Dear friends of Vital Signs Ministries, November 2020
It’s an early Wednesday morning as I write this. I’m at Paradise Cafe enjoying my regular coffee as I catch up on Thanksgiving Jar items, make the final edits on #36 in our ongoing series of “Anti-Boredom” Packets for quarantined seniors, and write the November LifeSharer letter. But soon I’ll be heading home to pick up Claire to take her out to breakfast because it is a special day for us today. It’s our anniversary. Number 49.
Now we did some anniversary celebrating while down in Branson a few weeks ago including meals out and some clothes shopping. We also purchased a KitchenAid stand mixer as an anniversary gift. This will save Claire both time and effort in preparing many of the treats featured at Tuesday morning’s Hartford Cafe, the VSM brunches, our various dinner parties, and all the rest of our entertaining. Nevertheless, we’re going to do a little celebrating today too with the morning’s breakfast out, Claire having the day off, getting in a couple of hours hiking together, and then tonight watching reruns of The Great British Baking Show.
Today was supposed to be special in another way too; namely, it was the day we hoped to know who was going to occupy the White House for the next four years. But, as of this morning anyhow, that remains an open question because of the abysmal inefficiency of local governments…and things more sinister still. Things like rigged systems, voter fraud, registration lists which include multiple voters (and dead voters) and several other types of outright cheating. My, my. Add to these travesties the obfuscation, distortions, and lies of the old guard media and the monopolistic censors of big tech and you’re left with not only a massively unfair playing field, you’re left with a wicked mess. Welcome to the progressive nightmare.
And yet, even though I fear the worst case scenario of a Democrat administration led by liars, abortion zealots, and would-be tyrants, I’m still here at Paradise Cafe the day after the election busily engaged in forward-looking work and getting ready to celebrate my anniversary. Why? Because this is no time (it never is!) to go into hiding. God forbid. It is the time (it always is!) to pray for the vision, resolve, wisdom, strength, purity of heart, and joy from on high to keep shining forth God’s truth, mercy, and power. And to help encourage you in this, I have in this month’s letter three suggestions.
First, a couple of weeks ago, I preached a pre-election sermon at the church we attend. In that sermon I explain why politics is a necessary part of a thoroughly Christian worldview. After all, government influences, if not actually controls, almost every part of our lives nowadays. Realistically, you can’t escape politics even if you tried. Plus, we are told to “occupy until Jesus comes” and “strengthen the things that remain.” This means we do our homework regarding politics; we guard and promote biblical priorities (even in the public square); and we carefully avoid “rendering unto Caesar” those things which are not Caesar’s to demand.
And what of basic morality? It’s an inescapable fact that modern politics draws us into conflict with God’s laws. Consider the powers that be forcing a Christian to surrender part of his hard-earned salary to finance the killing of preborn children. Or the Christian photographer or baker required by law to provide services for a same-sex “wedding.” Or the Christian bricklayer who is prosecuted for “hate crimes” simply because he hands out a gospel tract. All of these examples (and many more) illustrate the point — Christians must be watching, praying, and acting in the political arena, not aside from their Christianity, but as an integral feature of it.
Having said the above, however, those of you who watch or listen to the sermon will note that I spend most of the time (the sermon is only 30 minutes) dealing not so much with the political arena as with “living all out” for God despite the decadent culture now surrounding us. In particular, I gave three specific action steps in that sermon.
A) Live holy. B) Live with heaven in view. And C) Live with the help God provides.
That sermon can be watched/listened to at https://youtu.be/ornsEC-zQaM
And the second suggestion? It’s simply this. Keep “the long view” ever before you. Like Abraham and the patriarchs, like the disciples and so many other saints throughout history, keep looking towards your real home, that eternal city Whose architect and builder is God and in whose walls you will live in beauty, purity, peace, happiness, fellowship with Jesus and all the saints, and in a glorified body like that of the resurrected Christ – forever! Oh, my! So let the splendor of heaven sweeten your anticipation for your waiting inheritance even as it deepens your resolve to do battle for the Lord’s cause while we’re here on this sin-scarred planet. I did deal with this point in that sermon, but let me give you a few hints that I didn’t have time for then.
* Read Randy Alcorn’s and Joni Eareckson Tada’s books on heaven. (P.S. I re-read both of them with some frequency.)
* Memorize a few Bible verses dealing with heaven. Meditate on them often. Also use them in your prayers and your conversations.
* Read through (and sing if you’ve a mind to) some of the great old hymns that deal with heaven.
* And, of course, consistently practice those spiritual disciplines that keep you “in fighting trim” for the spiritual warfare we are called to until our reward is ready.
And, finally, one more item that’s related to the spiritual warfare in which we are engaged. We have found reading such adventure sagas as C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia and J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings books to be of immense value in stimulating our desire to serve the Lord in the long adventure of life. Reading about noble knights and brave adventurers battling against strong enemies, heroes who hold fast to high principles and benefit from the fellowship of like-minded warriors can make an amazing difference in one’s outlook on duty, trials and suffering, loyalty, eternal rewards, compassion, friendship, courage, humility, and enthusiasm for pursuing God’s will.
Let me quote from a fascinating book I recently read, one that is well-written, inspiring, and which I highly recommend. The title is A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War: How J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis Rediscovered Faith, Friendship, and Heroism in the Cataclysm of 1914-1918. In that book, author Joseph Loconte speaks of the practical value that the imaginative works of Tolkien and Lewis provide for ordinary “hobbits” like you and me who live in troubled times and with genuine enemies.
“It is their moral imagination that exerts a unique power: the proposition that every person is caught up in an epic contest between Light and Darkness. In the worlds of Tolkien and Lewis, the choices of the weak matter as much as those of the mighty. Here we are not left as orphans, for a force of Goodness stands ready to help…The great achievement of Tolkien and Lewis is the creation of mythic and heroic figures who nevertheless make a claim upon our concrete and ordinary lives. Through them we are challenged to examine our deepest desires, to shake off our doubts, and to join in the struggle against evil. For in their voice is a warning; a call to ‘do the deed at hand’ no matter what the cost.”
Excellent lines. Excellent book. Indeed, there are very important lessons to be learned in reading such literature…including, of course, the Holy Scriptures. Remember, for instance, what the apostle Paul tells us? “Do all things without complaining or arguments; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding firmly the word of life, so that on the day of Christ I can take pride because I did not run in vain nor labor in vain.” (Philippians 2: 14-16)
And Jesus Himself says, “Let the one who is righteous still practice righteousness, and the one who is holy still keep himself holy. Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to reward each one as his work deserves. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they will have the right to the tree of life, and may enter the city by the gates.” (Revelation 22: 11-14)
No matter who is living in the White House, no matter what is happening on the economic or China virus fronts, no matter what the dark clouds threaten, the Christian’s position remains the same. As the Amplified Bible translates 1 Peter 2:9, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a dedicated nation, God’s own purchased, special people, that you may set forth the wonderful deeds and display the virtues and perfections of Him Who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
And as our standing before God remains the same no matter what’s happening in the culture, so too do our duties. As these above Scriptures command us: Be blameless and above reproach. Shine like stars in the darkness. Practice righteousness. Anticipate heaven. Set forth wonderful deeds. Display the virtues of Christ to the whole world. Are such things possible from us? With the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, yes!
Okay, with those exhortations written, let me shift into “newsletter mode” for these last paragraphs and then I’ll close. For example, what’s coming up for Vital Signs Ministries in the next few weeks? Well, in addition to our regular activities (our daily work on the blogs, website, and social media; the pro-life presence at the abortion mill; our hospitality and discipleship ministries; and the ongoing creation of our “Anti-Boredom” Packets for quarantined seniors), VSM is hosting a Wind in the Willows Brunch on Saturday morning, November 14 and the annual Christmas-card edition of our quarterly letter-writing parties Tuesday night, December 1.
We are also delighted at the chance that one senior facility may finally be opening up for us to do a live “When Swing Was King” show. If it works out, it will be only our second show since February! They are being quite careful – limited audience sizes, masks and social distancing, carefully sanitizing the place in between our presentations, and so on. But we will be doing “When Swing Was King” again and so we are thrilled. Indeed, we are already using this to try and persuade other senior facilities to let us present shows under the same careful guidelines. Pray with us about that, okay?
And here’s one more friendship outreach we’ve come up with that has already been enthusiastically received by several of the activity directors we work with. Beginning this week, Claire and I are presenting poetry readings via video platforms for use by quarantined residents. We hope to be able to do some of these live also…at least for the Christmas season. But, until then, we will do our readings of poetry (plus Scriptures and other brief passages from literature) for individual and small group viewing as well as continuing to produce our weekly 9-page “Anti-Boredom” packets.
And so, that’s it for this month’s letter. As I said earlier, the pre-election sermon is available at the link given. And, keeping close to the theme of this LifeSharer letter, you might find added encouragement from re-reading last month’s letter on friendship and an article entitled “The Code of Chivalry,” both of which you can find on the Vital Signs Ministries website. Until next time…
Denny (for Claire too)