Dear friends of Vital Signs Ministries, June 2016
For this month’s letter, I’m writing up some brief updates, exhortations, and encouragements. I hope you find them interesting and of value.
Remember Jesus Loves the Little Children?
Here's one of the appeals I made to Planned Parenthood employees as they walked across the parking lot towards the entrance this morning: “Do you remember that precious little song, Jesus Loves the Little Children? I bet you do. In fact, I bet you have some fond memories of singing it with friends, maybe with a mom or grandma. But, of course, to now work for Planned Parenthood, a business that makes millions of dollars every year from actually killing children means that somewhere along the line you made a dramatic turn away from the innocence, the faith, and the loving mercy of God that the song celebrates. Isn’t it way past time to turn back…to end your association with such a violent, unjust business? We are praying that you think carefully about this and that you turn away from this evil business and turn instead to the grace available in the cross of Jesus Christ. He still loves the little children. You most certainly know that in your heart. And He loves you too, so much that Jesus died on a cross to pay for all your sins. So, please, reconsider your part in this messy business.”
Please pray that the Holy Spirit brings strong conviction on these employees and that God awakens their conscience to His liberating gospel. Also, as I have done in the past, I urge you all to join in our “3 for 5” prayer campaign against Planned Parenthood. You’ll find more on the Vital Signs website or you can ask us to send you the details.
The Surefire Investment Plan
If you were to believe the advertisements of many brokerage firms and insurance companies, you would think that a safe, even luxurious future was yours if you simply sign on the dotted line with them. But that certainly doesn’t make sense for those who can hardly keep up with expenses now. The truth is in the numbers; a fellow who lives from paycheck to paycheck just doesn’t have enough to build up a cushion for retirement. Now don’t get me wrong. Financial planning, frugality, savings, and prudent investments are all good things. But the best investment plan of all – and the only surefire one – is the one explained by Jesus when He explicitly told us to lay up our treasures in heaven. This is a fantastic opportunity for us! Indeed, all of God’s children are saved from the penalty of sin through faith in God’s grace alone. However, the Scriptures are also clear that believers will receive heavenly rewards by living lives of obedience, trust, and love. And that heavenly savings account (I’ve taken to calling it my paradise portfolio) is completely safe from thieves, natural forces, and all the sin-stained politics of this earth.
This investment plan, by the way, has nothing to do with your income, your pension, your Social Security or Medicare. It has only to deal with your faithfulness to God. No, after paying our bills, we may not have a nickel left over to put into stocks, bonds, or precious metals. But we can always make investments in heaven, adding every single day to that glorious paradise portfolio that the Lord is saving for us as part of our forever inheritance. Now that is great news.
Uh, About Those Entertainment Choices
Scripture warns us of the dangers of loving the world (I John 2:15), of being stained by the world (James 1:27), of being friends of the world which is hostility towards God (James 4:4), of being defiled and entangled by the world (2 Peter 2:20), and so on. Nevertheless, modern Christians tend to disregard these critical warnings, especially, it seems, when it comes to the entertainment choices they make. We may wish that there were more wholesome choices when it comes to TV or movies or video games or sports or books but if there aren’t…well, we end up taking whatever the world is serving. But it doesn’t have to be like this. Christians need not be slavishly dependent on the world to provide us entertainment. We have been liberated…and for holy purposes. “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously, and godly in the present age.” (Titus 2:11,12) And do we not have better choices before us than the schlock of modern TV and films? Are there no good books, books that are wholesome, informative, funny, inspiring? Are there not movies available that don’t require us to compromise our values or sear our consciences? And what of the radical idea of actually getting involved in life ourselves rather than spending all our leisure hours in being spectators? Are there no opportunities for sports and hobbies and arts and conversation and enjoying God’s creation? What do you say? Come on; let’s get unplugged from the world and instead make sure that our Christianity is enlightening and empowering…even our leisure time.
Are You Ready for the Adventure?
“One day, you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.” (C.S. Lewis)
Claire and I are organizing a summer reading project of C. S. Lewis’ classic series, The Chronicles of Narnia. We did this a few years ago when I was preaching at Faith Bible Church and things went very well, including a group discussion of the books at a barbecue dinner party we hosted for everyone involved. That party was a grand success: grilled hamburgers and hot dogs, a large cake beautifully decorated in a Narnia motif, and a scintillating discussion among readers from ages 14 to 82.
Well, we’ve decided to ride into Narnia again this summer, complete with a couple of book discussion parties. We have invited Facebook friends, people from the church we now attend (Community Bible Church), and we’re now inviting any of you who would like to participate. We have already posted over on The Book Den some discussion questions for the first three books of the series. You may find them helpful, especially as you talk about the books with spouses, kids, grandkids, or other pals. So what do you say? Are you ready for the adventure? You can RSVP (402-341-8886) for our first Narnia Party on July15…and you can get started reading right away!
“When Swing Was King” Is Going Hard Copy Too
We are launching a new element of our “When Swing Was King” ministry in September. It is a one sheet (folded into four pages) newsletter that will be distributed every quarter to residents in all 11 of the senior care facilities where we present our programs each month. This newsletter will serve not only as a promotion for our “When Swing Was King” shows, but also as a fun feature of its own with stories from the big band era, trivia, a seasonal Scripture or two, and announcements. Plus I’ll write a brief column for every issue, a column that will provide yet another platform to bring up spiritual matters. Please pray for this new project, including our efforts to find a printer who would be willing, in exchange for their company’s name on the newsletter, to cut us a good deal because funds are rather scarce for Vital Signs nowadays.
A Few Updates
Our regular ministries continue apace: the pro-life witness outside Planned Parenthood, the internet outreach, correspondence, hospitality and discipleship, prayer, “When Swing Was King” and other senior care visits. And there’s the letter-writing evenings too – the next one is on June 28 at our home. However, we are ending our one year experiment with radio. We were pleased with the quality of the 60-second programs but were just too squeezed in among commercials and there hasn’t been enough response for us to sign another contract at $7,000 plus. So, I’ll still do some recording but we will simply post them (along with the written transcripts) on the blog and Facebook. That we can do for free.
A Few Final Updates
I recently finished the adult Sunday school class I was teaching on heaven. It was a wonderful experience and I’m pleased that the church leadership has asked me to teach it again in the near future…….I’ll be teaching a couple of classes on the practicality of holiness at Country Bible Church in Blair on June 26…….We have 3 special “When Swing Was King” on June 30 and July 1. If you are in the Capital City, why not come by and see us? Plus we need to eat lunch somewhere. Give us a call!.......Next month we will be celebrating a couple of birthdays: “When Swing Was King” will be 6 and yours truly will be hitting the milestone of 65. Really? 65? It seems like just yesterday I was swimming at Green Mountain Swim Club in Lakewood, Colorado with the Beatles and Beach Boys playing on the loudspeakers. My, my…….And finally, July will also mark 2 years of Claire and I being on a strict Paleo diet. It has been a terrific regimen for us and we plan to stay on it for the long haul. We have lost a lot of weight; our general health has improved; we’ve shaved money from our grocery bills; and it has provided important stimulation and assistance to other disciplines. For instance, my walking/praying the equivalent distance across Nebraska and back (860 miles) continues to go better than I dared expect. As of this writing, I’m over 607 miles…….Until our next letter, please continue to lift up a prayer for Claire and I and Vital Signs Ministries as the Lord brings us to mind. And thank you for each note of encouragement, each financial donation, each time you pass along to someone else a good word about our work. We are deeply grateful.