Friday, November 22, 2013

Shade Tree Wisdom 11/22/13

          More thoughts on reaching 93.

          Joshua had an interesting life, didn't he. He was one of the spies Moses had sent originally to spy out the land, and he and Caleb had tried to get the people to enter then, but were voted down, loudly. He was Moses’ right hand man and when Moses died, Joshua became the leader who led them into the promised land. When he reached 110, he called the people and said to them, “Behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth: and you know in all your hearts and in all your souls not one thing has failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spoke concerning you, not one thing has failed.” Joshua 23,14.

          Joshua speaks for many of us. “Not one word has failed of his promises”. For the years have been rich with blessing. So as Pastor I could always speak truth. Truths we find in the holy Bible. The Gospel of John tells us that “many others things Jesus did that are not written in this book, but these are written, that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing, you might have life through His name.” John 20, 30-31.

          The LCMS clearly states what it believes. Not only do we have the Bible, we add to that the written confessions and books like Luther’s Small Catechism and the Hymnbook. All alike teach the same truths, that we believe and teach and live by.

          That was the message St. Paul and the Apostles carried into their world. “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” Sinners, Solomon speaks about men’s heart. He writes, “The heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they do to the dead.” Eccl. 9,3.

          Mankind, since the fall into sin, had a need for salvation, and since he is a sinner born, he is helpless That is why Jesus came as the Babe born in Bethlehem.

          It was starting to snow the day I was born. That was a Friday. That Sunday it was still snowing and they took me to church to be baptized.(My first ride in a car, my uncle Ed’s Model T). So I became an “heir according to the hope of eternal life.” Titus 3,7. Now Psalm 139, says, “In thy book all my members were written, when as yet there was none of them.” V.16. So the time has extended to this moment, and no matter what, “How precious are thy thoughts unto me, O God! How great is the sum of them.” V.17.

          And He blesses me still.

GPD 11/22/13

Monday, November 18, 2013

Shade Tree Wisdom 11/18/13

            Thoughts on reaching age 93.

            Where have the years gone? Down which avenue of time have the years fled? Life lies before us, hours to work, to plan, to dream. Suddenly they have dwindled to a precious few.

          These words come to mind
          “When days dwindle down to a precious few 
           September, November, and these few golden days I'd share with you 
           Those golden days I share with you”

          So we were met at Living Word by Quinta and Gene. Before worship began Pastor Quinn announced to the assembled congregation the day was my 93rd birthday and asked them to join in singing “Happy Birthday”. They did so, with gusto.

          Some of the family came to bring dinner, so we ate together, then visited till it was time for them to leave. Several phone calls along the line made the time fly by.

          So what thoughts come to mind now. Different moments. I remember one morning in my walk, starting to cross a side street when a car stopped to enter. I looked and then I held up my hand and gestured. It was a young couple leaving to go to work, and each had a cup of coffee sitting on the roof. So I gestured, they checked, got their coffee, and thanked me and went on their way.

          Or walking on one 4th of July and starting to sing a chorus of “It’s a grand old flag, she’s a high flying flag, and forever in peace may she wave”, and having several join me and clapping. Simply fun, early morning.

Church affairs bring many warm remembrances. Or today, a good brother remembering with a selection on his birthday wish. A fine one, and so fitting. Psalm 27,4. A fine reminder.

And remembering all the work, the teaching and the visiting and the preaching and the weddings and the funerals. (At one wedding the groom fainted during the service). But he survived and the couple is living still. And the funerals and the hope that we all hold by our faith in Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.

It was hard to be a Christian in the first century. Roman law demanded people say “Caesar is lord”. The Christian would not, could not. Because he knew it wasn't true. Jesus is Lord, there is none other. So what did they do? Many died. Because they believed in “That Day”, as Paul writes to Timothy. “I don’t care what Nero, this particular Caesar plans for me, but I have my eye on “That Day”.

Their belief on That Day made them different. Its the thing that ultimately shook the Roman world. These Christians had something that set them apart, for they knew how to live and how to die because they believed in Jesus as their Savior. And that is the story that drove Paul on his missionary journeys to proclaim the Savior.

And that is, in the final analysis, what fills my mind in these precious days, as I pray it does yours. For Paul reminds Timothy that “The time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” II Timothy 4, 3.4.

I pray that the Lord who planted the faith in Holy Baptism, will help you and me “Grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” And may God bless.

GPD 11/18/13

Monday, November 11, 2013

Shade Tree Wisdom 11/11/13

God bless America,
Land that I love.
Stand beside her, and guide her,
Through the night with the light from above.

From the mountains, to the prairies,
To the oceans, wide with hope,
God bless America,
My home sweet home.

by John McCrae, May 1915

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Veteran’s Day, a time to remember and be thankful for the thousands upon thousands who went to war to keep us free. Take a moment to stop, and give thanks.

GPD 11/11/13

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Shade Tree Wisdom 11/5/13

I believe the headline in the Houston Chronicle was “Night of Anguish” when it was reporting on the NFL Texans and how they fared the night before. In summary, they lost the game and their coach was taken to the hospital at half time with what looked like a heart attack. Turns out it wasn't, and early treatment should have him on feet shortly.

And the team, leading by 21 – 3 at half time and losing 21 – 24, and the kicker missed three kicks. The season that started with such high hopes seems a total loss and no one can really understand, given the team they have, what happened.

All this doesn't really concern you Packer fans, does it? But I mention it because it strikes me life is often just like that. The plans we have fail us, the goals we set vanish, life goes awry and we just don’t understand what went wrong?

Things happen we have no control over and we say, “How can God allow that to happen?” You've heard that question, and maybe even asked it yourself. That just isn't fair.

St. Paul in his letter to Timothy writes, “Here’s a word you can take to heart and depend on: Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. I’m proof public sinner number one - someone who could never have made apart from sheer mercy.” 1 Timothy 1,15
For God is love, as St. John teaches, and in His love he gave us His Son, Jesus Christ, to suffer and die on the cross to pay for the sins we commit.

That is the Christian Gospel, and the claim we make for it is that it works.
It does what it says it does. It is the very same claim St. Peter put to the authorities at the very beginning of the Church when he said, “There is none other name given among men whereby we must be saved.” Acts 4,12. There is only one Savior, One salvation, one teaching that enables us to meet the various and often strange events in this life and in this world.

          The Gospel has the answers that we need. The claim that it helps a man to live in a real sense in this world. It alone does that, so that St. Paul can say, “All things work together for them that love God, for those who are called according to His purpose.” When we believe that, we do also believe that God knows exactly what happens, and it is always for our good. That is what makes the Christian life secure in God’s care. Blessed life so lived.

GPD 11/5/13

Friday, November 1, 2013

Shade Tree Wisdom 11/1/13

          November first the Church observes All Saints day. It is a time to remember those who have come before, “For all the saints who from their labor rest, Who Thee by faith before the world confessed, Thy Name of Jesus be forever blessed, Hallelujah, hallelujah”. Is a favorite hymn for this day.

          Scripture writes in Hebrews 12, 1.2. Jesus, Founder and Perfecter of Our Faith “(1) Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, (2) looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

          On this day Christians remember the lives of dear ones who have died, their lives, their struggles and joys, and ,mostly the faith they held firmly in Jesus Christ as their Savior. Yet we are here, with our own problems, struggles, joys and lives. St. Paul speaks of these when he writes to the Romans 8,18 “(18) For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us”

          So All Saints Day. Use the day to remember, but “Looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith”. Let it also be a time for growth in faith and knowledge unto the day of His time to return.

GPD 11/1/13