Archive for the 'youtube of the week' Category

03
Sep
11

this is who i am

What a beautiful song about the truth about who I am!

Blessings, Torben

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

 

10
Jun
11

erasing hell

Saw this little video this morning, and pre-ordered the book. I’ve never read anything by Francis Chan, but I’m intrigued.

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

12
Nov
10

i will trust you

Hopes turned to fear. Joy turned to tears. Life turned to death. And I sit here again. Not knowing what to do. Not knowing what to say. Not knowing what to feel.

Lost in time. Lost for words. Thinking ahead makes no sense. Thinking about yesterday hurts. So today is all I’ve got. I feel like hiding. I feel like hibernating. I feel like disappearing. But here I am.

Your plans are good. Your plans are perfect. Your love is perfect. You are perfect. You love me. Just the way I am. You don’t judge me in my darkness. You call me into the light. I want to come, but I can’t. Not yet. Not now. You wait. You invite me. It’s okay to say no.

You will always be there. You will always guide me. Even when I don’t believe that you will. You are not mad at me. You embrace me in my disappointment. You cry with me. I cry so much. Tears are tiring.But tears are all I have.

I can’t express what I feel. What’s there to say. Nothing I say will change what happened. It hurts. But I will trust you. I choose you God. The ball is back in your court. I trust that you will bring life, joy, and hope back in me again. I don’t have it in me. But you do. And you will give it to me. The way you see it’s best.

I know trust is shattered. It’s okay. You don’t judge me for my apprehensiveness. You will rebuild the trust. That’s your job. Not mine. You are the one who works out my salvation. Not me.

 

Thanks for being here. Somewhere. I will trust you!

Torben

 

05
Nov
10

you are faithful

Another beautiful song by Steven Curtis Chapman that puts appropriate words to the pain I’m going through these days, and what I choose – completely opposite of what I feel – to hold up as truth: GOD IS FAITHFUL!!

Blessings, Torben

23
Aug
10

Is that really worship?

What would you call a relationship between two people where only ‘positive’ feelings such as happiness, hope, excitement, passion, etc. were shared, but no ‘negative’ feelings including frustration, anger, sadness, bitterness, etc. were part of the discussions of the two people involved? “Shallow” seems to be the obvious word that comes to mind.

At the numerous churches I’ve attended over the years, I’ve heard the phrase: “worship is an expression of our relationship with God” countless times. If that’s really true, then I’m afraid a lot of church-goers are caught in very shallow relationships with God!

I believe corporate worship can be a place of honesty, and a beautiful expression of life, but in the majority of the churches, I’ve visited in the 40 countries I’ve been to so far, I’ve more often had the feeling of the little boy in Hans Christian Andersen‘s fairy tale, The Emperor’s New Clothes, who is the only one who has the audacity to express the truth about the Emperor in the parade through the city: “The Emperor is naked!“. I’ve often felt like that. This is so empty. This is not what it’s supposed to be, or even what it could be. I know from my own life, from people in my counseling office, and from countless conversations with discipleship training school students and the average person in our churches that none of us have this happy-clappy-life-is-always-great-relationship to God that we often sing about. It simply doesn’t exist. Life isn’t like that. We end up fooling ourselves. And surely the God of the Universe who knows all our thoughts and feelings must at times be as bored with our charades as I am…?

I’ve heard much teachings over the years about what worship is, and I’ve always sat in the pews with a feeling and a thought of: “there is more to this, than what I hear here”. This simply isn’t as good as it gets. To me, worship boils down to one word: HONESTY! I believe that God, above all else, is looking for us to be honest with him. Honesty is the key factor in any relationship. If you are not honest with somebody you call your friend, and you feel you have to fabricate certain feelings in order for the two of you to be okay, it’s a shallow and empty relationship. I fear that too many of God’s children see God that way. When you examine the lyrics of  most of the popular worship songs each Sunday in our churches, it’s hard to see most of them as expressions of honesty. We have to keep up appearances. We must be happy. We must rejoice, even when we’re depressed. We must this, we should do that, we ought to feel this…..all of this points to an Old Covenant/Law mentality and understanding of who God is.

The God I know, love, and serve is interested in who I really am, and how I’m really doing. He wants to be known by me, and he is inviting me to let him know me intimately. He who is all Truth, desires nothing more than to see me live and breathe and express what I really believe, feel and think to him.

Therefore, I believe the following to be true about worship:

worship songs about God’s true character and nature are always relevant and appropriate

– worship songs about my feelings towards God are great as long as they express all different kinds of feelings I may have. Again, a relationship where I can only express what I deem to be ‘positive’ and ‘okay’ feelings, is extremely shallow

worship songs about my promises to God (“I’ll do this and this, and I’ll NEVER do that or that”) are irrelevant, since I have no clue how I’ll react in whatever difficult situation I may face in the future. On the contrary, my relationship to God is built on HIS promises to me (“He’ll never let me go, leave me or desert me!”), and that’s worth singing about!

– worship songs – and there are lots of them these days – that describe a relationship to God in sensual terms that belong more in private bedroom conversations between a husband and his wife are inappropriate and show a misunderstood view of what real intimacy with God is

– worship songs that talk about promises that God never made are obviously tragic, especially since the average church-goer doesn’t know the Bible very well, and often gets a lot of his or her theology from worship songs

– worship songs that teach Old Covenant-realities to New Covenant-believers make no sense and keep people in fear-filled relationships to God (I often New Covenantify songs that we sing at different churches – I refuse to keep inviting God to come, since he’s already in me, and I refuse to ask that God won’t take his Holy Spirit away from me, since he has joined his Holy Spirit to my spirit and would never do that!)

– worship songs that preach what God demands of us are misunderstood. God doesn’t demand anyone to know him and share life with him. He invites me to know him intimately and to be completely known by him. But the nature of any real invitation is that I can choose to say no to it, and I’m still okay with the person (God) who extended the invitation

– worship songs that teach that God doesn’t care about the consequences of our choices or isn’t mourning our sin and the death (Romans 6:23) that we experience because of that are un-biblical and filled with lies

worship songs that hint at an understanding saying that ‘negative’ emotions are a problem that we just have to get over ASAP, so we can show God our ‘positive’ emotions, end up creating guilt and shame in God’s people who need space to be honest and real

– worship songs written by people who haven’t personally experienced what they’re writing about is….a waste of time!

worship songs that don’t show that forgiveness is something God already has given to his children (IT IS FINISHED!), and not something we only get if we ask for it and repent in the right way, don’t understand the freedom of the New Covenant, and the peace and rest that Christ wants his children to know and live in.

Blessings, Torben – you’re – as always – free to comment, agree, or disagree with my words on worship!




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