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