Wednesday, August 05, 2020

Encouragement for writers

In my blog post of April 13, I wrote that 2020 would become the most creative and productive year I have had so far. Simply because I refuse to be a victim of the thief's schemes who wants nothing more than to paralyze us as we passively watch the world go crazy.

I know, what the Lord has called me to be, and that is to be His faithful mouthpiece, regardless of the circumstances, I should add. This morning I read Psalm 57: 2 in my NLT, it says: I cry out to God Most High, to God who will fulfill his purpose for me.

Such verses excite me ... He will fulfill His purpose for me. No doubt about it. He will do it. Phew, relax.

Anyway, 2020 so far. On May 1st my new English book True Worshipers was released. In the same month, a Russian edition of my book In My Name was released and soon an Italian edition of the same book will also be released, which will be distributed in Italy through CLC.

Last week, I was notified that In My Name also ended up as a finalist in the 2020 International Book Awards, hosted by American Book Fest. Category Religion: Christian - inspirational. Whether that makes any difference in book sales or publicity doesn't really matter to me. I take it as a nice boost and encouragement... my work will not be unnoticed!

I have been working on a theme frame for a new book but currently, we are busy with a house renovation which takes up time and energy... mind you, we are camping out in the yard ๐Ÿ˜€

Anyway, I have hope and expectation when it comes to my writing journey, certainly because of encouraging words such as found in Psalm 57!
What about your writing, work in progress, ideas, or plans?

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Genuine relationship with the Father

Recently the 8th book in my series about the Ten Commandments in the 21st century has been released. It is called True Worshipers and it is based on the second Commandment (which talks about idolatry... the worship of idols) in connection with the discussion Jesus had with the Samaritan woman.

Jesus prophesied to her that the time was coming when by the power of God’s Spirit people would worship the Father as He really is, offering Him the true worship He so desires. Have you ever wondered what true worship would be like? It begins where idolatry ends.

This book is not so much about singing or music or any of the things we call 'worship'. ๐Ÿ‘‰It is in reality about a genuine relationship with the Father, without all the bells and whistles. When I wrote the foreword for my new book, back in February of this year, I had no idea the words would gain prophetic relevance. I wrote:

'What would be left of our modern-day Christianity when all is taken away: the buildings, the meetings, the money, the power, the titles, the theology, the music, and the concerts? What would be left?' I had no idea something like that could happen in just a few weeks, and not just locally but on a worldwide scale. But it did.

Looking back at the writing process, which began in January 2019, I realize the message in this book is very timely. Yes, I am aware of the fact that it might be the worst time to release a book. No meetings, no conferences, no travels, no speaking engagements or book table venues. Nothing... 

But I also know the current circumstances do not change the message in this book. On the contrary, they might enhance it! 

The Paperback edition is now available on Amazon for just $9.95. 

I challenge you to evaluate your relationship with God.
Yes, especially during this time of turmoil!

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Power games

In Him we live, we move, and have our being
(Acts 17:28).

One of my favorite Bible texts. Such depth in a few words! The 'Him' being Jesus Christ Himself.

For the biggest part of my life (well, up until now) I did not know or understand this. I thought I was the master of my life and my future. I had one life to live and wanted to make the best of it. Nothing wrong with that of course, but without the Giver of life... such goals are unattainable ๐Ÿ˜‰ I know now!

No matter how good and lofty our intentions are to make life great, we will find opposition, we will encounter immense struggles. As long as we do not acknowledge the One who holds the universe in His hands, we will keep bumping into obstacles in our limited little world.

In my previous blog I wrote I wrote about and commented on the vicious battlefield we find ourselves in nowadays, whether we like it or not. We are seeing immense power games in our world today. Political leaders, nations, organizations… all acting as if the world would stop to function when they are no longer there. Such arrogance and misconception.

The truth is: the whole world exists because of Jesus, the whole universe is sustained by Him and by His powerful Word. This is our foundation, this is our hope for today and the future. The world may crumble, but the powerful Word stands forever. I love how it is written in Colossians 1:15-17,

Christ is the visible likeness 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.

๐Ÿ‘‰We do not need to learn more about the world, we need to learn more about the Word!

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Why do conspiracies exist?

Nowadays there is a lot of talk about conspiracy theories and just as many warnings to stay away from them because they mostly fall in the category 'fake news'... well, so we are told.

The more information that is available, the harder it gets to filter true and false stories. It seems that with every secret revealed, a contra-theory rises up. It is a vicious battlefield we find ourselves in, whether we like it or not, whether we follow conspiracy theories or not.

May I point out that the Bible speaks clearly about conspiracies. ๐Ÿ‘‰The question thereby is not whether a conspiracy is true or false, but rather why it exists. Let's take a look at one of the most intriguing questions in the Bible, as found in Psalm 2:1,

Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain?

It could be a question asked by many people today. WHY do nations (corporate level) and peoples (private level) engage in plots and schemes? Why can't we live in peace together? Why all this uproar? David answers the question in verse 2: The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One.

In the Complete Jewish Bible (CJB) it is written like this: Why are the nations in an uproar, the peoples grumbling in vain? The earth’s kings are taking positions, leaders conspiring together, against Adonai and his anointed.

Kings are taking positions, leaders conspiring together against Adonai, against God and against the Messiah (Messiah means anointed one)... Somehow David received this insight, that all the violence, wars, and uproar of nations were acts of rebellion against God. I mentioned it in one of my previous blogs: ultimately this is all a battle between good and evil, between light and darkness, between God and satan. It would be dangerously ignorant to deny this, simply because it plays out right in front of our eyes, every day!

Yes, there is an evil plot to overturn all that is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, and praiseworthy. Yes, there was, is, and will be a plot against Jesus and what He stands for: love, grace, righteousness, peace, forgiveness, purity, and joy. The early believers acknowledged it: Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed (Acts 4:27).

The other day I saw a picture of an individual in a big demonstration. He was holding up a sign that said, 'if Jesus comes back, kill him again'. The sheer hatred against the Son of God who went around doing good and healing all who were sick and oppressed, plays out on an individual as well as a corporate level. Yes, there is a conspiracy (a huge one), there is no denying it.

Our reaction? We should pray as the early believers did (Acts 4:29-30): Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.

Monday, June 22, 2020

If you could ask for one thing

If you could ask one thing of the Lord, what would it be? Restoration of health or finances? Peace in your country or in your heart? Family members to turn to God? The answer to that question is probably different for everyone.

A long time ago, God asked King Solomon that question and the King answered: 'Give me wisdom and knowledge that I may lead Your people'. And so King Solomon became the wisest man that ever lived and God added wealth, possessions, and honor like no other king ever had (you can read that amazing story in 2 Chronicles 1).

Health is important, but so are peace and wisdom. I was reading Psalm 19 in my New Living Translation and I noticed God offers all that we need, in His Word. Take a look at verses 7 and 8.
  • The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul. Oh my goodness, how I need that every day! My health depends on a thriving soul!
  • The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. Yes, please Lord, yes, let it be me!
  • The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. I know the joy of the Lord will be my strength, I need it!
  • The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living. I must have this in an ever-changing world that seems to have gone insane.
Such riches in God's Word: instructions, decrees (laws), commandments, and commands. ๐Ÿ‘‰We may not always embrace such terms, but they are filled with spiritual riches. I discovered that in my own life when I started my writing journey.

While working on the book series about the Ten Commandments, I received a totally different perspective on God's laws and regulations. They are not restrictions, on the contrary, they offer great opportunities to heal our souls, to make us wise, to bring us joy, and to give us all the insight we will possibly need!

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Antidote to frustration

While the age-old battle between good and evil, between darkness and light, intensifies... one might wonder whether we have any influence at all on happenings around the world. How can our voices be heard? How can our responses be of value?

A few thousand years ago, the philosopher sighed: History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Well, I would be a fool to contradict him. In general, humanity does not learn from the past. On the contrary, I would say. Humanity forgets the past rather quickly and conveniently and acts as if every happening is a new issue.

I was reading Psalms 9, 10, 11, and 12 the other day. David cries out to God about the increase of wickedness and chaos in his time. In Psalm 11:3 he asks the following question,

๐Ÿ‘‰The foundations of law and order have collapsed. What can the righteous do?

Such a great question! Such a timely question for us today. What can we do as believers? How should we respond? What is it, Lord, you want us to do in such a time as this?

I believe prayer is the answer. Specific prayer that is! Personally, I don't think that praying for 'things to turn back to normal' will be effective. There are larger things at stake than our comfort. Remember: We are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12).

Once we truly realize that we are not in a natural battle between people, but a spiritual battle between powers and principalities, we can target our prayers and aim for God and His angels to move on our behalf. We should pray that:
  • the evil plot will be exposed, and thus lose its power
  • the truth will be revealed
  • deception will be replaced with discernment, and
  • love will be our language
I truly believe that targeted prayers are the antidote to frustration about the current world crisis.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Wisdom and truth are lacking on both sides

Surely, you must have some thoughts about the current protests and riots in the USA, Marja…

Well, yes. Or maybe, no. I don’t know, whether I should even write about events that make no sense at all, to begin with. 

Things have been labeled (without a second thought) racism, a battle between black and white. But you know what, now that you are asking... here's my two cents worth:

I don’t think it is.

This is not about being black or white at all. This is ultimately about good and evil. About darkness and light. As a white person, I am utterly ashamed about the lack of grace the officers showed. On the other hand, if I were a black person, I would be utterly ashamed of the way my brothers and sisters have been responding. Where does that leave us?

๐Ÿ‘‰Wisdom and truth are lacking on both ‘sides’. We all fall short and that, exactly that, makes us all equal.

We need God! We need His mercy and forgiveness. We do not need more hatred or revenge. We need His love!

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Living as pilgrims in this world

Today the thought came to me that we are all pilgrims in this world, just passing through.

I have traveled all over the world and I have always been amazed at how easy it is for me to feel at home... just about everywhere. Just as long as there is food on the table and a pillow to rest my head on, I am happy.

It makes life easier when we are flexible, in a sense. The Bible says:

For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come (Hebrews 13:14).

This world is not our permanent home. So, how come we act as if it is? We want to control everything that is happening, but we can't. Yet, we get restless when things are shaken, we feel uneasy when things change, we have this need to defend what we believe belongs to us...

It is all understandable, of course. We want stability, we want security, we want peace. When there is turmoil in the world, we feel it in our hearts, we feel it in our souls. It is like bleeding inside. We are hurting because we cannot stop the world from turning... and turning.
If we could only learn to live as a pilgrim. I don't mean being homeless or without possessions; but being able to move on, despite circumstances. Being able to look forward to the surprises waiting around the next corner.

We can learn a lesson from Abraham. By faith he made his home in the promised land. Yet, he lived like a stranger in a foreign country. Hebrews 11:10 says: He was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

We should take care of this world, it is our assignment to subdue and cultivate the earth and to evenly divide her resources. But we should also look forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where every tear will be wiped away, where there will be no more death, or mourning or crying or pain (Revelation 21:1-4).

Let's get our focus right, while passing through.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Wellspring of life

Yesterday a thought came to me. Well, actually it was a Bible verse.

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

You can find that in Proverbs 4:23. Above all else... I find these words intriguing. What else? All else! Yes, as in... everything else. Why? ๐Ÿ‘‰Because a contaminated heart results in a contaminated life.

If we let anger, hatred, bitterness, disappointment, discouragement, fear, anxiety, or worry linger in our hearts, it will contaminate our wellspring of life. It won't take long before dirty water will come out of our mouths, so to speak.

If we let anger in, we become an angry person. If we let worry in, we become a worried person. If we let fear in, we become a fearful person. It is quite simple really.

Guarding our hearts, that is something to meditate upon these days.

Jesus said: Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me (John 14:1). Do not let... again, very intriguing words. No one or nothing has the right to trouble our hearts, we are the ones allowing it to happen. Jesus says, do not let it happen. We must, therefore, guard our hearts.

Maybe you think, 'well, that is easier said than done, Marja.' Personally, I speak against negative influences that are trying to settle in my heart. Go away, in Jesus' name. I am not worried, I am not upset, I am not bitter, because I trust in God and His peace sustains me.

Besides speaking against negative influences, I fill my heart with the Word of God, not with the words of the world. The choice is yours.

It is spiritual warfare at the most basic level. Guard your heart!

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Understanding the old, appreciating the new

In my new book True Worshipers, I discuss, among many other things, the rules for worship under the Old Covenant and the relational worship under the New Covenant. Maybe you think that sounds way too technical to be interesting...

Well, I wouldn't blame you. However, I can assure you that reading True Worshipers will take you on a wonderful journey through the Bible I have used an illustration in chapter 2 that might help us to see why understanding the old makes us appreciate and value the new.

"Today, when we put our dirty laundry in the washing machine, we don’t think much of it. We push a button and walk away, the work is being done for us. I remember how my grandmother washed by hand.

She would boil water in a huge grey kettle and stir the laundry with a large wooden spoon of some sort. No wonder our grandmothers had muscled arms! Doing laundry was tough labor and in those times the women often set apart a whole day every week for this work.

When I think back of such times, I feel very privileged that I do not have to spend a whole precious day each week sweating over a steaming tub full of laundry. Remembering those days, however romantic and idyllic they may seem, I am sincerely thankful for modern technical equipment."

When we begin to understand how much was expected from the ancient Israelites (in terms of sacrifices) in order to present themselves before God and live in a right and healthy relationship with Him, we will become all the more thankful for the grace and love God has poured out on us when He gave His Son as a sacrifice in our place.


Friday, May 01, 2020

This troubled world

Last week I received a message from a friend in northern Italy. Shortly after the government restrictions were imposed, she lost her job. 'Can I translate another book for you,' she texted, 'that will give me something to do.'

I proposed the translation of Spirit of Truth to which she responded: 'Boy, do we ever need that now!' And so she went to work on that one. When I picked up the book from my library, I noticed the subtitle... almost as if for the first time, since the book came out 4 years ago:

Finding certainty and standing firm in a troubled world.

A troubled world? Back in 2016? You gotta be kidding, right? Wasn't life a picnic back then? Well, no, not exactly. 2016 was a year full of disasters, from deadly earthquakes, terror attacks, life-depleting droughts, devastating storms, to unceasing wars. Many thought the end was near. But here we are...

Up until now 2020 is no picnic either. We are still in this troubled world, trying to make sense of it all and, who knows, trying to find truth in it all. Four years from now, we will find ourselves facing new challenges in a world that knows no lack of trouble. ๐Ÿ‘‰We better get used to it.

Jesus said: In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world (John 16:33). You will have... so, let's not try to escape, let's try to cope.

I think this is the art of faith... having peace in perilous times, trust while in trouble, and joy when all we know and have is in jeopardy.

Together with Jesus, we can overcome the world. Why refuse His outstretched hand? We have nowhere else to go.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

What would be left?

'What would be left of our modern-day Christianity when all is taken away: the buildings, the meetings, the money, the power, the titles, the theology, the music, and the concerts? What would be left?'

When I wrote the foreword for my new book, back in February of this year, I had no idea the words would gain prophetic relevance. I had no idea something like that could happen in just a few weeks, and not just locally but on a worldwide scale. But it did.

Our churches had to close their doors, although temporarily, due to government regulations in response to a virus epidemic. 'What would be left?' became a question millions of people began to ask, and it happened almost overnight.

Well, we might find ourselves on our knees again, without anything. No effects, no band, no structure, no liturgy to follow. Just us, on the floor… waiting for God to speak, waiting for Him to come. ๐Ÿ‘‰After more than two thousand years of Christianity we might find ourselves bowing down again, empty-handed, with nothing but our time and lives to give Him.

Looking back at the writing process, which began in January 2019, I realize the message in this book is very timely. Yes, I am aware of the fact that it might be the worst time to release a book. No meetings, no conferences, no travels, no speaking engagements or book table venues. Nothing... But I also know the current circumstances do not change the message in this book. On the contrary, they might enhance it!

Jesus prophesied that the time was coming when by the power of God’s Spirit people would worship the Father as He really is, offering Him the true worship He so desires. Have you ever wondered what true worship would be like? It begins where idolatry ends.

Yes, of course, it will take a powerful move of the Holy Spirit to have our institutionalized Christianity make the transition into relational Christianity. However, this is a process that starts in the heart of every believer.

You can order the e-book on Amazon right now, for just $2.99.

The release date of the paperback is scheduled for May 1st and you can order from my website: www.marjameijers.com

Monday, April 13, 2020

The thief and the Giver

When my brothers and I were little children, my parents purchased a record-player. Well, not exactly like the one in this picture, but it was in the early sixties. On our knees before the speaker, we listened to the same Bible stories over and over.

๐Ÿ‘‰There was always someone in trouble, there was always an enemy, and there was always a way out!

I still love the Bible stories. And in a way, I have kept the childlike faith... With God all things are possible! Over the past several weeks I have been doing a lot of thinking, meditating on the Word, and asking God about the current happenings in our world.

He reminded me of the words of Jesus as recorded in John 10:10. The thief comes only in order to steal, kill, and destroy. I have come in order that you might have life—life in all its fullness.

I love that verse! It clearly speaks about the trouble, the enemy we have. The Bible calls him a thief, the devil, or satan. But it also clearly speaks about the way out, Jesus Himself. I know there are plenty of theories, ideas, and explanations about what is happening in the world right now. Some are downright nonsense, some are quite interesting. From a biblical point of view, however, I truly believe things are quite simple.

The thief is at work. He steals people's joy and peace, he kills people, and he destroys our societies and economies. We see it happen all around us. No point in blaming God, the Chinese, or the president of your country. The thief is at work on a global scale. Let it be no surprise, Jesus announced it. But Jesus did not stop His speech there, for He is also at work!

We just celebrated Easter. He came to give us life. Not just an ordinary life, but a life in all its fullness. That life is available for anyone who believes in Him and that life does not change because of what the enemy is doing.

I can only speak for myself of course; but I have decided that 2020 will not be the year to be remembered as the year of corona, the year of cancelations, loss, lack, fear, worry, doubt, or whatever. NO! It will be the most creative and productive year I have had so far. I refuse to be a victim of the thief's schemes. I am victorious in Christ. With God's help, I can scale a wall!

Friday, April 03, 2020

Good times, bad times


It is quite interesting (and quite irritable as well) to see that every time a disaster, drama, or crisis occurs, experts' arise, shouting whether or not it was punishment from God, whether the end of time is near and whether or not Jesus will come back soon.

With the passing of time, things quiet down on the battlefield of doomsday thinkers, prophecies, conspiracy theories, and global plots. Until the next catastrophic event of course ... then everyone dares to speak up again.

What I often miss in their messages which (much to my annoyance) pop up everywhere in Christian Facebook groups and forums, is some form of love, grace, and hope. Anyway, each his own thing.

Looking at the history of humanity, it is quite obvious that there have always been good and bad times. Times of peace and war, of abundance and hunger. Yes, the so-called fat and lean years. The world didn't end and life resumed. Usually with people being full of renewed energy, confidence,  and many good intentions.

In bad times, we will often see a massive search for God, while in good times a general idea that we are doing just fine by ourselves is quite common. I don't really know if there is a healthy balance in this, maybe it is such a curve that keeps us alive, the ups and downs, the mountains and the valleys, the periods of great creativity and innovation and the times of indifference and consumption.

Every person on the face of this planet experiences times of joy and sorrow, of blooming and withering, of letting go and starting again. As a matter of fact, we see this happening on a larger scale as well. We see it in our country, our economy, our earth ... there is always that curve, called 'seasons'...

๐Ÿ‘‰ As for the return of Jesus. He had something to say about it:

So be ready all the time. For I, the Messiah, will come when least expected (Luke 12:40, TLB).

I have often wondered what kind of moment that will be. A moment when He is least expected, don't you think that is interesting? I wonder if the 'experts' take that into account when they write their end-time scenarios. Basically, we do not know! The key is to be ready to meet God, all the time. Then, and only then, can we truly live a quiet life, no matter what happens.

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12).

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Fear of dying

Actually, I don't feel like blogging about it at all ... But the other day I thought of something that I would like to share with you. Hopefully, it might be food for thought or at least a good conversation starter.

I was wondering what is behind the massive fear of the #Coronavirus. I believe, in essence, it is the fear of dying. I can't think of anything else. Can you?

Let's be frank. What is the worst thing that can happen to you if you have this virus? That you die from it. So, the fear we see rising all around us is actually the fear of dying.

That reminded me of a song by blues guitarist Albert King: "Everybody wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die." A song, written by Loretta Lynn, if I remember correctly.

Everyone wants to go to heaven, but no one wants to die. How true is that. I can't speak for everyone, of course, but as Christians we should not fear death. Romans 14: 8 says: If we live, it is for the Lord that we live, and if we die, it is for the Lord that we die. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.

The crucial question here is: do you belong to Him or not?

The apostle Paul went even further: For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:21). Ouch, I am not there yet. I want to stay on this earth for a while longer. But I also want to be able to speak as Paul did, simply because I have given my life to Jesus as well.

Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
[John 11: 25-26]

And, oh yes, here's the Albert King song.
















Thursday, March 19, 2020

Guidelines

Following guidelines. In context of the Corona virus we are busy doing so on a worldwide scale these weeks. And that is a good habit. Washing hands regularly, keeping distance, working from home when possible ... well, you name it. Those guidelines are there to ensure our physical health.

I would like to share a few spiritual guidelines to ensure the health of our souls.

Last year I posted a series on this blog about a healthy soul and it focused on the words in 3 John 1:2,

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

Just as your soul prospers. It is so important to keep that in mind, especially now that a virus is spreading that fills people with fear, absurd fear. Fear is not good for the soul, fear torments and it paralyzes.

So, how do we take good care of our souls? I have listed a few basic guidelines, hopefully, they will help you.

๐Ÿ’ฆSpend time with Jesus
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened... and you will find rest for your souls (Matthew 11:28-29)
๐Ÿ’ฆPraise and worship
Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits (Psalm 103: 2) 
๐Ÿ’ฆListen to His voice
Come to me with your ears wide open. Listen, for the life of your soul is at stake (Isaiah 55: 3) 
๐Ÿ’ฆSpeak and receive sweet words
Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones (Proverbs 16:24)

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Wisdom has a name

If there is anything that we should desire, it is wisdom. "God knows the way to wisdom," I wrote at the end of my previous blog. Yes, and that way brings us back to Proverbs 8, the chapter on wisdom.

In that chapter "wisdom" is being presented as a woman; a wonderful fact in itself ๐Ÿ˜

If you read chapter 8 carefully, you will discover the riches hidden in wisdom. Nothing in the whole world is more precious than wisdom. The chapter also contains quite a few special statements. Just to mention a few:
  • My mouth speaks what is true, for my lips detest wickedness. All the words of my mouth are just: none of them is crooked or perverse (verse7 and 8). Who can claim such a thing?
  • I love those who love me and those who seek me find me (verse 17). Where have I heard that before?
  • For whoever finds Me finds life (verse 35). Who said that?
Surely, it is clear that wisdom which is more precious than gold, silver and rubies is Jesus Christ himself?! In Colossians 2: 3 it says about Him:  He is the key that opens all the hidden treasures of God's wisdom and knowledge. We need to get to know Him better in order to gain wisdom. This can be done by reading His words and asking the Holy Spirit (our Teacher) to explain what we are reading.

Jesus is the power and wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:24).

[I talk about this in detail in my book My Neighbor's House].

Monday, March 02, 2020

Where to find wisdom?

In my previous blog posts, I wrote about 'coveting' and 'healthy desires'. Thou shalt not covet ... who doesn't know these words from the Bible? To covet basically means yearning to possess something or greatly desiring something (especially when it belongs to someone else).

Are all desires wrong? No of course not. That same Bible says (Proverbs 8:11) that nothing we can ever desire can be compared with wisdom. Then it makes sense that we have to go after wisdom, right?

The search for WISDOM is a wonderful adventure. Do you know who wrote about such a quest? Job. When we think about Job, we usually think of all the drama in his life, but there was also a passionate search for wisdom. Job 28:13,

๐Ÿ‘‰ But do people know where to find wisdom? Where can they find understanding?

Let's continue reading what he has to say about it, verses 15-20,

It cannot be bought with gold. It cannot be purchased with silver.
It’s worth more than all the gold of Ophir, greater than precious onyx or lapis lazuli.
Wisdom is more valuable than gold and crystal. It cannot be purchased with jewels mounted in fine gold.
Coral and jasper are worthless in trying to get it. The price of wisdom is far above rubies.
Precious peridot from Ethiopia cannot be exchanged for it. It’s worth more than the purest gold.
“But do people know where to find wisdom? Where can they find understanding?

Quite honestly, the price of wisdom cannot be determined, it far exceeds everything of value. We live in a world where there is a lot of knowledge and science. But wisdom, true wisdom, where can it be found? In verse 23, Job says: God alone understands the way to wisdom; he knows where it can be found,

I think that is a valuable clue. Don't look for education, experience or science ... God knows the way. That takes us back to Proverbs 8, the chapter about wisdom. Several clues can be found in that very chapter. Do you see them?

Monday, February 24, 2020

More precious than rubies

"Go, and find out what healthy desires are," I wrote in my previous blog, quoting Mark 11:24 where it says, Therefore I say unto you, What things soever you desire, when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you shall have them.

If we are allowed to pray for things we desire, 'desiring' in itself can not be wrong; although most of us have been taught it is. I think that is precisely why the tenth commandment is not a restriction, but a challenge to find out what we may and should desire. That has also been the point of view in my book My Neighbor's House.

Paul writes about the tenth commandment: I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” It is that simple, really. ๐Ÿ˜

Do not desire covet) the things of someone else, but go after what God has reserved for you. I consulted the Bible and came to Proverbs, chapter 8, the chapter about wisdom. In verse 11 it says ...

For wisdom is far more valuable than rubies. Nothing you desire can compare with it.

Nothing, absolutely nothing we can ever desire can be compared with wisdom. Doesn't it make sense then, that that is the very thing we should go after?

Thursday, February 13, 2020

To covet or not to covet

When I was a teenager, I found the Bible and Christianity a little oppressive. So many rules and laws. And fun things? They were prohibited, of course. I had this idea that becoming a serious Christian would limit my 'freedom' and so I kept postponing the choice to live for Jesus.

Although I did not grow up in a very "conservative" church, the Ten Commandments were an invisible guide in our family. I always thought the tenth commandment to be difficult: You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s. Well, can't we do anything at all then?

After I had given my life to Jesus, I slowly began to see that those words were not meant as a restriction, but rather as a challenge. A challenge to find out what we should desire. No, not our neighbor's stuff ... but the very things that God has reserved for us.

Have you ever read it that way? It became the approach in my English book My Neighbor's House. Go, and find out what healthy desires are. In Mark 11:24 it says: Therefore I say unto you, What things soever you desire, when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you shall have them. Obviously, this is not about our neighbor's stuff.  But then, what is it?

Friday, February 07, 2020

Downsizing: how decluttering graces your heart and home

We live in a very (and I mean: very) small house in The Netherlands. Everything is tiny: the living room, the kitchen and the bedroom. Because we have such limited space, we do not have a lot of stuff. I do not collect anything (well, books maybe) and we do not keep things we do not need.

When we resided in Southern California, we were living in a huge farmhouse. The many rooms were filled with furniture, collectibles, and other stuff. The total opposite of our little home in Holland. And you know what? We have learned to be happy in the big as well as in the small house. Why am I sharing this with you? Because downsizing does not have to be horrible. Getting rid of clutter can be fun and bring incredible relief.

fellow author Susan Rohrer
In our ๐Ÿ‘‰ Christian nonfiction lovers book club on Goodreads, our book of the month February is Susan Rohrer's book: Downsizing: how decluttering graces your heart and home. I read it last year and it is more than an inspiring read, it is very helpful. Rohrer proves that the practical and spiritual work together quite well and effectively. It is truly a joy to read how the author uses Biblical principles to help us clean up stuff and organize our closet space.

I like her practical approach, and especially the chapter about having to move a parent to an, often much smaller, elderly home and how to prepare everyone in the family for the challenges such a move will bring. I highly recommend this book if you seriously want to learn how to live with less!

We have added a #giveaway in our Goodreads club as well. We have asked members to enter the giveaway by simply sharing their personal thoughts on downsizing. Do you need help decluttering your own home? Are you daunted by the idea of downsizing your elders' belongings? Do you have a downsizing tip to share?

Just post a few lines in the Goodreads thread and you'll be entered to win a Kindle edition of Susan's book.

Monday, January 27, 2020

All my friends have issues REVIEW

Recently we hosted a #giveaway in the Christian nonfiction lovers book club on Goodreads. Our book of the month was Amanda Anderson's book All my friends have issues.

All my friends have issues was released in 2019 by Thomas Nelson Publishers. In our Goodreads club, we asked members to enter the giveaway by simply writing about a special friendship in two or three sentences.

Hey, it doesn't hurt to sharpen our writing skills when discussing books.

I personally enjoyed reading Amanda Anderson's book for several reasons. First of all, because it has a healthy dose of humor and that always helps when tackling serious topics. Serious yes, because friendships can enrich our lives or make our lives difficult.
Amanda Anderson

Second, because the book is loaded with life stories. Amanda has a way of telling great stories. She paints pictures of daily life that are colorful, fun and sometimes even hilarious.

And third, the author offers many practical tips. Good friendships are hard to come by and hard to keep, so it wouldn't hurt to read a well-balanced book about this topic. All my friends have issues is such a book.

I found the chapters a little long for my taste, but that probably tells more about my reading style (not wanting to put a book down in the middle of a chapter) than her writing style.

I could buy a bookmark of course :)

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

My #oneword for 2020

In general, I do not participate in online games and hypes, but I do like the #oneword challenge. In the past, I posted about my words, thoughts, and experiences and it was always a good experience. However, in recent years I did not give myself the time to think about a word or to wait for a word (recognize this?).

At the beginning of this new year, however, I did get a very clear word for 2020 on my heart (from the Holy Spirit): expectation. The questions I asked myself were: do I still pray with expectation, expectation that God will do something, that circumstances will change and people will be touched? Do I still expect new things in my work, my family and my calling?

The scripture that came to my mind was Psalm 5: 4: Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly. How about that? Bringing our requests before Him in the morning and then what? Wait with expectation!

I sense, I have to learn again to pray like this, with the expectation that something will actually happen. I'm happy with that word for a new year, it triggers something, it stirs up something...

Do you have a word for 2020?

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Light of the world (4)

In my previous blog I mentioned the song of Simeon. In this song, he referred to the words in Isaiah 49: 6, where God himself speaks. I will also make you a light for the Gentilesthat my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”

A light for all nations, till the ends of the earth, not just for Israel. This clearly points to Jesus. He came for the whole world, for all people. The first followers of Jesus understood very well that they had the task of telling not only their Jewish friends but the whole world about that light. Just read Acts 13:47 where Paul and Barnabas are speaking: For this is what the Lord has commanded us:‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.' And with those words, they quoted Isaiah 49: 6.

Pooh well, you might say, this is quite a difficult assignment, because the world is rather dark. Didn't Jesus make it sound a little too easy when He told people you are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14). How can we effectively spread that light, how can we be that light in this world? Personally, I think the first followers of Christ had questions about the practical side of being light-bearers as well, but they came to a discovery that I would like to share it with you:

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. (2 Corinthians 4: 6). God wants to shine in the darkness of our hearts, if we allow that of course. Invite Him to do so if you have never done that. Come on, just ask Him.

Then, we can actually proclaim 'For I was once darkness, but now I am light in the Lord' (Ephesians 5: 8).

Friday, January 10, 2020

Light of the world (3)

'Light shines in the darkness, we certainly do our best with all our lights and candles during the dark winter season. But let's not forget, the One who can truly take us out of darkness (enlighten us), the real light is Jesus! With those words I ended my previous blog.

How wonderful when a person receives that revelation. Let's take a look at someone who experienced that a long time ago ...

A certain Simeon lived in Jerusalem. He was a good and honest man and he deeply respected the law of God. He was full of the Holy Spirit and lived in the firm expectation that the Christ would soon come. When he saw the child Jesus in the temple he began to shout to God: ... my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentilesand the glory of your people Israel (Luke 2: 30-32).

Simeon saw the prophetic words from Isaiah literally fulfilled and it made him sing for joy. It's going to happen, God has kept His word. The light is here! Can we sing like he did? Do we dare to sing like Simeon because we actually believe that Jesus Christ is the light for the world?

When Jesus grew up He confirmed that truth: As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world (John 9: 5).

Sunday, January 05, 2020

Light of the world (2)

'The Bible frequently speaks about light in darkness', I wrote in my previous blog. As a matter of fact, this already starts in Genesis 1 where we can read that darkness was over the surface of the deep... until God spoke: "Let there be light." And there was light.

Light in the darkness, we can also read about this in the first chapter of the Gospel of John. Kind of a recurrence of Genesis 1, but with a profound truth revealed:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

That creation story, ➽ light in the darkness, keeps coming back in the Bible. The prophets understood it, just as the disciples did. In Isaiah 42: 5-7 it is written like this: This is what God the Lord says—the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out, who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it: “I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentilesto open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darknessGod gave Jesus as light to the people of Israel and then also to the other nations.

Light shines in the darkness, we certainly do our best with all our lights and candles during the dark winter season. But let's not forget, the One who can truly take us out of darkness (enlighten us), the real light is Jesus!

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world (John 1: 9).