“No One Will Be at My Funeral!”


Have you ever thought about your funeral and who would show up? Last week as we were doing ministry in downtown Denver I spent time talking to an individual I will call Travis. It was a gut wrenching conversation filled with graphic details of a life filled with abuse, foster homes, and mental health wards leaving Travis in search of love in all the wrong places. He shared with me that his greatest fear is not death, which he indicated would be a blessing, but that no one would show up at his funeral. “I just want someone there to testify to the fact that I’m loved,” he said with tear filled eyes.


I shared this same story at a marriage retreat I was apart of this past weekend. Where, as one would guess, love was the number one topic. No marriage or family can properly function without the Holy Spirit filling of the Father’s love demonstrated by the gift of His only Son Jesus. Travis never experienced this love of the Father poured out on him through his earthly parents or the foster home system. If only someone could have pointed Travis to the love of Christ displayed on the cross, perhaps his life would not be filled with such extreme pain and loneliness.


At the marriage retreat I had the privilege of talking with a couple that I officiated their wedding 11 years ago. As we were catching up they shared with me how their young family had grown to two biological, two adopted, and two foster children. Joy might not even describe how I felt as Chad and Leah shared their journey to opening their hearts and home to be a place of the Father’s love. As you can imagine it is not an easy journey to raise six kids. Add to that the fact that some of these children are literally starved for affection and attention and gripped by fear initiated by rejection and separation from biological parents.


Sunday morning I awoke early thinking again about Travis and his childhood trauma and Chad and Leah’s commitment to bring hurting children into their home in order to encounter the healing love from a Holy Father. Lord willing those children coming into Chad and Leah’s home will never have to walk through life feeling unloved like Travis. They will know at a young age to the perfect love of God that cast out all fear and brings certainty through the Spirit of Jesus that they are children of the King.


As I contemplated the difference between the love the foster children were experiencing with Chad and Leah and the loveless void Travis experienced my mind went back to my last moments with Travis last Tuesday night. I kept feeling the nudge of the Holy Spirit say to me “tell Travis that you love him and I love him and give him a big huge.” Yes, other voices were also speaking in my mind countering the Spirit’s push but eventually I reached out to Travis hugged him and told I loved him but more importantly the Father in Heaven loved him and he would never have to be alone.


I’m not sure how the Holy Spirit worked that night in Travis’s heart but I do know He has been speaking loudly to me the last few days, “Don’t hold My love back, open up your heart and keep giving it away!” Maybe this week the Father will bring a Travis into your life, “Don’t hold back, and give His love away!” 

Ad Fontes


Before you get too impressed with my Latin title, Ad Fontes, I have to admit I’m borrowing it from Dr. Donald Sweeting, new president at Colorado Christian University. Patty and I recently attended the inauguration and there he shared his vision for CCU-Ad Fontes, which literally means return to the fountain. Dr. Sweeting articulately spoke about his belief that many aspects of higher education are floundering because as a culture the true source of knowledge, which is Jesus Christ, has been abandoned and replaced with a relativistic approach. In such cases there is no absolute truth. Without truth to build upon there is no anchor and high education is a rudderless ship tossed about by the whim of the latest theories.

Dr. Sweeting’s address parallels a message by the pastor and theologian John Piper who states the ultimate essence of evil can be found in Jeremiah 2:13:

My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken Me the spring of living water and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.

Ancient Israel’s two sins sound like a commentary on our present society as well. We have left the source of Living Water in exchange for broken systems that we have built that leak and leave us spiritually parched. Piper stated “the essence of evil is to lose our taste for God or to prefer anything more than God.” We are saturated with the seduction of the serpent who continues to spew out lies that we must eat from “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,” to be truly satisfied. Just like our first parents we look at the luscious tree of self -rule, throwing off our need to walk in loving communion with Father God. As a result we run around exposed, desperately trying to cloth ourselves with fame, fortune, and countless false gods that are unable to cover up the shame.

Amen to Ad Fontes! I believe the Holy Spirit is calling the Father’s children back to the source of Living Water. This call is not only to higher education, but also the church. Both need to return to the foundation and drink deeply from Jesus Christ. Five hundred years ago it was the cry of the Reformers to get back to the source, Christ alone, Faith alone, Grace alone, Scripture alone, and the Glory of God alone. It is time again to go back to the source, back to the book of Acts and thirst for what that early church had. There we see a church filled with the gift of the Father, His Spirit and they were an unstoppable force that turned the world upside down as the preached with power and performed signs and wonders that pointed to a Father in Heaven who sent His only Son as the perfect sacrifice for sin.

The vision of Oceans Ministries is to reveal the love of the Father to spiritual and physical orphans around the world so that they may know they belong to Father who loves them dearly. I need this, you need this, we all need Ad Fontes! May the Spirit of the Father be unleashed again in our day and flood the nations with Heaven’s love that comes through knowing Jesus Christ as the fountain of life.

Please, please make it your priority to pray and ask our Abba Father to send upon us a fresh outpouring of the River of Life to revive our thirsty souls with His presence once again. Let the waters of His love be the desire of our hearts.

Ekklesia – The Called Out Ones!


On Sunday morning I gathered with a group of men in a sterile white room lined with plastic chairs in the Denver County Jail. The men dressed in blue sweat outfits with orange shoes are being held and awaiting a trial to determine their future. Some will soon be released while others may face years of incarceration. The fear in their faces was obvious as their lives literally hang in the balance of the court system. These men joined us for an hour in God’s Word and a time of prayer. For some this a brief reprieve from the prison pod was a new experience while others knew many scriptures by heart.


In the human all seemed lost. Once you are in the system you are a marked man or woman and even if you get out the chances are slim to none short of a miracle. So in my spirit I prayed over each individual asking for the Holy Spirit to defy the odds and do something supernatural in each of their hearts leading them to a life-changing encounter with Christ. As the large medal door closed behind me there was both a feeling of joy of encountering Jesus in jail but also an inner pain knowing that the path for most of them would be extremely difficult.


And on Sunday afternoon I gathered with a body of believers at church launch in inner city Denver. Avenue Church is birthed out of an Ethiopian church and this room consisted of multiple cultures and ages. I felt like I was back worshiping with my brothers and sisters in Africa. The pastor’s name is David and he preached a powerful message from Matthew 16:18:


And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell will not overcome it.


Pastor David shared that the Greek word for church is ekklesia, which means to be called out. He said the word church is not linked to a building, a tradition, or a denomination, rather it means God’s calling out of a life of sin to a new life found in a relationship with Jesus Christ. These called out ones storm the gates of hell and together with Christ bring His Kingdom to earth in transformational power.


Pastor David can testify to the power of being called out by the Spirit of Almighty God. He spent time in jail and has a record as a convicted felon for several crimes. Yet in his darkest time he met a group of Ethiopian Christians who took him in and loved him. Through these grace filled called out ones he found Christ and was transformed and discipled to become the pastor of a gathering of called out ones, who Sunday stormed the gates of hell in inner city Denver.


Sunday night I went to bed thinking about the men I met in jail, Pastor David and the power of the called out ones to share and show the transformational love of Jesus Christ. Throughout the day Abba Father showed me the power of His Church, The Called Out Ones. Jails, addictions, racial barriers, religious spirits, and all the demonic schemes of hell try to keep people in bondage-but the Called Out Ones storm these gates. You and I are the church, the called out ones, called to storm the gates of hell, called to lead others out of darkness into the transforming light of Christ. Who knows, you may touch the next Pastor David by simply showing and sharing the love of Jesus Christ.




Guest Post – In Praise of Parking Lot Prayers

Today’s post is provided by guest-blogger Henry Miersma, who recently joined Patty and I on our Tuesday-night ministry with Jesus on Colfax.

Before leaving my southern California home for a recent business trip to Denver, I read an article in The Banner magazine about Shawn and Diane Sikkema’s ministry called Jesus on Colfax. Although the purpose of my trip was to work with Tim Spykstra on his new book project, I had recently learned that Tim and Patty joined-up with the Sikkemas on Tuesday nights to minister to the residents on Colfax. Knowing I would be staying over at the Spykstras on a Tuesday night, and knowing the Spykstras, I had a funny feeling they would be moving me out of my comfort-zone and down to Colfax Avenue on the coming Tuesday. I was not wrong.

For those of you expecting to hear from Tim today, my apologies, but he asked me to share my thoughts about that evening. Please know that, although these are my thoughts, this is not about me.

The hotels on Colfax were built decades ago, when the street was one of the major thoroughfares in Denver. Today, interstate highways carry the bulk of the city’s traffic away from the street and the subsequent lack of travelers have left the hotels there in a bad way. As a result, most of the hotel’s tenants are people who are similarly in tough positions in life.

One of the first things I notice when we pull into the parking lot of a motor-court style hotel is the lack of adequate lighting. Its really dark in the parking lot. The room doors are visible, as they open directly to the outside, but they are dimly lit. After my eyes adjust, I can see that the hotel itself is old and run-down. The hotel’s sign seems to be an original dating from the 1950s.

After the Sikkemas and other volunteers all arrived at the hotel, the food was divided-up and organized into baskets. We then formed several small groups to deliver it door-to-door. Before we set-off separately, we formed a circle together and Tim offered a prayer to ask God to protect us and go before us. That would be the first of many prayers offered in a hotel parking lot that night.

I was probably the most-uncomfortable when Tim, Patty, and I approached our first hotel door. That discomfort soon melted away, though, as I saw Patty casually knock on the door and heard her call-out in her sing-song, soprano voice, “Jesus on Colfax Ministries – Burritos, Bananas, and Girl Scout Cookies.” I had to smile. I was actually surprised that the someone opened the door for that! But that happened over and over again during the evening. The knock, the offer and provision of food, and then an offer of prayer. All received.

One of the highlights of the evening for me was engaging in conversation with a young man who longed for a career in the music recording industry. I love music, too, and related to him that I’d been a disk jockey back in college. His interest was stoked when I mentioned a few of the groups I used to play. We talked easily for 10 to 15 minutes.

Another highlight came while visiting inside one of the rooms with a resident. The room was not large, but the man who lived there said “I live like a king… I have heat, running water, a bed to sleep on, and a refrigerator with food in it”. As we visited, he sang snippets of songs that he’d written as praise songs to God. His singing was beautiful and I enjoyed our visit. I wondered to myself if I could be as positive if I were in his position. It was humbling.

As the evening came to a close, our group came together once again and a prayer was raised-up in a parking lot. This time, the prayer was offered by the hotel resident who “lived like a king” and sang praises to God. He prayed for us and it was a beautiful prayer. It was humbling. As our prayer circle broke-up and the volunteers started heading to their cars, I moved towards the resident and offered my hand, thanking him for his hospitality and singing. Instead of a hand-shake, he embraced me and offered me more words of encouragement.

It was only later, as we drove home, that Tim and Patty related to me that they were witness to “mini-miracles” that evening. I did not quite comprehend. They said that the young man who I talked to about music careers had never opened-up to them before. They were surprised by the length of our conversation. They also said the resident who “lived like a king” and embraced me as the night ended had never allowed someone to embrace him before. I was surprised, because both incidents seemed uneventful to me.

So, one of my takeaways from that evening is this – when we reach-out to people, we may not be able to recognize the significance, or impact, of our actions while we’re in the process of doing them. To us, they are just a simple conversation or a brief embrace. But a greater perspective, like one found in Heaven, provides the complete picture. How mind-boggling to consider how that works throughout the world with an omnipotent God!

Another takeaway is that God can use our special interests or unique experiences to help us relate to those in need. Even when we’re far, far out of our comfort zones, we can be used.

I can honestly say that I did not expect what happened that night. I expected a large number of closed doors and angry looks. Instead, the doors opened to reveal people who looked forward to the visit. Men, women, even families with small children. They accepted food gratefully, smiled warmly and talked openly with the volunteers. When asked if they’d like prayer, most all of them said “yes” and additional parking-lot prayers were lifted-up.

I have attended church services my entire life, but never before have I experienced church as I did that Tuesday night.

If you’d like more information about Jesus on Colfax Ministry, you can find it on their website or Facebook page. Click here to read the article in The Banner magazine.

Also, a quick shout-out to the Parker Task Force. Thank you Steve B., and all the volunteers at that service, for providing much of the food distributed that evening.

And please keep Tim in your prayers as he works towards completing his next book, tentatively titled Climbing Prayer Mountain. Using principles gleaned from the lives of Moses, Elijah, Jesus, Peter and John; Climbing Prayer Mountain will be a 40 Day guide for transforming your life through prayer.