Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Shade Tree Wisdom 12/31/13

          Well, honestly now, how has it been?  Nothing that was simply too much for your puny strength, and the Lord did provide as He promised.  There were some disappointments, every life has them, doesn’t it?

          I would turn you to an ancient bit of wisdom from the prophet Habakkuk. You don’t often go there, do you?  But he sounds really modern in his questions to God.  He learns that the Lord planned to use an ancient power, the nation of Babylon, heathen to the extreme, to punish Israel, a godly nation, and he struggles with that concept.

          It’s something like the life we are living when it often seems as if the wrong remains unpunished, and the good is not recognized.  St. Peter in his letters warned that such events will come.  Jesus reminded us, “In the world you will have tribulation: but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16,33.

          So Habakkuk ends his chapters with these hopeful words:
Even if the fig tree does not bloom and the vines have no grapes, even if the olive tree fails to produce and the fields yield no food, even if the sheep pen is empty and the stalls have no cattle-
18even then, I will be happy with the LORD.  I will truly find joy in God, who saves me.
19The LORD Almighty is my strength.  He makes my feet like those of a deer.  He makes me walk on the mountains.  For the choir director; on stringed instruments.
Let us then take heart and trust in Him who is our God and Savior.

GPD 12/31/13

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Shade Tree Wisdom 12/26/13

Birth of Jesus Christ
    1In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2This was the first registration whena Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5to be registered with Mary, his betrothed,b who was with child. 6And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
          Read it again, please. 

          Our Lord is born.

GPD 12/26/13

Monday, December 23, 2013

Shade Tree Wisdom 12/23/13

                                      At Christmas 2013

          The news is of storms and bad travel conditions for this season.  I look out of my window and see a sunny day, cold, but calm and nice.  The week here promises much of the same.  But there are many areas with snow and icy driving conditions.  I pray your travel will be pleasant and right on time.

          The holiday decorations and the many ads, the busy shopping and the many stories of helpful hands proving meals for Christmas and gifts for children remind us that Christmas is here.  [ an aside – a FedEx survey finds that 33% of holiday gift-getters complete all returns before New Year’s Day].

          There is a much deeper meaning for those who believe in Jesus Christ.  For the birth of the King is our Savior, Jesus Christ, sent to save us from sin.  “For God has not appointed us to wrath but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us that, whether we wake or sleep, we shall live together with him” 1 Thessalonians 5, 9.10.
          That news is always the best news.  For “God so loved the world, that He sent His Only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3,16.  St. John writes on, “for God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” V.17.

          The longer the Lord allows me on this earth, the more I appreciate this good news.  And more, Ruth and I are deeply grateful to belong a church whose Pastors teach the truths of the Gospel with sincere firmness and with deep conviction.

          The news in the world is mostly depressing. Wars, rumors of wars, dishonesty, corruption rampant, and a government that seems to hesitate in its leadership.  We pray for the leaders of this nation, for wisdom to lead and give us indeed life that is lived in a way of quiet and pace with boldness and confidence.

          May your days be filled with the faith that the Spirit plants, and may this celebration strengthen and bless you each day.

          A Blessed Christmas with His peace.

GPD 12/23/13

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Shade Tree Wisdom 12/17/13

          A prayer for this (or any) day.

          Grant us, O Lord, to pass this day
             In gladness and peace,
          Without stumbling
            Without stain, and, strengthened by Your Spirit,
          Reaching the eventide victorious
            Over temptations always present.

          And so we may praise Thee, the eternal God,
            Who governs all things and are
            Blessed forevermore.

          In Jesus name we pray, Amen


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Shade Tree Wisdom 12/3/13

          Here at Living Word a small group meets every Saturday for some Bible reading and study. To get into the building we not only need a key, but also a set of numbers for the keypad inside to turn off the alarm. You know where this is going, don’t you? Last Saturday we had the key, but the member who had the key pad numbers was out of town visiting family.  Well, there are some pretty sharp people around, so, being Lutheran, we did what any Lutheran would do.  We elected  to go to MacDonald’s nearby which had recently been remodeled. We found a large booth in an away corner and had our study there, together with, as needed, coffee or hot chocolate.

          It got me to thinking of changes in my lifetime. When I was a lad, churches generally, at least in the country, never were locked, or rarely.  I remember on some vacation trips stopping at a country church grounds to eat our sandwich and taking a look at the church, open to any visitor.

           How different today.  I read the other day a Houston church had been broken into and its generators stolen.  Many times the copper coils are ripped out of an air conditioning system and sold.  In my last parish the copper gutters and drain pipes were stolen.

          There is another change I find sad.  President Abraham Lincoln formally set aside a day for the nation to stop and give thanks, simply because we are Americans.  This is what we do.  And the day sets aside a time for family together enjoying a meal and each other.  That is what we do, and it ought to be more important than any bottom line.

          Not all stores opened early.  The CEO of one said, “Asking people to run out and shop seems disrespectful somehow.”  Ace Hardware said simply, “some things are more important than money”.

          A holiday shared with family – so rare these days - really is more important than any bottom line.  We ought never be so busy with ME that we forget the warmth of family life.

          And you and I, “Come, ye thankful people come,
                                 “Raise the song of harvest home.”

          I thank God for the day, for being with family, for enjoying hearing how things are going, and I rejoice in my faith, God given by grace, for letting it grow and flourish in the place I am in, thanking Him.  

GPD 12/3/13