2 Haiti 4 Him

The Heckman family serving the Lord in Haiti at Emmaus Biblical Seminary

Friday, April 19, 2013

Smacked with Reality!

Have you ever just gone through the motions, day after day, doing what needs to get done, and then all of the sudden you were smacked in the face with the reality of what you have been doing all of that time????

Well I was smacked yesterday- right in the face!    Let me explain...

We have been running around these last few months... doing what has become quite familiar and normal for us-  speaking in churches, sending out newsletters updating family and friends on the events of life, sorting through belongings, collecting items that we need, writing thank you notes and lifting up prayers of praise and thanks to God for His provision.....

and then yesterday, it hit me.   We are moving to HAITI!

Now I know what you are thinking.... DUH, Emily!  You have known this for quite some time now... and its just now hitting you!?!?!?!

So much of this journey has been looking forward to and prepare for something in the distant future...  when we started down the road to Emmaus, we knew what God was calling us to do, and so we started the process of sharing our hearts with others, and inviting people to join us in God's work... knowing that in God's timing, we would get to Haiti...

but somewhere along this road, we just sort of got "caught up" in the preparation and in the moments (which is NOT a bad thing at all!).... it's just that the conversations and the day-to-day activities have become commonplace...

Let me take another shot at explaining this...

Have you ever been driving down the road, headed to your destination, and been distracted by thoughts or a song, and the next thing you know- you have arrived?  I can't tell you how many times this happens to me... 

(Disclaimer: When I say I'm distracted, I don't mean that my eyes are not on the road!)  

What I mean is that I get caught up in my thoughts, or in a prayer, or in a really good song, and I am not really thinking about where I'm heading, just what I am experiencing in that moment!

This is the best way, that I can think of, to equate this journey...

We have been enjoying every moment, riding along the road to Emmaus- taking in the sights, the conversations, the experiences... 

and now that we are setting dates for flights,
packing up our house,
doing a final push for our last 13% of funding (YES- you read that right- we are 87% funded!!!!!)
scheduling commissioning services and family picnics...

it has hit us!

Yesterday, Phil and I were standing in our house, discussing all of the upcoming events, talking about how we are going to box up our stuff and where it is going, etc. etc... and all of the sudden Phil stopped and looked at me and said, "This is really happening!  We are doing this!"  with sheer excitement in his voice!

I responded, "Yes we are!  Can you believe it?!"  

And then we just stood there... smiling from ear to ear... letting reality smack us in the face!

Even though the finish line is now in sight...  and the calling God has laid on our hearts to go to Haiti is becoming a reality...  I have to say that we are so thankful for the day-to-day focus that God has given us! 

If we had been so focused on just getting to Haiti, and if our eyes had only been on the end result, we would have missed SO much!

These last few months have been so sweet for us...  we have had the blessing of friends and family and the privilege of meeting so many wonderful people who have given us support, prayers, affirmation, encouragement, wisdom...God has stretched us and challenged us and taught us new things about Himself... we have learned patience and endurance, we have experienced provision and guidance...

We have tasted and seen that the Lord is GOOD!

To be honest... I am SO thankful that reality is just now sinking in!  I am beyond grateful for the day-to-day moments that have overwhelmed our thoughts and prayers...

I have learned on this journey that God doesn't want us to focus our energy on tomorrow... He wants us to take advantage of each day He gives us. 

Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:34, "...do not be anxious about tomorrow"...

Psalm 118:24 reminds us that "THIS is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!"...

Joshua 24:15 tells us that each day we have a choice...  "Choose THIS day whom you will serve"...

There is nothing wrong with keeping your eye on the finish line (in fact we are told to do so!)...  but not at the expense of missing out on what God has for you (and others around you) along the road each day...

Even though we can see God's call becoming a reality and we are SO excited to get to Haiti- my prayer is that I won't miss the moments, each day, that God wants to use... that I don't get so caught up in tomorrow that I miss out on THIS day!  And that is my prayer for you too!

Each day we thank God for the support He has provided us through you!  As I said above, we are still in need of 13% of our funding- and we are trusting that God will continue to provide the faith promise support we need by the time we feel He wants us to leave.  If you can lift our family up in prayer daily- not just for provision, but for protection and strength as we run this final lap- we would greatly appreciate it! 

Below is our upcoming schedule.  We would LOVE for you to join us at any of our commissioning services and at our OPEN HOUSE in August!

May 5th-  Speaking at Friendship United Methodist Church- 
Monroeville, NJ

June 9th-  Final Sunday as Director of Youth Ministries at Sharptown Church- sharing at 8:30am and 11:15am services, Pilesgrove, NJ

July 8th-July 26th- CROSS Training at OMS World Headquarters in
Greenwood, Indiana

July 28th- Commissioning Service at West Park United Methodist Church- 8:30am and 11am services- Bridgeton, NJ

August 4th- Commissioning Service at First Wesleyan Church- 10:30am
Bridgeton, NJ

August 4th-10th- Serving at Delanco Jr High 2 Camp- Tabernacle, NJ

August 11th- Commissioning Service at Sharptown Church- 8:30am and 11:15am services-Pilesgrove, NJ
OPEN HOUSE- First Wesleyan Church Fellowship Hall 2-5pm Bridgeton, NJ

August 24th-  2 Haiti 4 Him!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

"Better Off without Jesus"

We recently attended the Simply Youth Ministry Conference in Indianapolis, a conference that Phil and I have been going to each year since it started 7 years ago.  I LOVE this conference!  It is a place I return to every year because it combines ministry training, spiritual renewing, networking and connecting, growing in my walk with the Lord, and so much more!

This year, Phil and I attended a seminar on the last day of the conference that would leave a lasting impact on my life (and on his).  We actually went to the seminar because the title was both intriguing and stomach turning at the same time.  It was called “Better Off without Jesus”.  It sounded like the exact opposite of so many other seminars we have attended (like Jesus Centered Youth Ministry for example!).  We ended up attending it because I knew the speaker (I had taken an awesome 8 hour track with him a few years back!) and because I just had to know where he was going and what this was all about.

Once we sat down and he began to speak I understood exactly what this seminar was going to be about.  The title and the topic on which he based his seminar came from John 16:7. As Jesus is spending his last moments with his disciples before He is crucified, He shares these words with them: 

 “…I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you.  But if I go, I will send him to you”.   

 In other words, He told the disciples that they would be better off without Him!  

Chuck Bomar, the seminar speaker, had summed up- in those two hours- the content of his recent book by the same name.  I want to give you some highlights from this book that have been very powerful in my life in recent days.  Although much of what he says I have known from being raised in the church and even leading Bible studies on the Holy Spirit, the way in which he presents the information is what has left a lasting mark. 
We truly are “better off without Jesus” and here is what that means for us (below are excerpts from Chuck’s book- his words are in italics... the bold print was added on my part, as emphasis):

I find that most of us, when we think about it, truly believe that we would be better off with Jesus by our side.  We desperately want to do what God wants; we want to be where He wants us to be, and we tirelessly pursue this clarity. We want God to speak, and we want Him to do so in ways that are undoubtedly Him… We want full assurance.

We ask God to guide us through all sorts of circumstances and even in some of the most monotonous situations.

           ·          What college do I go to?
           ·          What school do I send my child to?...
           ·          Which house do I buy… and where?
           ·          Which job does God want me to have?
           ·          I have pure motives; so I don’t understand why God isn’t __________________ (you finish the sentence)

These are all examples of situations in which we genuinely want to be in tune with God.  And, again, many of us think we would be better off with Jesus right by our side.  We like the idea of being able to ask Him questions about our lives whenever we want to.  It’s comforting and physical and immediate.

And yet, this is where we need to take our first full step back and honestly examine the reasons why we think this way.

The reality is that we assume it would be best for Jesus to be physically beside us because we are focused on ourselves.  Unfortunately, it’s usually at the expense of keeping in mind all that God is also doing in the lives of other people, and around the world…

His words that follow are what has remained with me and caused me to really examine my heart:

The culture we live in breeds individualism deep into the core of our being. We lose sight of others and become mostly concerned about ourselves, our questions, our families, our pursuits, our decisions, our responsibilities.  In fact, I’ve noticed that most people who have grown up and live in our Western culture don’t believe their lives can actually be focused on serving others.  They have too many things going on in their own lives.

This unawareness of how much our culture drives our thinking toward individualistic thoughts is perhaps the biggest hindrance to hearing God speak to us.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that focusing on myself actually muffles the voice of God right out of my life.

Our Western culture would lead us to embrace Jesus solely as a beneficial addition to OUR individual lives, goals and dreams. We think we need to invite Him to join every area of OUR lives.  But the truth is that He calls us to join in with HIS.

Understanding the difference is absolutely essential if you want to be in tune with God’s voice in your life.  If you want to hear God speak to you individually, you must begin thinking beyond yourself. 

I don’t know about you, but my spirit is convicted in these words. How many seconds, minutes, hours do I allow to go by without thinking of other people?  How often does my prayer life, my actions, my words reflect only my own desires, goals, dreams?  How emotionally detached am I from the suffering and hurts of others and how much does God want to use me in their lives if I would just listen? 

Am I missing out on hearing from Him because I have muffled “the voice of God right out of my life”?

This book has challenged, and continues to challenge, my thinking and my actions.  I don’t want to walk through this life, through a single day, and miss out on what God wants to say to me or do through me.

We are truly “Better Off without Jesus” when we are in step with the Spirit- listening to His still, small voice, utilizing the power, help and comfort that He can bring- and pouring our lives out for the people around us!  I believe that if we live like this, if we start thinking and living beyond ourselves, our lives- and most importantly- the lives of those around us, would never be the same!


(Chuck Bomar, author of Better Off without Jesus,  is the pastor of Colossae Church in Portland, Oregon and is the author of more than a dozen resources and five books. He has a website/blog where you can read more from/about him and also purchase this book and others that he has written-www.chuckbomar.com)