Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

11
Jun
15

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14
Aug
14

Needing help finding a ministry job

Dear Supporters, Friends, and Family Members (and random blog followers who haven’t given up on me despite a 14 month hiatus from this blog)!

We wanted to explain a little bit more about our situation as far as it relates to finances, ministry jobs, and our future than we wanted to write in a newsletter. If you’ve made it this far, we assume that you’re interested in hearing what’s going on with us, and how you might be able to help us.

We sense that our time at Grace Ministries International doing primarily counseling, which has been my primary ministry the last 6 years (with a one year break in Denmark) is coming to an end. We also sense that this is a good time for me to try stretching different ministry muscles than the ones I’ve primarily been stretching these past 6 years. I never thought I would enjoy doing counseling, and yet, I’ve grown to love it, and will always cherish all the radical life-change I’ve been privileged to witness in my counseling office. But both Jeannette and I sense that God is challenging me to get outside of my office and work with bigger groups, and get challenged and have opportunities to grow in different areas than counseling. I will always do counseling in different ways. It’s become such an integral part to who I am, and I will always love meeting one on one with individuals and walk through all kinds of life-experiences with them. But neither Jeannette nor I sense that it has ever been God’s plan for me to work as a counselor the next 10-15 years.

As we look, wait, pray, and search for what our next step is, I will continue to do counseling and all the other ministry that Jesus does through us. Nothing will change on that front before we are ready to step out into our next step. We are so appreciative of those of you who support us financially. And please, bear in mind that we continue to need the financial support as we’re trying to find out what God’s next step for me and our family is.

As we look at our future at this point there are a three possible scenarios that we can see:

Scenario A) We receive a substantial and very unexpected increase in our monthly support which would enable us to decide on whether we would want to stay with Grace Ministries International, or whether we would pursue life in full-time support-based ministry with another Christian organization. Our current support level isn’t enough to continue long-term in a support-based ministry situation. And even short-term it’s a challenging situation where we are going a bit into the red each month for the last few months.

Scenario B) I get a salary-based ministry job working for a ministry or a local church somewhere in the United States. This is where we need your help! I have been applying for several different church jobs, but with all of the churches the reality is that I don’t have any contacts at any of them. And the likelihood of them choosing someone they don’t know at all, and who has no network contacts in their church, is definitely smaller than if there is someone who knows (about) me who can put in a good word with the church search committee.

In other words: we need network help! Do you know of a job opening in your own church, or in a church or a ministry where you have friends or family members, we would love to hear from you!

These are the types of jobs at a church that I would be interested in. I’m certainly also interested in any kind of paid ministry job that has to do with any or all of these different ministry areas:

– Discipleship Pastor (or any role to do with Discipleship and leading people)

– Missions/Outreach Pastor (I have five years of experience working with international missions with Youth With A Mission, and I would love to get a ministry job where I could focus on missions, caring for missionaries, and developing strategies to help fulfill the Great Commission! If the church you know works with Muslims I would be even more interested!)

– Care Pastor (any sort of role where the focus is on caring for people of all walks of life and do different types of counseling would also hold my interest)

– Connections Pastor (a role where my focus would be on connecting people to each other and Christ would definitely be interesting as well)

Maybe the job title would be Director of Missions, Director of Discipleship, etc. or any other similar title. But the point is that any job that has to do with discipleship, missions, outreach, care, leadership, and connections would have my interest.

We dream of staying somewhere on the east coast of the United States, BUT we are willing to go anywhere in the States, if we see a ministry opportunity that’s exciting enough!

So, to recap: if you know of some kind of paid ministry job in your church, or a church or ministry you know about, or a friend’s church in the areas of discipleship, missions, outreach, care, leadership, or connections, please contact me as soon as possible! I will also be happy to forward a resume to you, if you would like to see a bit more in writing what my ministry experiences, educational background, and spiritual gifts are.

We are not interested in hearing about part-time or support-based jobs. We want to continue with me in full-time ministry and Jeannette being at home with our kids.

Scenario C) If it doesn’t work out for us to find a ministry job, I will have to look at different job options. So if you know of any interesting jobs that might have something to do with different cultures, international relations, and communication, I would certainly love to hear from you as well.

We hope and pray that God has someone out there in our network or in your network who could help us find our next step in our service for him!

Blessings, Torben, Jeannette, Marcus, and Sebastian

21
Oct
12

About gender, abortions, and love that’s growing cold

It’s a quiet Sunday morning in Copenhagen, Denmark. Yesterday, we had a beautiful family day at the wonderful local zoo. What a treat to enjoy the gorgeous fall weather with many of God’s fun, majestic, and creative creations. This morning my thoughts are a lot more dark after I read an article in a Danish newspaper talking about how several Danish couples these days decide to go to our neighbor country Sweden to have an abortion after the 12 week-abortion-limit we have in Denmark if they don’t like the sex of the baby they’re expecting! After 14 weeks Danish couples can get see the sex of their baby through a sonogram, and doctors in both Denmark and Sweden confirm that especially well-educated Danish couples travel to Sweden to have an abortion up until the 18 week limit for provoked abortions they have in Sweden.

Thomas Tegenfeldt, executive at the Social Services in Sweden puts it this way: “Until the 18th week we (Sweden) have free abortions, and you have to execute the abortion NO MATTER WHAT THE REASON might be“.

Here is a picture of a 18 week old fetus. These days you can discard and kill this precious little baby, if you prefer a pink to a blue baby room:

This story about, as Danish media calls it, abortion tourism (taste that word. a-b-o-r-t-i-o-n  t-o-u-r-i-s-m……. :-()comes as a tragicomic end to a week where a story was published in Danish media about a Danish kindergarten where they avoid talking about ‘boy’ and ‘girl’, and do their best to present a gender neutral reality for the little ones. This idea is also inspired by Sweden, where several Swedish kindergartens have replaced the Swedish terms for ‘he’ (han) and she (hon) in songs and everyday conversation with the gender neutral ‘hen’. So in Scandinavia growing parts of the population support gender neutrality, but also kill babies because they don’t have the right sex…..! It would be laughable, if only it wasn’t so unbelievably tragic.

Jesus said it this way when he spoke about the last days before he will return: “many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold” (Matthew 24:11-12). The love of most will grow cold. The chill-factor in Scandinavia is high indeed these days.

I wrote about self-hatred and self-acceptance yesterday. I wonder how well-educated, rich Danes live with themselves, if they travel to Sweden to get rid off their baby because of the unwanted sex. How do you forgive yourself, if you’ve done that? Again, the only hope for anybody is found in Jesus. He forgives anyone who comes to him and asks for help.

“Jesus, I sit this morning with a heavy and angry heart. I’m sure you share these sentiments when you think about what’s going on in these last days before you return. I pray for my country, Denmark, and our dear neighbors, Sweden. I pray for a revival among your people. I pray for your children to find out more and more about who they are in you. I pray that we, your children, may be able to speak words of comfort, hope, clarity and truth to the world around that’s falling apart on the unholy altars of selfishness and ungodliness. Come soon, Lord Jesus, when will you come and say NEVER AGAIN to all the injustices going on?”

Two songs spring to mind as I mourn the loss of the children that lost their chance to live here on earth because of an unwanted DNA-combination:

Delirious?’ Our God Reigns:

watch?v=asAyiB0PpvU

and Enter the Worship Circle’s Never Again

You feel the grieving of the broken, And You hold them in Your hands
And You listen to their prayers, their prayers

You hear the crying of the orphan, And You hold them in Your hands
And You listen to their prayers, their prayers

Wake up, God, move yourself, wicked men crush Your children
We pray…we wait, how long until you say “Never Again”

You see the bruises on the victims, And You hold them in Your hands
And You listen to their prayers, their prayers

You are King forever and ever, Your Kingdom come on down
Justice rolls like waters, like waters, where wickedness will drown

Blessings, Torben

13
Nov
11

though i feel alone

A great song to remind myself of important truths!

 

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

27
Jan
11

Long months

It’s been two and a half months since I last wrote anything on this blog site. It’s been a very dark time. Lots of tears, confusion, questions, and very few answers. Learning about being okay without answers to all the very reasonable questions I have about life is a difficult journey.

Few people are okay without knowing. Few people dare to live in the mystery of unanswered questions. I believe that’s where real faith is fostered though. I want real faith. I want real life. I could do without this learning time, but I realize that it’s the only way to learn to live in the mystery of the moment where Christ is. If life always (or just often) made sense and could be explained, it – per definition – wouldn’t be real life. Real life with Christ can be measured out. It can’t be explained to other people. Often I can’t even explain it to myself. It doesn’t necessarily mean that life doesn’t make sense. Sometimes it does. But most often it doesn’t. Christ’s life is a life in the midst of unanswered paradoxes. Life is gained only through death is probably the biggest paradox. I know I’ll find life in the midst of this desert. That doesn’t make sense. There is no life in a real desert. But in the desert with Christ I learn to trust. Trust in him alone. Nobody else can be fully trusted. I can’t even trust myself.

I long for happy and fun days. We all do. But I know that today is all I’ve got. How will I meet God today? I pick up a book and I hope to meet with him. I listen to my heart, and in the midst of the white noise of accusations, hurts, misunderstandings, loneliness and frustrations, I recognize there is also a voice whispering: “there is hope. Spring is coming. New life is breaking free. It won’t always be like this”. I trust that voice despite not seeing any evidence of the truth of its statement.

I have nothing preachy to give to anyone these days. I have as many, if not more, questions than a lot of other people. But I KNOW that that is okay. I know that God is even doing stuff through me at this point. Even when I have no clue. Even when I just feel like running away and hiding. He is right there in me, with me, and speaking through me. God wants the unedited truth. Mine is messy. Mine is hurting. But that’s where real life is. God desires honesty from his children. And he gets it so very seldom.

I want to be honest. In fact I don’t know how to not be honest with God. It’s simply not possible for me to put on a happy, religious face and pretend that life makes sense, and if you just follow this and that principle everything will be great. I know life too well to buy into those lies. And I know that God doesn’t need me to be his PR-agent. He will be fine, and he is fine, even when I do more yelling or silent treatment in my worship of him than lifted hands and happy-clappy songs. He desires that from us. The honest cries of a breaking heart are truly better and more pleasing to him than a religious-duty-forced hallelujah.

God is good. God is love. God is in control. Those things remain true no matter what I feel and no matter what I see happening in me and around me. That’s faith. Faith in spite of circumstances. Faith when things don’t work out at all the way I want them to.

What’s going to happen with us and me in 2011? I don’t know. I can’t say I’m too optimistic, but my optimism or lack thereof doesn’t determine anything about what will happen. Will God remain good? Yes. Will I struggle with God trying to understand that his goodness is often different from what I think goodness should be? Absolutely. Will he bring laughter and happiness back in my everyday reality? Yes. I know he will. “Sorrow may last for a night (and may feel like hundreds of nights!), but joy IS coming in the morning”. That’s how it is. That’s how it’s going to be. The ball is in God’s court. I’m open for him to do the surgery deep within me that I think he wants to do. And he will heal, break down fortresses of lies, and set me free at his pace and in his way.

Torben

21
Sep
10

the minute maid gospel

Every morning I enjoy a cup of Minute Maid orange juice, and recently I noticed that on the juice you can find the following words:

Put Good In. Get Good Out. You can taste and feel these words in every drop of Minute Maid. When it comes to life, we believe what you believe. The effort you put in is equal to the good you get out

I read that and thought to myself that maybe it’s a modern day pastor who has a part-time job with Coca-Cola, the company that produces Minute Maid, who came up with that slogan…Unfortunately, there are many Christians who believe the Minute Maid Gospel. They believe that if I do all the right things, then life will turn out the way I want it. And even more so: when I have done my part, God needs to do his part. He has promised – people believe – that we will get exactly what we want, when we put in a good effort to please God and do the right things.

The law of linearity

In his excellent book “The Pressure’s Off“, the author Larry Crabb describes how lots of Christians believe in the law of linearity where there is an A that leads to the B you want. Now you just have to figure out what A is, do it consistently and disciplined, and you’ll have the life that you desire. It’s the Minute Maid Gospel that Crabb describes here.

But the problem is, that God hasn’t promised that everything will be great and fun, just because you do your best. Just because you raise your kids and tell them about Christ, there are no guarantees they’ll turn out the way you wanted. Just because you pray diligently to find the spouse you so desperately want, there isn’t any promise provided that you’ll find him. Even if you pray, study, tell other people about Christ, and give to God’s kingdom, you might still end up sick or lose your job.

The law of linearity, or the Minute Maid Gospel, doesn’t preach the truth. But so many of us believe it. I meet people all the time in my counseling office who have come to a place of broken marriages, depression and a general sense of hopelessness, because they believed in the false Gospel, and now they’re disillusioned and mad at God! And unfortunately, there are even more people who simply give up on God, because he didn’t provide what they thought he had promised. It’s essential, in counseling, and in the rest of our lives, that we figure out what God has actually promised. That’s the journey I take my counselees on. God’s promises in the New Covenant are absolutely wonderful, but it’s not from a law of linearity. The Minute Maid Gospel appeals to us, because we enjoy eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that Adam and Eve ate from a while ago. We enjoy the power. The power to be God. The power to be in control. We think we can control our circumstances and other peoples’ choices. And we actually believe that God promised us that our lives would make sense. But these are some of the words that Jesus said regarding living in this world:

In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33). Plain and simple. You’ll have trouble. Things won’t turn out the way you want them to. People won’t respond the way you desire. Accidents will happen that you didn’t plan for.

But Jesus also said: “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.” (John 14:27). This is part of the real Gospel – the really great news! Jesus can and will give you peace. Not the kind of peace the world, other religions or people who claim they don’t believe in anything at all give. That kind of peace is based on circumstances. When there is no conflict, you have peace. But Jesus’ peace is a peace that you and I can experience in the midst of marriages falling apart, rebellious kids, lack of a spouse or meaningful friendships, loneliness, unemployment, depressive thoughts, or whatever other situation you may be in the midst of. It’s his peace. The peace of knowing who I am in him. The peace of knowing I am safe. Of knowing I am loved, accepted, and secure. Of knowing that nothing or nobody can ever change that fact. It’s the peace – that Paul talks about in Philippians 4:7 – that goes beyond understanding! It’s a peace you can experience that you can’t explain. Other people around you are losing hope and falling apart, but strangely enough you feel at peace. I have experienced this peace. Sometimes. Not all the time. I long to experience it more. I rejoice when I experience it. And I am excited to share about that peace with other people. We all need peace. Especially when we have run sour trying to pursue the counterfeit-truths of the Minute Maid Gospel. There is no peace when we drink that tonic. We can never rest. We can never just be. It’s a demand to strive and try and go further and push harder. Jesus invites us to rest. He invites to be. It’s the New Way, as Larry Crabb calls it in The Pressure’s Off.

Drink from Jesus’ cup. It gives real life that doesn’t disappoint and doesn’t run out.

Blessings, Torben




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