Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Bleak Midwinter Posts (#2) -- More Excellent Articles

 * "The Worst Media Misses of 2021" (Brittany Bernstein & Isaac Schorr, National Review)

Bleak Midwinter Posts (#1) -- A Communist China Edition

 * "Apple Removes Bible and Qur’an from China" (John Stonestreet & Maria Baer, BreakPoint)

"Why U.S. giants keep caving to China" (Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian, Axios)

A Whole Season of Christmas

(The following is reposted, with a couple of edits, from 16 years ago!)

Contrary to popular belief, the season of Christmas is NOT the period from Thanksgiving through December 25th. That idea comes more from modern advertisers and merchandise salesman – the “only so many shopping days ’til Christmas” folks. Oh, no; the true season of Christmas is not the period leading up to Christmas Day but rather the one leading from it! And for Claire and I, the Twelve Days of Christmas is so much more than the title of a terribly redundant song; it presents particularly marvelous and memorable opportunities to celebrate the Advent of our Lord.

Let's face it -- Christmas is just too big and beautiful to be contained in one day. True, we love December and its various anticipations of Christmas and we engage in a whole host of Christmassy activities during that month. (Check out the December LifeSharer letter right here to see a few.) However, many of our most enjoyable and fruitful celebrations begin rather than end on December 25th. Indeed, while so many people (even Christians) are weighed down by the post-holiday blues, we're just getting underway! 

Are you interested in stretching your Christmas out to its fullest? Well, here are a few suggestions.

1) The enjoyment of Christmas movies, reading, music, and parties go on apace for Claire and me even after the 25th. This is an extremely helpful exercise for all those people who complain about how fast Christmas comes and goes. Take it easy! When you utilize the whole season (all of December and then the 12 Days of Christmas proper), you'll see you'll have more time for Christmas priorities as well as its most pleasant diversions. Many who adopt this approach find that as they de-emphasize the one day celebration (with its hectic stress on big dollar presents and big dinner preparations), they are much more able to enjoy family, contemplation, and the other more spiritual elements of Christmas.

2) The nobility of celebrating the entire season of Christmas is that it emphasizes extending over spending. Our gift-giving goes a long way beyond Christmas Morning because we open presents each of the Twelve Days. Imagine how much fun that is! And yet the costs of gift giving actually went down with this practice, not up. For even though we are giving each other more gifts than ever, we have become more creative and personal in our selection. We might still buy each other a couple of “pricey” gifts but, with a whole 12 Days to cover, we were forced to come up with other ideas. And those other ideas have proven to be delightful ways of coming together in the spirit of Christmas.

For example, now our Christmas gifts include more personal favors and time spent together. For instance, Claire opens an envelope on the Seventh Day of Christmas which contains a new recipe along with a note declaring that I'm fixing that particular dish for supper tonight. Or it might be a day off from housework, the addresses of three newly discovered websites I know she'll enjoy checking out, or just a promise of a leisurely car ride out in the country. As for my pleasure in gifts, it is centered on inexpensive things anyway like used books, used records, and...let's see; did I mention used books and records already? Anyhow, the point is that whether you use twelve days or one day to celebrate Christmas, the gifts that matter most are ones that underscore things like time, creativity, and personal attention more than mere “stuff.” For us, the extended approach was very helpful in pursuing the better things.

3) Even within the Twelve Days of Christmas, Claire and I have a few special observances, especially St. Stephen's Day (December 26th) and the Feast of the Holy Innocents (December 28th). Activities for observing the former should certainly include reading the Acts passages relating to Stephen's selection as deacon, his sermon before the Council, and his martyrdom. It could also involve writing a letter or two to missionaries, witnessing to your Faith, or visiting a widow or someone else in need of encouragement. And Holy Innocents Day, of course, has an obvious significance for pro-life activists like us. It is an excellent time for spiritual exercises and public actions that promote the sanctity of life.

4) Another important element of our Christmas season is taking time to consider, pray about, and discuss our New Year's resolutions. Now, I know some Christians are critical of those who make New Year's resolutions. That's unfortunate. I assume it's because these critics believe making resolutions suggests a dependence upon one's own strength rather than God's grace. Wrong. Making resolutions is most definitely a biblical practice. Think for a moment about the Scripture's use of exhortational verbs like reckon, count, establish, consider, dedicate, consecrate, remember, put aside, purpose, gird your mind, and many more. All refer to the prayerful making (and keeping) of resolutions to live godly. An evaluation of one's life is always in order as is a careful plan of action to be more effective as a “doer of the Word.” After all, this is a key purpose of the Sabbath rest God instituted. So, why not use the Twelve Days to go deeper than usual in your spiritual analysis so that you can better serve the Savior in the year to come?

5) And finally, all things come to their completion. The Christmas season is over for us when Twelfth Night comes around but there's one more important Christmas event. That is our celebration of Epiphany on January 6th. Epiphany is the holiday when the manifestation of Jesus is celebrated in much of the world, the day when we remember the visit of the magi as well as the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan. It is also the gift-giving Christmas for much of the eastern world. Claire and I use Epiphany as a way to close our Christmas season and we do so with a final Christmas party. Most significantly, we take time with our friends to wrap up the figures from our main nativity set, each person sharing a testimony or a prayer relating to each nativity figure. It is always a very moving time of fellowship.

So, there you go -- a few ideas from our house to yours about how Christmas can be extended in time and, we believe, elevated in spirit.

Monday, December 20, 2021

"The Christmas of the Talking Animals" (Audio)

If a quiet 1/2 hour ever comes along in your hectic holiday schedule, you might enjoy this Christmas short story I wrote several years ago. This is an audio version that KGBI used to play on Christmas morning back in the mists of time.

"The Christmas of the Talking Animals" is a story about a 9-year old boy with a lively imagination who experiences a most remarkable Christmas when he visits his grandpa's Missouri farm in 1952. 

I think you'll find "The Christmas of the Talking Animals" a winsome, wholesome story with a very old-fashioned ingredient; namely, a spiritual moral.

Friday, December 17, 2021


Since last month's letter, there have been some very significant ministry activities (including a lot of Christmassy happenings) that we hope you find of interest, thanksgiving, and inspiration. 

Follow this link to read all about them...and to look at a few photos as well. 

Thursday, December 09, 2021

Oops. The Establishment Media Forgot to Report This.

* "Record Homicides in City After City: With three weeks still to go in 2021, at least 12 major U.S. cities have broken their annual homicide records. Two other cities are on the verge of doing so." (Paul Mirengoff, PowerLine)

* "How America’s progressive citadels became crime centres: Left-wing policies have been a disaster in the US's most liberal cities." (Joel Kotkin, UnHerd)

* "It Is Casey, Not Roe, on Trial Before the Supreme Court: Science trumps stare decisis." (Margot Cleveland, American Spectator)

* "California’s Golden Opportunities for Criminals: The Golden State incentivizes destruction and death by giving criminals strong legal incentives to practice their trade." (Lloyd Billingsley, American Greatness)

* "Transgender athletes’ victories mean women and girls lose" (Carrie Sheffield, New York Post)

* "Fairfax County library puts 'Gender Queer' and 'Lawn Boy' next to Bible in 'holiday reading display'" (Tyler O'Neil, Fox News)

Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Facing a Post-Roe America

In this 30-minute presentation, veteran pro-life activist Denny Hartford takes a provocative look back on the history of the pro-life movement for lessons that need to be applied to the movement's future.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Christmas Cards -- With a Purpose

What a terrific Christmas card party last! 20 participants. Stimulating and warm-hearted fellowship around 4 tables. And, in about 90 minutes, that remarkable group completed 158  cards and letters! Wow.

Among the recipients of our efforts will be politicians, business leaders, Christian champions, first responders, and lonely senior citizens. Also, 22 Christians imprisoned for their Christian beliefs in Iran, China, and Eritrea were each sent 3 different Christmas cards with encouraging messages and Scriptures in their own language!

Dear friends, perhaps you should ask your pastor, “Wouldn’t this kind of letter-writing party be an excellent outreach ministry for our church? Winsome. Relevant. Easily do-able. Even fun. What about it?”

Oh, by the way, beginning tomorrow and continuing for a couple of days or so, we will post a few of those Christmas cards here on the blog. 

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Attention Christmas Card Writers!

Monday, November 29th from 6:30 to 8:30 PM at our home is the site for the annual VSM Christmas Card Party. Vital Signs Ministries hosts a quarterly letter-writing night which helps Christians serve as pro-life, pro-family advocates to political officials, business leaders, and media; letters of encouragement to persecuted Christians; and thank you sentiments to military veterans, first responders, and heroes involved in key Christian ministries. 

However, the Christmas Card edition of this important series is always especially engaging, enjoyable, and festive. So, please plan on joining us. We will supply all the materials including the Christmas cards, the address sheets, the postage, and the Christmas treats needed to sustain the letter-writers! 

And, of course, RSVPs are deeply appreciated.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

And Moving Right Along (A VSM Update)

It has been quite a few days for us because along with all of our regular ministry activities for Vital Signs, we have been busy with mowing the lawn for the final time this year, mulching the fallen leaves, presenting several “When Swing Was King” shows, and taking advantage of an especially nice day to put up the Christmas lights.  We also had a splendid time at the church service we conduct every Sunday afternoon at Aksarben Village Senior Living (my sermon was on Philippians 1:22-27) complete with visiting over desert treats afterward.  Related to this ministry too is a couple of hospital visits.

But that’s not all.  We attended a showing of Oliver Goldsmith’s play, She Stoops to Conquer, at Concordia High School on Sunday night, one of the actors being a young friend who was with us on our climb up Mt. Bierstadt last July.  There were also the regular fellowship meetings on Tuesday (Dick, Sharon, & Allen) and Thursday mornings (Patrick & John) plus a “bonus coffee” on Monday with Gary Warrick to discuss Joel Rosenberg's Enemies and Allies, a remarkable book we had both recently read. Oh yes; there was the necessity of moving furniture around to make way for the carpet cleaner coming this afternoon and having a plumber come in and unclog a kitchen drain last night.

Anything else?  Yes, a bit.  Last Friday night I spoke at a chili supper gathering at a church in Fremont and on Monday afternoon we went shopping for soccer balls and hand pumps for our Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes. On Monday morning there were prayers and a public pro-life presence in front of the Planned Parenthood abortion business.And finally, there were letters written, books read, getting our weekly activity packet out to senior facilities, and the preparations made for this weekend’s getaway with our book club at the Prairie Creek Bed & Breakfast outside Lincoln. That will be a very pleasant respite and so we’re looking forward to it.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

With a Little Help From Our (Praying) Friends

For friends of Vital Signs Ministries who serve the cause through intercession, here are a few prayer requests for the Lord's blessings on upcoming Vital Signs Ministries activities. We really appreciate your partnership in this.

* VSM's quarterly writing party (the Christmas edition) is at our home on November 29. Among the letter targets for the evening will be Christian heroes, first responders, senior citizens, persecuted Christians, and politicians and business leaders regarding pro-life measures, abortion funding in so-called infrastructure bills, voter fraud, and unconstitutional injection mandates. You're invited to participate.

* While "When Swing Was King" is making a comeback from the disastrous 20 months of virus lockdowns of senior facilities, we are asking the Lord to open up more opportunities and free us from restrictions in those places where we have been allowed back. Also, now is the time for churches and small groups to invite us to present the lovely, heartwarming, and inspirational Christmas edition of "When Swing Was King."

* I have a couple of speaking engagements on the schedule: this Friday at a chili supper at the Fremont Nazarene Church and another for Nebraskans Embracing Life on December 4th.

* The details haven't been set yet but it looks like the next Book Brunch will be some Saturday morning in December over Mollie Hemingway’s Rigged: How the Media, Big Tech, and the Democrats Seized Our Elections. We might make this a Zoom event so even those far afield of Omaha could participate. Let us know if you're interested.

Sunday, November 07, 2021

Pie Social/50th Anniversary Wrap Up

We didn’t have long to bask in the glow of our grand 50th Anniversary pie social party on Friday night. Indeed, I was at Paradise the next morning at 6 for catching up in my journal and planning the coming week...and that was followed by meeting Claire and several of our friends at the abortion business for prayers and public witness to the sanctity of life. The afternoon, in between watching some college football, involved finishing my prep for the sermon, music, and treats for our Aksarben Village church service on Sunday afternoon.  I would be remiss, however, if I didn’t post here on Vital Signs Blog at least a quick review of that 50th Anniversary event.

First of all, we want to thank all of you who attended the event -- 90 in all. And though Claire and I were both doing our best to “work the room,” we regret very much not being able to personally visit all of you. We want you to know your presence was noted and it was deeply treasured.

That congregation of dear friends came from many circles of Claire’s and my life.  Some go all the way back to our Christian Brotherhood beginnings; some from our book club; some from a common love of place (Estes Park, Branson, the Panera coffee shop); some from mountain hiking.  But the whole group present share with Claire and me a dedication to defending and promoting the biblical teaching on the sanctity of all human life. What an honor then it was to hang out with such principled, gracious, and courageous men and women. Thank you for being a part of this momentous celebration. 

Another thank you (a very special one) goes out to those who came early to create such a beautiful and efficient setting for the event.  Setting up the chairs and tables is a big enough job, but these guys decorated the place with tablecloths, centerpieces, chocolate treats, Scripture crds, and more.  They also posted direction signs; prepared the coffee and hot water for tea; prepared the pies and anniversary cake; set up the screen, projector, and speaker for the PowerPoint program; and even placed a welcome table for folks coming in.  It was a heavy job, generously and effectively performed.  Leading the way were the evening’s “hosts” Larry & Deb Harrold but right alongside were Jim & Jeanne Lawson, Allen & Cindy Nelson, Matt Troutman, Karla Struble, and Keith & Carol Moran.  Thank you all.

The program for the evening was pretty simple.  Claire took a few minutes to answer the trivia questions Allen had passed out to people coming in and she told a few brief stories that were heartwarming, funny, and inspirational.  That was followed by a 15-minute musical PowerPoint featuring photos from our 50 years of marriage and ministry adventure. It was nostalgic, fun, and yet inspirational too.  I then closed the program with a few observations from Proverbs about God’s power, love, and wisdom in imparting “good” (a specific Hebrew word) to His children.  For some that “good” is the gift of marriage; for others, it is the gift of singleness.  And that “good” doesn’t stop even when challenges come our way, including even the tragic trial of losing a spouse.  The exhortations were well received, helping us all to appreciate the unique calling Christ serves into each individual Christian.

Of course, there were also a few remarks about upcoming Vital Signs opportunities before we ended the program and moved on to the desserts and the delightful, stimulating fellowship that emerges from saints getting together for holy purposes.

It was a night we will long treasure and we again thank all of you who helped make it such an inspiring success.

Friday, November 05, 2021

News the "News Media" Is Hiding From You

* "26 fire stations in New York City close after workers resist liberal mayor’s vax mandate" (Jack Bingham, LifeSiteNews)

* "Study shows dramatic decline in effectiveness of all three COVID-19 vaccines over time" (Melissa Healy, LA Times)

* "What’s in Third Version of Biden’s Big Government Spending Bill" (Christian Mysliwiec, Daily Signal)

* "Hey Pope Francis, If Abortion is “Murder” Then Rebuke Joe Biden for Promoting It" (Rebecca Downs, LifeNews.com)

* "RFK Jr. tells LifeSite ‘sadistic’ Fauci funded research of grafting scalps of aborted babies onto rats" (John-Henry Westen, LifeSiteNews)

* "(Twix) Candy ad pushes transgenderism, punishment for kids who dare think crossdressing is 'weird'" (Doug Mainwaring, LifeSiteNews)

* "Florida elementary school under investigation for taking students on field trip to gay bar" (Matt Lamb, LifeSiteNews)

The Latest "Wow" Articles from the Culture Wars

* "Audit: Wisconsin Could Have Counted Enough Illegal Votes To Tip The 2020 Election To Biden" (Dan O'Donnell, Federalist)

* "Arrest illustrates how the Steele dossier was a political dirty trick orchestrated by Hillary Clinton" (Andrew C. McCarthy, New York Post)

* "American Media Companies Give Rise to Taliban’s Soft Power" (Annelise Butler, Thomas Vella -- Daily Signal)

* "Mandating Trouble: Mayor de Blasio’s needlessly inflexible requirement that city workers be vaccinated will endanger New York." (Joel Zinberg, City Journal)

* "Project Veritas Video Exposes 'Illegal Conduct' in One NJ Polling Location" (Leah Barkoukis, Town Hall)

* "Washington Post Wants Facebook to Shut Down PJ Media and Others for 'Climate Denial'" (Robert Spencer, PJ Media)

* "Los Angeles County sheriff blasts vaccine mandate causing 'mass exodus'" (Joshua Rhett Miller, New York Post)

“Making Mention” Prayers

The apostle Paul writes to the believers at Thessalonica, “We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers.” (First Thessalonians 1: 2,3)  But Paul and his ministry colleagues engaged in many more “making mention” prayers than these verses refer to. Indeed, he uses the exact same words (connected in every case with prayers of Thanksgiving for believers) in Romans 1:9, Ephesians 1:16, Philemon 4, and very similar wording in Colossians 1:3 and Philippians 1:4. That’s quite a lot of references — more than enough for us to be curious about what “making mention” prayers are all about.

The Greek words Paul uses here reveal no mysterious meaning. No, “making mention” means just what it seems; that is, briefly naming in his prayers the believers in the various churches who have lifted his spirits because of their faithfulness to God. Now, the apostle may well find time to intercede for them regarding other issues. And he may well, in other instances, spend more time in his prayers for them. But what we see in these passages are that Paul’s Thanksgiving-oriented prayers simply make mention of them. We see too that he did so as a frequent activity. That is what is made clear with the word “always,” a word that is used in extra-biblical Greek literature to refer to an ongoing cough. Therefore, this doesn’t point to a mystical preoccupation — an ideal that is, in practice, unattainable. It merely means that Paul remembered, thought of, and made mention of these Christians in his regular, ongoing prayers.

I find these little verses of tremendous interest and full of stimulating applications. Among them? 1) Paul, though responsible for the immense responsibilities of apostleship, preaching the gospel, defending the Faith, overseeing the churches, traveling, sometimes making tents, sometimes dealing with persecution and the trials of imprisonment, was nevertheless a Christian leader who frequently prayed for individual believers. His prayers were not solely concerned with “cosmic forces” but also for individual saints. 2) Paul’s prayers were not prompted only because of trouble, trial, or sin in peoples lives. No, he obviously spent a great deal of his prayer time interceding for Christians who were doing well. Are we remembering to do the same? Again, Paul’s example and the number of Bible verses involved here testify that we should be.

3) Another important thing to note in reading all of these verses is that Paul was not merely praying that God bless these believers, but he was thanking God for their love and loyalty to Christ. Indeed, gratitude towards God is clearly the emphasis. We are so used to supplication in our prayers (asking God for blessings) that we often overlook the need to simply give Him thanks for blessings already received. And Paul recognized that those blessings were not just daily bread, deliverances, spiritual strength, conversions, the fruits of the Spirit, and on and on…but they included God’s splendid work in other saints. We should make sure this is a part of our prayer experience too.

4) Were Paul and Silas and Timothy praying “off the top of their heads” or did they perhaps have a prayer list? Did they have set times of prayer or did they merely find whatever time in the day was available? Did they pray together as a group? Or did they pray alone? Did they talk to God out loud or silently? We will not, on this side of the Jordan, be able to conclusively answer such questions. Yet I feel fairly safe to suggest the answers are: all of the above! And so the task before you and I is to emulate their behavior, using whatever methods serve best to help us pray more frequently, more intelligently, and more confidently.

5) These verses also prove that prayers for others do not need to be long, detailed, impassioned prayers. Some times they will be. That will depend upon the need, the depth of the relationship, and so on. But don’t be fooled by false guilt. Short, “making mention” prayers also please God and draw down His blessing. Furthermore, those brief prayers also lift our spirits and stimulate us to the same love and good deeds we see in our faithful brothers and sisters.

And here’s one more item I have found inspirational in these verses, 6) Just as the faith, love, and hope of the believers in Thessalonica, Ephesus, Rome, and the rest provided great joy to the apostle Paul and his team, you and I can greatly contribute to the joy, thanksgiving, and spiritual health of other believers as we stay the course for the Master. Should our primary motivation for faithfulness be our desire to please the Lord Jesus Himself? Of course. But, in the glorious plan and provision of God, it does not end there. Our faithfulness pleases the Lord, yes; but it also enriches and guides other Christians, rebukes and convicts unbelievers, moves the Kingdom of God forward, impresses angels and disheartens demons, and lays up treasure for ourselves in heaven.

In summary — Make prayers for others a priority. It will take creativity, work, and endless restarts and fine-tuning. But keep after it. Also make sure you’re not neglecting to pray for Christians who are doing well. And pray in joyful thanksgiving to God for their doing so. Finally, let your efforts to create an effective prayer life be as purposeful and committed as all of your other spiritual responsibilities.

Thursday, October 28, 2021

"Blowing Up" The Establishment Narrative

* "Ground Zero of Woke: Universities are making themselves not just disliked and disreputable but ultimately irrelevant and replaceable." (Victor Davis Hanson, American Greatness)

* "Columbia Law Professor Explains Why Public Schools Are Tearing America Apart" (Joy Pullmann, Federalist)

* "Biden builds back in the USSR" (Dominic Green, American Spectator)

* "Lindsey Graham, 'The Arlen Specter of the South' Strikes Again" (Paul Mirengoff, Power Line)

* "Whose Children Are These?" (Larry Sand, City Journal)

* "Celtics' Enes Kanter torches Nike for remaining 'silent' on China's slave labor" (Breck Dumas, Fox Business)

And While You Weren't Looking (More Info They Hope You Don't Read)

* "Sleepy Joe’s Disastrous Four Months" (Andrew Stiles, Washington Free Beacon)

* "D'oh Biden" (Charles Lipson, Real Clear Politics)

* "Florida school board member takes elementary school students on field trip to gay bar" (Emma Colton, Fox News)

* "Iran's Mullahs and China Empowered Under Biden Administration" (Majid Rafizadeh, Gatestone Institute)

* "The ignoble lie" (Victor Davis Hanson, Jewish World Review)

* "America Gone Mad" (Conrad Black, American Greatness)

* "Why Democrats' Scheme to Tax Unrealized Capital Gains Should Terrify You" (David Ennocenti, American Thinker)

Friday, October 22, 2021

Alternatives to the Mainstream Media Madness

Here's the latest in our ongoing compilations of "wow" articles from alternative media. They are important reads, indeed.

* "Democrats’ Destructive Spending Spree Would Turn America Into a European Social Welfare State" (Grace-Marie Turner, Daily Signal)

* "Walmart vs. Whiteness" (Christopher F. Rufo, City Journal)

* "Opportunities to Do Nothing" (Steven Malanga, City Journal)

* "TV star Austin Peck talks about challenges of being pro-life in Hollywood" (Doug Mainwaring, LifeSiteNews)

* "Miss World finalist resigns from competition over COVID jab" (Jeanne Smits, LifeSiteNews)

* "Female athletes say they faced pressure to abort: 'It seemed like no choice at all'" (Right to Life UK, Live Action News)

Catching Up

Wow articles? I've got a few of the best of 'em right here!

* "We Must Never Get Used to the New Cultural Craziness" (Michael Brown, The Stream)

* "The January 6 Insurrection Hoax" (Roger Kimball, Imprimis)

* "A Catholic saint is canceled in Los Angeles and the Catholic Church is quiet" (Jonathan Morris, Fox News)

* "Lectures From Limousine Liberals" (Bridget Phettasy, Tablet)

* "How Our Children’s Addiction to Technology Hurts the Country" (Armstrong Williams, Daily Signal)

* "What Happened to the Beloved Military?" (Victor Davis Hanson, American Greatness)

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

And Now We're Home...

After two weeks of beginning my day with coffee at the Panera in Branson, Missouri, yesterday morning found me back home at my regular morning haunt over at the Paradise in Regency. It was a bit of a let-down, of course, because we did have a wonderful time in our annual working vacation there in the Ozarks, yet the Lord encouraged us there in many ways and gave us clearer perspectives and purposes for Vital Signs Ministries. So, we are refreshed in both mind and spirit as we assume the next steps in this great adventure.

That second week in Branson was a full one. For instance, at a coffee shop inHollister, Claire and I had our 3rd quarter evaluation of our progress on 2021's resolutions. Overall, our grades were encouraging and the discussion of how to finish the year strong was very helpful...Claire finished a couple of books and I finished the 3 volumes of Dante's Divine Comedy (plus enjoying an Ellery Queen detective novel and a WWII British submarine novel for desert.)...We fed the ducks a couple more times...We had 3 more long walks along Table Rock Lake (one of them a 5.2 mile hike in the rain!)...I prepped for upcoming Sunday afternoon church services at Aksarben Village Senior Living and for a talk I'm giving this Saturday at a men's retreat...We wrote some more letters and social media posts...And we worked on upcoming Vital Signs projects including this Saturday's Wilberforce Brunch and the Pie Social on November 5.

Our journey home on Saturday was very pleasant -- nice weather, a breakfast in Bolivar with missionary champions (and my cousin!) Gary & Martha Ellsworth, and listening to the Minnesota v Nebraska football game on the radio. Not nearly as pleasant was mowing the lawn as soon as we got home but it was terribly overdue and really needed it. Sunday we skipped church because we still had a lot to do to get ready for our Sunday afternoon service but that went extremely well. What a great group. 

And then Monday saw work during my early morning coffee at Paradise before joining Claire, Keith, Jim, and others for our prayer and public pro-life witness outside the Planned Parenthood abortion business. Next up was the first "When Swing Was King" show of the month Heritage at Sterling Ridge and then editing the Branson photos for posting. And now we're into Tuesday with a Panera meeting this morning with Dick and Sharon, getting about 50 pounds of popcorn for distribution, a haircut, and the next of 3 more "When Swing Was King" shows this week.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

The First Week of a (Working) Vacation

Well, we have completed (and then some) the first week of our annual working vacation down here in Branson and we have been pleased with its course. On the vacation front, we have taken three long hikes beside Table Rock Lake and another in Dogwood Canyon; fed ducks on Lake Tanneycomo; had a little bit of success in clothes shopping; had a cook-out at the Lake; enjoyed a few meals out at our favorite Branson diners; strolled along the booths at the Hollister Grape Festival; and twice now attended the Sunday worship service of Friendly Baptist Church. Contributing to our enjoyment has been the presence here in Branson for a few days of Keith and Carol Moran with whom we spent several delightful times.

 And on the working front? We’ve had a pretty good run there as well. I wrote the October LifeSharer letter during one of the early morning coffee times I take every day at the Branson Panera and we got it sent back to the printer. We participated in the Life Chain. We’ve written and sent quite a few letters. We made a video recording of my sermon for this Sunday’s Aksarben Village Senior Living church service. We finished the 3rd quarter evaluations of the year’s resolutions and discussed them. And finally, we got quite a bit of reading in. 

 What’s up for our second week? We certainly will be feeding the ducks another time or two as well as dining again at the Keeter Center there at the College of the Ozarks. We will also be working on preparations for the Vital Signs Pie Social on Friday, November 5th where we will be celebrating our 50th marriage anniversary. And there’s sermon prep for Aksarben Village, correspondence, reading, lake walking, prayers sessions, and crafting talks for a men’s retreat for Grace Bible Church and a chili cook-off event for Fremont Nazarene Church. This annual working vacation has, over the years, been a wonderful help to us personally and to Vital Signs and we are so grateful to the VSM Board for allowing us the time.

Saturday, October 09, 2021

God's Purposes Will Be Established (Isaiah 46:8-10)

From Table Rock Lake outside Branson, Missouri, Denny presents a brief commentary on the value and effects of remembering the "former things" God has accomplished. (13 minutes)

Saturday, October 02, 2021

The Latest "Reality Check" List

* "The Symptoms of Our Insanity" (Victor Davis Hanson, American Greatness)

* "House Dems United in Death" (Tony Perkins, Family Research Council)

* "New York’s new governor wants Facebook to ‘curb the spread’ of the pro-life message" (Nancy Flanders, Live Action News)

* "Supreme Court Cases to Watch in the 2021-22 Term" (Zack Smith, Alexander Phipps, Daily Signal)

* "Tough on Russia? Not Joe Biden." (Paul Mirengoff, Power Line)

* "The Labor Shortage Isn’t Just Closing Small Businesses, But Shattering Entire Retirement Plans" (Kylee Zempel, Federalist)

"Your Move" (The Latest Compilation of News You Can Use)

* "COVID-19 and the Death of Science" (Victor Davis Hanson, Daily Signal)

* "France rejects American 'woke' culture that is 'racializing' country" (Louis Casiano, Fox News)

* "Chicago to mount bleeding control kits throughout city to help adapt to new 'environment'" (Robert Jonathan, BPR)

* "How Crazy Are the Democrats? This Crazy." (John Hinderaker, Power Line)

* "Pelosi’s archbishop: Women’s Health Protection Act is a bill you’d 'expect from a Satanist, not a Catholic'" (Laura Nicole, Live Action News)

* "How Should Christians Use Religious Exemptions for Vaccine Mandates?" (David Closson, Family Research Council)

* "Biden’s Del Rio Bridge Crisis: Far More Than Just Optics Problem" (Chad Wolf  et al, Daily Signal)

Friday, October 01, 2021

"Little Al" Does Some Remembering

Dear friends,

I have been employed by Vital Signs Ministries, the Christian organization that Claire and I founded back in 1983, for 38 years now.  But before that I worked several other jobs.  For instance, I operated a large silkscreen press to make panels for billboards; I worked on a crew hanging drywall in new subdivisions; I sold clothes in a shopping center store; and I did a little teaching of American History. However, out of all the jobs I ever had before Vital Signs Ministries, there is one that clearly stands out as my favorite and that was working at Banner Tire in south Denver.  

Banner Tire was a terrific place for a young fellow to get his first experience of “real” working, (that is, besides household chores, lawn work, and neighborhood jobs) because there I learned several skills and was exposed to people of varied races and ages and occupations. But it also gave me the positive influence of great mentors, most notably my own dad, who managed the operation.  Banner was a lot of things – a Conoco filling station, tire store, three-bay garage, tow trucks, and a bulk plant with gasoline that we redistributed to other gas stations and even some of the ranches east of Denver. It was a very  happening place. 

My contributions were modest. Pumping gas. Changing oil and tires. Lube jobs. Driving the truck to get auto parts and tires. Selling oil, STP, headlamps, and filters. And, of course, sweeping up. It was my first “grownup job” and I had the time of my life. 

Best of all, working at Banner Tire allowed me to see my dad in a whole different light. As the Dad at home, he was a super guy. But as the Dad at work, I was able to appreciate even more his knowledge and craftsmanship, his work ethic and habits, his remarkable friendliness and social skills, and the deep affection and admiration he won from customers, colleagues, and neighborhood folks.

I was sometimes called “Little Al” in my days at Banner Tire because I began my job there wearing Dad’s old Conoco shirt with “Al” emblazoned above the pocket. But I was pleased that even after I started wearing my own uniform shirts, the name tended to stick with some of the people who dropped in. I can honestly tell you that I never bore a more honorable title. 

The photo I print at the left dates from about that time and you can see my Dad and me standing next to my first car, a ’53 Chevy. Both this photo and my telling you about Banner Tire brings back some of the sweetest memories of my life. Therefore, I hope they stimulate a few memories of your own.

"Memory is the treasury and guardian of all things." (Cicero)

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Vital Signs' Services to Seniors Facing Obstacles

With the quarantines coming back to nursing homes and senior living facilities, both the "When Swing Was King" outreach and the church services that Vital Signs Ministries conducts every Sunday afternoon at Aksarben Village Senior Living are being severely restricted. 

For instance, where our regular "When Swing Was King" schedule involved 12 facilities every month, we had only been allowed back in 7. And, in the past few weeks, that's been reduced again to 5. And the church services? Well, last month the administration moved to have everyone wear masks again for the whole service. And, even though I'm 20-25 feet away from the residents when I'm preaching, I'm masked as well. Furthermore, they ended our visitation team altogether -- only Claire and I are allowed. Also, no treats afterward can be served and they even cut our visiting time in half.

But just now, we have been alerted that they might close the church services completely for 2 weeks...or more.


So, you can appreciate why we have re-launched the ministry we created last year; namely, distributing our 9-page "activity packets" to any and all facilities that want them. Wherever they were passed out last year, these packets of trivia, song lyrics, quotations, photographs, and a personal letter from Claire and I, were a huge hit.

And yet, such is the malaise existing in so many of these places, very few of the activity directors that we have sent the offer to have responded. How sad. The packets have proven remarkably helpful in raising spirits, combatting isolation and boredom, stimulating minds, and forging friendships. And they come weekly -- free of charge. So why aren't activity directors utilizing them?

Search me.

By the way, if one of your friends or family lives in a senior care facility, why not make a personal request that the activity director there (or a higher official) take advantage of this free offer? And if they don't, you go ahead and copy each packet and give it to your loved one.

And, of course, prayers are very much in order here. Thank you.

Will Someone Please Turn Off the Noise?

When asked what he would like the orchestra to play while he was dining at a London restaurant, playwright George Bernard Shaw thoughtfully replied, “Dominoes.”

In this matter, I’m with Shaw.

It is a crazy, unhealthy feature of modern life — this matter of unrelenting noise. For instance, having television or radio, canned music or internet advertisements blaring at us absolutely everywhere we go. Airports, restaurants, convenience stores, doctor’s offices. the car mechanic’s waiting room, shopping malls, the vehicle next to yours at a stoplight, coffee shops, nursing home and hospital rooms, even church. For crying out loud, the other day I was putting gas in the car and had to try and block out the TV playing inside the gas pump!

Will someone please turn off the incessant noise!

George Prochnik, in his book “In Pursuit of Silence: Listening for Meaning in a World of Noise,” warns of the harmful physical impact of noise. “Noise wreaks havoc on all different parts of our bodies. The heart rate accelerates. We get vasoconstriction…The really scary thing is even if we do habituate mentally to noise, that doesn't change what's happening to our bodies.”

Is noise truly inescapable in our time? Is there no place where we can escape the intrusion of dissonant sound? Must our bodies and brains be forced to suffer the constant stress from clamoring, clattering commotion?

Perhaps not. But it will certainly take effort to turn down the noise in our lives, to listen more attentively to the natural sounds of life: God’s creation, calm conversation, serene music. More radical still, shouldn’t we be making time to relish some peace and…genuine quiet?

William Penn, in a book containing advice to his children, wrote, “True silence is the rest of the mind and is to the spirit what sleep is to the body, nourishment and refreshment. It is a great virtue; it covers folly, keeps secrets, avoids disputes, and prevents sin.”

Amen, Brother Penn. A quiet but unqualified amen.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Reviewing the Recent Best in Alternative Media

* "What A Competent Republican Party Would Be Doing About Democrats' Tyranny" (Joy Pullmann, Federalist)

* "The Squalid 'Squad' Is Trying to Destroy Bipartisan Support for Israel" (Alan M. Dershowitz, Gatestone Institute)

* "Pope Francis Critiques Afghan Democracy Promotion in Interview, Silent on Taliban" (Mary Burke, Juicy Ecumenism)

* "Facebook denies having '2 systems of justice' for users after scathing WSJ report" (Breck Dumas, Fox Business)

* "Josh Hawley demands answers after Google blocks pro-life ads" (Samuel Dorman, Fox Business)

* "FEC just turned Twitter into all-powerful propaganda machine accountable to no one" (New York Post Editorial Board)

The Latest in "Not-To-Be-Missed" News (A Vaccine Edition)

* "Federal whistleblower comes forth claiming disturbing secret recordings about the jab" (Terresa Monroe-Hamilton, BizPac Review)

* "Tired of woke politics, COVID vaccine mandates? There's a new job site for you." (Breck Dumas, FOX Business)

* "Another COVID 'Fact' Turns Out To Be A Wild Exaggeration" (Editors, Issues and Insights)

* "Self-medicating for COVID with Cheap Drugs" (Jon N. Hall, American Thinker)

* "Reason to Fear a Vaccine Mandate" (David Solway, PJ Media)

* "Unvax Me Here" (Scott Johnson, Power Line)

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Neutral On the Subject of Abortion?

I recently came across some letters from a few years ago. The first was a polite but firm letter of protest I had written to CEOs of companies and charities who gave money to the mega-abortion conglomerate Planned Parenthood.  

We had, of course, written many such letters in the past but, given the revelations of Planned Parenthood’s latest acts of barbarism (namely, doing late term abortions and selling off the baby parts), we had taken the opportunity of writing these company leaders again, hoping they would reconsider their support of such an ugly, violent business. 

Well, among the  replies I received, the saddest to Claire and I came from the March of Dimes.  For they openly admitted that some of their chapters give money to Planned Parenthood.  But, not to worry, they tried to assure us; "The March of Dimes is neutral on the subject of abortion."  

How ghastly a sentence is that?  The torturous dismemberment and killing of an innocent little boy and girl in their mother’s womb – that’s what March of Dimes is neutral on?  

Lord, have mercy.

Monday, September 13, 2021

The Latest "Wow" Articles (Part Two)

* "18 States Passed Election Reforms This Year. Here’s What They Did." (Fred Lucas, Daily Signal)

* "The Real Existential Threat" (John Hinderaker, Power Line)

* "Joe Biden Marks 20th Anniversary of 9/11 Criticizing ‘Dark Forces’ in America Against ‘Peaceful Religion’ of Islam" (Charlie Spiering, Breitbart)

* "Rep. Nancy Mace: All House Democrats Voted Against Survey of Weapons Left in Afghanistan" (Robert Kraychik, Breitbart)

* "Australia's insane COVID rules are a warning to the rest of the Free World" (Rich Lowry, Jewish World Review)

* "The Fading Family" (Joel Kotkin, American Mind)

The Latest "Wow" Articles

* "The Problem with Biden’s Vaccine-Hardball Strategy" (Jim Geraghty, National Review)

* "Left Doesn’t Just Want to Censor You on Social Media. It Also Wants to Close Your Bank Accounts." (Annelise Butler and Anthony Imperato, Daily Signal)

* "A Failure of Memory and Nerve" (Roger Kimball, American Greatness)

* "Hundreds of L.A. cops and firefighters join forces to fight city’s vaccine mandate" (Ashley Sadler, Life Site News)

* "Hospital to stop delivering babies as maternity workers resign over vaccine mandate" (y Brendan Straub and Diane Rutherford; WWNY, Watertown, NY)

* "Biden Administration Orders Ideological Purge Of U.S. Military Academies" (John Lucas, Federalist)

Tuesday, August 03, 2021

"Searching for Hidden Treasure" (Plus, for Illustration, the Story of The Black Paw)

This 14-minute sermon covers Proverbs 2:2-5 which speak in profound, poetic parallels of the believer's passionate pursuit of wisdom -- wisdom which leads to a life well lived in the reverence and experiential knowledge of God. To illustrate the effort, excitement, and steadfast purpose involved in searching for wisdom as for "hidden treasure," Denny tells the infamous (but remarkably true) story of The Black Paw Treasure.