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.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Modern Company Policy

The economy is terrible.  People are losing jobs.  Companies will need to get more efficient if they are to survive.  That should include revising company policies concerning their employees.  Maybe this is what a new policy should look like.
Dress Code - It is advised that you come to work dressed according to your salary. If we see you wearing Prada shoes and carrying a Gucci bag, we assume you are doing well financially and therefore do not need a raise. If you dress poorly, you need to learn to manage your money better, so that you may buy nicer clothes, and therefore you do not need a raise. If you dress just right, you are right where you need to be and therefore you do not need a raise.
Sick Days - We will no longer accept a doctor's statement as proof of sickness. If you are able to go to the doctor, you are able to come to work.
Personal Days - Each employee will receive 104 personal days a year. They are called Saturday & Sunday.
Bereavement Leave - This is no excuse for missing work. There is nothing you can do for dead friends, relatives, or coworkers. Every effort should be made to have non-employees attend to the arrangements. In rare cases where employee involvement is necessary, the funeral should be scheduled in the late afternoon. We will be glad to allow you to work through your lunch hour and subsequently leave one hour early.
Toilet Use - Entirely too much time is being spent in the toilet. There is now a strict three-minute time limit in the stalls. At the end of three minutes, an alarm will sound, the toilet paper roll will retract, the stall door will open, and a picture will be taken. After your second offense, your picture will be posted on the company bulletin board under the "Chronic Offenders" category. Anyone caught smiling in the picture will be sanctioned under the company's mental health policy.
Lunch Break - Skinny people get thirty minutes for lunch, as they need to eat more, so that they can look healthy. Normal size people get fifteen minutes for lunch to get a balanced meal to maintain their average figure. Chubby people get five minutes for lunch, because that's all the time needed to drink a Slim-Fast.
          Thank you for your loyalty to our company. We are here to provide a positive employment experience. Therefore, all questions, comments, concerns, complaints, frustrations, irritations, aggravations, insinuations, allegations, accusations, contemplations, consternation, and input should be directed elsewhere.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Tough Decisions

September means the start of many activities and ministries, including our Awana program on Wednesday nights, for boys and girls in grades K-6.  Our biggest competitor for children is not another church but the many youth programs that are now offered for children.  Kids can now sign up for soccer, cheerleading, football, lacrosse, hockey, karate and who knows what else.  And each evening and on weekends their parents drive them to the practices and games each with the hope that there child will one day become a star or even a professional athlete.  The sad fact is that most of them will one day drop out, quit, or sit on the bench.  Few will become stars and almost none of them will become professionals.  This emphasis on sports at a young age also affects parents who do the driving and coaching and we regularly lose leaders who now use their limited time to support their kids in these activities.  And all face tremendous pressure to participate in these activities.  Everybody else does it.  It is the accepted thing in our society, no matter how young the children might be.  My kids can't be different and they won't be accepted by their classmates if they don't participate.  And I am not going to fault any parents for giving in to this pressure.  It is hard not to.  But there is another side that should be considered.  I remember the nights when my father would show up at the little league baseball field at 6:45 to tell me that I had to leave the game or practice to attend church that night.  That was a hard thing for me to do.  But I realize now that my father knew that I would never be a baseball star and certainly not a professional.  But he knew, that given a grounding in the Word of God, I could be a faithful Christian.  And I know that he was right and I am glad for the choice that he made for me when I was too young and immature to make that choice for myself.  So, unfortunately, parents often do have a very tough decision to make - little league or Awana.  And I won't criticize any who choose the little league, because most do. And that is really between them and the Lord - if they seek His guidance in making their decision. I just hope that those parents are faithfully teaching the Word of God at home to their children and helping them to memorize scripture while their minds are so open.  The Lord can still help their children to become faithful Christians, especially if that is modeled faithfully at home.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

A Shocking Conclusion

For more than a year residents around us have been worried about a string of robberies in our neighborhood.  Within a mile or so of our house, over 20 homes have been broken into and money and jewelry have been taken.  The robberies have happened at all hours of the day.  Some have happened while folks were outside of their homes working in their yards.  Some have happened while they were sleeping.  Most happened when they had gone away for a few hours or a few days.  Several times the robber was almost caught, but he had always gotten away.  Many of our neighbors purchased security systems.  Some added new locks.  We generally left lights on as well as the television or stereo when we were gone.  And then one night the robber made a mistake.  Somebody heard glass breaking and they called the police.  The police found the robber but he again escaped when he told them that  there were others in the house.  Fortunately the police had noticed a car parked in the area and apparently had recorded the license number.  And shortly they were able to find the address and take the robber prisoner at his home.  But that wasn't the end of the story.  His home is only about two blocks from ours.  He wasn't an unknown college kid or a teen druggie as many had suspected.  He was a 49 year old resident who was well known by most of the community.  In fact he was a former student of mine and he graduated and played athletics with one of my sons.  He had been a soccer coach at two area high schools and had won Coach of the Year four times.  People knew him as a friendly man who would often carry his three-legged Chihuahua, Buddy, and talk to the neighbors as they passed.  He lived with his mother.  Neighbors had confided in him their fears and asked him to watch their homes when they were aware.  People are shocked and that is putting it mildly.  Police took two truckloads of loot out of his home after finding thousands of items in his basement, bedroom and attic.  These included jewelry, coins, guns and sports memorabilia.  He had sterling silver pieces that had people's initials engraved on them.  He robbed so many houses that he does not remember specifically which ones he robbed.  Now the police did find some heroin and marijuana in his home but  they believe that this was just part of the problem.  He told the police that he was getting a thrill out of it.  He was surprised at how easy it was to get into these homes.  Like all of our neighbors, we are relived that the thief has finally been caught.  But we are shocked that it was somebody we knew. I guess we never know what is really in a person's heart.  I am reminded again that the scripture tells us that the heart is desperately wicked and who can know it.  The answer is that God is the one who knows our heart and our thoughts and our actions.  And we should not be deceived for God is not mocked and whatever a man sows that is what he will reap.  My hope is that somehow Laz will hear and accept the Gospel while he spends his future days in prison.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Seasons of Life

It's part of God's great plan.  Spring is followed by Summer, Summer is followed by Fall, and Fall is followed by Winter. The seasons continue.  Life is much the same.  We pass through several seasons during our journey here in earth.  And, we pass through them so quickly, maybe too quickly, especially the older we get. But, unless the Lord calls us home earlier, we will all experience the joys and sorrows of each.  Recently a friend sent me the picture shown above.  I have thought much about it quite often and thought it should be shared with you as a thoughtful reminder of the seasons of life.  For many of us the days of childhood bring back wonderful memories. We had few obligations then.  We didn't know about the problems of the world.  Most of us were cared for by our parents.  I often enjoy thinking about those days which passed so quickly.  While we were carefree then, we still learned valuable life lessons at home, school, on the playground and at church.  Then there was the season of courting.  For me those were some of the most exciting and memorable days of my life.  For many those years were troubling with new challenges - what to do with your life and who to date and marry.  Some stumbled through this season but for many of us the Lord directed us and provided special spouses.  Then came the season of young married lives.  They were busy and challenging, especially when children arrived.  At times we weren't sure if we would survive those years, especially when our kids became teens.  But God took care of those challenges and we survived.  Now for many of us those years are just memories.  Maybe they are even years that we wish that we could have stretched out or that we could relive.  They passed too quickly.  But the seasons change.  Then comes the "golden season" which we never thought we'd reach.  Empty nests, retirement, and doctor visits.  New challenges, some much more difficult than in previous seasons.  But God is still there and in control. And there are many good times and great memories.  Then some of us reach the next season - the one which all couples dread - when a spouse is called home by the Lord.  I admit that I fear this season.  I can't think of anything worse in life than losing a loving spouse.  And all that we can do is realize that God won't leave us - He promised not to do that.  And we are His workmanship, His creation, and He has a plan for us.  Recently we have talked to numerous widows and widowers and some of them, understandably, are having very hard times dealing with this season.  Time may help, but it doesn't replace the longing in one's heart.  Then finally the last season is reached - the season that Christians long for when we are in the presence of God and reunited with our loved ones.  Nobody looks forward to going through that final journey, but we all look forward to that destination and the great hope and promise of heaven.  And as we look back through all the seasons of life we can see God's faithfulness throughout each one.  And that helps us remember that we can trust Him, the One who knows our steps and will never leave us.  While the seasons change, He doesn't.  And that is the rock that we can build our lives upon. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Do you want to feel old?

So you don't think you are getting old?  Well I have news for you.  You probably will feel old after you read this year's Beloit College Mindset List.  This list provides a look at the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college this fall, like my one grandson.   For this generation of entering college students, born in 1994, Kurt Cobain, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Richard Nixon and John Wayne Gacy have always been dead. (1)  They should keep their eyes open for Justin Bieber or Dakota Fanning at freshman orientation.  (2)  They have always lived in cyberspace, addicted to a new generation of "electronic narcotics."  (3)  The Biblical sources of terms such as "Forbidden Fruit," "The writing on the wall," "Good Samaritan," and "The Promised Land" are unknown to most of them. (4)  Michael Jackson's family, not the Kennedys, constitutes "American Royalty."  (5)  If they miss The Daily Show, they can always get their news on YouTube. (6)  Their lives have been measured in the fundamental particles of life: bits, bytes, and bauds. (7)  Bill Clinton is a senior statesman of whose presidency they have little knowledge.  (8)  They have never seen an airplane "ticket."  (9)  On TV and in films, the ditzy dumb blonde female generally has been replaced by a couple of Dumb and Dumber males. (10)  For most of their lives, maintaining relations between the U.S. and the rest of the world has been a woman's job in the State Department.  (11)  They can't picture people actually carrying luggage through airports rather than rolling it. (12)  There has always been football in Jacksonville but never in Los Angeles.  (13)  Having grown up with MP3s and iPods, they never listen to music on the car radio and really have no use for radio at all. (14)  Since they've been born, the United States has measured progress by a 2 percent jump in unemployment and a 16 cent rise in the price of a first class postage stamp. (15)  Their folks have never gazed with pride on a new set of bound encyclopedias on the bookshelf.  (16)  The Green Bay Packers have always celebrated with the Lambeau Leap.  (17)  Exposed bra straps have always been a fashion statement, not a wardrobe malfunction to be corrected quietly by well-meaning friends. (18)  A significant percentage of them will enter college already displaying some hearing loss.  (19)  Women have always piloted war planes and space shuttles.  (20)  Outdated icons with images of floppy discs for "save," a telephone for "phone," and a snail mail envelope for "mail" have oddly decorated their tablets and smart phone screens.  (21)  Star Wars has always been just a film, not a defense strategy. (22)  They have had to incessantly remind their parents not to refer to their CDs and DVDs as "tapes." (23)  There have always been blue M&Ms, but no tan ones.  These are just some of the items on this year's list.  Maybe you aren't feeling any older after reading this.  If that is the case, you may not want to join me as I go read the newspaper and listen to a few 45 rpm records hoping that my telephone doesn't ring to disturb me.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Miraculous Healings

To My Dear Friend, Pastor Phil Blowhorn:

I sure hope attendance at your church was better'n my church. Mercy, pastorin' ain't always easy, now is it? We had us a bunch of sick folk, and them added to all the shut-ins made for a whole lot of pew cushion to look at from the pulpit. I got to admit, I was feelin' somewhat put out, but I went ahead and preached anyhows. Only thing was, with all them people missin' the echo in the church gave me a hoot of a headache. My wife said I needed to git out and ride a bit 'cause the fresh air would make me feel better. Well, she took to drivin' and I took to ridin' and sure 'nuff, she was right. Not only did my head clear up, but what I saw renewed my faith in the Good Lord. I tell you, Brother, I seen miracle after miracle!  My Sunday School superintendent, Hank Weaselbaum had called to tell me that he was so deathly sick, he wouldn't make it to church. But there he was, drivin' down the road with his favorite fishin' pole stickin' out the window. I tell you, only a miracle coulda' snatched him out'a the jaws of death that way!  Then there was my head deacon, Wilbur Snooch. He had done left a message on my answerin' machine that his back was so jerked out'a line that he thought he might have to have surgery. But I want you to know that when we drove past the golf course, there he was, hittin' golf balls on the drivin' range. Hallelujah, our prayers worked! Edna Brump sent word with her sister that she wouldn't make it 'cause her stomach was all upset and she didn't want to take a chance on havin' a mishap in the church. But glory! There she was, standin' in line at the Feedin' Trough Smorgasbord. Another healin'!  All told, we saw that 20 of our sick folk had takin' a turn for the better and were up and about. Not only that, but I just couldn't help from rejoicin' over all our shut-ins that got themselves healed too. There was Sam Burply, who don't attend church much causin' of him being allergic to crowds, and he was in line to buy a ticket at the ball park. Margaret Guffhunker, who's been feelin' all poor and sickly that she's done missed the last eight Sundays, she was comin' out of the mall with both arms full of packages.  And then there was Horace Dweedle, who ain't been to church in six months cause'a his bum knee; he was playin' basketball down at the park. Seein' all these mighty miracles and healin's got me so worked up, I started singin' the Doxology! Yes, sir, Brother Blowhorn, I'm excited! I just know we'll be havin' us a packed house next Sunday, what with all the sick and shut-ins revived by such a touch from Heaven. I look forward to givin' you right nice report.

Your good friend, 

Pastor William Robert ("Billy-Bob")

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Waiting To Be Read!

You say that you no longer get a newspaper delivered to your home?  Well you aren't alone in this day and age as people try to trim their budgets.  But we still get the paper delivered every day and I just wouldn't do without it.  Everyday you get a chance to read about the crazy people who live in this area.  Sometimes it is funny, sometimes sad, and often it is just unbelievable.  For example, did you hear about the problem the Manheim Township School Board had when they were forced to change the date for the 2013 graduation?  Notice, I said 2013 not 2012. It seems that there was a conflict in dates with the facility that was being donated to them so they had to change the date.  But horrors, their change brought a protest from a few of the poor parents of their district because their children had already placed their $500 down payments for their week long graduation celebrations at the beach.  Now how many seniors do you expect can really afford a $500 down payment, plus the week's rental at the beach?  Maybe only in Manheim Township!  I guess, tragically, these poor kids will now need to drive their new Beamers to the beach a week later.  As the editor of the Sunday News often says in his weekly column, you just can't make these things up.  Then there are the continuing letters to the editors from area democrats protesting the new voter ID law.  I am so sick of them talking about all the poor, elderly and minorities who will not get to vote this year.  I would like to ask them several questions.  First, are all the poor, elderly and minorities actually democrats?  Could some be republicans?  Second, how does a person get along today without a valid photo ID?  They are required in so many places - even most doctors today will ask you for one, at least on the first visit.  Third, instead of complaining, what are you doing to help these people get their ID's.  Get off you back end and go out and help them.  Quit your complaining and, actually your campaigning against the republicans, and do something positive.  OK, maybe that is a good reason for not getting a newspaper - you don't need to put up with this garbage.  So instead you probably reply on the internet and maybe the social media for your news.  Then you may have read on the internet the new "Penn Manor Legend" concerning the Penn Manor student who committed suicide because of being bullied online.  Tragic you say.  Yes it would be - if it were true.  The newspaper investigated and found that there was no such death and no such student by that name.  But on the internet the story continues to spread and to spread and to spread.  Can you believe half of what is spread there? There was also a story in the newspaper about the area young man who was arrested for rape and sexual assault in another state.  The story is that a group of young girls - 16 years old if I remember correctly - met these boys and went to their house.  There they drank and carried on.  Later most of the girls left and went home but the one 16 year old stayed with the boys overnight.  They continued to drink and eventually had sex in the bedroom.  Several days later the girl reported it and the boys were arrested.  Now I agree that it was wrong but I can't help but ask, what did the girl expect when she stayed alone with these boys and got drunk?  And where were her parents while she was out all night?  But that is the world we live in.  Oh yes, one final story from the newspaper.  Right now people enjoy writing letters to either support or tear down one of the candidates for president or vice-president.  In my mind things sank to a new low when a writer who was tearing down VP candidate Ryan wondered if since his children were spaced out as to their ages, did the Ryans follow the birth control policies of their church.  The Ryans are Catholic.  Wow, now there is a new requirement for the VP of the United States.  As the editor says, you just can't make these things up.  Actually, often the letters to the editor are better than the comics.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

A New Challenge For Teachers

It's that time of the year once again when teachers and students are headed back to school.  As if teachers don't face enough problems in today's classroom, two growing situations are combining to give many of them another major challenge.  The problem was recently highlighted in an article, "Getting Testy", written by John Keilman of the Chicago Tribune.  The first problem is the growing acceptance of cheating in our society.  The author quotes one 16 year old who said "Teachers always give you the whole moral thing, but kids just want to get good grades."  One professor from Ohio State who has studied student cheating notes that while it is hard to nail down statistics on its prevalence, the best estimate is that up to 85 percent of high school students have cheated at least once."  Now that isn't very hard to believe if you look at how cheating is accepted in today's culture, at all levels. But you may argue that, to a degree, cheating has always been there.  Yes, I'm sure that we have all seen answers being passed on notes, straying eyes on tests, cheat sheets, and copying of assignments.  But that is minor league when compared to today's problem which adds technology to the acceptance of cheating.  With cell phones pictures of tests can be quickly taken and passed to others or even posted online. Smart phones can also be used to search for answers on the internet.  By texting, questions and answers can quickly be shared with other test takers.  Term papers can be copied from internet sites where they are readily available for purchase.   Even difficult math problems can be solved using internet sites.  Cheat sheets can be stored in the memory banks of calculators. Homework answers can be posted on blogs or on Facebook. And who knows what else. What can a teacher do?  If you have 30 or more students in a classroom it's not easy to catch them.  Lessons on ethics and morality have little impact on this generation - and probably not on their parent's generation as well.  A teacher could make multiple versions of tests but that would double or triple the teacher's prep time and even then bright students would find a way to get around it.  One teacher mentioned in the article makes all students hand in their cell phones before a test.  I guess that is one possible solution, but what a chore, and it probably won't be long until some parent sues the teacher and the school over this policy.  And as technology advances, a generation that doesn't value honesty will find more ways to use it to cheat.  So maybe the long term result will be that a high school education doesn't mean that you really learned anything except how to use the technology to your benefit.