Archive for May, 2010


better than a hallelujah (about real honesty)

My dear wife Jeannette keeps accusing me of stealing songs she tells me about and blogging about them. She may or may not have a point (…), but since I’ve been listening to this new song 20 times today, I still thought it would be okay to blog about it, and she’ll just have to get the credit as one of my primary sources of inspiration 🙂

What a majestic song Better Than A Hallelujah is. It’s written by the two ladies Sarah Hart and Chapin Hartford and performed by Amy Grant in her first Christian radio single in seven years. The lyrics of it resonated straight away in deep places of my inner being:

God loves a lullaby in a mother’s tears in the dead of night
Better than a Hallelujah sometimes
God loves a drunkard’s cry, the soldier’s plea not to let him die
Better than a Hallelujah sometimes

We pour out our miseries, God just hears a melody
Beautiful the mess we are, the honest cries, of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah

A woman holding on for life, a dying man giving up the fight
Are better than a Hallelujah sometimes
Tears of shame for what’s been done
The silence when the words won’t come
Are better than a Hallelujah sometimes

Better than a church bell ringing
Better than a choir singing out, singing out

I love the expression of the deep truth that  a true, intimate relationship with Jesus has so much more to do with just being open, honest, raw and real with him than it’s about singing, dancing, or doing stuff for him.

I love the truth that’s being expressed that our mess is, somehow and for reasons we can hardly fathom, beautiful to God. What we may deem as unworthy whining and complaining, he hears as honest worship and relationship.

God loves for us to approach him as naked as we dare to be. He invites us to an open, honest relationship with him. One where we come to him without promises (I will do this and this) or excuses (I will never do this and this). Just come the way you are. Approach the throne of grace with the confidence (Hebrews 4:16) that comes from knowing that it’s okay to be you. It’s okay to be on your journey. It’s okay to be a mess. God loves messes. His love shines the brightest through our messes. Contrary to popular opinion in and outside of the church life is not about being well put together and be in control. God loves his messes, where he can freely shine through. He gathers your tears, he hears your cries, he longs for the intimacy of hearing you pour out whatever is inside of you – the good, the bad, and the ugly!

God has invited me deeper into this kind of relationship with him the past many years. At first I was hesitant. I feared that it would be irreverent to be brutally honest with him. He is God, after all. I also thought that I had to censor my words to him. Then a day came where God in a divine-stating-the-obvious-moment told me that he knows all my thoughts and feelings already, so I really don’t have to bother censoring anything.

I looked around me and saw few people who dared to go to the deep places with him. And I was afraid that I just fooling myself, that he wasn’t really calling me. But he is calling me to a deep, honest, real, messy, fun, crazy, exciting, insane, frustrating, but never boring relationship with him. The call is there. Do we dare respond in honest ways, or are you contend singing nice songs about God and his love (even though you don’t believe them), pray polite prayers (even though you’ve forgotten why you pray), accept lies you believe about him and yourself (even though they make your life and your relationships shallow and empty), and just try to make it through life acting, pretending and keeping up good, religious appearances?

Blessings, Torben – Beautiful the mess we are, the honest cries of breaking hearts, are better than a hallelujah!


“it is what it is”

I have many bad habits. One of them happens to really upset my wife. And with good reason. It’s a sentence I say a bit too often. It’s a sentence of giving up, giving in, and resignation. It’s not a statement of surrender, but of resigning and accepting that things just won’t change no matter what I say/think/do. It’s actually a statement of believing in something along the lines of fate.

Often I say this when things just don’t work out the way I wanted them to. My hopes are crushed, and I say with a sigh of resignation: “it is what it is“. It may sound harmless enough, but too often it’s very ugly and starts me on a downward spiral where I forget that God is in control. Even when things are messy and life doesn’t turn out the way I wanted them, or even according to God’s own best case scenario, he is still in control.

Yesterday, as we were driving home from church, I was lamenting about my own shortcomings and the ugliness of my flesh that comes out when I accuse myself of not doing enough to get to know people at church, not caring enough about them, or whatever aspect of my life it is that my flesh chooses to attack on that particular day. My wife stopped me in my tracks, when I had, once again, concluded that it is what is. She heard the resignation, and the hopelessness in my voice. “Will it ever be any different?”, was one of the questions behind my frustrations.

Jeannette told me how troubled she is when she hears “it is what it is“. And she explained what she hears, when I say those words. An hour later I was in our car on my way to play a football game, and somehow I knew I needed to listen to Steven Curtis Chapman’s remarkable CD “Beauty Will Rise“. This CD may be the most personal and intimate CD I’ve ever listened to. It truly is Steven Curtis Chapman’s own journal set to music as he has been walking through the grief process after losing his 5-year old daughter Maria Sue in a tragic car accident two years ago. I have listened to that CD several times, and it always brings tears to my eyes. I haven’t lost a small child, but I know parts of the pain Steven so bravely shares in these songs. Yesterday, God used one of these powerful songs to minister to me.

The song is called Our God Is In Control, and it speaks about the true hope we have as Christians of someday living on a new and re-created earth where all evil is gone and everything is just the way it should be. A couple of lines spoke to me about my situation here and now, and it added some valuable truth to my “it is what it is” statements.

Steven Curtis Chapman writes these precious pieces of truth:

This is not how it should be. This is not how it could. But this is how it. And our God is in control“, and “This is not where we planned to be when we started this journey. But this is where we are. And our God is in control

Tears were streaming down my face as God spoke to me about this truth. It’s true that there things that just have to be done, and there are lots of circumstances that turn out differently than I hope. And sometimes, “it just is what is, BUT (and the truth about what you and I really believe always comes after the “but” in our sentences!) God is in control!”

There is a huge difference between just saying “it is what it is“, and saying “it is what is, and our God is in control

I appreciate this reminder. I appreciated hearing God’s heart for me. He understands that it’s easy for me and his other children to get discouraged. But he also knows that I need to be reminded that HE IS ALWAYS IN CONTROL!

Blessings, Torben – here is a video with the beautiful song Our God Is In Control

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