Friday, April 26, 2019

On the Paradox of Christians Caring for the Sick

“Of all men, we hope most of death; yet nothing will reconcile us to — well, it’s unnaturalness. We know that we are not made for it; we know how it crept into our destiny as an intruder; and we know Who has defeated it. Because our Lord is risen we know that on one level it is an enemy already disarmed; but because we know that the natural level also is God’s creation we cannot cease to fight against the death which mars it, as against all those other blemishes upon it, against pain and poverty, barbarism and ignorance. Because we love something else more than this world we love even this world better than those who know no other.” (C.S. Lewis from the essay, Some Thoughts, written one evening in 1948 at the White Horse Inn at Drogheda, Ireland at the request of the Medical Missionaries of Mary who founded Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital there.The essay was one of many later published in God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics by C.S. Lewis published in 1970.)

Monday, April 22, 2019

An Embarrassing Problem for Darwinians

Here is a slightly edited note from a Vital Signs Blog post of more than ten years ago; July 18, 2008 to be exact. But it's content is as relevant as ever and even the article I mention at the conclusion is still online. Check it out.

“When a butterfly has to look like a leaf, not only are all the details of a leaf beautifully rendered but markings mimicking grub-bored holes are generously thrown in. ‘Natural Selection,’ in the Darwinian sense, could not explain the miraculous coincidence of imitative aspect and imitative behavior, nor could one appeal to the theory of "the struggle for life" when a protective device was carried to a point of mimetic subtlety, exuberance, and luxury far in excess of a predator's power of appreciation. I discovered in nature the non-utilitarian delights that I sought in art. Both were a form of magic, both were a game of intricate enchantment and deception.”

The above paragraph was written, not by William Jennings Bryan or Billy Sunday, but by the decidedly irreligious author of Lolita and Pale Fire (and, more importantly for my money, the translator of Pushkin), Vladimir Nabokov.

It turns out that Nabokov served as the curator of lepidoptera (butterflies) at Harvard University’s Museum of Comparative Zoology in the 1940s. In fact, according to his biographer, Nabokov “became the authority on the little-studied blue butterflies (polyommatini) of North and South America” and was “a pioneer in the study of butterflies' microscopic anatomy, distinguishing otherwise almost identical blues by differences in their genital parts.” And besides his novels and short stories, he published articles in such scientific journals as The Entomologist, The Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, The Lepidopterists' News, and Psyche: A Journal of Entomology.

Of course, this creates a problem of embarrassment in the secular academic circles where Nabokov's literary work has been so highly regarded. I mean, what’s with a renowned liberal humanist vigorously disputing evolution -- and doing so from the most intricate and informed scientific reasoning?

Richard Dawkins, call your office.

Here's more from the Discovery Institute.

A Few More Letters

As promised a couple of days ago, here are a few more letters written at last Saturday morning's letter-writing party.

To the CEO of Walmart regarding a homosexual dating ad recently appearing on the company’s website: Dear Mr. McMillon,

Good grief!  What is Walmart doing having a homosexual ad on your website?  You have always promoted yourselves as a family store and now you’ve decided to be unnecessarily political by using this ad.

Please get back to selling and not advocating social issues that would cause people (like me!) to stop coming to your store.

Attorney General Barr,

We are so glad to see you, at last, at the helm of this ridiculous investigation of our President and “Russian collusion”!  Finally, an adult has entered the room!

God bless you and your efforts.

Franklin Graham and all Samaritan’s Purse workers,

You are really making a difference for the flood victims in Nebraska.  My husband was blessed in working with your team who were efficient and blessed many people with spiritual as well as physical help.

Thank you.

Dear Senator LaGrone,

Thank you for opposing LB627 which is good news.  Other bills I encourage you to oppose are LB 629, 503, 423 & 167.  These bills break the moral foundation of human good will and break down the fabric for a strong state regarding sound family environment.

LB141 is a good bill and I encourage you to support.

Thank you for serving our state.

Senator Sasse,

Thank you for your work to bring the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act to the floor for a vote. God bless you!

Joni & Ken Tada,

We are praying for your healing.  Your daily devotionals have so encouraged us and we have gotten others to sign up for them.  Now, we want to encourage you both in this journey.  Your faith and courage is a model for us all.

Blessings in bunches!

Dear Mr. President,

We are so encouraged by your leadership to correct our “ship of state.”  Please hold steady on Israel, the economy, and protection of our border!

May God bless you, your lovely wife and family.  You all are in our prayers daily.

Dear Joni,

So sad to hear of a reoccurring cancer bout.  Our hearts are in prayer for you.

God has so mightily used you for His kingdom purposes, where so many downtrodden have been lifted up and given the hope that comes from giving the gospel to desperate and needy people.

We all look to the day when the transfer of these bodies will put on the new.  In the meantime, thank you for displaying Christ before a desperate and needy world.

Dear President Trump,

Thank you for supporting family values and for defunding Planned Parenthood.  Thanks for publicly standing for life and your speech encouraging us at the March for Life. God bless you in all your ways as you seek Him.

Dear Secretary DeVos,

We are grateful to have you serving in the Education Dept.  We are concerned about the “gender identity” issue as it affects school athletics, specifically Title IX.

Trans-boys are still men in build and strength and will usually beat even strong girls.  How does this advance women’s sports?  Please apply some common sense to this issue.  Let the birth certificate be your guide.

Dear Mr. McMillon,

We are very disappointed in your caving in to immoral groups instead of standing for family interests.

I have boycotted Target for many years and have favored Walmart.  Now I feel like you have left me with no choice to shop in a family-friendly store.

Please consider your ways and return to the founding fathers of your company.  You still can do what’s right in God’s eyes.

Dear Senator Lindstrom,

There are a few bills sitting in committee that deal with supporting and encouraging abortion.  Please vote against bills LB 629, LB 503, and  LB 423.  We have made great strides in curtailing women from getting abortions.  There are wonderful pregnancy centers in Nebraska that work very hard to provide life-saving programs.  Don’t make their jobs harder by voting for these bills.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Speaking Truth to Power (Through Letters)

In this post I'm going to drop in a few of the letters I wrote at last Saturday morning's brunch version of Vital Signs Ministries' longstanding series of letter-writing parties. In the next day or two, I'll post a few samples of letters and notes written by others at the gathering. They are all posted, however, in high hopes that you will be inspired to write a few of your own.

Remember, lighting candles is always better than just cursing the darkness!

Dear President Trump,

Wow! What a remarkable job you are doing -- for the cause of freedom, for the national interest, for the hopes to rebuild in America a culture that again respects and protects life. We are profoundly grateful and we thank the Lord for blessing you with special courage, wisdom, and compassion. You are a man for our time; there’s no doubt.  

In particular, we want to again thank you for your efforts to defund Planned Parenthood and for your strategic, vocal support of the pro-life movement.   

However, if I may, I’d like to urge you to reconsider two policy courses: 

1) Could you please increase U.S. offers to legally bring in legal immigrants among those refugees who are fleeing persecution because of their Christian convictions? I agree with your desires to get tougher on illegal immigration and to allow in fewer overall numbers. But way too many persecuted Christians who could become legal and productive members of American society are being left out. Remember, they possess a faith that aligns them with American values, rather than so many of those crossing our southern border who do not share the ideals of democracy, justice, responsibility, family, and respect for law. 

 And 2) Please remove Secretary Acosta. He and his policies are not a good fit for your team and, more important, not a good fit the American economy and workplace.   

Again, we are so grateful for the way you leading the United States and, by strengthening our national defense and our moral fiber, also serving the cause of freedom throughout the world.

Dear Attorney General Barr,  

Oh my! Is it ever time to “drain the swamp” in the nation’s intelligence and law enforcement agencies! And it’s also way past time to move past the false charges, character assassination, and outright lies that were used to try smear the Trump presidency and move instead to the investigation of possible crimes perpetrated by the Clinton campaign and the Obama-era FBI and other agencies.  

Thank you so much.

Dear Senator Sasse,

A quick note of thanks for your superb work on the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. No matter what happens with this bill in the U.S. Congress (and we still pray fervently it will soon pass), it has already had a huge impact in the cultural battles over the sanctity of life. Really terrific!  

Thank you also for your stirring remarks at the Assure Women’s Center banquet a couple of weeks ago and at the Walk for Life down in Lincoln last January. You are a sterling example of a politician that is pro-life in action and not just at the fish frys!

Again thanks. And please stay the course.

Dear Secretary DeVos,  

Thank you for your principled, wise, and courageous service in behalf of our nation and, specifically, to the cause of improving the education of its youth.

However, I do have some profound concerns about the state of education in the U.S. As a former teacher, for instance, I remain greatly disturbed at the crucial problems of crime, bullying, anti-Christian and anti-American propaganda, the suppression of religious freedom, and what seems to be an ever-increasing failure to teach basic skills in the schools.

And added to these grave problems nowadays are the pressures to promote “sexual nonsense” like shared bathrooms and showers, girls taking their place on boys’ wrestling squads, drag queens leading “story times” at elementary schools, Planned Parenthood’s gross and wildly counter-productive sex ed programs, and political propaganda (always from one direction only) being delivered on a daily basis.

We are praying earnestly that you and the present administration can make serious progress in meeting these problems. 

Thank you.

Keeping Up With It All?

Are you managing to keep up with the best stuff from the alternative media? Of course not. Not even the most devoted “news junkie” among us can do so nowadays. There's just too much craziness and moral ugliness to report on. Nevertheless, I try to occasionally drop in here a compilation post of some of the “best of the best” dealing with matters important to pro-life, pro-freedom activists. So, here's the latest.

* “Four Arguments for GOP Politicians Serious about Defunding Planned Parenthood” (Alexandra DeSanctis, National Review)

* “Students, alumni [of Christian college] outraged, ‘shaking’ after Vice President Pence invited to give commencement” (Caleb Parke, Fox News)

* “House Democrats Introduce Bill Forcing Schools to Allow Boys on Girls Sports Teams” (Warner Todd Huston, Breitbart)

* “Will The Democratic Party Faithful Ever Notice Their Leaders Are Crazy?” (Warren Henry, The Federalist)

* “Are There Any Limits to Illegal Immigration?” (Victor Davis Hanson, American Greatness)

* “The collusion lie came at a tremendous cost” (Newt Gingrich, Fox News)

* “Seattle’s Revolt of the Elites” (Christopher F. Rufo, City Journal)

* “Google Caves to the Intolerant Left, Betraying Its Own Ideals” (Helle Dale, Daily Signal)

* “Christian athlete sacked from Australia Rugby team for quoting Bible on homosexuality” (Martin M. Barillas, LifeSiteNews)

* “Today, You Pay Your Federal Taxes. Tomorrow Is the Real Tax Freedom Day.” (Rachel Greszler, Daily Signal)

Thursday, April 11, 2019

When the World Presses In, Remember Heaven

Okay, it's official. The world is in a horrific condition.

And being a Christian committed to living a godly lifestyle, spreading the gospel, building a culture of life and, yes, battling the spiritual forces who would do us in can create a little stress from time to time. Right?

The issue then becomes what to do to stay on top of our circumstances when they start pressing in.  Here's a few important answers.

1) Pray for strength and wisdom.

2) Take God seriously and yourself less so.

3) Use the vertigo caused by dizzying problems to better relish the security that is ours in heaven. As the old country hymn goes:

This world is not my home;
I’m just a passin’ through.
My treasure is laid up
Somewhere beyond the blue.
The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.

O Lord, You know I have no friend like You.
If heaven weren’t my home, O Lord, what would I do?
No, those angels beckon me from heaven’s open door.
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.

And 4) after being renewed in spirit as you contemplate spending eternity in the serenity, beauty and glory of Christ's presence, remember to “press back” by continuing to serve the Lord.  Whether or not we feel like it, whether or not it seems convenient, whether or not there will be anybody applauding or standing alongside — we have a responsibility to keep God’s priorities in view and, as faithfully as possible, to carry them out with perseverance, principle, and even pizazz!

One more important note. If your ideas of heaven are kinda' fuzzy and they don't provide the kind of valuable consolation and excitement I refer to above, please put Randy Alcorn's book, Heaven and Joni Eareckson Tada's Heaven: Your Real Home on your immediate "to read" list!

Don't put it off. I'm telling you, these books will change your life. And yes, if you've read them before, read 'em again. The times require it.

P.S. One of the books mentioned above is the focus in our next Vital Signs book discussion series. In fact, it is so valuable a read that we are actually offering 2 different times for it. Joni Earckson Tada has recently published an updated and expanded edition of Heaven: Your Real Home and, believe me, it’s even better than the first one.  Those discussion parties will be 1) a brunch discussion on Saturday, May 11th at 10:00 AM and 2) Tuesday evening with dessert at 7:00 PM on May 14th.  RSVPs are required