Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Contract for new book signed!

As writers we sweat and ponder, we edit and wonder... is this really good material for the reader? We struggle and procrastinate, we start all over again and evaluate...

Ah, the romantic life of creating stories and putting thoughts on paper. Many of you bloggers, writers, poets and essayists know better than this... writing is the hardest profession in the world, except for alligator wrestling of course. But you know what, sometimes we actually get to do fun stuff...

This week I signed a contract for another book, hooray! It will be my fifth book with Tate Publishing and yet another one in my series about the Ten Commandments in the 21st century. After my last book won the Readers Favorite 2011 Award for Best Christian Non Fiction I hesitated to send in a new manuscript, I wanted to enjoy the moment a little longer. But I learned that all glory is short lived, the show must go on. So, here we go; the work title I am using for my latest book is My Neighbor's House. The book deals with the 10th Commandment... yes, the one that says not to covet our neighbor's house or his donkey. Like I said, fun stuff happens!

Has something good happened in your writing life, lately?

Monday, November 28, 2011

How majestic...

This past Thanksgiving weekend we went on a camping trip. We stayed at Jalama Beach in Southern California. The weather was a pleasant 80F (yes!), perfect for long walks on the beach.

We really took time to talk with the Lord and each other about pressing matters concerning our work and ministry. We enjoyed camp fires and cup-o-noodles, I read 3 books, believe it or not, and have set some short term goals for my writing. All in all an inspiring weekend, my motivation is back!

Jalama Beach is in a pretty deserted area along the coast, so at night the stars are just spectacular! The sunsets were absolutely beautiful too. We were in awe, as the psalmist was:

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?
[Psalm 8:3-4]

May I ask, what do you do to get inspired and motivated again?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Surely, you will read this!

In an ever changing world full of uncertainties I would like to share some certainties from God's Word. I call 'm the surely's of the Bible and I absolutely LOVE to read and proclaim them.

The word surely can be found many times throughout the Bible. In the book of Psalms alone it is used at least 28 times. I checked the dictionary, it explains: Surely: used to emphasize the speaker's firm belief that what they are saying is true and often their surprise that there is any doubt of this. Surely is a word that expresses and underlines our faith in God's promises. The psalmists used it all the time. Let me share some of my favorites to encourage you in this coming week:
  • Surely, O Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield (Psalm 5:12). I love this one, the writer proclaims and acknowledges God's favor in his life. What are we waiting for, let's do the same!
  • Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever (Psalm 23:6). Despite circumstances, despite doubt and hurt, the writer proclaims God's goodness and love over his life. Whether we feel it or not, let's say these words in trust, thankfulness and expectation.
  • Surely God is my help, the Lord is the one who sustains me (Psalm 54:4). Don't forget to read the verses preceding David's statement here, he is in serious trouble. And yet, he is not afraid to proclaim God as the One who will come to his rescue. I am longing for that boldness, for that confidence, and I know it will grow in me as I proclaim these precious words.
  • Surely He will save you from the fowler's snare and from the deadly pestilence (Psalm 91:3). Whenever we need healing in our body or deliverance from the enemy, we can be assured that God is willing to come to our aid. Say it, read it, pray it!
The writers used the word surely to overcome their doubts and fears, an antidote against unbelief. I think we can learn from their proclamations. Please, if there is any reason to use one of God's surely's this week, don't hesitate to do so. It will make your faith grow!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Interview with Tracy Teppler

Over the past year I have interviewed a colorful variety of fellow bloggers. I have asked them about their drive, their dreams and their devotion to God.

A few months ago I started following Tracy Teppler's blog My Daily Walk in His Grace. Tracy is from South Africa and we e-mailed back and forth a few times in Afrikaans, a language quite close to my native Dutch language. Her blog is relatively young (even according to web standards) and already a real treasure in the Christian blogging world. Tracy's writing is direct, pure and often un-edited, as she calls it. I love it! I am so honored and pleased to introduce Tracy to you all, Please enjoy!

Please, introduce yourself… anything special we need to know about Tracy Teppler? 
I’m a daughter of the Most High God, wife , mother to 2 teenage daughters, and a friend. I live in Cape Town, South Africa and love it. At 42 I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up?!

How and when did you start your blog? 
I started blogging in March of this year. I was looking for Christian resources and Christian women's blogs. A friend and niece had blogs and I thought, “Why not me?” I got onto my PC and followed the prompts for starting a blog, and the rest has been an interesting journey to this point. 

What is your drive behind blogging? What do you hope to accomplish? 
At first it was a place to put down my feelings and write down what I discovered about myself and God through my quiet times. And then I started linking up (as I learnt how to do these things!) with other ladies and decided I needed to formulate why I was here and what I wanted to achieve with this blog as others would be seeing it. So I started asking myself those questions and came up with my “ My Blog Goals”. 
Over the years I have asked God what it is that is my gift, what is it that He would have me do, and I believe the answer to that question is that I encourage other women. Christian women, any women! And in blogging I have found the platform to do that and I am finding now, after 8 ½ months of blogging, old friends are seeing me in a new light and trusting me with their hearts and hurts and asking me to pray with and for them. My new bloggy friends also seem to feel comfortable with opening up to me. I am so humbled and I feel I am where God wants me to be right now. What do I hope to accomplish? 
Encourage others, Point people to God, Give Him ALL the glory. Open lines of communication up with like-minded people and be available for those who hurt. 

Your writings are fresh and honest, do you have any aspirations to publish a book or story? 
Over the years the thought has come to mind every now and then to “write a book” but I don’t have the imagination to write a ‘novel.’ I remember an English teacher once telling us the best way to write is from experience and my life in general has been fairly normal so no huge experiences to draw from for a novel! About a month before I started blogging I started to type up some sort of daily devotional thinking that maybe, someday, I could put it all together and submit it as an annual devotional. 
Then I started blogging and my first blogs drew from that source. And then an amazing blogger/published author by the name of Marja asked me if I’d ever considered writing a book. I still can’t get the smile off my face. However, the cogs in the mind started turning and in answer to your question, Yes, I do have aspirations (NOW) to publish a book! One that brings glory to God! 

What role does your faith in God play in your daily life? 
It plays a major role. Not a day goes by where I don’t question my motives, question my actions and try to view them through how my faith should have me behave. Daily I fail, daily I acknowledge I am nothing without Christ. In the past I’d have a pity party and it’d take a while to swing out of it. These days I still go there, but I acknowledge it and start reading the word, turn up my praise music and thank God for everything I can think of (even if its just breathing in and out), and I can see my attitude changing and balance being restored. Yes, my faith plays a big part in my daily life. 

Top three on your ‘places-to-visit’ list… 
Hmmm, Israel, Victoria Falls (in Zimbabwe) - I was born in Rhodesia (now Zim) and Switzerland .

Who would you like to interview? Why? 
Honestly, I have no interest in any famous figures. I would love to interview people who have overcome difficulties because of Christ and despite what they have been through, the love of Christ just shines through. People like: Anne Frank, Corrie Ten Boom. Maybe Billy Graham - ask him how he has remained true where so many others have failed.

Do you have any authors or specific books that have been an inspiration to you? 
Helen Andelin - Fascinating Womanhood. Francine Rivers - Anything by her. Joyce Meyer.

Any words of encouragement to us bloggers? 
Keep on doing what you are doing. You are encouraging people who you don’t even know visit your blogs. My encouragement to other Christian bloggers is to always keep it about Christ and always keep it positive and honest. Sometimes, the pain or hurt you have been through draws someone else to Christ. And that is a most humbling thought to consider.

Thanks Tracy, for being so open with us. It was a joy to have you and I am glad our communication has inspired you to think big when it comes to writing a book!
Please, visit Tracy's blog My Daily Walk in His Grace and leave her an encouraging comment. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Keeping it simple

Everytime I face a difficult or tough situation, it seems I need more words to beg and plead my case with the Almighty. I find myself reasoning, debating and desperately trying to find an explanation or answer. Well, maybe that is just me...

But isn't it true that we sometimes feel we have to explain things to God? Our prayers get longer and more complicated, sometimes to the point where we don't remember what our initial question was! My former pastor and mentor in the faith always said 'keep it simple', and again and again that proves to be the right thing to do. The inspiration to develop an attitude like that comes straight from the Bible. 

As always, Jesus is my ultimate example in this. The other day I was reading in Luke 5:12-16 how He met with a guy who was covered with leprosy. Well, if you've ever been in India, you'll know what leprosy looks like and personally I have never seen anyone being healed from that disease. Now, this certain man asks Jesus to make him clean. If that isn't a tough situation, what is? However, Jesus keeps it simple and uses three words to explain divine healing: I am willing. 

Ouch, I wish I had come up with a theology like that! His answer is awesome! The actual prayer that follows His statement is even shorter, more simple... be clean! No discussion, no pleading, no crying, no begging. Just authority! 

We can learn so much from such a short story. It might really help to remember this encounter the next time you face something that seems impossible to overcome or conquer, it will help you to pray and speak in faith. I definitely want to try it, what about you?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Weird messages

Jesus had some weird messages.
One of Jesus’ boldest statements and commands can be captured in two words: ‘fear not’. His words almost sound like a cruel joke. Fear not? That’s like telling someone who is sinking not to drown.

One look at today’s headlines tells me there are many things to fear, such as wars, epidemics, terrorism, foreclosures, and cancer, just to name a few. Only a heart of stone would be untouched and unshaken by such scares. So, was Jesus mistaken or did He take things too lightly?

I don’t think so, His messages were sometimes weird, but always serious; don’t fear the things of the world, fear God! Put all of your energy there!
David prayed sincerely, 
Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.
(Psalm 86:11)

Let that be our prayer today!

Monday, November 07, 2011

Newspaper Faith

Most of my blog posts are inspired by Scripture. I read random books in the Bible, going back and forth between Old and New Testament and I always find something to write about. Recently I have been reading the books of James, Jeremiah, Nehemiah and last week I started with Romans.

How many times have I read the book of Romans? I lost track, but I am sure I have gone over every word, every sentence and every chapter with great care and hunger. I don't need proof that God's Word is alive, I know it! As soon as I started reading, a sentence in the first chapter jumped off the page: I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world (Romans 1:).

Wow! Just think about that for a second. Can you imagine that your faith, or the faith of your family, your church, your town or your country would be reported all over the world? Can you imagine that your faith would be the talk of the town, that reporters would write favorable articles about your faith? That newspaper headlines would tell of your faith... What kind of faith would that be? Well, according to the Bible size doesn't matter. It doesn't have to be big faith, it needs to be faith in action!

I like what Jesus said about it in Matthew 17:20 (TEV), I assure you that if you have faith as big as a mustard seed, you can say to this hill "Go from here to there!" and it will go. You could do anything! Notice that this translation says faith as BIG as a mustard seed, while others say 'as small as a mustard seed'. Jesus' perception of size is different than ours! He basically tells the disciples, and us today, what mustard seed faith is: something very small you can use in order to do something very big!

Faith won't grow by itself, we need to put it into action. Go ahead, use what He has given you!

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Knowledge is not enough

Have you ever asked yourself why God needs so many words to teach us right and wrong? After all, the Bible is a huge book and sometimes it just seems a bit too much. Is it possible to keep things simple? Love God, love people... that's the Bible for dummies, right?!

Deep down inside we all know the difference between good and evil, but as believers we sometimes struggle to balance between living by the letter and living by the Spirit. Sure, having knowledge of something is not enough to be acting likewise. Knowing that pizza is fattening doesn't keep us from eating it, does it? Knowing that smoking may cause cancer doesn't keep people from doing it. Just having knowledge is not enough, we need understanding! We need conviction in our hearts. Only the Holy Spirit can do this work in us. We need to yield and give Him the right of way.

According to the Bible we do indeed have knowledge of good and evil. In Genesis 3:22, after Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden fruit, God said, Now the man has become like one of us and has knowledge of what is good and what is bad. However, that knowledge wasn't sufficient, God decided to give humankind guidelines to live by. He wanted to enter our hearts, but also our heads.

In Hebrews 10:16 He says, I will put my Laws in their hearts and write them on their minds. Heart and mind, mind and heart! Once God's teachings are in both places, it becomes easier and easier to live a life that is pleasing to Him, a life that we can enjoy too. It is my desire that we will grasp this concept and that is one of the reasons why I write my books about God's law from a life with the Holy Spirit.

Heart and mind, they certainly can get along quite well!

Jesus said: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
[Matthew 22:37]