Reminders from the River – Living in the Flow

Southern Steps of Temple Mount in Jerusalem

Can you find the “river” in the picture above? Can you see it among the 2000 years old southern steps that used to lead into the temple mount where King Herod’s temple stood in Jesus day? Let me help you in case your eyes can’t locate it. This ancient site is one of my favorites in Israel because of what happened there. Many scholars believe that was where Pentecost occurred as described in Acts 2. Below these steps are several Mikvah’s, also known as ritual baths, where 3000 people could have easily been baptized.

Ancient Mikvah

The pouring out of the Holy Spirit into the disciples was prophesied about in Ezekiel 47. And in this vision Ezekiel sees a River flowing out from the temple heading east and then turning south “flowing from the south side” of the temple. As this River flows it grows and every place the river touches “lives”abundantly (vs. 9). Along the River trees flourish with fruit of all kinds and the fruit does not fail and the leaves will not wither (vs 12b).

This glorious vision of the River ends with these words:

“Every month they will bear, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing,” (vs 12b).

Look again at the picture, can you see the River now? Look at those seated on the steps in the hot June sun. These are people from the Oceans Ministries 2018 trip to Israel. Many gave testimony to how they were immersed into the River of God’s amazing grace and transformed by the Spirit of the living God through Jesus Christ. These fellow followers of Christ are trees planted by the River and bearing fruit to bring “healing” as the River flows in and through them to others.

These steps always remind me of my calling to live in the River so my life can bear fruit and bring healing to others for my Father’s glory (John 15:1-17). God’s River continues to flow and grow all over the world, even in places you would least expected. Patty and I watched this amazing movie called “Sheep Among Wolves” . It is an extraordinary testimony of the River of God’s Spirit flowing into Iran where the church is one of the fastest growing in the world, yes you heard it right Iran! There are no buildings, no resources, no programs, no popular pastors, just broken people transformed by the River doing biblical discipleship. This movie will challenge you and call you back to live in the River and allow Him to flow through you to bring healing to the nations.

The Southern Steps is just one of the many amazing places to visit in Israel. If you are interested in coming along, Oceans Ministries has a trip planned for May 31 -June 11, 2020. For more information email: or

Western Wall, Jerusalem

A Painful Loss and a Potent Reminder

Pastor David Jika, Christian Revival Church, Lesotho, Africa

This past weekend I received the shocking news that a good friend to Oceans Ministries, Pastor David was murdered, in what has been described as a “mindless crime.” My soul has been aching as I think of David’s wife Lizzy, his two boys, and the CRC church family.

Several years ago I met Pastor David as the church was just getting underway in a local school. I was always blessed by his powerful preaching and his vision to reach Lesotho with the the Gospel. A little over 5 years ago when I left the pastorate to start Oceans Ministries Pastor David asked me to preach and share the vision of Oceans to the church. It was Father’s Day, and I preached from Romans 8:15, sharing that we are no longer slaves to fear but we are children adopted into a glorious family of the Father’s love. As I finished the message Pastor David whispered to the praise team, and they played the song “Oceans!” I wept, as I felt the presence of the Father’s love through David and the church affirming the call to launch Oceans.

Since that Sunday the CRC became Oceans Ministries church in Africa. Every team we have brought out since then have experienced God’s Spirit moving in life changing ways through the worship and Word. We have witnessed team members from the United States come to Christ, as well as amazing healings of heart and body. Often those who have joined us will say they have been in church their entire lives and have never encountered God like they did at the CRC. Pastor David & his wife Lizzy helped create this Spirit-soaked atmosphere through their preaching, prayers, persistence faith during difficult days, and a passionate love for Jesus and others.

“King Solomon,” Pastor David & Lizzy

Pastor David’s death is a painful loss for many of us but join me in praying that the Father’s love will be poured out over David’s family and the church family. And that David’s passing will ignite many others to take up his mantle and bring the message of the Father’s love to Lesotho, Africa, and the world.

David’s sudden passing to Heaven is also a potent reminder of how to live life now. Patty and I had a divine appointment this past Sunday night as we got to met with my stepdad Bill’s daughter Lori, who also has experienced incredible loss as her husband Don was killed in a tragic work accident in June. She was sharing how her husband would say “our best life is ahead of us” as his retirement was soon approaching. Lori said to us, with an angelic glow, that Don’s sudden death has taught her , “our best life is right now!” Her words, in light of David’s tragic death, was a holy reminder to live “our best life right now” to the fullest for our Father’s glory!

Take comfort in these words from Romans 8:37-39:

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Reminders from the River – Keep Me in the Flow!

At the age of 13 I experienced the absolute power of a river. During a Memorial Day rafting trip our guide asked if anyone wanted to swim in the rapids without the raft. Maybe my frontal cortex was not fully developed yet or my competitive spirit kicked in when I saw others raise their hands, so I raised mine.

As I jumped into the rushing Colorado River my body quickly turned numb and before I knew it I was swept away into a set of white water rapids. It was a helpless feeling as the river held me completely in its powerful grasp, All I could remember was the guide saying, “keep your legs down river to bounce off the rocks!” But that idea became hopeless as I was plunged under the freezing water bouncing off rocks and being held under by a force that seemed impossible to fight against. Just when I thought this could be the end I popped up 50 yards down stream where the river mellowed and I made my way to the rocky bank. This was an unforgettable moment! Ever sine that day whenever I drive past this section of the Colorado I distinctly recall the time my body was totally controlled by the powerful Colorado while wearing a life jacket that was way too small for me.

Earlier that same year I immersed myself into another River, one even more powerful than the mighty Colorado. It was the River of God’s Amazing Grace. One Sunday night I fell before the cross of Christ with the weight of my sin. I was plunged under this weight, only to be brought up by unseen hands of love and placed on a firm foundation as a New Creation. Instead of feeling numb, I felt alive with love, joy, and peace, which resulted in a river of uncontrollable tears. But at the age of 13 I didn’t fully understand the glorious, awesome, power of the River of God’s Sovereign Grace. Forty years later I’m still trying to grasp the power of Heaven’s River and surrender to the life giving flow of His Love. Through this journey down the River I would like to share a few things the Spirit continues to teach me.

Stay in It = Unlike the Colorado River, there is no safer place to be than in the River of God. You and I were created to flow in Father’s love . This love is powerful, overwhelming at times, and demands that we trust Him completely with our entire lives, but over time we learn that we were created for this and nothing else will satisfy one’s soul like His presence.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5

Surrender to It = The Colorado was too powerful for me to fight against, my kicking and flailing only zapped me of strength. The River of God demands that I let go of the illusion of being in control and daily die to my selfish will in order to find true life in the River.

“If any of you wants to be My follower, you must put aside your selfish ambitions, shoulder your cross daily, and follow Me. If you try to keep your life you will lose it. But if you give up your life for Me, you will find true life.” Luke 9:23-24

Spirit Lead Me = When you stay in the flow and surrender to the sovereign power of God you open up your life for one wild and crazy trip down the River. I have been learning over the past 40 years that I don’t know where the River is always going to take me, yet I must be open to His leading. I’ve also learned that wherever this cascading journey takes me, what is most important is not what I do, rather who I become. The River has a language all of its own and the more you stay in the flow, the more you understand it and a follow it. This is our hope:

“But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, He will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23.

My jump into the Colorado almost took my life, so I would not recommend this idea. However, my jump into the powerful River of Grace took my life, and I would most emphatically encourage it. Yes its power can be overwhelming, even scary at times, but the more I Stay in It, Surrender to It, and let the Spirit have His way-the more saturated my soul becomes with a gift that no words can explain. Join me as I continue to cry out “O LORD keep me in the flow…!”

Reminders from the River – Living Low

As Patty and I were sitting by the river-our sanctuary for a while in a busy season. I thought about the path of the river, where it would end. I let my imagination wander as I thought to myself, “certainly never seen a river run UP a mountain.” From highest 14,000 feet peaks, the snow makes its way into the river we were enjoying and this small river would converge with others, ultimately contributing to the mighty Colorado River. The Colorado River flows down a 1000 plus miles and empties into the expansive Pacific Ocean all the way down to sea level. From the snow melt high above the mountain, the rushing water breaks forth into a series of streams or rivers, and each tributary, pulled down by gravity, finds the lowest point.

As I pondered the path of the river, the Spirit prompted my thoughts back to the presence of the Father, and what allows us to enter into His presence. Then it all came together. God’s glory resides in the highest heavens, and He is continually looking for a humble heart to flow down into.

“The high and lofty One who inhabits eternity, the Holy One says this: ‘I live in that high and holy place with those whose spirits are contrite and humble. I refresh the humble and give new courage to those with repentant hearts.” ( Isaiah 57:15).

Not only is this text in Isaiah talk about a contrite and humble heart, but Jesus also lives out a perfect visual of this text. Remember when JesusHe was baptized in the Jordan River? He identified with every sinner on earth. Did you ever think about where that water originated? The water which flowed from snow-capped Mount Hermon, 10,000 feet above, was the same water Jesus’ was baptized in by his cousin John. Jesus’ baptism symbolized the cleansing of a repentant heart, even though Jesus was pure and with out sin this act of lowering Himself below the water prepared Him for the refreshing of the Spirit of Heaven. Snow originating from the highest mountain flows into the Jordan River and when Jesus emerged from the water His Heavenly Father said, “this is my boy, I love Him and I’m so proud of Him!” (Mt. 3:16,17).

From the river’s pathway and the scripture references one can’t help but draw the conclusion that the Father’s heart is drawn to the broken, the weak, to repentant sinners , to those who humble their hearts and cry out for help from Heaven. The Spirit of the Father seeks to uphold the weak, the wounded, those who have wandered in the wilderness, those searching for the solace of the Savior. How can we forget the life of Moses, David, Esther, Isaiah, Mary, Peter and so many others. Each one learned to live low, have a humble heart and allow the streams of living water to fill them for the task set before them.

As Patty and I prayed by the river we asked for a fresh touch from heaven. In our weakness, sinfulness, and brokenness we are in desperate need of “refreshment” and “new courage” for the journey ahead. The river is a constant reminder for us to live low, to live in daily dependance on the Father, and that we need the Spirit of His Son to flow His love into parched lives.

Take heart if you are weak, wounded, or struggling in a barren wilderness. Rest assured that your soul is being prepared for the River to flow over you from Heavens on high. Follow Jesus. Step in. Wait for the refreshing words of your Father declaring His empowering love over you. You are His beloved daughter. You are His beloved son.

Reminders from the River – The Voice

Creation. God’s gift to us. Creation invites us to hear the Father’s Voice and bring solace to the soul. I welcome moments by the ocean, listening to the pattern of the rolling waves crashing on to the sandy shore. I also cherish time spent at the river, taking in the rhythm of the rocky mountain melting snow, now rushing down its designated path. A few weeks ago Patty and I took a few days for some needed rest. After a short walk, we sat on a log and allowed the consuming voice of the river to minister to us.

Even though the well traveled I-70 freeway was less than a mile away and the bustling mountain town of Vail a short walk down stream, all we could hear was the roar of water cascading over well worn rocks. The river, the wild flowers, and the pine trees become a safe sanctuary for us to be still before our Creator and let Him speak to our scattered souls.

Preparing for two weddings, making plans for a move to South Africa, and throwing in surgery for a torn bicep left our minds rushing a thousand different ways. Our enemy specializes in the art of distractions and works tirelessly to prevent us from hearing the One Voice that matters. As Patty and I spent some much needed time in prayer, I heard the gentle voice of the Spirit say, “As the river blocks out all the noise of the busy world around you, let your Father’s voice be the only one you listen to.” Our senses absorbed the sights and sounds, as we took a deep breath and surrendered our fears, frustrations, failures, and the future to the Lord. His voice spoke through the river to bring a stream of shalom from Heaven.

On the river’s edge we had our own personal church service. Together we reflected on a book we had read many times called “Victory over Darkness,” by Neil Anderson. I recently picked it up again to re-read as the voices I was hearing were not from my Father, but the father of lies. In one portion of the book the author has you work through a list of truths from Scripture to remind who you are in Christ. These truths boldly declare that in Christ, the gift of the Father, you are Accepted as His beloved child (John 1:12), Secure through His forever love (Rom. 8:35-39) and Significant because Christ lives in you (Gal. 2:20). If you don’t have this book I strongly suggest ordering it and have it ready when the lies hit.

In creation, sitting alongside the river we were reminded how powerful the Voice of the Father is. Reminded that when He speaks and we quiet our souls to listen, the noise and lies around us begin to fade and His peace, like a river attends to our needy souls. September tends to be a hectic season for many, I encourage you to find your “river” and hear the Voice of your Father!