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.
From Take Heart | Vol. 2, Issue 5
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
I believe God bringing my wife, son and me to the East Bay of California (near San Francisco) 24 months ago - 2,550 miles away from our other children, grand children and familiar surroundings - was not a fluke or an accident. God had a plan. On paper, the past 24 months of Pregnancy Choices Clinic (PCC) history may have read more like a failed plan to some, a miscalculation of decisions, or leadership gone bad. I often felt like we were missing what God was doing.
Following our arrival in California we experienced a number of difficulties: my bicep muscle was torn and immediate surgery was required. The weakening economy necessitated a downsizing of PCC. Circumstances required that we develop an entirely new staff and medical capability. A plummeting California economy drove us to reduce expenditures by more than 30% and negotiate a temporary 50% reduction in our monthly facility lease.
In anticipation of our annual Walk, we moved forward in faith and attempted everything we could reasonably do to raise more income throughout the first part of 2010. While our May Walk Event was a great occasion for believers of like mind to congregate over life values, we simply did not reach our financial goals. Soon thereafter, we realized that our Center was in jeopardy. We failed to make payroll several times. We were behind the previous year’s income level by a substantial amount of money.
We sent a direct letter to our supporters, staff, and volunteers to share the seriousness of our situation. Though we did not believe that it was God’s will because of the many answered prayers and touched lives, we potentially could be forced to close the Clinic. We gathered everyone for a day of fasting and prayer and God showed up. What an amazing God we serve!
In just a couple short months we completed our fiscal year in the black in contrast with last year’s deficit. We provided counseling and ultrasound services for at least four abortion minded women who decided to keep their babies in the same period. Four men accepted Christ as Lord and Savior from our men’s program, and exciting new relational opportunities have been granted to us.
God is doing something awesome with us and our Clinic and I would like to share a vision I believe He has placed on my heart.
As I was wrestling and praying concerning options for us several months ago, I began to see that there were not many good ones. While in prayer, an “outside of the box” thought came to me. It was to appeal to a church that might catch a passion for this ministry and supply a more affordable space for the clinic.
Little did I know that as I thought about this, someone else had been thinking about the same possibility. It was exciting to learn that a counselor right in our clinic had been praying that her church would support a ministry such as PCC. In fact, her church already had a stand alone facility that could be used for such a vision!
The facility is in the neighboring community of Hayward, CA where the largest percentage of our clients resides. The church has offered complete autonomy and comparable square footage at a minimal cost that will likely result in a significant increase in clientele. Additionally, this is exactly the kind of community outreach the church’s pastor and leadership team have been seeking.
God has been showing me is that He does not want us to stand still and simply survive… Our leadership team is convinced that God wants to do something huge, something grand, something that will greatly impact the East Bay Area (and likely yours as well). But many times, the only thing that stands in the way is each one of us.
Our pursuit will require faith. God has answered our prayers and in a very short period our perspective has been turned 180 degrees from survival to an expansion of the ministry. Only God can do something like this. Do we have to stand in the gap and believe? Yes. God deserves our absolute, unwavering trust. Without it, our view of God becomes small and ineffective. To be sure, that is not the case.
From Take Heart | Volume 2, Issue 7.
(from Take Heart Volume 1, Issue 8)
“He gave some as apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-12).
Ephesians Chapter Four is jammed-packed with the “hope of your calling.” “Put on the new self” (Ephesians 4:4) is followed closely with the admonition, “Be angry and sin not” (Ephesians 4:24). As with many passages of Scripture, Ephesians Chapter Four offers so many deep truths to ponder and apply to our personal and ministry lives.
Take another moment and re-read the two verses again. What catches your attention? Apostles, prophets, and the rest? The work of service? Building up of the body of Christ? Of course, these are all important and worthy of study and application in their own right. But, before tackling those powerful points, we start with an eternal truth of Christ – “He gave” (Ephesians 4:8).
Yes, He gives us Himself, His Word, His Way, His Truth, His Life and oh, so much more! Here in this passage we see Him giving gifts for the work and the building. But, don’t rush too quickly to assume that the gifts are the all-important positions of those in leadership as pastors and teachers. Not quite. “He gave some” so that they could be those things. He gave people to the cause of His work and for His work.
To paraphrase this passage for our Christian organizations, He gave some as Board Members and Client Services Directors, others as executive leaders and volunteers, and still others as advocates and trainers for the work of affirming life! In a very real sense, whatever title you have in responding to His call to the work, you become His gift to the effort. This includes those in the ministry and those touched by the ministry. This includes the community and the Kingdom.
Never forget that God chose to work in and through people. He could’ve chosen the angels or just stayed on earth in bodily form Himself to accomplish His great mission. Instead, in His infinite wisdom, He chose to work in us and through us. That makes you, your colleagues, and your collaborators – His gift!
Scripture is taken from the New American Standard Bible.
Read more from this edition of Take Heart.
from Take Heart | Volume 2, Issue 10
Bless the Lord, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with loving-kindness and tender mercies, Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle's. Psalm 103: 1-5.
David begins this Psalm by extolling the Lord with His whole heart and proclaiming the amazing benefits we receive when we are in relationship with Him. He forgives us, He heals us, He redeems us, He crowns us, He satisfies us and He renews us!
Verse 5 has some wonderful insights, “Who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.”
God satisfies and fulfills our deepest longings with good things. The word “satisfies” means to be fulfilled, have plenty and to enrich. The word mouth is also translated soul, so in essence the Lord satisfies the deepest place in us with His own goodness.
Psalm 105:40 says “They asked, and he brought them quail and satisfied them with the bread of heaven.” We know that Jesus is the bread of heaven; and He alone can satisfy!
God also desires to renew our youth like the eagles! Eagles are known to fly to an altitude of 10,000 feet; they ride columns of rising air called thermals while migrating. An eagle can circle effortlessly in a strong thermal to a high altitude, and then glide long distances. We can catch those spiritual thermals and rise above to go the distance!
The Hebrew word for renew used in this verse is Kered and it means to rebuild and repair. Eagles also molt in patches, taking almost half a year to replace feathers, starting with the head and working downward. They go through this process more than once because not all the feathers are replaced in a given molt or they couldn’t continue to fly and hunt for food.
Jesus came to restore us to perfect wholeness, fulfillment, peace and joy. The journey to wholeness includes repairs and renewal along the way, perhaps you’re in that place right now, maybe you feel a bit isolated, maybe you’re even “replacing” some old thought patterns and ways and it hasn’t been an easy process. Be encouraged and rest in the faithfulness of God to complete the work he started in you.
When you think about it, the eagle goes through a renewal process so it can continue to hunt and eat. Eating is what gives us strength and satisfies us in the natural. When we apply this spiritually, we understand that the bread of heaven, Jesus, the word made flesh, is our only source of satisfaction and renewal. The word of the Lord is living and active today, may you partake and be refreshed!
“But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit” (Jeremiah 17:7-8).
“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither -- whatever they do prospers” (Psalm 1:1-3).
My heart was encouraged as I read and thought about the verses above. As this year unfolds, the world faces many uncertainties and trying times, but those of us who are rooted and grounded in Christ need not worry or fear. In fact, we will be increasing in His goodness!
In the verses above, we are given specific direction so that we may prosper even when it would seem very difficult. The Lord does not want the circumstances that surround us to affect or hinder our success or our perception of His goodness. He wants us to experience prosperity and fruitfulness in the midst of drought. Prosperity comes in many ways, it’s not always financial. It may come as a God-given insight, a creative idea, or wisdom that will eventually bring great abundance to us personally and corporately. As we remain in Him, according to John 15, we will bear much fruit!
The root system of a tree is created to seek out water: it “sends out its roots by the stream.” The word sends out also means to shoot forth, to stretch out, extend, and direct. The Lord will take the difficulties, disappointments, grief, and illness in our lives and if we let Him, He will cause our “root system” to stretch, extend, and go deeper in Him. When we are in Christ, we are connected to the source of all living water!
Do you see yourself drinking from this living water? In Christ, you are planted by the life giving water. Isaiah 61:3 says, “So they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.”
A tree so planted will not fear when heat comes, it will not experience damage from the blazing heats of summer, its leaf remains green, and it will yield fruit in season. We become like Him, continually bearing fruit so that others may find sustenance and refreshment in time of need. Remember, His resources are Eternal and they never run dry!
From On the LeaderBoard | Volume 1, Issue 3
In this age of information, the average leader is awash with details. The great task of most days is wading through data to assemble, assimilate, and assign value to meaningful information. But information by itself, without context, isn’t particularly helpful. It’s likely just trivia.
Information must be organized into meaningful constructs to become knowledge. Knowledge becomes understanding when we find relevant application. Wisdom is manifested in how information, knowledge, and understanding are handled. Wisdom involves judgment, sensitivity, tact, and often, timing.
Where there is no choice, the exercise of wisdom is limited. It is when we recognize multiple choices, possibilities, or actions that wisdom can become our friend and ally. Judging between choices and possibilities leads us to questions about what we know, how we know it, and if we know enough.
Wisdom often involves balancing the need to gain more information with the available resources (including time) necessary to make an informed decision.
Besides information, there are other wisdom elements that come into play such as sensitivity to those involved or affected. The wise leader works to involve to some degree the stakeholders in the decision-making process. That could be in the form of a single brainstorming session or, full-on collaborative planning process. Even the most visionary thinker can have blind spots. Actively seeking the input of others, within reason, can minimize these as well as strengthen acceptance of the outcome.
The wise leader also factors the impact of the decision on others.
There must always be sensitivity to the fact that, even with the best of intentions, some people may be negatively affected. Therefore, the best decisions will include appropriate tactfulness in implementation. Tact is also important in communicating the decision. Crafting vivid, warm, vision-focused language can tactfully define a decision for all involved.
More than sensitivity and tact, wisdom seeks a process that honors all involved. Hard decisions, even those with difficult short-term consequences, can be implemented with this in mind.
A good decision, implemented in an untimely fashion, can produce negative results.
Wisdom involves timing for many reasons – maximizing return on investment, minimizing negative impact, speed to achieve expected results, slow implementation allowing others to adjust, etc. Tough decisions can require difficult steps that involve short term pain. But those difficult steps can be accomplished well.
Fortunately, wisdom isn’t just an innate quality reserved for a few. The book of Proverbs consistently implores us to seek and pursue it. Wisdom is promised by the Lord. Those serving in Christian ministry, at whatever level, should consistently pray for wisdom in all endeavors – personal, professional, and organizational.
Adapted from Heartbeat International’s foundational training manual, GOVERN Well™
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, it is not necessary for us to answer you on this point.If our God Whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image which you have set up! (Daniel 3:16-18)
There is a battle raging over our worship. It’s an age-old battle, heating up as we see the forces of darkness aligning in greater measure. Daniel 3 gives us a picture of this scenario.
Nebuchadnezzar commanded everyone, everywhere—in high and low esteem—to bow down and worship the golden image when they heard the sound of the musical instruments being played.
The strategy of the enemy is at all costs to get us to look away from the Lord to a “golden image” (our circumstances), and be ensnared in the “sound” (which creates an atmosphere of confusion around us). Babylon first appears in the Bible under the guise of the tower of Babel in Gen. 11. The Hebrew word for "confused" in verse 9 is babal, which sounds like Babylon.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to worship or serve any god but the living God. When they first arrived in Babylon, they had determined along with Daniel not to defile themselves with the royal food and wine. After fasting ten days, they were healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. Daniel 1: 20 says, “In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom.
The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord, they feared only the Lord—not even the threat of death swayed them.
Their refusal to worship another god infuriated the king, and he had the furnace heated seven times hotter than normal. The furnace was so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers preparing to throw the men in. We may walk through a fiery trial that the enemy has heated seven times hotter than normal… But God!
He can take the fire of destruction intended for us and use it to destroy the enemy, then turn it into a supernatural, holy fire of deliverance! Only that which bound the men was burned away!
It was Nebuchadnezzar who saw the fourth man, who looked like the son of God walking around in the midst of the fire. The Hebrew number for four is Dalet, it means a door. Jesus is the Door, the way to our deliverance. We may not always perceive the Lord in the midst of a trial, but be assured that Satan sees the Lord by your side. For He will never leave you or forsake you! The men emerged from an impossible situation unbound, unharmed, and were quickly promoted!
Jesus always walks with us in our fiery trials. His presence will make the fire of our trials, supernatural and situations will turn around from hopeless to hope-filled and beyond!
Worship Him, for He is worthy!
by Debra Neybert, Training Specialist
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