Friday, July 29, 2011
“This is the day that the Lord has made, Let us rejoice and be glad in it”. Psalm 118, 24. In my rejoicing I slowed, then stopped, as a duck family slowly walked across the highway. They looked neither left nor right, just ventured across, and traffic stopped, to allow them to cross.
But the great cause for rejoicing is that this is our 66th wedding anniversary, and my mind is flooded with memories, of that day, and the years together under God’s rich blessing all these years.
The day was warm and sunny with a slight breeze that ruffled tree leaves. It was pleasant, you know, the kind one gets in July only in Wisconsin. The church bells rang as we approached the church, then the hymn Ruth had chosen for our processional. A happy choice indeed.
“Lord, take my hand and lead me upon life’s way,
Direct, protect, and feed me, from day to day.
Without your grace and favor, I go astray.
So take my hand, O Savior, and lead the way.”
Then the dinner, and celebration, leaving us with a stock of warm memories. As I write these words I am waiting for tomorrow when Ruth is scheduled to come home from rehab where she has been spending time after she broke a bone in her foot and had to learn to put weight on it again.
Meanwhile I am going visiting with a rose in my hand to remember and quietly celebrate the day.
Here I have the Kodak picture frame running family pictures. There is a Christmas family picture, another at Hidden Lake Gardens, a favorite Sunday afternoon visiting place for the family. Here is one at the Lake, and yes, here comes our youngest riding her unicycle. That was all she wanted one Christmas, so we found one, and she taught herself to ride. She learned it well enough to surprise us when she rode in the town’s fourth of July parade. That got people all excited,” Look there”, they’d say, “She is riding a unicycle. Isn’t that Pastor’s daughter?”
And now the lord has given grandchildren who all are sources of joy and blessing daily. And tomorrow is our first great granddaughter’s first birthday. My cup runneth over, great is Thy faithfulness.
“Lord, when the shadows lengthen, and night has come, I know that You will strengthen my steps toward home.
Then nothing can impede me, O blessed Friend, So take my hand and lead me, until the end,.” V.3
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Warm and humid this morning. I had barely started when a girl came whizzing by on a bike and gave me a cheerful “Good morning”. I had hardly gone twenty feet when she came by from the other direction. I said, “Forget your coffee?” “No”, she said, “My money. I was going to buy a sweet roll.” Early morning excitement in The Woodlands, don’t you see?
“The eyes of all wait upon Thee;
And Thou givest them their meat in due season.
Thou openest Thine hand,
And satisfies the desires of every living thing.” Psalm 145, 15.16
We are in the middle of the grilling season, so I am going to send a recipe for that perfect steak.
Ask the market to cut a steak ¾ inch thick.
Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before you want to serve it.
Salt and pepper each side.
Preheat the oven to 450.
While it warms heat a 9 or 10 inch cast iron griddle on the stove, melt 1/2 of butter and sear the steak on both sides for 2 minutes.
Then place the skillet with the steak into the oven and turn off the oven.
In 15 minutes remove from the oven and place it on the cutting board.
In 5 minutes or so slice the steak across the grain and serve and wait for the applause.
You may add a tossed salad. Better yet, get a head of lettuce, cut into quarters, serve two quarters on a chilled plate with blue cheese dressing.
Finish with a piece of cherry pie home made, or a scoop of vanilla.
If you must add a baked potato or potatoes O’brian. That’s the perfect meal. I have done this, and it works. Just be sure you wear a glove when you remove that hot skillet from the oven.
Addenda to shade tree: Better used peanut oil, not butter.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
I was reminded recently of a line from the musical, THE KING AND I in which the king sings,
“When I was a boy, world was a better spot,
What was so, was so, what was not, was not.
Now I am a man;
World has changed a lot,
Some things nearly so,
Others nearly not.”
When Christ came as The Truth, He gave us a common center to rest on. “One Lord, One faith, One baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all” Eph. 4,5.
And when we come to accept this by the Holy Spirit, it gives us a common bond of interest between people, uniting us in one under one head, Jesus Christ.
The problem lies in the fact that not all accept this Truth. When Jeremiah was sent as prophet, the Lord gave him this word. “Announce this to the house of Jacob and proclaim it to Judah. Hear this you foolish and senseless people. Who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear.” Jer. 5,20-21.
You, however, belong to the elect. Jesus said, “You have not chosen me, I have chosen you.” John 145,16. Not because you are special in any way, or more worthy, but simply because the Lord loved you. Check this out in Deuteronomy 7, 6-8.
Now to such St. Peter writes a letter. It’s from the old fisherman who has fallen and been restored through forgiveness. He writes to “A chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2,9.
Peter writes further, “I will always remind you of these things even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you have. I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made known to me. And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things.” 2 Peter 1, 12-15.
We live in perilous times. Let us remember always we are His children, under His caring, fatherly eye “until the end of the age.”
Friday, July 22, 2011
Some places had as much as two inches, so the area benefited from rain, though spotty, wet here, dry next door. Appreciated very much thanks to the Lord. So the walking was in rain-washed air with a slight breeze to make it just fine.
I read a Chinese proverb that says,
“If you are patient in one moment of anger,
You will escape one hundred days of sorrow.”
There’s just a lot of wisdom in those words. What is it we often say,
“Do it in haste,
Repent at leisure”.
And it reminds me again of our loving God. He planned our life so we could be free from having to repent of deeds or words spoken in haste or anger.
So the Lord gave us the Ten Commandments, not to fence us in, but to keep us from making stupid mistakes. For these ten cover nearly every phase of life, do they not?
In the spring when cattle were first left out to pasture, they tended to find holes in the pasture fence and get at green alfalfa and founder. So our first duty was to make sure the pasture fence had withstood the forces of winter cold and frost and was tight. Because cattle seemed to have a genius for finding any holes.
Our problem exactly, we are always trying to find loopholes, reasons why this does not apply for this situation, after all, is the word, we are living in 2011, not in the Victorian age any longer.
We forget that life is messy at best, not easy or simple, and we need help on finding the best way. That help is what the Lord offers us in the Ten Commandments. These Ten words cover every situation and offer us guides and direction for every situation.
Temptations lie all around and offers us many opportunities to do the wrong thing. A small example, the temptation to eat an apple while shopping for our groceries and not mentioning the fact at the checkout counter. We think, after all, the store has lots of apples and won’t miss just one.
“In vain we all old notions fudge,
And bend our conscience to our dealing.
The Ten Commandments will not budge,
And stealing will continue stealing”
The Commandments are not there to “spoil our fun”, but to allow us to live with a clear conscience and sleep as God’s Child.
So be patient in a moment of anger,and spare yourself one hundred days of sorrow.
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
It’s raining slightly even as I write these welcome words, but I look out of my window and also see a dying tree in the nearby distance. The drought is taking a toll indeed, and much moisture is necessary to gainsay that. Let us keep on praying for that.
“I would rather be a doorkeeper in the
House of my God,
Then dwell in the tent
Of the wicked,.” Psalm 84,10.
That’s a pretty strong word to speak, and mean it. But it does fit right into the entire theme of that Psalm. “My soul yearns even faints, for the courts of the Lord.” V. 2, he writes. And then, “Blessed are those who dwell in your house, they are ever praising you” v.4.
Does this fit our eagerness of worship in this year also? Do we come, anticipating, longing, and leave filled, satisfied, strengthened and encouraged for the week?
During my years in active ministry I often would find a worshipper still in the pew, Bible open on the lap, reading the words of God again and settling them more firmly in the mind, or discussing quietly with a friend what these particular Words of God’s book mean for their life.
Because that is what worship does. It lift us up to higher ground, away from the hustle and bustle of daily life, from much activity and haste, to hear from God. To see again how rich the blessings of God are in our life, and to be heartened to know that God is here with us, in this place and this time, to be “in us”, as Paul teaches us. We belong here, because we are part of His flock, made so by Holy Baptism. What a glory is this.
So, my Christian friend, fellow believer, sister and brother in Christ, let our time of worship be so rich and fulfilling, so strengthening and satisfying, for us also, that, with the Psalm, we say, “My soul longs for the courts of the Lord.”
So, my son, “The Lord gives wisdom, and from His mouth come knowledge and understanding” Prov.2,6
Thursday, July 14, 2011
The longer this heat persists, the more I feel the words spoken by the psalmist:
“Do not cast me away when I am old,
Do not forsake me when my strength is gone.” Ps. 71,8.
It is July, and the heat extends nearly to the Canadian border through the Midwest, and there seems to be no letup in the near future. The Tropics are quiet also, no storm stirring. A small system crossed the coast in Mexico but it brought only rain, no winds and destructive forces.
The continued heat seems to sap one’s energy and causes us to long for better.
And I am wondering whether St. Paul had such moments that caused him to confess, “When I am weak, then I am strong”2 Cor.12,10. For when he had been praying to have a ‘thorn in the flesh’ removed, the Lord told him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” V.9. So he learned again to lean entirely on God.
When we forget that, lean on and trust God, we are in trouble. And maybe this weather reminds me again that God is there always and keeps the promise He made us all, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world.”
For this world is in great need of divine wisdom and help. Our country is trying to deal with debt and crisis, and in the debate they seem to forget that one thing we ought to do first and foremost and pay down debt, not raise the limits some more.
The generation before us put a man on the moon, built an interstate highways system, an incredible network of airports, the intercostals waterway, a strong electrical grid, a higher education system that attracted thousands from around the world, and hospitals second to none in innovation and service. And they did it with very little debt.
It seems today all we can do is line up at the public trough.
Lord God of hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget, lest we forget” Thee.
Monday, July 11, 2011
We had a nice rain shower yesterday afternoon. It lasted only a while, but you could almost hear the ground swallow and see the trees standing just a bit taller for that drink.
This morning it was rather pleasant out and birds were singing. I looked to see if I could spot that bird in the tree, but I could not see the bird till it moved a bit, then it was easy, but the camouflage was excellent. And I thought again how carefully this world is crafted and planned by our All Mighty God.
Well, it is July and there is no need to rush through the walk, why not lean on my staff – yes, I use a staff now and then – to see if I could spot the singer. And it was a pleasant moment.
July is also National Ice Cream month. More of that is sold on Sundays than any other day, and it takes some 50 licks to finish the average scoop of ice cream in a cone. Go ahead, get a cone and enjoy it while sitting in the shade and watching the children in the park.
I have been re-reading Matthew chapter 6, 19 – 34 again. Good reminder of the goodness of God. Here are bits from MSG, “There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless, in the care of God. And you count far more than birds.
“Give your 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.”
Friday, July 8, 2011
It’s July, and the living is easy. Days warm and inviting us to slow down and rest, to enjoy a summer breeze, to look at the colors God provides all around us, to spend a day in a hammock reading a long neglected book, to have a glass of freshly squeezed lemonade near at hand, and to visit with family and get acquainted all over again.
It’s July and our motto ought to be
QUOT LIBROS QUAM BREVE TEMPUS
Really, all right, this is what it says, ”so many books, so little time”.
Maybe time for a walk in a field with the dog. But even in July, keep your eyes open and observe, not just see.
One summer day in 1948 a Swiss amateur mountaineer and inventor took his dog for a nature hike. When they returned home, both were covered with burrs clinging to his pants and the dog’s fur. Instead of cleaning the stuff off, he took some to his microscope and saw all the small hooks that clung to loops here and there, and his mind envisioned a faster with stiff hooks and soft loops. He combined velour and crochet and called it Velcro.
George de Mestral, together with a weaver in France, perfected a fastener and the thing is patented in 1955. Now it is used everywhere as a fastener on clothing, shoes, and other items, and is a common item we all recognize as very useful.
Slow summer days often lead to ideas for solutions to problems. For when the mind slows down, it tends to work with the sort of thing that we are engaged in and leads us to solutions we can use.
Or it may be that a time for reflection will help us untangle a relationship that has gone awry and seems beyond hope, then comes a thought that leads to a fine solution and brings together people who really need each other.
So it is July. Slow down, even sit down for a while, take a nap under a shade tree, play with the dog, or the grandchild, and find time to really see God’s world in which He allows us to live.
The Psalmist said,
“As for God, His way is perfect.
The word of God is flawless.
He is a shield,
For all who take refuge in Him”. Ps. 18,30.
So do have a fine summer, relax, enjoy, and remember your summer motto: QUOT LIBROS QUAM BREVE TEMPUS.
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Well, here is a line from yesterday’s paper. It says all we need to know. “Have you ever noticed that there is no one harder to shut up than the person who has nothing to say”.
What does that remind you of? The first person that came to my mind is today’s politician. A person of many words, and when it is all finished one asks, ”What did they say?” Endless meetings, regular reports, many promises, but little production.
And it reminds me so often of the Church today. Jesus, remember, said,
“Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.
Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it gives light to all that are in the house.
Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your father that is in heaven”. Matthew 5, 14-16
And the thought gives us pause to ask, “Are we then such a light in this world of ours? Does our speech speak the Gospel of a Christ risen after He died to pay for the sins of mankind? Do we eagerly share the good news?” God give us the wisdom so to do.
Monday, July 4, 2011
We had rain, some reported as much as three inches. I believe we had about half as much, but the air was rain-washed and cool this morning. Felt good and refreshing.
Now here comes a walker toward me. He’s got a rather pleasant look on his face so I think, “Well, why not,” and I started with
“She’s a grand old flag
She’s high-flying flag,
And forever in peace my she wave."
Well, he joined me in the singing, and here came two ladies who use this route fairly regularly and they joined in also,
“She’s the emblem of,
The land I love,
The home of the free and the brave."
Then from a person up the street airing her dog comes another voice, and a person setting out some garbage joins us,
“Every heart beats true,
For the red, white, and blue.
With never a boast or a brag.
Should old acquaintance be forget,
Keep your eye on the grand old flag”.
We finished the song, wished each other a happy Fourth, and each went our separate ways. I believe we all felt just a thrill of love for the country we live in. the land of the brave and the free.
Indeed, we have this hymn in the LSB number 965.
“God bless our native land,
Firm may she ever stand,
Through storm and night.
When the wild tempest rave,
Ruler of wind and wave,
Do Thou our country save, by Thy great might.
So shall our prayers arise,
To God above the skies,
On Him we wait.
Thou who art ever nigh
Guarding with watchful eye,
To Thee aloud we cry, God save the state.” # 965 LSB
May God’s rich blessing rest on our nations in these perilous times.
Sunday, July 3, 2011
Walking is humid still. As a matter of record, the paper reports Houston has endured the hottest June on record with 7 days when the temperature reached 100 degrees when typically it has only 3 such days a year.
But I have something much better to talk about since this is the first day of the second half of the year.
Jesus ended His Sermon on the Mount with these words.
“These words I speak to you are not
Incidental additions to your life, homeowner Improvements to your standard of living.
They are foundational words.
Words to build a life on.
If you work these words into your life, You are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock.
Rain poured down,
The river flooded,
A tornado hit,
But nothing moved that house,
It was fixed to the rock.
BUT if you just use my words in Bible studies, And don’t work them into your life, You are like a stupid carpenter, who Built his house on the sandy beach.
When the storm rolled in and the waves came up, It collapsed like a house of cards.”
Matthew 7,24-27 MSG
You have discovered in the first half of 2011 that we Christians are still being battered and tested, so I lay into your mind the closing words of St Peter in his second letter where he writes:
“Be on your guard, and don’t let men without principle sweep you off your feet. But grow in grace and knowledge of your Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom be glory forever.” 2 Peter 3, 17.18.
So may God bless this half of the year for your walk in Him.