Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Shade Tree Wisdom 2/29/12

          I had to make use of this day, did I not?

          We have such leap year days to keep the seasons and the calendar in sync.  It actually takes the sun a trifle more than 365 days to return to one spot directly above the earth’s equator.  It takes 365.2422 days.  We round it to 365 and add a day each four years to make that up.

          A fact I dredged up is that the Heriksen family had 3 children, each born on leap days, in 1960, 1964, and l968, The Guinness Book of World Records records this tidbit.

          So, what does the day mean for you?  After all, the truth of the psalmist stays with us.  “Blessed are all they that put their trust in You.” Psalm 2,12.

          So use the day to His glory, and out of it flows blessings.  One suggestion, start a daily reading of the Small Catechism to refresh your day and strengthen your faith.

GPD 2/29/12

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Shade Tree Wisdom 2/28/12

          A fine drizzle, that turned into a mist that soon left cut the morning walk short.

          But I hasten to say something further about that poison ivy we managed by smothering the roots.

          Yes, I too wish that is the way with temptations.  Smother them, and forget them.  But that is not what the facts are.  St. Peter reminds us that “The devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour.”  It is on-going this temptation that dogs our days.  It is sneaky, it is sly it is underhanded, it comes from left field, unexpected, harsh, unending.

          So our Loving, merciful God has armed us.  “Whom resist steadfast in the faith”: is the Word.

          The Whole Armor of God
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.  11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.  13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.  14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.  16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, “Eph 6, 10-17

          Temptations do come, but you go to meet them armed with “The sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.”

GPD 2/28/12

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Shade Tree Wisdom 2/25/12

          Walking with a mild breeze, sometimes stronger, then less so, so walking was pleasant.

          When we moved to this home in 1985, there were a number of trees in the front yard, making an attractive sight.  Problem arose when poison ivy started to creep up.  That had been there before we bought, but the builder had carefully trimmed it down to the ground.

          That was something we wanted to get rid of, so we consulted with an A&M graduate.  He said we could keep on using Roundup, but that might harm other vegetation.  The best way would be to dig out the roots, and that was impossible with the rest of the growth.  So he suggested this, “and I am sure it will work”, he said..

          Rake away all the mulch to bare ground, then cover the ground with layers of newspaper, at least four pages thick.  Then put the mulch back over that, and that should solve the problem because the roots will find no sunshine, and so will die.

          It worked.  Though it meant hours of raking and mulching, taking care to cover the ground well.  Report.  We have not been troubled with poison ivy since.

          But we saw a need, and did something.

          These 40 days of LENT are meant to give us the time to tend to the poison ivy in our lives, and do something about it.  The best thing we do is admit it, then repent, and ask God’s gracious forgiving word.

          St. James writes this about temptation. ”Blessed is the man who endures patiently when he is tested.  When he passes the test, he will get the crown of life God promised to those who love him.” Then he describes temptation this way, “Everyone’s own desire tempts him, draws him away, and tries to trap him.  When desire conceives, it gives birth to sin, and when sin grows up, it gives birth to death.” James l, 12-15, (The Holy Bible)

          My prayer is that we, all of us, will use these precious days to see, and eradicate, the poison ivy growing in hearts.

GPD 2/25/12

Monday, February 20, 2012

Shade Tree Wisdom 2/20/12

          Lent begins with Ash Wednesday, falling this year on February 22nd.  A time for reflection, but much more.

          What do you do when Guilt overwhelms you?  Promise to read the Bible more?   Set special times for prayer?   Get up earlier each day for devotions?  Or what?

          All good in themselves?  But Lent directs our attention to the Cross.  There we see how serious is our condition.

          The hymn has this:
              “Ye who think of sin but lightly,
               Nor suppose the evil great,
               Here may judge its nature rightly,
               Here its cost ,may estimate.” LSB 451,3

          The cross made possible the Lord’s promise which Jeremiah spoke, “For I will forgive their iniquities, and remember their sin no more.” Jer. 31,34

          And that Psalm, so rich in forgiveness.  Please read it. (Psalm 103).  Special attention to words like that, :who forgiveth all thine iniquites; who healeth all thy diseases.” and “As far as the east is from the west so far has He removed our transgressions from us”. V.3.12.

          And Hebrews chapter 10 speaks of the sacrifice of Christ and as a result of that, promises this, v.17, “their sins and iniquities I will remember no more.”

          That is what Lent is about.  It assures us who are often careless and unheeding, that there is “forgiveness with Thee, that Thou mayest be feared.”  For the Cross of Christ does that, it solves our problem of sin by paying the price in full.

          Spend these Lenten hours in worship and wonder with me, won’t you.  It will strengthen and refresh a weary soul along the way.

GPD 2/20/12

Friday, February 17, 2012

Shade Tree Wisdom 2/17/12

          The walking was quite pleasant this morning, but more rain is in the offing, and I am glad.  Lake levels are rising, and we thank God for His generosity.

          We often look, but don’t really see.  The Lord surrounded us with beauty in this world. Watching a sun rise over the waters of lake Michigan, first the soft glow, the first rays appear and the sky simply glows with beauty; trees don’t all look alike.  Here one stands tall, another has several crooked limbs that make it sort of appealing.  Or the various birds, one with many colors, another just a soft gray; one hammers for bugs into a tree, another pulls a worm from the ground.

          Look around for your own examples of God’s enduring beauty, given to refresh our souls ad make living easier.

          Yet, the news seem grim, a murder here, an accident taking a life there.  And that list goes on, and on, and on.

          Enough to make us shudder and fear.

          Most Lutheran homes have a copy of Luther’s Small Catechism.  Dr. Luther himself said he studied and read in it every day.  Maybe we should also.

          There I find a really encouraging word.  Luther writes under the seventh petition this: “We pray in this petition, as the sum of all, that our Father in heaven would rescue us from every evil of body and soul, property and honor, and finally, when our last hour has come, graciously take us from this valley of sorrow to Himself in heaven”.

          Let that summary bring strength and comfort to your walk today.

GPD 2/17/12

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Shade Tree Wisdom 2/14/12

So Happy Valentine's Day

          Valentine was a physician and priest, living and working on Rome under emperor Claudius.  He was martyred for his Christian faith in 270.  Legend has it that he left a message for his jailor’s child on an irregularly shaped piece of paper, hence the heart shape of today’s valentines.

          St. John in his first letter writes:
” In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.” 1 John 4, 10-12.

          On this Valentine's Day, why do we not determine to be as loving and as caring each day as we are this day?  Indeed, as St. John says, “If we love one another, God abides in us and His love is perfected in us.”

          Trust me, such a loving, caring, cherishing attitude will outlast any bouquet of roses or box of sweets that one may buy to celebrate this day.

          Try it, and be sure God will bless that, and enrich your life.

GPD 2/14/12

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Shade Tree Wisdom 2/11/12

          This is quite a stretch. But I just read that the UK’s Rabbit Grand National was held in January in the dignified Yorkshire town of Harrogate.

          And what is that? You may well ask, because I plan to clue you in.

          It seems this sport of rabbit jumping started in the small southern Swedish town of Varalov, and Swedes have been raising show jumping rabbits since the l980’s.

          All it is, it seems, is to train rabbits to run a course, much like a steeplechase course, to see who does it without mistake in the fastest time.

          The race in Harrogate was won by Cheri, 2-year old Swedish bunny, who did it in just 11 seconds.

          That’s the story. Most of the people engaged in this pursuit are teenage girls. But anyone can get some rabbits and train them.

          Now, did that make your day?

          Try adding this truth from the Psalm.
              “How good it is to sing praises to our God.
               How pleasant and fitting to praise Him. . .
               Great is our God, and mighty in power.
               His understanding has no limit.” Ps. 147,1.4

GPD 2/11/12

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Shade Tree Wisdom 2/7/12

          In my morning walk I bumped into my neighbor and we spoke a word or two about the weather and agreed that we do not remember a really hard freeze at all so far this year.  But we have had enough rain to fill some of the lakes a bit and that is heartening, and I am truly thankful to God for His care.

          Caught this line in the morning paper.  “There are two kinds of people who don’t say much, those who are quiet and those who talk all the time”.

          That struck me, because I am reading that the new phones have so many devices as equipment on them the battery doesn’t last all day.

          One solution the fellow who has invented a charger that charges while he walks, walking 15 minutes gives him a minute of talk time.

          Maybe a better solution is not to be talking quite so much.

          A recent assigned reading was the section of First Samuel where Samuel had his first encounter with the Lord.  He is awakened from sleep and thinks his mentor, the priest Eli, is calling, so he answers him.  That happens three times when Eli finally realizes that it is the Lord calling.  So he gives this advice to young Samuel. ”When it happens again say, ‘speak Lord, for thy servant heareth’.”

          That’s what happened, and Samuel did say, “Speak, thy servant heareth”. 1 Samuel 3, 10.

          Maybe that’s the best advice yet.  Do more listening, less talking.  For as one wise man said, “When I am doing the talking I am not learning anything new.  It’s when I am listening that I learn.  So it’s best to listen, and learn”.

          Always good advice, then we don’t need to try to unsay the words that would have been better let unsaid to begin with.  May God bless your day.

GPD 2/7/12

Friday, February 3, 2012

Shade Tree Wisdom 2/3/12

          It is so warm a jacket is nearly not needed for the morning walk.  While I was walking, I started to think of all the hype about the up-coming Super Bowl next Sunday.  The papers are filled with articles, surmises, facts and guesses.  They even estimate the number of chicken wings that will be eaten, and they seem happy that carrots are ascending the ladder for nibble foods.  And the cost of each 30 seconds for ads is 3.5 million dollars.

          So many words.  And it reminds us of life.  “Careful and troubled about many things”, Jesus said of Martha’s worrying.  Life is like that often.  We get so busy about things that we lose sight of the thing that matters.

          One summer a family we know spent a week in a cottage in northern Michigan.  They had a fine week, sunny and warm, and really enjoyed their stay. Their cottage had a shuffleboard court and the family really enjoyed that. So one day they were having a game before lunch and the mother said she planned to take a book, lie in the orange life raft they had tethered to the dock, and do some reading and relaxing before lunch.

          She settled down, slathered with sunscreen, and started reading.  The water lapping on shore was soothing, and soon she fell asleep.  OK, the family knew where she was and would wake her to lunch.  When she awoke, she found herself in the middle of Grand Traverse Bay. Not tied to the dock.  The knot had come untied.  She was in no real danger because she was a strong swimmer, and as she woke, her husband was already coming to fetch her with their power boat.

          Her experience is what happens to many Christians, they think they are secure, and drift without knowing, maybe enticed by a friend, or excited by some innovation, or just carelessness.  That is why Jesus warns again and again for us to remain strong in the faith.

          St. Paul has this comment: “The time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine.  Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.  They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” 2 Timothy 4, 3.4.

          Stick with the Gospel.  “For the grace of God that brings salvation appeared to all men.  It teaches us to say “No” to worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age”.  Titus 2, 11.12.  In His great love God warns us always to beware of the false.

GPD 2/3/12