A New Season for Oceans

Wellwood Lodge, Fishhoek S. Africa

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him,’ but God has revealed it to us by His Spirit,'” (1 Cor. 2:9-10).

On April 26, 2014 exactly 5 years ago, I said, “yes” in my heart to the Spirit’s leading to launch Oceans Ministries. Prior to the decision I spent 4 days praying and meeting with a spiritual director. During that time I listened over and over to the song Oceans. Yes, I knew it was time to respond.

I had no idea where God was going to take this encounter imprinted upon my heart, but I did know God placed the words from Habakkuk 2:14 upon me way back in 2002.

“For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the water cover the sea,”

I had a strong sense from the Spirit saying-one day you will be apart of a ministry called Oceans that will share the love of the Father all over the world.

The Father’s faithfulness has been displayed through His loving hand and provision-and we stand in awe of the doors opened and closed along the way. We praise Him for the many miracles displayed over these past five years!

This past December one of the doors that was shut was to a retreat center in the Colorado mountains. We thought this was the perfect place to make the Father’s love known to spiritual and physical orphans and be a place of prayer, discipleship, and healing rest for those in need.

Yet, as Abba closed one door He propped open another door. We had no idea what God’s plan and purpose was and we waited. As you may recall in January of this year Mike Verkaik and I traveled to Cape Town South Africa to make preparations for upcoming mission trips as well as visit with ministries interested in partnering with Oceans.

One of the many townships near Wellwood Lodge

That was a life changing trip. We were introduced to the needs in the townships for the gospel, discipleship, and the Father’s transforming love. We sensed the Spirit saying this is where I want Oceans, right between the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. One of the results of that trip was Oceans Board extending an invitation to Ray & Sue Haakonsen to join Oceans concentrating on pastoral and leadership training in the townships.

During this time we also became aware that Azusa Pacific University was selling Wellwood Lodge where study aboard students had been housed for the last five years. (Which was the exact place where my daughter Sarah stayed while studying abroad.) Conversations with APU ensued and it was evident that a purchase and partnership was a possibility. The next step was to fly to Cape Town, so with good friend Steve Budnack we boarded a plane so we could meet face-to-face. The crazy thing is Wellwood is located about 1 mile from where Ray & Sue live AND a mere 15 minutes from the two townships we have been invited to work alongside.

Ocean View Care Center in the township of Ocean View where we have been invited to partner with.

A series of meetings and divine appointments left Steve, Ray and me in tears, after sharing all this with the board and much prayer, we all agree it was time to put in an offer. We sensed Wellwood was a place that the Father’s love be could be made known to spiritual and physical orphans. It could also be a house of prayer for all nations, discipleship for mission teams, a place to offer training to leaders in the townships, and a healing/ retreat for those in ministry.

On April 26, 2019 in a miraculous move by the almighty hand of God, a door was opened and the offer was accepted. Only God could have planned this out- and to think it was exactly five years ago! What an amazing Father!

One of the major spiritual lessons He has been teaching me over the last five years is that He IS a Good, Good, Father and I can trust Him with the impossible. I just need to keep stepping out of the boat, keeping my eyes on the face of His son Jesus, and He will lead the way.

I have also learned that the Father uses His children to carry out His purposes. Oceans would not be here today if it wasn’t for His incredible children who have also stepped out of the boat by praying, serving on the board, being part of mission teams, helping publish books and building websites, joining the ministry team, and by sacrificial giving. It is truly humbling to see the Father work through His amazing kids, a million thank you’s are not enough.

We know this next season will not be easy, in fact it will be impossible on our own. Yet the Father has proved Himself over and over again to be faithful and will move in His children’s hearts to use their gifts for His glory. So please join us in prayer as we take this faith step. I know Abba is up to something beyond understanding. In fact when Steve and I were out in January we heard over and over again that the battle in S. Africa is intense but God is about to bring the fire of His Holy Spirit and Waves of His life transforming love that will hit the southern tip of Africa a move up through Africa to the World with Revival.

We pray that Oceans could be a small part in the fulfillment of Hab. 2:14, and that you who are reading this blog my join us as we step out on to the water and see where the Spirit leads us.

“You call me out upon the waters…”

Finding Your Song – Becoming a Sanctuary

I could have cried the entire service as the glory of Resurrection day filled the sanctuary. After a simple gospel message several stood up to surrender their lives to Jesus to shouts of joy from the body of Christ.

We then heard heart grabbing testimonies from some of those being baptized. Prison, battles with addiction, sickness, and times of deep brokenness helped usher those who shared into a life altering encounter with the mercy of Christ. Their hearts sang glorious songs of praise for what their Savior had done. As they came up out of the water more shouts of joy shook the room.

The goal of Finding Your Song is for your life to become a Sanctuary of Praise. If you look back on King David’s life God used it all to turn his life into a temple of worship. Loneliness, loss, rejection, betrayal, wilderness, waiting, compromise, lies, adultery, murder, family failures, pride, and a whole lot more prepared David to be a man who had a heart that hungered after One Thing- the glorious beauty of a loving and forgiving God who alone deserves to be radically worshipped (Ps. 27:4).

One of David’s greatest sins led to an outpouring of amazing grace and this ultimately birthed a physical sanctuary, the temple, where God’s glory reigned down for centuries on His people (1 Chronicles 21ff.) David’s son Solomon built the temple in location where David received grace for the sin of pride-counting his military men.

Our Good Father is in the business of building sanctuaries out of our failures, wounds, sins, weaknesses, and wilderness wonderings through an encounter from the Son of David, Jesus. When we are at our weakest He is at His best and reaches down from Heaven with His nail scared hands and offers to come into our lives and build a sanctuary of praise.

On Resurrection Sunday we witnessed the King reaching down to sinners with mercy and grace and transforming them into Sons and Daughters of the King. This encounter happens when we reach up to Jesus and He starts building a sanctuary in our hearts-for His glory. Yes! Heaven’s joy invaded hearts! Praise erupted! And the beauty of Jesus flooded the room!

Abba Father has created you and I for a song and He is scribing it at this very moment in your heart. Raise your hands, give Him all your sins, weaknesses, addictions, failures, loneliness, rejection, disappointments, etc. Receive from His glorified nail-scarred hands His forgiveness, love, and every good gift granted from your Father above! Let Him do the work in your heart and turn your life into a Sanctuary of Praise!

“Lord prepare me to be a sanctuary pure and holy, tried and true. With thanksgiving I will be a living sanctuary for you,” (Vineyard Worship).

Finding Your Song – A Savior’s Love

I hate to admit it, but here goes my “man card,” I’m a sucker for love songs. When my high school friends rocked out to ACDC and Led Zeppelin I secretly preferred Lionel Richie and a few love songs from Journey. I believe in the depth of every human being is a quest to find a love song to heal the soul. We’ve been created for love-but a sinister serpent shouts out lies to distract us from the TRUE source of love.

King David’s life was a quest to fight through Goliath-like lies of the enemy so that he could encounter a love that goes beyond the natural into the heavenly realms. This love was revealed through a series of failures and sins rather than any heroic victory on the battlefield.

David, called “a man after God’s own heart,” has an unprecedented history of sin and compromise. A few examples are:

  • Out of fear David flees to the enemy, the Philistines and pretends to be insane rather than trusting God (1 Sam. 21:10ff).
  • Out of fear David flees to Moab for protection until confronted by a prophet to go back to Judah (1 Sam. 22:3-5).
  • David’s web of lies catch up with him in the ruble of Ziklag (1 Sam. 27,29,30).
  • David and Bathsheba, need I say more? (2 Sam. 11-12).
  • David’s pride overtakes him necessitates the need to count his fighting men, which leads to the blood of 70,000 people on David’s hands (1 Chron. 21).

Yet somehow in the midst of David’s great sin and failures he found the TRUE source of his love song. What a blessing to be singing them 3000 years later. David found a Savior. A Savior, he could continually run back to when his life was wrecked by willful sin. A Savior, who would not hold his sin against him but washed him white as snow for all eternity.

He sings about such a Savior in Psalm 32:

Blessed is the man whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.

He ends the song with victorious verses of praise and TRUE love:

… the LORD’s unfailing love surround the man who trusts in him. Rejoice in the LORD and be glad you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart!t

Later, another notorious sinner would use these same verses to write one of the most powerful books in the Bible describing God’s Amazing Saving Grace. Take a look at what the apostle Paul had to say in Romans and particularly chapter 4:7-8.

Like David, each of our songs will only be sung when we encounter the unfathomable love of a saving Savior for pride-filled sinners like you and me.

This Friday and Sunday we celebrate that greatest act of TRUE love ever witnessed by mankind.  Jesus experienced a brutal and bloody death- only to be followed by a glorious breakthrough from the grave 3 days later! This amazing love declares the absolute manifestation of the Father’s love for His children.

Every sin, let me say it again, every sin has been paid for on the cross and buried for eternity in the grave.  THIS is the authentic love we have been grappled to find all our lives. This love heals our soul. This love makes us sons and daughters of the King, and with this love in our hearts we can’t stop singing His praise, just as our brother David found himself doing throughout the Psalms.

I pray this weekend that your heart can’t help but sing your own unique song, because the Loving Redeemer is ALIVE and has made His home in your heart!

Finding Your Song – Spirit Lead Me…

Growing up Africa was never on my radar. Yet for the last 17 years I can honestly say I think about it every day. As you can see from the picture above I’m writing this blog from the Southern tip of the African continent. Even this trip wasn’t on the radar a few weeks ago. The last few nights I have been connecting the dots in my journal after coming back from emotional days of ministry meetings and seeking the will of God. As I draw the lines from dot to dot a song is being arranged that goes way beyond anything I could have ever imagined or dreamed. As I listen to the wind outside rustling through the trees I’m reminded of the one who continues to write my song, The Holy Spirit!

I’m hear in Southern Africa because of mysterious ways of the Spirit. I have not always understood His placements of the notes in my song, even protesting at times. Yet as I ponder my past I realize He is the Master composer writing my life song according to the plans of my loving Father.

As a young teenage boy David encountered this powerful movement of the Holy Spirit upon his life as described in 1 Samuel 16:13:

So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came upon David in power.

David had to learn to listen to the rhythm of the Spirit in order to stay in step with the Spirit’s beat. The Spiritual Battles we talked about last week were one of the means used to tune David’s ears to hear the voice of the Spirit. As David learned to surrender his spirit (Psalm 31:5) his will was being fused into the Father’s heart and He learned to follow. Jesus, David’s relative, showed us clearly how His song was glorious written by the Spirit’s control over His life:

I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what He sees His Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does (John 5:19).

The same Spirit poured out over David and who anointed Jesus with power and love at His Baptism lives in the hearts of His children. Therefore we too who share in Heavens supernatural love by the anointing of the Holy Spirit are daily being shown the Father’s Heart.

Many times He whispers but sometimes He has to shout to grab our attention. A few days ago I was with my friends Ray & Steve having a meeting with a ministry couple in a local coffee shop. When a lady came over to our table and began to speak into my ear a prophetic word from the Lord. I was startled to say the least, I stuttered out a “thank you” and she quickly walked away. Only the Spirit could have orchestrated her words to a total stranger from another country to say exactly what I needed to hear at that moment. Oh what a loving Father!!!

The Holy Spirit is writing your song and He is asking you to trust Him with it. He wants you to join Him as He is leading you to intimately know the Father’s Heart of love for you. His faithful love will write a song that glorifies His name in your life and brings you joy now and forever.

As I’m presently seating between two Oceans I have this chorus running through my spirit:

“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the waters wherever you would call me. Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander and my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior.” (Oceans, Hillsong United).

I would have never dreamed Africa would be part of my song, but oh what a Father who graciously leads by His Spirit. Today may the chorus above be your prayer – “Spirit lead me…”

Finding Your Song – Spiritual Battles

How is one’s life song composed? What events in life comprise the lyrics you are singing at this time?  For me the “notes” that have written my song were forged through countless spiritual battles. Battles where I experienced painful defeats and yet by grace battles I have somehow overcome.

Reflecting over David’s prolific history, I’d say his life could be summed up as a numerous notes filled with countless physical and spiritual battles in major and minor keys.  As a teen, young David is anointed from obscurity to be the next King of Israel.  After that he is called into the king’s court to play “praise music” because an evil spirit tormented Saul.  Wow, that’s a heck of a lot of pressure to put on young David-to fight evil with a harp and a song!

Next, David replaced his harp for a sling and killed Goliath-leading to a rousing victory over the Philistines and a beloved hero by the people.  Soon his success soured Saul and the evil eye of envy sent David fleeing for his life for the next several years.  Our Bible would be thinner had David not gone through the spiritual battles he did.  A huge chunk of the Psalms David sang were birthed in battles. 

As you reflect back on your own spiritual and physical battles, can you recognize how your Father used various situations to form your song? As much as I dislike pain and hardship for me or anyone else; I also know that pain and hardship have been one of my greatest teachers. An article describing Snowplow Parentsstated that today many parents act as snowplows for their kids, doing everything in their power to remove any obstacles that may stand in the way of their success. I wonder what kind of song the next generation will sing?

David’s life song is a series of physical and spiritual battles that forged his life. These battles taught him a most important truth in life- to TRUST in a TRUSTWORTHY FATHER GOD.

Almost every Psalm written by David express his trust in, as the Hebrew word expresses, the heced of God – God’s forever loving kindness!  This is beautifully illustrated in the most famous of all Psalms, Psalm 23.

I estimate David waited almost 20 years before the promise prophesied over him to become king came to be.  During those years on the run he learned to surrender both his “spirit” and his “time” into the hands of the LORD (Psalm 31:5,15).  Genealogies reveal that eventually Jesus showed up and HE is an example of true surrender on an ugly cross. Our Savior Jesus displayed ultimate trust in His Father in Heaven to raise Him up from the grave and make Him King of kings and LORD of lords. His song is transforming every square inch of the universe.

David, and later Jesus, showed us that there is a Father in Heaven who can be trusted even in the severest of battles you and I may face. Your song is written in the wilderness as you learn to trust in the forever loving kindness of your Father who will never let anyone snatch you or me out of His Sovereign hand (John 10:29).

Maybe you are facing a spiritual battle at the moment. I pray the Spirit will comfort you with the truth of a trustworthy Father who is writing a song of victory that will one day shout out to the world for His glory and your good!