Monday, April 21, 2014

Born again ABC (3)

In the previous blog about spiritual rebirth we have seen that Jesus is pretty clear about it; there is more than a natural or human birth, there is also a spiritual birth. These are two different happenings. We could say that the Bible speaks about a natural birth and a super natural (spiritual) birth.

The first chapter of the gospel of John describes how Jesus, the Son of God, came to the earth. Some people believed in Him, some people did not believe in Him. It is still the same today. The Bible says: Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. Children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God (John 1:12-13).

The first time we are born in a natural way (out of our parents) and the second time in a supernatural way (out of God)... that is, IF we decide to believe in Jesus and to receive Him (in our life, in our heart, in our mind). The natural birth is not our choice, the supernatural (spiritual) birth is! After all, we have been given the free will to NOT receive Jesus, to NOT believe in His name and thus to NOT become a child of God... and so miss out on the rebirth.

The New King James translation says it like this: But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. Wonderful, isn't it? We can simply say this: I receive you Jesus, I want to believe in You. That sounds very simple, but such a prayer (and that is what it is) has life changing consequences!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Born again ABC (2)

The previous blog post ended with a question: why do we often talk and act so difficult, complicated or even vague when it comes to the need of being born again, especially within the church...? I honestly do not know the answer, if there is one. I am glad Jesus kept it simple and said: You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ (John 3:7). Do not be surprised! It is normal.

The Bible shows us that prior to these words Jesus spoke to Jewish scholar Nicodemus, He said: Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. Well, duuhhhh... that is kind of logical, right? You don't need to be a rocket scientist to understand that. Not exactly what we expect to hear in a discussion about important matters between the Son of God and a theologian. But you know what we can learn from His words? There is more than a natural or human birth, there is also a spiritual birth. Those are two different happenings.

Well, that makes life a bit less complicated, doesn't it? We enter this earth through natural birth, which was not our choice, but the choice of our parent(s). Then there is something like a spiritual birth. Do we have a choice in this or not? Read it in the next blog....

Monday, March 17, 2014

Born again ABC (1)

In our home group we are currently going through my book Frisse Kijk and these past weeks we discussed chapter ten: rebirth. We had interesting discussions about 'being born again', but at the same time I noticed that not everyone present was so sure about what the Bible says about the subject. I decided it would be useful to write down some basics in a new blog series. So, here we go....

In most churches there is not a lot of teaching on this subject. Maybe because in some denominations it is considered normal (give your heart to Jesus and you are born again) while in other denominations it is not part of the theology (we have inherited a Christian tradition). Yet, I believe every Christian should understand what it means to be born again (also called new birth or spiritual birth) and be able to explain it to someone else.

There are several places in the Bible where we can find scriptures about 'being born again', but the most famous and most used verses are written down in John, chapter 3. Jesus is speaking about the subject with Jewish scholar Nicodemus and tells him (verse 3): Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again. See the Kingdom of God... can you see it? Do you understand what that means? We cannot see (or understand/grasp) the Kingdom* (which Jesus spoke about very often) unless we are born again. Wow, that's pretty straight forward talk. It shows how important it is to be born again.

Jesus is talking about the opening of our spiritual eyes so we can SEE (understand) His Kingdom for what it is: not a place or a country, but a spiritual realm where righteousness, peace and joy reign, with power. Why do we often talk and act so difficult, complicated or even vague when it comes to the need of being born again, especially within the church...? In verse 7 of the same chapter Jesus says: You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ Do not be surprised! It is normal.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Author to author

Translating author Lynn Austin
Last Thursday night I had the honor and privilege to meet with author Lynn Austin. She came to The Netherlands to promote her first non-fiction title Pilgrimage.

In the weeks prior to her visit I slowly read her latest release and was pleasantly surprised. The book is filled with nuggets of wisdom and truth! Lynn writes with raw honesty about the desert period she went through in her own life. Pilgrimage is a very inspirational book. I can absolutely recommend it. Give it as an encouragement to a friend or family member who is going through a hard time!

It was such a fun evening. Lynn showed photo's from her trip to Israel and shared the spiritual lessons the journey through that dry land taught her. I was asked to translate her message; how cool is that?! Many people came to the event and enjoyed Lynn's message and book signing.

Our very own Dutch singer/songwriter Christian Verwoerd (click on his name to see a video clip from Israel) was present as well, and performed several songs. His music turned out to be just right for this evening.

PS: I just received word this week from two of my foreign translators. The German translation of Breath of Life and the Spanish translation of Grace of Giving are finished and ready to be edited!

I sincerely hope your week had some writing highlights as well!

Monday, March 03, 2014

Physical exercise and more...

Today I am reminded of a blog post I wrote several years back. I think it will be a good start of your Monday :)

"As I spend many hours working behind a desk, I enjoy a good work out. It takes me half an hour on my bicycle to get to work and when the weather permits it, I go for a power walk during lunch time. But nothing beats a spinning lesson at my local gym! The exercise strengthens and excites me and quite often I feel much better afterwards.

Reading through Isaiah I stumbled upon a verse that talks about biblical strength, In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength (Isaiah 30:15). Now, that's a total different story!

Although I am all for physical exercise and building up some muscles, I also realize that our real strength is not physical. It is not intellectual or mental either. The Bible teaches that our strength is in quietness and trust. I really had to think that over because it goes so much against the standard the world has set. Real strength cannot be measured according to the worldly standards. It cannot be found in exercise, education, status or importance. Real strength is in God and in godly attributes like quietness, trust and joy (Nehemiah 8:10).

It is with the psalmist that we can cry out to God: Strengthen me according to your word (Psalm 119:28)

When we can stay quiet during arguments or difficult times, when we can trust God (Read: when we do NOT worry) when all goes wrong, then... we are showing strength. The apostle Paul's prayer for the believers is this: I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being (Ephesians 3:16). What a great prayer! The Holy Spirit will strengthen us with power in our inner being."

Don't you just love it when Monday starts like this?!

Monday, February 24, 2014

No worries (4)

Do you read or write Tweets? Personally I think it is a great exercise to announce something funny, serious or new in 140 words (or less). There is already so much talk, writing and debate. A little shorter doesn't hurt :)

There are few people who seriously master the art of composing a short but powerful message for the public. My greatest example is the Lord Jesus Himself! He was able to silence a crowd with two sentences. He made comments that impacted like a bomb. His words had, and still have, enormous influence and effect on people's lives.

In my previous blog posts I wrote about His words on 'worrying' about someone or something. Let's continue to read in Matthew 6. Verse 34 records one of His most peculiar sayings, Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Tomorrow will worry about itself? Haha, that has to be a joke, right? Days do not worry, people worry. Personally I think this is quite a radical statement Jesus makes here. If there is one thing we worry about, it is the future: tomorrow, next week, next month or even next year. I sometimes feel like Jesus is making a little fun of us here, as in: come on folks, are you serious? You do not even know what this day will bring, so why would you think you have any influence on tomorrow or the rest of this week?

Living per day, completely normal in the biggest part of our world, but an abnormality in the rich West. Possessions, knowledge and activities seem to increase our pain and worries... The words of Jesus are not a joke, but a very serious warning and command: daily manna, daily bread... that trouble is more than enough.

Don't be afraid to pray: Lord, I want to live day by day.

PS: His words do not imply that we should not make plans for tomorrow, but merely that worrying (about those plans) is a sin.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Lynn Austin comes to Holland

I am taking a short break from the no worries series, simply because I have a great news item. Bestselling author Lynn Austin will be doing a book tour in The Netherlands.

She will come to promote her first non-fiction book: Pilgrimage. It is a book about her personal pilgrimage to Israel where she found new passion for prayer and a deeper faith. Why am I so excited about this? Well, of course because I love books, I love writing, I love Israel and.... because I will have the honor to be Lynn's translator during her visit to Alblasserdam, the town where she will speak about her newest book. I am thrilled because I will have a chance to be with and to learn from a great author.

The back matter of her non-fiction debut Pilgrimage says:

We all encounter times when our spirit feels dry, when doubt looms. The opportunity to tour Israel came at a good time. For months, my life has been a mindless plodding through necessary routine, as monotonous as an all-night shift on an assembly line. Life gets that way sometimes, when nothing specific is wrong but the world around us seems drained of color. Even my weekly worship experiences and daily quiet times with God have felt as dry and stale as last year's crackers. I'm ashamed to confess the malaise I've felt. I have been given so much. Shouldn't a Christian's life be an abundant one, as exciting as Christmas morning, as joyful as Easter Sunday?

With gripping honesty, Lynn Austin pens her struggles with spiritual dryness in a season of loss and unwanted change. Tracing her travels throughout Israel, Austin seamlessly weaves events and insights from the Word . . . and in doing so finds a renewed passion for prayer and encouragement for her spirit, now full of life and hope.

The Dutch version of the book will come out next week. In America the book has been released last October. I am wondering, have you heard about her latest book and (just being curious) have you ever met an author you admired?

Monday, February 10, 2014

No worries (3)

Seeking instead of worrying. That is my focus this week. No worries about small or big things, but purposely seeking His Kingdom. In other words: seeking peace, joy and righteousness, because that is the Kingdom of God.

Let us continue to read in Matthew chapter six (verses 31-33), Jesus is speaking here: So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

That is not too complicated, isn't it? But maybe you are thinking, well, it is easy for Jesus to say this. He multiplied bread when there was not enough to eat, He healed everyone who was sick and when a storm nearly shipwrecked the boat He was in, He calmed the storm with his hand. Yeah, it is easy for Him to say this...

Yet, Jesus'message here is very clear and simple. Worrying about daily stuff is a pagan thing, don't fall for that, don't go there. Your heavenly Father knows what you need... So, we don't need to tell Him all the time. Do you recognize this? In prayer we often have a tendency to tell God what is lacking and what is worrying us. Often we feel the need to even explain things to God. Yep, that's us. And God seems to be saying, 'I know, I know...'

Don't get me wrong, we can freely talk with God and tell Him our daily business. But we have no excuse to worry.
I want to change my focus this week from worrying to seeking His Kingdom principles and presence. Is that easy? No. Is it possible? Yes. I want His wisdom, His solutions and His guidance in my daily situations. I hope you will seek this as well.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

No worries (2)

In the Netherlands (where I live) it is quite normal to start the day with reading the news paper. In other countries it is custom to start the day with watching the news on television. Through internet and mobile phones we even have more ways to receive the bad news. I don't know how you like to start the day, but I like to start with the good news.

That doesn't mean I ignore everything going on in the world, but it means I purposely choose to focus on God's promises and truth. From that point of view I can optimistically do my share ( to make this world a better place. Worrying about drama and disaster doesn't change a thing, we must act! Jesus constantly warned the people about worrying too much: be careful folks, don't go there!

In my previous post on the subject of worrying I quoted His words as found in Matthew 6:25. Let us continue to read (verses 26 and 27), Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? Again, two very interesting questions from our Lord.

Are you not much more valuable than birds? Yes, of course we are. Does that mean we do not need to sow and reap (read: work)? No, of course not. It means we should not worry. God will provide us with the things we need. The way I see it, it also means we should not put our trust in the drama and crisis stories the secular media is trying to push down our throats. Or, to make it practical: stop repeating the bad news! If we read God's promises with the same zeal we are reading the news paper with, things will change. We will begin to believe what the Word says! It would be wonderful if we began to speak about God's Word with the same assurance we often use when speaking about things seen on television.

And then His second question. Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?  No, of course not. Worrying does not have added value.

How do you deal with the daily news?

Monday, January 27, 2014

Visiting Karen Lange today

Today fellow blogger and author Karen Lange is hosting me on her blog. So, you could do us both a favor by hopping over for a visit, simply by clicking HERE.
Thanks a million.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

No worries (1)

To worry or not to worry... that's the question, or isn't it? Personally, I am not a worrier by nature, but I know many people who are. Well, whatever the case in your life or home... I have decided to write a series of short blog posts on worrying. I hope they will inspire and encourage you.

'Worrying about something or someone'... Probably one of life's biggest and most repeated sins we commit. Yes, I am calling it a sin, because 'worrying' goes against the words of Jesus. Let us take a look at what He says about this subject, for example in Matthew 6:25,

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?

Simple words and clear questions we have learned to skip. Yes, skip... because if we are honest we must admit that food, clothing and body (health/beauty) issues are exactly the things we spend much time, money and worries on. A crazy thought really, because here in the Western world most of the people are clothed and have food to eat. There are television networks and magazines solely dedicated to food, fashion and health. And yet, despite our abundance we still worry.

By the way, Jesus does not say that eating, drinking or clothing ourselves is wrong, but that worrying about those things is wrong. Instead of worrying, we should rather be busy making sure that no one on this planet lacks these basic necessities!

Do not worry about your life! To me, that is a wonderful thought at the beginning of yet another year in which the media will probably try to convince me that I lack many things. I really want to take Jesus' words very seriously. I do not want to worry about my daily stuff, I want to care for the daily stuff of others, who are less fortunate. In doing so I will shift the focus from self to others.

I have tried to answer Jesus' intriguing questions:
  • Is not life more than food? Yes indeed!  For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21)
  • Is not the body more than clothes? Yes indeed! Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? (1 Corinthians 6:19)
What have you done to stop worrying?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Fresh insights, also in 2014

At the beginning of yet another new year I have taken a critical look at my blog title: fresh insights on ancient truths. Is that name still accurate and in line with the posts I publish?

I have noticed that over the years this blog has received a fair share of active readers, thankful readers, critical readers and, no doubt, some secret readers. Among them are evangelical, orthodox, catholic and charismatic believers, Muslims, agnostics and atheists. Yes, I do have the most beautiful and diverse group of readers a writer/blogger could wish for.

In 2014 it is still my desire to offer a fresh look on themes and subjects that have gathered some dust throughout the years. Things that might be religious, but not biblical. Or things that are biblical, but that we have always looked at through religious glasses. I hope you want to open the Bible with me, read it AND do it. I would like to keep it that simple and, since most of you are busy, I promise to keep the posts short!

I am very grateful for all your comments, whether on this blog, by email, Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook. It is the comments of readers that give true value to a blog.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Scent of Fear Blog Tour

the scent of fear by susan j. reinhardt
Bloggers love writing and bloggers love books... well, most of us do! Susan Reinhardt sets the tone when it comes to writing a fabulous blog and she sets the pace when it comes to publishing books :) yes, she has done it again!

First came The Moses Conspiracy, now comes..... The Scent of Fear.
The Zimmermans enjoy the tenuous peace in the wake of their hair-raising year battling the New Patriots. Unexpected visitors once again throw them into turmoil.

Jim Kenneman, Director of National Security, masterminded the plan to break up a hate group ravaging the Christian community. Now, his enemies are out to eliminate him. Should he make a run for it or stick by his tried-and-true negotiating skills?

Monty Addison, a topnotch operative, carried out his assignment in Bird-in-Hand. A plot to destroy his boss sends him on a mission. Without agency sanction, it may cost him everything - his career, his family, and maybe his life.

Dr. Abby Weaver strives to save infants and toddlers in Holmes County, Ohio. When she meets two strangers, she can't get the tall, handsome one out of her mind. Will their paths intersect again or will dangerous times keep them apart?

The Scent of Fear is available at:
susan j. reinhardt
About the Author
Susan J. Reinhardt's publishing credits include her debut novel, The Moses Conspiracy, as well as devotionals, short articles, and contributions to anthologies. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers.

A widow, daughter, stepmom, and active church member, Susan resides in Pennsylvania. When not writing, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading, couponing, gardening, and finding small treasures in antique shops.

You can connect with Susan at her Blog, on Twitter, and Facebook.

the scent of fear blog button
Blog Tour Schedule
December 16 ~Diane Estrella,
~Pamela Christian,
December 17
~Sandie Czosek,
~Linda O'Connell,
December 18
~Lynn Mosher,
~Jill Ivy,
December 19
~Debbie Curto,
~Cecelia Lester,
December 20
~Cecelia Lester,
~Lee Privette,
December 21
~Patti Smith,
~Carene Havel,
December 22
~Darlene Arroyo-Lozada,
December 23
~Maria I. Morgan,
~Beckie Stoneking,
December 26
~Leah's Good Reads,
~Marja Verschoor-Meijers,
December 27
~Jennifer Van Huss,
~Brittany McEuen,
December 28
~Debbie Curto,
~Lori Drake,
December 29
~Kim Justice,
~K. Dawn Byrd,
December 30
~Ruth Schiffmann,
~Janette Dolores,
December 31
~Cindi Clubbs,
~Kathleen Maher,
January 2
~Jen Cudmore,
~Karen Lange,
January 7
~Jeanette Levellie,
The Giveaway Open to US addresses only. One person will receive a $25 Amazon GC and a copy of The Scent of Fear. Please use the Rafflecopter below to be entered: a Rafflecopter giveaway The winner will be chosen from those entries and announced January 17, 2014. Good luck!
Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code. Winning entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter and announced here as well as e-mailed, and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Diane at That’s What I’m Here For… and sponsored by the author, Susan J. Reinhardt. The author provided me with a free copy of The Scent of Fear to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose. Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a giveaway in return for the free book.VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Trees can talk

Well, yeah... it's the month of December. That calls for rummaging through old notebooks and journals... just for remembrance sake. It also calls for short blog posts, because no one has time to read them.

I just LOVE going through old spiritual journals. Reading the old entries takes me back to the excitement of being a new believer. It takes me back to discovering truth and reading the Bible with eyes open for the first time. The other day I was going through some of my musings and found something that, I believe, is worth sharing...

The few lines I wrote down that day capture the essence of fresh faith: being surprised and excited about everything that can be learned from His Word! And that excitement captures the birth of this weblog Fresh Insights on Ancient Truths as well.
March 7, 2005
"Lord, what do I know about you? What do I really understand about everything You created? According to your Word stones can listen (Joshua 24:27) and trees can talk (Judges 9:9). That goes against everything I know to be the truth. Just because I never heard a tree (or a donkey for that matter) speak, doesn't mean it is impossible. Everything is possible with God!"
Just being curious:
Do you use this month to look back on the past year, and do you ever go through old journals?