We’ve nearly reached the end of May,
and the Lord has blessed this portion of
this state with some abundant rains with more promised. And the lakes in our
area are full, which means they hold as much as they are planned to hold. "Lakes
at capacity”, is the official report.
That’s just to tell you how things are
at this moment, promising for the growing season by God’s good graces.
The financial pages inform us what CEO’s
are being paid, and from what company. And I, at least, stand amazed at such
amounts. Then I read a thoughtful piece about the reasons for such pay. The
article points out that usually they
are worth every penny because they are men with ideas.
Not only that, but they are people who
know how to put those ideas to work. Thousands of years ago Greek philosopher
Plato said, “Ideas rule the world.” Novelist Victor Hugo has said, “There is
one thing stronger than all the armies of the world, and that is an idea whose time has come”.
The Church knows this. That is why it
moves from printed page to internet and other modern tools. The Lutheran Hour,
when it began on Radio, was regarded as a passing fad. For example, the Church
has been using radio effectively for years and God has blessed.
Mission work throughout the world happens
through many means, and new ideas often lead to better approaches for telling
the message of salvation, that Jesus Christ died for the sins of the world
giving us the free gift of salvation by faith.
So the Word is planted, the seed is
sown, and “The seed springeth up, he
knoweth not how, for the earth brings forth fruit of itself”. Mark 4, 27.28. And that idea comes from God and is richly blessed.
In the early 1870’s one third of the
prisoners in southwest England were sailors who had signed up for a voyage and
backed out because they felt the ship was overloaded. That was the law, once
signed, the sailor could not back out.
Interesting, the reason so many did
back out of their promise. In 1873 an astonishing 411 ships sank, taking hundreds of sailors to
a watery grave. Why so many disasters? Because ships were overloaded by greedy
owners, for when the ship sank, insurance carried by the owners made sure he
did not suffer loss. And lives of sailors meant nothing to him.
Enter Samuel Plimsoll (1824-1898). Elected
to Parliament, he finally persuaded his fellow members to pass a law calling for
a line to show how deep the vessel could safely be loaded. It took another 14
years before the law was established to
set that line at the correct place. International law now calls for a Plimsoll line on
It would be a blessing if there were
such a line to make living safe and secure. St. Paul,in his letter to Corinth,
speaks an assurance. He wrote,
“God is faithful, who will
not allow you to be tempted above
That you are able, but will
with the temptation also make a
Way to escape, that you will
be able to bear it.” 1 Cor.10,13.
Further, the Lord also gives us such direction
as this, “Flee youthful lusts”, and many words of advice such as that. “Better
safe than sorry” is an aphorism that says much to keep us safely walking as God’s
His loving care sends His angels to “Keep
thee in all thy ways”. For us, as God’s children, the words of Psalm 23 lend us
sure comfort, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want” is true every day.
It was a busy day for both mom and daughter. A nice warm spring
day and they could spend part of it working in the yard doing the spring cleanup¸
planting some fresh flowers, and just enjoying the day together.
Now it was bed time, bath done, tucked
into bed. Mom had told a story, they had bedtime prayers, and it was time to go
to sleep. Her eyes started to fall asleep, and Mom sat next to the bed, reached
out to hold a little and started singing the world’s most famous lullaby. “Lullaby and goodnight, with roses
bedight. . .”
It was quiet, a little breeze ruffled
the curtains, and the quiet and swept over them as the night settled in.
She was not aware of, nor did she
really care, that this lullaby, a favorite already from childhood, was written
by Johannes Brahms, a life long bachelor who had no children.
Laws are necessary to make life livable. But too much law
defeats its purpose. In The Federalist Papers (no. 63), James Madison warned against
drawing laws that were too dense and complicated. “It will be of little avail
to the people . . .if laws are so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so
incoherent that they cannot be understood.” he said. Cicero, 200 years ago,
said bluntly, “The more laws, the less justice.”
is the problem that America deals with today, confusing, lengthy laws so easily
misused. And one Justice warned when a law's length exceeded 20 pages, it is
simply too long to be useful.
Do you remember when you studied the
Ten Commandments? There was a phrase in
the 8th commandment Luther used. He said in any dealing with our
neighbors, always to “put the best construction on everything”.
That seems hard for us to do because
we are sinners. We tend to look on the shady side of things or actions, don’t we? The German has a phrase, “Schadenfreude”, which means I am secretly pleased at
your bad luck.
Moses came down from the mountain carrying
ten commandments. Of them Jesus said this, “On these two commandments hang all
the law and the prophets"; Matthew 22,40, and Jesus was referring to this when
they asked Him, “Master, which is the great commandment in the law?” His reply, “Thou shalt love the Lord
thy God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind." "And the second is like unto it, thou
shalt love they neighbor as thyself.” Matthew 22, 36-39.
And that has not changed. For the
Christian does not look for loopholes or forgotten corners, he keeps the law as
it plainly was written, and he honors his God, and always does for his neighbor,
“Put the best construction on everything”.
Recently the President awarded the medal
of honor to a soldier who had recued fellow soldiers while under heavy fire.
The nation looked on and applauded. And we sort of take for granted a soldier
will do this.
We stop and applaud because in our day
it is really unusual.
Here is an article that mentions many instances where people were
taking pictures of an assault, but no one had the sense to use that same device
to call the police.
And just this morning I was reading a
blog by a fellow pastor who was talking about running or walking, “I used to do
this and enjoyed the camaraderie and fellowship of others. In running, one used
to nod or wave or even call a cheery ‘hello’. It strikes me that just isn’t happening
any more. What changed?”
In a l968 study, sociologists John
Darley and Bib Latane found that when a large number of people were present,
the sense of responsibility was diffused for any given individual. When alone, people
were far more willing to help.
Gadgets get in the way also. We are so
busy with our facebooks and tablets that we are not even aware if face-to-face
situations and the unspoken actions they may call for.
Sherlock Holmes said to his Dr Watson,”
you see, but you don’t observe.”
Life is really more than spending our
hours with gadgets. Let’s be aware of human being, people with feelings, cares,
concerns, and needs, for whom we can truly be not only helpful, but “The light
that shines in darkness”. So spend a moment with those in need and share the precious
news that we have. The news is this, “Jesus Christ died for you”. When we do
learn to ‘observe’ the world around us, we will be more eager to share this
Gospel, won’t we?
God bless the sharing
and the planting, The seed that “springs for and grows he knoweth not how.” And
God bless the harvest.
Here is a bit of history that one usually finds at page end as a filler. I hope the item will bring the usual thrill of discovery, and make your day complete because it fills in your “I didn’t know that” page. Onion Rings This classic was born in Texas about 1928 or 1929 when the cook at the Pig Stand restaurant in Dallas accidentally dropped a sliced onion into the fried chicken batter. Instead of tossing it away he dropped it into the fryer, and it came out golden crispy. So he made some on purpose and served them to some handy customers and they turned out an instant hit. A bit of historical lore that fills the page. GPD 5/13/14
It was the freshman Homiletics class (A
Division), at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. The Date was late September
of my first year. And the
Dr. John Fritz. The preliminaries, attendance, chats, etc., were taken care of by the class Proctor. Class was about to start.
Dr. Fritz was a big man. Now he strode
to the podium. (An aside. Dr. Fritz never walked, he strode. He gave the
impression he was in a hurry to be
So he stood at the lectern, opened his
Bible, and read a lesson. Read it well, with pauses, inflection¸well, just
well done.Then he closed the Bible, leaned on
the lectern, and said to us, “Do you know just happened here?”
The answers included ‘read the Bible’,
‘tried a different translation’ and “just wanted to introduce the subject
Dr. Fritz then explained. He said I
treated you as my congregation on Sunday and read the Gospel. He continued. Your
people will come to church feeling something like this, "We
have come from a week in the world, we are tired, we have had our little
temptations, our struggles, and our living.
We are here to find some help for the living. Give us some food for the soul.
We have given you time to reflect, to study, to prepare a meal for our hungry
souls. Give us what we need to grow as Christians.”
Fritz then used the story of the sower of the seed and the result from Luke 8,
4-8. The professor pointed out that such growing is a process, it keeps on
going as people meditate, discuss, and think about what they heard read and spoken,
because spiritual growth happens slowly, methodically, often imperceptibly,
but it does grow unfailingly.
is why, when you read the Holy Gospel and the Epistle appointed, you must read
it with proper emphasis, with regular pauses, with inflection, so that those
people who hear it for the first time that Sunday will understand what you
I have never forgotten that class and
Dr. Fritz’s sort of dramatic beginning. And through the years I often stopped
by the Church on a Friday and read the assigned lessons for the Sunday out
loud, often several times, and I did have people remark on the clear word they
heard from my reading, and I am grateful for the lesson.
While visiting Frankenmuth, Michigan, one summer day, I
noticed this sign on one shop wall:
“The hurrier I go,
The behinder I get”.
Here it is, the first of May already,
and I am reminded the old adage still holds. “Tempus fugit”. That’s what our
Latin professor always answered when we complained about an assignment. He would
say, “Boys, start it now, remember tempus fugit.”
And life goes on, here we are in May,
and one of our grandsons graduates from Texas A & M this month. (Just in
time, because a report in the news says the Board of Regents is thinking of
raising tuition for next year’s freshmen class another 6%).
Time is such a fleeting thing, isn’t it?
And we, all of us, often wonder “where has the time gone?” The trick is to make
good use of the time we do have. And that is what that Latin professor was trying
to teach us, Plan things, do things in order, use a system to remind you of
tasks that need doing. Then do what lies at hand to do and relax with the
satisfaction of job well done, and a life well lived under God.
A friend who is also retired said one
time, “You know, I get up in the morning, eat my breakfast, do my devotions
and start my day and I find to my utter surprise that I am already way behind
So far time, but you and I, who are
baptized children of God, trust Him.