Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Shade Tree Wisdom 11/25/09

Often it escapes us when we are in misery that God is yet alive and well, and is My Rock and My Salvation. Indeed, He has armed us for the strife we face daily.

We all know the story of Jonah. How this man was given a command, and he decided to run 100 miles in the other direction. We can understand when we read the Book of Nahum, for instance. Understand that, and you know why Jonah did not want to go there.

The stage of history is large, and on it appear from time to time larger than life figures, brandishing swords, snorting violence, swaggering, boastful, fearsome. Nineveh was the capital of one such power, Assyria. Awesome , a world power, terrorizing the world. And Jonah was sent to tell them unless they repented, they would perish! So he went, finally, and Nineveh did repent. Much to Jonah’s dismay. He rather wanted to see them being destroyed.

But the story in the Bible brings our mind and our thoughts back to what is really going on. For quietly God is at work. So God sends Jonah along to remind us to see what is really going on here, that God works what He pleases, and when He wills.

So I said, You are armed. In the world you will have tribulation, but be not dismayed, I have overcome the world”. Jesus tells. And St. Paul reminds us that that we have the “full armor of God” including “The sword or the Spirit, which is the word of God”.

So we stand armed and ready. Let us just never forget that Sword of the Spirit, read it, learn it, learn to trust what it says, and God will bless.

GPD 11/25/09

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Shade Tree Wisdom 11/17/09

The morning is cold, nice for walking to get the blood flowing and into the day, which is my Natal Day. (Well, I’ve been telling you that, haven’t I?)

So, what has my earthly pilgrimage taught me for this day? Well, I was whistling this morning and the youngster waiting for the bus said, “You sound happy”. I said, “Today is my birthday.” He said, “Congratulations, where were you born?” I hedged a bit and said, “In a log cabin in Wisconsin”. “Wow”, said he ” [it was not a log cabin, but a fasch house, but I said ‘log’ because he wouldn’t know what the other was.]

One thing I learned is that I can really trust the Lord. “The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27,1. By God’s grace He has allowed me to walk that way, in trust and in faith.

Life is full of unexpected twists and turns, events I did not anticipate, yet lived through. I think often of Jesus’ birth. I am sure Mary and Joseph would have been better served by family if they had been home when the birth happened. But the Hand of government decreed that they travel to Bethlehem, where they knew nobody, and there their first child was born. In a stable. And finally it worked for our salvation . It happened, not as Joseph and Mary had planned at home, but in Bethlehem, as the prophets had said it would. Because that was God’s plan. “That the Scripture might be fulfilled”.

I find for the most part people are kind and want ot be helpful. One time Ruth asked me to pick up some special herb she needed to make a dish. I couldn’t find it and a fellow shopper asked what I was looking for. So she helped look, and before we found it, 5 lady shoppers were lending a hand. And we all enjoyed my success in finding the item.

It happens too if I shop groceries early. When I leave Rush Haven I connect with Flintridge which leads to the main roads out, and that is always a line of cars. I have a stop sign, but someone always stops and waves me into the line. Helpful people.

So with this Shade Tree Writing. I have a weblog on which my writings appear, and that happens because my granddaughter puts them on.

Which reminds me of the changes I have seen, from infant radio to the marvels of the internet, e-mail, facebook. I remind people that our generation – the generation you look on as the ‘old fuddy-duddies’ invented this stuff for you to develop and use. It saddens me that so much is being misused or badly used. Shows that the devil is still active and uses anything at hand for his nefarious work.

I’ve also learned to enjoy the moment. Glad to have this time, without always worrying it might not last, or fearing the future, for God is in the common things too.

And, when things do look bleak, to lean on Him always. Reading Habakkuk makes this clear. He was complaining to God, when the lord told him disaster would come, he ends up saying, Habakkuk 3:17-19 (KJV) 17 Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: 18 Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. 19 The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.

All for now. I may continue these ramblings at a later date. God bless and keep you in His tender care.

GPD 11/17/09

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Shade Tree wisdom 11/11/09

“I am the Almighty God,
Walk before Me, and be thou perfect”. Gen.17,1.

That was God’s Word for Abraham long ago, when God called and made a covenant with this man and promised “I will greatly increase your numbers”. V.2

We celebrate Veteran’s Day on November 11, which is Armistice, recalling the treaty signed in 1918 to end World War I.

Yet today we think of the Ft. Hood disaster, and the many words describing that event, and we wonder whether there is really any peace left, or any hope for peace. We are exposed to so many stories of horror, of murders, of rapes, of carnage, that we are under constant stress. The result is worry, heartburn, high blood pressure, are all increasing.

Before we give way to despair, remember what St. Paul once wrote to anxious people? “Be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” Romans 12,2. This reminded them to make sure they understood what happens when Jesus Christ enters the picture.

Because when we lose sight of this fact, that “Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief”. 1 Tim.1,15. we can easily get overwhelmed with things happening over which we have no control.

But remember, Jesus DID come, lived here, died, and was buried, then rose again. And this is what paid for the sins we do, the sins we did, and the burdens we carry. All is forgiven, and we are declared righteous before God. St. Paul said it well. “By grace are ye saved, that no of yourselves, it is a Gift of God, not of (your) works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2, 8.9.

So the Word of God spoken to Abraham is filled with rich meaning for us. This God, the Almighty One, planned all this because He loved us. He made this promise to Adam and Eve after they sinned. “I will put enmity between you (the serpent), and the woman, between your seed and Her seed, He will crush your head, and you will strike his heel” Genesis 3,15. The first Messianic Promise.

That is what gives us the courage to live “always as Unto Him”. The Large Catechism puts our situation like this:

“I believe there is on earth a little holy flock, a community of saints under one head, Christ. It is called together by the Holy Spirit in one faith. I belong to this body. I was brought to it by the Holy Spirit in Baptism, and by hearing the Word; I am kept in it by using the Sacraments and hearing the Word of God . . .until the last day, the holy Spirit remains with this Body”. Large Catechism p.61

GPD 11/11/09

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Shade Tree Wisdom 11/10/09

Rain washed, cool, the air this morning, and the walking was fine, so I nearly overshot my goal. Not because I broke the rules of the plane I was flying and working with my own computer, but because it was a pleasure to walk in weather like this, and I take my pleasure as it comes, bit by bit, don’t you?

The news tells me that Florida has had its first official Boa Constrictor hunt that netted 37 of the grown beasts. The Boa is not native to Florida, so its presence means destruction of natural habitat. How do they get there? They are bought as pets when they are small, and then people often release them into the wild when they tire of them or find keeping them too much to handle or too burdensome.

In Texas the Texas Parks and Wildlife officials contracted with helicopter crews to begin treating with herbicides floating mats of exotic plants the have invaded the Toldeo Bend Reservoir. The lake stretches between Texas and its neighbor, Louisiana. The invading salvinia has covered nearly 2000 acres of this lake. Some coves are 100 percent clogged. The plant simply smothers all life in the water. Officials hope this treatment will prove effective. Salvinia, imported from Brazil, is a common nuisance throughout the Southwest.

Another note on nature. Houston is mostly flat, so heavy rains easily cause floods unless ways are found to carry the water off. Army Engineers brought in to solve the problem simply widened and deepened the bayous (that is, creeks) and covered them with concrete, resulting in a number of ugly concrete ditches serving little purpose, and that did not carry off the flood waters anyway.

So Harris County and Houston Park officials followed the plans of a landscape architect and made ponds which served as holding ponds and planted trees, grasses, and fauna suitable to attract wildlife and also serve as holding ponds and ways to carry off excess waters. The result are places that are used as parks, places for wildlife to flourish, and give pleasure to the passing eye. Nature lovers find these places excellent for bird watching and simply as places to rest from the daily rat race.

“Help us let go, help us be sill,
In patience may we learn your will.”

Another clip I have is a hint from Heloise on how to fold king-size fitted sheets after washing. I say, put them right back on the bed.

And today is the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther’s birth.

One final note. Yesterday was my semi-annual visit with the heart doctor, and her verdict: "Keep on doing what you are doing”. That’s always good to hear. May God then continue to allow me to use the days He has planned for me.

GPD 11/10/09

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Shade Tree Wisdom 11/7/09

One privilege we have as God’s dear children is praying.
He does invite that, for whatever our need, concern, car, or worry, or even joy, we share in prayer.

In these troubling times may I offer this for the end of the day.

O Lord, support us all the day long in this troublous life,
Until the shadows lengthen,
And the evening comes,
And the busy world is hushed,
And the fever of life is over,
And our work is done.

Then, Lord,
In Thy mercy,
Grant us safe lodging,
And holy rest,
And peace at the last,
Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, Amen.

GPD 11/7/09

Friday, November 6, 2009

Shade Tree Wisdom 11/6/09

The moon has been bright these nights, and the morning walk is nice and cool. What can be better?

Well, it’s Fall, and I do miss those colors. Every Fall the St. Louis papers would run a color special, and always featured was Christ Lutheran Church in Augusta, Mo, because it was set on the bottom of a hill that served as a colorful background for the display of color. The white church served as the front piece. But I read this morning that there are several canyons in Texas that have much Fall color as well. They are so situated that the change in temperature causes this.

But what shall we say about the other news, the tragic affair in Ft. Hood. The article says the man, a psychiatrist wanted out. But did he need to destroy thirteen others, and maim many more, to do so? I know there will be many words to try to understand, to grasp the meaning, to find the cause, and they will be spoken by learned people after much thought and debate. I wish them success in their endeavor to explain or understand. I offer a simple word, sin.

If this happens at a place like Ft. Hood, where is one safe?

Fortunately, the Psalm offers us security. Listen to Psalm 125,
“Those who trust in God are like Mt. Zion; nothing can move it, a rock-solid mountain you can always depend on”. Vv. 1.2. Being a Christian is not easy today, never is or was, but we depend on a God who never changes. Jerusalem was set in a saucer of hills, to form a natural fortress. Living in those times wasn’t easy, but the Psalmist points out the Christian lives in a secure fortress. "God is our Refuge and Strength, a very present help in Trouble” writes Psalm 46,1.

“God encircles His people.” What more do we really need than the prayer our Lord prayed. Remember it, in John 17,11.15. “Holy Father, guard them. . .I’m not asking that You take them out of the world, but that You guard them from the Evil one.”

Israel’s history was up and down. One day they march dry-shod through a sea and see their enemy destroyed; the next they are grumbling in the desert because they long for the steak and potatoes of an Egyptian supper. One day they are blowing trumpets and see Jericho’s walls fall, the next they lose an easy battle because Achan sinned. One day they are sitting with Jesus eating a final supper, then next they are standing in a courtyard swearing they didn’t know him.

As I am writing this news comes about a shooting in an Orlando office building. Things happen, bad things, things we dislike and that make us nervous. And the psalm says, “The fist of the wicked will never violate what is due the righteous, provoking wrongful violence.” The key is the word “violate", to cancel God’s purpose that are being worked out. Israel had more than its share of such a “fist". Pharaoh, the Philistines, the Assyrians and Babylonians, and Caesar. As do we. But “He remains faithful”, so that Jesus in His Sermon on the Mount, knowing how timid we are, said three times, “Do not be anxious.” Our life with God is a sure thing.

So the psalm assures us,” Those who trust in God are like Mt. Zion”.

GPD 11/6/09

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Shade Tree Wisdom 11/3/09

November, what a nice month, filled with Natal days in plenty, including, of course, Martin Luther on the 10th, and B, who shares the day with me, and mine, the 17th.

November 17th was also memorable in my father’s eyes because it is the day he first put his milk herd into the new barn. He had bought this farm when mother and father were married. It had been a seed farm which had been run down, and he planned to turn it into a dairy farm, because that’s what he was, a dairy farmer. So the shed was unsuitable for such an operation. The new barn was some 80 feet by about 40 feet, had the main level for the cattle, and above that, storage for hay, grain, and straw. A silo at the west end was for silage for feed also. The building was built for $ 800.00, and on November 17th father was able to start using it. So for years he told me he did not really know what made him prouder, getting his cattle into shelter or my being born.

A note: When I graduated from the Seminary he told me I made him prouder! Vindicated.

Having said that, I feel like bumbling today. “What’s that”, you ask. It’s a nice word meaning “wandering around without purpose”. Just sort of lazing the day away. Maybe tread a little, or just sit and chat, or daydream, or whatever.

We really live in too much of a rush these days, don’t we. Even frown on taking a nap. We think that is for wimps, unless, of course, we call it a “power nap”, that makes it all right for it is meant to give a strong sound with lots of meaning, to leave us with renewed energy and strength to work the rest of the day.

I, on the other hand, have reached the years when taking a nap is acceptable , so I take a nap, and enjoy it.

After all, here just lying on the grass is dangerous, for fire ants will come, and they bite. Oh sure, we have stuff guaranteed to destroy them, but they seem to survive in spite of man’s efforts. So lying on the grass and gazing at clouds, called “cloud spotting” is not done here. And that’s too bad, I miss that.

It’s all a gift from God to make life interesting, comfortable, and purposeful. And so, as the Psalm writes, “I trust in Your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, for He has been good to me.” Psalm 13,5.6.

GPD 11/3/09