Posts Tagged ‘brennan manning


Jesus doesn’t give up on me

The title on this blog entry points to a great wonder and miracle. It’s easy for me to give up on other people. I see friends, family members, acquaintances, celebrities and my next door neighbor repeat negative life patterns, and I judge them, and I’m tempted to give up on them. They’ll never change anyway, I think to myself…It’s also very easy for me to give up on myself. I have done that many times. And today I feel like giving up on myself again. I don’t get all this identity in Christ stuff that I talk about, write about and dream about really getting. I just don’t at this point. I have scratched the surface of some amazing truths, but I have not allowed it to take as much root in my life, as I had hoped for. Today I heard some other people talk about having Christ live his life through them, and they spoke with a confidence and a sense of security and understanding, that I simply cannot muster up this Wednesday in the beginning of September 2008. So I’m tempted to give up on myself. I’ll never get it. I’ll never truly learn to allow Christ to live his life through me. I’ll never truly learn to be satisfied no matter what the circumstances may be. I’ll never find the perfect fit for me ministry vice. Other people do and that’s great for them, but I won’t. I’ll never be able to stop worrying a lot.

And so the thoughts go…and I’m tempted to give up on myself. I picked up Brennan Manning’s book “The Signature of Jesus” that I secretly borrowed from my parents-in-law’s bookshelf (don’t worry, I’ll give it back!). I didn’t feel like reading it, but I had to do something pro-active to stop the downward spiral of giving up on myself and feeling sorry for myself. Unfortunately those two feelings live in the same neighborhood and like to hang out together.

I read this simple quote which brought a smile to my face, and reminded me that no matter where I’m at, what I feel, what I do or don’t do or what ever my circumstances may be or feel like, one thing is for sure: Jesus does not give up on me! His patience with me never stops. Hallelujah that my relationship with him is not dependent on my stability, but on who he is.

Personally, I take great comfort in the life stories of the first disciples. Their response was flawed by fear and hesitation. What they shared in common was dullness, an embarrassing inability to understand what Jesus was all about. Their track record was not good: They complained, they misunderstood, they quarreled, they wavered, they deserted, they denied. Christ’s reaction to their broken, inconsistent discipleship was one of unending love. The good news is that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever” 

Blessings, Torben – who thanks God that he has taught him much about patience, but realizes that there still are many, many lessons to be learned in that area….


Boring Christianity

Major W. Ian Thomas, a Christian writer and preacher said this about Christianity:

There are few things quite so boring as being religious, but there is nothing quite so exciting as being a Christian

This is so true. Being religious, knowing about God, but not really knowing God is deadly boring. And it doesn’t bring the abundant life that Jesus promised those who follow him. I know many people who are trapped in religion. They think they know God, and they have decided and declared that Christianity is deadly boring. But the truth is that they never knew the real God of the Universe in the first place. In his wonderful book Ruthless Trust, Brennan Manning talks about what often happens to young people who grow up in environments where there is a lot of focus of religion and moral attributes, but not a true understanding of the grace, love and life of the God of the Bible.

From her parents a child learn of a deity who strongly disapproves of disobedience, hitting one’s brothers and sisters and telling lies. When the little one goes to school, she realizes that God shares the fussy concerns of her teachers. At church, she learns that God has another set of priorities: she is told that he is displeased that the congregation is not growing numerically, that irregular attendance is the norm, and that his recurring fiscal demands are not being met. When she reaches high school, she discovers that God’s interests have expanded to an obsession with sex, drinking, and drugs. After twelve years of Christian indoctrination at home, school, and church, the teenager realizes with resentment that God has been used as a sanction by all those responsible for her discipline – as when Mommy and Daddy, at their wits’ end over her mischievous antics as a toddler, alluded to “the eternal spanking”. Through this indoctrination, God is unwittingly associated with fear in most young hearts.”

And Manning continues to explain the severe consequences of this tragedy, when he writes: “Moralism and its stepchild, legalism, pervert the character of the Christian life. By the time young people enter college, they have often abandoned God, church and religion. If they persevere in religious practices, their need to appease an arbitrary God turns Sunday worship into a superstitious insurance policy designed to protect the believer against God’s whims. When wounded people fail, as inevitably they must, they engage in denial to protect themselves from punishment. The perfect image must be protected at all costs.” (pages 80-81)

I know many people who fall into the category of people who have rejected God. Either they have rejected him openly and don’t want to have anything to do with him, and don’t call themselves Christians. Or they are active in church, but rarely experience any life, since cynicism, legalism and obedience to a God they don’t know is what drives them. Or they clap, jump, sing, and talk about God, but when the door is closed and they’re all alone with their thoughts the truth is that they don’t really know and trust God and they don’t really know who they are in him.

For years I was bored to death in Church. I didn’t know the God of the Bible. I heard many things about him. I heard many people talk a lot about him. But I didn’t know him. I didn’t see much life in other people, and I didn’t experience any life with him myself. I could say the right words and sing the proper songs, but there was no worship from my heart. The past five-seven years with God have been incredible. I’ve begun my journey of experience with my Father in heaven. I know more about him now. I know that I know that I know that I know that he loves me. That he accepts me. That he is excited about me. That he loves to bless me, challenge me, laugh with and cry with me. I can say with Job: “My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you” (Job 42:5).

My life is everything bot boring! At times it’s crazy, fun, adventurous, hard to understand, frustrating, insane, beautiful, complex, simple, ever changing, challenging, easy….all of the above, but NEVER boring! Life with the living God can simply not be boring. If you are bored with your faith and your relationship with God, it’s because you don’t know the God of the Bible. The Creator of the Universe. The Savior of me and you. Or maybe you know him, but you’ve walked so far away from relationship with him that you find yourself tired, worn-out and bored.

We have to be careful that we don’t reject God based on our experiences. God is God and I am not. God is who he says he is. If he says he is loving, compassionate, gracious, just and righteous, that’s who he, no matter what you and I may think. We need more revelation of who God is. We don’t need more information, but more revelation. And I pray that God will grant me that.

Many people reject “god” with little g. They have been hurt by church, family, friends. Circumstances were difficult, and they rejected the idea of a loving, kind, compassionate, personal father in heaven.

I pray for the many people I know who are running away from God or who have rejected him, even though they never actually knew him, and are only rejecting a religious, man-made version of the God of heaven. As Blaise Pascal put it: “God created man in his own image, and man returned the favor” (…) I know that I’m capable of running away from God. I pray that God will keep me near. I admit that my relationship with him is based on his faitfulness, not mine. He is the constant one. I change all the time. Or at least my mood does.

I am thankful that God has given me a relationship with him where I get to experience life. I am thankful that life with him is never boring.

And I’m thankful that he is ever-patient with me when I mess up, when I’m a sore loser at a board game (as was the case just last night), when I want to take responsibility for the wellfare of my loved ones (even though that’s his job, and not mine).

Torben – who has arrived safely in the United States of America and is amazed of God’s provision of a safe trip, no problems at the customs in JFK airport, a wonderful Nissan Sentra car, and wonderful friends who are spoiling us rotten these days as we travel in the states of New York, Massachusetts and Ohio before we head down to our new lives in Georgia.



Let me share this prayer that I have borrowed from Brennan Manning’s devotional Reflections for Ragamuffins with you. It expresses my heart’s desire very well. I have many opportunities these weeks in Denmark to encourage and bless friends and family members that I don’t see very often, and it’s my prayer that they’ll meet God who speaks through me, and not just meet me or be attracted to what I do and say. It’s not important (for them) what I experience, it’s important that they see that they themselves can experience (more) life and real freedom in Jesus Christ. I just want to be a broken cup that God can shine his light and life through. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Jesus, my brother and Lord, I pray as I write these words for the grace to be truly poor before you, to recognize and accept my weakness and humanness, to forgo the indecent luxury of self-hatred, to celebrate your mercy and trust in your power when I’m at my weakest, to rely on your love no matter what I do, to seek no escapes from my innate poverty, to accept loneliness when it comes instead of substitutes, to live peacefully without clarity or assurance, to stop grandstanding and trying to get attention, to do the truth quietly without display, to let the dishonesties in my life fade away, to belong no more to myself, not to desert my post when I give the appearance of staying at it, to cling to my humanity, to accept the limitations and full responsibility of being a human being – really human and really poor in Christ our Lord. Amen

Torben – who is filled with gratitude and awe as we have just received a large gift from people we barely know. God is good all the time!

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