Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Blogiversary giveaway!

Yep! It's coming up: my 10 year blogiversary. Believe it or not, but I penned my first blog post in May 2006, not knowing where the adventure would lead me.

Not knowing that I would meet so many other bloggers and writers online, sharing the same passion and drive to be an encouraging and positive voice on the world wide web.

I have learned a lot from you all. I am thankful for your visits and comments on my blog posts and appreciate your likes and retweets. A blog will not survive without a faithful group of readers and it is time to thank you all again for following, reading and sharing.

Let's welcome the month of May and begin the celebration with a giveaway. As you may have read in previous posts my new book Spirit of Truth has just been released. The subtitle says: 'Finding certainty and standing firm in a troubled world'.

It is an encouraging message that will inspire and equip readers to stand up and say no to the negative voices of the world (lies, accusations, fear, worries, pain and defeat) and yes to the Truth of God's Word.

I will send you a signed copy of Spirit of Truth with some other goodies, wherever you live. You can enter this giveaway by:
  • leaving your comment and
  • sharing this post on your social media
Please do this before May 10th, 2016. I will draw a name and announce the winner on this blog. To further celebrate I will also host several bloggers@work...

Let's celebrate blogging!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Each one his or her own truth?

Have you heard it in a conversation lately: "You have your truth and I have mine ..."?

A strange idea actually, because if everyone has his or her own truth, truth has become a variable. Friends today, enemies tomorrow. Taboo today, acceptable tomorrow. Truth has become rather confusing in our society today. It is no longer regarded as a foundation upon which we can build our worldview.

Do we find the truth somewhere in the middle? Is it possible to find truth in the midst of many voices, views and opinions? What is wrong with having our own personal truth? Ethical questions that are interesting enough to dig into, and I did ...

In my latest book Spirit of Truth I have taken a closer look at three statements by three different people:

  • Pilate, who proclaimed three times that he could not find any fault in Jesus
  • Peter, who said three times in a row that he did not know Jesus and
  • Jesus, who announced three times the coming of the Spirit of truth

Three men, each portraying their 'own' truth. In Spirit of Truth I am taking the reader to the courtroom where Jesus stands in front of Pilate, while Peter was outside denying his friendship with Jesus. Pilate confronts Jesus with a direct and desperate question: What is truth?

We are being challenged to answer that question!

Spirit of Truth is available on Kindle and Kindle unlimited for only $2.99.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Give me an L

In my Bible alphabet blog series L stands for Love.

Love. What comes to mind when we think about that word? Being kind to one another, tolerance, being in love, motherly love, charity ...?

We probably think of these different forms of human love, but Biblical love is supernatural love. That's not being in love, not a feeling, but love as choice.

God has made that choice: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).

He therewith demonstrates the most beautiful and most difficult love there is, that is,
  • loving your neighbor as yourself
  • loving your enemies and bless them
  • loving those who persecute you
  • loving unto death
God desires to transfer this heart-rending love to mankind, to you and me. If we look around us, it seems impossible to treat God and each other that way .... but the Bible says love never fails!

Dear friends, let us love one another, because love comes from God. Whoever loves is a child of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. And God showed his love for us by sending his only Son into the world, so that we might have life through him. This is what love is: it is not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the means by which our sins are forgiven (1 John 4: 7-10).

We can discuss it, debate it, sing songs and write poems, but the big change starts with our acceptance of His love!

Up next, giveaway of my new release Spirit of Truth!

Monday, March 21, 2016

The questioning of truth

"Imagine a court room. A humble, quiet man has been brought in. He is being accused of a crime. No one seems to know exactly what kind of crime, even the judge doesn’t know for sure. What he does know however, is that all kind of charges and complaints have been filed against this man. He is trying to sort things out. Justice must prevail!

During the trial several people come forward to tell lies about the defendant, who appears particularly quiet and peaceful during this ordeal. His sad but friendly eyes drift around the room only to rest for a mere second or so on some of his countrymen. They look back with hatred and spit in his direction as if to silence his kindness..."

So begins my new book Spirit of Truth. Looking back at the events in the courtroom, where Jesus stood before Pilate, we can see a desperate cry emerge. A cry that still lingers in our courtrooms today. As a matter of fact it lingers in our homes, schools, political arena, businesses, and even in our churches: 'And what is truth?' 

In Spirit of Truth the reader is being challenged to answer Pilate's question, not just inside the courtroom... but where it matters most: in our daily lives.

'A delightful book, well thought out and relevant to us today... A book you will certainly read often.'

The message in this book is very inspiring and encouraging, especially if you find yourself struggling from time to time to stay hopeful and positive in a world  that has taken a free fall into lawlessness.

The paperback edition will be published and distributed in Europe (where I am residing), but there is also a Kindle edition which is now available at Amazon for just $2.99.

Spirit of Truth is the sixth book in a series about the Ten Commands in the 21st century. The message is related to the 9th commandment: 'Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor'. 

Saturday, March 12, 2016

New release: Spirit of Truth

I am happy to break in to my Bible alphabet blog series with some exciting news.... I have a new book coming up! (which is about time...)

Yep, when bloggers are getting quiet, they're probably hiding behind their computer screen and working on a book :) Spirit of Truth is my sixth (English language) book and for several reasons (such as procrastination) it took me quite some time to finish it.

In this new release I am taking the reader back in time to one of the most famous questions ever asked in the history of mankind... and that is the one Pilate desperately confronted Jesus with: ‘and what is truth?’

It is the very scene where Jesus stands before Pilate that I have used to unfold the historical case truth vs. lie. I have taken Pilate's question and related it to the 9th commandment which teaches us not to accuse anyone falsely or in other words: speak truth.

Today, as in Pilate's time, we live in a world that is made up of accusations, lies and gossip. We are constantly being bombarded with stories about people cheating, lying, and accusing others of being the reason for the mess they are in. Such practices have even gotten entertainment value. Pilate's question still lingers in our courtrooms everyday. As a matter of fact, it lingers in our homes, schools, businesses and churches. What is truth? A very relevant question for today.

It will be a few more weeks before the paperback version will be available, but... you can get your Kindle edition  right now for only $2.99!

Get your e-book copy of Spirit of Truth today and be blessed and encouraged as you read through the pages! In the coming weeks I will post some give-aways and recommendations.

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Give me a K

In my Bible alphabet blog series K stands for Kingdom.

And I am not talking about the Kingdom of the Netherlands (where I live), but about the Kingdom of God! Jesus spoke about it much and often.

After His resurrection from the dead, this message became more urgent. In Acts 1: 3 it is written about Jesus that He appeared to them [the apostles] over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. Forty days? There is indeed much to say...

In the Bible the terms the Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God are being used interchangeably and sometimes the Bible simply refers to it as the Kingdom. Let's see what the Kingdom is not:

  • It is not a natural kingdom, not a place or country. It is a spiritual dimension where God's will reigns. Jesus said, My kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36) and your kingdom come, your will be done (Matthew 6:10).
  • It is not a matter of our daily natural needs.  For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17)
  • It is not a theory or theology. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power (1 Corinthians 4:20).
There is this religious thought that the Kingdom is a future destination. But Jesus tells us that we must seek the kingdom first, above all else (Matthew 6:33). Why would He let us begin a search for something that cannot be found here on earth? This is a question that the scribes and theologians also struggled with. Jesus told them, The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ (Luke 17:20). So, where is it?

Jesus continues ... because the kingdom of God is in your midst. (Luke 17:21). Well, they were speechless, as are many of us today. The Kingdom of God [His will on earth as in heaven] here with us? Some translations say the Kingdom is near you or within you ... However we look at it, the kingdom is never far away. Please note: there is no kingdom without the King! The Kingdom of God is within you only if Jesus lives there.

Righteousness, peace and joy with power is within us when we are alone but also among us when we are together as believers. We can experience the kingdom from within, but it also surrounds us as we go into the world. Jesus gave us the kingdom inside so that we can go outside to spread it in a broken, tired and troubled world.

[see also my Kingdom basics blog series]

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Give me a J

In my Bible alphabet blog series J stands for Jesus.

Jesus is the Son of God who came to earth as a man. His birth was announced by an angel who visited his mother Mary: You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus (Luke 1:31).

Now, the angel of course did not speak to Mary in English. The name Jesus is therefore derived from the Hebrew Yeshua which means the Lord is salvation.

When Jesus was about thirty years old, he moved from Nazareth to Capernaum (the remains of that town can still be found in Israel) and from that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” (Matthew 4:17).

During His earthly sojourn Jesus only did what He saw the Father doing. In John 5:19 it is written like this, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. So, what did Jesus do? He traveled around, talked about the Kingdom, testified about the truth, forgave people their sins, healed those who were sick and even raised people, who had died prematurely, from the dead.

Jesus came to earth to set mankind free from sin by giving His life, His blood (Revelation 1: 5). He was tortured, crucified and killed. After three days He rose from the grave. He not only overcame sin but also death!

If this is true, why (why, why) then is our world still so full of sin, destruction, sorrow and death? Because every human being must use his or her free will to make a conscious dicision to believe in Jesus and so receive forgiveness, victory and freedom. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God (1 John 5: 5).

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Give me an I

In my Bible Alphabet blog series I stands for Israel.

There is no country in the world which is being criticized so much as Israel. Quite often by people, and this is really puzzling, who never had a conversation with a Jew or Arab from Israel, let alone paid a visit to the country.

Anyway, what is the deal with Christians and Israel?

The land of Israel is named after the patriarch Jacob (son of Isaac, grandson of Abraham) who had an encounter and wrestling match with God in the desert. In Genesis 32:28 it is written: Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.

In the Bible the twelve sons of Jacob and their descendants are called the people of Israel. In addition the Bible also clearly speaks about the land of Israel. For example, in Joshua 21:43, So the Lord gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their ancestors, and they took possession of it and settled there. [The boundaries God has in mind can be found in Ezekiel 48].

Since then, thousands of years have passed and the Israelites were scattered all over the world through oppression, persecution and exile until in 1947 a resolution was passed by a majority vote in the UN that led to the state of Israel which was proclaimed on May 15, 1948.

Israel and the Jewish people are so important because it was through them that the promised Messiah has come: Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. Many Christians bless Israel (by speaking for and not against Israel in conversations, by purchasing products or booking a vacation for example) because God speaks very clearly about doing so in His Word (Genesis 12: 2-3) I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Give me an H

In my Bible alphabet blog series H stands for Hope.

And I am not talking about the kind of hope for a sunny day or a winning ticket, although there is nothing wrong with that. No, I am talking about the hope that sustains our very being.

The hope that keeps us going when all else stops. The hope that says YES when all other voices say NO. The hope that goes beyond this life... into eternity.

I am talking about Jesus Christ, Hope of the nations... may He fill your heart with peace and joy, so there will be no room left for fear and worry.

While the secular media pumps one hopeless message after another into society, the silent whisper of hope takes root in hearts all over the globe. Each day more. My New Year's wish is that you will experience this hope in 2016.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
(Romans 15:13)

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Give me a G

In my Bible alphabet blog series G stands for God.

Duhh... you might be thinking, of course G stands for God in a Bible alphabet. You don't need to be a scientist to figure that out. But let's make sure there will be no confusion about the identity of this God.

He is the God of Israel! He is the God who shows favor and love to Israel and the Jewish people. This might be politically incorrect, but it is Biblical.

He is the God of creation. He created the vastness of the universe and the smallness of humanity. Because He has the overall picture, He alone is able to give us purpose and meaning in life.

He is the God of love, because no matter what we have done (or failed to do) He is waiting for our friendship. Only His love and forgiveness can truly fill the emptiness that we often try to fill up with substitutes (whether chocolate or drugs).

He is the God of peace who wants His followers to live in peace with everyone. His peace, which transcends all understanding, will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

And by the way...

He is not the same God as Allah, because he has a Son who is called Jesus Christ, the Messiah, Savior of the world.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Give me an F

In my Bible alphabet blog series F stands for Faith.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1).

Faith is not theology, it is substance. It can be felt and it can be seen!

Have you ever looked up at someone because of their unshakable faith? Have you ever asked God for greater faith? I believe it is not a weird question at all, the disciples asked Jesus the same thing when they saw Him do all kinds of great stuff.

His answer can be found in Matthew 17:20 (TEV), I assure you that if you have faith as big as a mustard seed, you can say to this hill "Go from here to there!" and it will go. You could do anything! Notice that this translation says faith as BIG as a mustard seed. Jesus' perception of size is different than ours! He basically tells the disciples, and us today, what mustard seed faith is: something very small you can use in order to do something very big!

Faith without works is dead. Faith that exists in our head or on paper only, is no faith at all. Faith without works is like a bird in a cage: it cannot spread its wings. So, maybe you have faith in Gods promises for a project, for a change, for healing or deliverance... small faith, big faith, trembling faith... it doesn't really matter. The key is to put it into practice...

Putting our faith in God and His promises means we add action to our belief. Let's illustrate this with some simple examples: If you believe today will be a sunny day, leave your umbrella at home! If you believe God heals the sick, go lay your hands on someone. If you believe God will provide, stop worrying!

Go ahead, take whatever faith you have and talk it over with the Lord and ask the Holy Spirit to help you use it in a way that brings results.Together we can move mountains!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Give me an E

In my Bible alphabet blog series E stands for Encouragement.

This is one of the few words, I believe, should be in every believer's dictionary :) Well, maybe not so much in the dictionary, but more so in daily life and attitude.

In an often negative world that is full of violence, hatred, lies, insensibility and apathy, we all need encouragement, every day! We will get it, when we start giving it.

Where will we find it? In the Bible: For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope (Romans 15:4).

Who will give it? God! May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had... (Romans 15:5).

Oh, how we should desire to go about our daily business like the believers did in the beginning. Not repeating the gossip and bad news we are bombarded with each day, but sharing good stuff. It is written about the apostle Paul: He traveled through that area, speaking many words of encouragement to the people, and finally arrived in Greece (Acts 20:2).

I want to encourage you with the following words:
Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you (2 Corinthians 13:11).

Have a fabulous weekend!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Give me a D

In my Bible alphabet blog series D stands for Disciple.

Disciple actually means a follower or pupil of a teacher and comes from the verb discere which means 'learning'.

A disciple is someone with a teachable spirit, someone who is willing and committed to learn (not someone who thinks he/she knows everything already).

Jesus says some very important things to the people who want to be His disciple, for example: A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher (Luke 6:40). Will be like Jesus ... in thinking, talking and acting!

Not everyone believes that Jesus is the Son of God, but in general people do agree that He is the greatest teacher who ever walked the earth. Is it not logical that we should learn from Him? This begins with the reading and studying of the four Gospels (do it!) and asking for wisdom and insight from the Holy Spirit.

The qualifications for discipleship are not very complicated, but quite radical: So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:33). In today's terms this basically means:
  • that we must be willing to let go of everything we think to know
  • that we should not hang on to our possessions and
  • that we must be willing to give up our lives for Him

Friday, August 21, 2015

Give me a C

In my Bible alphabet blog series C stands for Christ.

Christ is NOT the last name of Jesus, but it is a Greek word which shows who He is, namely the anointed one (the chosen one).

The Hebrew word for this is Mashiach (Messiah), and that comes from the verb mashach (to smear or anoint with oil).

The first chapter of Matthew's Gospel shows the genealogy of the Jewish Messiah. Verse 16 goes like this: and Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ. One by one the people of that time discovered and believed that Jesus was indeed the promised Messiah.

One of them was the disciple Andrew. In John 1:41 it is written about him: The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). That news was, and still is, going around the world like wildfire. Every day people come to realize that Jesus is the Christ.

Christ, the anointed or chosen one. He is the Son of God, Savior of the world, Lord of lords, even your best friend (when you decide to believe in Him). Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit and went out (Acts 10: 37-38): You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached— how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.

Jesus Christ is no longer physically on earth, but He has given His anointing to believers to do greater things than He did. What an assignment!

Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come (2 Corinthians 1:21).

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Give me a B

[Samaritan woman at the well by Zambian muralist Emmanuel Nsama]
In my Bible alphabet blog series B stands for Believers.

The word comes from the Greek verb πιστεύω or pisteuó which means to believe, entrust, have faith in.

The first group of believers mentioned in the Bible [are NOT to be found in the book of Acts!] were actually the people of the Samaritan town Sychar. 

Jesus spoke with a woman from that town and because of her encounter with this Jewish man, many of her own townsfolk became believers. John 4:39-41: Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers.

So, believers are people who have put their faith (trust, confidence) in Jesus Christ and believe His Word. In Biblical times the believers were known for their communal living as recorded in Acts 4:32, The believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.

The Bible further mentions how new believers modeled after each other, a process that is still going on today! The apostle Paul writes about the Greek believers in Thessaloniki: You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia... (1 Thessalonians 1:6-7). And more than that, it went worldwide. Paul writes that their faith in God became known everywhere.

I want the same to be true for the faith of modern day believers!