nap_dv21094When making decisions, we’ll generally try to arrive at answers or solutions that are to our advantage. In the decision making process, we’ll probably have several questions, such as: Is this good for me? How does it help me? Is this a step forward? Is this a step up? Will I make more money? Will this make my life easier? What will others think? Does it make sense?

The issue though, for the believer, is that God’s ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts, (Isaiah 55:8) and so what, in our minds, seems like a good idea or a good decision may not be what God wants.

In Joshua chapter 9, we read that the Gibeonites came to Israel, lied to the leaders and asked for a treaty because they were afraid that Israel would conquer them in battle. It seemed that the Gibeonites were being truthful and so Joshua made a treaty with them. It seemed like the right thing to do. It made sense. But we read in Joshua 9:14 that Israel did not consult God (ask His direction, seek His counsel, inquire of Him) to see if it was the right decision. If they had asked God, He could have told them that the Gibeonites were lying, were being deceptive, but it seemed like a good idea, so God wasn’t asked.

Am I suggesting that what may be a good idea isn’t what God may have in mind?  No, not at all, but I am saying that He should be consulted first to find out if it’s a God idea.

Have you ever found yourself on cruise-control and not even known it? Days turn into weeks and week into months and you haven’t really sought God with all of your heart and looked to Him for His will for your life.  Perhaps major decisions have been made without consulting God, because they just seemed like something God would want. Maybe but maybe not.

Perhaps a challenge or an opportunity presented itself that would move you way out of your comfort zone. And you fluffed it off as too far out there, or something you could never do, and something that God certainly would never ask of you.  Let me just ask, “Did you consult with Him before making your decision?”

If you haven’t already, put to memory in your heart and mind Proverbs 3:5,6, and make it your default mode in all of your ways.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Proverbs 3:5,6

John McHoul

Port au Prince, Haiti

www.heartlineministries.org

Restavek is a form of modern-day slavery that persists in Haiti, affecting one in every 15 children. Typically born into poor rural families, restavek children are often given to relatives or strangers. In their new homes, they become domestic slaves, performing menial tasks for no pay.

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Alexandra

Alexandra is twelve, she is a restavek. She gets up at 6:00 AM each morning to cook, clean, wash dishes, do laundry by hand, and do chores for the family that she lives with. They’re her extended family, but she doesn’t know how they’re related, “They’re just cousins,” she says. Her mother died, but she isn’t sure when and of what. Her father lives out in the village; he has a few animals and a parcel of land that he farms with her two brothers. She has a sister somewhere in Port au Prince who she says does the same work that she does but for another family. She thinks that it has been about a year since she left her father and brothers, although she isn’t really sure. She doesn’t think that she’ll ever see them or her sister again. She isn’t all that animated when talking about her family, it’s more like, ‘Here I am, and this is my life.’

Alexandra has found her way to the literacy class at the Heartline Women’s Education Center. When asked how she heard about the class or who brought her, she says, “A lady told me about the program and brought me, but I don’t remember her name.” The other students are adult women, twelve-year old Alexandra certainly sticks out. Still she comes each day.

When asked what she would like to be when she grows up she says that she would like to be a nurse. This twelve-year old girl, who has never been to school, and who is a restavek wants to be a nurse.

Is it possible? Can this happen? Can she become a nurse? She will need help, she will need advocates, she will need those that believe in her.  The seed to move forward is there.  It can be seen in her face, in her determination to learn. I know this because this twelve-year girl, who has never been to school, who couldn’t read or write is here at Heartline doing what she can to begin the journey to reach her goal.

Each lady in that class has a story.  A story of being told that she will never learn to read or write. A story of being told that she’s too stupid. A story of being told that there’s not enough money to send her to school.

We are working to change these stories to:

I can do all things because of Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

Yes, that means even becoming a nurse.

Click  hereto help us help others, like Alexandra, to reach their dreams.

 

Sheila Lynch

Guest Blogger

 

 

 

 

Broken Bags

Posted: January 25, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

images (1).jpegWe for months had eagerly been waiting for the grand opening of a new supermarket in our area. It appeared that it would be bigger than most of the other markets, and there would actually be parking for more than seven vehicles.

Now while the supermarkets in Haiti don’t compare in size to the ones in the States, (perhaps they could be called ‘baby supermarkets’) still there is much that we can get that reminds me of American supermarkets. I, of course, am thinking mainly of staples like chips, cookies, candy, soda… good old American junk food.

Grand Opening Day finally arrived. There was ample parking, the store was shiny nice and images6lots of products were ready to find their way into our cart. Now I don’t recall what we bought, but I do remember that it filled several of those plastic bags that stores use these days. And then it got interesting. We checked out, lifted up the plastic bags to leave the store and the bottoms of the bags simply gave way, split open, with all the contents, the groceries that we had just purchased, spilling onto the floor. The cashier and man that bagged the groceries apologized, the owner of the store apologized profusely and then I saw that other customers were having the same problem.

Imagine, opening day, you want to make a good, lasting impression. You want everything just right. You have sweated out hundreds of details and now the bags, purchased for this special day, are defective. They can’t hold what’s put in them.

A couple of days later as I was thinking about this little adventure, it occurred to me that I am like those bags that couldn’t hold their contents. God puts stuff in and somehow it doesn’t stay, when I need it, its not there. Instead of being full, I can be half full or almost empty.

I got thinking about several of the things that God wants us to be filled with:

  • Spirit of wisdom – Deuteronomy 34:9
  • Light and joy – Proverbs 13:9
  • Spirit and wisdom – Acts 6:3
  • Faith and the Holy Spirit – Acts 6:5
  • God’s grace and power – Acts 6:8
  • Joy and the Holy Spirit – Acts 13:52
  • Joy in the Lord – Philippians 4:4
  • Mercy and the fruit of good deeds – James 3:17

How I act, think, and the words that I say are good indicators of how full I am. For example: When patience is needed, but can’t be found. When words and thoughts that are hurtful and destructive don’t seem wrong. When fear rules. When cynicism pushes out compassion. When my desire for God, His word and time with Him has waned. When what is, is more real, than what can be. When grace is something I sing about but don’t show. When I forget in scripture that it says, “In Him we live, move and exist.” Acts 17:28. When I am joyless.

There are a couple of things that we can do to help prevent losing what we have received and often worked hard to obtain (to keep our bag from losing its contents). We can follow the example of King David and pray his prayers. Let’s be sure to be as intentional as possible. If you’re asking God to search, test and try you, then don’t run out before hearing what He has to say.  Don’t be in a rush. Psalm 139:23,24

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

Psalm 26:2

Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; test my heart and my mind.

 

Psalm 51: 10-12

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    and renew a right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from your presence,
    and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and uphold me with a willing spirit.What can a Bag Man do when finally he sees, what others have seen all along. How can the emptied be refilled? How can the broken be fixed? How can the hole be repaired? I know of no other way than to go to the source, God. 

We must, as well, follow the example of Jesus found in Luke 5:16

But Jesus often went away to be by himself and pray.

 

Charles Stanley said it well,

Your life is going to be determined by your prayer life.

 

Pay attention to the signs, if your desire to pray, and be in His word and presence has dwindled, then you can be sure that you will find it impossible to ‘walk in the Spirit’ as we are told to do.  Your thoughts and actions will have changed and you most likely won’t see and know it. It is in the place of prayer, the quiet place, the daily time, that the Holy Spirit illuminates our lives and we see. And for most, that is what it takes to begin restoration, and renewal, to be refilled. Once we see, we know, and once we know, we begin the process of reclaiming what we once had and adding even more of God’s goodies (graces and disciplines) as well.

John (broken bag but working on it) McHoul

www.heartlineministries.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quotes That Will Challenge You

Posted: January 20, 2016 in Uncategorized

John McHoul

Port au Prince, Haiti

www.heartlineministries.org

 

God calls us first… not to a platform, but to an altar. John Greear

Moses immediately threw himself to the ground and worshiped. Exodus 34:8

The callings of God never leave you where they find you. Allistair Begg

Choosing to let my emotions drive my decisions is recipe for a hopeless and fruitless life. Today I am deciding to love, not hate.  Davey Blackburn (Indiana pastor whose pregnant wife was shot dead during a home invasion on November 10, 2015)

Lord, let me make a difference for you that is utterly disproportionate to who I am. David Brainerd

Fatigue is the price of leadership. Mediocrity is the price of never getting tired. J. Oswald Chambers

Worship begins in holy expectation, it ends in holy obedience. Richard J. Foster

If prayer stands as the place where God and human beings meet, then I must learn more about prayer. Philip Yancy

We cannot be too careful about the words we use; we start out using them and then they end up using us. Eugene H. Peterson

As I make goals for this year…Jesus, let your thoughts become my thoughts and bend my will to Your will.  Lysa TerKeurst

Mediocrity is always invisible until passion shows up and exposes it. Graham Cooke

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get Moving

Posted: January 14, 2016 in Uncategorized

Moses was in a precarious position.  The Red Sea in front, and bearing down behind was the Egyptian Pharaoh with his army, looking for blood. Specifically the blood of Moses and his followers. The departure of Israel from Egypt hadn’t gone well.  Pharaoh finally relented to let them go, after the first born of men and animals died, as Moses had said would happen if Pharaoh wouldn’t let Israel go.

In Exodus 14: 5-7 we read

When word reached the king of Egypt that the Israelites had fled, Pharaoh and his officials changed their minds. “What have we done, letting all those Israelite slaves get away?” they asked.  So Pharaoh harnessed his chariot and called up his troops.  He took with him 600 of Egypt’s best chariots, along with the rest of the chariots of Egypt, each with its commander.

Now God had told Moses that He would be with them. They simply had to follow and obey.  But the children of Israel just couldn’t believe  and they wanted back to Egypt where they lived as slaves. Moses told them in Exodus 14:13,14

 Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.

And then God says to Moses in Exodus 14:15

Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving!

And this is the place where perhaps you’re at now. You’ve been seeking God, committing your life to Him, crying out to Him, trying to be obedient and you sense God leading you to make some significant changes. Could be He’s leading you to speak publicly which causes you to sweat just thinking about it?  Perhaps He’s leading you to leave your home and to move to a place where people are working hard to get away from not come to. Maybe an inner city location where you can show the love of Jesus to those that live there. How about changing your job to a place with less pay and less benefits but where people need to see Jesus lived out and not just talked about?  Possibly, He is asking you to give a sizable gift of money to a person, family, mission, church, or organization and it’s the money that you’ve been putting away for that special thing  you’ve been wanting.  Maybe, He’s asking you to leave the secure place that you now enjoy and to move to another country.

You’re experiencing a basket full of emotions. You fear that you can’t do what God is asking. You feel insecure and wonder why God couldn’t choose someone smarter, braver, more talented. You ask yourself how you will care for yourself and for your family. Where will the money come from? You look around like Moses did and think that there is no way you can do what God is asking. But God made it clear to Moses; the time to call out was over, now it’s time to Get Moving.

Now the sea didn’t part instantly. We read in Exodus 14:21,22

Then Moses raised his hand over the sea, and the Lord opened up a path through the water with a strong east wind. The wind blew all that night, turning the seabed into dry land.  So the people of Israel walked through the middle of the sea on dry ground, with walls of water on each side!

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Now I not suggesting that you impulsively take off, or change job or move to another country, but what I am saying is, “Get Moving.” Make preparations, pursue studies that will prepare you for God’s call. Start talking about it, share it with others. Read biographies of men and women that have followed God and stepped out in faith. Spend more time in God’s presence in prayer, worship, meditation and become a student of His word in preparation for what God has for you.  Connect with others that you see already doing what you believe God is telling you.

It’s okay to feel weak, to feel afraid, to question your abilities. Remember what the Lord said to Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.

“The Christian experience, from start to finish, is a journey of faith.” Watchman Nee

“God is constantly on the move. I cannot stay where I am and follow God at the same time: responding requires movement.” Margaret Feinberg

John McHoul

Port au Prince, Haiti

www.heartlineministries.org

Jacob has good reasons to suppose that Esau, his older twin brother, would not be happy to see him, and could even kill him. It has been over twenty years since he had seen Esau, and they had not parted on the best of terms. Perhaps Esau would remember the day that he came in from the field, famished, and he asked Jacob for some red stew. Jacob agreed to give him stew if Esau would give up his birthright to Jacob. Esau figuring that he would die without the stew agreed, and so he gave to Jacob his right to be recognized as the firstborn son, and being the head of the family. Not a good exchange, and certainly Esau hadn’t forgotten it.

Another time Jacob, with the help of Rebecca his mother, deceived Jacob and Esau’s father Isaac into giving Jacob his blessing and his inheritance. Esau, when he found out what had happened vowed to kill Jacob (Genesis 27:41). Soon after, Jacob fled for his life, and now here it is over 20 years since they had seen one another.

Jacob had reasons to fear. He had lied, deceived, cheated and there before him was his brother Esau, the recipient of Jacob’s deceptions. Jacob had sent men to tell Esau that he was coming and the men came back and said, “We met your brother Esau, and he is already on his way to meet you-with an army of 400 men!” Jacob was terrified at the news (Genesis 32:6,7). Jacob then sent gifts to hopefully appease Esau. Esau had twenty years to nurse a grudge, to stew over Jacob’s betrayal, to plan what he would do if he ever saw his scoundrel brother again. Would he kill Jacob and take his possessions and family? Would he kill them all? Jacob’s mind must have been swirling, and his stomach churning. He had probably run dozens of scenarios of how this could go down, and not one of them was good for him.   The tension must have been oppressive- Today will I die; today will my family be taken from me?

ejThen Jacob went on ahead. As he approached his brother, he bowed to the ground seven times before him. Then Esau ran to meet him and embraced him, and threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him. And they both wept (Genesis 33:3, 4)

Who could have predicted such an encounter? Most would have said that Esau had every right to retribution, but that isn’t what he chooses. We read much about Jacob in scripture, but not so much about Esau.  Here in this meeting of the estranged brothers, Esau receives, forgives and embraces Jacob. We see no hint of him seeking revenge for past hurts.

There is one more thing that I want to mention and that is the smile. Jacob in Genesis 33:10 says to Esau, “And what a relief to see your friendly smile. It is like seeing the face of God.” I’m thinking that every church greeter and usher should have this scripture firmly fixed in their hearts, on their hands, in their voices, in their eyes and, of course, on their faces. Esau didn’t just pretend. His happiness in seeing Jacob, after all these years, showed on his face. Our faces can reveal the meanings of the words that flow from our hearts. To Jacob, the smiling friendly face of Esau told him that Esau words and actions were genuine.

Jacob knew what he had done. While away for all those years, he was the one who was lied to, deceived and abused by his father-in-law. He knew what it was like and perhaps even thought that he deserved whatever punishment Esau had for him.

Esau, though, did not raise a sword, or spear, or an angry fist toward Jacob.  He met him with a hug, a kiss, tears and with a friendly smile. An example that still stands today.

Lord, illuminate our lives by Your Spirit and Word and reveal to us areas in which we are acting how we want and not how You want. Open our eyes that we may see times when we have treated others with harshness and not grace. Forgive us.  And Lord, help us to understand the power of a friendly smile.

John McHoul

Port au Prince, Haiti

www.heartlineministries.org

 

 

 

 

Clipped Wings

Posted: January 6, 2016 in Uncategorized

ducksHeartline’s compound, in Haiti, is on three acres of land.  We, in addition to our programs, have a number of animals on the property.  We have tilapia, chickens, goats, rabbits, turkeys, sheep, a couple of the neighbor’s dogs, and two newly arrived ducks.

A couple of days after getting the ducks we clipped their wings so that they wouldn’t be able to fly.  I must admit that I have had ongoing second thoughts about clipping their wings and feel bad that they now can’t fly.  It doesn’t seem that duck are made to just waddle along, especially when they are being chased by the turkey, who wants them to know that he is the boss of the yard. Yet, clipping their wings does mean that they will stay in a safe environment where there is food, water, security and where they won’t be eaten by predators. It largely is for their own protection.

Often, it is difficult for us to see that the restrictions God has for our lives, are for our benefit, for our safeguard.  They serve as a protection from that which can be harmful and a deterrent against doing something or pursuing something that God knows will bring us trouble.

This can be seen in God’s instructions to Adam in Genesis 2:15-17

15 The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it. 16 But the Lord God warned him, “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden—17 except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.”

We know that Adam and Eve disobeyed God, and a world of trouble has ensued.

Some years ago I heard a youth pastor say that one of the best reasons to memorize scripture is that it gives you God’s thoughts. With that in mind, perhaps we can better understand and appreciate David’s words in Psalm 119:9-16 

How can a young person stay pure?
    By obeying your word.
10 I have tried hard to find you—
    don’t let me wander from your commands.
11 I have hidden your word in my heart,
    that I might not sin against you.
12 I praise you, O Lord;
    teach me your decrees.
13 I have recited aloud
    all the regulations you have given us.
14 I have rejoiced in your laws
    as much as in riches.
15 I will study your commandments
    and reflect on your ways.
16 I will delight in your decrees
    and not forget your word.

Notice that David writes of hiding God’s word in his heart. It isn’t enough to have it on paper or on a plaque and having to go search for it. If in the heart, then God’s word is there when you need it, when confronted with opportunities to compromise, when sin seems too easy to choose, when strength and wisdom is needed, and to keep us out of trouble.

As we clipped the wings of the ducks for their own protection and security, God’s word is there to guide, protect and serve as a deterrent as we live out our lives.

Psalm 19:7-14

7 The instructions of the Lord are perfect,
    reviving the soul.
The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy,
    making wise the simple.
The commandments of the Lord are right,
    bringing joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are clear,
    giving insight for living.
Reverence for the Lord is pure,
    lasting forever.
The laws of the Lord are true;
    each one is fair.
10 They are more desirable than gold,
    even the finest gold.
They are sweeter than honey,
    even honey dripping from the comb.
11 They are a warning to your servant,
    a great reward for those who obey them.

12 How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart?
    Cleanse me from these hidden faults.
13 Keep your servant from deliberate sins!
    Don’t let them control me.
Then I will be free of guilt
    and innocent of great sin.

14 May the words of my mouth
    and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing to you,
    O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.


John McHoul

www.heartlineministries.org