Wednesday, February 28, 2024

A Lethal Change in Language

In the passion of progressives to replace the historic and noble ideals of Western Civilization with secularism, hedonism, and statism, they understood that one of the first steps in their plan of conquest was to change the language in which the issues are framed.  For instance, the violent, immoral, and lethal act of elective abortion was eased into the social landscape by calling it a “voluntary interruption of pregnancy” or “an evacuation of uterine content” or the “restoration of normal menstrual function.”  The change in language helped progressives persuade the gullible and thus create dramatic changes in social practice.

It wasn’t rational.  It wasn’t right.  But, for passive people who had already surrendered much of their Christian heritage, their thinking, and their moral code for the self-centeredness of secularism, it worked.

Another vivid illustration of how changes in expression preceded (and thus helped to accelerate) a dramatic culture shift actually took place several years earlier and it too concerned abortion. More specifically, the issue was early abortions caused by chemicals and devices. And the problem for proponents of the sexual revolution and the population control movement came in the inevitable collision with their ideologies and basic science.

You see, the science itself couldn’t be clearer and any embryology textbook will lay out the facts. Conception occurs when the sperm fertilizes the egg.  It is at that very moment that a new life begins. After that, it's all about development and growth.  The scientific realities do not change. But plans to control social trends and the tools used to get around science -- including the sinister manipulation of language? That’s another thing altogether.

The language employed to describe human reproduction first began to change in the 1960s when population control advocates were looking to sell so-called "birth control" chemicals and devices among cultures that had a high respect for prenatal life. The problem was that the action of the pills and IUDs acted (at least some of the time) subsequent to conception. That is, they didn't always prevent conception but they did prevent the embryonic human being from developing any further. And that is abortion.

The primary techniques utilized by these misnamed drugs and devices was to prevent the developing person (already begun at conception and now growing quite rapidly as he or she made their way down the fallopian tube) from implanting in the wall of the cervix or, if implantation did occur, to forcibly dislodge the embryo from its new home in the womb. But remember, this is all after conception. These drugs and devices destroy lives that have already begun.

Once again, the science couldn’t be clearer.  And the science cannot change.  Therefore, the progressives went after the words. The population control advocates (and others who wanted to promote the sexual revolution) pressured groups like the American Medical Association to actually ignore the science and simply change their definition of conception, to move it “further down the line” from fertilization.

But where along the timeline of the prenatal child’s development could the new definition be placed? Anywhere except the moment of fertilization would be completely arbitrary. Anywhere except fertilization would be completely unscientific. And that’s because the new life had already begun at fertilization and would continue until…well, until death.

The response from the population controllers? “Put the new definition of conception anywhere you want -- as long as it’s after the abortifacient action that these new drugs and devices utilize. You see, we can’t push the product in certain countries (like Catholic Mexico or Hindu India or Muslim Syria) if the people there realize they act post-conception. They don’t want abortion on their conscience. So help us change the definition so that we can sell them as preventing pregnancy rather than stopping a pregnancy that’s already underway."

And that’s exactly what happened. Though it makes no scientific sense, though it's a lie of the most sinister proportions, the definition of conception was disconnected from fertilization and linked instead to the embryo's implantation in the uterine wall. The effects of this lie have been universally damaging to life, health, family and culture. And, of course, along the way, untold millions of preborn boys and girls have been destroyed. 

Of course, re-defining conception isn’t the only case where changing language was a sinister prelude to cataclysmic social change.  We see the tactic used everywhere in the culture wars.  Indeed, we live in an Orwellian world in which lies, distortion, omission, manipulation, and obfuscation fill the very air we breathe.  It is an atmosphere whose pollution is added to daily by politicians, academia, Hollywood, judges, Madison Avenue, the mainstream press, and the diversity classes your employer now requires you to attend.

Make no mistake, behind all of these sources is the father of lies, he who has been wickedly determined (from his very first rebellion against God) to blind men’s minds, to spread lies, to hinder the proclamation of truth, to call evil good and good evil. Sadly, there have been many men and women giving the devil a lot of help in this campaign.

In stark contrast, the faithful Christian calls things by their right name. No snow. No spin. No shuck and jive. We are called to be truth-tellers, light-bearers, and prophets – courageously, consistently and, as winsomely as possible, speaking the truth in love.

In this post-Christian phase of American history, there are certain lies which need to be opposed with particularly intense and concerted efforts. And among them are the ones I’ve described above. They are lies that have ushered in the silent holocaust of abortion as well as such corollary evils as physician-assisted suicide, lethal human experimentation, infanticide, and the deliberate cheapening of human life throughout all levels of society.

It was to help counter this dissembling culture of death that Claire and I formed Vital Signs Ministries more than 40 years ago. And, because the liars and cheats haven’t gone away, it is what we’re still about today. Of course, we serve in this mission alongside many, many others who haven’t given I or given up. For despite the enveloping cloud of lies in our era, the Holy Spirit reminds us that the obedient Christian can indeed overcome evil with good. Not only can we escape the tyranny of lies ourselves, we can even beat them back as they try to claim new victims. So refuse to compromise with the lies, distortions, and manipulations of language for evil purposes. Instead, shine as a light in the darkness; speak the truth in love; and call things by their right names. 

Friday, February 23, 2024

Abortion Shame? Not Very Often.

Among the common sights in those early days of our sidewalk counseling outside abortion clinics (we started in January 1983) were women trying to somehow sneak past us, crying, hiding their faces, making excuses, telling outright lies, and sometimes being enraged at our presence.

But all such reactions are very rare nowadays. For abortion has become, to so many Americans of child-bearing age, a completely conventional experience. Sure, the facts about abortion’s risks to women are more widespread than ever. So too is the knowledge of the wondrous development of the human person inside the womb. And yes, the polls suggest that American youth are more pro-life than their parents' generation.

Nevertheless, those who head to the abortion clinic to get their “problem fixed” are largely untroubled by scientific facts, medical risks, moral corruption, or even the fear of God. Not all of them, no. But we must honestly face the fact that most of these women (and men) know all too well that ending their pregnancy means killing their child -- but they don’t care. Their lives are dominated by the self-interest of the immediate moment.

I’m well aware that pro-abortion spokespersons (and some pro-life leaders too) insist that every woman dealing with an unexpected pregnancy does so with careful deliberation amid anxiety, fear, and a moral debate with her conscience. But this just doesn’t fit the facts. Not the facts that show that a high percentage of abortions in America are repeat abortions; that is, women having their second, third, or more abortion.

And it doesn’t fit the facts that a sidewalk counselor sees outside the abortion mills. For there we rarely see tears from an abortion client or any other indication that this is a traumatic, difficult, crisis situation for them. Instead of the crying, the shame, the excuses, or even the guilty anger, the women going into the abortion centers where their preborn babies will be killed are doing their makeup, adjusting their clothes, laughing on their cell phones, or kissing their other child in the car seat before Daddy drives off.

Moral sensitivity is dying. Or dead altogether. Religious understanding is absent. And a commitment to career, leisure activities, body shape, and material “stuff” leaves no room for the precious, innocent, and miraculous baby she has conceived and is carrying.

It’s not just the continuation of abortion in America that breaks my heart. It’s that so much of America isn’t even ashamed of it anymore.

Friday, February 16, 2024

February's Fantastic Song List (WSWK)

February’s “When Swing Was King” shows are really going great. We have already presented shows at senior living facilities so far this month but, if you’d like, you can still catch one of the 4 shows next week (3 next week). You’ll find the schedule on the Vital Signs Ministries website.

And the song list? It’s superb!

1) “Blueberry Hill” -- Glenn Miller Orchestra (Ray Eberle, vocals) (1940)
2) “Secret Love” -- Doris Day (1954)
3) “Little White Lies” -- Count Basie Octet (1950)
4) “I Had the Craziest Dream” -- Harry James Orchestra (Helen Forrest, vocals) (1943)
5) “Blue Skies” -- Artie Shaw Orchestra (1937)
6) “Dear Heart” -- Andy Williams (1965)
7) “Singin’ In the Rain” -- Gene Kelly (1952)
8) “How Long Has This Been Goin’ On?” -- Lena Horne (Backed by the Phil Moore 4) (1945)
9) “I’m Stepping Out with a Memory” -- Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra (Helen O’Connell, vocals) (1940)
10) “Here’s Love In Your Eyes” -- Benny Goodman Orchestra (1936)
11) “If Ever I Would Leave You?” -- Robert Goulet (1960)
12) “Glow Worm” -- The Mills Brothers (Backed by the Hal McIntyre Orchestra)

Friday, February 09, 2024

Night to Shine Tonight

Claire and I were especially honored and delighted to work with the Night to Shine outreach tonight. This remarkable "prom plus" experience is for special needs people 16 years and up and was created by the Tim Tebow Foundation. The local host is King of Kings Church and they were absolutely fantastic -- creative, detailed, compassionate, unified, and all in.

What a remarkable opportunity this was and we are profoundly grateful to God for allowing us to be a part. Our specific role was with the Red Carpet team but we also signed up for breakdown and cleanup so that kept us on site and busy long after the party was over. But we were greatly blessed in both our jobs tonight.

Wednesday, February 07, 2024

Tim Tebow Offers a Prayer

Let me share an example of why Claire and I have been so thankful for our decision to use Tim Tebow’s Mission Possible Daily Devotional as a spiritual disciplines resource. Here is a prayer he recently presented as that day’s entry…

Thank you, Father, for loving me so much that You want me to live a life of significance. Please remind me each day to 1st seek Your kingdom, believing that You’ll take care of the rest. As I wake each day, may my thoughts be aligned with what You say. You are the Lord of my life, heart, soul, and mind. Forgive me when my mind has been preoccupied with worry, questions, distractions, or lies from the enemy. Thank You that You’re will is for my thinking to be transformed day after day into Your likeness. I know transformation happens when I shift my focus from the things of this world to Your truth.

Show me the areas of weakness I need to change. Reveal to me the lies from the enemy I have been believing that keep me stuck and distracted. Empower me to be self-disciplined and a master of my body and mind and remain centered on you. Remind me of my job to take my thoughts captive, and give me the strength to fix my attention on what is right, noble, and true. Thank You for actively working in my life. I trust that Your purposes for me will prevail.

In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen.

Based on: Matthew 6:33; Ephesians 4: 23-24; Romans 12:2; 1st Corinthians 9:27; 2nd Corinthians 10:5; Proverbs 19:21.

Friday, February 02, 2024

Hey! Do Your Pro-Life Political Reps Need to Hear from You?

The answer to the above question is...of course! So, get after it. You expect these guys to do the right thing so you do your part in supporting them, thanking them, praying for them, being a cheerleader for them, and passing along the need for those duties to your friends and church members.

Here's my latest. It's a letter, the basic form of which I sent to all 16 of the state senators who participated in the Walk for Life sponsored by Nebraska Right to Life last Saturday. (Note the addition of pro-life quotations at the end of the letter. I sometimes add Scriptures or quotes to my letters. You might try it too.)

Dear Senator -------------

We wanted to send along an enthusiastic thank-you for your presence at the Walk for Life last weekend. Your participation was a very important witness not only to your own constituents but to Nebraskans throughout the state. Your public support for pro-life advocacy is an encouragement of tremendous value, a “sanity check” for those peaceful, prayerful pro-life citizens who are continually assailed by the left, and a stimulant to “stay the course” in working to protect the sanctity of all human life, religious freedom, and traditional family values.

Of course, Senator, of even greater value is your principled advocacy for these crucial values as you discuss, strategize, and vote to save the lives of preborn kids, help their moms and families, rebuild a culture of life, and otherwise maintain Nebraska’s “good life” reputation.

Please know you are in our frequent prayers and we have recommitted ourselves to also enlist our colleagues, friends, and church members to be praying for you and your family also. Again, thank you and may God continue to bless and use you.

Denny & Claire Hartford
Vital Signs Ministries

“We cannot diminish the value of one category of human life “the unborn” without diminishing the value of all human life.” (President Ronald Reagan)

“The greatest destroyer of peace is abortion because if a mother can kill her own child, what is left but for me to kill you and you to kill me. There is nothing in between.” (Mother Teresa)

“Abortion is the ultimate exploitation of women.” (Pioneer feminist Alice Paul)

“The Bible makes it clear that God sees the unborn infant not as a piece of superfluous biological tissue, but as a person created by Him for life.” (Billy Graham)