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.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

College Evaluations

     If you have ever attended college, you know that some of the professors there can be "very different", to say it mildly.   When my high school students would complain about one of their teachers I would often say, just wait to you get to college.  You haven't seen anything yet.  Many are boring.  Many don't really teach.  Many don't enjoy teaching. Many find all sorts of excuses to cancel classes.  Many don't cover in class what they will test you on.  Many never use the expensive textbooks and manuals that are required.  And I could go on and on.  Fortunately, there are many excellent profs who do teach and earn their pay.
     But part of the college process is usually a teacher/course evaluation.  Now I don't know if they are ever really used by the higher ups.  Probably not, because getting a promotion doesn't seem to depend on your teaching but on the number of publications or research experiments you have made.  When I taught at Millersville, evaluations were required for non-tenured staff.  All that I ever received back from the administration was a numerical average of my students' responses for each category and a list of written comments that were made, without any identification of the evaluator.  I never feared my student evaluations and I was often thanked by my students for actually teaching.
     Now with that background, recently I came upon some excerpts from college evaluations that I really enjoyed.  I don't know if they are actual comments or if somebody just made them up.  But I can think of profs that I had who fit the situation.   So as the waitresses say, "enjoy!"
1.   "The textbook is almost useless. I use it to kill roaches in my room."
2.   "He teaches like Speedy Gonzalez on a caffeine high."
3.   "Help! I've fallen asleep and I can't wake up!"
4.   "The recitation instructor would make a good parking lot attendant. Tries to tell you where to go, but you can never understand him."
5.   "The class is worthwhile because I need it for the degree."
6.   "Textbook is confusing; someone with a knowledge of English should proofread it."
7.   "Problem sets are a decoy to lure you away from potential exam material."
8.   "He is one of the best teachers I have had ... He is well-organized, presents good lectures, and creates interest in the subject. I hope my comments don't hurt his chances of getting tenure."
9.   "I would sit in class and stare out the window at the squirrels. They've got a cool nest in the tree."
10.   "Information was presented like a ruptured fire hose-spraying in all directions - no way to stop it."
11.   "I never bought the text. My $60 was better spent on the Led Zeppelin CDs that I used while doing the problem sets."
12.   "The course was very thorough. What wasn't covered in class was covered on the final exam."

Monday, September 23, 2013

Church Of The Future

Could this be what your church service looks like in the next decade ... or maybe sooner?

PASTOR: "Praise the Lord!"     
CONGREGATION: "Hallelujah!"     
PASTOR: "Will everyone please turn on their tablet, PC, iPad, smart phone,  and Kindle Bibles to 1 Corinthians 13:13. And please switch on your Bluetooth to download the sermon."     
"Now, let us pray committing this week into God's hands. Open your Apps, BBM, Twitter and Facebook, and chat with God"     
"As we take our tithes and offerings, please have your credit and debit cards ready."     
"Please log on to the church wi-fi using the password 'Lord909887. ' "     
"Please use your iPad to make your electronic fund transfers directly to the church account.  Or if you prefer, the ushers will circulate mobile card swipe machines among the pews. If you forgot to bring an electronic device, you are directed to computers and laptops at the rear of the church. Those  who prefer telephone banking, take out your cellphones to transfer your contributions to the church account."    
The holy atmosphere of the Church becomes truly electrified as ALL the smart  phones, iPads, PCs and laptops beep and flicker!     
Final Blessing and Closing Announcements: "This week's ministry cell meetings will be held on the various Facebook group pages where the usual group chatting takes place. Please log in and don't miss out. Thursday's Bible study will be held live on Skype at 1900hrs GMT. Please don't miss  out. You can follow your Pastor on Twitter this weekend for counseling and  prayers. God bless you and have a nice day.  
(Note - this was posted on Mickeysfunnies.com from Jerry Lambert)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

What Do You Want To Be?

As you were growing up, what did you dream about becoming as an adult?  Did your dream come true?  How does your present situation compare to what you dreamed about as a teenager.  I'm not sure that I had many dreams or hopes about jobs during those years.  I probably thought about becoming a newspaper reporter or editor or sports statistician because I did that regularly from the time I was in seventh grade until a few years ago. In fact, after two years of teaching I was offered a job in sports public relations at Wagner College in Staten Island.  I often wonder what would have happened in our lives if I had taken that position. I probably also thought about doing something in ministry because of many influential family members and friends who were in ministry.  But the Lord never directed me that way.  I went to Susquehanna University intending to be an engineer and while I earned straight A's in my Physics and Chemistry courses, I found that I didn't have enough common sense and natural ability, like my father, to be a success.  It wasn't until I taught a lesson in a Vector Analysis class that I really understood that I should be a teacher. My professor's comments really encouraged me. My student teaching experience confirmed that - actually I know now it was the Lord confirming that in my heart.  And for 39 years I thoroughly loved being in the classroom.  And I do miss the classroom and students - but not all the paper work and state testing and all the other things that have gotten in the way of teaching.  
     Today schools try to get students to begin a career path as early as seventh grade.  And I wonder how many kids really know what they want to do at that level.  Then we ship kids off to college and spend thousands of dollars hoping that they will end up in a career.  But many don't.  I've always felt that for many teens - especially boys - that they would be better going to work for a few years before making a college choice.  They need time to grow up and learn where their abilities and interests really are and it would also give them time to earn some money before going deep into debt for college.  And college is not for everyone - many would do better in trade or vocational schools.  
     Now how did I get on this subject?  It is the result of a recent blog that I read that made me think about what I had wanted to be.  The blog stated "Remember back when you were a kid? What was your dream job?  Linked In did a survey and this is what they discovered.
Women -
11.4% wanted to be teachers.
9% wanted to be vets.
8.1% wanted to be writers.
7.1% wanted to be singers.
7.1% wanted to work in the medical field: doctors, nurses, paramedics.
Men -
8.2% wanted to be athletes.
6.8% wanted to be pilots.
6.8% wanted to be scientists.
5.9% wanted to be lawyers
5% wanted to be astronauts.
Interestingly, only 1 in 11 actually ended up doing their dream job. How about you?"
     The lesson that should be learned is that we need to commit our ways and our futures to the Lord.  And often that is easier said than done, especially as a teen facing college.  But as we seek His will and follow Godly advice, He will open and close doors and lead us to where He wants us to be, even as adults.  Proverbs 3:5,6, "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."

Friday, September 13, 2013

Sucker Punches

     I have usually avoided discussions about large corporations, knowing that they are in the business to make profit.  But recently I have become very disturbed with the tactics of two parts of the corporate world.  The first are the drug companies.  I have been aware of all that they spend and waste on advertising and free gifts and samples for doctors and their offices. Just observe all the sales reps that descend upon doctors' offices.  Of course these freebies just drive up the medical costs for us.  
     But a few months ago we were hard hit by one of their tactics.  For over 20 years my wife has suffered with ulcerative colitis and she must take very heavy and expensive drugs.  One of those drugs was Asacol which cost us about two thousand dollars a year, after insurance.  In March, when she went to refill her prescription, she was told that it had been taken off the market and was replaced by a new drug, Delzicol.  It is equally expensive.  What we have learned is that it is essentially the same drug as Asacol with just one inert element missing.  The problem was that Asacol was due to become a generic in 2014 and then would be available from a variety of companies at a fraction of its cost.  But Asacol was a staple of the one company that owned the rights.  In fact in 2011 it had generated $743 million in sales. What I read is that the company that owned the rights , Warner Chilcott Plc, "now has numerous sources of potential upside given minimal generic competition for its ulcerative colitis franchise and a strong pipeline. The launch ... of Dezicol ... would offset the generic threat to Asacol, which would lose market exclusivity ... Delzicol is considered to be a follow-on product of the company's core product Asacol, which would no longer be sold once Delzicol hits the market.  Notably, generic competition for the company's mesalamine based Ulcerative Colitis remains highly unlikely over the next few years, given the challenging pathway to approval."  So that, in a nutshell, is how the drug company has manipulated things to prevent a generic becoming  available and protecting its profit.  So much for caring for the poor folks, like us, who need the drug to maintain our health.  Let the buyer beware.  
     My second problem is one that we all face - the large oil corporations who control the price of gasoline in order to make excessive products.  Over the past few years they have fluctuated prices to condition us to higher prices.  First we got used to gas at a $1, then $2, then $3 and soon we will be conditioned for $4.  And if the price drops to $3.49 for a few weeks we become so excited, until it jumps 15 cents a week later.  Soon they will get us ready and condition us as they approach $5.  And while this happens, we are no closer to energy independence than we were years ago when the Arab boycott caused us to ration gas and buy on even and odd days. Do you remember those days? And as this price increase continues to happen, hampering our economy, the liberals continue to hold up things like offshore drilling and building a pipeline.  So what can we do when we need medicine or gasoline?  I guess we just "bite the bullet" and get used to being gouged.  Of course, I guess we could buy stock in these companies and enjoy their profits, too - if we had any money left to invest.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Joy From Tragedy

     Way back in 1918, my grandmother, Esther Gehret Kauffman, suffered a major tragedy in her life.  Her husband, Pastor Horace Abraham Kauffman, was visiting his sick church members during the Spanish Flu epidemic.  Suddenly he was stricken with the deadly flu and a few days later he died.  She was left with a son, my father, who was a little over one.  She was pregnant with a second child who would be my aunt Ellen.  She had nothing else - no savings, no home and certainly no insurance. Now the district superintendent recognized her need and felt that she had to quickly remarry.  So he asked two young single ministers if they would consider marrying her.  One said no, the other said yes.  And so my real grandfather's close friend, N. H. Wolf, became my step-grandfather.  I've often thought how devastating these events must have been for my grandmother.  She had just lost the love of her life, she was pregnant and suddenly she had to marry another man.  But God gave her a godly man, the most godly man I have ever known.  And little did she know then that she would eventually be the mother of four, the grandmother of 13, the great grandmother of 21 and the great great grandmother of 30+.  And many of these descendants would end up serving the Lord around the world, both in full-time service as well as in lay ministries.  What a fantastic heritage. 

      Several days ago we received a call that my cousin and her husband from Wisconsin were making a brief, unexpected trip to this area. They hadn't been here for many, many years. We arranged to have them visit with us and 13 cousins and spouses enjoyed a wonderful evening together.  As I was preparing for our time together, I suddenly thought how thrilled Grandma Wolf would have been to realize that almost 100 years after her tragedy,  some of her second generation descendants would be enjoying Christian fellowship together.  And I wondered, if her husband had not died, how different would our lives be?  Would two of my dad's sisters ever have been born?  That could have eliminated at least six of those who gathered that night.  And if her second husband had not been called to churches in Sunbury and Bethlehem, her children might never have met their godly spouses from the Wise, Derck and Smock families.  I had never played that "what if" game in my mind before, but suddenly I realized that many of us who attended that night might never have been born or married to our spouses if Pastor Kauffman hadn't died. 
     It thrilled my heart once again to understand that God's ways are always right, even when we can't see the future.  He can, and it is all in His hands.  And so the tragic death of Pastor Horace Kauffman was used to make us family.  And I have such a special godly heritage and such wonderful folks in my extended family.  I can't think of what life would have been without them.  But it was because of another death, the death of Christ on Calvary, that all 13 of us who gathered are also in God's family and because of that we could have such sweet fellowship together.  And we did!  It was a very special evening that we won't soon forget.  But how much better heaven will be as we share eternity with out brothers and sisters in Christ. But even more importantly, we will be with the One who has designed our paths and directed us along them, both in times of joy and in times of sorrow.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

To Give Or Not To Give?

      On Sunday, following morning worship, we made our traditional trip to Wendy's for lunch.  As we entered the store, I noticed a rather heavy black young lady sitting by herself at one of the front tables.  I assumed that she was waiting for somebody to come and eat with her.  When we received our food we passed by her on the way to our table and, while she glanced at us, we really didn't think more about it at the time.  Then I discovered that the clerk had given me the wrong drink, the third straight order she messed up, so I went back to the counter to get the correct drink.  On the way back to my table the young lady quietly asked me if I could buy her something to eat.  She was so quiet that I had to ask her to repeat her question.  Now I am not in the habit of giving things to folks who are begging and so I replied as I normally do with a no.  
     When I returned to my table, we noticed that every once in awhile she glanced back at us.  And she also didn't stop and ask anybody else who passed by.  We couldn't help but wonder why we would be the only ones that she asked.  Then the thought struck me that we were wearing our Awana uniforms that morning.  Because Awana starts this week, all the Awana leaders were asked to wear their uniforms that day. Now we have often met former clubbers who recognized us and even last week we had a clerk, a former clubber, who recognized our association with Awana because of our shopping bags.  So now I am wondering if she was a former clubber who recognized us or if she just recognized our uniforms.  Or, maybe the Lord just put us there to help her out. 
     The change from our meal was $3.00 so I began to feel the urge to at least give her that.  She could certainly choose a couple items off their value menu for that amount.  After some hesitation, I went to her and gave her the money and she thanked me.  Then we watched to see what she would do with it.  Twice she went up to order, but both times she went to the wrong end of the counter.  It  looked like she didn't know what to do.  Then she finally realized that she had to get in the line and she did that.  But every time she neared the front, she let somebody behind her go ahead.  We didn't know if she couldn't figure out what she could get for $3 or if she could even read.  I realize now that I should have just gone and purchased something for her.  We were actually done with our meal when she finally made a purchase - a large waffle ice cream cone.  Then she left and the last we saw of her she was walking across the parking lot.
      Was she in need?  I really don't know.  However I have recently read accounts of the many homeless, including teens, in the Lancaster area and I have never done anything for them. It is so sad. Did I do it because she might have recognized us or Awana?  I'm really not sure.  But what difference should that have made?  If we are Christians then our actions should identify us, not our clothing.    Should I have handled things differently or better?  Probably, but it is always easy to be a "Monday morning quarterback".  However, the scripture from Hebrews 13: 1,2 (The Message) has been going through my mind.  "Be ready with a meal or a bed when it's needed. Why, some have extended hospitality to angels without ever knowing it!" Now, was she an angel?  I really doubt it.  But today I am glad that I at least gave her something, even if it was just an ice cream cone.