Friday, February 27, 2015

Shade Tree Wisdom 2/27/15

          We are just starting the season of Lent with its emphasis on repentance and forgiveness in Christ.

          So here comes an article about the cult of tidying up.  A book by a Japanese author, Marie Kondo, (Japan’s tidier-in-chief) titled “The life-changing Magic of Tidying Up,” has taken the book-buying world by storm.

          According to the article in the WSJ, it seems to have arrived just when many people have reached a tipping of clutter in their lives.

          Now there’s something any Christian can relate to, a clutter of sin in our lives.  If you follow me and wish to un-clutter a bit, the Offertory in the service might be helpful.  Let me refresh our memories:
“Create in me a clean heart, O Lord,
And renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from Thy presence,
And take not Your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation,
And uphold me with Thy free spirit.”

          Then, as Luther says, go joyfully to your work with God’s rich blessing.

GPD 2/27/15

Monday, February 23, 2015

Shade Tree Wisdom 2/23/15

          Here is an ad Cadillac ran in the WSJ.  It is part of a speech President Teddy Roosevelt made on being a critic.
“It is not the critic who counts;
The credit belongs
To the man who is
Actually in the arena,
Who strives valiantly;
Who errs, who comes
Short again and again;
Who knows
The great enthusiasms;
Who spends himself in a worthy cause;
Who at the best
Knows in the end
The triumph of
High achievement,
And who at the worst,
If he fails,
At least fails, 
While daring greatly.”

          Those words were spoken years ago and they still ring with truths we do well to pay close attention to.  Take sending an email, for instance.  If the address is not correct in every detail, the mail does not go through.  In short, little things count; they are important, and often vital to success.

          Remember the little poem titled, “For want of a nail”?  It is about a horse that lost a shoe and turned up lame and so the rider missed the fighting and because he was not there, “the battle was lost”.  And why did that horse lose the shoe?  Because the farrier failed to use all the necessary nails to fit it to the hoof properly.

          Yes, often it’s the little things that make a difference.  Did you smile at your waiter, or the person who brought the coffee in the morning, or did you smile when you left for the day or greet your children with a happy word when they came trudging from the bus at night?

          Our lives are often so busy that we forget the little things and we should not.

          Prediction, try it, and life gets better.

GPD 2/23/15

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Shade vTree Wisdom 2/22/15

          Today we observe the birthday of George Washington, the Commander in Chief who won the revolutionary war.  When the war was winding his officers had not been paid for months and were on the point of mutiny when General Washington called his officers to a meeting and assured they would be paid in full.  He read them a letter from a congressman and had difficulty in seeing the page, so he stopped, took his glasses and put them on and said:
  “Gentlemen, you will permit me to put on my spectacles for I have not only grown gray but blind in the service of my country”.

          He left his men in tears.  The mutiny was over.  The Country remains.
May God always bless our native land, firm may she ever stand.”

GPD  2/22/15 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Shade Tree Wisdom 2/21/15

“If you don’t know where
You’re going you’ll
Wind up somewhere else”

          That bit of wisdom is attributed to Yogi Berra.  And it might be useful to refer to the Lenten journey we are on these next weeks till Easter.  For in our journey we will be reminded again and again ‘remember that you are dust’.  And that Jesus came as a light in the world, and ‘the darkness comprehended it not’.
That is what this journey means to do, to teach us the darkness of sin that envelopes us and give us the way to the Light of the world.

          To deepen the lesson we live by, “No man comes to the Father but by Me. For it teaches again that Jesus Christ came to save the world, as St. John boldly teaches.

          I pray the journey will not be in vain, and the God will strengthen and deepen your faith daily.

GPD 2/21/15

Friday, February 20, 2015

Shade Tree Wisdom 2/20/15

“Be Thou our ruler, guardian, guide and stay,
Thy Word our Law, Thy paths our chosen way”.

          But just how do we get along with others?  St. James has this word for us,“my children, our love should not be words and talk; it must be true love which shows itself in action.”  James 3,18,

          One time a lawyer challenged Jesus with the question, “Who is my neighbor?” Luke 10,29.  And Jesus told him the story of the traveler who was beaten, robbed, and left wounded in the roadside.  Then he ended the story with this” “You go and do likewise.” Luke 10,37.

          So our answer is really, “it depends on the circumstance” as to how we treat our neighbor.  It really depends what the needs are and what our loving, caring response ought to be.

          So, may the Lord teach us, and we obey, “thy paths our chosen way”, and the Lord will add His blessing to our action.

GPD 2/20/15


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Shade Tree Wisdom 2/17/15

“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”

          That first line, “refresh your people on their toilsome way”, reminds me of Psalm 90,
“The years of our life are 70.  Or if by reason of strength 80,
Yet their span is but toil and trouble,
They are soon gone, and we fly away.”
Psalm 90,10.

          When Adam fell into sin, he brought ‘that toil and trouble’
On himself, for the Lord said,
“By thy sweat of your face
You shall eat bread,
Till you return to the ground,
For out of it you were taken,
You are dust,
and to dust you shall return”.

          And still, out of love for mankind, God set a plan in motion to pay for the sin and redeem man to himself.  The plan was to send His Own Son, Jesus Christ, to this world, here to live as one of us, then suffer, die, be buried and on the third day rise again.

          And so He can and does “Fill our lives with love and grace divine”, and He calls us holy and righteous through His blessed name.  God bless the “toilsome way” leading to eternal life.

GPD 2/17/15

Monday, February 16, 2015

Shade Tree Wisdom 2/16/15

          Today is Presidents' Day, to celebrate and to observe the birth of the 16th, Abraham Lincoln, and the first, George Washington.

          I read somewhere when George Washington said farewell to his officers, many wept (they did not turn their backs as a sign of contempt).  Many wept because they loved him and respected his skillful leadership.

          And when Abraham Lincoln, who had been invited as an afterthought, spoke his Gettysburg Address, he finished and had sat down before the photographer got his camera focused.

          Generations of school children have memorized the address.  No one even remembers the name of the festival speaker, who spoke two hours, the effort of a lifetime.

          So we celebrate Presidents' Day with the prayer that our God will continue to bless this country with leaders who can be trusted, with goals to work toward and principles to guide this nation on the right path.

And so 
God bless our native land
 Firm may she ever stand,
Through storm and night,
When the wild tempests rave.
Ruler of wind and wave,
Do Thou our country save,
By Thy great might.”
LSB 965,1

GPD  2/16/15

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Shade Tree Wisdom 2/14/15

Valentine’s Day

          According to tradition, St. Valentine, a physician and priest, was martyred in Rome by emperor Claudius in A.D. 270.  He left an encouraging note for his jailor’s daughter written on an irregularly shaped piece of paper.

          That, over time, has led to our current use of a heart shape for our messages of love and endearment.  Giving flowers – and this is one of the busiest days for florists, simply deepens our message.

          Just adding to your knowledge of history.

GPD 2/14/15

Friday, February 13, 2015

Shade Tree Wisdom 2/13/15

Shade Tree Wisdom 2/13/15
          In the Book of Genesis God speaks the world into existence. He spoke, and it was so. And the world he created was “very good”.  But something went terribly wrong. Man fell into sin, and that brought evil into the world.
          The Gospel of John gives us the story of what God did to change the wrong, to rescue mankind, as it were. The fixing is done by the Word, that is Jesus, sent by His Father to take on Himself the punishment that mankind earns by his sin, and deserves.
          So John reports, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth”. John 1,14.
          Jesus speaks the Word, and salvation happens. When we believe, Hi Word, salvation happens.
          Therefore chapter 3, 16,17 capture the story, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that  whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have  eternal life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, that but that the world through Him might be saved.”
          So this verse from “It is well with my soul” brings comfort.
“My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought,
My sin, not the part, but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
It is well, it well, with ,my soul.”
Blessings when you hear and believe the story as you read John’s Gospel,

GPD 2/13/15

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Shade Tree Wisdom 2/12/15

          We Simply can’t get too much of God.  His love, His constant care, and the salvation He provided, fully and completely, when He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to suffer, die, and rise again to save us.  The main and central action is always GOD, Who He is, what He is doing, and what He has done for us.  And Jesus is central to that action.

          But humans forget that Their religion is “Jesus and good works,” or being good, or doing my best.  We get in the way.

          So the Book of Hebrews comes along to set our focus where it belongs,  on what Jesus has done for us, and what that all means for our life.  The end of chapter 4 gives us this from the Living Bible translation: “But Jesus the Son of God is our great High Priest who has gone to heaven itself to help us; therefore let us never stop trusting Him. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, since He had the same temptations we do, though He never once gave in to them and sinned.  So let us come boldly to the very throne of God and stay there to his receive and to find grace to help us in or time of need.” Hebrews 4, 14-16 (LB.

          The word that seems to jump out when we speak here of prayer is “BOLDLY” bring your needs, your cares, your concerns – even the ones that seem too trivial to mention in prayer.

          The word Boldly encourages us to pray, no matter how small we think the ,matter is.  The Holy Father in heaven  Is  interested, for He did say, “Cast all your care on Him, for He careth for you.”

          So please keep the word in mind, pray boldly.  Always, With blessing.

GPD 2/12/15

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Shade Tree Wisdom 2/10/15

          In Luther’s Small Catechism Dr. Luther offered both a morning and an evening prayer.  To begin the day, or to begin any task, he would start with prayer. A line from the morning prayer reads, ”. . .that Thou hast kept me this night from all Harm and danger. . .”   Then he asks for God’s help during the busy hours, and ends with “Let Thy Holy angel be with me that the wicked foe may have no power over me.”

          May I ask, “What is your prayer practice?”

“Oh. What peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear”
LSB 770,1b

          You recognize those lines, of course.  They are part of that familiar hymn, “What a friend we have in Jesus.”  And they point to a truth that often slips by, almost unnoticed.

          We are given a problem to solve and struggle to finish it in good time.  It turns out to be critical for that entire work, and we struggle, try this or that, but end up with nothing, “All because we do not carry Everything to God in prayer”.

          Jesus urges us to pray.  James says we lack because we don’t ask.  So we must learn to be ‘prayers’; to seek the wisdom of our heavenly father, “nothing wavering”.

GPD 2/10/15

Monday, February 9, 2015

Shade Tree Wisdom 2/9/15

          A number of years ago my wife and I were returning from a brief trip to visit family.  We were stopped, waiting for a light change so we could make a left turn when we were startled by an object flying across the hood and diving into the shrubbery planted along the roadside.  The mystery was quickly solved when an owl emerged clutching a mouse it had caught.  We watched as it flew to a limb in the tree opposite and began eating its catch.

          I was reminded of the incident when the newspaper recently carried an article reporting that the Barred Owl is quite common in the Houston area because of the many wood lined waterways.  They are night creatures, but late afternoon is a good time to watch for them because right now they are seeking nesting places.

          Barred Owls have ears set one above the other, so they can pinpoint noise in the dark.  Their eyes are also allowing them to see in near dark.  They capture a variety of rodents, snakes, toads, squirrels and small rabbits.

          And the Lord God created them to be able to survive.

GPD 2/9/15

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Shade Tree Wisdom 2/7/15

          Note and comment on the passing scene.

          The Wall Street Journal has an article saying “Job Market Ripe for a Liftoff.”  The article suggests that the best stretch of hiring for this 3 month stretch has positioned the labor market for delivering strong wage growth.  That seems to offer good news.

          In connection with that good news is an article, this from the Chronicle, (2/7/15) titled, “Tip Creep on the Move”.  This suggests that entitlement culture is so out of control that is now fashionable not only to impose on the good will of the American people, but to be obnoxious about it.
          The article advises tippers: if you walk up to a counter and stand in line, there is no need to tip, ever.  And if any bill comes with a tip already added, ask what service they provided to expect a tip.  And if you do tip, you select the amount.

          And tomorrow is the Sabbath, with the wonderful chance for worship, and stand in the presence of the Almighty God, to whom all our needs and cares are known and we simply know there is a God who loves us and tenderly cares for our every need.

          And we do need that assurance, so see you in church.

GPD 2/7/15

Friday, February 6, 2015

Shade Tree Wisdom 2/6/15

          I was struck by this ‘Prayer for the weary’ in the latest, LW pg. 15.  I’ll pass it along for possible use.

Merciful Father,
Whose guiding hand brought us
To the completion of this day,,
We humbly pray You to stay
With us and shelter us
In the quiet hours of this night
That we, who are wearied
By the changes and chances
Of this passing world,
May rest in Your changeless peace,
Through Jesus Christ,
Our Lord. Amen

GPD 2/6/15 sent in His love

Shade Tree Wisdom 2/5/15

          Texas brisket barbecue used to be a cheap meal.  It used to be tossed on brown paper and eaten with a fork, or with fingers.

          Lately it has become so popular that in Austin, Franklin Barbecue, one of the nations leading sellers, attracts hordes of people daily.  Some have even spent the night in a tent in order to be in line.  The daily supply usually runs out by 3 p.m.

          Since brisket comes from the tough pectoral muscle, proper brisket needs lots of heat to tenderize it, so it is smoked with wood for up to 18 hours to develop a proper crust on the outside and a juicy tender interior.  History shows that the idea comes from German and Czech meat markets who tossed meat hard to sell into smokers.

          The fast food chain Arby’s swallowed up 5% of the available supply when it reintroduced its Smokehouse Brisket sandwich last summer.

          Foodways Texas last January organized a “Camp Brisket”.  And the 5 spots available were snapped up in 5 minutes.  Cooks who spend $495.00 to trim, smoke, and eat brisket for two days.

          So, when you have an opportunity, try some Texas barbecue brisket.

GPD 2/5/15

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Shade Tree Wisdom 2/5/15

“Take my life and let it be,
Consecrated Lord to Thee;
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.”
LSB 784,1

          When one thinks of living a “Life of ceaseless praise”, I wonder just how this is done.  And I offer one way.

          Answer this. ’how do you read your Bible?’, for example.

          Are you one of those who rarely picks it up for daily reading, or even casual reading.  Or are you one who reads it with deep attention, pausing now and again and asking, "Just what Is the Lord teaching me here?”  Because there are lessons for our daily living and lessons for life in general.

          So, please take the time to read the Bible meditatively, prayerfully, with attention.  It often is helpful if you have a book for notes.  And keep a pencil handy for underlining some passages, and for note-taking for further study.  And you will find, and be surprised, how eagerly you look forward to your reading and study time.

So, “Take my life and let it be,
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.”

          So, let such Bible reading be richly blessed for you.

GPD 2/5/15

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Shade Tree Wisdom 2/4/15

          A reminder that there is a regularity in the earth we live in.  Here is the Lord’s promise:
“The Lord said in His heart,
I will never again curse the ground because of man,
For the intention of a man’s heart is
Evil from his youth. . .While the earth
Remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat,
Summer and winter, day and night
Shall not cease.” Genesis 8, 21b, 22.

          So here spring is coming just as surely as the sun rises each day.  And that means, for bird watchers especially, that Purple Martins will soon be appearing in our area.  So, if you host some flocks, prepare the nesting places, scrub the old nests, disinfect, etc.  They send out old males as scouts, and when they find a place for a nest, the females follow and begin the work of building nests, laying eggs, and raising young.

          Sometimes the flock returns to the sane nesting site, or they may move to some other spot.  They do have the habit of returning to the same neighborhood.
They devour insects, but not mosquitoes, and ward off crows and vultures.

          So spring is coming, bless the seeing and enjoying God’s creation.

GPD 2/4/15

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Shade Tree Wisdom 2/3/15

          Here’s just a bit of wisdom to help along.

                          “Cheer up.  This miserable, bitter,
                       Snowy weather will soon give way
                       To spring flooding’

          The Super Bowl is behind us with that final call which will be talked about perhaps as long as there is football.

          But the thing that caught my eye is the report that the day of the game is the biggest day of the year for the maker of pizza boxes.  Americans are expected to order 12.5 million pies, and each of them is placed in a box.

          The major producer of the boxes is a company called Rock-Tenn based in
Norcross, Georgia.  The boxes have a short life, but they need to be sturdy enough to safely carry the pizza, and have enough holes to allow some steam to escape lest the pie arrive soggy, but not enough to allow the pie to get cold.

          Domino’s expects to sell 1.5 million with some of its busiest sites taking orders for up to 200 pizzas an hour.  It’s drivers expect to log 2 million miles.

          So the Super Bowl is over, and the Pizza season usually ends in March
with the college basketball tournament.

          But YOU, rejoice that you are called a child of God, become so by Holy Baptism. May That life be a blessing to those with whom you come in daily contact.

GPD 2/3/15