Archive for February, 2009

25
Feb
09

Longing

My friend, Carsten Almann Levisen, has written a beautiful song about longing. It’s in Danish, but here is an attempt at translating the words:

Longing, we’re longing, Jesus we’re longing to see you as King and God. Longing, we’re longing, Jesus we’re longing after the earth where peace and freedom live

Longing, we’re longing, Jesus we’re longing to see you as King and God. Longing, we’re longing, Jesus we’re longing after the earth where peace and freedom live – the new earth

When you transform the earth, and we will live together as settlers on the new earth. When you transform the earth, and we will live together as settlers on the new earth.

Longing, we’re longing, Jesus we’re longing to see you as King and God. Longing, we’re longing, Jesus we’re longing after the earth where peace and freedom live – the new earth

When you transform the earth, and we will live together as settlers on the new earth. When you transform the earth, and we will live together as settlers on the new earth

God, we’re longing, longing after you

rainbow

“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:22-23)

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away”” (Revelation 21:1-4)

newearth

I can only conclude this blog entry the way John concludes the Book of Revelation: “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus

Torben – who longs to be on the new earth

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24
Feb
09

The originals

I have many, far too many, original football (soccer) shirts. They are expensive, the material is expensive and high quality and they look just like the ones the football stars wear. I can spot most fake football shirts from a long distance. Most people can’t see the difference, and will be happy to buy a Real Madrid, Arsenal or Spain shirt for just a fraction of the price of the original Adidas or Nike shirts. Counterfeits come in many different qualities, and when it comes to the best copies of the real deal it takes a special eye to expose the counterfeit.

A while ago I wrote a blog entry about counterfeits, and this is a follow up to that. What does it take to expose a counterfeit? How can you begin to realize what’s real in life and what’s not? How can you get a revelation of the lies and deceptions that we so easily find ourselves entangled in? And how do you get to know the truth that truly sets you free to a life of freedom, peace, joy, excitement and passion without hangovers or loss of life?

Expert needed

In order to see whether a football shirt is original or not you need an expert. I am pretty good at determining whether a shirt is original or not, but actually it would take somebody working at Nike or Adidas to be able to assert with 100% certainty whether a shirt is original or not. We need to ask the manufacturer who was responsible for creating the original whether something is an original or just a counterfeit. And what holds true for football shirts, sunglasses, computers or whatever holds true for much more important things in our lives too. I am not an authority when it comes to expose the lies and counterfeits of Satan. Only God is the expert when it comes to exposing Satan. God is the only original Creator. He spoke and he created. He speaks and he creates today too. Everything that’s good, true, worthy of spending our time on and life giving are gifts directly from Creator God. He is the only one who can produce original, authentic, meaningful life in us – the abundant life that Jesus promised his followers in John 10:10. He is the only one we can trust 100%. He never gives us anything that’s fake and that comes with a hidden price tag or a hangover. His life is pure life. The relationships that he instigates between people are founded on life, peace, joy, mutual respect and true self-sacrificial love. The counterfeits that Satan offers, and that so many people buy into, are based upon mutually sucking love, life, accept and worth out of each other. Satan will tell you that it’s love, and the real thing, but it’s not. The counterfeits wear you out and will never produce the life you hope they will, the originals give life.

Seek God’s originals

I’m looking for love, I’ll settle for sex” a bumper sticker proclaims. And the message of “we are looking for the original, but we will settle for something smaller” is a deep truth about the condition of us as human beings. Sex within the framework of marriage between two spouses surrendered to God and mutually committed to each other is a beautiful expression of love. But sex outside of this frame is empty and just a counterfeit. It may satisfy some physical cravings in us, but it will not produce the intimacy, sense of security, sense of worth and sense of being accepted unconditionally that we all long for. Hollywood teaches us that love equals sex. We see two people on the big screen who meet, chat a little bit, are attracted physically to each other, end up having sex, and maybe they even proclaim that now they love each other. And millions buy into this. If I have sex, I am loved. If I am in any kind of relationship, no matter how shallow it is, I am loved. But the truth is that Hollywood doesn’t portray the emptiness that is an automatic side effect of buying into Satan’s counterfeits. There is no sense of worth, love and intimacy the morning after. It was never there. 

God’s originals always produce the life they promise. When God says that you will experience life, joy, peace and love when you follow him and allow him to be in control, he always delivers. God never lies. His promises will always be fulfilled. 

I have spent many years chasing Satan’s counterfeits, and they never satisfied me. I have spent less time being overwhelmed by God’s originals, but I’m so thankful that God has shown me more and more of the real deal these past few years. I am looking forward to embracing more and more of the truly abundant life, peace and joy Christ offers when we’re fully surrendered to him!

Blessings, Torben

21
Feb
09

Listen

I have these wise words about the difficult art of listening posted on the mirror in our bathroom, so I’m daily reminded of the importance of giving other people the precious gift of listening to them. Not giving them advice. Not fixing them. Not rescuing them. Just listening.

cherries1

Listen

When I ask you to listen to me and you start giving advice, you have not done what I ask.

When I ask you to listen to me, and you begin to tell me why I should not feel that way, you have trapped my feelings

When I ask you to listen to me and you feel you have to do something to solve my problem, you have failed me, strange as that may seem.

Listen. All I ask is that you listen. Not talk or do…just listen and hear me.

When you accept as a simple fact that I do feel what I feel, no matter how irrational, then I can quit trying to convince you and get about the business of understanding what’s behind the irrational feeling.

When that’s clear, the answers are obvious and I don’t need advice

Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry” (James 1:19)

Torben – who is learning that when I really listen to people, often times God comes through and reveals himself to people when they speak. I don’t even have to say anything!

15
Feb
09

“That was an overreaction…” :-)

I just had to put this wonderful youtube-video of a Chinese woman completely losing it in an airport in Hong Kong on this blog site. Apparently she is told that her plane has just left. And even though that can be very irritating, I do think her reaction is a little extreme…especially considering that the next available plane for her destination left in two hours. But hey….take a look and see what you think 🙂 :

And here is another video with a beautiful overreaction this time featuring Mr. Andy Bernard from The Office. Definitely one of my favorite scenes from that show:

Torben

15
Feb
09

Hala Raúl!!

rauljubel

As a boy growing up I had my football (soccer) heroes that I followed with great passion. Michael Laudrup was the greatest of them. The Danish magician was a joy to follow whenever he played, even though I admit it was hard to see him play for FC Barcelona for a number of years (!). The Dutch Milan star Ruud Gullit was another hero, and more recently I loved watching Zinédine Zidane play. The only one left of my childhood heroes who is still playing at top level is the Spanish forward Raúl González Blanco, or just Raúl who plays for my favorite club (together with F.C.København, Arsenal FC and Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk from Ukraine!) Real Madrid in Spain.

I have always loved watching Raúl play since the very first game he played back when he was only 17 in 1995. In 1995 I watched Denmark play Spain in the qualifications for the European Championship in England in 1996. The game ended 1-1 and wasn’t that memorable in itself. But I still remember that evening in Parken in Copenhagen very clearly, because I spotted that the Spanish under-21-team was watching the game in the same area as I was sitting. Raúl was a part of that team and I went down and got his autograph on my match program. By far the coolest autograph I’ve ever gotten!

young-raul

And today, 14 years later, Raúl just scored another brace for Real Madrid and became the highest scoring Real Madrid player in history with 309 goals for the royal whites. He is also the all-time topscorer of the Champions League, of all European club tournaments in general and for the Spanish national team. An amazing achievement by Real Madrid’s captain who has always been the very definition of a gentleman on and outside the football field. He has played more than 600 competitive games for Real Madrid and Spain, and he has never received a red card in his entire career!

I will be sad the day Raúl hangs up his boots, and I guess that will remind me that my childhood days are finally over 🙂

But until that day, and Raúl has said that he will play on for another few seasons, I will enjoy watching him play, lead and score goals for the most successful club in the history of football, Real Madrid!

Hala Real Madrid and Hala Raúl!

Torben – who hopes his faithful blog readers will forgive all these ramblings about a guy that most of you probably don’t know at all 🙂

Here is a video with some of Raúl’s great goals for Real Madrid. Enjoy!

08
Feb
09

Trust

The other day I was talking to a guy about whether we can actually trust ourselves. We talk about trust as something that is assumed between married people, good friends, or even between business associates. Some don’t trust anybody. Some trust too much and get easily hurt in the process. Trust is defined as a: “firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something“. Trust is something foundational. I trust that my car won’t blow up even though it is a piece of metal filled with elements that could potentially explode any second. I trust that the bed I’m sitting on won’t crash under me. And I trust that the sun will rise tomorrow again.

But trust between people is something special. When trust has been broken between people, we talk about how difficult it is to start trusting people again. We talk about that people have to earn our trust. “Earn trust” is really a rather strange concept. I am not quite sure you can earn anything else as important as trust. And in reality I don’t believe you can earn trust. Trust is a gift. It’s a precious gift we give each other in relationships. Children are naturally trusting. God made them that way. But it doesn’t take long for our trust filled hearts to be broken. Satan is very interested in making sure that we interpret messages about ourselves that we receive from people, so it boils down to the point where we trust nobody or very few people. 

Trust is a gift that is not be given away lightly. Don’t give your heart away to anybody. That’s being reckless and setting yourself up for heartache. We can tell too much too soon, and many people do that and end up heartbroken and damaged. 

The truth is, as Charles Solomon put it: “There are two kinds of people in the world. Those who have been rejected. And those who have been rejected a lot“. All of us have been hurt, and our trust has been abused.

We can’t really trust anybody

I believe the bottom line as far as trust goes, and that’s also what I ended up telling my friend, is that I can’t really trust anybody. Not 100%. Because we are all human beings capable of doing terrible things under the wrong circumstances. Even the nicest among us are people who can end up doing terrible things to you or just say a random comment that pierces your heart. Only one is completely trustworthy, and only one can give us the gift of trust to pass on to other people so we dare to be known for who we really are, not who we wish we were or who we hope to become. Only Jesus is 100% trustworthy. The one who is the same “yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8 ) is the only one I can always trust. He will never do anything to hurt me. He will never reject me. He will never condemn me or judge me. He will never leave me. He will never run away no matter what I do. He will always love me completely just the way I am. He is living in me and changing my life from within.

370c6d987786646c3445f97cz511

I love the Gospel of John. And as I was praying with my friend, God reminded me of a passage from John 14. It comes right after Jesus has told his disciples that all of them, including his best friends John, Peter and James would desert him and run away. They were all telling Jesus that he could definitely trust them…but Jesus knew the truth. They weren’t trustworthy. But then in the first few verses of John 14, Jesus makes it clear who they can really trust and who they must put their trust in for everything: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me” and he goes on to talk about the place he is preparing for his disciples in Heaven and then he talks about himself as “the Way, the Truth and the Life” (John 14: 9). 

I love that piece of truth. Jesus is worthy of trust. And because I know him and he lives in me, I can dare to trust people around me. I can dare to trust them with precious pieces of my heart, because I know that even if they would abuse the information and potentially desert me, there is somebody who will never ever do that. 

I have grown to trust Jesus more and more with my heart. He already knows me completely. But I have grown to trust him with my hurts and my wounds. I trust him to be my Good Shepherd who will lead me wherever I need to go to be formed more and more into his own image (Romans 8:28-29) whether that’s through the valley of the shadow of death or to the still waters (Psalm 23). 

Torben – who is happy that his relationship with Jesus is based on who Christ is and not on something I have to muster up!

06
Feb
09

Now in Danish (nu på dansk).. :-)

I haven’t been writing anything here the past couple of weeks, but I promise to return during this weekend with some blog entries about things I’ve been pondering. But for now I have promised to write something about what I do in my everyday life with Grace Ministries International in Danish, so unless you understand Danish, you won’t get much out of this particular blog entry 🙂

Jeg blev spurgt om, jeg ikke kunne skrive noget på min blog – på dansk – om, hvad vi går og laver herovre i USA. Som forespurgt, så gjort! 

Kennesaw State University

Jeannettes hverdag er fyldt op med universitetsstudier på Kennesaw State University, som ligger 20 minutters kørsel fra, hvor vi bor. Det har været hendes drøm, siden hun var en lille pige at få lov at studere og færdiggøre en uddannelse, og da Gud endelig fik mig overbevist om, at Jeannettes drøm er en drøm, som Gud har givet hende, var jeg – efter 4,5 års overtalelse fra himmelen – klar til at være helt med på ideen om, at Jeannette skal studere. Hun studerer psykologi og human services (som er en afart af noget sociologi/social videnskab/social rådgivning-agtigt). Hun er glad for, at det er muligt for hende at kombinere disse to interesseområder, som også begge indeholder viden og indsigt, som vil hjælpe både nu, men især i fremtiden, hvor vi stadig regner med, at vi begge to skal tjene fuldtids i Guds riges arbejde et eller andet sted på kloden.

Grace Ministries International

Som det formentlig vil være langt de fleste læsere af denne blog bekendt, har Gud arbejdet fantastisk meget i Jeannette og jeg de seneste to år indenfor området Identitet i Kristus. Gud har vist os flere af de løgne om os selv, om ham, og om andre mennesker, som vi har troet på, og hvor vi har levet ud fra de sår og de svære oplevelser, som vi allesammen går igennem som mennesker. Det har gjort ondt. Vi har grædt mange tårer, men vi er fantastisk glade for, at Gud ripper op i de sår, som ikke er helede ordentligt, fordi de ikke har været helet af Gud, men bare har fået sat et plaster på, for at vi kunne komme igennem hverdagen. Jeg tænker ofte på oplevelsen, jeg havde som en ung knægt, da jeg var faldet på min cykel og min højre håndflade var et stort åbent, blødende sår. Vi tog på skadestuen, og jeg håbede lettere naivt, at den flinke sygeplejerske bare ville putte et plaster på såret og så ville alt være godt igen. Det gik ikke helt som håbet. Derimod tog hun en hård gummibørste og tog et fast greb om min hånd og skrubbede alle de småsten og asfaltpartikler, der var i såret. Jeg skreg i vilden sky, men det var en nødvendig procedure. Min hånd har det fint i dag, men hvis sygeplejersken blot havde puttet et plaster på, eller hvis vi havde tænkt, at det nok selv skal hele sig selv ud fra “tiden læger alle sår”devisen, ville der være gået betændelse i såret, og hvem ved så, hvad der ville være sket med min hånd…

Vejleder ikke rådgiver

Jeg snakkede med min gode ven, Carsten Almann Levisen, som er lingvistikekspert, og vi blev enige om, at en bedre dansk oversættelse af ordet counselor er vejleder og ikke rådgiver, da det ikke er min opgave at give råd. Så jeg må være noget, der lyder noget i retning af discipeltræningsvejleder, eller måske spirituel vejleder, selv om det godt nok lyder lidt for fint 🙂 . For det er det, jeg er ved at lære om. Jeg er ved at lære om at vandre med folk, der kommer ind til vejledning, når livet er gået itu på en eller anden måde (skilsmisse, utroskab, finansielle problemer, kaotiske venskaber og andre forhold, fyring fra arbejdet….you name it – Gud bruger mange metoder på at få os i tale!) eller de mange folk, der kommer fordi Jesus’ løfter om, at han ville give liv i overflod (Johannes evangeliet 10:10) og, at hans byrde er let (Matthæus evangliet 11:30)enten er løgne, eller i hvert fald ikke mange folks daglige oplevelse. Jeg er en rejseguide, der kan tage folk med til steder, hvor jeg selv har været. Jeg kender ikke deres historie og har ikke levet deres liv, men jeg ved, at vejen til liv, heling, fred og glæde går gennem “dødsskyggens dal” (Salme 23) med Jesus. Jeg ved, at han er den Gode Hyrde, der leder sine får, hvorhen han ser, at det er bedst for dem at gå – uanset om vi nu er enige eller ej! Jeg kan ikke tage folk med til steder, hvor jeg ikke selv har været, og den nedbrydnings- og genopbygningsprocess, som Gud har haft gang i de seneste tre år, er grunden til, at jeg overhovedet tør kaste mig ud i det arbejde, vi gør. Det er jo i sig selv skræmmende at føre folk dybt ind i den smerte, som de har forsøgt at glemme i mange år eller hjælpe dem med at tilgive de folk, som de har hadet eller ignoreret gennem årtier. Det er skræmmende, og jeg ville ikke turde gøre det, hvis jeg ikke VED, at Gud vil vise sig lige midt i smerten, lige midt i det, der ser så svært og uoverkommeligt ud. Finten ved det kristne liv er, at det ALDRIG var meningen, at jeg skulle være i stand til at leve det. Det var altid meningen, at Kristus, som bor i alle kristne, skulle leve sit liv gennem os. Vi er hans brudte koppe, hvor det livgivende vand, som han bringer kan fosse ud af. Intet mindre. Intet mere. Men langt størstedelen af alle kristne har endnu ikke fået en åbenbaring af deres egen utilstrækkelighed, så de forsøger at fikse dem selv og andre mennesker, de forsøger at opføre sig sådan, at andre mennesker ikke fordømmer dem eller helst ser op til dem, måske forsøger de endda at imponere Gud med deres åndelige gerninger. Bundlinjen er, at vi forsøger at leve vores liv baseret på vores egne ressourcer med Gud som en hjælper, som vi kalder på, når lokummet virkelig brænder. Men Gud ønsker at bringe os til enden af os selv, hvor vi møder ham, hvor vi får lov at deltage i lidelsesfællesskabet med Kristus (Filipperbrevet 3:10), og hvor vi får lov at opleve den fred og den glæde, der er når vi med Paulus kan udbryde: “jeg er ved godt mod, når  jeg er svag, når jeg bliver mishandlet og er i nød, når jeg er under forfølgelser og vanskeligheder for Kristi skyld: for når jeg er svag, da er jeg stærk” (2. Korinterbrev 12:10). Vi er netop stærke, når vi er svage. Vi er stærke i Kristus, Kristus er stærk i os. Og jeg glæder mig over, når folk vi arbejder med først får en åbenbaring af deres egen utilstrækkelighed, af deres eget kød og deres egne ressourcer, som de har brugt til at få opfyldt deres Gud-givne behov for kærlighed, accept, værdi og sikkerhed og ser, at de i dem selv er fiaskoer! Men Jesus døde netop for fiaskoer, og Kristus ønsker at leve sit liv gennem os. Jeg elsker passagen fra John 6:29, hvor Jesus får spørgsmålet om, hvad folk kan gøre for at gøre Guds gerninger, og Jesus – i stedet for at give en lang liste over, hvad folk skal gøre og ikke gøre – blot siger dette: “Tro på mig“. Det er det eneste, vi skal gøre. Kristus gør resten. Og selv det at tro, er også noget Gud skaber i os – hvor anderledes og fantastisk er budskabet om brudthed, utilstrækkelighed og svaghed i os selv, men helhed, tilstrækkelighed og styrke i Kristus. Det handler aldrig om, at vi skal tage os sammen. Det handler altid om at komme til det sted, hvor vi overgiver os helt til Gud og med alt, hvad vi ejer og har og bekender, at Gud altid ved bedst!

Undervisning og internationalt arbejde

Udover vejledning af folk fra begge køn i alle aldre og fra alle samfundslag arbejder jeg også med undervisning i de Nådelivskonferencer, som vi afholder hver måned. I marts skal jeg undervise og fortælle om, hvordan mit kød ser ud, og om hvad Guds løsning er på vores problemer. Det glæder jeg mig meget til. Jeg elsker at undervise, men det bliver en ny udfordring at undervise mere systematisk følgende en manual og også bruge power point som undervisningsredskab. Jeg er også en slags næstkommanderende i den internationale del af GMIs arbejde. Min mentor og supervisor, Tim, er lederen af det internationale arbejde, og han holder kontakten ved lige til de folk, vi har der arbejder med at bringe de gode nyheder om liv og identitet i Kristus til folk i Chile, Brasilien, Colombia, Ungarn, Kroatien, Bulgarien, Ukraine og Rumænien, hvor vi har forskellige folk med tilknytning til GMI. I oktober skal Tim og jeg lede en ugelang konference i enten Rumænien eller Bulgarien, hvor alle de forskellige GMI-tilknyttede folk, der arbejder i Europa mødes og lærer nyt.

Spørgsmål velkomne

Jeg håber dette giver et lidt bedre indblik i, hvad vi går og laver pt. Vi har også nye muligheder, der er ved at præsentere sig i vores kirke, Marietta Vineyard. Også her bliver hovedarbejdsområdet discipeltræning, og det er planen, at jeg skal undervise om identitet i Kristus måske mandag aften, og på et tidspunkt skal vi lede en cellegruppe, hvor det budskab også bliver fokus. Udover det er jeg allerede nu begyndt at stille mig til rådighed for folk fra kirken, der om torsdagen kan komme og modtage vejledning, få sig en sludder om deres liv, eller hvad de nu har brug for. Vi ønsker at være til rådighed for folk i kirken, og vi er begejstrede for, at det ser ud til, at mulighederne er ved at åbne sig op.

Har du nogle spørgsmål til noget af det ovenstående, eller vil du bare gerne vide noget mere om noget, jeg ikke beskrev, er du meget ,meget velkomment til enten at skrive en kommentar her på siden eller maile mig på torbenriisjensen@hotmail.com

Guds fred!

Jeannette og Torben




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