (John 15:2 ESV)

 

So, you have a choice. If you know God, you follow Him. If you don't know God, you follow self. And you may be cut off...for eternity. Do our decisions reflect the fruit of the Spirit or the fruit of the world in our lives? Today.

 

If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. (John 15:19 ESV)

 

Or does it? How are we being salt and light TO the world? TO our families. If we aren't, maybe we aren't that salty because we care so little about knowing and pleasing God. Oh, I know we all have a lot of head knowledge...but that can just PUFF UP the pride that lurks in our hearts and will indeed destroy us. Does your knowledge of God produce a hatred for indwelling sin? ...if not, well, your knowledge is deficient and your heart may be very far from the God you think you know? A heart that has been transformed by the living God makes decisions on a regular basis that prove to others a real change has happened...by God's grace through a living faith in Christ. Fruit.

 

Love. Joy. Peace. You know the rest...oh, that list ends with self-control. Let's not forget that one. If you feel out-of-control, get help. Quickly. Call me. Call an Elder. Call a brother in Christ who loves you enough to tell you the truth and pray with you and hold you accountable.

 

Hear Christ...obey Him...and JOY...His Joy...will return to your life and you will bear good fruit...to eternal life:

So Jesus said to the Jews (and to us) who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. (John 8:31-32)

 

For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:20-23 ESV)

 

The question remains....are you saved? Your fruit is a good sign, one way or the other. It's really a life or death question. Pray. Seek God. Repent. and Believe the Gospel...follow Christ...this day.

 

Joy in Christ...freedom in Christ...misery in human pride,

Pastor Tom

He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30 ESV)

Posted on October 23, 2015 .

Eating for Joy!

May 5, 2015

Eating produces joy?  I suppose it depends on What you eat!

Has the Lord seemed near or far to you this past week?  Have we become bogged down in the muddy waters of earthly sin and indifference to One who can clear the fog of "busyness" and brightly burn off despair with joy and faith?  Yesterday, I read Jeremiah 15:16...check this out:

Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O LORD, God of hosts. (Jeremiah 15:16 ESV)

Need to know the power of God in your life today? Eat the Word. Devour His truth. Relish His grace. Digest His ways. Walk in them.

Jeremiah 15 concludes:

Therefore thus says the LORD: “If you return, I will restore you, and you shall stand before me. If you utter what is precious, and not what is worthless, you shall be as my mouth. They shall turn to you, but you shall not turn to them. And I will make you to this people a fortified wall of bronze; they will fight against you, but they shall not prevail over you, for I am with you to save you and deliver you, declares the LORD. I will deliver you out of the hand of the wicked, and redeem you from the grasp of the ruthless.” (Jeremiah 15:19-21 ESV)

Fellow Christ-followers, let us battle indifference and anxiety by wielding the Sword of the Spirit this day. The Word of God pierces us, cleanses us, and propels us to engage the world (and our families) with the love and grace of God.

Onward Christian soldiers...for I am with you to save you and deliver you, declares the LORD!

For His glory and our joy in Christ,

Pastor Tom

 

Posted on May 5, 2015 .

Veterans Day 2014

Veterans Day is a special day.  I was born one week before Veterans Day into the Air Force on a military base in Japan.  I have always liked Air Force blue.  My dad was an enlisted man who worked hard through the Air Force ROTC program at USC (that's South Carolina..the first USC) and became an officer in the mid-fifties.  He served in many different roles in and out of the military, but I knew him best as "Dad."  A humble man who loved our country and loved serving in the military...most days.  None of us liked it when he flew off to Vietnam, but we prayed more and longed for his return. By God's grace, a rocket missed him one morning but destroyed his hut.  We missed him at Thanksgiving and Christmas, but we trusted that he would return to us, and he did.  I respected him and wanted to please him.  He was my father - a role which defined him as a role-model for his three sons. He loved the freedom we have in America, and I dutifully watched the news with him many nights.  He told me one day that he thought it would be a good thing for me to apply to the Air Force Academy.  "Yes Tom, you want to go to college, Well, they will pay you to go to college there. And you can serve your country."  Or something like that.  I admired him and took his advice.  And God had a plan for me.  I used to dream about going all over the world, as I sat in my room wondering what to do with my life. 

The Air Force was certainly a ticket to get out of my little country town with three stop signs and two gas stations. One was run by a buddy's family from church, and it had a huge ditch beside it that I tried to jump on a mini-bike one Sunday afternoon.  That same Sunday afternoon I was supposed to be baptized at another Baptist church that evening. Ours didn't have a baptistry...what kind of Baptist church doesn't have a baptistry? The church WITH the baptistry was off Half-Hell road. I'm not kidding. As a prideful, sinful kid I was more than halfway there until God got my attention!  (I am thankful for the World War II veteran preacher...Pastor Greear from Philadelphia who came to our tiny church and preached the Gospel faithfully when I was 11.)  Well, back to the ditch.  I tried to jump the ditch with the small mini-bike and well, landed a bit short and flipped over the handlebars.  I was baptized that night...as I hobbled down into the baptistry with a badly bruised knee. At least my soul was healed a few weeks earlier, but it would take a bit longer for my knee to be healed. I didn't learn my lesson about dirt bikes, though...and later my collar bone would suffer a worse fate than my knee. God allowed me to to feel both the pain of my bad decisions and the horror of my sin early in life. Too many to list here. Praise God for his saving grace!

So, I left my idyllic rural upbringing and headed to Colorado in 1982.  I was nervous, but I knew my mom and dad were praying for me daily, and I actually felt God answer their prayers often.  Mom said that “I could do all things THROUGH CHRIST who strengthens me.”  I believed mom, dad, and God.  My hair almost disappeared, my jeans became a uniform, and I soon became a man. I actually liked the discipline.  I loved saluting the flag. Marching was cool, most days.  I didn’t like the yelling, but I prayed more.  Now MY uniform, not just my dad’s, had “U.S. Air Force” stitched on it.  I was where I was meant to be.

And I took an oath that was stitched in my heart.  It went like this, “I am an American fighting man. I serve in the forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense.”  At 18 years old, I realized that my initial joy of being a cadet was a serious joy.  A Commitment.  I had joined a new team.  Was I ready to give my life for my country?  I took the oath, but I never dreamed that I may really have to give my life.  This was the 80s.  Ronald Reagan was President.  No one would mess with America! 

Well, the last stanza of the Fighting Man’s Code of Conduct goes like this, “I will never forget that I am an American fighting man, responsible for my actions, and dedicated to the principles which made my country free. I will trust in my God and in the United States of America.”  When I first spoke those words, I never dreamed that the Code would never leave my heart.  

I did see the world.  I did see the horror of war. And through it all, I trusted God.  I knew that He was in control of my days and my future.  I also discovered that a lot of people who curse God when all is well, seek Him when the bombs are falling and shots are flying by their heads.  I knew that life was short for some, and I wondered how many really trusted God. Seemed to me that it was a vital question to get right, if indeed life was short and eternity was long.

My obsession with eternity (and God) led me to honorably resign from the Air Force in 1991.  I still loved the Air Force, but God had called me on another mission, and I had to trust Him….again. And again.  My father, whom I loved, was not happy with me for resigning my commission to go to seminary.  I respected my father, but I had to joyfully obey my Father in heaven.  For three years I had prayed and sought counsel and fought many battles trying to know God’s will.  Pastor Dale had told me “Tom, if you can be satisfied doing anything other than being a pastor, you should do it.”  I love Dale to this day.  He was right.  Pastor John later confirmed this truth by saying to me "God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in Him."  Nothing and No one satisfied me more than God and His promises.  I knew my calling.  Life.  And eternal life.  With Him.  Wow!

I have many passions in life…but none compare to the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus and His will for my life.  Being a shepherd has been the most trying “vocation” I have ever had, and most satisfying.  Going and making disciples as a soldier in Christ’s kingdom demands one to embrace suffering souls, yet always rejoicing in the midst of the trials. That’s not just my calling, however.  It is yours.  Every Christ-follower is called to “Go and make disciples”…here, there, and everywhere.  

Yes, I believe that life is war.  Disciple-making requires a wartime mentality…spiritual battles are raging every day, people are wounded, faith wanes, and yet, God calls us to faithfulness.  “Fight the good fight of faith.” “Do not be anxious about life”  “Do not fear.” “Blessed are you who are persecuted for my Name’s sake.”  “The Lord is our Helper.” “Walk by faith.”  “I am the Resurrection and the Life.”  “Come Lord Jesus.”  And we press on in the trenches.  Onward Christian soldiers! 

Do you know a Veteran?  Thank him or her.  I thank my father, my father-in-law, as well as my grandfather and my great-grandfather for their service to our country. Thank God for all those who are willing to lay down their lives that others may live!  Sounds like a Christian to me.

For His Glory and OUR JOY in Christ our Lord...forever,

Pastor Tom

Acts 20:24

PS   I did not want this "Veterans Day Letter" to be all about me, but I know I shared some of my story with you.  Please forgive me if this appears to be too much about me.  As a laymen, I always wanted to know more about my pastors…but they usually talked and preached about God more than themselves – PRAISE GOD!  So, I write a few tidbits from time to time to help you know your shepherd a bit better.  We pastors are people too – with a real history.  And my history is a huge testimony to the grace of God. And by the way, my dad is now very glad that I am a pastor!  He is my dad...and also a brother in Christ.

I am grateful for all who have served our country and our Lord.  Please remember, we church members wear the “uniform” every day…we are identified as being on His team…we are His church.  We all have a story, some scars, and have experienced oceans of His grace. Thanks for reading this short story today, and remember…God shed His grace on thee!  Trust in Him.

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Posted on November 11, 2014 .

October already...Leaves and Lives

October 2, 2013.  Already?  It is going to snow in Colorado this Friday...at least that's what "they" say.  The trees are beautiful.  The leaves are stunning.  Seasons are changing. The clock is ticking.  Life is short. Eternity is long.  My thought life leads here so often, and I wonder why.  Perhaps it's because God has called me to pastor one of His churches.  True.  But I thought like this before I was a pastor.  Every one of us has 24 hours, but some days I think I only have 22.  You?  So, if we all have the same amount of time, we need to make the most of that God-given time.  "Time gets away from us" too often.  Let's spend time each day with God.  And with our families.  And with God's people. And with people who need the Lord. 

I was going to read and study this morning while I had my old van worked on.  Four people sat near me in the waiting room during the few hours...and God allowed me to spend time with them. The Spirit led me to casually share my life, my faith, and my church with them.  None of them were rude to me, and all four seemed pleased to have the chat...just passing the time, ya know.

I thank God for time.  And seasons.  And life.  And leaves.  And lives.  Let's spend time loving God and loving others by spending time with them. Especially those within the church.  You encourage others in the church with your presence and with your godly living.  Let's spend some time together this Sunday.  Looking forward to seeing you church!  Time to go for now.  Bye. 

 

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Posted on October 2, 2013 .

The Spirit of September

OK...that was my attempt at a catchy title, but as we launch into September and school and fall ministries, etc... I wanted to talk with you about the leading of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit.  The third Person of the Trinity. He is often neglected by evangelicals...conservative Bible-believing Christians, and I feel this inattention must be addressed.

But Pastor, surely there are more pressing church issues to address!?  Perhaps there are, but if we do not walk by the Spirit, we will try to accomplish everything and anything in the flesh.  We are to glorify God, not man.   

2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.  1 Corinthians 2:2-5

Oh, may that be our daily bread. Lord, we need a demonstration of Your power, poured out in the lives of your people through the Spirit! Jesus said that the Spirit will glorify Him (see John 16:14).  As Christians, Christ-followers, may we glorify God as we daily are filled by His Spirit to do His will.  This will bring joy to us and glorify His Name in our church.

Breathe on us, Holy Spirit.  Looking forward to Sunday morning when we will take a Biblical look at the Spirit.  Let's prepare out hearts and minds. 

Grace and peace and power in Christ, 

Pastor Tom

 

Posted on September 3, 2013 .