Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Shade Tree Wisdom 11/28/12

          I look out of my window and see a blue sky, sun shining brightly, a slight breeze moving the tops off the trees, and the world seems to be serene and at peace.

          Yet the morning paper shows a picture of a town on the shores of Lake Michigan seeing sand where water used to form a channel to the lake to their safe little harbor. The water of lake Michigan is two feet lower than normal and so their channel hardly can bring pleasure boats to their harbor, meaning less business and lower incomes.

          Another article reports that the rivers that carry grains, coal, and produce up and down are lower, so the barges have to loaded with less tonnage, so adding to costs.

          And Texas is again in drought conditions.

          Meteorologists are hoping for heavy fall rains and large snowfalls in the northern areas of this country.

          We lack water.

          Oh, it is there, but we have often misused and abused it, taken it for granted, and polluted and used it for things we don’t need or can easily do without.

          It reminds me so much of life, and how people treat the Message of salvation, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the truth of salvation. Carelessly, as something we really don’t need right now. Which is one of the truths of St. Peter’s first letter.(I,1,17-19 Message).

          “You callout to God for help, and he helps. He’s a good Father that way. But don’t forget, He’s also a responsible Father and wont let you get by with sloppy living.

          “Your life is a journey that you must travel with deep consciousness of God. It cost God plenty to get you out of the dead-end, empty-headed life you grew up in. He paid with Christ’s blood, you know. He died like an unblemished, sacrificial Lamb. And this was no afterthought.”

          We are in the Advent Season, looking for the birth of our Savior. Please use the time to prepare your hearts for rich blessing, and a joyful celebration of the Birth.

GPD 11/28/12

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Shade Tree Wisdom 11/25/12

From "My Grandfather's Clock", written in 1876 by Henry Clay Work.

My grandfather's clock was too large for the shelf,
So it stood ninety years on the floor;
It was taller by half than the old man himself,
Though it weighed not a pennyweight more.
It was bought on the morn of the day that he was born,
And was always his treasure and pride;
But it stopp'd short — never to go again —
When the old man died.

My grandfather said that of those he could hire,
Not a servant so faithful he found;
For it wasted no time, and had but one desire —
At the close of each week to be wound.
And it kept in its place — not a frown upon its face,
And its hands never hung by its side.
But it stopp'd short — never to go again —
When the old man died.

Ninety years without slumbering
(tick, tick, tick, tick),
His life seconds numbering,
(tick, tick, tick, tick),
It stopp'd short — never to go again —
When the old man died.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Shade Tree Wisdom 11/24/12

“Oh may this bounteous God
Through all our life be near us.”

          The sad news is that major pileup on Highway I-10 between Houston and Beaumont that was caused by heavy fog and left a couple dead. A couple that had always had Thanksgiving with family ,but this year decided, for a change, to spend several days alone together. Sad indeed.

          But your thanksgiving, I trust it was warm with family and friends, good food, good company, no major disaster.

          I hope it was not the one reported by the Houston Chronicle. This family gathered, all had brought a dish or two for the meal, the table was loaded. Mashed potatoes, fruit salads, green bean casserole, even a plate of ham just in case, cranberry sauce, yams, even some Kale and aunt Whinny’s famous pumpkin pie with whipped cream. So the feast ended, and they were starting to think of leaving the table when the youngest piped up with a question, “When are we going to eat the turkey?” The turkey, well roasted, had been forgotten in the oven.

          But you had turkey, and like so many of such gatherings, probably ended up with that family game of touch football that always ended when uncle Hank sprained his ankle and two of the family were crying.

          And the day ended, as it must for God’s children, with
“Come, ye thankful people, come,
Raise the song of harvest home.
All is safely gathered in,
Ere the winter storms begin.
God our Maker doth provide,
For our wants to be supplied.
Come to God’s own temple, come,
Raise the song of harvest home.” LSB 892,1

          So bless your family, and your day in His care.

GPD 11/24/12

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Shade Tree Wisdom 11/20/12

              “The Lord hath helped me hitherto,
               With His surpassing favor.
               His mercies every morn are new,
               His kindness doth not waver.”

          That is one way of sort of sums up how I feel at age 92. People do ask and I have never been here before, so what can I say? But here are some vignettes of the years. Sort of “I remember”.

          Like the late winter evening when we were getting ready to retire and the phone rang. Message, “We took Grandpa to Bixby, he had a fall and broke his hip, we think. Can you come?” A glance out of the window showed it had started to snow, so I drove over, checked at the desk, and she pointed to the family across the lobby waiting for the doctor’s verdict. I joined them for a prayer and some quiet conversation. The doctor came, said he had set his leg and was now sleeping under sedation. He advised the family to go home to rest since he wouldn’t wake till morning. But he said, “Things look good for healing.”

          Or meeting Dan and Ruth at the pancake House for an Apple pancake on Friday nights. A nice treat on a cold night, and a nice visit.

          For many years I kept a Common place book. In it I wrote snatches of sentences that caught my eye or were well put, often entire paragraphs that made a statement worth keeping, thoughts gathered in quiet moments, anything to help in my use of the language. I used it in sermon construction, and in writing the weekly bulletin. I aimed for an offering people would read and remember.

          My parish, St. John’s Lutheran, in Mexico, Missouri was the only Lutheran Church in the county. So, when we planned a monthly newsletter, the title “One Lutheran Voice” was a natural. selection. I took that Title along to Michigan, and I believe it is still in use.

          There are so many events, some major some not so, but each woven into a life that has always been richly blessed. And that is the one event that I cling to, my hope is in Christ, who lived, died, and rose again to pay for my sins, so that I am His. I thank God for that, and pray the same for each of you.”

GPD 11/20/12

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Shade Tree Wisdom 11/17/12

On November the 17th

“O Lord, support us all the day long of this
Troublous life,
Until the shadows lengthen,
And the evening comes,
And the busy world is hushed,
And the fever of life is over,
And our work is done.
Then, in Thy mercy, Grant us
A safe lodging,
And holy rest,
And peace at the last.
Through Jesus Christ,
our Risen Lord and Savior. Amen

GPD on Novcmber 17, 2012

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Shade Tree Wisdom 11/13/12

          The week is a time to reminisce, to remember fondly things through the years. One that struck me recently was a time the evening chores were done, cows milked, stock cared for, and we closed the barn door and headed for the house for the night. It was cold and crisp, with a bright moon shining, when we heard a flock of geese on their way to their winter quarters, honking, and we could see them, against the moon, flying long through the night. My brother started reciting Bryant’s “Ode to a Waterfowl”.
              “He who from zone to zone,
               Guides through the boundless sky thy certain flight,
               In the long way that I must tread alone,
               Will guide my way aright.”
And as I recalled the incident I thought how unerringly their flight was guided by a Creator who made them all.

          And then ancient Daniel came to mind. (You think of Daniel and the lion’s den). But Daniel, an Israelite captive who had been trained to serve the king, was also faithful to his God. During the years, he had proved wisdom in his dealings, and integrity always. So finally, since he did the job so well, the Persian king whom he now served planned to place him in charge of every overseer – they had these overseers in place to try to stop corruption.

          Instead of rejoicing in his success, his fellows in office showed their jealousy by trying to find him at fault. His work was without fault, so they said, “We have to hit him where he serves God”. And the plan called for a new law which called all to bow to the King, no exceptions. The King foolishly made the law, and then found Daniel praying to His God three times a day.

          There was the law, and Daniel was guilty. The king tried all day to find a way to save his favorite, but in the evening had to allow the punishment. So we have this Daniel in the lion’s den because of his integrity.

          In the morning when he found Daniel alive, he had him removed, and punished his accusers instead.

          So I’ve come to this, Integrity is still what gives strength, flavor and spice to life today, and it still evokes jealousy as well as admiration. And God still sees it as an asset for His children. One little question, where do I fit in?

GPD 11/13/12

Shade Tree Wisdom 11/11/12

          On November 10, 1483, Martin Luther was born in Eisleben, Germany. He grew up and the Lord used him greatly to search out the true word of the gospel.

          Through prayer and earnest study he searched out the Light, removing all the tangled web of man-made rules and the mish-mash of disorder that enmeshed the Church’s teachings.

          So he was able to stand before emperors and papal delegates and say, “I can do no other, God helping me,”

          The Reformation brought back the one difference, the only real difference, between true religion and every false religion. It showed once more that the Gospel is the one difference between religions because it, and it alone, offers us the forgiveness of sins.

          Think of it. Your sins and mine, are forgiven, they are gone, drowned in the “depths of the sea,” as the bible teaches.

          Centuries later, on November 17, 1920, to be exact, I was born, and baptized three days later during a snow storm (That was my first ride in an auto, a Model T Ford). Holy baptism made me a child of God, and placed me among the great throng of God’s children.

          I grew, studied, and became, by His grace, a Pastor in the LCMS. I had the high privilege and solemn duty to speak the Gospel to people. I still do here and there, as God grants me, after this long time, strength and ability so to do.

          But as another birthday nears, I just wanted again to tell you what sets us off under God, that is, God forgives us our sins and calls us righteous and holy before Him. Indeed,
              “Nothing in my hand I bring,
               Simply to Thy cross I cling.
               Naked, come to Thee for dress,
               Helpless, look to Thee for grace.
               Foul I to the Fountain fly,
               Wash me, Savior, or I die.” LSB 761,3

          So, God bless your knowing, believing, and rejoicing, in the news of the Gospel.

GPD 11/11/12

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Shade Tree Wisdom 11/6/12

          I trust you have exercised your right and high privilege of voting. If not yet, do so, it is your duty and, as I said, high privilege.

          I don’t know who will win. Only God knows that, and we know He is still there, ever tending to the affairs even when we mess things up. Still, “whatever God ordains is good”. But regardless of the final outcome, you and I live here as God’s children, baptized and called His sons and daughters, so we have the way of life before us. A Life that brings honor and glory to our God in the way we behave in this life. St.Peter said,
          “Keep your conduct among the gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, that may see your good works and glorify God in the day of visitation. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence and ignorance of foolish people.” 1 Peter 2, 12.14.

          Let your life be a shining example of what God calls good, moral, and right. I quote from a sermon the late Peter Marshall preached in the mid-40’s.
              “No nation has ever made progress in a downward direction.
               No people ever become great by lowering standards.
               No people ever became good by adopting looser morality.
               It is not progress when the moral tone is lower than it was.
               It is not progress when purity is not as sweet.
               It is not progress when womanhood has lost its fragrance.
               Whatever else it is, it is not progress.”

          So election day today, when it is good for you and me to
              “Lift up mine eyes into the hills, from whence cometh My help.
               My help cometh from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.” Psalm 121, 1.2.

          May God bless your day.

GPD 11/6/12

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Shade Tree Wisdom 11/1/12

          Yesterday we had Reformation, the date Luther faced the authorities with his bold statement which ended with
              “My conscience is captive to the Word of God.
               This I cannot and will not recant, because
               Acting against ones conscience is
               Neither safe, nor sound. God help me. Amen.”

          Lutherans have celebrated this Reformation by thanking God for his mercy in sending a man like Luther, and thanking God for leading us into this faith. The Bible alone, faith alone, grace alone, is the mantra.

          An alarming note from the Pew Research Center is that Protestants are now a minority in the land. Major denominations have lost members. Many people declare themselves to be ‘religious’ without joining a particular church membership.

          They speak learnedly of “making my own way” and finding “what I think is best for me”.

          That sounds so high-minded, but is it really?

          They leave themselves without any sure guidelines, any directives, any form for behavior among people, and the result is what we see more and more in our world today, chaos.

          James spoke of gathering together as a body for worship, and “not forsaking the gathering of ourselves together, as the manner of some is.” Hebrews 10,25.  And the reason for that is that we might be “spurring each other on, as we see the Big Day approaching.”

          It is interesting to note that the Word of God still spreads, faithful believers still speak the Gospel message of salvation to lonely hearts and darkened minds, and the Church grows, and God prevails. Remember, “The gates of hell shall not prevail against us.”

          For that, we thank and praise His holy Name. Amen

GPD 11/1/12