Turtledoves and Pigeons

If his offering to the LORD is a burnt offering of birds, then he shall bring his offering of turtledoves or pigeons. Leviticus 1:14

As I was meditating on Leviticus chapter one this morning, I was overcome with thanksgiving when I read verse 14. You might think that strange, especially since the next verse instructs the priest to wring the bird’s head off and drain its blood. (Priests had a very bloody job in the Old Testament.)

What makes this verse encouraging is its context. At the end of Exodus, Moses acted as overseer to make sure the tabernacle of God was completed according to the Lord’s precise instructions. Now completed, before God would meet with His people in the tent, God instructed them to establish a system of sacrifices. There was no way for a sinful people to approach a holy God without sacrifice. (Check out this great video to see why this was necessary and why Jesus was that sacrifice for us – https://youtu.be/NN_gw3Q6PkI.) The first sacrifice mentioned was the burnt offering.

Burnt offerings were given by a worshipper to declare total commitment and complete dedication to God. (What a wonderful way to begin worship!) Verses 3-9 describe the proper way to sacrifice a bull, and verses 10-13 show how the same process can take place with the substitution of a sheep or goat. There was one problem with this picture.

Only relatively wealthy people had enough money to purchase a bull or sheep. Even those who raised such animals could scarcely afford to remove one from the herd or flock to simply burn it up. What if a poor person wanted to show his loving dedication to his Creator? Was he left out when his others met to worship God?

God does not just want a relationship with those of high economic standing. In fact, quite often the independent self-reliance of the wealthy keeps them from admitting they even need a God to lean on. God has a special place in His heart for the poor and lowly, so much so that when He decided to enter humanity, He did so by becoming part of a poor shepherd’s family. So God prescribes the remedy if a poor person wanted to worship. They could substitute what they could afford – a turtledove or pigeon. There was hope for all the poor people who were part of the worshipping throng.

In relation to the peoples of the world, my family and I are quite wealthy. We have food, shelter, access to medical care, and transportation. Many around the globe cannot claim those privileges. Yet, compared to our fellow Americans, we would be considered poor. We have endured homelessness and at times been completely dependant upon the generosity of others to survive. I am not complaining at all. We have been humbled and through it been overwhelmed by God’s generous love poured out on us through His people.

My homebound wife has not been able to work since early in our marriage. While the small churches I served always gave us an extremely generous salary, it wasn’t quite enough for a family of five. Adding a mountain of medical debt to this situation often brought my heart to despair. Today, I am in my ninth month being unable to work because of physical issues. That’s nine months without a paycheck.

Just writing those words brings shame to my heart. I often confess to God my inability to provide for the precious family He has given me. I feel like a failure in so many ways. I don’t feel worthy to share Jesus with my neighbors, who may wonder why I am such a loser. I avoid fellow pastors whom I considered friends because of their successful leadership and my own defeat. I am tempted to run from God, who obviously must not want to be seen with someone like me. Right?

Until I remember that God asks for turtledoves and pigeons. He makes a way for people like me to worship Him. In fact, He invites people like me to worship. He delights to be with me and calls me His own. When this truth sinks into my thick skull, instead of running away from Him, I run towards Him as fast as I can to be embraced by His powerful, comforting arms.

Who is like the Lord our God, who is seated on high, who looks far down on the heavens and the earth? He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes, with the princes of his people.
Psalms 113:5‭-‬8 ESV


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Friends, during this time of constant upheaval and uncertainty, remember the Lord’s great love for you. In your weakness, may His strength be made perfect. In your turmoil, may His peace that transcends understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. We are praying for you! Please contact us if we can pray for you in a specific way.

Remember this description of our loving Father’s character:

The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness…”. (Exodus 34:6). This passage is the most quoted verse throughout the rest of Scripture for a reason.

Like your families, our own clan has experienced a challenging past month. Rebekah and her new husband Tim live in a virus hot-spot in New Jersey and faced a curfew and call to quarantine before the rest of the country. They bought a cat to celebrate.


Victoria and her fiance Noah had to cancel their bridal shower. Their upcoming wedding is still in the works, but they are remaining flexible. Victoria’s adjunct job at the high school is now on hold (along with her income), and she is trying to connect with her music students online for lessons. Maria had to move off campus and will finish the rest of her semester on her computer in her bedroom. Leah, with her compromised immune system, is trying to deal with this by avoiding anyone who may be a carrier. I am listening to my doctor, who told me to self-quarantine since I have several symptoms. Let me tell you, it is difficult trying to avoid others when four people live together in one 800 square foot house. To top it all off, my mother had two heart attacks and several surgical procedures and was not allowed any visitors, including my very caring stepfather. Thankfully, she is now recovering at home. But I am not complaining. We have met with God in some incredible ways that may not have happened otherwise. Maria, Leah, and I are enjoying our study together in the gospel of Mark (with appropriate social distancing). Leah and I continue to pray though the Psalms and Proverbs (with appropriate social distancing). God is faithful and He is good.

I am really concerned for you. How are YOU doing? Many of you are fearful of disease. Some of you have parents who are high risk. Others face job insecurity and economic instability. A few of you are stranded far from home, wondering if you will see your family soon. I am so sorry for what you have to face. But I am thankful that we have Creator who knows you and loves you and is active in your life right now reaching out to you with His mercy and grace. How can I pray for you when I next meet with Him?

Because of the slowdown of our court and medical systems, my anticipated disability hearing and my upcoming appointment at the University of Arkansas Medical School seem to be on hold. This is a challenge considering I haven’t worked since July 1st. Yet, when our family met to talk about some of our virus worries and concerns, not one of us had anxiety over God’s provision. We have complete confidence He will lovingly meet our needs. I am praying about some possible ministry opportunities that I can do from home, but in a time when 50% of nonprofits may close, should I think of starting another one? Please pray for God’s provision for our family and that I will know and obey God’s will.

I don’t get out often, but before I got sick, I was able to tag along with some friends so I could attend a very special meeting in Texas. Part of the Spanish Central District is combining with the Southwestern District of the Christian and Missionary Alliance. There was some concern that people would resist or struggle with this big change, but as we met a wonderful unity filled the place as the Holy Spirit visited. The transition will have some obstacles, but we will face them together for God’s glory. I haven’t been able to see my Alliance family for several years, so I greatly enjoyed the reunion.


Our small church continues to pray for each other even as we are unable to meet. We are unable to have any type of service online in the Ozark hills, so we are making use of the old-fashioned telephone. We are sad that a dear exchange student from Poland who was hosted by a church family had to go home early. We will miss her!

Can I ask a favor of you? Here are the email addresses of our family members. Please send a short note to one of them to encourage them. I am sure they could use it trying to live with a guy who has to stay in one corner of one small room. Victoria could really use a kind word as they wedding plan in these uncertain times.

leah.janie.maria@gmail.com, rebekah.hope.heinen@gmail.com, v.heinen012@gmail.com, mariaheinen7301@gmail.com

We love and appreciate you! Please let us know how we can pray for you.

Brian Heinen, 802 East 23rd Street, Russellville, Arkansas, 72802
479-886-0765 brheinen1@gmail.com
Follow my journey on Facebook and Twitter.



Friends, in this season of celebrating love, may we not forget the greatest love ever – the love our Heavenly Father has for us.  If you have not fully experienced the everlasting love of God that literally transforms us into brand new people, please message me.  I would love to tell you about it.

Speaking of love – Rebekah and Tim are married!  In all the wedding ceremonies I have been a part of, I never saw a bride glow like Rebekah.  I know Tim dearly loves his new bride.  What a joy to see two people brought together by Jesus!  They are now settling down to live together in New Jersey.  We miss them terribly, but are so thankful for all that Jesus has done in them and for them.

Victoria is working in an adjunct position at Russellville High School while she prepares for her own wedding in May.  Noah is now renting a home that he will share with Victoria after their special day.  Maria is continuing her studies at Arkansas Tech University’s elementary education program, which was recently recognized as one of the best programs in the country for teaching reading to students.  We are so proud of both of our soon-to-be teachers.

In the past few months, Leah and I survived the holidays, two graduations, a wedding, and having our oldest move away.  What joyous, exhausting experiences!  In addition to her mental challenges, her constant pain, her stomach ailments, her kidney disease, her fatigue, and having to put up with her husband, Leah is now possibly facing surgery for her arthritic knees.  Please pray for God’s healing touch and His sustaining grace.

I continue to wait for my appointment at the University of Arkansas Medical School.  My left foot has a deep wound that is slow to heal, so I am once again wearing a boot.  Someone mentioned to me that they feel bad that I can’t walk.  I can walk, but I do look a bit like Frankenstein’s monster when I do.  The boot further complicates matters.  Driving continues to be a challenge.  My hands are experiencing increasing pain.  I also am still waiting for my disability hearing.  Please pray for our Lord’s provision, as Leah cannot work and I have not worked since the beginning of last July.  We are praying for everything to work out for God’s glory!

May I also ask you to pray that God will reveal to me a little bit of what my future looks like?  I pray daily for complete healing so I can return to some type of employment and ministry.  Yet, I also pray for God’s strength and peace if the rest of my life includes the limitations I now face.  If I am not healed in the way I desire, what will my purpose be for the rest of my life?  I enjoy the growing opportunities I now have to spend time alone with God and to intercede for others.  Leah and I have more time to pray together.  Leah prays for hours throughout the night when she can’t sleep.  I am amazed by her intimacy with our Savior.  Now she can share a little of that with me.  Yet, is there something more we can do with our lives?  Please pray that God will give me wisdom for the days ahead.

I began this update focusing on love.  Once again, Leah and I need to express our gratitude for how God has showered His love upon us through His people.  The messages of encouragement keep our hearts strong and trusting in Jesus.  We even had a college friend go out of her way as she traveled cross-country to stop by to visit us.  People we have not had contact with for decades have reached out to us.  We are so blessed to have all of you in our lives!

Let me close with another reminder of God’s love for us.  What makes us understand the enormity of God’s love is when we comprehend the meaning of a little word called sin.  Sin is what keeps us from experiencing God’s love.  It is when we choose our independence instead of living lives submitted to the God of love who created us.  Because of our sin, we are unable to do what God says is right.  The Bible says we all fall short of God’s standard.  And because God is love, He sent His Son to do what we could never do.  Jesus lived a perfect life for us that we could never live.  He died a death we should have died to pay the penalty for our sin so we can live.  The righteous life of Jesus satisfied God’s requirements.  His resurrected life is a guarantee that all who accept His gift of forgiveness and new life will also live forever embraced by His love.  He offers His love to you.  Just receive it by trusting completely in all He has done for you.

If you have any questions about this, go to the “about” page of my website and view the “What is Christianity?” video.  Contact me using the information below.  Remember we pray for our family and friends!  Let us know how we can pray for you.


Brian Heinen, 802 East 23rd Street, Russellville, Arkansas, 72802
479-886-0765 brheinen1@gmail.com
Follow my journey on Facebook and Twitter.

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God is so good!  The Arkansas Heinen clan is two days away from celebrating the marriage of Timothy Thorpe to Rebekah Heinen.  (We will have pictures in the next newsletter!)  Victoria and her fiance, Noah, are busy planning their May wedding.  Maria is back on campus and is enjoying her new semester at Arkansas Tech University.  God has blessed our children in such wonderful ways.

Our December was filled with holiday celebrations.  Maria and Rebekah directed the Christmas program at church.  They did a terrific job organizing the chaos that occurs when the majority of the actors are under the age of 6.  I have to admit, I have never seen the Christmas story presented like that before.

Between Christmas and New Year’s Day, Maria, Victoria, and Noah drove me to Wisconsin for the gathering of the Heinens for Christmas.  For the first time in fourteen years, all us kids were together, along with most of our family members.  It was a glorious time.  We then visited my mother and step-father before we made the 13-hour trip home.  I am so thankful to the kids for driving me home, especially as my own ability to travel is so limited and my parents are getting older.

heinen christmas 2020

Leah was not able to make trip.  Rebekah stayed with her and prepared for her wedding.  Leah recently had some good doctor visits.  Please pray for her to be strong enough to enjoy the wedding.

Daily, I face the limitations that come with decreased use of my feet/legs and hands/arms.  Yet, God continues to pour out His mercy and grace on every part of our lives.  One again, I need to thank all who have prayed for us and generously encouraged us over the past months.  God used you to daily renew our hope.  The Go Fund Me page our girls set up is being deactivated, but if any of you would like to help in the future, this web page has a PayPal button at the bottom of most pages.  Please pray that my disability hearing will be held soon.

I am spending time seeking God as to what my future ministry life looks like.  Please pray I will hear His voice.

We love you!  Please contact us as to how we can pray for you.


Brian Heinen, 802 East 23rd Street, Russellville, Arkansas, 72802
479-886-0765 brheinen1@gmail.com
Follow my journey on Facebook and Twitter.



May the Christ of Christmas fill your hearts with renewed wonder as you more fully realize who He is and all that He has done for you!

This past month has been one of incredible blessing. Victoria celebrated her 23rd birthday yesterday by conducting a few songs at the Dover High School Christmas concert. She completed her student teaching at Dover and will graduate from Arkansas Tech University this Saturday. Oh, yeah – she also got engaged to Noah Greenawalt! They anticipate a wedding sometime later in 2020.

Maria finished her first semester at ATU. She loves college and has yet to receive anything lower than an “A” at any level of her education. Rebekah graduated with her Master of Social Work degree. She is finishing plans for her January wedding to Tim Thorpe and is packing for her move to New Jersey right after the wedding. Leah continues to be the World’s Best Mom to her busy girls. Leah’s health challenges remain, but so does her rock-solid faith in her rock-solid Savior. My “severe axonopathic polyneuropathy” continues to progress, slowly making use of my hands more difficult as it also creeps up my legs. I am still in the long process of being approved for disabilty. Through my physical and financial struggles, I am once again forced to be completely dependent upon my Lord, and He constantly proves Himself faithful.

We are absolutely overwhelmed by the extremely generous help we received from family, friends, acquaintances, and even from a few strangers. We are deeply humbled and thankful. We are current in our house and car payments and have not had the lights turned off, even though I have not worked since July 1st. You have no idea how much peace your gifts have brought to our hearts. Your emails, cards, and messages daily give us courage to continue to trust the goodness of Jesus. God has given us all of you as a very special gift this Christmas season. We appreciate you! And may God bless you as you have blessed us!

The go fund me page the girls started is still active – https://www.gofundme.com/f/heinen-family-in-need. Again, thank you so much for blessing us with your gifts!

If you do not have a church home and live in the Arkansas River Valley, feel free to visit us at the Appleton Cumberland Presbyterian Church on December 22nd for our Christmas program. The fun starts at 10 A.M., and we never know what to expect from our kids as they remind us why Jesus was born in Bethlehem so long ago. Message me for directions.

Here is a final “Merry Christmas” picture from our girls (and Noah!).

christmas 2019


Brian Heinen, 802 East 23rd Street, Russellville, Arkansas, 72802
479-886-0765 brheinen1@gmail.com
Follow my journey on Facebook and Twitter.


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In this season of giving thanks, may you be more aware than ever of God’s love for you and His amazing grace that is offered to you.  Truly, “His love endures forever.”

Leah and I have so much to be thankful for as we approach Thanksgiving.  Our girls continue to amaze us and bless us.  Maria is a terrific student at Arkansas Tech University.  She just received news she can graduate a semester early.  She invited me to the homecoming game for ATU last month.  Rebekah drove me to the campus and Maria escorted me in as I limped up the ramp into the seating area.  Even though they lost, it was a lot of fun.  Maria continues to encourage our church family, teaching an upcoming Thanksgiving devotional and directing the Christmas play, both with her sister.

Victoria is just weeks away from finishing her student teaching.  She will be working at her alma mater, Russellville High School, in an adjunct position in the spring semester.  After that, the sky is the limit!  Her boyfriend, Noah, just landed a great job.  She is super involved during this season of school plays and Christmas concerts, and is loving every minute of it.  She surprised me by coming to our church on my birthday.

Rebekah is weeks away from finishing her internship and her Master of Social Work degree.  They will really miss her at the senior adult center where she has worked for the past year.  And she is just a few months away from marrying Tim and moving to New Jersey, where they being an exciting life and ministry together.  It looks like they have found a place to rent!  Please pray for her healing, as she continues to struggle with immune system issues that are yet to be accurately diagnosed.

leah and iLeah and I will celebrate 33 years together in a few days.  How blessed I am to have someone who radiates Jesus and encourages me with her love and wisdom.  Her health issues don’t get any better, but she continues to trust our Savior in a way that inspires me and glorifies our Lord.  Please pray for her complete healing.  We were lamenting today that her health problems and the medications she takes have robbed her of her beautiful singing voice.  Please pray that she will be able to sing again!

Many of you have asked for more information about my own health needs.  I am diagnosed with severe axonopathic polyneuropathy.  My feet have no feeling left, and my ankles and lower legs are severely numb.  My ability to drive is extremely limited and I walk like I am inebriated.  My hands have constant pins and needles pain and numbness which impact my fine motor skills.  Writing and computer work are difficult.  The symptoms continue to progress.  My wonderful team of doctors are unable to find a cause and are trying to set up an appointment with a very busy neuromuscular specialist at the medical school in Little Rock.  I have been on medical leave from work since July 1st.  That leave ended today.  Many of you know our financial difficulties over the years and realize that we do not have resources to fall back on.  I am working with a great lawyer to try to get disability, but the process seems to take forever.  (Leah does not qualify, as she does not have enough work credits.)  We survive simply because of the extreme generosity of our dear friends and family.  We are so thankful for you!  We continue to pray for our daily bread and depend upon the One who provides.  We never know how the bills this month will be paid, but He remains faithful!

I hesitate to write this, but if you feel led to give, the girls set up a Go Fund Me set up to help pay some medical and everyday living bills.  Thank you to everyone who has already given!  I am blown away by the love and support we have received.


Leah and I were discussing the topic of thanksgiving lately.  She has lost so much because of her health trials over the years, but she remains so thankful to our Savior!  I more recently lost my mobility, my ministry, my profession, and now my ability to work and provide for my family.  I can easily begin a big pity party, but because of her example and the encouragement of Scripture, my loss is now turning into praise.  I am incredibly thankful for the little things I experience each day.  I can’t drive, but when I can walk into the backyard or across the street to go to the mailbox, I am grateful!  I can’t work, but when I can do a load of laundry my heart is filled with praise!  I can’t pastor, but when when my daughters drive me to our wonderful little church and I can expound on the good news of the gospel, I cannot help but get alone with my Lord and give Him glory!  I am so thankful for each moment’s breath, for all the wonderful people I come in contact with each day, and for the presence of my Heavenly Father who never leaves me nor forsakes me!

Some wonder why our family struggles so.  Weary friends question why the bad news never seems to go away.  Many ponder what secret sin we are harboring that has brought God’s punishment into our lives.  Others have thought out loud how weak our faith must be for our lives to be as they are.  Maybe my faith is weak, but while I may not be able to rejoice in the greatness of my faith, I do marvel at the greatness of the One who is the object of my faith.  Our family does face constant trouble, but remember the words of Jesus:  I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world (John 16:33).  You have trouble, too!  It may look different than ours, but you have it.  And when you are overwhelmed by it all, please remember the last part of the verse – we can take heart, because He has overcome the world!


Brian Heinen, 802 East 23rd Street, Russellville, Arkansas, 72802
479-886-0765    brheinen1@gmail.com
Follow my journey on Facebook and Twitter.



Man-at-crossCome to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28–30)

From Leah:  I chose this verse to encourage you all. It has been a verse that has stuck with me for many years and means a lot to me. Blessings!


From Rebekah:  I wanted to thank all of our friends who have showered our family with encouragement, generosity, and love.  Life has been crazy this past month, but God has shown Himself faithful time and again by giving us Scripture, songs, and encouragement from loved ones to keep us going.

Dad’s health continues to deteriorate. He has been to various specialists and doctors. It is a bit discouraging to experience how long every medical process seems to take. Every new referral, every part of the disability process, and every waiting period for test results bring more questions than answers. Currently our family doctor is trying to send Daddy to UAMS for more testing to see why in the world his nerve damage is rapidly progressing.

Amidst all that chaos, life has also been moving fast for all of us girls as well! Maria is doing great in her first semester of college. She says her classes are easier than high school haha.

Victoria is so close to graduating! She will have her choral music teaching degree in December! Right now she is enjoying finishing up student teaching, leading voice and piano lessons, and giving googly love-eyes to her man. 😉

My life is revving up too! I will be done with my Masters Degree in Social Work in December. I am absolutely loving my internship working with geriatric patients, and I will miss them dearly. I also am only 91 days away from getting MARRIED to the love of my life, Timothy Thorpe!! We had a beautiful shower last weekend at Church, and it is all getting sooo real. I am blessed to have this time left with my family before moving away to be with my honey in New Jersey.

We are all in different seasons of life but God is showing Himself to be faithful in them all. Every step He proves His goodness. Every second He whispers His love. Thank you to everyone who has been a part of helping us keep our eyes on Jesus through the thick and thin of our crazy lives.

If you would please be praying for all of us in this transition and also as we face the uncertainty (money-related and otherwise) of Daddy’s medical problems we would appreciate it! Please let us know how we can pray for you too! My momma especially is a super-prayer warrior and would love to lift your needs to our loving Heavenly Father.

And if you feel led to give, we also have a Go Fund Me set up to help pay some medical and everyday living bills. Thank you to everyone who has already given! I am blown away by the love and support we have received.


 Now all glory to God, Who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to Him in the Church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21 NLT)