Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Shade tree wisdom 3/28/12

          Another fine day, but I did not walk this morning again because the other day as I returned from the walk I managed somehow to turn my ankle. It brought some pain and did some swelling, so a friend took me to the nearby clinic for a checkup and an x-ray. Nothing broken, but the doctor did give me a sort of boot that allowed me to walk. Now the pain is pretty well gone and the swelling is down, so I rejoice.

          I rejoice more that when we went to the clinic we were in and out in under an hour. Amazing, that.

          It also sharpened the Lenten message of sin and salvation. The Confessional writings of our Church in its Smalcald Articles speaks about sin and repentance. It reminds us that the Bible teaches Law and Gospel.
          “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men,” (Rom 1.18). And “The whole world may be accountable to God. . . no human being will be justified in His sight.” (Rom. 3, 19.20). And Christ said that the Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin. (John 16,8). This thunderbolt of the law, this hammer, as Jeremiah calls it, (Jer. 23,29), brings the sinner to his knees in repentance.

          The Season of Lent reminds us that the Law is always followed by the Gospel, the good news. For Christ Himself declares, “Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” Mark 1,15.

          The Law shows us what we are, but then the Word of the Gospel, shows us God’s grace and forgiveness.

          So we teach what Christ Himself commanded, “Repentance and forgiveness of sins should be declared in My name to all nations.” (Luke 24,47.)

          Again, I pray for you insight into this truth of Law and Gospel, for that is why Jesus died, so we could hear this good news that our debt of sin is fully paid.

GPD 3/28/12

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Shade Tree Wisdom 3/20/12

          Lucked out this morning.  It was nice for my walk, a bit cool, a slight breeze, and quiet.  But no sooner did I finish when the promised rain began, and it rained steadily for several hours with wind.  Enough wind to knock down a neighbor’s tree.  Did no damage save for his fence, so there will be cleaning up to do.

          Yesterday I had my semi-annual check-up with my eye doctor and he took a picture of my optic nerve.  He does that every so often.  He showed me the result with a picture he took several years ago.  Exactly the same, and he was pleased.  Showed a healthy nerve with no deterioration at all.

          Well, when the doctor is pleased and sends me away with ”You’re doing fine, keep it up”, I am satisfied.

               “I remember the days of old,
                I meditate on all Thy works,
                I muse on the works of Thy hands.” Psalm 143,5.

          For memory starts to bring things back.  The day in early college I went to see an eye doctor for I could not really read the blackboard, then the years with glasses, and then many, many years when my eyesight improved to the point when I needed no glasses, until finally the state of Texas said, “Son”, (that’s the way the state speaks to us taxed individuals), “son, you can no longer drive on our fine highways unless you get some glasses .”

          That was about 6 years ago, so I remember the goodness of God in all of this, and I spend time indeed “musing on the works of God’s hands”.

          So memory is fine, for it reminds us of so many blessings along the way, that whatever might weigh us down now seems light, for the memory reminds us that God’s Word is true, and He is ever present with His blessing.

          I pray your memory helps in your life too.

GPD 3/20/12

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Shade Tree Wisdom 3/13/12

          The report is that we have had as much rain since January of this year as we had by November last year, that accounts for the year of the drought.  I am thankful that this is true and the Lord has been sending us this much needed moisture.

          We are nearing the mid-point of the Lenten season and have been looking closely at the hidden areas of our lives to search out what we have tried to keep away from sight.

          A recent Portals of Prayer turns to the Hound of Heaven, a poem written a hundred years ago by Francis Thompson. It begins,
                “I fled him, down the nights and down the days;
                  I fled him, down the arches of the years;
                  I fled Him down the labyrinthine ways of my own mind,
                  And in the midst of tears. . .”

          The poem speaks of the ways a young man tries to evade God, the many ways he tried to hide. Just as in the last days of Jesus Pilate asks, “What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” Matthew 27,22.  It is a question we cannot evade eventually and each must have a answer.  Either we see Him as Lord and Savior or we join the mob that cried, ”Crucify Him”.

          Lent reminds us that “with the Lord there is mercy and with Him there is plenteous redemption.” Palm 130,7.  For “The Lord is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to redemption” 2 Peter 3,9b.  And our study during lent makes this truth stand out again.  God earnestly and really wants us to be saved.

          So the poem ends with :
              “Is my gloom that shade of His hand outstretched caressingly?
                Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest,
                I am He whom Thou seekest”.

          May the Lenten hours open your eyes, too, to His great love which sent Jesus to the cross for our sins.  Praise His Holy name.

GPD 3/13/12

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Shade Tree Wisdom 3/6/12

          The sight was sickening.  This family had just moved to their new home and spent many dollars to landscape their backyard, now it looked as if a bomb had been burst there, lawn dug up, bushes upended, the newly planted dwarf trees lying on end.  It was a total mess, so they called the police.  They came, looked, and said, “You had a visit from feral hogs that have been roaming this area lately.  There is nothing we can do.”

          Invasion. That is the topic today.  Our country has Many invasive species brought in by someone who thought they would be attractive, or useful, or just nice to have around.

          Think of the Everglades in Florida.  They estimate they are now home to 160,000 boa constrictors, bought as pets, and then released when they became too large to handle or lost their appeal.  Now they are decimating the small game life in the Everglades.

          And I remember the battle fought in the Great Lakes to stop lamprey eels.  I understand officials have them under control, but now are keeping watch for Asian Carp, not native, and harmful to native species.  In Texas there are Chinese Tallow.  The wood is useless, they give off a chemical that inhibits growth of other plants, they grow without competition.  And there are fire ants, nutria, hydrilla, salvinia, and the list goes on.  Fortunately, people are beginning to take note and do what they can to stop such invasive stuff.

          The matter of invasive matters rises in Lent, when we are looking quite closely at our religious life.  What has been invading?  How have we resisted?  St. Peter, remember, warns, “Be sober, be vigilant, for your adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion walketh about, seeking whom he may devour, whom resist steadfast in the faith”. 1 Peter 5,8.9.

          THAT invasion is on-going.  But, as St. Peter reminds us, to “Resist him steadfast in the faith”.  That is an on-going struggle also, but it can be a successful one, for does He not promise, “God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted above that you are able, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it.” 1 Cor. 10,13.

          So, may your Lenten hours be well spent in study, in prayer, in contemplation, and so in God’s peace.

GPD 3/6/12

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Shade tree wisdom 3/3/12

          Life does take unexpected turns, often surprising, often quite pleasant, and often unusual.  Like the third birth for a couple in Provo, Utah on leap day.  A son born Feb 29 in 2004, another son born that date in 2008, and a daughter born on Feb 29 in 2012.  That ties the record of the Henriksens in Norway which logged births in 1960, 1964, and 1968.

          But then, one's most pleasant memories often come from just such unexpected detours.  Someone once said unless we enjoyed the scenery along life’s detours, we missed much of what life is.

          Reminds me of returning from a vacation visit one summer.  We were driving on highway 66 through Illinois when we blew a tire.  (That was the only time we ever had such a flat).  Anyway, the wheels had been mounted with a power wrench and my tools did not do the job, so we waited by the side of the road and watched traffic flash by.

          Here, finally, comes a trooper, flying along with his lights flashing.  He waved to us, we saw him take his mike, but he didn’t stop.  But soon help arrived.  A tool truck. BUT, he said he was sold out, but he knew of a garage near by run by a cousin of his whom he would send with his truck to help us.  And he did appear in short order, changed the wheel, and we were ready to go.  He even waved off our offered payment.

          It was now nearly dark, and we asked if there was a place to spend the night.  He pointed us to a restaurant and motel about half a mile off highway 66 that, he said, “Will do you proud”.  We went, checked in washed up and stepped into the nearby restaurant.  Special was a steak dinner.  We ordered that.  Turned out to be the best we had ever tasted.  Prime steak, new potatoes, green beans, and peach pie.

          The lady who owned this with her husband came and sat and chatted a bit.  Turned out this was sort of a family affair.   They ran a farm, had opened this restaurant and motel because here was a need, and they wanted to have something to keep their children busy too, and we enjoyed the benefits.

          Ruth and really felt the truth of the Psalm.
               “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”
                Indeed, “His eye is on the sparrow,
                And I know He watches me.”

          This truth came back in these Lenten days when we think again of the God who loved us so much He sent His precious Son to suffer and die for the sins of the world.  Bless His holy name.

GPD 3/3/12