Archive for January, 2010

20
Jan
10

Proud to belong to Jesus

It was my 33rd birthday yesterday. I had a splendid day, and I don’t feel too different from those days in my past when I was 32 🙂 A good friend of mine wrote something in a birthday greeting that made me think: “I am glad you do what you’re best at: active service for our Lord that you’re so proud to belong to“. The last sentence stopped me in my tracks. Am I truly proud to belong to God? And the answer from my spirit and heart was a resounding “YES”.

Yes, I am proud to belong to Jesus! I am proud that I belong to the Savior of the world! I am glad that I know, love and follow the only hope for all people on this planet! I am proud that I know the Gospel of truth about Jesus that is setting people free! I am proud to say that I am a very different person today than just a few years ago, because Jesus Christ is changing me! I am not ashamed of the Gospel! I am not ashamed of knowing the truth!

I listened to Delirious?’ old song Not Ashamed of the Gospel, and I felt my heart soar. The song’s lyrics are very true for me. While I am sad to see many people I know who had a stronger desire to follow Christ 10-15 years ago than they do today, I am so happy that I know/sense/feel a much stronger desire in me to truly know Christ than I had 15 years ago or even 5 years ago. Christ has my attention, and I truly want to know him in the ways that Paul so eloquently describe right here:

“But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.

I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead”

(Philippians 3:7-11)

With Paul I boast in the Lord! I boast in who God is!

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16). I have seen the power of the gospel. I have seen God set people free. Just yesterday I had the privilege of seeing a friend stepping out into a greater experience of freedom, because he encountered the Truth who is Jesus himself (John 14:6).

Blessings, Torben

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16
Jan
10

Hard To Get

I’ve been sick these past few days. It only served to highlight the gray place I feel I’m in. Personally. Ministry wise. It all looks very gray. Not absolutely dark or black. Just gray. I feel stuck. I feel God is far away. I know he is not. But I feel overwhelmed by my feelings. I’m often, as someone once pointed out, a black and white thinker controlled by my emotions. That’s the case these days. And tonight I thought of one of my all-time favorite songs. Considering the fact that many artists have covered a multitude of Rich Mullins’ songs over the past many years, it strikes me as remarkable that I can only find one person, Phil Stacey, who has taken it upon himself to make a cover version of one of Rich’s most honest and powerful songs, Hard To Get.

I guess I understand why. It’s a brutally honest song. We often think, we are not supposed to feel the way Rich feels in the song. But we all do at times. Some of us more often than others. You become very vulnerable if you express these feelings to other people. So most people hide them. We put on a happy smile. We fake it. And we hope these feelings will just disappear. We don’t invite God into them.

This song is an invitation. An invitation to God. A series of questions thrown at God. There are some accusations. Not unfair accusations. It’s not a matter of right or wrong. This is real life. This is not polished-up religion or keeping-up-appearances. This is raw, felt reality. And God is the one who needs to answer. You can’t answer for me. I can’t answer for you. God needs to answer. And he will. I trust that he will. So did Rich. That’s why he wrote the song. He wasn’t afraid to get naked in front of God with the mess that was his life.

I’m there too. I feel lots of things right now. Most of them don’t lead to life. These feelings steal life. I am tempted to agree with them and agree that myself, God, other people and life are all more or less hopeless. But I choose not to do that. I choose to direct my questions to God. My concerns. My hurts. My wounds. I’m walking wounded. And life hurts right now. I feel alone. I feel abandoned. I feel lost. But I turn to God, and ask him to show me the way out of this mess. I trust that he has led me so far, and I trust he’ll continue to lead me. I don’t understand his ways. His path almost always seems to be more complicated and longer than the one I would have preferred. But that’s okay. I surrender the mess that’s me to him. He is the Shepherd, I’m the sheep. Lead me, Jesus. I don’t know where I’m going. And I feel lost.

Hard To Get

“You who live in heaven hear the prayers of those of us who live on earth? Who are afraid of being left by those we love and who get hardened in the hurt.

Do You remember when You lived down here where we all scrape to find the faith to ask for daily bread?

Did You forget about us after You had flown away? Well, I memorized every word You said. Still, I’m so scared I’m holding my breath, while You’re up there just playing hard to get

You who live in radiance hear the prayers of those of us who live in skin? We have a love that’s not as patient as Yours was, still we do love now and then.

Did You ever know loneliness, did You ever know need? Do You remember just how long a night can get, when you’re barely holding on, and Your friends fall asleep, and don’t see the blood that’s running in Your sweat?

Will those who mourn be left uncomforted, while You’re up there just playing hard to get?

And I know You bore our sorrows, and i know You feel our pain, and I know that it would not hurt any less, even if it could be explained. And I know that I’m only lashing out at the One who loves me most

And after I’ve figured this, somehow, what I really need to know is: If You who live in eternity hear the prayers of those of us who live in time. We can’t see what’s ahead, and we cannot get free from what we’ve left behind.

I’m reeling from these voices that keep screaming in my ears all these words of  shame and doubt, blame and regret

I can’t see how You’re leading me unless You’ve led me here, to where I’m lost enough to let myself be led

And so You’ve been here all along I guess, it’s just Your ways and You’re just plain hard to get”

Written by Rich Mullins for the majestic album, The Jesus Record, which is definitely on my all-time top 3 list!

I couldn’t find the original Rich Mullins-version anywhere on Youtube, but I appreciate this Phil Stacey-cover version:

Blessings, Torben

02
Jan
10

The word of the year: MERCY!

Today is the first day of the year of 2010. A new decade has begun. The last few days I’ve been thinking about what one word I’ve been learning the most about in the year that just passed. My word of the year is slightly different than the word ‘unfriend‘ which New Oxford American Dictionary decided on as word of the year 2009! It was pretty easy to find out. It has been all over the place throughout the year. It’s a difficult concept to grasp. I’m not very good at it. I’ve been mocking it most of my life. Seen it as weakness. God has challenged me this year with the ancient idea of mercy. Mercy, according to my dictionary, is:

Compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm

I’ve learned a lot about seeing that there are more nuances on the palette of life than the black and white that I’m so comfortable with. I’ve learnt a lot about another word closely related to mercy, it’s the word well-meant. People generally mean well when they make their decisions. Even when they make horrendous ones that have terrible consequences. And in the many day to day decisions people make that can irritate me, I am learning to assume that they meant well when they did it. They didn’t do it because they wanted to ruin their lives (or annoy me!). They did it because they thought, however misguided they may be, that it was the best choice available to them. Sure, we all often make decisions based on our wounds and the flesh patterns we’ve developed because of those wounds on our souls. But we typically don’t set out intending to ruin our lives.

Mercy understands this. Mercy understands that we all make mistakes. Some of us make many. Mercy understands that even people who disagree with me or who choose to prioritize very differently from what I prefer, are people who are loved by God and whom I’m called to love. Mercy understands. Mercy forgives. Mercy gives another chance. Mercy assumes the best even when evidence seems to suggest that people will never change. Mercy is aware of the fact that all people can change. Because there is a God. And he can change the hearts of anybody.

I have also learned some about having mercy on myself. The dictionary definition talks about power. And it’s within my power to give myself a hard time when I make poor choices. I may even feel that justice is served when I hate myself or reject myself. Henri Nouwen reminds me that: “Self-rejection is the single greatest enemy of spiritual life, because it contradicts the voice that calls us the Beloved“, and I don’t want to live in self-rejection. I wan to have mercy on myself too.

I am excited to see what this new year holds. And I’m looking forward to taking more steps down the path of mercy. I need it. I need more healing of my soul. I am thankful that God’s mercy towards me is guaranteed:

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:15-16)

I wonder what word of the year 2010 will hold for me?

Blessings, Torben




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