Archive for December, 2008

31
Dec
08

Three new year’s songs

As I have been reflecting on the year of 2008 which took us from Ukraine to the United States, God has used three songs from Casting Crowns’ album The Altar And The Door to speak to me. I have been singing the song Prayer For A Friend many, many times this year. It’s been hard to see different loved ones making choices that take them away from the best God has for them. But this song has been meaningful to me in those times of feeling sad. It speaks in simple words about the heartache of seeing friends go down paths that don’t lead to life, and it speaks of the truth that all I can do when that happens is to lift my friends up to God, as I hope they do when they see me making poor choices in my life. 

Another song that has been powerful to me these last weeks is the song Somewhere In The Middle. It speaks about real life for most of us. The struggle between the safety of mediocrity and the risky business of total abandonment to God. The lyrics are simple, but the questions posed in the song are real and thought provoking – “just how close can I get, Lord, to my surrender without losing all control?“, and the answer to that question is that you have to lose all control in order to live a life of surrender. It’s scary, but great stuff to follow God 100%, and often we are caught in the middle

And finally a powerful and simple worship song titled I Know You’re There. No matter how many times I’m caught in the middle, and no matter how many tears I cry over my own mediocrity and lukewarmness, God is there. He is listening. He is real. He was the only hope for me and everybody else in 2008, and he will remain the same life giving God in 2009. He is the one I have chosen to put all my trust, faith and hope in, and I know he’ll never let me down.

Thus ends this year of blog entries. 101 blog entries in 2008 since I launched http://www.abrokencup.wordpress.com back in Janury. I hope you, dear reader, have been blessed by these blog entries. I have enjoyed writing them. It’s an important part of me processing my life, and on top of that it’s just plain old fun! 🙂

Happy new year! See you in 2009!

Blessings, Torben – who loves youtube! 🙂

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21
Dec
08

“In his name all oppression shall cease”

peaceAt church today we sang the old hymn “O Holy Night”. Today one line stood out to me. We sing about Jesus’ birth and we proclaim this interesting truth:

“IN HIS NAME ALL OPPRESSION SHALL CEASE!”

In Jesus’ name ALL oppression shall cease. All of it. All oppression in the whole world. Shouldn’t it have said something like: “some oppression will cease some day …maybe… possibly…at least in some places…and in a number of people…definitely maybe….“.

Some people may even take offense when they hear a line like that, because their experience is the opposite. The feel oppressed and burdened by people who claim to follow Jesus. Many atrocities have been committed in the name of Christ, and it’s hard for people who have been hurt to see the truth about Christ as the Freedom giver. 

I love Jesus’ mission statement in Luke chapter 4, verse 18-19 where he stands up and quotes Isaiah 61:1-2, and says the following about why he has come to the earth:

The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor

He came to set the oppressed free. How thankful I am that this is true. For more than 20 years I mistakenly thought that Jesus “just” came to set people, including me, free from Satan’s power and free from the punishment of sin (eternal condemnation in hell). This is part of the good news of Christ, but it’s only some of it. He also came to give me life today. And he has. And he is. He is setting me free from lies, misunderstandings and wounds in my life that use to define my relationship with him, with myself and with other people. He is tangibly, even for a slow learner like yours truly…, giving me more and more freedom and peace. He is doing exactly what he promised in the Scripture from Luke/Isaiah: He is preaching the good news of freedom, peace, joy, meaning, and purpose today, tomorrow and forevermore to me who is poor in myself. I can’t make myself experience abundant life. I am dependent on Christ within me – he is my only hope of glory! 

He is bringing me to places in my walk with him, where I get to experience more freedom. It’s a road of brokenness, and it’s a road with many tears, but it’s bringing me real freedom. I can feel free, and peaceful in the midst of hard times and good times. And he is opening my eyes to see more and more of who he really is. He is not the distant, disinterested, harsh God that I imagined most of my life. He is very different. And he has begun to reveal more and more of the truth about who he is, and who I am in him to me. 

Hopefully that’s what you see when you read through many of the blog entries on this page. It’s thoughts, insights, revelations, questions, frustrations, fun stuff, and randomness from a young(ish) man from Denmark who is on an interesting journey with Jesus Christ, who is not only the reason for the season, as the bumper stickers proclaim, but he is the reason for my life, my joy, my peace, my experience of love, and my hope for today, tomorrow and the rest of eternity. 

I wish all of you dear readers a very Merry Christmas! May you meet the child in the manger and see that he is the Messiah. He is the promised one. He is the one who is setting people free. And may you see your own freedom and Christmas peace in him!

Merry Christmas!

Torben

18
Dec
08

Early Christmas present :-)

My beloved F.C.København (Copenhagen), Scandinavia’s best football (soccer) team, gave me and the rest of their fans an early Christmas present tonight with a beautiful, nerve wrecking, and well-deserved 1-0 UEFA Cup victory in Brugge (Bruges) in Belgium against the local team Club Brugge KV. I thought this lovely blog site deserved some pictures from the triumph that secured a spot in the 1/16 finals of the UEFA Cup in the spring for F.C.København where they’ll face newly rich Manchester City from England, a team linked with purchases of several super stars over the winter (I doubt any of them actually want to play for City, but that’s another story)!

Good times! 🙂

santin

First a picture of the best player and match winner of the game, København’s Brazilian forward, CĂ©sar SantĂ­n, in the interesting looking orange jersey (that you can buy right here!). København have managed to play in five different colors of jersey this season alone, but this was their first game in all orange. (I just know there are tons of readers out there dying to know this type of info…. :-))

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And next a couple of pictures of happy København-players after a job very well done!

Merry Christmas, F.C.København!

Torben

16
Dec
08

The compost pile

compost-bin-pictureToday a friend of mine mentioned the picture of a compost pile. A compost pile is a nasty place that you may have in your garden. It’s a place of decay. A place of death. It’s a place where you can throw out your different food left overs, fruit peels, etc., and let it decay and die in a big pile. While it’s decaying it stinks. Life is sapped out, and it leaves a foul odor. It doesn’t look good to the eye either. It’s stuff we don’t appreciate with any of our senses. Maybe we even put it in a bin, so we don’t have to see it and smell it.

But a compost pile is a place of one of the miracles God has put into life. Death brings life. What was at some point decaying, ugly, foul-smelling garbage, becomes rich and fertile soil that can be used to bring life to your plants, crops, trees, and eventually rich fruit comes out of death.

I was encouraged to be reminded of this principle in life that death brings life. If I want to experience life in my relationship with Jeannette I must die to my own will and put her before me. If I want deep, open, life giving friendship it’s a process of mutual self-sacrificial love where I die to my preferences in order to love the other person. If I want a close relationship with God, I must surrender and die to my own agenda and submit myself to his in order to experience life. If I want to fully experience the abundant life Christ offers to his followers, I must embrace my c0-crucifixion with him, my co-death, my co-burial, my co-ascension and my co-seating with him next to God the Father. Any time I try to do things my way, I experience death and lack of life. And every time I die to my own ways and accept that God knows best, I get to experience life.

The Great Gardener

I have been feeling very heavy hearted these last few weeks, because of the decay and death I see in many of my friends life these days. Working with counseling doesn’t help in that way either. I see death in relationships, and I see the pain and frustration. And I see the counterfeit pleasures that we so easily settle for, and the mediocrity, frustration, guilt and ultimately shame that lead to. And I get sad. Sad that life isn’t happening as much as I dream about. The more I get to know God and his ability to bring forth life from death in my life, the higher dreams and desires I have for myself, my loved ones and other people I encounter to experience that life. But at times, I get sad when I see the hardships we put ourselves into with our choices.

But this morning God reminded me of the hope we have in him through the picture of a compost pile. God can and will bring life out of the death that I see so much of. It may have to hurt and stink a lot before we accept our death and allow him to bring life forth from the messes we make. And it hurts when I see friends who are in the process of paying the consequences of their poor choices. But it’s never my job to save anybody. It’s never my job to fix anybody. I’m not capable of that. So I surrender, once again, to the fact that God is the Great Gardener. God is the one who has brought and will bring life forth from my own garbage. And when he has done it so many times for me, I can rest in the fact that he will do it in the lives of the people I see who are making choices that are leading them away from the best that God has for them.

A platform to stand on

This is also a reminder to myself when I see my own poor choices. I am so glad that God is always in the business of bringing forth life, whether I work against him or not. I am so glad that what has hurt most in my life, the stuff I wished hadn’t happened is where he is bringing forth my strongest testimony. When you have experienced death and God’s healing and life in an area of your life, you have a platform to stand on, when you minister to other people. You have walked the walk, so you have an earned right to minister to other people and tell them about the hope we have in Christ. I am grateful that God is speaking through my compost pile. Some of my garbage is already bringing life to other people. Other areas are still in the process of decaying and dying, but I know that God will bring a rich testimony out of all of it, as long as I don’t jump out of the compost pile and try to fix myself. 

Blessings, Torben  – who is grateful that my relationship with God is not based on me and my performance, but on the steadfast love of God! And who has been reminded of the fact that nobody is immune to fall into whatever temptation. It’s only by abiding in God day by day that I stay on the best course God has for me. 

Be careful if you think you stand, you just might be sinking” (Casting Crowns, Slow Fade)

Pride goes before destruction. And a haughty spirit before stumbling” (Proverbs 16:18)

07
Dec
08

Planet Earth (God showing off!)

If there are any of you out there who have not seen BBC’s marvelous series Planet Earth, you really ought to try to catch a re-run somewhere on TV, or go to youtube and find some of the videos from the series.

Jeannette and I have been watching the series on TV here in America, and now we have borrowed the full five disc version from one of Jeannette’s sisters, Erika, and we’ve been watching it again the past few evenings.

It’s incredible TV. Amazing footage shot over periods of weeks and months all over the world by photographers, film makers and other TV people who truly must be dedicated to their work! I can’t even imagine that type of patience often in extreme weather conditions..!

But more so than just being great TV, for me this is a time of worship. Worship to the Creator of all of it. I don’t want to fall into the trap that Paul described in Romans 1 where he refers to people who “exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator” (Romans 1:25). The earth is beautiful and everything that’s created is glorious, but it’s not worthy of worship. God is the only one who is worthy of worship. And looking at his beautiful creation in the Planet Earth videos give wonderful reasons for worshiping the God of such rich imagination, diversity, and sense of humor!

Here is the first part of the episode called The Great Plains, which is definitely one of my favorites. Search for Planet Earth on youtube.com, and you will find a lot of these wonderful, awe inspiring and praise provoking videos.

Torben – who finds it hard to understand that David Attenborough, who narrated all of Planet Earth for BBC, still is a strong agnostic who claims he hasn’t seen enough evidence for God creating the world after having witnessed all of God’s amazing beauty all over the world in this series and in his 50 years of working with natural history!

O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder, consider all the worlds thy hands have made. I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, thy power throughout the universe displayed.

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee, how great thou art, how great thou art. Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee, how great thou art, how great thou art!

06
Dec
08

Renew me

This is one of my favorite songs. It’s a cry from my heart. And it’s cry to the only one who can truly renew me and change me into who I want to be. Christian growth and renewal is never about me doing something or getting something, or finally pulling myself more together. It’s about Christ changing me from within. I do want to do what Christ wants. I have been given a new heart by Christ. He lives in it. And it’s a lie right from the pit of hell that I am not set free to follow God’s will for my life. Satan still tries to tempt me to follow his ways, that always lead to mediocrity, frustration, fear, and ultimately death here in life. And I can choose to follow him. But that’s not what my new heart, that’s not what the spirit within me wants. Following Satan and the ideas of this world, is not being faithful to my new identity as a believer. I am a new and perfect creation in Christ in my spirit. And I want to follow him and his will for my life. And I realize the need, daily, to be renewed by him, so not only my spirit, but also my will, emotions, thoughts and actions are transformed by him. Transformed from the inside out. Transformation is always from the inside out. It’s Christ changing me from within. I thank God that it’s not about me and my effort, but about his!

Change that’s based on do’s, don’ts and fear of punishment from God or other people will only last for a short while. It’s based on the law, and law only brings death. Real, lasting change and transformation comes from grace, comes from within. Change comes from seeing at a deeper level who I am as a believer and a child of God, and who I am not! I need more change like this. I need to experience so much change in my life. I long for it. But I know that I am dependent on God doing it in me and through me. So I ask him to reveal himself to me, and to reveal who I am in him. Because I know that’s how I will be changed day by day.

Here is a video with Avalon’s song “Renew Me”. Watch it, read the lyrics, and make it a prayer of your own to the Savior who lives within you, if you have put your faith and trust in him.

And a quote from Thomas Merton: “There is only one problem on which all my existence, my peace, and my happiness depend: to discover myself in discovering God. If I find Him, I will find myself, and if I find my true self, I will find Him“, and Saint Augustine prayed along the same lines: “Grant, Lord, that I may know myself that I may know You

Blessings, Torben

03
Dec
08

About advent (and Ă¦bleskiver)

1advent

It’s advent (Latin: adventus – ‘arrival’ from ‘advenire’, to ‘ad’, come ‘venire’, thanks Mac dictionary!). It’s a time of looking forward to Christmas later this month. It’s a time of celebrating that Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Savior of the world, came to this world 2000 years ago. And it’s a time of looking forward to his second coming where he will gather to himself all those who have put their faith and trust in him. Advent is a time of expectation. Lots of people look forward to Christmas. Many people get very religious once a year, and for a month every year Jesus Christ is everywhere, even in the most post-Christian countries such as my own home country, Denmark.

I was reminded of that advent can also be a time of fear. Christ coming back to judge all those who have not put their faith in him will be a horrible day. Advent for non-believers (whether it’s your nice grandmother or some mass murderer who doesn’t believe in Jesus) means that they will have to face the eternal consequences of hell and separation from God and goodness, because they rejected Christ as Savior and Lord.

But advent is first and foremost a time of hope. Christ hasn’t returned yet. It’s still a season of grace. It’s still a time where thousands of people every year enter the kingdom of God and get to participate in Christ’s life today and for all eternity. It’s not too late to listen to God’s voice calling you to come to him. Advent reminds us that Christ is coming. And it reminds me of my favorite Christmas verse in the Bible. It’s a simple little verse in the beginning of the gospel of Matthew: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel – which means “God with us“” (Matthew 1:23). It’s a direct quote from Isaiah 7:14 where the prophet Isaiah got this vision from God that some day God would be with his people. God would walk among his children. God would become a man.

A completely unbelievable and almost absurd thought for Isaiah and the people who heard his prophecies. God here on earth? God as a man? It was blasphemy to even consider the fact that God would become one of us. They didn’t understand that this was God’s ultimate plan for bringing mankind back to him. God knew that if he wanted a relationship based on love and joy and not on fear, he would have to come in the form of a human being. He had to empty himself, and become one of us (Philippians 2). Eugene Peterson’s version of John 1:14 in his paraphrase of the Bible called The Message puts what Christ did in this way: “The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood“. The living, eternal God moved into the neighborhood!

And the miracle happened. Christ came. Immanuel came. God was with us. And God is with us today. God is a reality in my heart today. He has chosen to live there. He is changing me more and more into the likeness of his son through the trials and joys of my life (Romans 8:28-29). And I’m looking forward to Jesus coming back again. I don’t fear that day at all. I know that no matter what happens. No matter what I think, feel, do or don’t do, I’m safe. I’m bought by Christ on the Cross. I belong to him. And nothing and nobody can ever snatch me out of his hand (John 10:28).

I long for the day where I will get to see Jesus face to face on the new earth. I long to be and live on a perfect earth without any pain, sadness and problems. I long to be truly free. Free to be me. Free to be who I was always meant to be. I get to see more and more of who I truly am in Christ, and I’m thankful for that, but I long for the day where I won’t have any more questions, but can just rest fully knowing God and fully knowing myself.

So happy December! May it be a time of thinking about Jesus Christ and the miracle of God being with us. God being in us. God accepting everybody who calls on the name of Jesus as his children. And may you also remember and look forward to Christ’s second coming. I pray with the authors of the Bible: “Christ come soon! I long to see you! I understand that you wait with your coming, because you want more people to accept you as Lord and Savior. And I pray that I may play my part in helping more people see who you are and receive life in you while I wait for you to come!

Here is a video with Selah’s beautiful version of “O come, O come Emmanuel” from their excellent Christmas cd “Rose of Bethlehem” which is definitely worth the $6.99!!

Blessings, Torben – who is enjoying the beautiful Christmas tree we got, and is excited that a local store has Danish Christmas stuff, so I can make Christmas delicacies such as æbleskiver (using this to make it), glögg, risalamande, jødekager and vanillekranse – good stuff!!




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