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Yuletide Wrap

Dear VSM LifeSharers,                                                                   January 2010

            I write this month’s letter in a very jovial mood because it’s 40 degrees outside and snow, for the first time in about a month, is melting!  Sure, it will be messy for a long time and I’ll be buying a lot of windshield wiper fluid as Omaha’s massive snowfall melts – but at least it's started!

            Of course, I realize that it’s only mid-January and I shouldn’t exactly be getting ready for lawn work yet.  In fact, Claire just informed me that there’s snow in the forecast for next week.  Still, I can’t help myself.  Feeling the sun on my face, watching water flow from the house drain pipes, and knowing that any hour now I will be able to see the top of my mailbox again has put me in a great mood today.  So, as soon as I finish writing this LifeSharer and complete a few other tasks, Claire and I are going out for a walk.  Yes, a walk outside!  I can hardly believe it.

            With the break in snowstorms and the Arctic temperatures that have assailed us these last several weeks, we’ve returned to some of our normal activities.  For instance, after missing two Mondays of sidewalk counseling at the Bellevue abortion clinic because of sub-zero temperatures, we started again last Monday.  To try and deal with an extended schedule on the part of that barbaric business, we have divided our little sidewalk counseling corps into two shifts that puts at least three Christians at the site from 7:45-11:15 AM.  It was only 18 degrees last Monday but, after what we’ve been experiencing, we almost went out in shirt sleeves!  We’ll see how this new schedule goes.  And, of course, if you believe the Lord would have you join us (even on occasion) we would sure be overjoyed.  Just give us a call.

            The bright sunshine today also motivated us to get out and enjoy a wonderful working lunch down at the Kona Grill.  (Claire had the white pizza; I had the Asian pan noodles.  Delicious)  We had a great time planning our trip next week to Washington, D.C. for the March for Life, discussing time schedules for two upcoming writing projects, looking at changes in a few of our web ministries, and carefully evaluating our various Christmas activities.  We hung around talking and just reveling in each other's company until nearly everyone else had left the place.  It was an enlightening, productive and fun time.  How blessed we are to be more in love than ever after all these years and, I hope, more effective as a ministry team too.  Thank You, Lord.

            Despite the snow, despite the frigid cold, and despite being hit hard by a computer virus (targeted or arbitrary, we don't know) which severely limited my blogging for awhile (even shutting us down completely for a few days), we managed to still have one our most productive Christmas seasons ever.  We had to postpone three of our major events but they proved even more successful when they came off on re-scheduled dates. 

            Here’s the rundown of the Hartford Yuletide. There was a Christmas dinner where we hosted 16 guests; a Christmas Eve breakfast where we hosted 21 guests; our traditional Epiphany evening with three couples; a Christmas Tea at my Mom’s nursing home and three separate “Santa runs.” Also we hosted a breakfast at our December Vital Signs Board meeting; enjoyed a Christmas-themed meeting of our book club; prepared and preached 4 Advent sermons for Faith Bible Church; did several Christmas-themed blog posts; shared a “Making the Most of Christmas” presentation at our church and, more informally, for my Mom and several other residents of the Life Care Center.

            And, oh yes; there were 6 other dinner parties held here at the house during the Christmas season and, if my math is right, those 6 parties involved another 29 people. We are most certainly serious about Christmas!

            There were some other highlights for us in the last few weeks including helping out with Chet Thomas’ 80th birthday party, being nominated for the 2010 National Pro-Life Blog Awards, attending Sandy Schoville’s birthday party, and participating in a mortgage burning ceremony at Faith Bible Church.

            But there have also been some lowlights: feeling the same old helplessness when women walk in the abortion mill; the computer crash I mentioned; sad news from several friends about serious moral failures in their children; and the end of year financial totals for Vital Signs Ministries which saw us down quite a bit (about $10,000) from last year’s income. When you operate on the scale that we do, that’s a pretty tough drop.  We knew the state of the economy would probably give us a serious jolt – we just didn’t anticipate how sharp a jolt it would be!

            But, of course, we'll carry on. And we are more grateful than ever to all of you who have supported Vital Signs over these many years of struggle. God has used this work in mighty ways and we're honored beyond words to have partnered with you. You’ve been terrific.  We’re grateful for your prayers.  We’re grateful for your encouragement and involvement and example.  And we’re grateful for your financial support whenever you’re able to help.  Like I said, we’ll keep carrying on.

            Now, to conclude this edition of the LifeSharer letter, I thought I'd give those of you who are not regular visitors to Vital Signs Blog a little illumination about what’s happening over there.  Every day we are getting several hundred “hits” where internet surfers encounter 5 to 8 posts dealing with religious, political and cultural issues from a distinctly Christian point of view.  Here are a few titles to show you what I mean:

Count the Reasons: Why Pro-Lifers Must Oppose the Senate "Health Care" Bill

A Sinister Search for Minority Embryos

How Much Does Drunk Driving Cost America?

2009 Has Been a Bad, Bad Year for Global Warming

Insurance Companies & Abortion: Ethics Have No Cash Value

Pantheism is Everywhere (Pun Intended)

Nickelodeon Is Promoting Some Pretty Sick Games to Your Preschoolers

Early Sex Experiences Linked to Greater Cancer Risk

The Religion of Planned Parenthood

An Indispensable Part of the Pro-Life Case? The Science of Embryology.

Modern Day Scrooges Want to "Reduce the Surplus Population."

            To illustrate further the kind of things going on over at Vital Signs Blog, I'll print  on the next pages two of the posts that have drawn considerable attention.       

  Christians Falling for Hollywood's Bad Bill of Goods
Has the church militant become the church milquetoast?
I'm hearing more and more Christians give movie recommendations that sound like this...
"Well, yes, there a few scenes that you should probably close your eyes to and there's the usual problem of some pretty gritty language. Of course, there's going to be some toilet humor and probably more sexual references than they needed. And there are a few attacks on conservative political values that I didn't like either but, hey, that's Hollywood for you."

"Also, they've got to throw in a homosexual character who gets kinda' gross at times but then he's the one in the end who really ends up showing compassion and common sense. Oh yeah, there is quite a bit of religion bashing; well, except for pantheism. And they did get carried away a bit in making fun of creationists, pro-lifers and people who want to protect marriage."

"But overall the story was pretty neat and it sure made me laugh a few times.
It wasn't Shakespeare or anything, just a couple of hours
of nice, escapist entertainment. I think you might like it."
Really? Then think again. For the sake of everything that's sacred, please think again.
For such mindless movie recommendations are but one example of how Christians are willingly surrendering to an ungodly culture their values, their heritage, their consciences and the commands given them by Jesus to remain pure in heart, to shine the light in the darkness, to overcome evil with good, and so on.
We aren't actually losing the contest; we're simply forfeiting it away.
               Ben Nelson Wants Nebraskans to Trust Him Again
Democrat Senator Ben Nelson will introduce a 30-second TV commercial
during the Nebraska/Arizona football game tonight in which he defends his vote
for the Obama/Reid "health care" bill. The spot will then run on other Nebraska TV stations for at least a few days.
He's doing this in an effort to keep his reputation from falling
even farther than it already has.
The spot is only 30-seconds because the Senator has no substantial basis
for his support of the bill nor any reasonable arguments for so cravenly forsaking his pro-life principles and concerns for the Constitution.  Therefore, his ad is a quick, folksy appearance in which he can mouth
a few generalities and not have to explain further his catastrophic cave-in.
So how should Nebraskans respond to Nelson's little ploy? Simple.
1) Keep doing what you've been doing; namely, calling, writing and e-mailing the Senator and expressing your opinions about this and the many other budget-busting, boneheaded, boondoggle bills he has supported.
2) Follow up by sending similar letters to editors. Keep the dissonance public.
And realize that with the left-leaning bias of the press (yes, even here in Nebraska), there will have to be a large and steady stream of such letters to insure that a few are actually published.
And finally 3) Make it clear to family and friends that this is what happens
when you vote Democrats into office. For no matter what they claim when back home, their "conservative" or "moderate" positions melt when they get to Washington and they end up toeing the party line.
And the line of the modern Democrat Party (led by the likes of Obama, Reid, Pelosi, Baucus, Rangel, Boxer, Clinton, and Franken) is marked by an aggressive support of abortion and embryonic stem cell experimentation, an expansion of the homosexual agenda, intolerance of Christianity, antagonism to freedoms of speech and assembly (when they involve conservatives, that is), an expansion of the welfare state, support of judicial activism, a dedication to an ever-burgeoning government spending spree (except for national defense), ongoing assaults on the free market, and so on.
So, turn Ben Nelson's greedy, perfidious ways with this misnamed "health care reform" bill into an opportunity to educate your fellow Nebraskans about the dangers unavoidably inherent in voting Democrat these days.

            Okay, that concludes this month's letter. I hope it has helped bring you up to speed a bit about Vital Signs Blog, about how we ended 2009, and how we're starting 2010. Like we've done for all these many years, we'll keep lifting His banner high with your help and His awesome mercy.

            Claire joins me in sending you all all our love, our appreciation and our prayers for a spiritually prosperous New Year.