Monday, October 16, 2017

A Prayer and a Declaration

A few days ago I wrote a brief essay called “Nothing Good Does God Withhold” and posted it on Vital Signs Blog. (You can read that here.) As a followup to those thoughts -- stimulated, in part, by reading Joni Eareckson Tada’s “Holiness in Hidden Places” -- I recorded this prayer while walking along Table Rock Lake outside Branson, Missouri. It’s a declaration (a spiritual vow, you might say) as well as a prayer which deals with the Christian’s trust in God in the midst of life’s trials.

Mark it down. 

One day I will be delivered from any and all infirmities, injuries, sickness, and anxieties.  And I will be delivered from them forever.  Indeed, because I have believed in Jesus as my Savior and therefore experienced His forgiveness of my sins and my adoption into His family, my future is brighter than words can ever express. And that future includes the transforming of my body, mind, and environment. I will then know health and vitality and focus and joy in completeness. I will also experience peace of unimaginable quality and abundance.  My relationships will be sweet, fulfilling, and free of goodbyes. And again, all of these gifts will be mine to enjoy throughout eternity.

Therefore, dear Lord Jesus, when You ask me now to deal with sickness or injury, with loss or anxiety, with fear or grief, please pour out Your mercies so that I not give in to my flesh but instead depend upon Your sovereign will.  Help me to remember and rely upon Your character, Your power, Your wisdom, and Your deep and abiding love for me and, in so doing, to believe with confidence that You know what is best for me from Your eternal perspective.

Lord, You have promised me every good and perfect gift.  You have promised to withhold no good thing from me as I strive to walk uprightly before You.  So please provide all needed graces for me to rely upon Your goodness to me even in the midst of today’s trial.  Jesus, You will heal me in Your perfect time.  And, in that appointed moment, You will embrace me and reward me and direct me to the place in Your kingdom You have lovingly prepared especially for me.  I know this and I trust in Your care for me.

Lord, in that moment of forever victory, I will be satisfied.  There will be no regrets, no second-guessing, no recriminations – only understanding and appreciation of how You worked out Your plans in my life.  So, dear God, I pray today that You will help me to look forward to that wondrous, liberating day and endure more patiently the trials You have allowed me to experience.  Let me trust You to give the strength and understanding I need so that I do not cave in but rather endure this by Your Holy Spirit.  Thank You for Your mercy.  

These things I declare and pray in the Name of my loving Savior, Jesus Christ.

A Post-Branson “Catch Up” (Part Two)

Here's more of the best reads on the web from recent days.

* “The Left’s New Plan to Gut Religious-Liberty Protections” (Margot Cleveland, National Review)

* “The Bergdahl Deception” (Scott Johnson, Power Line)

* “Conservatives Fault Senate Republicans for Slow Confirmation of Trump Nominees” (Casey Ryan, Daily Signal)

* “Tech vs Trump: the great battle of our time has begun” (Niall Ferguson, The Spectator)

“Harvey Weinstein Helped Pay for Bill Clinton’s Legal Fees During Monica Lewinsky Scandal” (Joshua Caplan, Gateway Pundit) (And, near the end of the article, you’ll see who else in Hollywood helped pay Bill’ s bills.)

* “Hollywood's Masculinity Deficit” (Andrew Klavan, PJ Media)

* “Harvey Weinstein—Shameless Communist Propagandist to Boot” (Humberto Fontova, Town Hall)

* “Are you weak if you make your man a sandwich? This is why real men don’t marry feminists” (Suzanne Venker, Fox News)

* “Scalia's Legacy” (Mona Charen, Jewish World Review)

* “WSJ Editorial Board Accuses ‘Beltway Media’ And Democrats Of Trump Dossier ‘Coverup’” (Chuck Ross, Daily Caller)

* “As monopolies, airlines just want to ‘own it all’” (Kevin Burke, The Hill)

Sunday, October 15, 2017

A Post-Branson "Catch Up"

Being in Branson the past couple of weeks for a family reunion and then a week of our traditional autumn working vacation, not to mention the extra duties I've embraced because of Claire's broken ankle, I have neglected compiling a selection of “must read” posts for awhile.

I remedy that now with these gems:

* “America’s abortion extremism” (Sheila Liaugminas, Mercator)

* “President Donald Trump Defends Defunding Intl Planned Parenthood: We Must ‘Protect the Unborn’” (Steven Ertelt, LifeNews.com)

* “Weinstein Dropped $100K at 2017 Planned Parenthood Gala” (Katie Yoder, MRC NewsBusters)

* “5 lessons Harvey Weinstein can teach us about Hollywood” (Michael Cook, Mercator)

* “Trump’s Great Call on UNESCO” (Paul Mirengoff, Power Line)

* “Google Honors Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards as a “Modern-Day Hero” (Micaiah, Bilger, LifeNews.com)

* “Don’t Call Climate Skeptics ‘Deniers,’ Call Us ‘Correct’” (Christopher Monckton, American Spectator)

* “Never Forget: Muslim Hate Crime Hoaxes” (Michelle Malkin, National Review)

* “Boy Scouts Are Now Allowing Girls to Join” (Henry Rodgers, Daily Signal)

* “Actress Elisabeth Moss Will Star in New Movie Glorifying a Network of Secret Abortionists” (Micaiah, Bilger, LifeNews.com)

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Nothing Good Does God Withhold

 Among the Scriptures I’ve been studying, thinking about, and using as stimulants in my prayers for friends while down here in the Ozarks is this one: “For the Lord God is a sun and a shield.  The Lord gives grace and glory.  No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” (Psalm 84:11)

How wondrous and sweet a promise is that?  Imagine, absolutely no good thing will He withhold!  Because God is ever gracious to His children and because He is our guide (sun) and protector (shield), He gives us every good thing we need.  But let’s go a bit farther with this idea.  Remember Jesus’ words to the disciples?  “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to our children, how much more will your Father Who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him?”  (Matthew 7:11)  And the apostle James teaches us that “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with Whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.”  (James 1:17)

Of course, it’s crucial to understand that these promises do not mean that God is our butler or an errand boy.  He is not a genie who is obligated to supply whatever we wish.  No, God is the omniscient sovereign Who knows what is for our forever good, for what will most bless and exalt us (and glorify Him through us) for all eternity.  Thus, we can trust His character as well as His power to give us what is truly best for us.  Always.

Do we get frustrated when it seems that God doesn’t answer our prayers?  Sure.  Do we wonder about why His distribution of blessings seems uneven, sometimes even unfair?  Yes.  Do we chafe at the waiting process, the denial of self, the suffering that must often precede the “proper time” of our exaltation, as it’s put in I Peter 5:6?  Certainly.  But the verses I cite in the beginning of this note are among the many which remind us of the unshakeable foundation upon which our trust in God’s sweet mercies should confidently rest.  We can rely upon Him to give us what eternity will sparklingly reveal were the very best gifts we could have ever received.  Our natural perspective is so limited by desires for comfort and happiness and success.  But the Lord urges us to look further ahead and to calmly trust in His kind providence.  And, make no mistake about it, God is looking forward even more than we are to the day when He completes His gift-giving to us, to that victorious day when all things are reconciled to Him and we enter into the everlasting splendor of the new heavens and new earth.

Yet is there not another challenge these verses present besides the need to faithfully await that glorious day to come when we get to open all our gifts?  Yes, indeed. These verses have very existential applications too. For instance, the context of James 1:17 shows that the good gifts from the Father of lights center upon the strength and wisdom He provides for His children to escape temptations.  God’s good gifts sanctify us. They allow us to turn from evil and to “prove ourselves doers of the word” instead.  Also, Jesus’ question recorded in Matthew 7:11 is to encourage specific prayers of faith regarding our maintaining holy, unselfish behavior.  And finally, the wonderful praise of the sons of Korah in Psalm 84:11 emphasizes that the good things of God are given to “those who walk uprightly.”  Careful, consistent, and humble dedication to God’s Word keeps the channels of His blessing clear to be poured out upon us.

How comforting these truths are.  And yes, of course, they are challenging too.  But they remind us of what a great and glorious and gracious God we serve, One Who gives us all good things to empower our service to Him today and yet which will be completed and added to in the forever life beyond.  So keep praying, dear friends.  Keep trusting  And let there be a fresh spring in your step as you walk uprightly along His paths toward glory.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Solzhenitsyn on America's “Decline in Courage”

With the momentous happenings of last week; particularly the straightforward long overdue speech of President Trump to the United Nations, followed by the latest cave in of Washington politicians to Obamacare, Planned Parenthood, the leftist media, and even the rants of unhinged dictators in North Korea and Iran,  I recalled a particularly relevant  passage from Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s commencement speech at Harvard in 1978.

“A decline in courage may be the most striking feature which an outside observer notices in the West in our days. The Western world has lost its civil courage, both as a whole and separately, in each country, each government, each political party, and, of course, in the United Nations. Such a decline in courage is particularly noticeable among the ruling groups and the intellectual elite, causing an impression of loss of courage by the entire society. Of course, there are many courageous individuals, but they have no determining influence on public life.

Political and intellectual bureaucrats show depression, passivity, and perplexity in their actions and in their statements, and even more so in theoretical reflections to explain how realistic, reasonable, as well as intellectually and even morally worn it is to base state policies on weakness and cowardice. And decline in courage is ironically emphasized by occasional explosions of anger and inflexibility on the part of the same bureaucrats when dealing with weak governments and with countries not supported by anyone, or with currents which cannot offer any resistance. But they get tongue-tied and paralyzed when they deal with powerful governments and threatening forces, with aggressors and international terrorists.

Should one point out that from ancient times declining courage has been considered the beginning of the end?”

The Lord Delivers From All Fears

I wanted to share a portion of a letter I received today from a friend and pro-life colleague who lives in another state. It's a timeless message of encouragement regarding God breaking through to answer our needs as we step out in courageous faith.

“Even if you don’t get to have a conversation with anyone, your very presence outside the [abortion] clinic could save a baby’s life.” Those were the words shared with me before I left for [the abortion business] by a woman who years ago had gone there for an abortion. She had told herself before she left that if anyone was outside the clinic when she got there she wouldn’t go through with it. Sadly no one was there and she had the abortion even though it went against everything she believed. Her words encouraged me to think that God could use us even though we may not see the results.

I really didn’t want to go Friday morning, and thought about rescheduling but God had other plans. Before I left I was reading Psalm 34 and asking the Lord to help me be bold for Him and not be hesitant to talk with someone. “I sought the Lord and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.” (Psalm 34:4) 

Well, he truly did deliver me from my fears and gave me a wonderful opportunity to share the gospel with a young truck driver who was picking up medical waste... As he was just finishing loading up his truck I asked him if he knew what they did inside the building and if it was difficult for him to go in there. He said he tries to shut out his mind and not think about it. I then asked him if he knew about Jesus and had an amazing opening to share the gospel with him. He was so receptive and genuinely interested in the tract Randy Alcorn had written, “How Can We Know We Will Go to Heaven?” he said he would read. 

Please pray for D----- that he would come to know Jesus and be in heaven with us! Most likely he’ll be back to the clinic so I may have more connection with him.

[My friend] J------ and others also had opportunities to reach out and it was an encouraging morning as we were stretched in our boldness. Thanks again for partnering with us in prayer.

Friday, September 22, 2017

September Songs

My, oh my; how the audiences are loving this month's “When Swing Was King” shows!

But, then again, that’s pretty much par for the course for these “sentimental journeys” we take back to the heady days when the residents of the senior care facilities we visit were going to homecoming and proms, gliding over the floor with their spouses at Peony Park or the Music Box, or listening to their favorite songs through radio waves or jukeboxes.

Through our visits to 11 facilities every month, we get to share with our friends laughter and tears, smiles and conversations, hugs and prayers. Wow.

The compliments and thanks that Claire and I receive are overwhelming and we remain oh-so-thankful not only for their kindnesses to us but for God giving us the opportunity to engage in this beautiful, inspiring ministry.

And just what songs are our audiences loving this month? Check out this lineup and then make a date to come join in the fun during one of our 3 remaining shows this month.

1) Glenn Miller Orchestra — “ In the Mood”
2) The Andrews Sisters (backed by Bob Crosby & the Bobcats) — “Begin the Beguine”
3) Tommy Dorsey Orchestra with Frank Sinatra — “This Love of Mine”
4) Benny Goodman Orchestra — “Stardust”
5) Artie Shaw Orchestra with Helen Forrest — “They Say”
6) Larry Clinton Orchestra — “Dodgin’ the Dean”
7) Ella Fitzgerald — “Isn’t It Romantic”
8) Vaughn Monroe Orchestra — “Ballerina”
9) Harry James Orchestra — “You Made Me Love You”
10) Rosemary Clooney — “Hey There”
11) Nat King Cole — “L.O.V.E.”
12) Andy Williams — “Moon River”

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

A Rainy Day Prayer

A Rainy Day Prayer
(DAH)

Prayers were prayed this morning,
Prayers in the driving rain,
Outside a horrid business
Where unborn babes are slain.

This place is a most cruel trap
Where fools are easily caught,
Where violence and lies live
But preborn kids do not.

The sky was dark. Thunder growled.
From the heights, lightening was thrown.
And heaven’s tears fell apace
To mingle with my own.

I know, of course, God’s judgment
Is but for a moment stayed.
And on the Great Day of Wrath
All accounts will be fully paid.

Yet God wants to hear honest prayers.
So I strike the same old drum.
Please rain truth and justice down,
And come, Lord Jesus, come.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Will Someone Please Turn Off the Noise?

When asked what he would like the orchestra to play while he was dining at a London restaurant, playwright George Bernard Shaw thoughtfully replied, “Dominoes.”

In this matter, I’m with Shaw.

It is a crazy, unhealthy feature of modern life — this matter of unrelenting noise. For instance, having television or radio, canned music or internet advertisements blaring at us absolutely everywhere we go. Airports, restaurants, convenience stores, doctor’s offices. the car mechanic’s waiting room, shopping malls, the vehicle next to yours at a stoplight, coffee shops, nursing home and hospital rooms, even church. For crying out loud, the other day I was putting gas in the car and had to try and block out the TV playing inside the gas pump!

Will someone please turn off the incessant noise!

George Prochnik, in his book “In Pursuit of Silence: Listening for Meaning in a World of Noise,” warns of the harmful physical impact of noise. “Noise wreaks havoc on all different parts of our bodies. The heart rate accelerates. We get vasoconstriction…The really scary thing is even if we do habituate mentally to noise, that doesn't change what's happening to our bodies.”

Is noise truly inescapable in our time? Is there no place where we can escape the intrusion of dissonant sound? Must our bodies and brains be forced to suffer the constant stress from clamoring, clattering commotion?

Perhaps not. But it will certainly take effort to turn down the noise in our lives, to listen more attentively to the natural sounds of life: God’s creation, calm conversation, serene music. More radical still, shouldn’t we be making time to relish some peace and…genuine quiet?

William Penn, in a book containing advice to his children, wrote, “True silence is the rest of the mind and is to the spirit what sleep is to the body, nourishment and refreshment. It is a great virtue; it covers folly, keeps secrets, avoids disputes, and prevents sin.”

Amen, Brother Penn. A quiet but unqualified amen.