Monday, December 23, 2019

Light of the world (1)

'What shall I preach about, this Sunday', my husband asked. 'About the light of the world, I answered quickly. Such a beautiful topic during these dark days before Christmas. And so he did. And I decided to write a short blog series about it. Will you join me in contemplation?

We live in a world with a lot of darkness. War, violence, terrorism, pain, abuse, sadness, and loneliness, you name it. There is, of course, nothing new under the sun. About 700 years BC the prophet Isaiah wrote: The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned (Isaiah 9: 2).

A land of deep darkness, brrrr, recognize this?. The light was a promise, something to look forward to. The Bible frequently speaks about light in darkness. Quite logical if you ask me, because the Bible is the Word of God and God is light. In 1 John 1: 5 it says: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.

How does that light come our way? Into our world, our country, our cities and into our personal darkness? Well, God sent His Son Jesus to the earth, this event will be celebrated worldwide at Christmas time. Jesus said: I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness (John 12:46). Are you in the dark? Does it feel dark around you? Jesus wants to get you out of the dark! This, my friends, is not an empty promise.

I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. (John 8:12).

Monday, December 02, 2019

For she was a shepherd

Does it ever happen to you, reading a well-known story in the Bible and suddenly you notice something you never noticed before? It happens to me quite regularly...

Recently I read the story in Genesis 29, where Jacob is on his way to Haran to find a wife. When he comes to a well with his herd, he addresses a group of shepherds. In verse 9 it says: Jacob was still talking with them when Rachel arrived with her father's flock, for she was a shepherd.

Rachel was a shepherd? I did not know that. The best-known shepherd in the Bible is David (well, except for Jesus who is called the Good Shepherd). I wonder whether Rachel had a slingshot to shoot rocks with, just like David. I wonder whether she chased lions and bears, just like him. I wonder whether she played a musical instrument, just like David?

I am trying to imagine what kind of woman Rachel was. Probably not the kind of lady looking in the mirror all day. Rachel had a beautiful figure and a lovely face (verse 17). She probably owed her good figure to the many walks with the herd :)

I find it intriguing that the Bible specifically mentions that she was a shepherd. In Hebrew, the word shepherdess is the same as shepherd. Shepherds (and therefore also shepherdesses) play an important role in the Bible, as guardians of sheep and as overseers of a local church.

Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood (Acts 20:28).

I love it, these special women in the Bible!

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

The healthy soul (4)

"If our soul has been damaged (in the past), we need inner healing and restoration" I wrote in my previous blog. Soul pain finds its cause  in disappointment, rejection, abuse, manipulation, curses, etc. etc. Very often damages to our soul can be traced back to childhood years and experiences.

👉Soul pain does not get cured by itself nor does it disappear because we ignore it! Very often self-medication (alcohol, (prescription) drugs, behavioral adjustment, isolation etc.) is being used to suppress this invisible pain.

I have heard that our soul is like a sponge that absorbs all our experiences (good and bad). If we do not squeeze a wet sponge regularly, it will become heavy and it will smell bad; this also applies to our soul.

The importance of  soul cleansing is crucial. It may not solve all physical problems, but I am convinced it will solve most. Soul cleansing basically means bringing our deepest secrets out in the open, talking them over with someone and praying together for healing. Let's go back to the text in 3 John 1: 2 where it says:

Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.

Being healthy, just as (as well as, being similar to) our soul is doing well. Based on those words, I dare to say that a healthy soul is the foundation for good physical health and of course it starts with knowing for sure that we are safe in God's presence. The Psalmist describes it this way: Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him. (Psalm 62: 1).

We can try all the medicines and therapies that the world has to offer, but only in God will we truly find peace for our souls. From there, further healing can and will follow, although often step by step. And yes, that will bring us back to the invitation of the Lord Jesus: Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls...

Sunday, September 08, 2019

The healthy soul (3)

"Taking care of good physical health cannot be separated from taking care of a healthy soul," I wrote in my previous blog and I added that Jesus invites us to find peace for our souls with Him. However, that does not mean that trauma and damage will disappear with the click of a finger, it takes time.

I find it very interesting that Jesus is called the Overseer of our souls. In 1 Peter 2:25 we can read:

For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

The Greek word for overseer there is επισκοπος (episkopos) and it means "overseer, supervisor". So we could say that Jesus watches over our souls to make sure that everything goes well. It is only logical that we should discuss our soul issues with Him. The Holy Spirit is thereby a Helper and Counselor.

👉It can be good to discuss soul issues with another person as well. It will greatly help to pray together and ask the Holy Spirit to give wisdom and revelation about the root of the pain and then be quiet together and listen to His soft voice. God wants to go beyond  pain relief, He wants to heal.

If our soul has been damaged (in the past), we need inner healing and restoration. When that happens, physical healing often takes place as well. The Bible also shows us how we can take care of our souls on  daily basis:

  • Proverbs 2:10 For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.
  • Proverbs 3: 21-22 My child, don’t lose sight of common sense and discernment. Hang on to them, for they will refresh your soul.
  • Proverbs 13: 3 He that keepeth his mouth, keepeth his soul
  • Proverbs 16:24 Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

We can spend our lives trying all kinds of medicines, remedies and therapies to suppress or alleviate the pain, but nothing will really help if we don't discuss it with God. I am reminded of the words of Jesus in Mark 8:36, For what will it profit a person if he wins the whole world and suffers damage to his soul?

Thank God, damage can be repaired!

Monday, August 19, 2019

The healthy soul (2)

To what extent does our soul influence our physical health, you may wonder? The answer is: more than you think!

The numbers vary, but the majority (some statistics say more than 85%) of our physical problems are psychosomatic.

Psychosomatic means: a physical  condition caused or aggravated by a mental factor such as internal conflict or stress.  It often means that doctors cannot find a physical explanation for symptoms we might have. This is not a shocking discovery. It is something that can be found in the Bible. In 3 John 1: 2 it says:

Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.

Here, health is linked to the well-being of the soul. Quite a revelation, but also understandable when we consider what is going on in our soul. Secular writings interchangeably use spirit and soul, but Biblically speaking there is a clear difference (I wrote about this extensively in my book Grace of Giving).

The soul includes our emotions, our mind, our will, our memory and our imagination. Our soul stores things up, is sensitive, is easy to influence, can be damaged, but can also grow and flourish. Let me just mention a few scriptures as an example (read them in the context):
  • Joshua 23:14 ... and you know in all your hearts and in all your souls...
  • Psalm 35:9, ... and my soul shall be joyful in the LORD ...
  • Psalms 41:4, ... have mercy on me; heal my soul, for I have sinned against you.
  • Psalm 42:6 ... O my God, my soul is cast down within me?
And I can go on and on, you can search for 'soul' in the Bible. Taking care of good physical health cannot be separated from taking care of a healthy soul. That reminds me of the invitation Jesus gave:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls (Matthew 11: 28-29).

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

The healthy soul (1)

Vacation time here in The Netherlands is just around the corner. For some it will be the perfect time to take a blog break, for others the right time to write or read blogs.

I usually opt for publishing a series of short blogs that are easy reading, yet inspiring. For example the summer ABC series I published several years ago. Still very encouraging!

In the coming weeks I am planning to write about the wounded soul and healing. Where did I get that idea? Well, we have just returned from a visit to Ukraine where we have prayed with many people for deliverance, salvation and healing. And I discovered again that most of the physical pain has an emotional root.

How soul pain manifests, is different for everyone.  People can experience a lot of pain as a result of rejection, abandonment, feeling unseen, abuse, oppression, disappointment and discouragement and so on, and so on. All these things are like stabbing wounds in the soul that fester and infect and come to the surface, sometimes years later, in physical problems for which doctors cannot find a cause and thus no proper cure.

During our ministry time in Ukraine, we have again experienced how the Holy Spirit can point out precisely such issues (which we have hidden deep down inside) so that healing, restoration and deliverance becomes possible. I want to devote a few blogs on this particular topic.

I sincerely hope you will read along, comment and/or share with friends.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Womb story

The abortion debate has been flaring up again, more vicious than ever before if you ask me. Arguments for and against are coming from the democrats, the republicans, the churches, the pro-choice and pro-life organisations and so on and so on.

It is a shame that we all raise our voices over the ones that have no voice... yet. What if the child could speak from within the womb? What if the child had a message for us... from above?

In 2008 my book Breath of Life was published by Tate Publishing in Oklahoma, USA. A precious story about creation, as seen (and told) through the eyes of the unborn child. In 2011, a Dutch translation of the book was published in The Netherlands and later German and Italian editions followed.

The American publisher is no longer in business and right in the middle of a nasty court case on charges of money embezzlement (not necessarily an ideal situation for new and emerging authors). In the meantime my stock had been reduced to a minimum, so I decided to publish a revised paperback edition for my European audience and a $2.99 Kindle edition on Amazon. And you know what? It couldn't be more timely!

Simply, because the story in Breath of Life is timeless. I wrote this book in order to give the unborn child a voice. I wanted to give him a chance to tell his side of the story. Let's be quiet and listen to the pure wisdom of a child who is still very close to the Father's heart. Who knows, maybe we can learn something.

Don't miss out on this precious story. It might change the way you look at life.

Saturday, June 08, 2019

The Holy Spirit introduces Himself

Most of you may have heard about me and I suspect some of you have even read books about me and have thoroughly studied my actions. I am glad that you do not deny my existence and I am grateful for the special place that I have received in your life.

Strangely enough, the fact that I live in your house does not mean that you know me personally. For many people, I am unfortunately no more than a mystery guest. That saddens me because I want more. I want attention!

Simply, because it is the Father's plan that you and I develop a close relationship. Your pastor knows about this, because every week he sends you home with the blessing from 2 Corinthians 13:13, The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. By that fellowship (unity) He means the community or intimacy that should be between the two of us and other believers. Perhaps your reluctance to have this intimate relationship with me stems from the fact that we do not communicate so often.

It has come to my attention that many of you have a somewhat distorted image of who I am. In fact, I have even heard that some spread rumors of me being a mystery, rather vague and somewhat elusive. I have no idea where such ideas come from, but I do think that people have developed a certain opinion about my personality based on metaphors.

Yes, on comparisons that describe me as a fire, wind, a dove, or heavenly power. Those comparisons are certainly true, but that is not who I am. That is just what I can be compared with. Just as Jesus is not a vine, piece of bread or water well, those are comparisons that say something about who He really is.

Even though I was personally sent to the earth by Jesus Christ, when He sat down at the right hand of our Father, that was not my first trip. I was here from the very beginning. You can read in the Bible how my presence affected creation, how I empowered people to do extraordinary things, and how I was present at the conception of the Son of Man. All those stories about the past are powerful of course, but to be honest, my current position is crucial for today's church.

I know about your difficulties and struggles and I know sometimes you wonder where it will end up with all those empty pews and church buildings. But let me encourage you: if you don't stop or restrain me, you'll see great things happen.

I am the helper, comforter and teacher and would appreciate it if you would come to me with your questions. I will show you the way to the complete truth. I will convince you of sin and justice. I will dare to tell you things about the future and will always honor Jesus in everything I do. Moreover, I will bring back to you every word that Jesus has ever spoken, for that reason alone you should desire to get to know me better.

To be honest, I don't know if it is necessary to entice you even further, but I would still like to give you some gifts, spiritual gifts. Those gifts are freely available and it is my desire that they will visibly work in you, for the benefit of the common good of course.

You can reach me by calling me by one of my beautiful names. Yes, I have many names, just like the Father and the Son. Spirit of Truth, Spirit of Christ, Holy Spirit of Promise and Eternal Spirit to name but a few. Let's agree that you no longer call me mysterious, foggy, or vague. On the basis of mutual respect, I am happy to enter into a close friendship with you. Listen, I am calling you by name!

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Ever been stuck in Luke 6?

I have been there before and I am there again... Luke 6. How in the world does one get past such a chapter?

I do not want to leave, I want to linger just a little longer and savor the wisdom and the words of Jesus. This past week I have been reading the same words again ... and again each morning.

Love your enemies... yeah, right. We know that verse, we can quote it. But do we know how that verse (35) continues? 

Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting  to be repaid. Then your reward will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. 

Lend to our enemies without expecting to be repaid? I'm not sure how that works out in real life, but I do not know of anyone who ever did this.

He is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. Excuse me? God is kind to the wicked?

It feels like I have to push the reset button of my faith and start all over again, because the more I read the Bible, the more I realize I do know not anything :)
have you ever been there?

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

30 Days of prayer

This week marked the beginning of the Ramadan, the fasting period for millions of Muslims worldwide. That same period is being used by Christians all over the world to specifically pray for the Islamic world.

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 the Middle East or Africa for example).

Using a booklet (that you can get HERE) will help you to pray for different people, countries and issues every day. The emphasis is on freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

You know, watching the evening news in horror and reading/sharing all the bad things that are happening in our world is not going to change a thing. As a matter of fact, it will sow fear and hatred. Let us pray for our fellow men (Muslims, Jews and Christians) in countries where there is no peace or freedom to receive the peace that surpasses all understanding.

The peace that only Jesus Christ / Yeshua ישוע / Yasu' al-Masih يسوع المسيح can give.

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

Monday, April 29, 2019

And what is truth?

Signing the book 'Duch Pravdy' 
And what is truth? Pilate asked Jesus that question. The very Truth stood right in front of him, but he doubted. He was influenced by the crowd ... by people who didn't know the truth and were just repeating words of others without thinking.

And what is truth? I find it an intriguing question and I have used it as the foundation for my book Spirit of Truth that was published back in 2016. Two weeks ago that book was published in the Slovak language and we traveled to the beautiful city of Bratislava for the presentation. How exciting!

Preaching on Sunday morning
We were invited to speak about this theme during a youth evening at the Faith Baptist Church in Bratislava. Around forty(!) young people were present and we spoke about truth and twisted truth. Later that weekend I spoke on Sunday morning in that same church about the attack on truth nowadays, much like  it was attacked when Jesus stood before Pilate.

We also spoke at the Teen Challenge drug and alcohol rehabilitation home in Sered about the importance of knowing the truth and about the lies that keep people imprisoned for years. "You always remain a user," "you need drugs or alcohol," "you will never be anything." Lies the enemy whispers.

The truth is that Jesus wants to set people free, truly free! He said to Pilate: In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth (John 18:37). That is quite something.

And what about us, what is expected of us now that Jesus no longer walks the earth? We must also testify to the truth and for that reason we receive the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth. And that's what the book is all about!

Monday, April 08, 2019

Beauty-full thoughts

It is always a joy when one of our fellow bloggers comes out with a new book! When Jeanette Levellie asked me a while back whether I wanted to be part of her book launch team, I said yes... of course 😁

Jeanette has a good sense of humor and excellent writing skills and I really enjoy reading her blogs. About two years ago I interviewed her for my series Bloggers@work

Last week her new book Hello, Beautiful! was released and I had the privilege of receiving an advanced reader copy (lucky me). I found myself immediately glued to the pages. Hello Beautiful is a joint effort of Jeanette and her friend Beth Gormong and it is an interactive devotional journal for women.

Apart from the theme (finally love yourself just as you are)  the set-up of the devotional is worth mentioning, 👉it has everything I love about a devotional:
Beth and Jeanette
  • short stories that I can (mostly) relate to
  • a question to ponder, which helps me as a reader to make it personal
  • a quote to remember (who doesn't love quotes?!) and...
  • room to write down your thoughts (or those of the Holy Spirit for that matter)
I found the devotionals very encouraging and uplifting, easy to read yet very inspirational. Some of my favorite chapters are courage through failure (16) and encourage me, please! (29).

I believe the theme (self acceptance) is a hot topic among believers and non-believers alike. We cannot give heed to God's calling to love others, as we love ourselves, if we have a problem with who we are or how we look. Low self esteem, negative self image and doubts about identity are issues many, many girls and women struggle with today. I believe Hello, Beautiful! can help to set things straight!

You can read more about her new book on Jen's weblog.
You can order the paperback and e-book on Amazon.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Words travel far

I have always been intrigued by the words in Isaiah 55:11 (maybe because I am more of a 'word' than a 'visual' person.

The words God speaks are being compared with the rain and snow that come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry.

And then it says:

It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.

Words travel and produce fruit. I want it to be like that with my own words, whether spoken or written down in a book or blog. ➽➽ It is amazing to think about the places where our words can travel and I would certainly like to encourage you all to keep on writing good stuff!

I am thrilled to announce that a Slovak edition of my book 'Spirit of Truth' is coming out April 8th. My husband and I will be traveling to Bratislava (that is the beautiful capital of Slovakia) for the book presentation. We will speak at different venues and do a book signing. I am so looking forward to this trip and to share what God has put on my heart.

I never thought my books would be available in Slovakia, but God made a way. It is my prayer that the words we write (as bloggers and authors) will travel... and produce fruit... and accomplish all we want it to... and prosper wherever we send them.

The English e-book edition of Spirit of Truth is available on amazon.

Saturday, March 09, 2019

God, a mystery revealed (7)

'Jesus came to earth and lived among the people. He brought that mysterious, great and awesome God right in their midst.' I wrote in my previous blog. He not only brought God close, He also made reconciliation (restored relationship) possible.

We have arrived at Colossians 1 verse 20:

Through the Son, then, God decided to bring the whole universe back to himself. God made peace through his Son's blood on the cross and so brought back to himself all things, both on earth and in heaven.

It took me almost forty years of my life to understand what this means and I seriously wonder if I can fully understand it now. Everyone can have a healthy, good, lively relationship with God, the Creator of the entire universe. Sin, guilt and shame are no barrier for God. Jesus opened up the way and revealed God's heart to us.

I could write many more blogs about these (and other) wonderful truths in the letter to the Colossians, but the purpose of this series was to make God (who is often called a mystery) known. God is not a vague energy or power or a man far away. God has become visible in Jesus Christ.

Thank you very much for reading along and leaving comments. I end this series with the words from Colossians 2: 2, I pray to God that you will be encouraged and stay connected to one another through strong love. And that you will have the rich experience of knowing Christ. For God's secret, which He has finally made known to you, is Christ himself.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

God, a mystery revealed (6)

Do you enjoy this blog series as much as I do? We are learning more about who Jesus Christ is, all based on Colossians 1: 15-20. It is wonderful what we have read so far:
  • Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
  • He is the first-born Son, superior to all created things.
  • For through him God created everything in heaven and on earth, the seen and the unseen things, including spiritual powers, lords, rulers, and authorities. God created the whole universe through him and for him.
  • Christ existed before all things, and in union with him all things have their proper place.
  • And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.
And there is more revelation! Let's take a look at verse 19:

For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him

The NKJV says: For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell. Even if we struggle to know God, even if He seems too mysterious to comprehend ... we can look at the life of Jesus (👉that is: read the gospels!) to find out who God really is. Jesus came to earth and lived among the people. He brought that mysterious, great and awesome God right in their midst.

Yes, Immanuel ... He is truly 'God with us'.

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

God, a mystery revealed (5)

'Jesus has always been there, He is the eternal God and in union with Him all things have their proper place' I wrote in my previous blog.

It was a referral to the section in the letter to the Colossians that we are looking at in this blog series, a section that deals with the supremacy of Christ.

Let's take a look at Colossians 1:18, it says:

And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.

Wow, so much revelation about who He is in one sentence, great! Jesus Christ is the head of the universal Church (all churches in the world), also called His body. His body on earth, as He walked around two thousand years ago: doing good and healing (Acts 10:38). That is the mandate and blueprint of the Church!

He is the beginning! Yes, He is the source of our existence, the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. Nothing exists without Him. The universe is being held together by Him, as we can read in some translations.

He is the firstborn from among the dead. This is interesting. When reading the Bible we find out that people had been resurrected from the dead before Jesus... but they had to die again one day. So, this verse does not mean that people can physically raise from the dead. I think that Paul (the writer of the letter to the Colossians) is referring to the words of Jesus: I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die (John 11:25). Jesus promises eternal life for those who believe in Him!

In everything He has supremacy! In everything ... whatever we do or invent, He preceded it. Without Him we would not even exist. I hope that He may also have supremacy in your life.