Open Heavens

 

“Hey Tim you need to come take a look at this painting with the clouds!”

 

Earlier in the week I was telling Mike Verkaik how I sensed God speaking to me and it had to do with clouds (More details to follow in future blogs). Curious to see what Mike was talking about I followed him to see the painting and sure enough I was truly blessed.

 

Both of us were attending the conference Open Heavens and during one of the first sessions an artist painted while we sang and worshiped. The finished work of art result is above. I would have loved to take the painting home-but it would have been difficult on the plane. I’ll have to wait for a smaller print to be made.

 

You won’t want to miss the artist’s meaning behind the picture:

 

Childlikeness climbs up the ladder of faith.

In an Open Heaven of God’s Presence anything is possible!

ONLY BELIEVE!

(Theresa Dedmon)

 

One of my prayers the last few years has been for the Father to give me simple childlike faith. A faith that believes my “Daddy in Heaven” can do far more than I could ever hope for or imagine. That as His beloved child I would learn to daily dwell in His presence and let my life flow out of His loving affection for me.

 

Take a few minutes and prayerfully meditate on the picture of the painting. May it lead you to rest in His overwhelming love for you. Go ahead and hand over your impossible into His big hands. Allow Him to do something glorious with this impossibility as you exercise your childlike faith.

 

 

 

26 – “I will not leave you as orphans…”

 

26 has always been my favorite number going back to Nov. 26, 1978. This is when the Father arrested my heart with the overwhelming mercy and grace of His Son Jesus Christ that saved me.

 

26 was also my football # in high school and during that time I watched a beautiful blonde play volleyball #26 was on her jersey. It took some time, but on Dec. 26 I started to date that young lady and 5 years later I married her on June 26.

 

26 also represents in Judaism the most holy name for God YHWH (Yahweh, LORD), the Great I AM.

 

This past weekend I led a retreat for a group of men in the beautiful mountains of Colorado. The theme was Stepping into New Seasons. Our Father is always calling us to follow Him in faith and believe that in every new journey and experience we are not alone but He travels with us.

 

We discussed Jesus’ final teaching time in the upper room before heading to the cross (John 14-16). Did you know that 15 times Jesus tells His disciples that He is about to leave them, which didn’t go over so well with the group. But Jesus emphasized that it was a good thing He departed and here is why.

 

26 times in these 3 chapters He uses the name Holy Spirit, Counselor, Spirit of Truth, and a bunch of pronouns, to describe the gift that Jesus and the Father will send to them.

 

“And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever – The Spirit of Truth… you know Him for He lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you…” (John 14:16-18).

 

26 times Jesus wants to remind you and me that His Spirit will “teach you all things,” (14:26) and remind us of “everything” Jesus has said (vs. 26). He will keep “testifying” about Jesus (15:26). He will “guide you into all truth” (16:13) and “will tell you what is yet to come,” (16:13). But there is even more, Jesus goes on and says; “All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you,” (16:14-15).

 

May the words of this blog remind you that you are not alone on this journey! You have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit, who shouts out that the Father and the Son have made their home in your heart (14:23) and will be with you and lead you every step you take along the way. Oh and I should add that I am not superstitious but do enjoy making fun connections.

 

 

 

The Purple Door

 

Why in the world a purple door? Last week my dad and I toured a ministry called Providence Network. A ministry miraculously birthed 30 years ago that continues to transform addicts, homeless, abused woman, at risk teens and a whole bunch more for the glory of God in the heart of Denver.

 

During our tour of this holistic ministry we stopped at a hip looking coffee shop called The Purple Door. I love coffee shops and this one was special! It had a cool vibe about it and an audacious vision.   The coffee shop takes homeless and at risk teens off the streets loves on them and gives them a job at The Purple Door.

 

They young lady behind the counter was telling me how since being there doors opened for her to get into college and she is pursing an accounting degree, amazing!

As we were sipping some tasty lattes we asked, “so why the purple doors?” I mean it did kind of stand out. She proceeded to tell us that the ministry wants each person who walks into the shop as well as each employee to know they are royalty!

 

Such a profound statement to indicate that each teen rescued from the streets and each customer enjoying their cup of coffee are created in the image of God and therefore royalty. The vision of the owners is that The Purple Door will bring people to understand that through Christ we become sons and daughters of a loving Father!

 

My heart leaped for joy as this vision was shared as it parallels the heart of Oceans Ministries. Christ came to open the door for us to the Father’s House so that we can live as royalty. As He said in John 14:6

 

“I am the way, the truth and the lifeno one comes to the Father except through Me.”

 

Jesus’ crimson blood was shed so that you and I can wear a royal robe of His righteousness and walk into the Father’s house boldly as His beloved royal kids. When we come to understand the metamorphosis that happens in our hearts because of this truth- the Kingdom of heaven comes to earth.

 

The Purple Door is a powerful visual reminder to walk into Abba Father’s House and to live as royalty! I praise God for the truth this coffee house teaches and lives into. I hope to enjoy a cup of coffee at The Purple Door sometime and you are invited. But in the meantime let us remind one another that we are His chosen and royal sons and daughters!

 

Go Find a Rock!

 

I looked for a stone that would fit into my hand to hurl into the lake but all I could find were small pebbles and the big rock pictured above. Every year during the Jewish feast day Rosh Hashanah (Feast of Trumpets, Lev. 23:23-25), I practice a Jewish custom of throwing a rock into a body of water. This is a visual act of an inward repentance for sins for the past year. 10 days after Rosh Hashanah comes the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), the Holiest Day on the Jewish calendar which is celebrated tomorrow, September 19.  Yom Kippur remembers the high priest act of once a year entering the Holy of Holies to sprinkle the blood of bulls and goats on the mercy seat to atone for the sins of Israel (Lev. 16).

 

So one day I threw a rock in a lake and another day I was doing a men’s retreat in Kansas City. I love teaching on Hearing the Voice of Your Father. I shared how the first step to hearing the Father’s voice is developing a humble repentant heart that follows Jesus into the Jordan River (Mt. 3:13-17). Jesus identified Himself with the worst of sinners and walked right into the Jordan as sinless lamb. This act of obedience pointed to His upcoming sacrifice on the cross. Jesus-the Cornerstone-cast Himself into the water as a humble servant to demonstrate that He would take on our sins and not only thrust them into the depths of the sea, (Micah 7:19) but also open up our hearts to the forever love of the Father.

 

I shared with the men how the Jews believed that the 10 days of repentance before the Day of Atonement would open up the heavens to those whose hearts were repentant and the result was to encounter the voice of God. Now don’t miss this, when Jesus emerged out of the Jordan River after the baptism of repentance He heard the Father say,

 

“This is My Son, whom I love, with Him I am well pleased,” Mt. 3:17.

 

I challenged the men to let the Spirit reveal their sin, their rebellious heart, find a rock, confess their sin, and hurl that rock into the water. But since there wasn’t any water at the retreat center we were at we improvised and had a bonfire to symbolize the removal of our sins. Abba moved during this time of repentance-many of the men’s ears were opened to hear the loving voice of their Abba Father.

 

It has been a week since I rode my bike to the lake, confessed a ton of sins, and with both hands and all the strength I could muster threw that big rock into the water. What a relief to place all my wrongdoings on the Rock of Jesus Christ. Yes, that rock made a gigantic splash! I must admit I felt like hiding behind a rock when I scared a couple sitting nearby. Oops I guess we neither of us will forget that day!

I rode my bike back home full of joy, full of the Father’s love, knowing I am His son because of the gift of the Son. I cherish the words He speaks over me. May you cherish the word He speaks over you!

 

You are His son, His daughter and He is proud of you!

Go find a Rock!

 

 

 

What’s Normal Anyway?

While Visiting Lesotho With My Special Needs Son Taught Me About the Heart of the Father

(Written by Mike Verkaik)

If you know me in real life, then you probably also know my son Chad. Chad is an energetic, 6 foot 5 college sophomore who has been developmentally delayed since birth. These past 2 years Dawn and I have seen so many of our prayers for Chad answered in Calvin College’s Ready for Life (RFL) program. For the first time this fall he is living independently in his own apartment alongside a fellow RFL student. When I visit him in his new place, I can’t help but rejoice in the way God has shown up in the life of my son through this program.

 

When I think of life with Chad, I often think of a scene from the movie The Incredibles. At the beginning of the film, our main characters (all superheros with extraordinary powers) are all sitting around the dinner table talking about their school day when the oldest daughter, Vie exclaims: “Normal, what does anyone in this family know about normal?”

 

This line has stuck with me since the time I saw the movie, and often pops when I think of Dawn and my parenting journey with Chad.

 

When Chad entered our family, we spent many of his childhood years asking this same question: “What is normal?” At church, is it okay that Chad sits down with head bowed every time we pray even when the congregation is standing? What about when he sings boisterously with a joy not typically seen in Reformed Churches?

 

What is normal?

 

Chad’s heart and perspective have shown me that the way you and I define “normal” doesn’t always line up with the heart of our Father. Chad lives without concern for what others think and if the spirit leads him to share or pray he does so loudly. One of the most Christ-like things about Chad is his concern for others, he never wants anyone to feel left out.

 

Many of Chad’s better qualities were brought into sharp perspective for me this past August when he joined me on an Ocean’s trip to Lesotho. Simply put, I saw the heart of our Father explode through the actions of my son.

1st John 4:18 says: “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.” Chad’s openness to the Spirit astounded me in Lesotho. Putting off any doubts or fears, he responded to everyone with the freedom that comes from living fully alive, just as you were created to be. While in Lesotho Chad prayed freely over the staff and directors of Beautiful Gate. He worshipped openly through song, with inspired motions and dance. He happily shared his testimony to teen moms at the Good Shepherd Center, connecting with them in beautiful authenticity.

 

Throughout the trip Chad continuously concerned himself with the needs and inclusion of everyone around him. He was the one to ensure all birthdays were celebrated with cake and singing. Every visitor that entered the campus was always invited to dinner, or on a trip, or into a conversation. No one got out of dish duty with Chad on the watch, and if someone was not feeling well, he made sure he found a replacement. Most memorably, when one student, Peter, asked to rededicate his life to Christ through baptism, Chad taped the entire sacrament and made sure Peter got a copy.

 

Life with Chad, both in Lesotho and at home in West Michigan, has shown me that our normal doesn’t always line up with the life of freedom our Father calls us to live. Without the insecurities and fear that sometimes hold us back, Chad’s heart pours out Jesus to everyone as he naturally fulfills the command to “Love each other as I have loved you.” (John 15:12)

 

What a blessing to call him my son. He has taught me not to live normal but live like the Heart of the Father!