Friday, December 31, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 12/31/10

We are in winter, and it feels like spring. But year end, and time for several bits of wisdom.

“If you think some praise is due him,
Now’s the time to slip it to him,
For he cannot read his tombstone
When he’s dead.”
This is part of a bit of poetry that sticks in the mind, and ought to be done.

There is another, from the Psalms.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom:
A good understanding have all they,
That do His commandments;
His praise endure forever.” Ps. 111,10.

To this St, John adds, (l John 5,3)
“For this is the love of God,
That we keep His commandments,
And His commandments are not grievous.”

One other bit of business that the wise person ought to take into his year-end thought, and that is to rid oneself of any weight or burden that troubles us. In short, “forgiving one another, as God, for Christ’s sake, has forgiven you”. Eph. 4,32.

In all these items, Satan is ever ready to stand and tell us, “No, let him take the first step. You have been wronged.” But look at that other phrase again, “As God, for Christ’s sake, has forgiven you.” Remember, “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5,8.

So, may God bless the doing to end the year in His name, and with His peace in our hearts because Jesus Christ is born. May He bless you now and always.

GPD 12/31/10

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Shade Tree wisdom 12/29/10

My son called me today and asked whether we had taken care of the IRA withdrawal. I had forgotten, so took care of that by phone and are tax friendly for another year. They promised to cut the check today but it will arrive several days hence by mail.

Well, this morning I got my walk in before the rains started. They come intermittently and are promised to last the day long, and we certainly need the moisture.

December means the Christmas Bird Count is now underway. It runs from the 14th to the month end. Such a bird count was organized on Christmas Day back in 1900 when ornithologist Frank Chapman deployed 27 citizens who counted 90 species of birds in 25 North American locales. He started it to try to change a fading fashion of ‘side hunts’ in which shooters choose sides to see who shoot the most birds in a single day.

The side hunt faded out, and the bird count became one of the most successful, and enduring, citizen-science projects in history. It is now an international event. In the western hemisphere some 60,753 volunteers counted 2,319 species of birds in 2000 locales last year.

Each locale is called a count circle and extends some 15 miles in area. Texas usually hosts about 100 counters, and five circles in Texas were among the top 20 for numbers of species tallied. Areas that are more rural usually top the count totals.

Data from these Christmas counts show trends in bird shifts, population declines, migration, etc.

You can take part. I never have because I simply do not know too many species by sight or call. The Houston area hosts many species, among them the cardinal, mourning dove, lesser goldfinch, caolina wren, great horned owl, red-tailed hawk, eastern bluebird snow goose, and the whooping crane.

All God’s creatures, all serve a purpose and fit in.

GPD 12/29/10

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 12/28/10

The walking is wonderful, brisk air, dry underfoot, no snow to slough through, and no rumbling of those big yellow boxes to disturb the morning quiet. And I got to thinking, today is the anniversary of my father’s birth, and it was always time for family gathering since it fell in the middle of celebrations, and there was nothing much else to do.

So the family gathered at our house. Aunts brought loads of sandwiches, cakes, and other eat stuff while uncles brought them and saw the car did not freeze while inside, because it was always below freezing and usually the ground was covered with snow.

And for us youngsters, play time. Usually cousins brought favorite board games, and we played monopoly, checkers, and stuff like that.

And off in the corner, there was always uncle Oscar and uncle Robert, hunkered over a chess board, battling their battles in silence. Intense, attention centered on the plan, and maneuvering to try to outwit each other. They were so evenly matched that the total games won was really nearly even.

Other uncles gathered around the kitchen table intent on their games, never for money, you understand, just mostly to pass the time and exchange news about what they planned to plant next year, or how the herds was performing during the cold months, or some other farm talk.

The evening ended around ten or so when the aunts began to set out plates of sandwiches, served hot coffee, added cakes of many kinds, and when the food was gone one heard the first, “Well, tomorrow comes soon enough, I guess we’ll be going.”

I thought of those times, and thought they were the best of times for me. I had no worries. My wants and needs were taken care of, always plenty of food to eat, chores to do, and when I needed a new shirt, it was provided. I did no planning nor did I worry about tomorrow.

Strikes me that is How the Lord, our God, plans it for us. He teaches us, “Do not worry about the morrow, for the morrow will tale care of itself. For your heavenly Father knows that ye have need of all these things.” Then come these marvelous words of comfort and strength, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.”
Matthew 6,32.33.

With that thought, I wish you a wonderful day.

GPD 12/28/10

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 12/25/10

At Christmas 2010

We sing joyfully,
“Hark, the Herald angels sing,
Glory to the new born king”.

Then follow the thought to this.
“Mild he lays his glory by
Born that man no more may die,
raise the sons of earth,
born to give them second birth”
So we sing, Glory to the Newborn King”.

Aside from all the hurry and joy of unwrapping and having family about and being content, I pray God will bless you and yours, deepen your faith, strengthen your hope, fill you wth renewed wonder, worship, andd obedience.

For, “This is the Christ, the Savior of all.”

In His name, Merry Christmas.

GPD 12/25/10

Monday, December 20, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 12/20/10

There is a small step down from our front door to the porch and I find I usually step down first with my right foot. I just do. It feels right, and when I use the other foot first I feel there is something amiss.

Just proves we are creatures of habit.

What shoe do you put on first, right or left? See? There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Habits do make life easier and often more pleasant. You find it so too.

Take speech patterns. Experts can tell our origin from the way we talk. Such things as Texas drawl or a clipped mid-western speech are often easy to identify.

But it brings to mind the patterns or lazy habits we develop in the way we talk with each other. The habit of ending every statement with a “you know”, often excuses thinking that might make clearer what we intend to say.

Some patterns or habits are just that, habit. My mother had a cousin, a fine, hard-working mother of four, who ended every sentence with “gella”. A completely meaningless expression. It meant nothing. She did not even know where it came from, but she used it till her dying day, and her friends became used to hearing it.

So, what meaningless or pointless speech pattern do you use? And will it make it easier to listen to you if you don’t use it, or maybe even cause you to think more before expressing a thought.

Here is one habit I do hope you have developed, to speak to God, often, in prayer. Maybe it’s just as simple as thanking God for a pleasant day, or a safe trip, or a wonderful visit with a friend. But develop the habit of saying what Paul urges, “In everything give thanks”.

GPD 12/20/10

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 12/16/10

Just walked to the mail box to send some tax checks on their way. (No, taxes don’t stop when one retires). Anyway, on the way I saw something shining on the street and stooped to pick up a dime. This seems to be my day, for I had to go to the store for some items early on and picked up a dime on the parking lot. My question, do I need to report this as income and pay tax, or not?

It’s a small thing, and really nonsensical, isn’t it? Makes as much sense as people getting all worked up over what words to use in greeting each other during this season?

This sort of thing got underway when the ACLU started to take towns to court because they set a crèche on the courthouse lawn, something they had been doing for maybe 35 years already. That was ‘mixing church and State”, and the courts foolishly allowed that argument.

And of course, did that diminish the story of Jesus birth. Of course not.

All it did, really, was to show how forgetful many people are. They forget their NEED for this Jesus, born to “save people from their sins”. And, sadly, many do forget how great their need really is. The irony of it all is that those who want nothing to do with Christmas can’t understand why their lives are in such a mess.

It won’t offend me if you wish me a Happy Holiday, and even use that familiar “Xmas” when you twitter, because it gives you an extra five letters to tell me how cute your kitten is when she tears down the Christmas tree.

Which brings up the furor that was caused when Lutheran Pastor H.C. Schwan set a little trimmed tree in his church at Christmas. This happened in Cleveland, Ohio, and the town was so upset they even threatened to boycott any businesses run by any members of that Church. The next year, of course, it had become an accepted custom to beautify a church sanctuary with a tree.

So, “And the angels did sing, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will to men.” It remains true. Christ was born to “save His people from their sins”, and our carrying on will not change that blessed truth.

So rejoice with me, that Our Savior is Born.

GPD 12/16/10

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 12/15/10

Christmas lights are still shining when I walk in the morning, so it’s almost like walking through a bright avenue, each sight different, and many innovative. Oh, there are several of those icicle-like lights hanging on the roof line, but others took imagination, and are an inviting sight to see. Missing along the Gulf Coast of Texas, of course, are the softly flying flakes of snow to smooth and brighten the landscape. But be satisfied with what is here, eh?

Every mail brings its quota of cards and notes. We enjoy them, but would also remind folks to identify, identify, identify. We love you, but your children grow and we fail to recognize them. So please. (This is not a complaint, it is a SUGGESTION).

The Christmas story, so familiar, but amazing just the same.
Stay with me for a moment.

Adam and Eve sinned, and brought the need for a Savior.
So the Lord promised one who would “Crush Satan’s head”.
Years went by. The Lord identified the family of Abraham. “In thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.”

More time, more patient waiting,. Till Isaiah speaks of a virgin to be the mother of the Lord. Then Micah placed the birth. It would happen kin an obscure place called Bethlehem.

Time went on, silence till Malachi, the last of the old Testament prophets who declared, “Behold, I will send my Messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple.” 3,1.

Then more silence, more than 400 years of silence. Finally the events recorded so clearly by St.Luke. That’s the story we read, many of us have memorized, and can recite. That’s the story that seems “old hat” to us.

Yet it is a story so wonderful that the angels can’t help but rejoice over a God whose Name is Glory, Glory, Glory. The angels and all of heaven rejoice because of God’s invasion in this broken world.

That brings us the angel chorus.
“Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace,
Good will to men.” Luke 2,13-14.

That is what I wish for us all in Jesus’ Blessed Name.

GPD 12/15/10

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Shade tree wisdom 12/11/10

I really am sort of at a standstill as to how to begin. (Now if that sentence doesn’t intrigue you, then nothing will.)

Christmas is near, and the news says so, no end. Only so many days left to do your shopping, getting gifts wrapped and sent, doing all the pre-Christmas chores. Shopping for gifts either online or in person is hard, wondering whether what you plan to give is right, and now you have to worry whether your high school niece will find the label you buy right. “Correct” with the “in crowd”.

Stress no end, and the voice gets a bit shrill, and tempers are short, and you forget the person serving you in a busy store is also a person with feelings, needs, and cares of their own.

Maybe the think piece that called Christmas “a numbing season” had it right. For it seems as if the thing is way out of kilter.

Especially so when we consider that Mark and John don’t even mention the birth, and the early Church celebrated the Resurrection of Christ, not the birth. So St. Paul writes, “I determined not to Know anything among you but Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.”

The climax of the four Gospels is not the birth, but the events we celebrate at Easter. One quarter to one half of each of the chapters in the four Gospels focus on Easter events. Early Christians did not celebrate the birth so much as they did the Resurrection, at least not from their basic texts.

Pressures to buy loads of gifts are pressures from the culture, not from the faith. Pressures to present a flawless meal, or spend a holiday without family friction, or keep a relentless façade of good cheer are not pressures of the faith. We may not be able to escape the pressure completely, but let us at least put things into persective. Let us not confuse faith and discipleship with what the world offers.

May I offer this, that we pause in the race, take time for quiet worship, relax a bit and remember that we are God’s baptized children and that He has written the plan of our lives before they ever began. Psalm 139,16 is the selection of choice, among so many others rich in promise and of blessing.

When we do that, it won’t bother us when we end up in the grocery line behind the person who starts digging for money only after everything had checked and the cashier is waiting to be paid.

We are patient, because we know something, we are God’s children.

GPD 12/11/10

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 12/9/10

For some years many papers carried a feature titled “The Country parson”. Each is a bit of wisdom or comment on the passing scene. One showed the Parson on his morning walk with a folded newspaper tucked under his arm. Someone asked why the paper, and his reply was this. “The newspaper tells is what is happening in the world.. The Bible tells us why.”

No sooner had I read that bit when someone suggested a verse of Scripture to describe our political scene best. The verse is Ecclesiastes 10,2.
NIV Translates this: “The heart of the wise man inclines to the right, the heart of the fool to the left.”

Trying to make sense of things is the study that engages many minds.
Jeremiah, the ancient prophet to Israel, writes, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, who can know it?” Jer 17,9.

So where to look? Well, the Country parson is right, go to the Bible for our answers. It is the one Book that will not only make sense of the way we behave, but tell us exactly why we do it, and what the only solution is.

Old stuff, you say, I know all that.

It is because humans tend to be forgetful of how desperate their situation really is that the Church celebrates Advent again, and Christmas, and, in order, the scenes of our salvation through the birth of Jesus Christ. The Bible calls Him our Savior.

The Season of the year we are in right now leads to the Birth, and we do need this reminder, we rejoice to celebrate it again, and it gives us new heart for the life we lead here in this sin-riddled earth. Here we find strength, get renewed faith for the struggle, take fresh heart to face tomorrow, and get the peace from God that only He can give us. Why, He assures us our sins have been forgiven. This is what God tells us, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” Psalm 103. Then the psalm adds, “For He knows our frame, He remembers that we are dust”. v.14.

So, yes, “The newspaper & TV news tell us what is happening, the Bible tells us why.”

GPD 12/9/10

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 12/7/10

This is the day “That will live in infamy”. Those words were part of a speech then president Roosevelt made when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and the U S declared war on Japan. That was December 7, in 1941, and many of you weren’t even born yet. But there was a sense of “Can this be real?” feeling in the country. After all, we are America! We win wars. “How could they?”

But the deed was done, and it took real determined effort, concentration, and much sacrifice on the part of many before we finally concluded that war in 1945. But meanwhile the world changed, and many people who had been sent to every corner of the world changed too, their outlook, often their thinking, and their understanding of events.

What really gets tested in times of massive change like that is faith. No longer can we sit down with the friend we grew up with who lives around the corner to discuss some problem, for he is suddenly in Iowa Jima or North Africa. And events move faster than we are used to, it bewilders, and, as I said, it tests a faith. Does God know what is going on? Does the Word still work, and are the truths I learned in my childhood at home and at school still relevant to this time?

The changes reminded me of the change when Israel was hauled off to captivity. Disaster. They stewed in misery, and some false prophets encouraged that, till Jeremiah, God’s prophet, sent them a letter that told them to settle down, build houses, make it your home, for your Gad is there with you till you return home again.

And that is always the best way to survive a test, to depend on what you know. The Psalmist said this.

“But as for me, I trust in you, O Lord; I say,
'You are my God, my times are in your hands’.” Psalm 31,14.15.

The old truths, that have stood the test of time, that have carried many, many their life long. Such truths that have been comfort and strength in times of trouble and distress, these truths that cling to Jesus Christ, who teaches still, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the life, no man comes to the Father but by ME.”
So December the 7th passes by, always under God’s direction, and His blessing comes to us always.

GPD 12/7/10

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Shade Tree wisdom 12/2/10

Still nice and cool for my morning walk. It is energizing, and gives time for reflection.

The subject this morning was thinking on a book review. The Book, “The Shallows, What The internet is Doing to our Brains” by Nicholas Carr. He reports that Computers are changing the way we think. No longer “Calm, focused, undistracted. The linear mind is bring pushed aside by a new kind of mind that wants and needs to take in and dole out information in short, disjointed, often overlapping, bursts – the faster the better.” And it may not be a good thing. The book is not optimistic about the future of thought.

When Johann Gutenberg invented movable type, people learned to engage their minds more deeply to an inward flow of words, ideas, and emotions. Before this, a mind was distracted by every passing butterfly. Now it started to focus more on ideas, on words and emotions. The results are impressive, the Renaissance, the Reformation, the industrial revolution, and modernism.

Today young adults average more than 19 hours a week online, and 49 minutes reading books, magazines, or newspapers. Today youth no longer memorizes poetry, philosophy, or scripture. Nor do we spend long evenings reading and pondering ideas, and stocking our minds with learned thoughts. This worries Carr.

But why bother with memory when we have all this material available at Google. Long term memory becomes impoverished, and that leads to inability to reinterpret ancient wisdom for the present day, and we cannot transmit to future generations our cultural heritage. Carr warns, “Outsource memory and our culture withers.”

Technology’s numbing effect is not a new condition. It happened, described by Psalm 135,15-18 and 115, 4-8. where idolaters grow to resemble what they idolize.

Religion is also being changed. The Reformation happened because of the printed word. Once upon a time the Church service was a high point in life, and the sermons taught truths mined from the Holy Book. Today this is changing. Our church services are fast-paced, entertaining, with sermons and songs projected on giant screens, and the emphasis is on entertaining the crowds.

On the plus side, not everyone has allowed the internet to hijack their lives. There is renewed emphasis in many places on slowing down, increased emphasis on meditation, and many are turning again to chants, Lectio Divina (A slow meditative reading of sections of Scripture), and taking time for thoughtful discussion and prayer.

I hope and pray you remember the days of old, as David suggests, and always keep in mind the history of God at work in the world to save His people by sending Christ Jesus, the Savior, “to die for the sins of the whole world.” As St. John so joyfully points out.

GPD 12/2/10

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 11/30/10

Finally, cold for walking with a brisk wind to sort of add a bit of snap to the walking pace. Felt good though. It is the last day of November, after all, and one should expect that. Also end of the hurricane season, and the report is we lucked out. A low pressure system kept some storms steered to the north away from the East coast, and a high pressure system kept storms away from the Gulf. Thank the lord for His presence.

“God made people simple, but they have discovered many inventions”. The MSG puts this like so: “God made men true and upright. We’re the ones who made a mess of things."

The verse is Ecclesiastes 7,29. And it speaks to us of life, which is, basically, really quite simple. We sleep, we rise, eat and work, eat some more, relax a bit, then sleep again. Simple, straightforward, until we mess it up.

Remember that poem called “The Dash”. It reports on a funeral statement about someone and says the stone lists two dates connected by a dash, and it is what happened in that dash that is important.

Here is the way it ends.
“What matters is how you live and love,
And how you spend your dash.”

Micah, a prophet who burst on the world scene in the 8th century, along with Isaiah, Hosea and Amos, speaks to keep God alive before the people. They live with disaster they cannot seem to grasp, and Micah speaks to them to remind them that God, their God, is alive and active still.

In chapter 6 God speaks directly to the people. The verse that makes the plea best is verse 8. “He has told thee, O Man, how to live; and what does the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.” 6,8. Away with all the rigermole they had been working, just do His will quietly and “walk humbly with Thy God”.

That’s what makes life simple. His commandments are not grievous, said St. John.

But we tend to complicate matters. One small example is just doing a simple task. We do it right, and the thing is done. When we make mistakes, we have to do it over, or the mistake causes other things to go wrong and we need to fix that too. Or a student is given an assignment. It takes maybe 20 minutes or so of his time, but he puts it off, and suddenly the time has slipped by and his homework is not done, and he blames what?

Finally it comes down to this, “What must I do to be saved?” and the answer is always the same, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved”.

So, life is simple, don’t make it complex by adding, by all the things that get in the way of this rule. Life is simple. WE are the ones who makes a mess of things. I pray, learn this, life is simple.

GPD 11/30/10

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 11/27/10

Aftermath of the Day of Thanksgiving. I am reminded of that poem.
Here’s one verse.
“Over the river and through the woods,
To grandmothers house we go,
The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh
Through the white and drifting snow. Oh”
The sleigh goes through the barnyard gate and they are looking forward to
grandma’s greeting and the pumpkin. The family gets out at the door, and the
hired man puts the horse into the barn and the sleigh under cover of a shed.
While the family is enjoying the company and the dinner.

It makes it sound very much like an annual ritual, as it is for so
many families in America.

How different the coming today. For many it is packing, hurrying to
an airport, parking a car, standing in lines, then spending hours flying to a
distant destination simply to have the day together. People find that worth
while still, and it is.

As is a service of worship, either on the day, or the evening
before, to give us a time to stop a little and give thanks for the rich and
varied, and constant blessings we receive from our gracious heavenly Father.

The travel reminds me of a little story I read recently. A good-ole
boy went to the train depot and said to the ticket agent, “I would like to buy a
ticket for Norwald.”

“Norwald, never heard of it, I’ll have to look that up”, said the

So the agent checked the map and didn't find it listed, then he checked the
internet with no success. “I can’t find Norwald listed anywhere,” said the
agent, “Just where is it, anyway?”

“Over there”, the man replied, “He’s my brother-in-law.”

Long before Norwald, Moses was teaching the people. “When you have
eaten and are satisfied, praise the lord your God for the good land He has given
you” De. 8,10. And much later, St. Paul advised Christians, “Give thanks in all
circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thess 5,8.

And finally this word written to Philippi for our reading too. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God. . .will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil.4,6.

GPD 11/27/10

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 11/24/10

Quiet out this morning with no lumbering yellow boxes to sweep up eager, or reluctant and sleepy scholars, as the case may be. A full moon hangs in the lowering sky under scudding clouds, and it is warm. No need for a jacket, and the date is November 24th. A good time to think some deep thoughts about tomorrow, Thanksgiving Day.

“O give thanks unto the Lord,
For He is good, and His mercy
endureth forever.” Psalm 106,1.

Yes indeed, “His mercy endures forever”. A fine thing to remember today when there is grumbling over airport security procedures, the Koreans are shooting at each other, Ireland is in turmoil over finances, the northwest endures storms and highway shutdowns, and Houston workers are putting the finishing touches on a 70 foot Christmas tree with 3,500 ornaments and myriads of LED lights.

Now let’s go back to l636, when the 30 Years War was raging in Germany, and a young Lutheran Pastor, Martin Rincker, began his ministry in the little village of Eilenberg, Saxony. The Swedish army was at the gate. The walled city was filled with floods of refuges, so hunger and disease ravaged the villagers, and Rincker sometimes had as many as 50 funerals in one day. Finally, the Swedes demanded a huge ransom to withdraw, and Rincker, who was the only Pastor left alive in the village, went out to negotiate, to such effect that the wars soon ended, and the Pastor composed this hymn. Sung around the world by Christians ever since.

“Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands, and voices, Who wondrous things has done, in whom our heart rejoices.
Who from our mother’s arms, hath blesses us on our way.
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.”

There are 138 passages in the Bible about thanksgiving, many strongly worded, as in 1 Thess, 5,18: “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

So tomorrow, let us give thanks for God’s rich blessings to us in sending His Son, Christ Jesus, to die and pay for our sins. So shall it be written, so let it be done.

GPD 11/24/10

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 11/18/10

Had lunch yesterday with a friend, and he handed me a card he had devised, using my comments about curmudgeon that I made just that morning. Clever, and one to save and display. He is retired as I am but he is working probably as hard as ever.

Many cards, letters, emails and phone calls yesterday, humbling, and kind of nice to be remembered too.

It got me to thinking about the many changes I have witnessed in my lifetime. I remember when my uncle Oscar bought a new Dodge car that had real glass windows instead of curtains. The whole body was enclosed. He used to heat a brick, wrap it in burlap, and put it at grandma’s feet to keep her warm. And she said, “My, I wouldn’t wonder if the boys in Detroit would figure out a way to put a heater in here some day”.

I remember too when we had to get up from the chair, walk to the set, and change the channel by turning a knob. And it was exciting to get Toledo, Windsor, Lansing as well as Detroit on TV. And Detroit offered three channels. Now see where we are.

In my lifetime we built a tunnel under the River to connect Detroit and Windsor, we’ve bored through the Alps and the Rockies for railroads and roads, we’ve even built a tunnel underneath the English channel to connect England and France, and we have invented devices to put in our cars to show us exactly where an address is, and we have built a station in space. We drill for oil miles underground and with success. All this makes one think there is no place left for anything.

Yet, one day Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the earth”. Matthew 28,18-20.

And just before He ascended into heaven He said to them, “You will receive power when the Holy Ghost is come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea ad Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1,8.

Really quite an assignment, isn’t it? Impossible. Where are the tools for the job? Where are the plans? Where’s the back-up system, the input from exerts and all the machinery needed to carry this out? All there, empowered by the Holy Spirit and using the Word, the message of salvation in Jesus Christ, the Good News. And it is working yet.

Just the other day, for instance, I learned there are 80 missionaries in the State of Texas working with foreign languages! Quietly doing His work and Will. And all over this world there are people, we call them Christians, who live and act as if Jesus is returning today and being ready to welcome him with joy, and busy inviting friend and neighbors to welcome Him too as their Savior.

And this is a matter for thanksgiving and for joy in our Lord, is it not?

GPD 11/18/10

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 11/17/10

Today makes it official. I cross the line from being “that cranky old man” to being “that lovable old curmudgeon”. That line of 90.

Two Scriptures come to mind. Psalm 90,9.10 “We spend our years as a tale that is told. The days of our years are threescore and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.” Luther translates this “Muehe und Arbeit”.

I find that to be true, the years bring their burdens of care, strength grows a little weaker, appetite so-so, and the wear of the years take their toll.

But there is another Scripture. Psalm 139,14.16. “I will praise thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made, marvelous are thy works, and that my soul knoweth right well.” And “Thine eyes did see my substance yet being unperfect; in thy book all my members were written. . .when as yet there was none of them”.

Yet another Scripture stands and declares: “Do not cast me away when I am old, do not forsake me when my strength is gone", Ps. 71,9.

One word often used in the Bible is “nevertheless”. When all hope seems to be gone, when the world has done its worst, sent Christ Jesus to His grave, then we have the “Nevertheless”. At Easter we read then, “He is not here. He is Risen, as He said.” Paul used it often, and so does Peter (11 Peter 3,10) “The heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth, and the works that are upon it, will be burned up”. Disaster, utter calamity, then Peter writes, “Nevertheless, we look for a new heaven and a new earth”.

My years are filled with just such a “nevertheless”, for the God I serve and who sent His Son to die for Me is faithful, and His Word is true. My thoughts run over the years, and I see again and again the blessings flow when all I could see was failure of the plans so carefully laid.

In our confirmation class we were discussing the last judgment, and one lad asked Pastor, ‘What happens to me when I stand before the judgment seat and am a sinner?” I remember Pastor’s answer and have used it myself in class. “Then”, he said, “You will feel an arm around your shoulder and a voice saying, ‘I died for this one, Father’”, and Pastor quoted St. John, “If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the righteous, and He is the propitiation for our sins; but not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world’. 1 John 2,1.2. So I am bold to Pray, O Lord, support me 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 me safe lodging, and holy rest, And peace at the last, Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, Amen.

GPD 11/17/10

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 11/16/10

Well, when I started this morning it was blowing rather hard and I nearly turned back, but then it stopped, and it was really nice for walking, cool and pleasant.

“Give me that old time religion,
It’s good enough for me.”

Most of us are familiar with that song, usually sung with lusty exhuberance. Usually what the singer has in mind is a religion they remember from their youth, when Sunday was a day of rest, not given to football and games, but a quiet church-going, then a Sunday dinner and a restful afternoon of maybe taking a nap and visiting. And everybody went to church or at least respected it.

What happened? Where did things go so far amiss? All churches report fewer numbers and lighter attendance. How did the Church lose that initial spurt that it started with. Where is the energy those early Christians had? Where is the joy over the story of the Resurrection?

The first story of Easter always ended with someone running, to share the news, to pass the word, to get someone else involved, but they are running. St. Paul writes, “Our Gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit with full conviction.” (1 Thess. 1,5.) And the word St. Paul uses suggests a cup filled to overflowing so that whenever it is jostled it spills over. It suggests Christians so full of the story that they just overflowed with the Good News wherever they were. The sheer power of the Spirit in their lives drew people to Christ.

St. Mark had written, ”The Gospel must first be preached to all nations, whenever you are arrested and brought to trial don‘t worry beforehand what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Ghost.” Mark 13, 11.

What’s this? “Trial?” “Arrested” What are we getting into here? Jesus taught them beforehand, “In the world you will have tribulation, but take heart, I have overcome the world’. John 16,33. Paul said it also, “We must through much tribulation enter into the Kingdom of God”. Acts 14,22.And so also the other Apostles. Peter in his first letter, for instance, (1 Peter 4, 12ff.)

That is why Paul details the weapons we have. In his letter to Ephesus he describes the armor, ending with “The sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God”. Eph.6,10-17. The very weapon Jesus used in his temptation in the wilderness, He used the Word of God “It is written” and the devil left him.

So why isn’t the Church growing now as it did at the first? We have this Word, do we not. And we believe that “The Word of God is alive, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the diving asunder of the soul and spirit, joints and marrow, it judges the thoughts and the attitudes of the heart.” (Heb 4,12).

It is my prayer that we, each, reads and studies that Word as God’s Word to our life now. May He enrich the reading and the doing that follows as surely as night follows day.

GPD 11/16/10

Friday, November 12, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 11/12/10

Still warm this day, but the promise is of possible showers and some cold front moving in. We pray they have it right.

I ran across this prayer. It was written by the late Dr. Martin Franzmann which speaks to our day. It was printed in the parish Service Bulletin of the N,. Wisconsin District. I found it interesting because it speaks so well to the problems of the day.

Rid us, O Lord, of the arrogant delusion
That our age is harder to live in,
Harder to live through,and be decent,
Than in any age that ever was.
And that we are being tried as our Fathers never were.
Teach us, O Lord by Your same and eternal Word,
That we stand before you as we have always stood,
living in Your grace,
And moving toward Your judgments
That the terrible technological trifles of our time,
Have not altered, the great, plain, steady fact,
That You are the Lord.

Sometimes using a printed prayer such as this speaks of just what we want to say, and helps us define our thoughts. And the Lord wants His children to pray, speaking their needs, their dreams, their wants and cares, and He hears, and answers in the time God wills.

GPD 11/12/10

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 11/11/10

November eleventh is Veteran’s Day, observed with parades and observances in cemeteries. A day spent for many in memory of what might have been, and I remembered that hymn:
The world is very evil,
The times are a waxing late.
Be sober, and keep vigil,
The Judge is at the gate.
The Judge that comes in mercy,
The Judge that comes with might,
To terminate the evil,
To diadem the right. TLH 605,1
So meanwhile, how then shall we spend our days?

For an example let me introduce the Rechabites. (Jeremiah 35, 1-2).
Who are these people. The city must have wondered too. The Rechabites were a nomadic tribe, probably skilled iron workers who moved around and stopped where their work was needed, but now they had come to the city for safety. Jeremiah reports, when the Babylonians invaded this land we said, “Come, we must go to Jerusalem for safety. And we are sill here”. 35,11. Different, strangers marching to a different drummer.

So The prophet Jeremiah invited them to lunch in a public place and offered them wine. They refused it, explaining, “we do not drink wine because our forefather Jonadab son of Recab gave us this command, ‘neither you or your descendants must ever drink wine’.”

The prophet used that as an object for his sermon to the citizens. Look at this, they have obeyed a command of their parents for 250 years. But you, you don‘t listen to God, you pay no attention to His commands. “I spoke to them, but they did not listen; I called to them, but they did not answer.” 35.17b. The people were crowd-conditioned, doing what the crowd did without thought. The Rechabites were not crowd-conditioned.

And that offers us an answer. How shall we then pass our days? A historian of the first century wrote this about Christians, “They live among us.
They are tax-paying and hard working people, friendly and neighborly, but they are different, for they do not throw incense before our gods nor do they bow. They are different. They are among us, but they are not one of us.”

That’s what Jesus meant, “You are in the world, but not of the world” and St. Paul. “don’t let the world crowd you into its mold”. You are God’s children and the Holy Spirit directs your lives In this world. That’s how we are to pass our days, under His guidance and God’s blessing.

GPD 11/11/10

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 11/10/10

Pleasant out this morning, and we are observing the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther’s birth. What a legacy that man provided for the Church.
Sola Gratia – by grace alone
Sola Fide - through faith alone
Sola Scriptura – by Scripture alone.
Surely, we must thank God for His gift, to bring light to the darkness, and to open eyes to the marvelous story of salvation because Jesus, God’s Son, died on the cross, for us.

November is also my birthday month, and to remind me, the State of Texas sent me a notice telling me it is time to renew my driver’s license. So I went to the office in Conroe to do this chore. I got there soon after the doors opened, and already the place was filled. “Here goes a good part of this morning”, I mused.

So, I checked in and the clerk gave me a brief questionnaire to fill out, plus a card to sign ‘in the box’. And told me they would call the number on the paper. I think it was 35. She also asked if an officer would have occasion to speak with me, was there anything to make me hesitate. I grinned and said, “Let me answer by telling you I was a volunteer chaplain for the Detroit Police Department for 8 years till I retired.” “Wow, she said, “Detroit”.
I said, “It wasn’t nearly as bad when I left in ’85.”

So I filled out the paper, and then she was at my elbow again and said, “Follow me, you don’t have to wait in line.” So she sent me to the end desk, the clerk processed me, and I was out and away in 15 minutes.

So, I am free to drive the many highways and byways of this state. It has so much to offer, from the Duro Canyon to Galveston Island. The State has 3 NBA Basketball teams, two NFL Football franchises, one plays in a Stadium built at a cost of one billion dollars. Talk about excess, eh? It has many lakes, all manmade. The one natural lake is shared with our neighbor, Louisiana.

It also has football, Texas U, Houston U, A&M, Rice, and even those Red Raiders up there. Friday nights is given to high school football. The State is football-mad.

So Texas said to me by renewing that license It said, “Son” (that’s how they talk), “Son, go, drive carefully, don’t use a call phone while driving, and don’t text either. Use your seat belt, and drive safely, and then we are glad to have you use our highways.”

I appreciate the privilege and freedom, but I appreciate the first freedom I mentioned above, the three Solas of my salvation, so much more.

GPD 11/10/10

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 11/3/10

Cooler, and sort of drizzly this morning so I skipped the walk.
Maybe the good report from the doctor emboldened me to this, or maybe it is just that I no longer really enjoy walking in the rain as I did when a youth.
Whatever, I skipped, and I am not sorry.

Another morning came to mind. We were visiting family and drove along when Mom went to pick up her son after high school band practice. So we drove to the school, and the members checked in their instruments and came out of the building to get their rides.

We waited, and waited and then waited some more, and finally he appeared. His Mom asked, “What kept you?” His reply – and this is interesting – he said, “Oh I was just lingering”.

Lingering. When was the last time you heard that? It means not wanting to leave, it means sort of hanging around, reluctant to leave the moment, to break away. It means to savor this moment in time for a little while longer.

Remember the last family reunion you attended. Maybe at a park somewhere, or a private place, and you met long unseen cousins and talked with favorite aunts and uncles and laughed about some of the things you did when you were kids together back at home? It was a time for lingering, and the sun was going down and twilight sort of crept over the scene and someone lighted a fire in the pit and laid out some marshmallows. The talk was of nothing much, but it was a time you just did not want to leave.

I thought of that today when life is so rushed, and we have many things to do and we can’t seem to find the time to linger any more. Here comes our God, and says to us, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Does not that leave us with a sense of calm and peace?

The Psalm says to us, “Delight yourself in the Lord,
And He will give you the desires of your heart.
Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him.” Psalm 37, 4.7.

I suggest to you that this urges us to do a little lingering now and then to sort of let our souls catch up with our burdened and hurrying body.

GPD 11/3/10

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 10/31/10

For Reformation Dad

“God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore will we not fear,
Though the earth give way,
And the mountains fall
Into the heart of the sea. 1.2
The Lord Almighty is with us,
The God of Jacob
Is our Refuge. 7.
Be sill and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.
The LORD Almighty is with us.
The God of Jacob is our refuge. 10.11.

This Psalm helped Luther compose The Battle Hymns of the Reformation, thus:
A Mighty Fortress is our God, A trusty shield and weapon.
He helps us free from every need, that has us now overtaken.
The old evil foe, now means deadly woe.
Deep guile and great might, are his dread arms in fight,
On earth is not his equal” LSB 656,1.

And it ends,

And strangely, this correction in the last missive, paragraph 3, fifth line, Tetzel used a “jingle” to do his selling. (And if you wish to read the original jingle, I can send it if you ask.)

God bless you and your church this Reformation Day.

GPD 10/31/10

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 10/29/10

Ah, nice and cool this morning and we walkers all appreciate that. The first, let us fervently hope, of many more to come.

Tomorrow celebrates the nailing of the ninety five thesis on a Church door in Wittenberg, Germany, by an Augustinian monk named Martin Luther. The date, October 31, 1517. He struck this thesis as food for debate, not as a start of a revolt at all. There were things the Church was teaching and doing that he knew were not in keeping with the Bible. So Luther posted this series of topics for discussion in debate.

And this stirred up a storm, for it was coming to grips with some issues that the Church was using to control lives and even raise money for building projects. The sale of ‘indulgences’ by Johann Tetzel, for instance, especially raised Luther’s ire. Because Tetzel had been forbidden to work in Wittenberg, he set up shop near its border to sell, and Tetzel was a suburb salesman. He used a jingle that sold, and the reason this was successful is because most people could not read, the bible was a closed book to them, and they relied on words told to them for truth. So they accepted Tetzel’s jingle with no reservation.

Today we really find that hard to understand, because we can do what Christians have always done, “search the Scriptures daily to see whether these things are so”. Acts 17,11, as the Bible tells us the Bereans did. And as Lutheran taught the people of his day also. Read it for yourself, was his challenge. That is one reason, by the way, why Luther translated the Bible into the German language. His translation is still being used today. And also why he wrote the small catechism as a teaching tool, to make sure the people understood the foundation of their faith and the reason why Jesus is The Way, the Truth, and the Light. The gift God provided to suffer and die in place of sinners. ”He died for all, that they which believe in Him will be saved.”

And that is what we celebrate on Reformation Sunday. We know, by God’s grace, the truth to eternal life. It means we believe and accept Jesus' death on the cross as the only payment needed to save us. And for this we thank God. And we rejoice for His grace and mercy to us.

GPD 10/29/10

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 10/27/10

The promise is for some colder mornings tomorrow and following. Storms swept across much of the Midwest and into the east, and we sit here with weather that makes the morning walk almost uncomfortable. But the weather people promise that will finally come to an end tomorrow. Patiently we wait, and remember to be thankful we didn’t have the terribly high winds some areas suffered. Meanwhile the moon hangs low in the sky overhead, watching and smiling.

Yesterday, 185 years ago, the Erie Canal was opened. The country had no civil engineers and much of the survey work was done by amateurs. Construction was mostly by mule power and hand power, but the work of finishing the 383 miles that connected the Hudson river with Lake Erie, using 83 locks to raise the water level 568 feet from the Hudson to Lake Erie, was called the eighth wonder of the world in 1825, when it was finished. It aided in opening and in settling the country, and lowered the cost of shipping grain from the Midwest for export to Europe by 95%.

In these fast-moving times, it is good now and then to look back at the history of this country and stand in awe of what our ancestors have laid out for us to make our life a little better.

In this connection, I remember the old Farmer’s Almanac which has been printed continually for the past 219 years. Here is some advice from this year’s pages. Five tips for good manners in modern times.

l) Use a firm handshake, 2 or 3 pumps is enough. Takes 3 seconds.
2) Think before you speak. Good advice for recent political speeches.
3) Write thank you notes, and begin with ‘dear’.
4) When using a cell phone in public take care that you don’t disturb others with your inane chatter.
5) Shut off cell phones in meetings, and DO NOT text while driving.

Really sounds like common sense, doesn’t it?

That brings to an end this bit of remembering. It is ever on my mind, this word from Psalm 27,1

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?”

And may He bless your day, and your life, in Christ, our Risen Lord.

GPD 10/27/10

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 10/23/10

The event that changed the world and brought us ‘before’ and 'after’, the death crucifixion of Jesus Christ in an obscure corner of the Roman Empire, hardly noticed by anyone else, took place about 30 years before this letter arrived in Rome.

Rome, the teeming Capital of the world, bustling with commerce and activity of all kinds, was also home of much important writing, so this letter hardly made a splash when it arrived.

There was much to read in Rome. Court documents, official notices, fine poetry and literature. And yet, this letter has outstayed them all, and is indeed an excellent statement of what God is up to in this world. And who Jesus Christ is, and what does it mean when we say Jesus “saves”, and just why is it important for mankind?

For here St. Paul, who begins the letter by identifying himself as “the servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an Apostle and appointed to tell the Good News”. V.1. And, so beginning with the beginning, he tells the story. How Adam and Eve fell into sin, ‘by One man sin entered into the world”, and how this sin was defeated by Jesus Christ, and what this all means for the life of every person. How believers are to react now that they do believe Jesus died for them, and what happens to their lives, their outlook, and their entire existence. How they can, and do live in hope. And how they can defeat the temptations thrown at them by Satan.

It’s an important letter, for it explains clearly just what God’s Plan is to save mankind. The news is The Good News. That is why these last verses we will look at in a moment are so striking.

Paul ends his letter with greetings from various believers, and then he throws this caution in. “Fellow Christians, I urge you to watch those who cause disagreements and make people fall for going against the teaching you learned. Turn away from them. Such men are not serving Christ, our Lord, but their own bellies. By their fine flattering talk are deceiving innocent people”. Then he adds this word “I want you to be experts in what is good, and not even beginners in evil. It will not be long before the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet”. Romans 16, 17-20

Paul uses “I urge you”. He means the words to be taken as a strong warning. The word he uses here, “urge” means “Please pay attention” and “I insist you follow this”. It is pressing.

As it is today. A recent study tells that a mere ten percent of all Christians believe they have the entire truth, and say “there is some good in all religions”. Flattering, but never true for the person to whom Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the Life. No man comes to the Father But By Me.” John 14,6.

GPD 10/23/10

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 10/16/10

I used a napkin today that had this printed on one edge:
“100% recycled fiber with a minimum of 40%
Post-consumer material,
Processed chlorine free,
Printed with water based inks.”
Isn’t that informative. It really tells me much more than I want to know, or even need to know, when I use this napkin.

I suppose that printing is there because of a law, or because of being afraid of being sued if it is not there. And it points to what is bothering many folks these days.

A recent article in the Houston Chronicle was titled, “How Did We Ever Survive Childhood?” It points out how we survived riding bikes without proper helmets or knee pads, how we went barefoot everywhere, including wading in bayous, how we went riding by clinging to dad on his motorcycle, how we waited for dad to come home and riding from the road to the yard on the running board.

And bullying. It seems to be on the rise, and is everywhere debated and considered and a cause for fear and what else. I would like to offer a letter taken from the Houston Chronicle for October 14 or 15. I am just offering the letter with no comment. Here it is:
“When I was a kid, a much larger boy used to chase me down every day when we got off the bus and beat me up. I finally complained to my dad about it, and he said, “Why don’t you hit him on the head with a Coke bottle”?
There were always refund Coke bottles strewn around. So the next morning on the way to the bus I found and strategically hid a Coke bottle.
When we got off the bus at the end of the day, sure enough he chased me all the way to the Coke bottle, where I reached down, picked it up and smacked him on the head.
I was never bullied again”.

Can you imagine that happening today? School boards would meet, the bus driver would be ‘relieved of duty’, families would stand in line, some cheering, some disputing, and the thing would be cause for wise comments on TV, in the papers, and on the networks.

But that is how such things used to be settled, quietly, often unheralded, and permanently.
Another letter in the same issue speaks of government trying to solve all our problems and protect us from every conceivable danger and ends like this:
“We, the American people, must at some point in our lives start taking care of our problems all by ourselves.”

For you and me, the Baptized children of God, the answer always lies here. “Do not put your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.. . . Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord His God.” Psalm 146, 3.5. For “The Lord shall reign forever.” V.10

GPD 10/16/10

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 10/13/10

It’s an amazing feat, isn’t it. I mean that rescue of trapped miners in Chile. They have been underground for a total of 69 days. The company had bored a rescue hole to let down food and water and feed air to keep them alive. Most are still in good health. All will be medically checked and ministered to. It will take an hour for each rescue. The capsule that rides down weighs nearly 1,000- pounds and is equipped with telephone and lights as well as air.

And the world has watched this, hoping for success.

I wonder several things? Did they, or their families, pray? Was their attention on the Lord who offers us free salvation? Were they wondering ‘what if’ this thing doesn’t work, what happens to me after? Did any of them have eternity in mind at all, and did they KNOW where they might be spending it soon?

Was “The Lord has become my fortress, And my God the rock in whom I take Refuge?” Psalm 94,22, on their mind during the trying days?

Suffice it to say that I am glad they had success, and I do pray that each of those miners will suffer no long-term illness because of this ordeal.

And for us all, it is surely a reminder, again, how really fleeting are the days given us, and how we often do not praise and thank God enough for His constant care and blessing.

May He bless your day, in Christ Jesus, the Risen Lord and Savior.

GPD 10/13/10

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 10/10/10

Shade Tree Wisdom 10/10/10

Right there is the reason for this Sunday message.

Whenever other time can I date a message with not only one, not just two, but three perfect tens, like so, 10/10/10? Never again in my lifetime.

So, since “The god of this world has blinded the minds of them, which believe not, lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them” 2 Cor 4,4.

And since “wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of those things, though you ought to know them, and be established in the present truth. I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; knowing that shortly I must put off this tabernacle.” 2 Peter 1, 12-14.

Proverbs chapter 3,1-10:

My son, forget not my law; but let thine
Heart keep my commandments.
For length of days, and long life,
And peace shall they add to thee.
Let not mercy and truth forsake thee;
Bind them about they neck,
Write them upon the table of thine heart.
So shall you find favor and understanding
In the sight of God, and man.
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart,
And lean not unto thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and
He shall direct thy path.
Be not wise in thine own eyes,
Fear the Lord,
And depart from evil.
It shall be health to thy navel,
And marrow to thy bones.
Honor the Lord with thy substance
And with the firstfruits of all thine increase.
So shall thy barns be filled with plenty,
And thy presses shall burst with new wine.

GPD 10/10/10

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 10/9/10

Front porches served a real purpose in American life. It’s the place for that cool drink of lemonade after pushing the lawnmower around the yard. It was also the place for the neighborhood children to gather for their endless games of summer monopoly. The front porch was the place where the family relaxed after a long summer day. And where neighbors, out for a walk, would stop and chat a moment before going on their way.

There was a fine protocol about that. If the people on the porch invited the neighbor to ‘Come up and set a spell’, they could, otherwise protocol called for them to chat a minute, and then move on.

A front porch invited people to talk, to dream, or to do nothing at all.

Today the front porch is no more. We have patios, and enclose them with a fence, at least 8 feet high, with the lock on the inside. We no longer know our neighbors as we once did. And that is a thing I miss.

What brought all this on is the item in the paper about a house in Missouri City. It is a large house, some 5,000 square feet. Set among other such houses.

But it is unusual in that the upper floor was converted specifically to grow marijuana with a special watering and drainage system and controlled lighting. The Task Force that investigated said they found 850 plants with a value in a years time of some 4.2 million dollars.

What they were doing was illegal, but they did it because there is a ready market for their product.

And the question for each of us might be, “Am I involved in this thing too?” Do I ‘pass by on the other side’ when I might help someone in need. Am I always ready to lend a hand where needed, or do I excuse myself because “I have no time”.

I am saying such things ought to be for us a sort of wake-up call to check the way we live and function in this weary world. Ponder on this word of Jesus.
'Then Jesus said to His disciples,
If anyone desires to come after me,
Let him deny himself,
And take up his cross,
And follow Me,. .
Assuredly, I say to you,
There are some standing
Here who shall not taste of death
Till they see the Son of Man
Coming in His Kingdom.”
Mathew 16, 24.28

And may our gracious Lord bless your day.

GPD 10/9/10

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 10/7/10

When you land at Busch Intercontinental airport in Houston, you fly over large open spaces. What will delight you is that the airport grows and cuts hay on these acres and sells it at a profit of nearly 200,000 a year. I know that knowing that delights your frugal self, does it not? (Authority getting something right!)

It seems as if an endless stream of words comes out of that sad report from Rutgers University. And the Christian must be asking, “Is there a definite help for this situation?” Let’s go back to Moses. The children of Israel are just finishjjng their 40 years wandering in the wilderness and are on the brink of the Promised Land. So Moses, who will not enter the land himself, speaks words of advice, and God’s wisdom for their ears. This fills the Book of Deuteronomy. Chapter 4 has this, v.2, “Do not add to what I command you, and do not subtract from it”. V.6. “observe them carefully” the nations will hear of this and say, “surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people”. V.6.

And where does this teaching start? In the Home. Read Deuteronomy chapter 6, 3-9, The Shema. “The Lord our God, is One Lord”. Have the words ready for teaching, for discussion, for thinking about. “Write them on the doorframes of your house and on your gates.” V.9 Use every teachable moment to have this Word ready at hand.

If you remember the history of the Reformation, the first Catechism was printed on charts that were hung on the kitchen walls of homes.

The thought behind this is for God’s people to get their culture from God, not from the world.
If I might put Moses speech for today he said, “That land is a mess religiously. They stumble around and don’t know right from wrong. Don’t follow them. Do not be like them. You stick with God’s will and God’s Word that I give you this day”.

The Lord repeats this message again and again, and yet again through the prophets, then Jesus taught it, then the Apostles. It always meant the same thing. The land is a mess, “Do not let the world crowd you into its mold”. As Paul said in Romans chapter 12.

St. Peter teaches, “They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you.” 1 Peter 4,4.

Jesus called you “The salt of the earth” and “The light of the world”. So teach your children to follow the culture of that Light, not that of TV, or mouthings of strangers, or of some self-seeking person. But follow God’s Word as the True beacon and shining light.

May God bless you as you live as God’s child I this messy world.

GPD 10/7/10

Monday, October 4, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 10/4/10

“If you think some praise is due him,
Now’s the time to slip it to him
For he cannot read his tombstone when he’s dead.”

A line from An Irish Proverb by James O’Leary. It’s a bit of wisdom reminding us to speak the good word when we can.

And that’s why I selected this to begin, for the good word is this. If you have ever thought about setting out to walk daily for health, or for exercise, or just for being outdoors, or if someone has suggested it, a doctor, or a friend. Now is the time to start.

Why? The air is bracing and fresh; the morning is pleasant and usually quiet, so conducive to thought or meditation, and any person you meet will give a cheerful greeting, or return your cheerful word, and the breakfast to follow will taste so much better. Different, really, because you have developed a sharpened appetite. So, that explains the beginning above. Simply a pleasant way to begin.

What lies on my mind are questions, troubling problems. I am referring to that troubling story that happened with that Rutgers University student.

A review of the movie about Facebook suggests that this is an invention that really serves no real need, nor does it have a stated purpose. It seems to pander to the dark side of nature.
The action sort of leaves us with a snapshot of the result when nearly a fifth of people under the age of 30 say they have no religion, or religious leaning, or training, nor do they care.

I can say Luther had a word about this when he urged, when dealing with our neighbor, always to “Put the best construction on everything”.

Jesus said this, remember His teaching, The first and greatest commandment is this, ‘thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and the second is like unto it, ‘thou shalt love they neighbor as thyself’.” Matthew 22, 37.38. And then Jesus said, “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets”. V.40

Would it have made a difference if these people had this teaching in mind?

There was a time when respecting ones privacy was a matter of manners. We might call it civilization.

So, when others are victimized; when pictures are taken, and displayed, without permission, be outraged; raise the roof, point a finger and yell, no more.

“Be kind to one another, forgiving, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you”.

GPD 10/4/10

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 9/29/10

On the sunny, but cool fall Saturday morning, they had come to town to do some shopping and now were waiting to pick up the Mother and maybe have lunch at the Coffee Cup and then go back home. Now the father had parked in the shade of a little park with his son. They were watching ducks in the pond, and hearing children on the swings, and the son asked, “Dad, why are we here?”

“My chance to do a little teaching here” the father thought. And so he started with the creation, and how Adam and Eve had been disobedient and so had fallen into sin. And how Jesus Christ had then rescued us from this sin by dying on the cross. He went on for a while and then asked,
“Does that sort of answer your question?”

“No,”, the son said, “I want to know why we are we here when we were supposed to pick up Mom from the beauty parlor thirty minutes ago?”

Now that sort of thing never happens to you, does it? I know the mother will be a bit upset for having been kept waiting, for no reason, it turns out, except he forgot! But it’s the sort of thing that happens, and years later they will recall it with a fond smile.

Because it’s one of those circumstances that happen in life which can and does have a lasting effect, either for good, or bad. For either Mom treats it as a thing that happened, or she treats it as a forgetting that she will never allow him to forget, and throws it around in every conversation. She uses that instance as a tool to really destroy her marriage and her life.

Those negative results are so bitter that God has given us words about just this. Jesus taught us, in the Lord’s Prayer, “Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.” Then Jesus added this word, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6, 12.14

And St. Paul, writing in the letter to the Romans, says “Owe no man anything , but to love one another; for he that loveth another has fulfilled the law.” Romans 13,8. And writing to the Church at Colossae, Paul says, “Even as Christ has forgiven you, so also do ye.” Col. 3,13. And to Ephesus this, “. . .forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4,32.

So, when son asks, “Dad, why are we here?”, remember to pick up your wife and go have a nice lunch at the Coffee Cup and go home, loving one another. That is what God blesses, and what adds the sweetness and joy to your life together, making it stronger and richer.

GPD 9/30/10

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 9/28/10

Ah, walking in the really fresh air is just fine, and it must have been catching, for I spotted several walkers I hadn’t seen before. Or are they just looking for a bit of health enhancement? That’s OK too, isn’t it?

I have been reading “Ten Lies About God” in which the author tackles some of the common wrong ideas about God. Lines such as “God helps those who help themselves”. Many people (according to Barna research, 8 out of 10), really believe that the bible has that line in it. It does sound so right, after all, and seems to make a lot of sense. But it comes from pagan religion. 500 years before Christ, Aesop wrote, “the gods help them that help themselves”. Euripides, a Greek philosopher, wrote "try thyself first, and after, call on god”. Our present line was formulated by Ben Franklin.

The problem with that is what St. Paul teaches us; “As for you, you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.” Eph. 2, 1.2.
The truth is, without Christ, spiritually we're dead, helpless, and cannot lift a finger to help ourselves. We all have had an experience where we simply could not ‘get through’ to another about some truths we would wish to share. They just did not hear. Why, “they were dead in trespasses and sins”. The Psalmist writes, “Even from birth the wicked go astray, from the womb they are wayward and speak lies.” Ps. 58,3. For unless the Holy Spirit teaches us, we are blind. St. Paul again, “The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, so they cannot see the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God”. 2 Corinthians 4,4.

So St. Paul teaches us that “By grace you are saved through faith. That not of yourselves, it is a gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast”. Ephesians 2,7.8. For God does not and did not leave us to work things out. Instead, “When the fullness of time was come, God sent forth Hs Son”. Gal 4,4. At just the right time, never late, never early. Then “The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, it teaches us to say “no” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age.” Titus 2,11.12.

Indeed, this final truth. “When the kindness and love of God our Savor appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we have done, but because of His mercy, He saved us by the washing of rebirth and renewal of the Holy Spirit, which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ, our Savior.” Titus 3,4-6. Thanks be to God.

GPD 9/28/10

Friday, September 24, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 9/24/10

The weather doesn’t yet speak clearly that it is fall, but the markets certainly do. Tubs and pots filled with colorful mums that will soon grace patios and front doors and other spots around homes to say to one and all, “Welcome to our house”.

One sad bit of news one reads more often than not is home break-ins. Here is the story of a 12 years old girl and her sister, home alone, hearing the front door being smashed in and seeing a thief coming up the stairs. The girl went to her father’s bedroom, picked up a shotgun, and shot the intruder, wounding the second one. What they did not know was that this girl had been skeet shooting at a range with her daddy since she was seven, and had won championships.
Another, the son of a Deputy Sheriff, also shot and killed such an intruder, and such stories are becoming more frequent these days.

Let me tell you a story. When I was growing up in a farming community, I suppose most homes had a rifle or shotgun for shooting varmints that got into the chicken coop, and many went deer hunting in the Fall. We had a neighbor whose house had a dug out cellar under the kitchen for storage. This cellar had an outside entrance, and the mother complained of rats down there. So they set some traps, and got a few, but she still worried they would get into the stored produce. They also had a son, maybe 14 or 15, he meant well, but did not always think things through. One night after chores, without telling anyone, he got the shotgun, sneaked into the cellar from the outside, and waited for rats to show. He saw several come out of their holes, so he blew them away. As I said he did not always think things through, and when that shotgun went off in that confined space directly under the kitchen where his mother and sisters were doing the supper dishes, you can imagine the BOOM, scared them nearly to death. But he managed to shoot three rats with one shot.

Well, the story just came to mind when I was reading about the recent shootings - God help us when we live where life means so little, when what we want seems to be whatever I want I take, regardless.

May God give us His direction, His constant care, and His eternal salvation in Jesus Christ.

GPD 9/24/10

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 9/23/10

Welcome, the first day of fall.

I was just wondering this morning as I thought of geese flying over at night in my Wisconsin boyhood whether one of the speeches they were exchanging was one saying, “Are we there yet?” What do you think?

The beauty of the fall colors may not be as intense here as in the north but the air is just a trifle cooler, so walking was pleasant, and a cold front is promised in the next several days. One blessing of this coming front is that it tends to keep any hurricane activity farther south, or steers it elsewhere, away from the Texas coast.

But soon the Whooping Cranes will arrive to the Aransas reserve to spend their winter. The people who keep count hope they will see an increase in the flock size again, an encouraging sign.
The time of migration reminds me of the Arctic Tern, which winters in the Arctic, then flies 14,000- miles to summer in the Antarctic. What a distance. William Cullen Bryant wrote “To A Waterfowl”. In it, this stanza,

“He who from zone to zone,
Guides through the boundless sky thy certain flight,
In the long way that I must tread alone,
Will guide my steps aright”.

Reminds us there is a Hand here that directs it all, and cares.

I believe Nehemiah, in rehearsing the history of God’s Way with His people in their 40 year trek, points out that “For forty years You sustained them in the desert; they lacked nothing, their clothes did not wear out, nor did their feet become swollen”. Neh. 9,21.

Another migration is underway here on the coast. White shrimp, that spent the spring and summer in the marshes rimming the bays, begin a migration. They move from the protection of the marshes where they grew from larvae into juveniles, eventually to the Gulf, where they spawn and the cycle begins again, for tide and current push the eggs back into the marshes.
But white shrimp lead a tough life. They are not good at evading predators, so they move in clusters, fish feed on them from below, birds snatch a meal from above. Many survive to grow and finally become your dinner at Babins.

And just by the way, fishermen who know this find some serious fishing activity in such situations also.

And so the Fall begins, with the change of seasons work takes more of a place in lives, summer picnics are behind us, school and college get our attention, and in it all is God, for the Christian always the center of life. He remains “The faithful God, eternal.” Praise His Holy Name for providing all that we take so granted, but that goes on on a regular basis because God so ordered it.

St. Paul describes it. “What may be known about God is plain to them, for God has made it plain to them.” The Creation is His handiwork.

GPD 9/23/10

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 9/21/10

When you need one, it always seems to be missing. And you search and find and lay them handy for the next time. It’s that ubiquitous pencil, you know, the item people thought would become obsolete with the computer age.

Not so, the pencil, used by General Grant to jot down battle plans, and by Prussian chancellor Otto von Bismark to tamp down the tobacco in his pipe, is still very much alive today. Abraham Lincoln probably composed the Gettysburg address with a pencil.

And as a matter of fact, roughly 15 to 20 billion are made each year, some half of them in China. Craftsmen have made pencils in Stein, near Nuremberg, for nearly four centuries. The world’s biggest branded pencil manufacturer is Faber-Castell, a German firm in business since 1761. The great grandson of the founder of the company invented the hexagon pencil in 1839, by doing that, it kept the pencil from rolling off the school desk.

“Do you have a pencil handy?” Isn’t that the question a person asks when they want you to make a note of something? And we have them around at home and at work.

Lately, an innovation is to make the case three cornered, and add small rubber dots to make the pencil easier for small hands to hold.

Such a common item, but so useful, and necessary. No, I do not believe it will be replaced by a computer, at least not for a while.

To me, it is a reminder that some things remain the same, cannot be improved, and never change. And the first among those truths is the truth that God speaks, and the Truth that Jesus Christ, the Son of God died on the cross of Golgotha to pay for the sins of the worlds.. 1 John 2,2. “For Christ died for the sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteousness, to bring you to God.” 1 Peter 3,18.

That Truth remains the Truth for all time.

GPD 9/21/10
Facts about the pencil gleaned from the Economist 9/18/10

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 9/19//10

More on Worship
It’s a bit cloudy right now, but still warmish, even though Fall starts in just a few days now.

Before worship this morning, from where I usually sit, I see the walk leading from the parking lot, and so can watch people arrive. In some families, the children are running ahead, in others, kids twaddle, and they’re usually boys. Why is that, I wonder. And I see the faces, some eager, some worried, all coming because they are looking for a Word for their lives.

Then, as people arrive, there are murmured greetings, some small talk, worship folders distributed, and everybody settles down. Some prepare for worship by reading a hymn. Or reading some Passage from the pew Bible at hand, or just sitting quietly, waiting, and meditating.

The pace is leisurely, life slows down a bit, nothing is rushed, there is no hurry, we begin to understand what is meant by “Be Still, and know that I am God.”

And the thought comes that this is one reason for the worship hour. It is really to give us the time to hear God, to take time, without butting in with our inanities, to pay close attention to what God said to us, remembering that what we learn “was written for our learning, on whom the ends of the world are come”. And its important that we hear what is said without butting in with some senseless thought, or twitter, as one church encourages. How sad a commentary.

But the hour at worship brings a sense of peace and then of belonging, for I hear Jesus say “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me, and I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one can snatch them out of my hands”. John 10,27.28

So I can leave that hour knowing again I am not a number, but a name for whom Jesus died, and for whom God cares. What riches are mine, and yours, Baptized Child of God.

GPD 9/19/10

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 9/18/10

Some years ago several of us had been invited to spend some vacation days at a friend’s cottage on Lake LeALanau in northern Michigan. We spent time visiting, boating, sight-seeing, and enjoying some sports. Our final evening there we were sitting on the front lawn, enjoying the lake, while the women were preparing something to eat. Night was nearing, and the sunset over the lake was simply spectacular. We called to the wives to come and watch it too.

The sun set, and the afterglow was red, then shaded to purple, then slowly ended. All of us were struck with the majesty of that sight that really left us speechless. It was grand. Too grand for words.

The Psalmist declared, “The heavens declare the glory of the Lord, and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showed knowledge. There is no speech, nor language, where their voice is not heard.” Psalm 19,1.2.

I believe worship is like that.

Worship is that time when we stop to remember who we are, and how we fit into God’s plan. E.C.Peterson, in his “Leap Over a Wall” writes, “Worship-is the strategy by which we interrupt our preoccupation with ourselves, and attend to the presence of God. It is a time we assign for deliberate attention to God. . .because our self important is so relentless that if we don’t deliberately interrupt ourselves regularly, we have no chance of attending to Him at all”.

So the worship hour is at hand. The acolytes have lighted the candles, the Pastors have processed and spoken a word of welcome. Perhaps, “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

Then the invocation. We are doing this in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. That brings us to the repentance, and the forgiveness. The load of sin is lifted “by the authority of Jesus Christ Himself”.

Several Bible readings follow, and then comes the Sermon, God’s Word explained and laid before us for us to consider, think of, praise, and give thanks to God for His guidance, assurance, and presence in our life.

That brings us to our offering, and then the Lord’s Supper, where we receive the real Body and Blood offered and shed for the forgiveness of our sins. The prayers and the Blessing send us out, back into the world, strengthened and refreshed and renewed for the week of living in an often uncaring world.

But for that hour, our attention has been on what God is, has done, and what He has told us for our living. And we are reminded again that “The plans of the Lord stand firm forever. The purposes of His heart for all generations.” Psalm 33,11.

GP 9/18/10

Monday, September 13, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 9/13/10

Yesterday the Senior Ministry held a cake reception for my 65th ordination anniversary after the early service at Living Word Lutheran Church. It was nice, but you know how those things go, people mean to, and still they need to get back into the class for study. That is fine with me, because that’s where they learn stuff to help them grow in knowledge and strength for faith. Presently they are reading the Augsburg Confession? Makes wonderful reading, and shows why we believe as we do.

But it was kind of bittersweet also. It reminded me of so many blessings through the years. Years have taken their toll, now about all I do is write a Shade Tree Wisdom now and then with my comment on the passing scene. I avoid politics, except, of course, urge prayers for all those whom God has placed in authority.

I thought of the hymn

“Lord, when the shadows lengthen, and night has come,

I know that You will strengthen, my step toward home.. . .

So take my hand and lead me, until the end”

And that brings to my mind St. Paul’s words in his letter to the Romans, chapter 13.11ff.

“Understanding the present time, the hour has come for you to wake out of slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand, let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day. . .And put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think of how to gratify the sinful nature.” Vv. 11-14.

It is fitting that the text uses the term “put on the armor”. That, I suggest, is a fitting word, because while we are here, we are surrounded by the enemy, as a matter of fact living in ‘enemy-held territory’. The world is not a friend to faith. The world about us would rather see us stumble and fail; it would rather have us join them in their senseless activity, than spend time in worship, or Bible reading, or doing God’s will in this place.

St. Peter warned when he wrote, “They (that is, the world in which we live) think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you.” 1Peter 4,4. Peter reminds us that “Once we were not God’s people, now we are God’s people; once we had not received mercy, now we have received mercy” 1 Peter 2,10. Because we are redeemed “with the precious blood of Christ, a Lamb without blemish or defect”. 1 Peter 1,19.

Thinking of that makes the day ‘sweet’, added to the fact that we are members of a Church that believes that Jesus Christ is our One and Only Savior from sin, makes the day “sweet” in retrospect. A Church that makes every effort to “arm us with the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.”

GPD 9/13/10

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 9/9/10

Hermine, the tropical storm passing through, left us with over two inches of rain, but no more, wind or storm damage.

Today is a special day, because it is the 65th anniversary of my ordination into the Holy Ministry. The place for it was Immanuel Lutheran Church, St. Charles, Missouri, which had called me to serve as their assistant Pastor. There were 850 people in church and I hardly knew anyone there. Just my wife, Ruth, my parents, and I knew the pastor and his family. But God blessed.

And so He has through the years. I stopped a bit to look back, and there are some memorable moments, and some in which the hand is so clear.

But now,
“as the shadows lengthen, and night has come,
I know that You will strength, my steps toward home”.

And with Joshua of old, I can say what he said in his farewell speech. “I am about to go the way of all the earth. You know with all your heart and soul not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed.” Joshua 23,14.
And it is a delight to know our Church still teaches and preaches the Gospel Truths with passion, understanding, clarity, and sincere conviction. That is satisfying to know, and it is a rich blessing of our God, whose mercy is new unto us every morning.

God bless us all.

GPD 9/9/10

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 8/31/10

“Lost – Brown Cocker Spaniel”. Signs like that appear in the Woodlands from time to time. Sad, but often useless, the lost dog is never found. What happened was they were taking their dog for a walk, and since there was no one else near, they removed the leash. Suddenly the dog spots a rabbit, or squirrel. Something to chase, so it does. Its having fun. Follows unheeding of the owners calls, and becomes lost. It is not used to the place, it wanders around, lost.

Yondering! A word meant to speak of far places, and wandering there I search of something. Fulfilling a longing, looking for something else in life. Wanting freedom, and ending up entangled in a total disaster.

It’s all part of that “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence" syndrome we all seem to have. In the beginning, the Lord gave Adam the garden with this word, “to dress it and to keep it”. In short, take care of it. That ended with the fall into sin. Then he order changes, “Cursed is the ground for thy sake, in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns and thistle shall it bring forth to thee and thou shalt eat the herb of the field, In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat thy bread till thou return unto the ground”.” Gen. 3, 17-19.

But people have always tried to turn that around. For example, ever since New Hampshire (I believe) first introduced a lottery because their leaders were afraid to raise the needed taxes, this country has been suffering under the curse of a lottery that promises to relieve want, give many benefits, “without any cost.”

Right now many look to government to ‘give people what they need’. That frees us, does it not? Until we remember that government can ‘give’ only what it takes from us.

So “Yondering” really leads to sadness, for it never promises what it seems to.

There is but one way, and that is the way of God, following His Word, accepting His promises, so that we can say with St. Paul, “I have learned, in whatever state I am, therewith to be content”. Philippians. This is written after he suffered shipwreck, was jailed, beaten, scourged, stoned, drive out of town. Then, He could say, “I am Content”. Because he truly believed that God supplied every step of his way.

Take that path with me. We do have peace with God because our sins have been paid for when our Lord Jesus died on the Cross, for me. Thank God for this assurance.

GPD 8/31/10

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 8/25/10

Nice walking again, why not join me for a step or two some morning, you leave your door, I leave mine, and we both get deeply immersed in the wonders of God’s creation that lies just at hand.

And that’s why this bit of wisdom today.

This morning’s newspaper reports that the oil plume, which was reported to be 22 miles long and 3,600 feet deep, is now “undetectable”. It’s been eaten by a voracious species of oil-eating bacteria that has largely consumed this large plume of oil spilled into the Gulf since April.

Scientists tell us the such bacteria have since the beginning been eating oil that seeps from the sea floor regularly. But this study has discovered a particularly voracious bacteria that multiplied rapidly after the spill. Now their hope is to identify the bacteria and culture it, to use against future spills.

If such activity has been gong on since creation, isn’t it reasonable to assume that the hand of God is here also?

At least for this writer, it brings a “Praise God from whom all blessings flow” to the foreground with heart-felt thank you, Lord God.

GPD 8/25/10

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 8/24/10

The walk was just delightful this morning because of a slight breeze, this in spite of the heat yesterday. Have you noticed too how the TV weather people seem to delight in reporting a new record for heat and humidity? And the ‘heat index’ to top it all off.

Well, let them have their hour. Let’s go on to what came to mind now. We once lived in Mexico, Missouri. The place listed itself as the ‘saddle horse and fire brick capital of the world’. Quite a pretentious title, but they did live up to it. So the county fair featured horses. I remember always being impressed by the dressage events. We had the good fortune to have a friend offer us seats in his front row box, but he did stipulate that I wear a tie and jacket. “Wear coat and tie to a county fair”? I asked. It was required, he said. So I did. (How many of you have ever gone to a county fair wearing a coat and tie?) But I digress.

Dressage is a kind of riding that is judged by the way a horse performs in showing its training. That training is rigorous, and a finished product has the horse and rider performing the required steps with only gentle knee pressure to guide the horse, and it is a delight to watch. Requirements are strict, and the closer they are met, the better the final score. (And riders wear top hats, snazzy.)

It reminds me of a truth. The farther we drift from the prescribed way, the deeper the trouble we get into. You know the joke, the husband and wife are driving somewhere, and they are lost, simply because he “knows the way” and does not need a map, and so really gets himself lost. The result is anger, quarreling, and trying to explain to friends when they finally arrive. I know, GPS, get one and use it.

Here is a truth. Leave the WORD of God to follow advice of the world, and go wrong. It is always so.

I am thinking of discipline. When this subject is discussed and someone asks “Did you spank your child?” there is always a flurry of, “studies show this. . .’ or “The experts agree. . .” The final expert, the Lord God, said this in Proverbs chapter 3, 11-12. “My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord, neither be weary of His correction. For whom the Lord loves, He corrects even as a father a son in whom he delights.” Look at what it says, correcting comes from a loving father to a son he delights in.

The Book of Hebrews speaks of this subject also and says baldly, “If you are not being disciplined, then you are not sons.” For he writes that discipline is “for our profit.” Heb. 12,8.10.

The truth remains constant, “Train up a child in the way that he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22,6. That remains true. And the further truth is that children need and want guidance, direction, help. After all, remember they are new to this world, help them find the right way. God bless this effort.

GPD 8/24/10