The Simple Gospel – The Gift of Seeing your Sin

The whole atmosphere of the room changed as men became transparent and honest sharing their battle with different sins. It was a holy moment, one that would lead us all to our knees.

As I was processing this sacred time, which happened at the Formed Men’s Retreat last month, the word that kept repeating in my thoughts was, “gift!” The Father loves us so much that He exposes our sins through the Holy Spirit.

Later I wrote these words in my journal:

Until you experience the gift of seeing your sins you will not understand the glory of the Gospel.

 The Simple Gospel starts with a revelation of the depths of your fallen nature controlled by sin. When I was a young boy, the church that we attended read the 10 commandments or some form of the Law every Sunday. To be honest I didn’t think much of it- other than just a bunch of rules to follow and it seemed stuffy.

However, one Sunday night when I heard a simple Gospel message the Holy Spirit opened up my heart and the first time I felt the weight of my sins. I felt exposed, a law- breaker who violated every one of the 10 commandments, plus a whole lot more. Encountering my sin pushed me into the arms of my forever Savior Jesus.

The Apostle Paul tells us in Romans, one of the purest presentations of the Gospel:

“God kindness leads you toward repentance…” 2:4

 These words from Paul are immediately after twenty-two Greek nouns and adjectives describe sin and evil in the world (1:29-32). And just before he exposes those with a religious judgmental spirit who think they are saved by their own right living (2:5-3:1-31).

Without the gift of God’s kindness both those living like the world and those trusting in their own good works are doomed to live forever separated from the love of God.

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (3:23, 6:23).

 O the “Kindness” of God “the Gift of God,” is the Holy Spirit who shines the searchlight of Heaven to reveal the darkness of my own deceived heart. Without this “Kindness,” the chains of my sin forever imprison me. No matter how hard I try, no matter how religious I become, I will never break the chains.

The Simple Gospel, which starts with the revelation of our sin and the need for a supernatural Savior is our greatest need. True “repentance” recognizes sin; turns to receive the gift of love from the Father-Jesus His only Son- is where freedom begins.

Next week the emphasis will be on the gift of receiving grace that can never be taken away from us. But I don’t want to look over the fact that we will battle sin until we see Jesus in eternity. Yet, the Father has given us the “gift” of the Holy Spirit to live in our souls to continue to expose our sin so that we can turn from it in order to experience walking in freedom.

That night a group of men, on their knees, encountered the gift of seeing their sin, confessing it. Yet, we are not left in our sin as the Father has given us victorious freedom through Jesus Christ who has completely forgiven all our sins and tightly wraps His loving arms around His beloved children. There is nothing greater!

Maybe as you read this Holy Spirit is speaking to you about your sin. I encourage you to listen, confess, and run back to the arms your Abba Father in Christ, receive the gift!

“If we boast that we have no sin, we’re only fooling ourselves and are strangers to the truth. But if we freely admit our sins when His light uncovers them, He will be faithful to forgive us every time. God is just to forgive us our sins because of Christ, and He will continue to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:8-9).








“The Simple Gospel”

“I will rejoice in the simple gospel, I will rejoice in YOU LORD…” When Patty and I were back in Colorado we took a drive to our favorite lake in the mountains. As we traversed through the majestic Rockies Patty put in an old CD-yes that gives our age away 🙂

We listened several times to “The Simple Gospel” by United Pursuit. And those words, “I will rejoice in the simple gospel” hit a cord in my spirit. I had just returned from a men’s retreat where the power of the Gospel to expose and heal hearts manifested itself.

Surrounded by God’s creative beauty I said to Patty, “that’s it-we need to get back to the simple Gospel. What Africa needs, the US needs, our world needs, and what I need is the life changing power of the Gospel.”

As we sang along I thought about the theme verses for the book of Romans, where Paul boldly states:

“I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes…For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’” (1:16-17).

 From these verses Paul lays out the gift of the powerful Gospel and how it is received and how those who are transformed by it bring Christ’s saving message to the world. Here is the heart of the Gospel:

Sin – The gift of coming to see your sin and the death it brings (Rom. 3:23, 6:23)

Salvation – The gift of saving faith that sees Jesus taking all our sins and punishment we deserve with Him on the cross, and receiving His perfection as our own making us a child of God (Rom. 3:21 – 5:1-21).

Sanctified Son’s & Daughters of the King – The gift of the Holy Spirit living in us helping us to battle our flesh and live in the Spirit as children who know their “Abba Father!” (Rom. 6-8).

Sacrificial Living – Giving the gift of His transforming love away to those around us (Rom. 12-16).

It is this the power of this Simple Gospel that the Father has graciously given to heal the darkest dirtiest soul and transform them into His radiant sons and daughters. For the next few blogs I want to dwell in the POWER of this Simple Gospel. Daily our enemy is seeking to flood the world with bad news in order to drown our souls with despair. We overcome his lies and find hope and victory in living in the Good News of the Gospel!

 The chorus of the song “Simple Gospel” states:

“So I’m laying down all my religion – I’m laying down – I want to know You Lord…”

 This was the secret to the Apostle Paul’s life. He was rescued from a religious spirit that blinded him and he made it his life goal to KNOW and LIVE the Simple Gospel:

“I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord for whose sake I have lost all things…I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in death, and so somehow to attain to the resurrection from the dead.” (Phil. 3:8-11).

May you find hope and rejoice in the “Simple Gospel!”












Empty to Fill!

God can speak in the most unusual ways to reveal His faithful love when we need it the most.

A few weeks ago while back in Colorado I was having a tough day. I just got off a two- hour phone conversation with a friend going through a horrific amount of pain. My heart was crushed.

I went downstairs to my office to attempt to prepare for the upcoming men’s retreat. As I sat there numb Patty hobbled into the room suffering from a freak fall a few days before, causing her intense back pain. As she gingerly sat in a chair across from me, we both felt burdened and didn’t know what else to do but pray.

Trying to lift “rocks” too heavy for us to carry on our own, all of a sudden a dam broke inside of me. I found myself on the carpet crying with uncontrollable tears, the kind of sobbing that makes your snot flow like a river. Sorry for being so descriptive, but seriously I haven’t cried like that in years.

In the midst of my episode Patty proclaimed ” ‘Empty to Fill’, Lord we need a fresh filling of your Holy Spirit as we have nothing left.” To be honest, I had no idea what she was talking about, I thought maybe her pain medicine was working a bit too well.   After we finished our time crying out to the Father, I asked her why she prayed those words, “Empty to Fill!”

She told me to come over where she was sitting and look at the wall. Sure enough you could make out coming through the paint the words “Empty to Fill!” She reminded me that 8 years ago our daughter Sarah painted those words on the drywall before we put the final coat of paint on. And somehow sitting at the right spot with the light on, the phrase was clearly revealed.

Our Sovereign God in His perfect timing knew exactly when we would need to read those words. I had just told Patty before we prayed I don’t think I can do the retreat, I have nothing more to give. After a busy season in Africa, an Israel trip, some spiritual warfare, Patty’s back injury, we were weak and tired.

The words on the wall reminded me of Paul’s inspired text from 2 Cor. 12:9 –

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me…for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

I held on to those words as I finished preparing to lead the men’s retreat. I shared those words with the men and told them how weak I was and how I needed a fresh filling of the Spirit. How faithful the Father was to send His Spirit to weak vessels and to meet us all in our weakness so that Christ Jesus and the healing power of the Cross can be our only boast.

As we live in times of uncertainty and feel overwhelmed by the world around us, take heart in your weakness, your emptiness, knowing the One who desires to fill you daily with flowing fountains of His amazing grace!

“My grace is always more than enough for you, and My power finds its full expression through your weakness!”








The Psalms as Guide to Being Formed After God’s Own Heart

Today’s post is provided by guest-blogger Henry Miersma, who recently attended the “Formed After the Father’s Own Heart” Retreat in Colorado.


During the last weekend of July 2023, I joined twenty-seven other men from across the Unites States at the Highlands Camp and Retreat Center in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. Our group ranged in age from teenagers to men in their 80s, but we all came together to learn how to be Formed After the Father’s Own Heart. Tim Spykstra, our host and speaker, taught us not only what that phrase means, but through the use of several psalms he took us through the Biblical process itself.

Highlands Camp & Retreat Center sits in a beautiful valley about 25-minutes south of Estes Park, Colorado. The retreat center’s grounds featured rolling hills covered in pine trees, flowers and grasses in multiple shades of green. Deer and moose have been found roaming the grounds during early morning hours. Our meeting room featured floor-to-ceiling plate-glass windows that provided a striking view of Long’s Peak, one of the 14,000 foot tall mountains nearby. In short, it was a beautiful place to spend a weekend.

As for the content of the retreat, pastor Tim drew our attention to the words of seven psalms across multiple session, and we used Psalms Journal: A 21-day Devotional Journal as a tool whereby we could journal our thoughts and responses to questions about them. We immersed ourselves in those psalms for the weekend.

As an example, on Friday night Tim gave us instructions in advance of our first Saturday morning session by asking us to turn our attention to Psalm 139, particularly verse 13: “You have formed my innermost being…”. He asked us to read the psalm and journal about it in Psalms Journal before the session started the next morning.

As we dug into the psalm ourselves–reading, meditating on the Word, and journaling our personal thoughts on what these passages meant to us–we could spend time listening to the Holy Spirit and responding to the the journal’s questions, which includes: What does this psalm say about who God is and what he has done? What does this psalm say about who you are or what you should do? How does this psalm connect with what is going on in your life right now? What can you do today in response to God?


This was the process we repeated throughout the weekend as we dug into the list of psalms and topics:

Formed – Psalm 139
Falling – Psalm 32/51
Forgiveness – Psalm 32
Focus – Psalm 27
Filled – Psalm 46
Fruit – Psalm 1

As you can imagine, the process was very powerful and meaningful. By first spending time as individuals studying and journaling the Psalms, then coming together to share how these scriptures apply to our lives, and finally praying together in response to these psalms and related discussions, we came to understand what it means to be formed after the father’s heart. We also gained a new appreciate for the power and truth found in the psalms.

For me, one of the highlights of the weekend happened after discussing the need for confession and forgiveness as found in Psalm 32. Tim taught us that this part of the process–humbling ourselves and recognizing our need for God and His forgiveness–is key, but it also the hardest thing for men to do who are taught from an early age to be “self-made men.” As we came together in one large circle, many men found the courage to confess specific sins and seek forgiveness, with the session ending with the entire group kneeling together on the floor, crying out to God for the forgiveness only He can provide.

Other highlights included catching-up with old friends, making new ones, spending time in His creation, playing horseshoes and smashball, singing hymns together, and hearing Tim speak powerfully with the spirit’s guidance. But it was God’s Word as found in the psalms that were the real highlight! We learned through the psalms that being formed after God’s own heart involves a process of humility, honesty, hope, healing and wholeness.

Seek and You will Find!

Written by Mike Verkaik

A few weeks ago Dawn and I had a reunion with our latest high school South African team. While talking about our lasting impacts, the common highlights remained the children, and our times of worship.

Reflecting on our latest journey, this familiar text came to my mind, Jeremiah 29:11: 

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

This is a favorite verse of many Christians, a powerful promise and assurance that places our trust into our Father’s hands. However, I believe the core of that promise stems from Jeremiah 29:12-13:

Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

In these verses God is calling His children to action, prayer, and a deep hunger to know and understand Him more. As we come into His presence with our hearts open, God promises He is listening and will respond to our deep desires. This was the posture of many of the students on this trip. Some desires were shared freely, while others were hidden deep within their souls.

The Holy Spirit ignited a fire in Trent while worshiping at a local church. He responded to an alter call to accept Jesus as His personal Savior.  After praying over him, he recalled how he did not want to come forward. However, as he stood in front of his seat the Spirit’s voice grew stronger and stronger inside telling him to come forward. As he resisted his whole body started to shake. He had to respond.

The next day, during a praise and prayer service at Overflow church, Pastor Ryan was led to move our team in a circle surrounded by around 60 prayer warriors of the church. While we sat together, he asked the others to pause in silence and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal a word, a picture or vision for the students. Nervously sitting together the Holy Spirit began to use these open and beautiful spirits to reveal the students hearts, frustrations and new callings. Like the woman at the well, in John 4, Jesus was showing each of them that they were seen and loved by their Father.

Sofia was sitting to my left. A member of the congregation approached the group and said, “ I sense there is someone who came on this trip secretly longing for affirmation, acceptance from their Abba Father.” I began to hear sniffles. She continued, “You have a longing for a sign that you are loved and seen by Him.” Tears began to flow. “But you have not had that encounter and are disappointed and wondering why.” Now sobbing had begun as the deep longings of her heart were exposed. As she questioned how a stranger uncovered her deepest longings, she began to receive healing as she realized her secret pain had been seen and uncovered by the Holy Spirit.

Reminds me of the truth spoken in Proverbs 8:17:

I love those who love me, those who seek me find me. 

Amazing isn’t it how our Father, through seeking prayers, fills brothers and sisters with His Holy Spirit to meet us in our need and quest to know Him more. This is the power praying believers have, as they come together seeking God more, and interceding on behalf of each others spoken and unspoken heart desires.

Is your heart available to come, seek and pray?  God is longing for a deeper relationship with you to reveal the plans for hope and prosperity He has in-store.