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, May 27, 2017

When To Keep Your Mouth Shut

          I imagine that if your are human you've probably been guilty of "open mouth insert foot" sometime during your life.  I would be too embarrassed to share situations where I have done that.  But the problem isn't a new one, because many years ago Solomon and other Bible authors had much to say about when we should keep our mouth shut.  In fact in Proverbs 21:23 we read, "Whosoever keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from trouble."  Great advice!

          Recently somebody sent me a list of 20 items from the Bible which tell us when we shouldn't open our mouth.  They are great reminders, and even though you might not need these reminders, as I do, I've decided to share them with you.  So here are 20 times you shouldn't open your mouth.

1. In the heat of anger - Proverbs 14:17
2. When you don't have all the facts - Proverbs 18:13
3. When you haven't verified the story - Deuteronomy 17:6
4. If your words offend a weaker brother - I Corinthians 8:11
5. If your words will be a poor reflection on the Lord or your friends and family - Peter 2:21-23
6. When you are tempted to joke about sin - Proverbs 14:9
7. When you would be ashamed of your words later - Proverbs 8:8
8. When you are tempted to make light of holy things - Ecclesiastes 5:2
9. If your words would convey a wrong impression - Proverbs 17:27
10. If the issue is none of your business - Proverbs 14:10
11. When you are tempted to tell an outright lie - Proverbs 4:24
12. If your words will damage someone's reputation - Proverbs 16:27
13. If your words will destroy a friendship - Proverbs 25:28
14. When you are feeling critical - James 3:9
15. If you can't speak without yelling - Proverbs 25:28
16. When it is time to listen - Proverbs 13:1
17. If you may have to eat your words later - Proverbs 18:21
18. If you have already said it more than one time (then if becomes nagging) - Proverbs 19:13
19. When you are tempted to flatter a wicked person - Proverbs 24:24
20. When you are supposed to be working instead - Proverbs 14:23

          Great reminders for each of us.  Let me close with one of the verses that I quote to myself most often, "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer."  Psalm 19:14.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

To The Beach

          It certainly was needed and, although it was only for three days, we needed a brief break and a short vacation.  Due to continuing physical problems, numerous doctor tests and appointments, and many church commitments, we have been unable to get away, even for a few days, for over two years.  The last time we took a "real non-working" vacation was almost two years ago and it lasted about 15 hours since Dianne was hit with shingles just after we arrived.  She still suffers from that condition.  We had to go right back home to see the doctor.  Oh yes, a week later I had my second back surgery which was not very successful.
          Several times since that "memorable vacation" we tried to schedule another getaway, but each time we had to cancel at the last minute because of physical problems.  And a planned trip to Texas was also called off because of our problems, even though we lost the cost of our airfare and conference registration.
          Unless we are visiting relatives, such as in Wisconsin, or attending a conference, as we had hoped to in Texas, my idea of a vacation is to rest.  I realize that most of our friends and blog readers would prefer much more activity, but at this point in life that is not what we want or need.
          Since I retired, our preference for a brief getaway has been to go to Ocean City, Maryland, for a few days and stay in the Courtyard by Marriott on the boardwalk.  Now it is rather expensive so we can only go off season. But then it is more economical and usually not crowded. We get a room on the third floor with a balcony which overlooks the boardwalk, beach and ocean.  We love it.  Now this might surprise you, but we don't even touch the beach or go to the ocean.  Recently we haven't even walked the boardwalk due to our problems with walking.  We don't go to expensive restaurants since our budget doesn't permit it and most are closed off season anyway.  Our favorite restaurant, Chick-Fil-A, is close and open weekdays and gets most of our business.
          On our recent trip I did what I love to do.  I sat on the balcony, watched the folks pass by on the boardwalk, read, slept and enjoyed watching the ocean waves.  I also did some meditating and talking with the Lord.  That was my type of vacation.
          I really enjoyed watching the people.  All types were there - young, old, in between, skinny, fat, skateboarders, runners, bikes of all types, handicapped scooters, folks with canes, school groups. fishermen, deaf folks, and those of many different cultures and nationalities.  It was fascinating just to watch them.
          It seemed that the majority of the teens and 20's were carrying their smart phones with them and were texting as they walked.  Now, probably because I am old, I don't understand that.  We don't have a smart phone and don't text because we can't afford it. But if we did, why would I want to spend every moment of my vacation talking or texting?  How is that relaxing? Now I understand how a cell phone is good to have if an emergency would develop, but to spend all your time texting doesn't make sense.  You miss all the beauty of God's creation in the surf and beach and sky.
         But I had another observation as I watched folks pass.  I couldn't help but wonder how many knew the Lord.  I thought of the many people groups represented and the need to share the Gospel with them.  The first line of the song "People Need the Lord" kept going through my mind - "Every day they pass me by, I can see it in their eyes. Empty people filled with care, headed who knows where. On they go through private pain, living fear to fear. Laughter hides their silent cries, only Jesus hears."  Sadly, how true.  I also thought of the children's song we used to sing, "Jesus Loves the Little Children" and "Jesus Died for all the Children".  I guess those words are no longer "politically correct" because of the colors mentioned.  But that doesn't change the truth and need of the words. So many people from all over the world, enjoying the beach now but probably headed for hell without the Lord.
         But the best part of this brief vacation was the time spent enjoying the beauty of God's creation and spending time with Him.  The beauty is incredible and His presence is amazing.  The weather was outstanding.  The waves were relaxing to watch.  The sunsets were spectacular with various shades of purple, pink and blue.  I don't know anything about ocean currents, but I couldn't help wonder how many miles the water traveled and how many countries these waves may have touched over the years. It is hard to even visualize how vast the ocean really is.  And as I watched and marveled and meditated another children's song kept going though my mind.
        Wide, wide as the ocean, high as the Heaven above.
        Deep, deep as the deepest sea, is my Savior's love.
        I, though so unworthy, still am a child of His care.
        For His Word teaches me that His love reaches me everywhere.
Thank you Lord not only for your beautiful creation but even more for your love which reached out to me even when I was unworthy.  And thank you that your love can reach one everywhere - even those who passed by me on the boardwalk during these days. May many come to know You and experience the new life which only You can give.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Happy Mother's Day

          Tomorrow we will celebrate Mother's Day and I really wish that I could call or visit my mother once again.  But over two decades ago the Lord saw fit to take her home with Him and she is enjoying His presence today.  And I would not want to take her away from that.  Unfortunately, for some sad reason, we often fail to fully honor our mother on this special day until after she is no longer with us.   Then we wish we had done so or could do it again.

          The lord blessed me with a special mother.  She loved and faithfully served the Lord.  She led her children to Him.  She loved her husband and her family.  She provided a special home for us even when facing tough days of real challenge.  She had the gift of hospitality and was a special friend and help to so many people.
          As a child I didn't really understand the difficult times and challenges she faced nor the sacrifices she made for her family.  But they were many.  Married during the difficult years of World War 2, she moved nine times in the first 12 years of being married.  And for most of those years they didn't even have a car and had to depend upon the bus and friends to get around.  But somehow they did.  And, of course, we never missed church.
          Like so many families in those war years, she had to use an ice box for refrigeration until my brother was born in 1945.  At that time we lived in New Cumberland and appliances were scarce.  But a local dealer was able to get a refrigerator and because my father was a school teacher and they just had a baby, the dealer chose to give my parents the opportunity to purchase it.  That may have been the first luxury she ever had.
          There were numerous situations involving mother that I will never forget.  She never liked to drive the car, although she had her license so that she could drive in emergencies.  One of those came when our dog got sick and had to go to the vet.  Dad was teaching that night so she had to drive.  While trying to turn around she bumped into a fire hydrant.   When I opened the door our dog jumped out and we had to spend quite a bit of time trying to catch the frightened pup.  It wasn't funny then, but we often laughed about it later.
          Mother was always involved with Child Evangelism Fellowship and for many years we would have a Good News Club weekly in our basement.  She and I both did the teaching.  But one night she and a friend decided to go to the CEF training session which was held in downtown Lancaster.  Unfortunately they got mixed up and ended up in the middle of a meeting of the Water Street Rescue Mission which was being held for the homeless and those with bad habits.  Most of them were men.  While it was probably very frightening at the time, we enjoyed laughs about this experience for many years.
          Since we were charter members of our church which we helped start in 1950, my mother had ample opportunity to use her gift of hospitality.  For many years we always hosted all the visiting missionaries and speakers.  When our church first started we housed the young men from Berean Bible School who came for the summer to support the beginning ministry.  We provided housing and my mother provided great meals for all.  It was lots of work for her, but she enjoyed it, and it provided a great spiritual experience for her children.
         Mother was a great cook.  We couldn't afford to go to diners and there were very few fast food locations when I was growing up.  So holiday meals, Sunday meals and birthday meals were always special times.  For birthdays she made special layer cakes that were filled with our favorite fillings (mine was apricot) and iced with whipped cream. No wonder I have always had trouble with my weight.  But our favorite treat was her macaroni salad which she always made without a written recipe.  Unfortunately, despite many tries by many family members, nobody has ever been able to recreate that special dish.  Oh how I miss that!  In their senior years my parents actually added a large room to their house and purchased a large expanding table so that they could regularly host the entire family - three generations - for meals.  Special memories!
          Mother loved children and she loved to care for the elderly at the county home. Folks there loved her because of her caring spirit.  She also loved to listen to the children in Awana and, after her death, many of the children were heart broken because they had loved to come to her. They really missed her and many tears were shed.  She touched many lives as shown by the huge turnout for her funeral and family visitation.
          There is so much that I could share about her and I thank the Lord for her life and that she was my mother.  One of the things that I treasure most was that on her last birthday all of my family were able to visit with her and spend quality time sharing.  That was really a little unusual on her birthday.  And little did we realize then that the very next day she would be taken home to heaven immediately following an automobile accident.  A young teenager failed to observe a stop sign and broadsided my parent's car on my mother's side.
          That event is still hard to think about.  It was very hard for my father who then lived without his loving wife for many years.  But looking back, I thank the Lord that mother was spared all the pain that often goes with seniors, including things like loss of memory, nursing homes, hospitalizations, etc.  God gave me a special mother.  Happy Mother's Day, mom.
         P.S. - If your mother or mother-in-law is still alive, don't you dare fail to call or visit her tomorrow and spend some quality time with her.  You never know when it will be your last chance to do so.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Was It My "Fault"?

          Did I really cause the earthquake that we had in our area on Sunday, April 23?  It felt like our house lifted up or that it was hit by a big truck.  I understand that some folks in the area thought that North Korea had bombed us. But, thankfully, not this time.  However earthquakes are not uncommon in our area which does have a few faults.  We have experienced about a half dozen in the years that we have lived here.

          Actually, I didn't even feel this one, but my wife did.  I was on my riding mower, feeling a little guilty for cutting grass on a Sunday.  Because of the rainy weather I really had no choice but to do it on a Sunday, which is something I always try to avoid.  So was this God's way of reprimanding me for working on a Sunday?
          I've only done this once before on a Sunday.  That time we were leaving for vacation and it had to be done.  And a few weeks later a man who attends our church told me that he saw me doing it, on Sunday.  I guess I was providing a poor example to him.
          Now for most people, including Christians, there is nothing at all wrong with what I had done.  To most, Sunday is just another day in the week, one to get caught up in your work.  Times have really changed.
          The scripture reminds us, "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy" (Exodus 20:8).  After the Resurrection of Jesus, Sunday was held sacred as the Lord's day in remembrance of His Resurrection on that day (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2). From that time on, His followers observed the first day of the week as their Sabbath. In both cases there were six days of labor and one for rest and devotion.
          In 1682, Pennsylvania put it's first blue law in place, shortly after its founding as a colony by William Penn.  Blue laws, known also as Sunday laws, were laws designed to restrict or ban some or all Sunday activities for religious standards, particularly the observance of a day of worship or rest. The Pennsylvania Blue Law read: "Whoever does or performs any worldly employment or business whatsoever on the Lord's day, commonly called Sunday, works of necessity and charity only exempted, or uses or practices any game, hunting, shooting, sport or diversion whatsoever on the same day not authorized by law" is considered to be a law breaker".
          Now most of you younger readers probably did not know that such laws even existed.  In 1978, The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled blue laws were unconstitutional.  And, as a result grocery stores and malls then opened their doors on Sunday to increase their profits, and Sundays were never the same again.  And then in  2003 Pennsylvania ended its ban on alcohol sales on Sundays.
           Now before these laws were changed, most Christians tried to observe Sunday as a day of rest and not work.  Growing up we spent our Sundays going to church - morning and evening - visiting friends and relatives and taking naps. Later I guess we began to act like hypocrites.  Those who could afford it went out for dinner, allowing others to work to serve them.  On television we watched athletes labor, playing baseball and football in particular. But "real" Christians still avoided work on Sunday, at least where they could be seen by others.
          I must admit that over the years my Sunday activities have changed as well.  We now only go to church in the mornings because we no longer have an evening service.  We generally go to a fast food location for lunch, allowing their workers to work and earn some money.  A few times we have even gone to the mall, but only for very necessary items.  And we seldom visit anybody anymore on a Sunday because everyone is too busy.  But I still enjoy a good nap ... and watching sports on television.
          However, while my Sunday activities have changed a little, I must admit that I still am very hesitant to do more on Sundays and I feel a little guilty when I do give in to another activity.  But that is probably due to my age and background, rather than me being more "spiritual" than others.
          Now did my grass cutting cause the earthquake?  I don't think so.  But, just in case, maybe I should give out an advance warning in case I ever must do it again on a Sunday.