Monday, December 31, 2007

Shade Tree Wisdom at the End of the Year 12/31/07

The year You gave us, Lord, is ending
A year of plans, and work, and strife,
Your wisdom guided wayward tending,
You kept us sheltered in our life.

In mercy, Lord, forgive our sinning,
Here Satan offers great temptation,
In Jesus’ Name we plead forgiveness,
And seek eternal peace with Thee.
O Lord keep us all the day long of this tempestuous year, until the shadows lengthen, and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, the fever of life is over, and our work is done.
Then, in thy mercy, grant us safe harbor and quiet rest, and peace at the last, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, we pray this. Amen

So we end the year, as we began it. Ruth and I, under God’s eternal, loving care. Our names written on the palms of His hands. Washed white by the blood of the lamb shed for us, we pray this for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Day is done
Gone the sun
From the lake, from the hills, from the sky
All is well, safely rest
God is nigh.
At year end 2007
GPD 12/31/07

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Shade Tree Wisdom 12/30/07

“I care for every bird in the hills,
And everything stirring in the field is present before Me.” Ps. 50,11

For l08 years the National Audubon Society has held its Christmas bird count, not only in this country, but in Canada, Mexico, and other parts of the world as well. Areas are broken in areas roughly 15 miles in diameter, and volunteers count what birds they hear and see, and how many. The count in this area was done by the Piney Woods Wildlife Society on Saturday. Last year they counted more than 9,200 birds representing 90 species.

The National Society counts the totals to see what birds are affected by encroaching developments, are flight patterns changing, is migration different, or which may be in danger of extinction, and what, if anything, may be done to make bird life easier.

An interesting sidelight. The Andean Condor does not start to lay eggs till its 12th year, and then only lays one egg every 3 years! The Condor is the world’s largest bird. It was endangered because farmers used to shoot them because they thought they killed cattle. They only eat carrion.

Through it all, our God says, “I care for every bird in the hills, and everything stirring in the field is present before me”.

So, as we near the end of the year, let us give thanks that there are many, perhaps you are one, who help in the national effort.

GPS 12/30/07

Friday, December 28, 2007

Shade Tree Wisdom 12/28/07

December 28th and it’s Alvin’s birthday. A fine time. The country was clothed in white. The festivities of Christmas were ended. Boring, so the brothers and sisters and family gathered to celebrate my dad’s birthday.

No invitation went out, but everybody came. And all the aunts packed a basket of sandwiches or cakes. Several large coffee pots were put to use making coffee, and the celebration began. Visiting, some playing cards, others singing, several chess games in progress, the teenagers went to Brown Deer Park to the ice rink, aunts visiting and getting food ready for that midnight snack. It was just a time to get together, enjoy some fellowship, discuss crops, milk production, whether that new hybrid corn did better, and maybe last Sunday’s sermon, the Christmas program, the needs of church or school.

Then around ten or so food was set out, everybody ate, lots of laughing and joking, and then home to sleep and do the next morning’s chores. But the birthday was sort of an excuse to break the winter dullness and remember God’s rich blessings to them all.

Gifts were not involved at all. It was just a time to fellowship, and rejoicing together that they were there to do it.

GPD 12/28/07

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Shade Tree Wisdom 12/27/07

“Joy to the world, the Lord is come.
Let earth receive her king,
Let every heart, prepare Him room,
And heaven and nature sing. And heaven and nature sing.”

We sing that with voices ringing and joy in our hearts, for Christmas is really a happy time. A time to enjoy, to relax, to visit and exchange gifts and, more important, our presence with relative and friends. We gladly endure the hassle of packing and travel to be “home for Christmas”.

Even composing the yearly Christmas letter about family happenings, brings a warm feeling of accomplishment.

Laughter is the order of the day, merriment, mirth, enjoyment. There are many kinds of laughter.

For instance, at a wedding I conducted years ago the bride and groom exchanged vows and rings, and the groom then fainted dead away. The bride did the only thing she could do, she giggled. That’s one kind.

People giggle, they guffaw, they snicker, they cackle. They roar. Some have a musical laugh that is pleasant to hear, others have more of a snort. Others again have a nasal twang that kind of grates on the ear. Some groups, in restaurants, for instance, make lots of noise when they enjoy something, others enjoy such company with a quiet chuckle.

I’m a chuckler, my laughing is more internal.

Laughter expresses enjoyment and mirth. It involves facial muscles throat, lungs, mouth and eyes. It is usually involuntary, and sometimes the impulse comes at the most inappropriate times. [Like for the man who was attending an aunts funeral and kept wondering why they kept referring to Josephine when her name was Ellie. So when he asked his neighbor sitting next to him he found he was in the wrong church.]

We can control the volume and tone of our laughter. It’s called fine-tuning.

So enjoy the season, the visits, the exchanges, the tales to tell, the news of nephews and nieces, aunts and uncles, and long-forgotten friends of times past. And do laugh. That is, finally, a gift of God, is it not. To enjoy His creation. And most of all, to the enjoy His Birth as your Savior, and mine.

GPD 12/27/07

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Shade Tree Wisdom - Christmas Day 12/25/07

Quiet this morning, and crisp. Quiet that is, till that dog stared to bark a bit. We chatted and were getting along OK till his mistress stood in the doorway and called, “Bootsie, come here”. He left quickly. No respectable dog wants you to know they call him Bootsie.

But enough. It’s Christmas.

Dr. Walter Maier spoke these words on the Lutheran Hour in 1940:
“This message may be the last God Almighty will permit you to hear. I now tell you that this Baby, born in Bethlehem, is Jesus, the Savior of the world, and your Savior. And in His Name you can stand before God. Nothing else will save you.”

That is still the message of Christmas. Jesus came, and “He shall save His people from their sins”.

We join all Christians as we sing,

“O holy Child of Bethlehem,
Descend to us, we pray,
Cast out our sin, and enter in,
Be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels,
The Great glad tidings tell,
Oh, come to us, abide in us,
Our Lord, Immanuel!”
“And there is room, and welcome there for me”.

In His Name I greet you, and wish for you the rich blessings of this glorious celebration. Christ is Born. A Blessed Christmas.

GPD 12/25/07

Monday, December 24, 2007

Shade Tree Wisdom 12/24/07

December 24, Christmas Eve, and the morning had a bright moon still, nice cold air, and a quiet. Only one car the entire time I was out. And I thought of the Birth.

It struck me again how ordinary it was. Shepherds in the fields. That had been going on for generations. The air calm, quiet, nothing going on. The air a bit chilled, a sparkling night, stars gleaming, the sort of night you look out of the widow to admire. But nothing unusual.

Then in this ordinary night, suddenly the brightness of an angel with a message for the shepherds. ”Do not be afraid, for the Savior is born”. Then a chorus of angels singing the glory and praising God.

And the ordinary becomes memorable.

Think. Isn’t that the way the Word works. How God comes. How his works happen. We take them for granted, yet they happen because God is there. God comes in the common, and His most powerful tools are the simplest.

The King of kings lay thus in lowly manger,
In all our trials born to be our friend.
He knows our need, to our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King, before Him lowly bend.

So in His Blessed Name, we wish you all a most blessed Christmas. May Jesus Born make your faith stronger and fill you with the peace that comes because your sins are forgiven. God bless the day, and you, my friend.

GPD 12/24/07

Friday, December 21, 2007

Shade Tree Wisdom 12/21/07

Nice walking this morning. Colder, no wind to speak of, and quiet. The quiet not even shattered by those lumbering yellow boxes so necessary to our way of life. There are no classes today.

We are nearing Christmas. People have been sending and receiving greetings, doing some shopping, deciding what to give to whom this year, and how many to invite for that party. Or facing the hassle of air travel to distant places we once called home.

Churches, too, are preparing. Choirs are practicing many hours, Pastors are preparing worship hours, members are preparing to rejoice anew over this BIRTH of their Savior.

And it brings to mind those folks who rarely are seen in Church. They come at Christmas time.

Have you ever thought what they experience there? Or indeed why they come? Is it just nostalgia, family urging, or are they grasping for an answer that eludes them, seeking help and comfort from a God they seldom recognize or worship? Are they coming because they look to heaven for help with their problems? Problems for which they see no solution?

I do know Isaiah foretold that “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light”. Is. 9,2. And that “the Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow, it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” Heb.4,12, [God means what he says. What he says goes. His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon's scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey”]. This is the way The Message puts that.

So they come to church and do hear the real message of the Word of God, that we are sinners, born that way, and that Jesus came to shed his blood for our sins. He made the only payment that God would accept, since “the soul that sinneth it shall die”, that Word may just penetrate, create that change that the Holy Spirit can and does make, and their worship will be unto salvation. Pray that this does happen.

I do know God created a world that is marvelous. Things in our life, the breath we take, the way we think, see, experience, are all amazing events we take for granted. We stumble along, often numb and jaded, and blind to the marvelous events that take place daily. We fail to see that these are all amazing gifts from a gracious Creator.

Just as that infant lying in the manger on that first morning remained unrecognized except by shepherds who were sent by angels. But think of it, that newborn Babe was and is the Savior of this world and brings us eternal life.

Rejoice, rejoice, and sing, and learn again the deep mystery of God in sending His Only Son to suffer, die, rise again for us “while we were yet sinners”. What an amazing event this is after all.

Let’s pray that the people who come, hear that, and will have an eternal blessing.

GPD 12/21/07

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Shade Tree Wisdom 12/19/07

A bit foggy this morning, just enough to make the lighted decorations have a bit of glow. I noticed this year more people have trees as their decorations. Some of those formed from wire and already ready to be lit, others set on the porch. One house has just two flanking their front door. Kind of effective.

Reminds me, the first Christmas tree in a Church in America was at Zion Lutheran Church in Cleveland, Ohio. It was regarded as sort of heathenish.

In that sense the Woodlands is sort of unique. Here builders have to take care not to cut down more than necessary. So we have lots of trees. Recently a number of condos and apartments were built on the southeast shore of lake Woodlands, along the parkway. Then one day when I happened that way they had planted a large number of trees between the buildings and the roadway. Trees already 25 feet or more.

Trees are necessary to cities, and governments are beginning to realize that and begin planting. A large maple, for instance, helps absorb carbon dioxide, removes particulate matter from the air, prevents floods, and helps moderate temperatures. But it costs money to care for trees so newer parks replace trees with no-fuss tennis courts, and playgrounds.

About the time we were moving to Detroit, the city was losing its elms to Dutch elm disease. Crews who cut trees around the church told me they had cut nearly 1,000 in a 20 block radius. It makes a difference to climate and beauty. The city had a program to replant trees, but it will take years for them to reach size.

So The Woodlands is unique in that it does have, and cherishes, trees. And today, when large buildings are planned, they build a parking structure instead of paving 20 acres for parking.

I looked forward to sitting under a shade tree, dispensing words of wisdom to grandchildren when I retired. Turns out everybody is too busy living to sit and listen, and I am too busy learning new technology to have time to sit under that shade tree. Funny about life, isn’t it? We live what the Lord allows us to live, and enjoy it with gratitude and thankfulness. That is what the Lord blesses.

GPD 12/19/07.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Shade Tree Wisdom 12/14/07

Peter said to Him, "Explain the parable to us." 16 Jesus said, "Are you still lacking in understanding also?" 17 "Do you not understand that everything that goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and is eliminated?? 18 "But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man." 19 "For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders." 20 "These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man." This from Matthew 15,16-20.

Pretty strong language. The sad thing is the word is true. Look at the world today.

But first, some good news. The Texans won last night, pretty impressively considering they list a number of injured on the roster. But this doesn’t matter to you, and on the whole, the news is rather local after all.

But the Houston Chronicle headlines its other sports news by declaring, “A Sad Day for baseball”. A report on players' use of forbidden steroids appears, and among them are some pretty impressive names. Now comes the name-calling and the rest of what that evil heart can cast up. Sad indeed.

In the news is Disneyland. If you’ve ever visited, you rode the “It’s a Small World” ride. Nice. That ride has been closed to deepen the water channel after some boats started to get stuck under heavy passengers. They had to ask some to leave the ride, and compensated them for their trouble by giving them coupons for free food! A nice touch, don’t you think?

And Swiss watchmaker Romain Jerome unveils a new line of watches made from steel salvaged from the Titanic. They sell from $7,800 to $173,000 a pop.

C&D Distributors rake in 20 m in shipping costs when they discover a flaw in the Defense Department purchasing system. A clerk spotted it when they charged $696,000 for shipping two 19 cent washers to an army base in Texas.

The good news is that Jesus Christ came to offer a solution to this sin-riddled world. He shed His blood to pay for our sins. We get the benefit when we believe what the Spirit teaches us. God be praised for His mercy and grace.

GPD 12/14/07

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Shade Tree Wisdom 12/12/07

Boy, I got in a short walk before the rains started again. But I did get a walk in. And I thought how often we just take God’s riches and blessings for granted.

The report of the icy conditions through the Midwest reminded me of the years we served in Missouri. The Mexico/Vandalia parish was 35 miles apart, and I drove that each Sunday. The Only time I missed was one Sunday when ice had blanketed the entire area, trees were losing branches, and 21 miles of telephone wires were down when one pole broke, and the domino effect took down the rest with the lines heavy with ice. So I called Mr. M, in Vandalia and said I wouldn’t be coming. He replied, “There’s nothing moving here, Pastor, and we weren’t expecting you”. Certainly, we prayed for safe travel, but always expected to be home again for the service in Mexico.

We do tend to take God’s presence and shelter for granted, do we not?

One other thought, during all that travel, I had one flat tire along the way and had no jack. So I went to the farmhouse where it happened, and asked for help. The man, who happened to be a vet, jumped in his truck, jacked up the car, replaced the tire, took nothing but my thanks, and I was on my way in five minutes.

The Psalm has it so right.

“O Lord, you have searched me, and you know me,
You know when I sit, and when I rise;
You perceive My thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out, and my lying down,
You are familiar with all my ways”. Psalm 139, 1-3.

So He does, and God is always right there with us, blessing, guiding, leading, and keeping, so that “No harm shall befall thee”. So the rain falls, and I am dry, because God supplies all my needs. And I am grateful.

GPD 12/12/07

Monday, December 10, 2007

Shade Tree Wisdom 12/10/07

Kind of misty this morning. As a matter of fact, it was raining when I got up, but had stopped by the time I was ready for the walk. So, do I go, or not? Do I take an umbrella, or not? Do I just pick up the paper and skip the walk. Well, I walked, and it didn’t rain, but it remained misty.

Thanks to all who took the time to send a line saying my scribble reached your house. Really amazing, this stuff, isn’t it?

I notice while walking some houses leave their decorating lights on all night, some do not. It’s a matter of habit, I assume.

But it does bring to mind that yearly puzzle, why do lights we put away so carefully come out in a tangle the next year? Well, stick with me a bit, and I shall offer the solution. A solution by the way, offered after research by the U of California and the U of Pennsylvania math department. One suggestion is to hang the lights over the rafters in the back of the garage. Their study found that any string of lights, if it had one end free and was jostled a bit, would become tangled, and the more shaking, the worse the mess. So store the lights with ends joined, and the cords packed tightly, and let them alone.

Now that was simple, wasn’t it?

I was paging through a Popular Science issue lately and marveled at the advanced technology already here or just over the horizon. For an example, they are testing the scramjet engine, capable of flying at speeds up to 15 mach, 10,000 mph. Or something that will replace the cable for internet connections. It is almost too much.

Then I remember it was a little squirrel, looking for some new taste, that brought the whole thing to a halt when it nibbled through a cable.

I urge us to remember, “My times are in Thy hands”. He it is who created it all, and keeps it in His gentle care. Praise His holy Name.

GPD 12/10/07

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Shade Tree Wisdom 12/9/07

First of all, let me report that the Power Company kept its promised and fixed that street lamp with two days to spare. Excellent.

Now bear with me. I am learning a different way to send emails, and I am trying something different. A person of my years already knows so much, but this modern technology – well, my family is more than patient with instructing me. And they do this with kindness and serve as excellent tutors.

So I will take it a kindness if you will let me know if this comes through, please.

GPD 12/9/07

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Shade Tree Wisdom 12/8/07

I’m back. After God’s created creature messed up this wonderful technology and disconcerted me and the internet, It happened like this. When the cable was put in, either a careless workman or a lazy one did not bury the entire length, and a squirrel took a liking to that cable, chewed it, till he got through.

So I called the company whom I pay money each month, and after a while I managed to get a repair visit scheduled. Here comes a nice young man, checked the machine inside, found everything in good shape, then checked the outside and found the unburied cable nipped in several places, one of them fatal. He replaced that, promised to send a man out to bury it, received my thanks, and left.

Now that I am back, let me report on that street lamp. It is burning again, and the repair was done with two days grace. I trust that company!

But I did find a rose that I had planted two years ago. It’s a miniature rose, and it had produced a fine yellow bloom. I harvested that, placed it into a vase, and gave it to my lovely wife. And I thought of Psalm 8. “How excellent is Thy name in all the earth.” Then it speaks of man, placed here “:a little lower than the angels” to enjoy His creation. And this man has been able to invent much, and yet, that is still under God’s daily eye, isn’t it. It gives me joy to be able to celebrate Advent and Christmas again, for it assures me that God always keeps His promises to me, and on that my salvation is true, and certain.

Bless His Holy Name.

GPD 12/8/07

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Shade Tree Wisdom 12/5/07 More on Heritage

The yard people were here yesterday and gave the lawn its fall treatment and used their blowers to clean the roof and yard of leaves. When their blowers blow, they blow, and leave no leaves. Most have fallen now, so that chore is done for this year.

No, that light is not been replaced. But they still have three days, and I trust the company. Because the power company has faithfully served us and has developed a backlog of trust. That comes with such faithfulness.

And it led me to think of Creed in my walk. The Nicene Creed, recited by millions every week, has this phrase, “Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God. Begotten, not made”.

That phrasing was adopted by the Council of Nicea in 325 to resist the error of a priest named Arius, who taught that Jesus Christ was not God, but was created. Many followed this false teaching.

However, Athanasius, the bishop of Alexandria, opposed his false teaching. For years Athanasius stood alone. As a matter of fact, Emperors regarded him as a bother, a thorn in their side. He was exiled from office 5 times by 5 different emperors. But gradually Christians who believed In the deity of Christ came to see if they abandoned the wording of the creed they were standing on a slippery slope that would lead them to regard Christ simply as a high ranking angel, not God. The more they experimented, the more clearly they saw only the wording of the Nicene Creed would preserve Christianity. The Church affirmed this in the council of Constantinople in 381.

It is because such men fought for the faith that we today can still hear Him say to us, “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest”. Matthew 11,28. We come, repentant sinners, and receive forgiveness, and his peace. God grant you such peace in these busy times.

GPD 12/5/07

Monday, December 3, 2007

Shade Tree Wisdom - Our Heritage 12/3/07

One of the street lights is out along the way I usually go. Finally, last Friday it was, I called the power people and reported it. Now I am waiting to see if it will be on by next Friday, because their rule is to respond in 7 days. We shall see, IF I remember.

Because we do have trouble remembering, don’t we? Quick, tell me your mother’s birth date. See.

So the psalm said, “I remember the days of old. I meditate on all Thy works” Ps. 143,5. Or read psalm 77. Again and again it says “I will remember” or “I meditate”. He doesn’t want to forget what God has done in their history.

This is a theme for the prophets also. They say things like, “Teach them to your children” and “remind them”. “Teach them diligently to thy children” and “write them on the door posts of thy house” Moses had said in Deuteronomy 6.

So remembering became important to this people. So, when the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half of the tribe of Manasseh had helped their brethren take the land of Canaan, they were allowed to go back to their own land on the other side of the Jordan river. But when they came to the crossing, they decided to erect an altar as a remembrance. When the rest of the people heard this, they were ready to go to war because they thought these tribes had set up their own god. They were pleased when they heard this altar was a way to remember God.

Remembering is one thing the Church ought to do. St Peter said, “As long as I am alive I will remind you” 2 Peter 1,12.13. In chapter 3 he says “I have written to stimulate you to wholesome thinking, recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through his apostles.” V.1.2.

The Lutheran Church has a rich heritage. It is exciting and instructive to read what struggles they went through to keep the truth of the Gospel pure for us today. We do well to pay attention to that, and find in such study and remembering strength for our journey, for the battle is active so long as the earth remains. But we rejoice in this, that our Lord said, “I have overcome the world”. Thank God for being able to claim that victory as ours.” He’s judged, the deed is done,. The Kingdom ours remaineth”.

GPD 12/3/07

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Shade Tree Wisdom 12/1/07

There it is. A brand new month, bright, shiny, unused as yet. Just waiting for us to use. And there seems to be so much to do.

Christmas month. Already stores are filled with stuff to buy. The paper and magazines are replete with ads beckoning our dollars. Furniture stores are offering ‘No interest till 09”. Auto agencies shout with red tag sales. And the family is thinking about decorations inside and out for the Season.

Got to get the cards out, and Christmas letters prepared, and packages to buy, and greetings to send. And for many it is baking cookies and planning preparing special meals. And time is flying too fast.

I was looking at some special flyers and saw stuff about games that I do not understand, and toys that seem too sophisticated for casual play.

Then we stopped this Saturday morning for an hour of Bible study. And were reminded about the Advent season, and the promised coming of the Messiah, so long promised and now Immanuel, God with us.

What a calm this news does bring us. God not only promised the Messiah, but sent Him, and also said He will come again, soon, unexpectedly, finally.

So in all this getting ready for the Christmas celebration, stop, prepare your heart , and rejoice that YOU see in Jesus Christ your Savior. YOU know His death on the cross, that blood shed there, paid for the sins YOU do and did.

So the month lies before us. Bright, shiny, to be filled with many things, but first and chief among them let it be prayer and quiet study at the wonder of His coming as the Babe of Bethlehem who is our Savior and Lord, even Jesus.

O Come, let us adore Him, Christ, the Lord.

GPD 12/1/07

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Shade Tree Wisdom 11/28/07

Brisk walking this morning. Monday morning I passed a lad walking to catch his bus, and I said, “Ready for the joys of learning?” He said, “I’m, looking forward to it.” “ With such an attitude you’ll go far,” I told him. Now you know, and I know, he would not admit that to his peers. It isn’t cool! But I was glad to hear it.

Well, the papers seems to be filled with news, much of it horrible. The story of Baby Grace. It saddens and sickens one to read what those parents did to that 2 year old child. After killing her, keeping the body in a plastic bag in a container in their garage before throwing it into the Gulf where some fisherman found it washed up on a mud flat. At least the authorities were able to find who this child belonged to and what happened.

Then there is the news that the Supreme Court declined to hear the County’s appeal in the Bible monument case. And the County has also to pay the legal fees of the poor woman who brought the charge, babbling about mixing church and state.

And my mind went to the Gospel of St. Luke chapter 10, the story of Jesus’ visit to the home of Mary and Martha. You may remember it. One sister is concerned about hospitality, seeing to the needs of her guest, overseeing the cooking, busy with last minute preparations. The other sister, Mary, sits quietly at Jesus' feet while He is speaking The Word.

Of course Martha is upset. In her mind the first thing is the comfort of the guest, so she cries out, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me”.

But pay attention to the answer. Jesus says that “One thing is needful, and Mary has chosen that good thing”.

And what is that One needful thing? It is hearing the WORD, paying attention to God’s will expressed and set forth in the Word.

One of the problems is that “ the unspiritual man cannot accept matters which the Spirit deals with, they just don’t make sense to him, for after all you must be spiritual to see spiritual things”. 1 Cor. 2,14. That’s how Phillips translates the verse. The Bible is just a book to so many. But by ignoring its truth we open the way to the terrors that natural man does without any restraint or any wisdom or guide.

I remember reading about an interview with Ruth Graham Lots during the Katrina Hurricane disaster. The question, “How can God allow that?” Her answer was something like this. “We have taken God out of our schools. We have made prayer in schools illegal. We have thrown him out of our courthouse. We have abandoned His teachings. Why do you ask such a question?”

Friend, remember what Jesus said, “One thing is needful”. Bible reading ought to be on the daily agenda for every Christian. There he finds wisdom, and a sure guide for living. It truly brings joy to life. Psalm 119,v.19 admits, “I’m a stranger in these parts, give me clear direction”. So He does.

GPD 11/28/07

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Shade Tree Wisdom 11/15/07, Thanksgiving Day

The Day was bright and brisk, and Ruth and I spent it in Houston with the Harris and Mohr families. It was a wonderful day. We had dinner, the usual turkey with trimmings, and there were two kinds of pie with pieces cut smaller. (I had one slice). Then we spent the rest of the day visiting, relaxing, the boys threw a football for a while, checked the flowers and bushes in the yard. My mother would have used the word Gemuetlich.

The term means relaxed, sort of laid back, easy-going, [I use the term mostly ot irritate Spell Check because it is puzzled and upset when it can’t correct me, and so gets cranky once in a while.].

Even got to watch the Packers and the Lions in glorious color on a wide screen TV. The Packers won. And I thought that used to be the only game on TV and it was played in black and white either at Soldiers Field in Chicago or at Lambeaue Field in Green Bay. That field, by the way, was heated so snow would melt. Often the game was played in snow, and cold weather, always with packed stadiums.

So how was your day?

In this day when so much seems to be going wrong in the world, with troubles and disasters, we pause to give thanks, not only for the material blessings we have, but mostly for the Son, Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for our sins. And the judgment we so richly deserved was paid in full by that death. Blessed are we, the world’s light, placed there by our loving, caring, God.

To Him be the glory, the thanks and praise, now, and ever. Amen.

GPD 11/25/07

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Shade Tree Wisdom 11/22/07

Come, ye thankful people, come
Raise the song of Harvest home,
All is safely gathered in,
‘ere the winter storms begin”.
Churches sing that . What meaning filled words these are.

The Harvest means that the Lord has not withheld the rain or the sun, and the weather turned warm and the seeds grew into a crop pf corn or wheat or timothy and that was harvested and stored in barns for the winter feeding.

It means the gardens produced bountifully and that harvest was canned and stored in the cellar for winter eating. Potatoes were harvested and stored in a cool bin, and the buildings were checked for damaged siding that might allow the rains and snows to enter.

Barns were filled with hay, silos were filled with silage, machinery was cleaned, oiled, and stored under shelter. Wood for the fires was stored in dry places, and the family was ready for the coming cold weather.

So they gathered in the Church for a service of thanksgiving to Almighty God who had been and was ever faithful.

To you, blessed of God in so many ways, a happy thanksgiving.

“With voices united, our raises we offer,
And gladly our songs of thanksgiving we raise,
With you, Lord, beside us, Your strong arm will guide us,
To you, our great Redeemer, forever we raise.”

GPD 11/22/07

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Shade Tree Wisdom 11/20/07

Addition to ruminations 11/20/07
The entire prayer I quoted yesterday is:

“O Lord, support us all the day long of this troublous life,
Until the shadows lengthen, and the evening comes,
And the busy world is hushed;
The fever of life is over, and our work is done.
Then, Lord, in Thy mercy,
Grant us safe lodging, a holy rest, and peace at the last,
Through Jesus Christ, our lord, Amen.”

I used this often in late services. It so quietly and profoundly speaks to the soul troubled by sin and turmoil, finding its rest in Christ, the Savior.
Source The Ministers Prayer book (3rd printing) page 36

Monday, November 19, 2007

Shade Tree Wisdom 11/19/07, Remembrance on Birthday

And what a birthday it was, starting during the week early when son Dan gave his birthday call, early because he had to be out of the country on the day. Even before that when daughter Q came for an overnight, left us with a chicken pot pie ready to heat and serve.

Then, on the Wednesday before, we had lunch with two ladies whom I had confirmed in Michigan in their teens. One, now living in Texas had a son being married, and her sister came for this happy event. Then they got on the phone and set up a lunch date. What a refreshing thing, reminiscing and talking about their plans and families.

On my birthday our daughter and so-in-law came up from Houston and took us out to lunch. They brought along an edible arrangement. That’s a bouquet of fruit, melons, grapes, strawberries, and pineapple, arranged like a flower bouquet, Nice looking, and tasty too.

And the cards, the emails, and phone calls, almost too many to track. What rich blessing.

Now what have I learned in these years. Here’s a thought I read in the paper, “A retiree is someone who knows it all, and has plenty of time to tell you about it.”

I see where we try to fit God into our lives, instead of the other way around. Writing a message is work. Oh, there are times when the writing just seems to flow, there are other times when finding just the right word or the fitting phrase takes real time and effort. Or chasing the elusive idea, or remembering the forgotten detail. The mind seems to work in fits and starts.

The Dutch have a saying, “He who is on the outside of his front door has the hardest part of his journey behind him.” It’s that way with doing any task. The start is the hardest, so begin. It makes any task easier.

I have also learned it is better to take quiet action to solve a problem rather than allow it to fester and grow into a major danger to the Body of the Church. Really, it is better always to “forgive, as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you”.

Recently the Choir sang “I Am Forever Who I Am”. One of the stanzas reads:

“We buy and sell, we lose or gain. Our fortunes shift like sun or rain.
Sustain our lives, reward our toil, With bread and honey, wine or oil.
Save us and others from our greed, You give us always what we need,
I Am Forever whom I am… Be still, and know that I am God.”

The Psalmist declared, “For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere,. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the House of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.” Psalm 84,10. So true. So, now that the shadows lengthen, and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, then in mercy grant me, in Jesus Christ, a quiet rest, and eternal peace at the last.

GPD 11/19/07

Friday, November 16, 2007

Shade Tree Wisdom 12/16/07

Brisk this morning when I started my walk. A bit later than usual because I first had to roll out the garbage container and set out the recycling box with papers, etc. So the big yellow boxes had already swept the streets clean and I was alone But not quite, for here came this dog following me. I stopped and said one word, “Home”. He listened, then went about his business checking trees, and following either close behind, or in front of me, but staying with me. I saw his collar had a nametag, so he couldn’t get lost.

Suddenly he gave a little bark and approached something on the road. Our roads are kept clean, we have these carts that run around picking up stuff. So this blob in the middle of the street was unusual. The dog sniffed it and turned away. When I got closer, I saw it was a turtle. What was he doing in the middle of Sand Pebble in Texas? On his way for a family Thanksgiving, or what? Well, I picked him up and put him on the grass across the road, and he went on.

So I came near the end of my walk when I saw a man, barefoot, picking up his morning paper. He saw that dog and said, “So there you are. Come.” And the dog did. He said to me, “He does that all the time, hitches a ride with someone walking past.” “Well, I enjoyed the company, but won’t he get lost sometime?” “Not so far”, he claimed. And I finished my walk.

And you thought I’d be reporting some deep thoughts. Especially since tomorrow is that Natal Day. But this is actually what life is, it happens while we are planning some future project, doesn’t it. Maybe that is why the Psalmist said, “This is the day that Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Savor the moment, and be thankful for God’s every blessing for they are new, and rich, to us every morning. Isn’t that a thought to carry with us? And I read this about a grandmother who was usually busy when the grandchildren stopped by, dusting, cleaning, doing this and that. One day they found her sitting on the porch and asked if something was wrong. “No, I am just sitting here letting God love me,” she said. Let’s do that more often.

GP 11/16/07

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Shade Tree Wisdom 11/14/07

“The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. 2 Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. 3 This is the way our Savior God wants us to live“ 1 Timothy 2, 1.2. Paul wrote that because prayer for guidance is needed in these days.

This morning the Houston Chronicle ran a picture showing the governor of Georgia with his wife and others, gathered on the capital steps, praying for rain, because Georgia is really suffering a drought. I looked rather closely at the picture and saw no one who was carrying an umbrella.

It must be hard to serve in government. But has it not always been so? Daniel, an Israelite youth brought to Babylon as a captive, ending up serving the King as chief Counselor. And jealousy enters. But he so distinguished himself that the king planned to make him chief over all. So "they sought to bring charges against Daniel, but failed to do so.” No corruption. So, this is what they planned. “We will find nothing unless it has to do with his God.” So they set a trap. Everyone, by law, for the next 30 days, MUST pray to the king, and Daniel did not. Caught. The story is in the Book of Daniel chapter 6.

It must be hard to be true in government service. Look at the problem the Presidential candidates are having with illegal immigrants. There are 12 million of them, and 8 states even allow them driver’s license, because they need them to get a job. Does that sort of ring a bell?

It should. They are illegal. Does that say something? It says they did not meet the regular requirements to become citizens of this nation. Instead of taking action, our government has been lax in carrying out the laws. Hence the problem. The candidates seem unwilling to take a stand that says, “I will try my best to see the laws are kept.”

And that is why these people need our prayers. Let’s remember what the Bible tells us: Proverbs21
“1 The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will. 2 Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart. 3 To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.”

Mark Twain had it right when he said, “Tell the truth. Then you won’t have to remember what story you told everyone”.

Always the best way to God. “Your laws are my delight, they are my counselors” because “I am a stranger on the earth, do not hide your commands from me.” Psalm 119,24.19. May God bless that life.

GPD 11/14/07

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Shade Tree Wisdom 11/13/07

It was sort of balmy this morning, but there is a hint of more chill to come. No complaint, just a comment. That means, Chuck, soon you will be seeing that flow of winter vehicles heading south on I-75, and snow birds will be coming to the Rio Grand Valley in Texas and all along the Gulf Coast for the winter.

In the news is a probe of evangelicals by the Senate Finance Committee. That raises concerns. The IRS already has in place guidelines and rules to prevent excessive personal gain from tax-exempt work. The reaction to this news is two-fold. One is expressing concern that this is the nose of the camel, and soon your doorbell will ring with agents asking about your contributions to church and charity.

The other reaction says, “It’s about time". Which raises another question, “Why are we so often too quick to resort to the law in any such thing.” What is happening to the truth we learned in Catechism, “Put the best construction on everything”?

But politics is ever in the news. People are already running hard for the office of the President of our country. That brings up this, “How do we act in this business?” Well, study the issues, and then cast your vote. That is your Christian duty.

The other question runs deeper. How does a Christian live now? For some idea, let’s turn to the letters of St. Peter. He wrote to a people he addressed as “God’s elect”, and “scattered abroad”, and living in an environment very hostile to them. For them times were difficult because they were no longer “setting their minds on the evil desires they once did”. They were different, walking to the music of a different drummer. Christ was their head. So they were embattled. And the politics of the day did not favor their life style at all. Yet Peter reminds them that they must “submit for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men”. For Peter reminded them, as did St. Paul, “For there is no authority except that which God has established”. Romans 13,1. And then Paul adds that the government is “God’s servant to do you good”. V.4.

Throughout history, Christians have been put to death because they lived by a different standard that did not blend in. In the Roman system, any god was all right, but you had to admit that “Caesar was God”. And Christians admitted of only one. Jesus Christ, so thousands lost their lives.

We are “A chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God”. 1 Peter 2,9. “Aliens and strangers” v.11, Peter calls us. “So remember friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourself comfortable in it” v.11 MSG.

So we live like that, vote like that, and always continue to pray for “kings and for all that are in authority”. Always remembering psalm 2, “He that sitteth in the heavens” is in control.

So live like that. Cast your vote, and then pray for the government elected. Seek the peace of the city, work for the good of all, and may God ever bless your life and work.

GPD 11/13/07

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Shade Tree Wisdom 11/6/07

I dress for that ‘cold front’ the weatherman keeps promising with cold air down from Canada, and then regret wearing the heavy jacket before I’m done. One of these days we will have it match, weather and clothing.

UPS, the ubiquitous package carrier, used to train its drivers with two weeks of lecture. But this generation doesn’t hear well, so the company devised hands-on training. For example, when he delvers a package, the driver has his key on his ring finger, holds the rail when he steps down, walks briskly to deliver the average of 200 packages and picks up a average of 70. Each stop averages 4.2 minutes, and when he gasses up, he drives into a station on the right side of the highway. They even devised a machine to help them keep their balance if they should slip on ice or oil in the walk. A driver who does not hold on when he steps down soon develops ankle problems and has to quit. The company has been doing this for years. And is held up as a model for efficiency.

I put down that article and picked up Habakkuk again. Here is an interesting book. This prophet asks the sort of questions we would ask. What’s happening here in the world with your people. Don’t you care? Aren’t you listening? Why is the Christian Church in such turmoil today? How can this be put right?

The prophet, of course, is concerned about the people. And God gives him a startling answer. He will send the heathen Babylonians to march through the land and bring destruction. And Habakkuk is startled, because it is not the answer he would expect. But isn’t that the way answer to prayer often comes, in a different way, but always in time, and always better than we might have asked?

Because the Bible is God’s way of dealing with his creation. And in all the seemingly random way there is always the divine hand at work. The prophet learns the lesson well. Look how the book ends. 17 Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. 19 God, the Lord, is my strength;

He learns to trust the Word of His God, and so must we.

GPD 11/6/07

Friday, November 2, 2007

Shade Tree Wisdom 11/2/07

This morning a sweater would have been enough. Where is the ‘cold front’ the weather man promises? Next week I’ll probably need both sweater and jacket for my walk. Go figure.

We were uptown this morning. Here is a contrast, a young girl walks by in light summer clothes, just above her head are the decorations for Christmas! Well, the paper repots the merchants are starting early.

Here it is November, and when I was still writing and editing a bulletin about this time one line always appeared. REMEMBER NOVEMNER 17. It was sort of an in-house joke in the church family. One, it reminded them time moves along. And it gave them a chance to smile and say, “Pastor has a birthday coming up”.

The fleeting time does remind me that it does move along, bring the burden of the years. I was speaking with a friend and he told me he sold their property in favor of a condo because “the yard work was getting to much for me”. It seems to do that.

And it reminded me of Moses. He led and taught the children of Israel for their 40 years of wandering. And when they neared the promised land, he himself would not enter in. God told him to climb Mt. Nebo and showed him the land, its beauty and its freshness, and there Moses died. The Bible tells us Moses was 120 years old and “his eyesight was not dimmed, nor his natural strength abated’, Deuteronomy 34. And he had the energy and strength to climb Mt. Nebo.

I complain about the ravages of the years. And yet, I have blessings “new every morning, great is Thy faithfulness”. So many and so rich are the blessings the gracious hand of God gives me daily, I cannot praise and thank Him enough. And it is time to remember that more, begin the day with a prayer of thanks and gratitude, and end the day with the same note. For great is God’s faithfulness. Its true for me, it is true for all God’s children. A note to recall when all we see is need, or worry, or fretting, or care.

For God is rich in His blessed care in His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

GPD 11/2/07

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Shade t\Tree Wisdom 10/30/07, The Secret

So, what’s the secret of finding this happiness you mentioned in the cheese factory visit, some of you have asked?

It really was a relaxing sort of day. One item. When we stopped for our lunch, Kay had called the restaurant to tell her we would be there, and how many to look for. So the place had tables arranged for, utensils placed, tea glasses ready for sweet or unsweetened.

As it happened, mine was the first order the waitress took, and mine was the LAST meal served. In other circumstances and times you may believe I would have been ready to see about this lack. But this time, we were so relaxed, enjoying each others company, no sweat. Besides, no one would be leaving till we were all ready to go.

But the real secret in such a life, I believe, you will find in Psalm 131.

Let me try to explain. Remember when you visited with family at Thanksgiving. You visited, ate, chatted some more, while the children were playing around. Then it was time to go home. You got in the car and drove the 20 or 30 miles, and when you got back home you said, “We’re home. Time to go to bed.” And there was no answer. The children were sleeping. So you carried them in, undressed them, and got them into bed and they never woke up. They had complete trust in your skill with driving, finding your way to your home, and doing that all safely. They trusted you.
Psalm 131, one of the Palms of ascending sung by pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem, writes:

“O Lord, I don’t feel proud or look haughty,
Nor meddle in things too great and wonderful for me.
No, I’ve calmed down and silenced my ambitions,
Like a child to its mothers bosom.
My spirit in me rests like a weaned child,
Israel, put your hope in the Lord,
Now and forever.”

And there, friend, lies the secret.
Faith in God. You must believe there is a God who is over it all. It’s just as simple and straightforward as that.
GPD 10/30/07

Monday, October 29, 2007

Thoughts on Reformation 10/29/07

“A Mighty Fortress is our God, a trusty shield and weapon.”

“Though devils all the world should fill, all eager to devour us,
We tremble not, we fear no ill, they shall not overpower us,”

And then,
“The Word they still shall let remain, nor any thanks have for it,
He’s by or side upon the plain, with His good gifts and spirit.
And take they our life, goods, fame, child and wife,
Let all these be gone,
Our victory has been won.
The KINGDOM ours remaineth”.
(Lutheran Hymnal)

I remember when I was in grade school the school children sang as a choir with the congregation, and it was truly a joyful sound.

And I also remember as a Seminarian celebrating the Reformation in the chapel in St. Louis. 400 young voices raised in song, famed Organist Rechlin at the organ, tears streaming down his face as he played and we sang, a glorious triumphant sound to the glory of God.

It is always a good thing to celebrate, and remember the Word remains, to hold it in truth, to walk by its teaching, and take comfort in its rich promises of salvation. God giving us strength for the days to come. I pray your day was a blessing to you.

GPD 10/29/07

Friday, October 26, 2007

Note & Comment 10/26/07

Yes, there is a Cut n’ Shoot, Texas. It lies along hgwy 105 some 9 miles East of Conroe, the County Seat of Montgomery County. We passed through Cut n’ Shoot yesterday morning on our way to The Cheesemakers, Inc cheese factory. That is about 2 miles further east just off 105 on Walker road.

Just how a cheese factory got to Texas is the end of a series of circumstances which started because a U of Texas engineering graduate saw a need, filled it, and ended selling a machine to a cheese factory in Kiel, Wisconsin. He installed it and remained around several days to make sure it worked as it should and all the glitches were worked out. What to do meanwhile. Sightseeing in Kiel was rather limited, so he, out of boredom, attended an auction of a cheese factory, made a bid, found it was the only bid, and owned a cheese factory. To pay for it he called his grandmother, she was a sort of Warren Buffet in the stock market, made money, and offered her two grandsons if the need ever arose, to supply the funds. So he called, she wired the funds, and he bought the factory, and then he enrolled in cheese making class at Wisconsin U, then loaded his factory on 3 semi trucks, hauled it to Texas, and erected it on a property he owned near Cut n’ Shoot.

The reason for this telling is that the Senior Basic Group from Living Word toured that plant yesterday. It was an outing long planned, and turned into one of those days that slow, relaxing, satisfying, and easily classified as happy.

Funny, isn’t it. How we long to be happy. For many, the chase for happiness becomes the reason for their very existence, and the more they plan to be happy, the more it eludes them. Why, Paul said it in one sentence, “Having food and raiment, let us be therewith content”.1 Tim. 6,8. And the letter to the Hebrews writes, “Be content with such things as you have, for He has said, never will I leave you, never will I forsake you”. Heb 13,5. And that should be enough.

We often forget that happiness is usually a by product. It happens while we are busy with life, doing what lies before us. When such a day ends, as did yesterday, we really have the feeling of well being. And it is there. Unplanned, just happened.

Thank God for such times.

GPD 10/26/07

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Shade Tree Wisdom 10/24/07

Jacket sure felt good this morning. This cool front makes it seem a bit as if we are moving away from the heat. Even had to turn on the furnace a bit. But the morning walk was fine. Brisk and pleasant. And there is much to think about, and pray over.

David started his day that way, you recall? “In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice”. Ps. 5,3 And the news certainly gives us much to pray about. The wild fires raging in California, for example, lives lost, property destroyed, nature in upheaval, and winds making the fighting of the fires nearly impossible.

And on the other side of the county rejoicing over a Perfect Liftoff for another space endeavor.

Meanwhile, right where I live, and you live, real problems little and big to keep us maybe upset, or at least interested.

Is it any wonder Paul writes to the Philippians, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil 4, 6.7. And later he adds, “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength”.v.13

There is so much on our plate that we do well, and find comfort in this, that God also says, “Be Still and know that I Am GOD”. Psalm 46,10a.

May this word bring ease to your aching heart and wondering mind, thou who does what the Apostle urges, “Pray continually” 1 Thess 5,17.

GPD 10/24/07

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Shade Tree Wisdom – on walking 10/20/07

Here comes an article on walking sent by a friend. It quotes ‘experts’ who are asked where ideas come from. German physicist, Hermann von Helmholz, speaking at a banquet in 1891 on his 70th birthday said, “Happy ideas come unexpectedly, without effort, like an inspiration. They come especially readily while I am walking”. And a modern mathematician, Princeton’s Andrew Wiles, said, “when I get stuck on a problem, I take a walk. Your subconscious mind is at work while you are in a state of relaxation”.

And it’s true. I do get ideas during my morning walk. The idea is there, to express it in an email is harder. I sit there often and wonder, is this the right way to say it, will they understand what I am trying to get across? Is it making sense, and is it easy to understand?

Is the thought worth saying in the first place? And is it brief, to the point, and contain a lesson or moral? Readers need to have the feeling of getting something to make their life better, stronger, or come away thankful for the reading.

Wordiness is deadly. So, do I sound like a politician, a person with nothing to say using many words to say it?

So there are lots of things that go into communication. I pray always that you will continue to find the things I send your way worth the while.

Just by the way, When Dr. Walther, our churches first president, was a theological student in Germany, one of the requirements for graduation was to serve as tutor for a family. During that year he regularly walked 4 miles one way to attend a church where the Law and Gospel were clearly taught. He used that time to think deeply about the faith. One result may be the classic work on LAW & GOSPEL he later wrote and that is still being used.

So, try walking for your health, and for thinking clear thoughts about any problem you might be struggling with. The Lord answers such prayer in His time.

GPD 10/20/07

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Shade Tree Wisdom 10/18/07

No, planning on winning the lottery is not a good retirement plan. It is interesting that today, when foreclosures this year are up some 67% over last year, Countrywide Financial, the nation's largest mortgage lender, comes up with a curious idea. It plans to take in deposits from small savers to lend out to other people who will actually pay back the money. Just like George Bailey did in “It’s A Wonderful Life’.

Thrift, historically, meant a wise use of resources. It means no waste, whether of raw material, time, energy, or money. It meant being conservative in the best sense. It meant Americans understood that getting out of the slavery of payday-to-payday meant saving some of what one earned.

I remember going to the bank with my father. The object, to open a savings account with some pennies I had been given. Banks were the place to keep money, and the Bank President himself, an imposing man dressed in a suit and wearing a white shirt and tie, called me over, gave me a savings book with my own name on it, and showing a deposit of one dollar, a gift from the bank to start me out. To this he added the money I had and gave me the filled book to bring back every time. Later a bit interest was added. Wonderful! My money was earning me money. What a fine system. Can’t beat that.

Well, that system still works, and there is hope that Americans will finally see the wisdom in this terribly mundane thing. This simple process.

Sad to say, we are living in a world where our government itself leads the way, borrowing from earmarked funds like social security to pay for its excesses, and even promoting such anti thrift institutions as lotteries as a way to pay expenses.

Our Lord has wisdom here also. Jesus told the story of the foolish farmer whose fields yielded abundant harvests, so that he planned to build more storage so he could “Have thine ease.”: Jesus said it is more important to be “rich toward God” than to worry about money here. Luke 12, 13 – 21. And being ‘rich toward God’ simply means that we believe His word, trust in Jesus Christ as our Lord, and live “as unto Him.”

And God bless that sort of life.

GPD 10/18/07

Monday, October 15, 2007

Shade Tree Wisdom 10/15/07

It struck me this morning on the refreshing time outdoors, what future do they have? I mean the youngsters gathered to be hauled away for the day to the halls of learning. Here is a quiet lad, he has a little device in hand that he pays attention to. Here is another, shy, always ready with a smile and a quiet “good morning’. She carries an instrument case which might hold a flute or piccolo. Another, larger lad, also quiet, shouldering his book bag. And then there is Brandon, exuberant with his greeting, always running hard because he nearly misses the bus each morning.

Then the bus sweeps them up and they are gone. And I wonder what is in store for them in life? Will they graduate High School, enter college somewhere, win a scholarship, find their career path easy, or harsh, have friends, family. And what is their background? Do they have dreams and plans for their future?

And I say a quiet prayer for them. I pray they will know the same God I do, the One to whom I can say,

The Lord is MY Shepherd,
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside the still waters,
He restores my soul.
Surely, goodness and mercy shall follow me,
All the days of My Life.
And I will dwell in the House of the Lord,
Psalm 23 excerpts
GPD 10/15/07

Friday, October 12, 2007

Shade Tree Wisdom 10/12/07

Really cool this morning, but a few minutes of brisk walking made it comfortable and really enjoyable.

And I got to thinking of harvest time, and the end of things. I was reminded of this whole thing by a book I just read by Robert Fulghum – He of the “All I really needed to know I learned in Kindergarten” fame. He just wrote “What on Earth Have I Done?” He heard an exasperated Mom say to her son as she was dropping him off at school, “Billy What on EARTH have you done now?” It’s a Mother question, Fulghum writes, and there really is no answer.

But he says it is also a profound question. What have I done with my life? Most gravestones I see have two dates on them separated by a dash, the question becomes, “what happened then?” People wonder, and the Scripture offers answers here. The prophet Micah offers this, “He has told you, O man, what is good, and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God”. Micah 6,8. Quite a statement. And we fall short of it.

Or Ecclesiastes offers “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work, or thought, or knowledge, or wisdom, in the grave where you are going.” Eccl. 9,10. Now there’s a truth worth considering too.

Then comes Jesus, “And THIS is the work of God, that you believe on Him whom He has sent.” John 6,29. Now we are closing in on a thought that gives us some comfort.

For here comes St. Paul in Ephesians 2,8 “For by grace you are saved, through faith, it is a gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them”. Ephesians 2, 8 – 10.

What on earth have I done? God planted faith into my heart in Holy Baptism. God directed this life according to the works He planned for me.

About 15 feet away from my window as I write stands a Loblolly Pine. The trunk measures nearly two feet in diameter, so it’s been standing and growing there for what, more than one hundred years? It just does that till I suppose a storm sends it toppling. (I just pray I won’t be sitting here when it comes through that window).

The question is really not, what have I done, but do I believe what God teaches me about His Son dying on the cross is true for me. Do I believe Jesus is My Lord and Savior? That is the ultimate, and saving, question, is it not?

GPD 10/12/07

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Shade Tree Wisdom 10/10/07

Soon now, very soon, the morning walk will require a light sweater. Nice. And the paper tells us the peek season for Fall color in Vermont is right now. Reminds me of the colors behind Christ Lutheran Church in Augusta, along the Missouri river. It was situated a bit above the road which ran along the river, and behind it was a hill just covered with Aspen, Maple, and other trees that gave rich Fall color. Each Fall the color section of the St. Louis papers featured Christ Lutheran with its background of color. And the drive along the river was a Sunday afternoon favorite that time of year. Along the road lay the Church, further along a farmer had a field planted with pumpkins which people picked. He also usually had a small patch of those colorful gourds people used for table decorations around the Thanksgiving holiday. Still further along was an apple orchard featuring fresh cider, and still further was a vineyard featuring wine tasting. Made for a nice afternoon away from the city.

But listen, Texas does have color. The Lost Maples State Natural Area west of Boerne near Kerrville offers colorful display during October and November. Lost Maples is small, only 2,174 acres, but it has probably the only bigtooth maple trees in the entire southwest. The area has several walking trails, some of them challenging, some camping area, and a small parking area for 250 vehicles. It gets most of its visits in the Fall. But the area is attractive for hikers and nature enthusiasts any time of year.

Another place for color is the Mast Arboretum of Stephen F. Austin University situated in Nacadoches, Texas. It is the first arboretum on a Texas university campus. It began as a land-scape materials class project in 1985 and grew into a 10 acre classroom of themed gardens. Great place to visit.

We can figure out WHY the color comes with the cool fall weather. But do we stop to remember who put it there? I think of Job when the Lord asked him, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?” and “Where were you when all this happened?” Job chapter 38 gives more detail.

The hand of the Creator is plain here. He made this beauty, and He made us and gave us the emotions to want to see it and enjoy it too. Another blessing we so often take for granted. But do stop and remember. The gracious hand of God lays out such beauty for our eyes to see and rejoice in. It’s one of His gifts that become so second-nature that we fail to be again astounded at the richness of it all. That’s what Fall color ought to do. It gives us reason for trips, but more, it gives us reason to develop a thankful heart. May God bless this to you.

GPD 10/10/07

Monday, October 8, 2007

Shade Tree Wisdom 10/8/07

Nice cool breeze this morning, and it reminded me that Fall is here. One reminder was the LWML Fall Rally here at our church. What a wonderful organization, this Lutheran Women’s Missionary League. Its beginnings came when some folks got together and asked, “What can we do?” Their answer was partly to do the work at home, in their own churches and places, and then they invented the Mite box. This was to raise funds for more work.

I can remember seeing these boxes on kitchen window sills where the ladies placed mites, pennies, nickels, dimes saved and scrounged out of budgets already pretty bare. These mites grew into a mighty stream, and that is being used today for all kinds of mission effort. A mission starts somewhere, often the LWML steps in to buy needed furnishings for the altar and for the church, hymnals, prayer books, devotional materials. The list goes on, heartening to hear about, and blessed of God.

The fellowship you find in such rallies is heartwarming. Women from different churches and encouraging one another in their different places. Praying for, encouraging, a struggling mission in many parts of this globe. Supporting their Church in ways often not even noticed. Yet ever blessed by God.

The Rally was well attended, and ended with a bit of luncheon. And just as this neared its end and women were starting to leave, it rained. A nice, sunny, warm Fall day, and then it rained, but it doesn’t last, so a five minute wait was all that was needed. And ladies left to go home, encouraged and strengthened to the work. And that is part of what makes the work of God grow, isn’t it, under God’s blessing and direction.

And for me, the interesting thing is that the international President of this LWML is a lady from Grafton, Wisconsin, just some 10 miles from the Church I grew up in. Well, lots of good things come from Wisconsin.

GPD 10/8/07

Friday, October 5, 2007

Shade Tree Wisdom – the Internet10/5/07

“It just sort of got out of hand”, and “I had no idea it would go that far”.

Those are some of the lines in a report of the anonymity of the internet where many vicious blogs are anonymous. The article in Forbes reports that many such blogs are mean, degrading, and cruel. Instead of being self-policing, the system has become an instrument for unlimited meanness and cruelty. Authorities admit that when it is anonymous, one removes the need to think and reason, because accountability brings civility.

And the world does not seem to be able to understand that such a thing would happen . This invention, the Internet, which could be such a blessing, and serves for much good, can also become an instrument for great evil.

It does really bring out the truth of what the Bible so clearly teaches. “LIGHT has come into the world, and men have preferred darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” John 3,19. It turns our attention to what St. Paul was greatly concerned about. In his letter to the Ephesians he tells them that now they are God’s children. “Children of light’, he said. Now they are Christian, “do not live any longer as the gentiles live, for they live blindfolded in a world of illusion, and are cut off from the life with God through ignorance and insensitiveness.” Eph. 4,17.18.

And that’s hard. Psalm 129 speaks of life under God. “Persecuted from my earliest youth. . . but not destroyed.” The MSG says, “They kicked me around since early youth . . . but they could never keep me down”. Psalm 129, l.2.

We live in the same sort of climate. A climate where Satan is loose, always “seeking whom he may destroy”. And our weapon still is that we “Resist him steadfast in the faith’.” Knowing that the same kind of thing is happening to your fellow Christians throughout the world.” 1 Peter 5,9. For the battle we fight has been won.” Take heart, I have overcome the world” John 16,33.
“Take they our life, goods, fame, child, and wife,
Let all these be gone,
They yet of nothing won.
He’s judged, the deed is done,
The Kingdom ours remaineth.”

So we live in hope, because His promises, rich and firm, and ever true.

GPD 10/5/07

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Shade Tree Wisdom 10/2/07

The morning walk is becoming more pleasant each day. Nights are definitely cooler, so at 6:20 or so it’s really nice. Often the moon is just waning, and the air is fresh with birds welcoming the day, as do the yellow boxes that sweep each morning, hauling eager scholars off to their daily learning.

I was delighted to see the Religion section of the daily paper devoted the lead article to signs of faith flourishing all over this land. Author of a book on “Bible Road, Signs of Faith in theAmerican Landscape, Sam Fentress first became interested when a student brought him a picture of a farmer’s barn covered by scripture verses. So, for the next twenty years, he sought out such pictures in his travels. From a silo in Monroe, Ohio that reads simply, “John 3,3”, to rocks etched with “Obey God or burn” found in Harlem. People express their faith in signage along the way.
It interests me that the new Hymnal for the LC-MS makes some prayers easy to find and use by printing them in the very front ofthe book. So prayers upon entering church, before and after worship and communion, lie right at hand.

But religion is more than a sign, isn’t it? James said, “Pure religion and undefiled is this, to look after the orphans and widows in their distress and keep oneself unstained from the world.” James 1,27.

Here is a word, found, printed and framed above a visitors book: “Let the peace of this place surround you. The hurry and worry of life fall away. You are God’s child. Speak to Him in prayer, and give yourself time to hear what He has to say.” Then depart in His peace.” Wise words indeed.

GPD 10/2/07

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Shade Tree Wisdom – Done 9/26/07

The walk was really pleasant this morning. Not even a dog barked to shatter the quiet, and there was a nice, cool, breeze to cool the brow. But I did notice one item to sort of mar the perfection of the hour. Leaves on the driveway.

We do have shade trees that give nice shade when the sun is hot, but they do drop their leaves, and these sort of clutter the drive and lawn and need to be swept or blown or raked away if we want to have some appearance of order and neatness.

So I got out the blower, and went to work. In short order I had them piled into a pile and stuffed into the container. And the finished job gave me real satisfaction. Like a workman that needed not be ashamed of his handiwork. It looked neat and tidy. Mother would have approved.

In the afternoon when I stepped out to get the mail the driveway and lawn were filled with scattered leaves again! I knew that would happen. But that did not keep me from that feeling of satisfaction in the morning when I had cleaned them the first time.

That brings me, finally, to what I want to say about life. When the Psalm shouts, “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice, and be glad in it”, he means just that. Enjoy doing what lies close at hand. Don’t be one who goes through life always either worrying about what lies ahead or fretting about what wasn’t done yesterday.

I knew I would have to clean leaves again. They don’t fall on my schedule. I have to fit that into their schedule. So allow me the joy of standing there, looking at the clean drive and lawn, and giving thanks for being able to do it with satisfaction. OK? Try it to find satisfaction daily.

GPD 9/26/07

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Shade Tree Wisdom 9/23/07

When I was young – and I wasn’t all that much younger then – election years started on Labor Day and ended in November. Now the elections are yet more than a year away, and candidates are already running hard. I hear the spending for campaign ads will top one billion dollars.

One problem with all this is that we have too long a time to learn about the good and bad features of every candidate, and so make judgment on that basis. Well, we do altogether too much of that anyhow, don’t we, making judgments, I mean?

I was reminded again this morning about what God wants us to do for these elected officials. He said, and I quote l Timothy 2, 1. “First of all, then, I urge that . . .prayers. . .be made for all people, for kings and for all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way”.

I noticed that again, it is not that we pray because we like them, but because of the position they hold. That makes all the difference, doesn’t it? Our prayer says, “My Lord and God, I leave this in your almighty and all-wise hand”.

Maybe it is time we really give this some thought. Debate, of course, but also always remember WHO is, after all, involved here with us.

And, we can ever trust Him, for His wisdom is ever higher than ours, as Isaiah 55 tells us.

May God bless us in this land.

GPD 9/23/07

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Shade Tree Wisdom 9/20/07

It is just a bit cooler these mornings for the walk. Oh, not that cool yet, but noticeably cooler, so Fall is on its way. And I was enjoying it, so I was whistling a tune as I walked along. Suddenly a voice from between two cars called out, “That’s nice. I like to hear that”. It was a neighbor out with her dog for his morning run. Well.

But I do a lot of thinking during these walks. Sure, most of us can do both if we just try, I mean walk AND think. And my thoughts were on the beginning of the Church.

Acts is really interesting, and we often either take for granted we know it, or pay little attention to what really happened. Jesus rose. He was not dead. Great news. News to share. News to get excited about. And for days Jesus showed himself to this group. I find it interesting what he did not do. He did not organize them into teams to get the word out. He did not get them to hire large places for meetings. He did not do what we would do. When He left them in the ascension, he told them, ”wait here for the gift My Father promised.” And, ”you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth”. Acts l, 4.8.

So they waited in Jerusalem. And they prayed, and they wondered, and they were fearful for their lives, but Jesus had told them simply to wait till He would send the Holy Spirit. And It happened on Pentecost. The promised Holy Spirit came, and they preached with joy so that very day 3,000 were added to their number. And that number has grown, and grown, and grown, because the Holy Spirit is in His baptized people as He promised.

And where the Holy Spirit is, there comes change.

Paul speaks of this, 1 Corinthians 6,11 mentions this drastic change, "that’s what some of you were.” Ephesians 2,4.5. “God made us alive with Christ.” So Peter writes, 1 Peter 4,4, Your former friends “find it strange that you don’t plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation” any longer.

And from the change comes this new man that you now are, and that is why the Church keeps on growing in the face of, and in spite of. the pressures of this world

So we can and do sing with fervor,

“And take they our life,
Goods, fame, child and wife,
Let all these be gone,
They yet have nothing won,
The Kingdom ours remaineth”.
That is the tune I was whistling this morning when I thought of God’s everlasting grace and mercy to us.

GPD 9/20/07

Monday, September 17, 2007

Shade Tree Wisdom 9/17/07

After Church yesterday we wended our way down to Houston to visit and have brunch with our daughter and son-in-law. It was fine, the visit and the meal together. We do this now and then for a change of pace.

On the way home, nearing The Woodlands flyover that allows us to leave the turnpike at speed and get the speed well under control before entering the Parkway, I see a sign that warns us to be aware since 26 people had been injured or killed in the next 15 mile section of I-45, the miles between The Woodlands and the County Seat which is Conroe, to drive ‘with extreme caution’.

This part of the pike is always nearly bumper-to-bumper traffic.

But why this warning here? After all, we had just driven nearly through the city of Houston at 60 miles per hour with no problem. Well, not through so much as over, because the highway is elevated for long stretches. And there was plenty of traffic. So why now?

Or does the State of Texas erect such signs here and there as a sort of hint to take care? I don’t know, because I don’t drive I-45 or any other freeway enough these days to know.

It does seem to me, as drivers, we are getting more and more indifferent to the rights of others and more and more careless and lax with our own driving habits. Is this all part of the general breakdown of morality and goodness among us, or is there an increase in such behavior, or am I reading into this something that isn’t there at all. I do know there seems to be an effort here and there to offer classes in ‘manners’, and social behavior, of all things. And motivation speakers are hired to make people more aware of the needs and concerns of others as well as their own.
Jesus once said it, “Do unto others as ye would have them do unto you, for this is the law and the prophets”. Matthew 7,12. The Message puts this like so: “Here is a simple rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them. Add up God’s law and Prophets and this is what you get.” One suggestion might be to start with our driving.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Just Wondering 9/7/07

Just wondering 9/7/07

Humid walking this morning, and if there had been no breeze, it would have been most uncomfortable. Well, the weather report says we have had nearly 50 inches of rain this year so far, as compared to the normal 3l.69. So, humid, of course.

The news this morning shows a picture in front of a school in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Just painted for the year and it reads shcool, but they promised to correct that error. Wonder how many children caught it. Foibles that tickle.

Another report speaks of the mass disappearing of honeybees. Bee keepers have noticed for some time that their hives are withering, and they don’t know why. Bees leave, and simply don’t return. Experts studying this think maybe it’s some kind of virus, and it is the same world-wide.
And yet another article speaks of teenage suicide on the rise again. Experts give many reasons, but one cannot help but wonder the despair that drives a person whose life is just beginning to take it. For surely nothing is so terrible that there is no help. Let’s turn to Psalm 34. This was written by David when he was being hunted by king Saul, and he had fled to Gath to find with their hated enemies, the philistines. The king there, Achish, was reminded that once the woman had sung of David, “David has slain 10,000.” Do you want this man here? So David pretended madness and was sort of left alone. But psalm 34 says it all. In this terrible time, David turned to the Lord for help.

The thought comes to mind that when times are terrible, and there seems no end to the bad news, it is time, it is always time, to turn to our God. Let us be diligent in doing this. God has made promises which He will keep. Depend on it.

GPD 9/7/07

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Shade Tree Wisdom – small things 9/5/07

Richard Carlson in 1998 wrote a book with this intriguing title: “Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff”. In it Dr. Carlson shows that it is really pointless to get upset over little things in life, like having to stop for a red light, or being the third in line at the grocery.

Let me try to show what he means by the story of two family outings.

Family one went on a picnic, to get together, to visit, to catch up, to spend time together. Kids were playing catch, throwing footballs, giggling together. Then they ate lunch together. After lunch while the mothers were sort of putting things together and talking one small, girl accidentally upset a glass that still had a bit of lemonade in it. The mother screamed at the girl, made a big fuss cleaning the spill, not really much, and fussing, berating the girl, calling her stupid and making a lot of noise. The girl sat there, head hanging down, tears streaming down her cheeks, till one aunt leaned over and spoke quietly to her, and consoled her. But when things quieted down, the family pretty well was gone in 20 minutes. That’s the Small Stuff Dr. Carlson means.

Another family also went on a picnic, same scene, people busy, playing, visiting, relaxing together, and mothers cleaning up after the feast, and a little girl spilled lemonade. This mother quietly took some paper towels and wiped up the spill, and talked calmly with her daughter, and things went on. That family did not leave till nearly dark. This mother knew how not to sweat the small stuff.

That is how I hope you treat the “small stuff” that happens to you all the time.

BUT, there is another kind of caring about small stuff. That’s the kind the artist who designed the Statue of Liberty in France as a gift to this young country had. On top of Lady Liberty, every hair is in exact place, each eyebrow is perfectly shaped. The artist knew that no one would ever see this, and yet he made it as well as his skill allowed. He never knew that with helicopters today anybody could see the top of the head of Miss Liberty.

That kind of caring is what a Christian does. Jesus once said, “Heaven & earth will disappear, but my Words will not disappear.” Matt 24,35. Jesus also said, “Till heaven and earth pass away not an iota, not one bit, of my Word shall pass away.” Matt. 5,18.

That sort of speaking puts a real weight to really knowing and doing His Word. St. Paul wrote, “All Scripture is given out by God, and is profitable for teaching, for reproving, for correcting, for righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished to every good work.” 2 Tim. 3, 16.17 And Paul tells us in 1 Cor. 10,11, that everything in the Bible is written to teach us and to warn us against making their same mistakes.

That sort of speaking also gives short shrift to churches that ignore portions of Scripture teaching or say, casually, after all, that was written thousands of years ago.

So, when we study the Bible, let’s study it to gain insight for our life and our problems. That’s why a gracious God has given it. May this same gracious Lord bless your reading, and your doing.

GPD 9/5/07

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Shade Tree Wisdom - choices 9/2/07

Remember the time in your life when you just HAD to have something. Maybe it was a pair of shoes that caught your eye, or a blouse, or an item to get for the car, or whatever. Your mom tried her best to talk you out of it, pointing out that it really wasn’t worth the money. But, you had to have it, so you bought it, and then never used it because it really wasn’t a smart buy and did not fit into your life at all.

And you finally learned, again, that there are always choices. Life would not be half as exciting if everything was written down for us, and all we needed to do was follow the plan. But the Lord made us able to choose, to select, to make such choices, The Bible is filled with such choices.

Adam & Eve made a wrong choice. Moses gave the laws to the children of Israel and asked them to follow them. Then Moses told them, “What I command is not too hard to do” because “the word is very near, it is in your mouth and in your heart so that you may obey it” Deut 30, 11.14. Joshua challenged them, “Choose you this day. . .but as for me and my house, we will serve the lord.” Josh 24,15.

And the Gospels are filled with choices. “Will ye also go away?” “Who do you say that I am”. “Who do the people say that I am?” and when they confessed, “”Thou art the Christ, the Son of God”, Christ laid this before them, “Why do you call me Lord, and do not the thing that I tell you?” Luke 6,46

Choices. Proverbs 14,12, teaches, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end thereof is death”.

And that’s just our problem. We are free to make choices, but we also must know that we live with the result. The 19th century cleric Newman had it right, “We can believe what we choose, but we are answerable for what we choose to believe.”

So it is doubly important, eternally important, that we do choose to believe the apostle’s sermon. “Salvation is of no one else (save Jesus), There is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.”

May God bless your choice.

GPD 9/2/07

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Musings on the past – going 9/2/07

Ever hear of Minton, Colorado? I didn’t either till I read a page in Time magazine that said the town council of that town had recently banned the use of barbed wire for fencing. Seems one land-owner there had strung some of it to try to keep snowmobiles from using his property, scaring his live stock, and running down his berry bushes. Minton is just south of Vail.

The problem comes when Colorado is being sectioned, subdivided, annexed, paved over at the rate of 700 acres a day, according to the Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust.

And it set me to thinking about this whole matter of preserving land and leaving some for those who would rather not be crowded. The rural community I grew up in is nearly gone. Why, the last time I visited even the old Elm tree that used to mark the turn in the lane was gone, a house sits there now. So the world changes.

What is bothersome is that rapid change often leaves behind values that have been useful for living for generations. And God’s Word, God’s Plan for living, is often relegated to a second place. Or, even worse, disregarded or thrown out as “old-fashioned”. And so often we lose our way and flounder.

The letter to the Hebrews sort of addresses just such a situation. It is about what God has done in Jesus, not what we might add to worship or ‘religion’. So it reads, “It’s crucial that we keep a firm grip on what we’ve heard so we don’t drift off”. 2.1 And after once again reminding them, and us, what God has done, and what affect that has had (See the great Hebrews 11 chapter of faith heroes), we are reminded that this religion, this Jesus act for us, will affect our living, our life style.

In this morning’s sermon on Hebrews 13, 1 – 17, our pastor reminded us what this means. Marriage, for instance, must be “undefiled”. Yes, ”guard the sacredness of sexual intimacy between husband and wife. God draws a firm line against casual and illicit sex”. 13,5

Our faith in Jesus Christ means this. We now are obedient children, taught by the Holy Sprit to hear, and do, what He wills for us.

Just that is often lost with rapid change. Family is torn apart by jobs in distant places, so the relationship with mother and father, sister and brother, weakens. Church ties become frayed, old fiendshships are replaced, and with that often comes what Hebrews bemoans, “we drift off”. May the Lord alert you, and keep you, my friend, a faithful student of the Word, and a prayer. And God bless this.

GPD 9/1/07

Monday, August 27, 2007

Shade Tree Wisdom - Home 8/ 27/07

There’s something about home, isn’t there? I remember topping the final hill from which one could see the Church steeple and the children getting all excited because “we’re almost to Grandma’s house!” when we were on a vacation trip to our homes.

And our own grandchildren knowing they were getting near when they started to drive on roadways surrounded by trees in The Woodlands where we live now. (“Fair are the woodlands”.) indeed.

Home is familiar. We know where things are. We know how things work, or are supposed to work, and we know how to get there from here. So home has value because it is a basic that remains the same in our minds. And that is what is the best part of it.

Because we do live in a world that seems to be changing overnight. New things spring up to amaze or delight us, or tend to confuse and cause anxiety for us who are along in years. Just the other day I learned of a device by which we will be able to call any place on earth with no help from AT&T at all. Amazing, and the cost is negligible.

And we get used to change. For such new things do make our lives easier. This computer I am using mostly as a writing instrument has capabilities that I have not even begun to explore. I simply like the fact that with a key stroke I can change a word or dress a sentence. And it’s Spell Check helps with the spelling. And I never have to use carbons to make copies or re-write a page because of a spelling error.

What troubles me is that by eagerly accepting new things we are in danger of losing the “old things’, our heritage, if you will. Many churches offer several different types of worship services. Insisting, of course, that this does not change their teaching.

Is this true? I read just this morning a think piece about absence of “holy fear”.
Our life style tends to do this. And one must ask, “where will it really end?”

Yesterday the Sermon text came from the section of Hebrews that spoke of discipline, and offers us this wisdom, “Whom the Lord love He disciplines”. And discipline simply means learning that the sinful reach of man must be curbed and changed, and allow the Holy Spirit to change us into His children. Unless this happens, we will live lives that always reach for things it ought not reach for.

As that think piece I referred to ends “Funny, how the older one gets, the ideas you once dismissed or forgot about turn out to be the most important ones of all.”

For us who believe Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer, we know, simply, this truth, “Jesus Christ the same, yesterday, today, and forever.” Knowing that makes any change bearable, does it not?

GPD 8/27/07

Friday, August 24, 2007

Shade Tree Wisdom 8/24/07

This morning on my walk I met a school bus, empty, just cruising slowly along.
I suppose checking a route, or a new driver, or just using tax payers' funds to see if the bus ran OK. After all, the Conroe ISD equipped every bus with machinery that will cause less harmful emissions.

But it did remind me that schools across the land are opening.

School days, school days,
Dear old golden rule days,
Readin’ and writin’ and ‘rithmatic,
Taught to the tune of a hickory stick.
You were my queen in calico,
I was your tongue-tied bashful beau,
You wrote on my slate, ‘I love you, Joe’,
When we were a couple of kids.
And I wondered, do children still memorize? And have a time on Friday afternoon for reciting to the class? Girls used to recite love poems, boys choose such things as The Charge of the Light Brigade.
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do or die,
Into the valley of death,
Rode the six hundred.
And I believe everyone was asked to learn the 16 lines of Sir Walter Scott’s Innominatus;
Breathes there a man with soul so dead,
Who never to himself has said,
This is my own, my native land
Whose heart has ne’er within him burned,
As Home his footsteps he has turned,
From wandering on a foreign strand..
And of courser, there was also the class jokester who recited such lines as this:
Methuselah ate what he found on his plate,
And never, as people do now,
Did he note the amount of the calorie count,
He ate it because it was chow.
And when the class a settled back down Miss Kuehner said, quietly, “Hal, that isn’t quite what I had in mind.”
Do schools still do that? Ask children to memorize? We, and I was greatly blessed in this, had religion also, and so added memory work of Bible verses and sections. Yes, I can still recite some of them in the language I learned them in. Can you?
How blessed we are to have this Word in the heart to direct, guide, and bring us God’s peace in Christ.
GPD 8/24/07

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Note & Comment – cost of food 8/21/07

Have you noticed the price of food? Slowly rising. Statisticians tell us food has risen by 4.4% in a year. Not much, except when you remember what was $ 100.00 last year now is $ 104.40. Still, American households spend just 9.9 cents of every dollar on food, down from 23.4 cents in 1929. In Great Britain households spend 16% of every dollar for food, in Brazil it’s 23%, in Thailand 29%.

Still, why does food cost so much. We spend close to $2.00 for a can of soup while Grandma made a kettle of soup for pennies. How come? She had the ingredients at hand, home grown. Ours comes from distant places, involving many people and much labor.

Take a can for corn, for example. Grown on a Wisconsin farm. [Wisconsin is that wonderful, grand, state somewhere north of here.] Picked by summer help – I was part of such help for several years earning my Seminary funds – processed, canned, labeled, trucked to a warehouse, reshipped to other places near you, and eaten in your dish without giving thought to everything involved to get it there. Your roses for Valentines Day were grown in Peru and brought to you by air freight nearly overnight.

So it costs to eat. So why am I grousing? It’s the “flesh” showing itself. It’s always there. And that why I pray daily “and forgive us our sins’. And the Lord does forgive, fully, graciously, completely, for the sake of the blood shed by His Son, Jesus Christ, for me. And I am thankful God does provide me the funds to buy the needed food daily.

GPD 8/21/07