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 30, 2017

A Faithful Servant

          On Thursday we attended a funeral/memorial service for a longtime friend and member of our church who had served so very faithfully over the years, especially in ministering to children.

          For many decades our friend had taught children in our Sunday School, mostly those who were in nursery or preschool classes.  She skillfully planned and led many programs for special days such as Christmas and Easter.  In fact, twenty years ago she was part of the first class of members who were honored by our church leadership with a very special leadership award.  Many folks were touched by her ministry over the years.  She continued to serve faithfully until a few years ago when her health forced her to retire from teaching.
          She was also very active in Child Evangelism Fellowship in Lancaster County.  For years she taught Good News clubs and participated in CEF events.  For a number of years she corrected the CEF correspondence courses that children completed and sent to CEF.  Then she helped children online where she was known as Aunt Bea.
          When her husband died about twenty years ago she continued serving.  Eventually she had to sell her house and she moved in with one of her daughters where she lived until she died.  But she was still faithful in attending services, praying and supporting the church, as well as CEF.
          Now I serve as financial secretary for our church and often I know more about people's giving habits then I wish that I knew.  I knew that she had little income but unlike so many, she faithfully gave to the church right up to her death.  In recent months when attendance became a problem she faithfully mailed her tithe to me to be added to the offering.  The last one came just days before she died.  It reminded me of the widow's mite.
          Now, after living that type of life of sacrifice and service, and influencing so many folks for the Lord, you'd expect that she would have a special memorial service with a great response from friends, family and former students.  You would expect that many would come and respond to honor her.  That would only be proper for a faithful saint who served the Lord in so many ways for decades.
          But just the opposite actually happened.  Only about 30 - 35 folks were there.  This included six family members, a couple of her former Sunday School students, a few folks from her senior adult Sunday School class, and a number of longtime church members who worshipped with her for decades.  And her church leadership team was represented by our pastor who led the service and two elders. She had been a member of our church for nearly 60 years.  While the service was God honoring as she would have wanted, I was taken back by the lack of support from family, church family and the church leadership team.  I expected more and she really deserved much more.  But that was all the response she received from her fellow Christians after her death.
          However, her important celebration happened last Saturday when the Lord welcomed her into His presence where she will live eternally and receive her real reward. That was the recognition and thanks that she really deserved.  This is an event that we should all look forward to, not the praise of men here on this earth.  And, in addition, she is released from all of her pain and the problems of this pilgrim life.  And that, too, is a great reward.
          But as I review this service in my mind, I am reminded that we don't work here for earthly praise and awards.  We have been created to bring praise to the Lord.  We are His workmanship, created for good works to honor Him.  But sometimes, because we are human, our wrong expectations here on earth can leave us disappointed.  Unfortunately, our fellow believers are usually not very good at thanking others and honoring them for their service.  And that is something that I guess we need to understand and expect.  But maybe we each also need to learn to be more thankful and encouraging to others who do faithfully serve.
          But I do praise the Lord that our paths have crossed over the years and I am thankful for her faithful service.  Oh that others, including myself, would be this faithful in serving the Lord.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Help For Grandparents

          We had intended to attend the first annual Legacy Grandparenting Summit in Frisco, Texas last year  Our plane and summit tickets were purchased, our reservations were made.  But then the Lord allowed me to develop some physical problems and we had to cancel our trip.  That was so very disappointing.
         But we have been able to still receive bits of the messages presented by several of the outstanding speakers who participated.  And while you might not have grandchildren there might be some things that could still challenge you.  So I will share some of these with you.
          Josh McDowell has ten grandchildren ages 12 and under. He said in the 55 years and the more than 34,000 times he has he has been speaking to people, he had never before spoken to a conference on grandparenting, but he was very happy to be able to do so, as, after Jesus, his family was his greatest motivation. Josh shared two things for us to be aware of as grandparents -
          The internet - he shared how in 2012 children averaged 18 hours a week on the internet, 2014 it was 42 hours a week and in 2015 they averaged 77 hours a week. 
          Our grandchildren will look at porn. Period. We can not protect them from it. 50% to 70% become addicted to porn. You can not protect a child's innocence through ignorance - you do so through knowledge, a loving relationship and the power of Christ.
         This sounded discouraging, but he went on to say, while we can not protect them from porn, we can, and must, prepare them for when they see it the first time - if we do, they will survive. I found this both challenging and encouraging - the challenge to be intentional, focused and proactive and encouraging to know it is not really discouraging news. We can - and must - do something to prepare our grandchildren, so they know how to respond with the mind of Jesus! Encouraging for sure!
          Josh went on to share statistics from research he has been doing on porn and how it impacts children, youth and adults - including Christian children, youth and adults. He shared with us the key to raising grandchildren . . . we have to remember -
     Rules without relationship = rebellion
     Truth without relationships = rejection
     Discipline without relationships = anger and resentment
It matters so much for us as grandparents to invest in and to be committed to be intentional Christian grandparents! It matters what we do and building a relationship with our grandchildren is essential!
          Josh shared seven principles for raising children - while there are no guarantees, as our grandchildren have freewill, these seven "A's" will help us build relationships with our grandchildren which will transform them and their lives - and us as well! These seven principles will help us make the time we have count! (Download online for free - http://www.josh.org/resources/youth-family/7as/)
          1.  Affirmation - Romans 12:15 - we need to authentically rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn - share our grandchildren's sorrow at the moment, do not try to dismiss it or immediately make it "go away". Affirm how they feel when they rejoice and when they mourn. Identify with them and affirm their emotions.
          2.  Acceptance - be sure they know we love them unconditionally - this will help them feel secure. Romans 15:7 we need to love them like Jesus does - no matter what, they are created in the image of God and have infinite value, dignity, worth. When they know we believe these things about them, they will rise to the level of our opinion of them.  Acknowledge their effort more than their success, so they know you love them no matter what.
         3.  Appreciation - let them know they are significant. Significance = feeling and thinking I've done something worthwhile. Josh challenged us to catch them doing something right and then appreciate them.
         4.  Availability - this tells them they are important (and we absolutely know they are!!) Matthew 19 - Jesus was available for the children - great example for us. Josh shared how his children/grandchildren know they may interrupt him any time, because they are more important to him than anyone. Yes, they need to be polite and respectful, but he said adults understand if he stops talking to them for a minutes and says; "Excuse me a moment, my child/grandchild needs my attention, give me a minute." He shared how he was talking with President George Bush and his child needed him, so he said, "Excuse me sir, my child needs me." He shared how the president later sent him a note and thanked him for what he said. Told him he got in his car, locked his security out and called his two daughters!
          5.  Affection - our grandchildren need to know they are lovable! They need to hear us say we love them at least ten times a day and have appropriate physical expressions of love. Jesus said to, "love as I have loved you". Nothing is more powerful than the love of a dad or grandpa . . . even more powerful than the love of a mother and grandma, because it is unexpected to hear a dad or grandpa say and show their love.
         6.  Approach their world - gives them a sense of connection. 1 Corinthians 13:5 - "love does not demand its own way" - do what they want, step into their world; shows real love and you care about what they care about. Be a hero to your grandchild! Do things they like and be sure to connect what they like to God.
          7.  Accountability - Romans 14 - hold them accountable with reasonable rules and limits. Grandparents need to be careful - be quiet unless adult children give permission to help them raise their children and set limits with love. Never discipline your grandchildren without them knowing they are loved.
            Josh gave us much to think about - and act upon for sure as we all want to make the time we have with our grandchildren truly count!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Be Encouraged

Psalm 69:29-34
     I am suffering in pain, rescue me, O God by your saving power.
     Then I will praise God's name with singing, and I will honor him with thanksgiving.
     For this will please the Lord more than sacrificing cattle, more than presenting a bull with its horns and hooves.
    The humble will see their God at work and be glad.
     Let all who seek God's help be encouraged.
     For the Lord hears the cries of the needy. he does not despise his imprisoned people.
     Praise him, O heaven and earth, the seas and all that move in them.

           Recently I have been reading through Psalms and Proverbs.  No matter how often I do this, I always seem to find new thoughts and lessons.  And, often they are not only timely, but also what I need.
          For many years I have led our church e-mail prayer chain.  I take the requests that are sent to me, edit them and send them out by computer to about 90 folks who are on our chain.  We average about 40 requests per month.  We also have a written policy which we require all chain members to follow.
         A few days ago I received a request from a man in our congregation who has suffered for many years with a variety of physical challenges.  His wife also has suffered with many serious problems.  They are a loving, caring, sweet couple who depend upon the Lord.  They are often on our chain with requests.
         This time he shared a request for the chain and then shared some personal comments just for me.  He told me that "It seems our issues are like fleas, they jumped from one to the other."   I know exactly what he means.  I've sometimes share our needs with the expression that we seem to regularly experience a "new physical challenge of the month."  I understand what he is saying.  But despite our complete dependence on the Lord, the continuing issues can become very discouraging.  And I know this couple has also reached that point.
          Then a few days later I received what I felt was a nasty, critical e-mail from another member of our chain.  Now I reserve the right to edit and shorten the requests which I receive.  I always try to include all the important facts sent to me, but I try to eliminate extra details which I feel aren't really necessary for the prayer request.  And believe me, I do receive all sorts of requests - many are very long and poorly written, often with bad English.
         Well this person was very upset at me for often editing her requests and not including all that she has sent me.  And, yes, I have done that a few times with her requests because I felt that they were wordy with all sorts of unnecessary details.  The last time I actually used her complete request, although I admit that I accidentally forgot to include the phrase "thank you for your prayers."  I replied and apologized to her for missing this, but told her it was my job as editor to share just the key needs.  Well she did accept my apology but she bluntly told me that I had no right to edit what she sends.  And her criticism was not shared kindly with me.
          Now I admit that my first reaction was not good, although I didn't respond in a negative way to her.  But, I hadn't treated her requests any differently than the many hundreds that I have shared over many years.  And she was even a relatively new member of the chain and was telling me how to do my job.  It did take me awhile to calm down and try to be kind.
         But, as I thought it over, I came to realize that she was probably hurting and looking to share all of the details of her problems with everybody who will listen.  She probably is discouraged and lonely.  And I think the couple who responded to me about the fleas is also hurting and lonely.  And I really understand their situations - it happens to many, if not all of us, at times in our lives.  And we often handle such situations differently - some folks are very private and want to be left alone while others want many to know and maybe even pity them.
          Then I read Psalm 69 and what suddenly struck me was the part of verse 32 which says "Let all who seek God's help be encouraged".   What a powerful reminder.  I need to pray not only for the needs that I share on the chain, but also that the one with the need is encouraged.  And maybe they need that even more than the healing or the solving of their shared problem.  Pain and suffering can easily lead to despair and loneliness.  And that can lead to depression.  We all need to be encouraged, especially in times of stress.
         And from now on that request will be part of my prayer life for those who I know are in need. May God encourage them in their time of need. Why not join me and give some thought to including that request for others in your prayer life.  And maybe you will actually end up being encouraged as well.

Saturday, September 9, 2017


          I've never been a fisherman, although I think it could be a fun and relaxing activity.  However, if I were to ever try deep sea fishing, I'd probably spend most of my time hanging over the rail  losing everything I had eaten for the last week.  My dad never had the free time to spend fishing and none of my friends growing up were fishermen.  Later in life my brother started and he and his wife enjoyed many good times together fishing.

          But now there is a new "sport" with a similar name which is very dangerous and is invading most of our homes and lives.  It is called Phishing.
          According to the dictionary, phishing is the attempt to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details (and sometimes, indirectly, money), often for malicious reasons, by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication. The word is a neologism created as a homophone of fishing due to the similarity of using a bait in an attempt to catch a victim.  How do you like those big words? 
          If you aren't overly diligent you could be like a fish and get caught and lose money and maybe even your identity.  These schemes have been around as long as e-mail, but recently they have become much more sophisticated and tempting.  If you spend any time on the internet, using e-mail or the social media, you could end up being a victim.
          Now most of us have "won" millions in overseas lotteries.  We have been offered millions by foreign family members who need to get their money out of their country.  We have been offered jobs as mystery shoppers and the scams go on and on.  But these are easy to ignore unless you are dumb or looking for get rich quick schemes - as some folks are.
          But today phishing has become a little different.  In previous years it was usually easy to spot one of these attempts because the offers you received by e-mail often contained misspelled words or used bad English.  Sometimes the visuals they used were very poor.  It was rather obvious that they were fake and few would be tempted to click on any of their links.  And if one did, most folks were wise enough not to complete the resulting screens which asked for credit card numbers or social security numbers or other sensitive information.  Unfortunately, some were not that wise and got burnt.  And even if you didn't fill out this requested information, just answering the e-mail might have compromised your account or added some malware to your computer.
          But when it comes to stealing money or your private information, internet crooks soon learn to get much more clever.  They are cleaning up their e-mails and making them much more realistic than ever before.  How many of you have been receiving offers of free gift cards from Walmart, CVS or Giant or other big name companies?  They look so real and who doesn't want a free gift?  They are so tempting.  But often you can get your first danger alarm by looking at who the actual e-mail was sent by.  And most times you will see that it isn't from the company offering the free gift.  Don't risk replying or you might get a free gift - malware implanted in your computer.
          Some of the more recent ones appear to come from UPS or FedEx telling you that they tried to deliver a package to you but you weren't home.  And if you want the delivery you must respond and give them vital information.  Now, were you even expecting a package?  And if you were, a respectable delivery service would leave a note in your front door, not ask you for personal information online.  Don't be taken!
          Recently I received an e-mail from "Apple" informing me that "my" order was placed.  Since we had experienced a similar real fraud situation involving an Apple product two years ago, I was very suspicious.  I checked our credit card account, our bank account and our iTunes account and saw no evidence of any purchase.  So I decided to ignore it rather than click on the link provided to cancel the order.  Two times that week I received additional e-mails giving me a receipt for "my order" of $103.20.  All of these looked genuine with links to use to cancel the order.  They even used the Apple symbol. But no way did I want to risk clicking on these links, even to cancel an order which I didn't place.  I finally was able to get a call through to Apple.  They informed me that these were clever phishing e-mails.  They wanted me to forward them to their fraud department because other customers were also getting them.  I did that and haven't heard anything since, although these e-mails have stopped.
          Then a few days ago I received an e-mail from my bank saying that somebody had tried to access our accounts and that as a result our accounts were now locked.  To get them open I was to click on a link that was provided and enter all my information.  I knew my bank would not handle such an attempt in this manner.  I logged into my bank account and found that it was not locked.  I wonder how many folks were victim of this clever phishing attempt.
          Who knows what will come next.  But I've learned to not reply to links on such e-mails.  I also no longer reply to links sent to me in the name of folks who are on my mailing list.  Often these names have somehow been hijacked and are sent out in their name to create harm by adding malware to your computer.
         The electronic age is great, but it has provided many new ways for crooks to make a living and we need to be very diligent and careful.  It is so easy to get caught.  Many have been victims and I hope that you never will be.  Be wise and suspicious.  Remember, there are many bad folks out there in e-space.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

The Sad, The Bad, And The Good

          These past few weeks have been filled with all sorts of situations - the good, the bad and the sad.  Life sure can be interesting and challenging at times.
          The sad is obvious - Hurricane Harvey, without a doubt!  The pictures and stories have been incredible.  I just can't begin to realize what it must be like to have to be rescued and to lose everything that you had. How would you ever exist with the masses in one of the evacuation centers?  How would you adjust to having no home or vehicle? If you had serious physical problems, such as diabetes or heart disease, how would you get along without your medicine?  How would you adjust with all of your financial records destroyed? What would you do and where would you go when the centers close?  Would your work location ever open again and, if not, how would you earn any money to live on?  So much sadness, so much distress!  The picture with this blog is not one of sharks swimming in the ocean, although that might be appropriate.  This is actually a picture of the tails of airliners at the airport.  Incredible!
          Now my parents lived through major flooding in Sunbury.  I think the water nearly reached their second floor.  What I recall are the stories of how very hard it was to clean up everything after the water went down.  The mud and damage was terrible.  Sunbury solved their flooding problems by building a wall around the city and for decades now the wall has kept the city dry.  However, there were a couple of times the water did reach the top of the walls.
         We have never faced flooding, but we do have water problems at our house createed by bad decisions made by the builder of the house.  During heavy rain we must rely on our sump pump which has left us down a few times.  We fought a difficult battle years ago when Agnes devastated parts of Lancaster County.  A few years ago we lost our electricity when we had 11 inches of rain and my wife and I spent many hours throughout the night bailing water out of our sump pump well to protect our basement.  But that was just 11 inches, not 50+ inches and the electicity was restored quickly after the rain stopped.  I just can't imagine what 50+ inches must be like and I hope I never experience anything like it.
          However, I did read one Christian blogger who thinks Harvey might have been used by God to punish America.  Now I would never go that far and say something like that, although I can readily see why God would choose to punish this nation for its many sins.
          But this is a very sad event and my prayers are for the people, workers and especially the children who have had their lives changed dramatically.
          But then there is the bad.  And that title goes to North Korea and its insane leader.  He reminds me of Hitler, but maybe even more dangerous since he has an arsenal of nuclear weapons, rockets to deliver them, and no fear of using them.  Will he draw us into nuclear war?  Unfortunately, I think that is very possible and it could even happen much sooner than anyone ever expected.  Sanctions seem to have no effect and negotiations are useless. What else can be done without going to war?  Lord, come quickly!
          As a senior citizen, I recall the days of atomic bomb drills in schools when we practiced hiding under our desks.  What good would that have really done if we were attacked?  And folks built and stocked bomb shelters.  Should we be doing that today?  Who might hit us first, North Korea or terrorists?  A very bad situation, to say the least.
         But the good news for believers is that God is still in control and these incidents might just be signs that Jesus is coming soon.  And that is good news in the midst of the bad.  So we live each day trusting Him as we travel through a land which is not our final home.  This world is not our home, we're just a passing through!  Our final, eternal home is just ahead.
          The sad, the bad and now some more good news.  We have had some very beautiful weather here in Pennsylvania the past two weeks ... cooler temperatures, low humidity and plenty of sunshine. I love it!  It is so much more comfortable than most late Augusts have been.  I recall many years starting school, without AC, and the temps already in the mid 90's when we started in the morning.  Those days were so hard to bear for both teachers and students. I doubt that the students really learned much in those conditions. I would have loved to have this year's recent weather in those days.
         And this weather also marks the start of my favorite season - Fall.  Football returns this weekend, the leaves will soon change and show their beauty, and our favorite television shows will return.  And we will enjoy each Fall day that the Lord gives us and try not to think of the Winter which will soon follow (more bad).  But God is so good - all the time - in the sad, the bad and the good times.  Thank you Lord for your presence and provision.  Enjoy the day - this is the day that the Lord has made, rejoice and be glad!