Sunday, May 31, 2020

Wisdom and truth are lacking on both sides

Surely, you must have some thoughts about the current protests and riots in the USA, Marja…

Well, yes. Or maybe, no. I don’t know, whether I should even write about events that make no sense at all, to begin with. 

Things have been labeled (without a second thought) racism, a battle between black and white. But you know what, now that you are asking... here's my two cents worth:

I don’t think it is.

This is not about being black or white at all. This is ultimately about good and evil. About darkness and light. As a white person, I am utterly ashamed about the lack of grace the officers showed. On the other hand, if I were a black person, I would be utterly ashamed of the way my brothers and sisters have been responding. Where does that leave us?

๐Ÿ‘‰Wisdom and truth are lacking on both ‘sides’. We all fall short and that, exactly that, makes us all equal.

We need God! We need His mercy and forgiveness. We do not need more hatred or revenge. We need His love!

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Living as pilgrims in this world

Today the thought came to me that we are all pilgrims in this world, just passing through.

I have traveled all over the world and I have always been amazed at how easy it is for me to feel at home... just about everywhere. Just as long as there is food on the table and a pillow to rest my head on, I am happy.

It makes life easier when we are flexible, in a sense. The Bible says:

For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come (Hebrews 13:14).

This world is not our permanent home. So, how come we act as if it is? We want to control everything that is happening, but we can't. Yet, we get restless when things are shaken, we feel uneasy when things change, we have this need to defend what we believe belongs to us...

It is all understandable, of course. We want stability, we want security, we want peace. When there is turmoil in the world, we feel it in our hearts, we feel it in our souls. It is like bleeding inside. We are hurting because we cannot stop the world from turning... and turning.
If we could only learn to live as a pilgrim. I don't mean being homeless or without possessions; but being able to move on, despite circumstances. Being able to look forward to the surprises waiting around the next corner.

We can learn a lesson from Abraham. By faith he made his home in the promised land. Yet, he lived like a stranger in a foreign country. Hebrews 11:10 says: He was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

We should take care of this world, it is our assignment to subdue and cultivate the earth and to evenly divide her resources. But we should also look forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where every tear will be wiped away, where there will be no more death, or mourning or crying or pain (Revelation 21:1-4).

Let's get our focus right, while passing through.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Wellspring of life

Yesterday a thought came to me. Well, actually it was a Bible verse.

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

You can find that in Proverbs 4:23. Above all else... I find these words intriguing. What else? All else! Yes, as in... everything else. Why? ๐Ÿ‘‰Because a contaminated heart results in a contaminated life.

If we let anger, hatred, bitterness, disappointment, discouragement, fear, anxiety, or worry linger in our hearts, it will contaminate our wellspring of life. It won't take long before dirty water will come out of our mouths, so to speak.

If we let anger in, we become an angry person. If we let worry in, we become a worried person. If we let fear in, we become a fearful person. It is quite simple really.

Guarding our hearts, that is something to meditate upon these days.

Jesus said: Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me (John 14:1). Do not let... again, very intriguing words. No one or nothing has the right to trouble our hearts, we are the ones allowing it to happen. Jesus says, do not let it happen. We must, therefore, guard our hearts.

Maybe you think, 'well, that is easier said than done, Marja.' Personally, I speak against negative influences that are trying to settle in my heart. Go away, in Jesus' name. I am not worried, I am not upset, I am not bitter, because I trust in God and His peace sustains me.

Besides speaking against negative influences, I fill my heart with the Word of God, not with the words of the world. The choice is yours.

It is spiritual warfare at the most basic level. Guard your heart!

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Understanding the old, appreciating the new

In my new book True Worshipers, I discuss, among many other things, the rules for worship under the Old Covenant and the relational worship under the New Covenant. Maybe you think that sounds way too technical to be interesting...

Well, I wouldn't blame you. However, I can assure you that reading True Worshipers will take you on a wonderful journey through the Bible I have used an illustration in chapter 2 that might help us to see why understanding the old makes us appreciate and value the new.

"Today, when we put our dirty laundry in the washing machine, we don’t think much of it. We push a button and walk away, the work is being done for us. I remember how my grandmother washed by hand.

She would boil water in a huge grey kettle and stir the laundry with a large wooden spoon of some sort. No wonder our grandmothers had muscled arms! Doing laundry was tough labor and in those times the women often set apart a whole day every week for this work.

When I think back of such times, I feel very privileged that I do not have to spend a whole precious day each week sweating over a steaming tub full of laundry. Remembering those days, however romantic and idyllic they may seem, I am sincerely thankful for modern technical equipment."

When we begin to understand how much was expected from the ancient Israelites (in terms of sacrifices) in order to present themselves before God and live in a right and healthy relationship with Him, we will become all the more thankful for the grace and love God has poured out on us when He gave His Son as a sacrifice in our place.

Friday, May 01, 2020

This troubled world

Last week I received a message from a friend in northern Italy. Shortly after the government restrictions were imposed, she lost her job. 'Can I translate another book for you,' she texted, 'that will give me something to do.'

I proposed the translation of Spirit of Truth to which she responded: 'Boy, do we ever need that now!' And so she went to work on that one. When I picked up the book from my library, I noticed the subtitle... almost as if for the first time, since the book came out 4 years ago:

Finding certainty and standing firm in a troubled world.

A troubled world? Back in 2016? You gotta be kidding, right? Wasn't life a picnic back then? Well, no, not exactly. 2016 was a year full of disasters, from deadly earthquakes, terror attacks, life-depleting droughts, devastating storms, to unceasing wars. Many thought the end was near. But here we are...

Up until now 2020 is no picnic either. We are still in this troubled world, trying to make sense of it all and, who knows, trying to find truth in it all. Four years from now, we will find ourselves facing new challenges in a world that knows no lack of trouble. ๐Ÿ‘‰We better get used to it.

Jesus said: In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world (John 16:33). You will have... so, let's not try to escape, let's try to cope.

I think this is the art of faith... having peace in perilous times, trust while in trouble, and joy when all we know and have is in jeopardy.

Together with Jesus, we can overcome the world. Why refuse His outstretched hand? We have nowhere else to go.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

What would be left?

'What would be left of our modern-day Christianity when all is taken away: the buildings, the meetings, the money, the power, the titles, the theology, the music, and the concerts? What would be left?'

When I wrote the foreword for my new book, back in February of this year, I had no idea the words would gain prophetic relevance. I had no idea something like that could happen in just a few weeks, and not just locally but on a worldwide scale. But it did.

Our churches had to close their doors, although temporarily, due to government regulations in response to a virus epidemic. 'What would be left?' became a question millions of people began to ask, and it happened almost overnight.

Well, we might find ourselves on our knees again, without anything. No effects, no band, no structure, no liturgy to follow. Just us, on the floor… waiting for God to speak, waiting for Him to come. ๐Ÿ‘‰After more than two thousand years of Christianity we might find ourselves bowing down again, empty-handed, with nothing but our time and lives to give Him.

Looking back at the writing process, which began in January 2019, I realize the message in this book is very timely. Yes, I am aware of the fact that it might be the worst time to release a book. No meetings, no conferences, no travels, no speaking engagements or book table venues. Nothing... But I also know the current circumstances do not change the message in this book. On the contrary, they might enhance it!

Jesus prophesied that the time was coming when by the power of God’s Spirit people would worship the Father as He really is, offering Him the true worship He so desires. Have you ever wondered what true worship would be like? It begins where idolatry ends.

Yes, of course, it will take a powerful move of the Holy Spirit to have our institutionalized Christianity make the transition into relational Christianity. However, this is a process that starts in the heart of every believer.

You can order the e-book on Amazon right now, for just $2.99.

The release date of the paperback is scheduled for May 1st and you can order from my website:

Monday, April 13, 2020

The thief and the Giver

When my brothers and I were little children, my parents purchased a record-player. Well, not exactly like the one in this picture, but it was in the early sixties. On our knees before the speaker, we listened to the same Bible stories over and over.

๐Ÿ‘‰There was always someone in trouble, there was always an enemy, and there was always a way out!

I still love the Bible stories. And in a way, I have kept the childlike faith... With God all things are possible! Over the past several weeks I have been doing a lot of thinking, meditating on the Word, and asking God about the current happenings in our world.

He reminded me of the words of Jesus as recorded in John 10:10. The thief comes only in order to steal, kill, and destroy. I have come in order that you might have life—life in all its fullness.

I love that verse! It clearly speaks about the trouble, the enemy we have. The Bible calls him a thief, the devil, or satan. But it also clearly speaks about the way out, Jesus Himself. I know there are plenty of theories, ideas, and explanations about what is happening in the world right now. Some are downright nonsense, some are quite interesting. From a biblical point of view, however, I truly believe things are quite simple.

The thief is at work. He steals people's joy and peace, he kills people, and he destroys our societies and economies. We see it happen all around us. No point in blaming God, the Chinese, or the president of your country. The thief is at work on a global scale. Let it be no surprise, Jesus announced it. But Jesus did not stop His speech there, for He is also at work!

We just celebrated Easter. He came to give us life. Not just an ordinary life, but a life in all its fullness. That life is available for anyone who believes in Him and that life does not change because of what the enemy is doing.

I can only speak for myself of course; but I have decided that 2020 will not be the year to be remembered as the year of corona, the year of cancelations, loss, lack, fear, worry, doubt, or whatever. NO! It will be the most creative and productive year I have had so far. I refuse to be a victim of the thief's schemes. I am victorious in Christ. With God's help, I can scale a wall!

Friday, April 03, 2020

Good times, bad times

It is quite interesting (and quite irritable as well) to see that every time a disaster, drama, or crisis occurs, experts' arise, shouting whether or not it was punishment from God, whether the end of time is near and whether or not Jesus will come back soon.

With the passing of time, things quiet down on the battlefield of doomsday thinkers, prophecies, conspiracy theories, and global plots. Until the next catastrophic event of course ... then everyone dares to speak up again.

What I often miss in their messages which (much to my annoyance) pop up everywhere in Christian Facebook groups and forums, is some form of love, grace, and hope. Anyway, each his own thing.

Looking at the history of humanity, it is quite obvious that there have always been good and bad times. Times of peace and war, of abundance and hunger. Yes, the so-called fat and lean years. The world didn't end and life resumed. Usually with people being full of renewed energy, confidence,  and many good intentions.

In bad times, we will often see a massive search for God, while in good times a general idea that we are doing just fine by ourselves is quite common. I don't really know if there is a healthy balance in this, maybe it is such a curve that keeps us alive, the ups and downs, the mountains and the valleys, the periods of great creativity and innovation and the times of indifference and consumption.

Every person on the face of this planet experiences times of joy and sorrow, of blooming and withering, of letting go and starting again. As a matter of fact, we see this happening on a larger scale as well. We see it in our country, our economy, our earth ... there is always that curve, called 'seasons'...

๐Ÿ‘‰ As for the return of Jesus. He had something to say about it:

So be ready all the time. For I, the Messiah, will come when least expected (Luke 12:40, TLB).

I have often wondered what kind of moment that will be. A moment when He is least expected, don't you think that is interesting? I wonder if the 'experts' take that into account when they write their end-time scenarios. Basically, we do not know! The key is to be ready to meet God, all the time. Then, and only then, can we truly live a quiet life, no matter what happens.

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12).

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Fear of dying

Actually, I don't feel like blogging about it at all ... But the other day I thought of something that I would like to share with you. Hopefully, it might be food for thought or at least a good conversation starter.

I was wondering what is behind the massive fear of the #Coronavirus. I believe, in essence, it is the fear of dying. I can't think of anything else. Can you?

Let's be frank. What is the worst thing that can happen to you if you have this virus? That you die from it. So, the fear we see rising all around us is actually the fear of dying.

That reminded me of a song by blues guitarist Albert King: "Everybody wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die." A song, written by Loretta Lynn, if I remember correctly.

Everyone wants to go to heaven, but no one wants to die. How true is that. I can't speak for everyone, of course, but as Christians we should not fear death. Romans 14: 8 says: If we live, it is for the Lord that we live, and if we die, it is for the Lord that we die. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.

The crucial question here is: do you belong to Him or not?

The apostle Paul went even further: For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:21). Ouch, I am not there yet. I want to stay on this earth for a while longer. But I also want to be able to speak as Paul did, simply because I have given my life to Jesus as well.

Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
[John 11: 25-26]

And, oh yes, here's the Albert King song.

Thursday, March 19, 2020


Following guidelines. In context of the Corona virus we are busy doing so on a worldwide scale these weeks. And that is a good habit. Washing hands regularly, keeping distance, working from home when possible ... well, you name it. Those guidelines are there to ensure our physical health.

I would like to share a few spiritual guidelines to ensure the health of our souls.

Last year I posted a series on this blog about a healthy soul and it focused on the words in 3 John 1:2,

Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.

Just as your soul prospers. It is so important to keep that in mind, especially now that a virus is spreading that fills people with fear, absurd fear. Fear is not good for the soul, fear torments and it paralyzes.

So, how do we take good care of our souls? I have listed a few basic guidelines, hopefully, they will help you.

๐Ÿ’ฆSpend time with Jesus
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened... and you will find rest for your souls (Matthew 11:28-29)
๐Ÿ’ฆPraise and worship
Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits (Psalm 103: 2) 
๐Ÿ’ฆListen to His voice
Come to me with your ears wide open. Listen, for the life of your soul is at stake (Isaiah 55: 3) 
๐Ÿ’ฆSpeak and receive sweet words
Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones (Proverbs 16:24)

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Wisdom has a name

If there is anything that we should desire, it is wisdom. "God knows the way to wisdom," I wrote at the end of my previous blog. Yes, and that way brings us back to Proverbs 8, the chapter on wisdom.

In that chapter "wisdom" is being presented as a woman; a wonderful fact in itself ๐Ÿ˜

If you read chapter 8 carefully, you will discover the riches hidden in wisdom. Nothing in the whole world is more precious than wisdom. The chapter also contains quite a few special statements. Just to mention a few:
  • My mouth speaks what is true, for my lips detest wickedness. All the words of my mouth are just: none of them is crooked or perverse (verse7 and 8). Who can claim such a thing?
  • I love those who love me and those who seek me find me (verse 17). Where have I heard that before?
  • For whoever finds Me finds life (verse 35). Who said that?
Surely, it is clear that wisdom which is more precious than gold, silver and rubies is Jesus Christ himself?! In Colossians 2: 3 it says about Him:  He is the key that opens all the hidden treasures of God's wisdom and knowledge. We need to get to know Him better in order to gain wisdom. This can be done by reading His words and asking the Holy Spirit (our Teacher) to explain what we are reading.

Jesus is the power and wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:24).

[I talk about this in detail in my book My Neighbor's House].

Monday, March 02, 2020

Where to find wisdom?

In my previous blog posts, I wrote about 'coveting' and 'healthy desires'. Thou shalt not covet ... who doesn't know these words from the Bible? To covet basically means yearning to possess something or greatly desiring something (especially when it belongs to someone else).

Are all desires wrong? No of course not. That same Bible says (Proverbs 8:11) that nothing we can ever desire can be compared with wisdom. Then it makes sense that we have to go after wisdom, right?

The search for WISDOM is a wonderful adventure. Do you know who wrote about such a quest? Job. When we think about Job, we usually think of all the drama in his life, but there was also a passionate search for wisdom. Job 28:13,

๐Ÿ‘‰ But do people know where to find wisdom? Where can they find understanding?

Let's continue reading what he has to say about it, verses 15-20,

It cannot be bought with gold. It cannot be purchased with silver.
It’s worth more than all the gold of Ophir, greater than precious onyx or lapis lazuli.
Wisdom is more valuable than gold and crystal. It cannot be purchased with jewels mounted in fine gold.
Coral and jasper are worthless in trying to get it. The price of wisdom is far above rubies.
Precious peridot from Ethiopia cannot be exchanged for it. It’s worth more than the purest gold.
“But do people know where to find wisdom? Where can they find understanding?

Quite honestly, the price of wisdom cannot be determined, it far exceeds everything of value. We live in a world where there is a lot of knowledge and science. But wisdom, true wisdom, where can it be found? In verse 23, Job says: God alone understands the way to wisdom; he knows where it can be found,

I think that is a valuable clue. Don't look for education, experience or science ... God knows the way. That takes us back to Proverbs 8, the chapter about wisdom. Several clues can be found in that very chapter. Do you see them?

Monday, February 24, 2020

More precious than rubies

"Go, and find out what healthy desires are," I wrote in my previous blog, quoting Mark 11:24 where it says, Therefore I say unto you, What things soever you desire, when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you shall have them.

If we are allowed to pray for things we desire, 'desiring' in itself can not be wrong; although most of us have been taught it is. I think that is precisely why the tenth commandment is not a restriction, but a challenge to find out what we may and should desire. That has also been the point of view in my book My Neighbor's House.

Paul writes about the tenth commandment: I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” It is that simple, really. ๐Ÿ˜

Do not desire covet) the things of someone else, but go after what God has reserved for you. I consulted the Bible and came to Proverbs, chapter 8, the chapter about wisdom. In verse 11 it says ...

For wisdom is far more valuable than rubies. Nothing you desire can compare with it.

Nothing, absolutely nothing we can ever desire can be compared with wisdom. Doesn't it make sense then, that that is the very thing we should go after?

Thursday, February 13, 2020

To covet or not to covet

When I was a teenager, I found the Bible and Christianity a little oppressive. So many rules and laws. And fun things? They were prohibited, of course. I had this idea that becoming a serious Christian would limit my 'freedom' and so I kept postponing the choice to live for Jesus.

Although I did not grow up in a very "conservative" church, the Ten Commandments were an invisible guide in our family. I always thought the tenth commandment to be difficult: You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s. Well, can't we do anything at all then?

After I had given my life to Jesus, I slowly began to see that those words were not meant as a restriction, but rather as a challenge. A challenge to find out what we should desire. No, not our neighbor's stuff ... but the very things that God has reserved for us.

Have you ever read it that way? It became the approach in my English book My Neighbor's House. Go, and find out what healthy desires are. In Mark 11:24 it says: Therefore I say unto you, What things soever you desire, when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you shall have them. Obviously, this is not about our neighbor's stuff.  But then, what is it?

Friday, February 07, 2020

Downsizing: how decluttering graces your heart and home

We live in a very (and I mean: very) small house in The Netherlands. Everything is tiny: the living room, the kitchen and the bedroom. Because we have such limited space, we do not have a lot of stuff. I do not collect anything (well, books maybe) and we do not keep things we do not need.

When we resided in Southern California, we were living in a huge farmhouse. The many rooms were filled with furniture, collectibles, and other stuff. The total opposite of our little home in Holland. And you know what? We have learned to be happy in the big as well as in the small house. Why am I sharing this with you? Because downsizing does not have to be horrible. Getting rid of clutter can be fun and bring incredible relief.

fellow author Susan Rohrer
In our ๐Ÿ‘‰ Christian nonfiction lovers book club on Goodreads, our book of the month February is Susan Rohrer's book: Downsizing: how decluttering graces your heart and home. I read it last year and it is more than an inspiring read, it is very helpful. Rohrer proves that the practical and spiritual work together quite well and effectively. It is truly a joy to read how the author uses Biblical principles to help us clean up stuff and organize our closet space.

I like her practical approach, and especially the chapter about having to move a parent to an, often much smaller, elderly home and how to prepare everyone in the family for the challenges such a move will bring. I highly recommend this book if you seriously want to learn how to live with less!

We have added a #giveaway in our Goodreads club as well. We have asked members to enter the giveaway by simply sharing their personal thoughts on downsizing. Do you need help decluttering your own home? Are you daunted by the idea of downsizing your elders' belongings? Do you have a downsizing tip to share?

Just post a few lines in the Goodreads thread and you'll be entered to win a Kindle edition of Susan's book.