Saturday, January 31, 2009

Shade Tree Wisdom 1/31/09

Olaf got the sort of reaction I really expected. He should not have done it, though you all admired his ingenuity. But several suggested the correct solution for that out-dated commode, find a place that disposes such stuff and take it there.

Now look again at Romans 12, 1.2. Here is the way The Message translates it:
1 So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life — your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life — and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.
2 Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.“

That is often the problem, we become so “well adjusted to our culture that we fit into it without thinking.” J B Phillips has this as “don’t let the world squeeze you into its mold”.

It means to quit aping the system of thought that surrounds you, or use its methods of operation, its style and techniques. How, why by the transforming that goes on in the heart when authentic godliness appears. A life that lives like that starts with a mind that is changed. St. Paul writes, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” Phil. 2,5.

Such truth is alien to our sinful nature and we resist it. And so it is easy subconsciously to use the worlds methods and think, “Why, they work ok”. So we often rationalize and justify our actions. As the principles of the Scriptures are applied and become clear, our mind finds in our pride other “lofty things” to offset these truths. See 2 Cor. 10,5.

Before our Baptism, we were serving secular thinking. We were victims of our ‘flesh’. Now we have been freed, and Paul again says it best, “taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Cor. 10,5). When that happens, the 'renewed mind' is at work. At that moment, we freely do what He wills. Then the world does not “squeeze us into its mold,” for Christ guides and directs us. May He ever bless thus.
GPD 1/31/09

Friday, January 30, 2009

Shade Tree Wisdom 1/30/09

It’s cold and sunny - again – this morning, and the day promises to be a nice one. We appreciate that, since we do not have to shovel snow or pick ice dams off our houses. The other morning my grandson, whose swimming practice starts at 6:30, spent half an hour just chopping ice of his windshield so he could drive to the practice session.

That’s just a report. What I wanted to share today is what I read the other day.
It seems old Olaf was doing some renovating in the house, and in doing so, he upgraded the bathroom, also changing the facilities. So he ended with an old out-moded commode. He put it out at the curb for the trash people, and they refused to pick it up since it would not decompose. So he stuck it into a corner of his garage. But every time he looked at it taking up room, it upset him.

Then he and his wife got a new TV set. And inspiration struck. He took the TV box, put it on his truck, carefully packed that old commode in the box and sealed it. Then he drove to the Mall, parked his truck and went in for a donut and a cup of coffee. That took some half a hour for he ran into some friends and visited with them. When he came out, the TV box was gone. And Olaf did not report the missing box to the police.

I’m just telling you what I read last Tuesday. I’m not making any judgments, since I believe Olaf was counting on human nature to solve his problem. Was he right in doing so?

GPD 1/30/09

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Shade Tree Wisdom 1/28/09

St. Paul ends his letter to the Romans with various greetings, and then he says,
19 “For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil.“ Romans 16,19. The word ‘simple’ means being innocent in doing evil, not doing it. So, when Christ dwells in the Christian, Christ teaches and directs that life in living, in making correct choices, in overcoming temptations to do the evil.

Life is filled with choices isn’t it? Not just what to wear for the day, but how to drive on our way to work or to shop for groceries or take the children to band practice. Also choices in the words we speak and the things we do. In short, how do we deal with the many temptations Satan throws at us daily? And it makes a difference. It really does. At the close of the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon, having explored every possible delight “under the Sun”, finally reaches this conclusion: “Fear God, and keep the commandments.” 12,13. So take God seriously, and then do what He says. Obey Him.

After this, one might think Solomon slammed his journal shut and said, “Well, that’s it. Now I’m going fishing.” But he knew his hearers would be asking, Why? Why should I revere God and respect and obey His truth. So he ends the book with one last statement, which explains his reason. “Because God will bring every deed into judgment, everything that is hidden, whether it is good or evil”. V.14.

Many would say, “I don’t believe that”. In the final analysis, what’s really more important, what you believe, or what God says. And remember, He’s never lied to mankind, ever. When He says that, even though I have no clue how He will do this, I know He will. In the final event, we will do business with Him who made us. Doesn’t it make sense that the One who gave us life would hold us accountable? And Solomon closes the Book of Ecclesiastes like that to remind us to live, not like a playboy who looks on God has a kindly grandfather who smiles at our actions, but as the Loving Father who sent us His Son, out of His great love for us, to save us from sin, death, and the devil.

There is the answer to how we can live so as to please Him. Jesus Christ, Who came, suffered, died, and rose again to save us from sin. He is “The Way, The Truth, and he life”. That is why this chapter begins, “Remember your Creator”. This same Lord teaches us, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved”. What a gift and blessing is this salvation for us.

GPD 1/28/09

Monday, January 26, 2009

Shade Tree Wisdom 1/26/09

The day is cold and dreary. It is called cloudy, but there was some drizzle on the windshield this morning, so it promises to be kind of wet, and they tell us it is surely needed. The prairies are dry, so the grass is easily ignited, and fire departments have been busy putting out grass fires. It’s a blessing that the wind has been kind of still, so fires don’t spread quite as quickly.

I noticed in the news columns letters are already beginning their carping. It kind of amuses me that the very same names that were always on President Bush for this or that, are now calling those things “mean-spirited and low down.”

The Golden Rule is, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. It’s often misused, misinterpreted, or casually set aside. But it makes a lot of sense. The Indian proverb said, “Don’t judge another till you have walked a mile in his moccasins.” Good advice, hard to do.

But look at the world we live in. It offers freedoms that have allowed growth of religious, spiritual, and moral diversity. World views have multiplied and consensus of moral and political agreement is rare if not non-existing. But history shows that there have been other times when conditions like this existed, and people lived, flourished, and died then too.

The Old Testament reading from Holy Scripture yesterday was from the Book of Jonah. (Takes only minutes to read it again). But Jonah is sent to a world that is totally different from his, and his first reaction was to run the other way as far and as fast as ship could carry him. But when he did go, he did not spend time carping and complaining about conditions. He had one word for them. “Yet forty days, and Nineveh will be overthrown”. Talk about sensation! Nineveh was used to being on top. They conquered. They ran rough-shod over other nations. They were success with a capital S.

The result? “The people of Nineveh believed God and repented.” Isn’t that amazing? One voice, boldly spoken, one message, and complete success!

I do believe there is a message for us. Our perspective is limited, and Jesus gives us reason to think twice before making judgments when He said, “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged”.Matt. 7,1. We have a Word that contains both Law and Gospel. The Law condemns, the Gospel offers grace. Our task, “Preach the Word.”

Maybe this offers you some food for thought in this world we are living in. May God give us wisdom, insight, and compassion with energy to do His will.

GPD 1/26/09

Friday, January 23, 2009

Shade Tree Wisdom 1/23/09

In the Paper this morning, this bit.
“Don’t tell people your troubles,
Half of them won’t care, the rest will be glad it happened to you”.

Well, there is a niggling problem I have, and I need to share it. The news is that the man put forth for the office of Secretary of the Treasury of the United States is a tax cheat.

Cheating on taxes is not unusual, of course, but to have it reported about the man we are to trust to guide this important office, to have a hand in setting policy, to lead us to sound financial ground, is troubling. To have us believe that this man is the most important for this important position, and that the country is best served by his expertise, and so a little cheating may be condoned, is really asking a great deal.

I am glad the My God can be trusted. His Word is our guide, our sure direction, and our sure defense against attacks of Satan, the world, and our on sinful flesh.
So when He says, “ He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved’. I trust that word.

My God sent His greatest treasure, His own Son, to suffer and die for me, so I know His Word is true. I believe it, believe it too.

GPD 1/23/09

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Shade Tree Wisdom 1/21/09

The historic and momentous day is now history. While in Washington the inauguration took place, behind the scenes, at the White house, one family moved out, and another moved in, in several hours, many trucks, and lots of people involved. One can only imaging the planning that took, and the expertise, and care, of these moves. And in the afternoon, the new president and vice president waved goodbye to former president and Laura Bush as they depart Washington for their new homes and private lives.

Many made reference to the orderly passing of power. And the reports are largely positive and hopeful. I need to put in this proviso, however, the people who are led and governed are also the same people who often are among the discontented, the disillusioned, the dissenters, the angry, the people who are often called “fool” by the Scriptures, who “say there in their heart. is no God.” Psalm 53,1. The Psalm goes on to describe such people in depth when he comments, “1." They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds; There is no one who does good.”. That is a fact that leaderships needs to deal with. One source for wisdom is the Bible. Abraham Lincoln one time was being visited by his best friend, Joshua Speed, who found Lincoln reading his Bible. Speed made some skeptical comment, and Lincoln placed his hand on Speed’s shoulder and said, “You are wrong, Speed. Take all of this Book upon reason that you can, and the balance on faith, and you will live and die a better, happier, man.”

President Obama made several Scriptural references as Lincoln often did. For us, citizens and God’s Children Baptism, there remains always this duty set by St. Paul,
1 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people,
2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.
3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior,
4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” 1 Tim. 2, 1-5.

For always, “The fervent, effectual prayer of a righteous man availeth much”. Then the Lord will bless this country. May He so Bless and keep us in Him.

GPD 1/21/09

Monday, January 19, 2009

Shade Tree Wisdom 1/19/09

Well, it’s warmer this week than last. But then, today Michigan struggles with 20 and snow, so who are we to complain?

But complain we do, constantly. The Scripture reading from the Old Testament for last Sunday was from 1 Samuel, 3, l – 10. It speaks of young Samuel in the temple. But the days were bad, the priest in charge, Eli, was going blind, and his sons were misusing their position and paid no attention to Eli’s admonishment.

And the line that stands out was this one, “and the Word of the Lord was rare in those days, there was no frequent vision”. Indeed, it reports that “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” That speaks of the line in Psalm 12,11, “The wicked freely strut about when that which is vile is honored among men”.


The Word of the Lord surely is not rare among us, is it? More Bibles are printed and sold each year than any other book. There is no contest. Bibles are freely available nearly everywhere. Millions of homes have at least one copy, and many have several. Motel and Hotel rooms, hospital bedside drawers, offer them. Churches dot the landscape, and there is no end of Bible colleges and such offerings.

And, the Book of Hebrews tells us that “The Word of God is living and active, and sharper than any two edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge both the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and are laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” Heb. 4,12.13.

Those words surely are plain enough, are they not? The Bible is so clear that we can know what it teaches. Our problems seems to be with our hearing. How else explain, for instance, “gay rights” people picketing the church of the pastor who was asked to give the invocation at the Inauguration tomorrow. Why? He said what the Bible says so plainly about such a style of life – it is a sin, and abhorrent to God.

In their Book, In Search of Excellence, the authors stressed need “for brilliance on the basics, and basic simplicity in a complex world.” And that is what the Bible is. Brilliant in cutting through the ‘garbage’ in our lives. The fog, the lame excuses. It punctures and penetrates, and shows us quite simply what God says.

Our Lord once asked, “Why do you call me Lord, and do not do what I say.” And God Himself said of Him, “This is My Beloved Son, listen to Him”.

Pray the Lord will give us a listening ear, and willing heart to do. May He bless us so.

GPD 1/19/09

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Shade Tree Wisdom 1/15/08

The date reminds me of an error I made last year when I forgot to take out the IRA deductions for the year. I wrote the IRS with an explanation, even sent along a note from the doctor who attended me when I had that stent put on, and received a note telling me they had received my explanation and ‘Don’t do anything till you hear from us.” Every 6 weeks or so I would receive another note telling me “don’t do anything till you hear from us, we have your case under review”.

Each note, of course, deepened my apprehension, because I could picture people, deep in thought, gathered around a large conference table deep in the recesses of the IRS Building, pondering how to deal with this nefarious person.

Well, I survived scrutiny and received final note. We have considered your request and your case is now closed. There will be no penalty.

It’s cold and sunny outside again today. I read where International Falls registered 50 below. I can’t even begin to imagine such cold. But when I was reading an article about snow in the mid-west the article mentioned two towns in Michigan that brought it home. They said they expected another 8 inches of snow, and I said, “Why, I bought a car from a dealer there, and we also picked strawberries one spring on a farm near there.” Sort of brings the story closer to being real, doesn’t it?

But all this meandering reminds me again of the words of Psalm 139, 1-10
1 O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me.
2 Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.
3 Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.
4 For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether.
5 Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.
7 Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.
9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;
10 Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.

With that thought I leave you in this cold, that will again end when God directs.

GPD 1/15/08

Monday, January 12, 2009

Shade Tree Wisdom 1/12/09

The judge was kind of abrupt, but very sure He threw the case out. He said “You already have a day. So your suit is groundless.” The lawyer asked why he did that. So the Judge laid it out. You come as an atheist and want a day set aside for your group. Well, you already have such a day.

So the lawyer asked for further explanation. The judge replied, “You say there is no god and want a day set aside for you. The Bible says, “The fool has said in heart, there is no God,’ April Fools day is all yours. Case dismissed.”

A recent book by Phillip Howard, Life Without Lawyers, liberating Americans from Too Much law, points to the fact that we are a litigious society. For instance, a volunteer for a Catholic charity in Milwaukee ran a red light and injured another person. The volunteer did not have ‘deep pockets’, so the injured person sued the archdiocese – successfully, for 17 million dollars.”

Where will this lead to? Schools in Broward County, Fla, banned running at recess. Because someone might get run into and hurt, and the school sued. So, because of fears of liabilities, school playgrounds all over America have removed play equipment, and we have millions of fat children sitting in front of TV and computer screens, not running and playing like children have for generations.

Is there such a thing as living pain and accident free? Then how do we explain Job’s problems? A man God himself called holy suffers loss and indignities and his friends chime in with “what did you do, Job, that this happened,” There has to be a reason! Eliphaz says, “Stop and think! Do the innocent die? When have the upright been destroyed? My experience shows that those who plant trouble and cultivate evil will harvest the same” Job. 4,7.8.

Psalm 73 struggles with this problem as well.

Then Jesus speaks of those 18 on whom the tower of Siloam fell, were they worse sinners? His reply, “I tell you no! Unless you repent, you too will perish” Luke 13,1ff.

Finally, we must indeed acknowledge that God does not think as we do, because He is God, infinite, all wise, and loving and caring. “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways, says the Lord, for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my thoughts than your thoughts” Isaiah 55, 8.9.’

Sufficient for us to know that Jesus loves me, enough to suffer and die for me. Thank God for such a Savior, my Savior.

GPD 1/12/09

Friday, January 9, 2009

Shade Tree Wisdom 1/9/09

Five men pictured, three who had held the office and were now retired, one in office, and one elected to the office. Smiling, gracious, friendly. And I trust the sitting president spoke for them all when he said, “It is our best wish always to work for the best of this great country.” I pray that holds always true for the person holding the office of President of the United States of America.

To that end the words of psalm 19 apply. I quote them here: Psalm 19, 7-11,

7 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.
8 The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.
9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
11 Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.
12 Who can understand his errors? Cleanse thou me from secret faults.
13 Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.
14 Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.“

With such guidance, who can go wrong? Let us continue to pray for this land, and for every country, that we might live in peace and harmony all the days of our lives.

GPD 1/9/09

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Shade Tree Wisdom 1/7/09

Here they came again, the two ladies with their LED flashlights, swinging along on this chilly morning, still cheerful, still filled with vim, still “doing their New Year thing”. I wish them well in their endeavor.

But it goes to show we really are sort of creatures of habit and do things that are recommended highly or offered as a way to healthy living. OK. Habits really are what make us able to get through the day, aren’t they? The morning routine, for instance. The alarm rings, and the rest of the morning is always the same. It’s easier when we don’t have to think of every step we take. And we also take on stuff from the world around us.

I was reminded of this just this morning when a radio preacher was speaking about the time in the movie “Gone With the Wind”, Rhett Butler shocked the country by using the word “damn” in conversation. Well, the storm of indignation that swept across the nation would astonish our day when an hour of prime time TV offers murders, adulteries, perversions of many kinds.

The difference is that then most people were in agreement about what was right and not right. Today, our children have never been taught that there IS even a right and wrong. And the result if the sort of world we see around us.

St. Paul speaks of people who “did not think it worthwhile to retain knowledge of God, God gave them over to depraved minds.” Romans 1,28. Then he follows with the list of their “all kinds of wickedness, evil, greed, depravity, filled with envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice, gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant, boastful. . .”29.30.

For such our dear Lord Jesus suffered and died, that He might win us to Himself, pay for our sins, and give us the hope of eternal life. In Galatians Paul speaks about the Spirit who inhabits us, and of bearing His rich fruit. Gal. 5,22. Then he says, “Those who belong to Christ have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.” V.24.

We do well to have a habit of saying, “I have been baptized, Christ died for me, and Satan can no longer overpower me, I thank Him."

GPD 1/7/09

Monday, January 5, 2009

Shade Tree Wisdom 1/4/09

If you can imagine a January 4th and people comfortable wearing short sleeves? Well, today in the Woodlands was just such a day. It started a bit foggy, but the sun came ot nicely and it neared 80. BUT, they promised a cold front for tomorrow that will bring it nearer 40 degrees. Such drops in temperature seem to bring ‘cold’ weather too. And here is a little cure I heard to pass along. If you have a plugged ear because of a cold, just hop on the opposite leg and the clogged ear clears like magic. Just passing this bit along, like so much flotsam and jetsam that floats on the internet.

Christmas sales are a disappointment, and yet I read that Amazon, the internet retailer, said it shipped 6.3 millions pieces on December 15, compared to 15.4 million on its peak day last year. The figure is astonishing. I think of the logistics involved in moving that many packages from one place to another. We have gotten so used to this that we complain if something doesn’t work to suit us.

I lived when the local storekeeper loaded the stove ordered by a loving and caring husband for his wife into his own sled, hitched up old Dobbin, and delivered same himself in the snowy weather. Personal service, and it cost him comfort and time to spend with his own family. And he knew where his customer lived. The drivers who deliver today depend on their GPS, which directs them by voice, ‘turn left here and go 300 feet to“. So the trucks can roam far and wide and drivers do not need to know their routes and who lives where and what they do for a living .

So we celebrate Epiphany tomorrow. It is the day we remember the wise from the East finding the baby in the manger and bringing their gifts to worship the KING.

I am happy that the birth was like this, personal, one on one, Jesus came for ME. Believing that, living that faith, makes life personal and real. May God bless your daily living.
GPD 1/5/09

Friday, January 2, 2009

Shade Tree Wisdom 1/2/09

Almost forgot, 09 it is already by God’s grace.

But here they came, dressed in the newest jogging clothes, walking briskly. Each armed with an LED flashlight, lighting the way, wishing me a Happy New Year.

It happens every year. They’re the first among the crowd keeping their New Year’s Resolutions, of course. Unfortunately, most of them will gradually disappear after a day or two days, a week at most, and forget that Resolution. But it does give one a chance to see the latest in fashion.

How about you? Still making firm resolutions for the new year, then sort of failing to keep them? Just don’t blame yourself, because it is a human failing, to make, then break, stuff like that.

You know what the answer is there, I know you do. You start small, with little things. Don’t try to change a life-style in one fell swoop (Got that in, didn’t I? fell swoop, I mean). No, changes begin little by little. That is, after all, how habits come. Like strands in a rope. One can easily break one or two, but keep adding other strands, and the rope becomes too strong to break.

St. Paul struggles with this, and he writes about it often. Read his works in Romans chapter 7, for example, or other letters where he keeps on encouraging his new members to grow in grace and in knowledge. And growth, strong growth, always takes time.

But I will keep doing what St. Peter said, “always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. I think it right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body.” 2 Peter 1,12.13.
And it is what most us of need, an encourager. That is what Barnabas did best, encourage.

May God bless your efforts to grow.
GPD 1/2/09

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Shade tree wisdom 1/1/09

And don’t forget to write 2009. And who would have thought I’d be here writing that very figure for the year. 2009, imagine.

But I am here because HE is faithful. Remember what the promise is in Psalm 139? v. 1 - 4?“1 A David psalm. God, investigate my life; get all the facts firsthand. 2 I'm an open book to you; even from a distance, you know what I'm thinking. 3 You know when I leave and when I get back; I'm never out of your sight. 4 You know everything I'm going to say before I start the first sentence. “

Since He is ever faithful, I look forward to what God may lay at hand for me to do, live, work, endure, or whatever, with sureness that He is ever there. The Psalmist also said, “I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what Your hands have done”. Ps. 143, 5.

On the other hand, the years total up, so I am ever ready to speak with the two men on their way home to Emmaus, “Spend the night, the day is far spent, and night is near..”

In whatever way, may the Lord bless your lives in 2009, not only with His presence, but also with His word which you read daily, in hearing your prayers, and in rich and daily blessing.
GPD 1/1/09