Archive for January, 2009

15
Jan
09

Too easily satisfied

C. S. Lewis once wrote: 

“Our passions are not too strong, they are too weak. We are far too easily pleased”

I agree with Lewis. We are far too easily pleased. It’s far too easy for Satan, who is the master of counterfeits to produce some kind of fake version of something God has created and have us waste our time chasing this. I have been pondering the idea of counterfeits these past few weeks on a regular basis. My Mac-dictionary defines counterfeit like this: 

made in exact imitation of something valuable or important with the intention to deceive or defraud” (adjective) and “a fraudulent (made for the purpose of deception) imitation of something else; a forgery” (noun)

That’s what Satan does. It’s the only thing he is capable of doing. He cannot create anything. Only God can do that. But Satan is a copycat and most people buy into the counterfeit instead of the original. And they end up trapped. The old movie line goes that first time you buy drugs from somebody in the street it’s free, but the next time you’ll pay! That’s how Satan is. He makes lots of promises, and we buy into them. “if only you lose 40 pounds before March, he’ll love you“, “if only you were beautiful, you would have a boyfriend“, “if only you had more…….(fill in the blank), you would be satisfied“. 

He may try to tempt us to break what we know to be God’s good and life giving advice for our lives: “why not sleep with your boyfriend, everybody else does it, and besides who will get hurt….you guys love each other“, “why not cheat, steal, copy illegal stuff….it’s not like it’s gonna hurt anybody“, “why not watch some porn on the internet…she’ll never know“, “what’s wrong in fantasizing about another man….it’s not like your husband is satisfying you“, “of course you need to have an abortion….this thing in you is an inconvenience, and you can’t afford diapers and all that stuff, and besides listen to the doctor who said that it’s not even a baby yet, it’s just some thing in there

Or he may be attacking God’s promises: “abundant life? Yeah, right…it doesn’t really exist. Plus who cares anyway….as long as I’m saved it doesn’t matter what I do“, “peace? Joy? Love? Whatever…you do experience some of that, and this is as good as it gets“, “God changing you from within? Easy now…let’s not get too carried away, you don’t want to be too radical, and besides what’s wrong with you?

I am sick and tired of Satan’s counterfeit pleasures, and I’m angry at how often I give into them and buy into Satan’s lies in different areas of my life. 

Every time I do it, I face the consequences. Giving into Satan’s counterfeits instead of seeking God’s original and life giving truths always comes with a price tag. Every single time. You will always pay a price. God paid the price for you once and for all, but if we choose to ignore him, and still interact with Satan’s pleasures, there is a price to pay. And the price for many people I encounter in my work as a discipleship counselor or in private conversation are: broken relationships, broken marriages, mediocre relationships or marriages, mediocrity in every aspect of their lives, sadness, unfulfilled desires and dreams, shut down hearts, lack of intimacy with God and other people (“if they found out who I really am…then….”), depression, etc., etc., etc. Just as there is no end to the variety of temptations, there is no end to the consequences. They all have one thing in common though: they rob us of real life, joy, fulfillment, wonderful marriages and other relationships, peace, the experience of real, radical love, etc. 

There is always a price to pay. It may appear harmless and fun in the beginning when you walk down the well-worn path of following what seems to be your own desires, but are actually desires that Satan and indwelling sin have lured you into thinking are your own. This applies to you if you’re a believer (if you’re not a believer you’re just following the desires of your father, since you still belong to Satan!), and you have the Holy Spirit within you. Romans 5 and 6 point to the wonderful fact that as believer you have died with Christ, and you don’t have to follow the desires of the flesh. You can walk in the Spirit (Romans 8), abide in Christ (John 15), and be sure to experience abundant life (John 10:10) as you do that! But…you do have a choice, and I see myself, and many other people I know on an ongoing basis make the sad choice of walking after the flesh, and follow the desires of their old nature, even though this nature has been crucified and is dead and without power in our lives, unless we choose to give it power. Sin will feel good for a short time. But it’s just like peeing in your pants on a cold, cold day. It feels good for a little bit, and then it just feels even more cold than before. There is always a hangover after the party of sin. And next time it’s a little easier to compromise. It truly is a slow fade

I pray that God will open my eyes, and the eyes of my fellow believers to see in what areas of our lives we have given into Satan’s counterfeits. And I pray for the strength to walk away from the sin, and the mediocrity and death in life that sin always lead to (Romans 6:23). And I pray for the courage to keep our hearts open, and to dare to allow God to love us with his fierce, radical, overwhelming love. And I pray for the revelation of who we are in Christ, so we dare to live lives of freedom, joy, peace and dare to love people, and not end up like the multitudes of people who are in this situation so eloquently described by C. S. Lewis:

Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable

heartpicture

My heart is often broken, because I dare to love. I dare to share. I dare to be vulnerable. It’s often hard. It’s often tempting to hide. To not speak up. To compromise. But I want to live life to the fullest. I want to live a passionate life. I don’t want to be too easily satisfied by counterfeit pleasures. I want to drink deep of the pleasures of God. And I want to allow his deep pleasures to reach other people through me, as I surrender to him, his will and his knowledge.

Don’t be too easily satisfied. 

Torben – who thinks he needs to write a follow up blog about how to expose a counterfeit, and how to recognize an original! Will do that as soon as possible 🙂

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08
Jan
09

When God sings a song

Yesterday some friends and I were talking about being honest when you blog. I attempt to do that. I try to present the truth about what’s going on in my life as honest as I feel it’s appropriate for others to read. I don’t publish my personal journal on this blog site. That wouldn’t be helpful for anybody. And some might be scared if they saw the brutal honesty of my relationship with God…I know he doesn’t mind though!

But for this blog site to be meaningful to me I want to be honest. There is no point in pretending, and I try to be honest when I’m going through hard times, and it’s hard to hold on to the truths I know about God and who I am in him. Blog entries such as this and this point to that type of honesty. I have seen in my life though, that at times it’s actually easier for me to be really honest when things are not going the way I want them to, than it is when things are going “my way”. I want to learn more about being honest about the whole truth – both the good, the bad and the ugly! I meet many people who are either really good at just sharing things they are sad, angry and depressed about or other people again seem to think that it’s best to present a version of the truth where everything is always going great. None of these alternatives are honest, and I want to be a person who shares the truth no matter whether it’s sunshine or a grey, rainy day.

This morning I sent an email out to my fellow interns from my internship with Grace Ministries International (GMI). And based on their very excited responses the thought hit me that maybe I should share some of what I wrote to my friends there with you as well, dear blog reader. So here we go:

Actually I’m quite excited about life. January 1st 2008 God woke me up with a song in my mind. It was a song based on Jeremiah 29:11 where God promises that he has good plans for us and for me, and that he’s excited to reveal them. That was my verse for 2008, and it gave me great comfort in the midst of all the hoops and challenges we had to jump through to end up here in Marietta. A week ago on January 1st, 2009, I was excited to see if God would reveal a song to me. And lo and behold he actually did. It was the weirdest thing, since the song he gave me was a song I had definitely not heard for at least 10 years. It was a Danish pop-song from the 80’s, and all I could remember from the song, and I’m sure all God wanted me to know was the beginning line: “Oh, how I love you!” (“Åh, hvor jeg dog elsker dig!”). That was how he wanted me to start 2009! Quite exciting stuff 🙂

And right now it does feel like we’re in the midst of many, many blessings from God. My old, melancholy self is quite overwhelmed, but I’m enjoying the ride, and enjoying God showing off. I’m often reminded of the way Scott Brittin, President of Grace Ministries International, often prays where he says: “we boast in you, Lord”. And that’s what I do these days! I boast in the Lord. We were singing the song Blessed Be Your Name in church this past Sunday, and I was delighted to realize that these past few years I have learned a lot about praising God both when “life is all as it should be” and when I’m “on the road marked with suffering”.

So how is God showing off in our lives these days? He has given me the chance to participate in a wonderful ministry with GMI! He has given us a trip to Greenland next summer to visit a crazy, but cool supporter of ours who have invited us up to visit him in Greenland – he pays the whole thing, or as he put it: “the money is the Lord’s, but for practical reasons it’ll come out of my bank account”! He has started opening up some very good and meaningful relationships in our church! He has blessed us with a number of financial gifts these last months, so we’re doing very well financially in a day and age where all news is about how the economy is collapsing! He is blessing us with growing relationships with some of our family members – it’s great to be able to share the wonderful truths of grace, and life in Christ with family members who actually want to know! He has given us our car that I thank him for every day! He has given us a wonderful place to stay and our good health!

And we could go on and on….we’re very blessed to have each other and we continue to enjoy learning the new dance of grace together! Jeannette will be doing the Tuesday night internship at GMI, and we’re very excited to see what God has for her doing those evenings of listening to wonderful truths!

I feel unworthy to receive everything I feel we receive, but apparently God is just in a show off mood for that one reason: “Oh, how he loves me!

(You may want to save this blog entry in a special folder, it’s not too often you read such a happy clappy blog from me :-))

Blessings to all of you!

Love, Torben

06
Jan
09

“Happy birthday, dear bloooog…happy birthday to you!”

Today is a special day in the life of this blog site. It’s http://www.abrokencup.wordpress.com’s first birthday! 

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103 blog posts after this site was launched on January 6, 2008 while sitting in Kiev, Ukraine it’s time to look back at the first year and reveal some of the statistics regarding this blog.

6870 views in a year gives an average of just about 20 views each day. The busiest day was September 24 where 87 views were recorded. 

The most popular blog entry is somewhat of surprise to me, since the single topic that most people were wanting to know something about was the old hymn It Is Well With My Soul written by Horatio Spafford. 

Other very popular topics include two blog entries about my beautiful home country of Denmark titled The Happiest Country In The World and 16 Things You Should Know About Denmark

Many people ask the question: why is Christianity so boring, and hopefully they see in this very popular entry that it’s simply a lie that Christianity should be boring! Others look for info about one of my heroes, Watchman Nee, and others again are starting on a journey with Christ and would like to learn more about listening to your life. A large group of people struggle with doubt and would like to learn more about how to trust, while others again want info about LEGO!

Also a large number of people are dying to know why I don’t eat cheese and when spring actually starts…! 

And finally a good number of people are searching for questions relating to Christian faith: how to share the Gospel with others?, how can I be a blessing to others?, how does God view indifference?, can the Bible really be true?, and is there any rest to be found in my life?

Two blog entries suffer the disappointment of only having been read once (even though they include some excellent songs!): Three New Year’s Songs and I Hope You Dance – they will be hoping for better times the coming year 🙂

This concludes the first year of blog entries. I am looking forward to another year of writing thoughts, insights, funny stories, and all kinds of other stuff here on this site!

Blessings from a proud father of the birthday boy 🙂

Torben

04
Jan
09

Fireproof

We went to the local dollar theater tonight to watch the movie Fireproof

I came away from the movie with tears still waiting to dry out completely on my face. The movie is absolutely wonderful, and really a must-see if you are married and have any interest in keeping your marriage alive and beautiful, also if you don’t have big problems right now. And if you’re even dreaming about getting married some day, I would definitely also recommend this movie to the best of my ability! It’ll be out on DVD January 27, and we have already pre-ordered our copy right here. You can also get it at amazon.com

In a day and age where more than half of all marriages, also within the Church, fall apart…In a time where Hollywood send out movie after movie portraying the wonderful and God-ordained institution of marriage as either the death of romance and fun, something that is dull and that can only be spiced up by an affair with someone, or just as a place where the man is controlling his wife or more often these days the other way around where a hysterical and demanding wife controls her semi-brain dead doormat of a husband…In these days where I know many people making poor choices in the area of relationship…And in a time where it’s easy to lose hope and just accept that “that’s just the way it is“….this movie was like a breath of very fresh air!

Cynics will watch the movie and focus on the B-movie level acting, but if you decide to leave your heart open when you watch the movie, I’m confident that you will be touched by the beautiful and life giving message of hope that runs through the story in the movie. 

I thoroughly enjoyed watching a movie filled with real hope. And hope based on the only one we can ever trust fully: Jesus Christ! He is the hope for the hopeless. He is the hope for marriages that are falling apart right and left. He is the one who can fix any marriage, if the two spouses chose to surrender their own pride and allow Christ to teach them what humility and love really is!

How I rejoice when I meet couples, and I do know several of them, where they can tell me their story of how when they were on the brink of divorce, like in Fireproof, can tell of how God saved their marriages and their families. So often Christian movies have only focused on the salvation aspect of what Christ did for us. And that is certainly super important that he saved all believers from Hell and is offering salvation and Heaven at the end of our lives here. But there is more to it. That’s only the first half of the Gospel. The rest of the Gospel is about Christ giving us life and hope and changing us from within. And this movie portrays this fact beautifully. Human effort is not enough to have a marriage, or any other relationship, that is truly alive and life giving. Only when we find our strength and life in Christ do we have anything to offer to our spouse or our friend.

I hope you’ll rent/buy this DVD and watch it and allow God to speak words of hope into your life. He did to Jeannette and me tonight, and we thank God that he is the one who has kept our marriage alive and growing the first 3,5 years, and we’re delighted that we know he’ll continue to do that as we surrender ourselves and our will to him and his will.

Fireproof definitely gets six stars out of six! 🙂

Blessings, Torben

Here is a video from Fireproof with a beautiful worship song to God:




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