THE HEART CALLS AND HOPE IS HERE

8 10 2019

The heart is calling...
I am writing today’s column from Vancouver, British Colombia. I have been here since Thursday as I finally successfully attended the annual “Hearties Family Reunion.” Last year’s pilgrimage was a pure disaster and it did go on to send me into a deep depression, but I had so many Believers praying for me this time that I knew something miraculous was in the making. I am humbly grateful tonight because I can say with tears in my eyes and praise in my soul, mission accomplished.

What is this gathering all about? Those of us in attendance share a common love, passion and appreciation for the Hallmark Channel’s beloved television series, “When Calls The Heart.” It is now about to enter into the 7th Season and I have been a huge fan of this faith-based saga from the very beginning. Inspired by the novels of Janette Oke, she writes about a young woman named Elizabeth Thatcher in the early 1900’s who decides to leave behind her life of luxury to head west so she can become a teacher on the Canadian Prairie. I was actually on the very set of Hope Valley earlier today and it was decorated to the hilt for the Christmas Movie that will be aired on December 25th. Those of you who know me well understand that I was totally in my element, even if the snow was more movie magic than manufactured by the right meteorological conditions.

I believe God made us to live within community. Pride has been our pitfall. Our “Every Man For Himself” mentality has caused us to compete against our brothers and sisters rather than simply complete them. While we can do so much good when we live to give rather than breathe to receive; the majority of our moments get muddied by our misguided selfish motives. Executive Producers Brian Bird and Michael Landon, Jr. believed that our culture was starving for entertainment that feeds the soul and not just bleeds it dry. Like his Father before him who gave us “Bonanza,” “Little House on the Prairie” and “Highway to Heaven,” the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Younger Michael teamed up with Brian Bird, who himself was mentored by Martha Williamson on “Touched By An Angel,” to give us another family friendly classic. There is nothing worse than sitting down with your kids to watch tv together, only to have to hit the remote seconds into the experience because of inappropriate language and less than proper behavior. Kudos to the Hallmark Channel for getting a conscience and sharing something valuable that rewards you for the time you invested with your viewing habits. Because of the success of the “Hearties,” there is now lots of buzz and excitement about becoming one of the “Hopefuls” who are those who support the newest Hallmark Channel masterpiece, “When Hope Calls.” This tale features the ups and downs of 2 Sisters who run an orphanage in the midst of the old Canadian west. It was a spin-off of last year’s “When Calls The Heart” Christmas Movie.

What have I witnessed the last few days? One of the biggest lessons is that faith isn’t dead on the earth. I have never been a fan of separating the secular from the spiritual. Life was never meant to be lived within compartments. You are who you are all the time and not just weekends and Wednesday nights. If you can worship God in a sanctuary, you can still express your devotion just about everywhere you go, in everything you do. If God isn’t lifted up in what you are working on, then why are you wasting such precious time. Praying for one another is not confined to only religious buildings. Let me illustrate by sharing the following happenings from Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

As I sat down to dinner with other “Hearties” on Friday night, because I don’t wear a clergy collar, my role as a Pastor is not always clearly recognized. The woman sitting to my right looked bewildered and overwhelmed. She had just learned that her husband back home had just been taken to the hospital with abdominal pain. Without hesitation, I knew I needed to pray for her and I did. I prayed for wisdom for this special lady  and healing for her husband. Before the evening was over, every individual in that Hilton banquet room was also praying for this entire family. This wasn’t a church gathering. This was a Hallmark event and yet God was invited to play a huge role. Think how Washington might get straightened out if the Lord wasn’t kicked out of government but actually looked up to in order to lead us to becoming a better people once again. I’m not talking about a State religion. I’m talking about Believers living their faith wherever and whenever God puts them.

On Saturday morning, as I was coming up the escalator, I saw one of my new friends collapsed on the couch. Surrounded by other Hearties, I was informed that she had experienced an anxiety attack and because I know that ugly feeling so well, I knelt down and prayed over her. When I opened my eyes, there was Michael Landon, Jr. praying along as he held this young lady’s hand. How cool is that? Prayer is not a felony. Prayer is a privilege for us to invite God into real life. If I can challenge us, it would be to never be ashamed or embarrassed to pray for someone when God gives you the nudge to do so.

Finally, today we toured the actual set used to film “When Calls The Heart.” I didn’t get to preach today but when my tour group entered into the Church building of Hope Valley, a dear young lady asked me if I would pray for all of us while we were in there together. I used my big booming voice to get everyone’s attention and shared that I would like to pray for everyone and I invited them to join me. I knew God was with us in that room. I knew God was knitting hearts together as we were on this field trip. Once again, I was so blessed because I didn’t shy away when I was encouraged to shine bright. If you can’t be a Christian 24/7, then something needs to change. God is an all the time good and faithful Father! Shouldn’t we be all the time obedient and trusting children?

Tomorrow, Monday, I come back to Cape May County. I am not an actor nor do I play one on tv. I am a learning, active, follower of the King of kings and Lord of lords. I am a disciple. I am hopelessly devoted to Jesus. I got to meet the entire casts of these awesome productions. I broke bread with the fellow fans of the shows. I laughed, I cried, I lived. God is not about building organizations. He is putting together a family made up of the hodgepodge of broken humanity. Redemption will always be the center of how God moves. Let’s use our hearts even more than our brains. Let’s become a community not just on paper but in practical ways. The heart is calling and hope is the answer so the next move is up to us. Don’t ignore what we need if we will ever be inspired.


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