The Character of Abba Father’s Heart – Joy

How do you define joy? I am a visual person so what helps me define JOY is by what I see. A few Sunday’s ago I was preaching in a church in Lesotho Africa and it was winter in the Southern Hemisphere. Yet, in this cinder block building with hard chairs, a chilling draft, and without heat people came in their Sunday best with smiles ready to encounter God in worship.

By the end of the service those of us who were shivering at the beginning of the service were plenty warm and removing our jackets as we were caught up in the worship service where heavens fire invaded our hearts. Now, for those of us from the western world this is hard to comprehend. Nothing in this particular external environment would typically bring us joy or pleasure. There was no heat; hard chairs, poor lighting, and the volume of the music broke all decimal rules.

And what about all the internal suffering these people brought into the worship service that morning. Extreme poverty, one of the highest death rates in the world because of HIV/Aids, and daily living under the injustice of a corrupt political system. Not to mention a host of other social issues like rape, a huge orphan population and lack of educational opportunities. Yet, somehow in spite of both external and internal battles these people face there was an overwhelming spirit of joy that flowed out of the hearts of these beautiful worshipers.

When I think about the joy I personally experienced that Sunday, surrounded by Besotho followers of Christ engaging in worship I know the source of their joy has to be rooted in God. How could one find joy based on the lack of external comfort in the building or the hardships and suffering in their lives? Yet, JOY invaded their hearts. JOY from a Father in heaven who is complete joy. This JOY is released through the Holy Spirit upon all His children who make Him their hope in the midst of what many of us would label a hopeless situation.

This joyful worship experience in Africa makes Nehemiah 8:10 come to life, “the joy of the LORD is my strength.” You can translate that, “the joy of the LORD is my everything.” Knowing the Father = Joy and His Joy becomes everything you need.

As I remember dancing before the Father with my brothers and sisters in Africa, I praise Him for how they have taught me that He is the source of TRUE JOY!



The Character of Abba Father’s Heart – Empowered to Serve

A special thank you to Danell for writing such inspiring blogs while I was in Africa.

Each time I walk on African soil I am in awe of how God empowers his children to serve in ways that bring Heaven to earth. Lesotho Africa is one of the poorest countries on earth and has the second highest HIV rate in the world. Yet the Father’s love continues to overcome the darkness and bring light through ordinary people full of God’s Spirit. Let me share a couple of stories that highlight this.

Our team stayed at Beautiful Gate Care Center, a refuge for abandoned babies. While we were there a 1-month-old baby girl arrived, she was found at a nearby dam. This tiny malnourished child was quickly enveloped in love by staff and volunteers a like. She went from orphan into a family of care workers that treated her as a child of the King, with the hope that she will one day be adopted.

One of our days was spent at the Good Shepherd Center. This is a place that cares for unwed mothers and their babies. Many of these teen mom’s have been raped and are ostracized from their community and literally have no place to go. I watched as 13 teen-age girls from Holland Christian High School, led by their teacher Mike Verkaik, showed Christ’s love in amazing ways. It was a day of singing, sharing testimonies, holding babies, laughing, dancing, and crying together. One of the nuns who work at Good Shepherd said, “There is something special about these Holland Christian girls.”

This was a particularly memorable trip for me as this was the first time my wife Patty was able to travel to this country that I love so much. I was so blessed as I watched her minister to a pastor’s wife of a local church where I preached. Patty was able to listen, love, and give words of encouragement to a beautiful woman who has suffered much because of the battle wounds of being a pastor’s wife. We were asked to pray over the pastoral staff and their wives, it was a powerful time as the nearness of God’s healing presence was evident.

One chilly night – yes it gets cold in Africa, and our lodging had no heat! – any way, during our evening “family time” I was recapping the events of the day and all that we were experiencing in Lesotho. It struck me how the Father takes our “YES” to be His servant and how He uses it to unleash His glory through us, as He did through Mary mother of Jesus (Luke 1:38). This “YES” to serve others will bring in His Kingdom in powerful ways, this is the church of Jesus Christ at it’s best. Truly, this team, at this moment, was at Beautiful Gate because Ray and Sue Haakenson, co-founders of Beautiful Gate, said YES to care for 7 abandoned babies in 2002. They had no idea that their “YES” would impact 13 high school girls in 2015. And I guarantee that their “YES” will impact countless others for the Father’s glory!

Your Father is waiting to empower you to serve in His Kingdom……. all He needs is your YES!!!

Guest Post – Trust in the Father

Tim with the team from Holland Christian Schools

Once again, board member Danell Czarnecki will be guest-blogging while I’m in Lesotho.

Photos and stories about my trip are available on this blog made by the Holland Christian Schools team.

Trust in the Father

In a few weeks I will have the amazing gift of holding my first grandchild. As I wait for that day, I pray when I take her in my arms she will know love as she rests between my shoulders and that she can trust I will always do my best to do what is right for her. But no matter how hard I try, I will never love her or be as trustworthy as the One who loves her more and in His graciousness chose to bless us with the gift of her.

At the beginning of each new year I ask God to give me a word to speak to me throughout the coming year, my “go to” word if you will. In 2014 my word was “release.” This year, for 2015, my word is “trust.”

I am in awe of how our Father speaks even when we aren’t always listening; and how He uses the things in our lives to point us towards Him. 2014 brought about many things in both my personal and ministry life I needed to release, and by releasing I have needed to press into trusting Him for the “holes” left in the releasing. He continues to teach me that to trust Him is to believe with conviction that He wants the best for me and for me to grow and experience fullness of life; and to trust He is sufficient to fill the holes.

In one of the last sermons I heard Pastor Tim preach he asked if anyone had ever heard of a church with the word “trust” in its name. Can’t say I have, there are many churches with words like grace, love, faith, Calvary, fellowship, community, and the list goes on. But none with the word trust.

If we believe in God for who we say He is; if we believe the Bible as truth; and if we believe that someone who said he would die and rise again did indeed do that very thing; and if we believe God sent the crucified and risen One for us because of His love (John 3:16); why do we find it so hard to trust? I once read a quote from the founder of Overseas Missionary Fellowship, he said, “There is a living God, He has spoken in the Bible. He means what He says and will do all He has promised.” So I release, wait, trust, and my faith in the One who loved me more than life itself grows.

Trust was such an important word in the OT, it took 7 different Hebrew forms of the word to capture the intensity of its meaning. Each of the 7 words define different ways we can trust our Heavenly Father; much like a baby trusts in their parents to provide a safe refuge, to be secure in their love, to be nurtured and believed in, to wait upon with hope, and to look to for protection and provision. All 7 of these Hebrew words for trust in the OT translate into the Greek word used for faith in the NT.

When we put our faith in Jesus, when we truly trust in the Father, we can rest between His shoulders. We can be confident His arms will provide shelter, we can know He will nurture and build us up. We can be as certain He will do whatever it takes as we are certain in the crucifixion and resurrection. And even though we sometimes groan like we are in labor, we wait and trust in Him to bring about something new in our lives.

My granddaughter’s faith and trust in the safety and love of my arms will forever be a gift to me. Trust is our gift back to God, and He finds it such a beautiful gift that He sent His Son to die for it.

Guest Post – Rest in the Father


As I mentioned last week, I’m currently visiting Beautiful Gate Child Care Center in Lesotho, Africa. Board member Danell Czarnecki will be guest-blogging while I’m in Lesotho.

Photos and stories about my trip are available on this blog made by the Holland Christian Schools team.

Rest in the Father

A few years ago Pastor Tim, myself, and a few others attended a prayer summit. It was a powerhouse experience in so many ways. The worship was beautiful, what I imagine heaven must be like; a gathering of people from every tribe and tongue united in One Father, One Son, One Spirit.

The prayer times were equally as powerful. There was a palpable release of the Holy Spirit and a call upon us, both as the body of Christ, and as individuals, to take a leap of faith and step out into the “fullness of God” we read about in Ephesians; a fullness we were created to experience and share.

I knew in my spirit something big was happening, but couldn’t fully discern it at the time. I also knew I desperately wanted to be a part of it but fear, insecurities, lack of trust and more kept me from stepping out into the deeper waters.

Near the end of the summit God knew I needed a confirmation of what I was experiencing in my spirit. During a moving worship time an artist worshiped with us using his creative gift of painting. As we worshiped, what began as a rather abstract messy canvas began to take shape and come to life. An image of a woman resting between the shoulders of Jesus emerged and tears began to flow down my cheeks.

Those who know me know I am a bit of an over-achiever. As the artist added color and texture to his canvas, I was reminded that God didn’t send His Son to the cross so I could do something more, but so I could find love, trust and rest in who He is and for me to fully honor Him required for me to accept me. I was too reminded that without Jesus and His sacrifice I am a mess and without form, but God lovingly and tenderly molds, shapes, and colors me in such a way that when I rest in His arms His works manifest themselves in and through my life for His glory not because of anything I do. And the only thing that matters is His love for me and who He sees in me.

I brought that picture home with me as a reminder and hung it outside my office, not just for me, but as a reminder to all of us that “the one the Lord loves rests between His shoulders.” (Deut. 33:12b)

A few months ago I was meeting with someone whom God is calling into deeper waters. I asked her to close her eyes and tell me what she saw. She said God beckoning her to come to Him, His arms open and extended, wanting to draw her between his shoulders, ready to receive and embrace her. I said “What are you waiting for? Run to Him!! The one the Lord loves rests between His shoulders.” She ran and though she is in deep water He is her lifeboat and he is using her to bring powerful healing to others.

What is the Lord calling you to? What are your “deeper waters”? Close your eyes, do you see Him? Run into His arms, He won’t deny you, He will catch you, you can trust Him, and He will give you rest.

The Character of Abba Father’s Heart – Empowering Prayer

WEAK people pray! And what they pray for is the Father’s Empowering Presence in their life.

Last week we left off with Peter and John thrown into jail because they were living and loving Jesus (Acts 4:8-13). The religious leaders were dumbfounded with what to do with these Jesus followers, so they threatened them, told them to stop speaking and teaching in the name of Jesus, and released them.

However, instead of skipping town, Peter and John went to the church and called a prayer meeting and prayed for the empowering presence of the Father.

“…Now, LORD, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus,” (Acts 4:29-30).

Knowing their weakness they asked the Father to speak and heal through them. The disciples could only accomplish these things because they knew they belonged to the Father. The Father loves to answer the prayers of the weak: “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly” (vs.31).

This last year God has continued to show me how weak I really am and how daily I cannot continue without the empowering presence of my Heavenly Father. I would like to ask the faithful readers of this blog to pray for Patty, myself, and the team from Holland Christian High School as we travel to Lesotho Africa. Together, we are blessed to be able serve at Beautiful Gate Care Center, attend God-ordained meetings about a ministry center in one of the villages, preach the gospel in a local church, and encourage the local pastor and his wife. As we minister to orphans, families torn apart by HIV aids, and a country struggling with extreme poverty we know that there is nothing we can bring on our own, but humbly pray that in our weakness the healing presence of Abba Father’s love through Jesus brings everlasting hope. Through the prayers of the Father’s children glorious things can happen just as they did in the book of Acts, thank you in advance for your prayers!

Also, I am pleased to share with you that Danell, one of the board members of Oceans Ministries, will be writing the next two blog entries while I am in Africa.