Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Shade Tree Wisdom 10/29/13

          Warm again today. Always something. A neighbor asks for a tree trimmer because she had a tree on her house from that storm. Meanwhile, I had a person seal my dry deck. He claimed it was so in need he could just hear the boards slurp the material. Well, it’s done for the next five years or so. Looks fine.

          A news report speaks about the problem Australian farmers have with wild dogs killing sheep. Across western Australia the loss is estimated last year at 42,000 stock, mostly sheep. Since Australia is one of the largest producers of fine wool, that loss affects everybody, not just one farmer in the outback. One solution to wild dogs is donkeys. Farmers are adding donkeys to their flocks, and once they are bonded with the flock, farmers report no loss at all to dogs, because donkeys have an innate hatred for canines. One section of western Australia is offering bounties for dogs, but it seems the donkeys offer a better solution.

          All that interested me since we are nearing the Reformation. Because, in one sense, we are under attack all the time too. But the Reformation reminds us that we have a solution. One that is absolutely perfect, it works, because our God provided it for us. It is the Cross. It is the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, whose death on the cross marked our sins “paid in full”. As St. Paul writes in Colossians 1,20, “Having made peace through the blood of His cross”. “At the right time, while we were still helpless, Christ died for the ungodly. . . But God shows how he loves us by this, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5, 6.

           Dr. Martin Luther expressed it so well in the Hymn. “Though devils all the world should fill, All eager to devour us. We tremble not, we fear no ill, They shall not overpower us. This worlds’ prince may still Scowl fierce as he will, He can harm us none, He’s judged, the deed is done, One little word can fell him”. LSB 565,3

          Dangers abound, but remember always that our Lord promised “I will be with you always, even to the end of the world”. So live in faith and trust with His attending blessing.

GPD 10/29/13  

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Shade Tree Wisdom 10/23/13

          Ah. Its pleasant in Texas in October. Weather is moderating, the extreme heat is gone at least for the most part, fishing seems fine, deer hunting season gets underway and the harvest outlook seems OK. Dove season is also for the Fall. And it’s a special time for drivers to be on the lookout for crossing deer since its rutting time and deer are not as cautious. And we know from reports that when a car and a deer meet unexpectedly the outcome is not pleasant for either. We sighted a deer browsing in the trees back of the house, They just browse along the fringes, and unless one watches them, they disappear from sight, blending in the browse and the bushes.

          Hunting season brings to mind a nephew who hunts with some friends, and to make sure no one gets shot by accident, he lays out a plan for their positions. The result is a safe, and very often successful, hunt. 

          And that reminds me of a Scripture. It’s Psalm 119,11. “Your Word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against you.” To make sure this one is walking as a Child of God should. He has memorized the Word of God. He sees and follows God’s direction and God’s commandment.

          Sadly today I see that way sneered at, derided, ignored and totally forgotten. And often so by the very people who claim to be Christian, attend church, and live, on the surface at least, fairly decent lives, productive, keeping the law, being upstanding citizens. But the word of God that one “hides in he heart” arms us against temptation (See Ephesians 6,17). Then, as we meditate on His word, we get to know God better for we have the word etched in mind and heart and can “hear” God more plainly. For that Word of God is “living and powerful” Hebrews 4,12.

          October is pleasant here in Texas.  I hope that is true of weather where you are. So, let’s enjoy it together, and, better yet, let us also “Hide that Word within our heart, that we might not sin against God.”

          God bless the day and this hour.

GPD 10/23/2013

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Shade Tree Wisdom 10/15/13

          There is a large number of people, many unheralded and unsung, who belong to a special group called the Church. To them I belong. I belong not because I wanted it, but the Holy Spirit, through Baptism made me a member, because in Baptism God washed away my sins and called me righteous before Him. St. Paul in his Galatian letter said, “for you are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus, for as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Gal. 3,26-27 

          And Titus has this: (5)he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, (6)whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, (7)so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (8)The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. Titus 3, 5-8. 

           So the Christian confesses, as we do in Mozart’s Requiem, “I am the reason for your journey to the Cross.” 

          God is at work. Jesus said to His disciples, “Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and ordained you that you should bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain.” And then said, “If ye were in the world, the world would love its own, but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” John 15, 16.19. 

          St. Peter calls you “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, that you should show forth the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2,9. 

          Baptism introduces us to a host of relatives, all forgiven, all called to be God’s holy family. All to be loved and cherished and treated as brothers and sisters. There is a bond fixed because they are all God’s children by His grace. 

          As church members they attend worship to be fed and their faith strengthened and enriched by the Word, and by the Holy Sacraments. They attend also to give thanks for God’s daily blessing. They are reminded that Christ is their Good Shepherd who watches and cares, and helps them when they become entangled with things in the world in which they live. 

          Church Membership is a special blessing. It says, “I belong”. I am part of God’s people by His grace. I am part of the flock to whom God said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” Mark 1616. 

          We are truly blessed. 

GPD 10/15/13

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Shade Tree Wisdom 10/9/13

                A letter to the editor recently about the current state of affairs. It contained this paragraph, “all of this is reflected in our elected public officials who regard us as a bunch of nincompoops without a memory”. (Chronicle l0/8/13 pg. B13)

            The writer sounds a bit like Solomon when he begins his journal on life with “Vanity, vanity, everything is vanity” Eccl. 1,1. He is speaking of “life under the son”, meaning a life that is lived without acknowledging God at all. Such a life brings frustration, meaninglessness, and pain.

            In these chapters, now and then Solomon offers insights that affect our own journey. One of these sections starts with chapter 5, where Solomon moves from secular to religious. Look at it like opening a Book for our reading. When we unfold its truths, it is surprising what sort of truths (and sometimes stinging) things come out. Just really think about the first line of chapter 5. “Watch your step when you go into God’s temple, draw near to listen rather than give the sacrifice of fools.” 5,1.

            Do we? I mean remember that we are trying to leave the noise and turmoil of daily living, and are stepping into the presence of our Holy God, ready to hear truths from Him to strengthen our daily walk in Christ.
            So enter His House “ready to listen”. Leave everything else outside, and listen to the Word of God, meant to strengthen and delight you, Christ’s child and His “Light of the world”.

          Solomon goes on. “Don’t be in a hurry to talk. You shouldn't be quick with words, because God is in heaven and you’re on the earth.” V.2. So be still and listen to God’s Word. Someone said of this, “Don’t daydream”. We tend to use worship time to wrestle with problems that nag us, or just drift away from the thoughts being expressed.

                Then, “When you make a vow to God, do not be late in paying it, for He takes no delight in fools. Pay what you vow. It is better that you should not vow than to vow and not pay.” 5,4-5 These words are overlooked in these days of shallow roots and superficial commitments. What commitment have you broken lately?  

GPD 10/9/13

Friday, October 4, 2013

Shade Tree Wisdom 10/4/13

Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel
Of the wicked, or stand in the way of sinners,
Or sit in the seat of the scornful.

But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on
His law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree planted by the streams of waters,
Which yields its fruit in its season, and whose leaf does
Not wither.
Whatever he does prospers” Psalm l, 1-3 NIV
St. Peter’s final word to the Christians “scattered” throughout the world is “now you, dear friends, are warned. Be on your guard. Don’t let men without principle sweep you off your feet by their errors, but grow in God’s love and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 3, 17.18.

          It does seem strange that in this age of discovery and fresh insights in the way things work, things seems to be going so wrong. We are addicted to email and twitter and texting; we have machines that has the coffee ready freshly brewed when we awaken; we set our TV to record programs we are not at home to watch. Yet we tend to regard TRUTH as something sort of relative. Our attitude seems to be “truth is what I want it to be”.

          Josh Billings of another generation had it right, “It’s Better not to know so much than to know so many things that just ain’t so”.

          That is especially true in things religious. Everybody is an expert here, and the attitude seems to be “And what’s your feeling on this?” So everything said caries the same weight because there is no touchstone by which to measure.
          So, may I ask, “what is your guiding principle? What is your North Star. What directs your daily life and sets your footsteps on the way you are walking? And are you sure? St. Peter calls on believers to be “ready to defend your confidence in God when anyone asks you to explain it, but make your defense with gentleness and respect.” v.15. He is asking us to explain why we believe as we do. Tell the story of Jesus Christ plainly, why He came, why He died, and why he rose again – all to pay for our sins.

          And so long as we are living in the world, but not “of the world" we have it to do. There is TRUTH, Jesus Christ is our Savior. That is the word we cherish, that is our guiding principle. That is the word we have for this sick culture we live in as “Shining lights of the world.” God bless that life.

GPD 10/4/13

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Shade Tree Wisdom 10/1/13

          By God’s grace we are entering the month of October in the year 2013. This is the month in which the Church observes the Reformation. The Church relives and rejoices over the scene where Dr. Martin Luther gave his confessional. “Here I stand, unless convinced by the Holy Scripture, I can do no other. God help me. Amen.” (The words may differ, but the sense is contained therein).

          My mind goes back to my Seminary years when the 30th fell on a Wednesday, afternoon classes were dropped, and a special service scheduled for the chapel. Neighbors were invited to join us, and the student body rose to sing “A Mighty Fortress is our God”. Famed organist Rechlin was at the organ, and he said later he played from memory because his eyes were streaming tears because he was so spiritually moved by the event.

          Lutherans around the world still are energized from such an event, because it heartens them to living now, today, “As unto Him”. To bear witness to the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by His life, death, and resurrection, paid for the sins we are born with “In sin did my mother conceive me.” declared the psalmist.

          For the Word still is used by the Holy Spirit to move hearts to faith in the Savior. Recently the devotion of Dr. Klaus mentioned an Iranian Pastor who was jailed just because he left the Muslim faith. In prison, he was the Spirit’s instrument to open the eyes and hearts of 20 of his jailers, just as St. Paul’s imprisonment at Philippi opened heats there, and just as the Spirit opens hearts today in our midst.

          So October, let it be a time for renewal for us too. Standing on the Word of truth, because God helps us also.

          In His name I pray this for us all. “Now You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee because he trusts in You”. Isaiah 26,3.

GPD 10/1/13