Saturday, March 22, 2014

Born again ABC (2)

The previous blog post ended with a question: why do we often talk and act so difficult, complicated or even vague when it comes to the need of being born again, especially within the church...? I honestly do not know the answer, if there is one. I am glad Jesus kept it simple and said: You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ (John 3:7). Do not be surprised! It is normal.

The Bible shows us that prior to these words Jesus spoke to Jewish scholar Nicodemus, He said: Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. Well, duuhhhh... that is kind of logical, right? You don't need to be a rocket scientist to understand that. Not exactly what we expect to hear in a discussion about important matters between the Son of God and a theologian. But you know what we can learn from His words? There is more than a natural or human birth, there is also a spiritual birth. Those are two different happenings.

Well, that makes life a bit less complicated, doesn't it? We enter this earth through natural birth, which was not our choice, but the choice of our parent(s). Then there is something like a spiritual birth. Do we have a choice in this or not? Read it in the next blog....

Monday, March 17, 2014

Born again ABC (1)

In our home group we are currently going through my book Frisse Kijk and these past weeks we discussed chapter ten: rebirth. We had interesting discussions about 'being born again', but at the same time I noticed that not everyone present was so sure about what the Bible says about the subject. I decided it would be useful to write down some basics in a new blog series. So, here we go....

In most churches there is not a lot of teaching on this subject. Maybe because in some denominations it is considered normal (give your heart to Jesus and you are born again) while in other denominations it is not part of the theology (we have inherited a Christian tradition). Yet, I believe every Christian should understand what it means to be born again (also called new birth or spiritual birth) and be able to explain it to someone else.

There are several places in the Bible where we can find scriptures about 'being born again', but the most famous and most used verses are written down in John, chapter 3. Jesus is speaking about the subject with Jewish scholar Nicodemus and tells him (verse 3): Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again. See the Kingdom of God... can you see it? Do you understand what that means? We cannot see (or understand/grasp) the Kingdom* (which Jesus spoke about very often) unless we are born again. Wow, that's pretty straight forward talk. It shows how important it is to be born again.

Jesus is talking about the opening of our spiritual eyes so we can SEE (understand) His Kingdom for what it is: not a place or a country, but a spiritual realm where righteousness, peace and joy reign, with power. Why do we often talk and act so difficult, complicated or even vague when it comes to the need of being born again, especially within the church...? In verse 7 of the same chapter Jesus says: You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ Do not be surprised! It is normal.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Author to author

Translating author Lynn Austin
Last Thursday night I had the honor and privilege to meet with author Lynn Austin. She came to The Netherlands to promote her first non-fiction title Pilgrimage.

In the weeks prior to her visit I slowly read her latest release and was pleasantly surprised. The book is filled with nuggets of wisdom and truth! Lynn writes with raw honesty about the desert period she went through in her own life. Pilgrimage is a very inspirational book. I can absolutely recommend it. Give it as an encouragement to a friend or family member who is going through a hard time!

It was such a fun evening. Lynn showed photo's from her trip to Israel and shared the spiritual lessons the journey through that dry land taught her. I was asked to translate her message; how cool is that?! Many people came to the event and enjoyed Lynn's message and book signing.

Our very own Dutch singer/songwriter Christian Verwoerd (click on his name to see a video clip from Israel) was present as well, and performed several songs. His music turned out to be just right for this evening.

PS: I just received word this week from two of my foreign translators. The German translation of Breath of Life and the Spanish translation of Grace of Giving are finished and ready to be edited!

I sincerely hope your week had some writing highlights as well!

Monday, March 03, 2014

Physical exercise and more...

Today I am reminded of a blog post I wrote several years back. I think it will be a good start of your Monday :)

"As I spend many hours working behind a desk, I enjoy a good work out. It takes me half an hour on my bicycle to get to work and when the weather permits it, I go for a power walk during lunch time. But nothing beats a spinning lesson at my local gym! The exercise strengthens and excites me and quite often I feel much better afterwards.

Reading through Isaiah I stumbled upon a verse that talks about biblical strength, In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength (Isaiah 30:15). Now, that's a total different story!

Although I am all for physical exercise and building up some muscles, I also realize that our real strength is not physical. It is not intellectual or mental either. The Bible teaches that our strength is in quietness and trust. I really had to think that over because it goes so much against the standard the world has set. Real strength cannot be measured according to the worldly standards. It cannot be found in exercise, education, status or importance. Real strength is in God and in godly attributes like quietness, trust and joy (Nehemiah 8:10).

It is with the psalmist that we can cry out to God: Strengthen me according to your word (Psalm 119:28)

When we can stay quiet during arguments or difficult times, when we can trust God (Read: when we do NOT worry) when all goes wrong, then... we are showing strength. The apostle Paul's prayer for the believers is this: I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being (Ephesians 3:16). What a great prayer! The Holy Spirit will strengthen us with power in our inner being."

Don't you just love it when Monday starts like this?!