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 24, 2016

At The Right Time

          It never ceases to amaze me how suddenly a passage of scripture that you have read dozens of times jumps out at you - just when you need it.  This recently was the case once again for me during a time of discouragement and concern in my life.  As I was having my daily devotions the Lord led me to the familiar words of Psalm 73, verses 23-26, and it was the truth and encouragement that I needed at that time.
          "... I am continually with you."  Each of us face times when we feel alone, sometimes even with people all around us.  Sometimes we have physical problems but our doctor is on vacation or he doesn't have appointments for several weeks.  Sometimes we have major decisions to make and wish that there was somebody there to make it for us. Sometimes we have burdens that we don't want to share even with those who are close to us, often for fear of burdening them.  Sometimes the night hours just never seem to pass.  But thankfully, the Lord is always there.  He has promised never to leave us and He doesn't.  He doesn't go on vacation or have office hours - no waiting in line. The older I get, the more I appreciate the reality of His constant presence and I find myself spending more time sharing with Him than ever before.
          "you hold my right hand."   There is something very special and comforting about holding the hand of a loved one and here the Psalmist reminds us that God holds our hand.  And we who are right handed fully understand the importance of the right hand - it is the one we write with, the one we use to eat, the one we use so often for key things in our daily life.  By holding our right hand we are reminded that He is always there to control what we do, if we allow Him to do so.
          "You guide me with your counsel."  Oh how I need the Lord's counsel and guidance daily.   Life can be tough when you try to go it alone.  Psalm 32:8, "I will instruct  you and teach you in the way which you should go, I will guide you with my eye."  My high school counselors and my college advisors left much to be desired when it came to good counsel.  My God's guidance through the Word, through prayer and through circumstances controlled by Him is always perfect and needed.
          "and afterward you will receive me to glory."  Sometimes that hope is what keeps one going - the assurance that at the end of this earthly road, He will receive us to glory.  What a precious promise.
          "Whom have I in heaven but you?"   Now I admit that I struggle a little with this phrase as well as the one that follows. I have many friends and family members in heaven.  And I look forward to being reunited with them.  But they can't assure my destiny or my entrance into heaven.  It is only through the Son of God, in heaven, that the payment for my entrance has been made.  He is the only one there that can guarantee my place.  My name is written in His Book of Life.
          "and there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you."  I also struggle with this, especially since I have family members still here on earth that I love and desire to be with.  But even they pale in the light of heaven where we will one day be reunited.  I've had my share of honors and they are soon forgotten.  I have been blessed with possessions, but they decay and become worthless.  "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal"  Matthew 6:19, 20. Our real treasures are in heaven, not here on earth.
          "My flesh and my heart may fail"  I can really relate to this statement, especially after recent open heart surgery.  As we get older we may joke about how we've slowed down and how many doctors we have seen.  But it is true, as we age our bodies do fail, no matter what we do.  They are just tents designed to clothe us before we receive our permanent perfect bodies.  And so we can endure these circumstances knowing what is just ahead.
          "But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."  What a profound and perfect testimony.  Over my years of being His child I have continually experienced His strength.  And indeed, He is my portion ... forever!
          Possibly this passage may comfort and encourage you as it did me.  Praise the Lord for His Word and His mercies which are new every morning.   Great is His faithfulness!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

My Favorites Over The Years

          Television continues to be a big part of most people's lives, maybe too big for many.  However, the programming has changed over the years and it is getting harder to find good shows to watch, especially for families.
          When it comes to what I view, I will admit that my favorite things to watch are sporting events.  Of course, number one would be Penn State football.  Next might be the college football play-offs and a bowl game, especially  if Penn State is in it.  Next would be the NCAA basketball tournament, from the play-in games to the national championship.  The NFL play-offs also rank high for me.  Sometimes the Eagles and Phillies might be next, depending upon what types of seasons they are having.  Oh yes, then every four years I love the summer Olympics.  I can't get too excited about pro basketball, soccer, hockey or tennis.  But once in awhile a good golf tournament will attract my interest.
         Now there have been many other non sport shows which I have enjoyed over 60+ years of television watching.  Wow, that is a long time.  I wonder how many hours I've invested (or wasted) during all those years.  I guess that I really don't want to know the answer to that. I've had a few favorites over the years.  Here are 12 of them, in no particular order.
         When I think of the early days of television I think of Sid Ceasar and Imogene Coca and a few other comedians on what I think was called The Show of Shows.   It was genuine, clean comedy at its best.  But those were different times.
         About that time there was a weekly music show which might have been titled the Hit Parade.  The show featured various artists singing the top ten songs of the week, starting from number ten up to number one.  In those days the music was good, singable and easy to listen to and I really enjoyed their presentations.  I think it might have been a Saturday night show - but that was a few decades ago.
          And then who could skip I Love Lucy, the best of the comedy shows, whose reruns are still featured today.  Lucille Ball was one of the best, if not the best, of the comedians.  Her programs where she crushed grapes and packed candy are classics.
          Recently I have actually learned to enjoy watching the reruns of MASH.  I never really watched the show when it was originally shown, but I have recently learned to enjoy it.  I understand it was Joe Paterno's favorite show, for whatever that is worth.
          Two classic family comedy series rank among my favorites.  First there is Home Improvement, with Tim Allen.  It was a hilarious comedy as "Tim the Toolman" dealt with his family and his television show.  Good clean show with lots of laughs.  Then there also was Everybody Loves Raymond.  What a great cast that worked so well together to produce hilarious family situations that made you laugh.  I was sorry to see this show end and I still enjoy watching the reruns and laughing at the family relationships.  I recently saw the one where the mother drove the car into Raymond's living room.  Too funny!  Why aren't their more funny family shows like these today?.
          Then there are the detective type shows.  NCIS certainly ranks high in my book for entertainment.  Some of its spin-offs are also fine, but not quite as good as the original.  I would also rank Blue Bloods just as high.  The story of the commissioner of the New York City police and his family is always interesting and filled with situations which the police and city actually face today.  And the emphasis on family and good ethics is commendable in my opinion.  I might also put Scorpion in this ranking, although it is still too new to know how long it can keep up its popularity.  With very high IQ's, this young team is sent to solve all sorts of impossible problems.
          In another category I would place The Amazing Race and America's Got Talent.  In the Race we get to see pictures of exciting places all over the world and the contestants are called upon to do all sorts of amazing and difficult challenges.  It is an amazing production.  In the talent show people demonstrate all sorts of skills and talents in an attempt to win a million dollars.  I think it is an exciting competition with both crazy and talented competitors.
          Now I've saved my favorite to last.  I have always enjoyed the funny episodes of Hogan's Heroes.  I've watched the shows once, twice and probably three times and have never tired of watching Hogan battle the Germans with Sgt. Schultz and Col. Klink.  The war would have ended sooner if the Germans really would have been that stupid.  Presently I stay up to watch the 10:30 showing on ME TV, every weeknight, and I just hope they never take it off the air.  It's always good for 30 minutes of laughing.
          Now, even though it is probably worth nothing, there are my favorite 12.  But it was very hard to narrow it down and in doing so I've left out shows like Happy Days, Laugh In, Castle, Mission Impossible, the A Team, Duck Dynasty, Get Smart, Dick Van Dyke Show, Madam Secretary, Candid Camera and many others.
          There have been many good shows over the years.  However, I am finding it more difficult to find good ones today, especially comedy shows.  It is sad that shows today need to include sex, to put down fathers, to feature violence, and to promote gay and lesbian lifestyles.  Oh for the good old days when comedy was clean and family values were portrayed.  But that is just another sad part of the times that we live in.
          So what are your favorites?   

Saturday, September 10, 2016


          I  love the Fall and I get excited as it approaches.  I look forward to the cooler temperatures, the colored leaves, football and the end of summer television reruns.    
         Actually, I am old enough to remember the days before television reruns and even television itself.  I remember when all we had was a radio and we would gather around it to listen to all sorts of shows.  I especially enjoyed the comedians such as Amos and Andy,  Bob Hope, Red Skeleton, Jack Benny, Milton Berle and Fibber McKee and Molly.  And there were the cowboys such as Tom Mix, the Lone Ranger, Gene Autry and Roy Rogers.  And there was a children's program that I never missed on Saturday morning, but I can't recall its name.  I do remember that it used "The Teddy Bears' Picnic" as a theme and had Buster Brown Shoes as an advertiser.
          The other thing I remember about radio is that the baseball games were not usually broadcast live.  An announcer would sit in a radio studio and read the play by play from a ticker tape as he received it.  That would be boring today, but it was exciting then to a young baseball fan.
          Television broadcasting began in my lifetime, in the early 1940's. It is estimated that in 1947 there were 40 million radios but only 44,000 televisions.  It was also estimated that 34,000 of these were in New York City.  By 1949 there were TV networks from New York to the Mississippi River and then by 1951 they stretched to the west coast.  It is interesting to me that in 1949 our local television station, WGAL-TV, went on the air and was the first station in Pennsylvania.  And so we sort of grew up together.
          We had friends, the Sheffys, who owned an appliance store in Lititz and they had the first television set in Lancaster County. They were charter members of our church. We loved to visit them and watch pro wrestling on their black and white set.
          Finally, probably when I was in third grade, we purchased our first set.  I remember getting up on Saturday mornings and when the test pattern finally went off, I would watch Covered Wagon Theater.  Of course there were also kid's shows such as Howdy Doody, and Kukla Fran and Ollie, and we never missed them. At night, when the station signed off for the day, they would play The National Anthem.
          When I was in junior high, the Sheffys had a big anniversary sale at their store in Lititz.  They had several very special bargains for the first shoppers.  My brother and I went to the store early in the morning to get in line.  Our early morning efforts were rewarded by the purchase of a ten inch television for ... nine cents!  Somehow we got it home and put it in the bedroom which we shared. We had arrived! That was one of the best bargains that I ever made and it is a great memory.
          I think WGAL began to broadcast in color about 1954, but it was years later when we finally switched to color.  My dad was working as an engineer at RCA and one of his coworkers built a set for him.  It came in a large cabinet which we are still using in our living room today.
          Maybe I'll talk about my favorite shows in another blog, but there are three events that I watched on television that I will never forget. There was the day that I was teaching and we were interrupted by an announcement that President Kennedy had been shot.  This brought a silence throughout the school that I will never forget.  For the next week we sat in front of the TV watching the funeral and the surrounding sad events.  And, while I was watching on live television, I was stunned as Lee Harvey Oswald was assassinated.  I will never forget that picture.
          A few years later we were living in Tallahassee, Florida, as I attended Florida State University for a semester.  My parents and my sister came to visit us there and together we watched the first moon landing and the first man walking on the moon.  Spectacular and memorable. 
          Then a few years ago I was prepping for my second block class.  I had the television in the room turned on and was watching the news.  Suddenly they broke in with the news that a plane had crashed into the towers in New York City.  Then I watched as the second plane also crashed into it.  The remainder of the day I watched the news with my classes who sat in stunned silence.  Another day that I will never forget.
          There is no doubt that television has changed the world and made it smaller.  I'm not sure that all the changes are good, but it has become an integral part of the changing world that we live in.  Modern technology is now doing the same thing.
          A few days after I had written this blog, somebody sent me an interesting poem that those over 55 might enjoy.  You younger readers will have no idea what this means.  So, seniors, enjoy!

You could hardly see for all the snow,
Spread the rabbit ears as far as they go. 
Pull a chair up to the TV set, 
"Good night, David; Good night, Chet".

Dependin' on the channel you tuned
You got Rob and Laura or Ward and June.
It felt so good, felt so right.
Life looked better in black and white.

I Love Lucy, The Real McCoys,
Dennis the Menace, the Cleaver boys,
Rawhide, Gunsmoke, Wagon Train,
Superman, Jimmy & Lois Lane.

Father Knows Best, Patty Duke,
Rin Tin Tin and Lassie too,
Donna Reed on Thursday night -
Life looked better in black and white.

I wanna go back to black and white.
Everything always turned out right.
Simple people, simple lives;
Good guys always won the fights

Now nothing is the way it seems
In living color on the TV screen.
Too many murders, too much fight,
I wanna go back to black and white.

In God they trusted, in bed they slept.
A promise made was a promise kept.
They never cussed or broke their vows;
They'd never make the network now.

But if I could, I'd rather be
In a TV town in '53.
It felt so good, felt so right;
Life looked better in black and white.

I'd trade all the channels on the satellite
If I could just turn back the clock tonight
To when everybody knew wrong from right.

Life was better in black and white!

Saturday, September 3, 2016

"Deja vu all over again"

          The famous baseball player, Yogi Berra, is said to have remarked  "It's like déjà vu all over again."  And sometimes life seems like that as we go through the various seasons of life.
          It seems like only yesterday that we sent our three boys off to their first days of school.  Like most parents, we experienced both the fears as well as the great expectations of what would lie ahead for them in the years to come.  And they were good years with many good memories.  Those days were filled with busy schedules.  We attended their concerts, their athletic contests, parents' nights, award nights and all of the special events that are part of school years.  And we prayed. But those years passed so quickly and before we knew it we were attending graduations.
          Then it happened all over again.  This time it was starting college and jobs and we watched our boys begin another chapter in their lives.  Again we faced both the fears and the excitement of new adventures and I guess we prayed even harder.  But those days also passed so quickly. More memories.  And this time there were graduations, promotions and weddings.
          But there was soon a third phase which this time involved grandchildren.  We joyfully welcomed them and they enriched our lives.  We had prayed for them long before they were born and we've never stopped.  This phase involved preschools, often with concerts and programs.  But once again time passed quickly and soon we were watching them go off to school for the first time.  And soon their were more concerts, plays, games and award presentations.  These made us so proud and enriched our lives.  But these years are also passing so quickly and now we have begun to experience cycles of graduation once again  Four of our seven grandchildren are now out of high school.
          Then came another cycle - college for our grandchildren.  And our prayers for them  increased.  These can be the best years of one's life, but they can also be the most challenging.  Selecting a college and a major and then paying for it can be very stressful.  There are many new challenges to one's beliefs and new temptations.  Four of our seven are in various stages of this phase and it has been fun to watch them and pray for them.  Their paths have each been a little different, although three chose to attend Lebanon Valley College.  One of them is actually studying this semester in Spain and we have increased our prayer coverage for her.
          And while we are still involved in these last two phases, we have begun another one.  One of our grandsons has graduated from college and is now teaching and working on his doctorate in chemistry at Penn State.  Within two years we expect that two more of them will join him as college graduates, entering this next phase of their lives.  And we will continue to pray for each of them, and, as we have done for many years, for their possible future spouses.
          God has been so good to us and has answered so many prayers concerning our children and grandchildren.  These years have not been without some difficult challenges but they have been filled with good memories and much joy.  But time flies by so quickly.  We don't know if we will live long enough to experience more of these phases, but as long as we are able we will continue to pray and trust the Lord.
          Growing old can be tough at times, but it is made a little easier when we remember how faithful God has been in answering prayers and providing what is needed.  And remembering His presence and faithfulness in the various phases of life can give one the courage and confidence to keep going, knowing that God continues to hear and answer our prayers.  And He allows us to be intercessors for our family as well as for others.  And we are never too old for that ministry.