Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 6/30/10

A soft, cooling breeze for the walk this morning, and I thought of the breeze that will soon be making landfall around Brownsville in South Texas later today when Alex is projected to come to Texas and northern Mexico. The Houston area is on the ’dirty’ side of the storm, so it can expect heavy rains and winds, but nothing really major.

This is the last day of the month, And the day the first storm of this season makes landfall.

The area is busy making preparation for the season, buying batteries, some buy generators, board for windows, water, and other supplies. Galveston has closed some beaches, and they warn, “When the beach is closed, we remind you no one is to be there, for we have NO patrols, NO lifeguards, No help of any sort.” Because such storms cause major surge in water and much higher waves than normal.

But June 30 also reminds us that the year is now half gone, and time for some questions. Have you done what you planned to do? Have you grown in grace and in faith, as St. Peter urges us, “But grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ”. Are you a stronger person than when the year began? Have you survived unexpected hardships and unseen calamities in your life? What lesson did you take away from that experience?

I offer this as your theme:

“Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in
The land, and verily thou shalt be fed.
Delight thyself also in the Lord, and He shall give
You the desires of your heart.
Commit thy way unto the lord, trust also in Him,
And he shall bring it to pass.” Psalm 37, 3-5.

GPD 6/30/10

Friday, June 25, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 6/25/10

Had a nice rain last night, and today the outlook is for more possible thunder showers, probably later this afternoon. Always welcome here. But this early summer the weather seems to be either too much, or not enough. Rains and floods here, wind storms and tornados there.

It always reminds me that God still is there, doing the weather, as He always has.

But my attention is drawn to an article in the paper billed as “the world’s longest horse race”, or “The greatest horse race in the world”. It is the Mongol Derby, a race 1,000 kilometers, that’s 630 miles long, and takes at least ten days.

The article tells us that a Phinehorst native (that’s in Texas), is one of the 16 representing 5 countries who qualified for the second Derby, which starts August 7. He is one of the first 3 Americans ever selected to run the race. His name is Justin Nelzen and he is a Farrier by trade who trains and races horses in such endurance contests.

For this race the horses are furnished, each contestant is assigned 25 horses, and each contestant is given 3 days of training. The Derby course traces one of Genghis Kahn’s supply and courier routes that emperor used. Every 30 miles a Mongolian family serves as host and the station where the rider selects a fresh mount. Part of the task is to select a mount with stamina, over-all health and disposition. Another challenge is that these horses, little larger than pony-sized, have 8 speeds, rather than the familiar four most horses have. You know, walk, canter, trot and gallop. So riding them is not as smooth as an Arabian steed, or a Tennessee Walking Horse, offers. And riders do not get to “test drive” their mounts, they ride what they select.

Well, he will know in August if he races successfully, but I am sure no sports sheet will cover the event, so we won’t know how he makes out. And we won’t lose any sleep over it either, will we now?

And why do I spend time with this? Maybe to let us remember that there are many things going on in other parts of the world, or even next door, that we know nothing about, and it doesn’t seem to make life either harder or easier. In short, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not on your own understanding."

May God bless your day.

GPD 6/25/10

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 6/22/10

Summer is here, and we are happy? It will be hot, but predictions are that it may be wetter than usual, so it will not be so bad, though the predictions also speak of much hurricane activity.

That is as may be. (Now there’s a phrase often used, but what does it really mean?)

The news is that we had a guest speaker for our worship service this Sunday past. He is the President of the Lutheran Church in the Philippines, the Rev. James D. Cerdenola. I imagine he is in the states in connection with the Synodical meeting this July in Houston.

His sermon text came from II Kings chapter 23 where King Josiah found the Book. The text reads that he called all the leaders together “and he read in their ears all the words of the book of the covenant which was found in the house of the Lord.” II Kings 23,2. The same story in the Chronicles reports that he tore his clothes in dismay when he saw how far the people had drifted from the way God wanted them to walk.

Because when people do not read the Book, they tend to ask the wrong questions. And the question they ask then is “What must I do?” Instead, the question ought always be, “What did GOD do?” That is the question we ask when we read the Book. What did God do for my salvation. And the Book always tells me that He has done it all. There is no need for me to add anything to my salvation.

That, Pastor Cerdenola said, is the reason for the many kinds of religions in the word today. People do not read he Bible, nor do they regard it as God’s divinely inspired Truth, and so they drift from His way always because they are asking the wrong question.

The only way of salvation is written clearly, there for all to read, and we pray that the Holy Spirit will direct hearts to see and hear it to their eternal blessing.

GPD 6/22/10

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 6/19/10

On Mothers Day records show the most long distance phone calls are made. BUT, on Father’s Day the most collect long distance phone calls are placed. Seems children still depend on Dad. Mmmm.

When our first grandchildren were growing, we often had them over for an overnight visit. We’d do things with them, go to the Mall, go bowling, go sight seeing. One of the features of their visit was breakfast at some fast food place. At the end of the meal when the check came I would reach for it and say, “I am waiting for the day when you will reach for this and say, “Grandpa, this time it’s on us”. It became sort of an in-house joke with us.

Well, they went through school, high school, and college, and the oldest one graduated and got a job. Life went on.

Then one day the phone rang and he was calling to say, “I want to have dinner with you tonight, so please plan on it. I will leave work a bit early and be there at 5.”

Wonderful. Around 4:30 he called from the car and was stuck in slow traffic because of a major accident on I-45. He’d be a bit late. At 5 he called again and said, “Do you mind meeting me at the restaurant? I’ll be there in about 35 minutes." So we drove over, and we met there and had dinner. We caught up on life in general and chatted about this and that. At the end the waitress brought the check and he reached for it and said with a grin, "Remember all those breakfasts we had and you’d always have a line for us. Well, Grandpa, this time it really is on Me.”

Funny how moments like that sort of stick in the memory, and Father’s Day brought it all to the fore.

In his letter to the Church at Thessalonica St. Paul speaks how he taught them and especially how he treated them. He said he did not flatter them, but “we were gentle among you” chapter 2,7, and then he adds we treated you “as a father does his children” v.11.

The Bible, espcially the Book of Proverbs, is filled with advice for fathers in families. The first chapter urges, “The fear of the Lord s the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction”. 1,7.

That really says it all, does it not? For when there is fear of the Lord, that means we hold Him in awe and revere Him as the Almighty God. We yearn to increase in true knowledge, growing in grace, as St. Peter writes it. And we look first to His Book for learning and understanding.

The rest follows, “But fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Sad, but true. Paul speaks of hard hearts, and never learning.

I trust we have fathers who speak and teach that wisdom first of all, for that we can and do thank God. I pray this is true for you.

So, Happy Father’s Day.

GPD 6/19/10

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 6/17/10

Father’s Day coming, and the paper is filled with possible gift suggestions.

So, may I send along an item gleaned from the daily paper?

A father who lives in Maine said his children, all living elsewhere, had sent him a box filled with 365 slips of paper, each containing some memory, sad, poignant, funny, from their growing up years for him to read one a day. He said he read the whole pack in two weeks and it warmed his heart.

OR, buy him a tie! ! !

GPD 6/17/10 P.S. Is he always in your prayers?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 6/16/10

The Proverbs write, “All the ways of man are clean in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the spirit”. Prov. 16,2. Solomon had already said, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end of it is death”. 14,12.

Integrity is the way a person is inside. Remember, what a person is is never hidden from God, for God, in choosing David as the next king, had said to Samuel, “You see the outward man, as a man seeth, but the Lord looks at the heart: l Sam. 16,7.

Integrity. A good example is Joseph. Remember him, sold into slavery by his jealous brothers, sent to Egypt and ended up in the house of Potiphar, an official, where he ended up as head steward in charge of the household because “the Lord blessed Joseph,” and as a result the household was blessed.

BUT. Well, you remember that story, how the man’s wife cast an eye on Joseph, tried to seduce him, and heard him say, “How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” Genesis 39,7. and run away from her, ending up in a dungeon. Of course the man believed the shrill lies of his wife. I do not suppose Joseph even had a chance to defend himself before he was condemned.

Even there he was blessed of God, till Pharoah had a dream, and the chief butler who had also been jailed for some reason but had been released, remembered Joseph had correctly interpreted his dream. Genesis 41, 9-14. So they cleaned Joseph up and he interpreted Pharoah’s dream as well, and ended up being given the job of coordinating the whole business to prepare for the seven lean years of famine. And he did that job superbly well too, because Joseph had integrity.

In the aftermath of the Watergate scandal many keen thinking analyzed it in three words: compromise of integrity. The tapes reveal eroding of character, lies, duplicity, temptation, moral breakdown, and then rationalization.

Life must be set on a firm foundation. When we fudge on truth and principle, (Just this once), a subtle erosion happens, and we start to lose. If the life ahead we plan calls for compromise of truth, a softening of theology, a wrong in any way, change it. Let the word for you always be, “Follow Me.” His Truth, His Way, that leads to LIFE.

May God bless that walk in integrity.

GPD 6/16/10

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 6/9/10

Yes, I did. I found a dime just as I was starting my walk this morning. It was good news, because the breeze picked up and it was pleasant, because that breeze lessened the humidity.

So what does it mean when you find a dime? Find four more and get a cup of coffee from Mac? Drop it into the offering Sunday? Share it with a child by getting some ice cream? Or just expect good luck all day?

But I have been reading a review of a Book reviewing the history of anti-Catholicism in America in the early years of the past century. It is the story of the case which tried Edwin R. Stephenson, a Methodist minister and a member of the Ku Klux Klan, for shooting Rev. James E. Coyle on the front porch of his rectory.

The Klan was a power in areas of this country, a dark power, and in the trial the accused was acquitted by a jury that included several members of the Klan.

I read books like that and ask, “Is such a thing possible here?”

And the answer seems to be “yes, it is possible.” When we consider, for example, the reaction of many to the law on illegal immigrants passed by the State of Arizona. When one reads that the State Board of Education in California is planning to teach in the classroom that Arizona was immoral in passing such law. (Which law, by the way, nearly images the U S Law), then yes, it does seem possible.

Why? Partly because people really don’t think through such issues. They follow the loudest voice, and usually mob rules, and common sense flies out the window.

St. Paul said there would be times like this, when people “having itching ears”, would follow their own thought and feeling instead of hearing truth.

These surely are times when we need to be alert, use our common sense, and think issues through. We always ask, “Are they in keeping with the will of our God?” For only then is there blessing in the result.

GPD 6/9/10

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 6/8/10

We have been reading about the disaster in the Gulf, oil leaking from a broken well. Then we read about the disaster in Ohio, a storm cutting a swath 300 yards wide and 10 miles long. It really does seem as if there is no end to such reports. When one ends, another takes its place in the news.

Now isn’t that like life where changes often come suddenly, seemingly from left field, out of the blue, here they are, and we need to deal with them somehow.

And the man who comes to mind is Job. He lived long ago in a land of Uz. He was a respected citizen since he was blameless, God-fearing, and clean-living. He had ten children, fields of livestock, herds of camels, servants to look after his interests. He was called “the greatest man in the East”. His years of hard work, honest dealing, helpful neighborliness had made his name a synonym for honesty and integrity.

One day he was sitting under the Oak in the back yard relaxing after lunch, chatting with his foreman, and they were planning to start the harvest in two days, when messenger rushed in with the news that the Sabeans had killed the workers and taken his oxen and donkeys away. That was followed by another saying a bolt of lightning had killed the sheep and their shepherds, that was followed by a third saying the Chaldeans had driven off his herds of camels and killed their keepers. The final report told him a storm had destroyed the house where his children were eating and killed them all. On top of that, he lost his health.

When he dust had settled, what did he say? Maybe his hand was shaky when he wrote, but this is what he said. “Naked I came from my mothers womb, And naked I shall return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away, Blessed e the name o the Lord.” Job 1,21. That is followed by these words, “In all this Job sinned not, nor did he blame God.” 1,22

How can he do that? Be so calm about the disaster. What's the secret for his calm behavior?

Job looked up. His words are, “Shall we indeed accept good from God, and not accept adversity?” 2,10. He sees God ruling his life, always. “Thou art the Potter, I am the clay”. As the Prophet says.

Then, Job looked to the promise God made. “I Know that My Redeemer lives, and at the last . . .I shall see God”. 19, 25.26. This is sure and certain, for him as well as us, because “Christ Jesus died for the sins of the whole world”. Job lived with this hope, and, as St. Paul writes, “hope does not disappoint” Romans 5,5. So Job endured today when he saw tomorrow.

And finally, and lay this lesson to heart, Job confessed his own lack of understanding. He did not even try to explain “why me” of this all. In the end he says, “I know that Thou canst do all things, and that no purpose of Thine can be thwarted. Therefore I declared that which I did not understand . .things too deep for me, which I did not know. I will ask Thee, and do Thou instruct me.” Job 42, 2-4. That’s the secret for us in our corner of this world. May God bless our life in His Care.

GPD 6/8/10

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 6/5/10

Warm, and the promise is for some warmer weather for the days ahead.

Jesus taught, and “the common people heard him gladly”. Why? Well, He taught so they could clearly understand. That’s why He often used stories, or parables, to make His teaching clear.

One such story is in Mark chapter 4. It’s about a farmer out sowing his seed. And as he moves along it falls on different kinds of soil.v.14 – 15. “The farmer sows the Word. Some people are like the seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes along and takes away the word that was sown in them.” These are people who reject any Word out of hand, scoff at it, deny it and turn away.

v.16.17 “Others, like seed falling on rocky places, hear the word at once and receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away”. No root, no stamina, no lasting power, because they are not rooted in the Word.

Still others are described in v. 18.19, like this, “Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word but worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth, the desire for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.” This group is troubling. The thorns were already there when the word was sown. What are such thorns? Jesus says they are ‘worries of this life, deceitfulness of wealth, and desire for other things”. Such things choke the word so there is no fruit.

Jesus does not say they “Might”, choke the word, He simply says they will. These enemies of the word sneak in, they do not attack boldly from the front, they ease in. Isn’t that how worry works? We start asking, “What if”, instead of “The Lord is my Rock, and my salvation”. Please think on this.

Then there is the fourth group. Here the seed falls on good soil and bears fruit, thirty, sixty, or even a hundredfold increase.v.20.

This is the story. We can’t miss what He teaches because Jesus Himself explains it to us. I pray the story burns the lesson into mind and heart to our blessing.

GPD 6/5/10

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 6/3/10

Rain last night, how much I don’t know. But the air was clean and fresh, and just as I stepped back on the porch the rain began again for a bit, but the bus was just in time to allow the waiting students to get on before they got drenched to start their day.

A note in the news reports that this summer grasshoppers will be invading some states. That is sad news, thought today they can spread poison to end this invasion.

I remember only one time that grasshoppers came as far as our farm in large numbers. Fortunately, by the time they came, most of the crops were harvested and safely stored, and before they could too much damage to the greenery, a strong wind hastened them out over Lake Michigan and ended the danger. Fish had a feeding frenzy, fishermen reported. Well, so did the chickens on the farm.

However, that summer grasshoppers had done much damage to crops in the western plain states, simply destroying crops and all greenery.

Such incidents always raise questions, as do hurricanes, floods, wild storms, and other natural disasters. We are always looking for reasons and causes.

Remember one things the Scripture teaches us quite clearly.

8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. Isaiah 5, 8-11

In brief, the Lord does not need to give us reasons for such actions, does He? Let us be willing to give thanks for whatever He allows, and praise His name for giving us the mercy and grace to send His Son our Savior. That is enough.

GPD 6/3/10