Archive for August, 2011

30
Aug
11

Why wait?

I just want to recommend an interesting/sad/encouraging article in Relevant Magazine  (page 66-71) about the reality of how few people who identify themselves as Christians in the United States these days actually wait until marriage to have sex. Definitely worth a read and a thought. I can’t count the people I’ve talked to and counseled who have experienced guilt, shame and remorse because of choices they’ve made in regards to sex outside of marriage.

The hope for those who didn’t wait, and those of us who did, is, thank God (!), the same: the forgiveness, mercy and grace that none of us deserve, but that God gives freely! And I thank him that he can restore purity to his children, if they dare to become honest about the lies they’ve believed, and the wounds they have on their souls because of (sexual) choices as opposed to listening to the rational-sounding lies of the enemy of “Everyone’s done it“, or the old classic: “I did that when I was young and stupid, it doesn’t affect me today

Blessings, Torben – and so it happened that the 200th blog entry of abrokencup.wordpress.com happened to be about premarital sex – who would have guessed that 200 entries ago? 🙂

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27
Aug
11

Fear – part of the human condition

Fear…Most people feel it from time to time. Some people feel it all the time. A lot are crippled by it. Some have overcome some of it. The majority of people experience lots of fear, but would deny it, if you asked them. Jesus talked a lot about fear. “Fear not“, he said over and over again, seemingly understanding that his disciples both then and now need endless repetitions of this simple, yet difficult invitation.

Lots of believers feel embarrassed when they experience fear. They quote 1. John 4:18 that talks about that perfect love casts out all fear. So if I feel fear, it must be because I don’t know Jesus (enough/at all?), they reason.

I’ve come to see fear in very different ways recently. Fear is fear, and fear is a part of me as a human being. To deny that I’m often afraid, is to deny my humanness. Jesus is not against my humanness. Jesus isn’t troubled by it. Jesus isn’t ashamed at me or mad at me when I give into fear and paranoia. He understands. He has created billions of people who have all experienced fear. He was surrounded by disciples who often made decisions based on fear. He experienced fear himself. Fear of what was lying ahead when he was crying out to his Father in the Garden of Gethsemane.

If there is no room for fear, there is simply no room for me to be me. I admit that I have fears in my life. Right now, it seems as if I have lots of them. I look to the future filled with huge, unanswered questions, and I experience fear. I am okay with that. I don’t believe that it has to do with lack of faith. I know Jesus is. In me. In my life today. And he is in my future. I know his perfect love will cast out all fear. I know he’ll cause me to walk through decisions and realities that I’m afraid of. Even when I feel terrified, I know he’ll be in me and accept me. My level of fear doesn’t affect his level of love and acceptance for me.

Jesus doesn’t shame me when I feel fear. Jesus doesn’t question my commitment to him. Jesus doesn’t attack me. Jesus comes alongside me. Jesus is with me in my fear. He is not afraid. But he understands that I am. And he invites me to trust him in the midst of it. He wants to show me that he’ll bring me through what I’m paralyzed thinking about. He will rarely take a short-cut. He seems to like walking through the mine fields and go the most complicated paths. I would choose otherwise. But I’ve allowed him to be in charge. He knows that. And he knows that my fear and my worries are not indicators that I don’t want him to be in charge.

So I cling to him, and with my brother, Rich Mullins, I cry out to Jesus:

Hold me, Jesus, cause I’m shaking like a leaf. You’ve been King of my glory, won’t  you be my Prince of Peace

Blessings, Torben

 

02
Aug
11

Heaven, the New Earth – enough with all the Hell-talk!

I guess it’s about time for me to write a blog about the Good News about eternity. A couple of my blog entries have focused on a couple of books, Love Wins and Erasing Hell, that talk a lot about issues of eternity.

I also picked up Randy Alcorn’s 500+ page book, Heaven, to see what he would be writing about what I have to look forward to. It’s a long book. A very long book in fact. I wanted to just put in some of the important quotes that I enjoyed and was encouraged by through reading this mammoth of a book.

 

“Nearly every Christian I have spoken with has some idea that eternity is an unending church service…We have settled on an image of the never-ending sing-along in the sky, one great hymn after the another, forever and ever, amen. And our heart sinks. Forever and ever? That’s it? That’s the good news? And then we sigh and feel guilty that we are not more ‘spiritual’. We lose heart, and we turn once more to the present to find what life we can” (John Eldredge in his book Desire, where he talks about eternal life with Christ being a lot more than what most Christians dare to believe)

“If you read history, you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. The Apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were preoccupied with Heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven, and you will get earth ‘thrown in’: aim at earth and you will get neither” (C. S. Lewis)

“God will make the new earth his dwelling place…Heaven and earth will then no longer be separated as they are now, but they will be one. But to leave the new earth out of consideration when we think of the final state of believers is greatly to impoverish biblical teaching about the life to come” (Anthony Hoekema)

“Understanding and anticipating the physical nature of the New Earth corrects a multitude of errors. It frees us to love the world that God has made, without guilt, while saying no to the world corrupted by our sin. It reminds us that God himself gave us the earth, gave us a love for the earth, and will delight to give us the New Earth” (Randy Alcorn)

“In the truest sense, Christian pilgrims have the best of both worlds. We have joy whenever this world reminds us of the next, and we take solace whenever it does not” (C. S. Lewis)

“Everything is gone that ever made Jerusalem, like all cities, torn apart, dangerous, heartbreaking, seamy. You walk the streets in peace now. Small children play unattended in the parks. No stranger goes by whom you can’t imagine a fast friend. The city has become what those who loved it always dreamed and what in their dreams she always was. The new Jerusalem. That seems to be the secret of Heaven. The new Chicago, Leningrad, Hiroshima, Beirut. The new bus driver, hot-dog man, seamstress, hairdresser. The new you, me, everybody” (Frederick Buechner)

“Imaginary evil is romantic and varied; real evil is gloomy, monotonous, barren, boring. Imaginary good is boring; real good is always new, marvelous, intoxicating” (Simone Weil)

“I meet many faithful Christians who, in spite of their faith, are deeply disappointed in how their lives have turned out. Much of the distress of these good people comes from a failure to realize that their life lies before them. That they are coming to the end of their present life, life in the body is of little significance. What is of significance is the kind of person they have become. Circumstances and other people are not in control of an individual’s character or of the life that lies endlessly before us in the kingdom of God” (Dallas Willard)

These were lots of different quotes talking about eternal life on the New Earth with my friend Jesus and many, many other friends! I can’t wait! I know some Christians who don’t look forward to life on the New Earth. Maybe they think we’ll be in some weird, boring place? Maybe they are afraid they’ll miss out on something here on the Earth? I don’t understand them. Whether my life is great and I enjoy my everyday situation, or whether I’m walking through a difficult time in my life, one thing remains the same in me: my desire to experience the New Earth with Jesus! My desire to be completely free from my flesh. My desire to reconnect with loved ones and experience life to the fullest for all eternity! To quote the late, great Keith Green:

You know, I look around at the world and I see all the beauty that God made. I see the forest and the trees and all the things. And says in the Bible that He made them is six days and I don’t know if they’re a literal six days or not. Scientists would say no, some theologians would say yes. But I know that Jesus Christ has been preparing a home for me and for some of you, for two thousand years. And if the world took six days and that home two thousand years, hey man, this is like living in a garbage can compared to what’s going on up there.

And I conclude this blog entry with some of the last words of the Bible, written by John, the disciple Jesus loved, who ended the Revelation God gave him like this:

He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon”. Amen, come Lord Jesus.” (Revelation 22)

 

Blessings, Torben

02
Aug
11

erasing hell review

I promised to write a review of Francis Chan’s book Erasing Hell. I shall keep my promise, even though I don’t feel like writing about it. I just returned from a trip to Nigeria, where I had the privilege of speaking to approximately 80 pastors and leaders in two different leadership conferences about Christ-formed Leadership. I greatly enjoyed this second trip to the wonderful country of Nigeria, and I couldn’t help but noticing the difference between the Nigerian believers’ attitude towards the Word of God compared to the climate we have in many evangelical circles in the Western world today, which makes Love Wins a book that can confuse people and cause many believers to start believing things they  wouldn’t believe if they knew their Bibles very well.

The Nigerians we met love God, know and understand the importance of encountering God – through his Word, through him speaking directly to them, through nature, through whatever..! But they understand a piece of truth that so many have lost in 2011: God will never ever reveal something or speak something that will contradict what’s already written in the Bible! We are all called to be like the Bereans in Acts 17:11 who searched the Scriptures, and examined what Paul was saying to them to see if it was true or not.

I loved that the Nigerian pastors and leaders kept asking us questions from the Bible. I loved that they would ask questions when we taught something that seemed to contradict what they know from the Bible. And I loved that they were open and teachable to allow God’s Spirit to show them new realities, truths and bring them to a greater degree of freedom.

Enough about the Nigerian believers, and back to Francis Chan’s book. I guess there is not that much to say. It’s a good, short, well-written book that clearly spells out what the Bible teaches about Heaven, Hell and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived. Chan writes from a position of humility. He is not out to attack anyone who might disagree with him. He is not on a crusade to hurt anyone. But he loves God enough and respects his authority to allow him to have the final say about what will happen eternally with people on Planet Earth, he is the creator of all things and all people after all. Chan writes with pain about the many people who will end up in Hell. Chan echoes the pain of C. S. Lewis who wrote this in The Problem of Pain:

There is no doctrine which I would more willingly remove from Christianity than this (the doctrine of Hell), if it lay in my power. But it has the full support of Scripture and, specially, of our Lord’s own words

I share his pain. And so does every other soft-hearted believer. No-one, if they truly know Jesus Christ, will rejoice in the fact that evil will have eternal consequences. It’s by no means a pleasant thought. In fact it’s tremendously unsettling, but as Francis Chan keeps saying in Erasing Hell: we simply cannot afford to be wrong about what we believe about Heaven and Hell and who will end up where. We have to ask God, and we have to be open to listen to his revelation about those realities. And then we are to go and be the vessels that Jesus will love people through and bring them to himself. Not just for salvation, even though that’s obviously the main point of this book, but also for Life – life today, and life forever more!

I appreciate Francis Chan’s effort to write this book in a humble, pastoral way. He obviously cares for people. I felt cared for and pastored through reading it.

I pray that we as believers will see more of the truth of who God is, and what he has done for all people. Jesus hung on the cross and cried out: “It is finished!”. It is finished. Salvation is available. And Jesus wants to tell other people about this miracle through us. The Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) is not something for us as believers to do. It’s something Jesus is doing through us.

And as I was finishing up reading Erasing Hell, I was, once again, reminded of the verse from Romans 2:14 that talks about that it is the kindness of God that leads us to repentance. God’s kindness. Not his wrath. Not his judgment. I hope that’s what people see when they look at my life. The kindness of God.

I definitely saw kindness in Francis Chan’s book Erasing Hell despite the difficult nature of the topics discussed in the book.

Blessings, Torben




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