Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Ah, end of the month already. I was thinking during my morning walk of a TV program scene in which the fictional president ended each staff meeting with “Now what’s next?”
So we come to the end of the month, and we need to say “Now what’s next”. Let’s follow the advice of St. Paul. He is writing his letter to the Philippians, and he does not wail about past failures or hurts, nor does he spend time fixating on past struggles, disappointments, or disputes. No, He wrote,
“Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forward to those things that are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3, 13.14.
Each of us has disappointments in life. We need to forget them, learn the lesson they teach, and go on. Not “If only”, but rather say, “next time”.
For as the child of God, there is always the "next time”, for God has surely and absolutely forgiven and forgotten the sins you repented of. So start the month with “Now what’s next” and with God as your Guide and Counselor, the One who sent you the Savior, the month and time that lies ahead is filled with His blessing.
Thursday, January 26, 2012
Nice and brisk for the morning walk, so I walked briskly instead of just strolling along.
“Cowboys are said to ride for the brand. It is hard to say “I am riding for an ear tag.” And yet the USDA insists on an electronic ear tag for any cattle for the foreign market or sold across state lines. Japan, for instance, will not buy any cattle unless the meat is proved safe and “traceable” before entering the country. And an electronic ear tag will make such identifying simple.
After the Civil War, Texas was overrun with longhorn steers, and many an enterprising person rounded them up and made a drive to the railheads in Ft. Dodge or Leavenworth, Kansas, for suddenly the meat was something the folks in the East wanted, and cattle became a commodity. How to mark your ownership? In 1541 a Spanish conquistador, Herman Cortes, used three crosses burned on the hide of his cattle.
Branding was the best way to quickly see who the steer belonged to, and brands such as the flying w or the lazy r became well known names. So a rancher could more quickly and easily identify what he owned.
All the naming brought to mind the Christian. For we are not alone, for “I am the Good Shepherd, and I know my Sheep, and am known of mine”. John 10,14.
So how do we become God’s sheep whom He calls by name? St. Paul explains in Titus 3, 5-7: “He saved us through the washing and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he pored out on us generously through Jesus Christ, our Savior, so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.” And to the Galatians Paul wrote, “All of you who were baptized into Christ, have put on Christ.” Gal. 3,27.
The hymn sung at many baptismal services runs like this:
“Baptized into Thy Name most holy,
O Father, Son, and holy Ghost.
I claim a place, though weak and lowly,
Among your saints, your chosen host.
Buried with Christ and dead to sin,
Your Spirit now shall live within”. LSB 590,1
That is a comforting truth to cherish, is it not?
Thursday, January 19, 2012
What a fine morning for the walk, cool, wind-still, for the most part, quiet. Not even my faithful dog came by. Probably sleeping and dreaming of past pleasures. But nice for me.
So after breakfast and our morning devotion, I tackled something that needed to be tackled, bringing my address book up to date. It needed doing, for there have been many changes, some written in, some pasted with a name sticker, and some so faded they were nearly unreadable.
While I was busy doing that, I remembered a letter someone had sent once about visiting an aunt in a nursing home. It was an aunt she knew, but saw only now and then at some family reunion. But suddenly, this aunt ended up in a nursing home nearby, and it fell on this niece to do the family visiting.
Well, you know how that goes. She went, and they chatted for a bit about the weather and the food in the home and such things. But in 15 minutes it dragged. She hung in there for an hour and promised to come back again, but almost dreaded it, for they seemed to have nothing in common. Then she found an old address book of her aunt's and took that along for the next visit.
It proved a life saver for them both. She read a name and her aunt remembered a picnic, or an evening visit, or a family affair. The book proved to be the spark that was needed to enliven their visit, and the hour went by so pleasantly and quickly for them both. Visits became a rare treat, instead of a chore.
Keep that hint in mind when your turn comes for such ‘duty’ visits.
My own address book, it’s still a work in progress. Several classmates started a round robin when we graduated from the Seminary and kept it up for 50 years. Now most of them are gone. So the chore becomes a sort of sad thing.
It is lightened by the fact that “blessed are the dead which die in the Lord. Yea, saith the spirit, that they may rest from their labors, and their works do follow them”.
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Funny in a way, isn’t it? I mean how we do our best to insure our existence against harm, loss, etc. So here is a retired couple, never harmed anyone, sitting at home when an intruder smashes his way in beats the wife to death, hurts the husband, both in their 80’s, and steals some jewelry.
Again, here is a ship load of passengers, over 3000 of them, enjoying a relaxing trip, some for the first time in their lives, trusting the ship is in competent hands, equipped with all necessary instruments for their safety, and hitting a reef – which lay outside the assigned route, by the way – and losing their lives. Tragic, we say. And it is.
What are we to do?
For the Christian there is but one solution. One must to Psalm 91, for example. Here we read David say,
“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty”. V.1
Then “I will say to the Lord, ‘He is my Refuge and
Fortress; God, in Him I trust’.v.2.
So, “Under His wings you shall take refuge, His truth
Shall be your buckler.” V.4
And this wonderful promise is also in this psalm:
“For He shall give his angels charge over you to keep you in all your ways.
In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone v.11-12.
This is the Word of the Lord. May it bring us peace.
Saturday, January 14, 2012
It was around 30 degrees for the morning walk, but it was wind-still, so it was not bad at all.
Especially when I thought of the pictures one saw of that fishing village in Alaska that had over 100 inches with more in the offing. The snow was so heavy, it’s not the light fluffy stuff we sometimes get here, but heavy with moisture. Anyhow it is so heavy that three fishing boats anchored in the harbor sank under the weight.
Now the news is about the Russian oil tanker making its way to Nome with a cargo of needed oil. A U S Coast Guard ice breaker is leading the way, and at last reports they were nearing their goal. The tanker carries a mile of hose to off-load its cargo, and the need is there because ice prevented the usual final oil delivery by barge in early November. The latest information is that this effort is successful and the oil is being delivered to Nome.
All this talk about the problems dealt to the world with too much snow reminds me again of Holy Scripture.
I quote from Psalm 19,
“The heavens declare the glory of God,
And the firmament showeth His handiwork.
Day unto day uttereth speech,
And night unto night showeth knowledge.
There is no speech,
Where their voice is not heard”. Psalm 19, 1-3.
I pray this quote will remind us again that there is a God who works in this world of ours, and it is always for our good.
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Nice this morning after that storm and several hurricanes that hit the area yesterday with nearly 4 inches of rain. Officially last year was the driest in Texas in history, so there was not too much complaint about the rain, though it did flood areas and one school had to send large trucks in to rescue some children from the flooded building.
One thing such a flood does teach us, that when authorities say it isn’t safe to drive through, don’t. But one always sees people pushing cars out of the flood to dry ground. They do not have what the bible says we need, a teachable spirit.
Proverbs 3,7 teaches “be not wise in your own eyes, fear the Lord, and depart from evil”. The entire chapter teaches humility.
That spirit listens to words such as this, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy path”.3,5.6.
Reading the third chapter, for that matter, the Book of Proverbs with such a teachable spirit will lead to wisdom with the decisions we make and the way we live.
Check some other nuggets from chapter 3. “for length of days and long life, and peace,. Shall they add to thee.” V.2 Or “Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace”. V.17. Then “Keep wisdom and discretion” v,.21b. and “thy foot shall not stumble’ v.23b.
Remember, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” 2 Timothy 3,16. For St. Peter tells us that “holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” 2 Peter 1,21.
So the teachable spirit leads to wise decisions, and God’s blessing.
Saturday, January 7, 2012
It’s often the little things that matter. An example is the other morning when a heavy sea fog had drifted along the coast, and smoke from burning fires added to the gloom along the highway near Port Arthur, Texas, and 79 cars, travelling at speed, crashed into each other, and not a single life was lost.
One driver described it as “driving into a tunnel. I hit my brakes, but crashed into the car in front of me.” And no lives were lost because, authorities said, “People stayed in their cars till help arrived”.
In another instance a thief broke into a parked car and stole a briefcase and a computer, which had a device that one could track it. The thief also got two tickets plus a parking ticket for the Texans football game today. (As soon as the theft was reported, those tickets were automatically nullified.) But the police also have the home address of the thief. Little things.
The Christian life is made up of just such little things, beginning with doing what God commands. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction”. Prov. 1,7 For the Psalm teaches, “I am wiser than my enemies, I have better insight than all my teachers, because I think of the truths you wrote. I understand better than the old men, because I follow the way you want me to live..” Psalm 119, 98-100.
David had learned this before he even tackled Goliath. Armed wih his shepherd’s staff and a sling, he went out, he said to the braggart, “The battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands.” 1 Samuel 17,47. And so it happened. “Little things’.
I believe that what the lord lays before me as truth, is truth, and I can and do depend on this truth which teaches, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” A simple gift from God.
Wednesday, January 4, 2012
What a pleasant morning it is indeed. I stepped out for my morning walk just as the children next door were getting into the car to get a ride to meet their bus. We exchanged ‘good mornings’, and I burst into:
“Oh, what a beautiful mornin’,
Oh what a beautiful day.
I’ve got a wonderful feeling,
Everything’s goin’ my way”.I sang mostly to myself, for they had to hurry to catch their ride. But then, I enjoy my singing.
But ever have that sort of feeling to begin a day. You’re alive, have the day sort of planned, looking forward to getting things done, and the day is just beginning, Wonderful.
I believe the reading the Psalms slowly and with insight gives just such a feeling. God is there, our God, the Mighty One, who created heaven and earth, is there. He sent His Own Son to rescue us from the sin we were born with, to make us righteous through His work. So that we can and do believe
“In Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the virgin Mary, is my Lord, who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, purchased and won me from all sin, from death, and from the power if the devil. Not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood, and with His innocent suffering and death.”
And, knowing that, it is a beautiful morning, for I am walking under His Care and in the faith He planted in my in holy Baptism.
Dr. Luther had it right, when things got tough and there seemed no solution, and it looked as if there was a dead end with no help in sight, he would say, “Baptizo sum”, I have been baptized.
May I wish just such a day and belief for you, my friend?
Sunday, January 1, 2012
Happy and Blessed New Year 2012
I stand here at the threshold of this year somewhat astonished and very, very grateful for the years the Lord is giving me. So many years he has planned for me that I have outlived the ‘three score and ten’ the Psalm (90.10) speaks of.
Standing at the threshold of a new year perhaps is a good time to reflect a moment on what is now ended. Good times, and also several burdens, and through it all the Lord in grace sent strength and wisdom to survive. For this we are so grateful.
At age 120 Moses climbed Mt. Nebo. At age 91 I find a cane helpful when I stand after kneeling for the Holy Supper.
In my morning walk I use no cane. I do have a walking staff hidden behind my study/computer room door. A friend who grew up in the foothills of the Rockies often took hikes there, and he said in such a mountain hike a staff was essential to help over rough parts of the trail and especially when the walk became steep. It said one developed a rhythm, making walking easier with a staff. So, one of these days I might just try it.
Meanwhile, for the new year ahead of us, may I offer two suggestions. The first is after Jesus had sent out the disciples and they returned with their reports, rejoicing that “even the devils are subject unto us through Thy name.” (Luke 10,17) And Jesus said, and this is my suggestion and hope for you , “Rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven”. (Luke 10,20)
Because in Holy Baptism the Sprit planted faith in your heart and you became “sons of god, which we are”. May the year keep that faith strong and growing during 2012.
The second suggestion comes from Eccl. 9,10, “Everything your hand finds to do, do it with your might, because there is no work or planning, knowledge or skill, in the grave, where you are going.”
Let your work life reflect your enthusiasm for the things at hand. Be the one whose wisdom is helpful, and be a person easy to live with. God will bless that sort of life.
So, may 2012 be rich in blessings for you.