From Take Heart | Vol. 2, Issue 6
You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly. You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness.
But that doesn't mean you should all look and speak and act the same. Out of the generosity of Christ, each of us is given his own gift. The text for this is,
Is it not true that the One who climbed up also climbed down, down to the valley of earth? And the One who climbed down is the One who climbed back up, up to highest heaven. He handed out gifts above and below, filled heaven with his gifts, filled earth with his gifts. He handed out gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher to train Christ's followers in skilled servant work, working within Christ's body, the church, until we're all moving rhythmically and easily with each other, efficient and graceful in response to God's Son, fully mature adults, fully developed within and without, fully alive like Christ (Ephesians 4:4-13 The Message).
It is awe inspiring to think about how this scripture points out how much we have in common and how we are so much better together. We are not to be a threat to each other. But what a threat we can be to the Father of Lies when we are united in heart and purpose!
Each of us has but one Master who has given us many gifts and callings. What a blessing and an honor to grant each other the freedom to be who God made us to be, to develop our talents in ministry, and to recognize the calling on each other’s lives.
Today you have a choice. You can look around and feel threatened or insecure about your position or future in ministry or you can bless and acknowledge those around you who have the same heart, who serve the same God, who are part of the same body, who desire, like you, to be fully alive in Christ. We are better together because this is God’s idea and He desires unity for us and with us.
Back to Take Heart | Vol. 2, Issue 6
by Kirk Walden
Recently I noticed a photo of toy soldiers in my files from a Disney trip last year. It’s not often that I get inspiration from toy soldiers, but it hit me that in the Christian life there are True Christian Soldiers, and there are Toy Soldiers.
Right now, many in our ministry are discouraged and tired. I have an email in my inbox right now from another who wonders if it is time to give up. I understand.
But there is good news for True Soldiers like you. For one, if you are involved in this ministry you are no Toy Soldier. You know the Toy Soldiers. We pray for them, those who come to church dressed perfectly, always smiling brightly and never flustered.
Toy Soldiers march in at the right time and as soon as the clock hits the right mark, they march out again. No scuffs on those shoes and not a mark anywhere else. Toy Soldiering is a great life, or so it appears.
After all, if you never involve yourself in combat there are no scars, no pain.
True Soldiering involves battles. Our uniform gets dirty. We get marks on our bodies and our emotions are worn thin. We wake up not knowing what is around the next corner, wondering whether the next battle will bring victory or a devastating defeat.
While we know that ultimately the war is won, we don’t know what it is going to take to get to that victory. And, we don’t know whether we are going to suffer in the process.
Toy Soldiering is dress-up, and we see it too often. To be honest, we feel sorry for the Toy Soldiers. To the Toy Soldier we want to cry out, “Join us in the battle. Hearts are at stake. Lives are on the line! Be a part of a glorious victory!”
But to the Toy Soldier, the risk of a wound is too much of a bother—even with lives hanging in the balance.
Yet while we hurt for the Toy Soldiers, True Soldiers start each day on a valiant mission to advance a calling of reconciliation and the calling of life—a mission launched, carried out, and carried on by none other than Jesus Christ.
Sure, we’re going to get dirty. And we can count on battle scars along the way. We know that. It’s no secret to any one of us.
Some will desert. Others will criticize. Still others—the Toy Soldiers—will look at us with a condescending smile and say, “That sounds like nice work.” They have no idea, yet we know better than to explain.So instead of explaining, instead of responding to criticism, instead of running after the deserters, we soldier on.
Dear soldiers, as Paul told Timothy in II Tim. 2:4, let’s not entangle ourselves with the affairs of everyday life. There is no time for that.
Without pride in ourselves or malice toward others, let’s band together as True Soldiers, ready to fight the good fight each and every day—for God’s glory.
Perhaps I don’t know you personally, but if you are in this ministry I know your heart, which is that of a True Soldier.
From this writer, “thank you.” I appreciate your service. Let others say what they want. I for one am proud to stand with you. It is . . . An honor.
Kirk Walden is the author of The Life Trends Connection (TLC), proven development ideas and concrete action steps. TLC, now powered by Heartbeat International. TLC is yet another valuable benefit for Heartbeat affiliates.
by Debra Neybert, Heartbeat International, Training Specialist
(from Take Heart Volume 2, Issue 2)
Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him… When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place (John 13:3-5, 12).
As Jesus washed the feet of His disciples, He was able to see beyond where He was… about to lay down His life. He was able to see Himself seated at the right hand of God. What divine security, a security that we can take hope in! As a result, Jesus was willing to release “His rights” as God’s Son and walk in humility always doing His Father’s will.
Jesus was about to express His greatest act of love. The word used in John’s Gospel passage for “took off” (tithemi – related to a classical Greek word) is not the common word used for this action; this form of “took off” refers to Jesus' imminent laying down of his life. Interestingly, the word used in John’s Gospel for “put on” His clothes (lambano) was used to describe the act of taking up His life again. These same words are used again in John 10:17-18: “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life— only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
Without His outer garment, Jesus was left with a tunic, a shorter garment like a long undershirt that gentile slaves would often wear to serve a meal.
We see this pictured in Philippians 2:5-8. “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross.”
In this season let us lay down anything that prevents us from uniting and advancing the life- giving Kingdom of God. Let us put on love, serving and preferring one another. Love never fails. As we take up new life in Christ we take up God’s purposes, His wisdom, and His plans. This empowers us to succeed against all the plans of the wicked one and to experience victory.
Return to Take Heart Volume 2, Issue 2.
by Jor-El Godsey, Heartbeat International Vice President, Ministry Services
(from Take Heart Volume 2, Issue 1)
A year ending with a zero is a great time to look back at the last time that occurred – 2000 – the unforgettable “Y2K.” Think of all that’s transpired in your organization since 2000. Remember where you were during the dawn of the new millennium. Take note of how different the ministry, the movement, and even the mission appeared to be then. The look back can reveal a journey of challenges and triumphs, victories and setbacks, celebrations and sorrow.
Here’s a question: from the vantage point of 2000, what view did you see out there on the 2010 horizon? What decisions made then are producing dynamic results now for you, your mission, and the movement? What plans were set down then but have yet to come to fruition? How is 2010 different for your community, your peer counseling, and your commitment to the mission?
This year of 2010 is a good time to look forward to the next ten years and begin to develop a “2020 Vision.” Crafting and casting a vision with the year 2020 in mind can help leaders to see beyond the tyranny of the urgent and formulate a vivid picture that can serve to guide the organization well. In clarifying your “2020 Vision,” there are five key concepts to consider:
As your 2010 unfolds, take time to plan a “2020 Vision” session. Whether in a dedicated meeting of a few hours or a discussion that unfolds over many months, the important thing is to take the time. Take time to sow seed that will flourish for those who will take up the mantle in 2020. Your decisions today will be their harvest then, so take the long view.
Before the years of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph by Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On. Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh and said, "It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father's household." The second son he named Ephraim and said, "It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering," Genesis 41:50-51.
We have entered a new year and a new decade; the future is bright for those of us that trust in the Lord. Each season of life has its blessings and its trials. Last year may have held some unexpected trials for you. Joseph had a long season of imprisonment that included: being misunderstood, abandoned, falsely accused, forgotten, and rejected.
Joseph persevered under very difficult circumstances. When it was God’s time to set him free, he was literally raised up overnight into the destiny God had for him all along. Psalm 105:17-19 says “and he sent a man before them— Joseph, sold as a slave. They bruised his feet with shackles; his neck was put in irons, till what he foretold came to pass till the word of the LORD proved him true.”
Joseph’s imprisonment did end and he was able to proclaim that God caused him to forget his sorrow. In addition to that, in the very land where he suffered mistreatment, God made him fruitful. What a proclamation!
We may never forget the circumstances of our hardships but God is able to take the sting and sorrow from our hearts so that our souls are not left wounded and traumatized. He is the God of restoration. Scriptures tell us that someday He will wipe every tear from our eyes. In that time, full restoration will be our portion!
What about being fruitful in the very place where you have suffered? When we let God have His way, fruit is produced even though we may not be aware of it. Certainly, the trials we endure can produce more of the fruit of the spirit: more love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. But what about seeing streams in the desert, life in a place of barrenness, comfort for a broken heart, healing for a longtime illness?
You may look at your life and ministry wondering, “What was last year all about?” (And perhaps even years past!) It’s been preparation; Joseph found himself finally released from years of disappointment, able to forget the pain of the past and become fruitful in the land of his suffering.
Joseph starts both of his statements with, “It is because God” Yes, it is because God is able to make us more than conquers that we are able to forget the sting of the past and move into a fruitful place for His Kingdom sake. It is because God!!!!
Have you received your “Thank you” card yet? Mother’s Day just passed and Father’s Day is just around the corner. The greeting card companies, flower folks, tie makers, chandlers, and other vendors who profit from the sale of popular gifts for Mother’s and Father’s Day owe you at least a “Thank you!”
As a dad, I rarely shop alone with my elementary-age daughter and son. But a few days before Mother’s Day, we were on our annual hunt for those precious tokens of our genuine appreciation for their mom and my wife. The marketing signs were direct, “Show Your Mom You Love Her on May 9th.” My 9-year-old son was quick to scoff at such crass commercialism saying, “You should show your mom you love her all year long!” Right you are, son, because moms certainly are worthy. And so are dads. . .
How many other nine-year olds look for just the right card or the perfect gift for their mom and dad (within their budgets)? That special smile of love, a homemade card, the warm embrace of their infants -- how many moms and dads are filled with these joys because they found a pregnancy help center?
Since the earliest pregnancy resource centers appeared more than 40 years ago, a million or more moms and dads have enjoyed their Day because of the help of a pregnancy center. These are special celebrations because they were at risk of never happening. The newborn we celebrate in our ministry is not just a life, but also a lifetime! For the majority of babies we see born, there will be dozens of Mother’s and Father’s Day cards, gifts, and phone calls.
Okay, so I don’t really expect a “Thank you!” in my mailbox from the phone company or Hallmark or the florist. But the reality of the Great Work we are involved in -- the breadth and depth of our efforts to affirm the Gift of Life and the Giver of Life -- constantly amazes me. The picture of the positive outcomes we all share in is a “Thank you!” in a class by itself.
Life is truly precious, so take heart! And thank you!
From Take Heart | Vol. 2, Issue 5
As a child, there is never enough fun. As a youth, there is never enough challenge or excitement. In work, there is never enough success or money. And the weekends are always too short! My sister used to say, “We’re all trying to fill the existential void.”
No matter how much of the “good life” we throw into this hollowness, it’s never enough. Why did God create us with this hole?
Well, because God needs a God-sized hole! God, the infinite, all-powerful, eternal Creator of all things, gave each of us this God-sized hole that only He can fill. And fill it He will, “packed down and overflowing!” (Luke 6:37-42). This infinite, eternal gift is His very own Love.
Left to ourselves, with our puny desires and tiny purses, we could never respond to the gift that God will lavish on those who love Him. “My heart is restless until it rests in Thee,” is how St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo (354 – 430 AD) put it.
God even gave us instructions on how to let Him fill our hollowed lives and He sent us His Son to show us the way to a truly hallowed life.
by Jor-El Godsey, Heartbeat International Vice President
I have personally stared into the crematorium at Auschwitz.
It’s a somber and sobering experience even to begin to try to digest the horrors perpetrated by the Nazis a little more than six decades ago. There are distinct connections and eerie similarities between the inhumanity of the Holocaust history and the ravages of abortion in our day. This is not an easy subject to share, but let me narrow it to three lessons that Auschwitz (and the other death camps like it) teaches us.
Ever heard of the Tiergarten 4 program? It was a 1930’s Nazi program to “deal with” the physically handicapped, disabled and mentally ill. Nazi leadership determined that the resources necessary to maintain such life could be better used elsewhere to the betterment of the overall society. Sound familiar? (Google Tiergarten 4 for more understanding.) The outcomes of this relatively small program were instrumental in the implementation of the “Final Solution.”
As Nazi Germany and imperialistic Japan gained power, champions in various disciplines also rose to oppose these regimes. Some stepped out willingly while others were thrust into leadership. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Corrie Ten Boom, Winston Churchill, and Douglas McArthur are but a few well-known names. But countless others – from the underground and resistance forces to those in the ranks of the liberation armies – joined with the efforts of homebound citizens of many nationalities to defeat this worldwide scourge.
“Divide and conquer,” attributed to the great Roman general Julius Caesar, is a well-known battle strategy. The enemy of God has been using this tactic since the temptation in the Garden. Unfortunately, he still uses this tactic every day and every way to divide God’s people. This is an unfortunate reality in the pro-life movement as well.
Pro-life champions, whether on the stage, in public demonstrations or “in the trenches,” must recognize the necessity of standing together. We must resist divisions of denomination or method. We must walk with respect for how others are called to address this single greatest evil of our time. “But now there are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you"; or again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you" (1 Corinthians 12:24-25).
It’s also important to remember the Apostle Paul’s admonition in 2 Corinthians 10:3-4 “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.” This man of God addressed paupers and princes, artists and academics, the weak and the wealthy, in his effort to advance the Gospel. Can we do any less in advancing the Gospel of Life?
As one of our champions, John Ensor says, “It’s our turn.” As other generations have arisen to combat the evil of their day, we do so against the evil of our generation – abortion. We, like Corrie Ten Boom in her day, are not alone. We have millions upon millions of like-minded, life-minded friends and partners worldwide dedicated to the advancing a culture of life. Most of all, we stand rightly on the side of the Giver of Life, also known as the Lord of Hosts! In this, we can draw comfort, strength and even peace. In this, we can truly take heart!
by Debra Neybert, Heartbeat International Training Specialist
“Now there was a famine in the land -- besides the previous famine in Abraham’s time -- and Isaac went to Abimelek king of the Philistines in Gerar. The LORD appeared to Isaac and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land where I tell you to live. Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and will bless you. For to you and your descendants I will give all these lands and will confirm the oath I swore to your father Abraham” (Genesis 26:1-3).
“Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a hundredfold, because the LORD blessed him” (Genesis 26:12).
The Lord instructed Isaac to stay in the land of the Philistines for a while (enemy territory at that time), and the Lord said, "I will be with you and will bless you.” His stay was to be “for a while.” We can all identify with being in an uncomfortable place for a while. Scripture doesn't indicate how long of a period that was for him, but from our perspective sometimes “a while” can feel like a very long time; yet there is no greater assurance that while we wait, His presence and His blessings are made known to us.
God promised Isaac that He would confirm the oath or covenant that was given to his father Abraham and his descendants. Isaac knew that the “enemy land" he found himself in was also the Promised Land, so he chose to see past the dry, cracked earth beneath him. In complete faith he sowed into the promise! Isaac was blessed through the covenant given to his father Abraham. He knew the earth had to align with that promise so he planted a crop and reaped a hundredfold that same year.
The word used for sow or plant in the Hebrew means to conceive or become pregnant. Isaac was not only the child of promise; he was also full of promise. We may be expectant with promises and dreams that have started to take root, but that have not yet come to fruition. Before something is birthed, there is a waiting period. The Lord will use the waiting time to mature us and also to mature what He has placed within us. While circumstances like Isaac’s may be all around us, we know that we are in Christ, joint heirs, the offspring of Abraham, and God's blessings are ours. “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29).
All of God’s blessings are available to us as we take hold of the truth that we are Abraham’s seed and heirs to the promise!!! “The Lord delights in the well-being of his servant” (Psalm 35: 27).
We can be certain that the famine in Isaac’s day was very disheartening. How could he plant and reap in such impossible circumstances? He trusted in and had faith in the promises of God.
Your situation may appear impossible too, the very opposite of what God has promised. Be encouraged, the Lord is with you and present in the midst of the impossibilities you may be facing. Psalm 37:18-19 is powerful and says, “The blameless spend their days under the Lord’s care, and their inheritance will endure forever. In times of disaster they will not wither; in days of famine they will enjoy plenty.”
Like Isaac, we are given the assurance of the promise, Galatians 3:14 says, “He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.” The Lord is the promised gift, given by the Father, our greatest blessing! He is in our midst to make the desert places bloom like a rose!
“God how can I do this?!”
When leaders look at the numbers, we are tempted to ask, “God, how can I do this?!” God’s answer: “You can’t, but I will!”
God is far more than our intelligence, skill, and experience. When we place our faith and resources at the service of God’s will, all things are truly possible . . . in God’s own time and according to His own plan!
Jason Upton gives powerful testimony to how God’s blessings outstrip our imagination and fulfill our hopes in ways that are far beyond the decisions we make “by the numbers.”
Watch Jason’s testimony on Heartbeat’s FaceBook page, July 7, Jason Upton's Testimony (at The Ramp)By Peggy Hartshorn, Ph.D., Heartbeat International President
From On the LeaderBoard Volume 1, Issue 2
As Christians, we are all stewards of what truly belongs to the Master. As faithful stewards, we invest the Master’s “goods.” With the time, treasure, and talents that He has entrusted to us, we produce abundant goods for Him. Good stewards rely on skill, as in the effective use of accounting knowledge and management expertise.
As faithful stewards in pregnancy help ministries, we use caution in administering God’s goods. Even more so do we rely on grace. The blessing factor is God pouring His grace into our hearts when we respond to His will. Our response allows this grace to spill into our works.
Yes, caution is necessary. Yet, it’s easy to get carried away with statistics, numbers, and outcomes, losing sight of the heart and passion associated with the work of the organization. Board members (and staff) can get bogged down in this responsibility. Board meetings can become dry and heartless! Try to ensure that this isn’t the case, perhaps by assigning detailed evaluation work to a Board task force or committee.
Also, numbers don’t take into account the blessing factor. If you are part of the leadership team of a Christian ministry, one way you know if you are on the right track is by counting the blessings that the Lord is bestowing on your work. While this is most often not a category of the official reports, Boards and executive directors frequently talk about the blessings that have taken place recently, even miracles. We know that the small, often bungling efforts we make could never, in and of themselves, result in the effects which we see taking place in the ministry.
A client walks out of a peer-counseling session, seemingly bound for abortion, but calls back later to thank the center and share that she has decided to parent her baby. . .
An ultrasound machine picks up nothing but a pulsating dot on the screen (the heartbeat), but when the ultrasonographer reluctantly turns the screen toward the very abortion-minded client, she murmurs, “My baby. . .”
The staff and Board pray for office space and someone calls to ask if the organization would accept a donated building in the perfect location.
Your Board no doubt has such stories of blessings that let you know that you are doing something right. That something you are doing right is constantly turning to the Lord in prayer and relying on the Lord, the real Owner for whom we work as stewards, as our source of strength and wisdom.
Don’t let the world’s way of evaluating completely overshadow the blessing factor as a measure of what you are doing right!
by Peggy Hartshorn, Ph.D., President of Heartbeat International
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