Monday, December 27, 2010

End of the year book give-away

Sign up for a free copy of GRACE OF GIVING
One more week in 2010 and we'll find ourselves at the dawn of a new year. I am always excited about a new year: it brings new ideas, new opportunities, new travels and new people! I see it also as another great moment for a fun book give-away.
I learned from my previous give-away that some of you, my dear blogging friends and visitors have no favorite book on giving. Well, that made my heart jump for joy.. maybe you'll have one next year!! Grace of Giving will be released January 25th, 2011 and leading up to that release I am giving some copies away through this weblog as well as on
Okay, so what's the deal this time? I have decided to make it easy... in order to sign up for a free copy of Grace of Giving, all you need to do is:
  • mention this give-away on your blog or re-post/share it on any other social media, and
  • leave a comment in the box below and tell me if there is one thing you find difficult to give away freely. It could be money, a smile, compliments, your heart, anything!

I'll announce the winner next week! Happy year end blogging :)

PS: The winner of the previous book give-away was Susan J. Reinhardt, feel free to visit her awesome blog Christian writer/reader connection and leave her a comment.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Birth of the Word

Merry Christmas
In the beginning
was the Word
and the Word was with God
and the Word was God
He was with God
in the beginning
Through him
all things were made
without him nothing was made
that has been made
In him was life
and that life was the light of men
the light shines in the darkness
but the darkness has not understood it
From the Gospel according to John
Chapter 1, verse 1-5

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What do virgin birth & rebirth have in common?

Holy child and holy life
A few weeks ago I was working on a Dutch article about the danger of calling certain biblical events myths; the virgin birth for example. The fact that we don't really understand how that happened is no reason to label it as fiction. While thinking about divine birth I began to wonder if the people who struggle to accept the virgin birth are the same people who have trouble with rebirth. Well, maybe they are not... but it made me think about the subject once again.
Rebirth is a difficult subject for many Christians and without doubt a weird concept for unbelievers. If, for whatever reason, the subject comes to the table we often end up pointing to the discussion Jesus had with Nicodemus. Nothing wrong with that scripture of course, but I believe the Bible has much more to say about the subject. During the following weeks I began to scribble some notes and corresponding schriptures in my journal based on 1 Peter 1:3, In his great mercy he has given us new birth... and I would like to share them in this blogpost, hoping it will help you to get a fresh perspective on the birth of Jesus as well as on your own new birth.
  • The apostel John wrote about Jesus and our rebirth in John 1:12-13, To all who received 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.
  • In his first letter John made it even more clear, everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God (1 John 5:1). Naturally we are born of a human being, but spiritually we are born of God.
  • The apostel Peter had something to say about divine birth too, You have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God (1 Peter 1:23). We are born again of imperishable seed, that is God's seed, or the Holy Spirit.
  • In 1 John 3:9 we read the following, No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him. There we have it again, God's seed, the same seed that conceived Jesus, remains in us.
As the Holy Spirit came over Maria she conceived the holy child Jesus. In Matthew 1:20 the angel of the Lord explained to Joseph how that happened, ...what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. In the same way the Holy Spirit will come over us and conceive new life in us, a born again spirit. Virgin birth is not a myth, it is a miracle from God and it is not too difficult to see how it runs parallel with spiritual rebirth. The virgin birth was necessary in order to conceive a holy child, our rebirth is necessary to conceive a new holy nature in us, Gods nature. I am forever thankful that Jesus went before me to make it possible for human beings to be born of God! What a rich and full Christmas message that is!

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Kindness as a gift

Attitude check....
Last Friday I spoke at a ladies Christmas dinner at Church of the Living Christ in Ojai. I recalled my very first Christmas in the USA, back in 1989.

Oh, how I marveled at all the gifts, the ribbons and the bows, I had never seen such things in my life... well, only in the movies! Over the years I have learned that, somehow, it is not all glamour and glitter around Christmas. I saw people running around in desperate search for the perfect gift for uncle Larry (who never says thank you) and for sister-in-law Lorna (who returns her gifts first week of January). I noticed stress levels going up in the month of December and traffic (at least here in Southern California) turning into a hectic stream of cars rushing by. I even heard people say (believe this or not): I'm glad when it's over.
Laughs from the audience...

It doesn't matter how we look at this, there is one thing we all know for sure: If this is the way we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, it does NOT please God! Just this week I received an e-mail from friends saying: skip the gift, let's give to charity. I am sure that is one way to make Christmas more meaningful and joyful. But maybe your family wants to do the gift giving, so let me suggest the three things I talked about that evening:
  1. God loves a cheerful giver. Not just when we give to Him, but also when we give to others. If you can't give cheerfully, don't do it! Grumpy shopping for your loved ones doesn't make sense. It is not the gift that counts, but the attitude behind it.
  2. Stop searching for the 'perfect' gift (whoever made that up needs urgent prayer!) for the people on your list. It does NOT exist! You tried for years... right? The perfect gift does not exist in the material world, no gift can make someone really feel better, or happy, or ease their pain or make them appreciative. We are like the little child playing with that FisherPrice toy, trying to push the square block into a round hole, it is not going to work! We are trying to fulfill emotional and maybe even spiritual needs with material stuff, it won't fit! Buy something you love giving! It is not the gift that counts, but the attitude behind it.
  3. Whatever gift you buy, add a personal note to it as an act of kindness. I don't care who you are and where you are in your life, every person on this planet needs a kind word! Write something like: I had fun shopping for you, Christmas would not be the same without you, thank you for your awesome cooking, thank you for opening up your house, I just love your humor... well whatever, anything that is kind and that comes from your heart and that shows love to the other person. I promise you it will change the atmosphere! It is not the gift that counts, but the attitude behind it!
Hope this helps!

PS: make sure to read Heather Sunseri's post on Christmas too!!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

And the winner is...

Thank you ladies for participating! I enjoyed reading your comments and favorite scriptures on giving. I asked my husband Jan to draw a name and the winner of this book giveaway is... Susan Reinhardt! Please visit her blog at christian write/reader connection and leave her a note!
Susan, please e-mail me your adress at, and I will send you a free copy of my latest book GRACE OF GIVING! Congratulations!

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Book Giveaway

Get a free copy of GRACE OF GIVING!
December is a good month for a fun book giveaway! Even more so when the title of the book is Grace of Giving :)
Grace of Giving is the fourth book in the Ten Commandments series and will be released January 25th 2011. Whether you use this book for personal or group study, it will surely help you to gain new insights on the 8th commandment. In my known step-by-step method I will explain how we go from merely obeying such a command to fulfilling it in our daily walk. As I unfold the New Testament thought behind this commandment you will discover that cheerful, abundantly and costly giving is the key to a life in all its fullness.
Make sure to join the fun by leaving a note in the comment box. All I am asking for is
  1. your favorite scripture on giving and
  2. the title of your favorite book on giving (if you don't have one, this is your chance to win one!)

Let me inspire you by giving my favorite scripture on giving: A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed (Proverbs 11:25). My favorite book on giving is Hidden Power by Tommy Barnett, that book changed my life! I will draw a name and announce the winner next week! You'll have your book just in time before Christmas!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Great read!!

A dream without a strategy to achieve it, will remain a fantasy!
Does it ever happen to you that you have a book on the shelf for months and months and months... without reading it? And when you finally read it, it blows you away and you wonder why you had it on the shelf for so long? Well, it happened to me with John C. Maxwell's book 'Put your dream to the test'.

We have just spent two weeks in Mexico and a few days on a secluded beach in Bahia de Los Angeles, without electricity, phones or e-mail turned out to be the perfect location and timing for finally reading this awesome book! Maxwell has a way of writing that is simple yet so profound, it is honest and raw and loaded and everything else I can think of. This is defenitely the most inspiring and motivating book I have read in a long time!
I don't know what your dream is, maybe you want to write a movie script or become a doctor or open up an orphanage or bake the best apple pies in the country... it doesn't matter, the size of your dream doesn't say anything about the significance. But a dream without a strategy to achieve it will remain a fantasy! This book is a must read for anyone who wants to accomplish something significant in life. It really, really inspired me and encouraged me. I wrote all my thoughts and ideas and questions and comments in a journal and that really helped me to see where I am in the process of achieving my dream. I highly recommend it!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

And this is my prayer...

What do I pray for and why?
Have you ever bumped into a friend or neighbor in the store and, after they updated you about their current drama, you left them with the words: "I'll pray for you."
I've done it! And to be honest with you, if I don't write these things down immediately, I sometimes forget to follow up on my promise. And that leads to feeling embarrased about myself, about treating such a promise lightly and not being more considerate about the trouble the other person is going through. I don't want my words to be meaningless or an empty cliche, so I have decided that either
  1. I have to pray with the person on the spot, or
  2. write it down immediately and pray later, or
  3. ask the person what I should pray for and get specific so we can agree
The last method I learned from the apostle Paul; he told the believers at Philippi: and this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight... (Philippians 1:9-11) He did not adress the people casually, 'oh, I'll pray for you...' He told them what he prayed for and why he did it, he expected certain results because of his prayer. He wanted them to gain a greater understanding of love and he clarified why, so that:

  • you may be able to discern what is best, in other words you will be able to make the right choices and always act in love, and love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:8)

  • you may be pure and blameless until the day of Jesus Christ, because love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8)

  • you may be filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, you will have peace over the situation because the fruit of righteousness is peace (Isaiah 32:17)
Paul ads the ultimate goal of his prayer -to the glory and praise of God! Wouldn't this be a great way to practise effective prayer this week?

Thursday, November 04, 2010


Pre-sales GRACE OF GIVING starts today!

This morning I came to the conclusion that 2010 has only two more months left… Two months in which we celebrate two major holidays. One day to give thanks and one day to give gifts. It seems that ‘giving’ is the theme for the remainder of each year we live.

I guess it keeps us balanced, because we are programmed to spend most of our lives accumulating possessions which we think will make us happier and give us a more fulfilled life, whether it is the house, the car, the boat, the job, the money or the mate we desire. How can we shift that all too human attitude of gathering into an attitude of giving? Is it truly possible to become a cheerful giver?

In my fourth book Grace of Giving, turning the key to enter and experience fullness of life, I have tried to answer these questions by taking an in-depth look at the commandment do not steal. I share how we can leave behind the way of the thief, which always cries for more, more, more, and how we can adapt the way of the Master, which is cheerfully, abundantly and costly giving that will lead us into a life in all its fulness!

The official nationwide release date for Grace of Giving will be January 25th 2011, so the book is not yet available at major book sellers. It is, however, available at the publishers’ website! If you want to learn more about the blessings of giving, please go to this link and order your own copy of Grace of Giving:

If you prefer the audio version, and don't mind listening to my foreign accent, or if you rather have it as an e-book download, please go to this link and order there. In the coming weeks I will be giving away several copies of GRACE OF GIVING, so keep an eye on my blog!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Inspirational art!

Jesus is sitting at the place of highest honor next to God, pleading for us there in heaven
Romans 8:34
Last Saturday night we attended a fundraiser dinner organised by Messianic congregation Elohim Hu Ahavah to raise money for a mission trip to Israel. It was a wonderful evening under the stars with music, dance, great food and many interesting people to talk with. There was also a silent auction and we purchased an exceptional oil on canvas by local artist Michelle Honles. It is an absolutely stunning image of Jesus praying....
It was her unconventional use of yellow and orange in His prayer shawl that really caught our attention. The fact that she painted this in one day, in an artistic flow of the Holy Spirit makes it even more special! What an awesome piece of art!
We LOVE it!!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Without Warning

He stilled the storm to a whisper
Have you ever received a phone call that shattered your world? A call that made your stomach turn in an instant? The kind of call that made you say 'this cannot be true'? At some point in life we might all receive a call like that, without warning. A loved one passed away, a family member had a terrible accident, you are being laid off at work... well, you can fill in any scenario that would shock your world.

I remember the few times when I received bad news, without warning. It made the world stop and at the same time years and years of memories would flash through my mind, like time didn't exist. The storms of life can come upon us just like that. Unlike the natural storms and tornado's we experience here in the USA, which are being foretold by the weather channel. In Jesus' time there was no weather channel and when He was in a boat with the disciples on the Sea of Gallilee they encountered a natural storm. Matthew 8:24 says,
Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat.

Without warning! They did NOT see it coming. That is how the storms sometimes hit our lives. The only preparation we can take is to make sure we have Jesus in our boat! He knows how to calm a storm, better yet; He teaches us how to speak against the storms in our lives! Speaking peace into troubled situations is no more crazy than speaking to a mountain or a mulberry tree! Jesus didn't talk ABOUT the storm, He calmed it down. Psalm 107:29 says it beautifully,
He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed.
I want to use my words the way He did it!

Monday, October 04, 2010

Life of Sorek

Don't forget to visit Sorek's blog!
Saturday, October 2nd 2010, was a great day at Westminster Gardens! More than 50 authors presented their work to the public. We had a slight drizzle in the morning, but by the time the volunteers started the bbq, sun came out and so did most of the visitors. I think we had a great turn out, lots of super friendly people, interesting speakers and very helpful volunteers, all at a beautiful location. I participated on one of the panels and got a chance to tell a little bit more about the life of Sorek, the character in my book Breath of Life. If you have never visited Sorek's blog, please be so kind and come on over! Feel free to leave your comment about 'life before conception'.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Duarte Festival of Authors

Duarte Festival of Authors
Saturday, October 2
10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Westminster Gardens
1420 Santo Domingo Avenue
Duarte, CA
Join me this Saturday for an entertaining day (fun for the entire family) at Westminster Gardens, Duarte, CA. We are expecting more than 50 authors in talks, book signings, and panels. I will be there too, to sign my books and take part in a panel discussion. If you're in the neighborhood, please stop by! For more information go to this website!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Recording new audio book

Working on audiofiles Grace of Giving
Yesterday I spent the whole day at Mountaindog Musicworks Recording Studios in Oak View, California, where I narrated my upcoming book Grace of Giving. Top dog Tim Frantz (owner of the studio and master technician) and I worked hard on reading and recording chapter after chapter. Afterwards we listened to the recordings and corrected little flaws or mispronounciations (haha, they happen sometimes, because of my accent). It turned out to be a very fruitful day, as we worked steadily and undisturbed. I will send the files to Tate Publishing who will make it into a great audiobook on CD, which will also be available as e-book. I will keep you updated on the official release date of Grace of Giving! For the cover of my new 'to be released' book, see the sidebar!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Autumn wreath

A little creativity...
After a hard day's work in the yard I decided to be a little creative and make an autumn wreath. Not that it feels like autumn here in Southern California :) but I had all this material that I picked up in thrift stores over the years; leaves, flowers, little pumpkins, everything very colorful. I just attached all these small pieces to a huge wreath that I found in the barn and... voila! I let my imagination go wild and mixed sunflowers, daisies and christmas ribbons all together into a delightful display of a new season.
Happy autumn!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Does God change His mind?

Our role in the history of mankind
The other day I read something about christian fatalism, as brother Andrew calls it in his book 'And God Changed His Mind'. It is a term used for a way of thinking that goes somewhat like this: "'s really sad, all the terrible things happening in our world, but there is nothing we can do, God's will shall be done, God is in control..."

Well, if God is in control, why is it such a mess?

Something is wrong with that way of reasoning, although it sounds very religious and humble. Yes, it is true that history has already been written by God before it even started. As the eternal God He is not bound by time, so He has ordained events to happen as part of the story of mankind, but I believe He is willing to move on behalf of our prayers and requests. God Himself does not change (Malachi 3:6) but He will certainly act on behalf of the prayers of His children.
His character and nature are unchanging, His decisions are not! Throughout the Bible we can see great examples of God changing His mind as a result of the diligent prayers of the righteous,
  • Exodus 32:14, Moses pleads earnestly with God not to bring disaster on the Israelites and God changes His mind!
  • 2 Kings 20:2-6, King Hezekiah cries out to God because he doesn't want to die yet and God ads another 15 years to his life!

At first sight these stories seem to contradict what is written in Numbers 23:19, God is not a man, that He should change His mind. I read that scripture over and over again, wondering why it says that God doesn't change His mind while at the same time the Bible shows He does! But then I saw the implication of the first part of this verse: God is not a man... in other words, don't compare Him with the way we change our minds. We change our minds because we feel like it, or because it suits us better, or because we are unstable in our thoughts or because.... well, I am sure we can all fill in the reasons why we do what we do and why we are not always faithful to our words.

God however is NOT a man, He does not act based on feelings or emotions (let's face it, if He did, all tears shed would have made Him change the world by now). He is God and He is faithful to His promises, He is trustworthy and reliable. He has, however, decided that prayers of faith are powerful (see for example James 5:14-15) and that He will act on our behalf when we earnestly seek Him. Psalm 34:15 says: The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are attentive to their cry!

So, whether you worry about world events unfolding, the political climate in your country or a personal struggle, cry out to Him! He will respond to the prayer of the destitute; He will not despise their plea! (Psalm 102:17)

Monday, September 06, 2010

About trees and people

Prophetic vision
During His life on earth Jesus healed many people from all kinds of diseases and oppression. The book of Acts (10:38) recalls,
He went everywhere, doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, for God was with Him.
Quite of few of these healings were written down by eyewitnesses and some of their accounts are actually quite funny when you read them at first. This one for example:

One day the people bring a blind man to Jesus and ask Him to touch the man and heal him. Jesus takes the man by the hand, leads him to the outskirts of the village and spits him in the eyes. "Can you see anything?" Jesus asks curiously. The man's answer is quite comical: "Yes, I can see people, but they look like trees walking around." Jesus touches him again and he saw everything clearly from that moment on. I love this story. It teaches me that it is okay to tell God your prayer wasn't fully answered, that it's okay to ask for healing one more time and that divine healing doesn't always come by a medically approved method, haha!

The thing I like most about this story however, is the fact that the man's spiritual eyes were opened before his natural sight returned. He saw people that looked like trees and I believe that the Lord gave him prophetic vision. In the Bible people are often compared with trees, so what the man saw was not crazy, it was spiritual insight. Let me back that up with a few scriptures:

Blessed is the man...He is like a tree planted by streams of water (Psalm 1:3)
But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of the Lord (Psalm 52:8)
The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon (Psalm 92:12)
No good tree bears bad fruit... the good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart... (Luke 6:43-45)

Trees and men, at first sight we don't have much in common, but the Bible says we do. A few things come to mind:
  1. Life consists of seasons, the dark period will end!
  2. I must stay near the living water!
  3. I need to shed some leaves to make room for something new!
  4. I will bear fruit!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Visions of earth

He spoke and it came to be...
It is almost 25 years ago since I met my husband. During those years we have seen many different parts of the world, since we both share a love for traveling and a curiosity for cultures, languages and people. Much later we found a new love: traveling through the Bible! My first Bible with cross references was the NIV and a whole new world opened up for me! I no longer regarded the 66 books of the Bible as separate accounts of individual writers and poets, but as a huge puzzle. It was up to me to find a fitting piece each day and discover that all those people, eyewitnesses, prophets, writers and poets are connected and share an awesome story, even through the ages of time!

I am learning new things all the time and one of my favorite subjects to meditate on is Creation. It fascinates me, although my human mind is way too small to comprehend the vastness of the universe. Yet, The Bible offers me triggers that provoke my thinking. Hebrews 11:1-3 for example teaches me the following:
By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
I think this is an awesome verse and a great starting point for one of my travels through the Bible.

Many centuries before these words the psalmist had a revelation about God's creating power. He wrote in the 33rd song, verses 6 and 9,
By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth...For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm!
The psalmist knew that the visible nature around him came forth from the invisible word that God spoke.

My journey doesn't end there, it takes me to the writings of the prophet Isaiah, who listened to God's voice all the time. He received insight about the power of God's words when the Lord gave him an everyday example from nature in the 55th chapter, verses 10-11;
As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what i desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

I love this! All those pieces fit in the puzzle, they form a picture in my mind that is getting clearer and more beautiful and more perfect! May I end this blogpost with the words from the beginning...
And God said:"Let there be light." And there was light.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Finding the knowledge of God

Treasure Hunt
Already at a young age I developed a love for the Book of Proverbs. I just loved the practical lessons in that book. I was 17 when I left for college and my best friend and me exchanged handwritten notes (yes, this was in the 80-s) with verses from the Book of Proverbs, to meditate on during the week.

Proverbs opens up with a few chapters on the benefits of wisdom. I should write Wisdom, with a capital W, because every verse points to Jesus Christ, who is the power of God and the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:24).
The second chapter in the Book of Proverbs opens up with a call to interaction between God and mankind. It always helps me to create a mental picture of the relationship between God and mankind, and I do so by looking at the natural relationship between parents and children.

Let's say your child lies on the couch all day and never asks you for anything, just waits for whatever you drop in his or her lap. That would worry you, right? Isn't it sign of an open and healthy relationship if your child asks you: 'mom, can I go outside, can I play with so and so, is it okay if I sleep over at my friend's place? Dad, why do I need to be home so early? How come my older sister has more privileges?' Even if the answer is already known, asking and searching for answers and boundaries builds a strong relationship. I believe it works the same way with God and man. He enjoys our curiosity and hunger to learn more about Him.
Chapter 2:1-5 is a great example of our action and God's response:
  • If you accept my words,
  • and store up my commands within you,
  • turning your ear to wisdom
  • and applying your heart to understanding.
  • And if you call out for insight,
  • and cry aloud for understanding,
  • and if you look for it as for silver
  • and search for it as for hidden treasure
THEN you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.

It is not enough to just accept God's Word, we must store it within us and remember it. We must do more than just listen to His Word, we must apply it. We are urged to call out, to cry out for understanding and insight. ASK & SEEK!! God's reward will be awesome, we will find the knowledge of God. Verse 6 goes on to say: For the Lord gives wisdom, and from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.

May I inspire you to actively go on that treasure hunt?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Abhor what is evil

Guest writing
My blogpost for this week can be found at colleague blogger Lynn Mosher's site, Heading Home. She started a series of posts on Romans 12:9-21, all written by guest bloggers. Lynn divided this part of Romans into little sections and asked her guest bloggers to write a short study on each section. It was my turn this week to write on the second part of verse 9, where it says: abhor what is evil.
Please visit Lynn and read my contribution there.
Happy blogging!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ancient Truth is Still Fresh!

From Atheism to Christianity
The fool says in his heart: 'there is no God' [Psalm 14:1]

"Smart people don't become Christians". That was the thought of college professor Holly Ordway when she was still an atheist. Christianity was a historic curiosity and a stain on modern civilization. At the age of 31 , however, her worldview began to change. In her new book Not God's Type: A Rational Academic Finds a Radical Faith Ordway recalls her journey from atheism to christianity.
Click on the following link to read more about her story:

Monday, August 02, 2010


Press on and move forward
Are you following your dream? Have you set a certain goal? Are you fighting for your work to be recognized? Are you tired of running the race? I know from experience that we all have times that we want to quit, give up and sit on the couch for a while and not even think about our work anymore. In that stage many people give up on their dreams or they simply start something new, only to find themselves at that same point again a year or so later. I have also learned that THAT is exactly the point where we need to press on and move forward. With the help of a little encouragement this time can be our most important time! If you are there, read this post by literary agent Rachelle Gardner:

Friday, July 23, 2010

Cheerful givers...

A life without money problems
This coming fall, the 4th book in the series about the Ten Commandments will be published. I have called it Grace of Giving and Tate Publishing is currently working on the cover. The book offers a New Testament view of the 8th Commandment. Not stealing is merely being obedient to the Law, cheerfully giving is fulfilling the Law! Now that all edits are final, I keep finding more scriptures about the subject of giving. In Proverbs 11:24-25 it says,

One man gives freely, yet gains even more. Another witholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper, he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.

I love that, a new Testament principle in Old Testament times. Jesus teaches us in Luke 6:38

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.

Giving is the key to a life without moneyproblems! I truly believe this. I can trust God to be faithful to His Word. That is a very encouraging thought, especially in times of economic uncertainty: if we keep giving we will always have enough!
I dare you to take His Word serious!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Once an Arafat Man

Looking for a good book this summer?
It doesn't happen very often that I recommend a book on my weblog. I have noticed that people like to put you in a box once they discover your reading list... you are what you read... well, not this time!
Once an Arafat man by Tass Saada is the true story of how a PLO sniper found a new life in the Jewish Messiah! I read this book in one sitting, I just couldn't stop. That is a miracle by itself, because I am usually reading several books at the same time and I find it hard to actually finish books; I am always eager to start a new one!
If you want to learn more about politics and religion in the Middle East, don't miss this book. It is a good read, it is exciting, very well written and it holds very personal thoughts on Islamic, Jewish and Christian thinking; all in one book! If we learn from each other, we will understand each other. One thing is very clear in this book, we ALL need the Messiah's love, whether Christian, Jewish or Moslim!

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Faith Comes Before Understanding

We have to let go of our common way of thinking...
A few weeks ago we talked about faith in the biblestudy class we teach at our church in Holland. We looked at a whole bunch of scriptures together, but the one that stood out for me that evening was Hebrews 11:3,

By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command...

By faith we understand! How we would love to turn that one around! Our human desire is to understand first, so we can believe! Nothing wrong with pure logic, but it is simply not the way it works in the spiritual realm, in God's Kingdom.
Understanding does not come from education or reasoning but from an act of trust: faith! This is such a huge key to gain wisdom! We have to let go of our common way of thinking and accept things in faith first, then our eyes will be opened and we will gain understanding. And once we have understanding we can start to study! I know that does NOT sound logical, but it is just the way it works with God.
The above mentioned scripture deals with Creation (as in contrast to evolution), a topic that has kept debaters, doubters and Darwinists busy for the longest time. Why? Because they want to understand first. That search is without end, because the Bible clearly teaches that faith goes before revelation. I have heard numerous testimonies of scolars, scientists and sceptics who spent their lifetime in search for understanding and finally gave up. At the very moment they gave up their struggle and accepted truth, understanding came!

Next time you read something in the Bible that keeps you struggling to understand, accept the word in faith, accept that the word is truth. And then pray to the Holy Spirit for understanding to come. I am not afraid to promise you that the light will turn on!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

More inspiration...

Random pages...
Pages from my handmade devotional, just to inspire you...
Start today and make your own, it will brighten up your time with God!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Make your own devotional

Colorful coffeetable book

I have hidden your words in my heart [Psalm 119:11]
Last year I made my own devotional. I treasure it, it is a wonderful coffeetable book and I open a different page every day! I have written many diaries over the last few years, but this is the first one that does not hold my words, but His!
I started with a blank journal and stacks of magazine clippings: pictures, words, symbols, anything! I added scripture, a different word or promise every day. Now I have a colorful book that is very inspirational, not only because it is handmade, but also because it holds the wonderful promises of God! Sometimes I linger at a page for days and soak in the words. Hey, this was a project I still enjoy!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Thoughts on Writing

She'll do it :)
The skill of writing is to create a context in which other people can think.
[Edwin Schlossberg]
This week I have been working on the edits of my new book, Grace of Giving, that will be released later this year. The 4th book in the series about the Ten Commandments in the 21st century. I couldn't help but notice that sometimes I still struggle with the subject of my writings. When people ask me what my books are all about, I always hesitate... almost as if ashamed. Maybe it is because I have seen and heard the same reaction over and over again... 'oh, the Ten Commandments... interesting" and off he or she goes, away from me.
Come to think of it, I can't blame them, simply because I do represent an odd combination. I am a charismatic believer, I am a woman and I do NOT write about marriage or kids, I write about the Law from a Holy Spirit point of view, go figure! Sometimes I wonder if my assignment is part of the Lord's humor, "We need some fresh thoughts on the Old Book, let's ask Marja, she'll do it!
And He was right, as always!

Monday, June 07, 2010

The WHY questions

This earth is our domain and our responsibility
Every Wednesday night a small group meets at our, even smaller, house. Last week we talked about the 'why' questions we sometimes ask God. Why is there so much pain in the world? Why do people kill each other? Why do children die of cancer? Why are things so hard? Why me?
As human beings we somehow have the annoying habit of questioning the Almighty about every disaster, every pain and every event happening here on earth that doesn't go the way we expected. Even people who do not believe in God do this! Going through my Bible, however, I found out that it is not us, but God who asks plenty of 'why' questions. Jesus, for example, did it all the time, it was His way of teaching.
Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye? (Matthew 7:3), Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? (Matthew 9:4), Why did you doubt? (Matthew 14:31) and Why do you ask me about what is good? (Matthew 19:17) and He goes on and on like this. It seems to me we take an unrightful place at His throne when we require answers to the very things God gave us dominion, authority and responsibility over. This earth is our domain, He gave it to us. Maybe we should change our 'why' questions into 'how' questions. How can I deal with this, how can I help and how can I change this! Would that make the earth a better place?

Friday, May 28, 2010

Variance Magazine

I'll have a chance to win a free full page ad!
This summer Tate Publsihing will come out with a quarterly on-line magazine about culture, entertainment, books and art, Variance Magazine. By bringing in subscribers I'll have a chance to win a free full page ad about my books! So please, go to Variance Magazine and subscribe, all they need is your e-mail! The magazine will appear 4x a year, so no havoc in your mailbox!
Make sure to mention my latest book BREATH OF LIFE in the box where it says 'how did you hear about us'.
For all you writers and bloggers, you are encouraged to submit articles! Variance could be your next platform!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Made in His image

Read the story of your life...
"Life before conception is kind of hard to imagine... as far as I am concerned it is all I ever knew..."

Yeah right... who doesn't like to recommend his or her own book? Ofcourse I am excited about the story as I penned it down in Breath of Life! That's one of the reasons I am promoting it on this weblog (and I am trying to get rid of some stock as well, so as to make room for a new book!).
Ever wondered how we resemble God's image, since He is Spirit? In Breath of Life I have tried to describe the melting together of spirit, soul, and body into one human being, a triune being, just like God! Take this unique journey and travel from way before conception towards our entrance into this world!

Available wherever books are sold and at all major on-line booksellers!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Power Source

Nothing significant will ever be done without the Power of the Holy Spirit
Believe it or not, but in Holland Pentecost is a national holiday. This coming Sunday is the big day to celebrate in churches and congregations and Monday is the second day of Pentecost, a day off for the whole country. Many people probably have no clue what Pentecost means, but for believers it is one of the highlights in the Christian year.
We can read in the first chapter of the Book of Acts (verse 8) how Jesus gave His disciples a glimpse of what was to be expected:

You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

Awesome promise. I am sure the disciples waited with anticipation for that power to come. When I read Jesus' words here I cannot help but wonder why the majority of Christians think they can do without the power today. Education and status have often replaced reliance on the power of the Holy Spirit. Imagine this, the disciples had been with Jesus for three years, day in, day out. They witnessed the miracles, the healings and the raising of the dead. The listened to His teachings firsthand, He answered their questions and eased their worries. Jesus ate with them, He drank with them, He traveled with them and He even prayed for them! Now, if Jesus warns those men to wait for power to come and to not go into the world on their own account (Luke 24:48) why in the world would Christians even think they can do anything significant without the power of the Holy Spirit today?
Please, pray as never before to receive the power of the Holy Spirit, there is still much work to do!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Don't skip the bread!

When sickness tries to come your way...
The last time we celebrated holy communion in our church, a bunch of people got healed! It was awesome!
Some were healed while listening to the teaching about 1 Corinthians 12, some while partaking in holy communion, some afterwards during prayer. Well, whatever the case, when you need healing in your body any moment is fine!
We drink the wine in remembrance of Jesus' blood that flowed for the forgiveness of our sins. But what do we eat the bread for? The bread symbolizes the body of Jesus that was bruised for the healing of our diseases. It is by His wounds (or stripes) that we received healing. Blood alone was not enough, there was whipping and torture, something they never did with the sacrificial animals in the Old Testament. If there was ever one person who clearly understood that, it was the prophet Isaiah. He wrote: Surely, he took up our infirmities. I love that word 'surely'.

We are forgiven and we are healed! Does that mean we never sin again? No, but it should not take us down. Does that mean we will never be sick again? No, but it should not take us down. Whether sin or sickness tries to come our way, we should immediately take part in holy communion (wherever we are) and read Jesus' words over our situation. His promises are life!
Maybe you find it hard to believe this because you experience a sickness that just won't go away. Don't give up, keep digging in the word and ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten you about the matter. It might also help to meditate on 1 Corinthians 12:28-31. If it was possible for people to become sick and sometimes even die because they participated in holy communion in a unworthy manner, I feel free to say that it is surely possible to get healed when we participate in a worthy manner! Feel free to share your thoughts on the matter!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Generous Grouch?

A Steward's Journey
Americans are re-thinking the way they spend their money... well, let's hope that is one of the results of the current economic instability.
Complaining does not change anything, nor does worrying. Instead, we can make the decision to see today as the right time to evaluate the stewardship of everything God has given us, no matter how much or little that is. Maybe you recently started paying of debt, maybe you have to move to a smaller house, maybe you are getting married or maybe you are going off to college. Whatever the situation, every day can be a new beginning, make it a good start! Be a good steward!
A great and vey practical book on the subject is A Steward's Journey by Don Coley. The book offers 30, easy to read, short chapters, a prayer for the day and points to ponder in the 'reflect & respond' section at the end of each chapter. A Steward's Journey is a fresh and challenging perspective on how we should handle our finances and material possessions. It combines engaging word pictures, real life stories, and the time-tested principles of ancient scriptures. Don draws a road map that leads away from the counsel of modern consumer cultures, and towards the sense of peace and contentment that comes only when we understand our role as stewards. I highly recommend this book. Don is practical in his findings and advice, it is an enjoyable read and educational at the same time!
Don writes: When was the last time you met a generous grouch? Probably never, because generous people are usually the happiest and most content people on earth. They are rich because they have enough, not poor because they are always looking for elusive more.
I also recommend this book because it paves the way for more books about stewardship, giving and generosity. As a matter of fact, my forth book, Grace of Giving, will be released later this year. For more info on Don's book go to A Steward's Journey or follow Don on Facebook!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Helping the helpless in Israel

New weblog about Messianic outreach in Israel
Our friend Brian Slater, who works for Chosen People Ministries in Israel, has started a weblog, finally!!
We met Brian a few years ago at Jubilee church in Camarillo, it was during the Feast of Tabernacles and Brian presented a very moving slideshow of his ministry work in Israel. Our hearts were really touched by his testimony and report of the work among the 'least of these' in Israel: the homeless, the drugs- and alcohol addicts, the widows and orphans, the elderly and even groups of Holocaust survivors. We started supporting his work and visited him several times in Israel. Brian's motto can be found in the words of Yeshua in Matthew 25:40

I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.

Brian manages several soupkitchens in Israel, a free medical clinic, a food and clothing distribution center and he is also involved in a recently opened bible-based drugs- and alcohol rehab center. Helping the poor and homeless is a Christian duty and calling, but when we do it in Israel we will be blessed because we bless Israel!
Brian finally started a weblog where you can read more about the work and ministry in Israel. This is truly an awesome hands-on ministry and many miracles are happening in Israel because of this faithful work! Brian is always looking for volunteers, so if you've always wanted to visit Israel, consider giving him a helping hand. Be a blessing and be blessed!
If you feel led to donate, please go to Chosen People Ministries and follow the instructions, make sure to mention that your gift is for Brian Slater in Israel!!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Enemy on a mission

Satan’s mission and strategy
A little while back my friend Matthijs wrote something on his weblog that I found very interesting and helpful. It was about Satan's mission and the strategies he uses to accomplish his goal. The enemy doesn't get a whole lot of attention on my blog, but knowing and recognizing his cunning ways is essential if we want to grow in our Christian walk and even more so if working on a dream or assignment! I roughly translated his post:
Mission: take possession of God’s creation
Strategy 1: through distraction prevent people from coming to Christ. If, however, they manage to do so, strategy 2 follows.
Strategy 2: Through distraction prevent the Christians from discovering their personal destiny, their identity and their talents. If, however, they manage to do so, strategy 3 follows.
Strategy 3: through discouragement prevent Christians from reaching their personal destiny. If, however, they manage to do so, strategy 4 follows.
Strategy 4: through separation, division and conflict prevent them from becoming a unity. If, however, they manage to do so, strategy 5 follows.
Strategy 5: Mix their talents and their worship with pride, egoism, fear and jealousy. If, for whatever reason, this has no effect, leave them alone.

Always know where you are and never, ever give up. God’s Kingdom is breaking through with force. Stay connected with Him and you will come through every obstacle.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Land of 'no effort'

Who wants the prize without a fight?
While working out at my gym I heard an ad on the radio. It talked about a program that would have your 3-year old read like a 3rd grader in no time, no effort… really! It struck me as odd that the promise to accomplish a goal without effort would be attractive to anyone. Who wants the prize without the fight, the glory without the blood, sweat and tears? And yet, we seem to live in a land of ‘no effort’. Loose weight without a diet! Now, you can have a great body without exercise! Learn another language in no time! Well, you know what I mean…
I wonder, even if it would be possible to reach a goal without working for it, what would be the fun? Why would we even be tempted by promises that clearly go against Kingdom principles? Jesus said, make every effort to enter through the narrow door. Every effort, right?! There is not even such a thing as little or half effort, let alone NO effort! The Bible goes on to say in Romans 14:19,
- Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification
- Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace (Eph. 4:3)
- Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy (Hebr. 12:14)
Based on these scriptures I feel free to say that an effortless life is an ungodly life.
We can do nothing to earn our salvation, but we can do everything to make it a lifestyle!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The secret of being content

The art of enjoying any journey
The motivational calendar on my desk has beautiful pictures of nature and people on mountain bikes flying in mid air against a clear blue sky. Early this morning I tore off yesterday’s page and crumbled it slowly in my hand thinking how odd it was that I was about to throw away a day that would never return. At the same time I scanned the words for today, “The really happy man is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour”.

With or without bicycle, I want to be that (wo)man! I want to be able to say
I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation
(Philippians 4:12)
I am trying to picture ‘any and every’ situation. It’s like being forced to take a detour on the bike of life and ending up in the rain and the mud or on a dead-end road. It is realizing you forgot to bring your rain gear and after the longest struggle uphill arriving too late for the party and not getting the sympathy you’d hoped for. It is like feeling all alone on that steep hill and knowing there is no way back, no side tracking and no changing your mind until you reach the viewpoint, where you can finally look back and say: it was all worth it! Hey, and if you'd been singing all the way, then you have truly mastered the art of enjoying even the hardest journey.
The good thing is; you will have a story to tell!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Promise about our climate

The Lord brought order in His creation... and a promise
It rained, again, in Southern California… A winter storm in this part of the world brings more than snow in the mountains and welcome water in the wells and reservoirs; it causes havoc on the burned hillsides. A steady flow of debris and dangerous mudslides make their way to the Pacific and leave a trail of destruction behind.
In view of all the discussions about the warming of our global climate, the extreme weather in the USA seems to be out of place, sort of like a practical joke from the Creator. Ha ha folks, you can discuss and debate all you want, but I am still in charge here!
Worldwide meetings and conferences, scientific research, millions of dollars in campaigns and media coverage… and we’re still missing the point; it is pathetic, really...
After the biggest climatic disaster in human history, the Flood, the Lord brought again order in His creation and added a promise. He said:
As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, will never cease.
(Genesis 8:22)
Storms, floods, extreme cold or heat and changing numbers and statistics, it doesn't frighten me. God has the first word and the last. That settles it for me!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Working on a vision?

We all have something we want to accomplish

An author spends months writing a book, and maybe puts his heart's blood into it, and then it lies about unread till the reader has nothing else in the world to do.
W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965)

Writing books is part of a bigger vision I have, it is part of the fulfilling of a dream that is slowly developing and growing in my heart. Writing might not be your thing, but I am sure you’ll have something you want to accomplish; a dream, a vision, a project you’re working on. No matter what your assignment is, no matter how big or small the goal you’re aiming for… it will help you to understand a few things. Stick this at a place where you can see it every day!

Regarding the fulfilling of my vision I must understand:
1. That I pay the price for completion
2. That discouragement and disappointment will come, I must be strong
3. That I must live by the principles of God’s Word
4. The power of prayer, my prayer life must be committed
5. That I will need patience

Monday, January 11, 2010

Contract for 4th book signed!

Tate Publishing will publish 4th book in series
The other day I read something about the writing business that, if it wasn’t so funny, could easily make all of us writers, bloggers, poets and thinkers want to break down and cry! I quote:

“Writing is the hardest way of earning a living, with the possible exception of wrestling alligators.” Olin Miller

I thought that was hilarious… hilariously true.
However, a passionate writer is the one that never gives up, so I am extremely happy to announce that I have signed another contract with Tate Publishing, this time for the publication of the 4th book in the series I am working on.
Grace of Giving, as I’ve named this one, is inspired by the 8th commandment: do not steal! Well, actually it is a book about giving, as the opposite of taking, gathering, stealing, collecting, keeping for oneself.
Maybe you wonder, “Marja, I am not a thief, why in the world should I want to read this book?” Well, it is one thing to say you are not a thief, but what are you then? Are you a giver? Do you give wholeheartedly, joyfully, cheerfully and abundantly or do you rather be on the receiving end? Is it possible to give away freely and not worry about lacking anything?
Giving is something that doesn’t come naturally to most of us; that is why we need this grace of giving as mentioned in the Bible (2 Corinthians 8:7).

In the coming months I will share a bit more about this new book, so stay connected and visit this weblog from time to time. May I take this opportunity to remind you to order my books (if you haven’t done so already) at your internet bookseller so you can get familiar with the ideas, thoughts and philosophy I present when it comes to the Ten Commandments. The books can be read separately ofcourse, but it is definitely interesting to see the common thread woven through my writings as a whole.

PS: one of Webster’s descriptions of philosophy is: a study of human morals, character and behavior.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Motto 2010

Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power!
As I was setting my threefold goal for 2010 (spirit, soul, and body) I realized I needed more than sheer willpower (or good intentions) to accomplish this. Let’s face it: willpower will work, for a while at least, but will wear you out at the same time. Good intentions…. Well, they are nothing compared to the smallest deed!
So, this is where my motto for 2010 comes in:
Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power! (Ephesians 6:10)
I want to be spiritually, emotionally and intellectually, and physically strong and I know that I can grow towards that goal with the help of Almighty God and His Holy Spirit power! I desire to seek my strength in Him and His Word, not in my accomplishments, ideas, gifts or talents. I desire to become stronger in my faith, stronger in my trust in Him and stronger in living a disciplined life!
In 2010 I want to rely on the Holy Spirit’s power in everything I do and say. For me personally, that means: more breath prayers, less automatic pilot, total surrender.
Hey, I am excited about getting stronger. I do not want to be where I was last year, I want to grow and change. Philippians 2:13 says that God is always at work in me to make me willing and able to obey His own purpose.
I want to work with Him, not against Him and this motto will be a great reminder throughout the coming year!