Dear friends of Vital Signs Ministries,                                    December 2022

My first plan was to write a decidedly “Christmassy” devotional for this month but, as I was enjoying my coffee at Panera on this early, frosty, late November morning, I changed my mind.  And that’s because 1) there’s just too much news to report and too many items about which we desire your prayers and 2) when it comes to “Christmassy” devotionals, there are quite a lot of them that are easily available on the VSM website and Vital Signs Blog.  Indeed, there is now a special section on our website where we’ve collected what we believe are some of our best stuff on that topic.  Just click “Making the Most of Christmas” in the Articles section.  Okay, on to the reviews, previews, and prayer requests.

  • The abortion zealots, feeling desperate and enraged at the repeal of Roe v. Wade, are stepping up their attempts to intimidate pro-life advocates.  Wickedly “woke” politicians and judges are mandating ever more severe restrictions on our freedoms of speech and assembly.  The leftist monopoly of established media and internet social platforms are working overtime to slander and sabotage pro-life pregnancy centers.  And we too are seeing increased harassment of our peaceful pro-life witness outside the Planned Parenthood abortion business.  For instance, the “escorts” are becoming more provocative, dancing like clowns directly in front of us and mocking us with blasphemous taunts. They are, of course, tempting us to respond in kind but, praise the Lord, without success. More serious, we recently had a crazed driver jerk his speeding black pickup truck towards us as we quietly, prayerfully held our beautiful baby signs on the sidewalks.  The demented fellow missed us by only a yard and a half.  So, needless to emphasize further, your prayers are very much in order – prayers for our protection, for our remaining wise and winsome, and for the Lord’s work of conviction on those who mess with His ambassadors.
  • Among the grand blessings December will bring is the presentation of the Christmas “When Swing Was King” to 11 senior care facilities – the 9 on our regular schedule and 2 extra we’re doing at the care facility in Wichita where my little sister Sherry is living.  Claire and I cherish every chance we have to minister to people in care facilities (people so often affected by loneliness, pain, and boredom), but the Christmas program is quite special. There’s unique beauty. There’s the lovely music. There are all the stirring memories of Christmas. And there’s the inspiring truth of the Incarnation which is the very foundation of the season. What a terrific outreach this is all the year round, but the Christmas show is particularly powerful. So, please pray with us that “the show goes on” in every case (despite winter weather, covid quarantines, whatever) and that God does a marvelous work in many hearts. And please pray for safety and spiritual breakthroughs when we take the “When Swing Was King” Christmas show to Kansas.
  • For us, the Christmas season also means that our correspondence ministry (already pretty involved) shifts into an even higher gear.  Christmas cards, end of year letters, and encouragements to those on our prayer list — this all takes a lot of time and effort.  But then it’s a labor of love. And Vital Signs’ correspondence outreach always takes a big leap in December because that’s when we do the Christmas card edition of our quarterly letter-writing parties.  This time around, 22 of us squeezed around 4 tables on both floors of our little cottage (plus 2 others who were writing at their homes) and we ended up producing 279 Christmas cards! Wow! 

Included in that wonderful number were 39 colorful Christmas cards (3 apiece) sent to 13 Christian brothers imprisoned for their faith in China, Eritrea, and Iran — cards that bore a brief message and Scriptures in their respective languages! In addition, Claire and I will be handing out 84 Christmas cards and kid-created art works from the party to residents of senior care facilities where we minister.

The rest of that gorgeous pile of Christmas cards were written to a wide variety of people, organizations, ministries, and businesses. 9 are going to Nebraska’s incoming Governor Jim Pillen. 13 were sent to Franklin Graham and his teams at Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. 5 went to local police and fire stations. 12 Christmas cards will be heading to Supreme Court Justices. Assure Women’s Services will receive 7 Christmas cards from last night’s effort as will 6 of the activity directors from senior care facilities where we do “When Swing Was King.”

Still others? Oh yes, many! President Biden; former President Donald Trump; College of the Ozarks; Project Veritas; Congressman Don Bacon; Joni & Friends; EPS; Julie Arant with Global Friends; Senator Deb Fischer; Tim Tebow; Tucker Carlson; Mayor Jean Stothert; Amir Tsarfati; Good News Jail and Prison Ministries; outgoing Governor Pete Ricketts; and on and on. What a terrific evening! May our Lord protect each Christmas card en route and may He grant each recipient gratitude, grace, and inspiration when the card gets there.

  • What’s happening on the hospitality front, you ask? Because, after all, Christmas entertaining (festivity — but with a distinct ministry purpose) has been a well-honed practice with Claire and me for decades.  This year is no exception. We are planning quite a few “Santa runs” to friends who find it difficult to get out. And we will do lunches or coffee get-togethers with members of our Aksarben Village church and other friends. But the at-home events are awfully ambitious too. In fact, Lord willing, between December 3 and Epiphany on January 6, Claire and I will host 4 Saturday morning brunches and 10 dinner parties. Martha Stewart, move over!

And an unusual element this year is that we are taking a decidedly British direction in our at-home events. That means traditional Christmas items from England, Scotland, and Wales will be featured at our table.  No, we’re certainly not abandoning our Paleo lifestyle (even for Christmas) but our guests will be enjoying such tasty (and definitely non-Paleo) fare as roast beef, Yorkshire Puddings, Bubble and Squeak, Cawl Cennin, Ploughman’s Lunch, pork pies,  and Kilted Soldiers.   And for desserts it will be Plum Pudding, Yule Log, scones & clotted cream, mince pies, trifle, Eton Mess, and Clootie Dumpling. An interesting and fun approach to Christmas entertaining?  Certainly.  But of even greater value will be the stimulating fellowship we will enjoy with good friends, trusted and true.

  • And how goes church? We are delighted to report that our Aksarben Village church means more to us than ever.  December will mark 22 months that we’ve been conducting services there every Sunday afternoon. And though the pattern of things remains the same  (3 superb music videos, a brief and plain-spoken sermon of 8-10 minutes, prayers, communion once a month, and the warm-hearted and intensely meaningful fellowship before and after service), the blessings are fresh and profound and ongoing. 

One additional church note. We had previously recorded some of the sermons from our Sunday afternoon service, but it was a bit too complicated and distracting.  So, we have begun to record summaries of the sermons and posting them on Vital Signs Blog and the Vital Signs Ministries YouTube channel. You might find them of value. Claire particularly recommends

“And Joseph Got Up!” and the sermon from “Stir Up” Sunday. She also recommends the Vital Signs Blog articles “4 Post-Election Observations” and “Ambassador or Secret Agent?”

And, after re-reading and discussing The Christmas Room with friends at the latest Book Brunch, we both heartily recommend this uplifting, inspirational novel for your Yuletide reading as well! You can order it through Amazon (very inexpensive, ask for an autographed copy from us, or download it on your Kindle. In fact, those of you with Kindles can also download my two Christmas stories from there, “The Winter in the Woods” and “Christmas on the Freedom Train.”  

Okay, I’m moving toward the end of this letter, so I’ll quickly mention just a couple more December happenings. First, as a new member of the board of Business & Professional Persons for Life, I’m honored to be able to help further the work of this noble and longstanding organization.  For instance, I wrote a special holiday-themed mailing for them and we’ve also sent over several articles to expand the content of their website.  I will also be working with Creighton professor Dr. Ed DeSimone (another BPPFL Board member) with strategies and new educational materials to combat chemical abortions.

And second, in between everything else in December, I’ll be working on the two sessions I’ve been asked to present at the annual conference sponsored by the L’Abri Fellowship in Rochester, Minnesota come February 17 and 18.  Those sessions are “Beware the Mad Scientist:

Divine Warnings Against ‘Playing God’ from Classic Literature” and “A Winsome Witness: Communicating the Bible’s Pro-Life Ethics Through Word and Deed.” 

Okay, that’s it for this month, dear friends. May God bring you all a bountifully blessed holiday season. And may the Lord not only give you great inspiration for your New Year Resolutions, but the resolve and joy to then follow through with them all! Happy Christmas! 

“I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” (The converted Ebeneezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol)

“Christmas is a season not only of rejoicing, but of reflection.” (Winston Churchill)

“Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, ‘God is with us.’” (Matthew 1:21)

“The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, Who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)

But be doers of the word,
and not hearers only.