Thursday, February 26, 2015

Must A Child Be "Wanted" In Order To Be Priceless?

“Every child a wanted child.” It is one of the pro-abortion forces most common slogans because it sounds so soft and loving yet it’s logical conclusion is as cold and ruthless as...well, as an abortionist’s curette.

You see, the phrase “every child a wanted child” operates out of several intellectual and moral errors, all of which presuppose that a child’s worth is based solely on the affections of others.  It reduces children to objects whose only value is in their desirability as others evaluate it.

“Wantedness” is at the very least a silly term but in the worst case, like when it is used in this pro-abortion slogan, it measures merely a bystander’s feelings, not the intrinsic value of another human being.

As I often declare, I am a pro-life activist because I am a Christian, one who knows from Holy Scripture that any child, regardless of health, gender, race, or any descriptive condition of his parents, is created in the image and likeness of Almighty God.  That child is therefore immeasurably sacred and valuable.

The child’s worth is part of his very existence; it is something bestowed by God and no slogan or evil attitude or law can deny it without the most horrible of divine judgments.

And, oh yes, one more error that is related to this slogan is the assumption that an unwanted pregnancy inevitably leads to an unwanted child.  Ask perhaps the majority of real-life moms about how that works.

On Reading Books

“The Pew Research Center reported that nearly a quarter of adults had not read a single book in the last year.  As in, they hadn’t cracked a paperback, fired up a Kindle, or even hit play on an audio book while in the car.  The number of non-book-readers has nearly tripled since 1979.”

The above paragraph is from Charles M. Blow in an op-ed he wrote for the New York Times last year.  He went on to observe, “I understand that we are now inundated with information, and people’s reading habits have become fragmented by bite-size nuggets of text messages and social media, and that takes much of the time that could otherwise be devoted to long-form reading.  I get it.  And I don’t take a troglodytic view of social media.  I participate and enjoy it.  But reading texts is not the same as reading a text.”

Is this diminished interest in reading books a problem?  I believe so.  Indeed, it reveals several things of serious importance – and none of them are good.  For instance, it gives us an indication of how our ultra-expensive education system is failing.  We’re paying more and more and our kids are in the hands of the state educators more and more. Nevertheless, America is getting dumber by the day. This diminished reading also illustrates that American society is corrupted by the shallow, self-centered atmosphere produced by television shows, smart phones, computers, etc. in which modern society lives and breathes.  And as Marshall McLuhan warned us long ago, our minds are being shaped not only by the content of media, but by its methodology, its sensuality (think not merely of sexuality but sensual pleasures of other sorts too), its all-encompassing nature, and its demand for our immediate subservience.

So, yes. I think America’s decline in reading books is a big deal.  We’re becoming dumber, lazier, more superficial, less discerning, and thus more easily led by an array of elite social controllers.  Beginning to read books again isn’t the solution to the messes America is in, of course.  But I contend it can be an important part of one’s personal defense against the encroaching acculturation and, if carried out well and by enough of us, it could even help provide for others a lighted path out of the darkness...

Read the rest of this month's LifeSharer at the Vital Signs Ministries website right here.

Friday, February 20, 2015

The ABCs of Adult Stem Cell Research

Adult stems cells come from a variety of sources and from people of all ages and races. Some common sources are bone marrow, skin and various other tissues such as the placenta, and umbilical cord blood. Because they are multipotent (able to turn into many different cell types), adult stem cells are very versatile. In 2007 scientific studies were even able to manipulate these stem cells into a pluripotentstage (iPS cells). Pluripotentcy is the ability to become every cell type in the body. Most importantly, there is no harm to the donor when adult stem cells are collected.

While much of the discussion going on in the stem cell debate is centered on embryonic stem cell research (ESCR), it is only adult stem cell research (ASCR) that has had any success in yielding treatments for various medical conditions. Furthermore, through iPS, adult stem cells can possess the flexibility of embryonic stem cells. For these reasons, there is no need to continue the life-destroying, unsuccessful, unethical, and unnecessary ESCR.

ASCR has produced treatments for more than 73 medical conditions, including brain cancer, breast cancer, type I diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injury, osteoporosis, and stroke damage. ASCR does not destroy human life, is ethical, and effective.

Embryonic stem cells have yet to provide any treatments. Dead-end ESCR usually results in uncontrollable, tumorous growths, and always destroys human life. Additionally, treatments would require the cloning of humans. 

In 2007, scientists were able to reprogram ordinary skin cells back to a pluripotent stage. These cells are called induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells). Since iPS cells come directly from the person who needs them, the threat of rejection problems no longer exists when using these reprogrammed adult stem cells. Adult stem cells have already been proven to be everything embryonic stem cells are only speculated to be; there is no need to continue with ESCR, which always destroys human life. 

(ASCR Basics, Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life)

Today's RRR (Really Relevant Reads)

* “Why I’m speaking to Congress” (Benjamin Netanyahu, New York Post)

* “The Coming of Medical Martyrdom” (Wesley J. Smith, First Things)

* “Our Dangerous Historical Moment” (Victor Davis Hanson, National Review)

* “Obama Changed His Party, Not the Country: President Obama has gotten Congressional Democrats to do what he wants. No one else is following suit.” (Josh Kraushaar, National Journal)

* “Moscow’s Mad Philosophers” (Robert Zubrin, NRO)

* “Obama: ‘Islam Has Been Woven Into the Fabric of Our Country Since Its Founding’” (Susan Jones, CNS News)

* “America Shouldn’t Tolerate ‘Biden Being Biden’” (Karol Markowicz, TIME)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

What's ISIS Really About, What Does It Want, And What's To Be Done About It?

It’s a long, detailed piece. But it’s an important, fascinating one too — an eye-opening article that will season your conversations and motivate more frequent prayers. The article is “What ISIS Really Wants” and it’s written by Graeme Wood for The Atlantic.

The below title description of the piece is “The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy—and for how to stop it.”

I would heartily recommend reading the entire article. But knowing that many of you may not, I’m dropping several key paragraphs below.
The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic…the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam. Virtually every major decision and law promulgated by the Islamic State adheres to what it calls, in its press and pronouncements, and on its billboards, license plates, stationery, and coins, “the Prophetic methodology,” which means following the prophecy and example of Muhammad, in punctilious detail.
But Muslims who call the Islamic State un-Islamic are typically, as the Princeton scholar Bernard Haykel, the leading expert on the group’s theology, told me, “embarrassed and politically correct, with a cotton-candy view of their own religion” that neglects “what their religion has historically and legally required.” Many denials of the Islamic State’s religious nature, he said, are rooted in an “interfaith-Christian-nonsense tradition.”
All Muslims acknowledge that Muhammad’s earliest conquests were not tidy affairs, and that the laws of war passed down in the Koran and in the narrations of the Prophet’s rule were calibrated to fit a turbulent and violent time. In Haykel’s estimation, the fighters of the Islamic State are authentic throwbacks to early Islam and are faithfully reproducing its norms of war. This behavior includes a number of practices that modern Muslims tend to prefer not to acknowledge as integral to their sacred texts. “Slavery, crucifixion, and beheadings are not something that freakish [jihadists] are cherry-picking from the medieval tradition,” Haykel said. Islamic State fighters “are smack in the middle of the medieval tradition and are bringing it wholesale into the present day.”
Leaders of the Islamic State have taken emulation of Muhammad as strict duty, and have revived traditions that have been dormant for hundreds of years. “What’s striking about them is not just the literalism, but also the seriousness with which they read these texts,” Haykel said. “There is an assiduous, obsessive seriousness that Muslims don’t normally have.”
After its battle in Dabiq, Cerantonio said, the caliphate will expand and sack Istanbul. Some believe it will then cover the entire Earth, but Cerantonio suggested its tide may never reach beyond the Bosporus. An anti-Messiah, known in Muslim apocalyptic literature as Dajjal, will come from the Khorasan region of eastern Iran and kill a vast number of the caliphate’s fighters, until just 5,000 remain, cornered in Jerusalem. Just as Dajjal prepares to finish them off, Jesus—the second-most-revered prophet in Islam—will return to Earth, spear Dajjal, and lead the Muslims to victory…
In London, Choudary and his students provided detailed descriptions of how the Islamic State must conduct its foreign policy, now that it is a caliphate. It has already taken up what Islamic law refers to as “offensive jihad,” the forcible expansion into countries that are ruled by non-Muslims. “Hitherto, we were just defending ourselves,” Choudary said; without a caliphate, offensive jihad is an inapplicable concept. But the waging of war to expand the caliphate is an essential duty of the caliph.
Choudary took pains to present the laws of war under which the Islamic State operates as policies of mercy rather than of brutality. He told me the state has an obligation to terrorize its enemies—a holy order to scare the shit out of them with beheadings and crucifixions and enslavement of women and children, because doing so hastens victory and avoids prolonged conflict.
One way to un-cast the Islamic State’s spell over its adherents would be to overpower it militarily and occupy the parts of Syria and Iraq now under caliphate rule. Al‑Qaeda is ineradicable because it can survive, cockroach-like, by going underground. The Islamic State cannot. If it loses its grip on its territory in Syria and Iraq, it will cease to be a caliphate. Caliphates cannot exist as underground movements, because territorial authority is a requirement: take away its command of territory, and all those oaths of allegiance are no longer binding. Former pledges could of course continue to attack the West and behead their enemies, as freelancers. But the propaganda value of the caliphate would disappear, and with it the supposed religious duty to immigrate and serve it. If the United States were to invade, the Islamic State’s obsession with battle at Dabiq suggests that it might send vast resources there, as if in a conventional battle. If the state musters at Dabiq in full force, only to be routed, it might never recover.

And yet the risks of escalation are enormous. The biggest proponent of an American invasion is the Islamic State itself. The provocative videos, in which a black-hooded executioner addresses President Obama by name, are clearly made to draw America into the fight. An invasion would be a huge propaganda victory for jihadists worldwide: irrespective of whether they have given baya’a to the caliph, they all believe that the United States wants to embark on a modern-day Crusade and kill Muslims. Yet another invasion and occupation would confirm that suspicion, and bolster recruitment. Add the incompetence of our previous efforts as occupiers, and we have reason for reluctance. The rise of ISIS, after all, happened only because our previous occupation created space for Zarqawi and his followers. Who knows the consequences of another botched job?
Given everything we know about the Islamic State, continuing to slowly bleed it, through air strikes and proxy warfare, appears the best of bad military options. Neither the Kurds nor the Shia will ever subdue and control the whole Sunni heartland of Syria and Iraq—they are hated there, and have no appetite for such an adventure anyway. But they can keep the Islamic State from fulfilling its duty to expand. And with every month that it fails to expand, it resembles less the conquering state of the Prophet Muhammad than yet another Middle Eastern government failing to bring prosperity to its people…
Properly contained, the Islamic State is likely to be its own undoing. No country is its ally, and its ideology ensures that this will remain the case. The land it controls, while expansive, is mostly uninhabited and poor. As it stagnates or slowly shrinks, its claim that it is the engine of God’s will and the agent of apocalypse will weaken, and fewer believers will arrive. And as more reports of misery within it leak out, radical Islamist movements elsewhere will be discredited: No one has tried harder to implement strict Sharia by violence. This is what it looks like.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Catching Up

Having been busy with the sessions at the L'Abri Conference up in Rochester, Minnesota the last few days, I submit the following as particularly important reads I've since come across.

* “Obamacare and Abortion: Americans are often forced to pay for abortion coverage they do not want.” (Genevieve C. Plaster & Arina O. Grossu, NRO)

* “The Morning After” (Mark Steyn, Steyn Online)

* “Obama’s so selfie absorbed” (Michael Goodwin, New York Post)

* “Dissident savagely attacked by Castro thugs” (Carlos Eire, Babalu)

* “Over 65 Cuban Dissidents Arrested Today” (Capitol Hill Cubans)

* “Standing By His Woman, Killing His Career” (Katie Kieffer, Town Hall)

* “HHS Pushes Church Talking Points, Bulletins to Promote Obamacare” (Jerly Bier, Weekly Standard) There are times when the President likes churches; that is, when they can be used for his political ends.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

It's Music (And Moos) for "When Swing Was King"

It's a month in which we are presenting "When Swing Was King" in our regular
11 senior living centers but also in three other places: two church audiences and a special trip into northwest Iowa to do a show for a nursing home in the little town where I used to do some guest preaching. It's also a month where we're able to use new brochures (thanks to Pat Osborne and Regal Printing) to promote this unique outreach.

One activities director has called the new brochure "a true work of art." That ought to make Pat's day.

Of course, the music is superb and the residents are warm, welcoming, and wonderfully enthusiastic -- about the show and about sharing stories as we visit. Yesterday, for instance, we got into a group conversation about (of all things) cows before the show started. One fellow told about watching his uncle milk cows and shoot milk over to the cats who were waiting in line for a treat. Another described how they made their own cream and butter and cheese from the milk they got from their cows. And Beverly laughingly admitted that she and a friend used to play school with the cows as students. "They weren't all that interested in our lessons but we had fun trying to teach them anyhow."

Earlier in the week we had opportunities to talk about spiritual matters with residents, both in their mid 90s. We spoke of the splendor of heaven that was a sure thing for Christians and we spoke of the power of prayer to connect with the God of strength, security, and joy.

And then there's the music, the photographs, and the commentary that takes us all along on a "sentimental journey" back to the days of the big band era. It's another month of fun and fellowship for "When Swing Was King."

This month's songlist?

1) Glenn Miller Orchestra -- Moonlight Cocktail
(Vocals by Ray Eberle and the Modernaires)

2) Kay Kyser -- Playmates

3) Duke Ellington Orchestra -- Chelsea Bridge

4) Harry James -- I Had the Craziest Dream
(Vocals by Helen Forrest)

5) Artie Shaw Orchestra -- Blue Skies

6) Tommy Dorsey Orchestra -- Oh, Look At Me Now
(Vocals by Frank Sinatra, Connie Haines, and the Pied Pipers)

7) Gene Kelly -- Singin' In the Rain

8) Chick Webb Orchestra -- Strictly Jive

9) Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra -- I'm Stepping Out with a Memory Tonight
(Vocals by Helen O'Connell)

10) Benny Goodman Orchestra -- Here's Love In Your Eyes

11) The Mills Brothers -- Glow Worm
(Backed by the Hal McIntyre Orchestra)

12) Ethel Merman -- There's No Business Like Show Business

Please know that you are always welcome to join us in visiting the residents before and after the shows, even to sit with them during it so they can share their reactions with you. You's be a terrific help in lifting spirits and bringing joy. Just look at our month's schedule right here for a time best for you.

Friday, February 06, 2015

How Can My Friends and I Serve Seniors?

Dear _________,

Thanks for your note and for your interest in serving senior citizens and others who tend to be marginalized by our culture. Claire and I would certainly find time to talk to your friends about ministries to seniors if you'd like. But let me start by listing a few of the basic possibilities.

1) Visitation and friendship development.

One of the best ways to begin this kind of ministry is to start with a relative or maybe someone from your church who resides in a nursing home or senior living facility. Just go visit. Talk. Share. Pray together. Listen to the stories of their lives. Read the Bible or the newspaper to them, maybe poetry. And then naturally branch out to that resident's roommate and other friends.

Another option is to contact the pastor of your church and ask him if he'd like some company when he visits the senior care facility (if he does.) You can meet people that way. And you can always contact the activities director of the facility and ask about people living there who most need a little diversion, a little encouragement, a little friendship.

2) Helping out

Just about any nursing home or other senior facility needs help in carrying out its programs and volunteers willing to help are a great treasure. Examples? Transporting wheelchair-bound residents to events. Providing company while the resident goes through therapy. Helping with parties, meals, bingo games, playing cards, worship services, special holiday events, shopping excursions, etc.

3) Entertainment

Singing and/or helping with sing along events. Playing an instrument. Dancing. Short skits. Reading aloud. Sharing hobbies. Coming along with us to visit when we present "When Swing Was King" shows. All kinds of things. Talk to your friends and pray about these opportunities to decide on what you'd most like to do. Then make sure you contact the activities director of the facility for permission and guidance.

4) Seniors outside of "the system."

Be careful to not overlook the possibility of making friends and helping out with the elderly (or others with special needs like the physically or mentally challenged) who still live on their own. There's probably a lot of grandparents among your circle of friends who would love to have a visit and make some young friends. The same is true with other seniors from your various church congregations.

We will say a prayer for you and your friends, asking our Lord to carefully guide and bless your decisions. And again, thanks so much for your note.


Important Reads

* “Man on a High Horse” (Scott Johnson, Power Line)

“IRS knowingly rehired tax cheats, other employees with ‘performance’ issues” (Stephen Dinan, Washington Times)

* “Hundreds More Muslim Rape Gang Cases Discovered in UK” (Robert Spencer, Front Page Magazine)

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

More Violent Hypocrisy from Planned Parenthood

“Planned Parenthood, founded by outspoken eugenicist Margaret Sanger, has led the charge on promoting abortion among the African American population for decades. Since 1973, over 13 million black babies have been aborted, with African American women more than four times as likely to have an abortion than non-Hispanic white women (Hispanic women are 2.7 times more likely than whites). In 2012, there were more black babies killed by abortion in New York City than were born, while the total number of African American abortions comprised 42.4% of abortions performed in the city that year.”

Read more of “Planned Parenthood Celebrates Black History Month” at Ben Shapiro’s Truth Revolt.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

A Quick Walk for Life Review

The photo above shows just a portion of the 4,000 who showed up in the rain and snow for this year's Walk for Life, an annual pro-life witness sponsored by our friends at  Nebraska Right to Life. 

Here at the Capitol steps, we were encouraged by some of the best pro-life speeches we've heard in quite awhile. Those remarks came from NRL leaders, a couple of very sharp college students, and from Nebraska's new Lieutenant-Governor Mike Foley and Congressman Jeff Fortenberry. My favorite line of the morning? The University of Nebraska at Kearney student who said of her generation, "We survived Roe v Wade but Roe v Wade will not survive us."

Of course, Claire and I were able to enjoy the fellowship of many, many good friends and true -- friends we have made from around the state in our long involvement in pro-life ministry. 

The above photo shows that Don Kohls and I seem to be handling the cold, wet weather pretty well. That's because we were talking about one of our favorite topics; namely, our future life with Christ and all His saints on the New Earth! But obviously we weren't alone in this important pro-life witness. At various times during the day we made new friends and met up with friends of longstanding too. I'll be sure to leave some out but here's a partial list: Keith & Barb, Dick, Cindy & Allen, Pat, Jo, Pam, Julie, Sandy, Chuck, Keith & Carol, Don & Vicki, Barb, Kathy & Lynette, Marilee, Paul & Bev, Msgr. Hanefeldt, Joe, Del, Steve, Pat, Greg, Joe & Carol, Sheryl, et al.

After the talk by Mario St. Francis at the Student Union and after the Vital Signs Ministries information booth was very near to running out of the free literature we offer (Randy Alcorn books, Vital Signs brochures, postcards, bookmarks relating to chastity and our "3 for 5" prayer campaign against Planned Parenthood, Claire and I finally dried out a bit from our wet walk through downtown Lincoln. Dick took this final picture before we cleaned up and got ready to head back to Omaha. 
Thanks again to Nebraska Right to Life for a momentous Walk for Life.

“Pro-Life Witness: What’s a Congregation to Do?”

Last Sunday I delivered a sermon to the congregation of Grace Bible Church as part of their observance of Sanctity of Human Life Sunday.  We had a great time at church as we reunited with several longstanding friends and we really appreciated the opportunity.

My talk was a very practical one, “Pro-Life Witness: What’s a Congregation to Do?”  It began with a brief exposition on the purposes of Sanctity of Human Life Sunday: mourning, repentance, education, and a renewal of dedication to defend “the least of these.”  Next, I shared several Scriptural exhortations to “do justice” in the cause of the innocent, the orphan, the widow, and others who are in danger of violence and exploitation.  And then I gave examples of specific actions that can be taken to “improve one’s serve” regarding effective pro-life ministries.  Included in that list were intercession, crisis pregnancy centers, sidewalk counseling, public pro-life witness, letter-writing advocacy, education, outreaches to seniors and the infirm, and promotion of chastity and lifestyles of holiness.  I spoke too of some things a whole church family could engage in.

Along the way through these topics I shared examples from our own years of work with Vital Signs Ministries – stories that are interesting, moving, adventurous, and challenging.  Some are even entertaining.  Pastor Dan Hauge wrote me later saying, “We appreciated Denny's challenge to us this Sunday past. It was a challenge to impact culture instead of allowing culture to impact us. What a great thing it is to come face-to-face with the realities of our commitment to a culture of life and what that looks like in practice. Denny gives a practical ‘to do’ list to help us put legs on the challenges before us. It's difficult to walk out and say, ‘I’m not sure where to go from here’ after a map has been drawn during the message.”

Dan’s kind words motivated me to write up this brief report as an encouragement for you to consider a similar presentation for your church, Sunday School, Bible study group, or whatever.  We come with enthusiasm, a lot of experience, and, as always, we come free of charge!  And, because I have stepped down from being the “perennial guest speaker” at the little church where I’ve been preaching the last 7 years, Sunday mornings can now be fit into the schedule too.  Just give us a call or an e-mail and we’ll work it out.