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This website is a labor of love — love for my older brother in Christ, Pastor Geiger; love for the wisdom distilled in the pithy sayings he has used throughout his ministry; and love for my many friends who practice what Pastor Geiger has preached.

Thanks to Pastor Geiger for allowing me to put this together, to his daughter Margaret (Geiger) Henry for use of her excellent photography in the header (see her photography website), and to Sue Bohlin for allowing me to use her beautiful and clever calligraphy. By the way, much of Sue’s calligraphy that we see here was done when she was just learning the art. You should see some of her later work on her website!

Please…

Make the most of this site! Click the blue buttons to take you to individual pages. Once you’re on the individual pages, you can share them on your social media. Write comments. Submit examples of where you have seen the sayings put in action.

— Brad Hepp

Introduction to 1988 Booklet “In a Word…”

This was Pastor Geiger’s introduction to his 1988 booklet “In a Word…” The short descriptions under each saying are taken largely from what Pastor Geiger wrote in the booklet.

Over the years certain character traits Alice and I were seeking to instill in our offspring were gradually distilled into memorable pithy sayings. Some came directly or indirectly from Scripture, others were borrowed, yet others just happened. They all found their way into the fabric of our home, guiding both parents and children. Several of them have been woven into the fabric of the church family as well.

For the past several Christmases these have come back to me as gifts from my family, exquisitely calligraphed by Sue Bohlin, calligrapher par excellence and friend. They have hung on my study wall these years as gentle daily reminders to practice what I preach and to pray for those dearest me that these lessons learned in the bosom of the family be remembered and lived in their ever-expanding worlds. They also reminded me to pray for you our larger Reinhardt Family, also dear to us, with whom we have shared most of these truths.

With Alice’s strong encouragement and Sue’s beautiful art work, we have prepared for you, our Reinhardt Family, these “Geigerisms” (as Sue calls them) as a token of our love for you and of our deep appreciation for all you mean to us and have taught us these seventeen years.

To the Reinhardt Family, with love.
Don Geiger
February 28, 1988

It’s Good for Your Character

“It’s Good For Your Character” for years has been an encouragement to dependability and duty in the Geiger household, a predictable response to plaintive pleas to postpone or evade routine chores. In time it left its mark on youthful characters. Inevitably, however, the younger Geigers caught on that parents needed character, too. Now it is a reminder to us all that God uses the routine, the difficult, even the painful to develop in us qualities of Christlike character that can be learned in no other way. IT REALLY IS GOOD FOR YOUR CHARACTER!

“Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts, by His Holy Spirit, Whom He has given us.”

(Romans 5:3-5 NIV)

Live According to Scripture

Just as we amateur sailors need a landmark – a hill or island – to aim at to keep us on course, so every believer needs a ready reference point, a verse or phrase of Scripture to help him set his course and keep him there. Mine is I Corinthians 4:6b, RSV: “… Learn by us to live according to Scripture.”

For my own life, the goal is “To learn to live according to Scripture.” For all decisions and conduct, the question must always be, “What does the Bible say about this?” The decision must always be to obey.

The goal for my ministry is simply to help others learn to live according to Scripture, and to learn from them the same thing. Together WE LEARN TO LIVE ACCORDING TO SCRIPTURE.

Be as Drastic as Necessary

How does one deal with those persistent sins and character weaknesses that wrap their tentacles around our hearts — flaws that all too often we do not really want to give up? The best answer I know is, “Be As Drastic As Necessary.”

That is clearly the idea of Colossians 3, where we read, “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature… but now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these…” (vs. 5, 8). Drastic action to deal with a persistent problem might include altering one’s route to work or school to avoid a place of temptation, changing one’s friends, becoming accountable to a trusted friend, or destroying a possession that clearly contributes to our failure. I have often suggested cutting the plug if the television is an insatiable cannibal of our time or a polluter of our hearts — and a number have done so. Most of us know what we need to do. Let’s do it! BE AS DRASTIC AS NECESSARY!

If It’s There Do It

In an age of increasing passivity and spectatoritis, I am an activist. I believe God intended rivers to be swum or canoed, mountains to be climbed or skied, cliffs to be rappelled, books to be read, games to be played and new places to be visited. Beethoven had the idea when, going deaf, he said, “I will take life by the throat!” When in doubt, do it! Go for it!

This one needs a strong caution. It is not to be applied to situations that are clearly sinful, or even doubtful, or to those that are unacceptably dangerous.

Following this word will break the ambivalence of those ‘will I or won’t I’ situations. It will help you decide to take that trip, redo the kitchen, bike around the lake or go for that scholarship. Have an adventure. IF IT’S THERE, DO IT!

Predecide

Facing twenty-three delicious, tempting desserts in the Highland Park Cafeteria line is the world’s worst time to decide whether to break one’s diet ‘just this one time.’ That irresistible chess pie overwhelms me every time. My only hope for success lies in predeciding. I talk to myself beforehand: “I have made up my mind. No dessert. Not even chess pie. The subject is not open for reconsideration.” It works (almost every time). And by the Spirit’s power it works with issues and temptations of far greater import than maintaining one’s diet. I believe that is what our Lord did before His temptations in the wilderness. He found God’s will and way in Scripture, learned the passages, and decided before being tempted His sure and certain response. PREDECIDE!

Don’t Beat the Sheep

As a youthful pastor in the early days of my ministry, I took a long walk in a Michigan woods with a trusted and admired friend, Ken Hanson, seeking counsel from a wise layman. We discussed many things, but his one word that has marked my ministry most was this: “Don, don’t beat the sheep.” That encounter led me to a study of the Lord as Shepherd — He knows His sheep and gently leads those with young: He restores their souls, and leads in paths of righteousness.

Most come to worship services battle-worn and weary, needing encouragement and communion more than criticism. If the Word of God is faithfully and lovingly taught, the Holy Spirit may be trusted to do His corrective work. Nowhere in the Bible are shepherds instructed to beat the sheep. A word of wisdom to all who teach, preach, or lead: DON’T BEAT THE SHEEP!

Follow Your Good Impulse

How often do you have an impulse to write a note of appreciation for a job well done or for a solo beautifully sung? To phone a shut-in, to bake a pie for a sorrowing family, or to congratulate a young person for his or her accomplishment? But how often does that impulse die aborning? Whether that good impulse is the gentle prompting of the Holy Spirit or is the response of your own generous spirit, it is worth doing. Its fruit will probably be far more significant than you could ever imagine. That note or call may provide the courage to go on one more day, may even avert tragedy. It will surely bring a little joy and sunshine in what may be an otherwise joyless day. The serendipity is that following your good impulse brings warmth and light to your life, too. FOLLOW YOUR GOOD IMPULSE!

Don’t Say No if You Mean Yes

Through shyness, childhood training, or an overdeveloped desire not to impose or be a bother, many of us often say ‘No’ when we mean ‘Yes.’ As a child I was a natural alto; the notes just came to me. One Christmas I was asked, begged to sing in a quartet. I longed to do it, but steadfastly and irrationally said ‘No.’ I needed someone to teach me not to say ‘No’ when I meant ‘Yes.’

“Don’t Say No If You Mean Yes” is a watchword at our house. It is a lesson we seem to have mastered pretty well, though we have said it often to young guests who sometimes demurred to be polite.

Again, the caution: If it’s wrong, or doubtful, say ‘No!’ and make it stick, even if strongly tugged toward ‘Yes.’ But when worthy opportunity knocks, DON’T SAY NO IF YOU MEAN YES!

Passion with Gradualism

Asked the reason for his success, Ivan Pavlov, on his deathbed, replied, “Passion with gradualism.” Living as we do in an age of instant gratification, this is a rare and priceless virtue which we all must cultivate. My Father modeled this the best of anyone I have personally known. He was a visionary and dreamed some impossible dreams, at least they seemed so to many. But we watched and often helped, as one by one his dreams materialized. Little matter that it took twenty years of slow, hard, manual labor to complete the swimming pool at the camp he built, he had a dream which he persistently, passionately, gradually pursued, till finally it was complete. Incidentally, we swam in it from the beginning — each year it just got better.

If it is a worthy dream and you want it badly enough to pay the price and passionately persist, it will almost surely come true. PASSION WITH GRADUALISM.

Take the Long View

Those early Reinhardters who planted slow-growing, long-lived oak trees in the nursery play yard took the long view. They provided welcome shade from the Texas summer sun for many generations of children, including our own, but not much for theirs. Cottonwoods would have served them better, but would have left us to begin anew.

Students who study that extra hour to earn the elusive ‘A’ when a ‘B’ or ‘C’ would have gotten them by are taking the long view, as are those who save instead of spend, choosing college over a Camaro.

Anyone who in the crucible of suffering and stress remembers that “In everything God works for the good of those who love Him” (Romans 8:28) is taking the long view. To know that “Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5) is to take the long view. It often isn’t easy, but it is always best to TAKE THE LONG VIEW.

Live With What Is

Like red pepper or curry, this one must be used sparingly and in just the right circumstances. It is sometimes wrong to live with what is. Many conditions and circumstances can and must be changed — injustices, character flaws, bad habits (like my bad habit of keeping a cluttered desk). After all, in Christ we are new creations; the old is gone, the new has come. (II Corinthians 5:17)

However, each of us has less-than-ideal circumstances in his life he longs to change but cannot — perhaps a physical limitation or a difficult family situation. Someone suggested we treat these ‘givens’ not as problems, but as our set of facts. If we can’t change it, it isn’t a problem, it’s just what is. And the sooner we learn to live with what is, the sooner we learn how God wants to use ‘what is’ for His glory and our blessing. LET’S LEARN TO LIVE WITH WHAT IS!

Keep Your Options Open

Alice claims she has chosen the epitaph for my tombstone; it is, “He Kept His Options Open.” “Keep Your Options Open” is often heard around the Geiger household, and it reminds us to make the extra effort to open or keep open one more door of opportunity we might one day want to enter. So Margaret is encouraged to apply to several colleges, and Alice is taking a course to prepare for the Graduate Record Exam just in case she might want to go for her Master’s some day. Come to think of it, maybe this one belongs on her marker, too!

The extra mile, the added effort will help you KEEP YOUR OPTIONS OPEN!

Kid Up

Most of us learned about kidding and teasing at an early age. We teased and got teased. It just seemed to come naturally. We also learned early on that kidding can be fun and affirming for everyone, or hurtful for the one being teased. It can easily morph into merciless bullying. Kidding can be positive or negative. It is positive when everyone involved is enjoying it, when it becomes an indirect compliment, when it strengthens a relationship, bonding and bringing you closer, and when it is shared equally — no one person its object. It is positive when it is good-natured, enjoyed by all, an upper. It is negative when one is kidded about a disability, vulnerability, personal appearance such as weight, or perceived weakness or sensitivity, when it is a putdown instead of a compliment, or when it focuses on just one person. It is negative when the one being kidded is belittled or hurt, not enjoying the ride. So when we kid, let’s kid to strength, be sensitive to how it is received, and back off when it is no longer enjoyed. Let Psalm 19:14 be our test: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer! In a word, let’s kid up!

It’s Always Too Soon to Quit

We began the project, class, job, hobby with enthusiasm, vigor, and ambitious dreams. Then came the inevitable bump in the road, sometimes several bumps. The class was tougher than we thought or the prof was boring. After a few mistakes, we’re tempted to abandon the project and begin a new one. As for the job, we had at least five reasons for quitting and looking for a better one. We’ve all been there – tempted to quit. Henry Ford had a dream – a gas-engine driven buggy. A horseless carriage. Building that first car Ford quickly realized there was a better way, and was tempted to quit and start over. Some inner wisdom kept him at it. He would later say that if he had not finished that first car, he probably would never have finished any car. It is difficult to finish, especially to finish well.

It was an especially difficult college semester. I was behind in my tuition payments, struggling with French, discouraged. In a timely chapel talk our president, Dr. V Raymond Edman, spoke to us about the Discipline of Determination, reminding us that it was too soon to quit.  That talk kept me in school and has become a watchword of our family and many others. Two favorite verses: Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to begin it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means (2 Corinthians 8:11).  You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised (Hebrews 10:36).

Never Doubt in the Dark What God Told You in the Light

This one is for those dark times of grief, loneliness, illness, trials, failure, or tragedy when God may seem distant and silent. Dark times come to us all. Our Lord made it clear that even devout believers are not exempt. I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world (John 16:33). For starters, let’s note that the sobering certainty of trouble in this must-memorize verse is surrounded by the promise of God’s peace and the assurance of victory in difficult times. The Bible is filled with illustrations of both the reality of dark times and the assurance of God’s sufficient grace in even the darkest night. A less familiar Psalm of Asaph, 77, both illustrates and helps lead us out of the dark. Perhaps these phrases will entice you to read the psalm and make it your own.   I cried out to God for help. When I was in distress I sought the Lord . . and my soul refused to be comforted, I was too troubled to speak.  I remembered my songs in the night. My heart mused and my spirit inquired. Then I thought, I will remember the deeds of the Lord, your miracles of long ago. I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds.  Then Asaph went on to recount some of God’s mighty deeds.

When we find ourselves in dark and dismal places, let’s follow Asaph’s (and many others’) lead in taking it to the Lord in prayer, crying out to God for help. Then allow God to answer by remembering and claiming his innumerable promises. I am with you always . . . In everything God works for the good of those who love him. When you are weak, then I am strong in your behalf.  How about a song in the night​? Psalm 23 for starters. By all means commit that one to memory and meditate on it often! Another too-often-neglected light in the darkness is thankfulness. As the old hymn has it, “Count your many blessings, name them one by one.” Thankfulness helps.  For years I have kept a notebook of thankfulness. I add to it often, and just as often leaf through its pages, remembering God’s lavish, gracious blessings, large and small through the years. If you don’t already, I suggest you consider keeping such a running list of blessings. One final promise, Psalm 30:5, Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. All together now:  “I will never doubt in the dark what God has shown me in the light!

Note: the calligraphy for this particular saying was done by Myla Jordan.

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