Saturday, December 31, 2011

Shade Tree Wisdom The Year end 2011

          “The year You gave us is now ended.” And there is a certain sadness about leaving. Many thoughts are crowding my mind, clamoring for attention, and for possible solution, or action, or whatever.

          With my years I tend to hear the word of the Psalm,
               “Cast me not off in time of old age; forsake me not
                when my strength faileth.” Ps. 71,9

          But the psalm continues with this heartening word:
               “O God, Thou hast taught me from my youth; and
                Hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works.
                Now also, when I am old and greyheaded,
                O God, forsake me not; until I have showed
                Thy strength to this generation, and Thy
                Power to every one that is to come.” Vv. 17.18.

          Life is so interesting, isn’t it? Each day brings its joys as well as its little problems crying for a solution. It’s always enough to keep one busy, and interested, and alive.

          Here in Texas we suffered a drought that damaged crops and trees, the entire State suffered, not only from that but from many, many destructive fires that swept large areas, including some housing developments.

          I look out of my window at two stumps, each measuring nearly 3 feet across, of pine trees that have stood there ever since we moved here. 90 feet tall, and dead, and so had to be removed. (An exercise all in itself, for they stood but 12 feet from window.)

          And yet, the year is rich with God’s blessing in our lives. He granted health, mobility, activity, friends, and a Church that brings us spiritual food regularly. What more can one ask?

          So we leave the old year, look forward to the new, and ask God to bless the going always. May it be so in your house too.

GPD 12/31/11

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Shade Tree Wisdom 12/28/11

“When the days begin to lengthen,
The cold begins to strengthen”

          The old saying holds true, does it not, for the temperatures are dropping, close to zero in some places already.

          But the date was my father’s birthday and the entire family came together, bringing themselves, and food, to take advantage of a reason to get out of the house once more.  So our house was full of uncles and aunts and cousins, except the teenagers, who came, then they got together and went skating at the lighted public rink in nearby Brown Deer.

          Uncle Oscar and Uncle Robert settled down in the corner of the sun room with their chess game. The aunts busied themselves admiring various crochets scarves and shawls and then making coffee, the uncles usually ended up with a game of sheepheads at the kitchen table, and the youngsters were scattered all around playing games, talking, or getting into some kind of, (usually innocent), mischief.

          No, my Father wasn’t inundated with presents. This was just an occasion in the winter for getting together, because the winter with its deeper cold and snow was setting in, and most people were home bound unless they had an emergency.

          The happy evening ended with lunch, including sandwiches, cakes, cookies, and teenagers just home with their rosy cheeks and happy chatter.  Then, as people were leaving, often it had started to snow a bit and the softly falling snow lent almost a dream-like quality the frosty night air.

          But, before disbanding, the entire group sang a hymn, usually harmonizing, and ending with the reading of some Scripture by my Father.  Then their feeling was, “Now let the winter begin”. God bless this house.

GPD 12./28/11

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Shade Tree Wisdom 12/27/11

          It’s cool this morning and the walking was pleasant in these final days of the year 2011.

          In one of the parishes I served one of my predecessors had taken this week to write a history of that year.  It made for interesting reading and was quite helpful when it came time to write the story of that Church for their centennial celebration.

          Such a look back can be helpful and healthy for a person.

          One Church General Confession has these lines:
               We have offended against Thy holy laws,
               We have left undone the things we ought to have done,
               We have done those things which we ought not to have done.
               And there is no health in us.”
Strong stuff there.

          Ah, January, and the year lay before us.  Our resolutions were firmly made and stated out loud, “This year we would. . .” But many of them were already memories by the middle of the month.  Better this time around, right?

          Month followed month.  We did our daily living, worked, rested, spent leisure time, planned, succeeded, failed now and then, and grew as a Christian person.  And for the most part we were content with our lot, and happy to live the lives we were living.

          We got along fairly well and others looked at us, some cherished us, others maybe abided us, still others maybe quarreled or argued.  But that is all part of life, isn’t it?

          So here we stand near the end of the year, looking back maybe with wonder that we did so much and advanced so far, maybe a bit down because there were things we left undone, again.  All in all, a satisfying year was it not?

          For the things “we ought not to have done,
“There is forgiveness with Thee, that Thou mayest be feared”.
Rest on that promise, and the year is well spent. Give God the glory.

GPD 12/27/11

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Shade Tree Wisdom 12/24/11 Christmas Eve

“How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is giv’n,
So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of His heav’n
No ear may hear His coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him still,
the dear Christ enters in.”LSB 361,3.

          For the message to the shepherds by the angel was:
“Fear not; for behold, I bring you good tidings
Of great joy, which shall bet to all people..
For unto you is born this day in the city of David
a SAVIOR, which is Christ, the Lord.” Luke 2, 10.11

          So let us rejoice and sing:
“Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay,
Close by me forever, and love me, I pray.
Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care,
And take us to heaven to live with Thee there.” LSB 364,3

          This Christmas Eve, I am again overwhelmed with the glory and grace of a loving God, who sends His Son to earth to live, suffer, die and rise again so the promised salvation story will be completed.

“Glory in excelsis deo”

GPD 12/24/11

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Shade Tree Wisdom 12/22/11

          Nice rain overnight, so the air was rain-washed again this morning.  And since the local paper did not double bag, it was a sorry mess, unreadable and useless.

          A news item mentions the Christmas bird count which goes from December 14 to January 5.  This is the 112th annual count that the Audubon Society does.  The result is knowledge of where birds flock, where they are more abundant, and where less etc.

          The count is very good and does track bird distribution.  Any person who volunteers can help.  Just get in touch with the local people.  And thousands of people are doing this, and we are not even aware that it is going on.

          Seems to me, in this Christmas Season, we will have all kinds of services, helpful work, much of it done behind the scenes, as it were.

“How silently, how silently,
The wondrous Gift is giv’n,
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heaven
No ear may hear His coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him still,
The dear Christ enters in”. LSB 361,3

          This Christmas, let us keep that truth in mind.  Jesus is born in a stable, humbly, He enters unannounced, silently, Angels sing of this, and shepherds come to visit, and worship, and so do the wise men from the East later on.

          The real noise begins when King Herod bumps into the knowledge of this King born, and he orders murder to “get rid of this distraction”.  That is what He regards this King.  Someone who will disturb the even way of his wretched life.

          That is the real reason we see today cries about a manger scene on public property, or sneers at the Lord whom we worship, and all this other commotion caused by the enemy.

          Our reaction, why, millions of Christians in this world live their lives of service and honor to give God glory in what they are, say, and do every day.  That is what they are, and do, because Christ lives in them, as St. Paul tells us.  “Know ye not that ye are the temple of god, whose you are?”

GPD 12/22/11

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Shade Tree Wisdom 12/20/11

          They report a massive snowstorm hitting areas in the Midwest right now, and we had a nice overnight rain so that the air this morning is nicely cool and rain-washed.

          It strikes me how concerned people are for the comfort and well-being of people they do not even know and may never see again.  Yet, for example, the owner of a motel along the highway to a Colorado Ski resort is quoted as saying, “We always keep several freezers and refrigerators well stocked during this season.  They may not get to ski but they won’t be hungry”.  Another, a mail carrier in Kansas, says, “I won’t be sent out in this because I’ll just get stuck, but this is Christmas, and my customers are waiting for cards, letters, and packages.  I’ll do my best to get them there by Christmas.”

          Life is made up of little things like this isn’t it?  Just this morning I was at the post office mailing several packages.  I had gone early and was there when the windows opened.  My wait in line was only 12 minutes. And the clerk, who had had a busy day yesterday, was pleasant, smiling, knowledgeable and sent me on my way with thanks.  And I imagine she also has shopping to do, and a house to decorate, and cards to send.

          An article in the paper this morning reminds people to remember the invisible people in their lives with tips and thanks at Christmas.  Mentions dog walker, night doormen, paper carriers, and the list goes on.  Just stop a moment and ask yourself just how many people stand ready behind the scenes to serve you in your daily life?  Impressive, isn’t it?

          That is the reason the Christian is ever ready to “Give thanks unto Him, and praise His Holy Name”. For it is really God behind the scenes, seeing that the world goes on in spite of the mess we make.

          Christmas, the gift of God’s Son, to be born and be one of us, is God’s gift, and that is right on time, and is our salvation.  Bless His Holy Name, Alleluia!

GPD 12/20/11

Friday, December 16, 2011

Shade Tree Wisdom 12/16/11

          This morning the weather is so balmy one can almost imagine we could be in the Valley for the winter.

          But, have you noticed the absolutely gorgeous color around the church and in other areas of The Woodlands? Seems nearly as bright and festive as if we were back in northern Michigan for the Fall color season.

          Strikes me the hand of God sends us these blessings, and for the most part, we either ignore them altogether, or accept them as our due.

          And that suggests that President Harrison made the right call when, in the latest Lutheran Witness, he used his column to call for repentance.

          We are about to celebrate the Birth of Jesus Christ, who took on Himself the form of flesh, became one of us, then lived, suffered, died, and rose again, to pay for our sins.

          And we do have them, for the bible called us sinners. “Behold, I was shape in iniquity, and In sin did my mother conceive me” and “there is no truth in us”.

          The majesty of the universe and the beauty of God’s creation, let it remind us daily of God’s great love for this, His creation, mankind, and do let us start with “Repent, and believe the Gospel, for the kingdom of God is near.”. Bless His Holy Name.

GPD 12/16/11

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Shade Tree Wisdom 12/10/11

A blessed Christmas to you

Christmas cards and family notes
Fill our box.
Let this be our message
Of this season to your house.

St. John, in his first letter,
Well describes the result of this wonderful birth when he writes,
“See how the Father has loved us?
We are called God’s children,
Because that is what we are.” 3,1.

“Go tell it on the mountain,
O’er the hill and everywhere,
Go tell it on the mountain,
That Jesus Christ Is born.”LSB 388

A Blessed Christmas 2011 indeed.

GPD 12/10/11

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Shade Tree Wisdom 12/8/11

          Yes, I was out this morning walking and greeting this cold day. I will admit I did it, instead of wishing, I mean I wore a sweater under the jacket, and also a pair of gloves. I have nothing to prove and will do anything for my comfort these days.

          Before worship last evening I was looking at the Chrismons on the tree there in the corner, and I wondered about their origin, and why many Christian churches use them during this season.  A little research showed that the term “Chrismon” is copywrited by Mrs. Frances Spencer in 1957. She had originated the concept and used it at Ascension Lutheran Church Danville, Va.  Chrismons are patented designs and are hand made in white or gold. White for the sinlessness of Christ, gold for His glory. Sometimes there may be a touch of red for the blood spilled at death.

          Chrismons are often a fellowship and a Christian education project.  The symbols used represent many theological and biblical concepts, and we can and do learn some of the background Christians have always used for identity. In ancient times, for instance, a man meeting a stranger would maybe draw a fish in the dust. If the other responded, he knew he also believed Jesus Christ was Savior.

          For us, let it be just one more reason to worship during these Advent times of preparation and awaiting the coming of Jesus, the Son of God, “Born of Mary”.

GPD 12/8/11

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Shade Tree Wisdom 12/4/11

          The mystery remains. Biologists ask, “Why does one red headed duck have white feathers on the head?” The duck was hatched, one of a batch, in a marsh in northern Canada and took its flight to the marshes of the Texas Gulf coast. But unlike all the others in the flock, it has white feathers on its head, not red. And it remains a mystery to scientists who study such things.

          Here is another. Yesterday I needed to go to Best Buy to get some ink cartridges for the printer – wish had had the ownership of that patent – and the place was swarming with people. The speakers were playing – guess what - “Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer.” For what purpose? To drive sales for the season. And the mystery is that it seems to be working.

          I asked the clerk at the register, ‘Do most of these people buy something?” She said, ‘Well, some come to play games, but most do buy.”

          The mystery is, “How does this prepare the heart for the Birth?”  Here is one suggestion, read and ponder this truth from St. Peter.  "So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. 13 I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, 14 because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. 15 And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things.

          16 We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, 'This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.' 18 We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.

          19 And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. 2 Peter 1, 12-21

GPD 12/4/11

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Shade Tree Wisdom 11/30/11

          Nice walking, and I fell to pondering. I often do that while walking because the quiet seems to be conducive to that. It means to weigh in the mind, to reflect quietly, soberly, deeply about a subject. And what engaged my attention this morning? I was reflecting on some verses from Psalm 119.

9 How can a young man keep his way pure?
By living according to your word.

10 I seek you with all my heart;
do not let me stray from your commands.

11 I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.

12 Praise be to you, O Lord;
teach me your decrees.

13 With my lips I recount
all the laws that come from your mouth.

14 I rejoice in following your statutes
as one rejoices in great riches.

15 I meditate on your precepts
and consider your ways.

16 I delight in your decrees;
I will not neglect your word.

          There is rich food for thought. Isn’t there.

          Our trouble today is that we rarely take time to ponder such issues because we are so busy simply getting through the day. The jobs at hands needs our best efforts, and then the evening lies before us, but there is a game to play or a show to watch or a friend to call, and before we know it, it’s time to retire.

          We are not in the habit of just doing some quiet thinking, are we? And the lack is our loss, for when we do finally to some pondering, we often find truths that are hidden to the casual eye, but suddenly strike us as important.

          The Psalm writer was aware of that, so he says,
               “This has been my practice,
                I obey your precepts.”
               “Your Word, O Lord, is eternal,
                It stands firm in the heavens.”  v.56.89

          All I can suggest is that you do take time each day for a quiet moment to ponder. (Thus endeth November).

GPD 11/30/11

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Shade Tree Wisdom 11/29/11

          Walking is pleasant these days. No breeze to speak of, just nice and cool. Finally feels a bit like Fall.

          With the first Sunday in Advent just behind us, we are reminded that the Church year is stating anew. And we are planning for the coming of the Lord Jesus as the Babe in the manger.

          The world around us is, of course, bent on celebrating, buying, preparing for entertainments of all kinds, meetings with friends and neighbors, and all the rest of it.

          The local paper recently carried an article on just such invitations. It aimed to offer some hints to either accept or reject such invites. If you turn one down, do it with grace and never ever tell a lie. If you’d rather just stay home and listen to music or read a book, it is perfectly fine to say, “I have other plans, I’m sorry” and stop there.

          But the year’s beginning suggests some cleaning up too. Because we live in a world that offers many fine things, but also quite a bit of ‘drek’, stuff that we would rather not have around us. However, just living means our hearts and minds can accumulate clutter. By rubbing shoulders with the world, we may unknowingly and inevitably pick up thoughts or develop habits that are not at all in keeping with the Christian life.

          St. Paul spoke of this when he says to the Christians at Corinth, “Do you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you received from God? You are not your own; you are bought with a price. Therefore glorify God with your body.” 1 Cor. 6,19-20.

          So we can and do look eagerly to the birth of Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world.

GPD 11/29/11

Friday, November 25, 2011

Shade Tree Wisdom 11/25/11

          I pray your Day was filled with everything good; family visiting, eating together, maybe sharing recipes for leftovers, and all that the Day promises. Good. It was a nice, sunny day here and we did see family to visit, catch up, and, well, eat a fine meal.

          An item in the news caught my eye. Seems Georgia pecan growers are having to hire protection firms to watch their crops, because stealing pecans from trees is on the rise. One 5 gallon of pecans selling for as much as $ 175.00. One reason is the demand from China. Seems the Chinese have developed a real taste for pecans.

          The item above simply shows the world in which we are to live “as children of light”. In his letter to the Church at Thessalonica, St. Paul is urging the people who are children of the day to “act like it”. The end of chapter five of the first letter lists the behavior patterns Christianity will bring. High among them is this word, “And in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you”. 1 Thess 5,18.
In everything give thanks.

          We take so much in our lives for granted, don’t we?

          Recently a pastor friend reported with joy they had found a talented organist for their worship services.
And that reminded me that in the entire 40 years of active ministry, I always had an organist. Some had been trained by our Colleges, others were self taught,. One was a lad just entering High who went on to study music at Indiana university school of music. My input, have the hymn selection in their hands a week before so they could practice.

          There are so many other things in my ,life, as I am sure they are in yours, that we simply take for granted and hardly ever stop to say “I thank you for the work that you do”.  So, when you finish reading these lines, do take the Bible, turn to the first letter to the Thessalonians, and read again the fifth chapter. Then may God bless your doing as “the children of light.”

GPD 11/25/11

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Shade Tree Wisdom 11/20/11

          Isn’t it funny what affect a birthday has? This morning – and it was warm and pleasant here on the Gulf Coast where it seldom snows – I found myself grumbling to people about the lack of snow, just because I was born during a snow fall in far off Wisconsin.  Outside of that, birthdays aren’t bad.

          Quot libros, quam breve tempus.  Translation – so many books, so little time.

          I throw that bit of wisdom in because the birthday netted two books.  One, a Baldacci, one of my favorite mystery writers. Gripping tales.  The second has this title, KILLING LINCOLN by O’Reilly and Dugard.

          Yes, that’s the O’Reilly with Fox News who used to teach history.  It purports to dig into the history of the rebellion which backed Booth in shooting the President.

          I also helped assemble a 300 piece puzzle – a genuine Ravensberger, and there sits a yet to be opened jar of honey roasted cashews.  No, I don’t plan to bring them along next Sunday to share.

          To top it all the Sunday gave us a time to worship, praise the Lord, take time to meditate, and be glad that “This is the day that the Lord has made,
We will rejoice, and be glad in it”.

GPD 11/20/11

Friday, November 18, 2011

Shade Tree Wisdom 11/18/11

          Many of you mentioned blessings and events.  The day set me to remembering what life has taught me. No, I won’t share the whole load, but just some things that stick out.

          Duane Brown is a left tackle on the line that protects the quarterback on the Texan football team.  He said, “It was a rude awakening. You work so hard to get here, and then you find the hard work is just beginning.”

          Life is like that.  You work hard to achieve a goal, graduation for instance, and get a job, and then you keep on working to improve your work ethic and grow in knowledge and understanding of what that work requires, and how to do it better.

          The ministry is that.  You finally graduate and are called to a church.  Then the real work begins, daily reading and study and prayer, weekly intense study for a sermon, Bible classes, and confirmation classes. And the sick and the shut-in calls, and the plate gets kind of full.

          But such effort finds its daily blessings also.
The poet said it.
               “The heights of great men reached, and kept,
                Were not attained by sudden flight,
                But they, while their companions slept,
                Were toiling upward in the night.”

          Another lesson; learn to listen, really listen.  One sage said, “I learn much when I listen, nothing when I talk.”

          God’s complaint to Israel, ”My people would not listen to Me; Israel would not submit to me, so I gave them over to their own stubborn heart to follow their own devices.” Psalm 81, 11.12.  The lesson, learn to ask questions and then really hear what the reply is.  For often just the right question will open the door to what the problem really is.

          So finally, 2 Chronicles 7:14 “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land”.  And when the Lord hears, forgives, and heals, we are blessed.

GPD 11/18/11

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Shade Tree Wisdom 11/17/11

          Today is November 17th, and according to Google’s age calculator that makes me 91 today.  And I am ever thankful for the years the Lord has allowed me.  I ask myself how have I used these years?

          My father remembered the date well because it was the day in which he first was able to use the new barn for his herd of dairy cows.

          One of the highlights of my early years was reaching age 16 and getting my first driver’s license.  Just sent a quarter to the state capital and back came this bit of paper.  All they wanted was proof of age, no eye test, no driving test, just US mail.  The cost has increased considerably since then, and the State of Texas demanded that I get eye glasses.  I guess that happened around age 85 or so.

          And going to Concordia in Milwaukee to start the long trek that ended when I was ordained into the Holy Ministry on September 9, 1945.  I, who had never slept in any place but the quiet country, suddenly transported to a noisy city where a streetcar clanked past every half hour day and night.  What an adjustment.

          Then graduation, cum laude, and the first call as assistant at Immanuel in St. Charles, Missouri.  Then to a dual parish in Mexico and Vandalia, Missouri.  Happy years of work and blessing.

          The next move was to northern Michigan, then nearly 17 years in Adrian Michigan followed by some 11 years in Detroit, from where I retired on my 65th birthday.  Then we moved to Texas because we wished to see the grandchildren grow up, and they have.  I guess they are all taller than I am, much so.  And a source of blessing and contentment..

          But the world has changed since I came into it.

          Then most people still believed there is a God, and most had a conscience, knew the basic Scriptures, probably could recite the ten commandments, and tried their best to use them as a guide for the way they lived.  So they knew the difference between right and wrong.  And had a guide to give them direction.

          I find today people are often simply content to “follow the leader”.  Someone called this a herd mentality, never looking to see where it would lead just going the way the crowd did.  Without asking whether it might be right or wrong.

          An ancient prayer of confession includes the lines, “we have erred and strayed from Thy way like lost sheep”.  The great temptation today, it seems to me, is not being willing or able to make such a confession.

          But I have also found there are still many good, honest, people, quietly serving their God, living their Christian lives, and having a quiet influence on their world.  That is our hope for which we pray.  They are the ones who believe, “His eye is on the Sparrow, and I KNOW He watches me.”  Bless God for His faithfulness.

GPD 11/17/11

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Shade Tree Wisdom 11/16/11

          It seems to defy all reason, but there it stands tall, in the middle of the backyard, a red Cana blooming in the middle of November.  Where did it get enough moisture to do that is a mystery I will not solve for you.

          It reminds me that God’s nature is sort of a thing that God works, “we know not how”.  But it also points to a great truth we sometime forget.  God did say that “The gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt.16,18.) He was speaking of His Church.

          In an article in the November Lutheran Witness, President Harrison harks back to Emperor Constantine who converted to Christianity A.D. 312.  Shortly thereafter the Church received all kinds of privileges from the government, and forgot the One Thing Needful, and as a result lost its strength and weakened.  The State church in Europe, Harrison writes, is “a theological disaster”.  It is always so when a church forgets its mission, to preach the Gospel.

          Today the Church faces all kinds of difficulties, often direct opposition.  So we tend to say “poor me”. When we do have at hand what the first President of the Church said in one of his first convention addresses. “The Only weapon we have is the Gospel.”

          So let us take courage in this time of change and challenge.  The Lord’s promise is still true, “The gates of hell shall not prevail against it”.  And the times to the end are filled, for us, right at hand, with opportunity to tell the good news that God’s Son, Jesus Christ, paid for the sins of the whole world.

          In it all, remember the lines from an old Gospel song?
               “His eye is on the sparrow,
                And I KNOW He watches me.

          May the Lord bless your day and fill it with treasured fruitfulness.

GPD 11/16/11

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Shade Tree Wisdom 11/11/11

          I started this on 11/11/11, but is now11/12/11. The first date is a palindrome.  Numerologists rate it highly as a date to start something new.  So the news today reports a flock of people rushing to Vegas to be married.  But this date has no magic in it.  It happens that way because of the calendar.

          I prefer another claim for blessing, that is written in the Psalms especially.  I offer Psalm 62, 5-6, as a promise to believe and live by.  It reads so:
               “Find rest, O my soul, in God alone.
               My hope comes from Him.
               He alone is my Rock and my Salvation,
               He is my Fortress,
               I will not be shaken”. Psalm 62, 5.6.

          Now here is a promise with some substance, one to lean on, one to trust, because it is from Almighty God.

What more need we, my friend?

GPD 11/12/11

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Shade Tree Wisdom 11/8/11

          It had rained a bit just before my morning walk, so it seemed muggy, and if there had not been a pleasant little breeze now and then, it would have been unpleasant.  But for today the weather people say 50% chance of thunderstorms in the late afternoon, and we will take that.

          Suppose if I had stuck my nose out before venturing forth I might have procrastinated, and finally did no walking at all.  Look at what it brought to God’s children at the entrance of the promised land.  God had said, “You have stayed here long enough” Deut.1,6. So Moses sent 12 good men to spy out the land.  They were amazed at what they found, but ten of them gave a bad report, “They’re giants.  We can’t possibly beat them”.  Joshua and Caleb reminded them of God’s promise.  We can do it because God promised.  But they hung back just the same, and taught us.

          Procrastination always leaves out God’s promises.  And so causes things to look different than they really are.  AND, procrastination is contagious.  Fear begets fear.  So it misses the Lord’s blessings.

          Their procrastination cost them 40 years of wandering in the wilderness.  It is always easier to put off, to make plans, to say “tomorrow”.

          In “The Wealthy Barber” the town barber asks Mr. White, the richest man in town, the secret of wealth.  Mr. White said, “wealth beyond your wildest dreams is possible if you follow this golden rule.  Invest just 10% of all you make for long term growth.  If you follow that simple guideline, someday you’ll be a very wealthy man”.  (Pg 30 The Wealthy Barber-David Chilton).  The secret is to begin.

          To drift is simple, and easy, requires no backbone, no skill needed, no backbone needs stiffening, needs no planning, no effort, no work.  No goals to meet, no deadlines set, no work to finish.  To say “Tomorrow I will begin” is always the talk of weak people.

          In Ecclesiastes the Preacher writes,
               “Whatever your hand finds to do,
               Do it with your might.
               For in the grave, where you are going,
               There is neither working,
               Nor planning,
               Nor knowledge,
               Nor wisdom”. Eccl, 9,10.

          Finally, remember,
               “the quiet words of the wise,
               Are more to be heeded,
               Then the shouts of a ruler of fool.” 9,17

GPD 11/8/11

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Shade Tree Wisdom 11/2/11

          We recited the Creed in the service on Sunday.  We do it every service, and I am glad to join those other millions to confess our faith out loud and boldly.

          It is not so much that we “put Jesus in the center”, but that God reminds us again how things simply are.  It reminds me who Jesus Christ is, and what God planned to heal my sins and bring me to eternal life.

          To hear all those other voices chiming in so that the sound is loud enough, is a bold thing to do.  Especially in this culture where everything seems to go by vote and nothing is taken as true any longer. To stand and say, “I believe” means that I am saying out loud and before everyone that I find this truth TRUE.  I am doing what Jesus said,
               “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men,
               Him will I also confess before My Father,
               Which is in heaven.” Matthew 10,32

          And St. Paul when he writes his letter to the Romans, said to them – and they were living when confessing Christ might prove fatal, said,
               “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth
               The Lord Jesus,
               And shalt believe in thine heart that God
               Raised Him from the dead,
               Thou shalt be saved”. Romans 10,9

          So when I recite the Creed I am given a touchstone by which to guide my days, one that does not change, and that is true direction for the living of my days.

          When I say, “I Believe” I am reminded again that my God is Eternal, a caring, loving, personal God to whom I matter.  I am not alone, I am never alone, because the One of whom I say “I believe” has promised that He would be with me “even to the end of days”.  God bless us all as we recite and confess our belief.

GPD 11/2/11

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Shade Tree Wisdom 11/1/11

          A little heavier jacket was welcome this morning, but the air was so fresh and the morning a delight. Fall weather is moving in at last.

          Yesterday was Reformation which we observed on Sunday.  It is good for a church to stress that Day, especially if it turns our thought a bit to the history of the Church, and her work that lies in our past which assures us that we, at this late date, still have the Truth of Scripture.  That the faith alone in the work of Jesus Christ done for us is what bolsters the faith and the Lutheran life.

          So when we sing that great Reformation Hymn of Dr. Luther, the words mean much and shows the dangers they faced when they fought for the Truth of the Gospel, and tried to show false teaching and false practices.  With that in mind, these lines mean much.
               “And take they our life,
               Goods, fame, child and wife,
               Let all these be gone,
               They yet have nothing won,
               The Kingdom ours remaineth.”  LSB 636,4

          In 1877 Rev H. C. Schwan, who would be elected as president of the LC-MS a year later, preached for the 300th anniversary of the Formula of Concord at the Synodical Conference in Ft. Wayne. He showed that soon after Luther died the church faced all kinds of problems.  Many led it in false ways, chose different directions, wrangled about procedures, and the Formula of Concord brought the Church back to the truths of Scripture.

          Throughout our history there have been dark times, and the need always is to remain true to what God set down in His Holy Word.  “Add thou not into his words, lest He reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.” Prov. 30,5.

          I am glad this is My Church. One that holds to the truth of the words expressed therein, for that is what promises me salvation and eternal life.

          I have been doing much reading in “At Home In The House of my Fathers”, a collection of essays, sermons, convention addresses from the first hundred years of our existence as the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod.  They show how through times of stress like the civil war and the first world war, Vietnam, the rise of modern technology, the Church has been faithful to its roots.  Rev. Mathew Harrison did most of the work to gather this material.

          I pray your celebration reminds you, too, of God’s rich blessings to our Church in Christ Jesus.

GPD 11/1/11

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Shade Tree Wisdom 10/25/11

          Well, I started with a jacket.  After all, I said to self, it is nearly the end of October, so a jacket is a must.  I was wrong, and soon had it over my shoulder.  It was warm, and muggy.

          Today the church notes the 200th anniversary of the birth of Dr. C.F.W. Walther, the first president of our synod.  A Pastor, Professor, theologian, scholar, author of Law and Gospel, as well as other basic texts, God’s gift to this young church here in America.

          I am glad my church looks to its roots for truth.  Herman Sasse writes, “It is always a sign of deep spiritual sickness when a church forgets its fathers.”  Why?  Because the life of the church finds its strength from the teachings of truth their fathers believed also.

          The greatest eras of the church, the times when she is strongest begins with the cry, “back to the Scriptures”.  Note how often the psalms write of what God did for the fathers.  Psalm 22,4. “The fathers trusted in You, and You delivered them”.  Hilkiah, the priest, found the book of the law, read it to his king, and Josiah started a time of repentance and restoring Israel.

          Jesus began His ministry with “Today this Scripture (Having read Isaiah), is fulfilled in your ears.” Luke 4,21.  And Luther began there, “Back to the Bible”, and started an explosion of study and enrichment and growth.

          That is a reason to remember Dr. Walther.  He taught and lived this truth, led and guided a young church and helped it set a solid foundation on the Confessions and the Scriptures.  We remember that with thanks, and do well to build on that solid foundation.

          In 1844 Walther put this statement on the masthead of the Lutheran Witness:
“God’s Word and Luther’s doctrine,
Shall not pass away now and forever.”

GPD 10/25/11

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Shade Tree Wisdom 10/20/11

          It had cooled down quite a bit as the weatherman said it would, so I was prepared with a jacket, and needed it.  Then I met a lady with her dog, and she was wearing only a short sleeved blouse.  So I said, “No jacket?”  She said, as she hurried along, “I thought the walking would warm me up, and it hasn’t yet.  And it didn’t seem this cold when I left the house.”

          Appearances do deceive.  And the crowd could just be wrong.

          A devotion in Portals of Prayer recently reported that a third grade class had a new class pet, a bunny. One asked, “Is it a boy or a girl”?  And the teacher asked, “How do we find out?”  One bright girl said, “Let’s take a vote.”

          That’s the modern way, isn’t it?  Do what the crowd does.  Go along with popular opinion.  And that may be wrong.  Last night a report said children ages 11 and 12 were engaging in sex.  “Well, they’re all doing it”.

          But there is a moral law that speaks of right and wrong, and that is not taken by vote, rather it is set by God.  This says, “You have laid down precepts that are to be fully obeyed.” Ps. 119,4.

          The Psalm also describes what happens when God is ignored.  “The wicked freely strut about, when what is vile is honored among men”. Psalm 12,8.

          Oh, we have made so much progress in technology.  Today children are mostly “wired”, they text, have facebook pages, are in constant touch, and parents have lost control and no longer seem able or want to, set some standards for living.  And the result shows.

          It shows in letters to the editors or advice columns, in crowded psychiatrist offices, in rampant suicides.  Lord, help us.

          My prayer for us all is that we take this to the Lord, asking for direction, for strength to speak of the ONE solution, the life and death of Jesus Christ for the sins of the world.  May the lord keep us in this faith till He calls us to Himself.

GPD 10/20/11

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Shade Tree Wisdom 10/18/11

          It was a cheerful and breezy day for the morning walk, and even the children I met on their trek to meet their bus sounded cheerful.  What a fine morning, turning into a pleasant day.

          But Fall weather just reminded me of high school football season, and I sort of have a longing for those Friday nights with its foray to the Pancake House in Grosse Pointe.  Our youngest daughter was spending her sabbatical year with us taking courses at Wayne State University, and our youngest son and his wife would drop by after work, and we enjoyed our weekly Pancake Feast at the Pancake House.

          The place was always busy, and their specialty was apple pancakes.  A veritable feast.  Today their recipes may be found on Google, then it was secret.  Our daughter did lots of research in the public library in their cook book section, and she finally did find a recipe that tasted like the original.  One of the secrets is using tart apples.  But it does take some patience and the proper equipment.  But the end result is worth the effort.  But even when she succeeded at home, the taste was different when we ate it among the bustle and busyness of the crowd at the the Pancake House.

          Funny, isn’t it, how a mind runs to pleasant experiences.  I guess that is what makes memories so wonderful.  We can and do remember pleasant experiences from the past and use them to bolster the present.

          I pray your life is rich with such memories also.  They tend to remind us how the hand of the Lord gently leads, guides, directs, and upholds us when we our need seems to see no solution, don’t they.
"I will be with you, even the end of the age” is His promise, and memories remind us of the truth of that.

GPD 10/18/11

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Shade Tree Wisdom 10/15/11

          I offer this as a prayer to end another busy and work filled week,.

               Lord Jesus, since You love me,
               Now spread Your wings above me,
               And shield me from all harm.
               Though Satan would devour me.
               Let angel guards sing o’er me,
               This child of God shall meet no harm.  Amen
          LSB 880,4

GPD 10/15/11

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Shade Tree Wisdom 10/12/11

          We are now in the second week of October and it was still so warm for the walk this morning that the breeze from a passing car actually felt good.  Amazing, but cooler weather is in the offing.

          Alexis de Tocqueville, who lived in the eighteenth century, was a French historian and political thinker who toured America in the 1830’s to see how this nation worked.  One of his conclusions, offered in his book Democracy in America, is that “The American Republic will endure, until politicians realize they can bribe the people with their own money.”  What a bitter truth. Because that seems to be happening to us.

          Thomas Jefferson saw this, “The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who will not.”

          The Pilgrims discovered this right away.  They decided on a system whereby everything belonged to everybody.  That simply did not work, because so many of the ‘everybody’s’ did not carry any part of the supply burden.

          Loren Steffy, a financial columnist, points out that these marches on Wall Street and other cities are partly protesting the fact that the financial system has been corrupted.  He points out people are protesting because CEO salaries increase even though their company stock tanked.  Or banks get massive government help and return that favor to taxpayers with higher credit card fees and offer less than 1% interest on savings.
Life isn’t fair, is it?

          But let’s remember there are rules that God has built into the fabric of this world.  St.Paul reminds us of one.  In his letter to the church at Thessalonica he wrote, “Even when we were with you we gave you this rule, ‘if a man will not work, neither should he eat’.” 2 Thess 3,11.

          Let me close with one other word from St. Paul.  This when he wrote the letter to the Galatians, “Do not be deceived, God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” Gal. 6,7.  This touches on the law of consequence.  For every action, there is a like reaction.  The truth we must learn to accept in this uneasy situation.

          Paul ends his letter with this blessing, “. . .what counts is a new creation.  Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule. . .the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen.” Gal. 6, 15-18.

GPD 10/12/11

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Shade Tree Wisdom 10/8/11

          The news from here is that there is a real possibility of some thunderstorm activity tomorrow and the next day.  Which to us is very welcome news indeed.

          Right now there is a golf tournament going on at a local course, the Insperity Championship Golfers over 50.

          Which reminds me of the traveler who had 3 hours between flights, so he decided to go to a nearby course and get in a quick nine holes.  He was teamed with an elderly golfer, seemed like a nice fellow, played pretty good golf too.  At the 9th hole a large pine stood right in the way to the green, so the older golfer shot around and had an easy second shot to the green.  The traveler started to aim the same way when the other fellow said, “When I was your age, I just shot over that tree.”  So the young fellow thought to himself, “If he could, so can I”.  He tried, hit the tree and landed in the rough with a terrible second shot.  “Of course, when I was your age, that tree was only 6 feet tall.” said the other guy.

          The golfer was tripped up by a law of physics, wasn’t he?

          That comment leads me to the laws built into the world, laws we count on and make use of for our purpose.  Such as the law of gravity, or of friction, or of compression, or inertia and relativity.  A golfer, for instance, uses compression when he hits the ball, as well as the spring built into his golf club.  Then he counts on gravity to keep his ball from going to the moon, but falling back to earth.
We count on such laws for our very survival.  God placed them there, and all we do is use them.  If we misuse them, we run into the law of consequences.  And that is what people often forget.  There are always consequences.  Every act has its consequence.  For example, you have a test coming, or a large bill to pay at a certain time, and you fail the test because you do not prepare, or do not make the payment because you used those funds for other things, you suffer the consequence.

          Created this world and we live in when we use His laws. That is why the Christian always prays, “I give thanks for all thy daily benefits, given out of pure mercy and love to me, richly and daily.”
This is most certainly true.

GPD 10/8/11

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Shade Tree Wisdom 10/4/11

          What a relief and change, cool enough for a light jacket.  The air was so nice, cool, fresh that I prolonged my walk a bit.  I also found that the neighbor’s children have to walk three tenths of a mile to catch their bus.  Well, the time calls for some sacrifice.  After all, I walked half a mile through hip deep snow drifts some days to get to school, and I can say that because there is no one around to gainsay me.

     “This is the day that the Lord has made,
     Let us rejoice, and be glad in it”.

          With that Psalm many Lutherans begin their worship hour.  It reminds right away where we are and for what purpose, to rejoice and be glad in worship because we long to hear the Word.  And that is so often forgotten in this day of change.

          But then, you heard the joke about the man with the written list who remembered the meeting, while the man with the special device forgot.  So change is not always all it was meant to be.

          I was reminded of this when I read about the curator for the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden in the NY Botanical Garden.  He came on board five years ago and said, “I inherited a rose garden that had been doused with weekly sprays for 20 years”.  He had come to oversee a renovation, and just then NY City banned the use of harmful chemicals in public places.  And without their chemical cocktails, many roses could not perform.  So he replaced, and began using compost, leaf mold, fish emulsion, and other organic matter to restore the depleted soil to health.  He reported with joy that earthworms have returned to the garden soil. And roses bloom best when they grow in healthy soil, and that is what nature supplies, and nature’s best tool is the earthworm, that busy underground gardener who turns and mixes and aerates and deposits rich castings to enrich the soil.  Result, healthy soil.

          We are living in an age of rapid change.  Change is inevitable, some for the good, other changes, not.
But we live in it, so it is wonderful that our God has given us a sure guide.

     “Change and decay in all around I see,
     But Thou who changest not, abide with me.”

          When we remember that, we can and do live securely, knowing Whose we are, and what God has promised us.  And we are thankful.

GPD 10/4/11

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Shade Tree Wisdom 10/1/11

          Hello, October, where we’ll see crisp and sunny fall days, cool nights, bright moonlight, some light rains, leaves to rake and mulch, colors to enjoy, apples to pick and fresh apple cider to drink.

          The work of the Church goes into high gear with Zone rallys and plans to make and the future bright with anticipated work and God’s continual blessing.

          Here at our home we have been seeing the effects of that year-long drought.  We have lost trees, several nearly 100 feet tall and the trunk measures 36 inches in diameter.  But for a day we were running what amounted to a wood lot.  The trees cut, and result hauled away to be mulched and sold perhaps as firewood.  Sad to see this, but it looks around us as if many trees died because of the drought, and the cleanup will take a long time, and cost much money.  But, if you look closely at the forest floor, you’ll see young seedlings starting their own growing, and so the Lord does replace what drought, or fire, for that matter, takes away.

          For Scripture is correct when it says,
     “The heavens declare the glory of God,
     And the firmament showeth His handiwork.
     Day unto day uttereth speech, and
     Night unto night showeth knowledge.”

GPD 10/1/11

Friday, September 30, 2011

Shade Tree Wisdom 9/30/11

          The final day of this month, and what is left yet to be done.  Well, one never reaches the end for the time to honor and glorify God by the things that we do and say in our daily life.

          What makes this often hard is the attitude of the God-haters.  Their speech and action toward anything that looks or honors Christianity is hard to understand, until we read the Bible.

          The Bible tells us that a rejection of God actually leads to a more hate-filled attitude toward him.  St. Paul said it clearly, “Even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind. . .to become haters of God”.  Romans l, 28-30.  That is the sad result when people turn away from God whose handiwork is so clearly seen, “so that they are without excuse”.

          So how to respond to this?  St. Paul again supplies correction in his letter to Timothy.  ”A servant of the Lord must not quarrel, but be gentle to all, able to teach patiently, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them, repentance, so that they may know the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil.  Having been taken captive by him to do his will”. 2 Timothy 2, 24-26.

          Thus ends the month, with the Word of God ringing in our ears.  We pray He gives us the wisdom and the strength to do it to His glory.

GPD 9/30/11

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Shade Tree Wisdom 9/27/11

          It was so warm and muggy this morning that the breeze of a passing car felt welcome.  Can one imagine – toward the end of September still.

          St. Paul mentions a common malady when he speaks of people “having itching ears”.  For this is always a very real concern.  One of the favorite expressions of former President Reagan was “Trust, but verify”.  He was concerned that he knew the real reason for this or that action.

          Just that was St. Paul’s concern when he writes to his young co-worker, Timothy.  Remember, St. Paul taught the way of salvation was “by grace you are saved and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2,8.9.  And it is that what it was about. They want to bring in their own philosophy, their own reasoning, their own plan. The moment we do that we are in trouble.

          So this warning, “The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” 1 Tim. 4,3.4.  The trouble comes when we “dote about questions and strife with words, out of which comes envy, strife, railings, and evil surmising.” 1 T.6,4.

          You noticed how Jesus dealt with questions?  He answered with another question, so there was nothing left for his enemies to debate.

          The message, “Thy Word is Truth” is the truth we must live with always. God bless such living.

GPD 9/27/11

Friday, September 23, 2011

Shade Tree wisdom 9/23/11

          Cool this morning with just a slight breeze as befitting the first day of fall.  It reminds me of nippy air and a bite to the wind, and the end of the summer growing season, for now the harvest is in full swing.

          One of the chores for the fall days was gathering the potato crop.  We hurried home from school, changed into work clothes, and went out to gather that crop where it lay in long furrows, left there by the potato digger.  This machine, horse drawn, dug the potato, shook the earth from them, and left them in long rows to be gathered into the wagon.  Long shadows showed night was near, and when the wagon was filled, Dad drove it next to the special window in the basement, so we could send them tumbling into the special cold bin in the basement for storage.  That had to be finished before night, because frost was in the offing, and they could not be touched by frost, for that would ruin the crop, and our winter eating.

          And that poem by James Whitcomb Riley always springs to mind.
     “When the frost is on the punkin and the fodders in the shock,
     And you hear the kyouk and gobble of the strutting turkey cock.

     Oh, it’s then the time a feller is a-feelin’ at his best,
     With the risin’ sun to greet him from a night of peaceful rest.”

          With the coming of Fall in its season the year starts to near its end, and it is time for some ruminating and contemplating about our life, is it still under God’s care, are we still practicing and living our faith, have we grown, and are our lives enriched by deep study, careful thought, living experiences?

          We pray, “Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all his benefits.”.

GPD 9/23/11

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Shade Tree Wisdom 9/21/11

          Kind of warm this morning, but no breeze, and nothing to impede the morning walk either, so I did my walk.

          A Swedish man, Carl Gustaf Boberg, a pastor, an editor, and a member of the parliament, went for a walk where he was caught in a sudden storm.  When it was over, he looked out over the clear bay and heard a church bell in the distance, and the words of “How Great Thou Art” began to take form in his mind.  The poem was first published in 1891, was brought over to the US by Dr. Orr of Fuller Theological Seminary after he heard it sung in India.  It became popular when George Beverly Shea sang it at a Billy Graham Crusade in London.

          Today it is familiar to most Christians. You’ve probably either heard it or sung it in some place.
     “Then sings my soul, My Savior, God to Thee,
     How great Thou art. How Great Thou art”.

          Yet, when we get into some trouble, we forget, and scramble around to find a solution or an end to the problem.  When our plans fall apart, and there does not seem to be any solutions, how do we deal with frustration and delay?

          Isaiah 26, 3.4. is an anchor for our soul.
     “You will keep him in perfect peace,
     Whose mind is stayed on Thee.
     Because he trusts in You.
     Trust in the Lord forever, for in Him
     Is everlasting strength.”

          Isn’t that a word to memorize and look to. When troubles come, and they do seem to pop up unexpectedly and from strange places, then turn first to Him and remember what He has promised you. “Lo, I will be with you always, even to the end of the age”.  He provides the solution, or supplies the strength to endure. Bless His Holy Name.

GPD 9/21/11

Monday, September 19, 2011

Shade Tree Wisdom 9/19/11

          Woke this morning to the tune of a gentle rain fall. How pleasant and soothing was the sound.

          What brings you comfort?

          In a Bible Class one time we were talking about passages that were special to each of us and brought us special comfort. Among them, of course were the favorites, such as Psalm 23, 130, Matthew 6, 25,34. 1 Corinthians 13, Philippians 4 and others.

          It brought to mind an article I read in the local paper recently about bee keeping. One man who does it claims it soothes him and gives him a certain feeling of doing something worthwhile with his spare time.
Not only do his bees gather nectar, but they pollinate crops, orchards, fruit bushes, and make honey at the same time.

          One of my Pastor neighbors was a bee keeper. He would set the hives into fields whose owners requested them, and he would gather the honey when the hives were brought back to him for the winter. For him, it was a relaxing chore, easy to do, did not require much time, and was relatively relaxing. He boasted that he never was stung.

          And it helps keepers understand more clearly how the Lord has provided for everything in His creation.

     "So, bless the Lord, O my soul, and all
     That is within me, bless His holy name.
     Bless the lord, O my Soul,
     Forget not all His benefit."

GPD 9/19/11

Friday, September 16, 2011

Shade Tree Wisdom 9/16/11

          The harvest moon is still there, and this morning I was thinking of the Indians who called it that because it was harvest time. Among such harvest was wild rice, an Indian staple. They harvested the rice from canoes, gliding into the rice fields and holding the loaded rice heads over the canoe to thresh them. When the canoe was full, they simply paddled to shore and unloaded. It is late September or early October, the air is crisp and fresh, and slowly, methodically, the rice is harvested. Some is left for the birds, the rest cleaned and stored against the coming winter. And life as they knew it and understood the need went on.

          While I was working on this Shade Tree piece someone forwarded an email about the story of the life and death of Jesus, sculpted in metal and set for display on a field near Groom, Texas. Groom is on Highway I-40 some 70 miles east of Amarillo in the Texas panhandle.  Which stirred a memory of an old Gospel song
The Old Rugged Cross. A line or two run:
“On a hill far away, stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suffering and shame”.

          In a case before the US Supreme Court it was called “A Powerful Christian symbol”.  In the first century, St. Paul, writing to Corinth, said that Christ had sent him “to preach the Gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are saved it is the power of God.” 1 Cor. 1, 17-18.

          Like the slow harvest by Indian women through the years, so the Cross of Christ is and remains forever true, a symbol of just what had to be done to pay for the sins we daily commit, and for that we are thankful to God. The death on the cross happened by God’s design for the salvation of all who believe it happened for them,

GPD 9/16/11

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Shade Tree Wisdom 9/15/11

          The full moon is still hanging low in the western sky when I walk. It is warm, but there is a slight stirring of a gentle breeze. So I enjoy it under this what the Indians called ‘corn’ or ‘harvest’ moon. It was so named by the Indians because now corn, squash, beans, pumpkins and wild rice were ready for harvest, and this moon gave them light to work late into the day.

          But right now, it hangs over a quiet neighborhood which is not even disturbed by snorting yellow boxes since schedules and routes have been changed. So, the world may be in turmoil – and the news beats at us in every newscast - but right now there is this “peace that passes all understanding”. Not only in the area, but in my heart because Jesus died on the cross and paid for my sins. Paul writes of this as “nailing it to the cross”. That’s where it happened. The death of Christ made the payment that we could not. Now we are Righteous before God.

          It almost seems sometimes as if we are living in an angry world. Things that weren’t supposed to happen are happening, and the mess gets deeper and wider as we try to ‘manage’ it with our own plans.
It is just then we need to turn to God’s Word, so rich in promise.

          Lamentations is a book of remose, of wailing, of heavy hand on sin. But right in the middle of it this:
     “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed.
          Because His compassions fail not.
     They are new every morning,
          Great is Thy faithfulness.
     The Lord is my portion, saith my soul;
          Therefore will I hope in Him.
     The Lord is good to them that wait for him,
          To the soul that seeketh him.
     It is good that a man should both hope, and quietly wait,
          For the salvation of the Lord.” Lamentations 3,22-26

          The day will be warm again, and no rain seems near yet, but God is there, as He said. Bless His holy name and walk in His peace.

GPD 9/15/11

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Shade Tree Wisdom 9/13/11

          I picture St. Paul has a medium-sized man, dressed in a brown travel robe, sandals on his feet, staff in hand, always accompanied with one or two younger men. Maybe there is a small donkey to carry books and parchments. The robe is travel worn and shows much use, stained now with signs of travel, and there are spots that look like dried blood on it. He looks weary, but there is a fire in his brown eyes that compels attention.

          Now I see him in Athens in the Acropolis, that famous place where philosophers spend their time gathering, discussing, debating, and always ready “to hear some new thing.” They regard this new comer with some reservation, but willingly give him an audience. So when he starts to speak, he grabs their attention with his first words.” Men of Athens, I observe you are very religious in all respects”. Acts 17,22., “for I even found an altar ‘to the unknown god’.” V.23a.

          Then this, “What you therefore ignorantly worship, this I proclaim to you” v.23b. St.Paul then speaks of God as Creator who “gives to each one life with an appointed time”. In short, GOD made us, he said, and we are under His care, so that now “All everywhere should repent.”

          Then the conclusion: “Therefore, having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring that men everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.” 17, 30-31. Some sneered, some ignored the speech. Others said, “we want to hear more of this matter”.

          This is the way the Gospel message spreads, by people who tell the story. The Holy Ghost works through that word we speak, maybe haltingly, hesitantly, briefly, but the Lord has promised this, “I will be with you, even to the end of the world”.

          So we, living in the year 2011, need only check the record to see that the Word does go “into all the world”. The Word that tells us of what God has done through Christ, God’s Son, who came, suffered, died and rose again to open the way to eternal life for all who believe in Him.

          So, no matter how you picture St. Paul, remember he was just one of God’s messengers to tell the wonderful story to sin-blind people.

GPD 9/13/11

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Shade Tree Wisdom 9/11/11

          On the anniversary of 9/11/2001

          There will be fine moments of memory, still the mayor of NY has opted not to have a prayer lest “we offend anyone”. That, of course, is always done and excused by the phrase of ‘political correctness’. Such a fine ring to it, honest, sincere, and utterly false.

          What ever has happened to doing a thing because it is right, or good, or just simply needed. When did we start living our lives in fear of ”offending anyone”. Why, first of all, is it always the persons who still have principles who are found in the wrong by practicing them? Because this is not “politically correct?

     I confess with Psalm 8, as follows:
“O Lord, how excellent is Thy name in all the earth.
Who has set Thy glory above the heavens.
What is man, that Thou art mindful of him,
And the son of man that Thou hast visited him.
O Lord, our Lord,
How excellent is Thy name in all the earth.”
Psalm 8,1.4.9

GPD 9/11/11

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Shade Tree Wisdom 9/7/11

          So, the walking was wonderful, cool, a slight breeze, and I am glad it was only very slight because that will help contain those fires raging in our State. Many homes already destroyed, acres the size of Connecticut burned. So having no wind is surely helpful to give the fire fighters some respite from their labor. Maybe they can get a handle on fires and contain them.

          But there is another fire raging that is fueled by anger, ill-conceived thought, even outright hate. The fire of a tongue out of control. So I read again Luther on the eighth commandment which he describes in his Large Catechism.

          He says one of the treasures indispensible to us is our honor and good name, for it is not possible to live honorably among men in public disgrace or contempt.

          What leads me to read that section again is the climate we seem to be in here in the United States. A climate where hate and thoughtless comments flow freely, and no one seems to bother any longer to “Put the best construction on everything”. Simply put, that is the advice of Dr. Luther.

          And it is advice as Christians we ought to follow regularly. Let’s not get caught up in the fervor of election speech. Let us be honest in our dealing. Let us speak truth with one another. Let us be what St. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5,9.12 “Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him, for we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ. . .Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.”

          So let us say and live always to give God the glory.

GPD 9/7/11

Monday, September 5, 2011

Shade Tree Wisdom 9/5/11 Labor Day

          The new month brings a nice breeze for the morning walk, but since it is Labor Day there is no school, so no rumbling of the big yellow boxes. Therefore, it was really quiet, and a temptation to walk a bit farther to enjoy the fine day. So I did.

          Labor Day became a national holiday in 1894 when Congress passed a bill to establish the first Monday in September as a national holiday, and President Grover Cleveland signed it into law. Recent research supports the report that Matthew Maguire, a machinist, founded it.

          History often records the struggle of labor for better working conditions and more ‘say’ in the work force. Such unrest ended in harsh struggle in the auto, the coal, and the iron industries especially. Even today there are often pockets of discord, though much is settled by quiet discussion rather than violence.

          But we do live in a world torn apart by the struggle for wealth and power and dominion over others. It is a world that has fallen deeply into the clutches of the enemy, the father of lies, the fallen “prince of this world”. (John 16,11.)

          In our own daily lives, we also struggle for ‘control’ so we can work our jobs and satisfy our daily needs and wants. We are tempted to place our trust there. It is good to remember the God who satisfies our wants and cares for our needs, and to pray to Him first.

          As sons and daughters of the Heavenly Father, we have nothing to fear. The Lord Jesus Christ sits at the Fathers right hand and governs all things for our sake,

          Our Psalm reads, “The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid.” Psalm 27,1.

GPD 9/5/11

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Shade Tree Wisdom 9/3/11

          People used to sort of joke about it whenever someone got lost when they had been invited to a summer cottage and took several hours to get there. Mostly because he was just too stubborn to listen when his wife suggested this was their turn.

          I thought of the couple who did this and reached that place where they weren’t talking much. So in their driving they passed a pasture where several mules were grazing and he asked, “Relatives of yours?” She replied, “Just by marriage”.

          What we are talking about here is pride. When St.Paul is writing in his letter to Ephesus he marvels that the power of the Gospel has broken down “the middle wall of division between them”. The power of the Gospel has united them in the Church. The ancient world was divided into Jew and Gentile, and that wall is broken down by the power of the Gospel.

          They were looking at circumcision, but Paul wants them to see the real truth. It is only the Power of the gospel that had united them.

          Pride. Look at the Church today, or look at the world, it is just filled with pride which leads to prejudice, and a blindness to see any other viewpoint. Prejudice is one of the greatest curses in life and it is generally grounded in pride. It is an absolutely blinding force.

          How does it work? It prevents us from seeing that there really usually are two sides to every issue, and it demeans any opponent, so will not really try to find a solution.

          The only solution is for men to see his own sinfulness and his own need before God, and recognize that the Only power that forms the Church is the power of the gospel, nothing else.

          And that is what we must remember when pride raises its head, that what we have is all a gift from a gracious God.

GPD 9/3/11

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Shade Tree Wisdom 8/30/11

          The city of Houston is 175, and the paper printed special sections detailing some of the history and highlights along the way. My mind went to Longfellow’s Psalm of Life. Remember this?
Lives of great men all remind us,
We can make our lives sublime,
And departing, leave behind us,
Footprints on the sands of time.

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

          That sort of epitomizes the culture. A sort of ‘can-do’ attitude. The history is full of events like that. When Galveston was destroyed by a hurricane in 1900, people were afraid to ship goods to Galveston, so the people of Houston deepened and widened a bayou to make the ship channel, making Houston a deep water port. This is one of the busiest ports in the country today. 2,000 trains move goods to and from ships.

          The city has also benefited from major gifts from its citizens. One Texas Governor was a man named Hogg. He had three children. The third, a girl, he named Ima. The children’s legacy was property simply awash in oil, and their gifts to the city of lands, parks, and buildings is outstanding.

          The Wortham family, among other things, gave Houston the Wortham Center for the arts. The Center was completed five months ahead of schedule and 5 million under budget.
          William Marsh Rice, whose fortune founded what is now Rice University, was murdered by his valet who was conspiring with one of the lawyers to get that fortune. They were caught before they could change the will.

          The playing floor of the Toyota Center, the basketball venue, is 32 feet below street level. Constrution of the center resulted in 315,000 yards of excavated soil, the most ever.
          There are nearly 6 miles of tunnel system under the city, and the Galleria gets about 24 million visitors each year.
          I started with Longfellow, I end with this from Robert Frost.

“The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”

          In such history, as in any history, we find reminders of great deeds as well as underhanded stuff in plenty. So for a Christian, it also reminds me of this word. “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”. Which always puts things in perspective.
GPD 8/30/11