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, December 27, 2015

Your Impact On Future Generations

          Have you ever thought much about the legacy that you will leave for the next generation?  How will the life that you are living now influence family members and friends after you are gone?  I personally think that this is an important question and unfortunately one which we don't really think about until our senior years. 
           In many cases when an older person dies all that remains might be a box of photos without any identification or explanations on them.  A few of the obvious facts about the person's life might be shared in the obituary.  Personal stories and experiences are often quickly forgotten, if they were even ever known by others.  Memories will probably soon fade for those who remain.
          For several years I have been passing on pictures and writings to my grandchildren.  I have written well over 150 pages with information about our ancestors, about my life and about the things that are important to me.  For a dozen or more years I have also prepared an annual DVD with key pictures of the family events from that year.
          But the most important part of leaving a legacy is the life that you live. Some of the most important parts of a legacy are how you live and what you say.  We need to remember that our friends, our children and our grandchildren are watching how we live and react to things. And this can be a real challenge.
         Now this blog was not to be about the practical points of leaving a legacy but about the possible future impact of your influence and life.  And this thought came to my mind as a result of a recent Christmas meditation in David Jeremiah's monthly devotional booklet, "Turning Points".  The meditation was on the journey of the magi based on Matthew 2:1-2.
          Actually, we don't know too much for sure about the magi.  Tradition says that there were three, but there could have been fewer or more.  Tradition gives them names, but the Bible doesn't.  Tradition shows them at the manger but they probably came much later.  What we do know is that two thousand years ago they trekked westward where they found and worshipped the Savior.
          Now there are many possible explanations of who they might have been, but David Jeremiah shares one that I have never heard before.  He starts by sharing how Daniel, the young Jewish exile in Babylon, interpreted the dream of King Nebuchadnezzar and was appointed chief of the wise men of Babylon (Daniel 2:48).  He mentions how Daniel wrote extensively about the coming of Christ.  He guesses that Daniel probably passed along a keen anticipation for the coming Messiah.  He then concludes that perhaps the wise men in Matthew 2 were from a sect among the eastern Magi devoted to the writings or oral traditions of Daniel.  An interesting idea.
          Now what really caught my attention was the conclusion of the meditation.  "If so, Daniel cast a long shadow.  So do we.  Future generations will be influenced by how we live, what we believe, and how we pass on our faith.  Should Christ tarry, you can still be influencing the world a hundred years from now by your devotion to Christ today."  Wow!
          And I know that is really true.  I am blest to come from a long line of strong believers, some of whom were pastors while others were faithful believers.  Some of them actually left writings and for others the stories of their lives and ministries have been passed on through the generations.  i doubt that they ever thought that their lives would influence my life, generations later.  But they did.
          Now you may not have been blest to have the same type of heritage and, in fact, it is possible that things done by your ancestors may not be things that you even want to know about or remember.  But you can begin today to leave a positive influence on the next generation and, maybe even generations to come, by living a life committed to serving the Lord and demonstrating His love to others.  It's never too late to start.  Ask the Lord to allow your life with Him to impact those around you today as well as those who follow ... and, should the Lord tarry, maybe even a hundred or more years from now.  Your life could have a profound positive impact on future generations and that would be an amazing legacy.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Seasons Greetings

          For those who didn't receive our Christmas letter this year, here it is. And for those who did, I've added a few things which weren't included in the original letter because they would have made that one too long.

          "God is so good, God is so good, God is so good, He's so good to me."  When we used to lead.  Awana we would sing this chorus each night just before our awards time.  The words are so simple but so meaningful and so true.  And, they do convey our thoughts and our prayer as we conclude a somewhat challenging 2015.
          We thank the Lord for many opportunities to serve Him during the year.  We were able to lead several hymn sings as well as the Sr. Saints Retreat at Pinebrook.  Barry has continued to serve as financial secretary and Dianne has been able to play once a month at our church.  We both continue to serve in supporting roles in Awana.  Barry's hymn blog continues to reach about 600 people around the world each week.
          We were excited to be able to lead our church in the purchase of a beautiful Kawai digital grand piano.  As part of the process we were also able to purchase a studio size model of the same piano for our home and that was really a "God thing".  They have over 1,000 amazing sounds and Dianne has been able to develop and play many outstanding arrangements.
          We didn't really get to take a vacation this year although we did get to Pinebrook twice without any duties there.  We did make a trip to Wisconsin in May for the burial of Aunt Ellen Derck.  She was a precious person who was a great influence on our lives.  Actually she was the one who led Barry to the Lord when he was a child.  Her husband, Uncle John, was 97 on December 21 and is doing quite well.  His mind is sharp and the Lord continues to use him in his senior years.  We are so thankful that the Lord allowed both of them to be a part of our lives.
          Physical challenges have kept us busy most of the year.  We both had numerous physical therapy sessions early in the year.  Dianne was in the hospital for three days in May due to an apparent viral infection.  Then, early in October, on our first night of a planned vacation at the shore, Dianne developed a severe case of shingles.  The severe nerve pain from this continues even months later.  Please pray for needed relief for her.
          On the first Sunday of the year Barry did something to his back while getting out of the car.  After months of tests and four different diagnoses, it was finally decided that he would need lumbar back surgery.  His surgery, on October 20, involved three different levels, two rods and six screws, and implanting of marrow from his hip to grow new bones.  His recovery will be lengthy with many limitations.  Therapy woon't  start until February, at the earliest.  He must have electrical stimulation for two hours daily for up to nine months to help the bones grow and he will need his back brace for many months.  Your prayers will be appreciated.
         We are especially thankful for our family and for several folks from our church who have responded with meals.  Our family has been especially helpful in taking care of our yard and things around our house.  We have been blessed by those who care and have responded to our needs.  It is hard for the first time in our lives to be so dependent on others, but God is providing what we need.
          We thank the Lord that our three boys and their wives are doing well. Our grandchildren continue to grow.  Zachary has transferred to Penn State Capital Campus and is doing quite well there. He is active in leadership roles in our church's Revive Ministry. Josh will graduate from Lebanon Valley in June with a degree in chemistry and is applying to graduate schools. He made presentations at two national conventions this year. Taylor is an RA at Lebanon Valley and plans to study next semester in Spain. She was chosen to greet the new freshmen and give the benediction at Lebanon Valley's convocation.  Noah will graduate from Warwick in June and is applying to a number of colleges.  His marching band came in second in the state competition this year.  Chloe (grade 10), Lexie (grade 6) and Brodie (grade 4) are all doing very well in the Conestoga Valley School District.  Chloe was selected to participate in a state science competition in Altoona this year and Lexie was chosen to be in her district's Geography Bee.  Brodie earned his Sparky Award in Awana. Lexie and Brodie both had lead roles in the recent church children's Christmas musical while Chloe served as stage manager. God has been so good to our family.
         It is so hard to believe that 2016 is almost here but we are looking forward to whatever the Lord has prepared for us in the days ahead.  We hope that you have had a good year and we pray the Lord's blessing upon you in the coming year.  God is so good, all the time.
         We hope that you have a wonderful holiday season and that the One who came to earth for us on that first Christmas night will be your comfort, strength and hope in the days ahead.Take care and keep looking up!
         The Kauffmans

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Never Too Old To Learn

         I guess you are never too old to learn new lessons or to be reminded of things which you should know.  At least I am finding that to be so.  With my present physical limitations I have had plenty of time to reflect and consider things around me and here are some observations and reactions that I have had.
         First, don't be too self sufficient to accept help from others.  I originally said that we didn't need folks to bring us meals for there are those who needed them much more than us.  But one person responded by telling us that we had helped others over the years now we should graciously accept the help of others.  And we did.  And it was so helpful and nice.  Some of the meals were arranged by members of our church staff while others came unexpectedly from friends and family who just wanted to help us.  I guess I needed to be reminded that it is more blessed to give than to receive and sometimes you need to be the receiver.  And we are so thankful for those who took the time to show their love and concern in meeting our needs for meals.
          The giving also came from our family members who responded to many practical needs - filling our water softener, gathering our leaves, carrying heavy objects, preparing our AC for winter, staking our driveway and walks for snow removal, completing numerous lawn and household jobs, providing food, bringing in our Christmas items and even setting up and decorating our Christmas trees.  And this was done during a time when all three boys were overloaded with their jobs and other obligations.  God certainly has blessed us with wonderful sons, spouses and grandchildren.
          I have also been reminded of the different communications involved in friendships.  I admit that there were a few friends who seemed to stay away during our times of challenge. Maybe they didn't know what to do or say.  But there were others who really surprised us and stepped up in unexpected ways.  They really encouraged us and I needed that.
          I also really appreciated those who I knew were praying, especially some relatives who did not live close enough to actually visit but prayed regularly for us.  I was encouraged by prayers during two pastoral visits while I was in the hospital and two more at home, as well as by the wife of a staff member who prayed for us when she visited and brought a meal.  Now I didn't need to be reminded of the value of prayer but the prayers of others for us in a specific time of need were extra special.  I've also learned during this time to be more of a prayer warrior for others myself and that was a reminder I guess that I needed.
          I learned how nice it is to get visits weeks after surgery, especially if you know about them in advance and the visitors don't stay too long.  It is a real encouragement especially when you are confined and time passes slowly.  And that is something that I admit that I personally haven't cared to do when I was able.  I am much better at sending cards, notes and e-mails of encouragement.  And I have appreciated receiving those myself, especially when personal comments were included.
         I've also been reminded to accept that things don't always go as expected. But I guess I really knew that.  When observing the length of recovery of others who had back surgeries, I was expecting my recovery to take a month or two. That was true for my previous back surgery. But it is very obvious now that mine will be much longer - maybe a year.  I must now wear an electric stimulator to promote bone growth for two hours each day - up to nine months.  However, I am continually reminded that God is in control and that he has allowed this for a specific purpose - maybe so that I would learn some of these lessons.
          And the final lesson that I have been reminded of is one that I have often experienced in the past.  God allows things in His will to come into our lives in preparation for things in the future.  Here are some examples. (1) We did not schedule any ministry responsibilities for November or December of this year that we would now have had to cancel.  And that is unusual, but God knew our schedule even when we didn't.  For 25 years we scheduled about 100 family ministry meetings each year, sometimes even a year in advance.  And never did we have to cancel because of an illness, a death, or other unexpected events.  God knew what would come into our lives and when it would happen, long before we did.  
          (2)   Although I am sure that God would not control the weather just for me, I am amazed at the weather so far this month. One of my concerns is snow removal at our house this winter since for the first time neither of us will be able to do it and I don't want my boys to drive here through bad weather to do it for us.  But so far God has taken care of that for us with record high temps and no snow.  Now I don't know how long that will last, but it has been a real blessing for us. And when it comes, somehow He has plans to take care of it for us.
          (3)   Last December we decided to shop for a new car.  I had my plans to buy a Camry but the salesman suggested that I also drive a Rav4, even though that wasn't the style of car that I wanted.  But as soon as I drove it, I was sold on it.  And guess what? It has been a real blessing with this surgery.  I have no trouble getting in or out of it.  I would have had real difficulty with a sedan.  And it has been extremely comfortable to ride in.  God knew what we needed - almost a year in advance - long before we did.  What a great God we serve.

         I am often reminded of a verse which we taught to others so often in our family ministry.  Psalm 139:3 - Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with ALL my ways. "   

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

I Give Up!

          I really enjoy watching the many birds that frequent our bird feeders.  I especially look forward to visits from our woodpeckers and cardinals.  There are so many different types that come and they constantly remind me of God's beautiful creation.  I often think of the hymn "His Eye Is On The Sparrow" and the scriptures that remind us of his constant care and provision, even for the birds.
          But there are other creatures which also enjoy visiting and participating in our buffet - namely, our nasty neighborhood squirrels.  And they are not only nasty but they are very intelligent and crafty.  I've tried to declare war on them ... but I must admit that I've lost.  Their IQ's must be much greater than mine.
          Because of my surgery I have recently had hours to sit and watch the birds and the squirrels.  My main feeder was to be "squirrel proof".    But it wasn't and I now doubt if there is such a thing.  It had a covering on a spring which would close the feeding areas whenever a squirrel got on it.  And that part usually worked.  But these nasty visitors learned to break and bend the metal that would cover the feeding areas.  Their teeth must be like wire cutters.
          Then while I was watching one day, one of the squirrels discovered how to pop off the top of the feeder.  He could then stick his head right into the feeder and eat all that he wanted.  We would close it and he'd come right back and pop it once again.  And in the process of opening it he also chewed off part of the plastic feeder itself.  I thought that maybe if I put something like vaseline on the lid that this would defeat them.  I even tried adding hot pepper.  But it made no difference.
           With plenty of time to watch and think, I finally came up with a way to prevent him from popping off the cap.  And it worked.  But that didn't stop him.  He appeared to know what I had done and he tried without success to remove the clamps and wire that I had used.  When he couldn't do it, he went back to bending the metal to get some food.  I was beaten once again.
          My next attack was to replace the damaged feeder.   I invested in a new, more expensive feeder that advertised it was "squirrel proof".   Now I am a slow learner and should have realized that there is no such thing.  It didn't take long for them to learn that if they hung on the cage, food would fall out of the holes.  They could then retrieve it on the bottom of the cage or on the ground.
         But I wasn't done.  I decided to put tape over the holes that were releasing the most food.  Surely that would work.  But, of course, it didn't.  I should have known that I couldn't outsmart them.  They continued to come and hang on the cage and somehow get enough to make them happy.  And they are no longer scared by our banging on the window.  When we come out and clap or yell at them they just go higher in the tree and "hide" until we leave.
         Now maybe they have engineering degrees since they explored all parts of the new bird feeder looking for weak points.  This didn't bother me since with the cost of this trap there couldn't be any weak points.   Wrong!  One day I came out and didn't see the feeder.  When I looked closer, I saw it was on the ground and wide open.  I don't have any idea at all how they accomplished this.  Maybe I could have beat them if I had just finished my engineering program instead of becoming a math teacher.  Probably not,  I am now convinced that their IQ is just far superior than mine.
          So that's where things are now.  I admit defeat.  Maybe I just need to buy more feed and feed the birds and the squirrels .... or maybe buy a shotgun!  But with my luck I'd probably end up in jail.
One of my
visitors at work!

Thursday, December 3, 2015


            My recuperation from my back surgery limits what I can do and sometimes it becomes rather boring.  Now for up to nine months I must also wear a special electrical stimulator to help the growth of new bones in my back.  I must use this for two hours every day.  This limits me even more, so I often find myself in the afternoon sitting watching boring television for those two hours.
           I was doing this on Wednesday when suddenly all the major stations interrupted regular programming to cover the mass shooting in California.  And for hours they repeated pictures and interviews without many actual facts.  If one took the time to sit there and watch it all, it could become very discouraging, maybe scary and even depressing.  And the viewing public did not need all this coverage.  A few definite facts would have been much better, but of course they didn't have any such facts for hours so must of the negative coverage was based on speculation.
          Part of the debate was whether this shooting could be labeled as terrorism.   Now the formal definition of terrorism is "the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims."  So I guess the question is, were there actually political aims involved?  But who really cares.  Killing is killing and that to me is terrorism no matter what the aim might be.  Innocent people are killed and that is tragic.
          Now I believe that mass killings and terrorism are here to stay and we shouldn't be surprised.  The scripture tells in Jeremiah 17:9, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?"  And the scripture predicts times when violence will increase.  I don't like to be negative, but this world is not going to get any better.  Outside of a major revival, brought on by our fervent prayers, little can be done to reverse this tragic way of life.
          And President Obama, I totally disagree with you.  Tougher gun laws would not have prevented this or other mass shooters.  Whether these folks are terrorists or just mentally unstable, if they wanted to kill people they would have found ways to get guns, even if it was done illegally.  And you can't legislate morally - only Christ can change man's direction, attitudes and perspective.
          But there are some things that I wish the media would do.  First, cut off the major television coverage of these situations.  Why do we need to see hours of tragedy?  Among other things,this can show "copy cats" what they can do and maybe how to get away with it.  And, since the shooters on Tuesday apparently escaped, it might help them know what is being done.  The general public just does not need to see this.
         Second, why publish pictures and names of the shooters?  We almost make them heroes and give them tremendous publicity.  I wonder how many might not carry out their terror attacks if they realized that they would get no publicity.  
         Third, this is controversial, but let's reinstate the death penalty for those who do the shootings - if they survive their attack alive.
          Fourth, eliminate all the violence on television, in movies and in games.  Of course, this will never happen.  The public would call this censorship and demand it be returned.  But what a breeding place for violence.
          Now what can we as believers do?  Obviously, pray for our country.  Pray for safety for yourself and your family whenever you or they go some place. Don't take your safety for granted.  No place is exempt from terror.  We now even have security teams at our church to attempt to protect those of us who come to worship.  Don't refrain from living a normal life - just be aware of things around you.  And, finally, live each day as though it might be your last.  Love your family.  Live for Christ.  Trust Him.  And live with the certainty that should something happen to you, that the Lord knows and cares and has prepared a special eternal home for you.