“The Return”

“Pastor Tim, turn on your TV now!” It was just after 7 AM in Redlands California when I received the call from a troubled member of the church. Her voice still reverberates in my memory bank 19 years later. I’m sure-if you were old enough-you too can recall the exact place and time you heard about the  two planes hitting the World Trade Center on 9/11.

The following hours at church were hectic as there was flurry of phone calls and people stopped by the office in order to process this unthinkable calamity. Even the local radio station called wanting my thoughts and details about a prayer meeting planned in response to the tragedy.

For the next few months there was a tangible spiritual fervor awakened within the community. Visitors poured into the church seeking answers and with a deep hunger for the truths of God. Their sense of security was shaken, they were searching for a strong foundation to stand upon.

Similar responses reverberated throughout the country. Yet, most spiritual leaders would also tell you that it was a short lived reaction. As the shock wore off and things calmed down the spiritual climate echoed such sentiments. People returned to their “other” passions and the 100’s of gods worshipped.

And here we are today awakened by another calamity. However, this one touches every square inch of the globe. It has left in its wake countless deaths, economic destruction, and a spirit of demonic fear unleashing insecurity and building strongholds of hate.

How are followers of Christ to respond? “Return!”  In scripture God used plagues, calamities, and military attacks to call His children to turn away from all their false gods and return to Him in a spirit of true repentance (see Deuteronomy 28-30). 9/11 was a wake up call for the US and 19 years later the trumpets sound again calling us to wake up from our slumbering sleep and Return with broken humble hearts to the one true God.

On September 26 there will be a global prayer meeting called the “Return” in Washington DC. This all day event will call God’s people to live into 2 Chronicles 7:14:

“If my people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land.”

This event will be streamed live so you can join from places all over the world. Oceans will host this event in Zeeland, Michigan at Haven Church, Fish Hoek, South Africa at Oceans Retreat Center, Aurora, Colorado at the home of the Brock’s. For other locations and more information on the “Return” go to: https://thereturn.org/live-event/#speakers.

I encourage you to to pray about being apart of the “Return” and heeding God’s prophetic voice calling His people back to Him to find true mercy and grace. 19 years ago we got a wake up call and few truly returned. Today the trumpets are sounding even louder, will we wake up, hear, and Return before it is too late?

“Now return to Me, and I will return to you,’ says the LORD Almighty.” Malachi  3:7

 

 

 

“Way Maker”

Vacation Bible School at the Wooden Shoe

I want to share with you a blog written by Val Snoeyink, a volunteer with at the Wooden Shoe motel, who works closely with the Children. Two weeks ago she helped lead a Bible School at the motel, and lead them in song, crafts and telling the story of Jesus. Be blessed as you hear her response to leading the children in the song “Way Maker”

“You are here, moving in our midst.
We worship you. We worship you.
You are here, working in this place.
We worship you, worship you.
Waymaker, Miracle worker, Promise Keeper, Light in the darkness, My God, that is who you are!”

When I first heard this song, I didn’t see the depth or the draw that would make it so popular. It doesn’t mention Jesus’ name or his saving power. But as we sang it with the kids at Wooden Shoe Hotel, the words became real.

“You are here….” – Lord, you are in this place. These families are not forgotten. They don’t need a car to go find you. They do not need to move to a house or to get to a church. You find us and move in.

Val teaching

“Moving….working in this place” –Lord, you are at work. Even when I can’t see that you’re working, even when I don’t feel that you’re working, You never stop, never stop working. Forgive me, Lord, for thinking that it’s only what I can do. I’m so limited and frail and sinful. But I am invited to join your Kingdom work! Keep on, Lord.

“Way Maker” – You, Lord, make a way when there seems to be no way. On the edge, doing Kingdom work outside myself, this is where I see it best. Lord, at Wooden Shoe, for these precious kids, make a way to abundant life. Guard their hearts and their minds in Christ Jesus. Protect their bodies. Make a way, Lord.

“Miracle Worker” – They are at-risk, Lord. Odds are stacked against them. I see one of the young teen girls fading. Meet her and hold her. Bring life and hope and joy to the Wooden Shoe Families.

“Promise Keeper” – Jesus Christ, covenant keeping God, you promised to complete your story to rescue your children and bring them back home. Keep us trusting while we wait for your promises to be fulfilled.

“Light in the Darkness” – So much darkness surrounds this place. Generations of addictions, mental illness, abuse, homelessness, hopelessness, separation, and poverty. But you, Lord God, spoke into the darkness and with your Word, you brought Light! Holy Spirit, shine the light of your presence into this place. Shine the light of your presence in our hearts.

Mike Verkaik and the “time machine”

What was absent from Noah’s Ark?

Take a minute and read the story of Noah and the building the Ark in Genesis 6:9-22. What important details are missing for ship building? Ravi Zacharias gave me this challenge in his book The Grand Weaver. So what did you come up with? To be honest in my impatience I jumped ahead to find the answer, “no sail and no rudder.”

Hearing and reading the account of Noah countless times I had never thought about the Ark having no sail or rudder and yet how profound is this truth. Noah and his family built a gigantic vessel according to God’s design and they could not steer or direct in any way. How would that make you feel? In a world that preaches “you are the master of your fate the captain of your soul,” to have no say or control of the direction of your life seems inconceivable.

Yet, doesn’t the Ark preach the very foundation of the Gospel? We are called to a childlike faith, a faith that hands our lives over completely to the will of a Good Father. He sent His only Son to be the Ark of salvation for His children. Through Jesus’ perfect life of obedience, purifying sacrifice on the Cross, and the glorious resurrection celebration, a door has been opened. The Spirit of Jesus invites us into this life giving-life saving Ark-but there is a catch:

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

When you follow Jesus into the spiritual Ark you are giving up your rudder & sail and saying I trust you to sail my life to the places you so desire, I give up control. I remember saying to Patty during the strictest part of our lock down here at the Retreat Center in South Africa, ” I feel like we’re on the Ark, and at least it’s a big Ark.” But after reading about the Ark having no “sail or rudder,” I believe this is a sermon I need to preach to myself daily. God has spoken rather loudly of late that being in control of our lives is a fabricated illusion.

We see riots all over the world, political machines pushing their platforms for success, media outlets spinning their narratives, and influencers selling the “perfect” product. All these groups plus a host of others offer this false gospel that we are the captain of our own ship, the master of our soul which will bring the “life we’ve always wanted!” I wonder if this controlled living ever brought you or anyone you know true peace, joy, or the life you always wanted?

Let the Ark preach to you, “no rudder & no sail” living will lead to a life of abundant blessing both now and forever more.