Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Shade Tree Wisdom 4/30/14

          One study I read recently said it is possible to change. Experience bears that out. Because we have always known if we really pay attention, we do change habits. It takes some effort, but after some days the effort gives us a new, and hopefully, better habit.

          When I was a boy, one of my classmates had the nasty nail-biting habit. He knew it was nasty, and asked us to help him. So we did, yelling and pointing whenever we caught him doing it. I don’t know what it was, being ridiculed, made an object lesson, shame, or just being made aware of the unconscious habit, but he learned not to bite his nails.

          So we can make changes.

          In matters of faith, however, we cannot change without help. Maybe just because many bring the wrong message when they are discussing matters of faith. They speak of Jesus dying on the cross, and then say, “Now all you need to do is.. .”

When the real message is, “Jesus Christ died on the cross for the sins of the world.”  And when He cried “It is finished”, all the work was done. There is nothing left for us to do.

The Hymn “Abide with Me” has this truth in verse 3
“I need Thy presence every passing hour,
What but Thy grace can foil the Tempter’s power,
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, Abide with me.”

When the burdens of life seem to weigh me down, when the sunshine fades and rain clouds darken the sky, when tornadoes flatten my town and hope seems far away, when the problems of daily living seem overwhelming, when everyone seems to be calling for my ‘expert’ attention, it is good and helpful to remember what St. Peter wrote, (2 P 1,19)
“We have a more sure word of prophecy;
whereunto you do to take heed,
 as unto a light that shines in a dark place,
until the day dawn,
and the daystar
arise in your hearts”.

So, my friends, let us learn to say with firm conviction, “I KNOW that My Redeemer lives”.

GPD 4/30/14

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Shade Tree Wisdom 4/26/14

          The hour calls for a fitting verse, thus:

Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
Earth’s joys grow dim; its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see;
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.

          O Gracious Lord, hear our solemn prayer.

GPD 4/26/14

Friday, April 25, 2014

Shade Tree Wisdom 4/25/14

I mentioned being introduced to our latest great grand child on Easter Sunday, and how his life was safe and secure, and he had no worries, for his parents saw to his eating, his diaper changing, and tended to his every need.

But by grace he will grow into a busy little boy. And I can also foresee attending some function with his parents and running off with other children. While doing so, he becomes separated from Mom and Dad and he starts to fear he is lost. So he becomes anxious and maybe starts to cry until they spot him and there is a family reunion. He says, “I couldn’t see you”. And that bothered him, because the familiar was missing.

We have a need for the familiar. Jesus taught us:
“I am the way, the truth, and the life
No one comes to the Father
But through Me”. John 14,6.

That is our “Rock of Ages”, our sure center which gives our life certainty, meaning, and meaningful goals. And life needs such a stable center. We need to be sure of something we can cling to; something we know is true and lasting.

A story tells of a girl who is wanting to go with her friends to a program being offered which was popular, a little risqué, but on the whole, funny. All her friends were going and her mother had said, “No”.

They were discussing this while Mom as busy preparing salads for lunch.. While doing that, now and then she reached into the garbage and added some to the plate. The girl said, “Mom, what are you doing. That’s garbage”. Her Mom said, “Why not, you don’t seem to care what goes into your mind.” The girl got the picture and stopped asking to attend that program.

Do you see the levels of ‘entertainment' regularly offered by the TV, movies, and literature? It seems so much comes from the dregs of society, never the cream of the crop. Maybe because there is so little cream any more.

Our Supreme Court in the early 60’s said public prayers in schools have to stop. So look about to see what life without God looks like.

Thank God, however, there are still people who believe He not only created this world, but is always there to bless us. For us, “The anchor still holds.” And we are not drifting aimlessly and helplessly through life. But we go, serving him, praying our prayers, searching His Word for daily strength, and being sure of our “Rock of Ages.”

Blessed is the Risen Christ.

GPD 4/25/14

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Shade Tree Wisdom 4/23/14

          At our family gathering on Easter Sunday I met our newest great-grand son. He looked content, lying there cradled in his father’s arms. Never fussed. Kicked his legs and waved his arms about, then went to sleep while people were talking, laughing, visiting.
Quietly sleeping while the Boston Marathon – won for the first time in 30 years by an American, by the way – was being run, safely this time. And what Putin was planning in far-off Russia didn’t bother him either.
And I said to my grandson, “You know, this is the best time of life, isn’t it? Look at Conner, sleeping. Everything taken care of, his needs quickly met, and he is safe, sleeping and growing, and not even worrying about tomorrow.”
Then another thought. Easter Sunday. “He is Risen, Christ is Risen, Hallelujah” we said joyfully in the service just hours ago.
Isn’t that what it means for us, for all believers? That the same Lord who is risen also said, “I will be with you, even to the end of the earth”. And this same living Lord also said, “Cast all your care upon Him, for He careth for you”.

          At the end of Matthew chapter 6 in His Sermon on the Mount Jesus said:  
                   “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all
                   Things will be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the
                   Morrow; for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself,
                   Sufficient  unto the day is the evil thereof.” Matthew 6,33.34

So, A blessed Easter.

GPD 4/23/14

Friday, April 18, 2014

Shade Tree Wisdom 4/18/14

"O sorrow dread.
Our God is dead"
          And we are the reason for this journey.
He said, “I thirst”, and when He had drunk, He said, “It is finished” and “Father into Thy hands I commit my spirit” “And having said that, He gave up the ghost.”. John 24,46.

Just before Christ died, He said, “It is finished” John 19,30. 

He wanted us to know that the work the Father had sent Him to do, suffering and dying for the sins of the world, that work, was fully and completely done.

          That is why we call it “Good Friday”.  It shows how it ended, with a payment for our sin, done, finished, complete.  So there is nothing left for us to do except believe that “By grace you have been saved and that not of yourselves it is a gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2, 8.9.

“O sorrow dread,
Our God Is dead”

          And we rejoice because of Good Friday.

GPD 4/18/14

Monday, April 7, 2014

Shade Tree Wisdom 4/7/14

          “Daddy, or Mommy, tell us a story” and this bedtime session got underway.  Hans Christian Anderson and Aesop often served as the inspiration.  Or we made one up.  They all began, “once upon a time”.  And they usually ended in triumph for the hero or heroine.

          We usually tried to insert a moral lesson.  This was followed by the bedtime prayers and then they snuggled in, satisfied, and went to sleep.

          A simple thing when regarded in the scheme of life.  Yet important, and so often forgotten.  It is a process of growing up, safe, secure, and growing in faith, looking forward to what tomorrow will bring.

          Tell me a story.  How many times does Jesus reply to a question by telling a story to make his point clearly and remembered.  The Bible is filled with His parables, or stories teaching his lesson.  The story of the Good Samaritan is one example.

          As a matter of fact, good teaching still is often made up of stories, isn’t it?
What sticks best?  Isn’t it something said that sort of serves as a hook for the thought, or the moral lesson that lies there.

          I think of TV programs that satisfied.  One good example was The Andy Griffith Show, with Sheriff Taylor of Mayberry.  It was clean humor, and always left with a lesson learned, a moral offered.  I read a review of the program that pointed out Griffith insisted on a moral or lesson being taught, otherwise the script was rewritten and strengthened to do just that – teach.

          So “Tell me a story” is something we ought to keep in mind for our daily experience.  We share a thought, and make a point that sticks.  And everybody is enlightened and enjoys the meeting.

GPD 4/7/14

Friday, April 4, 2014

Shade Tree Wisdom 4/4/14

          Do you remember this?  "You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor".  A simple thing, meant to be kind, loving, and caring.  

          Yes, it's the 8th commandment.

          It stands there to protect the good name, the reputation, the integrity of a person, and directs our relationship with our neighbor.  It speaks to fairness in our dealing.

          James says it boldly, “Brothers, do not slander one another”.  The word suggests “speaking down” and implying an inclination of putting down: “I put him in his place”.  And James sternly says, “Do not do this”.

          It is not acceptable to tolerate bad actions or let them happen.  Our culture’s addled and confused notion of tolerance says we cannot criticize, because someone else thinks it’s OK.

          But God has given us right and wrong.  G.K. Chesterton said morality consists of drawing a straight line.  It goes back to the question, “What is your North Star, your guiding principle.”  For the Christian it is always the Word of God which is TRUTH.

          Luther laid it out for us, “And put the best construction on everything”. That isn't always easy to do because we may be angry, upset, and tend to judge harshly.  Just remember, “the purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters”. Prov. 20,5a.  And “The Lord looketh on the heart”, as God reminded Samuel when he was choosing Israel’s new King.

          In this culture we are living in, it is good to remember basic laws from our God, and try to live by them.  May God bless such living and caring and finally, living in loving care for each other.

GPD 4/4/14

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Shade Tree Wisdom 4/1/14

          Here is a line from Mozart’s Requiem that says exactly what fits this time of the Church year we are in, the Lenten season. It simply reads:
Remember, merciful Lord,
That I am the cause of your journey”.

          A storm is coming, and this season is a time of preparing for that coming storm.  It is the Day of judgment which we all will face.  This season, this time of lent, helps prepare us for it.

          A friend loved to fish in the Gulf of Mexico.  He often took several buddies along and they had a fine time.  But he did watch the weather, and when a storm was on the way, he made for shore.  He knew from personal experience what such a storm can do, even to a large, well-equipped boat with experienced sailors aboard.  So, before any trip, he always checked the weather with the Coast Guard.

          Our Lord sends his prophets, apostles, missionaries, and preachers to give us warning.  For instance, Hebrews tells us, “It is appointed for men once to die, and after that the judgment”. Heb 9,27.

          The world hates you. Remember Jesus said, “If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. But you don’t belong to the world I took you out of the world, that’s why the world hates you “ John 15,19. And the devil is busy, temping, enticing, and trying us to ask “Did God really say”?

            The Lord Jesus invites us to “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto your own understanding” Prov.3.5.

            So, may God ever bless and keep you safe from harm.

GPD 4/1/14