Wednesday, October 14, 2020

The meaning of life

'God has a plan and purpose for your life'. I don't know how many times I heard that phrase before I believed it! I struggled with the thought that there would be meaning to individual lives in a world with almost 7.8 billion inhabitants and so much suffering.

Thank God I do know better now. ๐Ÿ‘‰God has a plan and a purpose for each individual before they are even born. More on that precious womb phase in my book Breath of Life, by the way.

I am currently reading through the Psalms again in my Bible. And I noticed two scriptures that make it very clear that 1) God is the One to fulfill that purpose and that 2) God is the one to work out that plan. We need to ask Him, we must pray about it and we should go on a quest to find out what this is all about. I promise you will discover great things.

I cry out to God most high. to God who will fulfill His purpose for me (Psalm 57:2).

I find that so exciting and well for several reasons. 1) There is a purpose for my life. 2) It is His purpose, not mine. 3) He is the One to fulfill that purpose and 4) He will do so, even if I feel nothing is happening! I got so encouraged reading that passage, I must have read it twenty times in a row until the words finally took deep root in my heart. Then, I came to Psalm 138:8.

The Lord will work out His plans for my life.

Truly Lord? You will work out YOUR plans for MY life? Despite my failures, despite my mistakes, despite my fears and doubts? How awesome is that!  May I encourage you to find out more about God's purpose and plans for your life? Set time apart, turn off your tv, sit, listen, and read through the psalms. You will be richly blessed as you begin to discover why you are here on earth!

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Hope brings life

Hope brings life. That thought came to me last week. And with that another thought, a simple conclusion really: Without hope, there is no life.

We all need hope. Hope for recovery, hope for better times, hope for the future. Without hope, a person withers away. We can see that when someone is seriously ill and there is no one who dares to speak words of hope.

If you read/see most news stories today, one would almost believe that the world is hopeless. We suddenly found ourselves on this escalator of increasing madness ... an escalator that keeps moving, even when we are standing still.

But you know what? We are not supposed to be dragged away like that. A person is not meant to live without hope. We can all make the decision to either let ourselves be dragged away passively or to take steps actively.

The most important step we can take in life is to turn our backs on hopelessness and to put our trust in God and no longer in the world, its systems, leaders, and programs. The hope that God gives does apply to our earthly existence and even more so to our eternal future. ๐Ÿ‘‰Biblical hope is always focused on Jesus the Messiah, not on improving worldly conditions.

The times we are living in right now, calls for a decision: do you want to live without hope or do you want to surrender your life to the God of all hope? He will bring peace and tranquility to your heart and,  above all, He will give you hope for the future; here on earth and in the world to come!

Come to me, you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28).

Sunday, September 06, 2020

Yes, you can!

They did it again! Fellow bloggers and writers Jeanette Levellie and Beth Gormong named their second joined effort 'Yes, you can!'

After their 2019 release of Hello Beautiful! they decided to get together again and write another excellent devotional. Their second collaboration comes at a crucial time in our world, when people need hope and help from above.  If you love to read short inspiring and uplifting stories, then this is the book for you.

Yes, you can! is filled with forty devotional stories. Through modern-day true accounts and biblical examples of women who overcame impossible odds, Jen and Beth show the reader how to:
  • Receive and believe God’s undying love
  • Trust in God’s willingness to answer our prayers
  • Tap into God’s power to achieve our goals
  • Walk in God’s wisdom to navigate hard circumstances
  • Find God’s strength to overcome impossibilities
And (this I absolutely love) each chapter includes a journaling prompt or coloring page to help you personalize the life-changing truths.

Blogging is often the step that precedes publishing articles or books. We all have stories to share, right? May Yes, you can! be an inspiration and encouragement to you and who knows... one day you might write your own story.

You can read more about her new book or leave a note on Jen's weblog.
You can order the paperback and e-book on Amazon.

Wednesday, August 05, 2020

Encouragement for writers

In my blog post of April 13, I wrote that 2020 would become the most creative and productive year I have had so far. Simply because I refuse to be a victim of the thief's schemes who wants nothing more than to paralyze us as we passively watch the world go crazy.

I know, what the Lord has called me to be, and that is to be His faithful mouthpiece, regardless of the circumstances, I should add. This morning I read Psalm 57: 2 in my NLT, it says: I cry out to God Most High, to God who will fulfill his purpose for me.

Such verses excite me ... He will fulfill His purpose for me. No doubt about it. He will do it. Phew, relax.

Anyway, 2020 so far. On May 1st my new English book True Worshipers was released. In the same month, a Russian edition of my book In My Name was released and soon an Italian edition of the same book will also be released, which will be distributed in Italy through CLC.

Last week, I was notified that In My Name also ended up as a finalist in the 2020 International Book Awards, hosted by American Book Fest. Category Religion: Christian - inspirational. Whether that makes any difference in book sales or publicity doesn't really matter to me. I take it as a nice boost and encouragement... my work will not be unnoticed!

I have been working on a theme frame for a new book but currently, we are busy with a house renovation which takes up time and energy... mind you, we are camping out in the yard ๐Ÿ˜€

Anyway, I have hope and expectation when it comes to my writing journey, certainly because of encouraging words such as found in Psalm 57!
What about your writing, work in progress, ideas, or plans?

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Genuine relationship with the Father

Recently the 8th book in my series about the Ten Commandments in the 21st century has been released. It is called True Worshipers and it is based on the second Commandment (which talks about idolatry... the worship of idols) in connection with the discussion Jesus had with the Samaritan woman.

Jesus prophesied to her 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.

This book is not so much about singing or music or any of the things we call 'worship'. ๐Ÿ‘‰It is in reality about a genuine relationship with the Father, without all the bells and whistles. 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 wrote:

'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?' 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.

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! 

The Paperback edition is now available on Amazon for just $9.95. 

I challenge you to evaluate your relationship with God.
Yes, especially during this time of turmoil!

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Power games

In Him we live, we move, and have our being
(Acts 17:28).

One of my favorite Bible texts. Such depth in a few words! The 'Him' being Jesus Christ Himself.

For the biggest part of my life (well, up until now) I did not know or understand this. I thought I was the master of my life and my future. I had one life to live and wanted to make the best of it. Nothing wrong with that of course, but without the Giver of life... such goals are unattainable ๐Ÿ˜‰ I know now!

No matter how good and lofty our intentions are to make life great, we will find opposition, we will encounter immense struggles. As long as we do not acknowledge the One who holds the universe in His hands, we will keep bumping into obstacles in our limited little world.

In my previous blog I wrote I wrote about and commented on the vicious battlefield we find ourselves in nowadays, whether we like it or not. We are seeing immense power games in our world today. Political leaders, nations, organizations… all acting as if the world would stop to function when they are no longer there. Such arrogance and misconception.

The truth is: the whole world exists because of Jesus, the whole universe is sustained by Him and by His powerful Word. This is our foundation, this is our hope for today and the future. The world may crumble, but the powerful Word stands forever. I love how it is written in Colossians 1:15-17,

Christ is the visible likeness of the invisible God. He is the first-born Son, superior to all created things. For through him God created everything in heaven and on earth, the seen and the unseen things, including spiritual powers, lords, rulers, and authorities. God created the whole universe through him and for him. Christ existed before all things, and in union with him all things have their proper place.

๐Ÿ‘‰We do not need to learn more about the world, we need to learn more about the Word!

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Why do conspiracies exist?

Nowadays there is a lot of talk about conspiracy theories and just as many warnings to stay away from them because they mostly fall in the category 'fake news'... well, so we are told.

The more information that is available, the harder it gets to filter true and false stories. It seems that with every secret revealed, a contra-theory rises up. It is a vicious battlefield we find ourselves in, whether we like it or not, whether we follow conspiracy theories or not.

May I point out that the Bible speaks clearly about conspiracies. ๐Ÿ‘‰The question thereby is not whether a conspiracy is true or false, but rather why it exists. Let's take a look at one of the most intriguing questions in the Bible, as found in Psalm 2:1,

Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain?

It could be a question asked by many people today. WHY do nations (corporate level) and peoples (private level) engage in plots and schemes? Why can't we live in peace together? Why all this uproar? David answers the question in verse 2: The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One.

In the Complete Jewish Bible (CJB) it is written like this: Why are the nations in an uproar, the peoples grumbling in vain? The earth’s kings are taking positions, leaders conspiring together, against Adonai and his anointed.

Kings are taking positions, leaders conspiring together against Adonai, against God and against the Messiah (Messiah means anointed one)... Somehow David received this insight, that all the violence, wars, and uproar of nations were acts of rebellion against God. I mentioned it in one of my previous blogs: ultimately this is all a battle between good and evil, between light and darkness, between God and satan. It would be dangerously ignorant to deny this, simply because it plays out right in front of our eyes, every day!

Yes, there is an evil plot to overturn all that is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, and praiseworthy. Yes, there was, is, and will be a plot against Jesus and what He stands for: love, grace, righteousness, peace, forgiveness, purity, and joy. The early believers acknowledged it: Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed (Acts 4:27).

The other day I saw a picture of an individual in a big demonstration. He was holding up a sign that said, 'if Jesus comes back, kill him again'. The sheer hatred against the Son of God who went around doing good and healing all who were sick and oppressed, plays out on an individual as well as a corporate level. Yes, there is a conspiracy (a huge one), there is no denying it.

Our reaction? We should pray as the early believers did (Acts 4:29-30): Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.

Monday, June 22, 2020

If you could ask for one thing

If you could ask one thing of the Lord, what would it be? Restoration of health or finances? Peace in your country or in your heart? Family members to turn to God? The answer to that question is probably different for everyone.

A long time ago, God asked King Solomon that question and the King answered: 'Give me wisdom and knowledge that I may lead Your people'. And so King Solomon became the wisest man that ever lived and God added wealth, possessions, and honor like no other king ever had (you can read that amazing story in 2 Chronicles 1).

Health is important, but so are peace and wisdom. I was reading Psalm 19 in my New Living Translation and I noticed God offers all that we need, in His Word. Take a look at verses 7 and 8.
  • The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul. Oh my goodness, how I need that every day! My health depends on a thriving soul!
  • The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. Yes, please Lord, yes, let it be me!
  • The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. I know the joy of the Lord will be my strength, I need it!
  • The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living. I must have this in an ever-changing world that seems to have gone insane.
Such riches in God's Word: instructions, decrees (laws), commandments, and commands. ๐Ÿ‘‰We may not always embrace such terms, but they are filled with spiritual riches. I discovered that in my own life when I started my writing journey.

While working on the book series about the Ten Commandments, I received a totally different perspective on God's laws and regulations. They are not restrictions, on the contrary, they offer great opportunities to heal our souls, to make us wise, to bring us joy, and to give us all the insight we will possibly need!

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Antidote to frustration

While the age-old battle between good and evil, between darkness and light, intensifies... one might wonder whether we have any influence at all on happenings around the world. How can our voices be heard? How can our responses be of value?

A few thousand years ago, the philosopher sighed: History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Well, I would be a fool to contradict him. In general, humanity does not learn from the past. On the contrary, I would say. Humanity forgets the past rather quickly and conveniently and acts as if every happening is a new issue.

I was reading Psalms 9, 10, 11, and 12 the other day. David cries out to God about the increase of wickedness and chaos in his time. In Psalm 11:3 he asks the following question,

๐Ÿ‘‰The foundations of law and order have collapsed. What can the righteous do?

Such a great question! Such a timely question for us today. What can we do as believers? How should we respond? What is it, Lord, you want us to do in such a time as this?

I believe prayer is the answer. Specific prayer that is! Personally, I don't think that praying for 'things to turn back to normal' will be effective. There are larger things at stake than our comfort. Remember: We are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12).

Once we truly realize that we are not in a natural battle between people, but a spiritual battle between powers and principalities, we can target our prayers and aim for God and His angels to move on our behalf. We should pray that:
  • the evil plot will be exposed, and thus lose its power
  • the truth will be revealed
  • deception will be replaced with discernment, and
  • love will be our language
I truly believe that targeted prayers are the antidote to frustration about the current world crisis.

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: