Thursday, July 29, 2010

Shade Tree wisdom 7/29/10

Well, the walk was easy, pleasant indeed, but cloudy. However, the weather people tell us the rain has gone and heat returns. It is end of July, after all.

This is a memorable day, for today, July 29th, is the 65th anniversary of our marriage,and we became great grandparents yesterday. What joy.

The day was bright and sunny, not a cloud in the sky, warm, a slight breeze ruffled the leaves on the trees, a day such as you experience ONLY in Wisconsin in July. And we were married at Trinity Lutheran Church on a Sunday afternoon, Pastor H.C. Wehrs officiating. Our wedding march was the Hymn, “Lord, Take my hand and lead me, along life’s way”. That was Ruth’s choice. Her reasons. It was a pleasant melody, and the words were thoughtful and really a prayer to accompany us through life. So that, when we heard the hymn, it reminded us of the prayer with which we began our days together, and the Lord Who always attended us.

Now after 65 years, what better prayer than

“Now when the shadows lengthen,
And night has come,
I know that You will strengthen
My steps toward Home.
And nothing can impede me,
O Blessed Friend,
So, take my hands and lead me,
Unto the end”.

That expresses a hope, states a wish, and speaks a heartfelt prayer.

So, we went on a brief honeymoon. Drove to Lake Shawano. Gas was still rationed, and we had no coupons yet. We rented a cottage for the week, but since we had no food stamps either, we really were terribly limited in food we could get. Corn Flakes, and Spam, and lots of fresh fruit. Fortunately, the neighbor in the next cottage was always fishing, so he shared his catch with us, so we had fish, I believe, three times. We went to church on Sunday, and planned on a meal at a restaurant as a special treat. But, none were open, since Wal-Mart hadn’t yet spread abroad and bulled many businesses into 7 day a week activity.

But we passed a hotel, and the sign said “Restaurant”. Good, we stopped and went in, only to be met at the desk with the notice that they only served their guests. Disappointed, we turned to leave, and the proprietress noticed our woe-begone expressions and said, “Maybe I can help. What is the problem”. So we poured out our sorry tale. She, kind soul, said, “Come on back. I will give you a meal and send some back for tomorrow”. So she did, fed us well, and we survived.

Tuesday we drove home, and found that gas rationing and food rationing had been ended the day before!

“So take my hands and lead me,
Unto the end”.

GPD 7/29/10

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 7/27/10

It was gloomy this morning, really dark yet, and when I began my morning walk, I ended it at the end of the driveway because it was just starting to drizzle a bit, and my days of enjoying a walk in the rain are well behind me. So I picked up the paper, and went back home.

So, now as I write this, the sun is looking out and sees a world of green, nice breeze, it strikes me as being a place at peace. Well, this corner of it is, but then I look at the daily news and it speaks of wars and deaths and murders, and crashes and mayhem and disaster. Enough bad stuff to cause worry.

And there are indeed people who worry, often needlessly, endlessly, and for no reason except they need to have something to worry about.

Are you among them, folks who walk gingerly through life thinking “what if”, or “Maybe, maybe not”, or “If this, then that”. Like Uncle Otto. He used to wear both a belt and suspenders, just “In case”. Is that you?

Then I have advice for you, to encourage you and bring some measure of ease to your worried life. It comes from God’s precious Book. It says, “Trust in the Lord, and do good, and verily thou shalt be fed.” Psalm 37,3. And one more, this from the Proverbs: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. In ALL thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall bring it to pass. Be not wise in thine own eyes; fear the Lord, and depart from evil.” Prov. 3, 5-7.

Jesus spoke of sowing the seed, and warned that “The cares of this life” often choked it and kept it from bearing fruit.

And that is how the devil does his work. He chokes, he manipulates, he spreads such thought to cause worry and care, and more, that we forget the rich and sure promises of our blessed God, Who “loved me, and gave Himself for me, that I might be saved”.

GPD 7/27/10

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 7/22/10

Walking was rather pleasant this morning, cool air, a slight breeze, and quiet. Conducive to thought.

And something caught my eye as I was driving to somewhere yesterday. The light was red, and I stopped behind a Mercedes sport coupe occupied by a gray-haired couple. “Well", I thought, “here’s a couple who have had success.” Then my eye spotted their bumper sticker, printed in block letters on a light gray background, it read:

“Don’t let the car fool you,
My treasure is in heaven”.

There drove a car whose owner knew Jesus’ teaching about treasure.

Jesus taught, remember? “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust corrupts, and thieves break in and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth or rust corrupts, nor thieves break through and steal. For, where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Matthew 6, 19-21.

The advice is simple, but not easily followed, is it? We tend to set different priorities. We resist because we have bills to pay, commitments to meet, costs to fund, utilities to keep serving us. So we tend to put our sharing, our giving, our charity, at the end of the ‘to do’ list. And then there are the ‘want’ things we see. Example. Got to get the iPhone 4 because it is the newest! Though my old phone serves me well.

The July 19th issue of Time gives us an article on cleaning house. The article speaks about people who hoard things, old newspapers, spent balloons, used tissue boxes, empty water bottles, other odds and ends. Hoarders have an intense emotional attachment to their stash. To neighbors, their filled porch is junk, to them its treasure. But cities are more and more trying to address the issue, for hoarding can be a health hazard, or a fire hazard. It can bring eviction. (Think piles of newspapers and magazines near a kitchen stove).

So, there are agencies to try to help. And there also are some TV shows with hoarding as the subject. Experts think this is the first step, to help hoarders over their blindness to see what their first priorities are, or ought to be.

The Child of God has his priorities right, he follows the word of Jesus Christ, and finds there is rich blessing in doing so. For you, I pray this is so, and God does send His blessing to attend His Holy Word.

GPD 7/22/10

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 7/20/10

A friend tells me he spotted a shirt sporting this:

“Confidence, the feeling you have just before you understand the situation”.

That ever happen to you? You bought something, maybe a bicycle that came in a carton labeled “some assembly required”. Well, for you that was a challenge, so, after you messed the thing up, you finally read the directions!

That’s often just our problem. We trust ourselves, and think we need nothing else. The congregation at Corinth faced this too, and St. Paul reminded them of how their ancestors had ‘messed things up’ whenever they forgot to ask God’s direction. He described all that they had going for them, and how they mistook these benefits for a license to do things their own way. St. Paul’s conclusion, “Let Him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall”. 1 Cor. 10,12.
The other morning I took one of these little packets that have honey in them to put a little on my morning toast. When I looked closely, I read “10% honey guaranteed”, the rest, I assumed, was corn syrup of some other concoction. I felt cheated.

Then I read about the Great Diamond Hoax of 1872. Seems a man left Kentucky at age 19 to go to the California gold fields. Philip Arnold, at age 40, was working as a bookkeeper for a manufacturer of drills. In this, they used diamonds as cutting tools for their drills. Arnold, and cousin, John Slack, deposited a small bag in a bank, and allowed the banker to pry out of them that it contained diamonds they had found.

That news, of course, seeped out, and soon the city came, asking to buy shares in their find. Arnold soon sold shares worth 40,000, took some of the money, went to London and bought rough jewels, and took them to a field they had listed as their mine. He seeded an acre with diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and soon had sold nearly half a million in shares. But one government agent noticed the jewels were found only where the soil had been disturbed, and only an inch or so deep, so the hoax was uncovered. Arnold and Slack never were tried because the people who fell for their scheme were afraid to admit they had been fooled.

Read that last sentence again. The people fooled were afraid others would find out they had been fooled.

See Satan at work there? Don’t admit it. Hide it. So others won’t see how you have fallen. David tried that, and said that he slept badly, he wept bitter tears, until finally he came to a merciful God, admitted his sin, and was fully forgiven.(Ps.32)

That is the blessing we enjoy too. When we fail in life, and we often do, admit it, and have His forgiveness won by the blood of Jesus Christ’s death on the cross.

“It is better to trust in the Lord, than to put confidence in man”. Psalm 118,8.

GPD 7/20/10

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 7/17/10

Wise words, these, “Do Not Wish Your Life Away”.

My Grandmother used to say this to us when we said, “I can’t wait till Monday for the party. . .” or some such other things, longing for something to happen in the future that might make us happy.

Her statement called us back to the here and now. The Lord does have us live here and now. Jesus said, “Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own”.

I sort of like the way E C Peterson translates this in The Message: “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” Matthew 6, 33-34.

The ancient Romans had this philosophy as one of their watchwords. “Carpe Diem”, which means seize the day. Our philosophers speak about living in “day tight compartments”. All really simply say what our Lord teaches us. Live in and enjoy the thing that lies at hand for you today. The writer of Ecclesiastes said, “I know that there is nothing better for man than to be happy and do good while they live.” Eccl. 3,12.

When King Saul was made king, he prayed that “It has pleased the Lord to make you His people.” 1 Sam. 12,22. And, since The plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of His heart through all generations” (Ps. 33,11), there is no need to fret and worry and wonder about the future, but simply live with what the Lord has provided today.

Then Micah’s wisdom hits the mark. "He has shown thee what is good, to live justly, to love mercy, and to talk humbly with thy God.” Micah 6,8.

May God bless your walk today.

GPD 7/17/10

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 7/14/10

Yes, I walked this morning and enjoyed it. In the 80’s and again a slight breeze, and this morning my friendly escort showed up and checked things out as we moved along. When I get home, he disappears. But he is company, and that’s nice since we do live in a scary world, it seems.

The news is that the gushing well had been successfully capped, now they are testing to see whether it will contain the pressure when the valves are closed. But the ultimate hope is to hit the well deep underground and shut if off permanently. We pray for success.

And that’s only one of the many problems the world tussles with daily.

So how shall we then live? In fear and trembling, cowering down in utter misery and expecting the worst any second? No, we are God’s children, so I, as one of these children, find my comfort and daily strength and direction in the psalms. For an example, Psalm 27, 1.14 is rich with such comfort to help me walk with confidence and good cheer in this world. It says: “The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life, of whom shall be afraid? Wait on the Lord, be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart. Wait, I say, on the Lord.”

What is the first step? Why, to look to God. Why? Because “He is thy light and thy salvation”. The first step is always that, to remember Who cares for you, and more, who it is who promises and provides your eternal life. When we know that, what else can hurt us?

So the Psalm ends with “Wait on the Lord, be of good courage. . .wait, I say, on the Lord.”
Isaiah speaks of uncertainties in his world and concludes one chapter with, “They that wait on the Lord shall renew this strength; they shall mount up with wings, as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary, they shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40,31.

Example of such behavior are many. In Scripture, Gideon and his 300 overcoming a horde of Midianites. Or in life, when we see people overcoming great obstacles by effort, by often just waiting, and thinking, and praying till God supplies the answer.

I pray we will all live in such trust in God’s promises.

GPD 7/14/10

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 7/11/10

Nice today, on the warm side, of course – it is July, after all –but on the whole, nice out. Many people are on vacation, visiting relatives, or seeing some part of the country they haven’t seen before, or whatever they do.

The papers are filled with suggestions – visit the zoo, take the family to a museum, check out NASA, go to Schliterbahn, tour the Houston underground system. Lots of suggestions.

But here is one I never heard before. Join a barbecue caravan to central Texas to sample what Texans are always talking about, barbecue.

When we first moved here, we attended some sort of area affair. If I recall, it was a Zone Rally at a neighborhood church. And the Pastor told me, “We plan a Texas barbecue for lunch that day. You’ve got a treat in store”. Well, the Rally ended with that lunch, and I was really not impressed. Oh, it was edible, but nothing really so unusual, or special. I found the meat a bit on the dry side, and rather tasteless unless you slathered it with sauce.

Later that week Ruth and I decided to spend a day just driving the countryside and sort of exploring our new home, to see what Texas was like. So we drove, sort of without a real aim, and at lunch time came to a small town thinking of stopping for some lunch. We saw a little place surrounded by vehicles, trucks and cars, so we entered. It was late, and the lunch hour was nearly over. We went to the counter not quite knowing what to order, and the lady suggested a sample platter. So we said we’d try that. She told us to find a seat, and the waitress would bring our order. It came on butcher paper on a plastic tray with a fork. When she put it down she said, “The bread is on the table. Enjoy.”

Well, here was some sausage, brisket, pork ribs, beef ribs, and we looked, and ate, and ate, and ate, and really enjoyed it. Tasty, juicy, a veritable feast.

By this time the place was nearly empty, so the lady behind the counter brought her own tray and asked, “May I sit here and join you? You seem new here.” So we told her we were new and were just exploring, but were really taken with this meal we just were finishing. So she told us about Texas barbecue. It takes time. We use hickory smoke, find the best meats, and take the time to do it right. We thanked her, and left.

“Now thank we all our God,
With hearts, and hand, and voices”.
Was the heartfelt sentiment when we left this place, enlightened, nourished, and satisfied.

GPD 7/11/10

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 7/10/10

The walking is pleasant these mornings, often a slight breeze, and not too humid early on. And the report is that we are now ahead of the average for rainfall.

For us that is good, but for the lower valley and northern Mexico, too much. The Rio Grande has not been this high for 45 years. It has flooded homes on both sides at Laredo. The water reached the international bridge and that was closed to traffic. And, since this bridge to the U S is the busiest for international trade that arrives by land, and in a normal day that bridge crosses 12,000 trucks carrying merchandise, one can just imagine the result.

That water comes as a result of a tropical depression which followed hurricane Alex into the same area and brought moisture, rains to raise the level of the river more than ever in the past 45 years of recorded river gauges. So it stopped all traffic till the water recedes.

Meanwhile, over in the Gulf, the news is that the gushing well will finally be capped, perhaps even as early as Monday. Meanwhile, BP has been paying compensation for fishermen whose livelihood has been decimated. The problem lies in proving their income for the year which is now mostly lost. The company asks for proof, naturally, and many fishermen have always operated on a cash only basis, so they can offer no W2 forms or income tax statements as proof. They have been ‘flying under the tax man’s radar’, as it were. And fishermen who have paid their taxes resent a suggestion floated to just give them the money. One says, “I feel like, if you play, you gotta pay”.

That reminds me of the Psalm in which David asks the Lord, “Why do you stand far off, O Lord, and hide yourself in time of trouble”, Psalm 19,l. Then he gives the reason for his question when he talks about the person for whom “God is not in his thoughts.” V.4. Who says in his heart, “God has forgotten, He will never see it” v.11.

Because God does see. Paul reminds us, “Be not deceived, God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that shall he also reap”. Gal. 6,7.

Longfellow : "Though the mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small; Though with patience He stands waiting, with exactness grinds He all." "They Grind Exceedingly Small" was used as the title of a short story by Ben Ames Williams publishing in the Saturday Evening Post.

It gives us some reason to believe that God does have a hand in the history of our doings, whether we recognize it or not, because ever and again we seem to run into a truth the Bible offers us, and we ignore at our peril.

The truth that you and I cling to is this, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.” So that I can say, “He died for me”.

GPD 7/10/10

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 7/6/10

Here’s an insightful observation, one that understands how human nature works. It runs like this – it kept coming to mind and I did not remember who wrote it, so I asked Google and they said, “anon”.

Well, here’s the thought in verse:

"As a rule, a man’s a fool.
When it’s hot, he wants it cool,
When it’s cool, he wants it hot,
Always wanting what is not”.
So the report said Apple sold 1.7 million of their new iPhone 4’s in three days, and then discovered it had a glitch. Now, I am assuming the company tested and re-tested that phone before they put it for sale, still there was a glitch. Maybe easily fixed, maybe not, but disappointing.

But let me hazard a guess that all of those l.7 million who even stood in line, some overnight, to get their new phones already owned a perfectly good phone.

We are like that. All of us have stored stuff we replaced because something new came along, not exactly better, but the new trend this season, so “I’ve just got to have it”.

Content. To be content means to be satisfied, entirely satisfied, with that lies before me.

When Joshua had his farewell speech, he reminded the people, “I am going the way of all the earth; you know in your hearts and in your souls that not one thing has failed which the Lord your God has spoken to you, all are come to pass, NOT ONE THING HAS FAILED”. Joshua 23,14.

Joshua is an old man, and he tends to remember, and what he remembers fondly is that God is faithful to do exactly what He promised. Maybe he sees the waters of the Jordan pile up so they can cross the river on dry land, or sees the walls of Jericho falling, or all the other victories through the years. Not one promise failed. He suggests that is a record to trust.

St. Paul, in looking back over his life, writes to the Philippians, (4,11) “I have learned, in whatever state I am, therewith to be content”. He goes on, “I know what it is to be in need, and what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength” vv. 12-13.

That is why Paul also tells us to set our minds in Christ, who died for us to give us eternal life. That is a fine thing to remember, “I can do all things through Christ, Who strengthens me.” That really is the secret of it all, a contented life.

GPD 7/6/10

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 7/4/10

What does July 4th mean to you? I remember from my youth, the 4th was always the end of school year picnic. A day to join friends at the church grounds. To play, to relax, to enjoy games and eat large lunches.

The day ended all too soon because people had to go home to do their evening chores. Because most of the people were dairy farmers, and when you have cows, you have morning and evening milking to do, besides the care of other live stock. And the day meant a day free from farm work. The first crop of hay was cut and safely in the barn, the corn was ‘laid by’ (a term meaning it was tall enough now not to need any more cultivating), and the grain, oats, rye, barley and wheat, was not yet ready to harvest.

So it as an excellent time for such a day away. Sure, we had firecrackers. Not many, because they cost money, and money most of us didn’t have much of. And yes, mothers did worry about ‘blowing off your fingers’, but there were no laws about it. And it was a time we really enjoyed freedom; of speech, for worship, from many regulations. I keep telling my grandchildren when I reached my 16th year all I needed to do was send my name to Madison, the State capital, together with a quarter, and back came from driver’s license. No test of any kind. And the first car I drove was a Model T. I never owned a car till I had been graduated from the Seminary. No, my Dad did not supply a convertible for high school graduation.

Today, how different. Many more people, and many of them do not know Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world, and don’ t care. We still enjoy freedom of worship, and are free to speak of our faith, but, as Pastor Espinosa pointed out in his sermon this morning, we are running into the tyranny of the majority. And Satan loves that. We practice tolerance. Sadly, this has been turned up-side-down by so-called social arbiters, who seem to think they alone have the right to say what is out of bounds. They ought to learn what one of the critics of the Reformation, Voltaire, who persecuted Christianity, said. “I disagree with what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it.” So we shall continue to pray for this land.“So shall our prayers arise, To God above the skies;On Him we wait.Thou who art ever nighGuarding with watchful eye, To Thee aloud we cry,God save the State. 965 LSBGP7/4/10

Friday, July 2, 2010

Shade Tree Wisdom 7/2/10

No, I didn’t go for my usual morning walk this morning. It was raining, and I no longer enjoy walking in the rain. One tends to get wet! The last time I remember doing so and enjoying it was when I was still at home and had been on the ‘back 40’ cultivating a field of corn. I had just finished when it began to rain, you know, one of those slow, gentle warm midsummer Wisconsin rains. So, since I was some distance from the home, I got down and walked along with the team enjoying the much-needed summer rain.

The news says we lucked out with Hurricane Alex as far as damage is concerned. It has probably blown itself out in the mountains of Northern Mexico. Our area got rain, lots of rain, but here in The Woodlands it was mostly a much needed moisture for early summer. They say they hope July 4th will be dry so tourists will come to the island in large numbers since much of their business happens during such holidays.

In my reading I came across a paragraph about “Hail To The Chief”. It told how it was to be used as an announcement when the president appears at any function. This source says it was first used for that purpose, that is, to announce the entering of the President, for President James Polk. Since he was small of stature and rather homely, he was often overlooked when he entered a room. This infuriated his wife, Lucy, who ordered that song to be played whenever he arrived. To that was added a flourish of drums to open a pathway for him.

True or not, today it has become custom so to use it. The music was first set to the epic Poem by Sir Walter Scott, “The Lady of the Lake”, which really described the demise of a Scottish Chieftain betrayed and killed by his arch enemy, King James V.

At any rate, I remember that my Lord Jesus entered a city riding a donkey, “Shout daughter of Jerusalem, see, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle, and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey”. Zechariah 9,9. That prophecy of Zechariah was fulfilled as St. Matthew reports in chapter 21, 1 – 5. And it led then to the cross, then the Resurrection. That story says to me that my sins are now fully paid for, I have been declared righteous by God. And for that, I am grateful and thankful. Because that is God’s free gift to His Baptized children.

GPD 7/2/10