Monday, August 31, 2009

Today's Posts

Church Is No Picnic -- But Then, It Doesn't Hurt To Have One

Yesterday was a glorious day out at Chalco Hills Park where Faith Bible Church enjoyed its annual outdoor worship service and picnic. (This is in addition to our monthly get-together meals after church.) It was very cool for August but absolutely perfect for an event of this kind. We sang a few songs, prayed together and I preached a short sermon on Isaiah 9:1-7, accompanied with a testimony on what this passage taught me when I was away from friends and family (I was ministering in Poland) when the horrors of 9-11 shocked the world.

It was a very moving service.

And then came the lighter moments of the day: spirited conversations, a terrific pot-luck lunch, fishing, a football game, horseshoes...and more conversations. It was a lovely day.

Ours is a little church but nearly everyone came. And that meant driving from clear across town (and beyond) to make the scene, making our group of 60 pretty impressive.

We really love being involved with Faith Bible Church and we're looking forward to growing and serving together in the years to come. It's a church whose model we appreciate so much: a "tentmaker" pastor/teacher who helps other "tentmaker" leaders equip the body for the work of the ministry. This leaves funds free for ministry even as it hastens individual growth in Christ and produces practical, worshipful service to others.

Church isn't all picnics. But having them now and again is a very good thing.

Flapdoodle Follies in Bellevue

What an expensive, embarrassing farce.

After more than two weeks of the Bellevue Police Department and the prejudiced, compliant Omaha media making ballyhooed predictions about 500 angry, shouting, rock throwing pro-life demonstrators converging on Leroy Carhart's trashy abortion business...

After pro-abortion organizations from several states had used those same police and media projections to stir up feminists to show up for a boisterous and spiteful counter-protest...

After the Bellevue police blocked major streets, cordoned off huge areas with yellow police tape, and sent their officers clad in full riot gear...

They encountered exactly what pro-life leaders had tried to tell them all along; namely, nothing but ministry as usual. That means quiet, peaceful, praying Christians, a few of whom attempt to offer alternatives to abortion to the women and couples who are entering that ramshackle building.

True, because of Operation Rescue leader Troy Newman speaking to a small gathering the night before in a Catholic church, there were a few more pro-life advocates on hand than normal. But not quite 500. Try 40. And not provocative or mean or vengeful; the pro-lifers came in the same spirit they always do -- making all the riot gear, the blocked streets, and the wild predictions quite laughable.

Laughable until one remembers what goes on inside that decrepit structure -- precious, innocent children being mercilessly destroyed.

Claire and I were not present Saturday. For us too it's ministry as usual and we cover Mondays at the abortion mill. But we commend those who handled themselves so well there and whose intercession and effort resulted in at least one baby saved from the violence of abortion. Perhaps even more.

So despite the folly created by the local police and media...and despite the annoying presence of maybe 100 slogan-spouting abortion zealots who showed up to champion child-killing, the pro-life activists stayed a steady course, showing the same kindness and offering the same practical help as always. Good job.

Of Ted Kennedy's Offer to Help the Soviets Defeat Ronald Reagan

And you thought patriarch Joe Kennedy was the only traitor in the clan?

If you haven't read Paul Kengor's riveting book, The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism, you probably do not know of a document obtained from the KGB detailing Ted Kennedy's offer to help the Russians derail President Ronald Reagan's expectations of a second term...or, at the very least, to force Reagan to lay off his hardline negotiating positions on nuclear arms.

Oh yeah; the document exists and it's legit.

But you haven't heard about it because the MSM protects its own.

Here then is today's "must read" from Kengor's American Thinker article.

Harry Reid Took on the Wrong Newspaper

Folks outside of Nevada may not have heard of Sherman Frederick, the publisher of the Review-Journal, before this weekend -- but they've heard of him now. His editorial column from yesterday shows the feisty and principled independence we once expected from the press as he fights back against a scurrilous attack against the paper by Harry Reid. Here's an excerpt.

This newspaper traces its roots to before Las Vegas was Las Vegas.

We've seen cattle ranches give way to railroads. We chronicled the construction of Hoover Dam. We reported on the first day of legalized gambling. The first hospital. The first school. The first church. We survived the mob, Howard Hughes, the Great Depression, several recessions, two world wars, dozens of news competitors and any number of two-bit politicians who couldn't stand scrutiny, much less criticism.

We're still here doing what we do for the people of Las Vegas and Nevada. So, let me assure you, if we weathered all of that, we can damn sure outlast the bully threats of Sen. Harry Reid...

But to fully capture the magnitude of Reid's remark (and to stop him from doing the same thing to others) it must be called what it was -- a full-on threat perpetrated by a bully who has forgotten that he was elected to office to protect Nevadans, not sound like he's shaking them down.

No citizen should expect this kind of behavior from a U.S. senator. It is certainly not becoming of a man who is the majority leader in the U.S. Senate. And it absolutely is not what anyone would expect from a man who now asks Nevadans to send him back to the Senate for a fifth term.

If he thinks he can push the state's largest newspaper around by exacting some kind of economic punishment in retaliation for not seeing eye to eye with him on matters of politics, I can only imagine how he pressures businesses and individuals who don't have the wherewithal of the Review-Journal.

For the sake of all who live and work in Nevada, we can't let this bully behavior pass without calling out Sen. Reid. If he'll try it with the Review-Journal, you can bet that he's tried it with others. So today, we serve notice on Sen. Reid that this creepy tactic will not be tolerated.

We won't allow you to bully us. And if you try it with anyone else, count on going through us first.

That's a promise, not a threat.

And it's a promise to our readers, not to you, Sen. Reid.

You can comment on Mr. Frederick's column in a form at the bottom of the column. You can also e-mail him direct at

Ted Kennedy: A Life of Misspent Privilege

David Pryce-Jones in his NRO blog is spot on in his description of one of America's most extravagant "champagne socialists."

Senator Edward Kennedy was, and will remain, an outstanding example of a champagne socialist. Sociologically speaking, the type has been well recognized for quite some time. Indeed, in Turgenev's great novel, Fathers and Sons, the hero Bazarov asks at one point if you can't drink champagne just because you call yourself a socialist. The French similarly talk about those who vote on the Left but dine on the Right. Such people are exploiting their privileged position in society to curry favor with those less privileged, and so find the way to continue being privileged while also being applauded for it. Clever, or what?

The obituaries for Edward Kennedy have been more or less unmitigated eulogies. The general inference is that he was an outstanding and constructive politician with vast achievements to his credit. At most, there is an apologetic little insertion somewhere of the word “flawed” as though that excused and explained his failure to become president. In simple fact, he owed everything in his career, especially his position in the Senate, to the fact that he had been born who he was, too well-connected and too rich ever to have to work his passage on his own. If this isn't privilege, what is? The years of good living and self-indulgence showed in his face, as once handsome features turned coarse and bloated. Physically, he could only waddle. As for morals, Chappaquiddick is only one incident among others when his behavior proves him to have been a man of bad character.

Normally speaking, ordinary people would never tolerate someone like him as their elected representative. To present himself as a tribune of the people was the only possible protective covering available to him. That he was successful in this respect, and comes to be buried in Arlington with the president speaking at the graveside, is really the only arresting feature of his career. He has enjoyed the sort of lifelong allowance that once would have been made for a corrupt eighteenth-century English duke. It is hard to believe that he was ever sincere in the populist causes he took up, declaiming about righting wrongs only to go home and commit plenty more wrongs of his own without having to account for them. That's champagne socialism for you, and it seems a taste everybody and anybody can get drunk on.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Today's Posts

Back to Burkina!

At an early morning meeting over Village Inn coffee (yuck), I reassured Patrice Kabore that I was still primed for a December trip back to Burkina Faso -- a trip that will involve teaching, preaching, visiting the orphanage and more, including creating another Haggai Festival like the very successful one we prepared last October.

The specific travel arrangements and itenerary are in the works and I'll be sure and keep you posted.

I Love Passing Buckets (Some Thoughts on Teaching)

I suppose it's not too unusual an observation to say...that I really like teaching.

But I hope I can always say with equal honesty that I really like being taught as well. For a basic premise of Christianity is that truth is external to us. We didn't invent it. We didn't even, as it is so frequently misstated, discover it; that is, it wasn't a result of our own searching efforts.

What we do is receive truth.

By an act of our will, we receive truth as it is revealed to us by observation of the world and by believing that which is revealed to us by someone else. The good teacher never forgets that he is just one bucket-handler in the line, taking it from someone's hand and then passing it to the next. And though each bucket handler is important, what is more important is the process itself and ultimately, of course, what's in the bucket.

So I really like teaching in that I enjoy that thrill of passing along the buckets that I've received from so many over the years – parents, teachers, coaches, preachers, books, friends (even enemies), nature and so many more.

But it is those revelations from my study of Holy Scripture that I love most to teach because the process involved there is nothing less than the changing of lives – forever.

I mused on these things yesterday morning in between the two classes I taught down at Grace University. I was filling in for a friend who had to preside at a funeral and so I went in with the limited expectation that every substitute teacher should. But things went swimmingly. The course was hermeneutics which I have a passion for and which I've taught myself for many years. And the text chapter I was covering was good. The students were alert, respectful and prepared.

So, 1) when I know my stuff, 2) when the information is interesting as well as important, and 3) when the next bucket carriers in the line are ready to receive it – I love teaching.

But teaching is very hard whenever any one of those three are out of whack.

The third I can't do a whole lot about. People need to be responsible for their own education. They must be willing to learn. And a breakdown on the second certainly isn't an issue for the Holy Scriptures are always intriguing, life-changing, wise and relevant.

But it's that first element that is my responsibility. I must be as fully prepared as I can be – and that means not only that I've done my homework well and that I've planned out my presentation – but also that I demonstrate the fruits of the Spirit in my performance. The good teacher must be a good person: virtuous, caring, humble and patient.

And that brings me back to my original point. All good teachers must be good learners. They must be as excited about being a student (throughout their entire life) as they are about their opportunities to teach. They must seek out wisdom. They must give that quest all they have to give.

And they must strive to be the kind of learners that they themselves want in their audiences when they teach. If they are, then life-changing learning will occur, no doubt about it. The buckets will be successfully (and happily) passed.

Leroy Carhart: Scandalous Behavior Even for an Abortionist

The Omaha World Herald, never a friend to pro-life interests, is nevertheless compelled to cover the allegations by former employees of the late-term abortionist, Leroy Carhart, that the business he runs is not only dangerously unsanitary but conducts illegal medical procedures.

Here's the report.

Obama "Diversity Czar" Wants Freedom of Speech Severely Controlled

Only in America: Armed Robber Sues The Robbed

The owner of Nick’s Party Stop on Cass Avenue in Clinton Township [Oakland, California] and several people connected to his store are being sued by a man who was shot while robbing the store.

The lawsuit, filed by Scott Thomas Zielinski from his cell in a Michigan prison, was assigned to Macomb County Circuit Judge David Viviano.

John Acho, owner of the store and one of the people sued, said his customers are mad that an armed robber is allowed to file a lawsuit after he threatened the store’s employees with a knife.

Zielinski is seeking in excess of $125,000 for injuries sustained when he was shot escaping from the owners of the store. They went after him because he held two of the employees at knifepoint and threatened to kill them, police said.

“He comes into my store wearing a mask and armed with a knife, threatens to kill my employees and steals cigarettes and $793 in cash,” said Acho. “And he is suing us because we ruined his life and he is going through pain and suffering.”

Zielinski, 22, was convicted of the November 2007 robbery. In a plea bargain, he was sentenced May 20, 2008, to eight to 22 years in prison for unarmed, instead of armed, robbery.

A year earlier, he was sentenced to one year, seven months in prison for the robbery of Charter One Bank in Warren on Feb. 17, 2006...

Budweiser's "Fan Cans" -- School "Spirit" That Can Kill

Did Budweiser consider that their new line of "Fan Cans" might lead to more underage drinking? Of course they did.

And they marketed them anyhow.

"Show your true colors with Bud Light. This year, only Bud Light is delivering superior drinkability in 12-ounce cans that were made for gameday."

Thus Budweiser touts its new program of marketing Bud Light in 27 different color combinations geared to fit college colors.

Will it sell beer? Of course.

Mark Caraway, a member of the Delta Chi fraternity who will be a senior this year, says he's sure the campaign will be a success. "If you put purple and gold on anything, especially for game day, it will sell like crazy," says Mr. Caraway, 21 years old.

And thus responsible people, people who care about teenagers killing themselves by alcohol poisoning and killing others by drunk driving, are ticked off at the brutal callousness shown by Budweiser in its effort to rev up Bud Light sales.

Dozens of colleges are up in arms over a new Anheuser-Busch marketing campaign that features Bud Light beer cans emblazoned with local schools' team colors.

Many college administrators contend that the promotions near college campuses will contribute to underage and binge drinking and give the impression that the colleges are endorsing the brew. Though some schools aren't interfering with the promotion, others are demanding that the sales be stopped. With students returning to campuses and the fall football season approaching, the "Fan Cans" are also renewing the debate over the role of beer makers in encouraging college drinking...

At least 25 schools have formally asked Anheuser-Busch to drop the campaign near their campuses, Mr. Siegal says. In recent letters, the University of Michigan's lawyers threatened legal action for alleged trademark infringement, demanding that Anheuser-Busch not sell the "maize and blue" cans in the "entire state." The University of Colorado, Oklahoma State University, Texas A&M University and Boston College have also told the company to stop distribution near their campuses, citing trademark issues and concern about student alcohol use.

Samuel L. Stanley, president of New York's Stony Brook University and a medical doctor, also objected. In a letter to Anheuser-Busch, he called the campaign "categorically unacceptable."...

Of course, you don't have to be a college president to let Budweiser know that you oppose this kind of reckless greed.

You can reach Budweiser here.
Anheuser-Busch, Inc.
One Busch Place
St. Louis, MO 63118

1-800 DIAL BUD (1-800-342-5283)

You can also e-mail Budweiser by going through their website (which, ironically, requires your promise to be 21 or older).

Old Guard Media Refuses to Air Ads Critical of ObamaCare

The refusal by ABC and NBC to run a national ad critical of President Obama's health care reform plan is raising questions from the group behind the spot -- particularly in light of ABC's health care special aired in prime time last June and hosted at the White House.

The 33-second ad by the League of American Voters, which features a neurosurgeon who warns that a government-run health care system will lead to the rationing of procedures and medicine, began airing two weeks ago on local affiliates of ABC, NBC, FOX and CBS. On a national level, however, ABC and NBC have refused to run the spot in its present form.

"It's a powerful ad," said Bob Adams, executive director of the League of American Voters, a national nonprofit group with 15,000 members who advocate individual liberty and government accountability. "It tells the truth and it really highlights one of the biggest vulnerabilities and problems with this proposed legislation, which is it rations health care and disproportionately will decimate the quality of health care for seniors."...

(Fox News, August 27)

If you'd like to contact these folks and ask for at least an occasional show of objectivity and fairness, please do so soon.

Contact ABC here.

Contact NBC here.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Today's Posts

Hermeneutics Plus: It's a Busy Day Ahead

Blogging is light this morning because I've got to run down to Grace University to teach a couple of hermeneutics classes up at Grace University for my friend Dan Hauge who will be conducting a funeral for one of his former parishioners.

Hermeneutics (i.e. Bible study methods) is a favorite field of mine and I've taught mini-courses on it here at Faith Bible Church, in Moscow and several times in Minsk. Nevertheless, I'll try and stay with the class textbook and the accompanying Power Point visuals (yipes - never use the stuff!) and not go into my own lecture notes. Like I said, I'll try.

Other stuff on tap today include preparations for a meeting early tomorrow morning regarding this year's Haggai Festival in Burkina Faso, putting all the 1 Peter sermons on Exposition 101, cleaning up the garage (my brother Ric came in from Denver and took most of Mom's furniture), helping Claire post pictures on her Facebook page, and answer a pile of correspondence.

But now it's those Grace classes. I gotta' book.

See you on Facebook.

It's National Suicide

In Cal Thomas' column touting a new book by investigative reporter, educator and columnist Martin Gross (National Suicide: How Washington is Destroying the American Dream from A to Z), Thomas opens with these punch paragraphs:

Remember when the deficit was so bad that Democrats said we (or more accurately the Republicans) were placing a terrible burden on our grandchildren?

That was several trillion dollars ago. Democrats now appear perfectly fine with extending the growing deficit and national debt to their great-grandchildren. Perhaps politicians think they will never be held accountable three generations from now because they won't be around to explain to those not yet born why they refused to stop our financial hemorrhaging.

The Obama administration forecast a 10-year budget deficit projection of more than $7.1 trillion, but when confronted with figures from the pesky and bipartisan Congressional Budget Office, the administration was forced this week to raise that projection to approximately $9 trillion. That's $9,000,000,000,000 dollars. For most of us who think a $1,000 deposit in our checking accounts is a large amount and a $1,000 credit card balance is too much, $9 trillion is a figure that is almost beyond comprehension. It is certainly beyond defensible. To borrow a phrase used in another context by the House leadership, it is un-American...

Chappaquiddick All But Ignored In Ted's Obits

4o years ago last month, Edward Kennedy left Mary Jo Kopechne to die in that Chappaquiddick canal and then wrapped himself in the Kennedy mystique and the corrupt Massachusetts court system to cover up his drunken, immoral and cowardly behavior.

And, incredibly, he got away with it.

Until yesterday.

Here's a quick review of how the press continues to ignore Chappaquiddick. And here are a couple of previous Vital Signs posts dealing with the tragedy: "Ted Kennedy 40 Years After Chappaquiddick" from this past July 20th and "May We Never Forget Chappaquiddick" from 3 years ago.

"Checkbook Euthanasia" Isn't On the Horizon -- It's Here Already

Take a look at how government-run health care in Oregon has led to "checkbook euthanasia." I just came across this video clip (the story broke last year) but I thought you'd want to see it too. Kudos to KATU, Channel 2, for some fine reporting.

The Fight Over Operation Rescue

Here's a "behind the scenes" take on the bitter feud between Operation Rescue and Randy Terry. Pretty disheartening stuff.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Today's Posts

The Tickets Have Arrived!

Yesterday our season tickets arrived for the Omaha Symphony and we experienced that rush of excitement that we always do when they show up in the mail.

After all, Claire and I really enjoy the experience of the symphony. We like getting dressed up a bit, going out to dinner someplace out of the ordinary and then being flooded by the sensations as we sit in the Holland Center and let the waves of beautiful music move over, around and into us.

But those concerts don't start for months. So why do we feel the excitement already?

It doesn't matter. The concerts are on the calendar. The deals have been made and the contracts signed. And we've now got the tickets in hand. Our attendance may take the future to be realized, but our attendance is a done deal right now. We can count on it, look forward to it, and let the anticipation make a difference in our mood today.

Do I have to draw out the illustrative parallel this provides to the Christian's confident hope of heaven?

For in that case too, the event is on the calendar. And we're guaranteed our places for we have the tickets in hand -- if, that is, we have received by a simple act of faith Christ's sacrifice on the cross to pay for our sins.

And so, much more than the expectancy of our attendance at the symphony, the confident assurance we have from Jesus Christ regarding the "done deal" of heaven should make a big difference in our moods, our priorities and our

Do you have your ticket?

John 3:16 -- "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

1 Corinthians 15:1 -- "Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures."

John 6:28 & 29 -- "Therefore they said to Him, 'What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?' Jesus answered and said to them, 'This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.'"

Recommended by Facebook Friends

With only a few days of being on Facebook behind me, I've already seen another significant benefit besides the one I spoke of yesterday. It is that I have quicker, easier and more efficient access to web recommendations from trusted friends. And I can then pass on the best of those to readers of Vital Signs Blog. Wanna see how it works?

* John J. Jakubczyk suggested an article from the Archbishop of Denver, Charles Chaput, that examines the rift among Catholics over ObamaCare. It is a rift which features liberal Catholics severely misapplying the idea of the "common good." Writes the Archbishop, "No system that allows or helps fund—no matter how subtly or indirectly—the killing of unborn children, or discrimination against the elderly and persons with special needs, can bill itself as “common ground.” Doing so is a lie..." The full article is here.

* Musician Ben Lueders made mention of a new song he and his fiancée had written (he the music, Megan Knight the lyrics) called "Hands And Knees." And, as you Facebook folks understand, when a friend posts something on their page, it also shows up on your wall. So, I checked the song out, was very moved by it and asked permission to link to it this morning. The lyrics are printed on Ben's website and there's also a link whereby you can listen to his performance of the song. Very nice.

* John Malek alerted the friends from his Facebook page to take a look at Andrew Sumereau's American Thinker article, "Introducing the Tenth Amendment." John rightly referred to it as Government 101. Good stuff.

* Rick Pearcey (The Pearcey Report and Pro-Existence) gets a hat tip for pointing out "Playing With Pacifism," an excellent analysis of liberal "evangelicals" published by American Spectator and written by (another Facebook friend) Mark Tooley.

* And finally, recommended by nurse Kathy Garvey, is this 4-minute video that compellingly, graphically shows the tragedies we all risk every time our driving attention is diverted. This case specifically dramatizes texting but it should warn us about being carefully, consistently "zoned in" to what's happening on the road. It's kinda' tough to watch (they are, however, all actors) but the point is to help avoid the real thing.

"Inside the Womb"

The two-hour 2006 National Geographic documentary "Inside the Womb" is now available on You Tube. It's in nine parts but very much worth watching. Stunning stuff even for committed pro-lifers who might think they already have this stuff down.

The revolutionary ultrasound imaging techniques of recent years allow the viewer to "see into" the womb like never before. You'll follow the journey of a growing embryo from conception to the beginning of brain activity to the first heartbeat to the development of senses and on to the grand entrance of the baby onto the world's stage. It's really incredible.

Home school parents? Make it part of your curricula soon. And the rest of us? Let's take it for extra credit, huh?

Political Correctness vs the English Language

The bureaucrats from the "We Are Politically-Correct And, By Golly, We're Gonna' Make Sure You Are Too!" Department are once again after the English language. And this time they're targeting those racist and sexist phrases like "gentleman’s agreement", "black sheep of the family," "black mark," and "right-hand man".

Next words up for stamping out? Hmm. Why not "Black belt"? "Woman's intuition"? "Gray area"? "Gay Nineties"? "Yellow fever"? "Blackmail"? "White collar worker"? "Russian roulette"? "The right stuff"? "Brown out"? "Mad as a hatter"? "Mexican standoff"? "Yellow journalism?" "Putting English on the ball"? "Red Tape"? "Left-handed complement"? "White elephant"? "Pardon my French"? "White Christmas"?

You gotta' laugh or else you'll cry.

Your Wednesday Tea Break (Political Satire)

Here's definitely one to pass around to friends -- as Matt Yaley did to me.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Today's Posts

What a Thrill to Connect to Old Friends!

As mentioned yesterday Claire and I both bit the bullet and created (with much help from Isaac Serafino) Facebook pages this past weekend. Our motivation was to use them to expand the ministry of this blog, our Vital Signs Ministries site, and eventually the other cyberspace outreach which we have under development: Exposition 101 and our Russian-language site, VSM Resources.

What we didn't expect from our Facebook launching were the immediate (and really wonderful) blessings we received as we contacted with old friends and colleagues we hadn't heard from for years. It was great.

In one case we were reminded of how powerful the simplest acts of kindness and respect can be as we made new contact with Rick Lee, who I hadn't seen since he was a kid maybe...what...35 years ago? Back in those days, we used to play football in the park after church and Rick, who was just a junior high kid (perhaps even a bit younger) wanted to be a part too. Of course, kids want to be in the game and they yearn for the rites of passage where their worth is noted by the big guys.

Well, I really liked him and he was a very good athlete for his age. He kinda' reminded of my own youngest brother Richard who still lived back in Colorado. Anyhow, I used to always make sure he was on my team, picking him before I would any of the other adults. When his name came on my Facebook screen, those days came back to me in a rush. And they must have done the same for him. Rick wrote: "Denny, You were the most encouraging breath of the Spirit in my life. I always remember you believing in me as a person. Just by throwing me a pass in a game meant so much too me."

"Just by throwing me a pass." Let's remember today how significant are those moments, seemingly simple and transitory, when we authenticate the young people around us. They are looking to us more than we realize (maybe even more than they realize right now) and our noticing them, honoring them, involving them means so very much.

There were many others to whom our new Facebook pages connected us from across the years but none quite so heart-warming as Norm Rempel. Norm was a truly significant person in my life. Not only because he was smooth and smart and joyful and very engaging but because, much like what happened in the football story above, Norm was kind enough to notice me, to take time to be my friend. In a way, Norm picked me to be on his team.

Now I'd better point out, Norm had an awful lot of people on his team! He was a philosophy and psychology prof at Grace College of the Bible here in Omaha who also taught apologetics. He was extremely popular because he was so bright and personable and funny. He was well-read and cosmopolitan but he carried none of the somber trappings so commonly associated with academia. Norm Rempel was an all-round standout guy.

I never had Norm for a class. In fact, I only attended Grace for one semester. But I knew him from sitting in a few lectures with my friend Dan Hauge. And from several years of conversations at the college snack shop where I often dropped in. And from an awful lot of pick-up basketball games. And eventually from attending the same church. (When Norm asked me to take over his adult Sunday School class for a summer I felt like Rick must have when I picked him for my football team!)

In these various ways, Norm Rempel mentored me. He probably didn't think of it that way. He wasn't a whole lot older than me and I'd certainly been around the block. But he was a Christian man I (and my wife, Claire) greatly respected, a man whose knowledge and character we both appreciated and wanted to emulate.

Perhaps more than anything, what Norm did for us was to model what a Christian apologist should be. I mean, here was a guy who knew Greek philosophy and was well-versed in Socratic techniques. He read Augustine and Lewis and Schaeffer and Chesterton and Rushdoony and the rest of the gang. He could cut through the fog of the cults. He was quick on the take and had the ready answer, the clever comeback, the closing line that smoldered in a person's conscience.

And all that was important. You had to know your stuff. You had to do your homework. You had to be confident enough and skilled enough to be a bold (and thus effective) witness for Jesus Christ out in the public square.

I had been schooled already in these things. First with Young Life...then the rough and tumble of the Christian Brotherhood...meeting the L'Abri team (including the Schaeffers) in 1971...reading incessantly in Lewis, GKC, Montgomery, McDowell, et al...working with IVP when I went back to university and grad school...witnessing on the job...and finally our early engagements in pro-life activism. So yes, we were experienced in evangelism and discipleship and street-level apologetics -- experienced enough to know we would always need more education, more stimulation and coaching, fresh inspiration and encouragement.

And no one around fit that bill better than Norm Remple.

Because Norm wasn't only a book guy. He wasn't just good in the intellectual give and take. No, he understood that the most powerful apologetic of all was a life well lived -- a life that was winsome and engaging and kind. Though he was an intellectual powerhouse, one wasn't overwhelmed by him. He was extremely courteous, generally interested in others, and a conversationalist who could draw in just about anyone. He held his sword and, if needed, he could wield it with dramatic force. But usually, you saw just the gentle, jolly, personable Norm Remple who drew you in and showed you how warm and secure and hopeful was the Christianity he offered.

He taught us much. And he encouraged us much. And he did this as long as he lived in Omaha. For instance, Norm accepted my invitation to go with us to the very first meeting of the Omaha Christian Action Council, a meeting that would, of course, dramatically change the course of Claire's and my life. And in those early days when so many other Christians were stand-offish, even scornful of our activist strategies (For crying out loud, they picket abortion clinics!), Norm was a enheartening, fortifying friend and ally.

Norm Rempel is a Christian apologist of the first rank, one who emphasizes the crucial importance of Bible knowledge, learning in other branches of knowledge, and apologetic technique. But these skills are nothing without humility, gratitude, joy, holiness and love.

I've learned a lot from Norm Rempel. And getting in touch with him after more than two decades (he's been teaching and serving as Registrar at Fresno Pacific during these years) means I've got the opportunity to learn a bit more. For instance, Norm's body has been invaded by MS and he's bedridden almost all of the time nowadays. Yet he's as cheerful, as mentally lively and as other-directed as ever. So we've got conversations ahead of us about suffering and patience and relationships under pressure and heaven...and I'm sure a whole lot more.

So, am I glad Claire and I jumped into Facebook? If it were only to hear from Rick Lee and Norm Rempel, I'd consider it an overwhelming success.

Interlock Devices for ALL Drunk Drivers -- Let's Get it Done

If your state doesn't have a law requiring these simple but life-saving interlock devices be installed on the vehicles of all convicted drunk drivers, it certainly should. Why not forward this e-mail to your state officials and office-holders today and ask them to get behind this crucial plan.

The Religion of Peace and Wisdom Islam Is Not.

The religion of peace and wisdom Islam is not. And the examples can be witnessed all around the world -- if, that is, you're willing to unpile all of the deliberate omissions of the mainstream press and get to the blogs, the Christian press, the freedom watchdog organizations and the other "alternative media" who are reporting the horrors.

Two of the latest?

* Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno, a 32-year-old nurse is going to be brutally whipped (uh...immediately after the holy feast of Ramadan is over) for violating Malaysia's new Islamic laws. The specific crime? She drank a beer in a hotel lobby last year.

* The ordeal being endured by Rifqa Bary, the 17 year-old Sri Lankan native who was an excellent student and high school cheerleader who is now on the run for her very life because of her conversion from Islam to Christianity. This article in American Thinker is a must-read. Really.

A Very Different Kind of Star Story

He's the man they call the Mexican Brad Pitt. Once a Calvin Klein model who smouldered bare-chested opposite J-Lo in a music video, and starred in Hollywood movies, Eduardo Verastegui's smouldering looks and aquamarine eyes once attracted thousands of (invariably screaming) female fans.

But unlike the real life Pitt, who famously rejected his Southern Baptist upbringing, Verastegui chose to sacrifice a glittering film career after rediscovering his Catholic faith. A sensation throughout Latin America, where he first shot to fame aged 18, as a member of the Mexican boy band Kairo, he later starred in a string of telenovelas, the high-octane long running soap operas that command vast audiences throughout Russia, the Middle East and the Hispanic world. After moving to Miami, to successfully pursue a career as a solo singer, Verastegui was offered the lead in the 2003 comedy Chasing Papi, the tale of a Latin love God pursued by a trio of vengeful girlfriends.

Today, the 35-year-old actor is a daily Mass-goer, committed to abstaining from sex before marriage, who flies to Darfur to help the starving, provides financial help for women considering abortions and organises house-building missions in Mexico.

“I wasn’t born to be famous, or to be a movie star, but to love and serve Jesus Christ,” the former model and singer once listed as among the top 50 “hottest” Hispanics by People magazine will tell a gathering of young Catholics on his first visit to England this weekend...

There's more in this Times (U.K.) report right here.

Was Britain In On The Deal?

"If Britain has flouted justice and decency to feather its nest in a squalid deal with Gaddafi, the scandal will know no bounds."

New information is emerging that the reprehensible deal made between Scotland and Libya to release the sole terrorist convicted in the Lockerbie bombing may have involved the government of Great Britain as well. Here's the Daily Mail (U.K.) story written by Stephen Glover.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Today's Posts

Denny & Claire Enter the 21st Century

This last weekend Claire and I finally did it.

We're on Facebook!

We even created Facebook pages for Vital Signs Ministries and the blog.

So, check us out there. Do the "friend" thing if you'd like. Look at the photo retrospective on the VSM Facebook page (a few pictures covering everything from sidewalk counseling to "Mercy Ministries" to sit-ins to trips abroad and more). Become fans of those pages.

And say a prayer that we'll learn how to fold Facebook into all of our other duties!

While Federal Marshals Sit Outside, Abortionist Kills Preborn Kids

The federal marshals were back on the scene today at Leroy Carhart's abortion mill in Bellevue. At least 3 marshals in 2 cars were hanging around, trying to look intimidating but not quite making the grade. At one point, they even pulled their cars into a V formation which blocked the street while the late-term abortionist drove into the building in a big SUV. Who knows? Maybe it was a government vehicle too.

We don't know why the feds are back on the scene unless they too have been drawn into the paranoid hype being spread by the Bellevue Police Department and a compliant media. And yes, there's still no sign of those 500 angry, desperate anti-abortion protesters the BPD is promising will be on their doorstep.

There was just Claire, Carol, Dick, Quint, Mark and I with our pictures of lovely infants and banners which read "Mom, We Care About You and Your Baby."

They need federal cops to deal with us?


Meanwhile on the outside, workers are trying to make the place look less trashy than it does. (They've got a big job ahead of them.) But nothing besides thorough repentance and a sincere faith in the grace offered by Jesus Christ can clean up what's going on inside that awful place.

Case in point? Just this morning (while those federal marshals worried about non-existent dangers and those remodeling workers tried to better adorn the structure), the thug that Newsweek magazine hailed as "The Abortion Evangelist" killed 6 preborn babies.

It's the Big, Intrusive, Greedy Government, Stupid!

It's been a hilarious August, watching media supporters of President Obama's health care package puzzle over the obscure motivations of the noncompliant Americans rallying against it.

"Racial anxiety," guessed New York Times columnist Paul Krugman.

"Nihilism," theorized Time's Joe Klein.

"The crazy tree blooms in every moment of liberal ascendancy," historian Rick Perlstein proclaimed in the Washington Post.

While the commentariat's condescension is almost comical, the whole evil-or-stupid explanation misses the elephant in Obama's room: Americans of all stripes, it turns out, aren't very keen about the government barging into their lives...

(Read all 3 pages of this New York Post article from Matt Welch.)

Monday's Quick Hits

* You know ObamaCare is facing a tough haul when the New York Times agrees with ObamaCare critics that " A Basis Is Seen for Some Health Plan Fears Among the Elderly." Here's the story.

* Jill Stanek has the facts you need to know about that ghastly euthanasia-oriented book (published by the U.S. Bureau of Veterans Affairs) that you've been hearing about on talk radio. Incredible.

* Chris Stirewalt, the Political Editor at the Washington Examiner has a nifty article on how the press may finally be getting their fill of Team Obama's playing them for patsies.

* It's not just pro-lifers who are pointing out that President Obama is playing fast and loose with the truth when it comes to abortion and ObamaCare. Concludes the independent in this brief report, "Therefore, we judge that the president goes too far when he calls the statements that government would be funding abortions 'fabrications.'"

"Here, Bite Down On This Stick" -- ObamaCare Skimps on Anesthesia

Every medical student learns an old adage: You can skimp on some medicine, but you can't skimp on obstetrics or anesthesiology. An elderly surgeon explained it to me this way, "In surgery, people die in days and weeks—a doctor has time to fix a mistake. But in obstetrics and anesthesiology, they die in minutes and seconds."

Twenty years ago, I became an anesthesiologist. Since then, whenever death has loomed in the operating room only to be sidestepped at the last moment, I think back on that wise surgeon. Indeed, the old adage explains why an anesthesiologist's life resembles a soldier's life. A soldier plays cards around the campfire, then goes out on routine patrol and ends up dead. The anesthesiologist jokes around with the surgeons and nurses, then, because of some unforeseen complication, his or her patient dies on the table. Although I have not personally faced such a disaster, I know anesthesiologists who have.

Incredibly, Congress's proposed health-care reform plan risks skimping on anesthesia. According to one of the health-care bills in Congress, H.R. 3200, the public option would reduce reimbursement for anesthesia by over 50%....

Dr. Ronald Dworkin has a lot more to say in this intriguing Wall Street Journal op/ed piece.

$1.2 Billion and Jerry Jones Still Can't Get the Specs Right

You've got to laugh.

A) Jerry Jones cons Texas into building a $1.2 billion stadium -- that's right $1.2 billion. B) The price includes incredibly gauche 2,100-inch TV screens that hang from the rafters and dwarf the action on the field. (Didn't fans use to come to the stadium to watch the game live and in person rather than on TV?) C) The contractors hang the screens way too low, not only providing a maddening distraction for both players and fans, but actually so low as to be hit by high-flying punts. D) Sure enough, in the opening game played in the stadium, a punter embarrasses Jones and the whole expensive debacle by bouncing a football off the screen.

And does Jones apologize for the remarkably inept scoreboard design which required the play to done again -- something that will continue to occur unless he fixes the problem? Does he at least chuckle at the irony and promise to get those screens raised ASAP?

No, not Jerry. He gets mad at the punter instead!

...Jerry pointed out that his $1.2 billion stadium was built to league specifications. He wouldn't even entertain the possibility of cranking the electronic monstrosity that holds the 60-yard big screens up a few feet. "That's not the point," Jerry said. "How high is high if somebody just wants to sit there and kick straight up?"

Jerry didn't come out and say that Trapasso was aiming for the scoreboard, but he certainly pointed in that direction.
"If you look at how you punt the football, unless you're trying to hit the scoreboard, you punt the ball to get downfield. You certainly want to get some hangtime, but you punt the ball to get downfield, and you sure don't punt the ball down the middle. You punt it off to the side."

Trapasso disagreed, saying that he'd consider the scoreboard a big issue if he had to kick here every week.
"It's nothing that is going to happen every time, but it's there and it's got to be addressed," Trapasso said. "I don't know how much further up it can go, but it's in the way."

Friday, August 21, 2009

Today's Posts

New on the Book Den Shelves

A couple of new posts made it to The Book Den this morning: Bardelys The Not-So-Magnificent and Give Me "Liberty and Tyranny." Give 'em a look.

Obama Swears His Health Care Package Doesn't Include Abortion -- Obama Is Lying

...Emboldened by the recently demonstrated superficiality of some organs of the news media, President Obama today brazenly misrepresented the abortion-related component of the health care legislation that his congressional allies and staff have crafted. As amended by the House Energy and Commerce Committee on July 30 (the Capps-Waxman Amendment), the bill backed by the White House (H.R. 3200) explicitly authorizes the government plan to cover all elective abortions.

Obama apparently seeks to hide behind a technical distinction between tax funds and government-collected premiums. But these are merely two types of public funds, collected and spent by government agencies. The Obama-backed legislation makes it explicitly clear that no citizen would be allowed to enroll in the government plan unless he or she is willing to give the federal agency an extra amount calculated to cover the cost of all elective abortions -- this would not be optional. The abortionists would bill the federal government and would be paid by the federal government. These are public funds, and this is government funding of abortion...

Read the rest of this important fact sheet from National Right to Life right here.

And about that matter of the President lying about this crucial matter (yet self-righteously insisting that it's his opponents who are the liars), here's an e-mail sent to Kathyrn Jean Lopez and posted by her over at NRO's The Corner.

This particular character flaw was revealed early in the presidential campaign when Obama tried to deny he advocated defeat of the Born Alive Infants Protection Act in Illinois, then accused the NRLC of lying when they pointed it out. (The campaign—but not the candidate—later admitted the NRLC was right, but issued no apology.). It’s a pattern: Those who expose Obama’s lies are branded as liars.

Pass the word, guys. Keep passin' the word.

You Never Forget

Having lost a loved one (my father) to a drunk driver, I applaud the work of MADD, including their Victim Services which the PSA highlights.

"Obama Has Made the U.S. a Bit Player in Israel"

Paul Mirengoff comments on how anti-Obama Isreal is becoming in one of yesterday's Power Line posts...

President Obama's health care policy is in trouble; his Middle East "peace" policy is in shambles. The Washington Post confirms what's been obvious for months -- Obama's insistence on a total settlement freeze has undermined his popularity among Israelis, caused the nation to rally around Prime Minister Netanyahu, and removed the U.S. (at least for now) as a serious force in the so-called peace process.

The magnitude of these "accomplishments" is difficult to overstate. As the Post observes, Israeli leaders have always been reluctant to break publicly with a U.S. president for the very good reason that Israelis pretty much demand that their leaders keep relations with the U.S. on a strong footing. Netanyahu himself was "punished" by Israeli voters when he failed to maintain good relations with President Clinton, the Post recalls.

But the unreasonableness of Obama's demand for a freeze on even "natural growth" construction in core settlements, coupled with his opposition to the building of fewer a relatively small number of apartment units in East Jerusalem, has changed the dynamic drastically. As we have noted, a July poll showed that 60 percent of Israelis don't trust Obama. Meanwhile, according to the Post, Netanyahu's decision to oppose Obama on settlements commands "overwhelming" support...

Obama has done what I thought it was nearly impossible to do -- he has made the United States a bit player in Israel.

The Suicide of the West: Examples from Today's Headlines

* Libyan spy and mass murderer, Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, the only person convicted in the Lockerbie bombing which killed 270, was released by Scotland for humanitarian reasons. And then the Scottish and British governments act shocked when Megrahi is given a hero's welcome back in Tripoli with over a thousand people praising him at the airport.

* Lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers are said to have shown photos of CIA personnel, including covert officers, to the jihad terrorists incarcerated at Guantanamo Bay. (Get a good look, guys, you may want to take care of these agents of the Great Satan when you get out!)

* The creation of jobs as promised in Team Obama's stimulus package? Up in Nashua, New Hampshire, they're touting 796 jobs that came from the federal faucet. Well, okay; they weren't created really...but, hey, saving jobs is pretty much the same, right? Oh yes; one other thing -- 700 of the 796 jobs saved were those of state government employees!

* Maggie Gallagher lists 5 things which will follow the fad of same-sex "marriage:" 1) In gay-marriage states, a large minority people committed to traditional notions of marriage will feel afraid to speak up for their views, lest they be punished in some way. 2) Public schools will teach about gay marriage. 3) Parents in public schools who object to gay marriage being taught to their children will be told with increasing public firmness that they don't belong in public schools and their views will not be accommodated in any way. 4) Religous institutions will face new legal threats (especially soft litigation threats) that will cause some to close, or modify their missions, to avoid clashing with the government's official views of marriage (which will include the view that opponents are akin to racists for failing to see same-sex couples as married). 5) Support for the idea "the ideal for a child is a married mother and father" will decline.

* Opening an excellent essay from his own web site, Michael Fumento writes, "Medical-research insiders know that embryonic-stem-cell technology is proving a dead end – Dr. Bernadine Healy, a former director of the National Institutes of Health and once an ES-cell-research enthusiast, calls it "obsolete." But the Obama administration has opened wide the federal funding floodgates – the triumph of a big special-interest PR and lobbying campaign. In fact, the research will line the pockets of a relatively few individuals – at considerable cost for the rest of us, since the funding means billions that won't go to more promising areas."

* CNN's American Morning brought in "a medical expert" to explain health-care rationing to the audience -- Princeton's radical proponent of abortion, infanticide and euthanasia, Peter Singer. And you're right. CNN didn't bother to mention Singer's loony ideas (such as denying personhood to handicapped newborns) and how germane they were to the issue under discussion.

Leroy Carhart or Prince Valiant? Newsweek Treats Late-Term Abortionist as an Undaunted Hero.

Well, it turns out that the young woman who interviewed us outside Leroy Carhart's abortion mill last June did work for Newsweek after all. But the article that she just had published in that rag suggests she's not really very much of a reporter -- more like a sycophantic agent for Carhart.

Well, actually, if Leroy Carhart himself would have written this puff piece (it's title is "The Abortion Evangelist") it couldn't have been as syrupy, as extreme or as unprofessionally mindless as it turned out. Indeed, it's so abjectly adulatory that it works against its purpose; even readers who call themselves "pro-choice" are going to be insulted with how Sarah Kliff tries to make late-term abortion a sacrament with Carhart as its saintly hero.

And the other side of Carhart and his sleazy abortion business? Completely ignored. What Kliff learned from us in a prolonged interview and another in which she spoke to the director of the pro-life pregnancy center across the street was rejected outright. There was no room for alternative views, for fact-checking of any sort, for any sense of balance at all in her hagiography.

Poor reporting? This is about as bad as it gets.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Today's Posts

Hey, KFAB -- Cool It with the Racy Photos, Okay?

I have to admit I'm not a talk show junkie. When I'm in the car, the radio is almost always off nowadays...because the oldies stations are no longer "oldie" enough to suit my love for either big band or classic rock. Claire, however, does listen faithfully to Rush Limbaugh and others. So do most of my friends.

However, if they knew that KFAB, the Omaha station that airs Rush Limbaugh, features on its opening web page several links to scantily-clad women (i.e., Celebrity Babes, Nothing But Hand Bras, Sex Tape Controversies, Playboy Bunnie Babes, Beautiful Women With Instruments, Bikini Babes, Chicks With Fish, Hot Hispanic Celebs, Olympic Babes, and Jessica Simpson), they would probably opt to listen to Rush on Lincoln's KLIN.

Claire now does...via the internet when she's listening at home and via the car radio when she's on the road. Plus KLIN has her other favorites too: Laura Ingraham, Mark Levin, Michael Medved, Dennis Prager, Sean Hannity, et al.

That's too bad for the advertisers who use KFAB. Claire and our friends do a lot of shopping.

We're passing along the news about KLIN as an alternative even as I'm asking KFAB to reconsider their tacky tease on its web page.

I sent a brief e-mail request to KFAB's Program Director ( and their
Marketing & Promotions Director ( and I'll let you know if there is a response. That would be nice of them -- and a good business decision.

My note is printed below. You may want to direct a similar request to them. And then pass the word on.

Uh, KFAB; about that unprofessional, offensive and awfully tacky feature that you post on the front page of your web site -- you know, the 8-10 links connecting to scantily clad women? Could you nix it? Soon?

Denny Hartford
(Director Vital Signs Ministries and Teaching Pastor, Faith Bible Church)

Why Do "Christian" Organizations Ignore Persecuted Christians?

On June 16, North Korean Christian Ri Hyon-ok was publicly executed for the crime of distributing Bibles. As her parents, husband and children were forced to look on, the 33-year-old mother was shot in front of a crowd in the northwestern city of Ryongchon. Her grieving and distraught family were then packed off to a prison camp.

Curiously, the United Church of Canada (UCC) -- a nominally Christian organization -- failed even to mention the Pyongyang regime's systematic persecution of its co-religionists, including the murder of Ms. Ri, during its national conference last week. Instead, the UCC devoted hours to discussing of alleged crimes by the Jewish state of Israel against Palestinians.

Last month, a Muslim mob in the northeastern Pakistan town of Gorja heard rumours that a Koran had been defaced during a Christian wedding ceremony. Officials investigating that subsequent riots could find no evidence of such a blasphemy, but that did not stop a mob of thousands of Muslims from burning more than 50 homes and a church in the Christian section of Gorja. At least 14 Christians were killed in the rampage, including one woman and three children who were burned alive in their homes.

Did the UCC pass a resolution (or even just introduce one) condemning such medieval attitudes and behaviours? After all, the Gorja riot amounted to an angry crowd branding a woman a witch and burning her at the stake in pre-Renaissance Europe -- 14 times over. If Christians or Jews were alleged to have carried out such barbarism, the social justice councils of the United Church would undoubtedly have condemned them. Why then so silent when the victims are fellow Christians and their murderers Muslims?

The short answer, of course, is that the UCC is more concerned with fashionably left-wing causes such as multiculturalism than it is about ending persecution per se. It is far more concerned for advancing political correctness than spreading or even defending its own faith.

Lefty intellectual fashion is always one-sided to the point of being blind...

(Lorne Gunter, National Post, August 19)

Why Are Catholic Organizations Helping Planned Parenthood Push ObamaCare?