Thursday, May 26, 2022

An Open Letter to Just One of the Companies that Support Planned Parenthood

Dear PepsiCo officers,

I see that that your otherwise reputable company is continuing to give money to a most disreputable 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 when they do not provide such 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 presents the most graphic and profane "sex ed" materials even to school kids, and that destroys in their mother’s wombs hundreds of thousands of preborn boys and girls through the barbaric means of curettes, suction machines, and poisonous chemicals. 

Please stop debasing your company (and our culture) by giving money to this mega-abortion corporation.  Until you do, I will continue to forego purchasing your products and doing business with restaurants which contract with PepsiCo. And I will continue to pass the word to family, friends, fellow church members, blog readers, and others of your grossly unwarranted support of Planned Parenthood.

Monday, May 23, 2022

What On Earth?

Has the planet's axis slipped? Have the aliens landed? Is the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics suddenly picking up speed?

Or is it just the Biden administration and it's fellow travelers wreaking yet more havoc on the nation's economy, law, and morality? Check out these stories from the alternative media to see.

* "Dem witness tells House committee men can get pregnant, have abortions" (Jessica Chasmar, Fox News)

* "National School Boards Association letter drafts called for National Guard and military to be deployed [against parents!]" (Hannah Grossman, Fox News)

* "Is Biden's 'success' our mess?" (Victor Davis Hanson, Jewish World Review)

* "Wisconsin middle schoolers accused of sexual harassment for using wrong gender pronouns" (Michael Lee, Fox News)

* "Black conservative trainee vicar ‘blocked’ from joining Church of England over ‘anti-woke views’" (That's the headline from the Telegraph but its story is behind a pay wall so you can get the essentials plus an enlightening clip right here.)

* "Democrats’ Census Shenanigans May Have Cost Texas and Florida House Seats, Unfairly Gave Blue States More Seats" (Kyle Becker, Trending Politics)


Tuesday, May 17, 2022

A Few Open Letters

Dear Governor Ricketts,

We have been blessed to have benefitted from your bold, principled, and wise leadership these last several years.  You will be greatly missed as our governor, but we know your public service is far from over.

I’m writing tonight, however, at the Vital Signs Ministries’ letter-writing party to especially thank you for your pledge to recall the Unicameral if the Supreme Court should reverse Roe v Wade in order to vote again on LB933.

Thank you for this…and for everything else.

Dear Pfizer,

We were not completely surprised to learn about the terrible dangers of your Covid drugs or about the lack of honesty and transparency with which you conducted those oh-so-lucrative deals.

Why?

Because we have long been aware of your wanton disrespect for human life. After all, you have shamefully supported the lethal violence perpetrated daily by the mega-abortion corporation that is Planned Parenthood.

And as long as you continue this ruthless policy, we will urge friends to forgo any dealing with your company.

(Note -- I wrote a similar letter to Johnson and Johnson.)

Dear Chief Justice Roberts,

A quick but impassioned request for you to do the right thing for the Constitution and the rule of law, the right thing for preborn kids, and the right thing in the sight of God; namely, voting with the strict Constitutionalists of the Court to reverse the awful Roe v. Wade decision.

Thank you.

Project Veritas,

Just a quick word of thanks for the immensely valuable service you have provided for the right to life cause, religious freedom, journalistic ethics, and political honesty and transparency.

You guys are true treasures and you’re all in our frequent prayers.

Dear Justice Thomas,

We’re sending along a word of deep thanks for your noble, courageous, and wise leadership for the Court…and for America.  We so appreciate your devotion to the rule of law, to the ideals of Western Civilization, and especially your defense of the sanctity of human life.

You are in our frequent…and increasingly fervent prayers.

Blessings,

Dear President Biden,

What a striking contradiction your current policies are to the Democrat policies of the past. I mean, think back to FDR, Harry Truman, JFK, RFK, Scoop Jackson, Tip O'Neill, and so many others. As a matter of alarming fact, Mr. President, your current policies on energy, the Middle East, immigration, lawlessness, and especially the sanctity of life are a contradiction to the policies you yourself once espoused!

C’mon, man; do the right thing! Stop playing patsy to your loony left "handlers" and become a President that God can richly bless.

Thursday, May 05, 2022

What Else is Happening? (Part 2)

* "Team Biden finally admits there’s a war on cops -- which it’s inflaming." (Heather MacDonald, New York Post)

* "Why America Only Pretends to Compete With China" (Jeremy Stern, Tablet)

* "The Washington Post’s Repulsive Defense Of Twitter Execs Makes Even Elon Musk Look Good" (Mark Hemingway, Federalist)

* "'They are all our children': Biden sparks fury from parents by telling teachers that kids are 'yours when they're in the classroom' as he takes aim at Republican efforts to stop sexually explicit lessons and books." (Natasha Anderson & Nikki Schwab, Daily Mail)

* "How America became La La Land" (Victor Davis Hanson, Jewish World Review)

* "Big Tech censored Biden criticism more than 600 times over 2 years. (Some were targeted merely for quoting the president in his own words.)" (Bradford Betz, Fox News)

What Else is Happening?

Here are a few insightful articles on the illegal leak of the Samuel Alito draft -- that provide far truer, more helpful perspectives than those being screeched out by the establishment media -- plus a few other happenings in the culture wars.

* "The consummate statecraft of Justice Alito's leaked abortion opinion." (Hadley Arkes, American Mind)

* "Franklin Graham on Abortion Reversal: 'If True … an Answer to Many Years of Prayers'" (Joel B. Pollak, Breitbart)

* "Before Finally Overturning Roe, Supreme Court Must Block Yet Another Insurrection Attempt" (Mollie Hemingway, Federalist)

* "D.C. elementary school gave 4-year-olds 'anti-racism' 'fistbook' asking them to identify racist family members" (Jessica Chasmar, Fox News)

* "The New Disinformationists" (Victor Davis Hanson, American Greatness)

* "Why Does the Left Have Such a Difficult Time With the Concept of 'Free Speech'?" (Rick Moran, PJ Media)

* "5 Ways Democrat Policies Work To Destroy Children’s Lives" (J.B. Shurk, Federalist)

Are You Envying Sinners? Well, Stop It.

“Do not let your heart envy sinners, but live in the fear of the Lord always. Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.” (Proverbs 23:17 & 18, NASB)

The teacher of Proverbs has an important exhortation here, one that acknowledges the strong allure of sin, yet which also urges the man of God to deny that temptation by turning instead to a healthy, joyful, and forward-looking trust in God. This is an ever-timely warning, one that can provide great help to us in our ongoing battles with sin’s deceptive enticements.

Let’s break down a few elements of this exhortation.

1) Sin begins in the heart -- our inner attitudes and affections.  The overt acts of sin have their start inside us. (Remember 1 John 1:13-16 and Matthew 5.) Walking in holiness is much more than avoiding the deeds of robbery, adultery, cursing, murder, or exploitation. It is not enough to avoid “acting out” sin. The battleground is, in point of fact, our minds.  It is there that that we are either victorious or defeated, pure or corrupt, pleasing to God or disappointing to Him. Thus, the initial warning of Proverbs 23:17: “do not let your heart envy sinners.”  The basic danger we face is not murdering someone, it’s hating them. It is not hooking up with someone who is not your spouse, but mentally lusting for them. It is not breaking into your neighbor’s home to steal, but being unsatisfied and ungrateful with your own income and possessions. Again, sin begins in the heart and so that is where the Lord commands us to be on our closest guard against it.

2) Do we really envy sinners?  We don’t usually think of our struggles with evil in this way.  We are more likely to think of temptation as being an idea or some kind of evil force…perhaps some line of attack from the devil himself.  But this proverb is just one of the many Scriptures that show us temptation can arise from our attitudes towards other people – even unbelievers.  Their beauty and youth.  Their health and mobility.  Their affluence, eloquence, social standing, relationships, freedom, success.  When we allow our eyes to stray from the Lord, from His Word, from the many and lovely gifts He has given us, and from our heavenly future (more on that momentarily), and start comparing our lot with others, we’re in spiritual trouble. We are likely to end up dissatisfied (at times even despairing). We complain and blame God for whatever we feel lacking. We give way to envy.  But God wants to kindly teach us that there is absolutely no future in this.  No happiness.  No spiritual growth. No heavenly reward. So, let’s listen carefully to His wisdom and choose a different course.

3) “Live in the fear of the Lord always.” Yes, there is another option.  Instead of letting our hearts be filled with dissatisfaction, ingratitude, and envy towards sinners, our hearts can be filled with the Holy Spirit as we live in the fear of God. Now, you’ve often heard that when the Bible speaks of fearing God, it actually means a solemn reverence for Him. And that’s true. But it’s not the whole truth. A comprehensive study of the Bible’s teaching on this matter reveals that while “the fear of the Lord” certainly includes that sense of solemn reverence towards God, it also involves ongoing trust, gratitude, love, awe, obedience, encouragement, comfort and…yes, an honest fear of the repercussions of sin in our lives.  Make no mistake, God is a jealous God Who disciplines His own.  So be sure to behave yourselves as heavenly children. Honor God with a life of faithful obedience to His Word. As you do so, the temptation to envy sinners will lose its appeal. So, delight yourself in the Lord.  Find in Him your joy, your satisfaction, your purpose, and your strength. And, in God’s divine irony, once your focus is on Him, you can properly see others – not as people to envy, but as people to serve, pray for, and be an example to.

4) Consider the future. There is, in 23:18, a marvelous postscript to the previous proverb.  God reminds us that there is another huge consideration in this matter; namely, the eternal consequences of our present battles with temptation and sin.  Those sinners we are sometimes prone to envy?  Their end is judgment and an eternal separation from God and all His delights.  But, in astonishing contrast, the people of God have a sure hope -- a word also translated “expectation” And that sure hope, that guaranteed expectation of believers is a full redemption of mind, body, relationships, and even the physical world in which they will live forever with Christ  And that hope will not be cut off. But the wicked?  That’s a whole different story. He has no portion at all in this.  He is cast out defeated, wanting, and alone…eternally. So why envy sinners? There’s no logic or value in doing so.  Oh no, it is much better to keep the big picture in mind and live in the fear of God: honoring Him, loving Him, and glorifying Him as we joyfully anticipate the grand future before us.

“Do not let your heart envy sinners, but live in the fear of the Lord always. Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.”  (Proverbs 23:17 & 18, NASB)

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Just What Is "When Swing Was King?"

A missionary friend of mine (for this post, I’ll call him “Cyrus”) once asked me in a letter, “Would you tell me more about the ministry of When Swing Was King?  I have no idea what that is.  Does it have anything to do with dancing?  I was converted out of the dancing world, and would like to know what this is and how you use it for the Kingdom.  What do your presentations consist of?  Perhaps it is just the name that confuses me."

Here’s my reply:

Dear Cyrus,

Well, first of all, you intrigue me with the comment, “I was converted out of the dancing world.” That evokes quite a visual, my friend. ☺ However, that’s for another time. In the meantime, I’ll try and answer your questions. 

When Swing Was King is now our primary (and extremely popular) ministry to nursing home and assisted living residents. But let me first give you a little background. Throughout our 40 years of pro-life activism through Vital Signs Ministries, we have had various outreaches to seniors. For about 20 years, that meant monthly team visits to Mercy Care Center here in Omaha. We visited, played games, brought kittens and puppies for the residents to pet, brought kids to sing and dance, engaged in various kinds of crafts, dressed up in costumes, made treats to share, did sing-alongs – you name it. Furthermore, we encouraged an adopt-a-grandparent program to help individual families develop ongoing friendships with the residents. All of these were effective ways of entertaining and befriending and the staff of Mercy Care loved us because we were popular with the residents and because we were faithful. Indeed, ours was the only group to visit every month. As a result, the staff members didn’t interfere with such “spinoff” activities as singing gospel songs, engaging in religious-themed conversations, or praying with residents. 

But then Mercy Care Center closed, ostensibly due to an asbestos problem. So we took our activities to another nursing home. After a few years there, however, our ministry dwindled. First of all, the facility began putting some pretty serious restrictions on our activities and so the numbers of our visitation team sharply decreased. But also, Claire and I found we were spending a lot more hours in a more personal “mercy ministry;” namely, caring for my Mom. 

And then came When Swing Was King.

It still amazes us to remember that this outreach, new volumes of which are now being presented in several nursing homes and assisted living facilities every month, began in July 2010 as a one-time event. We were planning a party Mom and some of her friends at Life Care Center, the nursing home where she was living after her frontal lobe dementia required skilled nursing care. But out of that single party idea evolved an outreach with more profound impact than anything we could have dreamed.

But, before I speak about its impact, let me describe to you exactly what When Swing Was King became in those first few months after its debut. Each of the monthly programs has 4 key elements. 1) Every volume has 12 songs. These are the original songs played by the original artists from the stars of the big band era. Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Harry James, Tommy Dorsey, Chick Webb, Lawrence Welk, Count Basie, and Artie Shaw are regularly featured as are such popular singers as Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby, Helen Forrest, Vaughn Monroe, and the Mills Brothers. These songs (as well as show tunes and other chart-topping records) are those for which the seniors in our audiences feel great familiarity and affection. 

2) While those songs play, there are 240-265 photographs projected from a Power Point onto a big screen. They are photos that generally fit the era: fashions, couples in love, cars, kids, city and farm, military and the home front, popular ads, families, school days, household appliances – you get the idea. 3) A personal commentary that includes DJ-style introductions to the songs along with occasional tidbits about the times, the musicians and songs, and the pictures. That commentary not only provides context and added interest, it is often a source of humor and fun. And finally 4) Personal visits before and after the presentation itself. Thus are the ways When Swing Was King opens doors to sincere and ongoing friendships with residents (and staff) of the senior living facilities. 

Now let me be clear, Cyrus, When Swing Was King is primarily an entertainment program. Except for the Christmas show (which is distinctly, joyously Christian), the outreach is designed to overcome boredom and lethargy, lift the spirit from depression and self-pity, stimulate memory, and encourage social interaction. And, I’m pleased to say, that When Swing Was King has scored remarkably high in all those areas. Therefore, by giving the residents a multi-dimensional, well-crafted, and deeply appreciated entertainment program, we end up also creating a winsome witness for the Christian faith. And, as you might guess, that has led to many things: conversations about religious subjects, prayers, hospital visits, me being asked by staff to pray for residents in need, me being asked by family to conduct funerals for residents whose friendship we had formed through When Swing Was King, and more.

Indeed, Cyrus, When Swing Was King is beloved not only because seniors are hearing the music of their youth – although that’s no small thing in itself – but because it provides them with a lovely trip down memory lane through the photos, the commentary, and the conversations the show inspires. And did I mention that much of the trust and affection that When Swing Was King has won from residents and staff is because we present quality shows every month? And that each show is actually new and unique? And that each show is completely free?

As you might guess, the virus and the resultant lockdowns wreaked havoc on our When Swing Was King schedule. Before then we were doing shows at 12 facilities every month. And though we did none at all for nearly 18 months, we tried to keep relationships alive by providing a 9-page activity packet to each facility every week. And now, thank the Lord, we are climbing back into a more substantial schedule. Currently, we are back to 8 shows a month with our hopes and prayers lifted to do still more soon.

I guess that’s more than you need to know but I thought I’d give you a detailed view of When Swing Was King to best answer your question. But I have two more suggestions for you, Cyrus. One is come see a When Swing Was King show yourself sometime. I think you’d find it enlightening and heartwarming. And second, read a few of the testimonies below to see a little more about how others have responded. And thanks so much for your interest in this element of Vital Signs Ministries.

Denny

“From the first song you played till the last, my legs and feet wouldn’t keep still. And on some of those songs, other parts were moving that hadn’t moved in quite awhile! What great music and such memories!” (Resident)

When Swing Was King is a much enjoyed special event in our facility. Our residents look forward to this time of musical reminiscence…The quality of this presentation is awesome. I am so grateful to Denny and Claire for enhancing our activity calendar. I appreciate their kindness in sharing their time and talent.” (Activities director)

“That brought back so many memories, both sad and happy. I’m going to be thinking about this the whole afternoon. Thank you so much for coming. It was the best program we’ve ever had here.” (Resident)

“This reminded me so well of the good old days. Why, I hadn’t heard Vaughn Monroe or the Andrews Sisters for I can’t remember when. Thank you. This was really grand.” (Resident)

“Our residents love When Swing was King. They await the program all morning and enjoy reminiscing about it after it is through. It’s like a window to the past and can get all of them reminiscing about those times. The pictures and the music are wonderful! We look forward to When Swing was King every month! Thanks, Claire and Denny!” (Activities director)

“Where did you find all of those pictures? And the music! If I could have danced, I sure would have! This was delightful. Please come back again and again.” (Resident)