Wednesday, July 06, 2022

Urgent: Lie Detectors Wanted

A little known poem written in the 1920’s by the author of Dr. Zhivago, Boris Pasternak, describes the power of Bolshevik revolutionary and ruthless dictator Vladimir Lenin in a striking stanza. In this poem, “Lofty Melody,” Pasternak emphasizes the connection between Lenin’s comprehensive political power and his propaganda prowess. Writes Pasternak, “He ruled the flow of thought, and that is why he ruled the land.”

Pasternak understood that the prelude to controlling people’s lives was controlling their minds. And as the decline of Western civilization continues its dramatic course, it is critical that you and I take the challenge that Pasternak’s observation implies. After all, ours is an age when the erroneous inventions of Darwin, Freud, and Marx still dominate the academic world – an age when the terms and demographics used in the public debate over abortion are provided by the abortionists themselves – an age when lies of the devil have become the dominant messages in our culture’s music, movies, television programming, fashion, education systems, and the leftist reporting which masquerades as journalism. These godless sources clearly have ruled the flow of thought in our era, thus creating the most horrendous flow of action, including waves of unimaginable violence, sexual perversion, and open defiance of Almighty God.

Jesus warned us that Satan is the father of lies and also that he is a creature committed to fierce action, especially against Christians. Indeed, the devil is never content with the lie itself; he is also a blasphemer, a deceiver, an accuser, a tempter, a murderer. And, in pursuit of these wicked things, he creates alliances with foolish, rebellious human beings. For instance, he uses such voices as a newspaper or magazine article, a film or a television program, a humanistic school curricula or museum exhibit, the allure of cocaine highs or illicit sexual thrills, get-rich-quick pitchmen or false preachers, and so on. Through such voices, the devil seeks to rule the land -- by ruling “the flow of thought.”

The psalmist tells us that those who speak lies go astray. The deception of the mind leads to “actualized” sin...and then more sin. Stressing the same truth, the Lord tells us that as a man thinks, so will he act. As apologist Francis Schaeffer repeatedly emphasized, “Ideas have consequences.” And no more crucial does Dr. Schaeffer’s remark relate to you and I than in this matter of believing lies.

Now this isn’t normally a topic we talk about. The word “liar” is considered too stern, too moralistic, too judgmental for social use…even in church. And certainly being a “lie detector” will not make you very popular nowadays. Nonetheless, those who have trusted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior have an unmistakable, undeniable calling which requires them to perform that very function. Detecting the lies that confront us throughout the day, refusing their power in our own lives, and then daring even in the public square to expose and refute those – these are critical elements of being a true disciple, a “light of the world.”

I fear for the state of the Church in the West because of the frequency with which everyday Christians succumb to worldliness, forfeiting their rich intellectual heritage for the propaganda doled out by the devil’s minions. Is it any wonder then that believers, “unsalty” and begrimed with the spirit of the age, have lost their power to influence the events around them? Rather than acting as sojourners in this foreign country of the world, we’ve settled in and become quite comfortable. Rather being transformed into the image of Christ Jesus, we have chosen to be poured into the molds made by advertisers, politicians, secular educators, entertainment moguls, and preachers who deny the necessity of both holy living and sacrificial service in behalf of others. It has been a tragic sell-out.

Is there a way back? Certainly. And it begins with the simple refrain, “Out with the bad and in with the good.” Or, put another way, we need much less of the world in us and much more of the Word. The writer of Hebrews tells us that the mature Christian is one who has by practice had his senses trained to discern good and evil. That is a comforting thought as well as a challenge. For despite the enveloping cloud of lies in our era, the Holy Spirit reminds us that the obedient Christian can overcome evil with good. Not only can we escape the tyranny of lies ourselves, we can even beat them back as they try to claim new victims.

It doesn’t come easy, of course. The most difficult reclining chairs to get out of are the ones that feel so good to be in. You have to be a diligent student of the Bible. You must strive for holiness, deny self, be a doer of the Word and not a hearer only. And you have to engage the power of the Holy Spirit as you bring His light to bear upon everything you encounter. If you let down your guard in any area, you become easy prey for the father of lies. He will fool you. He will exploit you. And he will then toss you aside. How infinitely better is it to listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd?

By wisdom a house is built
And by understanding it is established.
And by knowledge the rooms are filled
With all precious and pleasant riches.
A wise man is strong
And a man of knowledge increases power.
For by wise guidance you will wage war,
And in abundance of counselors there is victory.

(Proverbs 24:3-6)

The above passage from Proverbs presents a dramatic contrast to Vladimir Lenin’s ambition to rule over men by dominating the world of ideas. For the wise man, as these verse illustrate, is one who builds his life on the sure foundations of God’s Word. That man can then influence the world of action as he teaches truth, exposes and overcomes the devil’s lies, and guides others towards spiritual freedom, justice, moral purity, and serenity of soul.

Unlike Lenin (and unlike Satan and his henchmen themselves), the wise man has trusted Jesus Christ’s death as payment for his sin. He has been adopted into God’s forever family and given the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit to walk in the newness of life. In obedience to God’s commands for him to be a light-bearing disciple, the wise man will thus celebrate his freedom to know truth, but he will also bravely take on the duty of “lie detection” to help liberate others.

Tuesday, July 05, 2022

Celebrating Life Is Always In Order

Yes, this clip has been around for a few years but it remains refreshingly inspiring. And it deserves richly deserves being passed along to others. Please do so.

"Dear Future Mom" was created by the large Italian advertising firm Saatchi & Saatchi Italy for CoorDown, Italy’s National Coordination of Associations of People With Down Syndrome, in honor of World Down Syndrome Day on March 21.

The folks in the ad include both children and adults, filmed across Europe and speaking in their native languages. And while most of the responses are positive assurances — he’ll be able to go to school, learn to write, travel, and work, say the subjects — they also include realistic warnings, like “Sometimes it will be difficult,” “Very difficult,” “Almost impossible.” "But," one young man adds, “isn’t it like that for all mothers?” At the end, some moms jump into the frame to hug their children, their proud smiles providing, perhaps, the best reassurance of all.

Superb.

 

Monday, July 04, 2022

Happy Independence Day, U.S.A.

Yesterday a note was sent our way by an old friend, Ken Filbert. We were moved by it and asked his permission to post it on Vital Signs Blog so that others could appreciate it too. Thanks, Ken.

Happy Independence Day, U. S. A.

“The Fate of unborn millions will now depend, under God, on the courage and conduct of this army...We have, therefore, resolved to conquer or die.” (George Washington, addressing the Continental Army, 1776)

Thanks, Mr. Washington, for seeing clearly that the future and freedom of millions was at stake.  Courage and conduct under God seemed to be the deciding factor.  There are now millions that enjoy freedom that don’t know the history behind their freedom.  Not knowing why sometimes causes good things to die.  George Washington also said, “Truth will ultimately prevail where pains are taken to bring it to light.”  The ongoing effort to shroud the truth and eliminate and distort our history has brought a darkness over our nation that only the light of truth will dispel.  Pains must be taken to keep the lamp of liberty aflame, or the death of our liberty is inescapable.

Thomas Jefferson said, “God Who gave us life gave us liberty.  Can the liberty of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?

The nation that forgets God also forgets His gifts. One of those gifts is freedom.

“Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of Lord is, there is liberty.” (I Corinthians 3:17)

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Bible Study Among Friends (Even at a Distance)

Several weeks ago, I invited a few of my friends to join me in studying (and then discussing together) the Old Testament book of Esther.  The method was simple enough – read the book, study it in whatever depth you had time for, consider personal applications of the text, and then post a few of your reflections on an email thread so that everyone in the group (there were 8 of us) could benefit. 

Well, it worked really well. It not only provided stimulation and accountability to study the Bible, but it also helped make our friendships sharper and more purposeful as we related our responses to each other by conversation over coffee or even via email. And anything that helps us meet those goals is an important ministry. 

Perhaps you might consider joining us in future projects of this sort.  If you are in an effectively interactive study right now through home groups or Sunday school classes...that's terrific.  But if you’re not (or if you’d like to add to those studies), then give a thought to taking us up on this offer.  

And, by the way, the next project is just getting underway.  It’s a look at the 3-chapter Old Testament book of Habakkuk, a little book by volume but a very big book in its relevance to our own day.

So, if you’re interested in being a part of this exercise, just us send an email and I’ll include you in the thread.


Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Being About "Others"

In a conversation yesterday with Ralph Kramper, an old friend, pro-life colleague, and long-time family physician (before he retired), I heard a fascinating and inspiring story about Creighton University Hall of Fame athlete Bob Portman. I then learned that Ralph had written a brief tribute and I asked him if I could post it on Vital Signs Blog. Graciously, he gave me the go-ahead and so I present it here with my highest recommendation.

There’s More to Life Than a Number
by Ralph Kramper, M.D.

On Monday afternoon, while traveling from the graduation of a grandson in Wisconsin, I received a phone call on my wife’s cell phone from my good friend Bob Portman asking me if I knew who would be wearing #33 on the Bluejay basketball team.  We had been out of town for five days (no Omaha World-Herald newspaper) and though my own cell phone was fully charged, it was in my suitcase.  So I had no idea.  He explained the assignment of his long-retired jersey to a current freshman recruit who wore that number while in high school.

Bob and I had become friends during his junior and senior season at Creighton as his girlfriend Patty (now his wife) knew me from college at St. Benedict’s in Atchison, Kansas.  Patty and I would listen together to the away games on the radio (I was of no threat!).  I have been a Jay "backer" and season ticket holder since graduating from med school in 1971.  Bob not being allowed to play varsity as a freshman (and with no 3-point line in his day) makes his career stats even more
amazing.  Drafted by the San Francisco Warriors, he played four seasons with Jeff Mullins and Rick Barry.  After four seasons and with options available, Bob chose to retire from professional basketball to devote more time to his family.  I was present at his induction into the Creighton Hall of Fame (legendary UCLA coach John Wooden spoke) and at his induction into the Missouri Valley Hall of Fame.

So it came as no surprise that a man of God with great faith and humility would say “yes” to Coach McDermott’s request to "un-retire" his jersey number.  Having weathered several health storms, Bob epitomizes a man for others.

Living in a society that is so often egotistical and self-centered, it’s refreshing to see someone who is about others and not self.  That unselfish “other” spirit is what I believe characterized the 2021-2022 Bluejays.  May that continue and may we all look in the mirror and ask ourselves, “Am I about self, or am I about others?”  It’s never too late to change.

Monday, June 20, 2022

Bravely Bear the Lord's Banner

Banners in the Old Testament are military standards. They first appear in Numbers1:52 and 2:2 in the directions God gave to Moses for the arrangement of the Israelite camps in the wilderness. Those banners, specifically and publicly, identified the tribal armies to which each Israelite belonged. Thus the banner represented identity, strategic organization, purpose, and inspiration for battle. And it is these practical elements that provide the foundation for the metaphorical use of banner in later Old Testament Scriptures. Let’s take a few moments to consider these four elements.

1) Identity. The soldier finds fellowship, accountability, and stimulation to strive harder by being part of a solid corps of soldiers. Therefore, the corps flag, as a visual symbol of all its values, is deeply cherished and carefully protected. Psalm 20:5 emphasizes the blessing of identifying with God in His victories by erecting banners. “We will sing for joy over Your victory and, in the name of our God, we will set up our banners.” A similar expression is seen in the exultation over Zion’s new and forever glory in Isaiah 62:10. “Build up the highway, remove the stones, lift up a standard over the peoples.”

But the banner isn’t only displayed after the victory. No, it is also unfurled preliminary to and during the battle itself. Indeed, the banner of God can serve as a prophetic announcement of His holy, conquering purpose. Babylon, for instance, is warned in Isaiah 13:2 and 3, “Lift up a standard on the bare hill… I have even called My mighty warriors, My proudly exulting ones to execute My anger.” Ethiopia and the other nations are also warned of judgment by the appearance of the Lord’s banner in Isaiah 18:3. “All you inhabitants of the world and dwellers on the earth, as soon as a standard is raised on the mountains, you will see it.”

2) Organization. Throughout history, military commanders have used the various banners of their armies to help conduct strategic movement during a battle. Though a being a whole and unified army, it is composed of different parts and the skillful coordination of their action is critical to success. The individuals within the corps do not necessarily need to know the overall battle plan, they simply need to stay close to their standard and obey their orders.

3) Purpose. In some cases, the military banners of an army represented specialized talents, training, or tasks. For example, an infantry corps played a different role in battle than did pikemen or archers or cavalry. In the same way, the Lord often gives Christians different banners to carry, banners that signify their unique callings and spiritual gifts. Nevertheless, they serve in a common cause, under a common Commander, anticipating a common inheritance.

4) Inspiration. Bonds forged by love and trust and shared ideals are tremendously strong. And those bonds yield courageous, sacrificial devotion. Historical examples abound of the honor involved in carrying the flag in battle. One standard-bearer falls but another picks it up and moves forward. Through the cries and confusion, the smoke and shells, the flag continues to wave, inspiring and guiding soldiers in their advance.

All four of these elements are relevant in the “banner verse” that’s been on my mind lately. It is Psalm 60:4. “You have given a banner to those who fear You that it may be displayed because of the truth.” As a believer, one who fears God with proper reverence and love, I am fully identified with Him…and He with me. Scripture teaches that because I have trusted in Christ as my Savior, I am one of His beloved disciples. And that service carries the responsibility of being a bondservant, a faithful witness, a dedicated soldier. And especially applicable to these tasks is His gift to me of a holy banner -- a banner which needs to be publicly displayed.

My identity isn’t static or platonic, it involves function. I am a standard-bearer, responsible to show forth in the public square (as well, of course, in my private life) His truths concerning righteousness, justice, and the offer of grace through the atoning work of Jesus. I must bear this banner for others to see and do so boldly, consistently, gratefully, and joyfully.

God is working out His will in history. And, amazingly, I am honored to be a part of that. In the spiritual rebirth that comes through receiving Christ, God has not only forgiven my debt of sin, He has redeemed me, transformed me, and (through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit), equipped me for every good work…including bearing His banner in my corner of the battlefield.  

All the banners of the Lord display His character and the glorious truth He offers to men. Like the lights we are given that are not to be hidden under a basket, the banners we are given or not to be stowed away in the trunk of our car to be unloaded only when we attend church. No, the Lord’s banners are for public display. Therefore, if we fail to raise His standard, we are living in flat out disobedience.

“You have given a banner to those who fear You that it may be displayed because of the truth.” So don’t neglect your high calling. Bravely bear His banner.

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Thanks, Pro-Life Action League, for the New Signs!


Thanks to talented artist and dedicated pro-life activist, Pat Osborne, Vital Signs Ministries has always had some of the most beautiful and enlightening signs for use in our public pro-life witness over these last 40 years. 

Well, with photos provided by our colleagues at the Pro-Life Action League, we added a couple of new signs this morning for our prayer session outside Omaha's abortion business. And they too are winsome and persuasive. 

The two new signs are shown in this photo at the far right but you can also see a few of Pat's other signs being displayed.

Thank you, Pat. And thank you, Pro-Life Action League.  

Taking a Closer Look: Part Two (A Vital Signs Compilation of Must-Reads)

* "What the Jan. 6 Committee Might Have Been" (Victor Davis Hanson, Daily Signal)



* "6 Truths About The Environment The Biden Administration Would Like To Censor" (Elsie Miccue, Federalist)

* "Shower off: Inside Ashley Biden's diary" (Josh Boswell, Daily Mail)

Thursday, June 16, 2022

On the Home Front

If indeed “all gardening is landscape painting” as Alexander Pope believed, then Claire and I must be categorized in the “untamed impressionist” school! Actually, with the help of the lads over at Well-Rooted Gardens putting down mulch for us several days ago, we are about as content with the lawn and borders as we ever have been. Here's a few pics.













Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Roy Rogers' Rules (for a Life Well-Lived)

Remember when Hollywood actually helped parents raise their children with high moral standards, social responsibility, and patriotism?

Roy Rogers’ Riders Rules

1) Be neat and clean

2) Be courteous and polite.

3) Always obey your parents.

4) Protect the weak and help them.

5) Be brave but never take chances.

6) Study hard and learn all you can.

7) Be kind to animals and take care of them.

8) Eat all your food and never waste any.

9) Love God, and go to Sunday School regularly.

10) Always respect our flag and our country.

Monday, June 13, 2022

How Dare They, Indeed. (More Must-Reads)

* "Pizza Hut features 'drag kids' book for children as young as kindergarten" (Adam Sabes, Fox News)

* "Biden Administration Forces K-12 Gender Ideology Compliance with Lunch Money Threat" (Breccan F. This, Breitbart)

* "Whisteblower’s Lawyer: Pfizer Got Away With Vaccine Fraud Because Government Was Co-Conspirator" (Debra Heine, American Greatness)

* "Biden Hits New Heights With Festival of Lies During Navy Graduation Speech" (Nick Arama, Red State)

* "North Carolina preschool uses LGBT flashcards depicting a pregnant man to teach kids colors" (Michael Lee, Fox News)

* "Literature is being terrorised by cancel culture" (Nick Tyrone, spiked!)

Today's Must-Reads from the Alternative Media

* "Packin’ heat: Nude Hunter Biden cavorts with hooker, gun in latest mess for president" (Joshua Rhett Miller, Miranda Devine, & and Callie Patteson, New York Post)

* "Okay, Groomers" (Yet More Extremist Sexual Manipulation of Kids) (John Hinderaker, Power Line)

* "Dozens of Georgia churches split from United Methodist Church over LGBTQ issues" (Jon Brown, Fox News)

* "The FBI knew RussiaGate was a lie — but hid that truth" (New York Post Editorial Board)

* "Facebook rethinks news deals and publishers could lose millions" (Facebook has paid annual fees of $15 million to the Washington Post, $20 million to the New York Times and $10 million to The Wall Street Journal) (Alexandra Bruell & Keach Hagey Wall Street Journal via Fox News)

* "There Was a Huge ‘Mistake’ in the 2020 Census… Guess Which Party It Favored?" (Matt Margolis, PJ Media)


An Eventful Saturday

It was certainly an eventful Saturday for us beginning with my drive to Lincoln early this morning to pick up Harold Berry so that he could participate in the upcoming Vital Signs Book Brunch we were holding at Community Bible Church. We had a wonderful conversation. 

Then the event itself was remarkably successful --- 38 people, a delicious brunch (scrambled eggs, sausages, croissants, a couple of types of iced coffee cake, fruit salad, donuts, and hot drinks), a stimulating group discussion of Dr. Mark Christian's book The Apostate which tells of his exodus from Islam, and finishing with Dr. Christian himself talking about his life and new ministries in Christ. 

It went extremely well and we are deeply grateful for the special help from Allen Nelson, Mark & Benita Fichter, and Keith & Carol Moran in setting up and cleaning up. You guys are super friends!

And then this evening's highlight? That huge rain, hail, and wind storm! One of the very large branches of one of our front yard silver maples broke off and was blown over onto our neighbor's driveway hitting his car. Yipes. The damage wasn't really bad but enough to get our insurance guy on the job. We started cleaning up and another neighbor from across the street came over with his chainsaw which made the task of moving the branch back over to our driveway MUCH easier. 

Then a little more cleanup with another neighbor whose trees had also lost some big branches. And then finally, we got back inside to dry off and get ready for my sermons at tomorrow's church services at Wellspring Lutheran and Aksarben Village Senior Living. Like I said, it was an eventful Saturday, indeed.

Monday, June 06, 2022

In Honor of Those Who Stormed the Beaches

Here's the call of duty that members of the United States Navy received just two weeks before D-Day, June 6, 1944. 

27 May, 1944.
Secret.
From: Naval Commander, Western Task Force
To: ALL HANDS

1. We of the Western Naval Task Force are going to land the American Army in France.

2. From battleships to landing craft ours is, in the main, an American Force. Beside us will be a mainly British force, landing the British and Canadian troops. Overhead will fly the Allied Expeditionary Air Force. We all have the same mission — to smash our way onto the beaches, and through the coastal defenses, into the heart of the enemy’s fortress.

3. In two ways the coming battle differs from any that we have undertaken before: it demands more seamanship, and more fighting. We must operate in the waters of the English Channel and the French coast, in strong currents and twenty-foot tide. We must destroy an enemy defensive system which has been four years in the making, and our mission is one against which the enemy will throw his whole remaining strength. These are not beaches held by apathetic Italians or defended by hasty fortifications. These are prepare[d] positions, held by Germans who have learned from their past failures. They have coastal batteries and mine fields; they have [illegible] and E-boats and submarines. They will try to use them all. We are getting into a fight.

4. But it is not we who have to fear the outcome. As the German has learned from failure, we have learned from success. To this battle we bring our tested methods, with new weapons, and overwhelming strength. Tides and currents present a challenge which, forewarned, we know how to meet. And it will take more than the last convulsive effort of the beaten “master race” to match the fighting spirit of the American Navy. It is the enemy who is afraid.

5. In this force there are battleships, cruisers, and destroyers. There are hundreds of landing ships and craft, scores of patrol and escort vessels, dozens of specials assault craft. Every man in every ship has his job. And these tens of thousands of men and jobs add up to one task only — to land and support and supply and reinforce the finest army ever sent to battle by the United States. In that task we shall not fail. I await with confidence the further proof, in this the greatest battle of them all, that American sailors are seamen and fighting men second to none.

6. Captains will please publish this letter at quarters on the day that the ships are sealed; then post on bulletin boards; and remove and burn prior to sailing.

A.G. Kirk (Commander, U.S. Navy)


Thursday, May 26, 2022

An Open Letter to Just One of the Companies that Support Planned Parenthood

Dear PepsiCo officers,

I see that that your otherwise reputable company is continuing to give money to a most disreputable business; namely, the abortion conglomerate that is Planned Parenthood.  This, of course, is the same Planned Parenthood that continues to lie about providing mammograms and other health care when they do not provide such care, that works incessantly against traditional sexual morality and parental authority, that has been engaged in the grisly and illegal selling of fetal body parts, that presents the most graphic and profane "sex ed" materials even to school kids, and that destroys in their mother’s wombs hundreds of thousands of preborn boys and girls through the barbaric means of curettes, suction machines, and poisonous chemicals. 

Please stop debasing your company (and our culture) by giving money to this mega-abortion corporation.  Until you do, I will continue to forego purchasing your products and doing business with restaurants which contract with PepsiCo. And I will continue to pass the word to family, friends, fellow church members, blog readers, and others of your grossly unwarranted support of Planned Parenthood.

Monday, May 23, 2022

What On Earth?

Has the planet's axis slipped? Have the aliens landed? Is the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics suddenly picking up speed?

Or is it just the Biden administration and it's fellow travelers wreaking yet more havoc on the nation's economy, law, and morality? Check out these stories from the alternative media to see.

* "Dem witness tells House committee men can get pregnant, have abortions" (Jessica Chasmar, Fox News)

* "National School Boards Association letter drafts called for National Guard and military to be deployed [against parents!]" (Hannah Grossman, Fox News)

* "Is Biden's 'success' our mess?" (Victor Davis Hanson, Jewish World Review)

* "Wisconsin middle schoolers accused of sexual harassment for using wrong gender pronouns" (Michael Lee, Fox News)

* "Black conservative trainee vicar ‘blocked’ from joining Church of England over ‘anti-woke views’" (That's the headline from the Telegraph but its story is behind a pay wall so you can get the essentials plus an enlightening clip right here.)

* "Democrats’ Census Shenanigans May Have Cost Texas and Florida House Seats, Unfairly Gave Blue States More Seats" (Kyle Becker, Trending Politics)


Tuesday, May 17, 2022

A Few Open Letters

Dear Governor Ricketts,

We have been blessed to have benefitted from your bold, principled, and wise leadership these last several years.  You will be greatly missed as our governor, but we know your public service is far from over.

I’m writing tonight, however, at the Vital Signs Ministries’ letter-writing party to especially thank you for your pledge to recall the Unicameral if the Supreme Court should reverse Roe v Wade in order to vote again on LB933.

Thank you for this…and for everything else.

Dear Pfizer,

We were not completely surprised to learn about the terrible dangers of your Covid drugs or about the lack of honesty and transparency with which you conducted those oh-so-lucrative deals.

Why?

Because we have long been aware of your wanton disrespect for human life. After all, you have shamefully supported the lethal violence perpetrated daily by the mega-abortion corporation that is Planned Parenthood.

And as long as you continue this ruthless policy, we will urge friends to forgo any dealing with your company.

(Note -- I wrote a similar letter to Johnson and Johnson.)

Dear Chief Justice Roberts,

A quick but impassioned request for you to do the right thing for the Constitution and the rule of law, the right thing for preborn kids, and the right thing in the sight of God; namely, voting with the strict Constitutionalists of the Court to reverse the awful Roe v. Wade decision.

Thank you.

Project Veritas,

Just a quick word of thanks for the immensely valuable service you have provided for the right to life cause, religious freedom, journalistic ethics, and political honesty and transparency.

You guys are true treasures and you’re all in our frequent prayers.

Dear Justice Thomas,

We’re sending along a word of deep thanks for your noble, courageous, and wise leadership for the Court…and for America.  We so appreciate your devotion to the rule of law, to the ideals of Western Civilization, and especially your defense of the sanctity of human life.

You are in our frequent…and increasingly fervent prayers.

Blessings,

Dear President Biden,

What a striking contradiction your current policies are to the Democrat policies of the past. I mean, think back to FDR, Harry Truman, JFK, RFK, Scoop Jackson, Tip O'Neill, and so many others. As a matter of alarming fact, Mr. President, your current policies on energy, the Middle East, immigration, lawlessness, and especially the sanctity of life are a contradiction to the policies you yourself once espoused!

C’mon, man; do the right thing! Stop playing patsy to your loony left "handlers" and become a President that God can richly bless.

Thursday, May 05, 2022

What Else is Happening? (Part 2)

* "Team Biden finally admits there’s a war on cops -- which it’s inflaming." (Heather MacDonald, New York Post)

* "Why America Only Pretends to Compete With China" (Jeremy Stern, Tablet)

* "The Washington Post’s Repulsive Defense Of Twitter Execs Makes Even Elon Musk Look Good" (Mark Hemingway, Federalist)

* "'They are all our children': Biden sparks fury from parents by telling teachers that kids are 'yours when they're in the classroom' as he takes aim at Republican efforts to stop sexually explicit lessons and books." (Natasha Anderson & Nikki Schwab, Daily Mail)

* "How America became La La Land" (Victor Davis Hanson, Jewish World Review)

* "Big Tech censored Biden criticism more than 600 times over 2 years. (Some were targeted merely for quoting the president in his own words.)" (Bradford Betz, Fox News)

What Else is Happening?

Here are a few insightful articles on the illegal leak of the Samuel Alito draft -- that provide far truer, more helpful perspectives than those being screeched out by the establishment media -- plus a few other happenings in the culture wars.

* "The consummate statecraft of Justice Alito's leaked abortion opinion." (Hadley Arkes, American Mind)

* "Franklin Graham on Abortion Reversal: 'If True … an Answer to Many Years of Prayers'" (Joel B. Pollak, Breitbart)

* "Before Finally Overturning Roe, Supreme Court Must Block Yet Another Insurrection Attempt" (Mollie Hemingway, Federalist)

* "D.C. elementary school gave 4-year-olds 'anti-racism' 'fistbook' asking them to identify racist family members" (Jessica Chasmar, Fox News)

* "The New Disinformationists" (Victor Davis Hanson, American Greatness)

* "Why Does the Left Have Such a Difficult Time With the Concept of 'Free Speech'?" (Rick Moran, PJ Media)

* "5 Ways Democrat Policies Work To Destroy Children’s Lives" (J.B. Shurk, Federalist)

Are You Envying Sinners? Well, Stop It.

“Do not let your heart envy sinners, but live in the fear of the Lord always. Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.” (Proverbs 23:17 & 18, NASB)

The teacher of Proverbs has an important exhortation here, one that acknowledges the strong allure of sin, yet which also urges the man of God to deny that temptation by turning instead to a healthy, joyful, and forward-looking trust in God. This is an ever-timely warning, one that can provide great help to us in our ongoing battles with sin’s deceptive enticements.

Let’s break down a few elements of this exhortation.

1) Sin begins in the heart -- our inner attitudes and affections.  The overt acts of sin have their start inside us. (Remember 1 John 1:13-16 and Matthew 5.) Walking in holiness is much more than avoiding the deeds of robbery, adultery, cursing, murder, or exploitation. It is not enough to avoid “acting out” sin. The battleground is, in point of fact, our minds.  It is there that that we are either victorious or defeated, pure or corrupt, pleasing to God or disappointing to Him. Thus, the initial warning of Proverbs 23:17: “do not let your heart envy sinners.”  The basic danger we face is not murdering someone, it’s hating them. It is not hooking up with someone who is not your spouse, but mentally lusting for them. It is not breaking into your neighbor’s home to steal, but being unsatisfied and ungrateful with your own income and possessions. Again, sin begins in the heart and so that is where the Lord commands us to be on our closest guard against it.

2) Do we really envy sinners?  We don’t usually think of our struggles with evil in this way.  We are more likely to think of temptation as being an idea or some kind of evil force…perhaps some line of attack from the devil himself.  But this proverb is just one of the many Scriptures that show us temptation can arise from our attitudes towards other people – even unbelievers.  Their beauty and youth.  Their health and mobility.  Their affluence, eloquence, social standing, relationships, freedom, success.  When we allow our eyes to stray from the Lord, from His Word, from the many and lovely gifts He has given us, and from our heavenly future (more on that momentarily), and start comparing our lot with others, we’re in spiritual trouble. We are likely to end up dissatisfied (at times even despairing). We complain and blame God for whatever we feel lacking. We give way to envy.  But God wants to kindly teach us that there is absolutely no future in this.  No happiness.  No spiritual growth. No heavenly reward. So, let’s listen carefully to His wisdom and choose a different course.

3) “Live in the fear of the Lord always.” Yes, there is another option.  Instead of letting our hearts be filled with dissatisfaction, ingratitude, and envy towards sinners, our hearts can be filled with the Holy Spirit as we live in the fear of God. Now, you’ve often heard that when the Bible speaks of fearing God, it actually means a solemn reverence for Him. And that’s true. But it’s not the whole truth. A comprehensive study of the Bible’s teaching on this matter reveals that while “the fear of the Lord” certainly includes that sense of solemn reverence towards God, it also involves ongoing trust, gratitude, love, awe, obedience, encouragement, comfort and…yes, an honest fear of the repercussions of sin in our lives.  Make no mistake, God is a jealous God Who disciplines His own.  So be sure to behave yourselves as heavenly children. Honor God with a life of faithful obedience to His Word. As you do so, the temptation to envy sinners will lose its appeal. So, delight yourself in the Lord.  Find in Him your joy, your satisfaction, your purpose, and your strength. And, in God’s divine irony, once your focus is on Him, you can properly see others – not as people to envy, but as people to serve, pray for, and be an example to.

4) Consider the future. There is, in 23:18, a marvelous postscript to the previous proverb.  God reminds us that there is another huge consideration in this matter; namely, the eternal consequences of our present battles with temptation and sin.  Those sinners we are sometimes prone to envy?  Their end is judgment and an eternal separation from God and all His delights.  But, in astonishing contrast, the people of God have a sure hope -- a word also translated “expectation” And that sure hope, that guaranteed expectation of believers is a full redemption of mind, body, relationships, and even the physical world in which they will live forever with Christ  And that hope will not be cut off. But the wicked?  That’s a whole different story. He has no portion at all in this.  He is cast out defeated, wanting, and alone…eternally. So why envy sinners? There’s no logic or value in doing so.  Oh no, it is much better to keep the big picture in mind and live in the fear of God: honoring Him, loving Him, and glorifying Him as we joyfully anticipate the grand future before us.

“Do not let your heart envy sinners, but live in the fear of the Lord always. Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.”  (Proverbs 23:17 & 18, NASB)

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Just What Is "When Swing Was King?"

A missionary friend of mine (for this post, I’ll call him “Cyrus”) once asked me in a letter, “Would you tell me more about the ministry of When Swing Was King?  I have no idea what that is.  Does it have anything to do with dancing?  I was converted out of the dancing world, and would like to know what this is and how you use it for the Kingdom.  What do your presentations consist of?  Perhaps it is just the name that confuses me."

Here’s my reply:

Dear Cyrus,

Well, first of all, you intrigue me with the comment, “I was converted out of the dancing world.” That evokes quite a visual, my friend. ☺ However, that’s for another time. In the meantime, I’ll try and answer your questions. 

When Swing Was King is now our primary (and extremely popular) ministry to nursing home and assisted living residents. But let me first give you a little background. Throughout our 40 years of pro-life activism through Vital Signs Ministries, we have had various outreaches to seniors. For about 20 years, that meant monthly team visits to Mercy Care Center here in Omaha. We visited, played games, brought kittens and puppies for the residents to pet, brought kids to sing and dance, engaged in various kinds of crafts, dressed up in costumes, made treats to share, did sing-alongs – you name it. Furthermore, we encouraged an adopt-a-grandparent program to help individual families develop ongoing friendships with the residents. All of these were effective ways of entertaining and befriending and the staff of Mercy Care loved us because we were popular with the residents and because we were faithful. Indeed, ours was the only group to visit every month. As a result, the staff members didn’t interfere with such “spinoff” activities as singing gospel songs, engaging in religious-themed conversations, or praying with residents. 

But then Mercy Care Center closed, ostensibly due to an asbestos problem. So we took our activities to another nursing home. After a few years there, however, our ministry dwindled. First of all, the facility began putting some pretty serious restrictions on our activities and so the numbers of our visitation team sharply decreased. But also, Claire and I found we were spending a lot more hours in a more personal “mercy ministry;” namely, caring for my Mom. 

And then came When Swing Was King.

It still amazes us to remember that this outreach, new volumes of which are now being presented in several nursing homes and assisted living facilities every month, began in July 2010 as a one-time event. We were planning a party Mom and some of her friends at Life Care Center, the nursing home where she was living after her frontal lobe dementia required skilled nursing care. But out of that single party idea evolved an outreach with more profound impact than anything we could have dreamed.

But, before I speak about its impact, let me describe to you exactly what When Swing Was King became in those first few months after its debut. Each of the monthly programs has 4 key elements. 1) Every volume has 12 songs. These are the original songs played by the original artists from the stars of the big band era. Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Harry James, Tommy Dorsey, Chick Webb, Lawrence Welk, Count Basie, and Artie Shaw are regularly featured as are such popular singers as Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby, Helen Forrest, Vaughn Monroe, and the Mills Brothers. These songs (as well as show tunes and other chart-topping records) are those for which the seniors in our audiences feel great familiarity and affection. 

2) While those songs play, there are 240-265 photographs projected from a Power Point onto a big screen. They are photos that generally fit the era: fashions, couples in love, cars, kids, city and farm, military and the home front, popular ads, families, school days, household appliances – you get the idea. 3) A personal commentary that includes DJ-style introductions to the songs along with occasional tidbits about the times, the musicians and songs, and the pictures. That commentary not only provides context and added interest, it is often a source of humor and fun. And finally 4) Personal visits before and after the presentation itself. Thus are the ways When Swing Was King opens doors to sincere and ongoing friendships with residents (and staff) of the senior living facilities. 

Now let me be clear, Cyrus, When Swing Was King is primarily an entertainment program. Except for the Christmas show (which is distinctly, joyously Christian), the outreach is designed to overcome boredom and lethargy, lift the spirit from depression and self-pity, stimulate memory, and encourage social interaction. And, I’m pleased to say, that When Swing Was King has scored remarkably high in all those areas. Therefore, by giving the residents a multi-dimensional, well-crafted, and deeply appreciated entertainment program, we end up also creating a winsome witness for the Christian faith. And, as you might guess, that has led to many things: conversations about religious subjects, prayers, hospital visits, me being asked by staff to pray for residents in need, me being asked by family to conduct funerals for residents whose friendship we had formed through When Swing Was King, and more.

Indeed, Cyrus, When Swing Was King is beloved not only because seniors are hearing the music of their youth – although that’s no small thing in itself – but because it provides them with a lovely trip down memory lane through the photos, the commentary, and the conversations the show inspires. And did I mention that much of the trust and affection that When Swing Was King has won from residents and staff is because we present quality shows every month? And that each show is actually new and unique? And that each show is completely free?

As you might guess, the virus and the resultant lockdowns wreaked havoc on our When Swing Was King schedule. Before then we were doing shows at 12 facilities every month. And though we did none at all for nearly 18 months, we tried to keep relationships alive by providing a 9-page activity packet to each facility every week. And now, thank the Lord, we are climbing back into a more substantial schedule. Currently, we are back to 8 shows a month with our hopes and prayers lifted to do still more soon.

I guess that’s more than you need to know but I thought I’d give you a detailed view of When Swing Was King to best answer your question. But I have two more suggestions for you, Cyrus. One is come see a When Swing Was King show yourself sometime. I think you’d find it enlightening and heartwarming. And second, read a few of the testimonies below to see a little more about how others have responded. And thanks so much for your interest in this element of Vital Signs Ministries.

Denny

“From the first song you played till the last, my legs and feet wouldn’t keep still. And on some of those songs, other parts were moving that hadn’t moved in quite awhile! What great music and such memories!” (Resident)

When Swing Was King is a much enjoyed special event in our facility. Our residents look forward to this time of musical reminiscence…The quality of this presentation is awesome. I am so grateful to Denny and Claire for enhancing our activity calendar. I appreciate their kindness in sharing their time and talent.” (Activities director)

“That brought back so many memories, both sad and happy. I’m going to be thinking about this the whole afternoon. Thank you so much for coming. It was the best program we’ve ever had here.” (Resident)

“This reminded me so well of the good old days. Why, I hadn’t heard Vaughn Monroe or the Andrews Sisters for I can’t remember when. Thank you. This was really grand.” (Resident)

“Our residents love When Swing was King. They await the program all morning and enjoy reminiscing about it after it is through. It’s like a window to the past and can get all of them reminiscing about those times. The pictures and the music are wonderful! We look forward to When Swing was King every month! Thanks, Claire and Denny!” (Activities director)

“Where did you find all of those pictures? And the music! If I could have danced, I sure would have! This was delightful. Please come back again and again.” (Resident)

Tuesday, April 05, 2022

A Few Days in Florida

On last night’s flights home from Florida, I wrote the April LifeSharer letter and, though a part of that letter concerned Carol Coppi’s memorial service in Destin last Friday, I thought I’d share a brief report of our whole trip here.

After spending 4 glorious days of reunion with Quint down in Florida, Carol suffered a second severe stroke and died just hours later. Quint asked me to come down and conduct Carol’s homecoming celebration and, of course, I was honored to say yes.  But with Destin being a popular spring break site and with Biden’s policies driving fuel alarming high, the best flight Claire could obtain was long, expensive, and convoluted one that included flying via New York City and Charlotte. Oh my. We got to the Omaha airport at 6 AM and arrived in Destin just before 7 PM. 

Quint’s son Steve and daughter-in-law Renee had arranged very nice accommodations at a condo near Miramar Beach for 4 nights for members of the family. We were also graciously invited to stay there as well. That first night we were able to spend only a short time with Quint, but we caught up more substantially with a Friday morning breakfast at Quint's favorite, Waffle House. Claire and I then took a break by visiting the beach, having prayers together, and me wading into the Gulf.  Friday afternoon was the funeral ceremony which included a remarkable photo collage, my brief eulogy and sermon, very moving tributes from members of the family, and a lovely supper at which more heartwarming memories of Carol were shared.

Saturday morning we awoke to quite a thunderstorm yet still made it out for another breakfast with Quint, this time at The Blake, the beautiful assisted living facility which is now his home.  We also toured the place, talked with several of his neighbors, and even shot a little pool.  We then took Quint back to Steve’s house for a rest. Claire and I had a picnic on the beach where we enjoyed watching the waves, parasailers, and even a few dolphins.

Saturday's big family event, however, came later on Saturday with Steve’s friend
Doug creating an elaborate and delicious “shrimp boil.”  Potatoes, cobs of corn, Brussels sprouts, celery, sausage, and big shrimp boiled up with heavy Cajun spices in a big pot over a fire and eventually spread out on butcher paper to be consumed with one’s hands.  It was a great time. Claire and I sat with Quint and Denise, a good friend of the family, and we talked a lot of memories and a lot about heaven's rewards.

I had found a Panera nearby and so a 6 Sunday morning I was there having coffee and doing Vital Signs work. Claire slept in a little later before getting to her journal, laundry, and ironing.  We then had breakfast together at a First Watch restaurant before dressing down and enjoying an hour of a brisk prayer walk along the beach.  Later on Claire and I took Quint out to dinner at a fantastic Irish pub-style restaurant (McGuire's) which includes in its decor $2.2 million in dollar bills which customers sign and staple onto the walls, booths, just about anywhere.  What a sweet, memorable, and delicious evening.

And finally Monday came round.  I started early again at Panera while Claire packed our things. By 8 we were over at Quint’s new place to help 3 of his family members get his apartment ready to live in.  We invested about 3 hours in that project before taking off to bring Quint over. We had lunch there at The Blake with him and Ruth (another resident) as the family finished preparing the apartment. And with that task accomplished and a little more conversation, we said our goodbyes and headed for the airport. We thank all of you who prayed for us, for God’s truths to be shared at Carol’s memorial service, and for Quint and his family. If you would like Quint's new contact information, please let us know.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

"Under the Rug" News Stories

Yet another batch of great "news you can use" that is being grossly distorted (if spoken of at all) by the establishment press.

* "The Sheer Madness of Today’s Left" (Victor Davis Hanson, American Greatness)

* "ABC, CBS, NBC ignore Hunter Biden scandals, haven’t mentioned his name in 259 days" (Brian Flood, Fox News)

* "House GOP pushes Wray for transparency on FBI misconduct in probing politicians, religious groups, journalists" (Fred Lucas, Fox News)

* "Gavin Newsom Signs Law to Make Abortions Free in California" (Penny Starr, Breitbart)

* "Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers Targets Big Tech’s Censorship of Free Speech" (Virginia Allen, Daily Signal)

* "What Lia Thomas Means: The sudden prominence of transgenderism in the West owes in large part to compassion becoming unmoored from reason—and to ethics being reduced to compassion." (Leor Sapir, City Journal)

* "Biden’s Regulatory Blitz a Massive Tax, Especially Harming Seniors and Low-Income Americans" (Diane Katz, Daily Signal)


News They'd Prefer You NOT See

In Vital Signs Blog's ongoing series of compilations of journalism from the alternative press, here are a few more stories that CNN, ABC, the New York Times, CBS, Oprah Winfrey, The Washington Post, TIME Magazine, the Associated Press, NBC, Jimmy Kimmel, Ellen, and all the rest of the establishment media hope you never see.

* "Border Crisis Is About to Get a Lot Worse" (Jarrett Stepman, Daily Signal)

* "America is dismantling the pillars of its own empire: America is failing the region and siding with Iran while dismantling the last 70 years of regional order." (Mohammed Alyahya, Jerusalem Post)

* "Biden got 255,000 ‘excess’ votes in fraud-tainted swing states in 2020, study finds." (Stephen Dinan, Washington Times)

* "Georgia parent reading sexual content from library at school board meeting is cut off: 'Inappropriate' -- Don’t you find the irony in that?" (Emma Colton, Fox News)

* "Race-Obsessed Leftists Don’t Want To Talk About The Abortion Rate Of Black Babies" (Austin Stone & T.W. Shannon, Federalist)

* "CDC: Due to a 'Coding Error,' We Massively Over-Counted COVID Deaths Among Children" (Guy Benson, Town Hall)