The “V” in LoVe

What does perfect love look like? Oceans currently has team out from the US. As preparation for the trip they were given the assignment to read and mediate over John 13-17 a month prior to the trip. For me these are some of the most profound and powerful words of Scripture.

Jesus has a few hours with His disciples before He is betrayed and sentenced to death the next day. So what He does and says in these passages highlights intensely everything He has taught them for the past 3 years.

And the first thing He does in the upper room is show them a picture of perfect love. He gets on the floor and “shows the full extent of His love” (13:1) This past Sunday at a church service we discussed how perfect love can be described with the “V” in the word love.

Perfect love always first descends. As you write the letter V the first stroke is down. Jesus got down as a humble servant to wash smelly, dirty feet. A lasting picture for His followers of what love looks like. Paul describes what Jesus did that night this way:

“Though He was God He did not demand and cling to His right as God. He made Himself nothing; He took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form. And in human form He obediently humbled Himself even further by dying a criminals death…” (Phil. 2:6-8).

Love comes down from the Father and the Son through the cross and washes all our sin away. At the bottom of the “V” is us. Will we let Him wash us? Will we say yes to His saving love? You recall Peter protested in pride and told Jesus “You will never wash my feet!” Jesus responded, “If I don’t wash you, you won’t belong to me.” Peter quickly revered his protest.

For those who receive this descending love of Christ, this gift of the Father, love then ascends. The line of the “V” goes up and represents being raised with Him in the resurrection and His ascending glory.  Listen to Paul again from Philippians 2:

“Because of this, God raised Him up to the heights of heaven and gave Him a name that is above every other name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father,” (vs. 9-10).

The descending Servant is now the ascending King and for all who believe in this gift of love the “V” stands for Victory!  Can you shout amen!  The perfect love of Christ makes us victorious and also vessels of blessing. After Jesus gets up from the washing He says, “now it is your turn!  As I have loved you, and washed you now you do what I have done and you will find the path of blessing,” (John 13:15-17).  This is how the world will know we our followers of Jesus by being vessels of His love, pouring it out on the world around us, (John 13:34)

Sunday the team got to practice the “V” of love right after the service. The Pastor called them up and had them pass out food parcels to needy families as well as serve them lunch. It was a joy to watch as the love of Christ flooded hearts and filled the atmosphere with the blessing of heaven.

I pray during this holy season and beyond you will experience the “V” of love!





The Invitation to Intimacy

My friend Tubal is a high ranking officer in the South African Navy who has trained thousands on the skills of being a good sailor. However what stirs his heart more than anything is opening doors for others to have an intimate encounter with Father God.

One of Tubal’s passions is food, he is an amazing cook and loves to share a good meal with others as a way to love them and lead them to Jesus who he so faithfully serves. This past Sunday 60 men feasted on steak, eggs, chips (or called fries in the US) at Fullies church.  It was amazing, my mouth still waters as I reflect on it.

But before we cut into our steaks we were invited to the Heavenly Father’s banqueting of perfect love. We worshiped, listened to the Father’s Word and spent time on our knees asking the Holy Spirit to open our ears to hear His intimate voice.

The atmosphere became thick with grace as Tubal then led us in partaking of the Lord’s Supper. As we participated in the broken body of Christ and His shed blood I felt the Father whisper;

“My precious Son Jesus is my gift of intimate love let Him bring you deeper into My heart to places beyond comprehension.  My heart is the safest place you can be, My heart holds you, forgives you, heals you, restores you to live as a victorious beloved son of the Father.”

To be honest I did not want to leave that moment, it was a taste of eternal glory to come. As our time came too quickly to a close I found the friend I invited and we started on our walk home. There was a huge smile on his face when I asked him what he thought. Listen to his response:

“Tim, I knew something special was going to happen as we walked into the room. I asked God to show me the truth I need to see. When we were praying on our knees I was overcome with the Father’s love for me. I asked Him for forgiveness for thinking He was like my earthly father and all the pain he brought into my life. But now I know He is not like that He loves me, He forgives me, He will never let me go and I’m His son…”

I can’t tell you about the absolute joy his words brought as this brother has been on a difficult life journey. All glory to the Spirit of the Father who brought him to the truth of His intimate love for him. This is the message the Father has for all His children, He wants intimacy with us, an intimacy that will heal us and set us free from the grips of satanic lies and the bondage to sin.

Jesus is our invitation from the Father. He invites us to Abba’s banquet of love through His life, death, and resurrection power. During this precious season as we prepare to celebrate the saving work of Christ remember the Father is inviting you to His banqueting table to “taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him,” Psalm 34:6.

“Look with wonder at the depth of the Father’s marvelous love that He has lavished on us! He has called us and made us His very own beloved children.” 1 John 3:1








Responding to the Hands of a Generous God

Singing, dancing, hands waving and laughter were all happening at Oceans Retreat Center on Saturday morning. Hearts were overflowing with joy. Oceans was honored to host a group of church leaders and students from a local Bible college. The 40 students counted it a great blessing to be on campus, to share a meal, and to corporately study God’s Word.

I stealthy walked in to the Harbour Conference room but soon couldn’t help joining the singing and dancing. After a while someone from the group asked me to take a picture to share with Thobeka, Giselle and Patty to thank them for delicious breakfast of scrambled eggs, chips, beef sausage, oats, toast, coffee, tea and fruit. I can’t remember a time where I got so excited about a meal that I waved my hands in the air and shouted with robust gratitude. I smiled as I contemplated how Africa continues to teach me about offering my whole heart in praise to God in all things. The Father loves when we take time to thank Him (and others) for gifts both big and small. We serve a generous God!

The apostle Paul captures the heart of our generous Father in this wonderful verse:

“For God has proved His love by giving us His greatest treasure, the gift of His Son. And since God freely offered Him up as the sacrifice for us all, He certainly won’t withhold from us anything else He has to give,” (Romans 8:32).

This text is overwhelming to me. To ponder the gift the Father has given through His Son and to comprehend that nothing in all the world can take away that great love. I picture the Father’s strong hands graciously bestowing the gift of Jesus to each one of us. Because of the sacrifice of Jesus the doors of heaven rain down immeasurable treasures upon us His beloved children.

On that Saturday I briefly shared the story of Oceans and encouraged the men and women to take note of the sign on the side of the building. I reminded them that each one of us is called to “Make The Father Known!” For the Father to give us His best in Jesus and allow His Spirit to remain in each of us is beyond understanding. This love lives and breathes and is reflected in each of us! This gift was given to us so that we can tell the world about the love of a generous Father that will never let His children go!

What a God ordained day it was as children of the Father glowed with the radiance of His love gathered together. I was spurred on by their worship and praise to Abba Father. Just the thought that each one from the Congo, Malawi, Zimbabwe, South Africa and us from the US are each able to make the Love of the Father Known to whoever we may come in contact with. The nations gathering at the Retreat Center for such a time as this can only be explained by a miracle working Father who has provided beyond understanding through the gifts and prayers of His gracious children over the ocean 10,000 miles away. What an amazing Father! Words are not enough to give Him the praise He deserves!









Joy Comes in the Morning


In the midst of a season of incredible losses in our world I asked my step father & Pastor Bill Bierling to share his pastoral insights. Bill has helped shepherd many through times of severe grief and suffering through promises of God’s Word.

I’m blessed to be in my 60th year as a pastor. It has been a remarkable journey highlighted
by incredible experiences with the people I served, the young and the old. Currently, I am in the process of writing my journey in a book, “The Heartbeat of a Pastor’s Heart.” As I have reflected on all that has happened in these years, I have been confronted often on the subject of, “Death and Dying.” Thus, the title of this blog, “Joy Comes in the Morning.” Words from Psalm 30:5.

This is a personal journey of mine dealing with death, as I walked through or should I say mourned through my losses.

“Joy comes in the Morning” are the words that are written on the headstone of my first wife’s grave. It has been 30 years since she passed away at the young age of 52. So many questions asked with no answers.

Since then I have grieved the loss of a grandson, who received two heart transplants but they failed, a stillborn birth of a granddaughter and miscarriages of family members. There have been the deaths that I’m sure you have also experienced of grandparents, parents and family members. Most recently, my two daughters lost their husbands suddenly and unexpectedly at the age of 60. So many questions asked with no answers.

What am I as a pastor and dad to make of all of this? What are you to make of your own experiences with death? All around us we read of the number of Covid related deaths and now the casualties of the war in Ukraine. Hunger, disease, inhumane treatment and other atrocious killings continue. Death is everywhere in the world we live in.

What do I say? Do I have an answer? I remember the words of Psalm 30:5. ” Weeping may last for the night, but JOY comes in the morning.”

Then I go to what I have learned from all the families for whom I have done memorial services, especially the “senior saints.”

What is their way through loss? You could have guessed it. They most often go to Psalm 23. “Yeah, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for You are with me ….. Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of Lord forever.”

Another meaningful passage is found in John 14:3. ” Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in Me. In my Father’s house are many mansions, if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am.”

The Word & wisdom of the people of God in dealing with their losses has been a source of strength for me. I am comforted.

The faith of the people of God and believing in His promises in dealing with all of their losses has been a source of strength to me. I am comforted.


The Warrior Spirit

Where does courage come from? Watching reports from the invasion of Ukraine has been both gut wrenching and awe inspiring at the same time. Faced with insurmountable odds the Ukrainian people have displayed courage to resist the massive Russian army no matter what the cost.

Why would unarmed civilians stand in the way of massive tanks? Why would ordinary civilians stand in long lines to receive guns and enlist in the fight to protect their country?

A mother of two who works as a banker was asked that question as she waited for her weapon? “Freedom!” she said, “I want my girls to live in freedom and I’m willing to die for it.” These people love their country and the new freedom experienced over the last few years and this has infused them with a courageous spirit.

As I have been thinking and praying for the Ukrainians it has prompted much reflection on courage. During our weekly Bible study the Oceans team here in Africa, joined by Mike and Dawn in the US  discussed the betrayal and death of Jesus from John’s gospel. These verses portray the ultimate Warrior Spirit like no other. Betrayed by friends, berated by the religious establishment who were filled with demonic pride, beaten by a fear-filled political puppet, and bound to a torturous cross as the innocent Son of God. What was the source of His courage?

Love! A love Jesus had for the Father and a love the Father had for the Son. A love which the Father and Son want to share with sinful people through His Spirit living in them. It motivated Jesus to endure the depths of hell to free His beloved children. He wanted them to live in and experience freedom and find their home in Heaven’s love.

Jesus’ Warrior Spirit flowed from His love relationship with the Father (see John 17:26), which allowed Him to do the most courageous act in the history. What’s amazing about all this is that those who receive His gift of love also receive His Warrior Spirit.

We have a love in us through Christ that we can never be divorced from. No one or nothing in all the universe can separate us from it. Paul tells us in Romans 8:37 this love makes us “more than conquerors.” This means we are not victims but victors in Christ over every circumstance. No situation in life can defeat us, even death leads to eternal victory. As a result we can live fearless and courageous lives in the midst of a fear-filled world.

I’m inspired by the Ukraine’s spirit of courage fueled by love for country and freedom. But how much more should followers of Christ, who have been given His Warrior Spirit of love, live victoriously before all who watch us. Through courageous acts of love such as: serving the least, forgiving our enemies, and loving the lost with the Gospel message of hope we point to Christ the Warrior who lives in us.

Oh Father, flood us a fresh with the Warrior Spirit of your Son, so that His love may pour out of us to a thirsty world who desperately needs to see You.