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.
This morning at church I received $1,200 more for our adopt-a-club project. This brings the total raised to this year to a record $6,200! PTL! What a thrill to help boys and girls around the world have the opportunity to meet Jesus and learn about Him.
One of my favorite events is our annual Awana Club Adopt-a-Club project in which we raise money to support needy Awana Clubs around the world. For about $240 we can help a club in a foreign country purchase handbooks, game equipment, and needed supplies for a year. Over the years at Faith Bible Fellowship in Lancaster, we have expanded our annual support to 14 adopted clubs. We have just completed our annual project and we raised exactly $5,000 this year. With this we will be able to support our 14 clubs for another year and have additional funds to support additional Awana mission needs. Our clubs are located in Brazil, Ghana, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi, Mexico, Nicaragua, Philippines, Romania, Russia, South Africa, and Venezuela. Now how do we raise the money? First we give each of our five clubs and our support staff a goal. If they reach their goal they get to pie one of their leaders. Over the years we have looked for a new method to use, but the kids respond to this pieing just as enthusiastically as they have for many years. And we continue to have leaders who are willing to do this. (You can see some of the pictures of our pieing onfbfawana.com by going to the Awana News there.) Incidentally, this Wednesday we will have one of our leaders pied by two city boys who come on our van. Both boys were trouble makers last year and I even had to suspend them for a month at one point. But this year these second graders have responded and they just memorized the books of the Old Testament to qualify to do the pieing of their leader. Stories like that touch my heart. The other part of our project is the use of the Kauffman Family puppets which we have used in our ministries for over 30 years. Some years all three of our boys are there to use them - and they are so great with them. They can ad-lib and keep me off balance, and the audience loves that. But we are also now using our grandchildren. Over the past few years our six oldest have all participated. This year only one of our sons could be there each night so we depended upon five of the grandkids to help keep the program going. The puppets are used to report the results for each club, to whip up enthusiasm, and to keep everyone interested and involved. We encourage the clubbers to find ways to earn money to contribute and we do give them a badge for their uniform if they contribute at least $8. And our clubbers do a great job of finding money to donate. However we also get great support from our leaders, families, and friends since the average gift per participant is about $23. So obviously we do get gifts from other folks to make this possible. But it is a great missions project. I admit that I enjoy it because it is a chance to work with my entire family. But, even more so, we are helping boys and girls around the world to know, love and serve the Lord. And that is our mission and the mission of Awana. (P.S. - We will now accept gifts towards next year's goal if you wish to contribute. Just let me know!) I wonder if in heaven we will meet some who came to know the Lord through one of the Awana programs which we adopted and sponsored. Wouldn't that be great!
Last Sunday two people asked me what I thought about the protests in Wisconsin. I think they may have been surprised by my answers. Because I spent 39 years in public education I imagine that they expected me to defend the protesters, especially the teachers. Maybe 30 years ago I would have supported their cause, but no longer. I did a little research recently and found that when my father took his first teaching job, the average salary for a teacher was about 10% of the average salary for all wage earners. When I took my first teaching job the average salary for a teacher had jumped to about 18% of the average salary for all wage earners. Today the average salary is about 120% of the average worker's salary. In addition, teachers have excellent benefits and in most states, such as Pennsylvania, they have outstanding guaranteed pension plans. And in times like this when most folks are not getting raises, they continue to get raises annually because of their strong union. In my early years of teaching I did belong to the local education association before it was granted legal rights to negotiate and strike. But I was used as a test court case by the state labor relations committee which ruled that because I was a supervisor I could not be part of the union. I thank the Lord that my decision was determined for me, because as the union grew in strength, their national stands on moral issues and their support of national candidates and policies were often counter to my beliefs as a Christian. I pity born again Christian teachers who today are forced to pay union dues because of closed shop policies. Now, in all fairness, it was the union that brought teacher salaries and benefits up to a fair level. It never would have happened without them. But now it has swung too far and I admire the governor of Wisconsin who is attempting to take away some of their power in an attempt to save the economy of his state. He has been forced to do this because the unions have continued to ask for more in a time when others are forced to live on less and our national economy is fragile. In a year when schools are millions of dollars in debt, many nonunion administrators have agreed to frozen salaries. But, teachers have not. In Manheim Twp. the school board has asked the teachers to consider a salary freeze. They have ignored the board's request. Instead they take their contracted raises while boards are forced into making major cuts in programs. And it isn't just the teacher unions. It is the police, the firemen, and other "public servants". And they all have a sad bargaining chip - they could withhold their services - and create chaos. Look at Wisconsin - teachers called in sick so they could protest. They should be fired for those lies, but they won't. Some doctors publicly gave written excuses to many - these dishonest doctors should lose their licenses for that, but they won't. Then there are the Democratic congress members who have fled the state so that the vote can't be taken. What a sad action for an elected official! They should be fined and thrown out, but they won't. Could you believe that elected Americans would take such such actions to circumvent the democratic process? Now I do believe in the freedom to protest and the unions do have the right to do this peacefully. But when deceit and dishonesty are part of the process, then how can democracy survive? Are we to be ruled by the mobs? Unfortunately, I think this is only the beginning and other states will soon face the same pressures. Will we have elected leaders who are strong enough to stand up and support the democratic process? I guess time will tell. A democracy can't last long when greed, deceit, and immorality rule. I hate to be a pessimist but there are times that when I view what is happening I am glad that I am a senior with the best days in heaven not too far ahead. I often feel sad for my children and grandchildren, and my beloved country, but I also believe that the return of the Lord could happen any day. And that is my hope.
Did you read about the teacher from suburban Philadelphia who was suspended for her blog in which she called her students "disengaged, lazy whiners"? She is fighting to keep her job because of her blog and it will be interesting to see what happens, especially since this blog was written on her time, not the school's. Now let me say up front that she probably showed very poor judgment in sharing her thoughts publicly and if things are really that bad, she should quit and find a job elsewhere. That being said, I must admit that she had the courage to say what many many teachers would really like to say. She wrote "My students are out of control. They are rude, disengaged, lazy whiners. They curse, discuss drugs, talk back, argue for grades, complain about everything, fancy themselves entitled to whatever they desire, and are generally annoying." Now I know that all students and classrooms are not like that. But, unfortunately, too many are. Some of the comments that she wished she could put on student evaluations were interesting, such as "I hear the trash company is hiring". I think many teachers would like to have the courage to say that to a few of their students. It is sad that the trash company may be all that some have in their future. I also read "I called out sick a couple of days just to avoid your son." Now thankfully that thought never crossed my mind, but I know it did to some that I taught with. And how about "Just as bad as his sibling. Don't you know how to raise kids?" Now there is one that I sometimes thought of but never had the courage to say. The biggest change that I experienced over 39 years was the difference in parents. Besides the fact that in recent years many students only had one parent, it was obvious that many had no parenting skills or common sense. They would defend their child when the child was obviously at fault. They pampered their children and never said "no". They gave them everything they wanted without making them work for it. I think in many cases they were just plain scared of their kids. Parents have become more demanding on teachers and schools to raise their kids for them and less demanding on their own children. Unfortunately I sometimes found this to be true with Christian parents. It is easy to blame the schools and teachers for ones failures. It didn't used to be that way and it still isn't in many cultures such as in Korean families. Well I don't know what will happen to this teacher who said publicly what many teachers would like to say. And while I can't support what she has done, I can understand the circumstances that drove her to write what she has written. I seldom had serious problems during my years in the classroom and I often still miss the students. But as I view what is happening, I am glad that I am now retired.
Birthdays of your grandchildren are always special events. As I've shared here before, since all of our grandchildren live close by, we celebrate each with a special family dinner. The "honored guest" is allowed to choose the menu for the meal. So far we've had three birthdays in 2011, honoring our 13, 15 and 17 year olds. In another month it will be our 19 year old. It is so hard to believe that they are already that old. Time sure flies! Incidentally our meals so far this year have featured pizza and chicken pot pie as well as special vegetables and salads and of course cakes of their choosing. While physical birthdays can be fun, we all have them. There is another type of birthday that unfortunately not everyone has - that is a spiritual birthday. And this is really the more important birthday of the two types because it determines our eternal destiny. Last week I received an e-mail from my youngest son. He gave me a riddle to solve. What is 7 for 7? I guessed incorrectly a number of things. Then he replied that it meant the number of our grandchildren who have now accepted Christ as their Savior. He went on to tell me that a few days previously our youngest grandson had accepted Christ. What precious news that was. All seven, from 4 to 19, have now done this and in addition to being my grandchildren, they are now my brothers and sisters in Christ. Now I am sure that there are a few readers who will question how a four year old could make such a decision. I don't think Jesus would question that for he said "Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for of such is the Kingdom of God". Joining God's family is a matter of simple faith that a child can understand. Adults tend to make this gift much more difficult. Actually I was only two months past my fourth birthday when my Aunt Ellen led me to the Lord. I didn't know much about doctrine then (and I still have much to learn), but I knew I had sinned and that Jesus died for my sins. I knew He would forgive me and help me to live a life that pleased Him. And I really believe that I became a member of His eternal family that day. Some Christian authorities say that a child's world view is formed by the time the child is five or six. Others say by the time the child is twelve. No matter who is correct, I believe that a child can in simple faith accept Christ. Most Christians are converted before the age of twelve. That is why I think ministry to children is so vital and so neglected in most churches. The feeling is that anybody can teach children. And that is sad. But I am thrilled that I can now look forward to having my seven grandchildren stand with me before God's Throne in heaven. That is the most important news a grandparent can receive. There is a little known song that I heard years ago that should be the prayer of every parent and grandparent. I've shared it with my grandchildren and I shared it at my father's funeral. Here are just a few of the words for you to think about today.
It's not an easy load you're bearing,
But the trials of your faith will make you strong.
Facing dangers unaware, He won't allow what you can't bear.
So my prayer is that your faith will bring you home.
So just be there when I finally make it home,
And I stand before the throne, Just be there!
When I look around to see, if you are standing next to me,
I just finished reading the book "A Thirst For Souls" which is the story of the life of Percy Crawford, written by his son Dan. There were a few heavy chapters that I forced my way through on things like the history of evangelism, fundamentalism, and Percy's doctrinal beliefs. But I found most of the chapters telling the details of his life very interesting. The book tied together for me many of the people and events that happened in my earlier years which I never fully understood. In case you are too young to know about Percy, he was a great evangelist who had a tremendous outreach to adults and especially to youth through television, radio, and rallies ion the 30's, 40's, and 50's. He was the founder of Pinebrook Bible Conference, Kings College, and WDAC-FM. I recall watching him on TV and hearing him on the radio while I was a teenager. And now, after about 40 years of attending Pinebrook, I found it fascinating to read about the details of its founding and operation. I wish that I could find a map detailing the locations of the original buildings there. It is incredible to me that we continually talk to people who attended Pinebrook when Percy ran it. Many of these folks were saved there or dedicated their lives to Christ while attending there. So many well-known Christians trace their roots to Pinebrook. The founder of Word of Life, Jack Wrytzen, and his wife were saved there. Billy Graham had his early connections there. George Beverly Shea was a guest soloist there when he was hired by the Moody Network where he later met Billy Graham. Many other Christian leaders spoke there in the early days. As a teen I loved the Ohman Brothers and in this book I learned that they also worked with Percy. His associates are a list of "Who's Who In Evangelism" in my lifetime. He was a pioneer in Christian TV and radio broadcasting. Dr. Crawford produced the very first religious network radio program heard on the Mutual Radio Network linking some 400 radio stations in every state of the Union. That national radio network outlet was supplemented by the purchase of broadcast time from local and regional radio stations, and in addition to the programming of the Young Peoples Church of the Air, Pinebrook Praises was also broadcast live from Philadelphia for some 25 years. In 1949, Percy founded and produced the first Christian television broadcast which aired on ABC Television Network with outlets in virtually every major city in America. It is interesting to me to see how my life has been affected by his ministry. His wife, Ruth, was an accomplished musician and chorus writer. Gospel choruses were a key feature of their work together, especially at Pinebrook. They published numerous chorus books that include many of the choruses that I grew up singing. Pinebrook itself has been an important part of our lives for many years since it was purchased by the Bible Fellowship Church. We have served there and worshipped there for about 40 years. And I recall when Percy founded WDAC in Lancaster and I have faithfully listed to that station since my high school days in 1959. I still wake up and go to sleep listening to the beautiful Gospel music aired there. The book tells it like it was, including Percy's faults. One of these was the inability to delegate responsibility. And where he did delegate, he often couldn't let people do their job without interference. As a result, he lost many good people who could have expanded and carried on his ministries after his death. He also drove himself with an unbelievable schedule and this must have contributed to his early death. He had five heart attacks before his final one which ironically came on a trip to Lancaster to speak at a Youth For Christ rally. He had also planned to visit his most successful radio station, WDAC, on that trip. But God had other plans for him that weekend. He was an innovator, an evangelist with a special gift, and a man with a vision. But most importantly, he had a deep desire and burden to bring the lost to Christ. If you would like to read this book just let me know and I will gladly loan it to you.
For security reasons, I often don't open forwards with attachments that are sent to me, even by folks I know. And forwards I receive generally are read and deleted. But every once in awhile there is one that I need to share. Recently I received one that contained answers that students have given to questions on tests. You may think that these are made up but that probably means that you've never been a teacher. I often wish that I had kept some that I received on my tests. But here for your enjoyment are actual answers given on tests.
1. Explain why phosphorus trichloride (PCl3) is polar.
Ans. - God made it that way.
2. Sea salt is commercially obtained from sea water by the process of evaporation and crystallization. The main component of sea salt is sodium chloride. What type of force or bond holds the sodium ions and chloride ions together in a crystal of sodium chloride?
Ans. - James Bond
3. Briefly explain what hard water is.
Ans. - ice
4. Given a triangle with legs marked 3 cm and 4 cm and the hypotenuse marked x, find x.
Ans. - (x is now circled) Here it is.
5. What was Sir Walter Raleigh famous for?
Ans. - He is a noted figure in history because he invented cigarettes and started a craze for Bicycles.
6. What did Mahatma Gandi and Gengis Khan have in common?
Ans. - Unusual names
7. Name one of the early Romans' greatest achievements.
Ans. - Learning to speak Latin.
8 - Name one measure which could be put into place to avoid flooding in times of extensive rainfall (e.g. in Mississippi).
Ans. - Flooding in areas such as the Mississippi River may be avoided by placing a number of big dames into the river.
9 - Name two animals which live specifically in the Arctic.
Ans. - Two polar bears and four seals.
10 - Name the wife of Orpheus whom he attempted to save from the underworld.
Ans. - Mrs. Orpheus
11 - Where was the Declaration of Independence signed?
Ans. - At the bottom.
12 - What happens during puberty to a boy?
Ans - He says goodbye to his childhood and enters adultery.
13 - What is the meaning of the word "varicose"?
Ans. - Close by
14 - What is the highest frequency noise that a human can register?
Ans. - Mariah Carey
15 - What is a fibula?
Ans. - A little lie
16 - Explain the phrase "free press".
Ans - When your mum irons trousers for you.
17 - Joanna works in an office. Her computer is a stand-alone system. What is a stand-alone computer system?
Ans. -It doesn't come with a chair.
18. - Steve is driving his car. He is traveling at 60 feet/second and the speed limit is 40 mph. Is Steve speeding?
Ans. - He could find out by checking his speedometer.
And that folks is one of the "joys" of being a teacher!
Like many of you, on Sunday night we watched the Super Bowl. And, unlike many other Super Bowls, this was actually a very good game that came down to the final minute of play before the outcome was decided. I really didn't know who to root for. I guess I have always been an Eagles fan, but I know they'll never get back to the Super Bowl so over the years I've had other teams that were also my favorites. Back in the 60's the Packers were my favorite team. Two years ago we toured their facilities and their museum and it brought back so many memories of the great games when Vince Lombardi was coach and Bart Starr was quarterback. And it was intriguing to hear how they were started by a meat packing plant and now are the only team actually owned and controlled by the their fans. But the Steelers were my favorite team when Franco Harris was playing and they are from Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, I admit that the moral problems of their quarterback have tarnished my feelings and support. I wish the Steelers had taken the high road and traded him and replaced him with someone that young people could really look up to. But then they probably wouldn't have made it to the Super Bowl. It is ironic that his two intercepted passes cost his team two touchdowns and probably the victory. I think football is my favorite sport to watch because, unlike baseball, there is so much action. And there are some great football players who are good moral men and born again believers. Reggie White was always one of my heroes, a great player who loved and served the Lord. But, unfortunately in the months ahead, there will be a major battle between the rich team owners and the union which represents the rich players. They will be fighting over a new contract to make each of them richer. The result could be a strike or lockout and possibly no football season and no Super Bowl. And the poor fans will pay for it one way or another. Hopefully we can at least watch some good college football games. But back to the Super Bowl. There were two things that bothered me that weren't really part of the actual game. The first was the commercials. Some were very funny. Others were very sexual and suggestive. This is so sad when many of those viewing were children or teenagers. It made me cringe to think that my grandchildren and kids that we minister to in Awana who love football were exposed to this immorality in ad after ad. Unfortunately it is just part of the downward slide of morality in America. One can't help but wonder how long God will put up with this. But moving on - I will skip any comments about the halftime show - but, I can't pass commenting on the "rendition" of the National Anthem - if that is what it was. It turns my stomach to hear an "artist" (??) change the words and interrupt it as she wants to. It seems to me that the National Anthem should be special and sung only with dignity. I don't think any other country would allow a soloist to do this to their anthem at such a major event. Only in America. I guess I am more sensitive to this since I just finished viewing "Band of Brothers", a true story of men in World War II. After viewing that, one comes away with a new respect and appreciation for what thousands went through to provide us with the liberty and freedom to watch and enjoy a Super Bowl. Their sacrifice deserves a solemn and respectful response, not what we viewed on Sunday night. God has blessed America, but can He do so much longer?
Two years ago this morning, my father journeyed to his new home in heaven. Sometimes it seems like just days ago and at other times it seems like many years ago. I don't know why I am so surprised, but as I look back I see so many ways that God answered prayers and directed our steps during these months. All of us dreaded being the one who would find dad and yet God prepared me for that moment. I was with him the night before and saw how much he was suffering. Yet he wouldn't allow me to stay with him. And, after a sleepless night, the next morning when I returned I knew he was gone before I even entered his house and found his body. I knew his soul was with Jesus and that his suffering was over. I had real peace during time. But I admit that I was often overwhelmed as I thought of what was ahead. First there were funeral and memorial service details. Then we had to find and transfer all the denominational financial records since he was treasurer for our denomination. We had to do the same for our church records since he served in the same capacity for our church. Then we had to begin to settle his estate and his trust. That meant cleaning out and maintaining the large house that he had lived in for about 60 years. Then there was the task of selling the house which really needed considerable work. That seemed like an impossible task during a time when the housing market was so bad. It is interesting now to note that a house a few blocks away had been listed for sale long before dad died and a few weeks ago we saw that it still hasn't sold. His sold in a few days despite its condition! I admnit that two years ago the task of doing all of this, along with my brother's death, gave me additional sleepless nights. Oh yes, we were also in the process of settling Dianne's dad's estate. And looking back now I wonder why I worried so much. God had always been faithful in the past and I knew He would be in the present and future. And He was. It took time, but step by step He led as through this process, giving us needed wisdom and providing the needed help just when it was needed. Now we still aren't done. We still have final taxes to file and that may happen in March. I will be relieved when we are finally done with this process. And I do miss dad at times. There are times that I just think I need to call him or stop by and share some problems or praises with him. But those days are gone. And, I would not wish him back. He lived a great life and was able to take care of himself and be useful in ministry until his last breath. Praise God for that. He left a great legacy. And I have learned more about wills, estates, trusts, taxes, etc. then I ever wanted to know. As I reflect upon the past two years, I marvel at the many answers to prayer and God sightings that we've had on this journey. As I reflect I have been reminded of a Gaither song that Dianne and I and our boys used to sing when we ministered as a family. Think about these words today with whatever challenge you may be facing.
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.
Cho: I believe, I believe, I believe,
So why should I worry or fret.
He said that He'd go with me and protect me each day
On Tuesday one of my favorite Christian soloists, George Beverly Shea, celebrated his 102nd birthday. Wow! I have always enjoyed his special mellow voice and the message he conveys each time he sings. Now for the few who don't know "Bev", he is a Grammy Award-winning Canadian centenarian, a bass-baritone singer of gospel music and the composer of several hymns and hymn tunes. Shea has often been described as "America's Beloved Gospel Singer" and is considered "the first international singing 'star' of the gospel world," as a consequence of his solos at Billy Graham Crusades and his exposure on radio, records, and television. According to the Guinness Book of Records, Shea holds the world record for singing in person to the most people ever, with an estimated cumulative live audience of 220 million people. Shea himself has said that he became a Christian at the age of five or six, but made a rededication to Christ when he was 18. "There were times when I needed to rededicate my life to the Lord Jesus. When I was 18, my dad was pastoring a church in Ottawa, and I was feeling not too spiritual. The church was having a "special effort," as they called it, for a week. I remember that on Friday night Dad came down from the pulpit, and tenderly placed his hand on my shoulder. He whispered, "I think tonight might be the night, son, when you come back to the Lord." Whatever Dad did or said, I listened to him and respected him. And, yes, that was the night!" For many years he sang on various radio programs but the Lord had something greater for him. "One morning, there was a rap on my office door. I looked out and there was a tall young man with blond hair and we shook hands. He was 21 and I was 31. It was Billy Graham and he had traveled in from Wheaton College on a train just to say 'hello.' He said he listened to my morning hymn show called 'Hymns From The Chapel.' That's how we first got acquainted. I came into this work with Mr. Graham in 1947 after we had exchanged letters and talked on the phone. He said he wanted me to be his gospel singer. I thanked him, but told him the only gospel singers I've ever heard about would sing a verse or two and stop and talk awhile. 'Would I have to do that?' I asked him. He chuckled and said, 'I hope not.' With that, I said, 'Well, I'd like to come with you'. That was in November of 1947 and I've been with him ever since." And during those years his singing and Billy Graham's preaching have helped bring many thousands to the Lord. I only ever heard him once in person. In the 1950's we had the thrill of going to Times Square in New York City for one of Graham's huge rallies. While we were many blocks away, the service was amplified and we were able to hear Bev sing and Billy preach. What a thrill. If you've never heard him sing, here are links to three of my favorite songs. WONDER OF IT ALL (written by Shea), I'D RATHER HAVE JESUS, THE LOVE OF GOD. Happy birthday Mr. Shea and thank you for an example of a faithful servant of God.
Former teacher/administrator (39 years) in public schools. Awana Commander (30 years). Financial secretary at church. Judge of elections locally. Married for 50 years. Father of three sons and grandfather of seven. Fan of Penn State football.