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, July 30, 2016

Have A Laugh!

          There isn't too much worse in the summer than summer television viewing with all of its reruns. Unless of course you decide to include daytime television, which is always poor year round, or watching the Philadelphia Phillies stumble.   Maybe the summer Olympics will at least provide a fresh and exciting option this summer.
          However there is one summer show that we really enjoy watching and that is "America's Got Talent".   Sometimes the talent shown is outstanding and unique and very entertaining.  But then there are some acts which are really very poor and they usually quickly get the "four X's" from the judges and are sent home.
          Earlier this summer there was a female contestant whose objective was to make everyone laugh.  She did this by laughing herself throughout her complete audition.  And then she tried to sing a song whose lyrics were all laughing.  She didn't last long and quickly was eliminated by the judges who weren't too impressed or even amused.
          However the audition did remind me of three other situations that involved singing and laughing.  The first is a number by George Younce of the Cathedrals.  Now George was an excellent singer and the Cathedrals in their day were exceptional.   And I guess George's laughing song was to be cute and folks apparently did enjoy it and laughed along.  I guess I thought it was different.  Had he been on "America's Got Talent" he would have also gotten the "four X's" - that is like getting the gong on the old "The Gong TV Show".  If you would like to hear George's song, here is a link to it.  LAUGH1
          But my other two memories of laughing while singing did not happen on purpose.  When I was in elementary school my grandfather was pastor of a large church in Bethlehem and I often stayed with my grandparents at times in the summer.  My uncle was also a pastor, but he was pastoring a small mission church in Trenton, New Jersey.  In the summer his church often held tent meetings with the hope of reaching new people.
          One summer while I was visiting my grandparents, the Bethlehem congregation took a Gospel team to conduct one of the tent services in Trenton.  The team included a women's trio.  My grandfather was to preach.  And since I was visiting that week with my grandparents, they took me along to the tent meeting.
          During the service the women's trio started to sing when suddenly several flying insects were attracted by the lights.  They started flying around the heads of the singers who tried to swat them and wave them away while singing.  But soon their singing turned to laughing and they were just unable to stop laughing.   It is strange how the picture of an event that happened over 60 years ago can still remain in one's mind.
          The third incident also happened many years ago.  I was part of a male quartet in our church that included Tom Bowman, Pastor Thomann, Mark Guthrie and myself.  One morning we began to sing "A Little Talk With Jesus".  In case you don't know it, here are the words.

(1)    I once was lost in sin, but Jesus took me in,
And then a little light from heaven filled my soul;
It bathed my heart in love and wrote my name above,
And just a little talk with Jesus makes me whole.
Now let us, Have a little talk with Jesus,
Let us, tell Him all about our troubles,
He will, Hear our faintest cry,
And He will, answer by and by;
Now when you, Feel a little prayer wheel turning,
And you, know a little fire is burning.
You will, Find a little talk with Jesus makes it right.

(2)     Sometimes my path seems drear, without a ray of cheer,
And then a cloud of doubt may hide the light of day;
The mists of sin may rise and hide the starry skies,
But just a little talk with Jesus clears the way.    Chorus

(3)     I may have doubts and fears, my eyes be filled with tears,
But Jesus is a friend who watches day and night;
I go to Him in prayer, He knows my every care,
And Just a little talk with Jesus makes it right.     Chorus

          We were doing well until we hit the second verse when we all suddenly struggled with the phrase "and then a cloud of doubt".  Together we burst out laughing at our mistake and we just couldn't stop.  It was embarrassing, but funny.  I don't remember if we ever finished the song or not, but I will never forget that phrase and that experience.

          Incidentally, here is a video of another quartet which had some trouble and fun trying to sing the same number. Maybe you'll enjoy their experience.    LAUGH2
          Well I guess we have all had situations, maybe not singing, which have made us laugh uncontrollably.  If you haven't, you don't know what you have missed.  And the scripture does remind us, in Proverbs 17:22,  "A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones."   I hope you have a cheerful heart today and can find something good to laugh about.
          P.S.  Maybe you'd also enjoy this music video.   LAUGH3

Saturday, July 23, 2016


        For as long as I can remember, my family would spend a week each summer at our church camp, Mizpah Grove, in Allentown.  There we would live in a tent with a wooden floor and straw filled beds.  We would go a central location for showers and to use the restroom.  We would cook our own meals to save money and most of our days were spent attending services - morning, afternoon and night.  Other than shuffleboard and softball there was really nothing else to do.  I also worked there several summers in the camp store, getting the camp ready and tearing it down.  It wasn't very luxurious, but we loved it and it was a big part of our Christian growth.
         When we were married we continued to go there until the Grove was finally sold and our denomination purchased the old Pinebrook Bible Conference facilities near Stroudsburg.  That camp was actually started in 1933 by evangelist Percy Crawford.  In its early days it was the place to go and top speakers, such as Billy Graham, were part of the program.  Thousands came to know the Lord there and many dedicated their lives to His service.  We continue to meet folks whose lives were changed by the ministry there over the years.
         But upon Percy's sudden death, the camp was closed and put up for sale.  During those years the facilities really deteriorated.  Plumbing and electricity were bad.  Buildings were old and in need of repair.  And so when the Bible Fellowship Church bought it in 1968, it really was in terrible shape.  Over the years many, many improvements have been made but many more are still needed.  But today most of those things are very expensive to do.
         When the BFC took over and began to run programs, we began going there in the summers and have done so ever since.  For about 25 years we provided the children's ministry there for up to three weeks each summer.  We often had 100 or more children, K-6, for two hours twice a day.  Then, for many years, Dianne played the piano or organ for the adult services and I often served as worship leader.  We continue to attend there two weeks each summer, now as part of our vacation.
         In recent years we have led 40 different hymn sings at Pinebrook on Fridays in the Spring and Fall.  Since 2003 it has been our joy to also serve as worship leaders for the week long Senior Saints Retreat each October.  This has become our favorite Pinebrook event and all seniors should join us for a great week.
         Like most Bible conferences today, Pinebrook struggles to keep going.  It is very expensive to staff and run such a program all year. New facilities are terribly expensive. Pinebrook depends on booking retreats throughout the year as well as on contributions from friends and churches.  Unfortunately, the Bible Fellowship churches have not supported the program very well in terms of both finances and attendance.  Part of this poor support is because today folks would rather go to Disney or to the shore than to a Bible conference.  Today people have money and other desires for their family vacations. A Bible conference is not a priority for younger generations.
        Another problem is that the rooms are not Marriott quality.  Many improvements have been made over the years.  But since the majority of the year the rooms are used for youth retreats in particular, it limits what can be done with the rooms.  All rooms do have private baths and AC, but many also include several bunk beds which are needed for the retreats.  And teens are often very tough on the rooms.
        But there are many things which still make Pinebrook a favorite with us.  We have made so many good friends there over the years, especially from Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Connecticut.  We look forward to seeing them year after year.  Having good Christian friends is a real blessing, something you won't get at Disney.
       Our boys are now grown, but it is a tremendous place to bring your children.  There are special programs geared to all ages.  The grounds are safe with much to do.  And what a pleasure to expose them for a week to Biblical teaching and fun.
       Each summer week also offers excellent Bible teaching for adults.  But the program is not so structured that you must attend each service if you wish to visit the many area Pocono attractions or go shopping on your vacation. 
       There are also many social and recreational activities provided for those who wish to participate in them.   In addition to swimming, shuffleboard, basketball, softball, volleyball and pickle ball, there are hikes to the Delaware Gap as well as talent shows and other events.
      And the food is excellent.  Three great meals are provided each day and there is a final banquet.  The only bad thing about the meals is that you are bound to gain weight throughout the week, unless you are very disciplined.  And if you go elsewhere you could easily spend over $900 a week just to feed a family of four for three comparable meals each day.
      Finally, Pinebrook is very economical.  A family of four can attend for a week, with full meals, for about $1,250.  Bible Fellowship Church members  can take their family for less than a $1,000 a week.  I checked some comparable rates ar other well known Bible conferences in New York, Maryland, and New Jersey.  For the same family size their rates are about $2,400, $2,720 and $1,790.   These are significant differences but I guess there are reasons that many folks are willing to pay the differences in charges to attend there.  Sometimes I guess tradition can make a big difference in what one chooses.
      Anyway, we love Pinebrook and enjoy going there.  And as long as the Lord allows us to do so, we hope to continue being involved in this special ministry with its rich heritage for thousands of believers.  We'd love to have you join us!


Sunday, July 17, 2016

Senior Observations

          Recently I took some time to think about some of the lessons I have been learning in my senior years.  Now I wouldn't call these lessons wisdom, but some might be worth consideration by others.
          1.    Every morning when you get awake thank the Lord for giving you one more day here on earth and ask Him to help you use these hours wisely for Him. No matter how you feel, appreciate this gift to you. Life is short and we don't know if we will have another day to do so.  We don't know what a day may bring.
         2.    If you have a doctor who listens and cares or a friend who listens and cares, you are truly fortunate.  Such folks are few and far between.  Doctors are too busy and true friends are scarce.  Thank the Lord if He has given you one.
          3.    Everybody has problems which they are facing.  Some are very open about them, others are very private and seldom share them with others.   But they exist.   Don't ask someone "how are you doing?" unless you really care and are willing to listen.
          4.    As we get older we do have less energy and physical problems become a handicap.  It becomes easy to back out of things, but that often is not a good idea.  Sometimes you just need to "suck it up" and do your best.  But a few good naps can help.
         5.    Money is important for paying the bills and helping to support the Lord's work.  But the older your get, spending it on yourself begins to lose the luster it once had.
          6.    The longer you live the more examples you have of God's faithfulness to you.  We shouldn't live in the past, but at times it is good to remember how He has led and provided for you over the years.   It helps renew your confidence that He will be faithful and not leave you in the challenges that are still ahead.
          7.   The older I get the more I appreciate and miss the old hymns that speak about heaven.  I guess the closer you get to heaven the more relevant it is to you.  I wish we talked about it and sang about it much more today.
          8.   The older I get the more I become interested in the history of my family.  I develop more and more questions that I wish I had asked my parents and relatives while they were alive.  But as a youngster I took those things for granted and probably wasn't very observant.  And now that I am older and interested there is nobody around any more with the answers.  Sometimes I think we grow interested in our heritage too late in life.
          9.    Watching your grandchildren grow can be both fun and challenging.  In some ways it is harder than raising your own children because you can only be an observer and encourager and they are facing a much different world than you or your children faced.  I believe that you pray more often and even more earnestly than you might have for your own children.  But, on the other hand, Christian grandparents can have a profound influence on their grandchildren by their Christian walk, attitude and encouragement.  Don't ever underestimate the power and importance of that influence.
          10.   Expect change.  Your doctors, repairmen, dentists and others you have depended upon for many years will retire.  Close friends will die.  Your neighborhood will change.  Your grandchildren will grow up.  Your favorite stores will close.  Worship styles and music will change.  Prices will increase.  Nothing stays the same.   Accept it as part of life and move on or grow depressed and bitter.  Accepting is a much better option.
          11.  When young people say their vows when getting married, they really don't understand how profound they are.  They don't realize that they will someday face the "for better or for worse" and "in sickness and in health". Such things seem so far away ... but they come so quickly and unexpectedly.
          12.   Serving the Lord and dedicating all that you have to Him is the most important thing in life.  So many miss the blessings He has for them because they withhold some of their time, their possessions and their finances from Him and that is so sad.  You can never out give the Lord.
          13.   Time flies so fast, especially the older that you get. You will soon reach a point when you wonder where all the years have gone. And the physical challenges of being a senior happen more quickly than you ever could expect.  If you can walk and see and hear and eat whatever you want, don't take it for granted.  But be prepared, it probably won't be that way long.
          14.   If you've reached retirement age, enjoy it.  Be positive. Don't complain. Volunteer.  Keep active.  Enjoy senior discounts.  Take naps.  Thank God for His faithfulness.  And remember, better days are just around the corner.  Then there will be no arthritis, diabetes, hip replacements, taxes, home repairs, medical bills, walkers, canes, hearing aids or politics.  What a wonderful day that will be.

Monday, July 11, 2016

The Good!

      In my last blog I listed a number of things that upset me.  Maybe I gave the wrong impression.  I try not to be a negative person, but I think we all have things which bother us at times.  So to try and balance the scales, I've decided to list a few things which I do appreciate.
       Despite some rude folks, I am impressed with the number of folks who have opened and held doors for me while I was using my walker or my cane.  It is great to see that many still have good manners and consideration for those who have physical limitations.
       Drivers earn my smile and appreciation when they wave to thank me for letting them out at a busy corner or in a parking lot.  It only takes a few seconds to help a person in such a situation and it is great when others recognize that deed with a thank you.
       There are many drivers who actually do slow down when they pass me at my mailbox.  Once in awhile one will even stop to let me safely cross the street to my house.
       Recently we received a very unexpected note of encouragement and appreciation from a couple in our congregation.  We never expected this and we were surprised.  It was very appreciated and meaningful to us.  While some have the gift of encouragement, it is something that we all should practice.
       I appreciate those who really care when they ask "how are you?"   Most times it is just a passing comment without any meaning.  But during these past months of rehabilitation from two major surgeries, it has been nice when somebody stopped to ask that and really wanted to hear how things were going.
       I really appreciate doctors who are on time and I have a few who are.  Mosts doctors ask you to come 15 minutes early and then make you wait another 30 minutes until they see you.  Opps, I guess that is a negative and shouldn't be in this blog.  Now I know doctors can be very busy, especially with emergencies, but I really appreciate those who value my time and try to be on time, yet take the time to listen to me
       I appreciate good salespeople who are there to help you when you need help, but aren't there to "bug" you and pressure you.  Good customer service is a plus in my estimation.
       I really appreciate good music, especially good Gospel music.  I love the old hymns as well as the new choruses when they are doctrinally correct.  I especially love music about heaven.  I love to hear good piano music and solos by cellos and trombones.
       I appreciate it when others follow instructions and make my work easier and lighter by taking time to do things correctly.  When you have a heavy workload, it is great when others go out of their way to help you by doing things correctly.
       I love to see older folks who love the Lord and glow with his radiance after spending years serving Him and growing closer to Him.  They are special people that God brings into your life and I hope that someday others may see that in me.
       I get excited when I see my children and grandchildren doing well in their schooling and jobs while growing in the Lord and serving Him.  That is a very special blessing.
       And finally, I appreciate those who smile.  Somehow we seem to get too busy with work, dealing with problems, and carrying our burdens, that we forget to smile.  If I may paraphrase a saying, A smile is the flag flown from the heart when the King is in residence there.
        So there you are - some of the things that I appreciate and make me smile.  Maybe I'll add some more in a later blog.  We have so many things to appreciate when the Lord is our King and provider.  Great is His faithfulness.
        May you have a very positive day!   Smile, God is good!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

It Bothers Me ...

          One of the dangers of growing old is that it is easy to become bitter and nobody enjoys a bitter, complaining person.  And it is often easy to become bitter over the smallest things.  I think sometimes folks don't really realize how negative they've become in their conversations and reactions.  We need to pray that the Lord would keep us from bitterness and allow our words, thoughts and actions to be sprinkled with grace and pleasing to Him.
          But ,as we know, there are many things in life which bother us and the fact is that one can be disappointed about situations, but not bitter.  Recently I began to think about things that disappoint me and bother me, in addition to bitter people.  But they are temporary and I can't really do anything to change these things.  So I accept them as a fact of life.  Here are some of those things which come to my mind.
          It bothers me when I go to a restaurant or a fast food location that I see employees who are on break standing outside, in their uniforms, smoking.  Don't they realize that they carry that smell with them when they return to work?  And, unfortunately, most of the time the employees are female.   I guess one of the results of women's lib is that females have the right to kill themselves by smoking.  I just wish that they weren't the ones preparing or serving my food. 
          It bothers me when I go our to eat and a family near me has a noisy, crying child who needs to be disciplined, but the parents do nothing about it.  My quiet meal time is ruined and I am tempted to put a sock in the child's mouth and warm his rear with my hand - just before I am arrested.  Now I may think that but I'd never do it or even recommend that.  I guess maybe I can't really relate to these parents since when our boys were growing up we couldn't afford to go out to eat.  But times and discipline have changed.
          It bothers me when a driver attempts to make a left hand turn from the right hand side of the road, keeping cars from passing him on the right.  I think they are inconsiderate but then I realize that driver's training is no longer a part of high school programs so maybe they don't know any better.
         I am always bothered by tailgaters when I am driving, especially when they are talking on their cell phones or texting.  Somehow they must think that their reaction time is not affected by doing multiple things at one time.  But they only have to be wrong one time.
          And while talking about cell phone use, I am bothered by those who don't turn them off in church and then they ring and disturb those around them. One summer the leader at Pinebrook joked about declaring a $100 fine for any cell phone that rang during the service.  Even with his warning, several did.  I don't know if he ever collected or not.
          And speaking about church, I admit that I am bothered by those people who are always late and then march down to the front to sit.  And it is the same people each week at about the same time.  You could probably set your watch by their appearance.   But then some people are late for everything.  I wonder if they will be late for their funeral.
          I am bothered by the lack of respect for property shown by the leaving of garbage.  Every few weeks we find beer bottles or fast food items on our lawn, thrown there from cars passing by.  And when I walk in our church on Mondays I am always amazed by the number of water bottles that are left on the chairs and on the floor for the custodian to remove.  Why don't people even have respect for the House of the Lord?
          Back to driving.  It bothers me when it is raining that many drivers don't turn on their lights.  That is the law in Pennsylvania.  I wonder if the police ever prosecute anyone for breaking this law.  It is often hard to see these vehicles, especially if it is raining hard.
         And one more about driving.  Our street doesn't have sidewalks and we must cross it to get to our mailbox.  The speed limit is 25 mph but often drivers pass by at 40 - 50 mph while we are trying to get our mail.  I think they want to see how close they can get to hitting us.  Often I wave at them to try and slow them down, but they just ignore me or are going too fast to see me signal.  And it is worse when it is raining because I think that some want to see how much they can splash me.
          And one more before I close.  Why don't owners train their employees how to give change.  Recently at Pennys I had to break a $20 for a bill of $1.34.  The clerk slapped the change into my hand, with the bills and coins mixed together.  And all the bills were also mixed up, some upside down and others backwards.  Not only didn't she count up when giving it to me, but the mixture was unbelievable.  Of course, since I once worked in a store I have a thing about that, especially having the bills the same way and in proper order.  But maybe with tody's technology clerks don't need to give change very often.
          Well I better quit or you will soon think that I am becoming a bitter old man.  I guess these things are just the result of the age and culture that we live in.  And there is nothing I can do about them but live with them and try to set an example by not doing the same things in return.  They aren't worth getting ulcers over and the only thing they might be worth is providing items for a blog when one can't think of anything else to write about.