Thursday, August 28, 2008

Shade Tree Wisdom 8/28/08

Charles Mackay, a friend of Charles Dickens, wrote “Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of the Crowd”. This is the first popular account of such delusions as the Tulip Mania, Mississippi, and the South Sea Bubbles. He said such manias show a tendency now and then of society to succumb to mass madness.

“Men, it has been well said, think in herds, it will be seen they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, one by one.” I am quoting from Edward Chancellors “Devil Take The Hindmost”, a history of the manias that have enveloped the financial world. It shows how such things develop, and people with common sense seem to lose their whole perspective when they see profits.

A recent letter from the chairman of a bank that faced large loses because they also got into the speculative mortgage business admitted that “Our core business, that is, banking, is sound and always showed a profit, but our Board got caught up in the easy profits that seemed to rise from such purchases.”

That really is the nature of man, he acts in crowds and does things he never would do alone. In one of his stories Louis La’Mour has an innocent man in jail, but a drunk in the saloon starts to speak of hanging him, and soon the crowd goes into the street and gathers at the jail demanding the man be given to them to be hanged. A deputy meets them with a shotgun, meanwhile the sheriff is on the street on the back of the crowd. He speaks to one man after another, and they, finding they are recognized, drift away till the mob is gone.

St. Paul was well aware of this phenomenon. In his letter to his young co-worker Timothy, Paul writes, “Preach the Word, be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction, for the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine, instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear”. 2 Tim 4, 3.4. And it is always easy to follow the crowd, because if ‘everybody’s doing it’, it makes something seem right.

That is the reason I always will encourage you to seek the counsel of God, Whose Word is true, and trustworthy. “Thy Word have I hid in mine heart that I might not sin against you” Ps. 119. And v. 105, “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path”.

Maybe it is always "good to come by yourself alone" to seek His wisdom. May the Lord give you ready ears and an open heart to do His will, and God bless the way.

GPD 8/28/08

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Shade Tree Wisdom 8/26/08

So far during August he Lord has sent us nearly 7 inches of rain when the normal is just under 3 inches. So we are green and growing right now. And the lawn needs attention.

The big news right now is the Convention in Denver, all paid for by lobbyists. There is a law saying how much anyone can give to a party, but strangely enough, there is a loophole by which a convention can take all funds necessary to pull it off. One shrugs, and says ‘well, that’s politics’. And it is, but it is also accommodating. Where is the line, the standard, and here, in such a climate, we live.

Well then, my attention turns to something that is precise, exact, and must be that way to succeed. I am speaking of the new diapers Kimberly-Clark offers. It is more expensive, this new Huggies Supreme Natural Fit, but it doesn’t leak! And it took three years of work to achieve a diaper that fits as if the child did not have it on. And all the time the laboratory had to keep in touch with the manufacturing side to make sure they would have machines to cut and make this new diaper. It’s a hit, and the diaper revenues in the next quarter were up 10%. But they can’t simply sit back now and count profits, because there is a design team in Cincinnati working for P&G, on a relentless march to make an even better product.

So here we are living in this year of our Lord 2008. It’s a fast changing world. But here comes the news that the latest computer chips are so complex and different that software writers have yet to figure out their use. But someone will figure it out.

So our world is changing, and we, as God’s children, have the life to live in these changing times. How to do it?

Here’s the one solution, the only one, really, that starts to make sense. It is simply using the Bible as God’s direction for us here. “In Thy light we see light” Ps. 36,9. ”I have hidden Thy word in my heart that I might not sin against you” Psalm 119,11.

And this word brings solace and comfort, “I am a stranger in the earth, do not hide your commands from me.” Ps. 119,19. The psalm goes on and on, calling God’s Word his counselor and delight. He writes, “Your laws endure to this day”, and “your commands make me wiser than my enemies”. So goes this Psalm. Read it carefully, underline, memorize, meditate on, and do. There is our standard; there is the line we walk by, there is the wisdom God offers us. May God bless the walk and the life.

GPD 8/26/08

Friday, August 22, 2008

Shade Tree Wisdom 8/22/08

The air this morning is kind of fresh, not ‘heavy’ or humid to notice. The paper, however, is full of Olympic Games news. The US Girls softball team, that had won some 22 games in a row going back several Olympics, lost to Japan and had to settle for silver. A US relay team dropped a baton, and Laura Wilkerson, gold medal diver from other games, came in 9th in her specialty in the finals, her final appearance in these games.

And here is a news item reporting that the library of Grafton, Wisconsin had issued a citation to an overdue book patron who failed to respond to letters or phone calls. She was arrested, handcuffed, put in a police cruiser, and booked for violating the ‘overdue library materials’ ordinance. She paid a fine and charges and was released (Better check your library books).

Oh, yes, the Olympics committee is investigating the age of one Chinese gymnast rumored to be 14, not the required 16 years old.

Well, you say, so what? Who cares. That’s just it. There are folks who really don’t care because the are not involved in any way, so it doesn’t matter to them who won or lost, or what anyone else did. Their emotions aren’t involved. And living that way seems easier and more casual, because nothing touches them emotionally in any way.

But is it? Would you rather go to a dentist for instance, who is careless with his hygiene, doesn’t really care if he hurts with a drill before the medicine took affect, and brushed aside any concerns about the future care of your teeth. No, you go to the one whose office is spotless, records in order, hands washed and knows what he did last visit, and what to watch for. You want the one who cares.

Often young couples preparing for marriage would ask for 1 Corinthians 13 as a Scripture reading. I liked that because we would take the time to really look at verses 4-7. “4 Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn't want what it doesn't have. Love doesn't strut, doesn't have a swelled head, 5 Doesn't force itself on others, Isn't always "me first," Doesn't fly off the handle, Doesn't keep score of the sins of others, 6 Doesn't revel when others grovel, Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, 7 Puts up with anything, Trusts God always, Always looks for the best, Never looks back, But keeps going to the end. 1 Cor. 13, 4-7.”

Look at what is says there, “Keeps no record of wrongs” among other things. But that is one who cares, not about oneself, but about the other. One who really cares and loves will always show such concern. And that is a far better way for a Christian to live his life, guided by the Spirit of God. When we try that, follow God’s will and guidance, we become emotionally involved, and that is a better way to live.

GPD 8/22/08

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Shade Tree Wisdom 8/21/08

It’s been raining. No, not the floods that Fay brought to Florida, but still much needed and appreciated rain. And the paper delivery person knows enough to throw the paper on the grass when it rain. So he did that, and landed it right in a slight depression filled with water. However, I was there to rescue it before it got soaked. End of drama.

Joyce Kilmer wrote this:
“I think that I will never see, A poem lovely as a tree
A tree whose hungry mouth is pressed,
Against the sweet earth’s flowing breast,
A tree that looks at God all day, and lifts her leafy arms to pray.
A tree that may in summer wear,
A nest of robins in her hair.
Upon whose bosom snow has lain, who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,’
But only God can make a tree.”

We tend to get used to, and so take for granted, much that is really wonderful. One poet wrote about flowers “born to blush unseen”. One spring friends were diving through the Arizona desert when ample rain had fallen, and they marveled at the acres and acres of blazing desert color that ‘hardly anyone ever saw’.

So we can better understand the marvel of the Psalmist who cries out in Psalm 8, “What is man, that Thou art mindful of him?” We can better understand this when we really understand what sort of stuff sprouts from a sinful heart. Jesus lays it out in Mark chapter 7, 21-23 (I gave you that list in several translations yesterday).

Then, for our comfort, we turn to Psalm 46. That Psalm describes a time of calamity, yet begins with “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble,” and ends with “The Lord of hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our refuge.” V.l.11.

The Lord is always at work doing His will. Even when things seem to crumble and fall apart, He says, “Be sill, and know that I am God”. V.10.

And it is THIS God of whom the psalm (23,3) says He “leads us in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake”. The same God to whom the psalm says, “Thou art my rock and my fortress, therefore for Thy name’s sake lead me and guide me.”31,3.

We sing boldly, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so”. It is true, as true as God’s word is true. That is what Jesus did in His love, He died for me, and rose again that I may be assured of eternal life. That is the miracle I cannot ever take for granted.

GPD 8/21/08

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Shade Tree Wisdom 8/20/08

Mark 7:18-23 (KJV)
18 And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him;
19 Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats?
20 And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man.
21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,
22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:
23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Shade Tree Wisdom 8/19/08

We are heading to the heavy part of the hurricane season, and one is sort of poised to hit the Florida coast this morning. People have fled Key West ahead of the storm, which was not a hurricane then. But brought wind and rain damage. By Florida law, over 740 gas stations have to have a generator ready in case of power outage, so they can keep pumping gas. Many of course get out of the way of a storm, others elect to remain, and some don’t survive. I guess people just get used to warnings and have survived a storm or two, so they sort of tend to ignore it, treat it casually.

Which reminds me of life in general, and especially the Christian life. I am speaking about that person who says He believes that Jesus Christ died for his sins, wants to serve Him alone, and glorify His name by his life. That person.

He knows and can quote Isaiah 55,11, “My Word shall accomplish that which I please, and prosper in the thing whereto I send it.” He does not seem to remember the second verse of this same chapter, where the prophet warns against being fed “that which is no bread”.

What I’m really distressed about is the decline in church-going, in worship attendance in so many churches. Our Church is working on a program called “Ablaze” which encourages mission activity. Here is a story of a Pastor who is looking for firewood, and sees a yard filled with cut oak wood. Something made him go to that door and ask about the wood, and the man, in his 30’s, told him he was going to get rid of it. So the Pastor ended up hauling 7 loads of wood from that yard. In the course of doing that work, they got into conversation about the basics, religion. Found out the man was an atheist, so the pastor told the story about Jesus, why He came, what He did, what it meant. Ended up giving a Lutheran Hour Lenten booklet for his reading, and they promised to keep on touch. Who knows what the Holy Spirit will do here. But the seed has been sown.

Jesus said one time, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.” And that is what we need more of, people who will indeed encourage one another in the faith. And worship attendance is one of those gifts from God we often treat so casually. It is God’s precious gift to us, and we get used to it, and think it matters not. And in our life we tend to forget Jesus, when He spoke of the narrow way to eternity life, said, sadly, “And few there be that find it”.

Or the incident where He wept over the city of Jerusalem with the cry, “How often would I have gathered you , as a hen gathereth her chicks under her wings, and ye would not”, Matt. 23,37.
When the Olympics were held in Mexico City, Tansania sent a runner to the games to run in the marathon. John Steven Aquari was hurt near the start of that race, and limped the entire race, ending when all the rest had long gone home. A reporter asked why he didn’t simply drop out. John replied, and every Christian ought to take heed, “My country did not send me 7,000 miles to start, they sent me to end the race”.

My friend, Hebrews says we are to “Encourage one another, even more as we see the day come closer”. Heb.10,25. Let’s end this race together.

Ending of this word. Please give it prayer, and thought.

GPD 8/19/08

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Shade Tree Wisdom 8/16/08

Recently the city council of a suburb near Houston adopted a public profanity law. So an assistant fire marshal, in uniform, was shopping when he heard a woman, finding a shelf empty, expressed her displeasure with a string of profanity. He admonished her, and was met with another outburst. So he escorted her from the store to his vehicle, handcuffed her, found his citation book, and wrote her a citation for breaking that law, and released her. The outcome I know not.

But it does remind me of the unintended consequences of our actions. Such speech seems nearly normal, and leads me to ask, “What is sin?” Luther’s small catechism gives this answer: “Any act against the ten commands in thoughts, desires, word, or deeds.” The Bible does teach, “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” [Romans 3,23]

So how identify it in my life? Luther offers this: “Consider your place according to the Ten Commandments; Are you father, mother, son, daughter, husband, wife, or worker? Have you been disobedient, unfaithful, lazy? Have you been hot-tempered, rude, or quarrelsome? Have you hurt someone by your words or deeds? Have you stolen? Been negligent, wasted anything, or done any harm”? That’s a fine blueprint to help us zero in.

Spring housecleaning usually meant that the house really got turned up-side-down. Every corner was scrubbed, every curtain laundered, every window washed, every rug beaten. The result was the satisfaction the housewife had that the house was CLEAN (I guess nowadays Roomba does it).

But the words I quoted above do give us one way to identify sins. We live in an environment where speech tends to be more casual, and hence more crude. Maybe we have developed some habits that we are not even aware of. Something like that lady mentioned in the incident above. And when we look, really look, at habits we picked up along the way, it is time to assess their value.

St. Paul sums it up nicely for us when he writes to the Christians at Ephesus, “Wherefore, putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another’. [Eph. 4,25].

Housecleaning wasn’t done lightly. It meant work, effort, attention to detail, getting into dark corners, but it really made that house more livable and sound. If not now, then when? Tend to your daily life with some attention, using the Light of the Word to root out the bad, allow the good that the Spirit plants in your heart to flourish and produce good fruit.

GPD 8/16/08

Friday, August 15, 2008

Shade Tree Wisdom 8/15/08

Another August day, hot, humid, summerish, and we are grateful to have it for it is His gift to us, after all.

Quite a few have asked, "what did the doctor have to say". Let me give a sort of a summary. She had checked all the notes and charts and was pleased, really, with what she found. Kept telling me, “I’ve seen people of 50 who are in worse shape than you are”, and "for your years, you are in good shape." So, taking everything into account, we will do nothing except add one medication, isosorbide, to prevent angina pain, and to make the arteries more elastic. So, unless there is a severe change, the doctors do not anticipate any kind of by-pass operation.

She mentioned that for me, at this stage there is always the risk of a stroke during such an operation, and “we do not want to take a healthy person and have him end up a sort of helpless vegetable because of stroke”. Indeed not. There is always such risk, and it increases as the years go by.

This visit was to their new offices. They had just moved the week before, and it started on a sort of wrong foot. When I checked in the clerk handed me one of those electronic pagers and told me it would light and buzz when my turn came. “We’re really ‘state of the art’ now”, she said with a smile.

So my daughter and I sat down to wait, chatted and paged through some magazines the way one does. I did notice a nurse standing at the counter sort of looking my way, but the pager was quiet. Then she called my name. My pager malfunctioned. “State of the Art” indeed.

All the while the doctor was talking, I kept seeing the Word of God telling me that “all my days are written before they ever came into being’. Psalm 139. So I put myself into God’s hand with a sign of relief, knowing that His plan is the perfect one. And that is sufficient for me.

GPD 8/15/08

Monday, August 11, 2008

Shade tree wisdom 8/11/08

Yesterday was one of those days. We attended worship, then had a quiet lunch and went home. Turned on the tube, and NBC was offering part of the Olympic games, a volley ball match between two Chinese girls and two girls from Greece. The stadium was filled, it was raining quite hard and that was NBC. Crazy, isn’t it?

On the way home we pass an art piece called “The Dreamer”, on the corner of the Woodlands Parkway and Panther Creek Dr. It shows a lad lying on his back, eyes half closed, legs crossed, feet bare, hands behind his head, just dreaming.

Why not a ‘nothing’ sort of day, when we just relax, lie back, and just dream? Watch the clouds, guess their shape, drifting slowly cross the sky. The Preacher says there is “a time to keep silent.”

Do we always need to be busy? I think of one father, walking through the kitchen , sees his son sitting at the table with a glass of milk and says, “What are your plans for today?” Son replies, “to do absolutely nothing’. “Good” says the father, “I want you to clean out the garage”. Says the son, “You have a way of spoiling every plan, dad”.

Yes, life is real, life is earnest, but there ought to be time for this sort of thing too. For out of such quiet times often come the best thoughts. And in such moments we get back to understanding that God is yet here caring. Jesus urged his disciples,“28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.“ Matthew 11,28-30.

The same Caring Lord also said, ‘Come ye aside and rest awhile”.

Here’s a thought. Have a sort of ‘nothing’ day or an hour, see what happens. It may give your life an entirely different perspective. May God bless the work.

GPD 8/11/08

Friday, August 8, 2008

Shade Tree Wisdom 8/8/08

So, for the Chinese the number eight is somehow lucky. But, for anyone who is a child of God there is no need for such ‘luck’ for, “Lord, you have searched me and known me! 2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. 3 You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. 4 Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. Ps. 139, 1.1-4.

In Bible study someone asked where the picture of Satan with the horns, the pitchfork, and the tail and dressed all in fire red came from? It’s sort of like a Halloween costume, make believe. So the picture is popular because somehow it seems sort of harmless.

Let St. Paul describe Satan. Paul writes about false and sham preachers and then says they "transform themselves into apostles", and adds, “Satan himself poses as an angel of light”. [2 Cor. 11,14]. In other words, he comes in disguise so people don’t recognize the temptation as a temptation. And Paul also says, “we are not ignorant of his devices”. [2,11] “his sly ways”. And that’s exactly what Moses called him, “subtle”.

But I know, and I resist temptation all the time. Why, just last lunch I did not have a chocolate dessert even though I wanted it. Wonderful. But how about the Christian who sort of accepts homosexuality as a ‘life-style’ that is all right, not really understanding that this ‘life-style’ is a serious defiance of God? We often allow the world to teach us without speaking out, do we not? And that is all part of Satan’s sly trickery. Because the world is constantly teaching its ways.

Where do I find the way? David said in Psalm 119,125, “Give me understanding, that I may know your testimonies”. 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? Rom.13,16. 30 Break open your words, let the light shine out, let ordinary people see the meaning. Ps.119,130.

One of the popular water parks had a new slide whose water action was so turbulent that it was tearing off swim suits. Guess where the crowd was gathering when word got out? So they stationed attendants with blankets. Now listen to what Job said, "I made a solemn pact with myself never to undress a girl with my eyes. Job 31,1.

That has to be the strategy. St. Paul spoke of never going to bed angry and said, ‘Never give the devil a chance.” That’s the strategy, the only way to win the fight with temptation. Stay away, avoid, run from it. Because we do have this, that we are God’s children who will never “allow us to be tempted above that we are able, so that we may be able to bear it. Thank God we are in His care.

GPD 8/8/08

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Shade Tree Wisdom 8/7/08

Beautiful out this morning, sunny, warm, and promises to be another hot day. And I slept well last night. But I was wondering, do mothers still sing lullabies to their children, or is everything in turmoil, including the warm feelings engendered at bedtime?

I remember a mother sitting at my bedside, softly singing Brahms lullaby, ‘Guten abend”, that is “Lullaby and good night, with roses bedight”.

Or in our own household the air softly echoed with
“Sleep, my child, and peace attend thee,
All through the night.
Guardian angels God will send you,
All through the night.
Soft the drowsy hours are creeping,
Hill and dale in slumber seeping,
I my loved ones’ watch am keeping,
All through the night”.

Or other familiar verses. “Tired I am, I’ll go to rest, snuggled in my little nest.”

Are we still acquainted with that fine Evening prayer Dr. Luther composed.
“I thank you, my heavenly father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son,
That You have graciously kept me this day; and I pray that you would
Forgive me all my sins where I have done wrong, and graciously keep me
This night, for into your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and
All things. Let your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe will have no
Power over me. Amen. [It’s in Lutheran Service Book pg.327.]

In our times when so much of God’s design for marriage is cast aside, treated lightly, or ignored, and so many children are born ‘out of wedlock’ this subject came to mind. How are such children raised with loving care, attention to their needs, and mostly, attention to their spiritual welfare?

The warm feeling of being wanted, cared for, and having God Himself sending angels to guard us is a feeling that stays, sharpens life, and leaves us with feelings of well being, of being cherished, and having a place in this world.
Day is done,
Gone the sun,
From the lake, from the hills, from the sky,
All is well, safely rest,
God is nigh.

GPD 8/7/08

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Shade Tree Wisdom 8/6/08

“In everything give thanks“ Eph. 5,20. And what Edouard brought us was not calamity, but rain. Rain that fell slowly all day and ended up giving us over 2 inches of blessed moisture. So all in all, what was greatly feared was more of a blessing to south Texas.

And the news on TV had prepared for massive coverage, had reporters situated at various strategic points, and all they found to report on was maybe an inch of water and waves of one or two feet. Felt a bit foolish, and people made fun of this effort.

But at least they were honest in what they planned. They did not cheat. And cheating seems to be rampant in our nation today. Children cheating in tests, mothers feeding their children something while shopping and discarding the wrapper and not pay. One father dismissed the cheating with “just a form of competitive advantage”. But is it? Cheating is wrong, and denies the cheater out of learning something that will help that person to grow and become a better, stronger, person.

One responder reports attending a small college Oregon and her English teacher was in her first year of teaching. After a test, she announced that she had proof someone had cheated, and discarded that test. And passed out new ones.

An instructor at a state university reports any student caught cheating was failed automatically, and the professor had the option of attaching to the transcript the reason why the failure.

In such a world Paul writes to the Philippians so “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, rejoice”. This was a new congregation, yet one that “went out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in the squalid and polluted society, providing people with a glimpse of the living God, carrying the Message into the night”, 2,14.15. That’s what the world is in God’s eyes, in darkness. Only Jesus brings light.

He has brought the light into your heart by His Holy Spirit, so walk as well "as a breath of fresh air, giving people a glimpse of the living God, carrying the message into the night" because you are God’s Child by Holy Baptism. So truly “The light of the world”.

GPD 8/6/08

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Shade Tree Wisdom 8/5/08

It sort of sneaked up on the system, I mean the tropical storm Edouard. The paper yesterday called it a “surprise”, and it had people scrambling to prepare for it. And the State does prepare, extra gasoline on hand for cars and generators, stores stock extra supplies of water, canned food etc. Lumberyards do a large business with plywood and stuff to cover windows and large areas. And the systems are in place for warnings, predictions, what to look for or avoid. As far as man can, man is well prepared. That is prudent.

Right now, by the way, we are enjoying some benefit from that approaching storm, rain, slow and steady. It will get a bit stormier as it nears the coast, but we are far enough away from heavy damage, I pray.

It’s a nice thing to be ready, isn’t it? It’s vacation time and many take trips or visit the in-laws or take the family for a lake side picnic lunch and a day of relaxing. And the fun is spoiled when some important item is missing. You planned to grill some hot dogs and you forgot the charcoal. You left for another state and that night discovered you had forgotten the eye drops you use daily. Oh, we’ve all done something like that. And we make up our minds next time to make a list and check it first. Now, where are those sun glasses, I thought I put them right in here.

After the fact, such things just make for a funny story don’t they? We tell them again with a smile. Then we read Psalm 90. It speaks about the years, and how God sees things, and reminds us to “number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” V,12. or “that we may learn to be wise.” The Message, “Teach us to live well, Teach us to live wisely and well”. Be prepared.

How? Jesus said it clearly. “Whoever believes and is baptized shall be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” Mark 16,16. And when St. Paul wrote to the Ephesians he called this a gift, ”For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” Ephesians 2,8 And adds to this, “Not by works, so that no one can boast”.

Well the rain is still falling and the trees are enjoying the refreshment, dust washed off, drinking in the refreshing rain, being trees.

In it all, please do keep in mind that God is ever there to forgive, heal, and finally to take to Himself. For He said “I go to prepare a place for you, that where I am, there you may be also”. John 14.

GPD 8/5/08

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Shade Tree Wisdom 8/2/08

Humid. I can tell because the eyeglasses fog over when I leave the air conditioned place. August, and they promise more of the same.

The morning paper tells of another senator indicted for selling favors and misusing his office. One wonders whether our government is really there to serve us, or self. And it rouses what, a feeling of contempt, anger, sorrow, disgust. On the subject of anger it recalled to mind a ditty I picked up somewhere. It ran:
“I do not like thee, Dr. Fell.
The reason why I cannot tell.
But this I know, and know full well,
I do not like thee, Dr. Fell.”

It popped up in some class discussion and the professor was wise enough to stop and discuss that thought. He began with this from Psalm 37, 7.8. “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger, and turn from wrath, do not fret, it leads only to evil”. The Message has this, “bridle your anger, trash your wrath, cool your pipes, it only makes things worse.”

What does anger do but settle in the gut and cause all kinds of ill feeling and bitterness, and over nothing. The Book of Hebrews is teaching about discipline in chapter 12, then he writes, "15 Make sure no one gets left out of God's generosity. Keep a sharp eye out for weeds of bitter discontent. A thistle or two gone to seed can ruin a whole garden in no time." Heb. 12,15. The “root of bitterness” quickly bears terrible fruit.

Proverbs adds several thoughts. 19,19 says, "A hot tempered man must pay the penalty”, and v. 11 says, “A man’s wisdom gives him discretion”. Jesus said, “Whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment”. Matt 5,22.

And St. Paul urges the Ephesians (4,16) “In your anger do not sin. Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry. Don’t give the devil a foothold”. Maybe that’s the best way to end this. “Don’t give the devil a chance”, for he works hard when we fume and fret and gives all kinds of reasons why we are justified. And remember, we never are justified, for “love shall cover the multitude of sins”.

GPD 8/2/08

Friday, August 1, 2008

Shade Tree Wisdom 8/1/08

Just think, we’ve left the heat of July behind us one more time. And our relief lasts just till we realize the heat of August is often even more intense. Sizzling, some call it.
Well, the doctor’s office called and we have an appointment for August 11. ”By the way”, said the caller, “we are moving the office next week to a different location,” and gave me the new address. Handy still, but I think of the logistics. There are seven heart specialists with this office, and just moving everything makes my mind boggle. But when I get there, everything will be in place to serve.

I am often amazed at logistics of our day. The highway department is busy doing some work near our house, and this morning they are pouring, and I counted 6 trucks lined up to pour the mix. So somewhere gravel and cement and sand had to be gotten together, trucks ready, with drivers, and on this end the forms had to be secured, the workers ready to smooth and tend the mix, and the list goes on. We sort of take that for granted.

Or supplying the shelves of a super market, astounding, and they are working on a system that will allow you to push your cart to the checkout and the system will ring the costs and give you the total because each item has a little chip in it that tells the machine all it needs to know. Don’t have to empty the cart, just push it out to the car and load it up.

When the Church at Jerusalem was debating what the new Gentile Christians must do as new believers, the debate centered on whether to make them also follow all the rules and works of Moses. James said in his speech not to load them down with things “Neither we or our ancestors were able to do.” Because God had saved all by grace, and then he added, “known to God from eternity are all his works”. Acts 15,18.

In the hustle and bustle of every day life, this makes a sure word to cling to. God already knows. He said once, “I have engraven your name on the palms of My hand’ Is, 49,16. That’s quite a comfort, to know God knows us that well. So, in spite of our finiteness, our lives rest in the hand of God, and we can face each day with calm, because He already knows what we face and strengthens us to the journey.

GPD 8/1/08