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.