Displaying items by tag: for the heart

A lamplighter's work is never unnoticed

 
By Susan Hart – Assistant to the President

I was thinking about you today and I was reminded of the following story in light of your generous commitment to saving the lives of moms and babies. This story truly applies to you for all you do for LIFE.

British critic and social theorist John Ruskin (1819-1900) once sat with a friend in the dusk of an evening and watched a lamplighter, torch in hand, lighting the street lights on a distant hill. Very soon the man’s form was no longer distinguishable in the distance, but everywhere he went he left a light burning brightly. “There,” said Ruskin, “that is what I mean by a real Christian. You can trace his course by the light that he leaves burning.” 

You are lighting the way by courageously saving women and babies each and every day. Your calling is often thankless, but be confident—take heart!—knowing there are many who see your good work and thank God for you.

Then those who feared the LORD spoke with each other, and the LORD listened to what they said. In his presence, a scroll of remembrance was written to record the names of those who feared him and always thought about the honor of his name. – Malachi 3:16 (New Living Translation)

God always sees your excellent deeds. He is making note of it even this day. May God bless you richly for your dedication, love and generosity of heart. Thank you so very much from your friends at Heartbeat in Columbus, Ohio!

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From the Birmingham Jail... to the pregnancy help movement

by Jor-El Godsey and Jay Hobbs

In 1963, writing while in a Birmingham jail cell, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. penned a stirring response to local clergy leaders who had publicly criticized his part in non-violent protests against racial inequality.

King’s words spoke powerfully to the commonplace injustice of his day. But his prose echoes throughout the decades to underscore the pro-life argument today.

We must come to see that human progress never rolls in on the wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts and persistent work of men willing to be co-workers with God, and without this hard work time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation.

The greatest strength of our life-saving efforts today is to continue with “tireless efforts” and “persistent work” as we remain “co-workers with God” in the great work of championing the sanctity of life.

It’s almost as if Dr. King was speaking directly to the questions surrounding the pro-life movement as a whole, and even the pregnancy help movement in particular, as the letter progresses.

His audience was Southern clergy who, while sympathetic to desegregation to some degree, had not yet become emboldened to stand for the equality of their black brothers and sisters. It was not the infamous Ku Klux Klan or other rabidly racist groups who presented the greatest challenge, frustrations, or disappointments to Dr. King. Another group posed deeper issues:

Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

Far from a mere indictment or dismissal of the church, Dr. King wrote as a minister, who proudly proclaimed himself “the son, the grandson and the great grandson of preachers” who spoke to the church as a loving son or brother might lovingly—but earnestly—address his parents or siblings.

What an excellent example for those of us in the pro-life movement. We want to invite our churches into the good work of ministering to women and families who are vulnerable to abortion. We do best to address our pastors, priests, leaders, and clergy from a humble—“purified” in the words of Dr. King—position.

At the same time, we also do best to follow Dr. King’s example of relentless urgency:

By their effort and example [early Christians] brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contests. Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church's silent--and often even vocal--sanction of things as they are…

But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today's church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust.

Take some time this week and read through the Letter from the Birmingham Jail. You’ll be thankful you did.

A journey from emptiness to fulfillment

So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife; and when he went in to her, the Lord gave her conception, and she bore a son. Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a close relative; and may his name be famous in Israel! And may he be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you, who is better to you than seven sons, has borne him.” Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her bosom, and became a nurse to him. Also the neighbor women gave him a name, saying, “There is a son born to Naomi.” And they called his name Obed. He is the father of Jesse, the father of David.
-Ruth 4:14-17

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The story of Ruth expresses the heart of God for all His children—He is the God of redemption, restoration and grace. He desires to fill all the empty places in our lives. As we celebrate Mother’s Day this month, we can all be grateful for the mothers who gave us life. But for some the day may be bittersweet, perhaps because of the loss a beloved mother or the loss of children.

Naomi was very familiar with loss. She had lost her husband and her two sons while dwelling in Moab, where her family had fled due to a famine in Bethlehem. There, in a land not her own, Naomi cried, "Do not call me Naomi (which means pleasant); Call me Mara (which means bitter), for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went away full, and the LORD has brought me back empty.” (Ruth 1:20-21a)

Her heart was broken and filled with grief from the loss of family. But little did she know that, in the midst of her bitterness, God was planning her fulfillment and restoration.

When Naomi heard that the Lord had provided food for his people, she decided to return home with Ruth and Orpah, the women her sons married while in Moab. On the journey home, Naomi insists that the women return to their homeland and their families.

Orpah went back, but Ruth would not be separated from her mother-in-law, saying, “Your people will be my people and your God my God.” In her unmatched loyalty to Naomi, Ruth the Moabite chose the God of Israel, through whom she came to find much grace. In finding that grace, Ruth was blessed and became a great blessing!

Ruth and Naomi arrive in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning. This would have been during Passover, Israel’s constant reminder and promise of God’s redemption.
Ruth said to Noami, "Let me go to the fields and pick up the leftover grain behind anyone in whose eyes I find favor."

Ruth indeed found favor, as she was led by grace to the field of Boaz, who turns out to be a close relative—a “kinsman redeemer” of Naomi’s family. Boaz treats Ruth with abundant kindness, allowing her to glean in his fields freely and without fear of harm.

Naomi directs Ruth, in the custom of the day, to humbly go and present herself to Boaz. She does this by lying at his feet during the night. When Boaz awakens, Ruth requests that he spread the corner of his garment over her. This was a culturally relevant way to say, “I am a widow. Take me as your wife and fulfill your role as kinsman redeemer.”

The years of bitterness and loss came to an end for Naomi! Through grace Ruth meets Boaz (her kinsman redeemer), and they are married and have a child named Obed. This child becomes the father of Jesse, the father of David, and in the lineage of Jesus Christ.

Naomi goes from empty to full as her family life is restored to her!

You may be able to relate to Naomi, having lost those dearest to you. You may be grieving even as you read this. God can turn things around for you. He can restore all the years that were lost, bringing you into a place of fulfillment and blessing.

 


By Debra Neybert, Training Specialist

 

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Honoring the moms among us

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by Susan Dammann RN, Medical Specialist

At this Mother’s Day season, I would like to introduce to you one of Heartbeat’s favorite volunteers—my Mother!

Since the time of my father’s passing in 2011, she has been faithfully coming in to work with me at Heartbeat International every Thursday. She works hard for at least 5 hours each week, helping our Ministry Advancement team with important mailings and a myriad of other tasks they have for her to do.

She brightens everyone’s day when she comes in, and the staff loves on her and treats her like a queen. It is a win-win for everyone! Mom enjoys being productive and interacting with all the staff. Each week on our way home, she’s all smiles, telling me about what she did that day, and how wonderful everyone is.

Exodus 20:12 commands us to “Honor your father and your mother that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you.”

Honor includes prizing highly, which I do. I highly prize my mother. She is one awesome woman, a woman of God who is a prayer warrior for our entire family, and you can be sure we keep her busy in her prayer closet!

She was selfless in raising me and caring for many of our family throughout her life. She is not only loved by everyone in our family, but also what I call the “Betty fan club”—the many people who invite her out to lunch or take her places and include her in their lives.

Though I was an only child, I now have many “sisters” because of all the gals who have “adopted” her as their mother too!

Honor means to care for. October 7, 2011, my father suddenly passed away. Mom, then 81 years old, and my father had been married 61 years. Dad had been incapacitated for several years due to a stroke requiring round-the-clock care. This left a huge empty spot in Mom’s life.

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At that point in time, my husband and I invited Mom to move in with us, which she did. It was a difficult period of adjustment for her, processing both the loss of her lifelong partner as well as her own home, and adjusting to life in a new setting. But we love her being with us and we count it a privilege to care for her.

Honor means to show respect for. I have learned that this can take many forms. It is speaking in an honoring way, but it is also respecting her in her limitations, as her 83 years slow her down a bit, or it takes a while longer remembering a thought.

Honoring means preferring Mom over myself by watching Little House on the Prairie and Lawrence Welk with her. I respect her too, for the wisdom she’s gleaned through a lifetime of experiences that she now imparts to me and our family.

Honor means to obey. This is one we learn growing up but I have found we never outgrow it, no matter how old we get. Though adults with lives of our own, there are still times in life when our parents offer us instruction or wisdom, and I have found it’s still a blessing to obey her wise counsel and instruction.

There are so many wonderful things about my mother, I wish you could all meet her and get to know her.

I know you would all love her, just like everyone here at Heartbeat does! And me too!

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!

The bitter made sweet

So Moses brought Israel from the Red Sea; then they went out into the Wilderness of Shur. And they went three days in the wilderness and found no water. Now when they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter. Therefore the name of it was called Marah. And the people complained against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” So he cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree. When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet.
(Exodus 15:22-25a)

 
Just a few days prior to this event, the powerful breath of God had parted the Red Sea and the Israelites were delivered from the pursuit of the Egyptians. Then, they were led into the Wilderness of Shur. 

After traveling for three days without finding water, they arrived at Marah… but, the expected refreshment quickly turned to disappointment when the first to drink discovered the water was bitter.

The first question they asked was, “What shall we drink?”

When we encounter a disappointment, a situation that lets us down, what do we do? After the Israelites grumbled about their lack, God moved in grace and showed Moses “a tree,” or “a piece of wood.”

The tree was there all the time, but Moses needed his eyes opened “to see” the tree of transformation. Just like the cross, present from all eternity; “for He was slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8).

Once the tree was placed in the waters, the waters were made sweet. This is where we begin to understand that God wanted to reveal something about Himself that the Israelites did not yet understand.

In Egypt, they knew about God, but they knew very little about His nature. Here in a place of bitterness, God reveals His heart—not only to heal water—but to heal His people. Yahweh Rapha, as the following verse says, “I am the LORD who heals you” (Exodus 15:26).

It’s interesting to note that throughout the Israelites’ journey in the wilderness, Scripture tells us; “they drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them and that rock was Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:4).

In other words, Jesus is the one who satisfies the thirsty soul!

Unexpected situations will come our way. If we choose to look to the Lord at those times, and expect Him to reveal more about Himself in the midst of a bitter place, He will open our eyes like he did for Moses and the Israelites, and we will gain a greater revelation of who He is!

Just like the tree, the Cross has the power to transform every situation, every circumstance, and every relationship… from the bitter to the sweet!


by Debra Neybert, Training Specialist

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40 Years after Roe, God Reigns

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Forty years after a case originating in a Dallas courthouse was decided in the U.S. Supreme Court, Heartbeat International returned to the birthplace of Roe v. Wade April 2-5 with a simple message:

We serve the Giver of Life, and He Reigns.

Nothing, including political climates, cultural shifts, or even the unspeakable worldwide tragedy of abortion, can dethrone the God whose glory is set above the heavens.

This precious truth was woven throughout every aspect of the 2013 Annual Heartbeat International Conference, which included close to 1,000 friends of Heartbeat, including attendees, exhibitors, expert workshop presenters, inspiring keynote speakers, Heartbeat board members, and donors.

“The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice…”

Fittingly, the centrality of prayer emerged as a major theme throughout the Conference, as 40 Days for Life National Director David Bereit helped set the tone for desperate dependence upon the living God as the keynote speaker during the Conference’s first evening session.

David was one of eight keynote speakers throughout the four-day event, which concluded with a closing banquet and address from Heartbeat International President Dr. Peggy Hartshorn, who is commemorating her 20th year of tireless service in that capacity, and her 40th year of active involvement in the pro-life movement.

Opportunities for prayer and worship were led in part by worship leader Greg Gober, while opportunities to participate in mass were led by Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, who also keynoted at the Conference.

Conference participants were also given the opportunity to receive prayer during their time in Dallas, thanks to the generous involvement of Refuge House of Prayer and Breath of the Spirit, who volunteered their time to encourage and refresh those on the front-lines of the battle for Life.

“…let the many coastlands be glad!”

The glorious truth that God reigns carries along with it global implications, and this was also reflected at the Conference, where a total of 20 representatives from 11 non-U.S. countries gathered.

These friends served as a great reminder that God’s reign extends to all corners of the world—from the U.S. to Zambia, Australia to South Africa, Mexico to the Philippines, Costa Rica to Austria, Canada to Liberia, and from Germany to Ethiopia.

And these friends were just a sampling of the more than 300 Heartbeat affiliates outside of the United States in over 50 countries. Two of these friends, Pastors George and Sylvester from Liberia, shared an African proverb that became a theme unto itself for the Conference:

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

We hope you join us at next year’s Annual Conference, March 24-27 in Charleston, South Carolina!

Joy Comes in the Morning

by Debra Neybert, Training Specialist

″I will extol you, O LORD, for you have drawn me up and have not let my foes rejoice over me.
O LORD my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me.
O LORD, you have brought up my soul from Sheol;
you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit.
Sing praises to the LORD, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name.
For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime.
Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.
Psalm 30:1-5 ESV

We are about to celebrate the greatest joy we could ever know, the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. There was however, a night to endure before the morning dawned.

After Jesus was crucified, there was a time of darkness that seemed to overtake any future joy. In fact, the devil thought he had destroyed the only hope of redemption mankind would ever have. He attacked the hearts and the minds of those who had followed Jesus with overwhelming hopelessness. Then, three days later, an earthquake occurred, the stone was rolled away, and the evidence of the Lord’s resurrection was witnessed for the first time.

“For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Mathew 12:40 ESV). Your night season may be longer than three days, but the morning will break upon your night season!

The word for endure in Hebrew means to lodge, stop over, pass the night like a sojourner—someone who lodges for a night, but then moves on. Can you relate to a night season that has remained or endured, and it would seem the enemy had his way? Years may pass; all may seem dormant, lifeless, and the promise unfulfilled, but eventually, the weeping that endured and even lodged for a night time will pass away, and the “sun” will break through.

Mathew 28:2-3 says, “There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.”

Just before the manifestation of the resurrection, there was a violent earthquake, as an angel descended from heaven and rolled the stone away. So it is with us. Right before the night flees from before you, there may be a shaking, but that shaking has a purpose; it causes the “stone” to roll out of the way.

The Lord knows what it will take to get the roadblocks and hindrances out of the way. Sometimes in that process, things get shaken, but only to bring you to a place of fulfillment and joy!

As we’re assured in Ecclesiastes 3:11, “He has made everything beautiful in its time.”

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A role to play

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by Jay Hobbs, Communications Assistant

I was reading through Proverbs when news of the Penn State child abuse scandal broke in late 2011. As the horrific story dominated every inch of the public square, one saying from the wise man stood out most clearly to me:

Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work? (Proverbs 24:11-12)

I was so sickened by what I was seeing and hearing about everything, from the grisly details of the events that had occurred—and were even witnessed—to the shameful cover-ups collaborated by football coaches, school administrators, and even sworn officers of the law.

Having worked in collegiate athletics for nearly 10 years, these acts of negligence hit me with a specific force, but no harder than they hit me as a father. I felt anger, disgust, nausea, and helplessness.

But what good would come if all I did was feel these things, and then let them fade away so that I could go on with the rest of my life? Did the sting of this outrage belong in the rear-view mirror?

While my 1-year-old daughter napped one Saturday afternoon, I began to pray that somehow, some way, God would lead me to a calling and vocation where I could play a role in the rescue of those being taken away to death. I prayed, and less than a year later, God—the true and final Rescuer—brought me an opportunity to do just that, with an organization I’d never heard of, called Heartbeat International.

Today, I am so blessed to be playing a role in the effort to hold back “those stumbling to the slaughter.” Most of you who are reading this are in the trenches right now, fighting this battle one life at a time. Some of you have been in this trench longer than I’ve been on this earth.

What an honor it has been to join with you in the battle to hold each life precious.

Together, we hope and pray and labor for the day when abortion is not only unwanted, but unthinkable in our nation, our legal system, and our culture. At the same time, we also realize that abortion may not be going away this side of heaven. In one form or another, the strong will always victimize the weak, right up until the Day when the Judge of the whole earth makes all things right.

Until that Day dawns, our orders are clear: We are to rescue those who are being taken away to death. One child at a time. One woman at a time. One family at a time. 

It’s not up to you and me to finally solve these evils. It’s up to each of us to be faithful to do our part, in hope—hope that one Day, we will see these evils ended before our very eyes. Until that Day comes, we’re free to focus on the task at hand without driving ourselves to despair or exhaustion.

The problem is more than you and I could ever handle, and yet, it has already been handled—fully and finally by the death and resurrection of Jesus. We enter into that promise by faith, but it's that same faith that also thrusts us into the vineyard to labor for that which our faithful Savior values.

Take heart. God, the one who “keeps watch over your soul” sees the good work you’re doing. And, he will repay you according to it.

Personal Time

by Andrea Trudden, Director of Communications & Marketingday for me

Being a full-time working parent of toddlers does not leave a lot of downtime.

At work, I have my task list that I check through each day. At home, I have my domestic duties that I enjoy. On the weekends, we have parties, church activities, and visitations. So, when I have a few moments to myself, I find I sometimes feel bored.

I literally don't know what to do with no obligations. (Hence this article I'm writing while waiting for my flight to take off.)

I believe I have become so accustomed to having obligations that I truly have not thought of downtime.

This has forced me to acknowledge that my husband and I have fallen into exactly what our priest warned against in premarital counseling—we are living for our family and not for ourselves.

It's very hard to not live for our family, however, because we both love them so much!

Recently, we were able to take a date night, before coming home and sorting through our bookshelves to clear space in our guestroom, of course. It was so nice to know that we can still just talk about nonsensical things and laugh at each other’s jokes.

Don't get me wrong, we talk every day. But we usually tend to talk about the cute thing one of our kids said, or our conversation revolves around planning for our next event.

This made me revisit Ephesians 5:15-17

""Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity..."

Although I interpreted this initially as, “Do as much as you can,” I’m coming to find that, sometimes what I actually need is an hour to shop, play a game, or just talk.

Sometimes, it’s more “productive” for my soul to stop trying to be so… well, productive.

I encourage you to take some time and do something for you. Maybe it’s walking, reading, or praying... just make sure it’s something you want to do, and something you can do without interruption.

Okay, back to work.

New Year's Resolution

final logoI deleted an app from my iPhone this afternoon.

It was a good app, and free when I got it. But, as I read through Jonathan Edwards’ Resolutions, as I do every year, I became instantly convicted that this app—which I just downloaded yesterday—has already wasted too much of my time.

Edwards, regarded by many as the finest American theologian ever, jotted down 70 resolutions over the course of several months in 1723, and these have stood the test of time as some of the most brilliant, yet simple resolutions a Christian can make.

Several of them cut like a boning knife through my flabby heart, not the least of which is Resolution No. 5:

Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but to improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.

Not one moment wasted. Not even when I’m waiting at the airport or stuck in traffic. Not even when I’m early to an appointment—a rare event in any case—and have 15 minutes to kill. To Edwards, a truly godly man, those 15 minutes didn’t belong to him in the first place, and therefore, were never his to kill or make alive.

I love this resolution of Edwards, not only because it sounds ambitious to the point of heroic, but because it is so squarely biblical. It’s nothing more than a simple restating of the Apostle Paul’s instructions to the church at Ephesus:

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:15-16)

I want to imitate men like Edwards and Paul, who understood and embraced the gospel so wholeheartedly that every moment became an opportunity to capitalize upon and make the most of, for my ultimate joy, for the good of others, and for the glory of God.

Step 1: Cut out the Fat

The first step to capitalizing on the precious opportunities that each moment represents—to really redeem the time and make the best use of it—is to prayerfully quit doing things that do waste time. There goes that iPhone app. Is Facebook next? Pinterest? Maybe.

That’s what Edwards means when he resolves to “never lose one moment of time,” and it’s what Paul is shooting for when he warns his readers to watch how they’re walking, “not as unwise, but as wise.”

Can you picture Jonathan Edwards, the third president of Princeton, frittering time away on Facebook or Twitter? Or, can you picture the Apostle Paul, commissioned by Jesus as a servant and a witness to the resurrection, burning time on his cell phone while he waits for the bus?

Step 2: Capitalize on the Moment

Following the pattern set by Paul in Ephesians 5, Edwards counters his negative goal (to not waste time) with a positive objective: “to improve (each moment) the most profitable way I possibly can.”

This “improvement” starts with the heart. Are we actively seeking Christ where he is to be found—in his Word and among his people, the Church? Are we actively seeking to embrace the gospel so that we can say with Paul, “the love of Christ controls us”? (2 Corinthians 5:14)

This is what Paul means by “making the best use of the time,” and there is no app for it.

This kind of living takes discipline, study, and Christian community. And this is the kind of living that will really make a difference in the world, including the people you interact with on an everyday basis.

One Suggestion: Heartbeat Academy

How can you improve each moment in the most profitable way you possibly can in 2013?

  • Do you need further training to be best equipped to counsel the desperate woman who believes abortion to be her only option?
  • Are there steps you can take to make the best use of the opportunities God gives you in the coming year?

If so, then consider the Heartbeat International Academy, which currently offers 50 courses, as well as Life Affirming Specialist training and certification.

Geared toward life-affirming leaders, staff, volunteers, and supporters within the pregnancy help movement, the Academy offers just the kind of training you may need in order to make the best use of the time you’re given in 2013.

In the meantime, be choosy about your apps.

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