Saturday, June 24, 2017

Notes from Dennis Prager’s Omaha Talk

Thursday morning Claire and I joined Pat Osborne, John Malek, Quint & Carol Coppi, Jim & Jeanne Lawson (and another 150 or so conservatives) for a breakfast talk by columnist and radio broadcaster, Dennis Prager.  Sponsored by The Answer Omaha Radio and held at the Hotel RL, the event seemed to be a success on several levels. Kudos to 1420 AM.

Dennis Prager was certainly in fine form Thursday morning and his observations and exhortations regarding the culture wars were enthusiastically received by the audience. Want a few highlights of his talk? Well, I transcribe below some of the notes I took on the back of a bank envelope.

* Prager reminded us that he opposed Donald Trump’s nomination throughout the primaries. However, he supported Trump enthusiastically in the general election although frequently he presented the choice between Clinton and Trump to something like the choice of two doors. Behind one of them, you were guaranteed, was a man-eating lion while, behind the other, there only might be a man-eating lion. People of moral values thus had a clear choice for Donald Trump. That being said, Prager told the audience that he “is amazed at the great job Trump has done” so far.

* "The modern university is a wisdom-free institution."

* The left does not represent liberalism.  Indeed, the modern left is decidedly anti-liberal.  Examples?  Think of the ideals of Harry Truman, John Kennedy, or Henry Jackson (patriotism, optimism, strong national defense, freedom of speech, opposition to big government and government handouts, traditional moral values, etc.) vs. the whining, value-free authoritarianism of Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders and Nancy Pelosi.

* The left is actively, purposefully undermining the ideals of Western civilization.

* America’s historic trinity of ideals?  Liberty.  In God We Trust.  E pluribus unum.

* The left represents the legacy of the French Revolution – godless, intolerant, and violent.  It demands equality by denying liberty and justice.

* The Democrats are now all the same.  Republican candidates (at every level) must run against the Democrat Party and its positions and tactics.

* “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”  (Proverbs 9:10)

* The question, not merely to ponder, but to excite action on our part should be, “How American is America going to be?”

* The left is, by valuing everything according to race and class, is proving itself racist and elitist.

* “Hysteria is to the left what oxygen is to biological life.”

* Canada is already lost.  So is Europe.  Are we next to fall, the last great hope on earth for freedom?

* The left does not hate evil.  They hate carbon emissions and pro-life advocates and Israel and conservative speakers on college campuses…but they don’t hate evil.

* “The university, at least for students in the humanities and social sciences, is a fraud.”

* A key problem in America? The grandchildren of Jews and Christians do not know Judaism or Christianity.

* The problem with Congress is democracy -- for voters today are addicted to government handouts.  Today’s Democrats do not, as did JFK, put the interests of the nation before the wants of the individual.  No, they literally pay for votes by promising more and more free benefits to voters.

A Weekend Roundup: News & Commentary You Shouldn't Miss

* “Mueller’s Empire” (Scott Johnson, Power Line)

* “Aftermath Of Alexandria Shooting Showed The Left’s Cultural Bullying At Its Worst” (Mary Katharine Ham, The Federalist)

* “The Double Murder of Otto Warmbier” (Michelle Malkin, Daily Signal)

* “Nonprofit Tracker Smears Dozens of Conservative Organizations as ‘Hate Groups’” (Rachel del Guidice, Daily Signal)

* “Welcoming Persecution?” (Mark Tooley, Juicy Ecumenism)

* “Oh, the Humanities!” The Scrapbook, Weekly Standard)

* “Potemkin Progressivism” (Roger Kimball, American Greatness)

* “Harry Potter and the millennial mind: How J.K. Rowling shaped the political thinking of a generation.” (Lara Prendergast, The Spectator)

* “The Danger of Incrementalism” (Rick Plasterer, Juicy Ecumenism)

* “Finding the Way Back on Immigration Isn’t Going to Be Easy for Democrats” (Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review)

* “Obama’s Feds Tried to Hack Indiana’s Election System While Pence Was Governor” (Richard Pollock, Daily Caller)

Friday, June 23, 2017

Audiences Love "When Swing Was King"

Comments from today’s “When Swing Was King” presentations:

1) “You know, I’m missing a College World Series game to come here. But that’s okay because I sure didn’t want to miss one of your shows.”

2) After assuring one woman that we would be back next month, she replied. “Oh, you can’t come back soon enough for us. You could come every week as far as we’re concerned. And you could show the same program too. We just love it!”

3) First lady: “I’m glad we got here early and got some good seats.”
Second lady: “But they never get very many people in here [the theater] for a program.”
First lady: “Maybe normally. But trust me, for THIS show the place will be packed.”

4) Fellow: “Oh, this is that big band thing. I hear it’s a pretty good show.”
First Lady: “Oh, you haven’t been to one of these yet? You’re in for a treat!”
Second lady: “Yes, of all the programs they bring in, this is the best.”

5) “Don’t mind me crying a little. It only is because your program is so beautiful that it makes me cry. The music, oh my. How wonderful it is to hear it again. And the pictures are wonderful too. And all the work in finding the history behind all those songs. It is just great that you do this for us. Thank you so much.”

6) “I never want your show to end.”

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A Wild & Wooly Midweek Roundup

* “If a Trump Supporter Had Shot a Democratic Congressman” (Dennis Prager, Town Hall)

* “Chicago records 300th homicide over Father's Day weekend — just like last year” (Elyssa Cherney, Chicago Tribune)

* “The Army's New Shower Policy: Bare with Us” (Tony Perkins’ Washington Update)

* “Otto Warmbier, Moral Perversion, and the Social Justice Left” (Noah Rothman, Commentary)

* “Is being a Christian a sackable offence in UK politics now?” (Michael Kirke, Mercator)

* “Katy Perry Talks About Evil — Why Sentimentality Is No Response to Terrorism” (John Stonestreet & G. Shane Morris, Breakpoint)

* “Why Believing Atrocity Stories About Israel Is Stupid, Even When They’re on CNN” (Liel Leibovitz, The Tablet)

* “Exposing the EPA’s Gold King Mine Cover-Up” (Rob Gordon, Daily Signal)

* “Transgender laws threaten to erase women” (Women's Liberation Front and Family Policy Alliance, Mercator)

* “Perpetual Adolescence: When Coming of Age Doesn’t Come” (John Horvat II, The Stream)

* “Christian author destroys leftism after sons booted from Boy Scout troop over ‘anti-Muslim remark’” (Dave Urbanski, The Blaze)

The Images That Break Your Heart

The video clips play on the television and you are strongly tempted to turn away because the topic is so tragic and the images so wrenchingly disturbing. But you watch and your heart is touched, your conscience informed and challenged. You are seeing into the eyes of the victims - innocent victims of man’s indifference, neglect, and even cruelty. The narrator urges you to take a good look at those in need and she then urges you to personally, immediately intervene to deliver them from further suffering, even from being destroyed out of a false sense of compassion.

The voice of the narrator, by the way, is a pleasant one for it belongs to a Hollywood celebrity. The sense of moral authority she portrays underscores for you how right and important it is to act in behalf of the innocent, to rescue them from danger.  You are told that you can make a huge difference, that you can be a hero and a lifesaver, and that your action will enrich and ennoble your soul.  The video clip is a powerful piece and you are not surprised that the television station plays it often, unafraid of any charges of controversy, offense, or political bias. After all, the message is a critically necessary one; it is a message that the whole culture must heed if it truly aspires to be moral and kind and compassionate.

The video clips I’m talking about, as you might not have guessed, are those created by the Society for the Protection of Animals, the Humane Society, and so on.  They are run free of charge by television stations under the banners of public service and charity.  They are applauded by progressives of all sorts.

And yet, these same progressives, these same public service committees, these same television stations categorically refuse any announcement that would apply the same methods, the same reasoning, or the same emotional triggers towards action that might save human boys and girls from the wicked cruelty of abortion. Does it make sense?  No.  Is it fair?  No.  Do the so-called progressives not see the horrible irony of treating the plight of animals in shelters to be a greater moral responsibility than the fate of human children scheduled to be torn to pieces or poisoned by abortionists? Sadly, the answer is again, no.

And thus goes the terrible devolution of American culture.

(Postscript -- I have no problems with appeals for kindness to animals. Indeed, men and women are presented with a biblical responsibility to show wisdom and compassion as they serve as God's stewards over all of creation. Remember, for instance, the Sabbath rest that God commanded extended to animals as well as men. My point is a simple but profound one; namely, that Western culture has got its priorities completely turned round. Our refusal to protect preborn children, while yet posing as kind-hearted, is irrational, ugly, and evil.)

An Apology from Aristides (and a Few Vital Signs Ministries Notes)

First of all, I’d like to pass along a striking testimony concerning the early Christians, a testimony that creates an important perspective on our ministry, our times, and the upward call of believers throughout the ages. I will quote from a document written by Aristides of Athens, the early 2nd Century philosopher who converted to Christianity and penned a critically important description of the early Church.  

Most scholars believe that Aristides dedicated his Apology to Hadrian, the Emperor of Rome, who though a non-Christian was nevertheless interested in history, culture, and humanistic values. It is sad that this remarkable document is so little known, even in the Church, for it is a bold yet winsome argument that everyone (even unbelievers) would do well to honestly consider. 

The section of the Apology I print below describes the lifestyle of early Christians as it regards the search for truth, virtues devoutly practiced, the attractiveness that a love of God produces, practical egalitarianism, deeds of mercy, and a confidence in a glorious life to come.

(The Aristides Apology and the rest of this month's Vital Signs Ministries letter can be read right here.)

Monday, June 12, 2017

A Striking Testimony About Those Early Christians

It is believed by many scholars that Aristides of Athens, the early 2nd Century philosopher who converted to Christianity and penned a striking description/apology of the Faith, dedicated that document to Hadrian, the Emperor of Rome, who though a non-Christian was nevertheless interested in history, culture, and humanistic values.

But whoever were his intended readers, Aristides presented a bold yet winsome argument that everyone (believer or not) would do well to honestly consider.

I print below a small section of the Apology, one that describes the lifestyle of early Christians as it regards the search for truth, virtues devoutly practiced, the attractiveness that a love of God produces, practical egalitarianism, deeds of mercy, and a confidence in a glorious life to come. Check it out.

XV. But the Christians, O King, while they went about and made search, have found the truth; and as we learned from their writings, they have come nearer to truth and genuine knowledge than the rest of the nations. For they know and trust in God, the Creator of heaven and of earth, in whom and from whom are all things, to whom there is no other god as companion, from whom they received commandments which they engraved upon their minds and observe in hope and expectation of the world which is to come. 

Wherefore they do not commit adultery nor fornication, nor bear false witness, nor embezzle what is held in pledge, nor covet what is not theirs. They honor father and mother, and show kindness to those near to them; and whenever they are judges, they judge uprightly. They do not worship idols (made) in the image of man; and whatsoever they would not that others should do unto them, they do not to others; and of the food which is consecrated to idols they do not eat, for they are pure. 

And their oppressors they appease (lit: comfort) and make them their friends; they do good to their enemies; and their women, O King, are pure as virgins, and their daughters are modest; and their men keep themselves from every unlawful union and from all uncleanness, in the hope of a recompense to come in the other world. Further, if one or other of them have bondmen and bondwomen or children, through love towards them they persuade them to become Christians, and when they have done so, they call them brethren without distinction. 

They do not worship strange gods, and they go their way in all modesty and cheerfulness. Falsehood is not found among them; and they love one another, and from widows they do not turn away their esteem; and they deliver the orphan from him who treats him harshly. And he, who has, gives to him who has not, without boasting. And when they see a stranger, they take him in to their homes and rejoice over him as a very brother; for they do not call them brethren after the flesh, but brethren after the spirit and in God. 

And whenever one of their poor passes from the world, each one of them according to his ability gives heed to him and carefully sees to his burial. And if they hear that one of their number is imprisoned or afflicted on account of the name of their Messiah, all of them anxiously minister to his necessity, and if it is possible to redeem him they set him free. And if there is among them any that is poor and needy, and if they have no spare food, they fast two or three days in order to supply to the needy their lack of food. 

They observe the precepts of their Messiah with much care, living justly and soberly as the Lord their God commanded them. Every morning and every hour they give thanks and praise to God for His loving-kindnesses toward them; and for their food and their drink they offer thanksgiving to Him. 

And if any righteous man among them passes from the world, they rejoice and offer thanks to God; and they escort his body as if he were setting out from one place to another near. And when a child has been born to one of them, they give thanks to God; and if moreover it happen to die in childhood, they give thanks to God the more, as for one who has passed through the world without sins. And further if they see that any one of them dies in his ungodliness or in his sins, for him they grieve bitterly, and sorrow as for one who goes to meet his doom.

High ideals? Most certainly.

But ideals that are clearly taught in Holy Scripture as eminently do-able when the believer denies his baser passions and attitudes and instead yields his heart to the control of the Holy Spirit.

So, let’s make sure we’re aiming at those ideals. Yes, confessing to God and others when we sin and fail, but getting back in the Spirit and moving on.

“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16, NASB)

Saturday, June 10, 2017

A Weekend Roundup from the Culture Wars

* “A Quick And Easy Guide To The Planned Parenthood Videos” (Mollie Hemingway, The Federalist)

* “Ex-Communist Nations Confront European Union Diktat” (John Zimriak, The Stream)

* “The Ugly Racism of Karl Marx” (Walter E. Williams, Daily Signal)

* “Most Pro-Life Laws are Based on Sound Science” (Michael New, National Review)

* “What Happens When We Don’t Raise Kids to Become Adults” (Sen. Ben Sasse, Daily Signal)

* “Do Christian Kids Really Understand the Gospel?” (Sean McDowell, The Stream)

* “Bernie Sanders Shows How Religious Ignorance Breeds Progressive Intolerance” (David French, National Review)

* “A transgender military is a weaker, compromised military” (Peter Sprigg, The Hill)

* “Ted Cruz Lays Out 4 Priorities for a Blockbuster Year for Conservatives” (Christine Roe , Daily Signal)

Not Too Loud, Please (Or Too Emotional, or Manipulative, or Hip Either)

When the volume is turned up too loud, the message is in danger of being
misunderstood, ignored, even rejected. This is the case every bit as much as if the volume was turned down too low. In fact, the frustration created in the listener because of ineffective volume control can easily be linked to whatever he actually may pick up from the message. This is why you should avoid placing concertgoers right next to the speaker, or raising your voice in an argument with your spouse, or shouting out during your sermon in an attempt to convey importance or to spark emotional response. I fear that unnecessarily loud or flamboyant preachers betray their lack of confidence in the message itself; that is, they don’t really trust their argument, their preparation, their communicative skills, and worse yet, the moving of the Holy Spirit, to be sufficient to communicate.

But it’s not just volume that I warn against. I would suggest that the frequent overuse of histrionics, emotional manipulation, visual gimmicks, innumerable pop culture references, dependence on dramatic lighting, the ubiquitous tinkling of the piano and other things to to create a suitable ambience, reveals how far removed modern preachers are from carefully studying the Word of God, developing over time a sound and comprehensive theology, respecting the true needs of their congregations for solid teaching, and depending upon the power of the Holy Spirit to make the Bible truths come alive in each listener’s life.

Oh, for a radical reformation in our pulpits, one which would have preachers spend more time studying the Bible and preparing thoughtful, profound, and cogent expositions of the texts of Scripture, so that the star of the church service would once again be the Word of God for it alone holds the promise to transform lives…and culture.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Pro-life Voices from Church History

This morning I will be preaching in the morning services of Community Bible Church at 90th and Q with the text being an exciting and particularly illuminating passage of Holy Scripture, Luke 1: 26-45. There are several highlights of the passage we will look at including a heavenly announcement of world-shaking importance, a trio of excellent role models in faithful living for God, and one of the most dramatic proofs of all time of the sanctity of prenatal life, even its very earliest stages of development.

The latter point reminded me of this 10 and a 1/2 minute video we created several years ago that illustrates  how consistent and clear has been the Church’s teaching against abortion throughout her 2,000 year history. Indeed, though not having the remarkable knowledge we now have of embryology, including the highly complex and individually exclusive DNA data that each human possesses even at the single cell stage which is conception itself, the Church has taught the sacred right to protect the preborn persons from the poisons that were used to induce abortion.

How did they know? Well, beyond the common sense of knowing that the beginning is the beginning, they had the knowledge provided by biblical texts like the one I’ll be expositing this morning.

Anyhow, the video really is worth the 10 minutes. It is illuminating, challenging, and inspiring as it features comments on the requirements Christians have to respect and defend the lives of the yet born. And those comments come from such distinguished figures as Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Athenagoras, Hippolytus, Basil the Great, Ambrose of Milan, Jerome, John Chrysostom, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Karl Barth, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Helmut Thielicke, and Francis Schaeffer.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

What's In This Weekend's Treasure Chest? (Part 1)

* “Horrifying Video From Abortion Conference Shows Utter Disregard for Human Life” (Melanie Israel, Daily Signal)

* “Obama admin knew gang members were part of illegal immigrant surge: Whistleblower” (Stephen Dinan, Washington Times)

* “Abortion Pill Safe to Use at Home? Not So Fast, National Medical Consultant Says” (Liberty McArtor, The Stream)

* “Trump has done what Obama didn’t: Scare NATO into closer tracking of defense spending” (Franco Ordonez, McClatchy Bureau)

* “Shock: Abortion Clinic Did 55 Abortions With No Nurse, Improper Anesthesia” (Maria Gallagher, LifeNews.com)

* “Real Christian Persecution: Are We Near the Tipping Point?” (Tom Gilson, The Stream)

* “Debbie Wasserman Schultz Questions Criminal Probe of Her IT Staffer, Promising ‘Consequences’ for Capitol Police” (Luke Rosiak, Daily Signal)

“The True Purpose of the University” (Heather Mac Donald, City Journal)

A Few Letters

A couple of weeks ago, Claire and I were invited to a meeting of one of the small groups from our church because they wanted us to show them how to create a letter-writing party, one that would feature some of the letter targets we regularly emphasize in our quarterly Vital Signs Ministries letter-writing parties, but would also blend in some that were more particular to their church. Great.  We were delighted to do it.

Many of the letters and cards written that night were sent to politicians and business leaders with fervent appeals to defund Planned Parenthood while several others were sent that dealt with religious freedom and protection of conscience. Still others concerned the "bathroom wars," judicial appointments, cutting ties to terrorist supporting nations, and thank you notes to missionaries and other heroes of the Faith.

I print below just a few of the 45 letters that were written that night. In showing you how brief (but purposeful) they are, perhaps they will prompt you to consider trying a letter-writing party of your own. Claire and I would be honored to help.

Dear Mr. Simpson,

After reading that Hersheypark has not yet changed its disastrous bathroom policy (i.e. allowing men who merely “identify” as female to use the female facilities), I must write and tell you that I am among the many who have crossed off Hersheypark from our vacation considerations.

Please return to a measure of sanity and safety on this matter.

Dear Vice-President Pence,

Just a quick word of thanks for your excellent services in this critical office and in demonstrating such principle, courage, fairness, and a winsome witness to the Christian faith.  We are proud of you and we pledge our continued prayers for God’s protection, wisdom, and all other needed graces.

Wes & Laurie,

A quick word of thanks for your ongoing work for the Lord at the orphanage.  We are profoundly grateful too for the opportunity to pray for the Lord to bless your work and keep you in the palm of His Hand.

Dear Cal, (Cal Thomas)

We miss you on Fox News but it makes us appreciate all the more your excellent columns.  Thank you so much for staying the course for the Lord and His truth over these many years.  And may God continue to use your voice.

Dear Ken & Joni, (Tada)

A few of us from Community Bible Church in Omaha, Nebraska are writing letters tonight in our efforts to be salt and light for the Lord.  And along with letters to politicians and business leaders, we thought we’d write a few thank you notes to some of the heroes of the Faith who we are so grateful for.  And so we write to you two dear saints with deep gratitude, admiration, and promise to keep you both (and the ministry of Joni & Friends) in our frequent prayers.
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Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Best Of...For Your Weekend Reading

* “Trump’s Expansion of Mexico City Policy Is a Major Victory in Protecting Life” (Congressman Chris Smith, Daily Signal)

* “A Win for the Deep State” (Andrew Klavan, PJ Media)

* “Feminism Drives People to Deny Basic Facts” (Dennis Prager, Daily Signal)

“Social-Justice Math Class: ‘Math Has Been Used as a Dehumanizing Tool’” (Katharine Timpf, National Review)

* “8 Major Reasons I Oppose Planned Parenthood” (Denny Hartford, Vital Signs Blog)

* “Strategies for Dealing with the Persecution of Christians” (Rick Plasterer, Juicy Ecumenism)

* “‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Come True? Just not in the Way Feminists Think” (John Stonestreet & Roberto Rivera, Breakpoint)

* “Destroying Donald Trump is all that matters in the newsrooms of the mainstream media” (Wes Pruden, Washington Times)

* “How Barack Obama Conspired with an Enemy to Undermine U.S. Foreign Policy” (John Hinderaker, Power Line)

* “When doctors say No: A law professor defends physicians' right to conscientious objection” (Michael Quinlan, Mercator)

* “Why Russia Can’t Be America’s Ally: What Putin Doesn’t Want You to Know About Moscow’s Persecution of Christians and Covert Support for Radical Islamists” (George Barros, Providence)

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. They have also been caught in selling fetal body parts and other criminal activity.

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?

Saturday, May 13, 2017

A Top Ten for Your Weekend

Among the examples of quality, relevant journalism from the last few days are these 10 gems.

* “World Cyber War I?” (John Hinderaker, Power Line)

* “Hysteria, overblown hooey part of the fake news cycle” (Charles Hurt, Washington Times)

* “The Feminization of Everything Fails Our Boys” (David French, National Review)

* “Walls fall in on Obamacare” (Editors, Washington Examiner)

* “The Ugly Racism of Karl Marx” (Walter E. Williams, Daily Signal)

* “After 100 years, there is still life in the Communist nightmare” (Marion Smith, Mercator)

* “Christians are Leaving the Girl Scouts Over Its Connection to Planned Parenthood” (Micaiah Bilger, LifeNews.com)

* “Scouts on the Outs with LDS” (Family Researh Council’s Washington Update)

* “West ignores Indonesia's slide toward Islamic extremism” (Michael Cook, Mercator)

* “Trump Should Adopt an International Religious-Freedom Policy with Teeth” (Tina Ramirez, National Review)



Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Surrendering...Without Even a Fight

I quote from  a recent letter from a dear brother in Christ and active pro-life colleague, Dr. Greg Gardner in Birmingham, England.

...My wife is reading the excellent biography of Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas. I don’t know what Bonhoeffer would have made of all this accommodation to culture, biblical illiteracy and weak leadership. 

...There are several things you mention [in your letter] that resonate but none more so than your comments about the local church. To unfriendliness and a lack of engagement in the culture I would add a lack of intentional discipleship preparing young people for life. Yesterday I attended the annual conference of the Christian Medical Fellowship. There was a seminar given by two retirees from Glasgow on intelligent design which was very good. One of them showed a slide from the Discovery Institute that stated that in one recent survey only 1% of youth pastors ever addressed science-faith issues. Yet this is one area that youth struggle with and according to the book You Lost Me, bad teaching in this area makes a young person more likely to drop out of church in their 20’s. 

After the talk I went up to one of these guys and asked him if he had ever been invited to talk to the youth group in his local church on this subject (about which he is quite knowledgeable and a good teacher). 

He hadn’t.

Alas, the age of capitulation continues.

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Want To Check Out Our "When Swing Was King" Newsletters?

To better inform and encourage those of you who are interested in our “When
Swing Was King” ministry, we thought we would start posting on the Vital Signs Ministries website the pdf versions of the quarterly newsletters that we distribute to the residents of the 13 senior care facilities that we visit every month.

We have so far created 3 editions of these 4-page, large-print newsletters which feature big band trivia, a personal note from us, seasonal quotations and Scriptures, and more. So, for your review (and a bit of fun too), here they are.

The Spring newsletter.

The Christmas edition (2016).

The Autumn edition (2016).




Friday, May 05, 2017

An Enlightening Compilation for Your Weekend

* “Killing babies no different from abortion, experts say” (Stephen Adams, Telegraph)

* “Islamist Terror: ‘The Real Bomb Is in the Books’” (Raymond Ibrahim, FrontPage Magazine)

“Video Exposes Top Pro-Abortion Politicians Misleading People to Defend Planned Parenthood” (Brian Gottstein, LifeNews.com)

* “Why Conservatives Are Unhappy With the Final Spending Bill” (Rachel del Guidice, Daily Signal)

* “Trump’s Executive Order on Religious Liberty Is Worse Than Useless” (David French, National Review)

* “DOJ: One in Four Federal Inmates Is Foreign-Born: Justice Dept. says cost of incarcerating non-citizens in federal prisons exceeds $1.2 billion” (Brendan Kirby, Polizette)

“The war on freedom is rotting our intellectual life” (Denyse O'Leary, Mercator)

* “Pope Francis’s Communist Mentor” (George Neumayr, American Spectator)

* “What Caused Venezuela's Collapse Is No Mystery — Except To Economically Illiterate Journalists” (Editorial, Investor’s Business Daily)

* “Airbnb’s political correctness hits home” (Peter C. DeMarco, Mercator)

Video: Politicians Lying About Planned Parenthood To Keep Tax Money Flowing

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Culture War Updates

One of the services provided by Vital Signs Blog is to offer every few days a small collection of some of the excellent and relevant articles (mostly from the alternative media) dealing with issues of the culture war. Here's the latest of those collections.

* “Did O’Reilly Finally Go Too Far?” (Victor Davis Hanson, National Review)

* “How Political Correctness Holds African-Americans Back” (Walter E. Williams, Daily Signal)

* “Confirmed: John Brennan Colluded With Foreign Spies to Defeat Trump” (Geirge Neumayr, American Spectator)

* “Taxpayers Fund Lawyers To Defend Highly Paid Federal Managers Under Fire” (Luke Rosiak, Daily Caller)

* “Scott Walker Deals Another Blow to Big Labor in Wisconsin” (Ted Goodman, Daily Signal)

* “28 people shot in less than 18 hours in Chicago” (Elyssa Cherney, Chicago Tribune)

* “Former FEC Chairwoman Calls for ‘Regulations’ of Political Speech on the Internet” (Ian Miles Cheong, Heatstreet)

* “Earth Day Dopes” (John Stossel, Town Hall)

* “Off the Rails, Again and Again: How Washington ensures that rail travel in the Northeast Corridor remains a nightmare” (Steven Malanga, City Journal)

About This Lack of Gratitude Thing...

Returning home after walking my regular course one afternoon last fall, I came across an unusual scene.  In front of the Christian school that I pass by were two men I know who work there. One was kneeling beside the sewer opening at the curb while the other was actually lying on the pavement and trying to reach down inside.  A nicely-dressed woman was standing nearby.

I stopped to help and discovered they were trying to retrieve a schoolbook that had somehow fallen down into the sewer and which was lying, safe and dry for the moment, on a bit of concrete shelf.  Being dressed down in shorts and T-shirt and already dirty, I offered my help and got down beside my friend.  Though taller and having a longer reach, I couldn’t get to the book either even though I got down as far as I could into the sewer opening.  Even using a pole with a gripping device wouldn’t work.

Well, we worked at it quite awhile before my friend thought about possibly prying the manhole cover from its rust-encrusted position so that he could drop inside.  It wasn’t easy and the iron cover proved heavy and cumbersome – but it worked.  Once we had that done, it took just seconds for him to retrieve the book and but another minute to maneuver the manhole cover back into place.  Our efforts had produced a successful conclusion and, I don’t know about the others, I felt a wonderful sense of achievement.

But the most notable detail of this story was one that wasn’t wonderful at all for that was the inaction of the young girl whose book had been saved.  During the whole time of the adventure – 15 minutes since I had showed up and who knows how long before that  – she merely sat in a nearby car, messing with her phone.  It was the girl’s mother who had stood alongside watching our efforts in her daughter’s behalf. The mom was encouraging and very grateful.  But, even when the book was retrieved, the girl herself displayed no gratitude, not even interest. The mother was embarrassed when she finally had to direct her daughter to roll down the window to acknowledge the favor.  The girl let the car window come down, took the book from her mom’s hand, gave us a slight and quick smile and…zip…up went the window again and she returned her attention to her phone. The mom repeated her own thanks and assured us that her daughter was grateful too.  The evidence of that, however, could hardly been weaker.

I shook hands with the other guys and thanked them for their efforts in behalf of the student.  I thanked them too for letting me be a part of the project for, when all was said and done, it had been kinda’ fun. But, as I walked the rest of the way home, I thought about how sad an example this presented of modern youth, even in Christian circles.  Self-centered. Ungrateful.  A haughty indifference to elders – even when beholden to them.  Indifference to parental expectations or feelings. And being so tied to “social media” that true social responsibilities are ignored.
 
I wonder — will those of us who are older finally recognize the trouble our youth are in (and, through them, the whole culture) because of the counter-productive polices we’ve practiced in the schools, the church youth programs, parenting priorities, and the tragic extent that we have allowed kids to be engulfed in technology, fad and fashion, and Hollywood media? And, even if we recognize the situation, will we begin to take steps to rebuild among our youth respect, responsibility, a work ethic, humility, real life skills, rites of passage, and a personal devotion to both the precepts and the power of biblical Christianity?

Make no mistake, this is a critical matter, one that must be seriously and continually addressed. If not, the future of Christian culture (short of heaven) is bleak indeed.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Post-Easter Review

We have all been busy about other things these last several days (and rightly so) but now, at the beginning of a new week in the trenches of the culture war, I suggest several articles that are too good to slip by unnoticed.

* “The Israel-Palestinian Peace Process Has Been a Massive Charade” (Daniel Pipes, Mosaic)

* “Trump’s Syria airstrike was a huge loss for Putin” (Ralph Peters, New York Post)

* “Dynamic Christianity vs. the Benedict Option” (Rachel Lu, National Review)

* “Charges Against Pro-Life Investigative Journalist David Daleiden are Totally Bogus. Here’s Why” (Matt Heffron, LifeNews.com)

* “Why Hillary Clinton Deserves Planned Parenthood’s Award” (Alexandra DeSanctis, National Review)

* “President Donald Trump Signs Bill to Overturn Obama Rule Forcing States to Fund Planned Parenthood” (Steven Ertelt, LifeNews.com)

* “Congressman Says Corruption in Washington Is ‘Worse Than You Think’” (Rachel del Guidice, Daily Signal)

* “At Least 20% of SEIU’s Budget Went to Politics” (Bill McMorris, Washington Free Beacon)

* “Rod Dreher, Meet Leo Strauss and Friends” ( Mike Sabo, American Greatness)

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

All Aboard the Chattanooga Choo Choo...and More

Wow. We have quite a lineup for the April 2017 “When Swing Was King” and things got off to a fine start yesterday evening at House of Hope up on north 52nd Street. Only 12 more shows to go!

We are also pretty excited about discovering a Blue Tooth speaker setup that will be of terrific help to us in a couple of our venues.

Here is this month's excellent song list.

1) Glenn Miller Orchestra (Vocals by Tex Beneke, Paula Kelly, the Modernaires) -- “Chattanooga Choo Choo”

2) Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra (Vocals by Ray Ebery & Helen O'Connell) -- “Green Eyes”

3) Artie Shaw Orchestra -- “Begin the Beguine”

4) Benny Goodman Orchestra (Vocals by Martha Tilton) -- “The Lady’s In Love With You”

5)  Benny Moten & the Kansas City Orchestra -- “Moten Swing”

6) Tommy Dorsey Orchestra (Vocals by Frank Sinatra) -- “Fools Rush In”

7) Lawrence Welk Orchestra -- “Alley Cat”

8) The McGuire Sisters -- “Sincerely”

9) The Mills Brothers -- “Lazy River”

10)  Freddy Martin Orchestra -- “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes”

11) Vaughn Monroe Orchestra -- “There, I’ve Said It Again”

12) Sammy Kaye Orchestra -- “Daddy”

Monday, April 10, 2017

Hey Business Leaders! Stop Giving Money to the Giant Abortion Corporation, Planned Parenthood.

I occasionally post some of my letters in hopes that others will follow suit.  And that’s because the evidence remains strong that individual letters make a difference – to politicians, preachers, and business leaders.  In this particular case, I utilized the information at 2nd Vote to send letters and emails to dozens of big companies who give money to Planned Parenthood. (As if the millions PP makes from destroying preborn kids and the millions more they get from government agencies aren’t enough.)

I encourage you to check out 2nd Vote also…and write a few notes of your own. You’ll be interested, I bet, in the companies they list who worked against the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.

Together, we can create a much greater impact in promoting a culture of life, justice, and decency.

Dear PepsiCo officers,

I recently became aware that your otherwise reputable company is continuing to give money to a most irreputable business; namely, the abortion conglomerate that is Planned Parenthood.  This, of course, is the same Planned Parenthood that continues to lie about providing mammograms and other health care, that works incessantly against traditional sexual morality and parental authority, that has been engaged in the grisly and illegal selling of fetal body parts, that champions the most graphic and profane sex ed materials, and that destroys in their mother’s wombs hundreds of thousands of preborn boys and girls through the barbaric means of curettes and suction machines. 

Please stop debasing your company (and our culture) by giving money to Planned Parenthood.  Until you do, I must forego doing business with your company and I will inform family, friends, fellow church members, blog readers, and others of your grossly unwarranted support of Planned Parenthood.

Denny Hartford
Director, Vital Signs Ministries
Omaha, Nebraska

And 2nd Vote also gives you some of the companies that stay out of leftist causes. So, I wrote letters to many of them as well. Here’s a sample:

Dear Wendy’s,

I understand that your company has resisted pressures to give money to organizations and businesses that engage in leftist political agitation, the promotion of indecency, or in other anti-life and anti-family causes.  Please know that this is a breath of fresh air for most American consumers and is, therefore, a very good business tactic.  Indeed, it has not only persuaded me to frequent your company more than I have, but I will also be recommending your company to my family and friends. 

Thank you.

Denny Hartford
Director, Vital Signs Ministries
Omaha, Nebraska

Saturday, April 08, 2017

Weekend Review

There's a number of topics today, some covered by different, even disagreeing,
perspectives. But they're all valuable articles that will prompt clearer thinking, more effective conversation, and more specific prayers.

* “Syria: After the Airstrikes” (Editors, National Review)

* “The Message in the Missiles” (Scott Johnson, Power Line)

* “No to Bombing Syria” (Daniel Pipes, National Review)

* “Why Susan Rice’s Role In The Obama Spying Story Is A Big Deal” (Mollie Hemingway, The Federalist)

* “Why the media want to bury the Susan Rice ‘unmasking’ news” (Editors, New York Post)

* “BOMBSHELL: The Obama Spying Scandal Started Long Before Trump” (Bre Payton, The Federalist)

* “GOP Calls on Trump to Honor Promise to Defend Religious Liberty” (Todd Starnes, The Stream)

* “Mob Rule on Campus” (Harry Stein, City Journal)

* “The President Is This Presidency’s Worst Enemy” (Jonah Goldberg, National Review)

* “Flawed Climate Models” (David R. Henderson & Charles L. Hooper, Hoover Institution)

* “Hillary Clinton's book plan proves she still doesn't get it” (Emily Jashinsky, Washington Examiner)

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Monday, April 03, 2017

Who's for Peace in the World? Not Planned Parenthood!

The car pulled into the Planned Parenthood parking lot this morning with a bumper sticker lauding “Nebraskans for Peace.” I spoke to the PP employee when she got out of her car: “Surely you’re aware of the startling hypocrisy of a Planned Parenthood worker trying to promote a message of peace. After all, you guys make war daily on the most innocent and helpless of all human beings…and you utilize the most cruel and painful methods to do so. Mother Teresa once said that the greatest killer of peace in the whole world was abortion. She couldn’t have been more accurate. And you know in your heart that's true. So, how about it? You have the opportunity to do more than merely pose as a peacemaker; you can actually do something about it. Quit this barbaric job and start working to protect preborn boys and girls from slaughter. You really want peace in the world? Then let’s start with protecting the sacred peace of a mother’s womb.”