Wednesday, December 23, 2015

All in the Family

To Christmas or not to Christmas? Is that the question? For most in the Western world, there are certain holidays (from the word Holy days), based on Christian religious remembrance days (either put in place by the Catholic or other church or based on the Bible). Many people get a free day from work and this gives people the possibility to get together as family.
Of course, holidays also give stores opportunities to sell things. Anything can be made commercial. I didn’t think Thanksgiving could be turned to the dark side, but then along came Black Friday (with everyone ‘enduring’ Thanksgiving to get to that most hallowed of days). But holidays are not new. And they are not truly religious (the word in Dutch is ‘God-serving’). So I don’t expect them to be.
I simply enjoy that these are times to get together with family – whether it be family from far away via skype or travel, or church family from close by, showing what true family is. And in these moments we can share what is most important every day – the grace that Jesus Christ has brought to our lives. And isn’t that why we are here?

Enjoy your family time.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015


Much has been brewing in my brain for the last months concerning assaults, refugees and all sorts of reactions to the two. I know that many have written about this and that more will do so. Here are my questions and thoughts for/to myself.
Don’t conflate your faith with your politics
We have a task
Solve the problems of the world
My faith is not my politics
My politics should be informed by my faith, not the other way around. It is not my politics which should dictate how I feel about certain Biblical principles. When I hear someone say that the Bible teaches that we are to love our neighbors, love our enemies, do good for all – and my first reaction is to wonder what this person’s political slant on the topic is – then I need to beware. My allegiance is to my King, not my country, not my party, not my State and not even to my football team.

“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. ... Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Jesus    (Matthew 5:44-45, 48)

It is good that my faith impacts what I decide to do in my daily life. It is correct  that my beliefs should have an influence on what I consider to be good, valuable, moral, correct. But let it be then so: my faith impacts my politics. This is a truth – I will never find a political party that is good in every way as it should be according to my faith (if my faith is in Christ Jesus). And, I don’t really think that is what I want. Isn’t that what bothers most people about some Muslim countries? That they are a theocracy instead of a democracy?
I do live in a kingdom, but although it is here now on this earth (and should be impacting this earth as well) it is not of this world. My King is the King of kings. He is a dictator and puts up with no other trying to be monarch beside Him. I do not belong on the throne, Jesus does. And what He says is most important, above all. Could it be that I have allowed my faith, my daily life with Jesus to be dulled by my politics (whatever they are)?
Politics is an imperfect tool for what we as Christians want to accomplish. Laws and politics can only affect actions of people regressively. Jesus Christ affects the heart and changes how we think, which truly changes what we do. It is this change that we wish to see in the world. Evangelism is a precise tool, wielded by a mighty, loving King through us as His followers.

A task to keep I have...
What a beautiful song and what a truth. As a child of the King I have been given a task (and so have you). My task is not to make sure that everyone in the world votes in a democracy. My task is not to feed the world, or even to make sure that the earth continues. Of course these things are impacted by my task, as well they should be. But I have a specific task (as do you). My task is to live obediently for Jesus Christ and to be part of His body, bringing as many people as possible into the redemption of the blood of Christ.
There are worse things happening in this world than ISIS. There are worse things happening than global warming. There are worse things happening than cancer. People are dying eternally. And my Father does not want that to happen! “Well, why doesn’t He do something about it then?” He is. He came and died for us all, rose from the grave and lives now in us through His Spirit. Now He is working through us to sanctify – make holy – this world full of people. God is using me for the most important task there is: letting people know how they can be saved eternally.
And sometimes I lose sight of that task. I get sidetracked into the fear of what is happening in the world. I forget that God knows what is happening and He can use even me in these circumstances – if I will allow it. Will I allow it? At this moment God is bringing all sorts of opportunities and dropping them at my feet – I don’t even have to go looking for them. Will I keep to my task?

Solve the problems of the world
Where we live, there is a high rate of radicalization among the young muslim population (compared to other countries). People are worried about bringing more terrorists in to the country. How can we combat this radicalization, everyone asks. “Stricter immigration laws!” “More jobs!” “Integration courses!” “Acceptance and multiculturalism!”
How can I as a Christian think that any of the problems in society are going to be solved without Jesus Christ? Do I really think that I can combat corruption in the banking world by asking the banks to re-write their rules of engagement and be nicer? Do I really think that stricter rules will keep killers from finding ways to do what their evil minds think of day and night? The book of Proverbs tells me different.
Does that mean that we should not have laws or that we should and can do nothing? Not at all. But isn’t it true that if I were to focus on bringing people to Christ that those people would apply the good of Christ, the grace and righteousness that comes from the King, to their daily lives as well – in the bank, in government, in their daily lives? I truly do believe that God is mighty, able to change murderers into saviors. I have seen it happen before.
So, if we truly want to react to radicalism, we should be focusing on how we can bring Christ into this milieu. And look! God is bringing people to us! So now, shouldn’t we be looking at how we can use this opportunity to preach the Prince of Peace? Is that politically correct? Of course not! But I truly want to solve the problems of the world.
And why has it taken this to wake me up? There have been refugees before. There haven been opportunities before. Was I sleeping? Then no more. It took persecution to wake the first Christians up to their task. They fled Jerusalem as refugees. But everywhere they went they preached Jesus Christ

Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

When will we see you again?

This is one of the more frequently asked questions we receive when talking to many of you in the US. And indeed, it has been quite a while since we have seen you. It was November or December 2012 the last time that we were in your neck of the woods – Stephan married Natalie at the end of December so we planned our home assignment a bit differently that year.
And now it will be three and a half years since we have seen most of you. Some have been blessed with being able to come over here – visiting a child at school or visiting family and blessing us with a week of fellowship. Thank you! It was great to see you here. Now we are making plans to be back in the States in 2016 – although this time we are also doing things a bit differently.
On the one hand, we want to be able to see more of you and summer is not always the best time. Many of you, just like us, are busy with camp or activities for the church or family in the summer months. We, too, always miss our summer camp weeks in the year that we plan our home assignment. So this year we will be coming a bit earlier, especially since we don’t have to worry about getting our kids out of school. We will be in the US from mid-May to mid-July. This way we are also back here in time for some of our camp weeks.
As always, we are trying to make sure that we have enough time at each stop, hitting family and church family alike. This time we are adding Indiana to the mix and we are also bringing Sean’s friends along for a section of the trip. We hope to be able to spend some time with you and to hear how God is working in your lives. And we would love to share what He is doing here and hear any questions you might have.
Here is the rough schedule for our travels.
May 17 – 25             Arrive in Minneapolis and Woodbury family time
May 26 – June 3       Midwest leg with Muscatine and family in Omaha
June 4 – 12               Family time in Denver and Colorado Springs
June 13 – 22             Texas time (Abilene and DFW area)
June 23 – 29             Family time in Indiana
June 30 – July 4       Sean and friends arrive in Indiana
July 5 – 11                California time (Long Beach, San Diego)
July 12 – 17              Road trip with Sean and friends
July 18-19                 On the way home
This will be the last time for Sean to be on our trips, so we will be taking a short road trip with him. Since his friend and his friend’s father came to the wedding last time, they asked to once again be able to meet people and renew relationships. So they will also be going along for some of the ride. We are looking forward to introducing them to you guys – the family that we love so much and cares so well for us. 
As we get closer to that time, we will send out a more detailed schedule. But let us know if you are going to be in the area and would like to get together. We would love to see you! Praise our Father for the ability and possibility to travel in this way. And let’s continue to serve Him in every way we can each day, whether we are traveling, planning or simply living day to day.

Saturday, December 05, 2015

Light in the Lowlands, December 2015

Here is a quick update on some of what we have been doing in the last months. You can also find information on Facebook and follow our pictures by clicking on the photo's on the right. Thanks for stopping by!