Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Shade Tree Wisdom 3/26/14

          What is your plan for your daily Bible reading?  There are many to guide and direct and so make it a daily habit.  And what do you do with first Chronicles, for instance, with all its ‘begats’? [Or, like so many, you sort of tend to skim them lightly?]

          The question came up in a Sunday morning Bible class, “Pastor, why do we have such lists in the bible?  Is it simply for discipline, or why”?

          So we looked at what is considered by many the most boring chapter in the bible.  It’s Numbers chapter 7.  Take a look at it.

          It’s a long chapter, 89 verses in total.  And 12 sets of verses say exactly the same thing.  The chapter deals with the gifts the twelve tribes bring as an offering for the dedication of the Tabernacle.  The offerings are exactly the same, and they are reported in exactly the same way, and no matter how many are in each tribe – and the numbers vary widely – each tribe brings the very same offering.

          Now, since “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for correction for reproof, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good work.” 2 Tim 3, 16.17.  What lesson is there for us?

          The one that sticks out for me is that before God we are all equal.  God does not ask the larger tribes to bring more, or the smaller tribes to bring less.  Their gifts, listed in total, are exactly the same.

`         So the chapter, instead of boring and even neglected for that reason, stands high in telling me that you and I, wherever we may be living and working and serving him, are equal in His sight.  And the sentence we learned early in our Christian life, “For God so loved the world”, takes on fresh meaning.

          May God bless the learning.

GPD 3/26/14


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Shade Tree Wisdom 3/19/14

“I’ll keep rolling along
Deep in my heart is a song,
Here on the range I belong,
Drifting along with the tumbling tumbleweeds”.

          Roy Rogers and his Sons of the Pioneers used something like that to close their TV shows.  And it gave us a picture of the wind drifting some tumbleweeds idly along the range.

          The WSJ brought this to mind when it reported that in Clovis, N.M. recently an 80-year old retiree was trapped in his 1600 square foot home by tumbleweeds. Evidently this was a good year for growing tumbleweeds, and when they died, the wind tore them lose and they ended up in tangled masses that closed school doors, shutting down businesses, stuff like that.  In rural Rush, Colorado, they resorted to calling road graders so their buses could get children to school.

          And the problem is invasive.  Tumbleweeds are not native to the Southwest, but come from Eurasia. It’s a problem they need to deal with.

          We are in the season of lent, so the problem of tumbleweeds brought to mind the problem we all have to deal with, sin.  The Lenten Devotion offered by the Lutheran Hour and available in our Church reminds us the terrible price Jesus paid on the cross to pay for the sins of the world.  He hangs there, suffering wave after wave of the Father ‘s righteous anger, till finally He cries in anguish, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?”  It is not a cry of despair, for he calls on God His Father.  He trusts completely, and is willing to pay the price for us.  The pain borne willingly.

          The hymn (LSB 451,3) reminds us:
“Ye who think of sin but lightly,
Nor suppose the evil great.
Here may view its nature rightly,
Here its guilt ,may estimate.
Mark the sacrifice appointed,
See Who bears the awful load,
‘Tis the Word, the Lord’s Anointed,
Son of man, and Son of God.”

          May this season enrich our understanding of the cost of our salvation.  Now, for us, “It is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast”. Ephesians 2.

GPD 3/19/2014

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Shade Tree Wisdom 3/13/14

          With so much easy access to others with email and cell phones and twitter and face book and who knows what else, it will seem out of step to talk about secrecy, won’t it.  

          But I want to say word or two about what Jesus said in His sermon on the mount. Jesus is talking about prayer and says, “And when you pray, go into your closet and shut the door, pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you openly. And when you pray, use not vain repetition as the heathen do, for they think they will be heard by their much speaking. Don’t be like them, for your Father knows what things you have need of before you ask Him”, Matthew 6,6-8. 

          “Shut the door”, is His command. There are times when secrecy is better. In secret times we really can hear God best. 

          In such quiet times of meditation and prayer, we reveal to God our inmost needs, desires wants, cares and dreams. When we are undisturbed before our God, we will tend to do more than sort of pray a general prayer. We must take the time to look inward more deeply, and look to the needs and wants that we sort of shove aside because “God doesn’t want or need to hear that”.  He can and does , because He “knows before you ask.” 

          There is more to consider, but the general idea is to have such a place in our lives when we will be undisturbed, alone with our thoughts, and our God. If our Lord could, and did, spend entire nights in prayer, we can strengthen our lives and deepen our faith if we try to practice secrecy as Jesus laid it out for us. 

           So, may you find a place and the time for a bit of secrecy with your Heavenly father who loved you so much, He sent His Son to pay for your sins. 

GPD 3/13/14

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Shade Tree Wisdom 3/6/14

          In these days of unrest and turmoil I thought of leadership, of men and women who stand ready to plan and lead, and I thought of Josiah Holland. Remember his words?

God, give us men!
GOD, give us men!
A time like this demands Strong minds, great hearts, true faith and ready hands;
Men whom the lust of office does not kill;
Men whom the spoils of office can not buy;
Men who possess opinions and a will;
Men who have honor;
men who will not lie;
Men who can stand before a demagogue
And damn his treacherous flatteries without winking!
Tall men, sun-crowned, who live above the fog
In public duty, and in private thinking;
For while the rabble, with their thumb-worn creeds,
Their large professions and their little deeds,
Mingle in selfish strife, lo!
Freedom weeps,
Wrong rules the land and waiting Justice sleeps.
    Josiah Gilbert Holland

          Add to it Billy Graham’s prayer for the country. THIS MAN SURE HAS A GOOD VIEW OF WHAT'S HAPPENING TO OUR COUNTRY! 

Billy Graham's Prayer For Our Nation

'Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness and to seek your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, 'Woe to those who call evil good,' but that is exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values. We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery. We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare. We have killed our unborn and called it choice. We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable. We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self esteem. We have abused power and called it politics. We have coveted our neighbor's possessions and called it ambition. We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression. We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment. Search us, Oh God, and know our hearts today; cleanse us from sin and set us free. Amen!'

          With the Lord's help, may this prayer sweep over our nation and wholeheartedly become our desire so that we once again can be called 'One nation under God!'

GPD 3/6/14

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Shade Tree Wisdom 3/4/14

          Winter wonderland, I thought as I was driving to do some food shopping. Trees covered with glistening icy particles, not really so heavy as to cause damage, just to turn their ends into glittering orbs of beauty. It will be melting and be pretty much gone in several hours.

          And when I remarked on the beauty of it, most people I spoke to grumbled about the “mess” with bits of limbs broken and needing to be cleaned up, etc. I did see several lads waiting for their school bus tugging at a branch that had fallen onto the pavement and getting it out of the way. I beeped and waved at them, gave them a well done, and they grinned and pulled harder. Laid it neatly on the lawn out of the way. And it suddenly struck me, that’s what people used to do, see what needs doing and doing it, not waiting for ‘authority’ to show up. Really, isn't that what getting along in society really means?

          St. Paul speaks about that in the Book of Romans. A man who had studied much and written 4 books on secrets of success, said when asked, the first secret is this ”do what you should do, when you should do it, whether you feel like it or not.”

          So enjoy the glittering winter wonderland while it is there, and grin and thank God for the sight He laid out for you and me to enjoy.

GPD 3/4/14