Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Shade Tree Wisdom 8/27/13

Poet James Russell Lowell is quoted:
"In vain we call old notions fudge.
And bend our conscience to our dealing.
The Ten Commandments will not budge,
And stealing will continue stealing.”

          God gave those commandments, written in stone, for use as a guide for his life. If we understand rules are the lubricant of society, and really understand they are there to make life easier for everyone, conflicts are fewer and life is more pleasant for all.

          But our culture has spawned a Me First age that ignores the day-to-day rules for personal living. Ever follow the arrows to a parking lot only to find someone else did not follow the arrows and, because he did not follow the rules, got there to use that spot? Or ignoring the handicap parking spot to get to the store sooner with less walking? Or stand in line behind someone with 30 items in the 10 item line? Or try to watch a movie with a person behind you incessantly chattering away? In themselves, small things, yet such infractions erode the fabric of a society.

          That accounts for road rage, heated exchanges, unnecessary confrontations. Worse, little breaks lead to larger ones. If it’s OK to cheat in line, why not in a test. And if that, why not cheat on income tax. And why not inflate our insurance claim. That company has lots of money and can afford it. And on it goes down the slippery slope.

          How bad has it gotten? In St. Paul, Mn, two girls pulled into a KFC and got a bag of cash ($3,000), instead of their chicken and fries. [The manager had put it into the bag to take to the bank after the lunch rush.] The girls returned the money, and people admired and derided their honesty. Sure, KFC could have offered more than a free meal, but the world makes KFC the villain. A company that makes such an error is not evil, or mean-spirited. Stupid maybe, but not an object to be scorned.

          I want to live in a world where it is routine to return what is not mine, and where honesty is so well practiced that the story would not have made national news at all.

          And that can only happen when the world really understands that Jesus Christ is, indeed, “The Way, the Truth, and the Life.”

GPD 8/27/13

Friday, August 23, 2013

Shade Tree Wisdom 8/23/13

          The Psalm, 36, had it right when we read:
“The wicked man has rebellion in his heart, 
God doesn't terrify Him.
He has no regard for God,
He stands insolent before Him.
He has smooth-talked himself
That his evil will never be noticed.” Ps. 36,l.2.

          It seems to me those words describe exactly the culture we live in. Just pay close attention to the 6 o’clock news. Nearly everyone reports a police chase, a smash and grab, a break in and theft, or more violent crime. And the problem is that we are getting so used to it that it just doesn't seem to bother much any more. That comes when we tear away the family, erase moral codes, leave the Church, disregard local custom, and the person will be free.

          Now it is clear when we remove bonds of church, family, neighborhood, it does not lead to freedom, it leads to loneliness, disorder, crime and despair. The dream has turned into a nightmare of chaos.

          There is a family in Melbourne, Australia, who are mourning the death of a son they had sent to America to follow his dream of becoming a ball player. They were unaware that our President has declared “America is not a Christian nation”, or of the nearly daily killings, or of all the unrest that seems rampant everywhere.

          So they mourn the death of a son who was shot because, as reported by the police chief, for “the fun of it”. Has our culture sunk so low that it produces teenagers for whom the prospect of shooting an innocent man raises not a scintilla of conscience.

          That is the deeper tragedy and the real scandal, of what we have done by really forgetting that, at the very beginning, there were Words written in stone to lead us to a better and finally, in Christ, eternal life.

          In Australia that shooting was national news. Here, hardly anyone noticed. God help us all.

GP 8/23/13

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Shade Tree Wisdom 8/20/13

Shade Tree Wisdom 8/20/13

          Something positive. That storm did something to the TV, so I called, and the assignment was set for 10 this morning. At 10 exactly, the man was here, changed an item that had been touched by lightning, and was gone in 15 minutes. Entered with a smile, quietly did what needed doing and left with a word of thanks from us and a smile for us. It does happen.

          One thing that struck me. Flooding in the southeast and midwest, floods in Russia and the Philippines, and fire raging in the west.

          And here is the title of an article that caught my eye. “Whatever happened to August?” it asks. On the farm it meant harvesting grain, filling bins to feed stock for the coming winter. A time neighbors got together to help each with the work.

          Elsewhere the article laments that “we've ruined the month with school, work, and calendars run amok”. I sort of agree with the lament about start of school. 

          August was a time for slow ice cream cones, for sitting in the shade idly talking, for doing nothing much, except maybe starting to think of the new school year. But Labor Day was the cut off point, and August led to that.

          Now schools start early, and a study shows when schools start early, vacation travel declines, not just for August, but all summer travel declines by 30% when schools start early.

          Well, you and I still have this, God loves us, and we know He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die to pay for the sins we do, and have done. And that makes up for all kinds of thing, even “losing” August to early start of school.

          Always remember His great Gift of salvation.

GPD 8/20/13

Friday, August 16, 2013

Shade Tree Wisdom 8/16/13

Shade Tree Wisdom 8/16/13

          Night a little cooler, days not quite as bright and hot, with some rain showers, so the worst of the summer seems history. That, of course,brings a sigh of relief, unless you are facing months of classes, home work, recitations, etc. But that is all part of living, is it not?

          Funny, now that I am where I am in years, I often look at those years with some nostalgia. As a matter of fact, I used an expression from a snow ball fight we had at recess one January long ago. And one of the grandchildren I sent it to be translated. So I had better watch what I say, eh?

          In my reading I just ran across this bit. After the events of 9/11, word was that the sale of mashed potatoes increased quite a bit. Psychologists speculated it might be because people regard mashed potatoes as comfort food.

          And that brings up a question. What Scripture passages do you turn to for solace, for healing, for comfort, to ease your hurt, and find strength to carry on with your living?

          Luther, hard pressed and tempted at Coburg, said to those around him, “Let us sing psalm 130”. He found those words calming and strengthening.

          Members in a bible class offered many different favorites. Among them was psalm 130, plus many other Psalms, Matthew 6, Ephesians 6, 10-20. Ephesians 2. And many others.

And you have a favorite, do you not? Psalm 23. John 14?

Give I some thought in this day of stress and anxiety.

GPD 8/16/13

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Shade Tree Wisdom 8/10/13

It Couldn’t Be Done 

 By Edgar Albert Guest 1881–1959

 Somebody said that it couldn't be done
     But he with a chuckle replied
 That “maybe it couldn't,” but he would be one
     Who wouldn't say so till he’d tried.
 So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
     On his face. If he worried he hid it.
 He started to sing as he tackled the thing
     That couldn't be done, and he did it!
 Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that;
     At least no one ever has done it;”
 But he took off his coat and he took off his hat
     And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
 With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
     Without any doubting or quiddit,
 He started to sing as he tackled the thing
     That couldn't be done, and he did it.
 There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
     There are thousands to prophesy failure,
 There are thousands to point out to you one by one,
     The dangers that wait to assail you.
 But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,
     Just take off your coat and go to it;
 Just start in to sing as you tackle the thing
     That “cannot be done,” and you’ll do it.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Shade Tree Wisdom 8/9/13

Shade Tree Wisdom 8/9/13

          Not a word, except simply to say the weatherman predicts lower temperatures and even some rain in the near future.

          Centuries ago Emperor Marcus Aurelius said, “If it is not right, don’t do it; if it’s not true, don’t say it.”

          That thought alone ought to be enough for us to meditate on. Sadly, such thinking seems out of fashion in today’s culture. But here is a story that emphasizes again God has a way.

          Seems one corner of Congressional Cemetery in Washington. It’s called that because two hundred member of Congress and their families are buried there, as is J Edgar Hoover, several vice presidents and composer John Philip Sousa.

          A corner of the property was overgrown with shrubbery, poison ivy, vines, and other dense vegetation. Instead of simply using poisons – the property lies along a river – they brought in goats. The goats were to spend a week happily chewing anything green they could reach, and then people could plant and order the property to make it more inviting What a simple, and satisfying solution, using what the Lord provides and finding an exact solution to a worrying matter.

          The city of Paris began  using sheep this spring to keep the lawns trim outside the municipal archives.

          In my boyhood an uncle of mine who had sons to do the job, instead fenced his front yard and used sheep to trim the grass. The wool was washed, carded, spun and used to make clothing. He called them “The Lord’s mowers.”

          One more thought. Pilate asked “What is truth?” People still seek truth, You and I are blessed because we are baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, who said to us, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the Father But By Me”. Stand on that in these times of your life. 

May God keep you faithful.

GPD 8/9/13

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Shade Tree Wisdom 8/7/13

Shade Tree Wisdom 8/7/13

    It is sort of warmish. We are spending more hours looking at screens. So this hint gleaned from somewhere.

     Eyes blink naturally. The Lord planned this to keep the eyeball moist. But people blink two thirds less often when they’re looking at computer or other display screens. That leads to dry eyes and irritation. To keep eyes moist, “use the 20-20-20 rule”. Develop a habit of looking at something at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds every 20 minutes.

    The other tip, and this will truly enrich your soul, is to make Bible-reading a regular, thoughtful part of your daily life. So that, as St Peter reminds us, “but grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. To Him be glory, both now and forever.”

    May God bless the Way you walk each day.

GPD 8/7/13

Monday, August 5, 2013

Shade Tree Wisdom 8/2/13

Shade Tree Wisdom 8/2/13

     The dog days are fully upon us, and we enter the hottest part of the year. It is a relaxing time isn't it, or should be, at least.

     In such times I often reach for old favorites from the books on my shelf. Yes, I do treasure holding a book in my hand. Anyway, old favorites in which the author takes the time and makes the effort to use words that sort of sing. They leap from the page and the matters under discussion take on fresh meaning. 

     There are bits and pieces of books I have marked, and like to re-read and think about. I imagine you have such favorites too, don’t you?

     By the way, an interesting article in the WSJ this morning mentioned the popularity of audio books. It reports that Amazon offers 25,000 titles, and hopes soon to have 100,000 at hand. And then the article mentions several people who rarely read anything, but have gotten into the habit of listening to books while commuting, or at lunch. It speaks of one person, college graduate, who claimed he hardly ‘cracked a book’ during his years at college, and now reads at least 5 books every month. (I wonder if he has student loan debt to pay yet).

     The Old Testament prophet Zechariah said, “Speak the truth with one another; render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace”.8,16. That is one reason I cherish some writings, they help me be more precise and specific in writing and conversation. The goal, and many seem to have forgotten that, is to “speak truth one with another.”

    Make that a goal for your speech too, won’t you?

 GPD 8/2/13