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, February 27, 2012

I Wonder Why?

Are there things happening around you that you just don't seem to understand? Well I can think of many that confuse me, but here are ten of those on my list. (1) Why do Comcast and PNC send me form letters each week inviting me to add their service or take their credit card? Why don't they save the cost of postage and lower my rates or increase the interest they pay? That would be more helpful to me. Instead of supporting the postal service, why not give me, the consumer, a break? ... (2) Last week PPL was installing a new pole a few blocks from our house. There were eight men there - four working, four standing across the street watching. Two hours later I passed them again - four working, one directing traffic and three watching, across the street. About 30 minutes later I drove by again - four working, four watching across the street. Why couldn't the job be done by four instead of eight and then PPL might have been able to lower my rates. ... (3) Why does our local grocery store stock the shelves during the day when they block customers in the aisles? Why not do it early morning or at night? And why don't they stock enough of the weekly sales items so that they don't quickly run out of them? ... (4) Why can the president and other candidates go out and raise multimillions of dollars for their campaigns when the government can't raise enough funds to reduce the terrible national debt. Maybe they should be forced to donate 50% of what they raise to save medicare, or social security, or reduce the national debt. I like that idea. ... (5) Why can't we get serious about trying to become energy independent? While the price of gas soars upwards towards $5.00 a gallon, we can't seem to get new pipelines approved or other alternatives started. ... (6) Why do people continue to text and talk on their cell phones while they are driving? Don't they understand how dangerous that is or do they just think they are immune to accidents? That's somebody else's problem ... (7) Is there any control at all on the costs of drugs. I have a relative that needed medicine to fight a special infection. The cost for a couple of weeks is $1,600. But their insurance said if they purchase a 90 day supply, they can get it for just $25. So I guess they are purchasing the 90 day supply and then throwing out what isn't used. Now does that cost make any sense? ... (8) Another strange cost has to do with airfares. Recently I was checking costs to go to Chicago. I found out that it cost more from Baltimore to Chicago, then it does from Baltimore to Milwaukee which includes a stop in Chicago. Now how does that make any sense? ... (9) Why do people who are struggling financially insist on having several pets? Why wouldn't they use the money spent on the cost of keeping the pets on more important personal things like food, clothing, gasoline, retirement, etc.? ... (10) Why do people come to a viewing and expect to greet the family five minutes before the funeral service is to begin? If you are coming that late, don't try to get into the viewing line. Have some respect for those who are grieving. And speaking of showing respect, I will respect your time and quit for today. Maybe one of these days I'll continue my lists of "whys".. Take care

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Special Sunday

There are a few very special days in the life of a grandfather and, Lord willing, this Sunday will be one of those for this grandfather. Two very special things are scheduled to happen in our second service that day. The first one is the opportunity for me to present an Awana Sparky Award Plaque to my second grade granddaughter. This award is the result of three years of hard work in our Awana program. It involves memorization of many verses, memorizing the books of the Bible, studying various Bible stories, completing missionary projects and numerous other handbook requirements. It takes much hard work but it provides these clubbers with a sound foundation in the Bible. Six of my seven grandchildren have now earned this award and the seventh, who is just in kindergarten, is already making great progress to reach this goal two years from now. Ten members of our family have earned this award and I will have had the honor of making all the presentations to them. But then there is a second special event that will occur at that service. My three youngest grandchildren will follow the Lord in believer's baptism at the conclusion of the service. All three have professed faith in the Lord and are now ready to make a public confession of their faith. And that is very special. Then all seven of our grandchildren will have taken this public step. I can't think of anything that should thrill a grandparent more than seeing the spiritual growth of their grandchildren. While a grandparent can have a major impact on the life of their grandchildren, I think it is sometimes as difficult as being a parent because there is a limit to what you can do to influence them. But one can pray. And we have done that daily. And we have even prayed for years for godly spouses for each of them, in God's time. In a time when many teens are leaving the faith and the world battles to control children, it is vital to bathe them in prayer. We live in a world of many temptations and cultural distractions. But God still answers prayer. And while as a grandparent I admit that I am feeling proud, yet I know that this is not my doing but it is God working in their precious lives. And for that I am thankful.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Speed Wins!

"Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth", 2 Timothy 2:15. That is the key verse of Awana, an exciting ministry for children that we have been involved in for 30 years. One of the activities used to encourage boys and girls to study and memorize the scriptures is the annual Bible quiz. Yesterday we spent 3.5 hours watching clubbers from numerous Awana clubs compete in this annual event. It is an exciting day and it is impressive to see these third through sixth graders respond to the questions. The quiz has three parts. One part is a written test which they all take. In this event all clubbers can earn a perfect score. The second event is a paddle quiz. Teams of two compete against each other using paddles labeled A, B, and C. When the question is asked and an answer is called for, all competing clubbers hold up a paddle to indicate their answer. So in this event all clubbers and teams could again earn perfect scores. The final round is a speed round in which all clubbers in that division have a button to push when they think they know the answer. So only one clubber gets the points for each question. In most cases the buzzer is pushed before the question is even completed. Then the clubber must answer in front of the 300 who are watching. When the answer is a verse, it must be said word perfect within 30 seconds. Now that is pressure. And this is the part that really determines who the are the winning teams and individuals. And I admit that I have very mixed feelings about this round. It is fascinating and impressive to see clubbers answer so quickly and so completely. But it is also hard to watch those who buzz in and then have their mind go blank when they are forced to answer. This round and the championships go not only to those who have prepared well, but to those who are aggressive and confident. Our clubbers are always prepared well but don't do well in this round because they are tentative and afraid of making a mistake in front of this many people. And I can understand that. I would have done well in the written and paddle rounds because I would have been prepared. But I would never have gotten any points in the speed round because I am an analyzer and need time to think through my answers before I speak. I also had a very bad experience, when I was in seventh grade, which still haunts me decades later. I was chosen out of the audience as the seventh grade representative to participate in an assembly in front of all the students, grades 7-12, at Lititz High School. Each grade representative was to watch a brief presentation by members of the library club and then identify the story. As it turns out, I was to identify the story of Esther. But my mind went blank and I had no answer. My self esteem took a big hit that day. Now nobody remembers that event except me but it took me years to regain my confidence to do something in front of a large group. And even today that "humiliation" still haunts me. So I have real empathy for those who have similar situations as some did yesterday. But I also have no alternatives to offer to Awana. For about 15 years I annually conducted three public math bowls in my school district for students in 4th, 5th and 6th grade. These were exciting. My format was similar with a written round, a round where all teams could get credit for each question, and then a speed round where three teams would receive points depending upon the order of their correct answers. But in that case the teams would show their answers to judges so that no individual was ever really put on the spot. That seemed to work well. But even though the Awana speed round stirs up bad memories for me, the quizzing is still a worthwhile event. I am sorry that more Awana clubs don't participate but I am glad that our kids do. And really, there may be disappointed clubbers, but there shouldn't be any losers, for the Bible itself reminds us that "Thy Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against Thee." And what better reward could there be.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Wonderfully Made

"I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well." Psalm 139:14. Recently so many of my blogs have focused on dear friends who have passed away. And while we rejoice that they are now with the Lord, I guess the flavor of these blogs has been a little heavy at times. And I guess that is understandable since we are walking through times that are challenging. And many of these challenges do relate to the multitude of physical needs of friends and those around us as well as those of our family and our own. But even as our bodies wear down we are reminded that God has known us from the womb and that He has wonderfully made us. He has a purpose for us whether our years number 40 or 90. And He hasn't made any mistakes. So with that in mind, I thought that today I should share a lighter thought with you on this blog. Here is a story which I just received this week in an e-mail. A little girl was sitting on her grandfather's lap as he read her a bedtime story. From time to time, she would take her eyes off the book and reach up to touch his wrinkled cheek. She was alternately stroking her own cheek, then his again. Finally she spoke up, "Grandpa, did God make you?" "Yes, sweetheart," he answered. "God made me a long time ago." "Oh," she paused. "Grandpa, did God make me too?" "Yes, indeed, honey," he said. "God made you just a little while ago." Feeling their respective faces again, she observed, "God's getting better at it, isn't he?" "I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well." Psalm 139:14.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Legacy

For several years I have been thinking much about the term legacy. It is my desire to finish well and leave such a legacy to those who follow me. But how does one leave a godly legacy to those who follow? Last week I once again viewed a great example of a godly legacy as I attended the funeral of my dear friend Jim Herrold and spent some time with his children and grandchildren. It was thrilling to see the two generations that Jim left behind serving the Lord and honoring the Lord. This is the impact and legacy that Jim left behind. During the service several of the grandchildren sang as a group. A granddaughter played an outstanding piano solo, "Great Is Thy Faithfulness". I know Jim would have been thrilled to see this. Jim's faith was evident in all parts of this service. The prelude ended with "The Longer I Serve Him, The Sweeter He Grows". The congregation sang "Because He Lives" and "All That Thrills My Soul Is Jesus", a hymn that Jim actually had requested at a hymn sing just hours before the Lord took him home. His son-in-law, Pastor Jim Lorch of Michigan, shared how even the last hours of his life modeled his deep faith and commitment. Late that afternoon Jim had spent over an hour talking on the phone to his daughter in Michigan. This modeled his deep love for his family. After the call Jim went to church to participate in a hymn sing. He loved being in the House of the Lord. This modeled his faith in God and his desire to worship. Finally, following the service he placed a call to encourage a new church attender who had fallen. This modeled his concern for others. Jim was always giving to others. Moments following the call, the Lord suddenly and unexpectedly took him home. His work on earth was done and his legacy had been established. Jim's pastor then shared a prayer which Jim prayed each morning. The prayer was found with his Bible and had four points. (1) Lord, I thank you that I belong to you and that you know what the day holds for me; (2) I ask you to take my life today and use it for your glory; (3) I ask you to cleanse me from anything which would hinder your work in my life; (4) I step out in faith today knowing that the Holy Spirit is filling me continually as I trust in you and obey your Word. Is it any wonder that Jim left such a godly legacy? He also had noted on the sheet, following this prayer, four verses which he labeled "peace" - Isaiah 26:3, John 14:27; Matthew 11:28, Psalm 23:2. Appropriately, the funeral service concluded with a soloist singing a song with the words, "Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful". That is my desire, is it yours? A godly legacy can best be created by living daily with the desire that God would take our lives each day and use it for His glory.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Look Alikes

Last week I went to a viewing of the father of a friend who attends our church. The father used to attend our church, but the mother never did because she was of another faith. I only recall having seen her once before and that was many years ago at a wedding. Dianne had to lead a Bible study that morning so she was unable to attend the viewing. But I felt to support our friends I would at least go to the viewing. The widow was seated and I was about sixth in line. I had planned to introduce myself to the widow and offer our condolences. However, when it was my turn, before I could even say anything, she said to me, "You must be a Kauffman". I was stunned. How would she know that? Then she said that she had worked with my father at RCA. But that had to be at least 30 years ago. I guess that the older I get, the more I look like my father. Several people have recently told me that. And I don't mind. I wish that I could be half the man that he was. But what is even more interesting is that several people have remarked that I remind them of my grandfather, Pastor Wolf. I find that very interesting because he was a stepfather and there is no blood line from him to me. My father's real father died when he was just a baby. His mother remarried and Pastor Wolf was the only father my dad had ever really known. And while there is no reason that I should look like him, I am honored that some think I do. He was a great man of God. It is very interesting to look at baby pictures and see how many of our children and grandchildren looked the same, especially as youngsters. Physical characteristics are so often shared in families and it is often easy to tell a member of the family just by the physical resemblances. I know of one father who advised his son when he became of dating age that he should look at the girl's mother because that is how the girl will probably look like 30 or 40 years from now. I'm not sure what I think of that advice, even though it may be true. But there is a more important resemblance that we should strive for, our resemblance to the Lord. Do people see Christ in our lives? Does our countenance reflect the Lord? Does our attitude show the love and grace of the Lord? Are people drawn to the Lord because of what they see in us? Physically we can do little about the characteristics that we inherit from our ancestors. Whether we like it or not, the resemblances will be there. But spiritually we have the choice. Is it our desire to become more like him each day? That should be our desire and goal each day of our life.

Friday, February 3, 2012

A Dear Friend

Recently a number of my blogs have been tributes to folks who have been instrumental in my life. In a sense they have all been about celebrations - some for things like anniversaries and others for things like graduating to their eternal home. Today's blog is another one of those for on Sunday night a dear friend, Jim Herrold, was suddently ushered into the presence of the Lord. Besides my wife, Jim has been my closest friend for many years and while we haven't spent much time together lately, I will miss him greatly. We have always been there for each other. He was an only child and always called me his brother and, while I did have an earthly brother who is also with the Lord, Jim was also like a brother to me. In fact my mother's mother was a Herrold and we often thought that somehow Jim and I must be related. But Jim knew little about his ancestors so we were never able to find a link. Jim came to know the Lord as a teenager and he dated an acquaintance of mine, Violet Johnson. Both lived in Shamokin. When he decided to attend Susquehanna University, Violet encouraged him to find me. It turns out that as freshmen we ended up in rooms right next to each other. And, we had much in common. We were both freshmen math majors. We both attended Bible Fellowship Churches. We had some friends in common. But most importantly, we both loved the Lord. We quickly became friends and for two years we roomed together. Then Jim married Violet. I was his best man. About seven months later I got married and he was in my wedding party. Incidentally, with his passing, now all three men in our wedding party are with the Lord. That fact is making me feel much older. We both graduated as math majors and we began to look for jobs teaching math. I took a position at Penn Manor High School. Late in August I was excited to hear that Jim also took a teaching position there and for three years we taught in rooms next to each other. During that time we lived about three blocks from each other and our families spent many happy times together. Violet and Dianne became close friends. We have special memories of taking the kids by sled to eachother's homes when it snowed. Then Jim took a job at Spring Ford High School, but we still spent times together and we always kept in touch. Later the Herrolds joined the summer staff at Pinebrook and we spent weeks together working there during the summers. And then Jim left teaching and went to Pinebrook full time. When he later took a job at Hatfield they moved to Gilbertsville and later to Boyertown. Through all these moves our friendship continued. We often joked about the fact that they had three daughters and we had three sons and that we had taken turns in having them. When Violet called to tell Dianne that they were expecting their fourth daughter, Dianne was happy to be able to tell them that we had gotten a dog instead. Then came the word that Violet had cancer. I remember making a special trip to be with them and crying together. It was hard to see her health decline, but together they displayed their strong faith and hope. About a year after her death the Lord brought a widow, Doris, into Jim's life and soon they were engaged and married. I had the special joy of again being Jim's best man in their wedding. We quickly learned to love Doris and it was obvious that the Lord had given both a special relationship after the sad deaths of their longtime spouses, both with cancer. And for about six years we have enjoyed seeing them together, once again enjoying life. Many second marriages have their problems - this one didn't - it had God's blessing. We have special memories of the weeks we had together at the Pinebrook Sr. Saints Retreats. I guess this retreat will never be quite the same for us anymore. Jim was a special friend who was always concerned about me and our family. So often when we discussed confidential problems, he would stop and pray for me. I will miss that. He loved the Lord with all of his heart and served him, even on the day that the Lord called him home. I was thrilled to watch his spiritual growth and maturity over the years and if often put mine to shame. His four daughters seem almost like our own and we have really learned to love Doris. She has become a dear friend. And for me, I am left with another hole in my life. One by one my close friends have moved to heaven ... Norm, Gary, Ralph, Terry, and now Jim. They have all been an important part of my life and I am thrilled that they are now celebrating in heaven ... but I miss them ... and I will really miss my dear friend Jim. Thank you Jim for your profound impact on my life.