Posts Tagged ‘copenhagen

14
May
13

Death, sorrow, baby einstein, sundresses and hope

In the midst of reading about an abortion doctor crushing innocent babies because their parents decided that the babies were an inconvenience, and thinking about lots of personal and family related problems that require much attention, prayers and miracles, I was sitting on a public bus going through the streets of Copenhagen, Denmark with tears in my eyes. Tears of pain. Tears of anger. Tears of frustration. But also tears of hope. My iPod was playing a song that seemed so out of touch with what I was thinking about, Steven Curtis Chapman’s Our God Is In Control from his majestic album, Beauty Will Rise. God is in control? Really?

As I sat there and pondered this, a beautiful 5-year old girl smiled at me. I had noticed her running to catch the bus with her dad who looked like he had the day off. They made it, and the little girl in a flowery dress was beaming with pride when she walked through the bus and found two available seats. They sat and talked, and got off at the center of the city, ready to explore. She smiled at me, jumped down from the bus, and walked happily away with her daddy. Just the way life should be.

Early this morning Marcus and I were watching a Baby Einstein DVD about colors while eating breakfast together, and my 15-month-old son got very excited when the color yellow was presented with a picture of a field filled with yellow, perfect daffodils. He was so happy. So out of touch with everything that was going on in his daddy’s head. He came with books and toys for us to play with. Laughing, smiling, ready for a new day.

“This is not how it should be. This is not how it could be. Our God is in control. This is not how it will be. When we finally will see. We’ll see with our own eyes. He was always in control”, the song was playing in my ears. It’s true. This isn’t how it should be. Death, disease, pain, lack of finances to pay for health insurance, fear of losing your job, intense loneliness, fear of going through life all alone and depression. None of this was part of the original package. Sin, destruction and death entered the world. And it’s so easy to be swallowed up by the existential hopelessness that is our lot if we don’t know God. If we don’t know someone who is in control. In control even when it sure doesn’t look like he is.

The little girl is right. Marcus was right. Life is good. Yellow is a wonderful color. A day out with daddy is wonderful. It’s epic. It’s eternal. It’s what will last. Yellow daffodils will last. Death and sorrow will wither and pass away. Wearing a sundress with daddy and laughing at his old jokes won’t.

And life is found in the midst of this tension. The tension between aggressive diseases, unbelievable cruelty, loneliness, shipwrecked marriages and daffodils, teddy bears, sundresses and wonderful, patient dads. Hope and light is breaking through. Jesus is real in the midst of this mess we call life.

Torben

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16
Aug
09

Worship the Creator not his creation!

This passage from Paul’s letter to the Romans has been swimming around in my head during our trip to Denmark, Iceland and Greenland. Especially while being in my beloved native country Denmark and during our time in Iceland did I think of the tragedy of the way the majority of people choose to live. I write this blog entry with a heavy heart well-knowing that many people could read this, misunderstand it as me judging other people or putting myself up on some kind of pedestal, while nothing could be farther from the truth. I would be living my life completely the way that I describe in the following lines if it wasn’t for Jesus being at work in me and causing me to walk in his ways which bring life and not my ways or the ways of the world which bring death to me. I am well aware that I am as capable of falling into the depravity and destruction that so many people are in as anybody else. I just pray and trust that Jesus will always be there to lift me up when I fall. And I thank him that it’s with him as the hope for me, individuals and all the nations that I write these words that are on my heart!

“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator – who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them

(Romans 1:18-32)

Unfortunately this passage written about 2000 years ago describing what was going on in the city of Rome in Italy is directly applicable to what’s going on in the world in 2009. All over the world people are worshiping the created instead of the Creator. All over the world arrogance and pride is the name of the game and not humility, love and surrender to God who is love. But these weeks these verses describe very well what I saw going on in my home country, Denmark and on the beautiful little island of Iceland just south east of Greenland. Denmark is a nation of great Christian heritage. We have had the Gospel of Jesus Christ available to our nation since around the year 700, and especially since the second Danish king, Harald Bluetooth, got baptized and decided that Christianity should be the official religion of Denmark in 950, the Gospel has been freely preached everywhere in the little Scandinavian kingdom. But today more than 1000 years later the Danes have largely forgotten about the God of the Universe! As a nation we have became proud and cold and have decided that everything concerning faith, and relationship with a God we cannot see with our human eyes is ridiculous and for a majority of modern day Danes Christianity is about as relevant for their everyday life as Greek and Roman gods of olden days. Today Christianity is still the official religion of Denmark, but it’s a watered-down version with as much resemblance to the real deal as the brown water of Coke Zero is compared to real Coca-Cola…

I always grieve when I’m in Denmark. “They did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God“, Paul wrote. And that’s true for most of the Danes. They may consider themselves to be the happiest nation on planet earth. But it’s a happiness built around self-sufficiency, selfishness, arrogance and pride. Most Danes feel so embraced by the well-functioning welfare system of Denmark that they have decided that they simply don’t need God anymore. They may do some religious activities now and then (baptism, marriage in a church, confirmation, go to church on holidays, etc.), and 81% of all Danes are still members of the Danish Lutheran State Church, but there is very little spiritual life in the little kingdom. Many Danish Christians (but certainly not all! I am blessed to know a good number of on-fire believers who are still believing in and praying forth great breakthroughs of God’s kingdom in Denmark!!) are also caught in the postmodern cycle of self-sufficiency, cynicism and pride and many of these are simply not believing that God will become important in Denmark again. God has blessed the nation of Denmark so it’s one of the richest nations in the world, but as a nation we are not in a place of worshiping God for his good gifts. Instead we have largely decided to ignore him and everything he is.

Please understand that I write all these things with a heavy heart. I don’t mean to judge anybody. That is – thank God – not my job, but I know that there are terrible consequences for the godless way so many people that I encounter live. I’m grieved by the state of my home country, and I pray and believe that God is doing a new thing even in Denmark. He is setting more and more hearts on fire for him, and God’s kingdom shall not be defeated in Denmark either, but I want to be honest about where this nation is at, so I – and maybe you, dear reader – know how to pray for Denmark.

The contrast between the natural and worshipful beauty of Greenland and the sadness I felt while being in Reykjavik, Iceland where they were celebrating a gay pride weekend was very tangible. As Paul puts it: “they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them“. I am not by any means saying that lived-out homosexuality is a worse sin than any other, but I am saying that the very fact that sin, and lived-out homosexuality is a sin that’s destroying our nations, was being celebrated and encouraged in the streets of the beautiful city of Reykjavik and that little children were handed gay pride flags to wave with was tragic to observe. It grieved me deeply and caused me once again to pray to God for life to spring forth in Iceland. Though surrounded by so many examples of God’s unbelievably beautiful and creative creation, Icelandic people are also incredibly proud people and the truths of God are very hard to proclaim on the little island.

I pray for Denmark, Iceland and the rest of the nations of the world. I pray for a revival where we walk away from the lie that Satan has tricked us into believing. The lie that says that we humans are the center of everything and that we don’t need salvation and life in Jesus Christ. Adam and Eve bought into the lie from Satan in the Garden of Eden, and ever since we have chosen to walk our own ways and not surrender to God’s love for us. I pray that the kingdom of God will break through in new and powerful ways in Denmark and in Iceland. I pray that there will be a day soon where thousands of believers will be filling the streets of Copenhagen and Reykjavik parading through the cities singing worship songs to God and testifying about the freedom, life, love and passion without any hangovers that Jesus has given to them! I pray that more and more people will come to Jesus and be healed of their shame and guilt and may experience the free and easy life that Jesus, as the only one in this entire world is capable of offering.

Blessings, Torben

28
May
08

How to reach people with the Gospel

I’m on a roll today as far as blog entries go, but I have a lot on my mind that I want to express on these pages. Hope you enjoy reading it. It’s the beauty of blogging. I have no clue what people think when they read these entries. Some days 10 people pass through, some days 45 people come and read what I write. All of them are looking for something – do they find it? I don’t know. But I enjoy blogging and expressing what I think, feel and what God has revealed to me.

In Denmark I was visiting three different small groups from my home church. I was sharing a lot about identity in Christ and how to allow Christ to live out his life through us as believers. What a privilege to be allowed to share a little bit about this wonderful and life-changing truth that Christ lives in us and gives us life. It was also very humbling, because I am by no means an expert. I have only scratched the surface of this mystery. And I look forward to learning and experiencing more. But all we can do is to share about what has been revealed to us so far, realizing that we still see all things in a poor reflection compared to what we will see someday when we were with Christ and see him face to face (1. Corinthians 13:12).

I got a question from one of the small groups that went something like this: “How can we reach more people here in Copenhagen?“. A great question, and a question that I believe all sincere Christians ask themselves and each other (exchanging Copenhagen with their own city).

Many try to answer this question with new campaigns, new events, new ideas, new leaflets, new evangelism styles, new focus, new pastors, new churches, new worship songs, new creativity, new ministries, new types of preaching, new translations of the Bible, new hair styles……you name it, it’s being tried! And does it work? Does it attract people to Jesus Christ? Some of it does, if it’s Christ’s idea! Some of it doesn’t. It may attract people to Christian sub-cultures, but it doesn’t attract people to Christ, because it’s not his doing. We as believers can do many things in Christ’s name that he doesn’t have anything to do with…..! Unless it’s his idea, done his way through his people – and will give all the glory to him, it’s not something Christ is in, behind or blesses in his abundant ways! 

The truth is that the only thing that will ever attract anybody to your church or to your Savior and where it will make a lasting impact that goes beyond the two weeks-two years excitement of a new church/a new initiative is……..LIFE!! Real life. Authentic life. Life that makes a difference. 

If there is real life in your church it doesn’t matter if it’s super conservative, strangely Orthodox or top-emergent, super-relevant church. People will be attracted to it! All people are seeking something that’s true, something that’s genuine, something that’s larger than life and gives their lives meaning. Sure, most people seem to settle for the easy accessible sedatives of the world or of religion, but the longing remains. We were all born with a longing for something real! We long to encounter truth, because we by instinct know that truth will give us freedom!

And this is where you as a believer come in. And this is what I answer the small group: “you need to get to know God better“. You need to fall in love with Jesus Christ. You need to experience Christ as life. You need to experience him living his life through you, and you need to experience that it makes a radical difference. Ideas, events, plans won’t make a difference if knowing Jesus Christ doesn’t make a difference in your own life. If knowing Christ doesn’t make a difference in the areas that mean most to most people: family, other relationships, marriage, single hood, hopes and dreams for the future, how you raise your children, how you relate to people you don’t like, etc. people simply won’t care what you have to share with them!

Does your relationship with Christ make a difference in your everyday life? Can people see and eat the fruit that grow on you when you remain in Christ and allow him to live his life through you (John 15)? Or do people just hear a lot of words from  you, but both they and you know that you don’t really believe what you say……..?

Paul prayed in Ephesians 1:17-19 this wonderful prayer that has become my own and was the one I prayed with the small group last week. It’s not about pulling ourselves together and somehow start to believe more. We need God’s revelation. We need to seek God in the Bible, in our fellowship with other believers, in nature, in books, movies, etc. and ask God to reveal himself to us. If he doesn’t reveal himself, all we have to offer is head knowledge about God and who he, and that won’t help you or other people.

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe” (Ephesians 1:17-19)

I joined Youth With A Mission and became a missionary and a discipleship trainer because of a girl’s testimony. She was just sharing with me about her relationship with God, and the Holy Spirit turned on all the lights of heaven and all of a sudden I could see that I didn’t have that relationship with God, and that’s all I really wanted! She was just sharing, and Christ, who is life, spoke through her and called me to more life in him. It wasn’t about her or her words, but what she was sharing was real to her, and I was attracted to it, and Christ used her to spoke to me and called me to life with him! What wonder it is when we experience life in Christ – it will always be contagious for other people! Whether they want to be infected or not 🙂

I realize that it’s easier and more convenient to just make new plans and try, try, try to make people interested in Christ. But the truth is that it is only when Christ shines through his people that non-believers get attracted to Christ. It’s as simple as that. And for us all we can do is to ask God to reveal himself more and more. Nobody needs more information, we need more life, and Christ is the only life! How do we do that? We give up….we give up and ask God to reveal himself! We surrender the right we feel we have to make life with God happen through our efforts, and we ask for his revelation. There is nothing wrong with exercising Christian disciplines such as solitude, silence, reading the Bible, prayer, etc. but if that’s where you find your identity as a Christian instead of in Christ himself, it’s a problem. If, on the other hand, you do these things because this is who you are as a believer: you are a new creation (2. Corinthians 5:17) and you want to know God better and you ask him to reveal himself through it, I am convinced he will! It’s all about God and his revelation of who he is – so that’s what I prayed for myself and for Copenhagen as a I was cycling through it – “God, we need more of your revelation!”

Torben

01
May
08

God bless Skype

I was just thinking about how wonderful new technology really is and what a huge difference it is making in reaching the world for Christ! Before joining Youth With A Mission I had no clue what video conferences, Skype video teaching, chat missions or so many other technical things were. Now I know. And I’ve seen the difference it makes in the world. I’ve sat in on teachings held by an Australian in a Korean-speaking DTS in Lausanne, Switzerland that was then seen by Discipleship Training School audiences in Venezuela, South America, Kiev, Eastern Europe and Taiwan, Asia – and of course translated into Korean, Spanish, Russian and Chinese! All thanks to the wonderful GENESIS video conferencing technical stuff. We have had teachings from Kona, Hawaii where speakers have just finished breakfast and then they can sit down in their living room and teach students in Kiev, Ukraine. 

And Skype…don’t even get me started…what a cool tool that is! God bless the Dane, Janus Friis, and the Swede, Niklas Zennström, who invented and developed the software that enables me to speak FOR FREE with anybody else in the world who has a computer with Internet and Skype installed! What a gift that is to us missionaries who live far away from our home and nations. We can now stay in touch and even see video footage of family, friends and new houses when you’re in touch with people with a web camera installed. 

We have people who do chat evangelism with people in closed countries who are reached with the Gospel of freedom and life in Jesus Christ. People we wouldn’t be able to reach without the Internet.

I realize that Satan uses the Internet and its many opportunities too, but just because something can be used for evil, doesn’t mean that we cannot and should not use it for good. 

The Gospel is being spread, and missionaries have the opportunity to feel closer connected with other missionaries and friends and family through this wonderful technology. Hallelujah!

Torben – who is now just waiting for someone to invent a camera that’s inbuilt in one of my fingers, so I could always be recording the fun things I seem to see all the time. I remember a time in Copenhagen, Denmark where I really wish I had one of those cameras (or really any camera!) when I saw something extremely interesting (and postmodern): on the sidewalk two little, Muslim girls in full Muslim outfits were walking chatting along both with a backpack saying WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?) … 🙂

 




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