Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Shade Tree Wisdom 7/30/08

So, yesterday was Ruth and my 63rd wedding anniversary, and we spent the day in the hospital, I having a heart picture taken, and Ruth mostly just waiting.

The doctor thought the little pains I was having was from another area, but the picture showed the stent that had been placed in the artery in February is among the 5% stent failures, not doing its job at all.

Now what? Well, the office will call in a day or two to set up an appointment for a strategy session, to figure out what is best now.

Meanwhile, I was re-reading Psalm 139. It reminded me of when our youngest daughter had applied to the Synod for an overseas teaching assignment, and they did not accept unmarried young ladies for such positions, but the defense department did. So we were in the Federal Building in Memphis Tenn. where she was getting her final procedural papers. On the wall was a world map, and I finally located Okinawa , her first assignment in an Air Force school. I pointed to this lonely little spot surrounded by water and said, “There?” And she replied, “Even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast” Psalm 139,10.

So yesterday I was re-reading that calming psalm and especially this: “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be”. Vv. 14.16.

So the comfort is that no matter the final outcome, God already knows how it will end for me. And He cared enough to send His own son Jesus to pay the high cost of my sins, so He can and does declare me “Righteous and holy”. That is enough.

GPD 7/30/08

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Shade Tree Wisdom 7/26/08

Here we still are in July, and it’s HOT. No need to remind you of that, but do we really know it? I mean, yesterday a young man was here to make the semi-annual checkup of the unit here at the house. He treated the drip pan, he cleaned the coils, he checked the fluids, he did what ever maintenance the unit needs, checked all the ducts to see whether they were still tight, and left till next visit.

So we don’t really feel the heat. The unit does what we ask of it, keeps the house comfortable, and when we leave to shop groceries even the car has air in it, and so do the stores we visit. All cool, all nice, all comfortable.

It’s really so easy that we sort of take it for granted. We don’t really feel the real burden of the weather for what it is, hot. And that’s the burden of my thinking this morning.

Appearances. It’s easy to make believe. Around the house, for instance, we don’t really clean the way our mothers used to. They’d turn things upside-down, get into all the corners, make sure the closets were clean and shiny, get stuff out of the way to tackle the whole house, windows and closets and dark corners. Nothing escaped that cleaning. Our house today looks fairly clean, but a sunny day shows up dust here and there and things of that sort. The sun brings out the difference.

Isn’t our life often like that? Jesus, in speaking to the scribes and Pharisees, called them ‘whited sepulchers". Matthew 23,27. Then He said to them, “Outside you look good to people, but inside you’re full of hypocrisy and crime”. V.28. “Beautiful on the outside, but . . .”

What to do? The only answer is what Our God teaches us. Jesus calls us ‘branches’, and adds, “now you are clean through the Word which I have spoken to you” John 15,3. And in his letter St. John the apostle speaks about “living in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, cleans us from all sin.” And says more, “If we confess or sins, we can depend on Him to do what is right – He will forgive us our sin and wash away every wrong.” 1 John l, 7.9.

Not outward appearance, but let’s make sure we have this right, repentance, confession, leads to forgiveness from a gracious and most merciful God. Then the rest follows.

May God bless the day.

GPD 7/26/08

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Shade Tree Wisdom 7/24/08

Dolly so far as brought us just a smidgen of rain, but the storm did damage where it made land fall. However, they report the levees all held so there was no really major flooding. Water damage, of course, there usually is when rain comes in 6 and 8 inch bunches. But so far no life was lost because with our modern technology, we do have fair warning in plenty of time.

Loss of life usually comes only when someone disregards warnings or says they plan to ‘tough it out’ and ‘take their chances’. Then something happens and their plans go awry, and they lose the fight with mother N.

But that is that perverse human nature again, the one that God said was a “sinner from the beginning”, from birth. A biblical example of this are the children of Israel in Samuel’s time. When he was retiring and made his sons the judges, the people came with a complaint. They said, “Behold, you are old, and your sons walk not in your ways, now make us a king to judge us like all the other nations.” 1 Sam. 8,5. [the people had a good cause to complain because the sons “turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment”] v.3. In other words, they were crooks.

But Samuel hesitated, and he prayed. Then the Lord said, let them do what they want, make a king, they haven’t rejected you, they’ve rejected Me.

So Samuel told them what having a king would be like, he would tax them, take their best lands, 10 percent of their crops, their young men and maidens to serve, and "You shall be his servants". V,17. What’s more, you will cry to God, and He won’t listen in that day.

But they got a king. Stubborn, “we know better” attitude, bold, selfish. Kind of describes the human race, doesn’t it?

Because there are many times when we do what is not right, even though we know what IS the right thing to do. We want our own way. We are stubborn, mule-headed, often really dense, and then we find we need help, desperately. And by God’s grace we always know where to turn – it is to Him who “died for us, and rose again that we might have life.”

It is at such time we can turn to Psalm 31, for example. “In thee, O Lord, do I put my trust, let me never be ashamed, deliver me in thy righteousness. . .Thou art my rock, my fortress, therefore for Thy name’s sake lead me and guide me”. Ps 31, 1.3.

That gives me comfort. The words tell me what God does for us is because He is who He is, not for what we are or may have to offer. So we end with Ps. 34,8, “O taste and see that the Lord is good, blessed is the man that trusts in Him.”

Now it’s sprinkling some again, and thank God for this moisture.

GPD 7/24/08

Monday, July 21, 2008

Shade Tree Wisdom 7/21/08

Wind still this morning, so it is heavy, the air I mean, and harder to breathe. But it was 103 in Killeen, it makes our 97 seem less 97ish. Human nature it is to rejoice at the misfortune of another though we seem to sympathize. Schadenfreude, the Germans called it. That perverse pleasure from others misfortune that we try to hide under a coat of empathy. And the more we enjoyed their mishap, the more syrupy our sympathy gets. No, never happened to you. OK.

Ruth’s side of the family has held an annual family reunion since she was a little girl. The brothers decided it would be nice to spend some time, so they set on the third Sunday in July, and that date has never changed.

I remember watching cousin Margaret trying to convince her two sons, then 8 and 10 or so, to enjoy the day. They were ‘bored’, as most young people are. So I suggested they ask their uncle Ed how he ever got to raising seed corn, or another uncle how he managed to farm and run a milk route. So they did, and learned a lot about their family, and, Margaret told me later, really enjoyed the day.

That’s just it, isn’t it? When we are young such things as family get-togethers are a bore, we have other, more pressing things to do. Later, after uncles and aunts are gone, we would like a chance to sit down and ask about things in the family history. We get interested in why something happened or what happened to make such and such result. But then it’s too late to get the news we long for.

So, my word to you is, make use of the time and ask NOW.

It is interesting that the Book of Chronicles gives chapter after chapter of names, of descendants etc. And the Bible also points out that certain ones could not serve as priests because “their name was not found”.

So history is important. The psalmist says, “For the Lord is good, His love endures forever, His faithfulness continues through all generations” Psalm 100,5.

Reunions, reminders of where we came from, our history, our ancestry, all important to our well-being. Cherish them. And may the Lord bless the work.

GPD 7/21/08

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Shade Tree Wisdom 7/19/08

It’s been so dry lately that some tees are starting to drop some leaves. And, if I remember what Professor Rehwalt so patiently taught us, that is just a device for the trees to save water. So nothing to worry about except that it is dry and the area is in need of rain.

Wasn’t it just a year ago we were often saying, “When will it ever stop?” and we were referring to the plentiful rain then.

So the question on the table is, “Why don’t we appreciate the day?” Enjoy the thing that lies at hand, appreciate the variety and the riches of God’s blessings? Instead of longing for something that lies in the future.

Look at some of the experiences written in the Bible. We all know the story of Daniel in the lion’s den. Do we think of the fact that what brought him there was doing God’s will in a world where his enemies were plotting to destroy him? It was not by chance at all. Or we read of Phillip meeting the Ethiopian while he was on his homeward trip. That was not a chance encounter either. God planned it so the Christian could explain the Bible prophecy about Jesus to this heathen, who went on his way rejoicing as a baptized child of God.

Or Peter with the Centurion in Syria. Not a chance encounter, but one arranged. Yet Peter might have said, “Why should I make this trip, it is interfering with my plans to preach here today.” But no, he went and found a man who “feared God”. And ministered to him and his friends and family, and the Holy Spirit blessed the meeting.

So, tomorrow, for example, let your mind say “I was glad when they said unto me, let us go and worship our God”. Then rest your mind with these simple, yet profound, words of the apostle Paul, “If there is any virtue, and anything praiseworthy, think of these things?”. Phil 4,8.
Though He giveth, or He taketh,
God His children ne’er forsaketh.
His the loving purpose solely,
To preserve them, [pure and holy”. LSB 725.

GPD 7/19/08

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Shade Tree Wisdom 7/17/08

Pleasant this morning, with a slight breeze to make it fine. Otherwise, understand, we are in July, and along the Gulf Coast that means hot & humid.

I really don’t know just how to say this at all, but it does give us a real insight on just how subtle the devil works among us.

When St. Peter said it, it does sound kind of strange. He wrote, “Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping.” 2 Peter 5,8. (msg). And Peter writes out of bitter personal experience, because he had boasted to Jesus Himself, “Even if they all run, I won’t. I’ll stand. You can count on me”. Then he fell, sadly, as predicted, and repented with tears.

Here is the story. They are all 17, incoming seniors at The Woodlands College park High School. All have jobs, several are honor students, one even is on the student council. And in the middle of the night they chopped down a tree in the yard of an off duty Montgomery County Deputy Constable. The tree was large enough that it took several deputies to cut it into sections to be able to clear the roadway.

The reaction of the parents was the same as yours would be if it had been your son. “I don’t know what they were thinking." One mother is quoted as saying, “my son said they were bored”. The consensus of the parents was “We are really upset. None of them have been in trouble before. They all have jobs. They’re all good kids”.

Exactly how I would react if this had been in our family. And so would you. Embarrassing, kind of humbling, but defensive just the same.

The lesson here is what Peter said, The devil is at work today, and among us. In Paul’s letter to the Philippians he speaks about the Christian in his world. It is really a happy letter, even though written from jail. Paul says that sticking him into jail had the opposite effect of what was intended, and everyone was hearing about Jesus. Then he turns to their life-style and says it ought to be like a shining beacon in this weary world. 15 Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night 16 so I'll have good cause to be proud of you on the day that Christ returns. You'll be living proof that I didn't go to all this work for nothing. “Phil 2,15.16.(msg).

Ah, here’s the goal for us, isn’t it? To live like a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society, giving people a glimpse of the living God. To carry the light-giving message into the night. I pray the Lord will help us do exactly that, and live “as unto Him” in this world we live in.

GPD 7/17/08

Monday, July 14, 2008

Shade tree wisdom 7/14/08

A little breeze makes the walking OK. An article in the daily paper reminds me that the body needs to perspire to endure the hot weather. So it works.

But walking In the early morning means having now and then to walk a bit warily lest some sprinkler blindsides me. I know one that starts about the time I am cruising by, and the system sort of clears its throat before the water spurts, so it does give a bit of warning. But it got me to thinking. I have never seen a person watering anything by hand any more. Many of systems, others set out sprinklers on hoses.

And I sort of miss that. Watering a lawn or some flowers with a hose or with a watering can was sort of therapeutic. It has a lot of calming effect, sets a slow pace, and gives us a bit of time to really see our handiwork in flower bed or arrangement of trees and shrubbery on the lot.

It’s sort of nurturing, an experience that helps slow down the day and gives us a little time to really enjoy what God has spread out before us, doesn’t it? We have tine to really see the beauty of the flower, maybe pick a weed or two, or see the start of some problem with a bug or mold, so we can catch it before it has its chance to destroy.

More than that, it is sort of labor intense. Struggling with a hose always means taking out the kinks – garden hoses always kink – and taking time to relax, slow down the pace a bit, and get ready for a relaxing evening, with the cares and burdens of the day sort of washed away with the water.

Or you have time to visit with a passerby or neighbor, and discuss the best way to grow things in the sort of soil you have.

And, finally, you put the water exactly where it is needed, and you are not among the many whose sprinklers wash sidewalks and driveways needlessly, wasting precious water, costing precious dollars.

So I say, happy watering.

GPD 7/14/08

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Shade Tree wisdom 7/12/08 On Reading Ecclesiastes

Now the heat and humidity are making the morning walk less joyous, but I am still doing it. After all, it’s July, and August is still to come, and there is so much to ponder on.

Here is a man who is suing both Zondervan and Thos Nelson, both Bible publishers, because they printed Bibles that refer to homosexuals as ‘sinners’. This has caused Mr. Fowler untold anguish and suffering. It all refers to 1 Corinthians 6,9.

The question of Satan to Adam and Eve was “Did God Say?” With the question he tempted them to question truth. If God, the Creator, can’t be trusted, where do we find truth? And since the Fall, the human race is always wondering, always doubting, always questioning. It is our sinful nature. Recall Psalm 14,1.

Now consider the times in which we live. The idea of one truth, an absolute truth, is foreign to our thinking, “You have your truth, I have mine.” Let’s leave it at that.

And it is ironic in this day when absolute truth is almost universally denied, we still long for it. For without a guiding star we become confused, uncertain, and bewildered at the different messages we receive. Just look at the mess our world is in today.

There is a verse written by James Russell Lowell, which is true.
“In vain we call old notions fudge,
And bend our conscience to our dealing.
The ten Commandments will not budge,
And stealing will continue stealing”.

But God is no cynic. He has sent us Truth in His Son, Jesus Christ, who assures us that “Thy Word is truth’ John 17,17.

With that as background, read Ecclesiastes. Everything we try looks promising at first. Then, at the end, the writer finds it all “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity”. Nothing ever seems to amount to much, nothing seems to satisfy. We try harder, we look farther, but it seems the harder we work, the less we get out of it.

The Book is famous in exposing this futility. The author sees man in mad pursuit of one thing, then another, but ever laboring to some dead end. It’s all "meaningless", a "chasing after the wind".

And the secret to understanding the Book is to realize that he is talking about the person who leaves God out of his life. He speaks of living ‘under the sun’, this means he does not regard God as needed to life and its enjoyment.

Ecclesiastes challenges the optimism that sets goals and leaves God out. The Book clears the air. And finally, in the end He writes, “Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every hidden into judgment, whether it is good or evil”.

Psalm 14 is right, ‘The Fool has said in his heart, there is no God.” Then the psalmist gives the conclusion: They are corrupt, their deeds are vile, there is no one that does good. Will evil doers never learn?” . Ps. 14, 1.,4.

The book of Ecclesiastes simply emphasizes the futility of the man who tries to live without the sure word of God leading his life and giving him sure direction and guiding. Maybe that is why it leaves us with such a hopeless and empty feeling. It is to turn us to God, Who is The Truth.

GPD 7/12/08

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Shade Tree Wisdom 7/9/08

Character is what you are when no one is looking. And in this busy world it’s easy to get distracted and lose our way. The proverbs said, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life” 4,23. And the Lord Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Matt. 6,21. It matters. The things we do and like and find amusing or entertaining have their affect on our character.

An interesting anecdote is about a man who is getting dressed for dinner with fiends, and he is checking a shirt to see if he can wear it again. His wife says to him, “Remember dear, if it’s doubtful, don’t”.

Good advice. St. Paul in Romans 14 is tackling the problem of food that had been used at the temple. There is really nothing wrong with using that. But some had their doubts, so his advice addresses the principle that should guide our conscience. If doubtful, don’t. If it offends another, Paul says, don’t do it. For it is wrong to do anything that might make another, a weaker Christian, stumble v.21.

An old Cherokee Indian is sitting at a fire with his grandson who has broken a tribal taboo, and his grandpa wanted to make him understand what made him do it. So he said, “It’s like we have two wolves inside of us, one is good, the other is bad, and both demand obedience.” “Which one wins,” the boy asked. “The one we feed”.

Sounds like St. Paul in Romans chapter 7. “O wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from the body of this death?” The struggle of a person who sins, and doesn’t want to.

So suggests Romans 13,14, “Make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.”

That’s what character is all about, isn’t it?
GPD 7/9/08

Monday, July 7, 2008

Shade Tree Wisdom 7/7/08

What a pleasant morning. Hardly anyone out, and the ones I meet nod and are eager to get on with their day. So here I am, thinking of the Early Church as we read its history in the Book of Acts.

Reading Acts is stirring and profoundly disturbing. Because we are seeing the young church, as vulnerable as a new born babe, for the first time. This Church has no money, no power, no influence in the ordinary sense. Yet it sets out joyfully and courageously to win the world for God through Christ.

Acts gives us a picture of the beginnings. Young, unspoiled, obedient. The only plan they have is the one Jesus had given them, “Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature”.

We see with some amazement what happened then. They simply went and did it. This Church had not yet grown fat and complacent, over-organized and short of breath because of its prosperity. It had no treasure, no deep pockets, and what they had, they shared “even beyond their ability”.

One cannot read this book without becoming convinced Someone was here at work beyond human help. It was the Holy Spirit. It is a matter of sober historical fact that this small group of ordinary people so moved the world that their enemies said, with tears of rage and frustration, that these men “have turned the world upside down” (17,6).

If we read this Book and suggest the Church follow its example, we are told the world today is different, with problems they never even dreamed of. Then we don’t know history, for that world was just as complicated, and may even have had more ‘drek’ to deal with than ours today. [Look at the list Paul gives in Romans chapter l.]

And when Peter , when dealing with the Gentile Cornelius, blurts out “Of a truth, I perceive that God is no respecter of persons.” Acts 10,34, that was a revolutionary statement for a Jew to make.

So the early Church simply did what God urged them to do, they loved one another, they helped one another, to share the Gospel, for the Bible said when they were driven elsewhere, "they went everywhere telling the good news”.

It was a news they simply had to share. Like the news you and I share at the birth of a child, or some wonderful event. We “can’t keep it to ourselves”. That’s the way the early Church went about their task, and that is the sort of feeling the Book of Acts raises in our hearts today.
GPD 7/7/08

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Shade Tree Wisdom 7/5/08

A bit humid this morning with little breeze. But it is summer, and July.

Yesterday’s fireworks reminded me of the care the people who set things up take to get all the connections right, and then they check, and recheck, and I thought of little Jacob. He grew up in a seaside town in the ancient world, and hung around on the waterfront. Everything about ships, cordage, sails and stuff intrigued him. He noticed how carefully ropes were handled, and how each was connected and used to get the sails set right and the ship “ship shape” as it were. He even worked on several ships, first as a chore boy, then as a sailor. But he never took to the sea. His love was in ropes and rope-making.

So he looked for work along the waterfront, and finally went to work for a yard that made ropes for shipping. Rope-making was a special skill that he learned and got good at. He enjoyed seeing the strands of raw hemp being cured and then woven into rope. Soon he was the one chosen by the owners to take charge and see work was done promptly and properly. And when it came to special orders, Jacob did the work, alone, unsupervised, but correctly. Rope from this shop was highly prized as reliable. Rope that would hold and stand the strain of hard use, rough weather, and storm.

When Saul became the Apostle Paul and began preaching Jesus, he “confounded the Jews that were living in Damascus, proving that this was The Christ”. Acts 9,22. They ”took counsel to kill him, and watched the city gates day and night to kill him”. So, to escape, “the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket”. 9,23 – 25. And the rope did not break, because somebody made a good rope.

A group of Christians, we call them a congregation, meets together for worship, prayer, song and learning from the Scripture. Then, during the week, they scatter all over, one to remain at home, seeing to the young children, another in an office on the 24th floor of an office building, still another driving a delivery route in a large city, and yet another leading a company and planning further growth. All believe that Jesus Christ died for their sins. They are called Christians. And wherever they are, whatever they do, they do it “as unto Him”.

In short, these people live daily like the followers of Jesus. St. Peter writes about this when he says, (1 Peter 2,9ff.) “9 But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God's instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you— 10 from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted. 11 Friends, this world is not your home, so don't make yourselves cozy in it. Don't indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. 12 Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they'll be won over to God's side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives. 13 Make the Master proud of you by being good citizens. Respect the authorities, whatever their level.“

That is the order for the Christian. In whatever corner, whether in obscurity or in a bright light, no matter what it may be, he is serving his God. St. Paul lays down just one requirement. “That a man be found faithful”. 1 Cor 4.2. We read again and again that where man thought the church was dying, it flourishes instead under severe pressure. So God found people faithful. In the Church, we are simply sent to Teach and baptize, we can safely let the results rest In the hand of God who “giveth the increase.”
GPD 7/5/08

Friday, July 4, 2008

Shade Tree Wisdom 7/4/08

*** Independence Day ***

I started the walk this morning singing “You’re a grand old flag, you’re a high flying flag, and forever in peace may you wave.” But there was no one to hear my dulcet tones so I stopped, and just walked.
“Almighty God, who has ordained government for the punishment of evil-doers, and the praise of them who do good, give us government that rules with wisdom and care to better our lives and enrich our stay here in this land.”
The Fourth, the wonderful Fourth. What memories. When we were children it was always picnic time. School children marched up the road to the grounds led by the church brass band, Yes, the church boasted a brass band. Then each child received, I believe, three tickets good for spending for ice cream or candy. There were games and contests, each winner awarded a ticket, I always used my tickets up, My brother saved his and the end of the day he bought candy to save and eat later, and he always had a time finding safe places to keep it away from the rest of us..
Today that Church picnic has turned into a sort of homecoming day. The day begins with a devotion, and the rest of the day is spent visiting, catching up with friends, eating, enjoying a free day, and in general just having a fine, relaxing time.
This morning I thought of this blessed land. We sing
“America, America,
God shed His grace on thee.
And crowned thy good, with brotherhood,
From sea to shining sea.”
A friend sent me this bit of history. In 1787 when the convention was debating how large and small states could be equally represented, some delegates were so frustrated they simply left. James Madison recorded this for June 28th. Eighty-one-year-old Benjamin Franklin rose and stated: "Groping as it were in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when presented to us, how has it happened that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of lights?" Franklin continued: "In the beginning of the Contest with Great Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayer in this room for Divine protection. Our prayers were heard and they were graciously answered... And have we now forgotten that powerful Friend? Or do we imagine we no longer need His assistance?" Franklin concluded: "We have been assured in the Sacred Writings, that 'except the Lord build the House, they labor in vain that build it.'... I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall better than the Builders of Babel." Shortly thereafter, a compromise was reached and the Constitution of the United States was completed.
God bless America, land that I love.’
Stand beside her, and guide her.,
Thru the night with a light from above.
From the mountains, to the prairies,
To the oceans, white with foam.
God bless America, My home, sweet home.
GPD 7/4/08

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Shade Tree Wisdom 7/3/08

Pleasant walking this morning, and the date reminds me that I am living in
“The land of the free,
And the home of the brave”.

So to begin this thought, in all my years of driving I have been involved in two minor accidents, each caused by a person running a stop sign when I had none. I remember the first vividly because it was on the Sunday morning I was preaching my farewell sermon at Immanuel in St. Charles MO and I arrived at church in a squad car. The other was in Mexico MO, dry pavement, sunny day, and an officer was coming along and watched the whole thing.

And, I had one parking ticket when time ran out on a meter. The cost was 25 cents, and that was returned because the meter was defective, and they believed me, and checked.

Other than that I have never even been warned not to cross the wide white strip when entering a freeway.

I say all this because I want you to know I am a law-abiding citizen. I respect the law, and I find laws are needed and necessary because men are sinners and often need to have restraint, or guidance about behavior.

That’s why I find this sort of report from the Houston Chronicle sort of disconcerting. It is well known that the city of Houston has code banning fire works, and there is good safety reasons for them. However, Harris County has no such restrictions.

Now in Harris County a youth bought some roman candles and stuff to set off in his front yard in Katy, and was headed home with them when a officer from Houston’s Fire Marshal’s Office stopped and ticketed him for transporting fireworks through an annexed area. It seems that the city had annexed one block of a road. There were no signs, there had been no special announcing of the fact. It was simply on the books, and the lad drove along that block to get home. Bingo.

A judge chided the Fire Marshal’s Office and suggested it was bad PR to ticket people who legally bought fireworks and also it might be well when the city annexed a short piece of land to post signs announcing the fact.

My question is, did the marshal see the lad buy the fireworks, or have someone spot him doing so and then target him? Is that what the law really is all about?
Land of the free,
And home of the brave.

But in all our celebration, let us remember what freedom really means, and misuse of that freedom results in losing it.

I pray that the Lord will continue to bless our land, and to favor us with citizens of wisdom and good sense, to help keep it so.
GPD 7/3/08

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Shade Tree Wisdom 7/1/08

Well, the promise is another 95 or so degree day. But the morning, and the walking, is quite pleasant. The secret to that is Get Out Early when the birds are still singing and traffic hasn’t had a chance to get quite so busy. It’s quieter, and more conducive to thought.

Look at that date. The year is already half gone and things aren’t getting any better. And we wonder whether they ever will improve, or not. But I’d like to ask you to look at Psalm 118 for a little bit. It begins with this word of assurance, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, and His mercy endures forever’ 118,1. The Psalmist is sure. He depends on that mercy, it lasts he says, it is always there to be trusted. That “love never quits”, says The Message.

So he adds, “It is better to trust in the Lord, than to put confidence in man”. V.8. Good advice. There are many who are retired, or nearing retirement, who have seen their resources dwindle because of advice they took from a well-meaning person, who wish now they would have maybe invested more conservatively.

We, each, can think of advice we took that led us into some disaster or other.

Remember Joshua, when they were fighting to make the land their own? God’s directive was to wipe out those living there lest they lead the children of Israel into evil ways. Well, they were successful in battle after battle. One day here came a delegation seeking to make a sort of alliance. They were dressed shabbily, the bread in their packs was dry and moldy, and they said they had “come from a far country” and asked Joshua to make a pact with them. And Joshua did, without asking the Lord’s advice, as the Book writes, and, lo and behold, these Gibeonites were living right there. So they made them “hewers of wood and water carriers”. The mistake Joshua made was to “put confidence in man”.

So the new month begins, and this is what we will do. St. Paul wrote to Timothy with some specific instructions. He said, “The first of all, then, I urge that entreaties, and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men”. 1 Timothy 1,2. Good advice. Not, “Timothy, it might be well to," but “I Urge you”. He is saying, “I am pleading, I beg you, son”. If he were writing today – and the advice is meant for us – he’d say, “Before you start the day, the very first thing is prayer. Before you take the morning shower, or have breakfast or drive to work, this. Pray.”

Make prayer your top priority, always. If we truly believe that “the Lord is on my side’ Ps. 118,6, then let’s take this step and have the confidence that He will and He does guide our steps “in the way that we should go”. And in that way lies blessing, and so peace, because we have a guide whom we can trust.” Bless the way.
GPD 7/1/08