Friday, June 28, 2013

Shade Tree Wisdom 6/28/13

Shade Tree Wisdom 6/28/13

       When Jeremiah was a youth the Lord said, “Before you were born, I ordained thee a prophet”, and added, “say not I am a child. . .be not afraid of their faces, for I am with thee to deliver thee”. 1,5.8. He was born in the last decade of Manasseh’s rule. Manasseh was the worst king Israel ever had. He had encouraged pagan worship, installed temple prostitutes, imported wizards and sorcerers. He even offered his own son as a sacrifice.

       The sacred historian gives this blunt judgment, “Manasseh seduced them to do more evil than the nation had done.” 2 Kings 21,9. And in this atmosphere Jeremiah learned to walk. It was a slum society. “On every side the wicked prowl, as vileness is exalted among the sons of men”. Ps. 12,8.

       But finally came the grandson, Josiah, who planned on renewal. Where to start? With worship. For people’s lives are only as good as their worship. Meaning is established there, values are created there. Worship defines life. If worship is corrupt, life will be corrupt. For 55 years under Manasseh worship had been corrupt.

       So Jeremiah started there, and while cleaning the temple, they found a long-neglected Book. It was the Book of Deuteronomy. When Josiah read that, he got direction. A clear map of the right and wrong. A road back to God. He saw hope. “Stand by the words, and look, and ask for the ancient paths where the good way is, and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.” 6,16.

       So there is hope in our world as well. We have “the ancient paths”, the Book in which our gracious God tells us the story of life and of eternity won for us by His Only Son. We often forget, and like to go our own way, and the “end thereof is death”. But we have HOPE, that lies before us, clearly described in the Book God provides. Sure, certain, and true.

So we can but thank Him, ask for the Holy Spirit to guide our daily life, and live with “the peace of God, which passes all understanding”.

GPD 6/28/13

Friday, June 21, 2013

Shade Tree Wisdom 6/21/13

Shade Tree Wisdom 6/21/13

       The summer solstice is here, and we enter the warm days of summer. What can one say but, “Hitherto hath the Lord led us”. It reminds me of the promise of God in Genesis 8,22” While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease”.

       We find ourselves often complaining and grumbling about the heat. Or the lack of rain, or the growth of weeds. But let’s remember, we would have little to talk about if it weren't for the weather. So be glad for the summer solstice.

The Psalmist (19) says,

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament

Showeth His handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech,

And night unto night showeth knowledge.

There I no speech, nor language, where there voice

Is not heard.” Psalm 19, 1-3.

       St. Paul begins his letter to the Romans by reminding them that “That which may be known of God is manifested in them, for God hath showed it unto them. Romans l,19.

       So, enjoy the summer, for God’s rich blessings fall on us daily in His Son, our Lord and Savior.

GPD 6/21/13

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Shade Tree Wisdom 6/20/13

Shade Tree Wisdom 6/20/13

       Recently, in preparing a site for new construction here in Houston, the developer’s bulldozer leveled part of a city park, trees that had given shade and cool places to meet, picnic, and play. No one in authority evidently noticed, till private citizens raised a cry. Then there were promises of ‘making it all right”. Human error, we say.

       Houston will host the 2017 Super Bowl in its Reliant Stadium. Standing next to this is the Astrodome, called ‘the eighth wonder of the world’ when it was built. But empty now for years infested with rats, decaying. And suddenly there are plans to develop it for real use again. (After all, we can’t have that sadly neglected thing giving us a bad name, right?)

       And what about the endless revelations in government?

       It is dismaying, and a little frightening, that such error-prone humans are in charge.

       Then I turn to Him, my God, who loved me so much that He sent His Son to die for me even me.

       And my comfort is that the blessing of Aaron falls on my ears each week. “The Lord bless thee and keep thee; The Lord make His grace shine on thee, and be gracious unto thee; the Lord lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.” And with that promise, I can enter the new week refreshed, strengthened, and eager for the new day in Him, for I do have peace with God.

GPD 6/20/13

Monday, June 17, 2013

Shade Tree Wisdom 6/17/13

Shade Tree Wisdom 6/17/13

Lord, when the shadows lengthen,

And night has come.

I know that You will strengthen,

My steps toward home.

Then nothing can impede me,

O blessed Friend.

So take my hand and lead me,

unto the end.

GPD 6/17/13

Friday, June 14, 2013

Shade Tree Wisdom 6/14/13

Shade Tree Wisdom 6/14/13

       He had been driving a steady 70 for the last few hours. Now he was on time and planned to get where he was going in plenty of time. The reason he was late was because of a terrible accident that held up traffic for nearly an hour. But now he could see the town he was heading for, and he breathed a sigh of relief.

       And he really didn't see the “Slow speed ahead “sign, for like so many towns along a highway, they posted signs of 20 or 25 to keep cars from speeding through. And the town council had been sort of leaning on the chief to be more strict for “after all, our children are playing on the streets and they don’t always pay attention to traffic.”

       Well, he was slowing down and was running at 35 when he saw the flashing lights. The officer pulled him over and started to write a ticket for speeding. He objected and said he was sorry, but the officer took that as resisting arrest and took him to jail to “wait for the chief”. The officers simply paid no attention to his explanations and his pleas. His ward, “The chief will sort this out..

       An hour or so later the officer opened his cell door with “Well, the chief is on his way and he’ll be in a good mood because his daughter just got married.”

       “I don’t think so. I’m the fellow she was to marry.” Said our man.

       I forget where I first heard that, but it came to mind when I read another notice of a memorial in the latest Witness. Another class mate left us.

       And I started wondering how his life had been? After graduation we sort of lose track of each other, but we are all serving the same God, some well known and others serving in the ‘back woods’ of life, yet each blessed in what he does. And I wonder the many interesting ways on which the Lord uses us in His Kingdom. I can but thank God for his mercy and grace in using such as we for the great work of “Go and tell, making disciples of every nation.” May God bless as the Church grows to His glory.

GPD 6/14/13

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Shade Tree Wisdom 6/12/13

Shade Tree Wisdom 6/12/13

I shot an arrow into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For so swiftly it flew, the sight
Could not follow it in its flight.

I breathed a song into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For, who has sight so keen and strong
That it can follow the flight of song?

Long, long afterward, in an oak I
 found the arrow, still unbroken;
And the song, from beginning to end,
I found again in the heart of a friend.
    Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth

Do you remember learning that quote? The part of the quote that lingers is the first bit, “I shot an arrow into the air, it fell to earth, I knew not where”. The lesson really is “be careful what you say”, for, as James points out, “the tongue can no man tame”.

For us who are “Lights of the world” who are to let their light shine, we ought to use the advice of St. Paul in his letter to the Philippians.

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, noble,
Just, pure, lovely, of good report, is there any virtue, or anything
Praiseworthy, meditate on these things. Philippians 4,8.

Some do have the tendency to be what I term “blurters”. They tend to speak what strikes them without considering the consequence. And often such folks hurt without meaning too, simply because their words are not “few”, or well thought out.

The Catechism in its explanation of the 8th commandment puts it like this, “And put the best construction on everything”.

There’s a goal for all of us, to see the best, not the worst, and pray for the people we engage in any conversation. Let’s not be shooting arrows into the air without caring where they land, or whom they might hurt. May God really make us “Lights in the world”.

GPD 6/12/13

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Shade Tree Wisdom 6/6/13

Shade Tree Wisdom 6/6/13

“Watch your step when you enter God’s house.
Enter to learn. That’s far better then mindlessly offering sacrifice,
Doing more harm than good.
Don’t shoot off your mouth, or speak before you think.
Don’t be too quick to tell God what He wants to hear.
In charge, not you – the less you speak, the better”.
    Eccl 5,1-2

All of us know someone who needs to hear and heed that advice. Our world is filled with noise, words without end, and we hear so much chatter that we do not hear the one Voice we Need to hear – the voice of God, the Words of the Bible.

In his letter James speaks of the Tongue “Is also a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person sets the whole course of his life on fire”. Jesus said, “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” Luke 6,45. James adds, “The tongue can no man tame.”  It can spoil a tender moment, ruin friendships, curse and kill a spirit. Only in our death will it die. In the words of an old tombstone inscription:

Beneath this stone, a lump of clay,
Lies Robert Andrew young,
Who, on the twenty-fourth of May,
Began to hold his tongue.

Ecclesiastes puts all our effort into perspective. We try, and everything seems so promising at first, but nothing ever seems to amount to much, and the harder we work, the less the result. Till we finally come to understand the truth that without God in the plan, without His Word as our guide, without Christ as our Savior, the result of all our striving is dust.

Maybe the bit I read this morning suits here. One business man to another,

Actually, I've found 90% of success isn't showing up it’s shutting up”. The Christian is always ready to say, “Thy words have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against thee.

GPD 6/6/13

Monday, June 3, 2013

Shade Tree Wisdom 6/3/13

Shade Tree Wisdom 6/3/13

       Hard to find the best way to start this day. A tornado swept over another Oklahoma suburb. One family survived by using their dug-in shelter. When the sounds of the howling winds died away they cautiously opened their shelter and the woman stepped out first. An errant wind picked her up, lifted her some 3 feet in the air and set her down, and she scrambled to safety in the shelter.

       Elsewhere, heavy rains and floods though much of the Midwest, fires in the far west with over 1000 homes evacuated, and the Houston Fire Department suffered the loss of 4 firefighters in one fire. Such a loss has never before happened in the long history of this department. Funerals are set for Wednesday in Reliant Stadium. The City is in mourning.

       In the news also is the report that Rice University was successful in raising one billion dollars to strengthen departments, to build dormitories, to serve many more students.

       Yet it is June, Lowell’s poem comes to mind. Remember it?

'Tis heaven alone that is given away,
'Tis only God may be had for the asking;
There is no price set on the lavish summer,
And June may be had by the poorest comer.

And what is so rare as a day in June?
Then, if ever, come perfect days;
Then Heaven tries the earth if it be in tune,
And over it softly her warm ear lays:

Whether we look, or whether we listen,
We hear life murmur, or see it glisten;
Every clod feels a stir of might,
An instinct within it that reaches and towers,
And, grasping blindly above it for light,

       Let’s just remember it is God who reigns now and forever.

GPD 6/3/13