Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Shade Tree Wisdom 9/19/12

          Christians are quite serious in believing that when they gather together for worship and work, God is present and sovereign, that He hears prayers, and that His word works as it is spoken. Things happen. God corrects and guides, God teaches and strengthens, God hears and does.

          When St. Paul was writing his letter to his young co-workers, Timothy in Ephesus and Titus in Crete, we see Paul directing and guiding them into such leadership and such faith. So He writes this – and I believe we do well to take the advice and act on it – 1 Timothy 2,1-4.
              “I exhort therefore, that first of all
               supplications , prayers, intercessions,
               and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
               For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may
               Lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
               For this is good and acceptable
               In the sight of God, our Savior;
               Who will have all men to be saved, and
               To come unto the knowledge of truth.”

          The time for voting nears. And the voices become more urgent and strident. But, as one blogger reminds us, vote for the person’s principles, what does he do, not on maybe a misstep in speech or one simple misstep.

          We do well to pray, first for our country, and for those in leadership positions to guide the nation.

GPD 9/19/12

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Shade Tree Wisdom 9/18/12

          It had rained overnight, so the air Saturday morning was fresh and rain-washed and cooler. As I was driving to my Bible study early on, the streets and walks were full of runners, joggers, walkers.  Some just walking their dogs, others jogging, but most walking with energy and purpose.

          The scene was so serene and I would say almost bucolic, it was hard to believe that on the other side of the world people were screaming and shooting and dying, that on Wall Street police were arresting demonstrators, and in Chicago teachers were on strike, asking for more money.

          The world is torn by unrest and strife.  And added to that usually there is an earthquake somewhere, or a flood, or some other destructive Happening.

          So I turn to the Scriptures, to the Word God has given us for help and strength.  I find there this word from Psalm 121.  Listen.
              “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, 
               From whence cometh my help.
               My help comes from the Lord,
               Who made heaven and earth.” Then,
               “The Lord shall preserve thy going out
                And thy coming in,
                From this time forth,
                and even forevermore.” Psalm 121 l.2.8

          And I am content, secure in the knowledge that the same God who allows me to live in this place, also sees the rest of the world, and nothing is there He does not see and bend to His will.

GPD 9/18/12

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Shade Tree Wisdom 9/13/12

          Kipling wrote “Mandalay” which ends with this:

               “On the road to Mandalay,
                Where the flyin’ fishes play,
                An' the dawn comes up like thunder outer China
                'crost the Bay”.

          But dawns sort of come slowly, first a faint lightening of the sky, then one can start to make out features, and finally, when the sun rises above the horizon, everything stands out clearly.

          Every teacher waits for that “AhA” moment, the time when a child suddenly says, “Now I get it”. Light breaks through and understanding is awakened. Learning is happening.

          It happens in religious confirmation class, in adult instruction classes, everywhere where lessons are taught and learning is done.

          It happens in life, doesn’t it? Get a new appliance of some sort, and the first thing you do is find out how it works by reading the manual that came with it or having your child show you.

          To this day, my grandchildren have been, and still are, so helpful when I have to find out something about the computer I use. And they have been most patient and never said, “O, I showed you that last week”.

          All this is what the Psalmist had in mind when he said,
               “The truths you wrote are wonderful
                That’s why I keep them.
                Your word is a door that lets in light
                And helps the simple person to understand”. Ps 119,129-130

          This process of learning is on-going; it is really life-long, a continuing growing in understanding. So St. Peter, who had said, “As long as I live I will always remind you of these truths even though you already know them.” ends his second letter to the Christians with these words:
               “But grow in grace and in the knowledge of our
                Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory,
                both now and forever.” 2 Peter 3,18.

          As I finish this brief word, I just hope and pray that you are daily having your “AhA” moment as you study the word of God. May He bless such flashes of insight to enrich and strengthen your growing faith.

GPD 9/13/12

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Shade Tree Wisdom 9/11/12

          350,000 Chicago school children are not in class because teachers are on strike. When it will end depends, I suppose, on politics.

          If that news isn’t depressing enough, the news is regularly filled with failing children. China outdoes our graduates in math and science courses. The ads are filled with devices children can use to enhance their learning skills.

          Now here comes a thoughtful article suggesting we simply stand aside and allow children to do a little learning on their own.

          My office in Detroit overlooked the play area where children spent their recess time. How often did I not hear someone shout, “That isn’t fair” and something was corrected and play went on, but they were learning to get along in society and maybe even take a little disappointment as part of life.

          So the piece says, “Maybe the best thing that parents can do is to back off a bit. To let children face some adversity on their own, to fall down and not be helped back up.”

          The great concern of teachers and administrators in high-achieving schools is that children are so over-protected that they fail to develop character. They never get a chance to develop the crucial ability to overcome real setbacks and in the process develop strength of character.

          Here comes Solomon with a word for his son (Proverbs 4, 20-23)
         “My son, be attentive to my words;
          Incline your ears to my sayings.
          Let them not escape from your sight;
          Keep them within your heart.
          For they are life to those who find them,
          And healing to all their flesh.
          Keep your heart with all vigilance,
          For from it flows the spring of life.”

          Really, this is where those deep truths that make life meaningful come from, for that begins with this, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shall be saved.”

GPD 9/11/12

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Shade Tree Wisdom 9/6/12

          In the months that are just ahead, wise groups will make it a firm rule not to discuss politics in their gatherings. They know from past, and bitter, experience that this often leads to heated debates and even body blows. For it seems, as a wise man said, “there seems to be no stage where people of good will can seriously disagree on significant issues without being disagreeable or resorting to personal attacks and name calling.”

          That is being displayed daily in news casts and reports of all kinds. And it will not change. The reason, for my eyes at least, lies in what God said to Cain ages ago. He said, “Sin is crouching at your door, it desires to have you, and you must master it.” Genesis 4,7b. The Bible says further, “None is righteous, no, not one.”

          And the result, finally, is just what Pastor Rick Warren says, “I’ve never seen more irresponsible personal attacks, mean-spirited slander, and flat-out dishonest attack ads, and I don’t expect that tone will change before the election”.

          And we’re living in this kingdom too.

          Fortunately, we also live in the other kingdom, Christ’s Kingdom, where He, the perfect Savior, reigns. He sends His Spirit to live within us, to help us see clearly, and understand where our hope, comfort and strength comes from.

          St. Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians Church, said to them, “Because of His great love for us, God, Who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.: Ephesians 2, 4.5.

          By His grace and mercy for us, we can survive and live “as unto Him”. Thank God for His mercy.

GPD 9/6/12

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Shade Tree Wisdom 9/4/12

          So classes were in session at Texas A&M University, and maybe students learned something, I don’t know. I do know I spent this past Labor Day reminiscing. My thoughts went way back to my Adrian days when we used to have a sort of end-of-summer gathering.

          It started when members of the Board of Education got the idea to invite staff to an outing to end the summer and begin the new year. One of the members lived where there was an empty lot next door, and invited us over. There were hamburgers and brats and hot dogs and other food, each brought a dish or two to pass.

          After the meal, the youngsters played a game of touch football, and they ended up in enticing dads to play also. That became sort of a ritual for the day, sons against dads. First the dads easily prevailed, but when sons grew and put on some heft, things got interesting. And Fran always came away with a sprained ankle or a sore shoulder or a skinned leg because he played too hard.

          Meanwhile, several watermelons were cooling in tubs filled with iced water. When the afternoon drew to a close, there was another sort of snack meal, and we all helped clean up.  As the twilight drew near, we ended by singing, usually,
     “Abide with me, fast falls the eventide,
      The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.
      When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
      Help of the helpless, O, abide with me.”

          Then we joined hands and joined in the Lords Payer, I spoke a blessing, then we each wended our way homeward.

          The satisfaction came from having lived the words of Psalm 133,l.
     “behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.” Psalm 133,l.

GPD 9/4/12