“Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:4
Like the Proverbs in the Old Testament, many see James’ letter as the New Testament’s letter of wisdom. Throughout James we see practical advice on how live out our faith (“faith without works is dead,” for example), and this counsel begins in the opening verses as James talks of trials and their role in our lives.
Trials, James tells us, produce endurance and perseverance in our character. This perseverance he concludes, makes us whole, mature and complete, “lacking in nothing.”
Honestly, I do not wish for trials. If I want good company in this view, I need look no farther than Jesus who, when facing crucifixion—the greatest trial of all—asked that “this cup pass from me.” Yet Jesus knew that unless he submitted to God’s will, even he would not be complete in fulfilling his mission to save humankind.
Jesus pushed forth through this unfathomable trial and was able to say with his final words, “It is finished.” This was his defining moment, when all could see Jesus was “mature and complete, lacking in nothing” just as James wishes for us in his letter.
We only get to completeness by trial. Apparently, this is the path. The trials may sometimes be small, asking us to persevere when someone treats us poorly. Or, the trial may be incredibly large, such as a physical or health challenge, the loss of a loved one, or rejection by others.
Our next trial could be financial, relational, physical or mental. We don’t know, and that’s the thing about trials. Rarely do we see them coming.
Trials are surprising, sometimes shocking. Many times we do not understand the “whys” of our trial. All we know is that it is our mission to persevere, and to count this trial as “joy.”
Why joy? Because we know that when we persevere, we grow in the character of Jesus Christ. As we follow Jesus, we prepare ourselves for entrance into his kingdom.
And we are reminded of Jesus who saw his greatest trial as one of joy. We are told in Hebrews 12:2 that Jesus, “For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Jesus persevered. He endured. If anyone is “perfect and complete,” it is Jesus.
God offers us a similar opportunity. The path includes trial. It is not the easy way, but it is the only way.
Trials are coming. We will look at those trials not with happiness, but with joy. Because we know when we persevere, we will be everything God wants us to be.
by Kirk Walden, Advancement Specialist
by Jill Evans, Guest Writer
I’ll be honest. I can’t imagine facing a life and death battle in my everyday life. My days consist of diapers, sibling squabbles, meal preparation, and drinking coffee. God made me to be a mom, among other things. That is where my standing in life has brought me and where I know He wants me to invest my love and care. So different from a nursing medical career.
Isn’t that the beauty of life though? God placed such intricate passions within to stir and lead us. It is our passion which grounds us inside – knowing we are devoted and following this map through life which God has laid out in our desires.
In World War I, a young nurse name Alice Ross-King was stationed near the trenches in Armentieres, France. She was 28 and had only been at the hospital for five days. During a night in late July, the Germans began dropping bombs, five of which landed on the hospital. The first bomb dropped through the ceiling in front of her and threw her to the ground. Reports say that she was stunned for a few moments but once she had regained her bearings, she ran to assist those around her.
Now, if a bomb drops in front of me you’ll probably find me crying in a corner wishing I was safe under the covers of my childhood bed. But Alice ran toward the fight! She was later awarded a medal for her “great coolness and devotion to duty”. Being levelheaded and devoted – what a beautiful way to live. Is that not what nurses do every day? Run into the fray and fight to save lives – of babies, but also of scared mothers and fathers?
But, I can hear many saying that this was an extraordinary situation, fueled primarily by adrenaline. And it’s true. Alice Ross-King experienced a horrifying circumstance that the overwhelming majority would never find themselves in. The amazing reality is that nurses working in Pregnancy Help Medical Clinics are daily racing toward this fight, devoted, levelheaded, passionate.
Nehemiah 6:9b reads “Now strengthen my hands.” Four words but what powerful ones they are. Let that be your cry as you run toward the fight and it is our prayer for you!
Even though at times you might feel drained and as worn as the dishrag on my sink, every client who crosses the threshold of your center still needs you. They need you to run to them and to show God’s love in what might be the simplest yet most taxing way – to care for them, and this is why we take this week to express our utmost gratitude and appreciation for each and every one of you. You are AMAZING! We Celebrate You! Thank you for running to the aid of those who need you. You are strong and capable through the power of God. You are doing extraordinary work. May the Lord always strengthen your hands.
Jill Evans is the daughter of Heartbeat Medical Specialist, Susan Dammann, RN, LAS and a joyful mother.
Here at Heartbeat International, we get many surprises in the mail. Sometimes, these are great blessings, and this one is too good not to share. So if you read the note below and think it could be a blessing to others, please pass it on.
The note was written by a woman named Marion in Sandusky, Ohio to her granddaughter's friend. The young woman was about to head off to college to pursue a law degree and help those less fortunate. She found herself pregnant, but with courage, she continued, attending school, getting a job, and keeping her baby.
Marion was inspired by the young mother's story and decided to send her a note anonymously thanking her, from the point of view of her precious, little daughter. In the years since, she has done the same for new mothers in her life, and shared with her local pregnancy center, and now all of you!
Thank you, Mom, for keeping me safe, inside you
for taking care of yourself, while I was growing, inside
for my first breath of air, when I decided I wanted to be outside, with you
for your tender touch and soothing voice
for feeding me and keeping my bottom dry
for each time you held me when I cried, and talking to me, and making me smile
for keeping me warm and close to you....
Thank you, Mom, for loving me!
Your little one
by kirk Walden, Advancement Specialist
“For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois, and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well.” 2 Timothy 1:5
Moms. We love our mothers for so many things, whether it be the way they looked out for us when we were small, their encouraging words or even those times when they needed to set us straight.
Perhaps most memorable however, is the potential power of a mother’s faith. Paul recognized this in his protégé, Timothy. In his second letter to Timothy he talks of the young man’s strong faith—and the truth that this faith was passed on from his grandmother Lois to his mother Eunice; then on to him.
This faith must have been more than special, for Paul to point this out. We can’t find this type of reference anywhere else in the New Testament; a direct compliment to the faith of someone’s parent and grandparent.
Lois cared enough to share her faith with Eunice. She likely spent many an hour with Eunice, talking with her about God’s many deeds he performed for the Israelite people. Not only that, we can be sure Lois also lived her faith in such a way that Eunice said to herself, “She is who I want to be.”
Eunice carried on the legacy of Lois, then had a son named Timothy. We have no record that God told Eunice she was raising one of the great leaders of this new faith in God’s messiah. What she did know however, she learned from her mother.
So Eunice lived out her faith with Timothy. Like her mom, she probably had long talks with the young boy as he grew up, perhaps singing him to sleep with songs of the God she loved and served.
Interesting, isn’t it, that Paul doesn’t mention a father in all of this. Were Timothy’s dad and grandfather men of faith? We don’t know.
There are many great dads in the Bible, without question. But here, mothers take center stage.
I’m not sure of Paul’s reasoning here, but perhaps there is a message for us as we approach Mother’s Day. When we read the New Testament, we read mostly of men like Peter, James, John, Paul, Matthew, Mark and Luke. Men. Great men of God.
But when Paul writes what may have been his final letter; his last opportunity to pour his heart into another, he speaks first of the faith of Timothy’s mother and grandmother.
Maybe Paul knew something we can overlook. Perhaps the writer of so many New Testament books understood that while any of us—man or woman—can impact this generation, it is mothers who can create generational change.
Moms. The faith of a mom, when passed down, makes the difference. Ask Paul. Or ask Timothy. Paul couldn’t wait even a few sentences in his letter to Timothy before pointing this out. My guess is, Timothy took this to heart.
We should, too.
by Ducia Hamm, LAS, Associate Director of Affiliate Services
Heartbeat International receives many calls daily for a variety of reasons. Usually, these calls are questions about our resources, training opportunities, how to add medical services, how to handle a challenging board or client situation, or even just a question about how to make an organization run more smoothly.
Sometimes we even get a call that should have gone to OptionLine, but we can redirect, and we don’t mind. Occasionally, there’s a call for a completely different Heartbeat International (a charity that provides pacemakers), but every once in a while, we get a really unexpected call.
One Thursday morning, the phone rang – nothing unusual right? Except for one thing, the person on the line kept saying only one thing. “Do you speak Spanish?”
Now, since OptionLine has nearly 100% coverage in Spanish and often receives calls in Spanish, the call could have easily been meant for them, but since Heartbeat International has affiliates all over the world and a great partnership with Centro de ayuda para la mujer latinoamericana, A.C. (Latin America), there was no way to know.
So just in case, the call was transferred to the Ministry Services department where there just “happened” to be Heartbeat’s newest volunteer, who “happens” to volunteer one day a week – on Thursday’s – who “happens” to be fluent in Spanish, and just “happened” to be willing to help when she was asked by the Ministry Services staff to translate.
But wait! There’s more. Our volunteer asked the caller where she was calling from – Hialeah, Florida was the answer. She was surprised and excited because she just “happened” to have been a part of the team that started Heartbeat of Miami in – you guessed it – Hialeah, Fla.
The grateful caller was given Heartbeat of Miami’s phone number, specific directions on getting to the Center along with the number for OptionLine.Some may call these mere coincidences – we call them GOD-incidences! The Lord tells us in Psalms 37:23 “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, And He delights in his way.”
We stand back in awe to see how the Lord ordered all the needed steps so that everything and everyone was in place to meet the needs of this caller.
Ten years ago my family moved to Tennessee, which carries the motto, “The Volunteer State.” The University of Tennessee’s athletic teams are the Volunteers, a moniker carried with incredible pride.
Most historians agree the nickname comes from a call for militia to fight in the Mexican-American War from U.S. President James K. Polk, a Tennessean. As the war ramped up in 1846, Polk asked for 2,600 men from across the country to join the battle. Stunningly, 30,000 fellow Tennesseans heeded Polk’s request and enlisted. Hence, “The Volunteer State.”
The story of the Volunteer State makes for an interesting history lesson, certainly. But this makes me think as we celebrate Volunteer Appreciation Week, what does it mean to be a true volunteer, a state of being incredibly valuable to God? In short, what is The State of a Volunteer?
When we choose to volunteer, we truly do enter a new state of being. It changes those around us, but it also changes us.
In the State of a Volunteer, we understand our battle is not against flesh and blood, “but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places (Eph. 6:12).”
In the State of a Volunteer, we stand before God as servants, willing to step forward when called upon even when the stakes are high, even when the odds are against us.
In the State of a Volunteer, we place our trust in God, knowing He is not moved by what we might see, knowing He can work in any situation.
In the State of a Volunteer, we are confident that God chooses to work through anyone who says, “Here am I, send me.”
In the State of a Volunteer, the words, “It can’t be done” are replaced by “I’ll give it my best.”
In the State of a Volunteer, a natural desire to be recognized is replaced by a passion to serve.
In the State of a Volunteer, “It’s not my job” is replaced by “How can I help?”
We celebrate Volunteer Appreciation Week because when we volunteer, the entire world better understands the meaning behind the words, “Set your minds on the things above.” The State of a Volunteer is focused on the eternal—on the truly valuable.
This week—and every week—take heart. God sees the volunteer . . . and smiles.
by Jennifer Minor, Editor/Writer
I don’t know if you think much about light, but I usually don’t.
Most days, I take it for granted. All I have to do is flip a switch when I walk into a room and the darkness is chased away. That, of course, is the beauty of light. It can’t be overcome by darkness.
Now maybe this is a human failing, but I can’t just let it sit there. I have a lot more to think about with light and darkness. For example, especially as the seasons change and the days get shorter, I find myself sitting in a room that’s perfectly well-lit in the afternoon, but discovering an hour or so later that I can’t see what I’m reading or working on.
The light escapes, and I don’t notice.
It’s a simple solution – just flip a switch – but I can’t help but worry and wonder about why I never noticed the light leaving. I notice when a light bulb goes out, when a match is struck, when a campfire sputters out, when the first light of dawn sneaks through my window to wake me up. That’s just it though; I notice the change in light, and even then, only dramatic changes.
That’s why I take electric lights for granted, and even the sun on nice days. I forget about the light, and with it, the possibility of darkness.
Candles though, always draw my attention. They don’t change significantly, but they do flicker. They change just enough to keep my eyes on them.
I think that must be the kind of light that Jesus is talking about when He says, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
A candle not only draws attention so that it may be seen, but it also carries an incredible potential to spread light. Now, I know a single candle in a dark room may not seem like much, but at my favorite church service of the year, something else amazing happens. We start with just one candle, the one that represents Christ, and everyone in the church holds their own little candle. One person lights their candle from the Christ candle, and then spreads the light. In a very short amount of time, hundreds of candles are shining and everyone can see because the darkness is being overcome.
This is extraordinarily beautiful, even if it's very simple. Every candle in that church gave away some of its light so another could be lit, but it didn’t lose anything. In fact, the flame grew and changed more than the usual flickering when it touched a second wick. It doubles in size. It can multiply, but not divide.
And a wick that’s been lit before, even if the flame goes out, is easier to light a second time.
So that’s my challenge to you. Be a candle. Light other’s candles without fear of losing something that you have. God doesn’t work that way. He is love and light.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:5)
by Kelly Russell, Encouragement Expert
We have the idea that life should happen the way we want, when we want. Our expectations often exceed reality. A perfect scenario is created in our minds and when life takes a different turn, we lose heart. Jesus said not to be troubled but be at peace (Matthew 16:23). Only God can arrange things in such a way that we benefit best and He is glorified most. As Jeremiah wrote, “Who is the clay to say to the Potter, why are you doing it that way?” God sees us as a finished product, not a work in progress.
Our rough places must be made smooth to shape us into the image of Christ. Our primary calling isn’t to “do” or “go”, but to become. God is more concerned about pure hearts than polished lives.
We can only ever know what God is willing to reveal. He knows the beginning from the end, and He works all things together for good to those who love Him. Knowing God is knowing enough. In Christ all wisdom is found (Colossians 2:3). Why are we not content with this alone? Our human desire is to know more; God’s desire is for us to know HIM more. If we knew what God knows, we would choose His will every time. We doubt what we can’t see and believe what we do see. Jesus said those who believe without seeing are blessed (John 20:29).
God’s Truth is not to be found in our feelings, but always in His unfailing Word. God’s promises are unlimited but we limit them with our doubt and unbelief. Numbers 23:19 says, God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? Let these words deflate doubt and undo unbelief. Read it and believe it! We kick out the doubt with faith, which comes through God’s Word.
The solution to unbelief is to ask God for help (Mark 9:23-24). Doubt derails and discourages us. Saturating ourselves in Scripture slams the door on doubt and discouragement. God’s presence eclipses every one of our struggles.
Christ followers are called to the same purpose every day—to take up the cross and lay down their lives. In denying ourselves, we can truly rely on Christ and His resurrection power. If my life is in my hands then the cross cannot be (Mark 8:34). Our goal is eternity, therefore our focus should be the same. It’s not our circumstances we need to be in touch with, but the Savior Himself. On our journey with the Lord, may He become greater while we become less.
Read: Isaiah 45:9; John 3:30; 2 Corinthians 4:18; 1 Timothy 6:6-7
Kelly Russell was raised in a military family, traveling around the world. She now lives in Melbourne Fla., where she and her husband serve in the leadership of their church. Kelly's heart is to encourage people with passion and conviction through the gift of words.
by Debra Neybert, Training Specialist
The Lord said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain and stay here...” When Moses went up on the mountain, the cloud covered it, and the glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai. For six days the cloud covered the mountain, and on the seventh day the Lord called to Moses from within the cloud. Exodus 24: 12; 15-16
The Lord’s presence meant everything to Moses, in fact at one time he declared, "If your presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.” (Exodus 33:15) A few verses later, he prays, "Please, let me see your Glory" (Ex. 33:18). Moses had such a desire for something more, something eternal. He wanted to behold God face to face, and his desire was satisfied according to Deuteronomy 34:10.
How was Moses prepared for His encounters with the Lord? For a season he lived in the wilderness 40 years when suddenly, one ordinary day became an extraordinary day when... “the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush.” And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush. (Exodus 3:2-4)
The book of Hebrews gives us more insight into the relationship the Lord had with Moses. In the eleventh chapter it says, “He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.” (Hebrews 11:25-26). The word for “looked or looking” in the Greek, is apoblepo, (away from) and blepo (to look), hence to “look away from” all else. Moses turned his gaze away from everything, and fixed his gaze on a reward that waited for him beyond this present age.
In verse 27 it says, “By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king's anger; he persevered because he saw Him who is invisible.” Moses was able to persevere because “he saw” the unseen real. When our eyes of faith are fixed on the King of all Kings, we will walk by faith, not fearing the kings of this earth, persevering through tribulation and trials because “the things of this world will grow strangely dim in the light of His Glory and Grace.”
Amazing! Moses first turned aside to see, then he chose to look ahead to his reward, and eventually he saw Him who was invisible. When Moses died at the age of 120 years, the Bible says his eye was “not dimmed” (Deuteronomy 34:7).
We naturally gravitate toward the things we set our sight on; and when our sight is set on things above, we ascend!
Moses was invited into the cloud of God’s Glory on the seventh day. The seventh day is when God rested from creating heaven and earth. (Exodus 31:17). It is out of that place of rest...ceasing from our works that the Lord calls us from within “the cloud.” He calls us as a lover calls his beloved. There will always be things to do and places to go, but will we take the time to turn aside and see, look ahead, and behold Him who is invisible? In the seeing we are drawn into that secret place, and there really is no other relationship on earth that fulfills like knowing our Beloved Jesus, the one who “knows us best and loves us most!”
“Even so Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham.” Gal. 3:6-7
For Abraham, believing God was, without doubt, the most challenging time of his life. We have read the rest of Abraham’s story, a story of God’s intervention after Abraham was willing to entrust his own son to God.
Yet, Abraham wasn’t able to read the rest of the story. He had to trust in a God he only knew on his own. Think about it; Abraham came before Moses, the Exodus and The Red Sea. He knew nothing of Joshua, of the Walls of Jericho, or of David and Goliath.
This is a man who had to trust wholly in God’s communication with him. And he did.
We usually think of “believing” as a point of agreement or intellectual assent to an idea, as in “I believe you when you say you will be here at nine o’clock.” But for Abraham, believing meant he had to act. He had to take Isaac out of their home, on a journey that he believed could end the life of his precious first-born.
Our “believing God” takes on the same characteristics as Abraham’s. If we walk through the Greek understanding of the word “Believe,” we will see that it means to “trust in, rely on, adhere to.” That’s what Abraham did. And God saw this as righteousness.
When we believe God in our work, in our families and in our everyday lives, we are saying in essence, “We trust in your ways, oh God, even when the lives we lead and the decisions we make aren’t understood by the world around us.”
It is this believing that our clients and patients should see in us; a belief that trusts in God even when we can’t see what the future holds. If we believe, those who come in our doors can catch our trust in God, and perhaps for the first time, see what it means to live a life of faith.
Like Abraham, we believe. And when we do, God turns to His right hand and says to Jesus, “Now there is a righteous one.”
That’s something worth believing in.
Web Design and Development by Extend Web Services