Posts Tagged ‘dts

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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15
Mar
08

Thoughts from the journey

The Discipleship Training School is over here in Kiev. The two outreach teams came back from Uzhgorod in Western Ukraine and Georgia (the country not the state) and we had a great week of debrief together as one school again. We were celebrating all the wonderful things God had done in the students and staff and through them during the past three months of outreach, and we took time to remember some of all the revelations God has been gracious enough to give us over the last six months that the whole DTS lasted. 

It was a wonderful week. I love hearing about what God has done in us and through us. Our theme for this DTS has been the same as the title for this blog: we’re broken cups! We’re perfect in Christ. Our spirits are perfect. But we’re broken. We make mistakes, we misunderstand God and people, we’ve been hurt by people and circumstances, our flesh and Satan attacks us and limits us. We’re broken AND God loves us just the way we are. God can speak to and through people who are broken and who are aware of their brokenness. 

We have focused on honesty, real honesty, not religious keeping up appearances-honesty, but the kind where you know who you are with the good, the bad and the real ugly, and you’re done pretending. You can look at yourself and say: this is who I am and I’m loved by my Father just the way I am, so I renounce the desire to judge myself and to pretend that I’m something I’m not! I don’t have to defend or promote myself, I choose to rest in my Father and let him love, life and forgive through me in my brokenness. 

A couple of the verses we kept coming back to over the last six months were (of course!) from the wonderful Gospel of John. “Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires? Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent” (John 6:28-29). Jesus gets a wonderful opportunity to tell everybody all the things they need to do as Christians, but instead of giving a long list including quiet time, witnessing, Bible study, mercy ministry, choir practices, reading Christian books, going to the lost, etc. he just says: THE ONLY WORK YOU NEED TO DO IS TO BELIEVE IN ME! That’s it! Nothing more, nothing less. This simple message is revolutionizing my life. It sounds too good to be true. It doesn’t sound right. “But….surely Jesus….there must be more we need to do….surely Jesus you didn’t mean this like that, you must mean we believe and then we do all the other things…..” I have heard many Christians protesting against this simple truth expressed in Jesus’ answer. But this is it. This is the essence of the Gospel. All I need to do is to believe, to remain in Christ (John 15), to simply hang loose in him as a grape on the vine. I do nothing to grow, to serve, to love, to live, to change myself or my neighbor, Christ does it all through me! It’s all about Christ doing all through me. It’s never about me pulling it together. It’s never about how much devotion I have. It’s about me surrendering, as a broken cup and let Jesus love and live through me just the way I am: “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him” (John 7:38).

Jesus wants to flow through me. He gives his living water to me and gives me life, but what was true for the Israelites in the Old Testament that they were blessed to be a blessing (Genesis 12:2-3), the same is true for me. I’m blessed by Jesus’ life and living water (John 4:13-14), but since I’m broken cup, I can’t contain the water, and it spills out to people around me. That’s how Jesus is changing the world. Through his children, through his broken cups. So stop thinking that you need to patch yourself up and go and buy more band-aids, or more string or duck tape to fix yourself. Stop listening to the lies of the world, and unfortunately much of the 2008-Church that you need to fix yourself. You need some self-help books (potentially with a little Christian twist and some Bible verses thrown in to make it appear spiritual…) and follow the formula and then your life will work. 

Your life will never “work”. You and I are broken, and we always will be on this side of the new earth. And it’s not a problem. It’s freeing. I can be who I am. I can allow God to work through me just the way I am. I can experience his forgiveness and friendship without having to try to stitch fig leaves together to try to cover my nakedness, failure and shame. I can embrace other people just the way they are when I see them with Christ’s love: “To love a person means to see him the way God intended him to be“, Fyodor Dostoevsky wrote. (And I will allow Dostoevsky’s wonderful quote to be quote of the week 🙂 )

Hmm…is this turning into a longer sermon? Maybe, but I felt like giving a little insight into what I have focused on these last six months with my wonderful staff from Ukraine, USA and Russia and my beautiful and unique students from Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Germany and the USA. We started out the school by choosing Ephesians 1:17 “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“. And God has been good to all of us. He has revealed himself. We’re further in our journey with him than six months ago. We know more about who God is and who we are in him, and we have experienced more of the true experience of freedom that ALWAYS come when we encounter the Truth (John 14:6 and John 8:32).

I stand in awe of the fact that God can use me. I stand in awe of his forgiveness and the fact that he delights in me as his broken cup. I am amazed that he doesn’t cut me off when I fail him over and over again. I am amazed that even when I feel that I should be farther down the journey with him, that I really should understand more of who he is, and I really should trust him more, he doesn’t shame or reject me. He loves me. He reminds me of who he is and everything he has done for me. He reminds me that as far as the east is from the west he has cast away my sins, my weaknesses, my lack of trust, my unbelief and everything else that hinders me from experiencing life in him.

What a wonderful journey we’re on. And how great it is that none of us are walking alone. He is always there with me, even when I feel alone, abandoned and misunderstood. Thank you, Father.

Torben – did I mention that the Gospel of John is my favorite book in the Bible?:-) 




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