Saturday, November 29, 2014

A Milestone Sunday: Saying Goodbye

Tomorrow is a significant milestone for us.

I came the Sunday morning before Christmas as a guest speaker to Faith Bible Church, a small congregation on Omaha's near south side that had been without a regular pastor for a couple of years. In fact, they were strongly considering throwing in the towel and merging with a large suburban church.  As a favor to a new friend, I agreed to provide “pulpit supply” to the church for a few Sundays in January. And then that stretched into the spring. And then that stretched into…7 years!

Never an actual member because of a doctrinal difference with the denomination, I was not involved in the leadership of the church nor did I ever seek (beyond the biblical teaching of my sermons) to direct the future course of the church. I was content to be their “perennial guest speaker,” offering ongoing series of expository sermons to “build up the Body for the sake of ministry.”  However, even though my “real job” remained Director of Vital Signs Ministries, leaving my only duty at Faith Bible Church to be delivering the Sunday sermon, the church soon began to describe me as their teaching pastor. And I tried hard to live up to that. Not only did I take my sermon preparation seriously (12-15 hours of study and prayer and writing out my text), but I couldn’t help but get involved in the lives of the people in other ways too. Thus, I ended up teaching other classes, hosted letter-writing evenings, counseled (and confronted), frequently entertained parishioners in our home, did hospital and nursing home visits, led special activities, performed funerals, spoke at AWANA, and so on.

As many of you know, I had done quite a lot of preaching and teaching in the years since my conversion to Christianity in 1970 (including a lot of “pulpit supply” at Pleasantview Berean Church here in town and Tabernacle Baptist Church in George, Iowa) but providing week after week sermons for this length of time has made for quite an experience. Both Claire and I are grateful for the opportunity to serve in this way. And we have made many friends that we will stay in contact with for the rest of our lives…and beyond.

But the time has now come to turn the page. Our obligations related to Vital Signs Ministries have continued to grow and, for the last couple of years now, it has been increasingly difficult to pursue them as we should while still taking those extra hours a week for sermon preparation. In particular, our “When Swing Was King” presentations, hospitality ministries, cyberspace outreaches, and writing projects all need more attention. Therefore, I informed the leadership of Faith Bible Church (and then the congregation) last August that I would be leaving.

And tomorrow is our last Sunday, thus the milestone designation. May the Lord lead Faith Bible Church in the next stages of its ministry. May the Lord guide Claire and I to our new church home. And may He give us joy and effectiveness as we persevere in our many duties with Vital Signs Ministries.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A "When Swing Was King" Christmas Road Trip

There’s nothing quite like the “When Swing Was King” Christmas show. 13 songs featuring the original crooners, canaries, and big bands of the swing era. More than 250 beautiful and interesting pictures playing on the screen. And an intriguing, fun commentary that heightens the holiday excitement for the residents of the nursing homes and senior centers for whom we present it...completely free of charge.

But the surprising news? We’re delighted to announce that, in addition to the regular 13 facilities where we bring “When Swing Was King” every month plus two extra showings this December that we have scheduled for senior groups at Country Bible Church and Glad Tidings Church, Claire and I are taking the show on the road to central Nebraska next week!

December 3rd and 4th will be a Christmassy sleigh ride for us as we take the program to senior facilities in Holdrege, Gothenburg, Doniphan, and Grand Island.

Your prayers for safe travel, success with the technical aspects of the program, and spiritual blessing as we visit with residents are deeply appreciated. Indeed, prayers are deeply appreciated for all of our December presentations of “When Swing Was King.”

But, yes; there still might be a chance for a Christmas version of “When Swing Was King” to warm the hearts of the seniors (and others) at your church for there are Sunday mornings in December that are not yet scheduled. That may change at any moment, though. So, if you’re interested, please contact us ASAP.

A Very Special Christmas Tree Lighting

Want a happy "Christmassy" story, one that delightfully illustrates our longstanding beliefs that 1) Christians can yet influence culture towards winsome, wholesome ways and 2) a personal letter remains a remarkably powerful tool in that quest?

Then check out the November letter from Vital Signs Ministries that tells a story of a delightful Christmas tree lighting.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Picks of the Weekend

If you were watching college football or hanging the Christmas lights this weekend, you may have missed these important articles. Here's a second chance.

* “Major blowback from Obama's insult to Australia at the G20 in Brisbane” (Thomas Lifson, American Thinker) As Lucianne Goldberg notes, "Without the Internet you wouldn't know this.")

* “Fools of the Week: Brian Williams, NBC Nightly News” (Eric Bolling, Fox News)

* "Renewable Energy Will Never Work, But Can Nuclear?" (John Hinderaker, PowerLine)  Hinderaker writes about “two of the most interesting articles I have read in a very long time. The first is by two Google engineers who were charged with thinking creatively about how to replace fossil fuels with renewables. After four years, Google shut down the project. The engineers concluded that it simply couldn’t be done.” Very interesting article.

* “The Microaggression Farce: The latest campus fad, which sees racism everywhere, will create a new generation of permanent victims.” (Heather MacDonald, City Journal) This is a longer piece but well worth reading for anyone who wants to understand why we're losing the next generation to the culture wars.

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Pick of the Weekend

Here's a few articles from around the web that you don't want to miss.

* “Clamping Down on Religion” (In this brief but important article, NRO’s Kathyrn Jean Lopez interviews Ed Clancy, director of outreach and evangelization for Aid for the Church in Need.)

* “The lies that are central to Obama’s agenda” (Kyle Smith, New York Post)

* “Officials say U.S. military readiness for war, competitive edge worsening” (Andrea Shalal & David Alexander, Reuters)

* “One Nation Under Godlessness: A high school in Colorado Springs bans students from meeting outside class for prayer and fellowship.” (Michelle Malkin, NRO)

* “Joe Wilson Was Right” (Jack Cashill, American Thinker)

* “India’s war on women turns deadly: Thirteen women have died as a result of the latest mass sterilisation camp.” (Carolyn Moynihan, Mercator)

* “Obama Is Now Lying About His Lies” (Peter Wehner, Commentary)

* “HHS still doing business with firm that twice defrauded Medicare” (Sarah Westwood, Washington Examiner)

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Awesome Power of Music!

You want an idea of why we are more excited than ever about "When Swing
Was King," Vital Signs Ministries' outstanding outreach into nursing homes and senior centers?

Then, by all means, check out the clip and the article below. And then check in with "When Swing Was King."

Caring for patients with dementia will probably be one of the biggest human dignity issues of our century, as the proportion of elderly grows across the globe. It seems disgraceful to warehouse them in nursing homes, but often there are few alternatives.

So I was really delighted to see a ray of light in a new documentary, Alive Inside, which won the 2014 Sundance Film Festival Audience Award for an American documentary. It features the power of music to raise patients out of their torpor. Sometimes the effect of placing earphone and an iPod on an unresponsive patient slumped in a wheel is little short of miraculous…

Michael Rossato-Bennett, the director of the award-winning documentary, “Alive Inside,” says his life was transformed by making the film. “I hope it will bring the story of Dan’s work to the world and awaken hearts and minds to the healing power of music. Music has great lessons to teach us about what it means to be human. I learned that from the sweet and vulnerable souls I met making this film.

Through music, we have the power to help millions of people awaken to who they are and what they can be. Music gives us the ability to reach a population that might otherwise be unreachable. It allows us to touch hearts and ignite souls. Through music, we can help the old and the aging sustain their humanity and by doing so, inevitably, we’ll prove our own.”

Read more of the Mercator article by Michael Cook, “Bringing the elderly back to life with music.”

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Congratulations, Conservatives. Now What?

Here's an idea. Copy the picture above (or some creation of your own) and print it off to make “congratulation cards” to the conservatives you supported in Tuesday's elections. On the inside (or simply the back side if you go with a postcard format), tell them the four things on which you want them to press "fast and furious" as soon as they take office. (Those items, of course, will be different for the various offices your candidates won.)  And keep a copy of your card so you can refer to those priorities in your next communications.

It’s not enough to get these folks elected. Nor is it enough to applaud them (or ourselves), or feel satisfied and happy. The job of governing with principle, efficiency, and wisdom is now at hand. Our prayers, encouragement, and perseverance to keep our political representatives accountable are more important than ever.

By the way, what are the priorities I’m sending along? Well, to Ben Sasse, Joni Ernst and others heading to the U.S. Senate that I prayed for, cheered on, and supported in various ways, those priorities are:

1) The de-funding of the mega-abortion business that is Planned Parenthood.

2) Increased military might in order to better protect America from her enemies.

3) Protecting the Constitution from activist ideologues being appointed to the Supreme Court.

4) Much stronger protections against vote fraud.

In my card to those winning in Congressional races, since it is not the duty of Congress to confirm judicial nominees, I substitute #3 for “Dismantling ObamaCare."

So, what do you say? Send in your cards and letters today. We mobilized for their election. Let’s stay mobilized to insure these folks govern the way they promised.