Reminders from the River – Keep Me in the Flow!

At the age of 13 I experienced the absolute power of a river. During a Memorial Day rafting trip our guide asked if anyone wanted to swim in the rapids without the raft. Maybe my frontal cortex was not fully developed yet or my competitive spirit kicked in when I saw others raise their hands, so I raised mine.

As I jumped into the rushing Colorado River my body quickly turned numb and before I knew it I was swept away into a set of white water rapids. It was a helpless feeling as the river held me completely in its powerful grasp, All I could remember was the guide saying, “keep your legs down river to bounce off the rocks!” But that idea became hopeless as I was plunged under the freezing water bouncing off rocks and being held under by a force that seemed impossible to fight against. Just when I thought this could be the end I popped up 50 yards down stream where the river mellowed and I made my way to the rocky bank. This was an unforgettable moment! Ever sine that day whenever I drive past this section of the Colorado I distinctly recall the time my body was totally controlled by the powerful Colorado while wearing a life jacket that was way too small for me.

Earlier that same year I immersed myself into another River, one even more powerful than the mighty Colorado. It was the River of God’s Amazing Grace. One Sunday night I fell before the cross of Christ with the weight of my sin. I was plunged under this weight, only to be brought up by unseen hands of love and placed on a firm foundation as a New Creation. Instead of feeling numb, I felt alive with love, joy, and peace, which resulted in a river of uncontrollable tears. But at the age of 13 I didn’t fully understand the glorious, awesome, power of the River of God’s Sovereign Grace. Forty years later I’m still trying to grasp the power of Heaven’s River and surrender to the life giving flow of His Love. Through this journey down the River I would like to share a few things the Spirit continues to teach me.

Stay in It = Unlike the Colorado River, there is no safer place to be than in the River of God. You and I were created to flow in Father’s love . This love is powerful, overwhelming at times, and demands that we trust Him completely with our entire lives, but over time we learn that we were created for this and nothing else will satisfy one’s soul like His presence.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5

Surrender to It = The Colorado was too powerful for me to fight against, my kicking and flailing only zapped me of strength. The River of God demands that I let go of the illusion of being in control and daily die to my selfish will in order to find true life in the River.

“If any of you wants to be My follower, you must put aside your selfish ambitions, shoulder your cross daily, and follow Me. If you try to keep your life you will lose it. But if you give up your life for Me, you will find true life.” Luke 9:23-24

Spirit Lead Me = When you stay in the flow and surrender to the sovereign power of God you open up your life for one wild and crazy trip down the River. I have been learning over the past 40 years that I don’t know where the River is always going to take me, yet I must be open to His leading. I’ve also learned that wherever this cascading journey takes me, what is most important is not what I do, rather who I become. The River has a language all of its own and the more you stay in the flow, the more you understand it and a follow it. This is our hope:

“But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, He will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23.

My jump into the Colorado almost took my life, so I would not recommend this idea. However, my jump into the powerful River of Grace took my life, and I would most emphatically encourage it. Yes its power can be overwhelming, even scary at times, but the more I Stay in It, Surrender to It, and let the Spirit have His way-the more saturated my soul becomes with a gift that no words can explain. Join me as I continue to cry out “O LORD keep me in the flow…!”

Reminders from the River – Living Low

As Patty and I were sitting by the river-our sanctuary for a while in a busy season. I thought about the path of the river, where it would end. I let my imagination wander as I thought to myself, “certainly never seen a river run UP a mountain.” From highest 14,000 feet peaks, the snow makes its way into the river we were enjoying and this small river would converge with others, ultimately contributing to the mighty Colorado River. The Colorado River flows down a 1000 plus miles and empties into the expansive Pacific Ocean all the way down to sea level. From the snow melt high above the mountain, the rushing water breaks forth into a series of streams or rivers, and each tributary, pulled down by gravity, finds the lowest point.

As I pondered the path of the river, the Spirit prompted my thoughts back to the presence of the Father, and what allows us to enter into His presence. Then it all came together. God’s glory resides in the highest heavens, and He is continually looking for a humble heart to flow down into.

“The high and lofty One who inhabits eternity, the Holy One says this: ‘I live in that high and holy place with those whose spirits are contrite and humble. I refresh the humble and give new courage to those with repentant hearts.” ( Isaiah 57:15).

Not only is this text in Isaiah talk about a contrite and humble heart, but Jesus also lives out a perfect visual of this text. Remember when JesusHe was baptized in the Jordan River? He identified with every sinner on earth. Did you ever think about where that water originated? The water which flowed from snow-capped Mount Hermon, 10,000 feet above, was the same water Jesus’ was baptized in by his cousin John. Jesus’ baptism symbolized the cleansing of a repentant heart, even though Jesus was pure and with out sin this act of lowering Himself below the water prepared Him for the refreshing of the Spirit of Heaven. Snow originating from the highest mountain flows into the Jordan River and when Jesus emerged from the water His Heavenly Father said, “this is my boy, I love Him and I’m so proud of Him!” (Mt. 3:16,17).

From the river’s pathway and the scripture references one can’t help but draw the conclusion that the Father’s heart is drawn to the broken, the weak, to repentant sinners , to those who humble their hearts and cry out for help from Heaven. The Spirit of the Father seeks to uphold the weak, the wounded, those who have wandered in the wilderness, those searching for the solace of the Savior. How can we forget the life of Moses, David, Esther, Isaiah, Mary, Peter and so many others. Each one learned to live low, have a humble heart and allow the streams of living water to fill them for the task set before them.

As Patty and I prayed by the river we asked for a fresh touch from heaven. In our weakness, sinfulness, and brokenness we are in desperate need of “refreshment” and “new courage” for the journey ahead. The river is a constant reminder for us to live low, to live in daily dependance on the Father, and that we need the Spirit of His Son to flow His love into parched lives.

Take heart if you are weak, wounded, or struggling in a barren wilderness. Rest assured that your soul is being prepared for the River to flow over you from Heavens on high. Follow Jesus. Step in. Wait for the refreshing words of your Father declaring His empowering love over you. You are His beloved daughter. You are His beloved son.

Reminders from the River – The Voice

Creation. God’s gift to us. Creation invites us to hear the Father’s Voice and bring solace to the soul. I welcome moments by the ocean, listening to the pattern of the rolling waves crashing on to the sandy shore. I also cherish time spent at the river, taking in the rhythm of the rocky mountain melting snow, now rushing down its designated path. A few weeks ago Patty and I took a few days for some needed rest. After a short walk, we sat on a log and allowed the consuming voice of the river to minister to us.

Even though the well traveled I-70 freeway was less than a mile away and the bustling mountain town of Vail a short walk down stream, all we could hear was the roar of water cascading over well worn rocks. The river, the wild flowers, and the pine trees become a safe sanctuary for us to be still before our Creator and let Him speak to our scattered souls.

Preparing for two weddings, making plans for a move to South Africa, and throwing in surgery for a torn bicep left our minds rushing a thousand different ways. Our enemy specializes in the art of distractions and works tirelessly to prevent us from hearing the One Voice that matters. As Patty and I spent some much needed time in prayer, I heard the gentle voice of the Spirit say, “As the river blocks out all the noise of the busy world around you, let your Father’s voice be the only one you listen to.” Our senses absorbed the sights and sounds, as we took a deep breath and surrendered our fears, frustrations, failures, and the future to the Lord. His voice spoke through the river to bring a stream of shalom from Heaven.

On the river’s edge we had our own personal church service. Together we reflected on a book we had read many times called “Victory over Darkness,” by Neil Anderson. I recently picked it up again to re-read as the voices I was hearing were not from my Father, but the father of lies. In one portion of the book the author has you work through a list of truths from Scripture to remind who you are in Christ. These truths boldly declare that in Christ, the gift of the Father, you are Accepted as His beloved child (John 1:12), Secure through His forever love (Rom. 8:35-39) and Significant because Christ lives in you (Gal. 2:20). If you don’t have this book I strongly suggest ordering it and have it ready when the lies hit.

In creation, sitting alongside the river we were reminded how powerful the Voice of the Father is. Reminded that when He speaks and we quiet our souls to listen, the noise and lies around us begin to fade and His peace, like a river attends to our needy souls. September tends to be a hectic season for many, I encourage you to find your “river” and hear the Voice of your Father!

Ripped Off and the Roar of Heaven

What a great picture of a precious daughter of the King who resides at a hotel in Holland, Michigan. The events of this day, as well as a host of other miracles, would not have happened, if Steve Grassmid’s tools weren’t ripped off by someone living at the hotel. Tools are everything for a contractor, but as Steve worked through the loss he was nudged by the Holy Spirit to respond not in anger, but to reach out in love. The Father’s Kingdom is truly upside down.

In God’s good providence Steve ran into Mike Verkaik, Oceans Ministries US ambassador, at Haven church and told Mike what the Holy Spirit was prompting. This divine appointment birthed a ministry at the Wooden Shoe motel that has continued for the last few years. Mike and Steve gathered people from various churches and this team has reached out with the love of the Father bringing meals each Tuesday night as well a providing prayer, counseling, tutoring, and a variety of other support.

Recently the team of volunteers led a Vacation Bible School for the kids living at the Wooden Shoe. Amber, one of the team members, shared this post:

Amber and a few of the kids at Vacation Bible School.

I have some great news to share! We had the pleasure of leading 7 of these precious children to accept Jesus into their hearts this week!  We put on a VBS and came each night to sing songs, play games, do crafts, read the Bible, and learn about how awesome God is. Life is really hard for these kids, but they now have the hope of Jesus and a relationship with Him for the rest of their lives! They can trust that He will never fail them or leave them. 

A few months ago I prayed that God would give me a BURDEN for something He cares about and that He wanted me to be a part of. Well , He instantly highlighted the kids at the motel we have been serving food at on Tuesday nights. Some of our friends started this ministry and asked us if we wanted to help them. So we have been working along side them serving food to these people that call the motel their home. There are whole families that live in a single motel room. As you can imagine, there is a lot of hardship for these people and these kids. The kids have told us Tuesday is the best day of the week because they know they will always get a meal. Food is scarce and a simple meal is a luxury for these people. 

The other interesting thing is the manager of the motel is Hindu. We had to get his permission to do the VBS in the first place. We thought it was pretty amazing that he gave us the okay. Then his daughter’s were two of the seven that excepted Jesus into their hearts! We had hoped and prayed for this, but honestly didn’t believe this would happen. Once again God exceeded our expectations! Something I have realized lately is people are more eager for the hope we have in Jesus than we realize. In the past, I was more hesitant in talking to people about Jesus. I feared It was imposing and that I wasn’t qualified, along with many other excuses. On the flip side, what if we don’t?!?! I just won’t be silent anymore! A life with Jesus is the best life. I want others to experience this!!! ❤️❤️❤️

Can you hear the roar of Heaven? (Luke 15:10). I would call this a divine set up, planned before the foundation of the earth (Ephesians 1:4). The Father used stolen tools, a forgiving spirit, and Amber’s burdened heart. We are joining with all the angels in heaven giving praise to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit for these 7 precious children of God that have been adopted into the Father’s Family.

May Amber’s words encourage each of us to keep walking in faith, to plant seeds of love, believing that in the Father’s perfect timing He will bring a glorious harvest in unexpected places.

“Let the little children come to me for such is the Kingdom of God”

*permission was granted by parents or guardians for pictures