What Matters Most?

“Spend an hour thinking about what it will look like when you one day stand before the presence of God.”  This was the challenge given by Francis Chan in his book “Until Unity.” Not an easy thing to do, but so vital in the days we are living in. As I tried to place myself before the Holy Creator God who sees through my soul and nothing is hidden from His fire piercing eyes, I cried out like Isaiah:

“It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and live among a people with filthy lips. Yet I have see the King, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies,” (Isa. 6:5).

When that Day comes and we stand before a Holy God Francis Chan asked the question, “What matters the most?” It won’t be how much money you have in the bank, the car you drive, the house you live in, the church you go to, the political party you vote for, how many followers you have on social media, or any of the pleasures we run after, etc.

As I try to envision that Day, “What matters most” will be Jesus! His garments of salvation covering my sin and rebellion with His perfect righteousness is my only hope. All I can do before a Holy God is cry out, “Jesus, Jesus, have mercy on me a sinner!” And believe He will.

The teaching on the Heart of the Father that took place at YWAM had a big cross mounted to a pillar in the middle of the room, it was hard to miss. It served as a powerful visual for what brought students from different nations and tribes together in one place. The only way this could have ever taken place was because of the life changing blood of a crucified Christ who reigns as King of the nations. We were all united through the gift of the Father who gave us His one and only Son Jesus, and it is His blood coursing through our veins that makes us His forever family.

It is through the unity that comes through the Cross that the world will come to believe the message of the Gospel as seen in Jesus’ prayer:

“I pray that they will all be one, just as You and I are one – as you are in Me, Father, and I am in You. And may they be in Us so that the world will believe You sent Me,” John 17:21.

Our desperately divided world needs to see the Father’s love in Jesus through His family that are united around the finished work of the Cross. When you place yourself before the throne of God naked and exposed there is only one thing that matters, Jesus! And our response to the gift given us is to fall down and worship Him.

Francis Chan ends his much needed book on unity with this text from Ephesians 5:18-20:

“Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

A church filled with the Spirit will be a worshiping community overcome by glory of Jesus and the gift of the Father. This will attract a divided world.

Find some time this week and try spending an hour placing yourself before the judgment seat of God and let His Spirit speak to you. Ask yourself the question, “what matters the most?”




Knowing the Father’s Heart

Blog Written by Patty Spykstra

I arrived on Day 3 of a lecture series entitled “The Father’s Heart.” Tim was asked to share on this topic for a group of students at a Youth With A Mission or YWAM Discipleship Training. The class ranged from adults aged 18-32 from France, Germany, The Netherlands, Rwanda, South Africa, Switzerland, and the USA. One student had a cold, another just had his tooth knocked out colliding with a surf board, one student was in a wheel chair, one was a dad, another understood English but had difficulty speaking it, one was sitting on the floor. Yes, it was a beautiful and diverse gathering, and the common link among all was a heart for Jesus and His Word.

Knowing God as Father is a subject that has been near and dear to Tim’s heart, in fact it is the foundation of Oceans Ministries, so I was excited to attend and share a bit as well. I tried to sneak in the back of the room, but Tim had already told too many stories. I greeted the students with a fist pump or a hug as I noticed the picture, a very special one, where Jesus is holding a young boy in a football uniform. Yes, this picture was the tangible reminder that Jesus was there with Tim during some tough days as boy and now there it was propped up in the front of the room.

Tim shared his story of the times he felt alone and how he wondered where God was when experiencing hurt and uncertainty, in his teaching he intertwined scripture as a reminder of the importance of hiding God’s Word in our hearts. As he spoke many nodded their heads in agreement and others had tears in their eyes. The teachings were powerful and held steps to healing. Some students needed to realize their earthly fathers or mothers were incapable of giving them what they needed, others recognized the need to forgive a parent or authority figure in their life, or perhaps even themselves.

As I sat in the back row, I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit and found myself praying for the students and leaders. At the break my eyes connected with a young lady who was looking my way I smiled and she walked over. She asked for prayer. As we talked she shared how her dad had passed away when she was 18, he was a pastor. Her mom never really recovered from his death. Throughout the week others publicly or privately shared deep heartaches that left huge holes. Some really tough stuff that made my heart heavy just hearing about it. Such moments reminded me of the times I had asked for prayer as a young pastor’s wife and realized the need for bitter roots and fear to be removed. Tim continued his story with the group of how Lynn Brookside, a lady in our very first church, had walked him through forgiveness of family, himself and even God.

Over the next several days the students wrote various letters. Some offered to read aloud the words they had written. I was nervous, as I wasn’t sure I would want to do so. Some shared how burdens were removed, others laughed and smiled as they felt their Abba Father’s love, others broke down and cried uncontrollably, and others couldn’t believe the peace that overcame them. The letters were absolutely beautiful and powerful and freeing and healing!

Tears quietly flowed down my face as these students claimed their rightful position of Sons and Daughters of the King! Oh if we could truly see the heart of the Father!

“For you did not receive a spirit of slavery that returns you to fear, but you received the Spirit of Sonship, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” Romans 8:15 Berean Study Bible

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36 BSBK

Spinning Is Winning

We have a family friend named Bill who has been an avid cyclist for years. When he heard my son TJ was doing a ride called the Triple By Pass he had some great advice from his own experience. He lamented on how the first time he did the 100 plus mile ride with over 10,000 feet of elevation gain he went out way too fast and bonked before the last climb and had to abandon the race. He passed on to TJ the slogan, “spinning is winning,” which means put it is the easiest gear and spin away so you can save your legs to finish strong.

When Patty and I were back in the States we were able to head up to the Rookies and cheer TJ on. We positioned ourselves in strategic spots to hold up the sign and remind him “spinning is winning.”  As we were waiting to cheer him on before another big climb we noticed some riders were laying on the ground in exhaustion, still others were putting their bikes on the car rack and calling it a day.  They went out too fast and furious and their legs failed them.  TJ followed sage Bill’s wise advice and powered up the final pass because he still had fresh legs from spinning.

Bill’s phrase has been in my mind since that day in Colorado and it preaches powerfully not just about biking in the mountains but the journey of life.  When I look at the hall of faith in Hebrews 11 there is a list of hero’s that kept spinning up some pretty big spiritual mountains and they were able to finish the race marked out for them.  People like Noah who worked on a boat for 120 years before the rain came. And how about Abraham and Sarah who waited almost 25 years for the promised child Issac.  You could add Moses to the list of spinners who waited 40 years in the wilderness until he finally got the call. We could consider a host of other heroes of faith that kept spinning and persevering when it looked like they were being left behind by the world.

In God’s economy it’s not how you start the race but rather how you finish the race. It all about perseverance and endurance keeping your focus on the end game as the author of Hebrews says:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith,” (12:1-2).

Our friend and Oceans board member Steve travelled back with us to Africa recently to encourage us to keep spinning. God has given him a new slogan to live by after a heart attack just over a year ago, “Finish Strong.”  Our last day together we climbed up one of my favorite prayer spots and talked and prayed into finishing strong, to keep spinning until we have finished the race for the glory of God.

Life has been an up hill climb for many over the last year. It might feel like you are just grinding up a difficult mountain while it seems others are zipping by.  Keep spinning with your eyes on Jesus as your goal, listen the those heroes of faith cheering you on and by God’s amazing grace and love you will “Finish Strong!”




A Quiet Place

I love the God miracles that happen when we create space for Abba in our lives. Below Valerie Snoeyink, one of the volunteers at the Wooden Shoe Motel shares a powerful God moment.

“The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and
taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:30

When you live in a motel room, a quiet place is very hard to find. Some go out and sit in their cars. Some disappear inside their phones. Some escape in a cloud of weed.

This past Tuesday night, we loaded up 9 of the middle school/high school kids who live at the hotel and headed to a local natural area in search of quiet. It was a gorgeous fall day in Michigan—75 and sunny with a warm breeze and a hint of color in the Maple leaves.

As the kids tumbled out of the vehicles, the groans and moans began, “What are we doing here? I’m too hot. I can’t climb that hill. I want to go back.” But we continued on the trail.

The path crested at the top of a large sledding hill with the woods below us in the valley. We unfolded the patchwork quilts that we had carried with us and spread them over the grassy hilltop. We all flopped down and laid on the quilts, eating snacks, soaking in the beauty around us, and enjoying each other’s presence.

As we read Psalm 46 together, “The Lord is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble,” I heard someone mutter, “God doesn’t listen to my prayers.” It was Myra*, a mother who had come with her children. In her anger and pain, she poured out the burden of her husband’s alcohol addiction and the havoc it was making on her and her children. She prays to her gods and nothing happens.

Then, one by one, the adults in the group shared tear-filled stories of how God carried them through times of trouble in their families with bipolar, rebellion, runaways, addictions, injuries, and broken relationships—even when they didn’t see how God was answering their prayers.

The kids became very still.
It seemed as though all of creation paused to listen.

“Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted in all the nations. I will be exalted in all the earth” Psalm 46: 10

There, on that hilltop, we poured out our hearts to God in prayer and his Spirit filled us with his presence and He gave us rest.