Archive for July, 2009

14
Jul
09

An open invitation from Jesus

Just today I was talking to a friend of mine about what a true relationship with Jesus looks like. It’s far removed from most peoples’ understanding, including many believers’, of what it is. It’s not a boring, strict, rule-based relationship. It’s vibrant. It’s life. It’s based on desire and honoring who we are as people.

Jesus extends two invitations. The first one is for all people. The invitation is to come to him and be transformed, be saved, become a new person. It’s the invitation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Many accept it and are transformed into new creations with their primary citizenship in the kingdom of God. Others reject it and refuse to admit that they are in need of a Savior.

There is another invitation that Jesus extends to his followers:

Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you rest“(Matthew 11:28)

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door. I will come in and eat with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20)

“Do you want to get well?” (John 5:6)

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It’s an invitation to enter into a close relationship with Jesus. It’s an invitation to allow him to be the Shepherd, the one who knows best, the one who is in charge, and us just to be the sheep following Jesus accepting that we don’t know best, and that Jesus is always looking out for our good no matter how painful the road we’re walking may feel.

But it is just that. It’s an invitation. It’s not a command. You don’t have to follow Christ. You don’t have to come to him and experience rest, freedom, joy and healing. If you choose to go your own way, even though his way is best, you are free to do that. You will be miserable. You will be missing out on the fullness of God’s blessings in your life. You will always feel that “the abundant life” (John 10:10) is an illusion. In Greek the same word that is used for commandment in the New Testament also means prescription. And that describes our relationship with Christ. He is the doctor. We come to him, hurting and sick, and he prescribes what will lead to a better and richer life for us. But we don’t have to take that medicine. We don’t have to surrender to his wisdom. We can choose to continue to exist as sick people instead of living as healed people.

Jesus is a gentleman through and through. He doesn’t force himself onto us. We don’t have to be close to him. John put his head on Jesus’ chest and heard his heartbeat (John 13), but the other 11 disciples never came that close. John just answered the call from Christ to come close to him and get to know him, and at the end of his life John’s primary way of describing himself in his Gospel was “the disciple Jesus loved“. The same John that used to be known as the Son of Thunder (Mark 3:17) ended his life as the apostle of love, because Jesus transformed him.

But you don’t have to be transformed. You can choose to live in the frustration and absolute mediocrity that follows when you choose to live in your flesh, and choose to walk contrary to who you really are. Paul describes this situation so eloquently in Romans 7, and unfortunately too many Christians mistakingly believe that Paul in that chapter is describing a “as good as it gets”scenario for a believer, when in fact he is doing the exact opposite! Romans 7 is just a description of how your life will look like when you’re trusting in yourself, your own resources and whatever you can muster up to live a good life. It’s misery, because it’s based on your flesh. It will never lead to the Normal Christian Life which Paul describes in Romans 8.

If you and I want intimacy with Christ there is only one condition: we have to accept that we cannot experience intimacy if we continue to ignore what he is trying to tell us! If we continue to live in ways that’s contrary to who we really are (which is the biblical definition of a hypocrite!), we will not experience the closeness, the intimacy, the vulnerability and the safety and peace that Christ offers to his followers. If we continue to walk our own way, we will not experience the fullness of the life and the new reality that Christ has bought for us. It’s not a matter of losing your salvation. If you are a believer that gift has been given to you, and it will never be taken away from you. But if you never unpack that gift, you don’t get much out of it in this life. You simply miss out on the fullness of the blessings of life in the kingdom of God.

But it is an open invitation. You can say no. But the invitation is there. It’s not for an elite group of believers. It’s for all of us. Jesus desires intimacy with all his children. Jesus desires honest relationship. Jesus desires for you to walk the way that he has set out for you. It will be the one leading to the life that you truly want. You may not understand that or feel that. But that’s the truth. Jesus is, after all the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6). Outside of his best will for your life, you will not experience the life you’re looking for.

Jesus invites you today. What are you going to say??

Blessings, Torben

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08
Jul
09

I will lift my eyes

When life is difficult, and I don’t know what to do. When questions are many, and I don’t have any great answers. When fear of the future and for today consumes me. When I feel like I’m going in circles instead of moving forward. When I feel like my flesh is too strong. When I feel I can’t hear the Holy Spirit within me. When I feel misunderstood and unappreciated by friends and loved ones.

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And….when I feel like dancing and rejoicing. When life is filled with great experiences and lots of comfort. When I see a clear direction in my life. When I sense the Holy Spirit gently loving me and confirming who I am. When I see that nothing Satan or my flesh can fling at me can overcome me. When I sense great fellowship, love and mutual interest with friends and experience the unity of the believers.

When life is in between extremes, and I feel like I’m just hanging in there and going through the motion. When I feel like I’m existing and not really living. When I see more hypocrisy than fruit in my life. When I feel like giving up one moment and then I feel on top of the world the next.

No matter when, I will lift my eyes to the maker of the mountains I can’t climb:

Blessings, Torben

02
Jul
09

I am one with Jesus Christ!

There are a couple of verses from 1. Corinthians that I keep coming back to these weeks as I share the truths of the believer’s union with Jesus Christ with people I talk to.

In chapter 6, verse 17 Paul talks about my union as a believer with Christ in this amazing way:

“The one who joins himself with the Lord is one spirit with Him”

One spirit! Not two spirits living together simultaneously. There is no separation. I am whole in Jesus Christ. His spirit and my spirit is one spirit, and Romans 8:16 tells us how the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus Christ, communicates this union-reality to my spirit:

“The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God”

The Holy Spirit convicts me of my righteousness and tells me: “you are mine! You belong to me. You are united with me! No matter what you think, do, say or feel, nothing will ever change that fact!”

Back to 1. Corinthians where Paul wants to make sure that the Corinthians, and you and me today, get the point of our holiness and oneness with Jesus Christ:

“Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are”

(1. Corinthians 3:16-17)

Did you get that last sentence: “for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you ARE!!!!” Not what you will become, not what maybe/probably/hopefully you will be some day….no this is your reality today!

Jesus wants to reveal these truths to his children. He doesn’t want us to think any longer in terms of him being outside of us, up in heaven somewhere, and us being down here separated from him. That is not the truth of the New Testament! I am the Temple of God! I am God’s dwelling place! He lives in me! And I am one with him! Either these statements are pure blasphemy…..or they are radical, life changing truths that will forever change us. It’s one or the other.

mariehone

I am reading a book by one of my favorite speakers and authors, Malcolm Smith, and I thought I would quote something from his magnificent book that spells out the reality of the life that is available to a New Covenant believer. His book is called The Power of The Blood Covenant and can be ordered right here.

Malcolm Smith writes the following: “The relationship of Christ the Vine and us believers (as described in the Gospel of John, chapter 15) describes the extent of the unity with Christ that we enjoy. It does forever away with the notion that He is “up there” or “over there” or that we come to a meeting of the church in order to find Him. We live joined to Him as the source of our life. The branches of the vine cannot function without being vitally united to the flow of vine sap that makes the vine a living vine. The life of the vine is the energy, the life source, that produces the fruit, but they do so from the sap that is surging through them and it is natural for vine life to produce grapes; the branches do not labor at an impossible task of producing a fruit foreign to the nature of the vine.

The living of the love of God in our behavior is not the ultimate marathon act of our willpower attempting to be like Jesus. Let us accept the fact that the life the new covenant portrays is impossible for the unaided human to accomplish. It can only take place by Jesus Himself living in us by his Spirit; He becomes the source and the ability to live the life of divine love that is the command of the new covenant. When this is understood, the Christian life is not a labor to produce a lifestyle that is foreign and awkward to us. When the center and source of our life is the fountain of love Himself, a lifestyle of divine love is not foreign and awkward but natural.

The grapes are the life of the vine now translated into a form that can be eaten and enjoyed by all. So the ultimate goal of the believer’s union is that the life of Christ may be released through his or her humanity to the blessing of the world.

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5)

Maybe even more wonderful is that Christ is joined to and known by the branches. By definition, when we speak of a vine, we include the branches – we do not call a vine branches a vine, but a stump! Vine life is expressed through the branches; the sap or life of the vine must have branches through which to express and produce the grapes. Apart from the branches, there would be no way of seeing the vine or identifying the nature of its life. We can never think of ourselves apart from our being joined to Christ; but even more amazingly, we cannot think of Jesus except as He is joined to His body, the church, through whom He lives and works on the earth today

Amen, brother, well put!

Blessings, Torben




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