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John van der Veen

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> Biblical Studies

God So Loved . . .

July 28, 2014, marked the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I. In the British media many discussions and documentaries recalled the start of that 4-year conflict. Even the TV program Mr. Selfridge, which is based on an actual department store in London, included an episode set in 1914 that showed young male employees lining up to volunteer for the army. As I observed these portrayals of self-sacrifice, I felt a lump in my throat. The soldiers they depicted had been so young, so eager, and so unlikely to return from the horror of the trenches.

Although Jesus didn’t…

In the Garden

My forefathers were pioneers in Michigan. They cleared the land, planted crops, and cultivated gardens to raise food for their families. This agrarian bent has been passed down through the generations. My dad grew up on a Michigan farm and loved gardening, which may explain why I love gardening and the smell of fertile soil. Cultivating plants that bear beautiful flowers and tending roses that fragrantly grace our yard with beauty are enjoyable pastimes for me. If it weren’t for the weeds it would be wonderful!

When I have to wrestle with the weeds, I am reminded of the garden of…

Growing our relationship with God while we work

Today we continue looking at how we can honor God while on the job.

> Christian Beliefs

The Nature of Regeneration

When it pleased God . . . to reveal His Son in me . . . —Galatians 1:15-16

If Jesus Christ is going to regenerate me, what is the problem He faces? It is simply this— I have a heredity in which I …

The Nature of Degeneration

Just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned . . . —Romans 5:12

The Bible does not say that God punished the human race for one man’s sin, but that the nature of sin, namely, my claim to …

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

We read in Psalm 139 that we’re “fearfully and wonderfully” made. Let’s continue the series, “Beauty Full Beings.” God fashioned our bodies to reflect His nature and to fully experience the joys of His creation. Our bodies are not enemies to be conquered, they’re a sacred place, a temple of the Holy Spirit.

> Christian Living

Blessing What God Blesses

In 2014, something called the Multidimensional Poverty helped researchers determine that there are 1.6 billion poor people on earth! When you read through Scripture, it soon becomes clear that God has always had a particular concern for the poor, the forgotten, and the vulnerable (Deuteronomy 10:18, 15:11). And when Jesus spoke His Sermon on the Mount, it’s not surprising that He first blesses the poor (Matthew 5:3). So if we’re to be about God’s business, shouldn’t we bless those who God blesses?

Behold the Plains

“If there be any value in scaling the mountains, it is only that from them one can behold the plains.” —G.K. Chesterton

The Need For Community

Cornerback may be the toughest position in all of professional football. It is not merely a matter of the skills needed or the challenges faced—it is because cornerbacks are so utterly exposed. Most of the time, corners are asked to match up against the opposition’s best receivers, and to do so one-on-one. Sure, there are […]

> Christian Ministry & the Church

The Vision and The Reality

. . . to those who are . . . called to be saints . . . —1 Corinthians 1:2

Thank God for being able to see all that you have not yet been. You have had the vision, but you are not yet to …

The Place of Exaltation

. . . Jesus took . . . them up on a high mountain apart by themselves . . . —Mark 9:2

We have all experienced times of exaltation on the mountain, when we have seen things from God’s perspective and have wanted to stay there. But …

The Awareness of the Call

. . . for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel! —1 Corinthians 9:16

We are inclined to forget the deeply spiritual and supernatural touch of God. If you are able to tell exactly where you were when you …

> Christianity & Culture

Giving Back

Not long ago, two newlyweds kissed their honeymoon good-bye. They also purposely did not plan a wedding reception to celebrate their union. Instead, they used the money they would have spent on themselves to selflessly help people in each of the 50 states in the US. In Arkansas, they gave gifts to sick children. In Utah, they aided victims of domestic abuse. In New Jersey, they donated clothing to a homeless shelter—and so on.

How do we know for sure that Christianity is the Truth?

I recently attended a religious ceremony at a Siamese Buddhist temple as part of an official visit by my MP. Several Muslims and Christians were also at the ceremony, as they had been invited after having helped the temple to solve some issues.

Are You a Believer?

Are you a believer? You may be surprised to hear this, but all of us are—regardless of our religious inclination. We live by faith everyday—faith that our alarm clock will wake us up on time and faith that we will live to face tomorrow.

> Ethical Issues

Blessing What God Blesses

In 2014, something called the Multidimensional Poverty helped researchers determine that there are 1.6 billion poor people on earth! When you read through Scripture, it soon becomes clear that God has always had a particular concern for the poor, the forgotten, and the vulnerable (Deuteronomy 10:18, 15:11). And when Jesus spoke His Sermon on the Mount, it’s not surprising that He first blesses the poor (Matthew 5:3). So if we’re to be about God’s business, shouldn’t we bless those who God blesses?

Consider the Poor

The year was 1780, and Robert Raikes had a burden for the poor, illiterate children in his London neighborhood. He noticed that nothing was being done to help these children, so he set out to make a difference.

He hired some women to set up schools for them on Sunday. Using the Bible as their textbook, the teachers taught the poorest children of London to read and introduced them to the wisdom of the Bible. Soon about 100 children were attending these classes and enjoying lunch in a safe, clean environment. These “Sunday schools,” as they were soon called, eventually touched…

Torture and persecution will not prevail–Kodjo’s Story and Volodya’s Story

Kodjo and Volodya lived in very different parts of the world, yet both shared a belief in Christ that was tested to the limits of human endurance. Even torture and persecution could not stop these two men from sharing their faith. Be encouraged as you share the love of Jesus Christ with others and step […]

> Evangelism & Missions

The Place of Ministry

He said to them, ’This kind [of unclean spirit] can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting’ —Mark 9:29

His disciples asked Him privately, ’Why could we not cast it out?’ ” (Mark 9:28). The answer lies in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. …

The “Go” of Renunciation

. . . someone said to Him, ’Lord, I will follow You wherever You go’ —Luke 9:57 

Our Lord’s attitude toward this man was one of severe discouragement, “for He knew what was in man” (John 2:25). We would have said, “I …

Prepared to Go

Theodore Bayley Hardy, a chaplain in the British Army, is one of the most highly decorated noncombatants of World War I. On his gravestone are etched some letters most people won’t understand: VC, DSO, MC. They reveal that Hardy—who died from battle wounds—received the Victoria Cross, Distinguished Service Order, and Military Cross for his service.

> Life Struggles

How our fears can keep us from intimacy with Jesus

Our fears take many forms. Often it’s a fear of being “found out” for who we really are; or we fear the loss of relationships with others because of circumstances that are out of our control. Like the demon-possessed man in the Bible, we’re afraid of what will happen to us if Jesus gets too close.

Even in our doubts, we have Jesus’ full acceptance

Belief is a mysterious commodity. A baby is born and we believe, someone dies and we lose our faith. Nicodemus had both doubts about Jesus and faith in Him and yet Jesus fully embraced him.

Discover why we are Beauty Full Beings

Statistics show that ninety-one percent of women don’t see themselves as beautiful. Yet when God created Adam and Eve, He said they were “very good.” Join us as we explore why, since the Fall, it’s so easy to believe the lie whispered to Eve, “If God loved you . . .”

> Marriage & Family

Learning to hear the heart of God–Marion Stroud’s Story

Marion cherished her free time, what little she had of it. As a wife, mother, and writer, it seemed she was always so busy! That’s why when the Lord laid it on her heart to give even more of herself by taking in two abandoned children, she hesitated. Marion shares how she learned that what […]

A Letter From My Father

On one of my free days, I decided to clear some of the drawers in my room. As I was sorting through some old letters in one of my drawers, I stumbled on a letter I had not seen in a long while and had clean forgotten about.

Finding marital reconciliation at the cross of Christ–Gerrie and Clyde’s Story

When Gerrie eloped with Clyde, it seemed nothing in the world could break them apart. But when the demands of life pressed in, they began to drift away from their commitment. Learn how this struggling couple found peace and reconciliation for their marriage at the cross of Christ.

> Relationships

The Hard Way

As the NFL season kicked off in full on Sunday, young quarterbacks began the process of on-the-job training. Rookies Jameis Winston (Buccaneers) and Marcus Mariota (Titans) began the long learning curve that involves moments of success, lots of bumps and bruises, myriads of situational decision-making opportunities, and the pain of carrying as much of the […]

5 “Harmless” Dating Tips

Whether you’re single or in a relationship, you may have encountered at least one of these five things I have been told about dating. Perhaps the advice was given out of good intentions, but more often than not, it left you feeling frustrated and miserable.

Be Reconciled

They sit beside each other on a straw mat—he in beige trousers and a white-and-purple shirt, she in a blue-and-yellow dress. “I participated in the killing of the son of this woman,” says Francois, one of thousands of Hutu men that perpetrated crimes against Tutsis during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. “He killed my child,” says Epiphanie, “then he came to ask my pardon.”

> Spiritual Growth

Playing with Fire

When I was a young boy, my mom warned me that I should never play with fire. Yet one day I decided to see what would happen if I did. Taking a book of matches and some paper, I went out into the backyard to experiment. With heart beating fast, I knelt on the ground, struck the match, and set the paper aflame.

Suddenly I saw my mother approaching. Not wanting to get caught, I put my legs over the flames to hide what I was doing. But Mom shouted, “Denny, move your legs! There’s a fire underneath them!” Fortunately, I…

The Power of Story

One of the first times I heard a Christian athlete tell his faith-story was when I was a mere freshman in Bible college. It was John Cartwright, who had followed Roger Staubach as the quarterback at the Naval Academy and broken many of Staubach’s passing records there. He had come to help coach our school’s […]

God’s Plans

An army officer may have an overall plan, but before each battle he has to receive and give out new instructions. Joshua, a leader of the Israelites, had to learn this lesson. After God’s people spent 40 years in the wilderness, God chose Joshua to lead them into the land He had promised to them.

The first stronghold they faced was the city of Jericho. Before the battle, Joshua saw the “commander of the Lord’s army” (probably the Lord Himself) standing opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. Joshua fell on his face and worshiped. In other words, he…

> When Life Hurts

Prayer in Times of Trouble

On October 27, 2014, BBC Africa posted on their social media outlets, “Today we are asking the question: ‘Is the widespread panic about #Ebola justified?’—and we’re looking for callers. . . . Statistically, Ebola still kills far fewer people than malaria and other diseases. So why has it dominated the headlines?”

Tissue Boxes

As I sat in the surgical waiting room, I had time to think. I had been here recently, when we received the jarring news that my only brother, much too young, was “brain dead.”

And so on this day, waiting for news about my wife who was undergoing a serious surgical procedure, I penned a lengthy note to her. Then, surrounded by nervous chatter and oblivious children, I listened for the quiet voice of God.

Suddenly, news! The surgeon wanted to see me. I went to a secluded room to wait. There, on the table, sat two tissue boxes, conspicuously available. They…

Knowing Us Inside Out

A typical question I get asked as a psychology major is: “Can you read my mind?” (No prizes for guessing my answer.) Perhaps that is why I have thought about how wonderful it would be if I could actually read another person’s mind. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only person to think that way, which is why I think Disney’s latest Pixar offering, Inside Out, appeals to so many of us.