Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Shade Tree Wisdom 6/18/14

“It’s summertime,
And the living is easy”

          And a question for you is this: “When was the last time you took the family on a little vacation trip by car?”

          I know, you get tired of that “Are we there yet?”

          But what if there was no “there?”  You have no specific destination.  In short, you just go, maybe from home aim for the deep East Texas.  The towns dwindle in size, and trees surround you everywhere.  It is getting on toward lunch and you stop at a little place in a small town, and you really enjoy the sandwich.  Then you spot a motel and since it is getting later, you stop.

          Then you notice a sign offering a swamp tour at twilight.  You inquire, and the guy says he’ll take the family for 5 bucks.  So you go.  The tour in interesting, and the guide is informative.  Did you know the difference between alligator and crocodile?  Now you do.

The sun has set when you return to the motel, and you find a fish fry underway, and you’re invited as a guest of the motel.  And you mingle with folks and have some interesting conversations.  You retire for a good night’s sleep.

Next day you visit Nagadoches, the oldest city in Texas, and you do some antique browsing and end up finding and buying a coffee grinder just like your mother had on her kitchen wall.

So you spend several days as a family, just exploring East Texas.  You even visit Caddo Lake, the only  natural lake in the State of Texas.

So you return home, well rested, and never once heard anyone ask, “Are we there yet?”

Why not give it a try, and report results.

GPD 6/18/14

Friday, June 13, 2014

Shade Tree Wisdom 6/13/14

          We were having a quiet lunch the other day when we noticed a green grass snake emerge from the ground cover and start across the patio.  He was half- way across when a bird landed and started to peck at the snake.  The snake seemed to hurry, and soon crawled into the ground cover and disappeared.  The bird sort of shrugged and seemed to say, “Well, I showed him, didn't I".
We finished our lunch and cleaned up, so ended that episode.

          And so, you ask? There is always struggle, isn’t there.  And my devotional reading this morning highlights just that when it asks, “Who is on the Lord’s side?” There is no middle ground, it is either God, or Satan.  There is no middle, it is either one, or the other.  Each side has its appeal, and its followers.

          But Jesus said, “He that is not with me, is against Me .” Matthew 12,30.
Think of the double and low standard of morality so prevalent in our present age, the winking at wrong, being absorbed in trivial things, the indifference to religion, and the self-satisfying conventional religions which so many have fashioned for themselves.

          Then think of Christ, who in His love gave His life on the cross, and sent His Spirit to guide us into all truth.  And He promises that He would hear our prayer, supply our every need, and stretch out His mighty hand in defense against all our enemies.

          Truly, the choice can be but one, Jesus Christ, my Savior and my Lord.

GPD 6/13/14

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Shade Tree Wisdom 6/10/14

          Many concerned people ask, “What has happened?  How have we come so far”.  What is wrong here?  There was another report of a shooting at a school, and according to news reports that makes over 700 such shootings in a year.  The President is quoted as saying, “it’s got to stop”.

          The Christians know the basic reason is that we are sinners.  And sinners sin.  That’s their nature.  But it is also our nature to lay blame.  The culture we live in has its influence on behavior.  Jesus said he left us “in the world”, but He also provides His Spirit to guide us here.

Paul speaks of the influence of the culture when he says of the people at Ephesus that they “had been dead In trespasses and sin” and “walked according to the course of this world” Eph.2,1.2.  They were influenced by the world’s peer pressure, the culture they were living in, and God sent His spirit to open their eyes to see the right way to walk.

Every age has its own thoughts, values, and culture.  Living in its influence gradually leads to a sort of moral decay, lulling us to sleep, gradually causing us to accept society’s latest values, so we shrug our shoulders and say “it is what it is”.

Jesus intends for us to live in this world. (John 17,15)  His prayer says, “that Thou shouldst keep them from evil”, so worldly influence is impossible to escape, but he has also given us His Word and Spirit to guide us, and so helps us walk in His light.

His Word and God’s Spirit gives us the power to live according to Kingdom values and not the spirit of the age.  May we so do, God helping us.

GPD 6/10/14

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Shade Tree Wisdom 6/7/14

          We are now in the 90’s, weather-wise, and are observing the anniversary of D Day.  Men are telling their stories, and many remember buddies who did not survive that invasion.  That time sounded the end of the war in Europe.  One survivor remembered more than 200 German soldiers surrendering to his small task force, and to keep them busy till they could receive orders as to what to do; they had them move pebbles from one side of the road to the other.

          Yet our day and our times are fraught with misery.  These are difficult times we are living in.  And throughout history, Christians have found comfort in the prophet Jeremiah.  His was maybe one of the most troubling times in the history Of Israel.  The decades leading to the fall of Jerusalem in 587, followed by the Babylonian exile.

It seemed everything that could go wrong did go wrong.  And Jeremiah was God’s spokesman through it all.  God said, “I’ve given you a job to do. . .it is to pull up and tear down, take apart and demolish, and then start over, building and planting”. 1,11

Jeremiah had pulled  back, hesitated to assume the task, and God said to him: “Don’t say, ‘I am only a boy.’  I’ll tell you where to go and you’ll go there.  I’ll tell you what to say, and you’ll say it.  Don’t be afraid of a soul.  I’ll be right there, looking after you.” Jer. 1,7.8

His days were filled with anxiety.  Yet he was faithful and trusted that God knew exactly what He was doing and what was going to happen.

When we consider the days in which we are living, we must often wonder. Yesterday a headline in the newspaper read, ”Heroin surge here stuns DEA”.  And another article details how our area is leading in selling young girls into slavery. Still another article informs us a convicted murderer has been released because of some quirk in the law.

          We need to hear Jeremiah again because our days are troubling.  In such times we need to hear from one who lived through it, and survived with grace.

So Christians find Jeremiah comforting to read, because he did, and lived to tell us.

May God give insight and wisdom and strength as we study this book.


Thursday, June 5, 2014

Shade Tree Wisdom 6/5/14

          I was up and about this morning running some errands.  No, it is true, not everything can be done by internet or computer yet.  Anyway, I was running errands when I came to a red light and found the car in front of me had this bumper sticker:
“Caution, driver singing”

So I rolled down my window, hoping to hear the driver maybe belt out:
“Give some men who are stout-hearted men,
who will fight for the right they adore,
Start me with ten who are stout-hearted men,
And I’ll give you ten thousand more”.

But I was disappointed.  The driver was strangely silent, paying attention to the light change and going on his way.  Maybe this was an alternate driver who didn’t sing.

Add to this, Dr Jerry Kieschnick, in his weekly commentary, quoted from an article titled “Why men have stopped singing in church”.  The reason men stopped singing in church is because so much of the music is simply not singable or is new to so many, not what they are used to singing at all.  And he adds, “and I agree”.

And that is sad, because Lutherans love to sing, in harmony even.  One of my memories of times in church with my Father when I was growng up was hearing his voice, a baritone, singing hymns with feeling.  I could just feel his earnestness and being aware he was in the presence of God in that voice.

The Bible is filled with statements like this from Psalm 98,1,
“Sing unto the Lord a new song,
For He hath done marvelous things”.

I do believe the world would be a richer, more pleasant place, if more of us “sang unto the Lord a new song”, because He has indeed done marvelous things, He has given me a Savior, my Lord Jesus Christ.

GPD 6/5/14

Monday, June 2, 2014

Shade Tree Wisdom 6/2/14

“And what is so rare as a day in June?
Then, if ever, come perfect days.
Then Heaven tries earth if it be in tune,
And over it softly her warm ear lays.

Whether we look, or whether we listen
We hear life murmur, or see it glisten,
Every clod feels a stir of might,
An instinct within it hat reaches and towers.”
And so forth

          So, are you enjoying this fresh June day today?

          Because “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Because at worship yesterday we were reminded again of God’s constant care and blessing in the hymn verse, LSB 725,4.

“Though He giveth or He taketh
God His children ne’er forsaketh.
His the loving purpose solely
To preserve them, pure and holy.”

GPD 6/2/14