Friday, June 30, 2023

The top 5 (July 1)

News you can use? Here's my five highest recommended reads for this weekend.

* "America Wakes Up to Woke" (Victor Davis Hanson, Daily Signal)

* "Naked Men Freely Expose Themselves To Kids At Pride Because The Right Bought The Left’s ‘Tolerance’ Lie" (Jordan Boyd, Federalist)

* "Chemical Abortion Drugs Aren’t Safe: Here’s Why" (Bradley Evans, Alliance Defending Freedom)

* "When Do We Reach Peak Climate Insanity? It Needs To Be Soon" (Issues & Insight Editorial Board)

* "Communicating the Pro-Life Message" (Randy Alcorn, Eternal Perspective Ministries)

Thursday, June 29, 2023

The Panther Patrol’s Last Mission or Confessions of A Boy Scout Dropout

I wondered why Claire was smiling as she looked through our e-mail. She laughed and explained that a friend of ours, an academic official at a Christian university where I had once taught a couple of courses, was asking for individuals to describe any experiences they had with the Boy Scouts. She turned and asked me, “Do you dare tell him yours?”

I started laughing too because in my oh-so-brief tenure as a Scout, two disasters stand out quite vividly. Now, be assured that I do not lay any blame for these fiascoes at the feet of my Scoutmasters -- they were, as they had pledged to be, eminently trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent fellows. But then again, there are limits to what even the best mentors can accomplish when forced to work with real numskulls.

My first memorable moment came when my troop went up into the Colorado mountains to learn some outdoorsman skills, play a wide-ranging game of "Capture the Flag", and cook our own dinner. We were also supposed to fill our canteens from the stream at the foot of the hill for our evening’s repast. Always on the lookout for an unconventional way of getting things done (especially if it was easier), I opted to open the spigot on a water tank at the south end of the building. least until I took a big swig of the stuff to wash down my baked potato only to discover that I had filled my canteen with gasoline! I thought I was gonna’ die. Well, I didn’t but I did smell like a refinery for a week. And my taste buds didn’t really get back to normal for a month. Yipes.

The other disaster happened, I think, on the very next outing we went on. My troop (#448 -- why I remember that when I can’t remember the names of neighbors, teachers, or cousins, I’ll never know) visited a place we called Paradise Valley where we planned to spend a whole weekend camping out. I can’t remember clearly but I think our Troop had four or five different patrols and I was one of the members of the Panther Patrol. That group, it turned out, included the “rogues’ gallery” of our neighborhood. True, one of those Panthers would eventually spend a successful career in law enforcement, but I know all too well that at least three of us would spend some time on the other side of the law. It may well be that the disastrous weekend was but a foreshadowing of things to come.

First of all, the Panthers were denied their choice spot of a campsite because the Beaver Patrol (our troop’s elite corps, comprised of older and more serious Scouts) was given rights to the spot by our Scout leaders. Feeling wronged, we decided on a plan of revenge. That night we used our little shovels to dig a trench from the stream straight into the Beaver Patrol's tent. After witnessing some pretty satisfying results (our only real success of the weekend), we were named as the culprits. Who else? We were scolded, shamed, properly punished, and warned that we had only one more chance. We agreed.

But, like I hinted earlier, there are some boneheads that just aren’t cut out for the Scouting life. We behaved ourselves pretty well the next day but Saturday evening spelled our doom. The initial problem was that they tried to teach us how to make a small barricade of logs that would reflect our campfire’s heat back into our tent. Neat idea, but ours burnt up. Three times.

Next, we got to fooling around a little while making dinner and somehow I managed to brand Jimmy D. with a hot wiener. Ouch! Of course, it really was an accident. Scout’s honor. After all, Jimmy lived across the street from me back in the city. Who cared that he used to wear a nylon hose over his head (weighted with a bar of soap in the toe, no less) in order to train his hair to lay down a bit? He was still my buddy. Anyhow, Jimmy played the good Scout about the whole business and didn’t rat me out. What’s a flaming hot dog between pals?

But the comedic complications of the camping trip weren’t quite over for the troubled Panther Patrol. That night, it rained. Hard and plenty. And while the other patrols stayed dry and warm, our guys did not. We thought we had done everything right, but it seems that we had not only pitched our camp on a slope, we hadn’t secured the tent close against the ground. Thus, when the water came down, it came under our tent and ran beneath the polyethylene sheets we had lain under our sleeping bags. Before we knew it, the water had carried two of us down to the creek as nicely as if we were playing on a Slip n’ Slide. Bob B. and I both woke up in the stream!

That was the last straw for our Scout leaders and, if I remember correctly, most of the Panther Patrol was dismissed from Scout duty -- permanently. In fact, what I heard later may be true; namely, that our names and photos were distributed to the national B.S.A. with the warning, “Under no circumstances should a troop undertake to make Scouts out of these rascals. They are a serious danger, both to others and to themselves.”

But before you conclude that the Boy Scout lore and training I received in my short jaunt was wasted, let me finish my Scout memoirs with this important observation. Ever since that time, I have been careful to never, ever let go of a sharp object (like a hatchet) until the person I’m handing it to tells me “Thank you” or gives some other acknowledgment that he does, in fact, have control of the object. It was my mentors from Troop 448 that stressed that helpful bit of advice and I’m pleased to say that I still have all ten toes.

The moral of the story? Even numskulls can learn a thing or two.

And about that letter to the Christian university official? Well, I sent it, telling him these same stories. But whether or not he ever used my testimony, (bless his heart) he was just too polite to say.

Friday, June 23, 2023

Advocacy & Atta’ Boys: Recent Letter-Writing Samples

Our two letter-writing parties last Tuesday involved 9 Christians who produced 92 cards and letters as part of our commitment to be, as the Lord commanded, “salt and light” in the world.  As is the case with every quarterly letter-writing event sponsored by Vital Signs Ministries, the advocacy we emphasize includes sanctity of life, religious freedom, and other indispensable moral values. And yes; given the insanity and coercive nature of the “woke” movement in recent years, we address this as well. Finally, we always take time to write “the good guys” in business, politics, and Christian ministry with appropriate messages of thanks, encouragement, and promises of ongoing prayers and support.

Want more details? Well, I’m going to print just a few of the brief letters from Tuesday’s parties below in hopes they might stimulate you to say some prayers and even write a few letters of your own. And then, if you’d like to check out the “subject sheets” we handed out Tuesday, you can find them on the Vital Signs Ministries website. Just click the June 2023 Letter-Writing Guide under our Taking Action section.

Okay? Here’s those sample letters.

1) To the U.S. Food and Drug Administration,

Alas, your approval of the dangerous drug mifepristone was one of the most tragic mistakes in your existence. And, as you know, you had to break your own rules of health and science to do so. You are protecting abortion – not human health & lives.

2) To Republican National Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel…

Dear Mrs. McDaniel,

What a wonderful “breath of fresh air” you have been for the party. We especially are encouraged by your defense of the preborn and your wise counsel to other Republicans to do the right thing. For when carefully, calmly explained, pro-life is a winning strategy. Thank you.

3) To Target,

I would have thought big companies would have learned from the disaster of Bud Light’s campaign and they would have been more circumspect in what they try to push down the throats of their customers. Well, the customers are speaking up and walking away. Apologize and chage your sale tactics if you want to see people come to your store again.

4) Attention Kohl’s CEO,

I was a faithful shopper at Kohl’s. I would like you to omit participating in any “Pride” collection at your stores. As long as your “woke” ideologies continue, I will not return to your stores.

5) To the Director of Samaritan’s Purse & the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association,  Franklin Graham

Dear Franklin,

I so appreciate you calling sin, sin no matter who it pertains to. I agree with you that none of us are better than anyone else, but instead are better off as a result of Jesus Christ being our Lord and Savior. I love what God is doing through your ministry. So many are majorly blessed as the Good News is preached to all the world. My deepest prayer is for God’s blessing of protection on you as well as His anointing. May His glory fall all over this messed up world.

6) To Wendy’s management,

Really? Flying a “Pride” flag at your corporate offices and thus offending (quite unnecessarily) a good deal of your customer base? Bad move. And until you get back to the basics (i.e., burgers and shakes) and away from the leftist “woke” ideology, we’re no longer using your restaurants.

7) To the Essential Pregnancy Services staff,

Thank you all for what you are doing and will do in protecting human life. We love the new facility the Lord provided for you. When we are praying at Planned Parenthood, we are encouraged by your waves and smiles. May the Lord bless you all!

8) To the Speaker of the Nebraska Legislature, John Arch

Dear Senator Arch,

Thank you! Thank you! Your leadership in the Unicameral this past session was outstanding. You sure had some tough fights on your watch, but you handled them well. There will be more babies saved in Nebraska because of the passage of LB574. Blessings.

--------  And finally, I close out these latest in our sample letters with one I sent to 21 federal agencies who have, in various ways, gone out of their way to unfairly embrace “wokeness.”  

9) To the directing officers of the U.S. Justice Department,

I write as a taxpaying citizen who has a lifetime love for the historic ideals of America’s founding fathers to politely (but firmly) protest your participation in “Pride Month” and other tax-funded endorsements of homosexual and LGBTQ lifestyles. I believe your actions are irresponsible, unnecessarily divisive, and morally offensive to the majority of Americans and so I appeal to you to end your inappropriate use of taxpayer monies to “celebrate” such activities. 

After all, government agencies are already woefully underperforming in their primary purposes. Indeed, many are abjectly failing in their duties. Therefore, to spend time and money on the advocacy of ideological “woke movements” which, by their very nature, tend to unravel our already tenuous social bonds, ensures that your agency will continue to fall behind in what you owe the American people.

Please, get back to the work that you’re supposed to be doing.

Rev. Denny Hartford
Omaha, Nebraska

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

“In the Storms of Life” – A Few Charles Spurgeon Quotes

Fresh from the handout given to our Sunday afternoon Aksarben Village church service audience last Sunday afternoon are a few ever-timely observations from the great British preacher of the 19th Century, Charles Spurgeon.

* “The more the wind rages the more you feel that the anchor holds you.”

* “Storms help to make the sailors sturdy, and trials help to make Christians strong in faith.”

* “Child of God, you cost Christ too much for Him to forget you.” 

* “You always need divine protection and, believer in Christ, you shall always have it.”

*“Times of trouble send our hope deep down into fundamental truths.”

*“The sweetest prayers God ever hears are the groans and sighs of those who have no hope in anything but His love.”

* “I would sooner walk in the dark, and hold hard to a promise of my God, than trust in the light of the brightest day that ever dawned.”

* “When you go through a trial, the sovereignty of God is the pillow upon which you lay your head.”

* “I have learned to kiss the waves that throw me up against the Rock of Ages.”

* “No faith is so precious as that which lives and triumphs through adversity…You would never have believed your own weakness had you not needed to pass through trials. And you would never have known God’s strength had His strength not been needed to carry you through.”

* “Doubt not His grace because of thy tribulation, but believe that He loveth thee as much in seasons of trouble as in times of happiness.”

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Quickly, Name 8 Reasons to Oppose Planned Parenthood

1) Planned Parenthood kills preborn babies for profit. Hundreds of thousands of babies. And by payments to surgical abortionists and sales of chemical abortifacients, Planned Parenthood is raking in millions of dollars every year. They are the largest abortion providing, abortion promoting business in the world.

2) Planned Parenthood is the most aggressive promoter of abortion rights in the U.S. and abroad. It’s influence in Congress, the United Nations, in state governments, in social service agencies, and among government educators is huge.

3) Planned Parenthood promotes (and enables) sexual promiscuity, even among very young teenagers.

4) Planned Parenthood promotes sexual perversion and does so with obscene and blasphemous materials.

5) Planned Parenthood holds firm to the racism and elitism of its eugenics founders.

6) Planned Parenthood has been caught on many occasions in criminal cover-ups of statutory rape.

7) Planned Parenthood operates many unsafe, unsanitary abortion clinics. It has had several abortionists who have killed adult women through botched abortion. It dispenses very dangerous abortifacient drugs in an unprofessional manner like over the phone and through “at home abortion kits.” It works continually against parental rights and control. It works continually against any and all limitations on abortion.

8) Planned Parenthood makes about $100,000,000 every year from American taxpayers.

Saturday, June 10, 2023

The Top 5 (June 10)

* When We See Abortion with the Moral Clarity of History (Paul Stark, NRL News)

* Remembering the Horrors of D-Day (Victor Davis Hanson, Daily Signal) 

* Your Sins, Your Enemies, and Your Fears Will Be “Cleared Away” (Denny Hartford, Vital Signs Blog)

* Here’s The Single Most Important Question 2024 GOP Presidential Candidates Must Answer (Ben Weingarten, Federalist)

* 60 Companies That Are Celebrating LGBTQ Pride Month More Quietly (Gigi De La Torre, Daily Signal)

Your Sins, Your Enemies, and Your Fears Will Be “Cleared Away”

“Shout for joy, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! The Lord has taken away his judgments against you. He has cleared away your enemies. The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; you will fear disaster no more.” (Zephaniah 3: 14,15) 

Now, there’s a passage to lift your spirits! For remember, all who have trusted in Jesus Christ’s sacrifice to pay the penalty of their sins, whether they be Jew or Gentile, are “grafted in” to the covenant God has made with the spiritual Israel (Romans 11, et al). And that means that these exquisite, exciting promises are yours!

And here are a few more points to ponder:

1) The judgments of a holy God against your sins are “taken away” -- completely and forever -- because the Redeemer Jesus has paid for them with His death on Calvary’s cross. John the Baptist rejoiced in this glorious truth when he saw Jesus coming to him at the Jordan River: “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” What an exhilarating miracle -- our sins and guilt and lack of righteousness are taken away where they will condemn and shame us no more! No wonder the prophet Zephaniah calls for the people of God to shout for joy. 

2) The above promise has a twofold fulfillment. One is for now. One is for the future. One points to what theologians call the “positional truth” of our salvation. If you have received Christ as Savior (that is, trusted in His sacrifice to atone for your guilt before God), then you are saved, born-again, forgiven forever, adopted into God’s family, grafted into the covenant, etc. It is a done deal. From God’s perspective, the believer is, at the very moment of faith, cleansed from sin, redeemed, and sealed with his Spirit. Furthermore, the Bible teaches that with your complete trust in Christ, God actually imparts His righteousness into you. Wow.

But, you say, you still struggle with sin. That’s correct. Having your sins forgiven doesn’t mean that you will be free from sin in this life. But when this part of the adventure is over, you will be. And there is the double fulfillment -- the penalty of your sins are taken away right now but, in the day when you are ushered into the presence of God, the very presence of sin will be taken away…and forever. 

3) A double fulfillment is also in play with the promise of God “clearing away” our enemies. Our enemies, of course, are all too obvious: our carnal nature, the devil, the rebellious world around us. And those enemies have, in our past, enslaved us. But, in Christ, we have been made new and the shackles of our old slavery have been broken. We can now, by the power of the Holy Spirit (which was given us at the moment of our salvation), walk in newness of life and victory. We are free. In this important sense, the Lord has already “cleared away” our enemies. Even the macabre and frightful enemy of death has lost its sting for we are guaranteed the same resurrection which Jesus experienced.

But again, through unbelief, rebellion, cowardice, selfishness, and other sins, we surrender over and over to our old enemies. Our aching need is to live free, to live for the Lord, to live like the people He has created us to be. And, one great day, we will do so without any stumbling or backsliding. Ah, yes…this is why we can “rejoice and exult with all our heart” as Zephaniah bids us. For in that glorious day of Christ’s triumph, all of our enemies will be “cleared away” completely and forever! 

4) Fears of disaster regularly assail us in this life and drain us of confidence and joy. They deter us from lives of selflessness and mercy. We fear failure, sickness, loneliness, shame, disability, disappointment, the seeming victory of evildoers, and so much more. Yet here too we rejoice in the twofold nature of God’s promise. On the one hand, we look forward with great hope and happiness to that glorious day when all disasters are defeated, when all fears are swallowed up in our eternal bliss. O rejoice indeed!

And because of that splendid future, we can so much more confidently deal with the disasters of this life. This is not all there is. We have a future. We have an inheritance that is glorious and liberating and beautiful. And it is forever. And why can this be? Zephaniah tells us, it is because “the King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst.” Yes, the Lord is with us at this very moment as our Savior, Advocate, and Helper, But the day will soon be here when we will join our Sovereign Conqueror and Almighty Lord in the New Jerusalem with all sin, all enemies, all fears defeated and destroyed forevermore. 

“Shout for joy, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! The Lord has taken away his judgments against you. He has cleared away your enemies. The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; you will fear disaster no more.” (Zephaniah 3: 14,15)

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)