Saturday, March 23, 2024

Saturday, March 09, 2024

The Top 5 (March 9)

* “Nebraska Can Stop the Abortion Industry’s Latest Initiative” (Brenna Grasz, NRO)

* "Elon Musk says 'the groundwork is being laid for something far worse than 9/11' after Biden administration admitted flying 320K unvetted migrants into the US has national security 'vulnerabilities'" (Katelyn Caralle & Emma Richter, Daily Mail)

* "Something Like Fire: Will the AI revolution warm us or burn us?" (Michael J. Totten, City Journal)

* "How Can Biden Stay In Now?" (John Podhoretz, Commentary)

* "The Takeover: A massive increase in foreign money and students on American campuses is driving radicalization and subsidizing institutional failure" (Neetu Arnold, Tablet)

Assorted Items from The Week That Was

1) Last Monday when I mentioned to a fellow at the coffee shop that Claire and I were heading down to Wichita to visit my little sister Sherry (she who is dealing with an early and severe dementia), he asked, “Why do you do that when you realize that she might not even recognize you?” My reply? “Because I recognize her!”

The point being, of course, that the key to experiencing the blessings of God in one’s life and relationships is to love, honor, and serve unconditionally -- not because of what someone can do for you or what arbitrary and utilitarian tests they can pass to “deserve” being treated with honor and kindness. No, we are commanded to love as Jesus loves us; namely with grace, humility, courage, a willingness to sacrifice, and a persevering spirit. Yes, I love my little sister because of who she has been. But I love her for who she is right now – physical and mental illness notwithstanding. And, thank the Lord, because Sherry has trusted in Christ’s sacrifice on the cross to pay for her sins, I also love her for who she will be!

2) We received 3 personal notes in the mail yesterday. Sad to say, especially considering the volume of cards and letters we send out, that was a very high number for us to receive. And yet, all 3 of those notes came from friends of ours (and of Vital Signs too) from George, Iowa where we invested a lot of time providing “pulpit supply” over 20 years ago. Talk about loyal and enduring friendships! Thank you so much Ruth, Rod, and Ruby.

3) Claire and I had an invaluable time on the phone yesterday with Karen Bowling of Nebraska Family Alliance. Our talk was about the Nebraska pro-life community’s response to the wicked move by Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, and other abortion zealots to enshrine unlimited abortion in the Nebraska Constitution. The details of that talk cannot be revealed for a few more days so please stay tuned to learn about the dramatic moves coming from this coalition of statewide pro-life groups and their associates (like us). In the meantime, know that “Aslan is on the move!” And please check out the Brenna Grasz article, “Nebraska Can Stop the Abortion Industry’s Latest Initiative” which we have linked to on the Vital Signs website.

4) Here’s an important household tip gleaned from my experience yesterday. Be extremely careful when, in your attempts to clean high places in your kitchen, you risk breathing in fumes given off by a potent product like 409 -- particularly if you’re trying to balance on a ladder! Yipes.

5) My early Thursday morning conversations over coffee with John Malek are becoming more valuable to me than ever. They provide a crucial sanity check, a stimulation to love and good deeds, and a great help to our respective sanctification priorities, perspectives, and disciplines. If you do not have friends (and times to spend with them for this kind of intentional fellowship), by all means, go find some!

6) And I end these random thoughts by passing along a few other recommendations today. A) I remain high on Tim Tebow’s Mission Possible Daily Devotional. B) I hope you can find a time to join us for one of our “When Swing Was King” shows in March. You’ll find the schedule on the VSM website. C) This week’s Top 5 is up and is also right here on Vital Signs Blog. And D) Vital Signs Ministries' monthly letter for March (and a very interesting, newsy letter this time around) is on the VSM website too.

Saturday, March 02, 2024

The Thanksgiving Jar Revisited

It was back in 2015 that Claire and I began to significantly increase our “gratitude attitude” by starting a Thanksgiving Jar project as one of our New Year’s resolutions. It was a simple enough plan -- just set a large glass jar on the kitchen counter into which we would drop little notes of things for which we were grateful to God. Those notes quickly began to accumulate: answers to prayer, encouragements, deliverances, tests passed, special moments of beauty and adventure. You get the idea.

Well, this practice turned out to be a remarkably effective way to sharpen our sense of Thanksgiving, to reduce complacency and complaining, and to deepen our appreciation of the constancy of God’s mercies to us. We not only noticed more of God’s activity in our lives; we also began to look for Him to “show up” in every area of our daily routines. And so, with profound appreciation for the effects stimulated by this spiritual discipline, we have continued it ever since.

But here is another nifty element of our Thanksgiving Jar project. When the jar becomes full, we empty it into a large sack or box and start all over again. By the time Christmas season rolls around, we have emptied the jar several times over. We then take the whole year’s worth of notes (we start afresh every December 1st), mix ‘em all up, and pour them into a big wicker basket. Then, as the final stage of our evening prayers together, we each pull out a few of those notes and read them aloud. As you can imagine, it’s fun to look back on the year, but it also gives us a brand new opportunity to thank God for the blessings documented in those notes.

For the first couple of years, this practice added a special spice to our Christmas season. And it still does. However, even as the Thanksgiving Jar helped us to expand our “gratitude attitude,” there was also an expansion in the number of notes we were making. So it is that the pattern now is that we’re opening Thanksgiving Jar notes at the conclusion of our nightly prayers deep into spring! Thank you, heavenly Father, for inspiring and directing us in this very joyful, very practical spiritual discipline.

And what about you? Perhaps you might consider starting a Thanksgiving Jar project for you and your family. It will certainly help make Thanksgiving a whole-year practice and, in so doing, you’ll find a wonderful bunch of associated blessings as well.

The Top 5 (March 2)

This week's Top 1.

* "20 new rules of politics Democrats have given us" (Victor Davis Hanson, Town Hall)

* "A Lethal Change in Language" (Denny Hartford, Vital Signs Blog)

* "Biden is hiding the true impact of his open border -- a shocking 10 Million have crossed" (Todd Bensman, New York Post)

* "Rotten at the Root: Trans activists’ claims don’t survive scientific scrutiny" (Joseph Figliolia, City Journal)

* "Biden Regime Ratchets Up Its Authoritarianism With Arrest Of Blaze Investigative Reporter" (Shawn Fleetwood, Federalist)

* "While Kids Die, NY AG Letitia James Focuses on Transgender Locker Rooms" (Daniel Greenfield, Front Page Mag)

Friday, March 01, 2024

About That "Pro-Choice" Ballot Initiative/Amendment

 Pass the word!

The EPS Glow (A Quick Review)

Claire and I had the most enlightening, inspiring time last night as we attended Glow, the benefit banquet for Essential Pregnancy Services. That eventwas held at the Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs and I’m guessing the crowd was near 700, maybe more. That kind of turnout represented quite a difference from the days that Claire and I were first involved with EPS -- like way back in 1983 -- and we were very happy for the EPS team. And, as the evening progressed, we were even more impressed to see how the services they provide for women experiencing unexpected and under-supported pregnancies has expanded. Way to go, EPS!

We were also very encouraged to see how open and enthusiastic is the current EPS staff’s dependence on almighty God in their ministries for “the least of these” and their families, for young people being exploited by the hedonistic lies about sex and identity, and for the culture at large to get serious about standing firm and compassionate for the sanctity of life. 

Let me jot down just a few of the specific points of the evening that were highlights for us: 

1) We enjoyed seeing pro-life friends like Matt Troutman, John & Mary Ann Kellogg, Ralph & Carol Kramper, John & Mary Zach, Joe & Louise Ferrante, Dan Witt, and others. The venue was attractive and serviceable. The meal was quite good. And the emcee, Omaha City Councilwoman Aimee Melton, did a fine job.

2) We appreciated very much EPS Executive Director Kerri Gilson’s update on the ministry and for her stirring charge to the assembly for increasing prayers and concerted work against the ballot initiative/amendment effort underway by extremist abortion zealots that would, if successful, enshrine unlimited abortion in our state Constitution. EPS is a direct service ministry and doesn’t normally engage in activities that might be deemed by some as “political.” But the danger is much too great a threat to NOT address it. We applaud the ministry for taking this opportunity for making this crucial exhortation. 

3) EPS understands that, in our day, the most dire threat to pre born boys and girls comes from chemical poisons. And, like many of their devoted pro-life colleagues (including those at Assure Women’s Center with whom Claire and I are most directly connected), they are tackling that threat with courage and skill.

4) The EPS choice for their Glow speaker was truly an outstanding pick, Toni McFadden. Toni’s Her story of being pressured into an abortion when a high school student; the mean, deceptive, and greedy practices employed by the abortionist; the subsequent horror and far-reaching effects of that act; and then Toni’s meeting the lavish and forever forgiveness in the cross of Jesus Christ was riveting…and memorable to the max. And the surprising twist at the end of Toni’s testimony? Well, I won’t spoil it for you. Read the book!

Redeemed --

EPS, thank you so much for a most splendid and inspiring evening!