Tuesday, May 04, 2021

The Latest GateKeeper List

* "Biden-Harris administration 'respectfully disagrees' with Catholic Church on experimentation using aborted children" (Nancy Flanders, Live Action)

* "An Ugly but Telling Reaction to Sen. Tim Scott’s Speech" (David Harsanyi, Daily Signal)

* "Cuomo Aides Hid COVID Nursing-Home Deaths for Months" (Zachary Evans, National Review)

* "Maxine Waters' Anti-Cop Rhetoric Is Getting Black People Killed" (Larry Elder, Daily Signal)

* "Pro-Life MP Faces 6 Years in Prison Because Finland Says Her Christian Views are 'Hate Speech'" (Micaiah Bilger, LifeNews.com)

* "The Monster Is in the Classroom: Schools indoctrinate children as young as eight in race and gender essentialism." (Erika Sanzi, City Journal)

* "Is Christian Cohabitation the New Norm?" (John Stonestreet & Shane Morris, Breakpoint)

The Prodigal Son: The Latest in VSM's Sunday Afternoon Series

As many of you know, the newest outreach of Vital Signs Ministries is our conducting an informal church service every Sunday afternoon at Aksarben Village Assisted Living. And we are profoundly blessed that those services have gone so well.  Last Sunday's service, for instance, saw 20 residents join Claire, Patrick, and me for a time of prayer, 3 wonderful music videos (which are projected onto a large screen and played through our speaker system), a 15-minute Bible lesson, and then almost an hour of visiting over coffee and cookies afterward. 

Links to the video of last Sunday's sermon as well as links to the songs we provided are below.

The sermon: "The Prodigal Son"

"Great Is Thy Faithfulness" (Carrie Underwood & CeCe Winans )

"When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder" (A Gaither Gathering at the Church in the Wildwood)

"Bigger Than Any Mountain" (Makhan Sunday School)


Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Thinking, Talking, and Living in Expectation of Heaven

It's been a busy few weeks for Vital Signs Ministries with such diverse activities as prayer and sidewalk counseling outside the Planned Parenthood abortion business; presenting live "When Swing Was King" shows; preaching the Good Friday service at Herman Community Church (as well as the 15-minute sermons every Sunday in the new church services we're conducting at Aksarben Village Senior Living); doing the monthly LifeSharer letter and the 9-page activity packets for the residents of senior centers; our daily uploads on social media; a lot of correspondence; the various discipleship and networking meetings we have during the week, and hosting a Saturday morning brunch with 15 guests to enjoy a meal and discuss Randy Alcorn's book, Heaven.

Please remember that you can track our activities (and lift up more specific prayers for us) by connecting with us on our Facebook pages. Thanks!

Another Catch-Up Compilation

 Here's a few of the latest and best from the alternative media...

* The 10 radical new rules that are changing America" (Victor Davis Hanson, Fox News)

* "I’m a Capitalist, Mr. President, but You’re Not" (Cal Thomas, Daily Signal)

* "Kerrying Favor with the Ayatollahs" (Tony Perkins, Family Research Council)

* "Cuba Remains a Threat" (Nestor T. Carbonell, National Review)

* "Joe Biden Is Using Your Tax Dollars To Make American Kids Hate Their Country" (Joy Pullmann, Federalist)

* "These 107 Corporations Signal Opposition to Election Integrity" (Jarrett Stepman, Daily Signal) 



Tuesday, April 27, 2021

I Heard the News Today, Oh Boy!

Okay, the title of this post may not grab anybody below the age of 60 -- it does, after all come from a "A Day in the Life," one of the tracks from the Beatles' studio album Sgt. Pepper released in 1967 -- but the sentiment is fairly accurate. That is, here's a few articles reflecting news and opinion from the alternative media that you may hear nothing about from the establishment media. Let's go...

* "Senator John Kennedy: Defund Planned Parenthood, 'Stop Bankrolling America’s Largest Abortion Mill'" (Steven Ertelt, LifeNews.com)

* "I Was a Black Teen in the ’60s. Don’t Believe Left’s Lies About 'Jim Crow' Election Reforms." (Kay C. James, Daily Signal)

* "In California, Hundreds of Men Transfer to Female Prisons" (John Stonestreet & Timothy D. Padgett, Breakpoint)

* "Stanford University Scientists Caught Using Aborted Babies’ Fingers in Tax-Funded Experiments" (Micaiah Bilger, LifeNews.com)

* "9 of Hollywood’s Biggest Acts of Hypocrisy: China, #MeToo, Guns, Climate Change, and More" (David Ng, Breitbart)

* "Why Biden Is Breaking America" (Nick Arama, Red State)

* "Wealthiest Cities in Bluest States Reap Windfall From Democrats’ COVID-19 'Stimulus'" (Fred Lucas, Daily Signal)



Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Of Loaves & Little Fishes (John 6: 1-14)

Denny gives a 15-minute talk here on the miracle of Jesus multiplying the loaves and fishes.  The life lesson from this sermon is to bring whatever we have, no matter how small, to Jesus Who has the power to make it sufficient.  There were also 3 lovely songs about the wonderful love of God for His children.

"Crown Him with Many Crowns" sung by Mass Choir, St. George's School, Madras, India  

"I Need Thee Every Hour" sung by The Wartburg Choir from Waverly, Iowa -- performed at Wartburg Castle in Eisenach, Germany 

"I Don't Know About Tomorrow" sung by George Younce, Larry Ford, and a Gaither Family Reunion Chorus 


Monday, April 12, 2021

Vital Signs' Sunday Afternoon Church Service Is Going Very Well

Sunday afternoon church services at Aksarben Village Assisted Living represent the newest outreach of Vital Signs Ministries and we are delighted to say that things are going very well. At yesterday's service, for instance, 24 residents joined Claire and me, Patrick, Karla, and Ruth for a time of prayer, music videos (which are projected onto a large screen and played through our speaker system), a 15-minute Bible lesson, and then almost an hour of visiting over coffee and cookies afterward. What a terrific time we had. 

To give you a clearer picture, here is yesterday's order of service:

* A distribution of handouts as congregants arrive. (Handouts include order of service and lyrics to the songs which will be played.)

* Welcome and Opening Prayer

* Music: Crown Him With Many Crowns (Mass Choir, St George’s School, Madras, India)

* Music: I Need Thee Every Hour (The Wartburg Choir from Waverly, Iowa and performed at Wartburg Castle in Eisenach, Germany)

* Today’s Lesson: “Of Loaves and Little Fishes” (John 6: 1-14)

* Music: I Don’t Know About Tomorrow (George Younce, Larry Ford, and a Gaither Family Reunion Chorus)

* Closing Prayer

* Visitation Ministry

In addition to the on-site services, we have been recording the Bible lessons and making them available to whoever might find them of value, including the residents of other senior facilities. You can, by the way, find those on the Vital Signs Ministries YouTube channel right here. 

Are You Waiting For God?

If you’re like me, wait is an rather uncomfortable word.  I mean, who likes to wait?  Think of waiting at the DMV or other government offices. Think of the boredom and tension of the waiting room at the doctor’s office.  Even a short wait like the car warming up on a winter morning, being in line at the supermarket checkout, or keeping your foot off the gas pedal for a red light can be a bother to us.

Nevertheless, waiting is presented in the Bible as a necessary duty in the lives of God's people. The prophetic chapter of Isaiah 25, for instance, describes the faithful as reveling in the lavish banquet God has prepared as they joyfully declare, “Behold, this is our God for Whom we have waited that He might save us.”

The chapter makes clear that these are men and women from all eras and all nations whose faith in God was finally receiving its rewards, including a full knowledge of God and fellowship with Him, the elimination of death, the reconciliation of all things to their Creator, the comfort from all sorrows, and the ultimate triumph of His holy power.  

But, of course, there is that word there — wait. 

These believers had to wait for that sweet and forever day of victory. It didn’t come when they wanted it; it came at God’s appointed time. They had to wait on Him: patiently, devotedly, keeping their eyes not on the temporary trials of this sin-scarred earth but on the promised prize.

There are several other Scriptures which speak to this matter and, in various ways, they illustrate that waiting on God requires existential faith in the Lord’s promises and a confident expectation that His power, His love, His righteousness, and His wise purposes are perfect…even in their timing.  As we exercise faith in a God Who loves us and Who is sovereign over all circumstances, we can certainly endure. By the Spirit's power, we can maintain joy, loyal worship, and good deeds which shine God's light even in dark and difficult times.

We can, in a word, wait.  And, as Isaiah 25 shows, with its awesome pictures of God’s (and our) ultimate triumph, we will one great day testify that His glorious, liberating victory in our behalf was well worth the wait.

Thursday, April 01, 2021

Let Us Walk Through the Door (or “What's John Updike Got To Do with Easter?”)

The following post is a part of an Easter sermon I presented 8 years ago. It was a sermon which dealt with a seemingly unlikely trio of subjects: bad news from the culture wars, the biblical descriptions of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and a poem from none other than John Updike. I hope you’ll find this excerpt from that sermon of value.

…Christ is risen. And because Christ is risen, all who believe in Him will arise also. Death could not hold Him. And death will not hold us either...

I’m afraid that in many, many Protestant church buildings around the country this morning, there are Easter services going on that do not reflect the miraculous event which is at the holiday’s core – that is, the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Decades of naturalism and liberalism have had their effect. And in many churches where sermons once rang with praise for the glorious reality of Christ’s physical resurrection, there are now clergymen (and women) who are actually embarrassed by the event. Indeed, the sermons they will preach will hem and haw around the resurrection, offering only benign poetry and allegorical applications.

One remarkable protest of this revisionist history and the soft-headed religion that now dominates the liberal Protestant churches of America comes from what might seem to be an unlikely critic, the late John Updike. Updike is one of the 20th Century’s most famous novelists and poets, a writer more widely read and talked about than anyone since Hemingway.

Updike’s work reflects many of the themes of the post-Christian era. He is, for instance, rather preoccupied by the subject of sex. Yet his novels are also full of religious themes. Updike read Kierkegaard and Tillich and Niebuhr and, though he was not comfortable with evangelical theology, what bothered him even more was the milquetoast religion of liberal Protestantism.

I'm going to read one of Updike’s poems to you now. It’s a poem that exposes the lack of intellectual honesty, the lack of courage, and the lack of practical faith of those liberals who want an Easter without the hard fact of miracle, without what Updike calls the “monstrous” fact of Christ's physical resurrection. The poem is entitled, “Seven Stanzas At Easter.”


“Seven Stanzas At Easter” by John Updike

Make no mistake: if He rose at all

it was as His body;

if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, the molecules

reknit, the amino acids rekindle,

the Church will fall.


It was not as the flowers,

each soft Spring recurrent;

it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled

eyes of the eleven apostles;

it was as His flesh: ours.


The same hinged thumbs and toes,

the same valved heart

that – pierced -- died, withered, paused, and then

regathered out of enduring Might

new strength to enclose.


Let us not mock God with metaphor,

analogy, sidestepping, transcendence;

making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the

faded credulity of earlier ages:

let us walk through the door.


The stone is rolled back, not papier-mâché,

not a stone in a story,

but the vast rock of materiality that in the slow

grinding of time will eclipse for each of us

the wide light of day.


And if we will have an angel at the tomb,

make it a real angel,

weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair,

opaque in the dawn light, robed in real linen

spun on a definite loom.


Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,

for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,

lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are

embarrassed by the miracle,

and crushed by remonstrance.

The miracle was real, Updike warns. The physical resurrection of Jesus actually happened. And those who deny it should act honestly and just clear out of the religious game altogether. Because Christianity must include the cross, the atoning death, and the physical resurrection. Otherwise, it’s less than worthless. It’s a mean joke. And a joke, he sternly warns, that will eventually crush the doubters who pass it along.

In this, John Updike echoes the apostle Paul's argument in 1 Corinthians 15. Here are highlights of that presentation as they pertain to this matter. Wrote Paul, “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain…and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins…If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.”

But, of course, Jesus DID rise from the grave. And for those who trust in the sacrifice He made for us, the Innocent One dying to pay the penalties of the guilty, they too will rise from the grave.

Later in that chapter Paul continues, “But when this perishable [body] will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal [body] will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord."

Christ is risen. And that makes all the difference for heaven and earth…and hell too.

Furthermore, it’s a difference that is not merely historical or eschatological; it makes a huge difference for men and women living in the maelstrom of the present day. While North Korea rattles the sabers, while the sounds of gunshots echo through our inner city neighborhoods, while all of creation groans under the weight of such bizarre sins as child-murder, sexual perversion, and the brazen discarding of divine revelation -- the resurrection of Jesus gives to His adopted children the sure hope of their own resurrection and the power to overcome today’s temptations and trials.

Oh yes, the raising of Jesus has very active help for us today. It gives us perspective, comfort, strength, and joy. And, in time, it will give us all the treasures of heaven.

John Updike’s criticism of the insipid nature of liberal theology is spot on. And a few million Americans and Europeans have, over the last two generations, left the mainline Protestant denominations because they agreed with him. The liberal religionists have little to offer the mind and nothing whatsoever to soothe the soul. And, whether or not Updike himself ever “walked through the door”(as he put it) and fully grasped the implications of the open tomb, “Seven Stanzas At Easter” stands brilliantly true and is a compelling illustration of the apostle Paul's exhortation of 1 Corinthians 15.

So let’s you and I heed the advice well. Let us not mock God by treating Easter as only a sweet holiday -- one that speaks of bunnies and spring, decorated eggs and new outfits.  Let us not choose the allegory, the metaphor, and the sidestepping which foolishly trades in the true miracle of Easter for the papier-mâché scene created by the “faded credulity of earlier ages.”

Rather, let us walk through the door of that open tomb, appreciating the universe-shattering event that Christ's resurrection was, receiving into our spirits the powerful effects it has for our service in His kingdom right now, and looking forward to the full realization of His victory when all things will be reconciled to God.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Did You Hear the Latest News? (Probably Not.)

And that's because the art (and critical responsibility) of journalism has left the building...except in the greatly endangered field of the alternative media.

So to help catch you up, Vital Signs Blog frequently posts short lists of some of the best and most important articles from sources that can yet be trusted to report something other than the left's "talking points" of the day.

Here is the latest of those lists.

* "8 Ways That HR 1, 'For the People Act,' Imperils Free and Fair Elections" (Hans von Spakovsky, Daily Signal)

* "Death and Lockdowns: There’s no proof that lockdowns save lives but plenty of evidence that they end them." (John Tierney, City Journal)

* "Follow The 'Science,' They Said" (Victor Davis Hanson, American Greatness)

* "Israel’s Daily Battle to Block Iranian Aggression" (Yaakov Lappin, Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies)


* "Why is our military choosing new enemies?" (Victor Davis Hanson, JWR)

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Letters for Life, Truth, and Hope

Last night Vital Signs Ministries hosted its quarterly letter-writing party and along with the prayers, coffee, and cookies, the 15 participants enjoyed writing 63 letters and cards of advocacy to political leaders, businesses, and diplomats as well as thank yous to various Christian champions who are holding high the banners of the Lord in the public square. And, along with those letters and cards, the 3 kids in attendance colored 11 beautiful pictures that we will hand out to residents at the Easter service at Aksarben Village Assisted Living.

One of the "focus areas" of the evening was several pieces of legislation before the Nebraska Unicameral this session that deal with the sanctity of life, marriage and gender, and religious freedom. Therefore, with excellent information on the various bills provided by Nebraska Family Alliance, 12 of the letters went to our state senators. In most cases the letters were all individuals but in some notes the whole group joined as co-signers.

Among other recipients of last night's letters and cards were President Biden, former President Donald Trump, Nebraska Senators Fischer and Sasse, Congressman Bacon, Governor Ricketts, Lt. Governor Mike Foley, Omaha Mayor Stothert, several pro-life groups, Franklin and Jane Graham, Ken and Joni Tada, Kathryn Limbaugh, Mike Lindell, a few businesses whose actions have been highly objectionable, and diplomats  of countries that regularly (and harshly) persecute Christians.

I print a few samples of these notes below. And, yes, I do so in hopes that you might be inspired to write a few notes of your own! 

Regarding Unicameral issues:

* Dear Senator Lindstrom,

Just a few things that we want to emphasize regarding our desires for the current legislative battles:

1) Please affirm with enthusiasm your pro-life convictions by opposing LB 276, LB 67, and LB 20.  Thank you.

2) We are also deeply concerned over the threats to religious freedom (let alone biological science) represented by LB 231, LB 120, and LB 130, and others that move into that area.  Please oppose these too.

3) We very much support LB 364 and LB 92 and urge you to do so too.  Again, Senator, thank you for your service to your constituents and for your consideration of these requests.

Regarding national politics:

* Dear President Biden,

You are regularly in our prayers -- especially as we ask God to remind you of the basic pro-life teachings of the Catholic faith that you have so grievously and callously forsaken.

Please, Mr. President – enough of your aggressive promotion of abortion. Let the babies live….

* Dear Senator Fischer,

I write to ask you to hold the line in your principled opposition to the extremists that President Biden keeps sending to the Senate for confirmation to his Cabinet.

Thank you.

* Dear Senator Sasse,

 We so appreciate your leadership on the Born Alive Children’s Protection Act.  Thank you so much.  We also appreciate the general breadth of your support for conservatism and Constitutional protections.  Again, thank you.

However, your ill-timed and poorly reasoned attacks on Present Trump (especially your foolish vote for impeachment for someone not even in office!) was extremely counterproductive to the conservative cause.  For these inexplicable actions, we do NOT thank you.  Indeed, we ask you to please stop such actions.  They may not be egoistic posing...but they sure look like it.

Business decisions: 

* Dear Cadbury executives,

After learning about your highly sexualized, grossly inappropriate Easter ads, we have decided we will no longer be buying any of your products…or those of your parent company, Hershey.

Please reconsider your “bad taste” decision.

* Notes of encouragement and thanks:

* To Kathryn Limbaugh

Dear Kathryn,

A few of us at one of Vital Signs Ministries’ letter-writing parties are writing politicians, business leaders, and media.  But we also take time to write thank yous and other personal notes of encouragement.  And thus, we wanted to send along our most sincere condolences in your loss and to promise our continued prayers for God’s pouring out all needed mercies on you.  Thank you too for all you have done for Rush, the cause of conservative values, the Rush Revere books (We’re looking forward to the new ones!), and for America.

Blessings,

* To Franklin & Jane Graham and their Samaritan's Purse colleagues

Dear Franklin, Jane, and the S.P. team,

Easter greetings from a few of your friends here in Omaha with Vital Signs Ministries.  We wanted to send along our deepest thanks for the excellent work you are doing for the Lord Jesus.  You and your colleagues are truly shining God’s light in a dark culture through love, truth, and the display of His glorious gospel.  Stay the course.

Pro-life colleagues. 

The following is an example of messages sent inside colorful cards to Essential Pregnancy Services, Assure Women's Services, Nebraska Right to Life, Nebraskans Embracing Life, and Nebraska Family Alliance.

* Dear friends,

Easter greetings from a few of your pro-life colleagues at Vital Signs Ministries!

We are having one of our quarterly letter-writing parties tonight and we wanted to send out a few “thank yous” to people who are doing heroic and beautiful work for the Lord Jesus, for babies and their parents, and for the ideals of justice and mercy in our culture.  And in that company, the folks at EPS are right there at the top.

Thank you all so much for the sterling services you perform.  We send along our admiration and our prayers for God’s continued blessings.

Persecuting nations:

* To the North Korean Ambassador to the UN Kim Song 

Dear Mr. Ambassador,

We write this evening to make a respectful but urgent appeal to the leadership of the nation of North Korea, asking them to stop the excessive (and needless) persecution of Christians and other people of peaceful religious faith.  

Such persons of conscience are not rebels or criminals. They are not in any way dangerous to your country’s social order.  Indeed, they can be the most productive of citizens if only allowed to work, to serve the community, and to honor civil authorities while yet serving God as the Bible teaches them.  

Please, enough of the mistreatment, punishment, and imprisonment.  Let justice and mercy be blended in your nation’s forward progress.

Sincerely,

Thursday, March 18, 2021

A Few Comments, a Sermon, and an Inspirational Example Relating to Prayer

A couple of weeks ago, I preached the Sunday morning sermon at Grace Bible Church entitled “A Pattern for Our Prayers” which was an exposition of what is usually (but incorrectly) called “The Lord’s Prayer.” The primary purpose of that sermon was to show how this prayer pattern that Jesus gave to His disciples can be effectively customized by you and me to great effect.  You can listen to that 36-sermon sermon here at this link.

However, yesterday morning at the Tuesday Morning Cafe that we host at our home, Dick Wilson brought along something that all present found very inspiring.  Now Dick is an intriguing guy on many counts – a sea-going Marine, a railroad detective, a law enforcement officer with Nebraska Game and Parks, an Omaha constable, a woodworker of exceptional skill, a compassionate pro-life activist, and a dedicated family man who has lifted up the cause of Christ for many decades. Indeed, Dick has blessed us beyond measure and we, like so many others, find his wise counsel, humility, work ethic, generosity, and example of godly living – both at home and in the public square – of exceptional value. 

Nevertheless, he brought us a very special gift last Tuesday when he let us read a prayer he had himself written some 30 years ago. It had been lost in an envelope which was stuck away in an unused desk drawer until the day before. It was a terrific prayer but the fact that he had written it out himself was inspiration to us, one that made several of us think that we might try our hand at such a meaningful spiritual exercise. Maybe you’d like to give it a try too.

Anyhow, Claire carefully scanned in Dick’s handwritten note (the paper was very fragile) and we printed off copies for everyone at the Hartford Cafe.  But I asked Dick if it was okay to broadcast it a but further afield. It was. So here from 1991 when Dick was in his mid-50s, is that prayer.

My Great and Mighty God, Father of the Fatherless, call on me your willing servant.

What is your will I will do.  Your direction and command shall be my joy.

If it be a small task, I will do it well and humbly praise Your Holy Name.

And, if it be a great task O Lord, I will not fear, for You will always be with me.

You have promised never to forsake me; and I will not fail You O Lord,

 for you are all I seek to serve.

Abba Father, choose me!  My God, my Father of Love, Blessed is Your Name!


Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Write On! (Vital Signs' Next Letter-Writing Party)

On the proposed list for next Monday evening’s quarterly letter-writing party:

* Letters of advocacy to Nebraska state senators regarding key legislation coming before them. Examples? LB 276 which would allow the immoral and highly dangerous practice of “telemedicine abortion” and proposed “health education standards” from the Nebraska Department of Education would teach school children politicized, age-inappropriate information and ideas about sex, abortion, sexual orientation, and gender identity from kindergarten on!

* Letters and notes to President Biden regarding the dastardly pro-abortion actions he has taken since moving into the Oval Office.

* Letters to our U.S Senators regarding President Biden’s Cabinet selections (like Xavier Becerra who has established an alarming track record promoting abortion and advancing a radical sexual ideology) and regarding critical life and faith legislation like the Born Alive Children’s Protection Act.

* Thank you notes to such stand-up leaders such as Franklin Graham, Ben Carson, Tim Tebow, Cal Thomas, and a few political leaders such as Nebraska governor Pete Ricketts and South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem.

* Using the Voice of the Martyrs website, we will be writing cards of encouragement to Christians imprisoned for their faith in countries like Communist China, Vietnam, and Iran.

* And a few others...

* The Vital Signs letter-writing parties go from 7:00 until 8:30 with everything supplied: letter targets, address sheets, stationary and cards, stamps, pens, cookies, coffee and other drinks.  You’ll enjoy the fellowship as well as the spiritual comfort of engaging in a job well done alongside other light-shining believers.  Come join us, won’t you?  


Sunday, March 14, 2021

Which Is the Party of Historic Racism?

I'm halfway though Karl Rove's The Triumph of William McKinley: Why the Election of 1896 Still Matters (which, by the way, is an excellent history) and I'm struck afresh by how one of the biggest (and most easily disproven) lies of historical revisionism is that the Democrat Party is the one that most cares for the rights and needs of the black community. 

After all, the Democrats were the party of slavery and the Confederacy, the party of Jim Crow and the Ku Klux Klan, the party that fought tooth and bloody nail against voting rights, desegregation, and the Civil Rights Act. 

And even today it is the Democrat Party that champions and enables Planned Parenthood, the mega-abortion business that is brutally destroying hundreds of thousands of preborn babies of color every year.

Sigh.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Top Ten Hints for a Successful Marriage

Sure, this is a post I've presented before. But its relevance to us all is timeless. Feel free to pass it along.

Top Ten Hints for a Successful Marriage 
(Director of Vital Signs Ministries, Denny Hartford)

Here are ten practical exhortations to keep your marriage sharp, happy, and as effective a ministry as it can be.

10) Take Nothing for Granted.

Routine can be comfortable but it can also wreck spontaneity, passion, gratitude, and fun.  So be careful.  Cultivate a spirit of appreciation for one another. Understand that true love isn’t mere sentiment.  It is action and thus requires time, effort and dedication.  My friends in Belarus have a saying that fits here: “A wife isn’t a guitar.  You can’t play with her awhile and then hang her on the wall!”

9) Build Up Your Marriage Partner.

Discover the compliments that are especially meaningful to your spouse and use them often.  Expressions of gratitude, affection, and praise should be business as usual between the two of you...including in public. Billy Sunday, the major league infielder turned evangelist once advised husbands, “Try praising your wife...even if it does frighten her at first!” Convince one another that you are their best friend and their biggest fan.  Don’t worry about their ego getting too big -- life will take care of that.  For your part, you can’t be too much of a cheerleader for your spouse.

8) Hang Out with Godly People.

The company you keep is a far more important factor in a successful marriage than most people realize.  Don’t underestimate it. Develop friendships as a couple with people who take seriously the things of God.  Such friendships will be of immeasurable help in providing accountability, inspiration, assistance, and, as the Scriptures put it, the “stimulation to love and good deeds.”

7) Keep the TV in its Proper Place.

Don’t be fooled.  People do become what they watch and listen to.  And modern television presents an awful lot that is contrary to the spiritual values you’ll need to keep your conscience clean, your adventure with Christ active, and your romance pure and strong.  Furthermore, don’t let the TV steal time that could be better spent in other ways.  TV can sometimes be an innocent friend, but it can more often be a powerful distraction - even a tyrant.  So beware the power of the tube. (This warning, of course, applies to the computer and phone too.)

6) Never Criticize Your Spouse in Public.

And I do mean, never!  Anger, mockery, sarcasm, embarrassment -- these shouldn’t be part of your relationship, period. But when these things occur in front of an audience, it can create loads of hurt, a lot of resentment, and it can severely damage the trust, respect, and intimacy that every strong marriage needs.

5) Pray.

Become comfortable in praying together...not just in crises or during church services or with the kids at bedtime.  Rather, pray together throughout the week as an expression of your union as a couple with God.  And pray with a willingness to take the actions God directs you to.  Also, developing a pattern of praying together will be a tremendous help to the next item in the list.

4) Fight Fair.

Conflicts and confrontations are going to occur.  That’s natural and it’s no big deal if you observe some basic rules - rules that are simply applications of the vows you took on your wedding day.  Examples? No rage, no threats, no leaving the house, no name-calling, no whining, no comparison to others, no unfair exaggerations (as in “You always” or “You have never, ever”), no dredging up the past, no bringing in your spouse’s family, and so on. The purpose of the argument should always be kept in view and that is seeking a unified, mature, spiritually sound solution to the problem – not creating wounds, getting your way, or getting even.

3) Serve God as a Team.

You don’t need to always be involved in the same things or be under each other’s feet, but you should always have a lot going on between you, including activities that require teamwork.  Foremost in this area for most couples will be parenting. If and when that ministry comes along, both of you must embrace it.  But there are also household chores, the budget, social interaction, Christian ministry, avocations, and so on. Make sure you are in fellowship and growing together, not apart.

2) Forgive.

Forgive frequently and genuinely.  Forgive before being asked to.  Forgive not only for love’s sake and for your own peace of mind, but forgive over and over because Jesus Christ, as evidenced by the ongoing effects of the Cross, forgives you over and over.  One of the most important ways to express your appreciation of the life Jesus gave to pay the penalty of your sins is to lean completely into His grace. You can thereby forgive others, especially the one He has blessed you with as a life partner.


1) Keep Falling In Love.

You mustn’t be content with your album of wedding photos.  Make your marriage an existential, active, even a celebratory relationship.  And that comes not only from spending time together but from your personal spiritual growth. Robert Browning, one of Western civilization’s most romantic poets, nevertheless took a practical view of what’s most essential in marriage. “Success in marriage,” he wrote, “is more than finding the right person, it is being the right person.”  Dedicate yourselves to developing your relationship with Christ as individuals and you will improve your relationship at the same time. 

Saturday, March 06, 2021

The Latest Mix

Sick and tired of no news except for the lies, distortions, omissions, fake science, and leftist ideologies that pass for news? Then may I suggest you look in here at Vital Signs Blog every few days for a compilation of some of the most important and most enlightening articles from the alternative media.

And consider becoming a regular to such sites as those I mention in a brief post entitled "Living in the Big Tech World." You'll find it right here.

* "Biden administration fills vacancies with abundance of former abortion industry employees" ( Carole Novielli, Live Action News)

* "Dying In Darkness: Biden STILL Won’t Publish Schedule, Visitor Logs, Nor Hold A Presser… Deletes White House Comments And Petitions Pages." (Raheem Kassam, National Pulse)

* "How Democracy Dies: Big Tech Becomes Big Brother" (Leni Friedman Valenta with Dr. Jiri Valenta, Gatestone Institute)

* "Planned Parenthood’s past decade: 3.3 million abortions and $6 billion in taxpayer dollars" (Carole Novielli, Live Action News)

* "The 'World’s Largest Bookstore' Gets Into the Censorship Business" (Roger Kimball, American Greatness)

Thursday, February 18, 2021

The February Vital Signs Letter: "The True Emmanuel Moment"

“Now, it may well be that you have heard sermons before that present the pro-life applications of Scriptures like Psalm 139, Jeremiah 22, the Decalogue itself, the royal law taught by Jesus, James 2, and many others. 

But this morning I’d like to examine a text that you may not have connected to the sanctity of human life.  In fact, it is a text that we tend to associate with Christmas in that it tells of the annunciation of the virgin birth followed by Mary’s visit to Elizabeth...”

Read the whole letter right here.

Monday, February 15, 2021

Do You Know These Olympic Champions?

This week I'll be working on #49 in our ongoing series of activity pages designed for 1) the residents of the senior facilities where we present our live "When Swing Was King" shows; 2) those who copy off the pages to pass around to other seniors in their families, neighborhoods, or churches; and 3) anyone else who is looking for an interesting, wholesome way to break the chains of loneliness or boredom. 

But the photo collage below comes from last week's packet, #48. That one -- and all the others -- can be found at this page of the Vital Signs Ministries website. 

And the quiz to go with this particular collage? Can you name the famous Olympic athletes shown? Want a few hints? Well, the names to choose from, as well as the answers, can be found with the rest of #48.


 

A Heavenly Conversation

In the second part of last week's conversation, VSM Director Denny Hartford speaks to Harold Berry, Phil Neal, Larry Harrold, and Dan Hauge about heaven. It is less than 20 minutes but we think you'll find it enlightening and encouraging.
 

Finishing Well

Vital Signs Ministries Director Denny Hartford talks with friends "tried and true" about the adventure of living for Christ in one's later years. It's a 30-minute conversation with Phil Neal, Harold Berry, Dan Hauge, and Larry Harrold that may well bring a bit of inspiration, comfort, or challenge to you. We hope so.
 

Wednesday, February 03, 2021

#47 Is Up, Ready, and Waiting for You!

The great news is that things are beginning to open up (if even just a bit) for our presenting live "When Swing Was King" shows again. In fact, 5 of the senior living facilities and nursing homes (out of our pre-quarantine 12) have invited us back this month. 

Nevertheless, we are still creating our 9-page packets of trivia, quotations, song lyrics, and so on for the residents...and anyone else able to use our website uploads. So, to whet your interest a little further for the latest in our ongoing series, can you name the Hollywood musicals represented by the photos below?

You'll find all of # 47 (just sent out to the facilities yesterday) as well as the previous 46 by following this link:


 

More Clamping Down by the Left (The Latest Compilation Post)

* "10 ways to fight back against woke culture"
(Bari Weiss, New York Post)

* "Biden is the most radical left-wing president in US history, period" (Rich Lowry, Jewish World Review)

* "We Must Break Up Big Tech: It’s The Greatest Private Threat to Liberty in Our Modern Age" (Rachel Bovard, American Consequences)

* "Faithfulness in the Future" (Rick Plasterer, Juicy Ecumenism)

* "Biden's Department of Homeland Sleaze Chief" (Michelle Malkin, Jewish World Review)

* "Twitter Suspends Christian Group for Accurately Describing Biden’s Transgendered Health Official Dr. Levine’s Biological Sex" (Penny Starr, Breitbart)

* "China Doesn't Have to Lift a Finger to Push Biden Around" (Gordon G. Chang, Gatestone Institute)

* "Facebook Bans Bible Professor’s Post Critical of Biden’s Transgender Order" (Lee Weeks, Decision)


Friday, January 29, 2021

Uh, Just Who Is the Mean President?

Yesterday President Biden decreed that U.S. taxpayers must pay overseas abortionists to kill preborn children in their countries.  

This is in addition to Biden’s insistence that Planned Parenthood, the mega-abortion corporation that is already dripping with millions of dollars in excess profits, will receive even more money from U.S. citizens.

These draconian policies are, of course, opposed by more (much, much more) than half of the American public.  Indeed, these Americans find Biden's abortion policies barbaric, disgusting, and unjust in the extreme.  

But it's tragically obvious that President Biden (he who laughingly claims he is still a Catholic), doesn’t care a whit about the convictions or consciences of these Americans…no more than he cares about the democratic process, the teaching of the Catholic Church, or the lives of those hundreds of thousands of preborn boys and girls who will die because of his cruel and tyrannical actions.

And the newspapers said it was Donald Trump who was divisive and mean?  

Lord, have mercy.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Have You Seen the Latest?

* "The Salt That Has Lost Its Savor: The Woke Church and the Undoing of America" (Larry Alex Taunton, American Spectator)

* "The River of Forgetfulness" (Victor Davis Hanson, American Greatness)

* "Don’t Worry, It’s Just Corporate Fascism" (David Marcus, Federalist)

* "The tragic rise of Andrew Cuomo amid COVID-19 -- a real American crisis" (Janice Dean, Fox News)

* "Refuse to Be Silenced" (Kurt Schlichter, Town Hall)

* "Technically (Not) Speaking: The Conservative Purge Begins" (Tony Perkins, CNS News)

* "Ignoring And Ridiculing Election Fraud Concerns Will Not Make Them Go Away" (Stella Morabito, Federalist)

We're Not in Kansas Anymore

From Claire's FB page...

The photos below show Denny with Dr. Greg Zielke, Dave Brown, and Ryan Lee at Tabor College in Hillsboro,  Kansas.  shortly after Denny presented a pro-life talk at their chapel service.  That talk today a fascinating and enlightening exposition of Luke Chapter 1. We then enjoyed visiting with Greg & Dave over lunch at the college cafeteria.  And the other photo? That's the college's old administration building constructed in 1920.

By the way, our visit to Tabor had two interesting bookends. On one side was our spending Friday night through Sunday noon in Wichita where we enjoyed visits with Denny's little sister Sherry and her family. And then after leaving Tabor, we had to try and avoid the worst of the heavy snowstorm that hit eastern Nebraska. We did that by driving to Kansas City and getting a motel room by the airport, waiting for the next day to brave I-29 back to Omaha. That proved to be a good idea. But we are home again and back at it, thankful for the Lord's blessing us, using us, and protecting us.




Monday, January 18, 2021

The 2021 Lincoln Walk for Life: In Photos and Text

There were several elements of this year's Walk for Life (organized by Nebraska Right to Life) that made it an especially moving event. The cultural meltdown of the past year. The corruption, socialist extremism, and slavish dedication to abortion of the incoming administration. The sad awareness that NRL's champion Julie Schmit-Albin is no longer at our side. All of these made the mood more somber than most.

Somber but not despairing. Serious but not anything but defeated.

Indeed, the faith, hope, love, wisdom, and perseverance that has marked the pro-life movement these last 5 decades was on full display at the Walk for Life. And, by the grace of Almighty God, we will see these virtues continue to shine in whatever darkness comes against it. In fact, for more on this matter (and before you scroll down to the photos), you might want to note the remarks I prepared for the crowd in front of the Capitol where the Walk began. Here they are...

“Thank you, Sandy. And good morning pro-life Nebraskans!  As Sandy suggested, Claire and I have been involved in pro-life ministry for a long, long time.  And though it’s always been a tough, controversial, even confrontational undertaking, the days ahead will undoubtedly be tougher still.  Indeed, as we enter a new year dominated by fear, political injustice, cultural chaos, economic meltdown, and moral cowardice, we need to be ready to carry on the fight with greater resolve than ever before.


“And to help encourage you in this mission, I have a little story for you -- one taken from JRR Tolkien’s masterful Lord of the Rings trilogy.  Now, as a Baptist preacher, I’m usually using a different text for public exhortations, but I trust you’ll allow me to take this liberty.  The scene I'm drawing to your attention comes from the last book in the trilogy.  The brave hobbits Frodo Baggins and Sam Gamgee are struggling through Mordor on their way to Mt. Doom and, in this terrible moment when Frodo is nearly overcome with despair, fatigue, and dread, he turns to his dear friend and moans, ‘I can’t do this, Sam.’

“At which Sam Gamgee, one of the most wonderfully heroic characters in all literature, responds, ‘I know.  It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here.  But we are.  It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo.  The ones that really mattered.  Full of darkness, and danger, they were.  And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end, because how could the end be happy?  How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened?  But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow.  Even darkness must pass.  A new day will come.  And when the sun shines, it’ll shine out the clearer.  Those were the stories that stayed with you.  That meant something.  Even if you were too small to understand why.  But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand.  I know now.  Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back only they didn’t.  They kept going.  Because they were holding on to something.’

Frodo then asks, ‘What are we holding on to, Sam?’

“The answer? ‘That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo…and it’s worth fighting for.’

“My friends, we have things good and worth fighting for too – the biblical ideals of truth, justice, and the sanctity of human life. So the decision of these two characters must be, in real life, our decisions too. Oh yes; we have a God-given opportunity to be heroes just like Frodo and Sam, Merry and Pippin, Aragorn and Gandalf, and all the rest of that noble fellowship of the ring. We too must carry on with our part in the adventure story God has written us into.  True enough, it’s a story that has real danger, real enemies, and real sacrifices. And yet it has spiritual rewards that are unimaginably rich and fully deserving of our boldest efforts.

So, what do you say? Let’s get after it.”

 


There were some noteworthy highlights of the Walk for us. Meeting new friends is super. and, seeing old friends is always a delight. Among the latter group were Julie Lostroh, Barb McPhillips, Sandy Danek, the Maleks, the Coppis, the White family, Sue Stich, Gov. Ricketts, Congressman Bacon, Congressman Fortenberry, Lt. Gov. Foley, and dear friends from Faith Bible Church where I was the "perennial guest speaker" for 7 years. 

In addition, the church we attend now (Grace Bible Church) set a record for attendance. For in addition to Claire and me there were 10 others: Stephen, Jeff, Joanna, Sheri, Scott & Laura Powers (and two of their kids), and Rob & Hope Golden. Joanna was also joined by her sister Robin.

Also, activity at our literature table was brisk this year, not only because everything we have there is always free, including even the Why Pro-Life books by Randy Alcorn and the Narnia buttons that were new this year). Thank you to everyone who came by.