Welcome to my blog, or should I say to the ramblings of an old man. I doubt that my ramblings are of much value, but at least I have an opportunity to share them.  So, please be kind and humor me. If nothing else of value stands out in these thoughts, I hope that you at least sense the value I place on a daily walk with the Lord.  That walk is what has provided me with motivation and a sense of purpose throughout my lifetime.  My prayer is that you, too, are experiencing this direction and joy in daily living which is available to everyone who puts his trust in Christ.  So, thanks again for joining me.  Please don't go without leaving some comments here so I can get to know you better as our paths intersect today in this blog.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

The Spanish Flu


Pastor and Mrs. H.A.Kauffman
          We are living through a very serious and often deadly flu epidemic.   I pray that you and members of your family are not touched by it.  Please take all the precautions that you can.  Be safe. 
          The world has seen many previous influenza epidemics and one of them, a century ago, created a major change for my family and my heritage.
         The 1918 flu pandemic (January 1918 – December 1920) was an unusually deadly influenza pandemic, the first of the two pandemics involving H1N1 influenza virus. It infected 500 million people around the world  and resulted in the deaths of 50 to 100 million (three to five percent of the world's population),  making it one of the deadliest natural disasters in human history.
          To maintain morale, wartime censors minimized early reports of illness and mortality in Germany, the United Kingdom, France, and the United States. But papers were free to report the epidemic's effects in neutral Spain. This created a false impression of Spain as especially hard hit, thereby giving rise to the pandemic's nickname, Spanish Flu  This pandemic has been described as "the greatest medical holocaust in history" and may have even killed more people than the Black Death
         Even in areas where mortality was low, so many were incapacitated that much of everyday life was hampered. Some communities closed all stores or required customers to leave orders outside. There were reports that healthcare workers could not tend the sick nor could the gravediggers bury the dead because they too were ill. Mass graves were dug by steam shovel and bodies buried without coffins in many places.
          Pastor Horace A. Kauffman, my grandfather, was serving a church in Spring City, PA, during the epidemic.  He insisted on caring for his congregation and continued to visit them and help them.  As a result, he also caught the flu and died.  They could not hold a public funeral for him, so his body was displayed inside a building where folks could pay their respect by looking through a window.
          HAK was married to my grandmother and my dad was only 16 months old when his father died.  She was also pregnant with my aunt who was born several months later.  So they were left without any income.  And they had no place to live since their home had been the church parsonage.  I think that they soon moved in with relatives.
         Sometime later the district superintendent came to my grandmother and told her that she could not live as a widow with two children.  She needed to remarry and he had two names of men for her to consider.  The first man said that he was in love with another woman and could not marry my grandmother.  The second, Pastor Norman Henry Wolf, was a very close friend of Pastor Kauffman.  He said that he would be honored to marry her and raise Horace's children.
          And so they were married and God gave them a fruitful ministry together for many decades.  And two more daughters were born to them.  These daughters carried the name of Wolf, but the stepfather chose to have the other two children carry the name of Kauffman.
         The family did face many challenges in those difficult days.  One of these, which is hard to believe, is that the N H Wolf family was soon assigned back to the Spring City church where H A Kauffman had been ministering.  And they had to return to the same parsonage where he died.  My dad often remarked that when they moved there, as a youngster he didn't understand why he was given the large bedroom and the Wolfs chose a very small room for their bedroom.  Later he learned that his mother could not return to the bedroom that she and her first husband had shared.
          So the Spanish Flu, a century ago, created some real changes in my family.  I often wish that I knew more about my real grandfather.  I do know that I share a few things with him.  He went to college.  For a brief time he was a school teacher before he became a pastor.  He liked to write. And I can imagine that we share a few other things.  I do look forward to meeting him for the first time when I get to heaven.
          But God's provision is always amazing, even when our situations may seem impossible.  God gave me a very special step grandfather and I thank Him for that.  Grandpa Wolf was a major influence in my life.  He is probably the most godly man I have ever known.  Over my life I spent many times in his homes especially during my college days.  For a few years he was my pastor and he married us. I've always called him my grandfather, not my step grandfather, for he was a real grandfather to me.  
          God gave my father two great fathers and they are both part of my special heritage, one of the few positive things that came out of the Spanish Flu, one hundred years ago.  It is amazing how God leads our lives especially when we can't see the future.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

A Super Bowl Victory


          I have been a football fan for as long as I can remember.  It is my favorite sport.  For many years I have especially followed and enjoyed college football, and, of course, my favorite team is Penn State.

          To a some what lesser degree I have also enjoyed professional football despite the fact that I feel the players are seriously overpaid.  Years ago I liked the Pittsburgh Steelers when Franco Harris and Terry Bradshaw led them to several championships.  But most of my life I have followed the Philadelphia Eagles, even though following them has often been  very frustrating
          But this year has been different.  They had an outstanding young quarterback.  They had an explosive offense.  They overcame many serious injuries and played as a team.  They made the play-offs despite being an underdog in all of their play-off games.  And then they finally won a Super Bowl against what has been, for several years, pro football's top team.  It was a dream season.
          However, I think the main reason that I enjoyed following them this year was that they have an unusual number of players who are open about their Christian faith.  And their testimonies are solid.  They are not bashful about sharing their faith.  At the Super Bowl even their coach gave credit to his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  The Bowl's most valuable player wants to be a pastor.  The player who scored the winning touchdown says his main goal is to win Disciples for Christ.  They even held a baptism in a hotel pool during one of their trips.  And they regularly have Bible studies which are attended by many of the team members.  I have found all of this amazing and I must admit that while I couldn't bring myself to pray that the Lord would let them win, I did pray that the Lord would give them a bigger platform to share their faith. And He has.
          The reaction of the public to the team's success was incredible.  People sang and displayed "Fly, Eagles, Fly".  Folks wore Eagle gear in all sorts of places.  One of my doctors wore an Eagles jersey when I had my appointment with him.  People produced special food in honor of the Eagles.  Businesses and even some churches displayed signs supporting them.
          So many old-timers shared that they felt they would never see a Super Bowl victory by the Eagles in their lifetime.  Even my eleven year old grandson remarked that he had waited all his life to see this happen.  But his grandfather felt the same and I had several decades of watching them lose.
         Then there was the big victory parade in Philadelphia.  Even WGAL, our local television station, carried the entire event.  And estimates of two million people flocked there to be part of this special celebration.  And nobody destroyed property or attacked the police as so often has happened at such celebrations in other major cities.  It actually was a great event to end a spectacular and unexpected season.  But there were a few things that bothered me.
          The Eagles pro-bowl center stirred up the crowd with his profane language.  He even urged the crowd to call out a profane chant.  In fact WGAL even cut off its coverage of part of remarks several times and apologized for it.  That was such a sad contrast to what many of the Christian teammates have publicly shared during the season.
         One of the players shared that he thought this day and celebration was like heaven.  It made me think that he didn't really have any idea what heaven will be like.  And if this was heaven, then we really have no hope.  Unfortunately, he is the one who probably has no hope.  I pray that he may respond to the testimonies of his teammates
          Then I was also amazed at how many people shared that this was the greatest day of their lives.  A Super Bowl win was really the greatest day of their lives?  Really?  How sad.  What are they living for, just a Super Bowl win?  What sad lives they must have.  And I am reminded again how much people really need the Lord and the real hope that believers have.
         Now I really enjoyed the excitement of the games, the parade, the results and the  celebrations. But I am thankful that I have a real hope for the future - something infinitely greater than a Super Bowl win.  I  have already experienced so many great events that the Lord has provided for me in my life, but I am promised so much more.    And while millions may sing "Fly, Eagles, Fly", I know that my song really is "Fly, Christian, Fly".  And sometime, maybe soon, that will happen.  Then I''ll be part of a much greater celebration than that one in Philadelphia.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

A New Hobby


          Maybe it is a new senior hobby.  Lately, because of physical problems, I have often sat in our car while my wife has done our grocery shopping.  And I have learned to enjoy watching people while I am sitting there.  Actually, believe it or not, it is really often fun.  People are interesting and often people watching can be fascinating.
          Recently we were shopping during the late morning.  It must have been senior shopping time because the average age of shoppers appeared to be about 75.  I was envious of some who moved so quickly without any apparent pain or difficulty.  Good for them!  But there were many more who were using canes and walkers and who struggled to get to the store.  Most of them were alone and doing what they had to do to survive.  There should be a way for folks like this to get some help with these necessities.
          I watched a large Cadillac arrive and it appeared that it had no driver.  Had the driverless cars reached our area?  No, not yet.  Out struggled a very short woman driver.  With her cane she maneuvered to the back door where she slowly unloaded her walker and then shuffled to the store to do her shopping.  I couldn't help question how many of these folks could still drive safely.  But then, what are they to do if they have nobody to help them shop for needed groceries.
          Later I sadly watched as another elderly lady came out with her shopping cart and proceeded to one of the parking aisles.  Then I saw her return and go to another aisle.  Soon it was apparent that she couldn't remember where she had parked.  I finally lost sight of her several parking aisles later.  I assumed that she either finally found her car or that she is still wondering around the large lot.  It reminded me of my wife's uncle who once drove downtown and parked in Sunbury.  When he was done shopping he walked home, only to discover the next morning that he didn't know where his car was.  I guess the older I get, the less funny that story becomes.  Most of us may reach that stage of life sooner than we expect.
         A second time I was there I noticed some things about drivers.  Some drove so slowly through the lot, holding up other drivers, while others sped through at unsafe speeds.  It is a wonder that there aren't more accidents or injured pedestrians in parking lots.  Of course, seeing how folks move their shopping carts in the stores I shouldn't have been surprised,  Despite that one television advertisement, I don't think too many folks really enjoy being hit in the back by a shopping cart.
         One more observation about drivers.  At Stauffers in Rohrerstown there is a big area in front of the store adjoining the parking lot which has huge painted yellow stripes.  It also has large STOP signs painted on both sides of this area.  It is to give the right of way to shoppers and to protect the shoppers heading back to their cars.  But my observation is that more drivers disregard the STOP sign.  In fact I observed 17 of 20 drivers not even slowing down at all as they drove through this area.  Fortunately there were no close calls, but it is dangerous and somewhat frightening when so many drivers ignore the regulations.
          But as I observed all of this action I began to wonder how many of these shoppers knew the Lord.  If you could judge from their facial expressions you might say very few.  Few had smiles and few seemed to enjoy this event.  I couldn't help but think of Steve Green's song, "People Need the Lord", and they do.  It led me to begin to pray for these folks even though I didn't know who they were or what their spiritual condition really was.  But the Lord knows each.
         So maybe it isn't so bad of a "hobby" - watching and praying for those who pass by,for people need the Lord.

Everyday they pass me by, I can see it in their eyes. 
Empty people filled with care, Headed who knows where? 
On they go through private pain, Living fear to fear.
Laughter hides their silent cries, Only Jesus hears.  
People need the Lord, people need the Lord. 
At the end of broken dreams, He's the open door.
People need the Lord, people need the Lord. 
When will we realize, people need the Lord?  

We are called to take His light 
To a world where wrong seems right. 
What could be too great a cost For sharing Life with one who's lost?  
Through His love our hearts can feel All the grief they bear. 
They must hear the Words of Life Only we can share.  
People need the Lord, people need the Lord 
At the end of broken dreams, He's the open door. 
People need the Lord, people need the Lord. 
When will we realize that we must give our lives, 
For people need the Lord.  People need the Lord.


P.S. - After writing this blog, I had another interesting experience watching people enter and leave another local grocery store as I sat in our car in the first row of the parking lot.  Sadly, I saw an elderly lady shuffling to her car with her walker which had two cloth shopping bags attached to it.  She finally reached her car, slowly got in and drove away.  I wonder how often she must make this difficult trip.
         Then I saw a middle age, rather "chunky" woman, dressed in very short shorts ... in January ... not a pretty picture.  And she was followed by another woman, probably in her late 70's, wearing a bright white coat and with ... bright orange hair.  Not sure if it was funny or gross.  Finally three young people - late teens or early 20's - appeared.  Decades ago I would have said they were hippies but now I would say they looked like they had just come from the hills of West Virginia.  They were in and out of the store in about five minutes and their only purchased item was ... a large bundle of ... toilet paper.  I had to laugh.  Surprisingly, it seemed like the majority of shoppers during that time purchased toilet paper.  Don't know if they had a sale or why there was a sudden need for toilet paper.
          As I said before, watching people can be an interesting and entertaining act.  You should try it sometime.  It can also be very relaxing and is inexpensive.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Discouraged?


          As you probably know, life can be very hard at times.  Even for believers, it is very easy to get discouraged.  And that can sometimes even lead to depression and bitterness, even though our mind tells us to trust in Jesus who cares for us.

         I find it is especially difficult to face the senior years.  You begin to lose your good friends and loved ones and life can get very lonely.  Few care about seniors and real fellowship is hard to find.   You often aren't needed for anything anymore.  You develop new and difficult physical problems and it becomes harder to get around and take care of yourself.  The cost of living sky rockets and your income doesn't.  A few people might ask how you are, but they really don't want an answer and they are too busy to help you anyway.  Been there, experiencing that.  It is often hard to stay positive.
          But we seniors aren't the only ones who face hard times.  Right now we know some younger adults who have suddenly lost their jobs.  Some are also facing difficult physical problems, including cancer.  Some have lost parents or are helping to care for them.  This too can be very discouraging.
         Then there are younger folks who are also experiencing trials.  We have a fourth grade girl in Awana and a 15 year old boy who goes to our church who have both been diagnosed with aggressive brain cancer. They are facing serious treatments and surgeries. We know of some other young people who have other serious physical conditions and some who are going through rebellion.  That too is hard and discouraging. Discouragement isn't limited to one age group.
           Now we know that Jesus is with us in the good and bad times.  I guess at times I wish that He would just talk to me and reassure me.  But He does speak through His word.  And I am not alone when I feel that way, for the Psalmist often lamented that He wondered if the Lord really was there and cared.  But He found that He was. And He always is.
          On a recent day when all the news and events around me seemed to get worse, I was reminded of a hymn which we no longer sing in our church services.  But we can still sing it and claim it in our hearts.
         
1   When upon life's billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done. 
Refrain:
Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your blessings, see what God hath done;
Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.

2   Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, ev'ry doubt will fly,
And you will be singing as the days go by. [Refrain]

3   When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings, money cannot buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high. [Refrain]

4    So, amid the conflict, whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey's end. [Refrain]

Listen to Guy Penrod sing this.   Count

          Now as you can probably guess, I have often been discouraged in recent months.  Sometimes it seems as though there is no solution to the growing problems, except heaven. And so I thought that I needed to try something different to try and develop a more positive attitude.
         For many years I have kept a journal, adding new entries once or twice a week.  Unfortunately, in recent months as I've recorded events, some of the entries have grown negative.  So I decided to start another journal - a praise journal.  Each day I will try to add a sentence about something positive that I experienced that day. You know, the things you often forget.  It has been interesting.  I've made numerous comments about having a good day breathing or exercising, a good day with my grand kids, safety in travel on ice and snow, problems solved and a variety of blessings I have experienced.  God has been good and I am hopeful that this new activity will help me stay positive as I face the many trials and difficult problems which haven't gone away.
         Are you discouraged?  Remember that you aren't alone.  Jesus promised never to leave us or forsake us and He won't.  Try counting your blessings and be reminded of what God has done.  Maybe a praise journal will help.
         
"I will sing to the Lord all my life, I will sing praise to my God as long as I live."    Psalm 104:33

Saturday, January 20, 2018

The "Good" Old Fifties


          I am a product of the 50's ...  let me qualify that, despite what you may think, the 1950's, not the 1850's.  Those were great years in my life.
          It was during those years that I gained a sister.  We built a new house.  We moved to Lititz.  I went to elementary school, junior high, senior high and college.  I learned to play the trombone and spent six years in the band. I learned to drive. I had my first jobs.  We started a new church.  I made many new friends.  We got our first television and I actually bought my own, for nine cents.  And I could go on and on - great memories.
          Those years were great years.  We didn't have to worry about terrorism or kidnappers.  It was safe to walk around town and visit friends, even at night.  We didn't need to lock our doors.  We could play pick-up basketball, baseball and football.  Television shows and music were clean and safe to watch and listen to.  Church services played a part in the lives of many people and schools made adjustments for Wednesday night church activities. Stores closed for several hours on Good Friday. Neighbors were friendly and helpful.  It was a different time.
          Recently I received a list of statements that might have been made by folks in those years.  Here are some for you to consider.
     * "If they raise the minimum wage to $1, nobody will be able to hire outside help at the store."
     * "Who would have thought gas would someday cost 50 cents a gallon."
     * "Pretty soon you won't be able to buy a good 10 cent cigar."
     * "Did you see where some baseball player just signed a contract for $75,000 a year just to play ball? It wouldn't surprise me if someday they'll be making more than the    president."
     * "Do you suppose television will ever reach our part of the country?"
     * "I never thought I'd see the day all our kitchen appliances would be electric. They are even making electric typewriters now."
     * "It's too bad things are so tough nowadays. I see where a few married women are having to work to make ends meet."
     * "Did you know the new church in town is allowing women to wear slacks to their service?"
     * "Next thing you know is, the government will start paying us not to grow crops."
     * "There is no sense going to Baltimore or Philadelphia anymore for a weekend. It costs nearly $15 a night to stay in a hotel."
     * "No one can afford to be sick any more, $35 a day in the hospital is too rich for my blood."
     * "If a few idiots want to risk their necks flying across the country that's fine, but nothing will ever replace trains."
     * "I don't know about you, but if they raise the price of coffee to 15 cents, I'll just have to drink mine at home."
     * "If they think I'll pay 50 cents for a hair cut, forget it. I'll have my wife learn to cut hair."
     * "We won't be going out much any more. Our baby sitter informed us she wants 50 cents an hour. Kids think money grows on trees."
          It is so interesting, and maybe even sad, that times have changed so drastically.  I wonder what similar thoughts people in your generation might have had when they were teens.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Happy New Year 2018


          Now I guess it is a little late to be sharing wishes for the new year, but somebody recently sent me a list of wishes that I would like to share with you.  I've never been into the "resolution" game for a new year, but this list might include some things that we should at least consider trying to do in the months ahead.  I know there are some, especially the last one, that I need to strive for.
          So read, enjoy, and apply what is needed,

          May you get a clean bill of health from your dentist, your cardiologist, your gastroenterologist, your urologist, your proctologist, your podiatrist, your psychiatrist, your plumber and the IRS.
          May your hair, your teeth, your face-lift, your abs and your stocks not fall; and may your blood pressure, your triglycerides, your cholesterol, your white blood count and your mortgage interest not rise.
         May New Year's Eve have found you seated around the table, together with your beloved family and cherished friends. May you have found the food better, the environment quieter, the cost much cheaper, and the pleasure much more fulfilling than anything else you might ordinarily have done that night.
          May what you see in the mirror delight you, and what others see in you delight them. May someone love you enough to forgive your faults, be blind to your blemishes, and tell the world about your virtues.
          May the telemarketers wait to make their sales calls until you finish dinner, may the commercials on TV not be louder than the program you have been watching, and may your check book and your budget balance - and include generous amounts for charity.
         May you remember to say "I love you" at least once a day to your spouse, your child, your parent, your siblings; but not to your secretary, your nurse, your masseuse, your hairdresser or your tennis instructor.
          And may we live in a world at peace and with the awareness of God's love in every sunset, every flower's unfolding petals, every baby's smile, every lover's kiss, and every wonderful, astonishing, miraculous beat of our heart.
         Above all, may you continue to smile, may your life be filled with laughter, and may you never forget the words found in the Book of Proverbs, "A gloomy spirit rots the bones; but a merry heart is like good medicine."
         Wishing your a very Happy, Healthy and Prosperous 2018!

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Winter


          The beautiful Christmas music is now gone for another year.  The decorations are put away.  Football will soon be over.  The nights are so long.  The cold weather is here.  So are the ice and snow storms.  We are shoveling and driving in treacherous conditions.  Spring seems so far away.  Cabin fever and depression can easily develop in our lives. Obviously the months of January and February are not my favorite times of the year.
          Recently a friend reminded me of a hymn written by John Newton that is not very well known but almost seems appropriate for this time of the year.  Newton seemed to understand how much the seasons can model the attitudes and moods that we face in our lives.  He knew that there are times that our attitudes "darken and gray" like the season.  Our spirits can become as bitter and cold as the winter days.
         But he also knew that "When I am happy in Him, December's as pleasant as May."   And January can be so as well. We can, with the Lord's help and closeness, endure those times that seem both "tedious" (long and tiresome) and "tasteless" (dull and without proper season).  
          I love some of the illustrations Newton used that many of us can relate to as we compare them to our lives. "And prisons would palaces prove, If Jesus would dwell with me there."  How does a prison cell become a palace?  That's easy, the King shows up.  
         "Why do I languish and pine?"  This question is one that I am sure all of us have asked at some point in our Christian walk, especially after the Lord has brought us through a tough situation.  Why do we worry?  Why do we fret?  Why do we lose hope when we know deep in our hearts that the Lord's promises are true?  
         In case you've never heard this hymn, here are the words.

1     How tedious and tasteless the hours
When Jesus no longer I see!
Sweet prospects, sweet birds and sweet flow'rs,
Have all lost their sweetness to me.
The midsummer sun shines but dim,
The fields strive in vain to look gay;
But when I am happy in Him
December's as pleasant as May.

2     His name yields the richest perfume,
And sweeter than music His voice;
His presence disperses my gloom,
And makes all within me rejoice.
I should, were He always thus nigh,
Have nothing to wish or to fear;
No mortal so happy as I;
My summer would last all the year.

3     Content with beholding His face,
My all to His pleasure resigned;
No changes of season or place,
Would make any change in my mind.
While blessed with a sense of His love,
A palace a toy would appear;
And prisons would palaces prove,
If Jesus would dwell with me there.

4     My Lord, if indeed I am Thine,
If Thou art my sun and my song,
Say, why do I languish and pine?
And why are my winters so long?
Oh, drive these dark clouds from the sky,
Thy soul-cheering presence restore;
Or take me to Thee up on high,
Where winter and clouds are no more.

         While it's now winter outside, is it winter in your life and heart today?  Does life with its cares seem tedious and overbearing?  If so, then remember the words that Newton has penned, "His presence disperses my gloom,  And makes all within me rejoice. I should, were He always thus nigh, have nothing to wish or to fear; No mortal so happy as I; My summer would last all the year."  
         Is it summer in your heart and life today?  If not, it can be.
         If you are interested in hearing Newton's song, here is a choice   LISTEN

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Not Growing Old?


          Probably this blog has too often centered on medical issues and topics about growing old.  And those topics may only be of interest to some of us who are seniors and are experiencing these situations.  But the rest of you will also get there - sooner than you expect.  I have no idea what the interests and ages are of those who navigate to this blog on a regular basis.  But maybe my choice of topics is one reason why the readership of this blog, unlike my hymn blog, has never grown.  And there isn't too much that I can do about it since I tend to write about my experiences and things that I think I may know a little about.
          So as we begin another year, I have decided that the first blog of the year will again be aimed at those of us who are seniors.   While others may not yet appreciate these challenges, we who are seniors understand them well.
         John E. Roberts penned an interesting poem, "Not Growing Old", which I will share as we begin 2018.  Hopefully some of you can relate to it.

They say that I am growing old;
I've heard them tell it times untold,
In language plain and bold—
But I'm not growing old.
This frail shell in which I dwell
Is growing old, I know full well—
But I am not the shell.

What if my hair is turning gray?
Gray hairs are honorable, they say.
What if my eyesight's growing dim?
I still can see to follow Him
Who sacrificed His life for me
Upon the cross of Calvary.

What should I care if time's old plow
Has left its furrows on my brow?
Another house, not made with hand,
Awaits me in the Glory Land.

What though I falter in my walk?
What though my tongue refuse to talk?
I still can tread the narrow way,
I still can watch and praise and pray.

My hearing may not be as keen
As in the past it may have been,
Still, I can hear my Saviour say,
In whispers soft, "This is the way."

The outward man, do what I can
To lengthen out this life's short span,
Shall perish, and return to dust,
As everything in nature must.
The inward man, the Scriptures say,
Is growing stronger every day.

Then how can I be growing old
When safe within my Saviour's fold?
Ere long my soul shall fly away
And leave this tenement of clay;
This robe of flesh I'll drop, and rise
To seize the "everlasting prize."
I'll meet you on the streets of gold,
And prove that I'm not growing old.

—John E. Roberts

Have a blessed and happy 2018!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Here We Go Again


Dr. David Fuchs
         Life is full of changes and the older we get the more we seem to face.  Some of the difficult changes that we face during our lifetimes come when people who have served us well decide to retire.  We miss them and the wisdom and support which they have provided us over the years.  Good replacements are usually hard to find.

         One of the first times we faced that problem was when our first family doctor, Dr. Richard Bryson, decided to retire because of a heart problem.  When our kids were growing up we depended upon him for their care.  It seemed that he was always available, at all hours of the day and night, and he went out of his way to help us and care for us.
         Years later it was another doctor, Dr. Robert Stengle, who became our family doctor only to be struck with cancer.  One Monday morning we called his office for an appointment and, through her tears, the nurse told us that he had just announced that he was suddenly closing his practice because he was just diagnosed with cancer.  Later, in a time of remission, he returned to our new family practice at Oyster Point where he served until he passed away a few years later.
         Good plumbers who are also inexpensive and honest are also hard to find.  For many years the Rice Brothers took care of us.  They were crude, but they were good and were not nearly as expensive as other plumbers.  Among so many other things, they hooked us up to LASA, the new sewer system, when we were forced to hook up and could barely afford to do so.  We missed them when they retired.
         A good auto mechanic who is honest and doesn't overcharge is also a special person.  For many years Bill Miller kept our cars running for us.  He would help us quickly when we needed repair work done.  He was fair and honest.  His retirement was hard for us to handle and we have never really been able to replace him to our full satisfaction.
         For most of our married lives we bought all of our cars from a high school classmate and friend of mine, Glenn Zartman, in Lititz. He owned the former Zartman's Dodge. Glenn understood our needs and our financial situation, especially during our time of ministry, and he would shop to find the right car for us. He often even left us use the car for several days to make sure it met our needs.  I never had to bargain with him over price for he always gave me the best price he could, immediately.  And he stood behind everything he sold to us.  Then a few years ago he sold the business and retired.  Where do you find an honest and fair car salesman?
         Now it is happening again.  Sadly, on December 30, another longtime family doctor, Dr. David Fuchs, is retiring.  Dr. Fuchs established the Oyster Point Family Practice in 1985.  After Dr. Stengel's initial retirement, we began to go to Oyster Point.  Soon we learned that Dr. Fuchs was an exceptional family doctor and we began to see him.
         In recent years I have had countless physical problems and have relied completely on him to treat me or to send me to outstanding specialists.  I may have been his most frequent patient over the last number of years.  He has always been compassionate and has become a real friend.  He is wise with a wealth of experience, especially in dealing with older patients like us.  He has done so many favors for us such as working us into his schedule when he was really full, corresponding by e-mail when other doctors have been reluctant to do so, providing us with samples when he could, and referring us to good specialists when needed.
         One of his special strengths was how he seemed to stay on schedule without rushing you during your appointment.  Rarely have we waited more than five minutes to see him.  I don't understand why other doctors can't be this organized and thoughtful.  Unfortunately, many other doctors have kept us waiting 30 minutes and sometimes longer to see them.  And the doctor that I have often used as my back-up when Dr. Fuchs was away is also retiring this week.  Double whammy!
         This will be one of the more difficult adjustments that we have had to make.  He knew us and our conditions.  He treated us fairly and warmly.  And in recent years we have needed much more medical advice than ever before. We are already missing him as I am again struggling with some challenging physical problems and already miss his wisdom and advice.
      But he deserves to retire and hopefully live a much more normal life.  And so I thank him for all his care and friendship and wish for him the very best in his future.
     And for us, life will go on, but it just won't seem the same.  We will adjust once again. And, fortunately, the Lord never retires or goes on vacation. He never changes.  He is always there when we need Him and He always will be.  And in Him we have placed our trust and our hope.  What a great God we serve.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

The Greatest Walk


         I wish that somebody would give me a dollar every time the Lord brings an old hymn to my mind, just when I need it, and then for days it continues to play in my mind.  I would give all of that money to our Awana Global Outreach project where every $10 given allows one new boy or girl to attend an Awana club somewhere in the world.  That could be quite a contribution.  Do I have any takers?
          It happened again very recently when a friend sent me an e-mail telling me how the old hymn "Jesus Will Walk With Me" came back to her.  I did some checking and found that in 2013 I included this in my hymn blog.  And the reminder of this old hymn, written in 1922 by Haldor Lillenas, flooded my mind for days.  Again, just at a time when I needed its message.


(1)    Jesus will walk with me down thru the valley,

Jesus will walk with me over the plain;
When in the shadow or when in the sunshine,
If He goes with me I shall not complain.
Jesus will walk with me,
He will talk with me;
He will walk with me;
In joy or in sorrow, today and tomorrow,
I know He will walk with me.

Life is not easy.  There are some days when everything seems to go right.  But there are times when things go wrong and the path is rough and we seem to walk in the shadow  Unfortunately, if you are like me, contrary to the words of the hymn, we do complain.  But He is with us in times of both joy and sorrow and He has promised never to leave us. And He doesn't.  How much better the rough path is when we recognize His presence and we walk together. May we never forget who our companion is.

2)   Jesus will walk with me when I am tempted,
Giving me strength as my need may demand;
When in affliction His presence is near me,
I am upheld by His almighty hand.
Jesus will walk with me,
He will talk with me;
He will walk with me;
In joy or in sorrow, today and tomorrow,
I know He will walk with me.

And the temptations do come.  Sometimes we are tempted to complain.  Sometimes we are drawn to sin.  Sometimes we gossip or tell "white lies".  Sometimes we just think things that are wrong or go to places we shouldn't go to. I think that temptations in our mind are some of the most difficult to handle.  I often pray "let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight".  But we are told that He was tempted in all things like we are, yet without sin,  And He provides the strength we need to face temptation.  And in times of failure or even affliction, His almighty hand is there to lift us up.

(3)   Jesus will walk with me, guarding me ever,
Giving me victory thru storm and thru strife;
He is my Comforter, Counselor, Leader,
Over the uneven journey of life.
Jesus will walk with me,
He will talk with me;
He will walk with me;
In joy or in sorrow, today and tomorrow,
I know He will walk with me.

I love the truth of verse 3. He is our guard and we may never know all the ways He has protected us. He is our Comforter and I have often experienced His peace and comfort.  He is our Counselor providing us with the wisdom that we need here on earth.  And He is our Leader no matter how uneven or difficult our journey.  At times I wish that He would guide us as He did His children in the wilderness, with a pillar of fire and and a pillar of cloud.  But He does guide us more silently through His Word and by His Spirit.  What a blessing.

4)    Jesus will walk with me in life's fair morning,
And when the shadows of evening must come;
Living or dying, He will not forsake me.
Jesus will walk with me all the way home.
Jesus will walk with me,
He will talk with me;
He will walk with me;
In joy or in sorrow, today and tomorrow,
I know He will walk with me.

But this verse may be the toughest truth we need to face.  While we haven't yet walked the valley of death ourselves, we have watched others do it. And we dread watching our loved ones take this journey. It hurts.  And our day is coming and nobody can avoid it.  And while hopefully we have the assurance of that better life ahead, nobody looks forward to the shadows of evening. For some they might last just for a few hours but for others they go on for years.  Believers face that time with both fear and anticipation.  But the beauty of that final journey is that our Lord will not forsake us and He will walk with us all the way home.  Yes, I know He will walk with me.
          Now the key to all of this is making it more than head knowledge, even though that is important.  It needs to be heart knowledge built on our personal experience and our relationship with the Lord. Maybe you don't know this hymn, (you can hear it at Jesus Will Walk) but hopefully you know the experience of walking with the Lord in joy or in sorrow, today and tomorrow.  How else can we make this journey as pilgrims in this foreign land.  Thank you Lord!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

A Politically Correct Santa

Twas the night before Christmas and Santa's a wreck...
How to live in a world that's politically correct?
His workers no longer would answer to "Elves",
"Vertically Challenged" they were calling themselves.

And labor conditions at the North Pole
Were alleged by the union to stifle the soul.
Four reindeer had vanished, without much propriety,
Released to the wilds by the Humane Society.

And equal employment had made it quite clear
That Santa had better not use just reindeer.
So Dancer and Donner, Comet and Cupid,
Were replaced with 4 pigs, and you know that looked stupid!

The runners had been removed from his sleigh;
The ruts were termed dangerous by the C.A.A.
And people had started to call for the cops
When they heard sled noises on their rooftops.

Second-hand smoke from his pipe had his workers quite frightened.
His fur trimmed red suit was called "Unenlightened."
And to show you the strangeness of life's ebbs and flows:
Rudolf was suing over unauthorized use of his nose.

So, half of the reindeer were gone; and his wife,
Who suddenly said she'd enough of this life,
Joined a self-help group, packed, and left in a whiz,
Demanding from now on her title was Ms.

And as for the gifts, why, he'd never a notion
That making a choice could cause so much commotion.
Nothing of leather, nothing of fur,
Which meant nothing for him. And nothing for her.

Nothing that might be construed to pollute.
Nothing to aim. Nothing to shoot.
Nothing that clamored or made lots of noise.
Nothing for just girls. Or just for the boys.

Nothing that claimed to be gender specific.
Nothing that's warlike or non-pacific.
No candy or sweets...they were bad for the tooth.
Nothing that seemed to embellish a truth.

And fairy tales, while not yet forbidden,
Were like Ken and Barbie, better off hidden.
For they raised the hackles of those psychological
Who claimed the only good gift was one ecological.

Dolls were said to be sexist, and should be passé;
And Nintendo would rot your entire brain away.
So Santa just stood there, disheveled, perplexed;
He just could not figure out what to do next.

He tried to be merry, tried to be gay,
But you've got to be careful with that word today.
His sack was quite empty, limp to the ground;
Nothing fully acceptable was to be found.

Something special was needed, a gift that he might
Give to all without angering the left or the right.
A gift that would satisfy, with no indecision,
Each group of people, every religion;
Every ethnicity, every hue,
Everyone, everywhere...even YOU.

So here is that gift, it's price beyond worth...
"May you and your loved ones enjoy peace on earth."


Now if Santa were real and what Christmas was really about, 
I imagine he would face these problems in this strange culture 
in which we live.  But, Jesus is the real reason for the season 
and it is becoming increasingly politically incorrect to talk about 
Him and celebrate His birth.  But that shouldn't keep true 
believers from celebrating the real meaning of Christmas 
and thanking God for His unspeakable gift.  May this Christmas 
be a special time of worshiping and thanking the One who left 
all the beauty and glory of heaven to come to this earth to 
provide our eternal salvation.  Merry Christmas!