Archive for the 'songs' Category

14
May
13

Waiting on God

Wow!

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

17
Apr
11

the god of paradoxes

I wrote a blog entry about Rob Bell’s book Love Wins, where I found God to be described in terms that may have made perfect sense to Rob Bell, but in my opinion is far from the more complex picture of God that we find described in the Bible:

God is love, but he is also holy.

Jesus is the lamb of God, but he is also the Lion of Judah

Life comes from death

The first shall be last

If you want to be a leader in the kingdom, serve

The real leader uses a towel to dry peoples’ feet not a stick to control people

God wants for all people to choose him as their God, and he has made provision for that to be possible through his son Jesus’ death on the cross, but he is also aware of the tragic fact that some people will not choose to receive the free gift of life and righteousness that he is offering them

Blessed are those who mourn…

These are just some of the many examples of the paradoxes of who God is, and what he is up to. I can’t figure him out completely. I don’t understand a lot of the things he does or chooses to not do. I just don’t.

God is God, and I’m not. He created me in his own image. I have a spirit that has come alive when everything in me that was against God was crucified and buried with Christ (Galatians 2:20). So I am joined to God and rest in the fact that nothing and nobody can ever change that (Romans 8). I rest in the fact that my faith doesn’t have to make perfect sense. I rest in the fact that a lot of it makes sense anyway, but I’m not inclined to desperately try to make sense out of the paradoxes that are in the Bible. These paradoxes cause me to wonder, think, chat with God, and essentially worship him.

A Christianity without paradoxes is flat, weak and ultimately very uninteresting. It may feel good for a little while, if I can explain away the things in Christianity that I don’t understand or agree with, but it has a very short shelf life, because it’s not founded in the truth of who God is. Lots of people throughout the ages of the Church have tried to explain away the paradoxes about God that they are uncomfortable with. There is nothing new under the sun, when that happens.

I will end this blog entry by quoting an excerpt from an excellent review of Love Wins from Christianity Today:

“This brings us to the other problem with liberalism: Ironically, its passion to make Jesus more accessible to the contemporary mind ends up making Jesus less interesting. To be fair, many people become Christians as a result of hearing the liberal gospel. And one suspects that Bell’s book will have this effect for some. But liberalism has never been able to win a large following for Jesus. Too often, its Jesus sounds like an ideal people already believe in, so why bother? (…)Most Christians grasp that to demythologize one doctrine is to make the others less coherent. They recognize that a Christianity that teaches about “a God without wrath [who] brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a Cross” (H. Richard Niebuhr’s classic summary of liberalism) does not reflect the thickness of biblical revelation nor lived reality. And they see that when all is said and done, there is no painful contradiction between the love and justice of God. That in the end, not only does love win, but justice, too.”

So, I guess, at this point in 2011, I land in an interesting, and seemingly small camp in terms of what I believe: I am a young(ish) man who is too liberal for the conservatives, and too conservative for the liberals 🙂

Blessings, Torben

09
Apr
11

a small god

Dear blog readers!

I wonder if there are still any of you out there after this very extended hiatus for my blog. Anyway, it’s not that I’ve been without thoughts, questions, insights, struggles, victories, sorrows and even some smiles these last months, and we’ll see what I end up choosing to write about these coming months.

It’s not often that I find myself reading something that’s truly hot and the thing lots of people talk about. I tend to have the perspective that I wait until the initial noise and fire is over, and then I’ll decide if it was something that was worth looking into. (And yes, I’m aware that some of you after reading that statement are tempted to write me off as a 74-year old who is out of touch with time, but in reality, I’m still only 34 🙂 )

But last week I did actually decide to pick up mega-church pastor Rob Bell’s latest and hotly debated book, Love Wins. I read it, and I’ve decided to share some of my thoughts on the book and some of the topics it talks about.

I studied at a very postmodern-focused university in Denmark, and I have studied postmodernism at length, and I’m well aware of that for a postmodern reader (which most younger, Western people are) the very fact that I choose to write my comments and choose to disagree with large portions of Rob Bell’s book means that I’m judging him. Let me make it clear from the get-go: I’m not Rob Bell’s judge. I have no intention or desire to judge this man that I’ve never met. And just because I disagree with some of the things he’s writing, does not mean that I judge him or think that everything I’m saying myself is perfect and beyond reproach. However, in order for us to be able to converse about what we believe, we also have to be honest when we disagree with what other people are saying when we find that it touches on something that’s precious to us.

Sometimes when I read or hear about somebody saying something about God or his kingdom that I don’t think is true, I think: “I think he is wrong. I hope he is right. What are the consequences if he is wrong?“. I don’t have the same thoughts after reading Love Wins. “I think he is wrong. I actually don’t hope that he is right. And I think there are very severe consequences for many people if he is wrong” are more along the lines of my thoughts after reading the book.

In a sense there is little point to writing my thoughts on this book by +100,000 Facebook fans pastor Rob Bell. Who cares what I think? If I disagree with him, I risk being ostracized as being ‘negative’, ‘judgmental’, ‘legalist’, ‘hateful’ or whatever the term might be. Couldn’t I just leave it to people to make up their own minds about his book and issues of salvation, Heaven and Hell? Sure, and I don’t have any illusions about my opinion being particularly relevant to other people, but I do believe that Rob Bell touches on some things that are dear to me, and where I do find it important enough to voice my concerns.

I don’t think that Rob Bell purposefully is trying to deceive people with his theology. I believe he believes what he believes. I am, however, troubled about some of his opinions and his ways of sharing it.

I enjoy books by authors such as W. Paul Young, who wrote the bestseller The Shack, and C. S. Lewis with his many books touching on issues of eternity including The Great Divorce, The Chronicles of Narnia and others. These are all works of fiction. And how I wished that Rob Bell would’ve written his book as fiction. Because, quite frankly, a lot of it is a lot more fiction than theology! C. S. Lewis writes in his preface to The Great Divorce: “I beg the readers to remember that this is a fantasy…the transmortal conditions are solely and imaginative supposal: they are not even a guess or a speculation at what may actually await us. The last thing I wish is to arouse factual curiosity about the details of the afterworld“.

Rob Bell, however, writes Love Wins as a book of theology. He is asking lots of questions, and he gives what he says are biblical answers to these questions. Some will read it and be relieved. Some will read the book and be happy. Some will just be utterly confused.

I read the book and came away with the thought: “that sounds like a very small God“.

Everyone of us stand in immediate danger of falling into the trap that the French philosopher, Jean-Jacques Rousseau described like this:

God created man in his own image. And man, being a gentleman, returned the favor

I felt I read 200 pages about a god created in Rob Bell’s image. I didn’t find that god very attractive.

I could write lots of examples of why I didn’t find the god or even the world presented to me very attractive. I just don’t think that serves a point. I do want to make a comment about the usage of the Bible in the book. I found it troubling that even though it’s in perfect line with a postmodern understanding of how we view literature and meta-narratives where we believe we can pick and choose and respect the context when it works for us, and ignore it when it doesn’t, it was sad to see how that’s how I saw the Bible being used in Love Wins.

Whenever the context of the primary hearers and readers was useful to stress a point it was used, and whenever the context would complicate matters or even disprove the point that Rob Bell was trying to make, the context was ignored or misunderstood. That I find troubling.

We already live in a day and age where most Christians know the Bible very poorly. I remember a couple of years ago where I asked long-term Discipleship Training School Leaders at various Youth With A Mission missionary training centers in Asia, Europe and North America the same question: “what is the biggest difference between Discipleship Training School students today and 10-15 years ago?” Every single one of these missionaries answered in a similar way: “the students know God and the Bible less and less, and we have to almost start from scratch and assume that they simply don’t know the God they claim to believe in, or the Biblical truths that they claim to follow

We know the Bible less and less, and that’s where I find it troubling when pastors, leaders and authors exemplify pick-and-choose-Bible-reading. It is, after all, part of our calling as leaders to be responsible about not misleading people we have a position of authority over.

If you want to read a long review that talks about some of the many questionable points in Love Wins, you can read Kevin DeYoung’s blog here. I disagree with some of his points, and some of his tone is a bit too harsh, but especially some of the points are spot-on and very important aspects to consider (see point 2 – Historical Problems, point 3 – Exegetical Problems, and point 7 – A Different God).

I hope Love Wins will cause the readers of the book to chat with God about who he really is and what he really does have to say about salvation, Heaven and Hell. I have fears that people will be mislead. I have fears that there will be sad consequences for buying into some of the messages of this book. But at the end of this blog and at the end of each day, I choose to believe that God is still strong, and his Spirit is alive and well in all his children and will help them discern what is Truth which will set them free (John 14:6, John 8:32), and what is just wishful thinking-theology, which we are all in danger of buying into.

I want to know Christ deeper, and if the conversation about these questions lead people who don’t know Jesus at all as their Savior and Friend to get to know him and experience life in him here and in the afterlife, and if it leads people who know Jesus already, but don’t know him well to get to know him better, I rejoice. If that’s not the case. And I fear it’s not. It makes me sad.

Blessings, Torben – I’ll write another blog entry about why it’s problematic when we create a god in our own image, and why a God that makes perfect sense in my eyes, and is without any paradoxes, is a small god

03
Feb
10

never underestimate my jesus

I love this simple Relient K song called For The Moments I Feel Faint. I’m in a place where all I can do is holding desperately on to Jesus. And thank God he never lets go of me or gives up on me! Never underestimate my Jesus!

Blessings, Torben

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

17
Aug
09

Living as God’s dwelling place

The worship song Better Is One Day was written by Matt Redman quite a few years ago and have been recorded by Redman, Chris Tomlin, Kutless, etc. and has become a fan favorite in a lot of contemporary churches all over the world. This song also made it into the repertoire of the church in Nuuk we visited during our recent trip to Greenland. I shared with the small group that we were gathered with while singing this song a revelation that God showed me a while ago. It’s a wonderful catchy tune and the lyrics of longing after God are powerful. But not true anymore…

The lyrics to the song are taken from Psalm 84 where David cries out to God in this way:

“How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty! My soul yearn, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. (verses 1-2)…Better is one day in your courts that a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked (verse 10)”

David is desperate to spend more time in God’s dwelling place which in Old Testament/Old Covenant days was the Temple of God. The temple that David so desperately desired to build for God so they could spend more time together, but where David had to accept that God had chosen David’s son, Solomon, to be the one who were to build the Temple in Jerusalem. David longed to come in and encounter God and be in God’s dwelling place. God’s dwelling place was a place outside of David. A place he longed to travel to and spend time in. A place that didn’t belong to David, but where he longed to be welcomed as a guest. Even if he just had to stay outside in the courts, David would be excited, because he would know that at least he would be close to the presence of God.

This was David’s reality and it was the reality of all believers in the Old Testament times before the New Covenant was set in effect after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the permanent coming of the Holy Spirit. But this is not the reality of any New Covenant believers, and therefore not the reality of any of God’s children today! We don’t have to travel to Jerusalem or somewhere else to visit God’s dwelling place. We don’t need anybody to intercede on our behalf, because we fear that we are not welcome. We don’t have to be afraid that the Temple will be shut down for us, because we have committed some sin or just don’t have the right heart attitude.

The great news of the New Covenant, of the new agreement between God and his children, is that we are now God’s dwelling place! And that dwelling place sure is lovely!

1. Corinthians 3:16-17 puts this piece of truth this way: “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’s, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are

Wow…I am the dwelling place of God! I am God’s lovely dwelling place! I can rest in that. I don’t have to go anywhere, do anything, wear special clothes, eat special food, attend any fancy ceremonies or anything like that to approach God, because he is already inside of me. And he has declared that the dwelling place of himself is holy, and I’m that dwelling place, and therefore I am holy! I am as holy and righteous and blameless as the Temple in the Old Covenant was. God lives in me, rules in me, encounters me in me. And I can always fellowship with him, because he is right here inside of me.

rose

Stop praying like David!

We have to stop using language from the Old Covenant and talk about it as if that is our reality today. It is not! We are no longer in the Old Covenant. If you want to read through a book that talks about the difference between the Covenants, and why David, Abraham, Moses, etc. would be jealous that they didn’t get to live in the New Covenant days, that you and I experience, go to the book of Hebrews.

We have to stop inviting God to come. He came. He is here. He is in me. You only invite somebody to come who isn’t here. He doesn’t need an invitation. He is already here.

We have to stop praying with David from Psalm 51: “Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me“. He will not take his Holy Spirit away from a true believer in the New Covenant. In the Old Testament/Covenant days the Holy Spirit came at different times as a visitor. Today he is here permanently living in each of God’s children. As Paul puts it in 1. Corinthians 6:17 “The one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with him“. Not two separate spirits. One spirit. Just one. We are one with Christ and his Spirit will never ever leave us. No matter what we do/think/feel or say he will not leave us. For David there was a real fear that the Holy Spirit would leave him. That fear is not a part of the New Covenant. Let’s appreciate this miracle and stop praying as if we were still a part of the Old Covenant.

Maybe we could change the lyrics to Better Is One Day to something like this:

“How lovely is your dwelling place O Lord almighty. For my soul longs and even faints for you. For within me you encounter me and I’m satisfied in your presence. I sing beneath the shadow of your wings.

Better is one day here with you, better is one day here with you, better is one day here with you than the reality I lived in before I came to know you

One thing I ask, and I would seek to see Your beauty, to find You inside of me and have you reveal Your beauty to me.

Better is one day here with you, better is one day here with you, better is one day here with you than the reality I lived in before I came to know you”

(I’m by no means a great song writer, so if you, dear reader, have a better New Covenant-reality-inspired version of this song, you’re very welcome to post it here!)

Here is a video with the old version of this song 🙂 :

Blessings, Torben

16
Mar
09

No need for change

We’ve been singing a worship song at church that I haven’t been able to get out of my head. The line is meant as a prayer to God and goes like this: “we need Your presence to change who we are“. That line has been nagging me for weeks now. Because in fact this statement is not true. Or at least it’s not true in the way that I understand it.

It’s true for non-believers that they need God and his presence to change who they are. They are sinners. They are born sinners as descendants of the first sinner, Adam, even before they commit a single sin (Romans 5: 18-19). This is who they are. They are sinners who unfortunately are on their way to Hell, unless they surrender to God and his miracle of taking them through a re-birth where they are born again (John 3) as somebody brand new: a saint! One of God’s children! A holy person!

That is already the reality for all believers. We don’t need God’s presence to change who we are. We are already holy, blameless, righteous in God’s sight. We are new creations. The old identity (sinner) is gone, the new identity (saint) is a reality today, whether we know that and live in that wonderful piece of truth or not!

Paul in 2. Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

and in 2. Corinthians 6:16 “For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people

Could we be the temple of God if there was something wrong with us? Could the holy God live in an unholy temple? Absolutely not! We are holy, pure, blameless, righteous. In fact, as Hebrews 10:14 “because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy“. We have been made perfect! That is the truth of us. The latter part of the verse talks about “being made holy”. That’s the process of sanctification. That’s the process of Christ within us starting to make real in our soul (personality, mind, emotions, will) and in our body (the five senses, our earth suit) what is already true in our spirits: we are holy and righteous, because we have received the gift of Christ’s righteousness (Romans 5:17).

Hallelujah that the job is done! There is nothing wrong with me! Let me quote the last part of Aaron Keyes’ amazing song Not Guilty Anymore where he sings about us as God’s children:

You are spotless. You are holy. You are faultless. You are whole. You are righteous. You are blameless. You are pardoned. You are mine“.

This may sound like heresy to some. This may sound too good to be true. But it is the truth of God’s own Word!

And here a few quotes from one of my favorite books, The Rest of the Gospel, where the author Dan Stone points to the same truths I’ve been trying to explain in this blog entry:

“You are not waiting to become holy and blameless and beyond reproach (Colossians 1:22). God sees you as holy and blameless and beyond reproach before him right now. When he looks at you, he sees the nature of his son. He sees you as love. He sees you as joy. He sees you as peace. He sees you as righteous. He sees you as redeemed. He sees you as justified. He sees you as perfect. He sees you complete” (page 103)

It is an affront to God to keep talking about how unworthy we are. It’s a statement of unbelief. “I really don’t believe what God says about me; I believe what I think about me”. We’re never going to anywhere that way. It isn’t being humble. It’s a false humility. It’s the teaching of tradition and the flesh, because it appears humble.What’s truly humble is agreeing with what God says about you. Nothing more. Nothing less. We are the righteousness of God (2. Corinthians 5:21). We don’t look it all the time. We don’t feel it all the time. We don’t think it all the time. But we are” (page 104)

Torben – who realizes that we need God to change us more into who we already are, but I can’t accept the sentence that we need to be fundamentally changed as children of God. That change already took place!

08
Jan
09

When God sings a song

Yesterday some friends and I were talking about being honest when you blog. I attempt to do that. I try to present the truth about what’s going on in my life as honest as I feel it’s appropriate for others to read. I don’t publish my personal journal on this blog site. That wouldn’t be helpful for anybody. And some might be scared if they saw the brutal honesty of my relationship with God…I know he doesn’t mind though!

But for this blog site to be meaningful to me I want to be honest. There is no point in pretending, and I try to be honest when I’m going through hard times, and it’s hard to hold on to the truths I know about God and who I am in him. Blog entries such as this and this point to that type of honesty. I have seen in my life though, that at times it’s actually easier for me to be really honest when things are not going the way I want them to, than it is when things are going “my way”. I want to learn more about being honest about the whole truth – both the good, the bad and the ugly! I meet many people who are either really good at just sharing things they are sad, angry and depressed about or other people again seem to think that it’s best to present a version of the truth where everything is always going great. None of these alternatives are honest, and I want to be a person who shares the truth no matter whether it’s sunshine or a grey, rainy day.

This morning I sent an email out to my fellow interns from my internship with Grace Ministries International (GMI). And based on their very excited responses the thought hit me that maybe I should share some of what I wrote to my friends there with you as well, dear blog reader. So here we go:

Actually I’m quite excited about life. January 1st 2008 God woke me up with a song in my mind. It was a song based on Jeremiah 29:11 where God promises that he has good plans for us and for me, and that he’s excited to reveal them. That was my verse for 2008, and it gave me great comfort in the midst of all the hoops and challenges we had to jump through to end up here in Marietta. A week ago on January 1st, 2009, I was excited to see if God would reveal a song to me. And lo and behold he actually did. It was the weirdest thing, since the song he gave me was a song I had definitely not heard for at least 10 years. It was a Danish pop-song from the 80’s, and all I could remember from the song, and I’m sure all God wanted me to know was the beginning line: “Oh, how I love you!” (“Åh, hvor jeg dog elsker dig!”). That was how he wanted me to start 2009! Quite exciting stuff 🙂

And right now it does feel like we’re in the midst of many, many blessings from God. My old, melancholy self is quite overwhelmed, but I’m enjoying the ride, and enjoying God showing off. I’m often reminded of the way Scott Brittin, President of Grace Ministries International, often prays where he says: “we boast in you, Lord”. And that’s what I do these days! I boast in the Lord. We were singing the song Blessed Be Your Name in church this past Sunday, and I was delighted to realize that these past few years I have learned a lot about praising God both when “life is all as it should be” and when I’m “on the road marked with suffering”.

So how is God showing off in our lives these days? He has given me the chance to participate in a wonderful ministry with GMI! He has given us a trip to Greenland next summer to visit a crazy, but cool supporter of ours who have invited us up to visit him in Greenland – he pays the whole thing, or as he put it: “the money is the Lord’s, but for practical reasons it’ll come out of my bank account”! He has started opening up some very good and meaningful relationships in our church! He has blessed us with a number of financial gifts these last months, so we’re doing very well financially in a day and age where all news is about how the economy is collapsing! He is blessing us with growing relationships with some of our family members – it’s great to be able to share the wonderful truths of grace, and life in Christ with family members who actually want to know! He has given us our car that I thank him for every day! He has given us a wonderful place to stay and our good health!

And we could go on and on….we’re very blessed to have each other and we continue to enjoy learning the new dance of grace together! Jeannette will be doing the Tuesday night internship at GMI, and we’re very excited to see what God has for her doing those evenings of listening to wonderful truths!

I feel unworthy to receive everything I feel we receive, but apparently God is just in a show off mood for that one reason: “Oh, how he loves me!

(You may want to save this blog entry in a special folder, it’s not too often you read such a happy clappy blog from me :-))

Blessings to all of you!

Love, Torben

31
Dec
08

Three new year’s songs

As I have been reflecting on the year of 2008 which took us from Ukraine to the United States, God has used three songs from Casting Crowns’ album The Altar And The Door to speak to me. I have been singing the song Prayer For A Friend many, many times this year. It’s been hard to see different loved ones making choices that take them away from the best God has for them. But this song has been meaningful to me in those times of feeling sad. It speaks in simple words about the heartache of seeing friends go down paths that don’t lead to life, and it speaks of the truth that all I can do when that happens is to lift my friends up to God, as I hope they do when they see me making poor choices in my life. 

Another song that has been powerful to me these last weeks is the song Somewhere In The Middle. It speaks about real life for most of us. The struggle between the safety of mediocrity and the risky business of total abandonment to God. The lyrics are simple, but the questions posed in the song are real and thought provoking – “just how close can I get, Lord, to my surrender without losing all control?“, and the answer to that question is that you have to lose all control in order to live a life of surrender. It’s scary, but great stuff to follow God 100%, and often we are caught in the middle

And finally a powerful and simple worship song titled I Know You’re There. No matter how many times I’m caught in the middle, and no matter how many tears I cry over my own mediocrity and lukewarmness, God is there. He is listening. He is real. He was the only hope for me and everybody else in 2008, and he will remain the same life giving God in 2009. He is the one I have chosen to put all my trust, faith and hope in, and I know he’ll never let me down.

Thus ends this year of blog entries. 101 blog entries in 2008 since I launched http://www.abrokencup.wordpress.com back in Janury. I hope you, dear reader, have been blessed by these blog entries. I have enjoyed writing them. It’s an important part of me processing my life, and on top of that it’s just plain old fun! 🙂

Happy new year! See you in 2009!

Blessings, Torben – who loves youtube! 🙂




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