Monday, May 31, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 5/31/10

Blessed, and most welcome, rain last night, so the air was a bit washed this morning, but getting humid too.

Have you noticed it too? The absence of pockets in short sleeved summer shirts for men? I regard that as a conspiracy, because that’s the pocket I carry my card in because it is easy to reach and check.

So many things in the news to comment on. Number one surely must be the most recent action of the ACLU. They want the cross shaped grave markers removed from the soldiers’ graves. I do not know what legal stuff they are using to make their case. It is mostly by shouting and hysteria, that they get done what they want done. St. Peter warned about it. “The devil, as a raging lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour, who resist steadfast in the faith”.

It took five years, and $ 265 million to build, but on June 18th ,The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opens. The 20 acre attraction is just 13 miles from were Walt Disney opened 39 years ago. By the way, the turrets of Hogwart soar 15 stories into the air. In the park, you do not stand in line for a ride, instead, the line is a part of the experience. Author J.K.Rowling has not been there for a visit, but she has been very hands-on in making selections and choices, including approving the exact taste of Butterbeer. (Tastes like cream soda).

Mark Woodbury, president of Universal Creative in Orlando which planned and created the park, says, “the end object is to take people on a journey that will blow their minds”.

Then there are the storms, the floods, and losses in South America. Is this the beginning of the hurricane season that is to be very bad?

Then, we have the stand-off situation between North and South Korea, a tinder just waiting to be ignited, it sounds like.

Life goes on, doesn’t it?

What a mix to speak about. But life is like that, and we take the good and the bad together. St. Paul, many centuries ago, in writing to the Christians in Colossae, encourages them to be holding steady. I am quoting from The Message. “We keep hearing reports on your steady faith in Christ, our Jesus, and the love you continuously extend to all Christians. . .This is as true among you today as when you first heard it. It doesn’t diminish or weaken with time.” 1,4.5. “So, if you’re serious about living the new resurrection life, act like it. Pursue things over which Christ resides. Don’t shuffle long, eyes on the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. . .your old life is dead, your new life, which is your real life – is with Christ in God, even though it is invisible to spectators.” 3, 1-4.

That letter, written to Christians also living in this world, gave them the needed courage and strength to go on. So let it serve us as well in 2010.

GPD 5/31/10

Friday, May 28, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 5/28/10

Still in May, and already the thermometer reaches high 90’s. The paper adds to the misery by announcing that it looks like a very busy hurricane season, since the part of the Atlantic where hurricanes form is already quite warm. However the scientific community is not ready to commit completely. So the prudent Gulf coast makes preparation for possible winds and high water.

The Christian, however, looks elsewhere first, doesn’t he?

This is what the Child of God sees, and trusts.

“The heavens declare the glory of God,
And the firmament showeth His handiwork.
Day unto day uttereth speech,
And night unto night showeth knowledge.
There is no speech, or language,
Where their voice is not heard”.
Psalm 19, 1.2.3.
It comforts the anxious person, this knowing who is really there always. When our youngest daughter received her first assignment to teach for the Department of Defense overseas, it was to a bit of an island in the east China Sea. Okinawa was her first destination, teaching for Air Force children stationed on that distant rock. We were in the Federal building in Memphis where she finished her paper work. On the wall was a large world map, and I finally spotted the bit of island and said, “There?”

So she quoted this to me:

“Where shall I go from thy spirit,
And where shall I flee from thy presence?
If I ascend up to heaven, Thou art there,
If I make my bed in hell, behold, Thou art there.
If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell
In the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me,
Thy right hand hold me up.. . .
The darkness and light are both alike to Thee”.
Psalm 139, 7-12.

And it gave peace to our worried selves.

So, when storm predictions come, when the world seems to be running amuck, when things seem out of control, do remember that God is there, just as He promised.

GPD 5/28/10

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 5/27/10

“Though he giveth or He taketh,
God His children ne’er forsaketh.
His the loving purpose solely,
To preserve them, pure and holy”.
LSB 725,4.

That thought is good to remember. That God does watch, protect, guide, and preserve us. For without His care we would indeed be lost.

In my morning devotion today I read this, “Our Lord says, ‘He that is not with Me, is against Me.’. Think of the double, and low, standard of morality so prevalent in our modern age, the winking at wrong, the absorption in trivial things, the indifference to Religion, and that self-satisfying, conventional religion which so many have fashioned for themselves”.

Then turn your eyes to the Lord Who said, “He that is not with Me, is against Me.”

For there is our light, and our salvation, in the Cross where Jesus the Son of God, paid for our sins, and gives us the promise of life eternal. But we tend to forget, neglect, disregard, treat lightly or scornfully, that which brought us here. I mentioned this the other day, and ask again, “Do we cherish our heritage?”.

Moses was troubled by that too. He knew after he was gone that they were inclined to forget the blessings, and follow the example of heathen around them, so the Lord instructed Moses to teach them this song. Deuteronomy chapter 32 is that song. It is a shocking song of warning, designed to get the attention of those who forget God and fill their lives with trouble.

[Something like the Texas effort over this weekend, “Click it, or ticket”, and the ticket for not wearing seatbelts is $200. That seems to get their attention to the law.]

Moses ended his song with this word: “Set your hearts unto all the words which I command you this day, which you shall command your children to do, all the words of this law. For it is not a vain thing unto you, it is your life.” Deut. 32,46.47.

Maybe there is a favorite Psalm, or verse of some hymn, or line from some Scripture, that settles your heart on the right track again, for “It is Your life” to be an obedient child of God, whose desire always is
“To preserve them, pure and holy”.

GPD 5/27/10

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 5/25/10

The morning walk is warmish made better with a little breeze. So I persist, especially since my heart Doctor says it’s good for me so to do.

After last Sunday the choir is taking a brief vacation to relax, regroup. But they left us with that wonderful Aaronic blessing with its sevenfold Amen. That always sends a deep message. You can just see the children of Israel at day’s end, bowing deeply and hearing Aaron, their High priest, speak these words into their ear. “The Lord bless thee and keep thee” to remind them, they are always under His watchful care. Then, “The Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious unto you”, so He is ever watchful, but also filled with grace and favor toward them and their lives. So finally, “The Lord look upon you with favor, and give you peace”. How best to see the setting sun and the ending of the day. To know they have peace with their God because sins are forgiven and God Himself has declared them righteous.

What better way to leave a worship service than to have those promises ringing in our ears. It eases the way for the soul and strengthens the faith in the heart that may be burdened with sorrow and cares.

That, too, is a part of our Christian heritage we cherish, but so often carelessly toss aside as ‘old fashioned’ or ‘out of date’.

And that attitude depresses me, scares me, for we see the fall- out all around us when we forget sin is sin and man is born that way.

We ought to live like Daniel did. He was living in a land where he was much alone, not surrounded by familiar people, not even having a temple near. Babylonia was a heathen land. Yet when he came, he determined not to leave his moorings. The report reads, “And Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself.” Dan. 1,8, He made up his mind before any tests came how he would act. And God blessed him as he served his heathen king. Daniel did so well and was so able that he received promotions, and that provoked jealousy and brought on further tests. When his jealous opponents could find no fault in his work, they said, now listen closely, they said, “We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God”, ch.6,5. So they had a law passed about prayer, and Daniel prayed only to God, and did it openly. So he ended in the lion’s den, which he survived because God kept him safe.

When we look at the many problems and troubles facing us today we cannot but be dismayed how we are squandering our heritage, not only in this country, but also in Europe. The Christian Church is not the sound foundation to be counted on to lead and teach. Christians have too often not been faithful in their stated faith, for too many were not even sure just what that faith is. The Christian Church has not been forthright in declaring “Thus sayeth the Lord” because they declared parts of the Holy Bible irrelevant to this day. So for many there simply is no certain bugle call, no sure word, no certain guide.

I pray we will live like Daniel in this world, letting our light shine as God’s children, who may be living by a different drummer, but know where they are going and who saved them. They know and believe their sins have been paid for when the Son of God, Jesus Christ, suffered, died, and then rose again. The debt is paid, and they have “peace with God.” May it help you sleep better.

GPD 5/25/10

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 5/20/10

It is getting warmer now, so nature does what it always has been doing, and we forget that so often and complain about this “awful; heat” or “this humidity”. Hey, that’s been around much longer than we have, hasn’t it? But the Lord who provides the weather also gave us minds to work things out and so we invented air conditioning, and in Houston, tunnels for living during the summer. I forget how many miles of tunnels connect stores and shops underground, but there is a bunch. Why, there is even a business that gives you a tour of them. [Now there’s an item for the ‘things to do list’ next time you visit]

We just had elections in several places, and it is kind of amusing, and somewhat tiring, to hear the explanations, and what they portend. But they point up that sin is still alive and active in this world.

The Book of Romans is a short course on religion, why Jesus came, and why what He did is important, indeed, vital for our very eternal survival. In the first chapter after greetings, Paul sets forth his agenda when he writes, “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believes,: to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, the just shall live by faith”. Romans 1, 16.17.

Then St. Paul speaks of the wrath of God. This wrath is revealed against sin, against men, “who hold the truth in unrighteousness”. And for this behavior, St. Paul says “they have no excuse” because they can clearly see God’s works in the nature that spreads all around them. But instead of accepting the clear evidences, they “became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” V.21.

And that sets the tone of this letter. St. Paul speaks of this plight of man and then shows what God has done in Christ Jesus to give him a way out of his darkness.

The Book of Romans is not easy to read. It needs much prayer, much effort, and work, but the work of God is made plain in it. I can but urge a quiet reading again and again much prayer, and may the Lord give insight and understanding, for it leads to a stronger faith. May God bless this for you.

GPD 5/20/10

Monday, May 17, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 5/17/10

“Take no thought, therefore, for
Tomorrow; for tomorrow will take
Thought for the things of itself.
Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”
Matthew 6, 34.
These are the ending thoughts on Jesus' word on worry. Where He speaks of lilies of the field clothed in rich color, and adds, “shall He not much more clothe you, oh ye of little faith? V.30.

Thomas Carlyle said, “Our main business is not to see what lies dimly in the distance, but to do what likes clearly at hand”. Good advice. One man read that line and determined to live his life in “day tight compartments”. By that he meant what happened yesterday is history what may happen tomorrow is in the future, so I will tend to what lies at hand for me to do, and do it to the very best of my ability.

The Psalm said it this way,

“This is the day that Lord has made,
We will rejoice, and be glad in it.”
Psalm 118,24.
The ancient Roman world lived by this motto: Carpe Diem. Seize the day, use the day handed to us.

When we face some problem that seems insurmountable, what do we do? Throw up our hands in defeat and say, “what’s the use?” Or do we start to think, what is the worst thing that might happen here. OK, be willing to have it so, accept it. Then, having done that, we can start to think how to solve it, or at least ease the burden. We are ready to take some direct action.

The chief thing about worrying is that it keeps us from doing, isn’t it? So why worry, do instead, and remember what Jesus said to us, not just the words above, but also, ”I am with you, even to the end of the world”.

What a welcome, assuring, restful promise that always is.

GPD 5/17/10

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 5/15/10

Blessed rain last night, and more this morning. It greened the grass and washed the dust off the trees and made the world look a bit brighter. But it’s a gloomy sort of day which lends itself well to contemplation. The story of the rocking chair brought this story to mind.

Henry was now alone. He had married Luetta in their church in town and moved to this farm that Henry had inherited. Here they had raised four children, all now married and gone, but all still living fairly close. They saw them often, had family dinners together and such things. Now Luetta was gone and Henry could no longer farm, so he had sold the farm and today was the auction to sell his worldly possessions. His son had made arrangements for him to move to a nursing facility in town. It was nearly ten o’clock, the time set to start, and lots of people were already there. The farm machinery went first, then the livestock.

Henry had Jersey cows, for their milk had a high butterfat content, and he sold that to the creamery in town. Funny, when he saw they being loaded up he remembered that this creamery made a string cheese that was sold over the country. His friend, who had visited Houston, Texas, had brought him some that he bought there at a place called Specs. Small world, Henry agreed.

Now they were auctioning off the household goods. Everything was going. He had packed a small suitcase with some clothes, and his Bible and prayer book. It now waited in the front closet. There went the lamp they had bought from Sears and Luetta had always used to read by, and do her knitting and patching. Gave him a jolt to see it going.

Most of the day Henry watched all this from the front porch. He was sitting in the rocking chair that he had bought Luetta one Christmas. She used it a lot, sitting on the front porch, shelling peas, or reading her Bible, or just relaxing in the evening.

The day was filled with memories. When he saw their canoe loaded up he noticed it had been bought by that young couple who bought the Johnson place. He remembered the fun they had canoeing, either fishing for their supper, or just gliding along the stream that ran through their farm. So relaxing, and so satisfying. He hoped they would enjoy using it as much as he and Luetta had.

Now the crowd was gone. The auctioneer and his son had gone to the bank to get things settled, and then his son was coming to take him to his new home. So Henry just waited, sitting in the rocking chair and enjoying the cool evening breeze, and the psalm came to mind. “The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament showeth His handiwork.” And he prayed for a peaceful move, and a quiet life.

And that’s where his son found him, a smile on his face, a restful pose, and peace at the last.

GPD 5/15/10

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 5/12/10

I’m getting better by the day, beat that bus again! But then, I am nearly a “Lovable Old Curmudgeon”, so don’t seem to need so much sleep, and find getting started in the morning, especially such a fine one, easier to do.

I learned something interesting the other day. And this news is on the positive side, so I just want to pass it on. Did you know that baby wards at major hospitals have volunteer rockers? They volunteer to rock babies for some time each day. Hospitals have found that babies who are held, warmed, rocked, and talked to get well sooner, grow better, are healthier, and do so much better than babies that get no such attention.

Hospitals are filled with marvelous machines, yet they find room for that old rocking chair.

Let’s talk about that old rocking chair. A song titled that by Bob Miller and sung by Hank Snow reads, in part:

Sitting alone in an old rockin’ chair,
I saw an old mother with silvery hair.
She seemed so neglected by those who should care
Rocking alone in an old rockin’ chair.

Her hands are all calloused and wrinkled and old,
A life full of hard work is a story they told.
And I’ve thought of angels as I saw her there,
Sitting alone in an old rockin’ chair.

I look at her and I think what a shame,
The ones who forgot her she loves just the same.
And I think of angels as I see her there,
Rocking lone in an old rockin’ chair.

And I thought of a favorite aunt of mine. She never learned to drive, and now lived alone since her husband was gone. But there were sons and daughters, and now grandchildren near by to take her anyplace she needed to go. Now she was all dressed, waiting to go to the Ladies Aid meeting at Church. She had belonged to that society for more than 50 years, had served in office, and had often prepared meals for people in need, sat with people while they grieved, even helped prepare several bodies for burial.

But her daughter was coming to take her to the meeting, and she was sitting in her favorite rocking chair, just waiting. And that’s where her daughter found her, quietly sitting in her rocking chair, her hand clutching her purse, with a smile on her face.

It was there, in that chair, sitting alone, that the Lord came and said, “Your days that are written before you were born are now done.” So He took her home, and while the children and family grieved, still they rejoiced that she was a baptized child of God.

I pray such for each of us.

GPD 5/12/10

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 5/11/10

Pleasant this morning, and I was out early enough to beat the big yellow box, and also the humidity which will climb during the day now.

I saw a report that the Library 0f Congress plans to assemble teams to archive tweets. Once that is developed, it will give historians the ability to zero in on useful information. Right now it is in the planning stage.

I don’t tweet, so this is right now beyond my comprehension, and whether good comes of it I know not. But when I think of all the constant chatter, the often mindless words that flow, or the thoughtless speech that often hurts, I would urge caution on such a project.

Then I think of our Lord’s teaching, “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with the judgment you judge, you will be judged; with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you”. Matthew 7, 1.2.

For words have a way of hanging there, and when they hurt that hurt often remains and festers.

Have you ever had a piece of dirt in your eye? You blinked, and tried to wash it clear, and maybe even ended up in the emergency room to have that cleared away.

The Lord is teaching us to have a care always in every dealing with others, that we truly treat them always as “ourselves”.

I don’t know what you are doing right this minuite, and I don’t care. But both of us should care very much that we treat one another with love, with decency, honor, and respect. May God help us to do this.

GPD 5/11/10

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Shade Rree Wisdom 5/9/10

Tomorrow would have been her birthday. She died young, only 60. But ancient King Lemuels lesson from his mother still rings true.

“Who can find a virtuous women?
Her price is far above rubies."

Then this line, mark it well.

“The heart of her husband can safely trust in her”.

Ah, trust. It carries the weight of real concern for the other. It has in it something that so often is missing, being ‘one heart and mind’ in what is done in their life together.

Then this mother is concerned about the poor and helps them, she makes sure her own family is well clothed so “she is not afraid of the snow for her household”.

So then,

“Strength and honor are her clothing
and she rejoices in time to come.
She speaks words of wisdom and kindness is her style.”

Then finally, her children shall rise up and call her blessed, and her husband praises her and calls her blessed.

Indeed, “A woman that fears the Lord, she shall be praised.”

Mother’s Day celebration, I trust for you it is a fine day, happy, and blessed by God, and so cherished in memory.

GPD 5/9/10

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 5/6/10

Many things start in amazing ways. Bess wanted some ice cream. So her boyfriend rowed across a lake outside Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to get her some.

It was a hot day, sunny, hot, especially so when you are rowing a boat and trying to get back soon enough to keep the ice cream from melting.

But this boyfriend was Ole Evinrude, born Evenrudstuen in Norway, and emigrated at age 5 to Wisconsin. He was a mechanical tinkerer, and invented the first outboard motor for a boat. He started a company in Milwaukee in 1900 which had 300 employees by 1912. He allowed two motorcycle mad teens to do their tinkering in his shop. One of them was name Arthur Davidson, who went on to Harley-Davidson motorcycle fame.

In 1913 Ole sold the company to care for his sick wife. He died in 1924, soon after his wife had died, and his son Ralph eventually became chairman of the new company Ole had started.

So, maybe the reason you and I can speed around on the water is because Bess wanted an ice cream cone.

Well, “to everything there is a season”, said Scripture.

GPD 5/6/10

Monday, May 3, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 5/3/10

This time it was Dan’s turn to go along with Daddy shopping. We got our groceries and were walking to the car when we passed the hardware and paint store and I remembered I needed extra paint and a brush. So I turned in, got my paint and brush, and said, “Dan, here, you carry this, please.” And he wasn’t there? He was so busy watching people he didn’t notice me turn in, so he chugged along half a block or so and then noticed I wasn’t there. So he did what we had told them, “If you ever get lost, ask a police officer for help.” He saw one coming and stopped him and told him, “My Daddy lost me”.

Well, the Police station and City hall was just around the corner, so the officer took him there. When he brought Dan in the City clerk, who was a church member, said “Why, that’s my Pastor's boy. "What are you doing here, young man?” Dan said, “My Daddy lost me.” So the clerk reached for the phone to call our house, but then decided to wait a bit. They felt maybe I would show up. I soon walked through the door. There sat my son on the front desk, grinning and eating an ice cream cone. He enjoyed the whole experience so much that every time he went shopping with Daddy I had a hard time to keep him from ‘getting lost’, because he figured each time he would get ice cream!

This little bit of family history shows just how temptation works. The bait was that ice cream cone that a well-meaning clerk gave him. The intention was excellent, and it did what it was meant to do, keep him occupied until I got there. But the result was that he had a desire for this, and the way to get it was to get ‘lost’. Which was a wrong action on his part.

St. James writes about faith. It will be tried, he writes (1,3), but he also reminds them that “Every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed, then, when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin, and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death”.

The result of temptation which is not resisted always is tragic. And there are always consequences, "it bringeth forth death", writes James. Satan blurs our vision of these consequences; we take them lightly; the short pleasure has a high cost unto ourselves, to our loved ones, and to our relation to our Lord. It tends to make us avoid Him.

The answer is, “RESIST HIM”. Have nothing to do with advances of Satan. Peter writes, “Be self controlled and alert” 1 Peter 5,8-9. Solomon’s wise word is “My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.” Proverbs. 1,10.

The Lord warns us, and arms us. So “Put on the whole armor of God so that you can take your stand against the wiles of the devil . . .take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God”. Eph. 6,11.17.

Rich Shuman said, “The biggest threat to our well being is absence of moral clarity and purpose”. God has given you this in his Word, the Sword of the Spirit. Be sure to arm yourself by your daily reading of God’s Word.

GPD 5/3/10

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 5/1/10

This is May Day. Did you dance around a pole on May Day with the rest of the children, or was it left unobserved there also? Just as well, because we have enough stuff to keep track of, don’t we?

Right now the country is concerned about the oil spill in the Gulf, and is mobilizing to get that under control. Terrible consequences there for the entire fishing industry. And that new law the Sate of Arizona just passed is causing major uproar - but it is mostly that, noise, for something had to be started to get control of this situation. Just yesterday we read some had shot a deputy who was patrolling in the desert. No, it is not about Human rights, it is about obeying the law.

But we wonder, was there ever really a time when there was no unrest? I think of growing up. We lived day to day, worked what lay at hand to do, rested when the sun went down, visited on Sundays after the Church service and in the afternoon, and celebrated the Fourth of July with a picnic. And that was fun, but when I was small it was comforting to see my mother or father always close at hand.

Later I learned that quiet communities like ours had been ill treated and were under a cloud of suspicion because their ancestors came from Germany, and the Great War (The War to end all wars), had just ended.

No, there never was a time when there was no unrest. A reading of history shows that. The Bible is filled with wars, disasters, calamities, and for the Church, always persecution. That was the case for the people Peter writes to in his letter. They were often shunned in the market place, ill-treated at work, their children made fun of. And to them Peter writes. “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of God’s own possession, that you should show forth the praise of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2,9. As such special people, ”Have your conversation honest among the Gentiles, that they may glorify God by seeing your life”. V.12. Then, “be ready to give an answer every man who asks.” 3,15.

Don’t be too involved with the world, because you are Pilgrims passing through. Do not drive the tent stakes too deeply. As such, ”avoid fleshly lusts, which war against the soul”. 2,11. Then Peter reminds them to “cast your cares on Him, for He cares for you”, and because “the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may destroy. Whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing the same afflictions are done in your brethren which are in the world.” 1 Peter 4,7-9

Those words I find heartening and comforting. The letters end with the suggestion to “Grow in grace and in knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ”. Because the more we do that, the closer we move to God, the more we can see clearly that in all the turmoil in this world, He reigns. God bless us in His Care.

GPD 5/1/10