Friday, July 31, 2009

Shade Tree Wisdom 7/31/09

Rejoice with me over the nice refreshing rain today. It looks as if it might go on for some time, and we so need it. But the weatherman says, “Then comes a sauna.” He’s so supporting.

I told you about my visiting Wal-Mart yesterday. The vitamins I got were made in Utah and in New York. By some logistical magic they came to the shelf where I picked them up. But think of the logistics involved in such an enterprise. The store was filled with items for sale from dresses to watermelons! All, every bit of it, came by truck. And when I bought the items I bought, the machine automatically subtracted from inventory and told them “You have 23 left, better order”, and maybe that’s automatic as well. It’s really amazing, isn’t it?

But the visit also brought nostalgia. I thought of the sights and smells, especially the smells, of an old fashioned hardware store. The tools with their smell of machine oil, the leather gloves, I think I have some in the drawer stored. But the odor lingers. Nails in kegs, nuts and bolt to buy individually. Now everything comes boxed and wrapped in plastic which one needs a special tool to open. But safe from shoplifters. And I can still hear my Father give his order and add, “And better give me several pounds of 8 penny nails. We’re building a corn crib.”

When you needed shirt, you went to the men’s clothing store. There they were, on shelves and cases, and the ties to go with it, and then the display case full of cuff links. When was the last time you even saw a man wear a French cuffed shirt? (Do you even know what it is?) They were class. I believe I still have several pairs of links, one with my initials in cursive script. Ah, memories.

But even then times were changing, because that is the nature of things, to change and grow. But one thing we an always count on. “I am the LORD. I change not”. One thing that gets in the way is the fact that we are born sinners. Solomon, at the dedication of the temple, heard the Lord tell him about the people who often wandered from the Way. “If my people. . .will humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked way, then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land”. 2 Chronicles 7,14. But St. Paul, years and years later, warned, “a time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine,.. because they have itching ears, heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn from the truth, and be turned aside unto fables.” 2 Timothy 4,3.4. And Jesus lamented, “The hearts of this people have grown cold. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed. Matthew 13,15.

That’s the change we can never allow for our living. Let it always be God’s Truth that guides, directs, blesses, and brings salvation in Christ. Amen, let it be so.

GPD 7/31/09

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Shade Tree Wisdom 7/29/09

Humid again, and where do you imagine I spent part of this, our wedding anniversary day? I was running short of vitamins, so I made Wal-Mart, which offers quite a large selection, (And of course ‘always the lowest price, always’) my first stop this morning – I get there maybe once a year. So the very size of the place intimidated me. I asked a lady in a blue smock where the vitamins were and she pointed to them but said, “I don’t work here”. Hers was a St. Luke’s medical staff smock! But she smiled at my error.

Then I remembered to look for a cleaning marvel we had been told about and the store carried. So I asked another blue smock where the cleaning supplies were, and she raised a pointing finger leading me deeper into the bowels of this monster. I found it and needed a belt and asked, was met by anther helpful finger pointing a different direction yet, even deeper into this store I went. Thankfully that was all I needed, or wanted. I toyed with the idea of picking up some groceries also, but that would have meant another finger and a further trip. As it was, I feared I would spend our anniversary day at Wal-Mart. But I managed to pick up some cleaning, get some groceries, and get back home before lunch.

It was a lovely summer day in Wisconsin with sun shining, a breeze ruffling the leaves and the grain fields, and the world was fine. Just right for a marriage. So, to the strains of the Hymn melody:

Lord, take my hand and lead me,
upon life’s way.
Direct, protect, and feed me,
From day to day.
Without your grace and favor,
I go astray,
So take my hand O Savior,
And lead the way. LSB 722,1

So we began life together, with a church filled with well wishers and relatives, all praying and offering their good wishes. World War II had just ended. We had I believe 300 relatives and friends for a sit down dinner; beef, mashed potato, green beans and stuff. I say this because rationing was still in effect. You OLD old timers may remember food stuff and gas being rationed and one needed coupons for each piece of meat, pound of butter, and gallon of gas. So how did we get beef for these people? Well, farmers could use what they raised, and Ruth’s brother had raised a beef for this.

The years seem to fly by even yet, but the prayer expressed in that hymn is true. The Lord did guide protect, direct, and bless the years. They have been richly blessed with the work He laid before us to do. He has given the strength and the needed skills to do that work, and has enriched the result always with His presence and blessing. We can but thank God for this daily care and keeping.

"Now, when the shadows lengthen, and night has come, I know that you will strengthen my steps toward home. Then nothing can impeded me, O blessed Friend. So take my hand and lead me, until the end.”

GPD 7/29/09

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Shade Tree Wisdom 7/28/09

It was really nice this morning, the breeze was actually refreshingly cool. Pleasant, and I and this dog had the time to ourselves. It was quiet, because it wasn’t talking either. Had nothing to add, I suppose. And I was safe because the dog took care of checking both sides of the street. How much better does it get?

So I was thinking about events and happenings today. We are learning so much that we never knew before, including the fact that a common shrew is the fiercest creature on earth. What’s that? It looks a little like a mouse, weighs in at a little over an ounce, and has to eat its weight several times a day or die of hunger. It is valuable because it dispatches hordes of insects of every kind daily.

What you just read is truth, and most people will simply read it and say, “Boy, I never knew that”, and go on.

Why do we find people doubting the Holy Scriptures more and more? Creation, well, there are lots of theories, and scientists haven’t really found the beginning yet. But they are learning more all the time. But the story of Creation written for them in Holy Scripture seems beyond understanding. Much too simplistic, too simple.

Then along comes archeology and shows that what is written there actually happened.

For an example; Jerusalem was not captured by Israel till the time of King David, and then the Jobusites, who lived in the city, boasted to King David, “You will not get in here, even the blind and the lame can ward you off” 2 Samuel 5,6. David’s solution, ‘Whoever does this will have to use the water shaft”. Joab led that assault, used the water shaft, climbed into the city and was in it before the Jebusites knew what had happened. And archeology discovered just such a water shaft into the city! How did David know about it? Well, as a lad he roamed this area and probably people talked freely about this secret access to water in case of attack. Whatever, it turned out to be true.

The Psalmist said “Thy Word is Truth”. Jesus prayed in His High Priestly prayer, “Sanctify them by the truth, Thy Word is Truth” John 17,17.

For us, Psalm 119 contains much to read, learn, meditate on, and lean on in trust and faith. “How can a young man keep his way pure”, by living according to your word. I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. I delight in your decrees, and will not neglect your word. I am a stranger on the earth, hide not your commands from me (Oh, how I need a map), This has been my practice, I obey your precepts.” Many other verses like that are common and loved by every Christian.

GPD 7/28/09

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Shade Tree Wisdom 7/25/09

“Come ye aside and rest awhile”, said Jesus to the hard-working disciples.

It’s a good idea, often little used, because we have just so many things to get done, or so many requests for our presence, or so many needs to be met, we simply have no time to rest, or, as studies show, to sleep either. For we show up as a sleep-deprived generation.

That’s really sad. Have you ever really watched a child carry out an errand? You ask them to take this over there, and in doing so they stop to watch a beetle crawl across the walk, or pat a dog nearby, or try to catch a butterfly, or smell a flower, or give a hand to a person doing some yard work. They are not in any hurry, are they?

In the 18th century Dr. Samuel Johnson, who compiled the first comprehensive English dictionary, prepared a collection of writings in which he quoted excerpts from a weekly column he had written called “The Idler”. He wrote, “every man is, or hopes to be, an idler”.

Think of it. The thought is not bad, it is noble. Idleness, the opposite of too much busyness, was a defined goal, one that one could reach, or at least strive for. For when we think of it, isn’t too much busyness what often causes the trouble?

And it’s often because we don’t see what lies just at hand that we miss the choicest blessings and the richest enjoyment. When Jesus healed the man in the graveyard, the healed man wanted to travel along. Jesus said, “No, you stay here and tell what happened to you”. Not, now travel through the whole land, or the entire region, just stay and tell.

Or the Samaritan woman who went to her village and invited all to come and hear the person “Who knew all about me”.

One of the attractions of those small towns listed as 100 Best to live in is, ‘When we take our dog for a walk, we often don’t come back for a long time, because everyone wants to stop and visit, and we like that.”

So “Come ye aside and rest a while” is advice, please do follow.

GPD 7/25/09

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Shade Tree Wisdom 7/23/09

Much thunder and lightning, hours of that, and not a drop of rain. Strange indeed are the ways of the Lord. But we are enjoying a little more pleasant day after that just the same. Maybe it cleared the air a bit.

O Lord,
Support us all the day long of this troublous life,
Until the shadows lengthen,
And the evening comes,
And the busy world is hushed, the fever of life is over,
And our work is done.
Then, in Thy mercy, grant us safe lodging,
And holy rest,
And peace at the last,
Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, we pray.
GPD 7/23/09

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Shade Tree Wisdom 7/21/09

That cool breeze felt refreshing this morning. Both for the body, and for the spirit, because it really feels as if the long-promised rain is not too far off now. We pray it comes soon to wash the leave and settle the dust.

Prominent in the news these days is the landing on the moon. 40 year anniversary is celebrated and discussed and applauded again. And these astronauts have their pictures taken and reminisces recalled. Think, men had to figure this thing exactly, enough power to get them there and the power to return to earth safely. When Armstrong and Aldrin stepped on the surface of the moon and glimpsed the earth, did they have some doubt about ever returning?

One thing they could count on is that God’s system was dependable. The forces they dealt with remained the same, never changed, never lessened or increased, just always the same, because God had made them so.

That is what I feel mostly here, the dependability of God’s creation.

That thought must be front and center in religion too. God’s Word is true. It can be trusted, It never changes, never fails. And what it teaches is that GOD finished the work for us, so salvation is free. “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved” said the apostle. That alone can really satisfy the sinner.

The thought is so well expressed in a novel by Bo Giertz, A Swedish theologian. When a young pastor struggles with his feeling, an older mentor makes it clear that not our feelings, but God’s promises, are what he needs to rely on. For all they can do is stir up feelings and bring despair, because a sinful person simply cannot ever satisfy the law of God. The law is there to show us our sin, and that’s all it can do. But the message of the Gospel is ‘Christ died for sinners, of whom I am chief.”

That message, the Gospel news of Jesus Christ, is what we need to believe, and need to “Go and tell to all nations" as Jesus commanded. There lies our comfort, and our peace. God grant it for you.

GPD 7/21/09

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Shade Tree Wisdom 7/16/09

Psalms 90:1-2 (MSG)
1 “A prayer of Moses, God, it seems you've been our home forever;
2 long before the mountains were born, Long before you brought earth itself to birth, from "once upon a time" to "kingdom come"—you are God.”

The Proverbs adds this thought, “Better a dry crust, with peace and quiet, than a house full of feasting with strife.”

Both have in mind the longing of the human heart for being in a place where one is wanted, needed, and feels secure.

St. Paul, who knew a bit about travel, said “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances”. (Phil 4,11). And Hebrews writes “Be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘never will I leave you, never will I forsake you’.” Heb. 13,5

Americans are great list-makers. Here comes MONEY magazine with a list of America’s 100 best small towns. I checked that with interest and asked: ”what is it they are looking for?” Well, schools, for number one, then safety, convenience, what does it offer for things to do, how are the churches, and the people. And most are within easy reach of large cities which offer an occasional ball game or theater production, concert, etc.

What struck me is that we have lived next door to several in Michigan, and one in Wisconsin is near neighbor to where I grew up. I know them to be pleasant places, but I liked where I was better. And I think that is true for all of us. We get used to a place, it is familiar, we know where to turn for any service, we know where the shops are and where to go to buy our milk and bread. So the list may be all right because it sells magazines but it will not make any of us uproot our lives to move there, will it?

So, St. Paul’s writing to Philippians holds true, ”I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to heave plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who give me strength: Phil. 4,12-13. Let’s end with another word from St. Paul, “but godliness with contentment is great gain.” 1 Tim 6,6.

GPD 7/16/09

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Shade Tree Wisdom 7/15/09

Believe me when I tell you it remains hot. Even in the early hour when I walk a bit, there is little air movement except what I generate in progressing from this point to that one. So the walk is short, and you can believe that also.

“Lord God, be with us yet,
Lest we forget, lest we forget”.

Any brief reading of the historical books of the Bible shows us they did forget quite quickly. Judges, for instance, tells us again they lost their way and the lord punished them, by sending enemies to take their crops and enslave them, and then “They cried unto the Lord, and He heard them”. And sent relief, a judge who led them to overcome the enemy. One, for example, was Gideon.

What reminded me of that is what is going on in or country today. We forget the harsh times, the work involved in achieving, the effort we needed to reach some goals. So the article in the Sunday Chronicle tells of pranks sweeping the nation. A site, PrankNET, in its bio said, “this was a prankster chat room doing the most epic pranks you have ever heard of in your life.”

The article reports mostly motel and hotel guests who are called to do the most outrageous things, such as breaking the mirror, smashing a window, throwing a mattress out of the window, setting off alarms or fire extinguisher systems, etc. The cost runs into real money, and no takes the blame. Hotels and owners pay the damage, and this is regarded as FUN.

“Lord God of hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget, lest we forget”.

And the commandment tells us “That we do not scheme to get (or destroy) our neighbor’s possession, but help and be of service to him in keeping it.”

May the Lord direct and teach us.
GPD 7/15/09

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Shade Tree Wisdom 7/9/09

Ah, blessed rain. Gentle rain, one that washed clean the dust off the leaves, soaked the parched earth, gave fresh life to vegetation. Brought new life to drooping plants, and brightened hope afresh.

It reminds that the God who created it all still works things according to His greater will and knowledge, giving us renewed faith in Him. Indeed, “Great is Thy faithfulness”.

And again, it seems, just in time when we consider the seeming bleak condition of life. The paper reports a cyber attack in South Korea that shut down services and interfered with other services. Our own computer now and then speaks of an attack on our system and warns against it.

The local paper offers a class on cyber bullying and speaks of sending pictures of a sexual nature to friends “just for fun”. But once you press that ‘send’ button it’s out there for all, and it might lead to your being labeled a pervert. That would go on your record for the next 25 years, and do you want that to pop up when a future employer checks your background?

Scary, isn’t it?

But when has life been without risk? The Bible is filled with such words as this: ”We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 24,22). Our lord Jesus Himself taught us, “In the world ye shall have tribulation, but be not dismayed, I have overcome the world”. (John 16,33).

St. Paul, in his letter to the Church at Ephesus, tells them that God “has chosen us before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blemish before him”, and all this “According to the good pleasure of His will”. (Eph 1,4,5,)

To this end St. Paul offers the armor that God gives us. An armor we need because “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities. Against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (6,12)

Against all this Paul offers the “Whole armor of God” v.11 which includes weapons of offence, “taking the shield of faith, with which we may quench the fiery darts of the devil, and the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God” vv. 16.17 St. John writes of this faith, ”and this is the victory that overcomes the world. Even our faith”. (1 John 5,4)

So, Christian, you stand prepared for the vicissitudes and trials facing you.
GPD 7/9/09

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Shade Tree Wisdom 7/7/09

There’s just something about Home. It’s nice to travel, to visit relatives, to visit sights and see the Grand Canyon and maybe London, Paris or Rome and Venice, but Home, we just feel some ties there that nothing else can replace.

Here, in this place, we feel comfortable. Here is our favorite chair, and our Bible lies right at hand. Books are scattered about, and there is a clutter we find soothing. This place calms the spirit; we fit in. This is Home.

Oh, it may not look like much to others. It’s not pretentious, not the greatest or best looking, but to us, it simply is Home. It’s our place.

These thoughts came to mind over the Fourth when families often spend time together, enjoying the visiting, travelling miles to get there, fitting schedules to meet this need for it. Simply because of the pull that home exerts.

Then, who hasn’t learned, or read, the poem. Well, here it is again.

Breathes There The Man
(Excerpt from “The Lay of the Last Minstrel”)

by Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832)

Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land?
Whose heart hath ne’er within him burn’d,
As home his footsteps he hath turn’d,
From wandering on a foreign strand?

If such there breathe, go, mark him well;
For him no Minstrel raptures swell.
High though his titles, proud his name,
Boundless his wealth as wish can claim;

Despite those titles, power, and pelf,
The wretch, concentred all in self,
Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
And, doubly dying, shall go down
To the vile dust, from whence he sprung,
Unwept, unhonor’d, and unsung.

We Christians, on the other hand, belong, for we are the Children of God. So our home is here where He is ever with us, and then, eternally, with Him in heaven. God bless our home.

GPD 7/7/09

Friday, July 3, 2009

Shade Tree Wisdom 7/3/09

“Day after day uttered speech,

Night after night showeth forth knowledge” Psalm 19

And so it does. Again this morning, the sun shines brightly, a slight breeze ruffles the grass and leaves tremble now and then, moved by this same breeze. What more can one ask for living.

But there seems to be trouble in the wind. Strange things are going on that seem to be unrelated to anything. Troubling things that never happened before, and the world we live in seems to be filled with unease, even fear. And one of the problems, I believe, is the internet. Existence of this modern marvel makes the sending of news fast, so that we hear of things on the other side of the world almost before they happen, and each disaster adds to our own feeling of both dismay and helplessness: What’s going on? This had never happened before. O yes, it has. God’s people have not been promised an easy life. Indeed, Jesus said, “In the world ye shall have tribulation”.

Now look at the Bible, and the history of God’s Chosen. In Habakkuk the prophet is troubled by events and asks God for an explanation. The Lord’s answer is to tell the prophet He plans to send the Babylonians, “that ruthless and impetuous people”, to not only trouble a little, but conquer the land! But Habakkuk trusts God, and his final answer is this:
:17 Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. 19 God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer's; he makes me tread on my high places.” . 3, 17-19

The Lord, our gracious God, has given us this same trust and tool. James said it like this, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much:. 5,16. Alfred, Lord Tennyson, wrote, “More things are wrougth by prayer than this world dreams of. Therefore, let thy voice rise like a fountain for me night and day. Knowing God, Men lift up hands to prayer, both for themselves, and for those who call them friend.”

So Jesus teaches us the prayer we call The Lord’s Prayer, and said, “Ask, and it shall be given you, seek, and ye shall find, knock, and it shall be opened unto you”. Matt.7,7. And Paul’s word is “Pray without ceasing”.

Let’s make use of this prayer tool the Lord has so graciously made available for our daily use.

GPD 7/3/09