Posts Tagged ‘abundant life

09
Jul
08

Slow Fade

We’re in the midst of a week of many goodbyes here in Kiev, Ukraine. I am in the process of writing down everything I’ve learnt during our 2,5 years here. Quite a task since God has been very gracious to us and taught us many things. Most of what we’ve learned I have already shared about on this blog, but I will certainly continue to process and possibly share some more insights from the last few years on this site.

I have been struck by the powerful lyrics and the thought provoking and challenging video to Casting Crowns’ song Slow Fade (from their latest album The Altar and the Door). It’s a challenging song. And it’s a brave song. It dares to go against what too many evangelical churches forget to tell people today. It dares to say that your choices, what you look at, what you listen to, the people you hang out with, etc. influence you. It shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody! But in the last five years I’ve been shocked to see how many Christians live under the assumption (lie!) that it doesn’t matter what they watch, listen to, buy, download, and around what people and at what places they choose to spend their time. I remember being laughed at in my Discipleship Training School five years ago when I suggested the thought that if you listen to depressing, secular music and watch sex-focused movies it’ll affect you and eventually lead you farther away from light, life and love. I thought I was stating the obvious (…), but according to many of my fellow students music, movies and tv-shows didn’t affect them at all. Or if it did, they were definitely too strong to let that become a problem.

The rest of us who want to admit that what we watch, say, do and who we spend time with affect us either for good or for bad, should listen to this song and remember that being a forgiven and perfect (at the spirit level) child of God doesn’t mean that we are immune to making poor choices that potentially destroy our lives and the lives of the people around us.

I have seen many of my friends over the years who thought that it didn’t matter what they did and what choices they made. Many of them live lives that are far removed from Christ and many of them certainly don’t experience the life, peace, freedom, love and joy they were hoping for.

I surrender to God and I openly admit that I am capable of making horrible choices. I surrender to his Spirit, and I ask Christ to make the right choices through me. He is strong, even when I’m weak and tempted to choose what will lead me away from the abundant life in Christ! And I’m so glad that I am forgiven and can run to him when I fail and choose what doesn’t bring life and love to me and to others.

Blessings, Torben

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29
Feb
08

Enlightenment on the journey

This week’s quote belongs to the French-born spiritual writer Thomas Merton who died at the early age of 53 in 1968. He has written scores of books, and he is quoted numerous times by some of my favorite authors (Philip Yancey, Brennan Manning, Henri Nouwen, David G. Benner etc.), maybe some day I’ll actually get around to read one of his own books, but this week we’ll start with this wonderful piece of insight into the life and journey of a disciple of Christ:

We receive enlightenment only in proportion as we give ourselves more and more completely to God by humble submission and love. We do not see first, then act: we act, then see. And that is why the man who waits to see clearly before he will believe, never starts on the journey

I have come to love the imagery of a journey with God these last few years. I’m on a journey of becoming myself (“And now, with God’s help, I shall become myself“, the Danish and Christian philosopher Søren Kierkegaard wrote), becoming who I was created to be from the beginning.

I have accepted Jesus Christ as my savior and righteousness and from that moment the journey of discipleship, of becoming myself, began. It’s an interesting journey of many twists and turns. My flesh doesn’t want to give up and screams and complains, because often the journey Christ takes me on is hardly a short cut, it often looks like the longest and most narrow of the paths. But it’s the right one. It’s the right one for me. Christ has me on a journey where I learn to accept who I am in him, stop rejecting myself and accepting that I’m dearly loved. And Christ has me on a journey where I die to my flesh and its selfish desires that promise much life, meaning, significance and love, but never manages to deliver. Instead of trusting my flesh and the desires of the world and Satan, I am called to throw myself at Christ’s mercy and follow him no matter what. The poor in spirit, who according to Matthew 5:1 are blessed, is a group of people who follow Christ no matter what. And who experience the abundant life that Christ promised all believers, but the same abundant life which remains an illusion to all believers who insist on holding onto themselves, their own strength, the ways of the world (and often the church). You can’t receive abundant life and peace, and joy and love with full hands. They’ve got to be empty and open. They’ve got to be broken. The journey of discipleship is the journey of brokenness. I realize that I’m part of this universe where three things are true: we’re good, we’re fallen and we can be redeemed. I’m in the process of redemption. Of becoming myself. I’m aware of my faults, flaws and weaknesses, but I’m also aware of my gifts, talents and blessings. I am becoming more aware of all of it. And I’m learning to accept that I’m loved by the perfect God both on my good days and bad days. And I’m learning to rest in the freedom, joy, peace and love that comes from knowing (that I know, that I know, that I know….also when the door is closed and I’m all alone with my thoughts!) that I AM LOVED!!

Enjoy your journey! I am enjoying mine!

Torben




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