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"December Doings...And More."

Dear LifeSharers,                                                                   December 2012 

            With last month’s letter and essay, I commented on the election, what it revealed about our post-Christian culture, and what it portends for the future.  This month’s letter also includes a bonus essay that deals with these matters but in a more comic way.  There was a gratifying response to last month’s essay, “Entering the Bleak Winter,” and I hope you’ll find this one, "The Passing of Christmas," of value also.  But before you turn over to that page, let me give a quick preview of our December schedule and an outline of some of the things Vital Signs Ministries is planning for 2013. 

            I mentioned last month that, with the election over, we were going to tweak Vital Signs Blog a bit.  That’s already started.  For instance, the blog has a new look and it will be offering an even wider array of topics relevant to “doers of the Word.”  There will likely be a slight decline in the number of posts there, but that will be answered by more posts I will write myself, an occasional video commentary, and the posts that will show up on The Book Den. 

            That’s right; we decided to charge the batteries to The Book Den, our arts-oriented blog that has been, for most of Obama’s tenure, in a semi-dormant state. We’re opening The Book Den again because the election strikingly revealed the depth of culture rot beneath American politics and we felt compelled to increase our efforts to strengthen the foundations on which a culture of faith and family can be built.  That, of course, means the continuing of our existing pro-life activity: sidewalk counseling, the “When Swing Was King” outreach, writing, blogging, speaking, prayer campaigns, and so on. But we will engage in some new projects that will encourage Christians to drink from healthy, faith-building streams instead of the putrid ponds of modern culture. The Book Den is just one of those projects. I will also be doing more research and writing specific to that goal, more pro-life plays, and more articles taken from my preaching at Faith Bible Church. In short, we will be doing more to help people answer the question, “How do we now live consistently and thoroughly for Christ in the midst of this dark and menacing world?” We have already posted some of this new material on the Vital Signs Ministries web site. But there’s a lot more that will be coming in January. 

            And before I forget, there’s one more item related to our internet outreach that’s important.  As finances permit (and that’s a rather tenuous situation right now), we will continue to add Bible study material and pro-life articles to our Russian-language site, thus keeping our ministry in Russia and Eastern Europe going strong. 

            But before we move into 2013, we have to take care of December’s duties.  And for a couple as deep into Christmas as Claire and me, that is no small thing!  We have completed the home decorations – inside and out – and the place looks fabulous. Invitations have been sent for most (not all) of the dinner parties we will host as well as for Claire’s family tea, the family Christmas eve breakfast, the luncheons out with friends, and the “Santa runs” we make to visit folks who can’t easily get out and about.  

            And there are two brand new events this year too.  One involves Claire and I making “Christmas eggs” as part of the food gifts that go into our “Santa run” baskets. And the other is an easy, non-threatening Christmas cookie exchange that we’ve organized among several of our neighbors that will end up at our house.

            Other activities this December?  Well, KCRO already aired an interview I recorded there last week. That interview, by the way, elicited a phone call from a friend now living in Audubon, Iowa who heard the program. He and his family had moved out of Nebraska in the mid 80s (I helped load the truck!) and I hadn’t heard from him since. He was thrilled to hear me on the radio and, praise the Lord, an old friendship has now been rekindled. But back to the radio.

            I recorded another program last week at KCRO which will air in January. It’s an exhortation for more evangelicals to participate in the Walk for Life in Lincoln. But we’re planning on recording several 1-minute spots to air this month and next which will highlight various pro-life issues. 

            December will see us doing the regular shifts of prayer and sidewalk counseling in front of the Planned Parenthood abortion mill. And I’ll be speaking to a group of AWANA kids this Wednesday night.  What else? This month we are sending out proposals of various sorts -- to Grace and Nebraska Christian Universities (volunteering to teach a course  on 20th Century Christian Writers which I’ve taught before), to a few civic organizations (regarding our “When Swing Was King” ministry), and to former members of the Omaha Chesterton Society which we hope to revive.  Blogging continues.  Sermons and Sunday school preparation continues. We’re making visits this month to a whole bunch of government leaders to give them a plate of Claire’s cookies AND copies of our politically-oriented letters to Santa. (We think it’s a light but memorable way to express the issues that we believe should be their priorities in 2013. And yes, those letters will be posted on Vital Signs Blog and the VSM website.) 

            But December is also the time for Christmas cards and we have a gang of those to send out. Most will go to friends but some of them will be expressing principled protest and sent to the bad guys. We’re careful, of course, to make sure even these are sent in a spirit of courtesy, kindness and hope. After all, it’s Christmas and we know that even an Ebenezer Scrooge can have a change of heart!

            Another big December project around here involves getting our first floor ready for Claire’s niece (Claire Nicole) who will be living with us the next few months while she does her student teaching at Burke High School. And, oh yes. Did I mention we will be doing 13 presentations of our special Christmas edition of “When Swing Was King” this month?

            Decembers are always something around here. But even we will admit this one might be over-the-top. Splendid. We wouldn’t want it any other way.  We pray God grants you and your loved ones a peaceful, productive and deeply meaningful Christmas season.  And please accept our heartfelt thanks for your every prayer, your every note of encouragement, and each financial donation that helps keep us in the fight.