Saturday, June 03, 2023

The Top 5 (June 3)

Though it’s been a busy week with our Vital Signs Ministries responsibilities, prepping for three speaking engagements, trying to keep up with the lawn and the training for our July 5 mountain adventure, and enduring the regimens prior to a dentist appointment and a colonoscopy (yipes!), I still have a Top 5 for you. Check ‘em out.

* The Left Has Pushed the Envelope (Victor Davis Hanson, Daily Signal)

* Left-wing extremism linked to psychopathy and narcissism (Alex Mitchell, New York Post)

* It’s Not Just Going to End (Mike Sabo, The American Mind)

* Is the Sleeping Conservative Dragon Finally Waking Up? (Victor Davis Hanson, Daily Signal)

* The Thirst For Truth: Big Picture Explanation of What Happened in the Past 15 Years That Flipped the Social, Cultural, Media, Leftist and Govt Relationship (The Last Refuge)

And one more as a bonus pick…

* Legalization Of Polygamy Was Always The Logical Consequence Of Obergefell (Jonathan S. Tobin, Federalist)

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Heads Up!

Two important Vital Signs Ministries events are on their way, representing
opportunities for spiritual challenge, effective witness, and stimulating fellowship. They are...

* On June 20 there will be 2 letter-writing parties held at othe Hartford home. One meeting is a morning brunch from 10-11:30. And then our regular evening P.A.L. Night will be from 7-8:30. And, of course, your RSVPs are very important.

* The next Vital Signs Book Brunch will be at our home on Saturday morning, June 24 at 10. The book under discussion is the classic by C.S. Lewis, That Hideous Strength.  Trust me, the relevance of this novel is greater than ever before and a discussion of it (by thoughtful people who actually read the book) will undoubtedly prove to be of significant value. Please let us know soon if you’re interested. 

Friday, May 26, 2023

The Top Five (May 27)

When expressing your alarm at the dire deterioration of Western culture, have you ever heard another person (including fellow Christians)  protest your pessimism with something like this, "Hey, don't go overboard. We live in a fallen world and you can always find bad news if you're going to go out looking for it. Believe me, we're no worse now than ever before."

Uh, really? Here's just a handful of recent happenings that certainly suggest otherwise. 

It turns out that our FBI improperly used warrantless search powers against U.S. citizens more than 278,000 times in the year ending November 2021...It's not just government-funded libraries that are hosting drag queen exhibitions. The First United Methodist Church in Sherman, Texas got into the perverted action by sponsoring a "Pride Prom" which they billed by as a "family-friendly drag show."...Though Republicans make up over 60% of registered voters in Nassau County, New York, a "printer error" is being blamed for over 976,000 voter registration cards (that's every voter in the county) being marked Democrat...

Only 13% of eighth graders in America can pass the citizenship test the U.S. requires of naturalized citizens...Democratic North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper declared a "state of emergency" in a totally inappropriate attempt to stop a school choice bill from passing the state legislature...A high school in Missouri allowed a high school yearbook to feature a page extolling casual sex, abortifacient drugs, smoking, drinking, etc...The CEO of Target brags about his company's going all in for the "woke movement," claiming that it represents "just good business decisions, and it’s the right thing for society, and it’s the great thing for our brand...."

The Durham Reports clearly reveal that President Obama and Vice-President Biden knew that the stories claiming Donald Trump's collusion was a complete and malicious hoax. And yet these key "public servants" perpetuated the lie...The totals from 2022 are now in on the loss of U.S. business inventory due to circumstances such as retail theft. It's almost $100 billion. And it's getting nothing but worse...

Communist thug Vladimir Putin is going to put "tactical" nuclear weapons in in Communist Belarus...Under the Biden administration’s direction, the Department of Homeland Security has funneled $40 million taxpayer dollars away from bona fide anti-terrorism programs and into a weaponized operation aimed at destroying the reputations of prominent Christian organizations, several highly respected conservative public policy groups, a major cable news network, and even the Republican National Committee....

An Indiana abortionist committed an abortion on a 10-year old girl and was $3,000 fined by the state's medical licensing board -- NOT for the murderous deed itself, but only for publicly talking about it....And the Los Angeles Dodgers are honoring the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a group of "queer and trans nuns," during a June 16 event...

Had enough? Me too. Here's this week's Top 5 recommended reads.

* Planned Parenthood's Legacy: It's Worse Than You Think (Denise Harle, Alliance Defending Freedom)

* Surgeon General: Social Media Poses a ‘ Profound Risk’ to Mental Health of Minors (Dan Hart, FRC's Washington Stand)

* The Hate Industry (Edward Ring, American Greatness)

* The Left Has Pushed the Envelope (Victor Davis Hanson, PJ Media)

* The scandal that's hit America and will be bigger than Watergate (Newt Gingrich, Fox News)

And a couple of bonus stories: 5 things conservatives need to know before AI wipes out conservative thought altogether (Dan Schneider, Fox News)...‘They’re Forced to Celebrate It’: Parents of Girls Losing to Boys Speak Out (Suzanne Bowdey, FRC's Washington Stand) and a real doozy, Ex-social worker faked brain cancer to dodge justice after false tip councilwoman molested toddler (Emma Colton, Fox News)

Friday, May 19, 2023

The Top 5 (May 20)

Yes, the news from the culture wars gets more grim by the day. And yet, the Christian's responsibility (better put, opportunity) remains the same; namely, to "shine as lights in the middle of a crooked and perverse generation." Indeed, the final entry in this week's Top 5 is a Vital Signs Blog post I wrote which underscores that very important perspective.

* The Durham Report Leaves No Doubt: The FBI Is A Mortal Threat To Democracy (John Daniel Davidson, Federalist)

* Pro-Life Groups Challenge Trump’s Suggestion That Florida’s Heartbeat Ban Is ‘Too Harsh’ (Mary Margaret Olohan, Daily Signal)

* America's men are in crisis and it's rooted in one big lie (Senator Josh Hawley, Fox News)

* Israel under Fire and The West's Pusillanimous Response (Richard Kemp, Gatestone Institute)

* The Christian Pilgrimage: My Hand in His (Denny Hartford, Vital Signs Blog)

And a bonus link -- The Administrative State: The Lawmakers No One Votes For -- The unchecked power of the administrative state presents a serious threat to liberty, democracy, and republican government. (Lathan Watts, Alliance Defending Freedom)

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

The Christian Pilgrimage: My Hand in His

Rather than considering the Christian life an inevitable movement between highs and lows, the far healthier perspective (that is, the one that is more biblically-centered) is to consider the Christian life an ongoing pilgrimage in which our hand must always hold fast to the hand of our Lord as He lovingly, unerringly leads us to heaven. Our emotions may be fluid and fickle, and we will experience seasons of dryness and sadness, yet this is when our grip on Jesus’ hand must be more firm and tenacious than ever. And, of course, we must be diligent not to release our grip when things seem to be more pleasant and comfortable. 

Remember the opening verse of the great hymn, “Jesus Paid It All”? “I hear the Savior say, ‘Thy strength indeed is small. Child of weakness, watch and pray. Find in Me thine all in all.’” By the power of the Holy Spirit, our pilgrimage can be steady and blessed and fruitful, no matter what comes our way. The weakening of our bodies, the wounds that come from loss and disappointment, the wolves that are ever abroad in this decadent world – all of these assail us with regularity and increasing force. Yet in Christ, we truly can find our “all in all.” 

In Him we can find confidence, joy, and the supernatural power to rise above circumstances as we exercise faith towards our Lord and love in action towards others. We cling tighter to He Who is our help and hope -- and we keep moving forward. Moment by moment. Step by step. One act of kindness, one recitation of a Scripture verse, one word of encouragement to others, one smile in anticipation of the heavenly rewards awaiting us, one fervent prayer…at a time.

Our pilgrimage is a journey, but we are not alone. We have the loving help of Jesus Christ, including the blessed gifts of His Word and the fellowship of His other adopted children. And never forget that our pilgrimage has a destination -- a glorious, wonderful, and forever destination that isn’t actually an end, but an exciting and eternal beginning.

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them,  and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.’” (Revelation 21:1-4)

By the way, I write these words after a week which included visits to my little sister who is suffering from severe and accelerating dementia plus another very difficult day in which we sat with a friend in the emergency room for 10 hours after having to call the rescue squad for help. There were yet other visits to ailing friends in hospital and in a rehab center as well. It was also a week with prayers and a public pro-life witness outside an abortion business, writing letters to friends dealing with various challenges, and many conversations with elderly friends living in care facilities following our “When Swing Was King” shows and our Sunday afternoon church service at Aksarben Village Senior Living. 

However, it was also a week with such happy moments as the wedding of two remarkable friends and a successful, inspirational fundraising banquet for Assure Women’s Center. And, more in the middle as concerns emotions, the week saw a lot more of what you could call “pedestrian” activities: mowing the lawn, getting the car fixed, reading, sermon preparation, editing material for the Vital Signs Ministries website, meal preparation…you get the idea.

In other words, it was a week one might understandably interpret as moving from highs to lows, from happy moments to horrid, from successes to sorrows. But that would be an illusion for, as I’ve explained above, the true perspective is to see the Christian life as an ongoing series of adventures – a step by step pilgrimage with the Lord Jesus Who will give us all we need to pass each test, to escape every temptation, to take advantage of every opportunity to lay up treasures in heaven. 

We are not straws in the winds of fate. We are not slaves to our surroundings or emotions. We are warriors on a mission. And no matter the specific challenges we encounter, His purposes and enabling power remain constant.

“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let’s hold firmly to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things just as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let’s approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace for help at the time of our need.” (Hebrews 4:14-16)

“Therefore, since we also have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let’s rid ourselves of every obstacle and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let’s run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking only at Jesus, the originator and perfecter of the faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12: 1-3)

Saturday, May 13, 2023

"We Had a Dog...and a Radio!"

Our “When Swing Was King” audiences are always enthusiastic in their praise of the program and, with the social graces that mark that generation so much more than those that are following them, they are very expressive of their appreciation. And we never tire of hearing their compliments and thanks nor the stories that the WSWK songs and photos stimulate.

Nevertheless, the response from Joe, the lone gentleman in yesterday’s audience at Immanuel Courtyard Assisted Living, was particularly moving to us for he not only seemed transfixed with every number, but his endearing smile and sparkling eyes throughout the program really touched our hearts. And in our conversation afterward, Joe was terrific fun. “Oh, oh; that was wonderful! That was so beautiful. I knew so many of those songs and I loved even the ones I didn’t remember so well. And those pictures! They were so real – just like visiting my family and old friends…I felt like I could almost reach out and touch them! What wonderful, wonderful memories! Oh, if you could only start and play it all over again!”

Our subsequent conversation covered Joe’s family history, his work, the unique cane he was using (which he made and decorated himself), and more of his commentary about his life-long love of music. My favorite observation of his? “You know, when I was a young boy, my family was poor. Very poor. But I didn’t know that – that didn’t bother me. And you know why? It was because there was love in our home. And because we had 2 things which we all loved, two great blessings that made me feel like I was rich – a dog and a radio! And oh, how my father loved that radio – the music and the programs – but mostly the music. And so we loved music too. And I think the dog did too! Oh, yes, we were rich because of that music and you and your wife brought all that back to me today! Thank you, thank you. Please come back soon!”

Ah, the blessings of “When Swing Was King”!

The Top 5 (May 13)

This very challenging week has included a quick trip to Wichita to see my little sister Sherry who is suffering from severe dementia, and then discovering a friend in such distress that we had to call the rescue squad and then spend the day with her in the hospital. Alas, the sadness and difficulty of both of those situations is ongoing. There have been a few other trials too but, for the child of God, there are always blessings aplenty as well. One needs only to lean into His abundant grace, stay the course through faith in His word, and anticipate that glorious and forever victory that will soon be ours.

On the news front? The border crisis becomes worse and worse while President Biden laughingly insists there's nothing at all wrong. And yet, if there IS anything wrong, it's Donald Trump's fault!...The vandalism against pro-life pregnancy clinics now includes the grotesque bodies of decapitated animals scattered on the lawns...A special needs student at a California high school was called a "bigot" by her teachers for not using preferred pronouns, objecting to participating in a lesson about "scissoring," and refusing to get undressed near male teachers...In Colorado, a school created a secret club for sixth-graders that claimed too be an art club but turned out to be a gender and sexuality awareness club where radically obscene matters were presented to the kids...Communist Belarus is escalating its already horrendous persecution of Christians (Example: 7 young Protestants were arrested, handcuffed, detained at the police station for over 8 hours, fined  and handcuffed the seven, took them to Central District Police Station, and then fined about two months' average wage each. The crime? They were caught talking to others on a city street about the meaning of Easter.)

This week's Top 5?

* A Pastoral Response to Gender Confusion: Caring for Those Caught in the LGBTQ Religion (Jesse Johnson, Master's Seminary Blog)

* How anti-Semitism became unleashed in the West (Melanie Phillips, Jewish World Review)

* Prayer as Thought Crime: Stop and pray on the street in front of an abortion facility in England or Wales and you could find yourself under arrest. (Alliance Defending Freedom)

* The Culture War Isn’t The Most Important Issue Of 2024, It’s The Only Issue (John Daniel Davidson, Federalist)

* Weaponizing Death (Victor Davis Hanson, Daily Signal)

Saturday, May 06, 2023

The Top 5 (May 6)

What a week, huh? For instance, there were those Hawaii tourists who drove straight into a boat harbor by following their GPS directions. The good news is that they were rescued and no one was seriously hurt. The bad news is that Western culture, following the crazy political-correctness that is the left's version of GPS, is driving towards a much more catastrophic end.

A few cases in point -- How about the skyrocketing rates of church vandalism, legislation targeting church sacraments, and the FBI and other government agencies going after people of faith? One example from this week was Saint Francis Health System, the 12th-largest hospital in the U.S., being told by the feds that its solitary candle in the chapel was a safety hazard and, unless it was snuffed out forthwith, it would lose its ability to accept Medicare, Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

More men, dressed as women and claiming to be such, are taking home more of the championships in women's athletic contests. And the media, once champions of women's sports, applauds.

The Democrats are intensifying their attacks on the Supreme Court, one of the few institutions it doesn't already dominate. 

Teachers are leaving the government schools in droves because of uncontrollable students and the ridiculousness of gender politics.  But the administrators? They're staying put.

Democrats in Oregon passed a bill that, among other things, would allow minors to undergo sex reassignment surgery and obtain abortions without their parent’s permission.

Oh yes, to deal with the severe shortage of young citizens going into the military, the U.S. Navy hired a "nonbinary" drag queen to be a "digital ambassador." Yeah, that'll work.

Government school teachers in Colorado passed a resolution calling for an end to capitalism because capitalism "inherently exploits children, public schools, land, labor, and resources." Also in Colorado, the Democrats there voted against a measure that would enhance criminal penalties for indecent exposure in view of a minor. Why? Because some claimed it could be used to ban drag queen shows.

The thug wanted for murdering 5 people in "execution style," (including an 8-year-old child) is an illegal alien who has been deported 5 times.

And finally, it turns out that the saintly American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), is sitting on hundreds of millions of dollars (including millions in offshore Caribbean accounts) and doling out six-figure salaries to employees -- while giving just 2% of its budget to pet shelters!


Let's move on to my Top 5 for this week.

* American Maoism. Rage meets self-pity as the permanently offended root out false thought. (Daniel J. Mahoney, American Mind)

* Patriots Are Starting to Hate America, Too. (CNN, of all places, just released a survey that shows something true.) (Scott McKay, American Spectator)

* Unrigging Our Elections (Mark and Mollie Hemingway, American Mind)

* To Protect Free Speech, We Must Preserve Language. It may at times seem tedious or trivial, but those committed to speaking and living the truth must not disengage from the conflict over language. (Lathan Watts, Alliance Defending Freedom)

* Beyond Fate: How America Can Fulfill Its Destiny and Illuminate the Path to a Better World (Armstrong Williams, Daily Signal)

Saturday, April 29, 2023

The Week's Top Five (April 29)

Well, this last week certainly showed sad new levels of (to use Francis Schaeffer's word) "stupid-wicked" in the culture. From politics, business, government schools, the publishing field, the incredibly inept and easily corrupted Nebraska Unicameral, and more, we see the deterioration continue at a dramatic pace. However, I don't try to chronicle the culture slide in this feature; I only suggest 5 articles (actually, one of them this week is a video link) as a healthy "sanity check."

The Top 5:

1) The inhumanity of the green agenda: The ‘sustainability’ regime is impoverishing the world. (Joel Catkin, spiked!)

2) Do We Even Know We Are All Socialists Now? In the end, perhaps the best definition of socialism is simply “The endless war against merit.” (Victor Davis Hanson, American Greatness)

3) Who was the real Martin Luther King, Jr.? King: A Life is the first comprehensive biography of the black civil rights hero to appear in more than thirty years (David J. Garrow, Spectator)

4) Top Republicans Explain: How GOP Candidates Should Be Talking about Abortion (Suzanne Bowdey, Washington Stand

5) Right here is a link to the first in a series of 5 Hillsdale College lectures on the Inklings. It is "Who Are the Inklings?" By Bradley Birzer.

Saturday, April 22, 2023

The Week's Top Five (April 22)

I am, of course, aware that 3 of this week's Top 5 are written by Victor Davis Hanson. But that's simply because all three are that good.  Here you go.

* Silicon Valley’s moral bankruptcy (Victor Davis Hanson, New Criterion)

* Can We Do Anything About America’s Decline?: The remedies are agreed upon, but the needed medicine is feared more than the disease. Because today, the government is the cause of our many crises. (Victor Davis Hanson, American Greatness)

* The Useful Veneer of the Aging Democrat (Victor Davis Hanson, Daily Signal)

* Open Letter to an Emotionally Abused World (Lori Weintz, Brownstone Institute)

* Surgeon Castrating ‘Gender-Diverse’ Eunuchs Manifests The Evil Of Transgenderism: The idea of ‘eunuch’ as a gender identity that needs to be affirmed with surgical castration is obviously insane. (Nathaniel Blake, Federalist)

Monday, April 17, 2023

About That Nick Cannon Video

In the March letter from Vital Signs Ministries, I briefly mentioned two secular music videos I believed had the potential to be life-changing, life-saving resources. And I still do. 

However, a friend who I hadn’t directly heard from for a long time was concerned enough to call me last weekend with a disagreement about one of those videos. The two I mentioned in the newsletter were Nick Cannon’s “Can I Live” and Matt Kennon’s “The Call.” But my friend’s concern was only over Nick Cannon’s. Because of Cannon’s background and negative reputation, my friend thought he was a poor choice to use as a role model in any way...especially with young people. 

I explained that I was only advocating that particular video (which is the re-telling of Cannon’s own story as a kid who was almost aborted) and that I didn’t think that was condoning elements of his immoral lifestyle. After all, in many other contexts, I quote and/or refer to non-believers when their remarks are relevant -- as did the apostle Paul, by the way.

Nevertheless, I listened to my friend -- a very sincere and godly man -- and admitted I could at least have attached a “warning label” of some kind when suggesting the Nick Cannon video had I known more about who he was. And not bothering to check that out was “my bad.” And after thanking my brother for his honest, and somewhat courageous, counsel, I told him I would pass along that warning now. 

Friday, April 14, 2023

The Top Five (April 15)

Okay, here's our second edition of The Top Five -- our five highest recommendations from the news and commentary covering the culture wars (and more) that I've read this past week. 

* An unspeakable atrocity: The pain is made so much worse by the pusillanimity of the west (Melanie Phillips)

* The Biden 10-Step Plan for Global Chaos: Our enemies do not fear us, our allies judge us unreliable, and neutrals assume America is in descent and too dangerous to join. (American Greatness, Victor Davis Hanson)

* America’s Censorship Regime Goes on Trial: Missouri v. Biden will test the government’s ability to suppress speech in the name of fighting ‘misinformation’ (Tablet, Jenin Younes)

* Trump Isn’t Only One Facing Double Standards of Justice (Daily Signal, Katrina Trinko)

* National Right to Life on the Fifth Circuit Court Decision on the Abortion Drug Mifepristone

And here's a video extra ---- A provocative video ad for the New Saint Andrews College (Lies lose all their power when the deceived become wise. New Saint Andrews College has taken a stand. We will not be torn away from our belief in beauty, goodness, and truth by the lies that are being told. Neither should you. Neither should your children.)

Considering Legalism: A Few Ground Rules

I want to warn you about mistaking perfectly appropriate rules of organization for legalism. Legalism has become a cheap and distorted word in some circles, one used completely apart from its biblical context. A few examples: When your Mom tells you to clean up your room, you cannot yell “legalism.” When the cop pulls you over for having a busted taillight, you should not scream, “You’re just being legalistic. And because I’m free in Christ, I don’t have to obey any of your silly man-made rules.”

And when church leaders say you shouldn’t disrupt morning services by talking or eating breakfast in the pews or snoring or letting your cell phone ring or allowing your child to play with her Chatty Cathy doll -- these things are not -- I repeat, not -- legalism.

Legalism, as explained in the New Testament, is an effort to detract from Christ's authority, His character or the sufficiency of His atoning work on the cross by substituting rules of man-made religion. It's a very serious pattern of heresy. So, don't distract from the dangerous deceptions of legalism by casually tossing around the word as a pejorative whenever you meet rules of order and organization you think are unfair, burdensome or unproductive.

One can argue about the efficiency of rules or their timing and usage. One can even question the legitimacy of the ones making the rules. But throwing out rules altogether is foolish. It makes you an ally of chaos. Indeed, it puts you out of step with the Scriptures themselves for rules (commands, exhortations, warnings) or part of the very fabric of the Word.

Also, to unfairly toss around the charge of legalism in any controversy over rules and guidelines really creates a greater mess. It is a attempt to make a spiritual issue out of something that is often of a purely practical nature. The legitimate discussion of a curfew, for instance, which occurs between a father and his 18-year-old son who still lives at home isn't helped by Junior calling his father a legalist for the very idea of a curfew. No, using the word "legalism" as a cudgel is to be avoided. That's trying to win an argument by impugning the motives or character of the one who disagrees with you or, worse still, it assumes the absurd presupposition that organization itself is a bad thing.

You get the idea? Henry Martyn Robert did not become a legalist when he came up with his now famous Rules of Order. Football referees or baseball umpires are not legalists because they require players to strictly abide by rules. My doctor who ordered me to cut down on caffeine is not a legalist. So, let’s be careful how we use the term.

Monday, April 10, 2023

A Memorable Easter Weekend

A delightful Easter weekend started with an early coffee at Panera where I wrote another chapter in a new Christmas story. And then the day involved three major projects – the application of our first lawn care “stuff,” connecting the garden hoses and giving the lawn its first thorough watering of the year, and completing April's “When Swing Was King” presentation.. Oh yes, we also sent out to our mailing list of 340 our first Top 5. And one more significant item from Saturday – a neighbor’s son was back in town and I crossed the street to visit with him awhile and, thank the Lord, He created an excellent springboard for me to explain to the young man a bit of my conversion story.

Easter Sunday was also a wonderful, memorable day. Because of family get-togethers, it was just Claire and me to handle the Aksarben Village Senior Living Church service but we managed just fine. And in the distribution of the food and drinks afterwards, we had the help of Cyrstal, one of the resident's assistants. Anyhow, it was a fabulous afternoon. The music videos were inspiring to the max: the elegant Gracias Choir and Orchestra from South Korea doing “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today,” Don Francisco performing a very moving rendition of his classic “He’s Alive,” and Guy Penrod blessing us with “Because He Lives.” My brief sermon covered the last verses of Luke 23 and the first ones of Luke 24 dealing with Joseph of Arimathea’s brave act of asking Pilate for permission to care for and bury the body of Jesus and then the unbelievable surprise of the women who came to further anoint Jesus’ body with fragrant oils and spices. But, of course, they are met with an empty tomb. Thus the title of my sermon was “Ladies, You Ain’t Gonna’ Need Those Spices!”

Our fellowship time afterward was especially sweet with Carolyn and Carmen back and Harry recovering from his pacemaker procedure. We served hot cross buns as a special treat for our visiting as well as having baggies with other Easter-themed goodies to take back to their rooms: pretzels, chocolate eggs, and jellybeans. And another really heartwarming element of our fellowship was listening to their responses to the individual prayer letters we had sent each one earlier in the week.  We always have such a super time with these dear friends, but being honored to celebrate Resurrection Day with them was a particularly blessing.

Finally, Easter Sunday closed with Claire’s preparation of a delicious Paleo dinner with pork, gravy, and roasted vegetables. After that, we had a visit from Jacob and Olena who brought over fresh, festive, and delectable Ukrainian Easter desserts that she and her sister Olga had prepared. And can we testify to their taste? Yes...because we cheated and enjoyed them thoroughly! It was a super Easter weekend that we will long cherish.

Friday, April 07, 2023

The Top 5 (The Debut)

As promised last week in a post sent out to the Vital Signs Ministries mailing list, we are sending along the first of our Top 5; that is, our five highest recommendations from the news and commentary I've read this past week. Before I get to the Top 5, however, I offer a rundown of some of the week's lowlights, hoping they serve to keep us aware of Satan's activities all round us in order to stand firm against his desperate measures. Here goes.

It's been quite a week, huh? According to a Wall Street Journal-NORC poll published Friday. The share of respondents who said patriotism was very important dropped 32 percentage points compared to a 1998 poll, and those who said the same of religion decreased by 23 percentage points. The importance of having children dropped from 59% in 1998 to 30%, according to the poll. Meanwhile, respondents who considered money a top priority increased to 43%, up from 31% a quarter-century ago. 

But wait, there's more. Crime soaring out of control just as "handcuffed" police decide to retire in large numbers...Prosecutors cutting crazy deals which let murderers, rapists, and arsonists back on the streets with little or no bond...Profane, violent radicals shouting down conservative speakers at a New York university...Colleges offering special graduation ceremonies for certain ethnicities and sexual preferences...The Country Music Awards featuring a promotion for drag queens...The far, far left winning elections in Chicago and in the Wisconsin Supreme Court...France is on the verge of genuine meltdown.

Hey, we're just getting started. A former President of the United States was indicted in the silliest "kangaroo court" imaginable...Because of their faith, American Christians are denied jobs, adoption opportunities, educational choices, and even the chance to speak in public...another 186 conservative-leaning churches are trying to get out of the United Methodists' clutches because of the wild and wicked liberalism of the denomination...Democrats in the Illinois General Assembly have introduced and passed bills that would eliminate pro-life pregnancy centers...Virtue-signaling publishers are editing (make that, censoring) well-established novels and adding "trigger warnings" to books. 

And just a few final items. Russia takes over the presidency of the U.N. Security Council...the bizarre, doll-like transexual activist Bud Light has been embraced in marketing campaigns by Hershey's and Anheuser-Busch while none other than Jack Daniels has a similar deal with Ru Paul, the infamous sexual deviant, who recently boasted that "drag queens are the Marines of the queer movement"...The Biden administration has added air conditioners and certain kinds of light bulbs to the list of things it wants to deny you (including gasoline, your earnings, and freedom)...Yet more evidence of massive vote fraud is being uncovered...And the U.S. Supreme Court (with the only dissents coming from Thomas and Alito) is just fine with biological boys competing in girl's sports. (Yes, Virginia; the feminist movement is officially dead.) Okay, now this week's Top 5 list:

The Top 5

* It’s Time to Put Away Our Phones (Neil Patel, Daily Signal)

* Future GOP Victories Hinge On Positive Pro-Life Messaging, Not Ignoring Abortion (Jordan Boyd)

* FDA’s Reckless Actions Enable Sex Trafficking (Julie Blake)

* Decriminalise all forms of sexual activity, says UN report (Michael Cook)

* God Has Been Murdered, The Earth Trembles (Sermon excerpt from Melito, Bishop of Sardis in the 2nd Century)

Wednesday, April 05, 2023

Points to Ponder for Passion Week

Here are a few quotations about the resurrection of Jesus that you might find useful. We suggest you not only reflect on them yourself but also use them in your prayers and for Easter cards and social media posts.

“I am the resurrection and the life.  Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)

Clarence W. Hall wrote, “The resurrection of Jesus changes the face of death for all His people. Death is no longer a prison, but a passage into God’s presence.  Easter says you can put truth in a grave, but it won’t stay there.”

“According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”  (1 Peter 1:3)

Timothy Keller in his book, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism, wrote this — “If Jesus rose from the dead, then you have to accept all that He said; if He didn’t rise from the dead, then why worry about any of what He said? The issue on which everything hangs is not whether or not you like His teaching but whether or not He rose from the dead.”

“If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”  (Romans 8:11)

Charles Colson wrote, “I know the resurrection is a fact, and Watergate proved it to me. How? Because 12 men testified they had seen Jesus raised from the dead, then they proclaimed that truth for 40 years, never once denying it. Every one of them was beaten, tortured, stoned and put in prison. They would not have endured that if it weren’t true. Watergate embroiled 12 of the most powerful men in the world -- and they couldn’t keep a lie for three weeks. You’re telling me 12 apostles could keep a lie for 40 years? Absolutely impossible.”

“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”  (Romans 10:9)

Philip Yancey wrote, “In many respects I find an unresurrected Jesus easier to accept. Easter makes Him dangerous. Because of Easter I have to listen to His extravagant claims and can no longer pick and choose from His sayings. Moreover, Easter means He must be loose out there somewhere.”

“Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day.” (1 Corinthians 15:3-5)

“According to the laws of legal evidence used in courts of law, there is more evidence for the historical fact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ than for just about any other event in history.”  (Harvard Law Professor Dr. Simon Greenleaf)

John MacArthur wrote, “The truth of the resurrection gives life to every other area of gospel truth. The resurrection is the pivot on which all of Christianity turns and without which none of the other truths would much matter. Without the resurrection, Christianity would be so much wishful thinking, taking its place alongside all other human philosophy and religious speculation.”

“Christ the Lord is risen today, Sons of men and angels say. Raise your joys and triumphs high; Sing ye heavens, and earth reply. “ (Charles Wesley from the hymn “Christ the Lord is Risen Today.”)

Tuesday, April 04, 2023

Lifting One's Voice...Through Letters

Instead of taking a lunch hour today, I had coffee and a protein bar and, with the
extra time, wrote these letters. Check 'em out and consider following through with a couple of your own.

Dear Senator Armendariz,

Wow. We are hearing from a few sources in Lincoln that the pro-life promise of your campaign may not be of the strength that we once trusted in and which was the primary reason that we (and several of our neighbors) voted for you in the November election. I certainly hope that isn’t the case and that you will be fervently, faithfully taking every opportunity that is available to promote the sanctity of life, saving every preborn boy and girl possible from the barbaric violence of abortion.

For instance, Senator Armendariz, we ask you to please stand firm for the Heartbeat Bill as it was originally written and oppose the severely damaging amendments that are being suggested.

Thank you for your consideration of this urgent request.


Dear Bud Lite,

I read this morning about your new partnership with Dylan Mulvaney. Wow. To try to be so “woke” as to link your product with such a bizarre transexual activist whose aggressive agenda is so dangerous to the mental health of young adults – and even children – is a foolish and immoral move. 

Really unbelievable. 

There will be no Bud Lite in my refrigerator from now on. And I’m passing the word along.


Dear Baker’s Supermarkets,

I have recently learned that your parent company Kroger has joined the ranks of those businesses that have capitulated to the “woke” foolishness promoted by the radical left, going so far as to paying thousands to employees to help them pay for abortion expenses, selling the “morning after” pill (very dangerous to mothers and, of course, lethal to preborn boys and girls), and firing employees, who for traditional religious convictions, didn’t want to participate in LBGTQ promotions.

Therefore, please know that we have stopped shopping at Baker’s stores even though they have been our “go-to” grocery for decades. We have also informed our doctors that we are no longer using the Baker’s pharmacy. And we will be passing the word along to others.

P. S. And yes, I’ve contacted your parent company as well.


Dear Kroger,

I have recently learned that your company has joined the ranks of those businesses that have capitulated to the “woke” foolishness promoted by the radical left, going so far as to paying thousands to employees to help them pay for abortion expenses, selling the “morning after” pill (very dangerous to mothers and, of course, lethal to preborn boys and girls), and firing employees, who for traditional religious convictions, didn’t want to participate in LBGTQ promotions.

Therefore, please know that we have stopped shopping at Baker’s stores (here in Omaha) even though they have been our “go-to” grocery for decades. We have also informed our doctors that we are no longer using the Baker’s pharmacy. 

And we will be passing the word along to others.

Saturday, April 01, 2023

Back from Branson

We're back from a productive (yet refreshing) week of working vacation in Branson, Missouri. Prayers and conversation, 5 days with hikes around Table Rock Lake, feeding the ducks (and geese and a big "commotion" of coots!) at Lake Taneycomo, worshiping the Lord with the members of Friendly Baptist Church, twice enjoying lunch at the Keeter Center at the College of the Ozarks, doing a bit of shopping at Branson Landing and an outlet mall, having tea in old downtown Branson, slightly cheating on our Paleo diets by stopping by Sweet Susie's, reading, and doing the quarterly review together of our 2023 New Year Resolutions. 

And the work part of the week? Well, there was personal correspondence, plans for upcoming activities, and writing and editing 5 projects. Those 5 were the April VSM letter, the agenda for the upcoming Board meeting, the beginning of a new Christmas story, new articles for the VSM website, and the article "Oh, What a Tangled Web."

Lord, thank you for a very rich time in Branson. And now that we're back home, help us please hit the ground running towards the next opportunities.

Thursday, March 30, 2023

“Oh, What a Tangled Web”

You’ve seen it many times. A group of teenagers is walking together down a street or in a shopping mall, but none of them are talking to one another. Instead, each person’s eyes are glued to the small screen shining out from their individual “smartphones.” 

Or what about the family you notice across a restaurant? They too are ignoring the opportunity for real-time, real-life conversation because their attention is fixed on those small but remarkably powerful computers they hold in their hands. But what about your lifestyle, attention span, self-esteem, relationships, learning abilities, and peace of mind? Have they not all been dramatically altered by the lure of the games, videos, chat, memes, social media platforms, “speed and convenience,” ad-filled articles, and other elements of the wondrous “world wide web?”

Let’s be honest? Has our immersion in the new technology made us smarter? Are we more sociable? More helpful to one another? More interesting? More in tune with God? Have we become more or less human?

You’ve probably guessed my answers to these questions. And so the primary reason I’m writing this post is to announce that Claire and I have decided to tread much more conscientiously in this “brave new world” that is dominated by Big Tech and the worldview it creates. In fact, this public declaration includes our intentions to return as much as possible to pre-Google, pre-Facebook, pre-smartphone habits – habits that kept us happier, healthier, and more engaging.

Of course, some of our friends would argue that we are already troglodytes. After all, we read books. We listen to music on CDs and even vinyl records. We highly value physical activity and interaction with God’s creation. We host dinner parties, visit with our neighbors, and meet friends for stimulating conversations over coffee. Good grief, I still have a flip phone. And Claire says I wouldn’t even carry that around if gas stations still had phone booths!

Nevertheless, I’ve been noticing for quite awhile that the entangling powers of the web have had way too much effect on us too. The splintering of our powers of mental concentration. Too much dissonance and diversion. Too little worthwhile content. The temptations to reduce our reading, praying, conversation, resting, thinking. But recently there’s been a few things that have intensified our awareness all the more. Those things include my preparations for a couple of recent sermons plus reading 3 very enlightening (and alarming) pieces: Anthony Esolen’s book, The Politically-Incorrect Guide to Western Civilization; Malcolm Muggeridge’s book, Confessions of a Twentieth-Century Pilgrim; and especially, an Atlantic Magazine article by Nicholas Carr, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” I heartily recommend them all.

And so Claire and I have decided to take purposeful steps to start cutting our entanglements from the web, thus freeing ourselves from the web’s theft of our time and its re-shaping of our minds. The first part of the plan? 1) From now on, we will be spending substantially less time messing with Facebook. After all, Facebook is intrusive, shallow, misleading on several fronts, and militantly slanted against conservative ideas and information. So, if you don’t notice us “liking” your Facebook posts anymore, don’t take it personally. It’s simply that we’re not going to be there very often.

2) We are certainly not unplugging ourselves from the news of the day. But we are going to spend less time in trying to keep up with every detail of the culture wars. For, as you know, trying to stay abreast of every outrageous headline (let alone trying to respond to them with prayers and principled protest) is impossible. What kind of balance will we be trying to establish then? Well, I will still check Fox News, Powerline, and on my computer in the morning. And I will still read the emails I receive from a few conservative news and opinion organizations as well as those coming in from selected Christian ministries.

I will do these things not only for my own awareness, but also because I take seriously the responsibility to be a “watchman on the wall” who desires to help others better deal with the spiritual challenges before us. And that leads me to #3 below.

3) Both as the Director of Vital Signs Ministries and simply as an older Christian who desires to help his fellow believers to accurately know their culture and to avoid being “ignorant of Satan’s devices,” I will continue to provide relevant information and biblical counsel to others. I will, for instance, still post on Vital Signs Blog (cross-posted also on my Twitter and Facebook accounts) the links to a few of the most important articles I come across as well as my own devotional and exhortational posts. And I encourage you to check out those links and posts to help you navigate the troubled waters without feeling swamped by the flood. And make sure that you are on the Vital Signs email list too because we will be sending out every week a Top 5 list of our highest recommended articles.

4) In order to better defend our minds from the distracting, maddening effect of the internet sites which use pop-up ads, distracting sidebars, and other bells and whistles, we are using Brave as our search engine (We're going as Google free as possible.) and we’re right now experimenting to find the most effective ad-blocker devices too.

5) Okay, the changes mentioned before are mainly in the subtraction category. But what are we adding in their place? Well, it’s mostly a matter of rededicating ourselves to tread the familiar paths we’ve long followed. Reading books. Face to face conversations. Prayer. Times of reflection. Service to others. Physical exercise. Appreciation of nature, music, cooking, entertaining, and beauty. Indeed, the best antidotes to the damaging effects of Big Tech on our brains, our time, and our relationships come from commitment to the well-trod paths of relevant, purposeful, and more harmonious involvement with God.

The web’s entanglement is powerful indeed. No doubt about it. But we can, with prayers, a devotion to resist worldliness, and the pursuit of healthier alternatives to the sinister influences of the internet and Big Tech, break those ties that bind. Want to join us?

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

The Patriotic Kindness of Elvis

It was on March 25, 1961 that Elvis Presley performed his first concert after being discharged from the U.S. Army. And you may be surprised (and I'm sure, delighted) to learn that it was a benefit concert to help build the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.

Though held at the relatively small Bloch Arena (situated near the Pearl Harbor entrance) and with general tickets selling for only $5 at such outlets as Sears stores, Presley raised (to use the National Park Service figure) an incredible $54,678.73 towards the Memorial. 

But it wasn't just the money that was important. Indeed, Elvis' electrifying concert (the first he'd done in over two years) was a major factor in kick-starting public interest in what had become a stalled project. Furthermore, it was a concert whose very idea originated with he and Colonel Tom Parker.

The show began with Minnie Pearl, the beloved star of the Grand Ol' Opry, and then onto the stage came Elvis with his complete troupe, including D.J. Fontana on drums, Scotty Moore on guitar, and the Jordanaires as his backup singers. All the proceeds went directly to the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial project. Elvis and the others performed for free. Not a dollar was withheld even for expenses.

By the way, the reason Elvis was in the Islands was to begin filming a movie whose working title was "Waikiki Beachboy." Fortunately, they ditched that title and went with "Blue Hawaii" instead.

Though items relating to Elvis' momentous fund-raising, awareness-raising concert can be found in the Memorial's archives, there is no mention of the event at the Memorial itself or even the visitors' center. But that's the way it should be. For the USS Arizona Memorial is a tribute to the memories of the battleship's 1,177 crew who, on December 7, 1941, gave the ultimate sacrifice in behalf of the country's freedom.

Still, it's worthwhile to mention the generosity and patriotism of Elvis Presley -- virtues which played no insignificant part in the Memorial's creation. Elvis had, as you remember, volunteered for the U.S. Army. He wasn't a conscript. And it is moving to see how his pride in America and his desire to honor it's ideals and heritage remained strong even after his military service.

Thank you for your service, Sgt. Mr. Presley.  And in more ways than one.

Monday, March 27, 2023

The Latest "Working Vacation" Is Underway

What a splendid start to our week of “working vacation” in Branson! We began with a relatively easy drive down on Saturday with prayers, conversations, a lot of classic rock music, a couple of old radio programs, and getting settled into the condo about 5. A good night’s sleep followed and Sunday began with me writing some letters while enjoying an early coffee at Panera (the new one up on the strip) where I also visited a bit with some of regulars I’ve got acquainted with over the years. That was followed by breakfast with Claire at the condo and then off to Friendly Baptist Church for their Sunday service.

What a terrific church this and we love coming here every time we’re in the area. The music is outstanding (beloved hymns played by 10-14 quality musicians and a small choir); the pastor leads the congregation in prayers (which include needs in the congregation as well as the pressing issues of the day); the audience stands not for the songs but rather the Scripture readings; alerts are shared about missionaries the church supports; there is a lively time with parishioners greeting one another; and then there’s a dynamic, culturally relevant, and biblically-centered sermon from Pastor Monty Dunn. It is truly an inspiring and very helpful service.

After church, we changed into shorts and tennis shoes for our regular hike along Table Rock Lake, one of our favorite activities when we’re down here. It was gloriously bright afternoon with temperatures hovering around 60 degrees and the lake was high from storms that hit the area last week. I got in 5.8 miles and Claire was right there with me for 3 of them. There were a lot of other people (and dogs) taking advantage of the day and we enjoyed several brief conversations along the hike.

The evening involved salami salad that Claire made at the condo, watching a couple of sermons that friends had asked us to check out, finishing Malcolm Muggeridge’s Confessions of a Twentieth-Century Pilgrim, and our night prayers together. It was a very good day.

And now today? It began with another early morning coffee at Panera, breakfast at home, and Claire doing the typing the edits I had made on a couple of posts and letters while I read 10 Books that Screwed Up the World: And 5 Others That Didn't Help by Benjamin Wiker. (It’s another good one.) And soon we’re off for a few errands, a little shopping, another hike at the Lake and, who knows, maybe our first session of feeding ducks over at Lake Taneycomo. Lord, may all of our time here be invested wisely and then blessed by Your Spirit.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Another Yipes Alert! News That You're Probably Not Hearing

* Major Christopher Schilling of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst reported to local police that a New Jersey mother was a safety concern. Why? She had complained about sexually charged posters at her children’s elementary school.

* A Methodist Bible college in England fired a Christian theologian and threatened to report him as a terrorist because of his tweets in opposition to homosexuality.

* New York City’s first Drag Story Hour Read-a-Thon was officially kicked off by New York Attorney General Letitia James. Said James, “I am proud to have been joined by my colleagues in advocacy and government today in celebration of the love, joy, and family fun that Drag Story Hour brings to our communities. Hate has no home in New York, and I will always fight to ensure our LGBTQ+ siblings’ rights are upheld and defended.” 

New York City Mayor Eric Adams also joined in, “Drag storytellers, and the organizations that support them, are advancing a love of diversity, personal expression, and literacy that are core to what our city embraces. Stories don’t just teach children to love reading, but help them understand people who are different…The goal is not only for our children to be academically smart, but also emotionally intelligent. I thank Attorney General James for hosting this event that clearly says New York City is the place where you can be yourself and love who you want.”

* A Minneapolis science teacher, who recommends teachers include anti-capitalist materials in their classrooms, praised the idea of having no respect for authority. “My students this year have no respect for authority," the Saint Paul district teacher said. "And I love that in a person because I have no respect for authority whatsoever.”

* Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro said he sees fighting climate change as a top priority for the Navy as the Biden administration proposes shrinking the fleet by two ships and worries grow about how the U.S. Navy stacks up to China’s. “As the Secretary of the Navy, I can tell you that I have made climate one of my top priorities since the first day I came into office,” Del Toro said March 1 in remarks at the University of the Bahamas.

* China has launched dozens of satellites in the past six months and the People’s Liberation Army now has 347 orbiting craft that can gather intelligence on American armed forces, according to the head of the U.S. Space Force. General Chance Saltzman told senators that Beijing was the 'most immediate threat' to U.S. operations as it develops lasers to disrupt satellite sensors, electronic warfare jammers, and even builds craft that could grab and move rival orbiting platforms out of position. It is all part of its plan for a fully modernized, world-class military designed to achieve China's 'Space Dream' of being the most powerful nation in space by 2045, he said. 

* A middle school in Utah’s Nebo School District gave sixth-grade students “disgusting” insects to eat last week as part of an English assignment on climate change, claiming it would save the environment from cows which were “killing the world.”

* An Oregon high school gave students an assignment to write a short story about a sexual fantasy.  “You will write a short story of a paragraph or two. This story is a sexual fantasy that will have NO penetration of any kind or oral sex (no way of passing an STI).”

* A federal appellate court rejected the appeal of a former account clerk in western New York who was fired from his job for refusing to attend a mandatory LGBTQ training in 2018. The plaintiff had argued that the LGBTQ training and makeup session were “aimed at changing his religious beliefs about gender and sexuality,” and that attending the training “would have caused him to violate the religious teachings to which he adheres” but the judges denied his request for a religious accommodation.

* Biden washing machine rule would make Americans dirtier and stinkier…and raise prices. Manufacturers claim the change would make each cycle take longer, detergent cost more, and leave clothes dirtier and stinkier.

* A Maryland teacher, who described herself as “proud as f--- to be liberal” and bragged about “indoctrinating” her students, called for an urgent fight against capitalism while adding, “Revolutions involve violence.” The teacher, Rebeca F. Rothstein, works at North Bethesda Middle School in the Montgomery County School District and believes educators should use their classrooms to turn kids into anti-racist activists. 

* A Roman Catholic priest in the United Kingdom is pursuing legal action against a public hospital trust after he was allegedly ousted from a National Health Service (NHS) facility for responding to a patient's question about the Church’s stance on sexuality and marriage. Rev. Patrick Pullicino, 73, who was a temporary member of staff at South West London and St. George’s Mental Health NHS Trust, was told that the Trust’s policy on equality and diversity “takes precedence over religious belief.” 

* Arrested for holding Christian beliefs at a Christian school? Canadian Catholic high school student Josh Alexander claims that's the story behind authorities arresting – and charging – him for trying to attend class last month. Alexander was a student at a Canadian Catholic high school in Ontario until he spoke his mind over concerns of men in women's restrooms at the institution. Distinguishing men from women and believing God created only two genders, he suggested, eventually led authorities to arrest and charge him for the offense.

* First-year students at the Indiana University School of Medicine are being subjected to woke diversity, equity and inclusion instruction as part of a basic Human Structure class, according to documents obtained by Fox News Digital. Students in the class receive a “sex and gender primer” lesson that includes instruction on gender being a “social construct,” that sex and gender are not the same thing, and on how to be a “more inclusive” healthcare professional when it comes to “gender diverse patients.”

*  Jane Fonda went on national television today and suggested that pro-life politicians should be murdered for trying to protect unborn children. I guess she believes in killing people both in and out of the womb," pro-life advocate Abby Johnson reacted.

“I have notifed Capitol Police of Jane Fonda’s call to murder pro-life politicians,” Rep. Anna Paulina Luna, R-Fla., wrote.  “Calling for the murder of a pro-life politicians is not only dangerous but it’s incredibly sick. This leads to targeting and can result in someone being seriously hurt.”

* HBO’s "The Last of Us,” a post-apocalyptic show based on the video game that was first released nearly a decade ago, depicted a Christian preacher as a crazed cannibal villain in the most recent episode. The group is led by a man named David, a Christian preacher, and also includes James and Troy, the latter of whom cites Bible verses to support his cannibalistic actions. David, the show’s evil preacher, even attempts to rape a young girl, Ellie, the protagonist, and cites a Bible verse as justification for doing so.

* RuPaul, a celebrity drag star and name behind the show "RuPaul’s Drag Race," claimed that drag queens were on the front lines of the culture wars in an Instagram video. Speaking in front of an American flag background, RuPaul said, “Drag queens are the Marines of the queer movement.” The video has gone viral online, racking up over 127,000 likes in under 24 hours. RuPaul himself has a massive social media following, with more than 4.4 million followers on Instagram alone.

* Hundreds of sexual deepfake app advertisements featuring actresses Emma Watson and Scarlett Johansson ran on Facebook and Instagram over the last few days. The Masters of the Universe apparently had no issue with advertising the technology used to make fake porn of celebrities — and increasingly, normal people too.

* A Colorado elementary school’s private emails show secret plans to defy parents’ wishes on transitioning their child’s gender.

* The FBI created a threat tag following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade last year, but it later "shifted" to focus on pro-life individuals, an agent-turned-whistleblower told the House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government.

FBI Special Agent Garret O’Boyle, from the Wichita Resident Agency in the Kansas City Field Office, also said the FBI made him divide one domestic terrorism case into "four different cases," in what he described as an effort by the bureau to be able to show Congress an influx of domestic terrorism cases.

* After facing a week of backlash over its decision to rewrite portions of Roald Dahl’s books to make them more inclusive, Puffin will continue to keep the author’s original text in print, the company announced Friday. Puffin will still keep the new version of the text, which swaps out potentially offensive words like “fat” and adds additional passages to make the stories more palatable to modern readers, but will keep publishing the original text under the name “The Roald Dahl Classic Collection,” according to the announcement. Readers will now “be free to choose,” the company said.

* Abdullah Arif, 48, of Stillwater was shot and killed last Thursday outside his tobacco shop in St. Paul. Arif’s murder is in part the result of a broken court system that has repeatedly failed to hold violent offenders accountable. Sadly, Arif’s assailant had walked out of a Ramsey County courtroom just 40 mins earlier, after appearing on a gun-related charge.  

* A local Democrat official in Massachusetts is facing calls to step down after complaining about the cost of special education for children with disabilities who are not aborted. Michael Hugo, the chair of the Framingham Democratic Committee, made the remarks during a city council meeting when discussing a proclamation about access to abortion and crisis pregnancy centers in the city. He said crisis pregnancy centers could misdiagnose a defect in a baby in the womb, leading to them being born and becoming a strain on a school budget. He issued a public apology after 10 days of backlash from members of his own party and parents of special needs children.

* Last week, President Joseph Biden quietly signed an executive order that promises to create a national DEI bureaucracy and embed the principles of left-wing racialism throughout the federal government. The order, titled “Further Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government,” relies on three key strategies: creating internal cadres and power centers through the deployment of “Agency Equity Teams”; funding third-party political activism through grants to “community[-based] organizations”; and weaponizing civil rights law by requiring federal agencies to use artificial intelligence “in a manner that advances equity.”

* A school district was forced to pay over $100,000 in legal fees after banning moms from exposing pornographic material at school board meetings. Forsyth County School District agreed to pay attorney’s fees in a federal lawsuit brought by a group of parents who were censored at school board meetings. The Mama Bears settled a federal lawsuit against the Georgia school district after one of the group’s members was barred from reading sexually explicit excerpts at school board meetings. 

* A Massachusetts superintendent doubled down on providing a book to kids which contains detailed information on sex parties, orgies, extreme fetishes, sex apps and other explicit matters.

Fox News Digital asked Peter Schafer, the superintendent of Abington Public Schools, “You are aware that the book discusses the following, among other things: Orgies, kinks, fetishes, sex apps, bath houses, [a] casual hookup app, [and] detailed information on how to have anal sex, as well as other sexual activities?” The superintendent responded, “After reading the entire book and understanding it in full context, I decided to put it back in the library.”

* Pentagon school libraries contained dozens of books with jarring, pornographic content, such as detailed instructions on how to have sex, or radical gender ideology from elementary to high school, a Fox News Digital investigation has found. Fox News looked into over 50 schools, selected at random, at the Department of Defense Education Activity, which services over 66,000 military-connected children in the Americas, Europe and the Pacific. 

* A Pennsylvania English teacher said he included close-up photographs of penises, vulvas, as well as a video of a woman ejaculating in an optional sexuality class, according to an interview. The school told Fox News Digital they were standing by him. In an unearthed 2011 interview he gave to The New York Times Magazine, Vernacchio described his graphic lesson plans which he said have raised concerns outside the school. The teacher said his goal is to desensitize children to images of genitalia. 

* Democrat Pennsylvania State senator Steve Santarsiero sponsored a “queer prom” event which featured lube, condoms and a drag queen show for minors, Libs of TikTok reported. When Fox News Digital reached out for comment about the drag queen performance, the state senator boasted his support of the event which occurred at a Planned Parenthood-sponsored youth program called the “Rainbow Room,” which is located in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

“I am proud to support the Rainbow Room’s annual Queer Prom for LGBTQ youth. I will continue to do so,” Santarsiero told Fox News Digital.

The “Queer Prom” was open to minors starting at age 14 and offered goodie bags of “Condoms, lube, dental dams, latex dam[s].” One of the hosts of the committee shared details of the goodie bag that was distributed to minors at the “Queer Prom.” “We've got tarot cards and candy,” the host said. “Everyone's going to get a crystal star shaped pendant, a progress pride flag, a Planned Parenthood bracelet. Everyone will take one home when prom ends.” 

* Two Florida moms are sounding the alarm on the CDC's disheartening new study that revealed 57% of high school girls experience persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness – the highest level reported over the past decade. In an effort to determine the root of the societal shift, Quisha King placed blame on the public school system, calling it a “hub” for harm. 

* Spry Community Links High School, in the Heart of Little Village in Chicago, says its vision is to “provide a challenging and supportive environment…to enable our students to succeed in the 21st century.” Number one on the school’s focus list? “Increasing reading and math scores to or above grade level.” But a look at state data that tracks reading and math scores for each Illinois school reveals two frightening facts about Spry. Not a single one of its 88 kids at the school can read at grade level. It’s the same for math. Zero kids are proficient.

Spry is one of 30 schools in Illinois where not a single student can read at grade level. Twenty-two of those schools are part of the Chicago Public Schools and the other eight are outside Chicago. The failure list in math is even longer. There are 53 schools statewide where not one kid is proficient in math.

The data comes straight from the Illinois State Board of Education. 

This column focuses on schools where zero percent of kids are able to read or do math. But we could have just as easily looked at the 622 schools where only 1 out of 10 kids or less can read at grade level. That’s a whopping 18 percent of the state’s 3,547 schools that tested students in 2022. And only 1 out of 10 kids or less can do math at grade level in 930 schools…that’s more than a quarter of all schools in the state.

* A Democrat South Dakota congresswoman, Rep. Erin Healy, took to Twitter on Monday to criticize the Family Heritage Alliance, calling the group “extremist” for promoting the idea that a child benefits from the support of a married mother and father. “Extremist group Family Heritage Alliance said this morning that the safest place for kids are in families that have a married mom and dad.” Healy tweeted. “What a dangerous and un-American belief.”

* A North Korean defector issued a stark warning Monday on “woke” ideology in American classrooms, believing the U.S. could "absolutely" be headed down the path of her home rogue regime if it doesn’t reverse course. “At Columbia University they were literally saying that all the problems that we have is because of capitalism, because of white men, and the solution for all these problems is a communist revolution in the name of equity."

* If you've worked hard to afford a suburban house with a patch of lawn where your kids can play, you're under attack. The Biden administration and Democrats in New York, Connecticut and other states are fighting local zoning laws in order to build high-rise apartment buildings with "affordable" units in tree-lined, single-family neighborhoods. All in the name of equity, meaning everyone can live in a tranquil suburb, whether they've earned the money to pay for it or not. The Biden administration announced Jan. 19 that it will require all towns across the U.S. to submit “Equity Plans” showing how they will make it possible for low-income people to live there by providing affordable housing, transportation and other resources.

Friday, March 17, 2023

Nothing Good Does God Withhold

Among the Scriptures I’ve been studying, thinking about, and using in my prayers of intercession is this Psalm 84:11. “For the Lord God is a sun and a shield.  The Lord gives grace and glory.  No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” (NASB)

How wondrous and sweet is that promise. Imagine, absolutely no good thing will He withhold!  Because God is ever gracious to His children and because He is our guide (sun) and protector (shield), He gives us, as it is written in 2 Peter 1:3, every good thing we need pertaining to life and godliness.  Wow.

But let’s go even farther with this idea.  Remember Jesus’ words to the disciples as recorded in Matthew 7:11. “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father Who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him?” And the apostle James writes in 1:17 of his epistle that “every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with Whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.”

Of course, it’s crucial to understand that these promises do not mean that God is our butler. He is not an errand boy or a genie who is obligated to supply whatever we wish.  Oh, no; God is the omniscient sovereign Who knows what is for our forever good, those exact things that will most bless and exalt us for all eternity.  Thus, we can trust His character as well as His power to give us what is truly best for us…always.

Do we get frustrated when it seems that God doesn’t answer our prayers?  Sure.  Do we wonder why His distribution of blessings seems uneven, sometimes even unfair?  Yes.  And do we chafe at the waiting process, the denial of self, even the suffering that often precedes what will be the “proper time” of our exaltation, as it’s put in I Peter 5:6?  Certainly.  But the verses I cite in the beginning of this note are among the many which remind us of the unshakeable foundation upon which our trust in God’s mercies must confidently rest.  We can rely upon our Savior to give us what eternity will sparklingly reveal were the very best gifts we could have ever received.

Our natural perspective is limited, even distorted, by our desires for temporal comfort and happiness, for peace and success.  But the Lord urges us to look further ahead than those temporal conditions and to calmly trust in His kind providence.  And, make no mistake, God is looking forward even more than we are to the day when He completes His gift-giving to us, to that victorious day when all things are reconciled to Him and we enter into the everlasting splendor of the new heavens and new earth.  And, in the meantime, we hold on to such glorious truths as Romans 8:18, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” and 2 Corinthians 4:17, “For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison.”

Before I close my comments on Psalm 84:11 and the other “good thing” Scriptures mentioned earlier, let me also emphasize their existential applications; that is, their relevance to our walk in the Spirit today.  For instance, the context of James 1:17 shows that the good gifts that come from the Father of lights center upon the strength and wisdom He provides His children to escape temptations.  God’s good gifts sanctify us. They allow us to turn from evil and to instead “prove ourselves doers of the word.”   Also, Jesus’ question recorded in Matthew 7:11 is to encourage specific prayers of faith for maintaining holy, unselfish behavior.  And finally, Psalm 84:11 emphasizes that the good things of God are given to “those who walk uprightly.”  That’s a very important condition for the blessings.  Careful, consistent, and humble dedication to God’s Word keeps the channels clear so that He will pour out upon us all needed mercies.

How comforting these truths are.  And challenging too.  But they remind us of how glorious and gracious is the God we serve, One Who gives us all good things to empower our service to Him today and which will be completed and added to in the forever life that awaits us. So keep praying, dear friends.  Keep trusting.  And let there be a fresh spring in your step today as you walk uprightly toward glory.