Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Shade Tree Wisdom 2/26/14

          Sunday was rather a quiet day at our house, 123 Sandpebble in The Woodlands, Texas. We worshiped in the morning and came home with this prayer from the final hymn ringing in our ears:

“Grant, Lord that we who worshiped here,
May all at last in heaven appear”
LSB 923,2b

Then a small lunch and a nap – and I do admit that I take a nap now and then, for I noticed that things go right along while I am dozing, so why not?

After that, did some reading in the Scriptures, and then other stuff, casual stuff.  Swept the Sunday papers together and fixed a bit of supper.  Decided to watch TV while eating, and happened on a Father Brown mystery. G J Chesterton wrote those a generation or two ago about this country priest who bumbles and stumbles his way to solutions, either of a murder, or a theft, or some other stuff going on the village. Then he gets on his black bicycle and wends his way through a path into the dim distance. 

          It was just a quiet, ‘laid back day’, quiet and peaceful and we felt  that peace filling us with calm repose.  I think we have reached the point where we’ve stopped lying about our age and are bragging on it.  There is one thing people do not tell you about age.  That is it is comfortable.

          But the morning came, and the quiet is shattered with traffic noise, and all the noises the work day brings.  I-45 is filled with rush hour ‘going to work’ traffic, school buses are making their ponderous rounds, collecting groups of scholars here and there.

          And the busy workweek begins.  The Woodlands roads are being enlarged, bridges enlarged, lanes added to existing roads.  Exxon is building its world headquarters just south of us, and a new village is being started for the workers, and local traffic is heavy constantly.  And I think back to Father Brown in his country village.  Was that a better time, or not.

          The truth is we – you and I – are living here, and our God has richly blessed us with the tools to do so successfully.  This hymn comes to mind.

  Leave all things to God’s direction
He loves me both in joy and woe.
His will is good, sure His affection
His tender love is good, I know,
My fortress and my Rock is He,
What pleases God, that pleases me.” 
LS 719,1

GPD 2/26/14

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Shade Tree Wisdom 2/20/14

          It was one of those really nice late summer nights. Chores were done, and we were walking toward the house, enjoying that satisfying feeling of having finished another day, looking  forward to the evening meal and relaxing a bit before retiring. The night  was clear and the moon was bright.

          Then we heard it, a flock of geese on their flight south to spend winter days in south Texas. We heard them and when we looked carefully, we saw the flock, dark against the moon, flying and honking (I guess talking to each other – and what do they talk about? We’re over Wisconsin now, another 20 hours?)

          And my brother, who had just memorized it for class, recited the ending of Bryan’s “To A Waterfowl”
“He who from zone to zone,
Guides through the boundless sky thy certain flight.
In the long way that I must trace alone,
Will lead my steps aright”.

Such flights still go on, but mostly unheard in this noisy world. But the guiding still works, even though modern man has discovered he had better turn off certain skyscraper building lights in Chicago and Detroit because they tended to confused flocks.
That is the difference I want to mention with care. Our world is a noisy place, with many confusing notes to confuse and often imperil our faith. St. Paul speaks about lawlessness. A friend’s blog says of this, “Men everywhere ignore and mock God’s laws, ethics, and morals, and God’s way of life. Today, in the way in which marriage is completely redefined, especially here in the United States. Or in the way human life is being mocked and murder is made legitimate, a right guaranteed by the Constitution and Supreme Court. I speak, of course, about the millions of infants murdered every year through abortion. The Lord Jesus taught us what to expect from mouths of false prophets in the last days.”

Jesus said, “And many false prophets shall rise and shall deceive many. . .but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” Matt.24,11.13.

May the Lord direct, guide, and keep you in this noisy world.

GPD 2/20/14

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Shade Tree Wisdom 2/19/14

          (Excerpt from the Litany LSB p.288)

We poor sinners implore you, 
          To hear us, good Lord.

          To rule and govern Your holy Christian Church;
          To preserve all Pastors and ministers of Your church
          In the true knowledge and understanding of Your wholesome Word
                And to sustain them in holy living.
          To put an end to all schisms and causes of offence,
          To bring into the way of truth all who have erred and are deceived.

          To beat down Satan under our feet;
          To send faithful laborers into your harvest;
          And to accompany Your Word with Your grace and spirit.

We implore you to hear us, good Lord.

GPD 2/19/14

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Shade Tree Wisdom 2/18/14

          We have all, I am sure, used the expression, “Just let your conscience be your guide”. That sounds so fair and mature. Then we might ask, “What guides your conscience? What is your North Star? What measures your thinking and action? What is your standard?”

We may well ask such questions now, because conscience is riddled with sin and often goes awry. It is easily misled, befuddled, bewildered, and just plain lost.

Paul, in His letter to the Romans, speaks of people who have lost their sense of shame. Romans 1, to people are without excuse. .21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.”

The Lord gives us the sure way to correct this when He forgives us our sins, and send His Spirit to guide our way through the leading of His Word. Our cry goes up, ”I am a stranger in the earth, Oh, how I need a map”. Psalm 119,19.

I read recently how this does work. Recently, Birmingham Alabama had snow, more snow than expected. It clogged highways with stalled cars. It brought problems. The owner of a Chick-fil-A restaurant sent his workers home since there was no business, but they came back. They couldn’t get home. So the owner fired up the grills and started making sandwiches. Then he and his staff went to stalled cars and offered sandwiches.

Then, when night came, he offered the restaurant for sleeping and staying warm, then he sent them off in the morning with breakfast. All for free, because the Holy Spirit had changed this person and made him a new man.

So it is safe to say “Let your conscience be your guide” if that conscience is directed by God. Paul tells us, “Hold on to faith and a good conscience” 1 Timothy 1,19. 

God bless that walk with such a wise conscience.

GPD 2/18/14

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Shade Tree Wisdom 2/14/14

Valentine, a physician and priest living in Rome while Claudius was emperor, was martyred. Tradition tells that before he died, he left a note of encouragement for the jailer’s daughter written on an irregularly shaped piece of paper.  This evolved into the heart shape we've seen ever since.

Meanwhile, back in America, 378 million imported flowers, 85% of the total, came through Miami, 44 million through Los Angeles, from Columbia and Ecuador. And wherever we looked today, we saw them and bought some.

So, Happy Valentine's day.  And may God bless this day richly.

GPD 2/14/14

Friday, February 7, 2014

Shade Tree Wisdom 2/7/14

          On August 10, 1519, Ferdinand Magellan, as captain of a fleet of 5 ships, left Seville, Spain with the commission from Spanish King Charles to find a way to the Spice Islands by sailing west. On November 1 they started sailing through what is now the Straits of Magellan, an arduous voyage that took nearly 40 days for the 343 miles. They reached the pacific. Magellan’s maps showed he now had maybe 4 days of sailing left to reach the Spice Islands. His maps were tragically wrong. The voyage took 5 months. They ran out of food and water. 19 sailors died, and all of them had scurvy and other diseases. Magellan was killed in the Philippines, and 2 ships returned to Seville in September 1522, nearly 3 years after that voyage began. Only 4 of the original sailors returned. 282 died or were killed in the interim. Much of the trouble was faulty guides for their journey.

          And this is why I begin with that bit of history. Our world is changing. Old standards are being replaced, or ignored, or disregarded and regarded as “Old Fashioned”. In America God was recognized as God, the Supreme Being, who created the world. In general, most people knew the Bible and looked to it for guiding truths. No longer true, and as we slither ever deeper into this morass, eventually this will erode standards for nearly everything, and putting it on television makes moral baseness the new standard. And the cry for this is “everything I do is legal”.

          How can one exist in these surroundings? The cry of the ancient Psalmist rings true still, “I am a stranger in the earth, Oh, how I need a map”. Psalm 119,19. Here is your answer, and mine. One we can trust because it changes not and is eternally true. That guide, that map, is the Holy Scripture. It is our North Star, set and there to guide our living. Not only does it give us the right pathway, but it also is the only guide that leads to eternal life for us who are sinners. “Christ Jesus died for sinners, of whom I am chief.”

          So, go back to this guide to give us light for our path, and may God bless the going.

GPD 2/7/14