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)

Monday, March 28, 2022

Church, Cookies, Conversation: What's Not to Like?

Yesterday afternoon’s Vital Signs Ministries church service at Aksarben Village Senior Living was another wonderful occasion of the Lord’s blessing and it provided us with yet more reasons to thank Him for adding this outreach to our work. Yesterday’s service followed the pattern we have established over the last 13 months:

* Welcome, announcements, opening prayer

* Music (via YouTube video clip) -- “Alas, and Did My Savior Bleed” by The Leffring Sisters

* Music -- “’Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus” by the Getty Family and Joni Eareckson Tada

* The sermon (always brief, 12-15 minutes). Yesterday’s message was “Ponder and Practice These Things” dealing with Philippians 4:8 & 9.  That closed out our look at highlights of Philippians from the last several weeks.

* Music – “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” by the Living Stones Quartet out of Kerala, India.

* Closing prayer by Claire.

* And then comes a delightful feature of our Sunday afternoon church services; namely, our distribution of coffee, lemonade, and cookies which accompany a half hour or more of personal visiting together.

Now, we were kinda’ stretched yesterday as we had 18 people in our congregation and only 3 of us to pass out the treats and “work the room” to talk to everyone. And that leads me to make this request . We could really use help in bolstering our visitation team for this important ministry. What's it involve? Just being there to befriend and talk to the Aksarben residents before and after the "formal" service. That would mean being there from 2 or 2:15 until 3:30. Believe me, your presence would be a tremendous help and I’m pretty sure you would find it an inspirational, enjoyable time.  If you’re interested, please give us a call.

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Grace Is the Message in the Voice of God (Psalm 19)

Psalm 19 is one of the most well-known and well-loved psalms because of the poetic declaration which introduces it. “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard.” (Psalm 19:1-3, NKJV) However, as lovely and profound as the opening verses are, they are but an introduction to two other sections of the psalm which emphasize the proper response to nature’s glorious revelations of God’s power, beauty, wisdom, and goodness.

To be sure, the first response to the order and beauty of nature should be praise and thanksgiving to the God Who made it and Who reveals truths about Himself through it.  We are to humbly worship the Lord Whose voice is communicated so universally, so constantly, and so majestically.  But the second section of the psalm teaches something even more important; namely, that we should recognize that God has extended and clarified His revelation by means of the written Word.  Indeed, it is in the law given through Moses and the prophets (and eventually through the divinely inspired writers of the New Testament) that the Lord reveals much, much more of Himself, His purposes, and the requirements He lays down for men and women to obey.

It is in verse 7 that the psalmist begins this second section. “The law of the law is perfect, restoring the soul.” David goes on in the next verses to describe God’s law as sure, right, pure, clean, enduring, true, righteous, desirable, and everlasting.  And those who appreciate and carefully follow God’s laws, David explains in these verses, will be made wise, will rejoice, will be enlightened, will be protected, and will receive great rewards.

So is it a good thing to appreciate the power of God in the thunderstorm and earthquake, to rejoice at the beauty of God in the sunrise and the waterfall, to be amazed to the point of worship at the intricacy and orderliness of the stars and seas and squirrels?  Of course.  God desires just such responses as these to His voice as expressed in His creation.  Yet more relevant, more important still are our responses of awe, thanksgiving, and loyalty to the moral law of God that is expressed directly and perfectly in His Word.

This thought is then expanded in the third and concluding section of Psalm 19 as David addresses the ongoing sanctification of His people; that is, our day-to-day gratitude for and obedience to the spiritual sharpening His written Word provides.

David begins this third section with the provocative question of verse 12: “Who can discern his errors?”  The possessive used (“his”) applies to man, not to God, as the Hebrew word translated here as “error” is used elsewhere to describe going astray, wandering, misleading, engaging in sin and folly. David is thus asking (of himself as well as others), “Who can fully understand one’s moral failure? Who can figure out why men act against their own self-interest by rebelling against God? Who can comprehend the huge distance between God’s holiness and man’s shallow and self-centered choices?”

In the next verses, David underscores the deliberate nature of sin. For instance, the Hebrew adjective which describes sins in verse 13, translated in most versions as  “presumptuous,” describes an insolent, defiant attitude towards God. We do not merely stumble into sin – we often look, evaluate, and then jump headlong into it.  This willful disobedience must be contritely admitted to God before we can move towards forgiveness and a fresh start. And that’s just where King David, long acquainted with God’s tender mercies towards the penitent, goes next. “Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins. Let them not rule over me. Then I will be blameless and I shall be acquitted of great transgression.”

David lifts up his prayer to a gracious God.  For though he has known God’s voice in creation and he has known God’s voice even more particularly pronounced in His law (including its warning against sin), yet he has turned aside from God.  He has failed to consistently heed those warnings. He has sinned, even defiantly so. David takes responsibility as he calls sin and transgression by their right names.  Yet, even at this, all is not lost!  For God’s holiness can be satisfied through the mercies He offers to honest, humble worshippers. And it is on the basis of God’s grace (demonstrated in the symbolic sacrifices of the Temple but eventually to be fulfilled in the complete atonement provided by the death of the Messiah to pay our penalty) that David confidently appeals for acquittal of sin and restoration of fellowship with God.

The suggestion that there is no or little grace expressed in the Old Testament is a silly idea and Psalm 19 is but one example of hundreds that show the real story.  In fact, Psalm 19 emphasizes God’s grace being provided in several ways. First, David praises the awesome power of God’s revelation in nature. That God thus reveals himself is a grand expression of His grace to mankind. Second, there is what’s often termed as “common grace” that God’s creation provides for all men. By His orderly creation, all mankind lives on a planet that makes sense, that allows for family and food production and navigation and thousands upon thousands of other blessings. That too is grace. Third, Psalm 19 acknowledges God’s grace in the revelation of His character, will, and wisdom through the written law.  In particular, David is grateful that God’s law is liberating and enlightening and empowering.  That’s sanctifying grace. Fourth, God’s Word extols His grace that provides salvation to man…and even eternal rewards for their faithfulness to walk according to His Word.

As I said at the beginning, Psalm 19 certainly deserves to be appreciated for the moving testimony about God’s created order with which it opens.  But there’s much more truth to embrace there. Indeed, Psalm 19 is a glorious song about the profound voice of God – a voice which continually expresses God’s amazing grace to mankind. Through creation…through the Word…through the existential power of the Holy Spirit -- God lovingly uses all three to express His character, His offer of atonement for sin, and His provision for strength to walk closely beside Him towards the life to come.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

More Buried Treasure

In other words, here are more of the latest stories the establishment media hope you'll never learn about.

* "Biden’s Banana Republic: The tragic case of Matthew Perna, and its terrible implications." (Robert Spencer, FrontPage Mag)

* "Maria Bartiromo’s Sources Are Right: The Biden Administration Is Actively Partnering With Putin On Climate And Iran" (Emily Jashinsky, Federalist)

* "Looming food shortages is the next ‘slow-moving disaster’ to hit world" (Glenn H. Reynolds, New York Post)

* "Biden’s budget bill funnels millions in pork to vulnerable Democrats" (Haris Alic, Washington Times)

* "Biden’s Real Problem Isn’t His Russian Oil Policy, But His American One" (Daniel J. Flynn, American Spectator)

* "Social-Justice Lingerie: Victoria’s Secret ditches physical beauty for left-wing activism." (Christopher F. Rufo, City Journal)

Taking a Closer Look at Today's News

Here, from the alternative media, are a few excellent articles about the affairs of the day -- stories the establishment media does NOT want you to know. Check 'em out.

* "It's time to stop viewing Disney as a family-friendly company" (Andrea Widburg, American Thinker)

* "American education’s new dark age: Colleges have abandoned real learning for wokeism" (William Deresiewicz, UnHerd)

* "Biden’s Handlers Are Preparing to Eject Him (and Kamala)" (Roger Kimball, American Greatness)

* "Women’s Rights vs Transgender Power Politics" (Cory Franklin, John Kass News)

* "Benjamin Weinthal on Germany's Increasing Support of the Iranian Regime" (Marilyn Stern, Middle East Forum)

* "Joe Biden’s Iran plan is a total disaster" (Michael Goodwin, New York Post)

The March Newsletter from Vital Signs Ministries!

The March letter from Vital Signs Ministries was one full of “news and reviews” which included several photographs too. It's a pretty exciting letter, we believe, as it illustrates just how multi-faceted is our work.

You'll find that letter (and more photos) at this link.

P.S. You'll also find there the story behind the fuzzy bunnies shown here!

Monday, March 21, 2022

“Rejoice in the Lord Always." (Really?)

“Rejoice in the Lord always.  Again, I will say rejoice.”  (Philippians 4:4)

Really, Paul? With the world falling apart, with my finances taking a dive, with my family in disarray, with my physical health deteriorating, and now with raccoons making their home in the attic, you’re telling me to rejoice? And to rejoice always? And to rub it in further, you say it yet a second time? 

Well, that’s exactly what the apostle Paul is saying in this verse.  And remember, he knows that obedience to this exhortation is do-able. After all, Paul is writing this letter, remember, while in a Roman prison.  And remember too that Paul’s past experiences with trials and sufferings is intense and of longstanding. He has endured ongoing persecution, beatings, stoning, shipwreck, poverty, homelessness, slander, hunger and thirst, betrayal, fatigue, worry, disappointment, and the ongoing agony from his “thorn in the flesh.”  

The apostle is not guilty of naiveté here.  He isn’t urging his Philippian brethren to just “put the best face on” the trials and temptations of life. Nor is he pointing to an ethereal ideal that cannot be practically applied. No, Paul is telling them that rejoicing is truly possible -- even in the toughest of circumstances -- when it occurs in the correct context; namely, “in the Lord.”

For rejoicing “in the Lord” does not mean you can begin rejoicing only when the world stops spinning in sin or when your health improves or when the raccoons relocate to your neighbor’s house. You see, Paul’s exhortation is always in force because that little phrase that is connected to it (“in the Lord”) involves several earth-shaking realities. Among the most important? The infinite and all-powerful God Who created the universe is also a personal and compassionate God who offers you an intimate relationship with Himself. Indeed, that all-wise and ever-present Sovereign “so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him might not perish but have everlasting life.”

God has graciously adopted into His family any and every person who, by childlike faith, has believed that promise. For, in doing so, the sinner is not only forgiven, the very righteousness of Christ is imparted into him and he is indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, the Christian can walk in the fellowship of the Triune God, experiencing God’s power to overcome even the fiercest of trials. We have a Helper. We have an Intercessor. We have a Defender. We have an Advocate. We have the practical help of God’s Word. We have the stimulation, encouragement, and assistance of the Church. And we have a citizenship in heaven, that forever paradise where we will live in a new and glorified body in the midst of a new and a redeemed creation. And our eternal fellowship will include God Himself, His angels, and the whole family of saints from throughout all of history. Wow.

All of these things (and more) create the context and foundation of that three-word condition, “in the Lord.” All of these things thus provide the motivation, the power, and the triumphant purpose of the command: “Rejoice in the Lord always.  Again, I will say rejoice.”  

Oh Lord Jesus, help me to see and fully embrace the divine truths behind the crucial command of Philippians 4:4. Give me faith to keep moving forward in my faith, even in the midst of my present sufferings, rejoicing in the many, glorious effects of my relationship with the almighty God. Help me to keep a divine perspective on my fleeting life as compared to the eternal life to come in which I will dwell with You in the New Jerusalem forevermore. And in so seeing these realities by faith, help me to rejoice always in the Lord. Amen.

Saturday, March 19, 2022

The Nursing Home Business: It Shouldn’t Be Mere Business for Christians

The nursing home in your neighborhood is, of course, a business. It is concerned with making money (even if the primary source of that money is from government) and it can only stay in business if it “earns” more than it spends in staff, building maintenance, equipment, supplies, and promotion. However, every senior care business deals uniquely with morality for, besides the issue of profit, it is supposed to provide critical services to many of the most fragile souls in our population.

And may we never grow callous to the fact that the aged, infirm, and severely injured in the human family require not only a lot of help, they also deserve that help to be marked by generosity, kindness, respect, and efficiency. Indeed, they deserve much more from the care facility business (and from all of us too) than they usually get.

Nursing home residents deal with a variety of traumatic problems: pain, fear, disorientation, an infuriating loss of mobility, boredom, frustration, loneliness, depression, a humbling dependence on others, confusion, and a loss of self-esteem that can be as debilitating as any physical burden. And most nursing home residents suffer several of these terribly difficult challenges all at once. 

Are these businesses doing well financially? Certainly so. And more are built every month. However, plainly stated, many of the nursing homes and other senior care businesses are, not serving seniors well. The primary problem? The care facilities are woefully understaffed and ill equipped. The employees there (even when they genuinely care) are undertrained and way underpaid. How terribly common is it then that they are absolutely overwhelmed by the needs of the hurting people in their care. Even with their best efforts, they cannot give quality care to the persons who so desperately need it. And thus the extremely high “burnout” and turnover rates. 

Is the lack of quality, sensitive care to be blamed on the facility staff? No. The responsibility goes to owners and managers and, in some cases, even shareholders. For while it is certainly the case that, along with the peaches on the staff of our nation’s nursing homes, there are also a lot of bad apples. But the foundational fault comes from the top where company profits are more desired than providing quality care. And until senior care businesses are held accountable for the vast differences between what they promise in their brochures and the actual services they provide, the tragedy of the elderly and infirm going without the best of care will continue to get worse.

This will remain the case in the nursing home business until the culture as a whole rediscovers a sincere respect for the sanctity of life. For only a spiritual ethic that values every person (no matter their age, abilities, status, size, color or creed, physical or mental health) as created in the image of God and is therefore of inestimable value and deserving of our most attentive, compassionate, and skilled care can create a culture that is truly humane. Mere sentiment is not enough; what is needed is action of the most committed and consistent kind. 

Sadly, the Church has played an ignoble part in this deterioration of a respect for life. Modern Christians do not honor our parents and grandparents as we should. We have let our insistence on material things, leisure, entertainment, and other freedoms from “the ties that bind” contribute to the breakdown of extended family. We have also let these things determine our priorities in lifestyle, in career choices, in where we spend our money and time. Nothing is left over to invest in caring for the most needy among us.

Consider these questions. Why did the Church abandon its historic stewardship of hospitals, nursing homes, orphanages, adoption agencies, and homes for unwed mothers to the government and government-dependent businesses? It’s a sad legacy. In terms of more organic change, why aren’t Christians in the West producing more nurses, more medical technicians, and other persons willing to take on the challenge of the caring professions? Why in our homes, churches, and Christian schools do we fail to extol the noble professions of caregivers, thus encouraging the generation to come to embrace them as a way to love God, to serve one’s neighbor, and to shine as winsome lights of the gospel in the darkened world around us? After all, the holy Scriptures teach compassion and mercy and sacrifice for others as primary virtues. The Lord Jesus demonstrated over and again the beauty of caring for others (in both their physical and spiritual needs) and He commands us to fully identify with His mission. We are also specifically told that the zenith of authentic Christianity is to make the service of widows and orphans a priority of our ministry. 

More questions. Why does the Church not consider supplementing the meager salaries of caregivers in the senior care facilities so that more Christians could afford to work there? Why do we believe it so important that each of the innumerable churches in a city erect its own expensive building (the space of which is largely wasted during the week) and thus ignore the enormous opportunity to serve the sick, the aged, the unintentional poor and needy around us?  Why do we believe it so necessary that each of the innumerable churches in a city provide salaries and benefits to preachers, assistants of various sorts, and then assistants to the assistants, all the while letting the needs of the widows and orphans in our midst go unmet? 

At the very least, why aren't more of the ministers and laypersons in our churches involved in “mercy ministries” in our town’s nursing homes, hospitals, and with the homebound – ministries like worship services, Bible studies, taking prayers and communion to patients, personal visitation, entertainment, “adopt-a-grandparent” programs, volunteer assistance, and so on?

By the way, my remarks on this topic are not made lightly. Indeed, they come from my wife’s and my own intensive work with seniors: caring for our aged parents, our creation of the popular “When Swing Was King” outreach which has served 8-12 senior facilities every month for 12 years, and to four decades of various other programs of Vital Signs Ministries performed in senior care facilities. And my purpose in writing (yet again) about these matters is 1) because things are not getting better and 2) because I sincerely believe that the Church (even individual believers) could make an enormous difference in the lives of seniors if there is a humble willingness to change our attitudes and ministry strategies, engage in fervent prayers relevant to the need, and begin taking bold, new steps towards helping those who so desperately need our help.

You say that we can’t change the culture’s attitudes, institutions, and moral atrophy overnight? Of course not. We may not, despite our best efforts, change the general culture at all. But that shouldn’t stop us from trying. And it most definitely shouldn’t stop us from taking what action we can right now to help improve the lives of seniors in our immediate area. Let’s get started.

Monday, March 14, 2022

March 14 -- An Open Letter to President Biden

Dear President Biden,

Come on, man!

Get started on a critical reset of American government, business, and social ethics ASAP.

How? You can begin with these 7 steps.

1) Stop your detestable promotion of the violent evil of abortion.

2) Start protecting the national borders.

3) Turn loose American ingenuity, entrepreneurship, and hard work to solve our energy crisis. (And you can begin this campaign by turning on the pipeline! )

4) Get the U.S. military back to full strength for its mission of protecting America – not for the foolish business of politically-correct sensitivity training.

5) Cut off the counter-productive cronyism between your administration and the teachers’ unions, Big Tech and Big Pharma, the would-be tyrants of the Deep State, and the rest of the "blame America first" crowd.
6) Stop wasting money!

And, for goodness sake,

7) Stop printing money!

Please, Mr. President, before it's too late for America, begin governing rightly.

Denny Hartford, 
Omaha, Nebraska

In the Era of Putin's Aggression, Remember Alexander Solzhenitsyn

The injustice and cruelty of the Soviet Union’s vast organization of labor camps in the 1930’s and 1940’s are now well known. But that knowledge didn’t have to surface. Indeed, without the grace of God acting through such heroic individuals as Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the truth might well have remained buried by Communist cover-ups.

Solzhenitsyn's was the foremost voice raised against the grandiose and oppressive Soviet machine. Through rare courage and sacrificial efforts, he managed to alert the whole world to the barbaric injustices committed against countless numbers of human beings.

Solzhenitsyn’s most famous (though not often read) book is the riveting 3-volume Gulag Archipelago. In that incredible work, the former slave camp worker documents the massive catalog of outrageous lies, violence, and criminal corruption that were the “very stuff” of Soviet Communism. In the Gulag (and even in his fiction), Solzhenitsyn serves primarily as an historian. It is enough, he insisted, to simply record what happened, to give the truth an open hearing. He had a bold faith in the triumphant power of truth and he therefore believed that when people learned the real story of Soviet tyranny, they would never again allow the devil an open door to such blasphemy and brutality.

It is in this sense that Alexander Solzhenitsyn is hailed as a prophet – not as a foreteller of future events but as a “forthteller” of what had already happened. He held up the banner of truth and, simply by performing that service, he helped change the world.

Solzhenitsyn’s play The Love-Girl and the Innocent is set in a forced labor camp in Siberia in 1945 and it features one of the persecuted men listing just a few of the monstrous crimes performed by Soviet thugs that he had personally witnessed. The prisoner is beside himself with fury, feeling utterly helpless to do anything about this all-enveloping injustice. But in response, Pavel Gai, an imprisoned ex-soldier who has experienced more than his own share of horrors, answers him with chilling authority. “What can we do? Remember – that’s all.”

And that's precisely what Alexander Solzhenitsyn did.  He remembered.  In fact, it was his constant plea to God to help him remember specific events, people, and situations so that he could record the true history of the Soviet Union's crimes against humanity and God. Solzhenitsyn desired more than anything else to be a faithful historian in order to effectively honor the gulag’s victims, and perhaps more important, preserve and proclaim the truths about Communism that could set the future free.

Ronald Reagan was one of those inspired by those revelations and he acted on the knowledge that Solzhenitsyn had so bravely preserved. The camps were emptied. The Wall finally came down. Truth, just a simple presentation of the truth, can indeed destroy the darkness.

And now in our day, with Vladimir Putin’s savage return to the dark lies of totalitarianism, persecution, and terrorism with which he is trying to drown the truth of Communist Russia’s corruption, inefficiency and failure, Alexander Solzhenitsyn's example and exhortations are as valuable as ever.

Note: I am undertaking a re-read of Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago this spring and summer. Anyone interested in joining me?

Sunday, March 13, 2022

A Happy Sunday, Indeed

It was another wonderful Sunday with a good deal of the morning spent at the rehab center where Carol Coppi continues to improve from her brain hemorrhage stroke 5 weeks ago. What dear, dear friends she and Quint have been to us (and many more!) over these last decades. Quint’s family has already relocated him in a beautiful place in Florida with Carol to follow suit as soon as she’s able to travel. And that might even be this week! We will miss them terribly but we applaud the family’s compassion, generosity, and effort invested in taking good care of them there.

And then we went on to our regular Sunday afternoon church service at Aksarben Village Senior Living. Our congregation today was 16. Joining us for the visitation before and after our 35-minute service were some of the “standards” of our team: Allen, Ruth, and Don. The sermons (always only 13-15 minutes long) have lately been from the Book of Philippians and today I spoke of Philippians 4: 4-5 (“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.  Let your gentle spirit be known to all people. The Lord is near.”) 

Our YouTube musical selections today were “All Hail The Power Of Jesus’ Name” (Choir and Orchestra of First Baptist Church, Dallas), “You Must Be Born Again” (The Ferguson Family out of Mount Dora, Florida) and “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” (Gracias Choir, originally from South Korea). Claire closed in prayer and we enjoyed the cookies, coffee, lemonade, and plenty of lively fellowship for another half hour or more.

It was a terrific time.

By the way, we always pass around sheets with the order of service, the song lyrics, and the sermon text to everyone and we encourage them to take them back to their rooms to use as devotionals. But we have recently stepped that outreach up by using what used to be blank spaces to print other items of interest. One week, for instance, we printed several D.L. Moody quotes. One week was a Charles Wesley poem. And today, in honor of St. Patrick’s Day coming up, was an edited version of this Vital Signs Blog post (The Real St. Patrick) was itself edited from a radio script I wrote long, long ago. Check it out. 

Friday, March 11, 2022

Your Letter Makes a Difference

Regular visitors to Vital Signs Blog know I frequently pass along action alerts designed to get you involved in grassroots advocacy. In those posts I describe what's happening, why your response is valuable, contact information, and sometimes even show you a sample letter.

Why? 1) I’m convinced that “shining” is a lot more responsible than just “whining.” It’s healthier too!

2) Letter-writers become more informed, more alert, and more eager to pass the word along in other venues too.

and 3) Letters actually work!

These are the reasons that one of Vital Signs Ministries' first activities (way back in 1983) was the beginning of letter-writing parties regularly scheduled meetings where we would spend a short time of prayer together and then, while we kept the coffee and tea hot, we wrote letters and cards.

Vital Signs carries on this tradition to this day. And we’ve stimulated individual churches and Sunday School classes to join in the fun. Why? Because letters work.

But don't just take my word for it. Give a listen to this interesting 5-minute lecture by business entrepreneur and politician Omar Ahmad. If you find it motivational -- and you will -- then print off this helpful letter-writing primer and get started making a difference.

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Thinking About Psalm 2

My old friend and pro-life colleague John Malek has been thinking about Psalm 2 and it's application to today's culture. Give a listen...

Why are the leaders of the nations in an uproar devising new ways to control and rule people and lands and resources? Virus’, Socialism, wars, shutdowns, shortages, Marxism, drug trafficking, historic revisionism, Communism, tyranny, etc., They take positions and counsel together against the Lord and His people, saying lets free ourselves from their constraints. Their bible, their “truth”, their moral absolutism, their insistence on a God who made us, their sense of justice and righteousness, is all holding us back from progress. 

Let’s throw off those constraints, constraints on morality or biology or history and go our own way. We can forge a better morality that takes us into a bright new future of hope and promise and progress in improving our lives and our planet, purifying mankind and endowing them with new superpowers.

The Lord who is in Heaven, laughs and scoffs at them, thinking they know better and are morally better, but He speaks to them and terrifies them with His anger and fury and they would be wise to take heed, because He has installed His own King over the nations, Jesus (indeed the begotten Son of Father God), who sits on Mount Zion – His holy mountain. He has given Him all the nations even to the furthest ends of the earth as His inheritance to rule and reign, not the petty kings who are now plotting against the children of God. 

God has given Him the authority to break the rulers of the nations with a rod of iron and to shatter them like clay vessels, so again, they would do well to heed the warnings from God and worship Him with reverence and rejoice in Him for the temporary authority He has given them in their nations. They should pay homage to the Son of God, so that He does not become angry with them and they perish as He removes their scepter to rule. It is likely His wrath will soon be kindled, so blessed are those who take refuge in Him. 

This is my layman’s paraphrase of Psalm 2 and it is why I see God as the one who will come to rescue us from the evil that is infesting all the earth. Isaiah 60:2 – For behold darkness will cover the earth and deep darkness the peoples; but the Lord will rise upon you and His glory will appear upon you.

Wednesday, March 09, 2022

Oh, My; Did You Miss These? (Part 2)

* "COVID Vaccine Bombshells You Probably Missed" (Debra Heine, American Greatness)

* "The Clinton campaign’s plot to politically assassinate Trump" (Peter Van Buren, Spectator)

* "How Biden has empowered evil in both Russia and Iran" (Melanie Phillips, Jewish News Syndicate)

* "What We Learn From Democrats’ Failure to Pass an Extreme Abortion Bill" (Nicole Russell, Daily Signal)

* "Special Counsel Finds Mark Zuckerberg’s Election Money Violated Wisconsin Bribery Laws" (Margot Cleveland, Federalist)

* "Europe’s ‘green’ transition put it at Russia’s mercy" (Christopher Barnard, Spectator)

Oh, My; Did You Miss These?

* "While America watches the war in Ukraine, Biden finalizes a dangerous Iran deal" (Eric Mandel, The Hill)

* "One year without Rush Limbaugh – 5 lessons he left us on how to handle the left" (Diana Allocco, Fox News)

* "A Canadian Pastor Is Imprisoned for Talking to Truckers" (George Neumayr, American Spectator)

* "The media's war on Clarence and Ginni Thomas" (Mark Paoletta, Washington Examiner)

* "Rap and drill music is part of America's racial problem" (Juan Williams, Fox News)

* "Facial recognition firm Clearview AI says it will soon have 100 BILLION photos in its database to ensure 'almost everyone in the world will be identifiable' and wants to expand beyond law enforcement" (Alex Hammer, Daily Mail)

Tuesday, March 08, 2022

When Swing Was King "Swings" Into March

Well, the March schedule of “When Swing Was King” gets underway as we will present the program at Esprit Whispering Ridge Assisted Living and Memory Care. It will be the first of 8 shows that are on the current rota and, though that is way down from the pre-Covid days when we did 12 shows a month, we are delighted to be able to have these opportunities.

For those of you who don’t know about this outreach, let me give you a quick review. “When Swing Was King: The Sights and Sounds of the Big Band Era” is a sentimental journey back to the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, the heady days of youth for most of the residents of today’s retirement centers and nursing homes.  It is a wholesome, fun program that brings comfort, awakens memories, and lifts the spirits.  I suppose, however, that “When Swing Was King” is actually a combination of four things: 1) Some of the very best music produced during the swing era; 2) Power Point visuals recalling American life and culture in those decades; 3) Entertaining commentary to go along with the original hits and provocative photographs; and 4) A splendid opportunity for reflection, conversation, and the development of new friendships.

In addition to the nearly 200 photographs, the current show will feature these outstanding hit songs:

1) “Pennsylvania 6-5000” (Glenn Miller Orchestra)

2) “Flying Home” (Lionel Hampton Orchestra)

(Photo Theme: “Things That Fly”)

3) “It’s Been a Long, Long Time” (Harry James Orchestra with vocalist Kitty Kallen)

(Photo Theme: WW II Home Front)

4) “Blue Room” (Glen Gray & the casa Loma Orchestra)

5) “Deep Purple” (Larry Clinton Orchestra with vocalist Bea Wain)

6) “Satin Doll” (Duke Ellington Orchestra)

(Photo Theme: Hollywood Leading Ladies)

7) “Stardust” (Artie Shaw Orchestra)

8) “Till Then” (The Mills Brothers)

(Photo Theme: WW II Years)

9)”Avalon” (Benny Goodman Quartet)

10) “Cha Cha Cha d’Amour” (Dean Martin with Nelson Riddle Orchestra)

(Photo Theme: Dean Martin’s Career)

11) “Opus One” (Tommy Dorsey Orchestra)

12) “Danny Boy” (Dennis Day”

(Photo Theme: The Emerald Isle)

We always appreciate prayers that everything goes right, that the residents come in good health and spirits, that the staff is helpful, and that the Lord blesses us with opportunities to have substantial visits with our guests. And, of course, if you’d like to drop in for one of the shows, by all means do so. You’ll find the schedule on the Vital Signs Ministries website.