Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Shade tree wisdom 2/27/13

          The Rodeo is in full swing in Houston. Before it began, there was a cook-off. If you can imagine 300 teams cooking sausage, ribs, brisket, and finding the one team judged best. Well, that is how the festivities start. The funds raised are used for scholarships for students. It’s a major event in this city. And people know of it, and come to celebrate.
                Centuries ago a man arrived in Rome and wrote a letter. Rome, the center of the empire, a place of power, had literature, art, philosophies, and amusements of many kinds. Yet this letter, written by this really unknown visitor, has had more effect on life and the way it is lived than anything Rome ever produced.
          This letter is the premier document of Christian theology.
          It answers more clearly than any other “What is wrong with this world? Why is the world in its present condition?”
          Read the second half of the first chapter of Romans again. I know of no passage in Scripture which describes so accurately the world of today and the cause of the trouble.
          Paul writes (v.19) “That which may be known of God is manifested in them, for God hath shown it unto them.” So “they are without excuse”. (V.20c.) And the result, verses 21 – 32 is a strong statement of what results in such behavior, mostly because (v.21.22.) “Their foolish heart was darkened. . .so thinking themselves wise, they became fools.”
          That leads to behavior that is described in the next verses. Because they hated God, “God gave them over,:” to the things that are going on in this world.
          It is a strong indictment. So the letter to the Romans also has this, “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” For the person who believes Jesus Christ died for his sins, there is eternal hope.
          And that is why reading and understanding the teachings in this book of the bible is so filled with comfort and “peace with God”. May God bless your reading of this word to you.
GPD 2/27/13

Monday, February 18, 2013

Shade Tree Wisdom 2/13/13

          Today is Ash Wednesday. This begins a time of 40 days during which the Church spends time for reflection on the spiritual things of life. The 40 days of Lent. ..

          For each of us, the time lends itself to an examination of our own life. How do we measure up to the spiritual goal of “Ye shall be holy, even as I, the Lord, your God, am holy?”(Lev.19,2).

          We might look to see whether we are drifting from His holy Word and living by standards that do not really measure up any more. And that is rather easy for us sinners to do, because we do live in the world that, for the greater part, no longer regards God’s Word or Will to be our standards for the way we live, and THAT has a tendency to rub off, and too often we are not even aware of our own drifting!

          When that happens, the end result if a loss of Hope.

          Hope, St. Paul called it one of the essentials of the Christian life.

          Hope lives because of the events to which the 40 days lead, Easter, and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ to become our Living Lord and Savior.

          But why believe that at all any more. The psalmist struggled with this and his reply is:
              “I remember the days of long ago,
               I meditate on all your works, and
               Consider what your hands of done.” Psalm 143,5.

          That’s where His Hope comes from, He simply remembers that God’s Word is true, because our God never lies. He can trust Him.

          It’s the kind, an example is Habakkuk. Here is a prophet who is just as puzzled often by the way things happen as we are. And He dares to question God. Especially when he realizes God is about to use a godless military machine of Babylon to bring God’s judgment on God’s own people.

          The prophet is bewildered and cries that “This doesn’t make sense.”

          Sounds like us, doesn’t it. Not a day passes but there are things that make us say, “This doesn’t make sense.

          But the prophet does more, He waits and listens to God, and turns to prayer, and comes to realize that trusting God is the only real life. So He ends his book with this:
              “Though the fig tree does not bud, and there are no grapes on the vine.
               Though the olive crop fails, and the fields produce no food,
               Though there are no sheep in the pen, and no cattle in the stalls,
               YET I will rejoice in the Lord, I will rejoice in God my Savior.
               The Sovereign Lord is my strength.” (Hab. 3,17-19)

          May the Lenten Day thinking and soul-searching strengthen your faith, and mine, in God, who brings us hope.

GPD 2/13/13

Friday, February 8, 2013

Shade Tree Wisdom 2/8/13

          A bit of rain yesterday reminded me of the time we were hauling the first cutting of hay into the barn. The last bit loaded, and we were heading for the barn, in the distance we could see a rain line heading our way.  So we hurried, got the load into the barn and the horses stabled, and then that line of rain reached us. It was a day-long rain, and so father told us to feel free to take a nap on the fresh hay or whatever. So we took a nice nap, rain was sent by God, and we knew that and accepted it as part of God’s care for the world.

          And it reminded me much of the different times I have lived in. The report is of a major storm heading toward the Northeast. It promises several feet of snow, has already disrupted hundreds of flights, gotten that area to prepare for snow removal, downed utility poles and wires, and disruption of the comfortable way of life we are used to

          One great difference, however, is how the Christian Religion is regarded. In my youth we, that is, much of this country, at least recognized that there is a God and many, many people believed in Him

          Today Psalm 36 describes many. MSG translates v.2.
               “He has smooth-talked himself into believing
                That his evil will never be noticed.”

          RSV has it: “In his own eyes he flatters
                Himself too much to detect or hate his sin”.

          And that is the error that bedevils our age, that fact we are not even aware of the evil that results from our actions and the culture we endure.

          We do pray for the nations, and pray that the Word of God will have the affect it does to send his Spirit to change hard hearts and hearts of stone into hearts that believe Jesus Died for the sins of the world.”

GPD 2/8/13

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Shade tree wisdom 2/5/13

          “So, what  is your usual pattern of speech? Better put, what comes out of your mouth in your normal day?”

          Shakespeare, in King Lear, prized this in Cordelia when he wrote, “Her voice was ever soft, gentle, and low, an excellent thing in women,”

          My sainted mother never raised her voice, and we listened when she spoke, straining to get the message, because it was usually for our benefit.

          You’ve noticed that too, haven’t you? You listen to the person who speaks words slowly, softly, and carefully, because you know they are worth listening to.

          And in our world with its many stresses it can be easy for us to become irritable and short with friends and those closest to us, family. We pick at minor anoyances and little habits and blurt out harmful, unkind words, without thinking.

          Just listen to a debate on TV sometime, each out-shouting the other, and nobody going away with mind changed.

          The Book of Proverbs has this advice.
                   “Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul
                   From trouble.” Proverbs 21,23.

          Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes was a man with a giant legal mid, but of rather short stature. So one day when he attended some event, he was the shortest person in that gathering. So one of his friends twitted him. “Holmes, how do you feel here in this gathering.”

          Justice Holmes, with a twinkle in his eye, said, “I feel like a newly minted dime among lots of pennies.”

          So, what is your usual pattern? Do you speak mildly, pleasantly, with words that smooth and soothe and calm, or is your pattern hard, harsh, scornful and bitter, causing anger and tension?

          Two more words from Proverbs.
                   “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” 18,12
                   “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the
                   Soul and health to the bones,.” 16,24.
I pray you are one people gladly listen to because they are challenged, enlightened, and helped and blessed by your quiet speech.

GPD 2/5/13