The Plans of Men

The Plans of Men

We scheme and we plot.
     We sit and we plan.
We work out the details
     that seem right to man.
When plans are finished
     in just the right way.
We might turn to God
     and perhaps we would say:

“God we have worked
     with all of our might.
Now look at our plans
     and tell us we’re right.
We have considered
     what works best down here.
Now bless us and watch us
     and for us now cheer!”

Those little lines
     might sound quite absurd.
But they’re not far off
     from things I have heard.
“Prayer is fantastic,
     it is great for you.
But please don’t distract us
     from what we must do.”

“This way is better
     for our modern day.
Life moves by too fast
     to wait for God’s way.
If we don’t seize the moment,
     the moment will fade.
Then we’ll lose all we worked for,
     of this I’m afraid.”

As lines such as these
     echo loud in my mind.
It is harder to hear
     the voice I must find.
The calm gentle whisper,
     “Be still and know.
Trust me and walk
     in the way I will show.”

Doing things God’s way
     can be a great leap.
Do I really trust Him,
     His promises to keep?
Will He always be with me
     and always provide?
Will He see me through
     to the end of the ride?

Few people I know
     would ever claim.
To do things their own way
     or seek their own fame.
But when we’re impatient
     and force things to fit.
We pull out a bench
     and tell God to just sit.

With God on the sideline,
     we’re destined to fail.
What looks like success
     may become our own jail.
So before you’re imprisoned
     by ideas you think great.
Seek the way of God
     before it’s too late!

© 2015 by Tom Lemler

Other than a few rhyming lines here and there for fun, it has been a while since a full poem has shown up in my mind. Today started with a pair of rhyming lines about Susan not wanting to wake up. Somehow those lines seemed to open up a poem that had formed in my mind and wanted out. 🙂 I pray that it encourages you to seek God’s way all of the time and to abandon the ways and plans of the world no matter how right they may seem to mankind.

In prayer,

Stop, Look, and Listen

We are addicted
     to thinking we’re great.
We even make up things
     we can celebrate.
I’m smoother, I’m faster,
     I’m better, you see.
At changing the channels
     on my new TV!
As soon as I say that,
     someone comes along.
They will do anything
     to prove I am wrong. 

I get in trouble
     when I respond back.
With words full of anger
     and compassion I lack.
I must be the best,
     I know that I’m right.
For you to say different
     is more than a slight.
I make up statistics,
     I misquote the “pros”.
I lay claim to knowledge
     that no one else knows. 

We live in a time
     when there’s no room for fact.
We look to the polls
     to see how we should act.
To become an expert
     is easy these days.
Just connect online
     and tell all your ways.
We write with such candor,
     insisting we’re right.
We become quite bold
     when we stay out of sight. 

I have opinions
     on all that I read.
But are my opinions
     what the world needs?
They need to see Jesus
     in all that I do.
Whether writing a poem
     or responding to you.
So when you are tempted
    to play the expert.
Stop, think, and pray
     before someone gets hurt. 

So, what will it take
     to turn things around?
To say things and write things
     with a heavenly sound?
Think for a moment
     just what you would do.
If the person you challenge
     was in front of you.
Stop, look, and listen
     is still good advice.
Whether crossing the tracks
     or trying to speak nice. 

Stop all your movement
    and wait for a while.
So you can respond
    and still have a smile.
Look all around,
     beginning with  you.
Seek understanding
     to carry you through.
Listen intently
     to what’s said and what’s not.
Listen to God’s voice,
     He says quite a lot! 

When I apply this
     within my own life.
I avoid foolish talk
     and a whole lot of strife.
Yes, there are times
     to speak what is right.
But not necessarily
     with everyone in sight.
I speak and I write
     with God as my guide.
And the prayer that it’s Jesus
     people do see inside. 

© 2015 by Tom Lemler

This poem isn’t at all what I expected to read when I began typing it out!  When it first started forming in my mind, I thought it was about celebrating this being my 100th poem.  Instead, it seemed to flow from  how we respond to the public celebrations and statements of others.  Far too often I see Christians responding online to news reports and personal posts with such animosity and arrogance that any truth of God’s Word that they would try to use gets lost in the fray.  I pray that this poem is a reminder to not only “Stop, Look, and Listen”, but to stop, think, and pray in the midst of all interactions with others.

In prayer,
Tom Lemler

The Ninety-Nine

A story is told
     of a man with some sheep.
And as he was counting
     he just couldn’t sleep.
For there was one missing,
     he looked all around.
But the sheep that was lost,
     no where could be found.

So he gathered the safe sheep
     and left them behind.
And searched with the hope
     that the lost one he’d find.
It’s good that we focus
     on seeking the lost.
To go out and find them
     no matter the cost.

But I often wonder
     just what those sheep thought.
The ninety-nine safe ones
     who did what they ought.
That is the story
     that’s more about me.
When I’m safe in God’s fold
     how far do I see?

I think far too often
     that those in the church.
Get bent out of shape
     and feel left in the lurch.
When the shepherds do leave them
     all safe in the fold.
To go out and rescue
     the lost from the cold.

It’s all about me,
     are my needs being met?
I’m very important,
     now don’t you forget.
Don’t think about their needs,
     just focus on mine.
Why search for the one
     when you have ninety-nine?

I hope when you read that,
     you know it’s all wrong.
Our job is to help
     the lost to belong.
There are many people
     who wander in sin.
Let’s do what we can
     to help bring them in.

When we are living
     safe in God’s care.
Let’s turn our gaze outward.
     to the lost that are there.
When we huddle together
     with our ninety-nine.
Look to the hurting
     and know they’re not fine.

So will you be happy
     and feel satisfied?
That you’re safe in the fold
     while the lost sheep has died?
I pray that you realize
     there’s work yet to do.
That the lost will find Jesus
     as they see Him in you!

So let’s all get busy
     and look for the one.
Who is wounded and hurting,
     with no place to run.
Help them see Jesus
     so they’ll say, “He’s mine!”
And enter the fold
     with us “ninety-nine”.

© 2015 by Tom Lemler

I’ve been keeping an eye on my poem count, thinking I would like to come up with something special for my 100th poem. I’m sure God will still give me something special for poem number 100, but first he gave me The Ninety-Nine! After I finished poem number 98 earlier tonight, I finished up my day and went to bed only to have this poem show up in my mind centered around what will the 99 do while there is one yet lost. And wouldn’t you know it, it is a story using sheep as an illustration! I”m guessing that most of my readers are part of the 99 who are safe in the fold. Do you care, or even think, about the one who is lost and/or missing? I pray that we rejoice in our salvation with our fellow “ninety-nine” while doing our part to find the one.

In prayer,

The Road Home

A long time ago
     I did learn a song.
About a country road
     that takes me where I belong.
The place was called home,
     nowhere else is the same.
The place I grew up,
     everyone knew my name.

Down that old country road
     I traveled today.
To see if some things
     had stayed the same way.
There were signs of change,
     some familiar too.
As I drove through the town
     and checked out the view.

The place I last lived,
     it looked much the same.
But the people who live there
     have a much different name.
The white picket fence
     wasn’t white anymore.
And the mail no longer comes
     inside the front door.

I stopped by the library
     to drop off a book.
It was one place
     with a familiar look.
The DQ is gone
     but that is okay.
I had a great lunch
     at the newer Subway!

As I drove out of town,
     I didn’t look back.
There was nothing for me,
     it had nothing I lack.
It was a nice visit,
     to go back in time.
While it is home to some,
     it is no longer mine.

Home is where the heart is,
     someone once wrote.
So my country road song
     now has a new note.
I no longer live
     in the place I once did.
I’m not sure I lived then,
     or if I just hid.

So my journey today
     did bring me much joy.
As I saw what I was,
     I’m no longer that boy.
I have been changed,
     I don’t need to hide.
God’s leading the journey,
     I’m along for the ride!

© 2015 by Tom Lemler

I delivered some copies of the books I have written to the library in my hometown today. There were changes in the small town, yet some things looked very much the same as when I lived there. As I was cleaning the church building tonight, this poem showed up in my mind and wouldn’t leave until I stopped what I was doing and typed it out. I pray that it is an encouragement to you as you walk with God to your eternal home! 

In prayer,

Winter Storms

The temperature drops
     and the wind starts to blow.
And off of the lake
     comes a wave of fresh snow.
Across the warm waters
     the arctic wind sweeps.
And it picks up some moisture
     that it never will keep.

The air becomes full,
     moisture turns to snow.
As it develops
     it needs somewhere to go.
The wind crosses land,
     clouds reach their full load.
Then all of this snow
     starts to fill up the road.

The process continues
     by day and by night.
While the wind blows,
     no end is in sight.
I say, “Enough!”
     “You can stop it right now!”
But that does no good
     so I go out to plow.

The sidewalks are clear
     but I know it won’t last.
I have to keep at it
     until this storm is past.
So I work for a while,
     then by my window I sit.
To warm up my body
     so it doesn’t just quit.

That’s the way life is,
     it has been for me.
I enjoy the warm waters
     and the calm, peaceful sea.
But there have been seasons
     when the harsh winds did blow.
And turned those calm waters
     into cold, dreary snow.

I tackle the mess
     that the storm creates.
But I never forget
     that I need to take breaks!
I must not wear out,
     so with God I do sit.
When I’m tired of “shoveling”
     and want to just quit.

When the effects of the storms
     that enter my life.
Become deep and cold,
     cutting like a knife.
I look to the One
     who has cleared a path.
And I know He will keep me
     from the coming storm’s wrath.

As much as I did wish
     these life storms would leave.
I know that they help me
     learn how to believe.
God gives me the tools
     to weather the storm.
And surrounds me with friends
     who help keep me warm.

© 2015 by Tom Lemler

I came in from clearing snow from the sidewalks today and as I spent time in the warm office praying and watching the snow continue to fall, God put this poem in my mind. I pray that it is an encouragement to you as you weather whatever storms of life that come your way.

In prayer,
Tom Lemler

Talking With God

On the eve of a new year
     we gather to pray.
As we talk with God,
     just what will we say?
Will we listen closely
     as He takes a look?
Does our life measure up
     compared to His Book? 

We ask God to search us
     and look deep within.
To see if we’ve hidden
     some dark, secret sin.
But more than just wrong deeds
     we would like to know.
Is there something missing
     that I ought to show? 

We spend time confessing
     the things that we find.
And ask God to give us
     a pure conscience and mind.
In confessing to God
     we simply agree.
That our sin is bad,
     as bad as can be. 

And while this confessing
     may sound rather bleak.
It’s actually refreshing
     when forgiveness we seek.
We eat of His body
     and drink of His blood.
To remember the price
     of removing our crud. 

We think of our debts
     and the people we owe.
And no debt is so great
     as the love He did show.
We pay off the debt
     that we do create.
But the ongoing debt
     of love is so great. 

God knows we can never
     repay all of His love.
For it always flows
     from the Father above.
The best we can do
     is to give it away.
To have love for others,
     each and every day. 

As we’re filled with Jesus,
     we can’t help but praise.
The One who has freed us
     for all of our days.
We praise Him with our life,
     we praise Him with song.
In whatever we’re doing,
     we praise all day long. 

In all of our praising,
     He does not forget.
We still have needs,
     we’re not home with Him yet.
We bring to Him daily
     our needs and requests.
And trust Him to answer
     in the way that is best. 

There is nothing too great
     and nothing too small.
When we come to God
     and bring Him our all.
We cast all our cares
     and all our success.
On the One who can guide us
     through all of the mess. 

It’s not just about us
     that we go to our knees.
But the needs of others
     is a part of our pleas.
We ask God to bless them
     and comfort their life.
To give them great courage
     in the midst of their strife. 

Part of our praying
     for people in need.
Is to listen to God’s voice
     and be ready to heed.
To obey God’s instruction
     to help one another.
To give of ourselves
     to a sister or brother. 

We want God to act
     and do something now.
But we’re all surprised
     when He says we’re the how.
The answer to prayer
     sometimes is the one.
Who is talking to God
     and following the Son! 

So, what do we do
     when God answers our prayer?
When His life touches ours
     and we know of His care?
When he carries us through
     the valley so deep.
When He says she’s not dead
     she is only asleep. 

We do what we ought to,
     we do what we must.
We return with thanksgiving
     to the One we can trust.
We thank Him in bad times,
     we thank Him in good.
We thank Him forever
     as we always should. 

The new year is arriving
     and soon will be here.
Many people will gather
     and let out a cheer.
I pray that you’ve realized
     there’s much you can say.
When you talk with God
     during each new day!

© 2014 by Tom Lemler

As I spent time going through the prayer room set-up that is part of Deer Run’s 30 Hours of Prayer leading into the new year, God kept giving me portions of this poem at each “station” along the way.  I set the prayer room up with various stops to encourage people to consider different aspects of prayer during their hour prayer time here at the church building.  The main points of emphasis were Examine, Confession, Debt, Praise, Petition, Intercession, and Thanksgiving.  This poem kind of follows that flow . . . at least in my mind. 🙂

In prayer,

Promises Kept

Christmas is over
     but I must repeat.
The day is about more
     than just what you eat.
More than a party
     and more than a song.
It’s a message of hope
     that should last all year long. 

We sing “Joy to the World”
     and “Happy Birthday”.
But where is that joy
     when we go our own way?
We gather with family
     and share a great meal.
But do we still share
     when it’s not how we feel? 

Christmas reminds us
     that God keeps His word.
No matter how long
     it has been since you heard.
God is not slow
     as some people say.
Rather He’s patient
     ‘til we see His way. 

In the beginning
     when God spoke to Eve.
And said from this garden,
     now you must leave.
You listened to lies
     and gave in to sin.
But there will be a day
     when your seed will win. 

Throughout generations
     this answer was sought.
As the centuries went by,
     perhaps God forgot.
But in all generations,
     there were always a few.
Whose faith remained strong
    because God’s word they knew. 

And then at a moment
     that was just the right time.
God sent forth a son
     and said, “This one’s mine.”
And while you remember
     the time of His birth.
Don’t ever forget
     why He came to earth. 

When this baby was born
     and in the manger He slept.
The promise to Eve
     soon would be kept.
The message of Christmas
     to which we must cling.
Is that God came to earth,
     salvation to bring. 

As we share our gifts
     with the people we love.
We remember the greatest
     gift came from above.
The baby that came,
     did grow as a man.
And lived without sin
     as He fulfilled God’s plan. 

So the celebration,
     we begin Christmas day.
Should grow so much bigger,
     as we hear Him say.
“Father forgive them.”
     and “It is complete.”
As the enemy of death
     went down in defeat. 

While God come to earth,
     really is a big deal.
It was His greater purpose
     that allows us to heal.
So when it is Christmas,
     and you celebrate.
Remember God kept His promise;
     on time, never late. 

So when He does say,
     “I’ll come back for my own.”
Know He’ll keep His word
     when the right time has grown.
We must be watching
     and ready alway.
So that He finds us faithful
     when the time is today!

© 2014 by Tom Lemler

It has been a great Christmas season of celebrating, healing, and remembering the birth of Jesus!  As I was praying and thinking about how quickly people tend to forget the whole concept of “Christmas Spirit”, God gave me this poem to share.  I pray that it is an encouragement to you as it accomplishes the purposes for which He gave it.

In prayer,