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.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Meaningless Words

Sometimes the things that we say are really meaningless and although we don't want them to be, we just don't realize it.  This often happens when we are trying to comfort someone who has just experienced a death or a tragedy.  Often the first things that come to our mind are clichés.  Here are three that I've learned to try to avoid.  First there is "I know just how you feel".  But unless you have gone through the very same situation, you really don't know.  So please don't say this unless your situation was exactly the same as the person you are trying to comfort.  Otherwise it is meaningless and it hurts rather than helps the person facing the present sorrow.  Then there is the well meant but meaningless statement, "If there is anything I can do for you, just let me know."  At my mother's funeral we heard this so often that we developed a reply.  We said, "Please invite my dad out for a meal and visit him once in awhile in the days ahead.  He'll be lonely."   But we wasted our breath.  Only one non relative has taken him out to eat and the only non family visitors appear to be those who come to have him do their income tax - which he does free.  After a few weeks the sorrowing one is generally forgotten.  If you really want to help - just do it, don't wait to be asked.  All people have needs and they usually don't want to ask for help.  We still remember the family that showed up unannounced at our house the week of the funeral and without asking they raked all of our leaves.  What a special gift that was and we have never forgotten it.  We also remember the family that brought us a large platter of cold meats and cheese as well as rolls.  That was such a blessing during a time when nobody felt like preparing meals for our family.  So instead of saying "let me know", just do something!  Otherwise your words are meaningless.  Finally there is the most common comment "I'll be praying for you!"  Really, that is a tremendous promise, if it is really sincere.  But I've come to realize that there are very few prayer warriors around.  It is so easy to be so spiritual and say this when we know that we will remember the person and his needs in a few fleeting comments before the Lord until we've soon forgotten about it.  It's sort of like saying to a person "How are you doing?" and then walking away before they can answer.  You don't really want to be bothered, you just want to be polite and then move along.  I wonder, however, if the Lord will hold us accountable for all of our promises to pray for someone when our words are often meaningless.   Now I admit I have been guilty of speaking meaningless words but having gone through some sorrow and tragedy, I have become much more aware of what I say and do.  Comforting a person can be difficult but let's make sure that we are honest before the person and the Lord when we do so.  Otherwise our comfort is meaningless.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

One For The Birds!

Today I was looking through my coupons to see which ones were still valid.  I found that I had four BOGO coupons for a local chain of restaurants that sells special sandwiches with bird names.  Since all four ran out on Wednesday, I thought that we should at least use one of them this evening.  So Dianne and I went to the restaurant expecting to get one free  sandwich.  After an enjoyable meal (a finch and a pterodactyl) we went to pay the bill.  I gave the waitress the coupon and a gift card.  Minutes later she came back and told me that she had to take the entire bill off my gift card and she couldn't honor the coupon because their "machine wasn't working".  I was astonished and challenged her about this but she insisted that the coupon couldn't be honored tonight and that I could use it another night.  I reminded her that it expired on Wednesday and she said that her manager said we could still use it anytime.  She knew I was upset and since other customers were watching I decided not to make more of a scene.  So we left - without leaving a tip.  As we drove home I became more upset thinking about things I should have done.  I planned to write one of my famous letters but thought that I should first call the manager.  Fortunately the manager answered and she knew nothing about the problem.  She asked for the name of the waitress and I found it on our receipt.  She then put me on hold while she talked to the waitress. Moments later she returned and said that the waitress had scanned our gift card before seeing my coupon and she didn't know how to correct her mistake.  I reminded the manager that the coupon was on top of the gift card when I gave it to her.  It appears that the waitress tried to cover up her mistake by telling me several lies - I no longer feel bad about not leaving her a tip.  The manager apologized and said that she would sent me three BOGO coupons for future use.  I told her that this was not satisfactory since I didn't intend to pay for three sandwiches to get my one free sandwich.  She replied that she would try to find some coupons for free sandwiches and mail them to me.  I told her that would be satisfactory.  Now I will watch the mail to see if that indeed happens.  I have a feeling that the waitress might be in a little trouble - as the Bible says, your sins will find you out.  If only she would have admitted her mistake and asked for help.  But instead she thought she could lie her way out of the mistake - but, unfortunately for her, she did it to one who is willing to write or call and complain when he is taken advantage of.   We live in a world where dishonesty is becoming the norm.  So the moral of the story is to watch all your transactions and be ready to stand up for yourself when you are taken advantage of.   After all, we have the responsibility to be diligent with the money and possessions the Lord has allowed us to have.  In future blogs I might relate two other similar situations that I had to deal with concerning purchases.  Now the dilemma I face is - do I really want another sandwich named after a bird?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

One Of The Most Beautiful Stories

Here is one of the greatest stories ever written.  I never tire of hearing it.   Luke 2:1 - 20   "1  And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.  2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)  3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)   5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.   6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. 8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10   And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.  13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,  14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.  15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.  16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. 17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.  18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. 20  And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them." 

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Off To The Mall

Twas the day before Christmas, and all through the mall ... the shoppers were shopping and having a ball.  There were bargains everywhere, if you had any money to spend.  But do you know what we noticed as we did our daily walk this morning at Park City?   The vast majority of the shoppers were men!  And maybe they were smart this year in waiting, as most men usually do, to the last minute.  For there were bargains as merchants tried desparately to unload their merchandise in a year when most folks have been forced to cut down.  Oh well, time to shop is now over.  Next comes the time to open the gifts.  Then comes the time to pay the bills. And shopping in the mall has become an international experience with so many languages heard.  So, accept my wish for a Merry Christmas, no matter where you may be this year or how you may say it. Afrikaans: Gesëende Kersfees, Afrikander: Een Plesierige Kerfees, African/ Eritrean/ Tigrinja: Rehus-Beal-Ledeats, Albanian:Gezur Krislinjden, Arabic: Milad Majid, Argentine: Feliz Navidad, Armenian: Shenoraavor Nor Dari yev Pari Gaghand, Azeri: Tezze Iliniz Yahsi Olsun, Bahasa Malaysia: Selamat Hari Natal, Basque: Zorionak eta Urte Berri On!, Bengali: Shuvo Naba Barsha, Bohemian: Vesele Vanoce, Brazilian: Feliz Natal, Breton: Nedeleg laouen na bloavezh mat, Bulgarian: Tchestita Koleda; Tchestito Rojdestvo Hristovo, Catalan: Bon Nadal i un Bon Any Nou!, Chile: Feliz Navidad, Chinese: (Cantonese) Gun Tso Sun Tan'Gung Haw Sun, Chinese: (Mandarin) Kung His Hsin Nien bing Chu Shen Tan, (Catonese) Gun Tso Sun Tan'Gung Haw Sun, Choctaw: Yukpa, Nitak Hollo Chito, Columbia: Feliz Navidad y Próspero Año Nuevo, Cornish: Nadelik looan na looan blethen noweth, Corsian: Pace e salute, Crazanian: Rot Yikji Dol La Roo, Cree: Mitho Makosi Kesikansi, Croatian: Sretan Bozicm, Czech: Prejeme Vam Vesele Vanoce a stastny Novy Rok, Danish: Glædelig Jul, Duri: Christmas-e- Shoma Mobarak, Dutch: Vrolijk Kerstfeest en een Gelukkig Nieuwjaar! or Zalig Kerstfeast, English: Merry Christmas, Eskimo: (inupik) Jutdlime pivdluarit ukiortame pivdluaritlo!, Esperanto: Gajan Kristnaskon, Estonian: Ruumsaid juulup|hi, Ethiopian: (Amharic) Melkin Yelidet Beaal, Faeroese: Gledhilig jol og eydnurikt nyggjar!, Farsi: Cristmas-e-shoma mobarak bashad, Finnish: Hyvaa joulua, Flemish: Zalig Kerstfeest en Gelukkig nieuw jaar, French: Joyeux Noel, Frisian: Noflike Krystdagen en in protte Lok en Seine yn it Nije Jier!, Galician: Bo Nada, Gaelic: Nollaig chridheil agus Bliadhna mhath ùr! German: Froehliche Weihnachten, Greek: Kala Christouyenna!, Haiti: (Creole) Jwaye Nowel or to Jesus Edo Bri'cho o Rish D'Shato Brichto, Hausa: Barka da Kirsimatikuma Barka da Sabuwar Shekara!, Hawaiian: Mele Kalikimaka, Hebrew: Mo'adim Lesimkha. Chena tova, Hindi: Shub Naya Baras, Hausa: Barka da Kirsimatikuma Barka da Sabuwar Shekara, Hawaian: Mele Kalikimaka ame Hauoli Makahiki Hou!, Hungarian: Kellemes Karacsonyi unnepeket, Icelandic: Gledileg Jol, Indonesian: Selamat Hari Natal, Iraqi: Idah Saidan Wa Sanah Jadidah, Irish: Nollaig Shona Dhuit, or Nodlaig mhaith chugnat, Iroquois: Ojenyunyat Sungwiyadeson honungradon nagwutut. Ojenyunyat osrasay., Italian: Buone Feste Natalizie, Japanese: Shinnen omedeto. Kurisumasu Omedeto, Jiberish: Mithag Crithagsigathmithags, Korean: Sung Tan Chuk Ha, Lao: souksan van Christmas, Latin: Natale hilare et Annum Faustum!, Latvian: Prieci'gus Ziemsve'tkus un Laimi'gu Jauno Gadu!, Lausitzian:Wjesole hody a strowe nowe leto, Lettish: Priecigus Ziemassvetkus, Lithuanian: Linksmu Kaledu, Low Saxon: Heughliche Winachten un 'n moi Nijaar, Macedonian: Sreken Bozhik, Maltese: IL-Milied It-tajjeb, Manx: Nollick ghennal as blein vie noa, Maori: Meri Kirihimete, Marathi: Shub Naya Varsh, Navajo: Merry Keshmish, Norwegian: God Jul, or Gledelig Jul, Occitan: Pulit nadal e bona annado, Papiamento: Bon Pasco, Papua New Guinea: Bikpela hamamas blong dispela Krismas na Nupela yia i go long yu, Pennsylvania German: En frehlicher Grischtdaag un en hallich Nei Yaahr!, Peru: Feliz Navidad y un Venturoso Año Nuevo, Philipines: Maligayan Pasko!, Polish: Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia or Boze Narodzenie, Portuguese:Feliz Natal,  Pushto: Christmas Aao Ne-way Kaal Mo Mobarak Sha, Rapa-Nui (Easter Island): Mata-Ki-Te-Rangi. Te-Pito-O-Te-Henua, Rhetian: Bellas festas da nadal e bun onn, Romanche: (sursilvan dialect): Legreivlas fiastas da Nadal e bien niev onn!, Rumanian: Sarbatori vesele, Russian: Pozdrevlyayu s prazdnikom Rozhdestva is Novim Godom, Sami: Buorrit Juovllat, Samoan: La Maunia Le Kilisimasi Ma Le Tausaga Fou, Sardinian: Bonu nadale e prosperu annu nou, Serbian: Hristos se rodi, Slovakian: Sretan Bozic or Vesele vianoce, Sami: Buorrit Juovllat, Samoan: La Maunia Le Kilisimasi Ma Le Tausaga Fou, Scots Gaelic: Nollaig chridheil huibh, Serb-Croatian: Sretam Bozic. Vesela Nova Godina, Serbian: Hristos se rodi., Singhalese: Subha nath thalak Vewa. Subha Aluth Awrudhak Vewa, Slovak: Vesele Vianoce. A stastlivy Novy Rok, Slovene: Vesele Bozicne Praznike Srecno Novo Leto or Vesel Bozic in srecno Novo leto, Spanish: Feliz Navidad, Swedish: God Jul and (Och) Ett Gott Nytt År, Tagalog: Maligayamg Pasko. Masaganang Bagong Taon, Tami: Nathar Puthu Varuda Valthukkal, Trukeese: (Micronesian) Neekiriisimas annim oo iyer seefe feyiyeech!, Thai: Sawadee Pee Mai or souksan wan Christmas, Turkish: Noeliniz Ve Yeni Yiliniz Kutlu Olsun, Ukrainian: Srozhdestvom Kristovym, Urdu: Naya Saal Mubarak Ho, Vietnamese: Chung Mung Giang Sinh, Welsh: Nadolig Llawen, Yugoslavian: Cestitamo Bozic, Yoruba: E ku odun, e ku iye' ..... Now for Happy New Year in each of those languages .... no, I won't go there .....  Merry Christmas

Monday, December 22, 2008

Does God Answer Prayer?

God can work in amazing ways - here are a few things that we experienced during the past few days.  (1)  I took our car for inspection and while the car passed they told me that I needed four new tires before winter - $500!  I refused their "offer" because I had just had them checked a month earlier.  But right after a 400 mile trip we found that we had picked up a screw in a front tire so I went to a tire dealer that I trust.  He told me that my tires would last another year, but because there was some early cracking and they were guaranteed, they could replace them for $240, including alignment.  I accepted and replaced all four not realizing all the driving we would do, in snowy icy weather, the following week when Dianne's dad died.  How much safer we felt.  PTL!  (2)  We needed to find a motel in the Sunbury area and at our third stop we met a manager who had been a neighbor of Dianne's dad several years ago.  And while we didn't know her, because of his death, she gave us a bargain price for the three nights that we stayed there. PTL!  (3)  When we received the call about her dad at 1 in the morning, I was concerned because they were predicting sleet and freezing rain.  So we decided to leave for Sunbury early in the morning and we drove through sleet for an hour until suddenly, above Harrisburg, the weather cleared.  We were able to do all the funeral planning that day in clear weather, while back home they had slick roads.  PTL!  (4) When we heard that Dianne's dad's condition was terminal, we were concerned that because of the holiday the church would not be available.  We also knew that the pastor would be away on vacation for the week.  But God's timing was perfect and we were able to bury him on Saturday morning before Christmas week.  PTL!  (5)  The week of his death we experienced a series of winter storms.  They had predicted six inches or more of snow in Sunbury on Friday before the Saturday funeral.  But the snow turned to rain late Friday afternoon allowing our children to safely make the trip.  Saturday was clear and very cold and while we couldn't get into the cemetery because of the ice and snow, we were able to have the graveside ceremony from the church parking lot only about 40 yards from the grave.  PTL!  (6)  We were perplexed about how much food to purchase for the luncheon held after the service since we didn't know how the weather would affect the attendance.  In fact we had planned not to eat if we had more people stay than we predicted.  The cold icy weather did prevent many from coming and we had an adequate amount of food for all who stayed.  PTL!  So were all of these situations just lucky coincidences or did the Lord intervene and answer many prayers, including those about the weather?   You may have your own opinion, but I personally believe that the Lord does answer prayer and we had many folks on our prayer chain taking our concerns before the Lord.  I am reminded of a song that our family used to sing when we did programs as part of our family ministry.  "He holds the future in the palm of His Hand, And He has never failed me yet, I know He's leading and still has control, So why should I worry or fret. I know He holds the future, and I know He holds my hand, I know just as sure as I'm singing this song, I'm a part of His almighty plan. I believe, I believe, I believe, So why should I worry or fret."  Now if only I could learn to get over the worry and fretting, because He really is in control.

Friday, December 19, 2008

A Christmas Wish

Somebody just sent me this Christmas greeting and I thought that you might enjoy it.  So, take your pick.

To All My Liberal Friends:          
Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all. I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2009, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere . Also, this wish is made without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishee.
 
To All My Conservative Friends who do not care for political correctness:
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Perfect Christmas Gift

It was a great Christmas present. Late Monday night God sent his angels to usher home my father-in-law, affectionately known to us as Gramps.   They took his hand while he was sleeping and together made the journey to a better home. Gramps spent 96 years here on earth and he wanted to go home to heaven. He had walked closely with the Lord for many years and had a special personal relationship with His Creator. He had a rough life in his early years and had to quit school when he was in eighth grade. He often regretted not being able to write or spell better, but he more than made up for that with his sound business sense. After years of earning a living by selling coal and doing other odd jobs, he went to Middletown where he worked at the Olmstead Air Force base. Wanting to go back into business for himself, he took a chance on a piece of run-down property in Sunbury where he began a water business using the spring that was there. He also ran a country store and a weekly auction until the water business became profitable. Over the years the Tulpehocken Water Company grew and he made it a very successful business. When he reached retirement age, he sold it to its present owner who has since built it into a multimillion dollar business now delivering in several states. Gramps was proud to be called the founder of the company.  During the years of transition, before moving to Sunbury, he came to really know and love the Lord. He gave up some bad habits and became actively involved in his church and in the Gideons. There are two things which really stood out about his Christian walk. First, he was a real prayer warrior. Every morning and at other times he fervently talked to the Lord and prayed over a long list of family and friends and their needs. He believed in prayer and rejoiced in many answers. Several folks have already remarked that they feel the loss of his daily prayers for them. When he was ill he apologized for not being able to pray as he had done before. The second outstanding feature was his gift and zeal for evangelism. He was always handing out Gideon New Testaments and explaining the way of salvation. And he was able to talk to folks in such a non threatening manner that was never offensive. He won many folks to Christ over the years. It was remarkable. And when we talked about his gift he would claim that it wasn't a gift. He was just being obedient to the Lord's commands to share the Gospel to everyone. He felt that anyone could and should do this. He often said that the Lord kept him here on earth because there was somebody else left for him to win to the Lord. And he did this, even during his hospitalizations. His final three weeks were amazing. After years of apparent good health, two hospitalizations and entrance into a nursing home gave him a chance to see all his children and grandchildren for what turned out to be the final time on earth. Then, on Monday, we were summoned to the nursing home for a meeting concerning his request to return to his apartment. When we arrived he was reading the morning newspaper and commenting about Bush and the shoe thrower. The doctor and his team then came and said that his condition was terminal. Dad asked how much time he had left and the doctor said he probably would not see the new year. Dad then rejoiced that he was soon going to his new home with friends and family. Then he began to sleep the rest of the day and he was doing that when we left for home. Later that night a nurse helped him with his oxygen mask and when she returned ten minutes later, he had gone home in his sleep. That was what he wanted. We received the call at 1 am, only 15 hours after our meeting and the doctor's announcement. Only ten days in the nursing home and then released in his sleep to heaven - a fitting move for a special man. We already miss him but we know that he is now celebrating with his Lord and his wife Mary. What a perfect Christmas present. 

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Recession and Religion

Check your mail - it's that time of the year.  Early in December our mailbox always gets filled with requests for end of year charitable donations.  Religious and service organizations are always hopeful of getting those donations from folks who are either generous during the holiday season or looking for deductions for their annual income tax.  This year the requests have been coming but with a new urgency.  Most religious organizations are facing severe shortages because of a drop in donations, much of which has been caused by the recession.  But the problem also stems from the fact that many believers are not honoring the Lord with their finances.  As a result, some reputable organizations, like Focus On The Family, have already made major updates.  Others are being forced to do the same and  reduce their ministry because they are operating deep in the red.  Organizations such as Pinebrook are facing major deficits and if the economy continues to decline, they may be forced to make difficult decisions about their existence.  Pinebrook has already made major cuts in staff and in programs.  Churches are also running in the red as contributions decline.  I know of two Bible Fellowship churches that are facing deficits of over $100,000 and $60,000.  Our church has been running between $50,000 to $60,000 behind budget.  We should break even for 2008 but only because many planned expenditures have not been made.  But we, like many churches and organizations, have huge mortgages to meet because of recent building.  Those were decisions made in a time of plenty.  Failure to meet budgets brings up the possibility of cutting more programs, eliminating staff, or even, as a last resort, foreclosure.  And as more members face layoffs, the problem deepens.  Will we see religious organizations and churches close their doors?  Let's pray that this doesn't happen.  Let's pray that more folks will honor the Lord with their tithe and make a commitment to support the work of the Lord, even in tough times.  Unfortunately, too many believers have not done that in good times.  If all church members would just give their tithe, we'd be looking for places to expand ministry.  The solution is really that easy.  Maybe the Lord will use the recession to force believers to examine their priorities before God.  And churches will need to be much more diligent in the use of the Lord's money and maybe that is a lesson that we need to learn.   However, lest we forget, our Father does "own the cattle on a thousand hills" and the recession is not a problem for Him.  The question is really how will each of us respond with what He allows us to have.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Getting Old

Growing old is not for sissies. It is hard. There are so many new health challenges to deal with as one ages. They often affect one's quality of life. I often joke that one retires so that he has time for all the doctor visits. There are also new financial problems to deal with, especially for those on fixed incomes who must face increasing costs for food, energy, healthcare, and taxes, without any raises. And recession cuts drastically into their investments. There is the problem of isolation, especially after retirement. Usually older folks are not valued for their experience and they are usually bypassed for significant responsibilities. My father-in-law used to say that when you are old, nobody wants you anymore. He is correct. Younger folks have their own circles of activity and often ignore older folks. In today's society young is good, old is not.  Andy Rooney has said "The best classroom in the world is at the feet of an elderly person". Unfortunately, few believe or practice this.  And then there are the losses of close friends, family members, and even spouses. These become more common as one ages and can become devastating. And this often leads to loneliness. My father-in-law is depressed because there is nobody to talk to in his nursing home. His pastors and family visit him, but his friends and church family have stayed away. My dad lives alone and has been ill lately.  Nobody but his family visits him. Loneliness is often the curse of growing old. Then there is also the fear of the unknown future here on earth. Elderly believers know that someday they will be with the Lord, but in the meantime ... hospitals? living with children? nursing homes? Getting to one's heavenly home is often a rugged, unpleasant journey.  And while society ignores the old - except to give them senior discounts - seniors can contribute. • Walt Stack completed the Ironman Triathlon at 73. • Benjamin Franklin invented bifocals when he was 79. • Caleb was 85 when he entered the Promised Land • Frank Lloyd Wright completed his architectural design of the Guggenheim Museum at age 89. • Choreographer Martha Graham premiered Maple Leaf Gala at age 95. • Ichijirou Araya climbed Mount Fuji at the age of 100. Wow! I wouldn't even attempt that at any age. Maybe we need to listen to the command given to the Israelites in Leviticus 20:32, "Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God." Maybe we need to do more to minister to those who are elderly and facing very difficult times - after all, we all will soon be there ourselves - sooner than we may expect!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Phishing or Fishing?

The internet has brought us many new things including a new vocabulary.  One of the new words is "phishing".  In case you never heard this, it is a method of "fishing" for your personal information to steal your identity or to make charges against your credit cards or bank accounts.  The usual technique is to use an e-mail to tell you that a certain agency needs you to update your account information.  The e-mail looks very professional and often you can't tell it from the real thing.  When you click on the link provided, you are sent to a page which is not secure (no https) and asked to enter your information - usually account numbers, passwords, or credit card numbers.  Should you do this, the information is sent to the thief who will then use this information to access your accounts.  Phishing is no longer unusual.  I have received at least four such requests in the last couple of weeks.  Three of them came telling me that my aol account would be suspended if I did not update my information within 24 hours.  One even included a telephone number which was very similar to the actual aol number.  Since I knew that a reputable company would never ask for such information by e-mail, I didn't fall for it.  In fact, after the third one I actually called aol to make sure that this was a "phishing expedition".  They verified that it was and asked me to forward the e-mails to them for investigation.  The other one that I received yesterday "came from a bank" which I've never even dealt with - they were just fishing randomly for suckers who would respond.  The rule is never give out your personal information in reply to an e-mail asking for updated information.  Call the company directly and make sure that your account must be updated.  Phishing is common but so are other scams.  My father-in-law recently received several letters and several calls telling him that he had won the Canadian lottery and that a check for a huge amount was on the way.  All he had to do was send them a check to cover the taxes on his winnings.   At first, despite our warnings, he thought it was true.  Fortunately he checked with his local congressman who told him it was a scam.  Then when the last caller told him that he had won the lottery, he replied "You are a liar and you are going to hell!"  Then he hung up.   I think he got it right. Beware!  Don't be gullible!  There are many crooks using new techniques to steal from you.  And stealing from you through the internet or the telephone may actually be easier, safer, and more productive than actually breaking into your home.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

In The Fulness Of Time

I seldom get to participate in a Sunday morning worship service anymore.  A few years ago I took on the responsibility of counting offerings and taking care of the individual giving records.  Recently, as our attendances have increased in both morning services, this work load has increased and it now takes most of both services to complete my duties to prepare a deposit.  However this morning we had a surprise snow squall which made driving difficult and cut down the attendance and the offerings for the first service.  So I was able to get to the service for the message and for communion.  Our pastor had an excellent sermon based on the scripture in Galatians which says "But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son ... "   Pastor reviewed so many human things which could have eliminated or delayed the birth of Christ.  But God was in control and when all His plan was accomplished, Jesus was born.  He then shared how God is working out all the events needed for Christ's second coming.  Like His first coming, we don't know when it will happen, but we know it will happen when God is ready - in the fullness of time.  But there is an event where we do know God's timing - Now is the time of salvation.  And the invitation to accept Christ today was given.  And if you haven't yet done this, now is the time of salvation, don't delay.  Then we had communion.  When it came to the cup, the normal pattern was changed and each participant was encouraged to pray privately and drink the cup when they were ready to do so.  This change made this act of worship more personal and more meaningful.  While we quietly did this, we could hear the noise from folks in the narthex waiting to enter for the second service.  This reminded me of the clamor of the world around us that sometimes keeps us from worshipping.  But because God is always with His children, we can enter His presence anytime, anywhere and worship Him despite the circumstances that we encounter.  What a privilege we have.  It is special to worship with our brothers and sisters in Christ, and we are told in the Bible to do this, but we can also worship Him individually.  It was good to be in the Lord's House this morning and to participate in worship, corporately and individually.  I hope that you, too, had a time of meaningful worship today.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Be "Politically Correct"

A friend sent me the following a few days ago.  Thought you might enjoy it.   "Twas the month before Christmas, When all through our land, Not a Christian was praying. Nor taking a stand.  See the PC Police had taken away, The reason for Christmas - no one could say. The children were told by their schools not to sing, About Shepherds and Wise Men and Angels and things. It might hurt people's feelings, the teachers would say. December 25th is just a 'Holiday'. Yet the shoppers were ready with cash, checks and credit. Pushing folks down to the floor just to get it! CDs from Madonna, an X BOX, an I-pod, Something was changing, something quite odd!  Retailers promoted Ramadan and Kwanza, In hopes to sell books by Franken & Fonda, As Targets were hanging their trees upside down.  At Lowe's the word Christmas - was no where to be found. At K-Mart and Staples and Penny's and Sears, You won't hear the word Christmas; it won't touch your ears. Inclusive, sensitive, Di-ver-si-ty, Are words that were used to intimidate me. Now Daschle, Now Darden, Now Sharpton, Wolf Blitzen, On Boxer, on Rather, on Kerry, on Clinton! At the top of the Senate, there arose such a clatter, To eliminate Jesus, in all public matter. And we spoke not a word, as they took away our faith, Forbidden to speak of salvation and grace. The true Gift of Christmas was exchanged and discarded, The reason for the season, stopped before it started. So as you celebrate 'Winter Break' under your 'Dream Tree, Sipping your Starbucks, listen to me. Choose your words carefully, choose what you say, Shout MERRY CHRISTMAS, not Happy Holiday! Please, all Christians join together and wish everyone you meet during the holidays a MERRY CHRISTMAS.  Christ is 'The Reason' for the Christ-mas Season!"  Dianne and I have again begun to wear our pins, "It's OK, Wish me a Merry Christmas!".  You can purchase your pin here.   PIN 

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Alpaca Surprise

It seems as though most of my waking time the past two to three weeks has been spent going to doctors or hospitals for my father-in-law, father, wife or myself - 13 trips to be exact. Except for paying bills, trying to schedule a contractor to take care of our mold problem, visiting my ill brother, and doing church business, it seems as though I've thought about little else. So on Sunday when my wife asked me for computer help to send an entry to station WDAC-FM, I was glad to take a break and help her out. It turns out that she had heard on the radio that Eastland Alpacas of Mt. Joy was offering a free gift certificate to a listener whose name would be drawn from entries on Monday. To enter you had to find the answers to five questions about alpacas and send them to the station in an e-mail. She had already done the research and just needed help with the e-mail. With my help she accomplished this quickly. Afterwards the thought entered my mind that maybe I should also enter. I didn't find anything in the rules that would prohibit this so I entered using my e-mail account. I didn't even think it was worth mentioning this to her, after all I never win anything. On Monday morning, while driving to take my dad for more tests, I heard announcer Mike Stike say that he would announce the winner later and that it was a man. I told my wife that I was sorry that she didn't win and promptly forgot about it. That night I received an e-mail from a friend offering me congratulations. Two others followed. I still thought it was a mistake since I had heard nothing from the station. Then, this afternoon, my wife checked the station's website and saw that I was listed as the winner. So that is my "alpaca surprise" - a gift certificate for $250! I think that this is the first thing I've won in a drawing since I won a barrel of groceries about 55 years ago. It is a welcome surprise and diversion after the events of the last few weeks. Well the certificate is going to my wife. Since we've decided not to give each other Christmas presents this year, it will be a joy to see her use it and she was the one who really wanted it and worked for it. Thanks WDAC and Eastland Alpacas.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Life Is Hard ...

Life is hard ... especially as you age.  Two weeks ago my father-in-law was doing remarkably well.  He was looking forward to celebrating his 96th birthday with us on Thanksgiving Day.  In fact, he planned to drive the two hours to come to our house.  He looked and acted like a senior of about 75 years old and had the mind of one who was 55.  Then, while on a routine doctor visit, the doctor sent him to the hospital with dehydration.  During the four days in the hospital he looked better than he had in years.  But a week after being released he was taken to Geisinger Hospital by ambulance with breathing problems.  After consultation with the medical staff it was decided that he would need to be entered in a nursing home and his driving days were ended.  So after spending his birthday in the hospital he was taken Friday to a nursing home in Selinsgrove.  Even though we knew this would happen someday, it is still so hard to watch his life change so dramatically so quickly.  He is being cared for and that is a major relief to us.  And while it has been stressful for us, it is obvious that the Lord has answered many prayers for us during these weeks.  We are very concerned about his wife who is living alone.  We are not sure if she can take care of herself and we have many arrangements still to make to be sure that we can pay their bills. But God is faithful and somehow these problems will be resolved.   In Psalm 71 the Psalmist prays for help in old age.  He cries out "Cast me not off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength faileth."  Later he says "When I am old and grayheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have showed thy strength unto this generation and thy power to every one that is to come."  Gramps is still sharing the Gospel to everybody he meets - showing God's strength and His power and God is not casting him off but preparing a new home for him.   Life is hard ... but God is good.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Giving Thanks

In Ephesians we are told to give thanks ALWAYS for ALL things.  At this time of the year we normally do shift our focus to giving thanks ... but not always for all things.  We have so many blessings that when we go to count them we never reach the end.  But there are those other things - often called problems - that we find hard to thank the Lord for.  We are going through a very difficult time right now with numerous family physical problems.  At times they do lead to sleepless nights and discouragement.  And yet these are part of the ALL things.  As I thought about it, I came up with a list of such things.  (1)  For years I suffered with a variety of troubling physical problems that doctors weren't able to solve.  Then a few months ago we decided to change a diabetes drug that I had taken for years.  And, amazingly, many of my problems seemed to clear up.  If that hadn't happened, I would have had major problems in dealing with some of our current challenges. PTL. (2)  Even though they are facing difficult physical problems, I have been blest with a father and father-in-law who are special godly men.  They have been inspirations and tremendous examples to me and my family.  I hate to see them suffer, but I thank the Lord for their 187 years of life.  PTL.   (3)  It is hard to break from family traditions - such as Thanksgiving dinner at our home.  But I thank God for family members who recognize the problems and develop alternatives.  I am blest.  PTL.  (4) We've discovered a bad case of mold in one of our walls and this will require a very costly correction.   I haven't yet seen how the Lord will work this out, but I know He will.  PTL.  (5)  The drop in gas prices has been an amazing blessing.  Our almost daily trips to Lititz, Sunbury, and now Danville would have killed our budget a few months ago.  But yesterday I was able to fill up at $1.85.  PTL.  Then there is my fuel contract - I received 166 gallons yesterday, at about $800!  That is just the beginning.  But, the scripture says ALL things, so PTL.  (6) God is even in the little details - with recent events we forgot to order pies for the family.  A quick trip to the bakery, hoping to still be able to get three pies, found - they had exactly - three pies left.  Seems like a small problem - but when you are in a time of stress, it becomes a major answer to prayer.  PTL. (7)  We have some major responsibilities on our schedule for the next few weeks and our present challenges may force us to cancel these.   Again, I don't know how the Lord will work these things out, but I thank Him, in advance, for doing so.   PTL.  And I could bore you with so many other small details that are answers to our prayers.  But to us, these are all evidences of God's presence in our daily lives, in the good times and the bad times.  So, thank you Lord for meeting our needs in ALL things.  God is good.  Have a thankful Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

But God

Years ago I had a small book entitled "BUT GOD". It was a very inspirational book. This week when I really wanted and needed to reread it I found that it is now missing. Isn't that the way things often go? The Bible includes numerous "BUT GOD" experiences. In Genesis 50:20, Joseph said to his brothers, "you thought evil against me, BUT GOD meant it for good." In Genesis 48:21, Israel told Joseph, "behold I die. BUT GOD shall be with you". When Pharaoh changed his mind and began to pursue the Israelites, in Exodus 13:18, it is written "BUT GOD led the people about". In I Samuel 23:14 Saul sought David every day, "BUT GOD delivered him not into his hand". In Psalm 73:26 David cries out "my flesh and my heart faileth; BUT GOD is the strength of my heart". In Acts 13:19 - 30, it says that they took Jesus down from the cross and laid him in a sepulchre, "BUT GOD raised Him from the dead". "BUT GOD" incidents are God's interventions in impossible situations. The Bible is filled with them and hopefully our lives are, too - His intervention in our lives, in His time. Honestly, with the pressures we are facing personally right now, I'm praying and looking for another "BUT GOD" experience.  And, I know He will intervene - in His time, not mine. Maybe you, too, are facing difficult, seemingly impossible situations right now. Trust a loving Father who will intervene with strength, wisdom, and peace when He knows that His children need help. Things may seem impossible or overwhelming, BUT GOD ...  

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Future of Democracy

Democracy "is government by the people in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system." In the phrase of Abraham Lincoln, democracy is a government "of the people, by the people, and for the people."  I've always assumed that our great democracy would always continue and I hope that it does.  However, recently I have begun to have my doubts about whether it will survive.  First there is the recent trend toward the establishment of laws by the judicial branch.  Liberal judges have begun to overturn the will of the majority and establish precedents and laws and this was not the intent of our Constitution. This will increase as more liberal judges are appointed by the new administration.  Then there is the corruption in government, especially in Washington, where elected officials have used their status to pad their pockets as well as those of their supporters.  Few appear to be patriots who put our country first.  Then there is the growing trend toward mob rule.  Look at what is happening in California with the passage of Proposition 8, a legal constitutional amendment which outlaws gay marriages in that state.  The gay activists have been orchestrating protests throughout the country over its approval by the majority of voters.  Now that is their right in a democracy,  But, they have picketed churches, especially those of the Morman faith, and they have actually been disrupting church services.  They are threatening those who supported Proposition 8.  A director of an Arts Association who had donated his money in support of the amendment had to resign since the mobs threatened to boycott the association which he had directed for many years.  They have already filed three lawsuits to reverse this constitutional amendment which was voted upon by a majority of California voters.  And, they have a good chance of winning with a liberal justice system.  They don't intend to accept the legal voice of the majority.  There had also been rumors and threats of protests and maybe even riots if Obama had lost.  A democracy can't survive when mob mentality takes over.  We have seen this type of thing happen around elections in other parts of the world, but, sadly, it is a new development here.  Democracy has survived over 200 years here because of good people.  Many were godly people, others were folks with good morality and a sense of right values.  But things are changing rapidly.  What is the future of our democracy?   Time will tell.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Things That Bother Me

All of us have our pet peeves - those things that bother us. I've referred to a few of mine before, but here are some that are current in my experiences ... (1)  folks who drive while talking on their cell phones, especially turning the corner with one hand while talking and laughing, or driving against my bumper while chatting away ... (2)  folks who greet you with "How are you?" and then keep walking.  It is just a greeting and they don't really want to know.  This morning in church I would have welcomed the chance to share how I was feeling with somebody who was interested, but although the question was asked several times, nobody waited for a reply ... (3)  folks who can't say "thank you" when you do something for them.  We live in a thankless society with folks who have no manners (by the way, thanks for dropping by to read my blogs) ... (4)  young folks who wear there pants so low that you see their underwear.  We stopped to eat at Wendy's today and a girl and a boy in their twenties (notice I didn't call them lady and gentleman) paraded around with pants that appeared ready to drop to the floor.  It didn't do too much for our appetites ... (5)  maybe I should say modern dress in general.  I had to turn my eyes away several times this morning while I was sitting in the church narthex as numerous ladies walked by with their short skirts and low necklines.  It is embarrassing to see this anywhere, but especially in church ... (6)  then there are the pet peeves that brought on today's blog - the Philadelphia Eagles, or should I say Beagles.  I watched them tie the Bengals today, a team that had a 1-8 record.  They played so poorly that they didn't deserve to be called professional. And Donovan McNabb was terrible but always smiling.  And Andy Reid's coaching was horrendous but he stood on the sideline with a big smile.  Is the game really that funny?  How can you laugh when you play and coach so poorly?  It certainly wasn't funny to their fans. It appeared that they really didn't care. I found myself hoping they'd lose in the overtime, but the Bengals were even more hapless and the game ended in a tie, the first in the NFL since 2002.  It's time for a change in Philadelphia.  I guess we all have our pet peeves and we just need to learn to not to get too excited about them - notice, I didn't say laugh about them like the Beagles did.   What are some of your pet peeves?  You can share yours by leaving a comment here.  I look forward to reading them.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Is It A Sport?

Last night we had Sports Night in Awana.  As part of the program I wrote a fun song (at least I thought it was fun) based on "Old McDonald Had A Farm".  Mine was called "We All Have A Favorite Sport" and featured five sports - baseball, football, soccer, basketball, and hockey.  It included things like "with a hit hit here, and a hit hit there, here a hit, there a hit, everywhere a hit hit".   Afterwards a young lad came to me and said that I should have included NASCAR.  I smiled and thanked him.  Then today when I sent an update to our Awana staff I mentioned that I could have included NASCAR, with "a crash crash here and a crash crash there".  But, to me NASCAR still isn't a sport.  Well I now know that somebody reads what I write because it wasn't long until the NASCAR fans responded.  I was told how exciting this "sport" really is, how every track is different with its own challenge, how athletic and in shape the drivers must be, and how athletic and trained the pit crews really are.  I guess I can't argue with that, but does that really make it a sport?  My response was that it is much less expensive to watch the young drivers race up and down my street at excessive speeds or to drive on route 222 and watch folks zoom by me like they are on a racetrack.  Now that irritates me but doesn't excite me. And i can do that without all the smells and fumes that are part of racing.  Then there are my mechanics who work on my cars - most of them are excellent but they just don't work as fast - probably because they are making money on me by charging me by the hour.  And I don't find that to be a sport, just an expensive necessity.  What do you think?  You can express your opinion in the poll to the right.  It will be open for votes until November 30 at midnight.   However, in the meantime, despite my feelings that it isn't really a sport, I will probably need to concede the point since I have just checked out the expert, Webster's Dictionary.   "Sport - a source of diversion, physical activity engaged in for pleasure."  I guess that settles it.  So, the next time I physically drive my car for the pleasure of doing so (or the diversion of wasting gas), I can appropriately say that I am participating in a sport.  Now that this is settled, off to route 222! 

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Famous Cousin

Last week we received an invitation from my cousin, Thomas Wise, to attend a showing of his art work at the Lancaster County Art Association in Strasburg.  It turns out that some of his work is being exhibited there from November 9 to 30 in the Kauffman Gallery (no relation unfortunately).  Now I am not really into art but since it was my cousin we decided that we should visit on Sunday afternoon.  Tom lives in the mountains near Halifax and most of his watercolors and oil paintings are based upon familiar objects and scenes from that area.  Tom and his late wife Cheryl had lived in Millersville for a few years before moving to Halifax.  I didn't realize that he was one of the founders of the Pennsylvania School of Art (Pennsylvania School of Art and Design) and was the first Dean of Administration at the institution.  Prior to that he taught at the York Academy of Art.   It is interesting that a number of my family members have been involved in some aspect of education.  Now he spends all of his time painting and selling as a professional artist.  He often has about eight paintings in progress at one time.  His display at Strasburg is being shared by one of his former students and the exhibit is called 30+ because she was his student 30 years ago.  Now I must tell you, I was really impressed by his work - it is beautiful. His still lifes are excellent but his scenes are really spectacular.  I would love to have some of his work in our home, but the 18 he has displayed run from $650 to $3,800 with most of them over $2,000. Incidentally, the one shown here goes for $2,800.  Unfortunately they are a little out of my price range.  But it is still great to see one of my cousins so successful in a profession like this.  I would invite you to drop by sometime this month - 149 Precision Ave. in Strasburg, 637-7061.  The exhibit is free.  And make sure that when you sign the guest book you note that you are a friend of mine (maybe the brownie points will help me).  He also has exhibits in York and Lewisburg this month.  I admire somebody who can paint like Tom - I certainly can't.  But maybe someday I'll become a famous blogger ... and sell my blogs for .... not!   

Sunday, November 9, 2008

It's Only A Game

This past week was a week of disappointments - three of them in particular.  The first, and least important, happened yesterday when Penn State had its perfect season and national title hopes dashed with a last second field goal.  I thought that this might be the game that would crush their hopes, and, unfortunately, I was right.  Now I am an avid Penn State fan and I imagine that many folks will have much to say to rib me in church today, but I can take it.  Remember, it's only a game.  Life goes on - that's just part of sports.  And at least the Phillies won this year.  My second disappointment was the election and the direction our country has chosen to go.  That is much more serious than the game, but I also know that God is in control and that is the important thing.  The third disappointment came when a 48 year old friend of ours died of a heart attack this week leaving a wife and two daughters.  Lamar grew up in our church and we have known him and his family since he was a young child.  We often don't understand God's ways, but again, we rest in the knowledge that God is in control of all things and that Lamar is now in His presence.  Disappointments are common in our daily walk and they have often been the inspiration for the writing of hymns.  We have led several hymn sings at Pinebrook based just on hymns that came from times of grief, despair, and disappointment.  I have started a new hymn blog and I add another hymn each Wednesday.  If you haven't visited it yet, please go to HYMNS each week and maybe you, too, will be comforted by the words of these old hymns.  So life goes on, and for you Penn State fans, just remember, it's only a game. 

Saturday, November 8, 2008

We Wish You A ...

While Fall is my favorite season of the year, Christmas is my favorite holiday season.  My problem with the Christmas holiday season is that it starts too early and then ends too early.  Well, even though there are still 47 days until Christmas, the holiday season has already begun.  About three weeks ago our local hardware store put up their Christmas trees and began to sell related items.  Yesterday we learned that the seasonal music channel on our cable has begun to play Christmas music (or as they say, "holiday music").   This week the Christmas decorations have appeared at Park City and I guess it won't be long until we will hear the "holiday music" about Santa and Rudolph.  And of course, the day after Christmas the music will disappear at the malls and on most radio stations (WDAC will play some through December 31).  But what about Thanksgiving?  I know it is late this year, but it too should be a special holiday.   Unfortunately in this country we don't really have a need anymore to take time to thank God for His blessings. We can do it all ourselves.  We don't really need God.   Hmm, I wonder what a deep recession or depression might do to our self-dependence.  Oh well, the government will take care of us.  And I guess Thanksgiving doesn't bring in the money that Christmas does and that is really what Christmas is all about.   And, merchants are really desperate this year.  And talking about pilgrims and Indians - sorry, I mean native Americans - probably isn't politically correct anyway.  We've sure come a long way in this country - unfortunately the trip has been basically down hill.  Well in our home we plan to celebrate both Thanksgiving and Christmas and try to honor our God who is the basis of both holidays.  While we may begin later this month to also think about Christmas - like doing some shopping, starting some decorations and addressing cards - our thoughts will be on giving God thanks.  So ...  We wish you ... a happy Thanksgiving.  Then we'll sport our special pins that say, "It's OK to wish me a Merry Christmas".  Then and only then our song will change and we'll be willing to sing to you ...  We wish you ... a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! 

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Day After

It's the day after the big election and I have three reactions.  (1) I am disappointed.  As expected, the candidates I wanted actually lost and I admit that I am concerned about the future of our great country.  But, guess what?  The sun still came up this morning.  God is still in control.  He knew what would happen and He knows what the future holds.  Put your faith in a man and you will be disappointed and let down.  Put your trust in Christ and He is faithful.   (2) I am exhausted.  Yesterday was very exhausting.  We put in 16 hours of hard work conducting the election.  We had folks in line when I arrived at 5:50.  When we opened at 7:00 the line stretched around the building and I couldn't see the end.  We processed hundreds of folks in the first few hours.  For the day, we had over 1,400 voters, plus enough absentee ballots to bring us to about 1,500 which is close to 80% of our precinct or about 150% of our previous high vote.  We could now use some rest!  (3) I am amused.  Observing human reactions and human nature is frustrating if you take it too seriously, and amusing if you just stop and enjoy it.  We had folks upset when we didn't open the polls at 6 a.m.  We had folks upset when they arrived after 8 p.m. and couldn't vote.  The legal hours for voting have always been 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. - but who bothers with that.  We had folks registered in Leola and in Reading who thought they could just drop by and vote with us.  I prepared all sorts of direction signs but folks ignored them.  We continually had folks come in the door marked exit ignoring the ones marked enter here.  I even added more arrows to direct them better ... they still came in the wrong way.  I did it a third time and when that didn't work I just gave up and laughed.  We had folks who couldn't get in the correct line, A to N or O to Z.  Many failed to stop at the signs which essentially said, "line begins here, wait until you are called".  And then there were the signs, "please turn off all cell phones".   And we had folks talking on phones while registering and phones ringing while folks were in the privacy booths.  Some ignored directions and tried to register at the poll watchers' table. And, of course, there were folks who didn't know what to do even though they had passed at least four signs which explained the process used in the past four elections.  On the positive side, we only had 12 voters who messed up their ballots by not following instructions and only a few who ignored our escan instructions and tried to ram their ballot through the scanner before the receipt was torn off.  Such action can jam the scanner which forces folks to wait in line until we can open it, clear it, and reset it.  One has to wonder how many folks actually function in life and how they can make intelligent, informed decisions, including who to elect as president.  They sure have trouble following entrance signs .... with multiple arrows added.  Well, time to enjoy the sun which has risen again today .... or maybe take a nap. 

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Election Inside Scoop

In 2005 I fell for it.  A member of the Republican party stopped by and asked if I would consider replacing an older but ill friend who had served as Judge of Elections for many years.  They told me there wasn't much to it, so I said yes.  I was retired and could do this community service.   Then I found out that it meant getting a petition signed, running for election, recruiting a team of workers, and hours of training and work.  Then they surprised me with a switch in location and after learning how to operate the voting machines, they adopted a whole new system - more training and more work.  But eight elections later I am still doing it - with another new location to break in this year.  Right now I am taking a break in preparation to try to maintain my sanity.  This time it has meant hours of work to find and arrange for the new voting location.  I've spent weeks delivering signs to notify folks of the change and weeks printing out signs for tomorrow and scheduling workers. We've been to two hours of training.  I've worked this whole weekend preparing the books and forms and then today I've been at the location for almost seven hours setting things up.  Tomorrow it will be about 16 hours of nonstop work, handling a multitude of problems and probably complaints.  The best part is that I now have a very good, experienced team that will work with me tomorrow.  And we will have plenty - actually too much - good food, if we have time to eat it.  Tomorrow, among other things, I will file reports in envelopes lettered from A to Z.  I will handle provisional ballots, absentee ballots, affirmation forms, spoiled ballots, canceled JBC forms, forms for assistance in voting, payroll forms, verification and identification of voters, zero tapes, tally tapes, write-in tapes, pole watchers, final result forms, and swear in (not at) my precinct board.   And after we pack up the escans, the eslates, the 18 privacy booths, the tables, the chairs, the signs and all sorts of other items, we'll justify the results and post them on the door.  Then I'll carry all the ballots, reports, forms and computer tapes to the other side of Lancaster.  Now that is the inside scoop of what goes on and I haven't really even talked about all the forms involved - government regulations are unbelievable.   I never had any comprehension of all that was involved.  Then a few weeks from now I'll get my reward - $5 for attending the training session and about $1.50 an hour for all my work.  So you see we don't do it for the money but I guess we do it for our country and for our community.  Thankfully, there are thousands of folks like us  who give of their time - democracy in action.  Enough for now - I have more prep to do yet tonight and hopefully I'll get a few hours of sleep before we get on site at 6 a.m.   Morning will come too quickly and probably more quickly than night will come.  Don't forget to do your part and vote.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Special Election Edition

This is a special edition of my blog.  I have not used my blog to say anything about the election despite the fact that I really fear the direction our country is moving.  It appears that the victory will be bought by the most liberal senator in the U.S. Senate who is strongly pro-choice, an advocate of homosexual rights, big government, redistribution of the wealth, higher taxes and many ultra-liberal causes.  One of my biggest concerns has been his stand for abortion and his plans to remove all restrictions on abortions.  With this in mind, I'd encourage you to stop and watch a very challenging video produced by the Catholic church.  While it doesn't tell who to vote for, it is very thought-provoking and speaks for itself.   Watch it now at http://www.catholicvote.com/  In case you need some clarification, let me just share some comments about Obama on the subject of life.   Obama has said that one of his first items of business will be to pass a Freedom of Choice bill which will remove all limits on abortion which have been set by the states. He has voted against the Partial Birth Abortion Act. Four times he has voted against a law to provide medical help to children born out of failed abortions, especially those with special needs. He supports allowing young girls to have abortions without the knowledge of their parents. Planned Parenthood gives him a 100% rating. He has also publicly said that if one of his daughters got pregnant he would not want her to have to live with her "mistake" - not a human baby, a mistake. He said that deciding when a baby is actually a person is "beyond my pay grade". With that attitude, I believe being President is also above his pay grade and I can not vote for him.  I urge you to VOTE LIFE on Tuesday. 

Photo Captures A Disturbing Trend ...

The photo captures a disturbing trend that is beginning to affect wildlife in the US . Animals that were formerly self-sufficient are now showing signs of belonging to the Democratic Party ... as they have apparently learned to just sit and wait for the government to step in and provide for their care and sustenance. This photo is  of a Democrat black bear in Montana nicknamed 'Bearack Obama'.

Vote LIFE and reduction of big government on Tuesday.

Friday, October 31, 2008

We Just Missed It

Tuesday night we just missed it .... and we are glad that we did.  I had a late afternoon doctor appointment and I suggested that since it was late that we should go out for supper.  So we went to T.G.I.Fridays at Park City because I had a gift card to use there.  We were seated at the window where we could observe the mall, right across from the Susquehanna Bank.  We enjoyed the view of the shoppers, had a nice meal, and then headed home.  The next morning we were surprised to hear on the radio that a gang had jumped some other young men in the mall, right outside where we had been seated.  One of the men was stabbed in the leg and another beaten severely.  It happened while diners watched through the window, apparently shortly after we had left to go home.  That was a little too close and I'm glad we missed it.   Lancaster has changed dramatically.  It is no longer the quiet country town that many remember.  You don't see Amish everywhere you look.  Crime, drugs, shootings are now very common.  The population has changed and the racial make-up is radically different.  Some of my best memories are of the years that we lived in the city, on Queen Street, just five blocks from the square.  As an elementary age youngster, I was able to safely walk anywhere in the city or downtown without any fear.  I loved to go through the stores downtown after school.  But that was almost 60 years ago.  Now I would never walk alone in some of those areas when it was dark. And there are even areas I would avoid during the day.  But Lancaster isn't alone with this problem.  With home invasions, robberies, and crime growing, I'm not even sure about walking alone in some areas of Millersville at night.  Sin surely has changed the world that we live in.  What a shame for all of us and especially for our children and grandchildren.   But we can rest in the promise that God is preparing a new home for us in a place where there will be no more crime or fear.  It is a home beyond our imagination.  And someday, hopefully very soon, He will come to take us there.  And that's an event that you won't want to miss.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

It's All About Money

Baseball and the World Series used to be special.  In October, kids would rush home from school and their fathers would take off early from work to watch the Series.  Even some teachers allowed kids to watch while in school.  Great games, great memories.  But this tradition has all changed because of one thing - money.  It started when player salaries exploded causing teams to pay huge amounts to attract players.  This put the cost of a game and concessions out of the reach of many families.  Players have lost their loyalty to a team and now move from team to team for huge amounts of money.  Then TV got involved and World Series games had to be played at night - even in cold weather - because they got more money for night games.  Then they added more commercials (like Cialis and Viagra - explain that to your elementary age kids - well I guess the games are now too late for those kids to stay up and watch anyway), extending the length of the games making them go into the early morning hours on the east coast.  And then they make the games start even later - like tonight - when Obama has offered each network one million dollars for his half-hour advertisement at 8 p.m.  Money, money, money!  And baseball cooperates as Obama buys his way into the White House.  Then there was the debacle of Monday night when they played in horrendous, dangerous conditions until Tampa Bay tied the score - then they suspended the game. That game should never have been started and should have been stopped before the weather allowed Tampa to tie the game.  I think Major League Baseball actually hopes Tampa Bay wins the nest two games so that the series goes seven games instead of five.  And with the suspension from Monday, they may now actually have an historic eight games.  Again, money, money, money.  Of course TV and MLB are worried about the prospect of playing Friday night since there are so many high school football games then and their audience might be reduced.  So baseball is now a major business and MLB and TV rake in the money.   And many of us still watch.  But, if the Phillies weren't involved, this is one former fan who would not be watching this year - the Series nor Obama.  My hope is that the Phillies can pull it off tonight and then MLB and TV may say "Ouch"!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Mistakes

Mistakes - we all make them, we all live with them.  How many have you made today?  Sometimes mistakes cost us - like signing a contract to lock in on a heating oil contract then finding the price declines sharply.  Sometimes they are inconvenient - like making a wrong turn while driving.  Sometimes they are embarrassing - like giving a wrong answer on a test.  Sometimes they are funny - you better be able to laugh at yourself.  Unfortunately, sometimes are mistakes hurt others.  Within the past 15 hours I saw several glaring mistakes on TV.  In World Series game three, the umpire called a runner safe at first when replays showed the runner was definitely out.  Replays, which don't count in baseball, clearly showed the umps mistake, but the call couldn't be reversed and corrected.  His mistake allowed Tampa  Bay to begin a two-run rally and almost cost the Phillies an important victory.  Of course, the players also made several key mistakes or errors.  Then in the Eagles game this afternoon, the Falcons were just six points behind and with about three minutes left in the game made a defensive stop forcing the Eagles to punt.  The punt returner jumped away from the falling punt but the refs ruled it a muff, giving the ball back to the Eagles.  Replays clearly showed it should have been the Falcons ball, but their coach had used all his time outs and wasn't able to officially challenge the call.  The ball wrongly went to the Eagles who then scored a final touchdown to seal, or should I say steal, the victory.  I'm an Eagles fan, but the call was wrong and probably cost the Falcons a victory.   Mistakes!   But isn't it great that we can serve a God who never says "oops".  He is all knowing, all powerful, faithful and in control.  And Deuteronomy 32:3, 4 should be our response.  "I will proclaim the name of the Lord.  Oh praise the greatness of our God!  He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just.  A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is He."  So remember, He is God and we are not. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

E-mail Addresses

A few days ago I received an e-mail with instructions for my job as an election clerk - in Fairfax County, Virginia.  It told me when to report, what to do, and told me that I would receive $50 for working half a day at the polls in November.  I replied that I could not afford to drive there for just $50 and that I was already serving as Judge of Elections here in Pennsylvania.  I also suggested that they check their e-mail address.  Every few weeks I receive messages like this for somebody else - get well wishes, announcements, bills, shipment notices, plans to visit us, etc.  Once I even received someone's password for a porn site.  Then, a few hours later, I received an e-mail from this guy's wife telling the husband that she was looking forward to being with him tonight.  So, I passed the information about the site on to her.  I often wonder what happened after she received it.  All of these wrong e-mails come to me because somebody forgot to add a required number or a letter to DBLK.  And, what a difference that missing letter or number makes.  That reminds me of one of my favorite stories.  A couple from Minneapolis decided to go to Florida for a long winter weekend to thaw out.  They planned to stay at the same hotel where they spent their honeymoon 20 years ago.  Because both had jobs they found it difficult to coordinate their travel schedules.  It was decided that he would fly to Florida on Thursday and his wife would join him on Friday.  Upon arriving, the husband sent his wife an e-mail back to her in Minneapolis.  But he missed a letter in her address and didn't realize his error.  In Houston, a widow had just returned from her husband's funeral.  The husband had been a minister for many years and was called home to glory after a heart attack.  The widow checked her e-mail for messages.  Upon reading the first one, she fainted.  Her son rushed into the room, found his mother on the floor, and saw the message on the computer screen.  It read,  To: My Loving Wife   Subject: I've Arrived.  I know you are surprised to hear from me.  They have computers here now and you are allowed to send e-mails to loved ones.  I've just arrived and checked in.  Everything is prepared for your arrival tomorrow.  Looking forward to seeing you then!  Hope your journey is as uneventful as mine was.  P.S.  It sure is hot down here!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

God Will Make A Way

Today the application of my pastor's sermon was an important reminder to me.  At times we all need such reminders.  Concluding the story of Esther, pastor reminded us that there weren't any coincidences in the story of Esther and there aren't coincidences in the lives of believers.  God is in control.  He knows all things before they happen, whether those things are in our lives, the lives of other believers, or even in the life of our country.  Sometimes problems and trials seem to come at us in waves, one after another. I guess that recently I've felt somewhat battered by the waves of bad news and unexpected problems.   In fact, on Friday night, after having received some very bad news, I had trouble sleeping and at times even trouble praying while I tossed and turned throughout the night.  Then, early in the morning, I heard one of my favorite Christian artists, Janet Paschal, sing a favorite song, by Dan Moen, with the reminder that I needed at that moment.  It's based on the story of the Israelites facing the Red Sea with the enemies closing in from behind.  "Must have felt strange to end up stranded between an army and the sea.  They must have felt forsaken wondering why God wasn't all He said He'd be.  When your back's against the wall, it's the hardest place of all. But somewhere between provisions and impossibility - God will make a way, when there seems to be no way.  Forever He is faithful. He will make a road when you bear a heavy load.  I know, God will make a way ... When a wall of circumstances leaves you crying in the night, and you struggle til your strength is almost gone.  God will gently hold you in the shelter of His heart and carve a road for you to carry on. So carry on. God will make a way, when there seems to be no way.  Forever He is faithful.  He will make a road when you bear a heavy load. I know, God will make a way."  So if today the waves seem overwhelming, remember, there are no coincidences.  God is in control and He will make a way.  So carry on!   (Hear it now on You Tube)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Supporting Death

How do you defeat a presidential candidate who openly distorts the truth and gets away with it because of his charisma?  How can you run against him when he has twice the money to spend on false advertising because of his backing by Hollywood, TV stars, abortion supporters, the homosexual lobby, other special interest groups, and the national media?  What recourse do you have when it is not possible to refute publicly his distortions because the media is in his pocket?  Today I heard of another sad case of this distortion of the truth.  On Christian radio, several folks shed light on Obama's radical stance on abortion, detailing how he's voted multiple times against born-alive infant protection acts — even when such legislation was supported by the majority of his Democratic colleagues.   In 2001, he argued that he thought this born-alive infant protection act would overturn Roe v. Wade, and he voted against it in committee. He went on to be the sole senator to speak against it on the senate floor two years in a row.  Over the course of three years, he voted against this bill four times.   Effectively, he voted to prohibit to withhold critical treatment from any child born after a botched abortion test if the child had any physical disabilities.  This is the same Obama who even voted against the partial birth abortion ban.  Now, to make it worse, he claims - even in the debate - that he would never vote to withhold such medical treatment.  That is a lie,  the public records show otherwise.  Then, he supports negative ads which chastise McKain for daring to even bring up such a matter.  This is the same candidate who has promised to eliminate any restrictions on abortion, promote homosexual rights, and fight any attempts to define marriage as being between two adults of different sex.   There is much more I could say, but that is plenty for you to think about today.    His is a sick ultra liberal agenda and it appears that this country is now going to elect such a man.  I guess America may get what we deserve.  We have turned our backs on God as a country and now we - including many Christians - are being deceived by charisma.  How do we defeat this?  Pray and vote.