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.


A Horrible Roommate

Blog written by Mike Verkaik:

This past Saturday I received a call from a friend. She was concerned for her neighbor who was struggling with the journey of life. He was hopeless and contemplating destructive decisions as his life spun out of his control, so she asked if I could come over.

After a drive of interceding and asking Abba for words and wisdom I pulled into the driveway. Waiting outside was my friend and Denny*. We began to talk immediately and he shared his unique life’s story of brokenness. Although it was unique, in many ways it was similar to so many other stories I have heard since joining in the work of Oceans Ministries. He had lost his father when he was 14, and has only memories of an absent father who did not show much love to him. As he put it, I guess I have a lot of “daddy issues”.

As I began to express his Abba Father’s love for him, he quickly interrupted me. “I have made too many mistakes for Him to still love me”, he said. Denny was caught up in the lie that he had messed up too much to be worthy of the Father’s love for him. Oh the battle each of us face each day against our adversary’s desire to spread that lie in the midst of our shortcomings and sin.

I felt the prompting to ask Denny if he had ever accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior. He had a beautiful testimony of his encounter with Jesus, the acceptance of Him as his Savior, and the desire to be baptized as a sign of rededication. Denny went on to say what an amazing day it was and how he felt so close to God. However, things had changed through a painful divorce and a wayward life of shame and decisions that led him away from that feeling of closeness.

At that point I reached my hand out and pointed towards his chest, reiterating the presence of Christ in him and the promise of Ephesians 3:13-14

When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

With tears flowing down his face, and a humble and contrite heart he looked at me and said, “ I guess I was a horrible roommate.” Surprised, I laughed and said, “Yes, I guess you have, but so have I, time and time again.”

What great insight Denny gave me that night into David’s words from Psalm 51:17.

My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.

As we seek to restore our relationship with Him, there is our good, good Father with waiting for us with unconditional love, mercy and grace; already desiring to begin restoration, and cleanse us from all our guilt and shame.

*Name was changed.

What if the World Knew it had a Loving Father?

It was a beautiful autumn night as we walked out of the movie theater. So nice we kept walking pondering the documentary we just saw called, “Show me the Father.” I said to Patty, “if the world really knew the love of God as Father it would be a totally different place.” Healing would flood over the deepest pains and darkest places where hate and evil reign because of not knowing a love we have been created for.

I know in the culture we live in the thoughts above will be mocked by many. But the older I get and the more I have experienced I am convinced that knowing such love is the hope for our hemorrhaging world. It won’t be a political party, a new public policy, a better educational system, more money, new toy, likes on social media, new lover, new gender identity, or whatever you can think of. Nothing can fill the longing void in the heart until one knows the love of “Abba Father,” (Romans 8:15).

The documentary highlights how many social ills such as crime, murder, suicide, addictions, gang violence, and rape; find their roots in fatherlessness. I would add on to that list greed, racial tensions, exploitation of the poor and needy among us, and homelessness. Earthy fathers are called to mirror the heavenly Father’s love but often because of sin the mirror is cracked and terribly distorted. I think how often I have fallen short of reflecting heavens love to my kids.

The enemy knows that if he can mess with earthly fathers and their calling to be a representative of the heavenly Father’s love he can gain a stronghold in the world. I’ve seen the effects of this as a pastor, working in prisons and with the homeless population. We are confronted with this daily in South Africa, as fatherless homes are the norm.

As Patty and I continued our walking and talking the other night, I said the healing that our world needs has to be a supernatural intervention from the Holy Spirit. Several years ago in my own life the Holy Spirit sovereignly intervened to show me “Abba Father and His overwhelming love.” That encounter would lead to what we are doing now with Oceans Ministries.

As we walked out of “Show me the Father” there was a sense of hope as real life stories reminded us that The Father is working in miraculous ways to show broken children His healing love. Jesus is the perfect picture of what the Father looks like. When you see Jesus you see the heart of the Father.

Yes, we are living in a historic time of brokenness around the world which is the perfect time for the Holy Spirit to wake us up to see the only One who can bring eternal healing. I would encourage you to see “Show me the Father,” it will give you much to ponder and I believe the answer to what our world desperately needs.

“Philip said, ‘Lord show us the Father and we will be satisfied. Jesus replied, ‘Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father!’” (John 14:8-9)