“Honey, the Church is Here!”

Pictures by Amy Forestieri

Blog by TJ Spykstra.

It was a hot Colorado evening and there was little relief from the sun. After work I made my way down to Colfax, where a group of believers from various congregations join every Tuesday to walk alongside those who are “living” in the motels there. Most of those in the motels are fighting paycheck-to-paycheck to just stand on their own two feet, trying to keep a roof over their heads. 

We go out two-by-two knocking on doors offering “just” food and prayer. I say “just” loosely as the food and prayer has opened a multitude of doors leading to relationships and friendships among one another. 

However, there was one door that we knocked on last Tuesday night that stood out. We knocked, the door was opened, and we were greeted by a massive smile. My partner Amy, wearing her signature do-rag and I had on a sweat-stained cap we both were exhausted that night. Yet, when the door shot open we regained our energy were greeted warmly. We had spoken to this particular middle-aged lady on several occasions, established a trust relationship and began to ask her how she was doing.

She proceeded to tell us how that day she had been kicked out of her room because she was a $1.63 short on her payment. No grace was given and she would not be let in until she had paid the $1.63 plus the $64 that was owed for that day. Then all of the sudden, she stopped and said I’ll be right back. Through the doorframe I could see her knocking on the bathroom door. She raised her voice, “Honey, come out the church is here!” I smiled to myself as I heard those words echo through their small cluttered motel room “the church is here.”

It was a statement that rang forth truth to me. God wants to use each one of us. The church or “the way” as it was called in Acts is just that a “way of life.” It is not confined to a building or temple, because Jesus our Savior redefined and refined us, so that the church is in us.Jesus lives in us and because of that when we knock on His door and we are greeted by a smile that radiates this love and grace. This grace cancels our debts of sin and gives us a home for eternity. 

To end I would like to share this quote from David Guzink:

“God always wants us to go deeper. We tend to sip where we could drink deeply; we drink deeply where we could wade in, and we wade in where we could plunge in and swim. Most of us need to be encouraged to go deeper and further into the things of the Holy Spirit.”

What door is the Holy Spirit calling you to knock on? Is it a friendship? Is it to dive deeper into His word? Is it at your job or a new job? Whatever it is, may you seek to be the Church? 

2 Timothy 2:6-7 

“For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline”

“Do you want to go to Israel with me??”

Kathy & Bryan Vandertuig in the Negev desert of Israel

Oceans Ministries is planning another Israel trip in 2020, so I asked Kathy Vandertuig and John DeVries to share a few highlights from our last trip to give you a taste of the gift of visiting the land of Promise.

“Do you want to go to Israel with me??”  These words had been spoken to me by my husband, Bryan, several times in the previous years.  He was now planning his 4th trip and really hoping I would say “Yes!” this time. But… I’m not an international traveler.  What would I do with my boys for that many days? I don’t think I can be on a plane that long. Will I be able to handle the rigors of the trip…walking, heat, long days, overnight flights, etc.?

Somehow, after much prodding by Tim and Patty, he got me to go on this trip!  And, OH, what I would have missed had I stayed home! The group was a mix of people from all over the country… some that I’ve known for years and others that I got to know and it soon felt like I’d known for a long time. Not only did I become an international traveler that is excited to go back, my kids survived just fine without me,  the plane rides went faster than I anticipated, and the other parts of the trip I worried about were nothing in comparison to what God taught me while I was there. I am continually amazed at how the pictures I have in my mind make the Bible so much more real to me. I used my 5 stones from the brook in the Valley of Elah to lead a chapel for elementary students and made the David and Goliath story come alive for them!  During the week leading up to Easter, I pictured Jesus among the olive trees praying in the Garden of Gethsemane and then later walking on the Via Dolorosa carrying his cross with the crowds on each side of that narrow road watching and jeering at him. I realized why Jesus and His disciples spent so much time on the Sea of Galilee–it’s peaceful and beautiful! And I remembered the amazing times of worship we had as our group sang songs of thanksgiving and praise to our God in so many different places. 

We are having an Israel 2018 reunion in a couple of weeks and I am so excited to see the group again and hear how their lives have been impacted this past year with all that they saw and learned while in Israel.  My husband is planning another trip for next summer, and he doesn’t even need to ask if I want to go this time! The answer is, “OF COURSE!!”

John & Wanda DeVries at the oasis of En Gedi,

There are many reasons to want to go to Israel.  For me, I just wanted see where the Old Testament stories happened and experience walking were Jesus walked.

In 2017, Tim and Brian announced that they would be hosting a 2018 trip to the Holy Land, and they promised that our Israeli guide, Boaz, would be awesome.  That truly was a great combination.  If you have had the privilege to listen to Pastors Tim and Brian, they are teachers.  Boaz is a Jew who taught why the places we visited are so important for a Jew.  So much was seen, so many things explained, so much taught.  So, I really did get my chance to see and feel.  But also, to learn.

But for me, the real wonder of the trip has been the year after.

I now see the Bible with different eyes.   Passages from the Bible, which I have heard before, sound different, the image in my mind is different, and then it occurs to me, “Hey, I was there!”  Old Testament people and places; The sea of Galilee; The Garden as it looks over the city; The hilly terrain; The Jewish lifestyle.  It is as if God is saying: If from that one visit you see the Bible in a new way, what else is there for you to learn again?  The teaching continues.

There are so many things about the landscape of Israel that are just like the arid regions in Southern California.  However, there are so many parts of the land which are just like they were, so many years ago.  There are archaeological digs all over the country and so much of the former Israel being uncovered.  New things will be seen that weren’t there just a couple years ago.  I am planning to go again, in 2020.  I have been told it is better the second time.   

If you are interested in finding out more information about the trip please visit our website at www.oceansministries.org or email us at israel.trip@oceansministries.org.

When the God of Creation Speaks …

Hanging Lake, Colorado

Sitting down with my freshly brewed coffee in one hand and Bible in the other my quiet time was abruptly interrupted two mornings in a row. The first morning the visitor just starred at me through the window until I raised my hand to wave and she scatted off. Same time, same place the very next morning the visitor greeted me again. This time I sat motionless and we had a stare down for a few minutes. There was something brown dangling out of her mouth and after a few minutes she again took off. I left my chair and rushed outside to follow her and this is what I found.

The robin led me to her nest with two babies who had just received a worm for breakfast. That nest protected the two chicks from a few massive thunder storms with torrential rain and hail. And the nest provided a powerful word of the LORD to my heart. I had been praying for Abba to fill me with peace and faith, to be freed from fear as we are launching new ministries in South Africa, buying a retreat center, and looking at the prospect of relocating there in the near future. My early morning visitor led me back to the Creator Jesus, and His life giving words:

“So I tell you, don’t worry about everyday life – whether you have enough food, drink, and clothes. Doesn’t life consist of more than food and clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t need to plant or harvest or put food in barns because your heavenly Father feeds them. And you are far more valuable to Him than they are…” (Mt. 6:25-26 NLT).

My feathery visitor reminded me of these truths from the lips of Jesus which sealed my spirit with an overwhelming sense of peace even in the midst of uncertain future. Since the visit from the robin I daily go to the tree in my front yard to say observe the chicks-resting secure in their amazing nest and feasting on big brown worms from our rain soaked yard. And the Spirit reminds me through creation and the Word – “…And you are far more valuable to Him than they are…”

Take sometime during this week and get out in God’s creation. Let your Father show you His unfailing love for you, (Psalm 19). Remember if He cares for His creation certainly, He cares for you and me!