Go Find Joy! – Encounters with Jesus


“Would you like a Starbucks?” Both Patty and I looked at each other and were speechless. The lady, beaming with a warm smile insisted, “let me get you a Starbucks, any kind you like!” She continued to persist until we said yes. To be honest I had never been in this type of situation before-where we were asking for food in snowy 30degree weather. She returned a few minutes later and blessed us with one of the best tasting coffees I have ever had.


Let me back up a bit incase you think things have turned south for the Spykstra’s really fast. Saturday we were helping to collect food for Parker Task Force an awesome ministry that blesses our community with food and so much more as well as supplies food on Tuesdays for the ministry on East Colfax. So here we were bundled in hats and gloves standing in front of a King Sooper’s store and handing out a shopping list of needs for the food bank.


Patty was in tears most of the time as we saw an overwhelming response to the requests. People would bring a whole shopping cart of food and take out one bag for themselves and give us the rest. Little kids would run over to us with a box of cereal and gigantic smiles. People dropped $20’s in the box; one man donated a $100 gift certificate. Another lady shared how when she was down on her luck the Parker Task Force came to her rescue and now it was time for her to give back.


We forgot about the cold, as the storefront became a sanctuary of JOY. It was such a blessing and also humbling to be on the other end of things. From receiving the Starbucks to being handed armloads of food we saw Jesus and His kingdom through so many acts of kindness that day.


Last week I blogged about the first foundation of joy is being FOUND by Jesus and the receiving the overwhelming love of the Father. The second foundation of joy is FINDING Jesus by serving others. As Jesus says in Matthew 25 that when you feed the hungry, give a drink to the thirsty, invite a stranger in, clothe the needy, visit those sick or in prison you do it to Him:


The King will reply, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine you did for me,” (vs. 40).


When the lost are FOUND by God and they receive His abundant grace they learn to show gratitude by GIVING BACK to others. The result of this heavenly exchange is JOY. A JOY that is found by finding Jesus in others you serve. If you made your way up to a hospital room to visit a friend, found yourself inviting a lonely college student over for diner, wrote a letter to a prisoner, or gave a cold homeless man your ski jacket, you have tasted the Kingdom and encountered King Jesus in some way. And once you begin to live this lifestyle it becomes contagious.


Our world needs to see JOY and taste the JOY of Jesus desperately. You don’t need to come to Africa with us to experience that JOY it is as close as the person right next to you! Go find someone that may need to be served in some way today, maybe even buy them a Starbucks! Go Find Joy!








Go Find Joy! – Being Found

“When we get back home we need to find a church like that!” These words came from a group of high school guys after experiencing a worship service in Africa. Even though the sound system crackled and the decibel level was over the top the worship reached deep into the souls of the team members and brought us into the glorious presence of the King.

What was it about the worship conducted with a simple drum set, a well-worn keyboard, and four young ladies singing? In the states we would consider such a Sunday service unacceptable and hear many parishioners complaining, yet why were these young people so impacted? My brothers and sisters in Africa have taught me that joy always flows out of relationship, a relationship that starts with knowing you belong to the Father. Indeed souls that have experienced the overflowing love of God cannot be contained-joy resounds from the depths of one’s being.

A glimpse of heaven invaded that cinder-block sanctuary in Lesotho as the Holy Spirit flooded the room and those present were ever so gently pushed into the river of joy and the Father’s love. Experiencing such joy is infectious and once tasted will be desired for the rest of one’s life. One of the foundational principles of joy is being FOUND by the love of the Father! The greatest gift of all is that I was lost but the Good Shepherd searched for me and found me and brought me back to the heavenly fold of the Father.

Perhaps you were able to spend some time pondering Matthew 25:31-46 about the Sheep and the Goats. Generally goats are described as fiercely independent animals that don’t listen well. And while sheep may bite and are prone to wander when they come to know and trust the shepherd’s voice they follow. If we know Jesus we will want to learn from the True Shepherd and follow Him into a glorious eternity:

“Come you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world,” (Matthew 25:34). 

What a joy filled verse! It emphatically states that if I am a sheep-The Father loves me! The Father blesses me! The Father gives me a kingdom inheritance prepared for me since the beginning of creation! Read it again and savor the blessings: 

  1. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, brought you to the joyful love of the Father.
  2. The Father gives you a glorious inheritance in Christ.
  3. You will reign with Him for all eternity.

At the end of the Easter service several young people heard the voice of the Good Shepherd. The love of the Father captured hearts. Jesus was asked into lives! The room erupted with joy as lost souls were found! Praise from the depths of joyful souls was evident! The joy was contagious!

Do you have joy? It all starts when you come to know that you were lost in sin but a loving Father searched for you through His only Son, FOUND you, and brought you back into His Kingdom of Joy!

“Celebrate with me! (Says the Father) I’ve found my lost sheep! Count on it – there’s more joy in heaven over the sinner’s rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need of rescue,” (Luke 15, the MSG)


““This song says it all, check it out: https://youtu.be/Sc6SSHuZvQE




Go Find Joy!


I wanted to shout in the midst of a busy mall, “Oh please go find joy!” I had a little over an hour to wait for my next appointment. Someone had told me I’d like a coffee place just outside a local department store. I easily located the shop and found a comfy chair to recline in and read my book about Israel. Yet, my focus continued to be pulled towards the shoppers speeding by with a cell phone in one hand and packages in the other. I found myself staring and realized how few faces displayed contentment or joy. This fast paced place left me wondering about the intensity of the shoppers-was it because they couldn’t find what they were looking for? Or spent too much money? A cold front had suddenly moved in and pushed any promise of springtime away, was that the cause of the joyless and stern faces? Whatever the cause it troubled my spirit.

Perhaps I should ask for forgiveness ahead of time. You see this same emotion sweeps over me every time I transition back into my seat in society after a stent in Africa. Something in me always wants to shout out to slow down and enjoy a slower paced life-to not miss where true riches and joy are found. I decided to exercise self-control and restrained from shouting to strangers what my heart wanted to remind the mall shoppers. My thoughts wandered back to a week earlier in Africa when I was sitting outside beginning to work on a sermon for Easter Sunday. I was seated outside the Gazebo at Beautiful Gate and found myself distracted by the sounds of saws and singing.

The power saw buzzed as the team carefully placed planks of wood together to create a play-set for the children. Despite the rain the adults and teenagers continued to build in the midst of a muddy mess. There was no complaining just a joyful determination to get the job done. The saws and drills became the background music for the laughter and singing that was coming out of one of the baby houses where playgroup were taking place. The combination of building and singing were a symphony of praise that covered the campus with Kingdom Joy. Who would have thought such a combination would produce such melodious praise!

As my phone buzzed with a text I was brought back to Colorado, back to the bustling mall, and battling for my own joy. During the next few days I felt the Spirit whisper to me, “Go find joy right where you are!” One of the scripture texts the Spirit used was from Matthew 25:21-46. This is the story of the sheep and the goats, where Jesus points out to us where ultimate joy is found. For the next few weeks I want to uncover some of the truths in this text that help us “Go Find Joy!” So if you have a few minutes ponder this passage and ask the Spirit to help you take a journey to lasting joy.


Being with my Father

I asked Mike Verkaik to share this beautiful reflection with you from our recent Africa trip.

It is morning in Lesotho. The sun has just crested over the hill to the east and I am squinting in the sun. It has been the first day I have gotten up early and spent this amazing time with my Father in the stillness of the morning. I always love the picture of life at this time of the morning. The calls of nature and stillness in one ear, the faint taxi horns from the business of the city in the other. Mornings started like this are a blessing that give me perspective to my day. As I sit here journaling the day has begun. First a van full of housemothers arrives. As they approach the small bridge in the middle of the Beautiful Gate campus I hear the faint sounds of singing, laughing and joy that is so common here.

It is at this time Abba revealed another revelation of the relationship He wants to have with me. As the Bo-Mme continued to walk and sing, the children heard them coming and ran to the large picture window and erupted into shouts and screams of joy as their mother was returning to spend time with them. This is the way I want to feel each morning as I wake up to my Abba Father waiting for me to run to that window, that open door excited to be in His presence as my day begins.

Every time I dwell with these Basotho children, they continue to teach me so much about the relationship my heavenly Father longs to have with me and I with Him. It is a relationship, which brings me freedom, peace and joy when I truly trust that He is a good Father, strong and mighty, yet compassionate and loving. Oh, to daily wake up seeking Him and excited to be in His presence as we journey together through another day.

As I experienced this moment through the children at Beautiful Gate I was reading from the book of Revelation. John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, who walked, sat and talked with Jesus daily, and saw Him glorified on the mount of transfiguration ended his life in prison worshipping and praying. No bitterness or resentment noted, just praise, worship and being in the Spirit. No hesitation that it was all worth it.

This trip has not been perfect. Sprained ankle, sickness, schedule changes and protests have altered our plans. However, as I reflect this morning on John, “my brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patience endurance that are ours in Jesus” (Rev. 1:9), I wake up realizing that the circumstances of this life don’t define the favor of my God. Being a forgiven child, loved by my Father and made to be a kingdom and priest to serve him is why I want to daily anticipate being in His presence to worship and give Him glory.