Thursday, January 12, 2017

Give me an S

In my Bible Alphabet Blog Series S stands for Silence.

In our loud and noisy world, where everything and everyone is crying out for attention, silence is more precious than silver or gold.

Havoc and destruction in a big bad world closes in on us, sometimes making us feel very small and insignificant and ever so often tired and anxious ... and then suddenly, in the midst of the storm, calmness is standing right there: Jesus Christ. The situation on the Sea of ​​Galilee two thousand years ago fits the scenario of our time:

And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep. Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. So the men marveled, saying, “Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?” (Matthew 8:24-27).

He is the man of the 'great calm' and we can call on Him any time to quiet our minds.

Strangely enough we may yearn for silence, but at the same time be afraid of it. That should not be necessary, because we can learn to enjoy silence. For example by keeping a notebook at hand and writing down the words God will speak. Then silence once again becomes precious time spent in His presence, where there is fullness of joy!. 

Unfortunately, silence no longer comes naturally in our world. We must consciously seek it, chase it and create a special place and time for it. The psalmist writes (Psalm 131: 2):

I have calmed and quieted myself, like a weaned child who no longer cries for its mother’s milk. Yes, like a weaned child is my soul within me.

Seek silence this week and listen ...

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Give me an R

You might enjoy reading my book Sacred Sabbath.
In my Bible Alphabet Blog Series R stands for Rest.

Rest in the 21st century is probably the most valuable and most difficult thing to obtain. Well, it is not a thing really, it is a state of existence mankind is desperately searching for and the harder we seek, the more valuable it becomes.

We need the invitation of Jesus more than ever before, Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls (Matthew 11:28-29).

The rest for our souls the Bible talks about cannot be bought with money, no matter how many vacations and retreats we book. It is a rest that brings about a refreshing that only comes from spending time with Jesus at the well. The time we are able to spend in intimate communication with Him will become so precious that we will die of thirst when we go too long without it.

...Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life. (John 4:14)

It is my wish for you, dear reader, that you will make time this year to sit with Him. Just to sit with Him... and find rest.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Give me a Q

In my Bible Alphabet Blog Series Q stands for Questions.

FAQ, or better known as frequently asked questions. Frequently asked questions addressed to God by all men, whether Christian or not.

Why is there so much suffering? Why do You allow this? Why don't You do anything about this? Why don't I experience You more often? Etc. etc. Do you recognize this ongoing record?

Going through the Bible we discover that we often talk before we listen, asking these same questions over and over again. In doing so, we tend to take up God's position. Yes, in a way we do, because it is God Himself who is asking the really important questions.

Why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye? Why do you have such evil thoughts? Why did you doubt? Why do you ask me what is good? Why do you not do what I'm saying? Why do you worry?

Somehow we have developed this habit to call the Supreme Ruler of the universe to be accountable for every disaster, every pain, for everything that doesn't happen to our liking and for the many things we cannot comprehend with our finite minds. But if we take an honest look at His Word we can and will discover that God has many questions for mankind, especially for the Believers.

Are we able to answer His questions?

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Give me a P

In my Bible Alphabet Blog Series P stands for Prophesying.

Prophesying (the gift of communicating revealed truth) comes from the Greek word προφητεία prophéteia i.e. prophecy.

Prophesying is not so much predicting the future, but more so the expression of the mind of God (as dictated by the Bible or the Holy Spirit) at a given moment.

1 Corinthians 14:1 says, follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy. Especially prophecy ... How in the world can we make that practical today?

Prophesying is a spiritual gift which enables the believer to share a word of revelation from God (who is in Heaven) thereto urged by the Holy Spirit (who dwells in us). That word, therefore, is not a sermon prepared at home or a predicting of the future. Prophecy is the proclamation of God's will and the calling and encouraging of believers towards justice, loyalty and perseverance.

Some interesting facts:
  • Uttering prophetic words is now something every believer can and should do (Acts 2:17).
  • The gift of prophecy is distributed as the Holy Spirit decides (1 Corinthians 12:10-11), but we must pursue it (1 Corinthians 14:1).
  • The appointment of a prophet for the edification of the church is done by Christ Himself (Ephesians 4:11).
  • Nowadays, prophetic words are no longer infallible (as opposed to the OT), therefore, such words must always be weighed and tested (1 Corinthians 14:29 and 1 Thessalonians 5: 20-21).
  • Prophesy is a matter of using our mind. Actually, it is one of the few times (maybe the only time) that the Bible says we must submit the spirit (1 Corinthians 14:32).
How do we strive to prophesy? I strongly believe by asking the Lord for it in prayer and by studying what the Bible says about it. God has always desired and still desires to speak through people like you and me. He wants to speak through His written Word ... but also LIVE!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Give me an O

In my Bible Alphabet Blog Series O stands for Overflow.

Oh (O) how I love that word in its Biblical context. It stands for an abundant and abounding outpouring, starting with Gods love and grace towards mankind. If the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! (Romans 5:15).

Overflow stands for the blessings the Lord will bring when we honor Him by giving joyfully and generously. Proverbs 3:9-10 says: Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.

And yes, it stands for the sheer joy that we can experience when we are in Gods will, living by His Word. Psalm 119:171, May my lips overflow with praise, for you teach me your decrees. God is a God of healthy overflow, He always gives more than enough, whatever it is we need. And because He is so good and His love is so abundant, we can spill it all around us :)

May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. (1 Thessalonians 3:12).

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Give me an N

In my Bible Alphabet Blog Series N stands for Name.

To be more precisely, it stands for the Name above all names. Obviously, I am not talking about the name we give to a new born child, or our first, last, middle or baptismal name. This is about the Name that God gave his Son ... Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name (Philippians 2: 9).

What is so special about that Name? What is the power in that Name? ... that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2:10) Such a picture is hard to imagine perhaps, but one day everyone will recognize that He is the highest God, the Prince of Peace, and all wars will be finished.

Jesus is the only name that can bring salvation (peace) to humanity. Not a president, not a political leader, not a leader in the UN, but only He can do this:  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).

All power of heaven and earth is in that one Name. The power to heal, the power to witness, the power to save and to forgive. It is therefore no surprise that for more than two thousand years it has been prohibited in many nations to mention the Name, to talk about that Name or to pray in that Name. In Acts 4: 17-18 it is written as follows: But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn them to speak no longer to anyone in this name. Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.

By prohibiting people to use the Name or to believe in that Name, the opposite will happen of course! Worldwide, there are millions and millions of believers in every possible nation under the sun, and more are added each day. A hundred million of them are being persecuted, tortured and slain for their faith in that Name. Despite the persecution they know that His name offers life!

John's Gospel ends with these words: Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Give me an M

In my Bible Alphabet Blog series M stands for Mankind.

Yes, mankind making a mess of this world, mankind cursing God and exalting himself above the Creator of the Universe, ... yes, the men and women forming the entire human race.

The Bible says that God made mankind in His own image. He thereby decided to distinguish between two different sexes, male and female, So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27).

What an awesome honor to be created in the image of a triune God (Father, Son and Spirit, and yet one God) and to resemble Him whether we are male or female (spirit, soul and body, yet one human being). David wrote about the creation of mankind: I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well (Psalm 139: 14).

The same David lived in great amazement about the insignificance of man in comparison to the greatness of God, but acknowledged certainly God's purpose with the creation of mankind: what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet... (Psalm 8: 4-6).

God created mankind and gave us the earth as a residential area where we could rule over the things God had created [not over each other!]. If you have visited other countries, you must have noticed how every nation has a unique place, culture and atmosphere of its own ... sometimes land was taken by force, but that should not be necessary. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands (Acts 17:26).

Throughout history we can see over and over again how mankind became prideful and figured they could do things better than God. The Bible calls this sin or disobedience. In some way or other we have all sinned, but there is also forgiveness for everyone! Romans 5:19 puts it quite simple: For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. That "one man" is the Savior of the world, the Son of God, Jesus Christ.

God loves the work of His hands, He saw that is was very good! He loves mankind, He loves you and me and I am sure His heart hurts when He looks at the mess we are making of this world. It is His desire that all people will come to the knowledge of an important truth, for there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people (1 Timothy 2:3-6).

Monday, June 27, 2016

Blogging routine baloney

Well, after the blogoversary celebrations, the WIP special Bloggers@work and the latest news about my new book Spirit of Truth, I am trying to get back to my weekly writing routine... yeah, I said trying.

There is no such thing as a writing or blogging routine in my life. Last week I was traveling in the beautiful country of Macedonia which has a history going back to Biblical times. I attended a conference of Roma gypsies; believers who have a heart to change the fate and future of their people. I could write a book about the struggles and victories they experience.

In the meantime my husband was traveling in Slovenia. He attended a men's conference where more than 400 men from different Balkan countries (former Yugoslavia) came together to seek God's face, to forgive and be forgiven and in doing so to be healed of their brokenness. I know this will not appear on the daily news, but believe me... this is a major happening in the spiritual world and it would take more than one book to write down the stories!

When at home with nothing to do :-) (just kidding) I am working on a Bible study book in the Dutch language while ideas for the next book in the Ten Commandments series are running through my mind. Besides that, an Italian version of one of my dearest and most precious books, Breath of Life, will be coming out next month... and yeah, we will be traveling to Italy.

So, a writing or blogging routine... nah, can't seem to get it together. How about you?

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Spirit of Truth review snippets

In my post The fear of reviews I stated that reviews should be the fertilizer for our next work! Most writers will admit to having a love-hate affair with reviews. We dread 'm, we love 'm and we need 'm.

Having said that, I am thankful for every review, recommendation, endorsement and kind word written about my books. I am learning from reader's comments. As promised I'll share some snippets from recent reviews concerning my latest book Spirit of Truth. I hope they will help you to make a decision whether this book is worth reading or not.

"In Spirit of Truth we certainly get to the heart of the matter of truth. A new perspective of the trial of Jesus is placed in your mind, which I found incredibly hard to shake, but very easy to relate to... This delightful book, well thought out and relevant to us today... will give a unique insight, which has changed my perspective! A book you will certainly read often."

"In this brief, easy read, Marja has exposed deception and its destructive power. Just as effectively, she has compiled the facts of truth... I found the bullet points that close each chapter thought provoking and challenging, a nudge toward practical application. I highly recommend this book: it's full of sound, scriptural guidance for any young sojourner, and just as importantly, seasoned, mature readers will be challenged to consider their habits and whether they are walking in the Spirit of Truth or stumbling about in deception."

"Prior to reading this book, I had not considered interpreting truth from so many angles. I appreciated the challenge to examine how I view truth, as well as the encouragement to live accordingly. Readers will enjoy Ms. Meijer’s friendly, conversational style as she guides them on an insightful journey to define and apply Biblical truth in their lives. I recommend this book to anyone who is seeking truth, as well as those desiring a deeper relationship with the Lord."

"Marja delves into the nuances of being truthful about what we share with others. She approaches the issues involved with a magnifying glass and sheds light on issues most of the people would only think about in passing. I like the concept of the series of which this book is a part; the whole series is about the Ten Commandments in the 21st century."

Get your Kindle edition today!

Thursday, June 09, 2016

The fear of reviews

So, you've written a book. The days of crying, wrestling, whining, procrastinating and too much chocolate are finally over. The books arrived at your door step.

You touch the book, open it carefully and hold your breath while quickly scanning the pages... and you silently pray, 'please, don't let there be any typo's.'

You place it on your desk and enthusiastically leave copies all over the house: on the coffee table, the kitchen counter, the front porch, in the bathroom and the glove compartment of your car. It´s probably better for everyone that your husband stopped you before venturing out into the neighborhood.

You restrain yourself and carefully plan the announcements on your social media. Not too much, not too much, lest people will grow tired of your efforts. You check Amazon two thousand times a day to see whether someone left a review or purchased the Kindle version that you practically offered for free. It's your book, it's your baby, it's your tears and your pain.

Everyone told you it would be like this and yet.... the agony is worse than imagined. Will readers like the book or will they nail it to the floor? Will they tell others about it or will their silence drown your story? Legitimate questions of course, but maybe we're missing the most important one: Why fear the reviews?

We all need honest feedback, even if it hurts. It is part of the writing process which, by the way, does NOT stop when the book goes to print. Good, unbiased reviews build our character and sharpen our writing skills and purposes. As a matter of fact, I believe they should be the fertilizer for our next work!

I'll share some recommendations from recent reviews about my latest book Spirit of Truth in my next blog post. But besides that, I am curious... what are your experiences with writing or receiving reviews?

Friday, June 03, 2016

Blogoversary continued...

The party isn't over until it's over! That certainly goes for my 10 year blogging anniversary.

I am thankful for everyone who participated in my blogspecial Bloggers@work. If I have learned something, it is that we bloggers/writers don't like editing and that we should never, ever give up on writing!

Susan Reinhardt threw in a giveaway and I asked her to draw a name. She writes: "I drew a name, but made an executive decision :) Since May was also my blogoversary month, I'm going to bless all three of these ladies!"
Isn't it great to celebrate together?! Thank you Susan, for your kindness.

To top it off, Cecelia Lester posted an interview with me on her blog and a review of my latest book Spirit of Truth. I quote:

"Marja delves into the nuances of being truthful about what we share with others. She approaches the issues involved with a magnifying glass and sheds light on issues most of the people would only think about in passing."

I am looking back with a grateful heart at a this blogoversary and I hope yours will be a blast as well, in due time. Let's keep on blogging!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Bloggers@work: Karen Lange

This month I am celebrating my 10 year blogoversary with giveaways and a bloggers special: Bloggers@work.

Ten years of blogging wouldn't be possible without the support, encouragement, comments and inspiration of other bloggers. I love this community and that's why I am hosting some of my favorite bloggers and their WIP (work in progress). Karen Lange tops it off!

What is your current WIP?

One of my latest projects is a feature on my blog entitled Meet the Blogger. While brainstorming topics for posts, I decided to create a monthly spotlight for my blogging friends. I’ve been blogging since 2009 and met so many wonderful people from various backgrounds. Writers, photographers, artists, and the like, they’ve extended wisdom, kindness, and support, so I thought it would be nice to share their stories, why they started blogging, and so on.

Karen Lange
I composed a list of questions designed to help them share their stories about their blogs, books, hobbies, projects, etc. Though the questions are the same, the monthly interviews are all different, and it’s great fun to see what they have to say. 

Wherein lies your biggest struggle with this particular project?

I am the queen of procrastination, so occasionally I put off contacting my friends for interviews. This causes me to scramble at the last minute, hoping someone will respond quickly. Thankfully, this doesn’t happen often!  

What do you see as the biggest blessing while working on this particular project?

I’ve gotten better acquainted with my blogging friends and have gained more of an appreciation for what they do, whether it’s freelancing, writing books, or another interesting occupation. It’s also offered a great way to further connect and introduce my blog followers to each other.  It’s a wonderful, encouraging community. 

Do you have a word of wisdom for writers and their WIP?

Don’t quit. Keep moving forward. If the Lord has called you to write, or to do a certain work or project, He will provide all you need to complete the task.

More about Karen Lange:
Karen Lange is a freelance editor and writer, an online writing instructor, and the author of two books for homeschool parents. She is a big fan of dark chocolate, Christian historical fiction, and spending time with her grandson.
Visit her blog: karenelange.blogspot.com

Monday, May 23, 2016

Bloggers@work: Susan Reinhardt

This month I am celebrating my 10 year blogoversary with giveaways and a bloggers special: Bloggers@work.

Ten years of blogging wouldn't be possible without the support, encouragement, comments and inspiration of other bloggers. I love this community and that's why I am hosting some of my favorite bloggers and their WIP (work in progress). This week Susan Reinhardt shares...

Susan at a book signing with mom in the background
What is your current WIP?
Right now, I'm working on a contemporary Christian novel. My prior books were all near-future stories, so this genre is new to me. Here's my blurb: A runaway pastor and a runaway boy discover answers they weren't expecting. 

This is the first book in a series. The working title is: Days of Elijah, but I'm not happy with it. If I go with a traditional publisher, they'll have the last word on the title.

Wherein lies your biggest struggle with this particular project?
In a word: editing. I love writing the story, but re-working parts and going over it a gazillion times bores me. This time around I hired a professional editor. Although I still have to make the changes, I've learned so much from her. Editors coach, as well as pick up on manuscript problems (depending on the type of edit you get).

What do you see as the biggest blessing while working on this particular project?
As a seat-of-the-pants writer, I start off with an idea and know where I want the story to end. Apart from that, it's as much of an adventure for me as for the reader. I love asking the Lord to give me characters and situations that will reach deep into readers' hearts. I'm blessed as the story unfolds and first readers/critique partners express their enthusiasm.

Susan's books... and more to come!
Do you have a word of wisdom for writers and their WIP?
Last year at the Greater Philadelphia Writers Conference, I took a Continuing Session with Alan Arnold. He talked about writing our stories with the Lord. Have you ever done something and then understood the principles behind it at a later date? This is what happened to me. 

Whether you're a plotter or a seat-of-the-pants writer like me, writing can take on a whole other dimension when you bathe the process in prayer and ask Him for direction. Many times I've been at a standstill, unsure of where to take a plot. After asking the Lord what should happen next, He's always come through. I'll read something that sets off a brainstorming session, wake up with the answer, or even dream an entire portion

Another helpful suggestion: Never pour out every idea onto the page. Leave the last thought/scene unfinished. You can then pick up the thread at your next writing session and continue. It's a great way to avoid staring at a blank page.

More about Susan:
Member ACFW
Represented by Joyce Hart, Hartline Literary Agency

Susan is a blessing to many bloggers. I have been reading her blogs... well, for a long, long time. And guess what? She is throwing in a giveaway! Make a chance to win a Kindle Edition of one of her books, simply by leaving your comment on this post. She'll draw a name next week!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Bloggers@work: Lynn Mosher

This month I am celebrating my 10 year blogoversary with giveaways and a bloggers special: Bloggers@work.

Ten years of blogging wouldn't be possible without the support, encouragement, comments and inspiration of other bloggers. I love this community and that's why I'll be hosting some of my favorite bloggers and their WIP (work in progress). This week Lynn Mosher shares...

Lynn Mosher
What is your current WIP?

When I became ill in 2000, I heard the Lord whisper to me a few months later to write for Him. He led me to write a book on the Hebrew/Jewish betrothal process. Such a wealth of knowledge that we can apply to our lives. 

However, it sits on the shelf, awaiting publication. So, while it waits, I have started working on another book. This one is about our journey through life, the paths or choices we make, and intermingled with a story/parable.

I work on it in between my twice weekly blogposts, my monthly writings for others sites, and a couple of other projects I’ve started. Right now, it’s trudging along very slowly.

Wherein lies your biggest struggle with this particular project?

My greatest struggle is just that…a struggle. I fight discouragement. I need to feel that it is coming together. However, it isn’t at the point of being cohesive. It’s a mixed bag of thoughts, story points, and scriptures. I know getting over this initial hump will allow me to feel less disjointed.

What do you see as the biggest blessing while working on this particular project?

Lynn's winter look
My first book was truly a blessing and an inspiration to me because the Lord showed me so many things in His Word.

The second book has been the culmination of so many ideas and situations of life the Lord has shown me. It’s always a blessing to be writing for Him. It is my calling, my passion; therefore, I write in obedience. 

Do you have a word of wisdom for writers and their WIP?

Oh, my writer friends, keep going! Keep praying. Keep the passion alive. And when discouragement or writer’s block sets in, don’t give up. Do whatever it takes to overcome it. If you are writing under the calling of the Lord, obedience is your only priority. So, keep at it! 

*This photo is my winter look. I get “mouse hands.” COLD hands while typing. The desk? My lap! My chair? The couch! 

More about Lynn Mosher:

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

And the winner is...

This month I am celebrating my 10 year blogoversary. Believe it or not, but I penned my first blog post in May 2006, not knowing where the adventure would lead me.

I started the month with a book giveaway. I asked my husband to draw a name and the winner is.... Cindy Moquin.

Congratulations girl, you have won a copy of my new book Spirit of Truth which has just been released. Please let me know where I can send it to.

To further celebrate I am also hosting several bloggers in a blogoversary special: Bloggers@work...

Jeanette Levellie kicked off, followed by Aileen Stewart.
Next up on this blog will be Lynn Mosher.

Let's celebrate blogging!