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, February 25, 2017

It's So Much Fun ... I Guess!

          Slide rules, logarithms, party lines, maps, AM radio ... that was the "technology" of my childhood.  Today most folks don't even know what those things were, except maybe AM radio.  But how things have changed in my lifetime.  Today almost everyone uses computers, smart phones, ipads, bluetooth, apps, texting, GPS's, Netflex and much technology that I don't even understand ... or need or want.         
          Now I am still in the early technology phase - computers, cell phones, e-mails.  I don't have a smart phone, as much as it might be convenient to have one.  Living on a fixed retirement income I simply can't afford one in my budget, although someday I may be forced to give something up - like food - to get one.  My cell phone at $30 a month is presently sufficient. However, It does bother me that folks today are so addicted to texting and playing games on their phones. The phones control their lives.  And I really do get upset when I see people chatting and texting while driving.  That is not only very inconsiderate, but actually very dangerous.
          Now I do spend much time on the internet and using e-mail.  Both are real timesavers for me.  And, as I found out the last few weeks, my life is really tied into my computer.  I use it for all my records, my finances and much of my purchasing.  I also use it for church and Awana records and information.  It contains my mailing lists.  I use it to do my taxes. I operate a website and two blogs. I am amazed at how much of my life is contained on my harddrive.  This became very evident to me the last few weeks.
         For a few months I have been having a problem with occasional crashing of my computer.  But every time it happened, I was able to get right back on again - Inconvenient, but nothing lost.  I went to the Apple Genius Bar at Park City for help.  In the past they have been very helpful with problems, but this time the technician didn't even want to run any tests. He just wanted me to buy a new computer.  But a new computer would create a real problem because of the expensive software that I use that would not work on the newer operating systems.  I talked to a few other people about the problem but didn't receive any solutions, so I just lived with the crashes.
         Then, several weeks ago it died - really died.  And I was in trouble.  I went back to Apple and this time a technician was very helpful. He ran some tests that should have been done by them before and said that I needed a new logic board.  And then he told me that they no longer make them so Apple couldn't help me.  But he did suggest a company near Mt. Joy that specialized in difficult computer problems.
         I headed right to their office and they agreed for about $80 to take it and run more tests.  The next day they called and told me that they couldn't fix it but that they could send it to a company in New York that often can rebuild internal parts.  $ $ $  Because I was now becoming desperate, I agreed.  I did have back-ups, but no computer to guarantee that I could even use them.  However, after much work and prayer, I was able to save most of my back-ups to my wife's computer.  So not all was lost. That was a major relief.
         Almost two weeks later my computer came back but the company in Mt. Joy called to tell me that I also needed a new harddrive.  $ $ $ $  But what could I do?  I needed the computer.  A day later I picked it up and took it home to restore my files.  But the computer wouldn't accept my data.  So back to Mt. Joy, agreeing to pay them to do it.   $ $  The next day I picked it up - it was working - took it home and once again it crashed.  Back to the company again and they tried to restore it.  This time they found that some of the data was corrupted but they couldn't find which files were corrupted and that prevented loading my back-ups.  We were stumped again.  Then that night I came up with the idea - actually the Lord answered my prayer - that maybe they could use my wife's hard drive and copy it to my computer.  They agreed - they did it - it worked.  And I am now using it to write this blog, update all my files and begin to file my income tax.
          Computers are great - when they work.  But remember to always back up your data - that is the only chance you have to "get your life back" when your computer crashes.  And pray that your back-ups don't get corrupted.
          I won't take time to share the other events of this week .. three root canals ... a new pump for our well ... several doctor visits.  After all, it is only money, and God is good, all the time. He has provided all that we need.  Now if I only owned an iPhone, I could text that to everyone!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

To God Be The Glory

         I have always enjoyed writing.  I may not have ever been very good at doing it, but I've always enjoyed it.  For over six decades I have had many opportunities to do so, mostly for newspapers such as the Lititz Record Express, the Sunbury Daily Item, the Lancaster Sunday News and the Lancaster Intelligencer Journal.  And for years I wrote promotional pieces for the Penn Manor School District.
         I've also always wanted to write a book, but never have found a good topic.  However, I once did have a chance to be a consultant for a Geometry textbook published by Addison Wesley.  I also did editing work for Books in Print and I spent many years writing math questions for various state and national testing organizations.
          So a few years into retirement I decided to try writing a blog for the internet.  In September of 2008 I launched Barry's Blog, this weekly posting on all sorts of stupid topics.  I still do this each Saturday but it has never grown.  Over the years I have only had about 25,000 hits, usually about 40 a week.  It has never been too exciting to others - just like this one - and I am considering giving it up.
          However, in October of 2008, I decided to combine my desire to write with my interest in music and I began a weekly hymn blog.  Never did I anticipate how this would be received.  It quickly turned into a real ministry. I am surpassing 200,000 hits.  While I generally now have abut 700 hits a week, a few weeks ago I actually had over 1,000 in one week.  I am amazed and humbled.
          While the majority of my readers are from all over the United States, they have come from all over the world.  The second biggest total - 24,948 hits - have come from Russia. Other countries in descending order are the United Kingdom, Canada, the Philippines, Australia, France, Germany, Ukraine, South Korea and, are you ready for this?  The United Arab Emirates!    Others have come from Australia, Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Brazil, South Korea and Spain.  And their could be others.
          Some of the readers leave comments. Ones like this make me rejoice that the blessings are spreading beyond the blog. "We sing hymns at the retirement home where I minister. The stories behind the hymns are sermon enough, and lead to teaching and resulting prayer. The Holy Spirit is using your hymn stories to minister to the elderly residents, that they may finish their race STRONG! Thank you! on O THAT WILL BE GLORY FOR ME" 
          And some readers have even shown a personal interest in me, even more than most folks that I come into contact with in my daily activities.  "Thank you for sharing one more! I check your blog every Sunday, and since you never missed the weekly hymn, I became a little worried about last Sunday missing and prayed for you during the week!Wishing you the best, A reader from Brazil." (Note, that week I was in the hospital and in need of prayer.)
          Then this past week I received a telephone call from one of my readers in the state of Washington.  He called to tell me that Paul White, composer of Jesus, Wonderful Lord, was his uncle.  He told me all about his uncle's life as well as many of his relatives, some of which are actually attending college a few blocks from my home.  It was a very interesting surprise call and a nice connection with a brother in the Lord on the opposite coast. 

          To date I have written about almost 450 different Gospel songs.  Now I don't have a good way to accurately know which have had the biggest impact on my readers, but their are some statistics which indicate that the following have received greater interest than others.  "I Shall Know Him", "What a Day That Will Be", "Peace, Peace, Wonderful Peace",  "No One Ever Cared For Me Like Jesus", "Until Then", "He Giveth More Grace", "Holy Spirit Breathe On Me", "Master The Tempest Is Raging", "All That Thrills My Soul Is Jesus", and very surprisingly, "In This Very Room".  Incidentally, if you'd like to read any of these, they can probably be found by doing a google search.  I've had enough hits now that they generally show up when doing such a search.
          Lord willing, I will try to continue this ministry as long as I am able.  It has become much more difficult since it is becoming harder to find Gospel songs that are correct theologically that haven't already been written about in my blog.  It is also very hard to find videos of many of these, especially the old ones.
         The other challenge is that so many of the very best hymns were covered in the early years and, as my readership has grown, these newer folks have never seen them.  So I've started a new feature once a month called Timeless Hymns where I feature again one of those hymns that are extra special.
          Now, like many of my blogs, I have probably bored you with all these details about what I have done. I didn't want to draw attention to what I have done but to enlist you as a partner in this ministry. My hope is that you will recognize what God has been doing with my hymn blog and that you will pray for me and join me in praying for this outreach and the hundreds who are reached each week.  To God be the glory!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

An Orphan?

          I guess that when you are young you never think about all the changes and challenges  that you may face as you enter your senior years.  And then, wham!  You suddenly are there and you face things you never thought about.  If you haven't yet reached that stage of life, just beware - it comes quickly.
         One of the biggest changes involves your health.  Hopefully you are able to afford health insurance whose costs rise each year, especially when you are on a fixed income with no annual increases.  And I've never expected that I would have three major surgeries and two additional hospital stays in less than two years.  But I did.  And I never thought about living with health problems that confound the doctors.  Nor did I ever think about having problems walking.  But it happened anyway.
         I never really thought about days when I would struggle to take care of my property.  I did, however, think about the time when I might need to pay folks to do some of this work.  But that becomes expensive - if you can even find somebody to do it.  Because of our heart problems I have been looking for somebody I could pay to do my snow removal.  But I can't find anybody. But the repairs, upkeep and needs go on anyway. Frustrating.
          Then there is the increasing cost of living when you are on a pension that hasn't increased in 15 years and never will.  But things still increase - taxes, fuel, food, clothing, medical costs, medicines, home repairs, auto repairs and almost everything. 
          But that is enough of being negative.  I'm not really complaining.  God has been so good and has given me all that I really need. He hasn't forgotten me and He knows my needs. I have been blessed and am so much better off than so many other seniors. 
          Now I do miss my mother and father who are both with the Lord.  Mother was taken home in an auto accident 23 years ago.  Dad was taken home about this time of the year eight years ago.  After mother's death we went out to eat with Dad almost every Friday night and Sunday's after church.  I especially miss those times because of Dad's wisdom and advice.  He could repair almost anything, he was astute at financial matters,  he studied and understood the Bible, he had a wealth of practical wisdom gained through difficult life experiences, he was a wise counselor, he modeled real faith and service for the Lord, and he had a tender heart.  And I miss my times with him.  But I would not want either back to face the challenges of the world in which we now live.
          I never thought about the days when I would be an orphan, but in one sense that will happen to most of us.  As our parents age we can anticipate that day, even though we certainly don't look forward to it.
          But a few days ago I heard an old hymn that comforted me by reminding me that I am not an orphan.  I actually have a Father who holds the wealth of the world in His hands.  He has adopted me and now I am an heir to a mansion, a robe and a crown.  You see, I am a child of the King.  And as the cares and changes of growing older come, I need not fear or despair.  I am His workmanship and He holds my life in His hands.  All is really under His control.  And He is always just a prayer away with His guidance and peace and strength.  What more could I want?
          Now I don't who really reads my crazy blog, so I don't know your needs.  But I am sure that you do have needs and things that worry you.  It might not be the challenges of growing older.  But no mater what your concerns may be, maybe, if you have accepted the Lord's free gift of salvation, the words of this old hymn might be the reminder that you need today.         
1.     My Father is rich in houses and lands,

He holdeth the wealth of the world in His hands!
Of rubies and diamonds, of silver and gold,
His coffers are full, He has riches untold,

I'm a child of the King,
A child of the King.
With Jesus my Savior
I'm a child of the King.

2.     My Father's own Son, the Savior of men,
Once wandered on earth as the poorest of them;
But now He is pleading our pardon on high,
That we may be His when He comes by and by.
I'm a child of the King,
A child of the King:
With Jesus my Savior,
I'm a child of the King.

3.     I once was an outcast stranger on earth,
A sinner by choice, an alien by birth,
But I've been adopted, my name's written down,
An heir to a mansion, a robe and a crown.
I'm a child of the King,
A child of the King:
With Jesus my Savior,
I'm a child of the King.

4.     A tent or a cottage, why should I care?
They're building a palace for me over there;
Though exiled from home, yet still may I sing:
All glory to God, I'm a child of the King.
I'm a child of the King,
A child of the King:
With Jesus my Savior,
I'm a child of the King.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Snow No More, Please

          This year brings back many memories of two major events that happened about this time. a year ago.  First, we had a major snowstorm, 30+ inches if I remember correctly.  And second, a couple of days later, I ended up having five by-passes done.  I especially remember how the Lord handled these very unexpected events for us.
          You might remember my blog which described our adventures with snow removal.  I hadn't been feeling well and was scheduled for a heart cath the day after the storm.  So it wasn't safe for me to try and clear the snow.  And with her pacemaker, Dianne couldn't do that either.  But the Lord took care of it all for us
          First, our neighbor, Tom, surprised us and showed up and used our snow blower to clear a path for us to get out of our house and a path to get our car out to the road.  When Dianne tried to use the snowblower to clear the other half of the drive so we could get our second car out, another neighbor, Matt, came with his plow and did it for her.  We had never even met him before. Then the third answer came when another man, who was helping another neighbor, also plowed out our mailbox.  Now why did I even worry about all of this - the Lord had it all planned and under control.
          Now that brings us to 2017.  I  used to like snow - when I could use my snowblower and it meant a day off school.  But now neither my wife or I should be clearing it because of our heart problems.  I still  like snow, but only when it just falls on the grass and not on the streets or pavements.  And I actually hate it when ice is involved.
          And as the snow season approaches again I admit that I have become "anxious" about how we will handle it this year.  Anxious?  Worry?  Are they the same thing? But we have found nobody to help us out this year.  Folks say just pay somebody, but I can't even find somebody to pay.  Matt has moved and Tom is moving to Wisconsin.  So much any able bodied folks in our neighborhood who might be kind enough to help us.  We did have a man who was supposed to help us last season, but he usually failed to even show up.  Another area man that we talked to who does plow felt that we were too far off his route to help us and he already has too many to plow.  Another man said he might consider using his plow to help us but he first wanted to come and look at our property.  To the best of our knowledge he has never shown up to even do that.  And we are just too far away for our sons or grandchildren to help us, although we know they would be glad to do so if they lived closer.
          So what will we do?  I guess there are four possibilities.  First, we could give it a try with our heart problems and hope we survive.  Second, I guess we could develop ulcers worrying about it.  Third, we could decide to just be snowed in until days later when the snow has finally melted.  Or finally, I guess we could ...  wait ... and see how the Lord works it out this year.  Hopefully, once again, He has a plan for this.  He just hasn't shared it with us ... yet.
          In anticipation of the snow, we have run into another problem.  We purchased orange stakes to mark our driveway to guide whoever does clear it.  Last year the stakes were stolen several times.  So far this year several have been removed twice.  But fortunately, both times I found where they were thrown and have been able to put them back in.  I guess many of  today's youth have no appreciation for the problems faced by seniors like us.  I would love to find out who these vandals are and then try to get them to shovel my snow this season.  I would even pay them.  But I guess that is just wishful thinking.
         So I guess we'll just try to settle back ...  relax ...  quit worrying and see how the Lord will handle things this year.  But you probably won't hear me singing, "Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!"