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, March 25, 2017

Matthew 22: 8-11

          It is always so interesting to see how scripture, though written centuries ago, is so relevant to situations today.  And when reading passages you've read many times before, the Holy Spirit points out a truth that is relevant to a current issue you are facing.  Once again, recently, this was the case for me as my daily reading was Matthew 22: 8 - 14
          8 "Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. 9 So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.' 10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.  11 "But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12 He asked, 'How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?' The man was speechless.  13 "Then the king told the attendants, 'Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'   14 "For many are invited, but few are chosen."
          To me this parable is a reminder that not every person who claims to be a Christian really is one.  They may act like they are, use religious vocabulary, and fool many believers, but they will not enter heaven's gates because they haven't been born by the Spirit.
          Have you ever wondered how many of the people who sit in your worship services are really born again?  What about the members of your praise team, your ushers, your church employees and maybe even your deacons and elders?  Being a church attender or leader does not mean that you are a born again member of the real church.  People attend church for many reasons.  They like the music, they enjoy the people, it makes them feel good, it sets a good example to others, they enjoy the atmosphere.  And they may pick up the vocabulary and even use it.   But they may not have the "wedding clothes".  And their destination is hell, a topic we don't talk much about today.  They will be eternally "speechless" and "in darkness" with "weeping and gnashing of teeth".  So very sad.
          This scripture and reminder hit home for me as I thought about the many experiences that I had during the recent rugged presidential election.  A number of my Facebook friends, including some who grew up in evangelical churches, continued to post articles from liberal bloggers which condemned statements supposedly made by so called born again people.  Many of these statements were really off base and based on these the bloggers ripped evangelicals.  The statements certainly didn't show any evidence of coming from actual true believers, even though they may have called themselves "Christian".  As a result, these liberal bloggers, part of the "Not My President" movement, also became members of the "Not My Jesus" movement.  And their conclusions, based on these sad statements,  condemned all Christians and evangelical churches.  They wrongly assumed that these "spokesmen" represented true believers, which they didn't.  And I must admit, at times their wrong conclusions really hurt.
          Unfortunately, today it is easy to call yourself a Christian and speak as though you are one.  After all, if you are a conservative and live in America, you must be a Christian. I guess that is what the term Christian has come to mean in today's society.  And people incorrectly believe what is being said as being representative of all true believers, what they stand for, and for what the Bible says.  As we approach the end times, this will become a much bigger problem as deception increases and more discernment is needed.
          Now as I read those stinging Facebook postings, my natural desire was to post replies and try to defend the true Christian faith.  But I chose not to fight that battle in the heat of the presidential election when opinions were so strong and alternative viewpoints, which often included the truth, were interpreted as being offensive and usually not even considered.  However, I would have liked to ask some of my friends how they could have grown up in a solid evangelical church and now accept these claims as coming from true believers.  Of course, this passage from Matthew 22 probably answers that question.
          I imagine that one day when we are in heaven we may be amazed at who is there and who isn't.  Calling yourself a Christian and "playing" the game doesn't make you born again.  Jesus is the only way to heaven.  And only the Lord knows our heart.
         So I will continue to pray for these friends as well as for the people who serve me at church or sit around me during worship services.  Only the Lord knows their hearts and whether they are part of the true Church. My prayer is that if they aren't, that they will make that decision before it is too late.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

March 18, 1958 - 59 Years Ago

My home - March, 1958
        It was Saturday, March 18, 1958 - 59 years ago today.  I was excited because my high school choir director was taking me and a classmate of mine to Harrisburg to hear the concert of the district high school choir.  At that time beither of us knew that the following year, our senior year,  both of us would audition and be named to the choir.
         What we also didn't know was that an unexpected snow storm was about to hit.  The morning weather forecast made no mention of snow, except for the Lancaster Intelligencer Journal which did call for a few snow flurries.  But by late afternoon a light rain began to change into big wet snowflakes.  I don't recall these huge flakes, but one report said that some of them were two inches in diameter.  And the snow fell for over 28 hours and had a huge impact on the region. While only 13" of heavy wet snow accumulated in Lancaster city, 2 to 3 feet of snow fell across the higher terrain of northern and eastern Lancaster county, including Lititz. About 30" fell in the Ephrata/Adamstown area and an astounding 50" was measured at the Morgantown exchange of the PA Turnpike.
          In Harrisburg we first stopped for a brief visit with our choir director's mother and then we headed for the concert.  When the concert ended we were surprised to find that several inches of snow had fallen and we began our trip home to Lititz through heavy snow.  I don't remember how long that trip took, but it was memorable.  Numerous times we had to push our car as well as cars that were stuck on the highway blocking our way.  At times the highway was impossible to see.  But thankfully some how we finally got home.  It was a scary trip that I will never forget.  Later, after becoming a teacher myself, I began to realize what a difficult experience it must have been for our director to transport two of his students through that dangerous experience that night.  I hope that I thanked him.
          But that wasn't the end of the experience.  Under the weight of the wet snow, it didn't take long for trees to start snapping. Wide spread power outages took many days to restore and even the PA Turnpike was closed for a number of days. Drivers were stranded on the Turnpike. Even the trains of the Pennsylvania Railroad capitulated that last full day of winter. There was no service at all between New York and Washington after a power failure at Havre de Grace. Six passenger trains were stranded there.
          By March 20, the newspaper was calling it a "sneak storm" that left 75,000 homes without electricity, with "no estimate of restoration."  Meteorologists now suspect that this storm was a powerful "nor'easter" that blew up the Atlantic coast.  Milder temperatures at the shoreline meant that larger accumulations came inland.  Philadelphia and New York City each got 11 inches.
          The storm cut off all access to Lititz for over a week.  Huge drifts closed the Lititz Pike (Route 501) and all the smaller roads into town.  There were pictures of drifts as high as the telephone poles near the Lititz Airport. Half of Lititz lost electricity.  Fortunately our half of town retained power.  My friend actually stayed at our house for several days because his parents had no power or heat at their home. Shrinking supplies of necessities also created a problem for borough residents.  Several days later, a train was finally able to get through the drifts to deliver bread, eggs and milk to the residents.
          As I recall this experience, I can't help but be thankful for the Lord's protection, especially on that dangerous trip home.  
          But I also recall how times have changed things.  Today we have instant weather updates available on television, radio, smartphones and the internet.  None of that existed in 1958.  And today we have huge modern plows and blowers to open the highways and we have workers trained to deal with these situations.  But, unfortunately, drifting and loss of electricity are still dangers to deal with.
         And so when people think winter is over when we hit March, my wife and I often reply, "We remember 1958", and we do!
          As I was doing some research for this blog I came upon an interesting video of the "Storm of 1958".  Here is a link in case you are interested.   1958.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

To Go Or Not To Go?

          There are some difficult decisions that we must suddenly make during our lives.  One that I have had to make several times is should I go to the emergency room for a health concern.  I faced this again a few days ago when a new physical problem was creating pain. I considered going to our family practice where I would be seen in a very short time.  But I knew that with the problem I had that they would no doubt send me some place for additional tests.  Then I would need to wait a day or two for the diagnosis and any needed treatment.
         On the other hand, while it would take much more time, going to the ER would provide the needed tests and diagnosis and, if even needed, admittance to the hospital.  So, very reluctantly we headed to the hospital's ER.
          Well the first problem developed when there were no parking spaces left for ER patients - all were taken.  So we were sent to the main parking garage where we had to wind our way to the roof - level 5 - to find one of the few remaining open spaces.  That parking was on the opposite side of the hospital from where the ER was located.  So we had to go down to the basement and walk through the entire hospital to get to the ER.  Parking and walking time - 30 minutes.  I'm glad I wasn't having a heart problem.  Oh yes, three other groups of patients that were headed to the ER parked with us, but they were able to walk faster and checked in minutes before us.  That meant we were now four slots behind the others who were waiting to be seen.
          We checked in and were surprised and encouraged at how empty the waiting room was at that time.  Then we sat and waited for another 20 minutes until we were called to have my blood pressure checked and my medicine list updated.  Then back to the waiting room, this time to sit for 25 more minutes before having some blood and urine tests done.  Then back again for another 50 minute wait until they came to take me back to wait for a doctor.
          As they pushed me back to a room, we were shocked at how full they really were. People were not only in the rooms but in the hallways.  I guess this is why we had to wait so long.  Fortunately, I was at least given a room where we had some privacy.  There a nurse helped me settle in and hooked me up to monitors.  We waited awhile for a doctor to appear and when he did, he reviewed what  my tests had showed, asked a number of questions, shared what he thought they would do (much of which for some reason didn't happen), and then he left.  I would see him briefly one more time before we were discharged.
          As a diabetic who hadn't eaten since breakfast, I asked three different folks to check on my sugar, but to the best of my knowledge none of them did.  One nurse said she could get something for me to eat or drink, but she never did.  When I finally got home I found that my count was very low and I needed something immediately to eat.
          I was expecting, and maybe even hoping for, more tests.  But based on what they saw on my blood and urine tests, they diagnosed a very severe urinary tract infection and gave me an IV of an antibiotic.  Ironically, seven days earlier I had a urine test to check for an infection at my family doctor's practice, and they saw no signs of an infection.  However, the ER also did find some signs of other potentially serious problems and asked that my family doctor follow up on these. 
          So about six hours after leaving our house, we arrived back home - still with pain and discomfort - but with some meds to try and deal with the infection while they waited for the results of a culture which had to be sent away to be examined.  Incidentally, the ER called me Saturday evening to tell me that the culture indicated that I was given the wrong medicine.  I was able to find a pharmacy Sunday morning where I could obtain and begin a different med.
          Now I never know when to go to the ER with a problem.  You need to expect spending a big portion of your time there just waiting and today they were apparently very busy.  Normally parking isn't such a horrendous problem.  Most of the people there were kind and caring. However, the girl who took my blood did a very poor job and I don't usually mind having that done. Now would I have gotten the same diagnosis and meds if I had saved five hours by going to my family doctor?  Probably, except for the IV.  Oh well, I didn't have any serious plans for the day and it gave me another memory as well as something to write about.
          The way these past two years have gone for me physically, I am beginning to realize that the Lord must have many more lessons for me to learn before He calls me home.  So I guess I need to be more patient and be a better student in His schoolhouse.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Do We Believe?

          In a small Midwestern conservative town, a business owner began to construct a building for a new bar. A local fundamental church started a campaign to block the bar from opening with petitions and prayers. Work progressed, however, right up until the week before opening, when a lightning strike hit the bar and it burned to the ground.
          The church folks were rather smug in their outlook after that, until the bar owner sued the church on the grounds that the church was ultimately responsible for the demise of his building, either through direct or indirect actions or means.
          In its reply to the court, the church vehemently denied all responsibility or any connection to the building's demise.
          As the case made its way into court, the judge looked over the paperwork at the hearing and commented, "I don't know how I'm going to decide this, but as it appears from the paperwork, we have a bar owner who believes in the power of prayer, and an entire church congregation that doesn't!"
          While this story is most likely fiction, it does remind me of a similar true story shared in the book of Acts.  Peter was in prison and the believers were gathered in a home praying earnestly for his release.   And God did a miracle and sent an angel to wake him from sleep and release him from prison.  Peter didn't even really understand what had happened until he felt the cold night air on his face.  It was a miracle, an answer to prayer.
          When the angel left, Peter headed to the house of Mary, the mother of John, where many people were gathered praying.  He knocked at the outer gate and the servant girl, Rhoda came to answer the knock.  When she recognized Peter's voice she was so overjoyed that she forgot to open the gate, leaving Peter standing outside.  She ran to the folks inside and called out that Peter was standing at the gate.  But the folks told her that she was out of her mind and that it must be an angel.  But Peter kept knocking and the Bible says that when they opened the door and saw him - they were amazed!
         It is interesting how these folks were praying for a miracle and Peter's release, but when God answered they were amazed and at first didn't even want to accept the answer to their prayers.
          But are we really any different than these folks?   How often do we pray and not really expect an answer?  Are we amazed when God answers?   I must say at times I am just as guilty as these folks were.  
          And probably I am not the only one that is guilty.  I think that one of the biggest failings of the church today is that we do not exercise the power of prayer despite the many promises given to us about prayer.  Few today are real prayer warriors.
          Not only is prayer no longer an important part of our services, but even today's church music seldom mentions prayer.  There are so many great hymns that we once sang that reminded us of the power of prayer and the importance of it in our spiritual lives.  I close with the words of one of these great hymns that I have not heard sung in years.

1.     Fear not, little flock, from the cross to the throne,
From death into life He went for His own;
All power in earth, all power above,
Is given to Him for the flock of His love.
Only believe, only believe;
All things are possible, only believe;
Only believe, only believe;
All things are possible, only believe.

2.     Fear not, little flock, He goeth ahead,
Your Shepherd selecteth the path you must tread;
The waters of Marah He'll sweeten for thee,
He drank all the bitter in Gethsemane.

3.     Fear not, little flock, whatever your lot,
He enters all rooms, "the doors being shut,"
He never forsakes; He never is gone,
So count on His presence in darkness and dawn.

So how is your prayer life?   How is your faith?