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.


* 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.


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.


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)