Saturday, May 31, 2014

Shade Tree Wisdom 6/1/14

“Now that the daylight fills the sky,
We lift our hearts to God on high,
That He, In all we do or say,
Would keep us free from harm today.”
LSB 870,1

GPD 6/1/14

Friday, May 30, 2014

Shade Tree Wisdom 5/30/14

          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.

GPD 5/30/14

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Shade Tree Wisdom 5/28/14

          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 every ship.

          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 children.

          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.

GPD 5/28/14

Monday, May 26, 2014

Shade Tree Wisdom 5/25/14

          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.

          Weird, but true.

GPD 5/25/14

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Shade Tree Wisdom 5/23/14

            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.”

            That 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”.

          That life will have rich blessing.

GPD 5/23/14

Friday, May 16, 2014

Shade Tree Wisdom 5/16/14

Shade tree wisdom 5/14/14
          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.

GPD 5/16/14

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Shade Tree Wisdom 5/13/14

          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

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Shade Tree Wisdom 5/8/14

          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
professor was 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 somewhere).

          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 matter.”

          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.”

Dr. 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.

That 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 read.

          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.

GPD 5/8/14

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Shade Tree Wisdom 5/1/14

                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 schedule”.

          So far time, but you and I, who are baptized children of God, trust Him.
Listen to the Psalm (139,7-10)
“Wither shall I go from Thy Spirit,
Or where shall I flee from Thy presence?
If I ascend up into heaven
Thou art there,
If I make my bed in hell,
Behold. Thou art there.
If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;
Even there shall Thy hand lead me,
And thy right hand hold me”

          So yes,“The hurrier I go, The behinder I get”

          And it matters not, because “Thou art there”.

GPD 5/1/14