“This Little Light of Mine …”

“Higher and Higher”

“When I came up out of the water it was like a huge rock was lifted off my back, I felt joy and freedom that I can’t explain, the Father loves me!”

Sunday we were blessed to witness several baptisms of people who have come to Christ through Love in Action ministries. The quote above is from a lady who has journeyed through years of abuse, brokenness, and intense shame from her past.

The radiant smile on her face and the shouts of praise from her lips as she walked out of the ocean was a glorious testimony to the redeeming love of her Heavenly Father.

Do any of you remember the worship chorus from the 70’s that goes:

“Humble thyself in the sight of the LORD, and He will lift you up…higher and higher … up into Heaven?”

I asked this same question to my Africa friends thinking perhaps we could sing it on the beach before the baptisms-but the response was blank stares, so much for my sermon illustration.

The words of the song are from James 4:10 and provide a beautiful illustration and incredible promise about the mighty work baptism plays in the life of one who has dedicated his life to Jesus Christ.

To be baptized is a declaration of humility. It is to acknowledge sin has a stranglehold on our lives and we are unable to break its grip. We are dead in and of our selves and unable to find the life and love we desire in this world.

As the Spirit of God awakens us to come to terms with our spiritual death He points us to a crucified Christ who took our place. Jesus  bore our sin and shame so that we could cry out in humility, “Jesus have mercy on me a sinner!”  This declaration of faith attaches us to Christ’s work on the cross and breaks the curse of sin over us as we die with Him.

To be baptized means to be raised to new life with Christ. We have been lifted up out of the grave of sin and as the song says “higher and higher…up into heaven!”

Pastor Raymond, who leads the Love in Action church, is known as the dancing pastor. As we were worshiping on the beach, with many beach goers watching, he breaks out dancing. And He can really dance, filled with the spirit joy.

His dancing is a great demonstration of what our Heavenly Father does when we humble ourselves before Him. Our Father comes to get us and brings us higher and higher into His glorious presence where He rejoices over us with singing and dancing (see Zeph. 3:17).

As our spirits are transported into the heavenly realm we hear the same words Jesus heard at His baptism;

“This is my beloved Son, whom I love, I am so proud of Him!”

Over the last few weeks my wife Patty and I have witness about 40 baptisms, and every time reminded of the gift of humility. I know I am sinner saved by grace. I know salvation is all God’s mighty work. As I learn to die daily to my sin and self it opens up my spirit to be lifted up “higher and higher…up into heaven” to hear Father say, “Tim, you’re my boy, I love you, I’m proud of you.”

This is the only voice in the world that matters. This is the only voice that will heal and satisfy the deepest longing in our souls. May you hear His voice today!

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up,” James 4:10


The Blessings of Seasons of Humility

The changing of an outside light bulb on one of our buildings should have taken a few minutes. However after living several years in Africa, I have learned it is likely to take much longer then you think.

True to form I was still working on this an hour later as rusted bolts caused a simple task to elevate my blood pressure. I was just about finished, when the stool I was standing on gave way and I landed with a thump in the garden.

The fall caused my calf to cramp, and well…there I was in the midst of ground covering and pulling back on my foot to ease the pain. Just then two men washing upper windows on our property walked by with a shocked look on their face. I tried to explain I wasn’t doing yoga but had fallen. They nodded and started speaking in their native language and I’m sure they had a hardy laugh afterwards and a great story to share with their friends.

Throughout my life I have encountered seasons, where I’ve found myself in the course of “Advanced Studies in Humility.” Just when I thought I passed the course and all is well I’m introduced to another level, perhaps to remind me what humility looks like or to show me how much more I need to comprehend.

Living in South Africa over the last 4 years I’ve been enrolled in this class for free of charge. I could give you a long list of why I think this-but you would probably stop reading and it doesn’t really matter. Even though this “Advanced Studies in Humility” has been tough-I wouldn’t trade it because of the fruitful blessings.

When walking through the valley of humiliation you read and meditate on Scripture with a deeper sensitivity and through a different lens. Your heart is raw. Your heart is open. Your heart is searching out truths. You desire to be taught. You desire transformation in the midst of these humble occurrences.

All throughout the Bible the topic of humility is addressed. Author Jerry Bridges states; “The character trait of humility is the second-most taught trait in the New Testament, second only to love.”

Case in point the season of Advent. At the very core of the birth of Christ is humility. God coming to earth with no pomp, no circumstance, born in a cave for sheep to a poor teenage girl viewed with suspicion because of her unforeseen pregnancy. Everything about His birth shouts humility!

Then, Paul challenges Christ’s followers to the mindset of humility:

   “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus; Who being in very nature God did not consider equality with God something to be grasped but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant being made in human likeness. And being found in the appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death even death on a cross! (Phil. 2:5-8)

This text highlights the need to be emptied of self in order to serve as Christ did. I have found during my seasons in the “School of Humility” the Spirit calls me to die to something. Whether that be my pride, sin, dreams, reputation, control, ministry, relationships, etc. so Christ can be formed in new and deeper ways in my heart. And the more Tim is moved out and Christ takes over the more of Heavens gifts are realized and enjoyed.

During this advent season may you ponder the gift of humility as seen in Christ’s first coming and how seasons of humility help form us more into His image.

Oh and I almost forgot: Had I taken my wife’s advice and used a ladder, I wouldn’t have ended up on my back in the dirt!!!! Still learning (smile).




The Most Important “Yet” of Thanksgiving!

How are you doing making sense of all that is going on in our world? The wars in Europe and the Middle East, the cultural wars where wrong is right and right is wrong. Here in Africa inflation is soaring and economic collapse where the poor and the marginalized suffer intensely. Chaos seems to be reigning over the globe.

Years ago as a young overwhelmed pastor I spent the day in prayer on a beach in Southern California. There I found myself engrossed in the small book of Habakkuk. Reading and journaling about the 3 chapters of this Minor Prophet-with the powerful waves pounded upon the shore-had a transformative impact on my life and calling for years to come.

 Whenever all seems shaky and uncertain I turn back and settle my soul by the truths taught by the Spirit to a struggling prophet. Habakkuk had some complaints to share with God about how things were going in the world. I won’t get into the little wrestling match he had with God, other then God won. If you haven’t read the book lately I challenge you to read it for yourself, it is so relevant for our day.

At the very end of the chapter, after Habakkuk’s encounter with God, and with chaos seeming to rule the day, he chooses to do this very important thing:

 “…yet, I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.” (3:18).

In the natural there was no reason to give praise and thanksgiving because of an economic collapse in Israel because of the invasion of a foreign enemy. Yet, his eyes turn in faith to the Great I AM, the faithful “LORD” who is his “Savior.”

I’m convinced that all the craziness in our world is a tool used by God to get our focus and attention back on Him and for good reason as the next verses says:

“The Sovereign LORD is my strength…” (vs. 19)

The whole book of Habakkuk is a gift that shows us that God is “The Sovereign LORD.” He is in absolute control of every detail that goes on in life, even when it doesn’t seem to make sense. One day it will and one day “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the water covers the sea,” (2:14).

When we believe that our Abba Father is in complete control of the smallest detail of our lives and the world-we are able to rest in complete confidence that His plan is unfolding perfectly even when we can’t grasp it. At the end of the day He will win, He will be glorified and all in Christ will share in His glory.

Something supernatural happens when we rejoice and give thanks to our LORD and Savior trusting His Sovereign Rule:

“He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to go on the heights.” (vs. 19b).

I’ve watched deer deep within a canyon in the Negev desert in Israel spring up the rocky cliffs to a safe place away from danger. Their agility is amazing. When we praise and rejoice in the LORD in the midst of the chaos around us we spring into the heavenly realms and are awakened to our secure union with Christ. No matter what-the Spirit testifies that we are held eternally in the loving arms of our Father. We cannot lose.

This week I needed to be reminded of the truths in Habakkuk about the most important “Yet” of thanksgiving. No matter what may happen around me “Yet I will rejoice and praise my Sovereign, Saving LORD who loves me forever!”

Prayers Colliding

Written by Mike Verkaik

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  John 1:5 (NIV)

Dawn and I just finished eating lunch with Edelyn*, one of the middle school residents at the motel ministry we are a part of.  While sitting around the table, an honest conversation developed of parents/partners who are stuck in a life full of struggles with addictions, joblessness, and strained relationships. She shared of a dark season she went through this past summer while fighting and substance abuse intensified in their 14 ft.  x 14 ft. room. She found herself hopeless and empty in the midst of it all, with no place to escape.

Through the last five years at the motel, there are are about a dozen children we have watched, prayed for, and nurtured from childhood to teenagers.  These children live in conditions of much brokenness and chaos, yet we have seen our Shepherd Father’s nature seek out His sheep, revealing them as His sons and daughters, and placing His Spirit within them.

For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for my lost sheep and look after them. As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, So will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness.        Ezekiel 34:11-12 (NIV)

There is no room at the motel to hide the daily dis-functionality of lives from the children who reside there. Life for them is unquestionably difficult and traumatizing, yet we see God’s hand upon children as they navigate with the Light of the World through the darkness. Edelyn, which means “God is my refuge”, is one of a handful of children who have asked Jesus into their hearts and asked to be baptized. Dwelling at the motel we see His hand upon her and witness not only our Father’s pursuit of His children, but also His Spirit’s filling and equipping to use them to bring His shalom into their struggles, fears and daily lives.

Leah*, which means “Struggle”, is now a former resident. She will always be remembered for how God used her hunger and thirst for worship to begin our Sunday worship times at the motel. In the midst of her struggles with depression, insecurities and family issues Abba created a hunger and thirst for worshipping Him in her. Through our Father’s perfect alignment He brought Leah especially close to one of our volunteers, Amber.  She became a mentor and friend. After years of emails, notes and cards of encouragement during Leah’s season of homelessness, unhealthy family dynamics, and  searching for her identity outside of her past, Amber became Leah’s foster mom.

A few weeks ago I had the privilege to witness Leah’s baptism at her foster parents house.  Amber told me that Leah woke up that Thursday morning and shared her desire to be  baptized.

When I showed up for Leah’s baptism on Saturday, I was met with the news of how Leah’s decision brought out the longing of two of Amber and Brian’s children to also be baptized.  Once again while Leah struggled with mental health and belonging, Abba stepped in and blessed Leah’s hunger and thirst for Him to lead others to act on their desires.

Below are the words of a mother’s heart as Amber wrote:

“As I was reflecting on Gods goodness in aligning the baptism for Leah, Briella, & Tritan I was brought to the following passage:

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.            Ephesians 3:20 (NLT)

We prayed for this day to happen for our kids and God aligned it to happen with Leah in our backyard. God’s love was on display in more ways than one. Tritan, our adopted son, was brought into our physical family along with fostering Leah, but God has adopted us ALL as sons and daughters into His family -the kingdom of God.”

Amen and Amen. What a beautiful reminder in knowing that even amidst terrible hardships we indeed have a God who is on a quest, seeking, chasing and pursuing the hearts of His children.

Life at the motel is hard. Hard to live at, and hard to watch life happen. Especially for children who are trapped in the situations their parent(s) find themselves in.  However, as we pray, listen, and bring the message of our Father’s loving heart, we find encouragement in knowing and trusting Jesus’ prayer for us:

I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.

  John 17:26 (NIV)

*Names changed