Crashing the Gates of Hell – Worship & Word



One of the highlights on our recent trip to Israel was the times of worship! Our team had an abundance of angelic voices that harmonized beautifully and had a few worship leaders too. One day we gathered in historic Saint Anne’s church in Jerusalem where the acoustics are stunning and sang the well-known hymn It is Well. At one point I just had to stop singing in order to soak in the words of praise, which echoed off the ancient stonewalls. The music broke right through to my heart. All of us felt the same and we ended up singing several songs! At that moment there was a thin line separating heaven from earth, it was as if Jesus was standing right in front of us-taking it all in with joy.


One of the ways the church crashes the gates of hell is by exalting the name of Christ in worship. When our focus is on King Jesus and all He has done for us through His life, death, resurrection and reign we release the power of heaven and bring it to earth. Over the years in ministry I have seen the Holy Spirit use the power of praise to open up the hardest of hearts to a Jesus.


I have walked up to the pulpit after the Holy Spirit swooped in during worship and felt an open heaven above me to share the Gospel with an authority that came from another world. That is why I believe Worship and the Word must be intertwined so closely together.


In Matthew 16, immediately after Jesus declares that this community of followers who confess His name will overcome the “gates of Hades”, He adds;


“I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (vs. 19).


I believe the “keys of the kingdom of heaven” point us once again back to Jesus. Jesus opened up the door of heaven for us through the cross and all who confess Him as Lord and Savior have free access to God. A heart focused on Jesus in worship dwells in the heavenly realm, which will release a Spirit driven passion to share and live the Gospel message of love. Worship filled lives can’t help but flood the world with the Good News of Jesus-Who is the only ONE who can open the door to the joy of Heaven.


Last Friday night my daughter Anna invited my wife and I to a worship time with five other churches. The three hours flew by as we corporately focused on Jesus. With unified hearts we confessed sin, shouted praise, lifted holy hands in prayer, danced, and sang our hearts out to Jesus. Jesus responded as people were healed, the power of satan broken, prison doors opened, and spiritual captives were set free as the Good News of the Gospel flooded the hearts of many with Heaven’s fire.

Make the worship of Jesus your # 1 priority and watch how the doors of Heaven will break open and the power of the Gospel will flow in and through your life to the world around you.





Crashing the Gates of Hell – A Holy Community


It was a sacred moment where a dear sister shared her broken heart with our group in Israel. In this historic place of Caesarea Philippi, the place known as the Gates of Hell, she shard her pain as well as praise for the One who is carrying her through it.


There has been one storm after another that has brought extreme loss and an uncertainty in this sister’s life. Yet in the midst of raging waves she declared that she has been wed to Christ and He has never let her go. I could imagine Jesus shouting out to this lady, as He did to Peter, “…on this Rock I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not overcome it,” (Mt. 16:18).


Like Peter this tenacious woman led by the Holy Spirit declared Jesus as her Rock, her Savior who is Christ, the Son of the living God,” (vs. 16). Right there in the shadow of the Gates of hades we had church. In fact throughout our time in Israel we had “church!”


There were many tears on our trip, honest confession, and a deep realization of our brokenness and need for a Divine Savior. One of the ways I like to define the church or gather of God’s people is,


Broken people being transformed into sons and daughter of the King who shout His glory!


So many in our group had experienced severe brokenness in their lives yet this led them to deeper encounters with Jesus, the Rock. And when broken people live on the Rock they become living stones infused by the love of the Triune God. As Peter says we become:


“…a spiritual house…a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light,” (1 Pet. 2:5, 9-10).


We boldly declared our victory over the Gates of Hades our last day at the Garden Tomb by sharing in the Family meal. As this group had fast become a family in just 10 days there was powerful joy as Pastor Bryan and I served communion. Jesus truly set a table before us in the presence of our enemies and anointed our heads with the joy of Heaven’s Spirit. There in the midst of busy Jerusalem a Holy Community of broken people were being raised up in the resurrection power of King Jesus as blessed son and daughter of the King!


This is the church Jesus is building out of our brokenness one that will crash the gates of Hell. Find a church of honest broken people who will build on the Rock and bring Him glory alone!


Crashing the Gate of Hell – A Heartfelt Confession


What are a group of Rhinos called? A crash! When I first read this I thought it was a joke, but it is not! Maybe the reason Rhinos are called a crash is because with limited eyesight they run up to 40 mph carrying over 2000 pounds! You surely don’t want to get in their way!


Jesus declared in Matthew 16 that His followers would become such a powerful force in the world that the would CRASH through the “gates of hell” and unleash satan’s stronghold on this world.


This powerful momentum begins when one-person confesses, “You are Christ, the Son of the living God,” (vs. 16). It was Peter at Caesarea Philippi, but when you or I make this confession it will not only change us, but will also enlist an army of “spiritual rhinos.” And this group will overcome the world with the Father’s glory.

It would take a book to unpack this powerful 9-word confession. But take a few moments to consider that Peter is confessing that Jesus is the promised Messiah – “the anointed one from God” that all of Scripture points to. Jesus is anointed by the Spirit of God as Prophet, Priest, and King. And when you and I receive Jesus as “Anointed from the Father” you receive Him as……..


True Prophet –The living Word of God who directs your life through His Spirit.

Perfect High Priest –Who took on your sin, was sacrificed on the cross, buried it in the tomb, and brought you into the heavenly holy of holies where He daily brings you before your Father in the fullness of His love.

Sovereign King –You live a life of complete trust as you lose your life for His reign.


This trifold gift of the Anointed is from the heart of the Father. As Jesus told Peter:

“…for this was not revealed to you by man but by my Father in heaven,” (vs. 17).

This powerful truth of grace should cause our hearts to tremble. When we confess Jesus as the anointed one it is all because the Father chose us to know Him through His Son, the anointed Prophet, Priest & King. In other words – It’s all God!


When this truth breaks into our hearts by the Holy Spirit the CRASH begins. We can’t keep this love to ourselves we have to pour it out to the world around us.


Be encouraged by reading the following email, which Lyn for allowed me to share. I couldn’t agree more!


Pastor Tim, I too am crashing the gates of hell. Crossroads Prison Ministries needs mentors so badly. I have taken it upon myself, with the Holy Spirits help, to work for more mentors. Starting with my church and also those I know. Just ask, the most they can say is “no,” right? I have this deeply in my heart to help. Pray that I will receive positive results. I really want this to happen for those behind bars. They need our help. Thanks for your blog, and thanks for your prayers. Love and blessings, Lyn


As you ponder this passage and the “Anointed One” given to you by the Father may you too find where He desires you to CRASH the gates of Hell!







Crashing the Gates of Hell!



“Can you pray for the confusion in my head,” Justin asked. “I have this battle in my mind that I keep losing.” He pointed to his forearms and showed me the heroin tracks running up and down each arm. This was his third time in jail as a 23 year old and he was waiting yet another date in court. Justin wanted to be free of the bondage to heroin but he knew all too well that the moment he got out of jail he would find himself with a hit a mere two blocks from this place.


This desperate plea of Justin brought me back to Israel and the groundbreaking place of Caesarea Philippi. At this location Jesus asked His disciples “Who do you say I am?” Peter boldly proclaimed, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” A few verses later Jesus responds to the Peter saying, “…on this rock I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not overcome it,” (Mt. 16:15-18).


The “gates of Hades” are not just physical gates but spiritual gates, which are holding Justin in bondage. Satan, “the father of lies,” has convinced him that his only hope for the agony within his soul is heroin. Yet, Jesus makes a promise…He came to storm the gates of hell, to liberate the captives, to give freedom so that we can walk in the love of the Kingdom of Heaven.


Caesarea Philippi was known as a cultic worship center to the god Pan. Pan controlled Hades, the underworld, and had the power to take souls captive. Unbelievably horrible things occurred at this place. And yet, here is this utterly dark place is where Jesus chose to declare He would crash the Gates of Hell and release the captives. I can just imagine Jesus shaking His fists at the shrines on the side of the mountain where the sights and sounds of Pan worship were all too common.


Oh, there are so many “Justin’s” today-held captives to the lies of satan-who is hell bent on keeping as many as possible living a life of destruction. Jesus lays out an alternative in Matthew 16:13-28. Jesus’s strategy includes four key points, points that will empower His followers to crash the Gates of Hell. To do so we need: A Heartfelt Confession, a Holy Community, Heaven’s Gospel Call, and Healthy Cross-feet. Over the next few weeks we will look at these four keys which enable followers of Christ to crash the gates of hell and liberate beloved children of God.


My recent encounter with Justin in jail brought me back to the promise of Jesus in Matthew 16. Jesus came to crash the gates of hell and empower a community of disciples who are willing to follow Him into the darkest places with the LIGHT of His message of TRUTH. I believe the Holy Spirit is reviving the TRUTH from this passage and preparing a people who will victoriously crash the gates of hell, not in their own power, but in the power of King Jesus. Will you join me as together we seek to live into the promises of this text and expand His kingdom so that every square inch of this world is filled with HIS GLORY.

An Unexpected Miracle in Israel, From a Way-Too-Logical Jesus Follower


May you be blessed by Ruth Catron’s reflection on Oceans’ Israel trip:

I always wanted to take this journey to Israel, but logically and logistically the timing never seemed right. I’ve been a follower of Christ since the age of 10, knew of Him since I could understand the oral and written words of my godly parents, Sunday school teachers, and extended family and friends, yet the stumbling block for the Holy Spirit’s work was my mindset of logic. I truly believe the Bible and know in my heart that everything written there actually happened. Yet somehow in my own life, I “reserved the right” to judge the life-moments by the reality of life. If it didn’t make sense in my head, I found it difficult to comprehend. Thankfully, God decided to bring me to a place to pierce through this logical mind and draw me into His realm of amazing, God-logic-it took until age 60, eye-roll on my part!

I approached this trip to Israel with way too much logic, planning, packing, checking off my list, and ultimately, over-packing. I attempted to prepare physically, with the logical realization that it would be quite warm and my normal agility may be challenged in order to experience every site on the action-packed daily agenda listed on our itinerary. My one huge failure was to prepare the part of me that logic often can’t reach-my heart. So, with an excited expectation for what I would see, and a cautious expectation of what my body might go through, along with the knowledge that I was traveling with two amazing teachers of God’s Word, I walked on the airplane with my logic all intact.

I was not disappointed one bit as each day was filled to the brim and overflowing as our guide, Boaz Shalgi, shared the history of the land and our teachers of the Word, Tim Spykstra and Bryan Vander Tuig, opened the Bible at each place we visited. But, then I began to notice an unexpected miracle that my logic wanted to dismiss. I can’t tell you what day or on which site it began but that it happened several times. I do know that it was subtle, with me just thinking it was the logical thing to happen at the time on these very warm days and I thanked God each time for the refreshment He gave through it.

I specifically realized what God was orchestrating while on Mt. Carmel. Tim was sharing from the Word and from his heart from 1 Kings 18 and 19 about Elijah and the events on this mountain and thereafter. I’ve taught this story in my classroom for 20 years and knew it well. But as Tim was down on his knees before the Lord and us, and as my own heart was repentant like the Israelites after seeing God’s miracle of sending fire down on Elijah’s soaking-wet sacrifice, a strong wind came out of nowhere and refreshed our group. It was illogical that it was anything but a normal breeze, and yet God opened my eyes to see beyond my own logic and to realize His logic! His sovereign hand guides everything in this world, in my life, in the stories of the Bible, and He allows events that are beyond our logical comprehension. Yes, I knew these truths before. But, my heart and mind needed an unexpected, unplanned wind of His Holy Spirit to fall afresh on me, to put the logical me aside and let the fresh, cool breeze of the Holy Spirit flow over me as I laid aside my logical plans for my life, my limited, logical expectations for what God could do, the pride of my own abilities and knowledge, and then to allow Him to renew a right spirit within me.

In 1 Kings 18:39, the people of Israel fell face down and said, “The Lord, He is God!” Then my own heart fell down and said, “The Lord, He is God!” I will not limit God by placing my own logical expectations on Him. His ways are higher than my ways and His thoughts higher than my thoughts (Isaiah 55:8) even the winds and waves obey Him (Matthew 8:27). For some reason, I needed to travel all the way to Israel to get a glimpse of the unexpected and “illogical” ways of my Lord God. How I desire to daily look to my heavenly Father and declare, “The Lord, He is God!”

Ruth & Boaz