“I Believe in God, the Father Almighty!”

From the southern tip of Africa we could clearly see a potent picture of the providential hand of God. It was hard not to be there in person, yet Patty and I rejoiced as we watched online the marriage of dad to a wonderful lady named Dianne.

Their union highlighted the Biblical truth of how the Father “gives beauty for ashes, joy instead of mourning, praise instead of despair…” (Is. 61:3). A few years ago both Dianne and Ray grieved the loss of their spouses after 50 plus years of marriage. Both cried rivers of tears at the loss of wonderful godly mates. But as we watched the beautiful ceremony which took place in an idyllic lush Western Michigan backyard there were bright smiles of joy and a spirit of thankfulness and praise.

In the midst of a world wide pandemic causing a global crisis we witnessed a glorious picture of the nature of God. In fact Pastor Art, who officiated the wedding, was spot on when he read from the Heidelberg Bible Study, question & answer 26:

What do you believe when you say, “I believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth?

That the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who out of nothing created heaven and earth and everything in them, who still upholds and rules them, by His eternal counsel and providence, is my God and Father because of Christ His Son.

I trust Him so much that I do not doubt He will provide whatever I need for body and soul, and He will turn to my good whatever adversity He sends me in this sad world.

He is able to do this because He is Almighty God; He desires to do this because He is a faithful Father.”

Ray & Dianne’s wedding day preached a Powerful, Almighty God, who created the world out of nothing and is still in control. He is a God who overcomes pain, loss, apparent chaos and injustice and turns it “to my good whatever adversity He sends me in this sad world.” His heart is for His children and He continues to run to us in the midst of our trials as a “Faithful Father” who will never let anything separate us from His forever love (Rom. 8:31-39).

Thanks Ray & Dianne for being pictures of faith of what it means to “believe in God the Father Almighty.” Your life and recent marriage is an encouragement to us all to redirect our souls into the Almighty hands of the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe who we can call Abba Father!

“My beautiful daughter and son of the King!”

Written by Mike Verkaik

There are so many privileges and blessings in being a dad. If you have daughters, walking them down the aisle on their wedding day is one of them. I have had the blessing of walking arm and arm three times in the last three years! It has taken a hit on the pocketbook, but the preparation and prayer time, followed by the intimate last moment have been priceless, precious memories for me as a father.

This past May I was also given the honor of performing the ceremony for my oldest daughter, Carissa and husband Levi. The memories of the phone call still linger as they asked, “Dad, would you be willing to marry us?” It was quickly followed by, “Unless you feel it would take away from you enjoying the day, then we can definitely ask someone else, there is no pressure dad.” After a discussion with Dawn and some prayer time, I was excited to say, “Yes! Do have a passage?”

This was a step out of my comfort zone, but as Carissa stated John 15:4-9 as the text, I smiled. I had been dwelling in John 13 – 17 since last September when I was going through a physical and spiritual battle. I was excited to share how God used that text to give me comfort, peace and direction as I persevered with Him through my weakness.

As a math teacher the ability to represent situations with graphs or relationships gives me better understanding. On that September day as I read Jesus’ words of goodbye to his disciples, they began to flow into a diagraph.

“Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me?” The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing the work.” (John 14:10)

“And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever – the Spirit of truth” (John 14:16 – 17)

“On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” (John 14: 20)

The digraph I drew represented the Father’s relationship with the Son, the Holy Spirit and myself. After I finished the image in my journal I made the following entry, “ I am in the Father indirectly through Jesus!! I never thought about our relationship going both directions. Forgive me Abba for taking it too lightly. Today I claim again, at a deeper level, that I choose you.”

As I began the preparations for the wedding, I revisited my journal entries as well as committed to memorizing the passage Carissa and Levi choose. My desire for memorization was to be able to look at them as much as possible during the ceremony. God’s desire was to focus my attention again on the only directional arrow flowing out of me, the one going back to Jesus.

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. … If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John: 15: 4, 5)

Nine times Jesus reiterates what is required for fruitful labor, and guidance on prayers to be prayed – Remaining in Him. As a follower of Jesus, our Father pours Himself into us through the arrows of His Son and Holy Spirit. As Levi and Carissa’s stated their vows of love and commitment to each other, they wanted a message reminding them of their commitment to their first love, their arrow pointing back to Jesus.

With all my preparations, nothing could prepare me for the moment. As I looked at Carissa standing there with Levi with all the emotions, joy and happiness the only words that came to my mind were, “My beautiful daughter and son of the King.” May we hear those same words of love and commitment from our proud Father today, and respond with our arrow of love back to Him.

As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Now remain in my love. (John 15:9)

“Hello Darkness My Old Friend…”

Have you ever had a song stuck in your head and you find yourself humming it throughout the day, to the point where others around you get annoyed by it? The other day that was me. I kept singing the line “Hello darkness my old friend, I’ve come to talk with you again…” I also have where I can’t remember all the words to the song so I just sing the same words over and make up new words as I go which really can get irritating to some, just ask my wife. 🙂

Before you think me to odd, let me tell you why I was singing that first line from the 1960’s song the “Sound of Silence.” Believe it or not I was reading Psalm 73 and it starts out rather dark. The Psalmist was troubled by what he saw in the world around him. To him it seemed that the wicked prospered in all they set out to accomplish while the godly suffered. In fact, these evil ones were so bold that they boast against God the creator of heaven and earth.

The writer of this Psalm admits his deep darkness was when he states: “I came so close to the edge of the cliff! My feet were slipping, and I was almost gone,” (vs. 2). Maybe some of you can identify with these honest verses. These days of the virus, protests, riots, and the constant bombardment of negative news can dampen and darken the soul to the point of despair.

But in the midst of the singer’s darkness a transformation happens. Instead of trying to figure it out he turns his focus to the face of God in His sanctuary, (vs.17). The closer he walked toward the light the more he realized he was becoming bitter and enraged like a wild beast trying to make sense of the evil and injustice in the world.

And here is why I started to sing “hello darkness my old friend,” The pain led him into the presence and the presence to the promises of the Father:

“Yet I still belong to You; You are holding my right hand. You will keep on guiding me with Your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny. Whom have I in heaven but You? I desire You more than anything on earth. My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; He is mine forever.” (Psalm 73: 23-26).

These verses awakened my heart and reminded me how dark times in my past led me to times of desperation, and the only place to go for answers was to look up in the storm and cry out for help. And in His perfect time, healing rain fell down like the loving promises in Psalm 73, and if the Father did this before He will do it again.

The darkness becomes a great friend when it leads us to declare: “I desire You more than anything on earth.” The darkness can be used to exposes all the deceptive lies of our world offering us attractively packaged idols that deplete and destroy our souls. How we need to see this dark season our world is in as a friend calling us back to the promises found in the presence of Jesus who waits for us with open arms.

I believe the Holy Spirit is using the darkness to call us back to find Jesus as our all consuming desire. Instead of letting the darkness lead you to despair see it as a friend helping you rediscover the only relationship that will satisfy your longing soul. And as you do this you will sing out with the Psalmist these final verses:

“But as for me, how good it is to be near God! I have made the Sovereign LORD my shelter, and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things You do! (vs.28).

What a wonderful gift I encountered as I walked outside this morning, darkness to LIGHT!

True Belonging Our Only Hope!

You don’t need another opinion or editorial on the injustices, riots, or the global pandemic plaguing our world but how about some comfort? The other morning I was reading these words from Psalm 68:5-6 NLT:

“Father to the fatherless, defender of widows -this is God, whose dwelling is holy. God places the lonely in families; He sets the prisoners free and gives them joy.

As I pondered these verses I recalled the tapestry of ministering alongside so many: the lonely, hurting, fatherless, prisoners, homeless, those struggling with addiction, divorce and the broken hearted. Really all of us fall into one of these categories at one time or another. Over the years I’ve found that the greatest need in each of us is the need to belong. When we feel we don’t belong chaos reigns within our soul.

The words from King David reveal the Father’s heart to bring each of us into a place of True Belonging! Each of us on this planet fits into the “most vulnerable” category whether we realize it or not. What our bleeding world needs is to know the joy, hope, and comfort of truly belonging.

My pondering of the text reminded me of one of the greatest summaries of True Belonging from an almost 500 year old Bible study. As you read and reflect on these potent words, may they bring comfort to your soul:

What is your only comfort in life and in death?

That I am not my own, but belong – body and soul in life and in death to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.

He has fully paid for all my sins with His precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven; in fact, all things must work together for my salvation.

Because I belong to Him, Christ, by His Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for Him. (The Heidelberg Catechism, LORD’S DAY 1)

I pray these words bring you comfort, hope, and the only way forward to heal the wounds of a weary world.

Why You Need These Two Trees!

Hello everyone from South Africa. I wanted to share a video post with you about a powerful prophetic picture from Zechariah 4. Our world is hemorrhaging from all sides and yet this text gives us God’s plan for bringing His healing ointment to our hearts and a hurting world.

Click here to see the original post.