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.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Growing Old

Growing older has many problems. Many of these are physical and there often isn't too much that you can do about them. However, another major problem of growing older is the use of your spiritual gifts and ministry opportunities. In my final decade of being a teacher and an administrator, I often sat in meetings where a couple of administrators would complain about older faculty members who they wished would retire and be replaced with young, new teachers. I often wondered if they were including me, but they would be quick to cover themselves and say that some of us experienced (sounds better than old) guys were still valuable. Now they were right about a few people who probably stayed too long, but not the majority of those older folks that I worked with. I always felt there was something very valuable about staff members who were seasoned and had a wisdom that only experience could bring. I did ask my boss once how one knew when it was time to retire. He said that I'd know when that time had come, and, a few years later, I did. Unfortunately, even in ministry there is a feeling that young and new is better. Seldom do we value experience, wisdom, and faithfulness. My father-in-law often said that when you get old, nobody wants you or needs you, anymore. I used to think that this was just an excuse, but now I am beginning to realize that there is more truth in that statement than I would like to believe. Certainly there is the danger of someone holding on to a position for too long, well past the point of effectiveness. I've seen that and I've seen unfortunate battles to replace such a person. But I've also seen effective leaders quit or be replaced when it appeared that they still had so much to give. Even effective leaders as they are growing old, still need support and encouragement to use their gifts and wisdom in the work of the Lord. This can be a dilemma which so often is just handled poorly by church leaders. I have experienced this problem personally in a variety of ways as I've been replaced or moved out of ministry positions. Once I even removed myself after remarks by some elected spiritual leaders whose wisdom I still question. I was wounded and it hurt. In another ministry situation, after I asked for some additional help in a leadership role, I was shocked to learn that I was to be replaced, without even any consultation or discussion. This appeared to be the easiest solution to those decision makers. In this particular case the Lord led me to resist this change which appeared to be based on the feelings of just a very few people. My decision was confirmed in my heart when I received three very unexpected communications, from three national Christian leaders, that I didn't even know. All three knew of my ministry situation and on their own decided to contact me, thank me, encourage me and urge me to continue. This unexpected confirmation was certainly a God-thing! Growing old in ministry should also mean growing mature. I do believe that Satan wants to rob the Christian Body of the strengths and wisdom of those who have served faithfully over the years. Faithfulness in ministry is a declining characteristic in today's Christian circles. We desperately need more models of faithfulness in serving the Lord. So let's be careful how we handle more mature brothers and sisters in the Lord. Let's value them, encourage them, and build upon their strengths. This is a resource that the church can't afford to waste. And to you fellow maturing, serving saints, don't give up, don't quit, keep serving with a renewed enthusiasm until the Lord takes you home. The One who calls you is faithful and He will do it.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Memories And Changes

We've not had a chance to get back to visit Sunbury since January. So on Thursday we decided we just needed to take a break and visit once again. We started by taking Dianne's stepmother out for breakfast. We went to our favorite breakfast spot on the road to Kramer, the Peppertree. As always, no atmosphere, very loud, but the best country breakfast anywhere. I love to stop there. Later we visited Dianne's parent's grave to see if the engraving was completed. It is in the cemetery where I worked digging graves - with just a shovel - during my college years. We had time to walk around and look at tombstones of many former friends and members of our former church. Many great memories. Then we drove to the parsonage where I lived during my first year and to the church we used to attend - where my grandfather ministered for 22 years, where I was dedicated to the Lord and where we were later married. The church building is destined to be a daycare center and it was locked so unfortunately we couldn't get in. But it was in very poor condition. We remembered the hot Sundays when the only air conditioning was opening the church windows where you could see the back porches of the row houses which were next door. I recalled how as a college student I used to get a ride to town early and then crawl in the basement window of the church to study until it was time for prayer meeting to begin. The old parsonage and yard are now gone and a new house is there which looks nothing like the old parsonage. Then we drove down to the neighborhood where my mother and her family used to live. It was not a great neighborhood but the house is still there, as is the front porch where we used to enjoy the swing as we recklessly banged it against the house. The neighborhood store where we used to buy delicious "cho-chos" is now gone as is the one where we used to go to buy comic books. The Horn Railroad is also gone. My mother's father, Pappy Wise, used to walk this everyday as he went to work making caskets. The casket building is now gone as well. We drove out to see what used to be a beautiful park-life property where Dianne grew up and her dad had his water business. Now it is trashy and filled with weeds. Sad, sad, sad, actually depressing! Next we drove to the neighborhoods where some of Dianne's family lived - some of these areas had changed very little, but the farm where her mother grew up is now a beautiful vineyard. Probably the only change that we saw that day which was an actual improvement. The main street of town which used to be thriving with stores and farmer's markets is now a sad site. The bank where Dianne used to work has changed only in name and the Daily Item where I used to work on the editorial staff is still there, as is the old prison a block away. The old library where I had done some research work has been replaced with a modern facility. Our final stop was to an office, where as we waited for our appointment, we saw a neat painting of a snowy scene along the main street of town, the way it used to be. It was a still and beautiful scene. And maybe that is the way we wish to remember it. So many great memories of great years in our lives. Changes happen and are to be expected, but unfortunately they aren't always for the good. But hopefully the mind pictures of how it used to be will never go away.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Beauty of God's Creation

How can you not believe that there is a Creator? Could this beauty just develop by itself?

Some of the beauty found in our yard.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Father's Day 2009

Tomorrow is Father's Day. It will be a difficult day for me. It will be the first Father's Day that I no longer have a living father-in-law, a father, or even my brother who was a great father. I will especially miss being able to wish my father a happy Father's Day and to sit down and just talk with him. I really miss those special discussions because dad had such great wisdom. Tomorrow will even be more difficult because it would have also been dad's birthday - number 92. We probably would have gone to Wendy's to eat, after church. I enjoyed those weekly times together. Quite often on his birthday we would be together at Pinebrook, but Pinebrook starts a week later this year. There we would celebrate his birthday with Kendy's family and Craig's family, enjoying cake and homemade ice cream. Two years ago we celebrated his 90th birthday a few days later, on July 3, when almost the entire family met at his home in Lititz. It was a special day with many great memories. Now all I have are those great memories and pictures. My father was a special person and I wish that I could thank him once again. We had a special relationship. He never attended events that I was in when I was growing up, mainly because he was busy working several jobs to put food on the table. And, I understood that. He never commended me or said he was proud of me, but I knew he was. I've since found out that our lives and activities were so very similar that he probably expected I would do those things and do them well, just as he had. But none of this ever bothered me because he showed me God through his life and he was my hero for that reason. Earlier this week I heard a song that brought tears to my eyes. I wish I could share it with my father tomorrow on Father's Day. If these words are true in your life, please tell your dad this tomorrow. "Thank you dad for showing me the Father, I see His love in everything you do. Like a clear reflection in the water, I've always seen the Father in you. (1) Through the years you've painted me the picture of a heavenly father I could see. His loving ways became so familiar, because dad you made the Father real to me. Thank you dad for showing me the Father, I see His love in everything you do. Like a clear reflection in the water, I've always seen the Father in you. (2) You sang the grand old hymns and read the story. Every night you prayed on bended knee. Following your steps I've seen the Father, and His amazing grace now lives in me. Thank you dad for showing me the Father, I see His love in everything you do. Like a clear reflection in the water, I've always seen the Father in you." ....... So, dad, in case you can hear or see me, thank you and have a very Happy Birthday and a great Father's Day as you share it with your Heavenly Father who you modeled to me.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Some Heavy Questions

Here are a few heavy things I've been wondering about today .... We were at Roots Auction yesterday and we saw a stand advertising genuine Mexican food. The stand was operated by Amish! Are there really Amish from Mexico? .... Would you risk buying from them with the Swine Flu epidemic? .... Why can't the Phillies win at home? Should they play all their games away? .... Why does the price of oil go up each year just at the time that people want to go on vacation and just at the time when oil distributors are setting their prices for winter heating oil? .... Do gas station operators call each other early in the morning to all agree to raise their prices 15 cents that day? ... Does anybody really believe that the election in Iran was fair and counted correctly? ... What did people do before there were games to play on Facebook? Did they call their friends? Did they read? Did they study their Bible? .... Today we saw a young girl with tattoos all over her body, at least the parts of her body that we could see, from her legs up to and on her face. She really looked gross when she could have looked very attractive. Why would she want to look like that? .... Why can't most women shop without talking on their cell phones while they do so? .... Saturday afternoon I purchased a potted tomato plant at a local "reputable" farm market. By Monday morning the leaves all had white splotches on them. I took a few leaves back to the market and they said they couldn't do anything about it for me. What could I have done to that plant in 40 hours? Why would I go back there to buy from them again? .... If your family has trouble paying your bills, why can't you just be allowed to "raise taxes" rather than cut your expenses? Isn't that what our government does? How big do you think our tax increase will be in Pennsylvania this year? .... Oh well, that's enough for today. Guess I'll go back to watching the Phillies lose again ... at home.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Century Mark

Ten months ago I began posting this blog on this public site that gives me a wider audience and a little more flexibility than my other site.  I just realized that this is now my 100th blog on this public site.   So happy anniversary to me.  And thanks to the few of you who regularly read these ramblings of an old guy on either of my sites.  I guess my last few blogs have been a little on the heavy side since we have been going through some troubled times in our lives lately.  Thank you to those of you who've hung in there with me through this time.  So, I thought maybe for number 100 I should try another angle, a more positive one.  During my teaching years I began to make a collection of humorous stories that I would often use in my classes.  Now I use them when I lead hymn sings or do other public presentations.  My collection now has grown beyond a single large notebook.  last week I heard Chuck Swindoll share one from my collection, one which remains one of my favorites.  I may have also shared this before, several years ago.  If I did, be patient with me - you know I am getting old and I repeat myself.  You know I am getting old and I repeat myself.   "A couple from up north decided to go to Florida for a long weekend to thaw out from an icy winter.  They planned to stay at the same hotel where they had spent their honeymoon 20 years ago.  Because they both had jobs they found it difficult to coordinate their travel schedules.  So it was decided that the husband would fly to Florida on Thursday and his wife would follow the next day.  Upon checking in, the husband found that the room had a computer so he decided to send an e-mail back to his wife.  Unfortunately, he accidentally left out one letter in her e-mail address when he sent it.  In Houston, a widow had just returned from her husband's funeral.  He had been a minister for many years before suffering a massive heart attack.  Expecting some messages of sympathy from relatives and friends she decided to check her e-mail.  When she opened the first message, she fainted!  The widow's son rushed into the room, found his mother on the floor, and then saw the computer screen which read:  To: My Loving Wife, Subject: I've Arrived!  I know you are surprised to hear from me but they have computers here now and you are allowed to send e-mails to your loved ones.  I've just arrived and have checked in.  I see that everything has been prepared for your arrival tomorrow.  Looking forward to seeing you then!  Hope your journey is as uneventful as mine was.  P.S.  Sure is hot down here!   ...........  have a good day and be careful of those e-mail addresses!

Friday, June 12, 2009


After a very dry winter we have hit a string of days with showers - some very heavy - and scattered storms.  Some storms have been severe and even flash flood warnings have been posted.  But the other day it looked as though the dark clouds had finally parted and the sun finally came out.  But as I stepped outside suddenly there was a flash of lightning and a loud boom.  The "zap" seemed to come out of the blue and certainly wasn't expected.  But isn't that the way life often is for each of us?  Right now it is 4 am and I've been unable to sleep all night.  We have been going through some "stormy" situations the last few months and then it began to appear that things were finally settling down and the "sun might be shining" once again.  But then, several hours ago, there was another unexpected "zap" and a new challenge has come my way.  I tried to sleep, but couldn't.  I spent time praying and asking the Lord for wisdom.  But sleep hasn't come.  Since midnight I've updated the church giving records, prepared labels for an Awana mailing list, answered some e-mails, and worked on paying bills.  Now I don't need any sermons, I know my trust is in the Lord.  I know I shouldn't worry.  But it would be so much easier if I could just pick up the phone, ask God personally what to do, and get a quick answer.   I know He knows all about this and has the future planned and under His control.  But, ...   And someday I'll look back and be amazed how He guided me through this problem.  But in the meantime ...   Well, we need the rain to restore our water table and we are thankful for the downpours we've been experiencing.  And I guess I need the zaps and storms of life for my spiritual growth so I should be thankful.  At least the Lord must think so!  But it would be nice to have a sunny season for a change.  In everything give thanks.  So my personal prayer continues to be for wisdom (and I really need that now), peace, and strength ... and maybe even some sleep.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Junk Mail

When my father passed away I arranged to have all of his mail forwarded to me.  I understand that the Post Office will do this for first class mail for one year.  This is important because of the need to get all of dad's bills as well as all of his mail for our denomination for which he served as financial secretary.  We have been working hard to get all of these addresses officially changed to be sent to me rather than to be forwarded.  This has been working and many of these addresses are now changed.  However, the Post Office has a shorter period for forwarding other mail - most of which I really don't want.  But something strange has happened.   All of what I term as "junk mail" has had its addresses changed and it is now also coming to me.  I certainly didn't ask for this to happen and I don't want it.  I guess it must be one of those "services" the Postal Service provides, on their own, to keep the mail coming.  Now most of these junk items are requests for money.  And my dad gets plenty of these - I think we really average three of four of these a day.  And that is an honest estimate.  And then there are the fancy address labels - he gets two or three sets of these a week with my address on them.  And I don't know how to get this all stopped - they'll probably keep coming even after I pass on.  They all include envelopes to return your gift, but you must use a stamp, so it will cost me money to tell them to stop their mailings.  Maybe I should just humor the Post Office and return them without stamps and flood their dead letter center.  I guess it is all part of the society of waste where we kill the trees and fill the landfills.  So thank you U. S. Postal Service for keeping the "junk mail" flowing to my home!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A Vacation To Forget

It has been two years since we were able to take a vacation.  We have been to Pinebrook quite often during that time, but that is always to work and I don't call that a vacation.  We haven't been able to get away for any length of time because of my duties every Sunday in church and our duties on Wednesday nights in Awana.  And we don't have a cabin or a get-away close by to go that doesn't cost us a great deal of money.  And finally, our family problems since last October have kept us fully involved in caring for others.  So, knowing that we really needed to get away, and since yesterday was our wedding anniversary, we planned a trip for much of this week. We left after completing my Sunday morning commitments.  But, I guess in this modern age one should not take a computer for e-mail (we operate our church e-mail prayer chain) or a cell phone if one really needs to relax.  Well we did have a nice time on Monday, enjoying a few relaxing hours time at the bay.   But numerous cell phone calls and e-mails informed us of a variety of problems involving unexpected family health problems, numerous estate settlement problems, and several other things that needed our attention.  Then some physical problems prevented us from doing what we had planned on the remaining days.  So, Tuesday morning we gave up and drove home to deal with some of the problems and to see our family doctor.  Now I admit that I was extremely disappointed since we had looked forward to this time and needed this time away.  And I also admit that I wrestled with God, especially while driving home.  Why would He allow these things to happen when we needed time away?  Didn't He think we had enough on our plate right now?   Couldn't we just have a break in the stress?  Was He even hearing our prayers and concerns?  I felt a little like David did when in Psalm 13 he wrote, "How long, O LORD?  Will you forget me forever?  How long will you hide your face from me?  How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart?  How long will my enemy triumph over me?"  Maybe there are times that you've reached this point, too.  It was a vacation and an anniversary to forget.  But later that night I recalled God's faithfulness in the past and the knowledge that "He encircles my path and my lying down with His care and that He knows ALL my ways" (Psalm 139:3)  And then I also remembered David's response in Psalm 13.  "But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, for he has been good to me."  So we did get some things accomplished on our return home.  We got to the doctor and scheduled a number of follow-up tests.  We were still able to catch a quick "anniversary dinner" at Dennys and I even had a coupon - not very romantic, but we were together.  And today I was able to cut grass and we made great progress on cleaning out my dad's house. I was able to finally schedule my surgery in July.  And we just learned that we need a new refrigerator.  So coming home wasn't a total waste, I guess.  And it was good we were home - this morning we even received a call from a friend who thought we were away - at 8:30.  Now if we had been on vacation we would have probably still been sleeping in bed, so I guess it was good we were home instead to take the call.  But we do know that God is in control, even when things don't go the way we had hoped.  God is good, all the time (even on vacations you want to forget)! 

Monday, June 1, 2009


Is commitment becoming a lost character trait?  I hear stories about community organizations and service groups who are having trouble operating because older members are no longer well enough to serve and younger folks won't join or make a commitment.  Many churches have similar problems with uncommitted laypersons so often professional help must be hired to provide services - just look at the growing size of church staffs.  Now part of it is the economy and the increase in the number of working women.  Family lives have changed.  But part of it is also our desires for "material things" and recreation.  Many younger folks just don't want to be tied down - they want to head to the shore, or the mountains, or the parks when they aren't working.  Faithfulness to the church and worship services is no longer a priority - commitment is lacking in my estimation.  Now not everything is that way.  We have worked with our Awana program for 27 years and we have had many committed leaders.  In fact we have 26 who have served 15 or more years.  Of these 19 have served for 20 or more years and 8 of these for 25 or more years.  That is commitment.  And most of our 80 staff members each year are there to serve almost every Wednesday night.   Now maybe it is also a generational thing.  We know of a church softball team where some members voted against using a league rule that would have allowed them to add a few nonchurch players to their roster.  I can't fault their vote as long as those voting were willing to be faithful and committed to the team.  So what happened?  Well many of these players have left their team down by not being faithful.  They all had the game schedule before the season began so they could have made a commitment to arrange their personal schedules to be there.  But most nights they have had to play without some regulars and a few times they have not even had any extra players available.  For one key game, against the team that had tied them for first place, five starters and several substitutes failed to show up.  As a result, the team had to play their coach to field a team and they were forced to play this key game with only nine instead of ten players.  So I wonder if commitment is becoming a lost trait, especially with the younger generation.  I was always taught that if I gave my word to be part of a team, or an outreach, or a church ministry, I was to give 100%.  Anything less was unacceptable.  It is even worse if this lack of commitment should involve unfaithfulness in attending, giving, or serving in a ministry.  Then the judge of our commitment is not a teammate or a friend or an observer, but the Lord!