Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Back to the Blogs

If you’ve wondered why activity at the blogs (Vital Signs Blog and The Book Den) has been slow the last couple of months, there has just been an awful lot going on.  For amid the regular duties with the internet outreaches, the abortion mill prayer presence, speaking, writing, the “When Swing Was King” presentations, and the monthly LifeSharer, we’ve had some extra stuff to deal with too.

For instance? Well, there was a L’Abri Conference in Rochester, Minnesota where I gave two lectures. There was a three day trip to northwest Iowa where I preached a Sunday evening service at Tabernacle Baptist Church in George and we also did two special “When Swing Was King” shows there.  I did three chapel services at Omaha Christian Academy here in Omaha. We also sent out to our e-mail list the pro-life mini-drama I had written many years ago, The Appointment. (The responses were great.)

We prepared an itinerary (and our home) for a four-day visit from our Belarusian friend and ministry colleague, Hleb Yermakou. The subsequent schedule involved Hleb doing two radio programs, preaching the Sunday morning service at Herman Community Church, teaching two high school classes, speaking at three chapel services, having a lunch discussion with pastors from Country Bible Church in Blair, and serving as the guest of honor for three home meetings.

We had our quarterly meeting for the Vital Signs Ministries Governing Board last week and our quarterly letter-writing party last night. At the latter event, we wrote 45 cards to Christians who are unjustly imprisoned and persecuted for their faith in various countries and another 40 cards and letters regarding pro-life, pro-family issues.

Oh yes; we also added a new regimen of physical exercise to our day and I finished my revisions of the novel, The Christmas Room.  

So my desk, so to speak, is clear. Well, kinda. But enough that I hope to get back to the blogs a bit more.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A Direct Line to the Persecuted Church?

Wouldn't it be something if you could write a letter to a brother or sister in Christ who was being persecuted for their allegiance to Jesus? I mean, a real letter that would actually get to these believers so they could be encouraged and comforted...and to know their sufferings mattered to Christians in the West?

Oh yes, wouldn't it be especially wonderful if you could communicate your message in their own language?

Well, if your answers to the questions above are yes, then get yourself over to Voice of the Martyrs' Prisoner Alert website and see how you can not only pray for individual Christians, not only how you can contact the political figures responsible for their imprisonment, but how you can write notes to the prisoners themselves!

I print three samples of such letters below. They are some of the messages going inside Easter cards to 15 persecuted Christians in places like China, Pakistan, Eritrea, and Vietnam. We will be putting these cards together tonight at our home (along with writing other letters regarding pro-life issues, freedom, marriage, etc.) at Vital Signs' quarterly P.A.L. Night party. We start at 7 o'clock, if you're interested, and we're all done by 8:45.

But here are those examples of letters going to imprisoned believers that I mentioned:

I gave thanks for you when I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus. When one part of the body suffers the whole body suffers. Many Christians around the world are standing with you. I pray you will feel the presence of Christ with you today.

1 Peter 1:6 “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials.”
Romans 8:35 “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?”

And this one.

You are fighting a good fight. May you keep the faith and finish the race. My heart rejoices that you are strong in the Lord. We love you and your family. We are praying for you, your family, and your guards.

Psalm 23:4 “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”
Romans 8:18 “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”

And just one more.

My prayers are with you as you endure the fellowship of suffering. The Lord is your shepherd and He will be with you. May your light reveal the truth to those around you.

Hebrews 12:2 “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Revelation 21:4 “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

Shouldn't you be taking advantage of this neat opportunity that VOM presents? For that matter, shouldn't you and your church be involved in something like a Vital Signs letter-writing ministry? You know, we have been doing these for more than 30 years and we would be honored and overjoyed to help you get started. Drop us a note.

For Your Ongoing Educational Needs

It's not just kids who need home schooling.  Adults who are trying to make sense out of the world with all the dominant media's misinformation, omission, incompetence, and ill will towards conservative values...well, they need schooling too.  They need information and insight that is accurate, relevant, and easy to access.

So, as we often do here at Vital Signs Blog, we offer some of the best of recent articles for your ongoing, home-based education!

* “Utopia’s Jailers” (Kevin D. Williamson, National Review)

* “Israel: Beware of Obama” (Michael Goodwin, New York Post)

* “Extreme: Dems' Filibuster of Anti-Human Trafficking Bill Exposes Abortion Fanaticism” (Guy Benson, Town Hall) AND “Fact Check: Debunking False Talking Points on Sex Trafficking Filibuster” (Guy Benson, Town Hall)

* “Iran and the Lessons of History” (Myron Magnet, City Journal)

* “When the world's best hope is France” (Rich Lowry, Jewish World Review)

“Unhappy birthday, Obamacare” (Sally Pipes, New York Daily News)

Updates and Essays: Vital Signs' March Newsetter

Dear LifeSharers,                                 March 2015

This month’s letter combines three things. The first is a quick update of our activity to date. The second is a quick rundown of upcoming activities. And third? Three brief essays I wrote and recently posted on Vital Signs Blog.  Because of space, I’ll have to zip through the update but there has been an awful lot going on. For amid the regular duties with the internet outreaches, the abortion mill prayer presence, speaking, writing, and the “When Swing Was King” presentations, we’ve had some extra stuff to deal with. That has included the L’Abri Conference in Rochester, Minnesota where I gave two lectures; preaching at Tabernacle Baptist Church in George, Iowa; also doing two “When Swing Was King” shows there; and doing three chapel services at Omaha Christian Academy.

We also sent out to our e-mail list the pro-life mini-drama I had written many years ago, “The Appointment.” Responses included “That was awesome.  It gave me goosebumps the whole way through.” And “I listened to the audio.  Wow!  That is powerful!” (You can find that play and even the audio version on the Vital Signs Ministries website.) 

We also prepared an itinerary (and our home) for a four-day visit from our Belarusian friend and ministry colleague, Hleb Yermakou. That resulted in Hleb doing two radio programs, preaching the Sunday morning service at Herman Community Church, teaching two high school classes, speaking at three chapel services, having a lunch discussion with pastors from Country Bible Church in Blair, and serving as the guest of honor for three home meetings.

All of this while adding a new regimen of physical exercise to our day. Whew!    

And upcoming activities?  Two that are on the immediate calendar are another letter-writing party on Tuesday, March 24 and the next Book It! Evening on Friday, April 10 where we will discuss Chelsen Vicari’s book, Distortion: How the New Christian Left is Twisting the Gospel and Damaging the Faith.  Okay, enough update. Now to those blog posts: Must A Child Be "Wanted" In Order To Be Priceless?, How Can My Friends and I Serve Seniors?, and Why A Pro-Life Witness Outside Abortion Clinics?…

Read the rest of March LifeSharer letter, including those three mini-essays, right here.

Monday, March 23, 2015

8 Major Reasons I Oppose Planned Parenthood

1) Planned Parenthood kills preborn babies for profit. Hundreds of thousands of babies. And by payments to surgical abortionists and sales of chemical abortifacients, Planned Parenthood is raking in millions of dollars every year. They are the largest abortion-providing business in the world.

2) Planned Parenthood is the most aggressive promoter of abortion rights in the U.S. and abroad. It's influence in Congress, the United Nations, in state governments, in social service agencies, and among government educators is huge.

3) Planned Parenthood promotes (and enables) sexual promiscuity, even among very young teenagers.

4) Planned Parenthood promotes sexual perversion and does so with obscene and blasphemous materials.

5) Planned Parenthood holds firm to the racism and elitism of its eugenics founders.

6) Planned Parenthood has been caught on many occasions in criminal cover-ups of statutory rape.

7) Planned Parenthood operates many unsafe, unsanitary abortion clinics. It has had several abortionists who have killed adult women through botched abortion. It dispenses very dangerous abortifacient drugs in an unprofessional manner like over the phone and through "at home abortion kits." It works continually against parental rights and control. It works continually against any and all limitations on abortion.

8) Planned Parenthood now makes over $540 million from taxpayer-funded government health services grants — every year!

Shouldn't you be opposing Planned Parenthood too? Here's one important way.

"When Swing Was King" for Church Groups?

Below is a letter we will soon be sending out to church leaders in our area. Read through it and see if you think your pastor should be receiving a copy.  We would be more than happy to send it along.

Or you might want it to pack a special punch by copying it off and taking it to him personally!

Dear friends,

Enclosed with this brief note is the new brochure of When Swing Was King, the popular outreach of Vital Signs Ministries to seniors.  Our audiences are primarily residents of nursing homes, assisted living centers, and other senior care centers. In fact, we do presentations of one of our 23 different volumes of When Swing Was King in 11 facilities every month!  

However, when we’re able to find the time, we do extra presentations...including shows for church groups.

That’s why we’re sending you this note; specifically, to invite you to consider a When Swing Was King presentation as a special treat for the seniors of your congregation.  At such shows, we briefly describe the purposes and methods of the ministry.  Then we present the multi-media experience of song, photographs, and interesting historical commentary which makes up When Swing Was King.  To best fit the audience and time, we sometimes create special versions.

And, just like the ministry in the nursing homes and senior centers themselves, Vital Signs Ministries presents these church programs completely free of charge. So we invite you to browse through the brochure and perhaps pass it along to some of the seniors in your congregation.  If there is interest in setting up a presentation or if you’d like any more information about When Swing Was King or Vital Signs Ministries, please let us know.

Thanks so much for your time and may our Lord continue to bless your ministry.

Sincerely,

Denny Hartford, Director
Vital Signs Ministries

P.S. As an added feature, we enclose a brief primer on ministry to seniors recently published on Vital Signs Blog that you might find of value.

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Ruthless Reality of Anti-Semitism in Europe

Jeffrey Goldberg has cast light on a very dark and dangerous evil in his recent article for The Atlantic, “Is It Time for the Jews to Leave Europe?” The piece is a lengthy one — detailed, perceptive, frightening — but I encourage you to read it in its entirety. You may not agree with every conclusion (I didn’t) and you may find a couple of his presuppositions incorrect (I did), but the article is yet an excellent one.

And very important.

But, because I know some of you won’t have the time to read the whole thing, I do list a few paragraphs below.

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France’s 475,000 Jews represent less than 1 percent of the country’s population. Yet last year, according to the French Interior Ministry, 51 percent of all racist attacks targeted Jews. The statistics in other countries, including Great Britain, are similarly dismal. In 2014, Jews in Europe were murdered, raped, beaten, stalked, chased, harassed, spat on, and insulted for being Jewish. Sale Juif—“dirty Jew”—rang in the streets, as did “Death to the Jews,” and “Jews to the gas.”


************* 

Violence against Jews in Western Europe today, according to those who track it, appears to come mainly from Muslims, who in France, the epicenter of Europe’s Jewish crisis, outnumber Jews 10 to 1.


************* 

The students talked about ways in which Jews concealed their identity. I’d heard that it had already become fairly common practice in some of the apartment blocks in the banlieues for Jews to remove the mezuzot from their doors. A mezuzah is a piece of parchment that contains Bible verses and that is placed in a case and then affixed to a doorpost. In some suburbs, mezuzot had become pointers for those in search of Jews to harm.


************* 

“Everyone is saying ‘Je suis Charlie’ today,” Wendy, another of the students, said, in reference to the popular slogan of support for the slain Charlie Hebdo cartoonists. “But this has been happening to the Jews for years and no one cares.”

“It would be nice if someone would say ‘Je suis Juif,’ ” Sandy, another student, said.


************* 

According to the Community Security Trust, 2014 saw the highest number of anti-Semitic incidents in the United Kingdom, which is home to 300,000 Jews, since the organization began its monitoring efforts, in 1984: it recorded 1,168 anti-Semitic incidents. This is more than double the number of incidents in 2013, and exceeds the previous record, from 2009, of 931 incidents. In a recent survey conducted on behalf of the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, a quarter of British Jews said they had considered leaving the country; more than half of those surveyed said they fear that Jews have no future in Great Britain.


************* 

The fight against anti-Semitism led by Merkel, Valls, and Cameron appears to be heartfelt. The question is, will it work? After the January massacres in Paris, the French government deployed several thousand soldiers to protect Jewish institutions, but it cannot assign soldiers to protect every Jew walking to and from the M├ętro. The governments of Europe are having a terrible time in their struggle against the manifestations of radical Islamist ideology. And the general publics of these countries do not seem nearly as engaged in the issue as their leaders. The Berlin rally last fall against anti-Semitism that featured Angela Merkel drew a paltry 5,000 people, most of whom were Jews. It is a historical truism that, as Manuel Valls told me, “what begins with Jews doesn’t end with Jews.” But this notion has not penetrated public opinion.


************* 

I am predisposed to believe that there is no great future for the Jews in Europe, because evidence to support this belief is accumulating so quickly. But I am also predisposed to think this because I am an American Jew—which is to say, a person who exists because his ancestors made a run for it when they could.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Teaching Evolution in Church? An Invitation from Jack Niewold.

Jack Niewold, the author of Frail Web of Intention, has a provocative and perceptive answer to the question shown on the button at left. Check it out.

Actually, I've been looking for someone who can and will, but I haven't found anyone yet. It seems most teachers of science in public schools know very little about evolution. Yes, they all have an opinion about it, but few of them can state evolution in two or three brief propositions. They have an "attitude" toward evolution, but when it comes to either the actual evolutionary history of the earth or the theory itself, they are woefully unfit to teach it. 

If anyone can find a teacher who can tell an adult Sunday School class what the theory of evolution is all about, and back it up with examples and specific historical and scientific evidence, I'd be all ears, so to speak. 

On the other hand I know quite a few young-earth and old-earth Creationists who have evolution down cold. You'd want to be well-prepared when you take them on, or you'd get flamed by their take on, say, the Cambrian explosion. 

I know some really impressive intelligent design Christians too who would make mincemeat of many of the assumptions of evolutionists. They're conversant not just in biology, but in physics and chemistry. 

We have on our side a number of people who've debated with the late Christopher Hitchens and won, like Dinesh D'Souza, and one, Ben Stein, who made Richard Dawkins out to be a fool.

Two of the world's preeminent philosophers, Alvin Plantinga and J. Budzisewski have proposed arguments for the existence of God that have yet to be logically refuted. 

We even have a theistic evolutionist or two, like Dr. Francis Collins, the head of the genome project. He sees no conflict between belief in Jesus Christ and adherence to a kind of evolution under the direction of a personal God. 

Though you'd be welcome, don't think you'd be coming into our church to teach children about evolution. You've already got them several hours a day. Adults can make children believe any number of things. You'd be here to teach other adults, and while we're courteous and epistemically humble, we aren't patsies. We know a faith system when we see it and would hold you to the science.

So let us know how this sounds. You get your people, and we'll get ours, and go at it.