Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Shade Tree Wisdom 11/26/14

          The year was 1863, and the country was embroiled in the civil war.  President Lincoln struggled with a thanksgiving proclamation, but he was also concerned with the soul of the country.  In March he said, among other things:
We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties
Of heaven; we have been preserved, these many
Years, in peace and prosperity; we have
Grown in numbers, wealth, and power
As no other nation. BUT
We have forgotten God”.

          The local paper this mornings paper carried an article titled: Be More Than Thankful, show some gratitude”

          A dictionary definition tell us being thankful means that something you hoped would happen, did.  Being grateful means you appreciate something done for you or for something you have.

          I believe that is what St. Paul means when he wrote, “I have learned in whatever state I am, therewith to be content.”  There it lies, and we have read it many times, even quoted the words but often forgotten to live them.  Being grateful makes us happier. Some doctor of psychology said ungrateful people cannot be happy.

          So tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day.  Lets sing:
“Refresh thy people on their toilsome way,
Lead us from night to never-ending day,
Fill all our lives with love and grace divine,
And glory. Laud, and praise be ever Thine,
Amen.  Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving
GPD 11/26/14

Monday, November 24, 2014

Shade Tree Wisdom 11/24/14

          I’m sure we all are aware of the snowstorms in western New York state and especially the Buffalo area.  Because that area is so snowy, the building codes require homes and businesses to be able to handle 50 pounds per square foot of snow on their roofs.  That would be, according to structural engineer Mark Bajoreck, as heavy as a slab of concrete 4 inches thick.  No wonder they picture people busily shoveling snow from their roofs.

         The hymn lines read:
“Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above
Join with all  nature in manifold witness
To thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.
Great is Thy faithfulness,
Great is Thy faithfulness.
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.”

          And some of the proof lies in this promise of God to our first parents,
“And God said,’behold I Have given you every plant yielding seed
That is on the face of the earth, and every tree yielding fruit.
You shall have them for food’ ”. Geneses 1, 29.30.

          So snow of winter.  Now what is there to keep us warm?  Oil, gas, coal and wood.  Roughly 2.5 million households use wood for heating.  If you use oak, you will need 3 cords of wood to heat a 3000 square foot home.  If you use soft woods like pine, you will need 5.3 cords.  One cord measures 4x4x8 feet.

“So all I have needed Thy hand hath provided,
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.”
And may God bless each.

GPD 11/24/14

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Shade Tree Wisdom 11/16/14

          On this eve of my 94th natal day allow me to share a prayer I ran across in my reading.  It is ascribed to St. Francis of Assisi.

“Watch, O Lord, with those who wake,
Or watch, or weep tonight.
And give your angels charge over
Those who sleep.
Tend Your sick ones, O Lord Christ,
Rest Your weary ones,
Bless Your dying ones.
Soothe Your suffering ones.
Pity Your afflicted ones.
In the Name of Jesus we pray.

         With that nighttime prayer rest refreshed under His care.

GPD 11/16/14

Friday, November 14, 2014

Shade Tree Wisdom 11/14/14

            As he grew older, St. Peter wrote some letters “to those who are elect exiles of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.” 1 Peter 1, 1,2a.  He is their shepherd, and is very concerned that when he dies, they might very well forget the true teaching.

                So He writes in 2 Peter 1, 13-15, as follows: “Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth you have.  I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus made clear to me.  And I will make every effort And every effort, so that after my departure you may at any time recall these things.”

          Maybe that is the reason why I sit down at this machine and write these Shade Tree notes to you now and then.  Because the Lord has told me the same thing he told St. Peter.  “The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength they are eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone.” Psalm 90,10.

          Because you and I live in a culture that is not kind to the Christian faith; that often attacks the people of faith and makes their lives miserable and often legally costly.

          St. Peter warned his hearers about this. He writes, 1 Peter 5,8,9:  “Be sober-minded, be watchful, your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.  Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kind of sufferings are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.”

          The adversary, the devil, is quite active.  He tempts, he allures, he looks “like an angel of light” to deceive the believer.  He never stops trying to get you to fall away.  “Are you sure God said that” is still his most effective weapon.

          But before we despair, remember God’s promise to us.  “God is faithful, and He will not let you to be tempted beyond your ability.  But with the temptation He will provide a way to escape, that you may be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10,13.  So “Put on the whole armor of God, and having done all stand.”  And may God bless that life lived under His Word.

GPD 11/14/14

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Shade Tree Wisdom 11/12/14

“I Remember the days of old;
I meditate on all You have done;
I ponder the works of Thy hands.”
Psalm l43,5.

          Memory can play an important part of making our life better and more interesting.  The Christian who has a bank filled with memorized verses is often better armed against temptations, and temptations do come daily, unexpectedly, out of the blue, in quiet struggles, because “as a roaring lion walketh about, seeking whom he will devour.  Whom resist steadfast in the faith”.

          In my active ministry, I rarely saw a catechism lying somewhere handy, looking as if it was  being used.  And that puzzled me and I often mentioned it.  The Pastor in my youth always had a catechism on his desk, and he regularly referred to it.  Dr. Luther, who wrote it, said he studied it daily.

          Why such attention to this simple book?  It reviews and recalls things the Christian needs for his daily walk.  We do well to “grow in grace and in knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

          Fortune magazine, 11/17/14, calls that their advice issue, and it quotes a number of bits of advice from all kinds of people, mostly in positions of leadership.  One that strikes me is from the CEO of Pepsi, Indra Nooyi.  She is quoted as saying “Never stop learning.  You don’t know it all. Admitting this is not a sign of weakness.  The strongest leaders are those who are lifelong students.”

          Thus, when the Psalmist says, “I Ponder the works of Thy hands” v.5, he is really talking about thinking and ruminating on God’s work and God’s  world.  When we do that, the Lord very often gives us a renewed understanding and a refreshing zeal for the work of Being His Child.

          And that reminds me, there is a little shelf at the door of each apartment in this village, and on it appeared this sign.  A cross, and under that cross a little sign reading “Gods Child”.

          And so are we all, baptized children of a loving Father who loved us enough to send His Only Son, Jesus Christ, to come, live, and die to rise again, so pay for the sins we have done and do daily. So yes, God’s Child means something comforting.

GPD 11/12/14

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Shade Tree Wisdom 11/5/14

          In his pastoral letters Paul is always quick with his words of thanks.  For example, he ends the first letter to Thessalonica with this:
“Be at peace among yourselves. . .admonish
The idle, encourage the fainthearted,
help the weak, be patient with them all,. . .
rejoice always, pray without ceasing,
give thanks in all circumstances,
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus
for you.” 2 Thes.5, 13-18.

          To “give thanks in all circumstances”, according to this letter, “Is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

           And that statement gives me pause, because it seems so very difficult.  I just read about Gordie Howe, the longtime great hockey player who retired at age 52.  He was visiting his daughter here in Texas when he was felled by a stroke that left him paralyzed on one side with impaired speech.  How does that family “give thanks in all circumstances”?

          Or what so often happens.  You go to a doctor, he runs some tests and asks you to come back when he gets the results, and often the result dismays us.  It’s not really what one might want to hear.

          But then we think a bit more and remember that our God says to us, “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee”, and it begins to start to make some sense.  For did not God also say, “In the world you will have tribulation, but take heart, I have overcome the world.” John 16,33.

          And remember this wonderful word also from St. Paul, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.  God is faithful, and He will not let you to be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will provide a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it.” (1 Cor. 10, 13.)

          Some ruminations on a phrase that seems to make little sense, until we look a bit more closely to see how the Lord works in our lives, always to our good.

GPD 11/5/14

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Shade Tree Wisdom 11/1/14

“For all the saints who from their labors rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy name, O Jesus, be forever blessed
Allelujah! Allelujah!

          And we are warned to set our clocks back in time, because daylight saving time ends, and we finish another try by man to set things to suit himself.  But more important it is to spend a moment to think of the saints who have gone this year, or in years past.

           Especially so since we also just observed the Reformation.  And can think of the struggle of a Martin Luther, who really spent His life struggling with the Church he was born in and longed to serve by correcting the doctrine it had gotten wrong over the centuries.

          Thank God we have the true faith.  We see that salvation is a real gift, it is not something we earn or deserve, it  is “a gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast”.  As St Paul teaches so clearly.

          I remember as a lad being in a church service and observing all saints day. And Pastor read the names of those who died, and I knew them all, even uncle Silas who had been killed when his team ran away and he was thrown and hit his head on a rock.  A tragic time, for he was a likable young man who had a promising life cut short.

The golden evening brightens in the west;
Soon, soon, to faithful warriors cometh rest;
Sweet is the calm of paradise the blest.
Allelujah! Allelujah!. LSB 677,1,6.
       Let the day remind each of loved ones gone before us to His blessing.

GPD 11/1/14