Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Forget the MSM. What's Really Happening?

Okay, okay. Are you freaking out over of the onerous, odorous, over-the-top shenanigans being pulled by the Left? I understand, Binky.

But here's the road to sanity. Stay calm. Read the right stuff...like the superb articles in this list. And then take the prayerful, principled actions that, as the Bible puts it, shine your light into the darkness.

* “How to Renew Our Witness and Make Christianity Counter-Cultural Again: Part 1” (Tom Gilson, The Stream)

* “How to Renew Our Witness and Make Christianity Counter-Cultural Again: Part 2” (Tom Gilson, The Stream)

* “Blood is on Hamas’ hands, not Trump’s” (Michael Goodwin, NY Post)

* “‘Remember this Moment’” (Editorial of The New York Sun)

* “The Strzok-Page Texts and the Origins of the Trump-Russia Investigation” (Andrew C. McCarthy, National Review)

* “The Obama Legacy Deserves To Be Destroyed” ( David Harsanyi, Federalist)

* “‘Diversifying’ the University of Texas” (Mark Pulliam, Misrule of Law)

* “The Party of Some Women” (Adriana Cohen, RCP)

* “5 Reasons The Southern Poverty Law Center Is A Hate-Mongering Scam” (Joy Pullmann, Federalist)

May’s Marvelous Music

Want to bring a lift to your spirit, a bounce to your step, and a sweet blessing to others? Great! You certainly can do so by joining us and our guests (the residents of area senior care facilities) at any one of our May presentations of “When Swing Was King.”

Once there you will enjoy the warm hospitality of staff and residents, about 250 stirring photos from the years of the big band era, and these delightful songs performed by the original artists:

1) Glenn Miller Orchestra, “Little Brown Jug” (1939)
2) Chick Webb Orchestra, “Stompin’ at the Savoy” (1934)
3) Eddy Howard, “To Each His Own” (1946)
4) Tommy & Jimmy Dorsey Orchestras, “42nd Street” (1947)
5) Benny Goodman Orchestra (vocals by Helen Ward), “Goody, Goody” (1936)
6) Count Basie Orchestra (vocals by Jimmie Rushing), “Pennies from Heaven” (1937)
7) Andy Williams, “Autumn Leaves” (1959)
8) Les Brown Orchestra, “Younger Than Springtime” (1958)
9) Artie Shaw Orchestra (vocals by Helen Forrest), “Day In, Day Out” (1939)
10) Freddy Martin Orchestra, “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes”
11) Harry James Orchestra (vocals by Frank Sinatra) “All or Nothing At All” (recorded 1939, released 1944)
12) Pied Pipers (with Paul Weston Orchestra), “Mairzy Doats” (1943)

Monday, May 14, 2018

For a Change, Let the Political Leaders Hear from You!

Among my notes from last week's letter-writing party are the ones I print below.

Why don't you think about sending along a couple yourself? No; check that. Don't think about it. Just do it! Use these as samples to help out and also the targets You'll find in the previous Vital Signs Blog post.

Dear President Trump,

What a wonderful, engaging, and principled 16 months you have given us in your presidency. And what surprising victories you’ve secured despite the over-the-top negativity of the old guard media and the unconscionable obstruction of the Democrat Party! Thank you and way to go. Please stay the course – the nation and the world need courageous and wise leadership.

Oh, wait a sec! There is one very serious worry I have. Will you please drop the idea of renominating Chai Feldblum to the EEOC? Regarding issues of justice and religious freedom, she’s downright awful.

Dear Senator Sasse,

Thanks so much for your principled service in behalf of Nebraska, the nation, and the cause of freedom.

Three things that are central to my concerns this spring: 1) Defunding Planned Parenthood – completely and ASAP. 2) Passing the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act. And 3) Securing stronger pressure on nations who persecute Christians and others of conscience — including such “allies” as Saudi Arabia.

Please stay the course on these critical issues.

Governor Ricketts,

What an impressive achievement it was to finally stop Nebraska’s HHS money from going to Planned Parenthood, America’s largest abortion business.  Yes, I know there will be legal challenges but what a profound movement is underway as pro-life champions across the nation are expressing common-sense into law. It is refreshing to see, truth, mercy, and justice being raised in the public square.

Thank you!

Dear Senator Fischer,

Here are three items that are of great concern to us this spring.

1) The aching need to get the government out of the abortion business by defunding Planned Parenthood of the millions of dollars it receives from taxpayers. Money given to local health centers that have no connection with the killing of preborn children – that’s the way to go.

2) Isn’t it way past time to put Senate Resolution 355 into effect and thus stop the Democrat’s irresponsible (and, indeed, unjust) obstruction to President Trump’s judicial nominations? Of course it is. Please co-sponsor and work aggressively for this move.

And 3) Enough of the compromising, weak-willed leaders of the U.S. Senate.  We need principled, courageous champions in the leadership who, like the President, do not “easily suffer” being pushed around.

Thanks for your work for Nebraska and the nation.

Dear State Senator Watermeier,

It was a profound honor to her you at the Day of Prayer activities down in Lincoln last week and to learn more about the remarkable impact you have had in your brief time in the Unicameral.  Thank you so much!  We were particularly impressed with your good work on the HHS funds being cut from Planned Parenthood, the long battle you waged to win the Choose Life plate (It’s on one of our vehicles already), and the launching of the Nebraska Prayer Caucus.  Way to go!

You remain in our prayers.

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Denny & Claire’s Suggestions for Tonight’s Letter-Writing Party

Well, actually, it was last night's letter-writing party. Only 8 of us were present
but we still turned out 50 cards and letters in 90 minutes. Good job, guys!

(And we de don't count the additional 1/2 hour of conversation, coffee, and chocolate chip cookies!)

We present this "action target" list (and, as the next few days go by, a few samples of our work) in hopes that you might consider sending a few notes of your own. For, believe me, we have seen throughout the years that personal letters do make quite a difference.

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1) Thank you notes to Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds for signing a law that will (if allowed by leftist judges) ban most abortions; that is, if a fetal heartbeat is detected.

2) Thank you notes to First Lady Melania Trump for her new initiative “Be Best,” a White House-based effort she will lead to raise awareness of critical issues children now face in America, especially their well-being, social media use, and opioid abuse.

3) Thank you notes to Nebraska Family Alliance: Karen Bowling, Executive Director; Nate Grasz, Policy Director; Hallie Hamilton, Communication Director; Rachel Menter, Administrative Assistant; and Dawn Witt, Bookkeeper.

This year, four NFA-supported bills became law, but those weren’t our only victories. Every NFA-opposed bill was defeated this year!

4) The Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act is likely the only religious freedom bill that the Congress will consider all year. And it’s an important one that seeks to protect faith-based adoption agencies from adverse action by the government.

5) Omaha Congressman Don Bacon was recently criticized by former Democrat Congressman Brad Ashford for Bacon’s earning a 100% rating from the Family Research Council. Imagine that — a noble charitable organization that works for the sanctity of human life, religious freedom in the U.S. and abroad, the protection of Constitutional liberties, the promotion of biblical teachings on marriage and the family, and so on is deemed by Mr. Ashford as a bad thing! What does that tell you about his values?

6) Thank yous to President Trump for his efforts to drain the swamp, to place conservative jurists in America’s courts, and to promote religious liberty and the sanctity of life.

However, letters should also be sent to the President asking him to withdraw the ultra-liberal (and Obama appointee) Chai Feldblum for the Commissioner post of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Ms. Feldblum is on record as believing that religious liberty must give way to postmodern ideas of sexuality. For instance, she has written, “I’m having a hard time coming up with any case in which religious liberty should win...Sexual liberty should win in most cases. There can be a conflict between religious liberty and sexual liberty, but in almost all cases the sexual liberty should win because that's the only way that the dignity of gay people can be affirmed in any realistic manner.”

Ms. Feldblum's advocacy has already resulted in numerous outrageous actions taken by the U.S. government. Executive Branch. The President must be reminded that he campaigned on promises of religious liberty and actually has issued an Executive Order to that end, part of which reads, “Faith is deeply embedded into the history of our country, the spirit of our founding and the soul of our nation…[This administration] will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied, or silenced anymore.” Yet the re-nomination of Ms. Chai Feldblum would profoundly undermine that promise. Mr. President, don’t do it.

7) Political leaders of every stripe need to act in opposing Planned Parenthood. Most expressly, they should be working to defund the nation’s leading abortion business and transferring those tax monies to local health centers that deal in genuine health and well-being and have nothing to do with destroying preborn boys and girls.

8) Thank you to Sarah Huckabee Sanders (White House Press Secretary) and Kellyanne Conway (Counselor to the President) for serving our country in jobs that require great personal sacrifice, courage, a forgiving spirit, and vision. (You might also say thanks to Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson, and others.

9) Speaker Paul Ryan has announced he will not seek reelection this November. Therefore, U.S. Senators need to support for a new leader someone who will truly fight for conservative values. Enough of the soft headed and compromising members of the GOP establishment like current frontrunners Kevin McCarthy, Majority Leader (R-CA) or Steve Scalise, Majority Whip (R-LA). Let’s get someone instead who is a visionary, a principled leader, and a genuine champion…someone like Jim Jordan (R-OH), a constitutionalist, a man of integrity, and a founder of the House Freedom Caucus, the band of members of Congress dedicated to fighting for liberty.

“If Jordan or someone like him runs, he could also nationalize the race for Speaker. This would encourage voter turnout in the 2018 mid-term elections to elect more conservatives to Congress. Jordan could also lead the conservative argument for Congress to preserve and protect the Republic by launching a ‘Contract to Save America’ campaign. Congress needs to bind themselves to the will of the people for the good of the Republic.

10) Senators should end the Democratic obstruction of judicial nominations…now. “Democrats have been using an existing Senate rule requiring 30 hours of Senate floor debate on most of President Trump's nominees. At the current rate of the Democratic obstruction, confirming the president's nominees will take about 9 years!

Senators should be signing on as co-sponsors and promising to work hard to secure Senate Resolution 355 in order to put an end to the Democratic obstruction.

11) Thank yous to Governor Pete Ricketts, Lt. Gov. Mike Foley, State Senator Dan Watermeier, and others for their recent pro-life efforts here in Nebraska.

12) Letters should be frequently written to diplomats representing countries who are persecuting Christians, asking the leaders of those countries to stop their unjust persecution of believers through property confiscation and other financial pressure, imprisonment, torture, and execution.  Here’s a sample note: “I write today with a simple but urgent request, one that is prompted not only by my studied convictions that Christianity is true and a great blessing to all cultures, but also by those common human ideals which should direct the laws of all nations towards justice, mercy, and wisdom.  My request is that you please stop persecution (of any sort) against Christians and other peaceful men and women of conscience.”

What a Roundup!

Here's some of the most important news and commentary from recent days. And they just happen to be some of the best written too.

* “Yes, Community Health Centers Are a Better Alternative for Women than Planned Parenthood” (Chuck Donovan, National Review)

* “The ‘Qipao’ kerfuffle: Cultural appreciation is not cultural appropriation” (Jean Seah, Mercator)

* “Amazon a Prime Suspect in Charity War” (Family Research Council)

* “Was Social Media A Mistake? Here’s An Experiment To Find Out” (Robert Tracinski, The Federalist)

* “Marie Stopes: From ‘Married Love’ to unmarried sex” (Carolyn Moynihan, Mercator)

* “Obamacare Is Still with Us, and Getting Worse” (Michael Tanner, National Review)

* “Bill Nye, the Abortion Guy, Headlines Planned Parenthood Lunch, Talks Population Control” (Lauretta Brown, Town Hall)

* “An Omnibus Climate & Energy Roundup” (Stephen Hayward, Power Line)

* “Red-Carpet Catholicism Is a Loss for the Church” (Kyle Smith, National Review)

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Your Sins, Your Enemies, and Your Fears Will Be "Cleared Away"

“Shout for joy, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! The Lord has taken away his judgments against you. He has cleared away your enemies. The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; you will fear disaster no more.” (Zephaniah 3: 14,15) 

Now, there’s a passage to lift your spirits! For remember, all who have trusted in Jesus Christ’s sacrifice to pay the penalty of their sins, whether they be Jew or Gentile, are “grafted in” to the covenant God has made with the spiritual Israel (Romans 11, et al). And that means that these exquisite, exciting promises are yours!

And here are a few more points to ponder:

1) The judgments of a holy God against your sins are “taken away” -- completely and forever -- because Jesus, the King of Israel has paid for them with His death on Calvary’s cross. John the Baptist rejoiced in this glorious truth when he saw Jesus coming to him at the Jordan River: “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” What an exhilarating miracle -- our sins and guilt and lack of righteousness are taken away where they will condemn and shame us no more. No wonder the prophet Zephaniah calls for the people of God to shout for joy. 

2) The above promise has a twofold fulfillment. One is for now. One is for the future. One points to what theologians call the “positional truth” of our salvation. If you have received Christ as Savior (that is, trusted in His sacrifice to atone for your guilt before God), then you are saved, born-again, forgiven forever, adopted into God’s family, grafted into the covenant, etc. It is a done deal. From God’s perspective, the believer is, at the very moment of faith, cleansed from sin, redeemed, and sealed with his Spirit. Furthermore, the Bible teaches that with your complete trust in Christ, God actually imparts His righteousness into you. Wow.

But, you say, you still struggle with sin. That’s correct. Having your sins forgiven doesn’t mean that you will be free from sin in this life. But when this part of the adventure is over, you will be. And there is the double fulfillment -- the penalty of your sins are taken away right now but, in the day when you are ushered into the presence of God, the very presence of sin will be taken away…and forever. 

3) A double fulfillment is also in play with the promise of God “clearing away” our enemies. Our enemies, of course, are all too obvious: our carnal nature, the devil, the rebellious world around us. And those enemies have, in our past, enslaved us. But, in Christ, we have been made new and the shackles of our old slavery have been broken. We can now, by the power of the Holy Spirit (which was given us at the moment of our salvation), walk in newness of life and victory. We are free. In this important sense, the Lord has already “cleared away” our enemies. Even the macabre and frightful enemy of death has lost its sting for we are guaranteed the same resurrection which Jesus experienced.

But again, through unbelief, rebellion, cowardice, selfishness, and other sins, we surrender over and over to our old enemies. Our aching need is to live free, to live for the Lord, to live like the people He has created us to be. And, one great day, we will do so without any stumbling or backsliding. Ah, yes…this is why we can “rejoice and exult with all our heart” as Zephaniah bids us. For in that glorious day of Christ’s triumph, all of our enemies will be “cleared away” completely and forever! 

4) Fears of disaster regularly assail us in this life and drain us of confidence and joy. They deter us from lives of selflessness and mercy. We fear failure, sickness, loneliness, shame, disability, disappointment, the seeming victory of evildoers, and so much more. Yet here too we rejoice in the twofold nature of God’s promise. On the one hand, we look forward with great hope and happiness to that glorious day when all disasters are defeated, when all fears are swallowed up in our eternal bliss. O rejoice indeed!

And because of that splendid future, we can so much more confidently deal with the disasters of this life. This is not all there is. We have a future. We have an inheritance that is glorious and liberating and beautiful. And it is forever. And why can this be? Zephaniah tells us, it is because “the King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst.” Yes, the Lord is with us at this very moment as our Savior, Advocate, and Helper, But the day will soon be here when we will join our Sovereign Conqueror and Almighty Lord in the New Jerusalem with all sin, all enemies, all fears defeated and destroyed forevermore. 

“Shout for joy, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! The Lord has taken away his judgments against you. He has cleared away your enemies. The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; you will fear disaster no more.” (Zephaniah 3: 14,15)

Monday, April 16, 2018

“Five Annihilating Words: One Night He Heard Screams”

“The daughter of a former German diplomat in Moscow was trying to explain to me why her father, who, as an enlightened modern man, had been extremely pro-Communist, had since become an implacable anti-Communist. It was hard for her because, as an enlightened modern girl, she shared the Communist vision without being a Communist. But she loved her father and the irrationality of his defection embarrassed her. ‘He was immensely pro-Soviet,’ she said, ‘and then -- you’ll laugh at me, but you must not laugh at my father -- and then one night in Moscow, he heard screams. That’s all. Simply one night he heard screams.’

A child of Reason and the 20th Century, she knew that there is a logic of the mind. She did not know that the soul has a logic that may be more compelling than the mind’s. She did not know at all that she had swept away the logic of the mind, the logic of history, the logic of politics, the myth of the 20th Century, with five annihilating words: one night he heard screams.

What Communist has not heard those screams? They come from husbands torn forever from their wives in midnight arrests. They come, muffled, from the execution cellars of the secret police, from the torture chambers of the Lubianka, from all the citadels of terror now stretching from Berlin to Canton. They come from those freight cars loaded with men, women and children, the enemies of the Communist State, locked in, packed in, left on remote sidings to freeze to death at night in the Russian winter. They come from minds driven mad by the horrors of mass starvation ordered and enforced as a policy for the Communist State. They come from the starved skeletons, worked to death, flogged to death (as an example to others) in the freezing filth of sub-arctic labor camps. They come from children whose parents are suddenly, inexplicably, taken away from them – parents they will never see again.

What Communist has not heard those screams?”

(Whittaker Chambers, Witness, pages 13, 14)

Saturday, April 14, 2018

The Profound Present of a Compliment

“A sincere compliment, as the poet Phyllis McGinley suggests, is a gift we give to others. It is an important way to encourage, to express kindness and goodwill, to be a winsome witness of Christ as we gratefully delight in the virtues, skills, and demeanor of those whose lives touch ours. Indeed, giving the gift of compliments is very much a part of our Christian discipleship. Think of Jesus’ compliments to Nathaniel, to Mary Magdalen, to the widow who gave her mite, to the Roman centurion, to the Syrophonecian woman, to Mary of Bethany, to the churches in Revelation…and to all the saints who pass into His presence who will hear, ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant.’”

I write about the powerful present that is a compliment in this month’s Vital Signs Ministries letter. Check it out right here.