Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Scent of Fear Blog Tour

the scent of fear by susan j. reinhardt
Bloggers love writing and bloggers love books... well, most of us do! Susan Reinhardt sets the tone when it comes to writing a fabulous blog and she sets the pace when it comes to publishing books :) yes, she has done it again!

First came The Moses Conspiracy, now comes..... The Scent of Fear.
The Zimmermans enjoy the tenuous peace in the wake of their hair-raising year battling the New Patriots. Unexpected visitors once again throw them into turmoil.

Jim Kenneman, Director of National Security, masterminded the plan to break up a hate group ravaging the Christian community. Now, his enemies are out to eliminate him. Should he make a run for it or stick by his tried-and-true negotiating skills?

Monty Addison, a topnotch operative, carried out his assignment in Bird-in-Hand. A plot to destroy his boss sends him on a mission. Without agency sanction, it may cost him everything - his career, his family, and maybe his life.

Dr. Abby Weaver strives to save infants and toddlers in Holmes County, Ohio. When she meets two strangers, she can't get the tall, handsome one out of her mind. Will their paths intersect again or will dangerous times keep them apart?

The Scent of Fear is available at:
~~~Amazon~~~
susan j. reinhardt
About the Author
Susan J. Reinhardt's publishing credits include her debut novel, The Moses Conspiracy, as well as devotionals, short articles, and contributions to anthologies. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers.

A widow, daughter, stepmom, and active church member, Susan resides in Pennsylvania. When not writing, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading, couponing, gardening, and finding small treasures in antique shops.

You can connect with Susan at her Blog, on Twitter, and Facebook.

the scent of fear blog button
Blog Tour Schedule
December 16 ~Diane Estrella, www.dianeestrella.com
~Pamela Christian, http://pamelachristianministries.com/pamelas_blog
December 17
~Sandie Czosek, http://chattycrone.blogspot.com/
~Linda O'Connell, http://lindaoconnell.blogspot.com/
December 18
~Lynn Mosher, http://lynnmosher.com/
~Jill Ivy, https://lucky4jill.wordpress.com/
December 19
~Debbie Curto, http://debbieloseanything.blogspot.com
~Cecelia Lester, http://quietspirit-followingmyking.blogspot.com/
December 20
~Cecelia Lester, http://quietspirit-followingmyking.blogspot.com/
~Lee Privette, http://faithfamilyfrugalityandme.blogspot.com/?m=1
December 21
~Patti Smith, http://gridirongrannyfootballfanatic.blogspot.com/
~Carene Havel, https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6440085.Carlene_Havel/blog
December 22
~Darlene Arroyo-Lozada, http://lovebookslozada.blogspot.com/
December 23
~Maria I. Morgan, www.mariaimorgan.com
~Beckie Stoneking, www.inaminute-beckie.blogspot.com
December 26
~Leah's Good Reads, http://leahsgoodreads.blogspot.com/
~Marja Verschoor-Meijers, http://sacredsabbath.blogspot.com
December 27
~Jennifer Van Huss, http://oneheartonefamily.com
~Brittany McEuen, www.brittreadsfiction.wordpress.com
December 28
~Debbie Curto, http://debbieloseanything.blogspot.com
~Lori Drake, http://www.perfectisboring.blogspot.com
December 29
~Kim Justice, http://breathoflifebookreviews.blogspot.com/
~K. Dawn Byrd, Www.kdawnbyrd.blogspot.com
December 30
~Ruth Schiffmann, http://outonalimbshywritergoessocial.blogspot.com/
~Janette Dolores, www.janettedolores.com
December 31
~Cindi Clubbs, http://ccclubbs.com/
~Kathleen Maher, http://kathleenlmaher.blogspot.com/
January 2
~Jen Cudmore, http://www.jencudmore.com/
~Karen Lange, http://karenelange.blogspot.com/
January 7
~Jeanette Levellie, http://jeanettelevellie.blogspot.com/
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Giveaway Open to US addresses only. One person will receive a $25 Amazon GC and a copy of The Scent of Fear. Please use the Rafflecopter below to be entered: a Rafflecopter giveaway The winner will be chosen from those entries and announced January 17, 2014. Good luck!
Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code. Winning entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter and announced here as well as e-mailed, and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Diane at That’s What I’m Here For… and sponsored by the author, Susan J. Reinhardt. The author provided me with a free copy of The Scent of Fear to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose. Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a giveaway in return for the free book.VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Trees can talk

Well, yeah... it's the month of December. That calls for rummaging through old notebooks and journals... just for remembrance sake. It also calls for short blog posts, because no one has time to read them.

I just LOVE going through old spiritual journals. Reading the old entries takes me back to the excitement of being a new believer. It takes me back to discovering truth and reading the Bible with eyes open for the first time. The other day I was going through some of my musings and found something that, I believe, is worth sharing...

The few lines I wrote down that day capture the essence of fresh faith: being surprised and excited about everything that can be learned from His Word! And that excitement captures the birth of this weblog Fresh Insights on Ancient Truths as well.
March 7, 2005
"Lord, what do I know about you? What do I really understand about everything You created? According to your Word stones can listen (Joshua 24:27) and trees can talk (Judges 9:9). That goes against everything I know to be the truth. Just because I never heard a tree (or a donkey for that matter) speak, doesn't mean it is impossible. Everything is possible with God!"
Just being curious:
Do you use this month to look back on the past year, and do you ever go through old journals?

Friday, December 13, 2013

Devout

'The book of Acts is about the actions of the apostles, not about their intentions', I heard someone say. That is a good reason for Christians to read that book regularly. It shows how believers under the New Covenant can and should live.

Besides it being a practical book, it is also a book full of colorful characters. The other day I was reading about this Italian guy Cornelius (who invited Jewish Peter for a not-so-kosher meal at his house). The Bible says about him: He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly (Acts 10:2).

Well, there you have it again; a sentence, a single verse that really makes me think. Cornelius was a devout man. What exactly is a devout man? I am asking myself. Being devout has often kind of a negative religious sound. Devout people are fanatic, hypocrite or narrow minded... But what does the Bible say about being devout? Cornelius and all his family were God-fearing, he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly.

Looking back at one of my previous posts I noticed that the fear of God is a condition for church growth. Fear of God is also an attribute of devout people. God-fearing is being translated in this verse as being a person of: 
  • generosity and
  • prayer
A devout (God-fearing) person prays much and opens his/her wallet with joy to give GENEROUSLY to those in need. I think this is truly something we have to learn as believers! Recently we asked everyone in our church this question: Make a rough inventory of your expenses (apart from home payments and food). Think about: memberships, magazines, clothes, gadgets, snacks, vacation etc. How does this stand in relationship to your investments in God's Kingdom?

Well, needless to say that it brought about much discussion and comments :) But believe me, it is a great exercise to find out where our heart really lies.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Inexpensive yet valuable Christmas presents

Yeah, I have decided to do it this December month. I have been asking myself whether 'doing it' would be considered spamming... but I have to come to the conclusion that promoting my own books falls in the following category recommendations and tips :)

And why not? The books have been and still are a blessing to readers worldwide. The award winning book Grace of Giving has been translated in German and Italian and is currently being translated in the Spanish and Macedonian language. I am thrilled to see this book going all over Europe, changing lives of believers, especially during this time of economic uncertainty. I am thrilled that pastors, leaders, missionaries and churches all over Europe are embracing the principles in the book. But, I wrote it first of all for the American public...

So, if you are looking for an inexpensive, yet valuable Christmas present for your loved ones... Please consider ordering one of my books. They're easy to read, but loaded with nuggets of truth and wisdom. They can be ordered from most internet book sellers for less than 10 bucks. I am looking forward to hear which one you all liked most!

Order now in time for Christmas!

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Church growth

Last month we were in Israel, for the umpteenth time :) It has been more than thirty years ago that we first set foot in that country. And yet, each time we go again we discover new places; villages, beaches, forests, parks and excavations that we skipped during previous visits.

This is so much like my travels through God's Word. I am currently reading, for the umpteenth time, through the book of Acts... and yet, I discover news things again. In chapter nine, verse 31 I read the following: Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.

We have come to believe that the church grows best during times of persecution and crisis. This is a principle of all times and places. But here it clearly says that the church grew during a time of peace. So, that is a possibility we should not ignore. It seems to me a great encouragement for the church in the Western world. We do not have to wait for persecution in order to grow.

I have been reading many articles recently about a general decline in church membership. But something has to be wrong in the way we think. From a biblical point of view the number of believers can grow in a country where there is freedom of religion and peace. According to the above scripture there are only two conditions:
  • living in fear of the Lord, and
  • encouragement by the Holy Spirit
The NKJV says in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied. Well, that is surely good news for all churches decreasing in  numbers. Let's put aside our plans, ideas and strategies and designate a few (Sun)days for all members to fall on their knees and to cry out to the Holy Spirit to do His work.

I would love to hear good reports.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

A resting place

Resting place at Apollonia National Park, Israel
In The Netherlands we are very spoiled with vacation days and vacation time. Depending on the financial situation people choose to stay home, to travel in The Netherlands or to other countries in or outside of Europe. Adventure can be found everywhere, whether we choose to go hiking in a provincial park or in the mighty Alps. Each country has it's charm and points of interest, if we would only open our eyes.

This is somewhat how I experience Bible reading. As I wrote in one of my previous blog posts, I am currently reading through the Book of Acts. Which means reading slow, stopping, thinking, making notes, asking questions, pondering... and reading again. Just think about the fact that we have 66 Bible books to visit... each with it's own charm and special points of interest. Sometimes a single word or sentence jumps off the page and catches my eye as it has never done before. In any case, if you are reading along, please make sure to read the context or chapter that holds the words I am highlighting.

In chapter 7 I came across the following words (verse 48 and 49), However, the Most High does not live in houses made by human hands. As the prophet says: Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me? says the Lord. Or where will my resting place be? What a fascinating question from God to us... 'where will my resting place be?' God is looking for a resting place, not built by human hands, but created by Himself.

In general we are looking for a resting place by God, in His presence. But has it ever occurred to you that God desires to find a resting place in or with us? A place (our body = His temple) where He can feel at home, where He is welcome and where He enjoys talking with us?

Monday, November 04, 2013

Homeschool Co-ops 101 Book Tour

Yep! Things are on the move in blogging land... this time fellow blogger Karen Lange has penned a great and helpful book and I am happy to join her efforts to get the word out!

homeschool co-ops 101
Essential co-op tools, tips, and options for today’s homeschool families
Thinking about joining or starting a homeschool co-op? Not sure if a co-op is a good fit? Homeschool Co-ops 101 weighs the pros, cons, and creative options available for today’s homeschool family.
  • Section 1 includes essential, digestible info on co-op ingredients such as planning and organization, schedules, teaching, finances, and addressing conflict and burnout.
  • Section 2 shares a sampling of co-op games and activities, and
  • Section 3 contains five hands-on unit studies. These ready to use studies include lessons on Leonardo da Vinci, Birds of Prey, Public Speaking, Tall Tales, and Creative Writing, and are suitable for co-op or home use. This section also includes unit study guidelines that are easily customized to suit any topic.
  • Section 4 offers suggested books, curriculum, and other resources.
karen langeKaren Lange has gathered insight from years of co-oping and now shares her own and others’ experiences in this valuable and encouraging handbook.

Homeschool Co-ops 101 is available at:
~~~Amazon~~~
~~~Kobo~~~

About the Author Karen Lange (click HERE for the interview I did with her in 2012), her husband, and three children were active in co-ops during their sixteen-year homeschool journey. Her experience includes serving as a local homeschool support group coordinator and consultant for a state homeschool network in New Jersey. Karen’s children have since graduated, and she is now a freelance writer and online writing instructor for homeschooled teens. You can connect with Karen at her Blog, on Twitter, and Facebook. 

Blog Tour Schedule
November 4 ~Ruth Schiffman, http://outonalimbshywritergoessocial.blogspot.com/ ~Robyn Campbell, http://robyn-campbell.blogspot.com/
November 5 ~Carol Alexander, http://lessonsfromthehomestead.com/blog/
~Diane Estrella, www.dianeestrella.com
November 6 ~Gena Mayo, ichoosejoy.org
~Marja Meijers, http://sacredsabbath.blogspot.com/
November 7 ~Sandie Crozek, http://chattycrone.blogspot.com/
~Melissa Brander, http://mkbrander.com/
~Cecelia Lester, http://quietspirit-followingmyking.blogspot.com/
November 8 ~Susan Reinhardt, http://www.susanjreinhardt.com/
~Cecelia Lester, http://quietspirit-followingmyking.blogspot.com/
November 10
~Laura V. Hilton, http://lighthouse-academy.blogspot.com/
~Melissa & Tiffany, http://www.homegrownfamilies.net
~Janette Dolores, http://janettedolores.blogspot.com
November 11 ~Susan Sundwall, www.sundwallsays.blogspot.com
~Michelle Isenhoff, http://www.michelleisenhoff.com/wp
November 12 ~Carol Alexander, http://lessonsfromthehomestead.com/blog/
~Jeanette Levellie, http://www.jeanettelevellie.com/
November 13 ~Susanne Dietze, http://susannedietze.blogspot.com/ ~Sherryl Wilson, simplysherryl.com
~Anne Payne, duhpaynes.blogspot.com
November 14 ~Rhonda Schrock, http://www.rhondaschrock.com/rhondas_blog/ ~Abi Buening, http://myheartbelongs2books.blogspot.com/
~Amber Schamel, http://www.amberschamel.com/history-blog.html
~Renee, motherdaughterbookreviews.com
November 15 ~Crystal King, http://asimpleheartforhome.blogspot.com/ ~Barb Winters, inthemidstof.wordpress.com/
~Tyrean Martinson, http://tyreanswritingspot.blogspot.com/
November 16
~Julie, soaringeagle8.blogspot.com
~Sarah, myjoyfilledlife.com
November 17 ~Amada Chavez, ascphotosanddesigns.blogspot.com
~Cindi Clubbs, http://ccclubbs.com/
~Rebecca Boerner, http://ohiohomeschool.blogspot.com/
November 18
~Carlene Havel, https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6440085.Carlene_Havel/blog
~Cindy Loven, http://cindylovenreviews.blogspot.com
November 19
~Karen Loethen, http://taytayhser.blogspot.com.au/
~Amy Smith, myseasonsofopportunities.blogspot.com/
November 20
~Darlene Arroyo-Lozada, http://lovebookslozada.blogspot.com/
November 22
~Sarah Bailey, http://growingforchrist.wordpress.com
~Thumb Updown, http://momsthumb.blogspot.com/
December 2
~Jennifer Shirk, http://jennifershirk.blogspot.com/
~Ticia M., http://adventuresinmommydom.org/
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 The Giveaway Open to US addresses only. One person will receive a $25 Amazon GC and a copy of Homeschool Co-ops 101. Please use the Rafflecopter below to be entered: a Rafflecopter giveaway The winner will be chosen from those entries and announced December 5, 2013. Good luck!
Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code. Winning entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter and announced here as well as e-mailed, and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Diane at That’s What I’m Here For… and sponsored by the author, Karen Lange. The author provided me with a free copy of Homeschool Co-ops 101 to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose. Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a giveaway in return for the free book.VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Those who had been scattered...

'Read your Bible, pray every day, pray every day... and you'll grow, grow grow.' Remember that song? I used to sing that as a child, not realizing the words were/are very prophetic. The song is a payer, a proclamation: read your Bible and GROW!

Currently I am walking through the Book of Acts and I am taking my time to do so. It is not about reading a Bible book as fast as I can, but for me it is all about stopping and thinking about the scriptures I am reading. That way, traveling through the Bible becomes a real adventure. In the coming weeks I will share some of my thoughts on this blog, just for meditation purposes. I have done so before, when I took you all on a journey through the gospel of Luke. The blog posts I wrote then, were short and powerful. I hope you will find inspiration again.

This morning I was reading in the 8th chapter of Acts. It describes how persecution began against the first Christians, On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison.

That is bad news, for sure. Just imagine that they would come to your house and dragged you off to put you in prison. Such a horrible thought. Yet, it still happens every day in many nations around the world.

Verse 4 of the same chapter tells us how those first believers reacted to this situation, Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. Wow! The believers were being scattered throughout the land. Did they give up all hope? Did they complain about their circumstances? Did they feel sorry for themselves? NO! They made good use of the situation, they preached the good news wherever they went. They used their negative situation in a positive way. We can surely learn a good lesson from these first believers.

The question I am asking myself and you, as reader, is: how do we react to negative circumstances? Are we able to use them in a positive way?

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Happiest church

At the moment I am reading an interesting and inspirational book. It is called Faith under Fire, written by Andrew White (the vicar of Baghdad).

Apart from my own books and books by fellow bloggers, I hardly ever recommend or review books on this blog (simply because by doing so, people will try to put me in a box). But books about the world wide (persecuted) church really have a place in my heart. They ALWAYS teach me important life lessons. At some point Andrew White writes:

"Despite the fact that St. George's is constantly under fire, it is the happiest church I have ever served in..."

That one sentence jumped off the page and I thought: wow... It puts things in perspective, doesn't it?

Father, forgive us for being spoiled...

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

GIVE yourselves to God (4)

Oh well, so many articles, thoughts and debates about Christianity, Somehow we find it difficult to make our inner convictions visible. Church attendance, theology, gifts, functions, servant hood and other outer works are being submitted to thorough research again and again. We will, however, always end up at the cross at Calvary. That is where Jesus gave Himself in total surrender. He laid down His life in order to give life to all mankind.

Surrender. What a beautiful and difficult word, it is the foundation of the Christian faith. Surrendering ourselves, everything we have learned, everything we possess and everything we did wrong. Surrender is the dawn of a new beginning. God desires total surrender from every human being. Not because He wants to control us, but because He desires to heal and renew each aspect of our lives and to use it for His work here on earth. Offer yourselves to God, Paul says. That is giving our whole being as an instrument of righteousness. According to the Bible our whole being is spirit, soul, and body (1 Thessalonians 5:23).

The scripture I am using as a basis for this series can be found in Romans 6:12-14, Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.

In the previous blog posts we have seen that our spirit is born again (a new creation) and our soul is being saved (preserved). So, what is the deal with our body? The Bible says that our earthly body is mortal (see Romans 6:12 for example) and will therefore perish. Many churches regard the body (also called the flesh) as sinful and therefore most sermons will rather be about spiritual things than about physical things. Sermons about the body are not so popular. But the Bible speaks about it often and always in a very clear and simple way!

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship (Romans 12:1). We need to offer (give) our body to God as a LIVING sacrifice. That sounds a bit theatrical, but it simply means we have to make our bodies available for His service.... to do stuff! To use our hands and to move our feet, maybe even to go to places where no one wants to go.

The Bible warns against wrong use of the body (sexual immorality, gluttony etc.). In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 we can read the following, Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

Honor God with your bodies. What a strange command, how do we do such a thing in our daily lives? We have often learned that we should not give too much attention to the flesh. But... the human body is a temple wherein the Holy Spirit desires to live. We have to keep that temple clean. Let's be honest, if we do not feel at home in our own body, why would the Holy Spirit feel at home? Let's make sure we have a clean house! Give your addictions, cravings, bad habits, pains and frustrations to Him and ask the Lord to do a work of renewal.

Together we are the body of Christ on earth. If we do not do what He did when He walked around on this earth, how can His name be glorified?

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

GIVE yourselves to God (3)

"I surrender all..."Yes, we do sing that from time to time. Surrendering all, giving it all to Him. What does that really mean?

The scripture I am using as a basis for this series can be found in Romans 6:12-14, Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.

Offering ourselves, giving ourselves to God, means surrendering our whole being to Him. According to the Bible that is spirit, soul and body (1 Thessalonians 5:23). Sadly enough there are many Christians who struggle desperately with spiritual, emotional and physical problems (and sometimes all three). A struggle that takes up most of our time and attention, so we never get to the point where we can offer ourselves to be used as instruments in His service. But this does not have to be so, it can change! Take courage, keep reading. 

In part 2 of this series we discovered that the most important moment in a person's life is when we surrender our spirit to God (when we believe in Jesus Christ). God's Spirit comes to live in us and revives our spirit, we become a new creation. In this post we will take a closer look at our soul. How do we give our soul to God? 

According to the Bible our spirit can be renewed (born again), but our soul gets saved. We call that salvation. In Peter 1:8-9 it says that the salvation of our souls is the end result of our faith, Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Our soul does not perish, on the contrary: it gets saved. This means that, despite the fact that we become a new creation through rebirth, we keep our same old soul. The soul with all it's pains and hurts, disappointments and struggles. I do not have enough space on this blog to write extensively about the human soul (see chapter 8 of my book Grace of Giving), but for one thing the human soul consists of our emotions.

We do not receive a new and clean soul... Sometimes people say: repent and turn your life to Jesus, all your worries will be gone. This is a little bit too simple. YES! In Him it is possible to be free from all our burdens (sin, shame, guilt, sickness, pain and worries), but that does not happen automatically. It is very important that we also accept Jesus Christ as the one who has access to our soul, so He can work on it. He wants to be the shepherd and overseer according to 1 Peter 2:25, For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

GIVE your soul to Him so He can do the necessary work. He will guide and direct, heal an deliver, feed and protect your soul. Expose your secrets and tell Him: Lord, this is my inner struggle, I need your help. Please be the shepherd of my soul. The healing and cleansing of our soul is a life long process (because we keep experiencing stuff) and not always easy. But it will surely set us free!

PS: if this series helps you, forward it to a friend!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Give yourselves to God (2)

When listening to the words of some Christian songs and hymns we sing, one would think we pretty much understand what it means to give it all to God. 'I surrender all', we sing enthusiastically. But is it truly so easy, so simple to give it all? To surrender all and offer ourselves to God? Giving ourselves to God ... a great subject for a blog series.

The scripture I am using as a basis for this series can be found in Romans 6:12-14, Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.

Offer ourselves, giving ourselves to God, means surrendering our whole being to Him. According to the Bible that is spirit, soul and body (1 Thessalonians 5:23). Let us take a closer look at the human spirit. The Bible talks about the Spirit (with a capital S) and the spirit (with a regular s). The Spirit with a capital S is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God. The spirit with a small s is the human spirit (unless the Bible specifically talks about bad or unclean spirits). A wonderful example of communication between God's Spirit and our spirit can be found in Romans 8:16 (GNT), God's Spirit joins himself to our spirits to declare that we are God's children.

God's Spirit testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Do you experience this in your daily life? Basically, this is a simple description of our rebirth, the second birth. God's Spirit melting together with our spirit, becoming a new creation. Anyone who is joined to Christ is a new being; the old is gone, the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17). Jesus says, without using difficult words, in John 3:7 I tell you that you must all be born again. One time of human parents, one time of the Spirit (see also 1 Peter 1:23 and 1 Corinthians 6:17, But he who joins himself to the Lord becomes spiritually one with him).

This is the most important moment of surrender in the life of a human being on earth: laying our life down, letting go, giving it back to God and receiving the Holy Spirit. In Ephesians 1:13 is written that the Holy Spirit comes and lives with us when we believe that Jesus Christ came to save this world, And you also became God's people when you heard the true message, the Good News that brought you salvation. You believed in Christ, and God put his stamp of ownership on you by giving you the Holy Spirit he had promised.

We often want to keep our life, our way of thinking and acting. We want to do our own thing. But whoever wants to keep his/her life, will loose it. Our human spirit (life, breath) is dead for communication with God (result of sin) until His Spirit comes and lives in us (result of repentance) and begins to enlighten us (result of grace). Relationship restored as God intended it. We can not experience this by becoming members of a church, by singing the right songs, getting a master's degree in theology or by growing up in a Christian family. It becomes possible when the Holy Spirit makes His home in us, which the Bible calls 'being born again'. Romans 8:9 says, But you do not live as your human nature tells you to; instead, you live as the Spirit tells you to—if, in fact, God's Spirit lives in you. Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.

Do you truly want to belong to Christ and no longer be a name-Christian? Lay down your life, give it all up, admit that you are a sinner and in need of God... and ask Him for the Holy Spirit.... How much more, then, will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him! (Luke 11:13)

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Give yourselves to God (1)

Oh well, I am pretty much off track when it comes to blogging... Excuse me for not reading any of your blogs, but believe it or not, I have been digitally disconnected for the last few weeks, and it was wonderful :)

We just returned from a short mission trip to Italy. With our non-profit organisation Traveling Light we went with seven volunteers and worked at a rehabilitation center in the hills of Tuscany. Before that, we were in the Ukraine for a week. Many wonderful things happened there as well.

It was refreshing to live without internet and phone for a while, but currently I am trying to put order in the chaos of emails, blogs  and FB notices.

The theme we picked for the work week was Giving it All. Giving all, surrendering really, to God. What does that mean? How do we make such a thing practical? After the long and hard working days (the guys chopped and cut an enormous quantity of firewood) we would spend the evenings on the lovely terrace overlooking the hills, and do Bible study on this subject. I will share some of it on the coming blog posts and I really hope you'll enjoy it!

The scripture we used throughout the week can be found in Romans 6:12-14, Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.

Some translations say 'give yourselves to God'. Giving, offering, presenting ourselves to God to be used for righteous purposes. How do we do such a thing? Giving ourselves to God means giving our whole being. According to the Bible that is spirit, soul and body (1 Thessalonians 5:23). In the upcoming blog posts I will write about:
  • giving our spirit
  • giving our soul
  • giving our body, and also
  • giving our time, talents and money
I sincerely hope you want to join me in this series, which will bless and enrich you!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Why is it so important to have perseverance?

If I asked you to mention the one thing that brings pure joy in your life, what would you answer? Playing with the dog? Having the grand kids over? Winning the lottery? A walk on the beach? It wouldn't surprise me if each of you came up with a different answer. Of course there are no right or wrong answers here. There is however a surprising biblical answer.

Consider it pure joy, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance (James 1:2-3). Calling the testing of our faith pure joy is kind of weird, I mean... I would never come up with that. But the Bible says that's the way we should look at the trials in our life. Well, let me put it this way, the trials are not necessarily pure joy, but the testing of our faith is, because it develops perseverance.

Why is it so important to have perseverance? Listen to what the next verse says, Perseverance must finish it work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. Now we're talking! I love this verse because it tells me that the development of perseverance in my life must finish its work; in other words, there is an end to every test of faith, thank God! And then there is the answer to my 'why do we need perseverance' question; so that:
  • you may be mature
  • and complete,
  • not lacking anything

When looking at that kind of end result, the testing of our faith should be pure joy indeed!

The maturity mentioned here is the Greek word teleios, which stands for: a right relationship with God that bears fruit in a sincere endeavor to love Him with all one's heart in undivided devotion, obedience and blamelessness.
The completeness mentioned here is further explained in James 2:22, faith and actions working together makes our faith complete!
Not lacking anything is a Biblical promise for believers, Psalm 34:9 says Fear the Lord, you His saints, for those who fear Him lack nothing!

The testing of our faith (sometimes through trial and error) is nothing more than the development of perseverance which will make us mature, complete, lacking nothing! Is that pure joy, or what?

Monday, August 12, 2013

Encourage 24/7

This week I am traveling, well digitally speaking... I am joining Tracy Teppler in her effort to encourage women all over the world, from her home base in South Africa. She does this with the help of a wide variety of bloggers. (Don't you just LOVE being part of the international blogging sphere?) I am honored to be this week's featured encourager at her Encourage 24/7 blog! If you've never been there, please stop by for a quick and powerful encouraging word. It might change your week.

By the way, you could be the next featured ENCOURAGER. Do you have a testimony? Do you have some good biblical advice? Do you want to encourage other women with what you have overcome? Looking for some extra exposure out there in the Christian blog world? Feel free to email your submission to:  247encourage@gmail.com

What are the requirements?:
  • God-centred post
  • Not too long
  • The point of the post is to be encouraging 
  • Submit a small bio with a picture of yourself so the readers can get to know you
  • Make sure an email address (for Tracy's eyes only) is submitted along with a link to your blog (if you have one).

Tracy's heart is to help other women restore the broken walls in their lives. She wants to involve women who love the Lord and have a heart for encouragement. If that's you... don't hesitate and join Encourage 24/7 today!

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Being free and staying free

Apart from working on the Dutch translation of Respectfully Yours (about honoring our parents) and the release of the Italian version of Grace of Giving, I am preparing a series of teachings on the theme freedom.

Within two weeks we will leave for a trip to the Ukraine on behalf of our non profit Traveling Light. We have been invited to speak at the annual Teen Challenge conference in Kiev on the theme Freedom in Christ, based on Galatians 5:1. This past winter I posted the series maintaining our freedom on this blog. In preparation of this upcoming conference I had to look up certain scriptures and I became aware (again) how important this message is.

It is painful to see how many Christians do NOT live in freedom. Many are being tormented by addictions, fear, worries, pain, sin and shame. Did Jesus' mission fail? He came to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and to set the oppressed free (Luke 4:18). Wouldn't His heart bleed when He sees how we have become slaves of our television, gossip, pornography, self indulgence, medication, drugs and alcohol. We can and may live in freedom in the USA, and we don't do it... How can non believers or people from different faiths see that we have a different way of life?

When you have time this summer, please read the series maintaining our freedom once again (scroll down to the first post). Reach out for the freedom Christ has promised and keep it!

So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed. That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus.
[Ephesians 4:17-21]

Saturday, August 03, 2013

The Galilee Experience

Visiting the Sea of Galilee, October 2012
Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.” (John 1:49)

Jesus is the King of Israel. King of the Jews was written on the cross. It seems almost a cynical joke that most people in Israel struggle to believe this. For us it is like this: if the Holy Spirit of that King lives in our heart, we inherit His love for Israel.

With our non profit organisation Traveling Light we support several initiatives in Isarel. Initiatives that are reaching out with the love of God to Jews as well as Arabs, Palestinians and Bedouins! In recent weeks I kept reading about the boycott of products from Israel and I wondered how I could give such news reports a positive twist. And yes, I came up with something :)

The son of one of our contacts in Israel works for The Galilee Experiece. The are located in Tiberias, right at the water's edge, with a huge store and theater. They have an extensive online shop with all kinds of products from Israel. Great if you want to give someone a special present, great if you want to spoil yourself a bit! Take a look around...

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Blogging buzz...

After a series like Law & grace, an uneven match? it is always kind of difficult to pick up the pace of blogging again. Besides that, it's summer time and many readers are enjoying some well deserved time away from the computer. However... especially for those who are still keeping an eye on the comings and goings in blogging land, I have selected some great news items. Here they come:

  • I am thrilled to announce that my book Grace of Giving will now be published in Italian (only a few months after the German version came out!). La Grazia Del Donare will be out September 1st and we are planning to make a trip to Italy to present it to several of our contacts. The paperback version will be out in Europe only. A Kindle edition will be available on Amazon soon, so if you happen to have Italian speaking family or friends.... surprise and bless them with this award winning book.
  • Fellow blogger Karen Lange's upcoming e-book Homeschool Co-ops 101 (published by Helping Hands Press) is scheduled for release on August 15. A blog tour is scheduled to run from August 15-30 coordinated by blogger Diane Estrella, so you can contact her if you want to participate, and help Karen getting the word out about her e-book.
  • Several writer conferences are being organized throughout the US. On the East coast the Spirit of Naples (SON), is hosting a conference for Christian writers, screenwriters and filmmakers who want to break into the mainstream media. It will take place October 3-7, 2013 in Naples, FL. On the West coast the Oregon Christian Writers Summer Coaching Conference will be held August 12–15, 2013, at Portland’s Jantzen Beach Red Lion Hotel. Known as one of the country’s best Christian writers’ conferences, it features top editors, agents and authors teaching 12 intensive morning coaching classes and 30 afternoon workshops, plus manuscript reviews, mentoring and one-on-one appointments with editors and agents.
  • In order to sharpen and improve my writing skills I enter writing contests from time to time. Often I'll give poetry a try... simply because that is not where my main talent is, but I like to stretch my writing muscles a bit :) Writers Digest has an excellent list of contests and competitions, check it out and do not hesitate to try something new. You might surprise yourself!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Law & grace, an uneven match? (6)

Thank you for your comments, emails and Twitter/FB shares concerning this subject. Today I would like to finish this series about Law & Grace with part 6. If you want to read it all again, you can do so by clicking on the Bible study tab above. In short:
  • Part 1: it is not law or grace, but law and grace
  • Part 2: it is no longer necessarily about keeping or obeying the law, but about fulfilling the law
  • Part 3: Treating others the way we want to be treated is the heart of the law and the prophets
  • Part 4: through grace we have received the righteousness of Jesus so we can do the works He did
  • Part 5: Love is the fulfullment of the law
As I mentioned before, Paul was a man who knew law AND grace as no other. He frequently taught on it. In Romans 6:10-14 He explains that sin should no longer reign in our lives (which results in being slaves) but grace (which results in being free)! Verse 14, For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. The law is no longer our master (but still exists of course). The law does not reign over us anymore, but grace reigns. We live under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, because the fruit of the Spirit is LOVE... and love is the fulfillment of the law (Romans 13:10).

Living under grace is more than just the end of our old, sinful life, it is the beginning of a new, free life under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Living under (by, through) grace does not mean there is nothing more for us to do. On the contrary! Let's read what Paul writes to Timothy, (the Lord) who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began... we are called with a holy calling, to do good works. Not the works of the law, but the works of love: treating others the way we want to be treated. In everything we do, we can ask ourselves this question: How do I want to be treated? With love, respect, humor, care, generosity, goodness, kindness, patience? So, this is exactly how to treat others.

Well, I can probably write a few more months on this subject, but the Word of God explains it better than I can. I would like to end this series with Romans 8:3-4 (I am quoting the Good News Translation for clarity), What the Law could not do, because human nature was weak, God did. He condemned sin in human nature by sending his own Son, who came with a nature like our sinful nature, to do away with sin. God did this so that the righteous demands of the Law might be fully satisfied in us who live according to the Spirit, and not according to human nature.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

To the King alone....

Just want to bless you all with this golden oldie.... LOVE this song!
So, put on your head phones and sing :)


Matthew Ward - To the King alone...
Happy Weekend

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Law & grace, an uneven match? (5)

Let's pick up where we stopped a week or so ago...

Treating others the way you want to be treated sums up the Law and the prophets, according to Jesus (Matthew 7:12). Such a lifestyle is the heart of the Law and the Prophets. When we live and act like that, we continue the works Jesus did when He was on earth. The fulfilling of the Law was not a one time event, it takes place on a daily basis. Grace has not taken the place of the Law, grace makes it possible for us to fulfill the Law. The apostle Paul knew this quite well and he explained it quite well.

I believe that his long, and sometimes difficult, writings about law and grace are being condensed into one sentence in Romans 13:10 (NKJV), Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. Well, that is a quite clear statement, isn't it? If we say we are not able to, or have no reason to, fulfill the Law we are basically saying we are unable to love! Because LOVE is the fulfillment of the Law. Maybe you have never seen or heard it this way, but I would like to encourage you to ponder this thought and include it in your prayers.

Of course Paul clearly explains in Romans 3:21-31 that we can only be justified by grace through faith, not by works, not by keeping or obeying the Law. But that is not merely the end of a legalistic life, it is the beginning of a life lead by the Spirit. With the accepting and understanding of His grace we do not nullify the Law, we establish the Law. Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law (Romans 3:31).

So, we no longer use the Law to tell others what they can or cannot do (legalism), but we treat others the way we want to be treated (love). Our reference is not a written code, but the grace/love that has been poured out in our hearts. When we start living like this (following the leading of the Holy Spirit, whose fruit is LOVE) things will begin to change.

In the next blog post I will take a closer look at a few other statements from the apostle Paul.

Thank you for reading along, and please share these posts with someone who might need to hear this.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

30 days of prayer

This week I will interrupt the law & grace, an uneven match? series for the announcement of the 30 days of prayer for the Muslim world.

Today is the start of the Ramadan, the fasting period for millions of Muslims worldwide. That period is being used by Christians all over the world to specifically pray for Muslims. You can pray on a small scale (for your Muslim neighbor or co-worker for example) and on a much larger scale (for the situation in Egypt for example). Using a digital booklet (that you can get HERE) will help you to pray for different people, countries and issues every day. The emphasis is on freedom for the Islamic countries. Freedom of speech and freedom to choose whether you want to be Muslim or Christian.

There is huge unrest in the Islamic nations at the moment, and no one knows whether things will improve or get worse for the people. But we can pray for our fellow men (Muslims and Christians in those countries) to receive the peace that surpasses all understanding. The peace that only Jesus Christ / Yeshua ישוע / Yasu' al-Masih يسوع المسيح can give.

Currently I am reading the book Prayer - The real battle by Brother Andrew and Al Janssen, wow, what a great inspirational book. It will really help you to pray effectively for Muslims.

Please, act now and join us worldwide in praying and fasting for a world in need!

(Choose any form of fasting; you can fast from sugar, coffee, alcohol, television, meat... anything)

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Law & grace, an uneven match? (4)

Thank you all for reading along and thinking with me on this subject. It is so important to have a clear understanding of God's unending grace as it relates to His Law. It will help you to live in freedom within the boundaries of His rules. Freedom is not 'living without rules', that is anarchy (and if you want to read more on that subject, please check out the maintaining our freedom series I did on this blog last year).

[Picking up where we ended in the previous blog post...] Jesus did not come to abolish (wipe out) the Law, but to give full meaning to the Law, to fulfill the Law. He gives many examples to make clear how we should go from merely obeying, or keeping the law (living by the letter) to fulfilling the law (living by the Spirit). Our heart of stone (legalism) needs to be broken in order to receive a heart of flesh (lead by the Spirit). The Law will no longer be used to tell other people what to do or not to do, but as a foundation on how to treat others (as we want to be treated).

Personally I always thought that only Jesus Christ was able to fulfill the Law, since He was the only man without sin. But this is exactly where grace comes into the picture. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. Now, that is pure grace. Our sin in exchange for His righteousness. The same righteousness Jesus had when He walked the earth and taught His followers, is now ours. We have no excuse not to do what He did.

In light of that revelation it becomes easier to understand why Jesus said, Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father (John 14:12). I always struggled with this scripture, simply because I do not see it happening among believers and also because I thought works do not go well with grace... But now I understand why He adds (vs. 15) 'If you love Me, keep My commandments'... Summed up, that is: Treating others the way we want to be treated. According to Jesus, that commandment (the golden rule) is the heart of the Law and the Prophets. In other words, He is saying that living, or fulfilling the Law should be a daily thing for all believers. We can ONLY do so if we live, realizing and knowing for sure that His grace is sufficient for us.

My question for you is, do you have a heart of stone (maybe well intended legalism) or have you asked the Lord for a heart of flesh (that is being guided by the Holy Spirit)?

In the next post we will look at the apostle Paul's comments on fulfilling the law through grace...

Thank you for reading along, and please share these posts with someone who might need to hear this.