Posts Tagged ‘freedom

30
Aug
11

Why wait?

I just want to recommend an interesting/sad/encouraging article in Relevant Magazine  (page 66-71) about the reality of how few people who identify themselves as Christians in the United States these days actually wait until marriage to have sex. Definitely worth a read and a thought. I can’t count the people I’ve talked to and counseled who have experienced guilt, shame and remorse because of choices they’ve made in regards to sex outside of marriage.

The hope for those who didn’t wait, and those of us who did, is, thank God (!), the same: the forgiveness, mercy and grace that none of us deserve, but that God gives freely! And I thank him that he can restore purity to his children, if they dare to become honest about the lies they’ve believed, and the wounds they have on their souls because of (sexual) choices as opposed to listening to the rational-sounding lies of the enemy of “Everyone’s done it“, or the old classic: “I did that when I was young and stupid, it doesn’t affect me today

Blessings, Torben – and so it happened that the 200th blog entry of abrokencup.wordpress.com happened to be about premarital sex – who would have guessed that 200 entries ago? 🙂

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15
Jun
10

Characteristics of a broken person

This is part two of two about what brokenness is, and what it is to be a broken person. Here I want to focus on what I believe are the true characteristics of a truly, broken person.

I’ve been blessed to meet a few broken people in the definition of brokenness that I described here. They are beautiful and life-giving to be around! I wish there were more like them, and I know, see, and recognize that there is a growing hunger in the world for what these wonderful people exhibit in their walk with God.

Broken people are humble. They understand that true humility is just agreeing with God. Nothing more. Nothing less. When God says about a broken person that he or she is perfect, pure, holy, and righteous at the center of who this person  is  – no matter what they do/say/think/feel or don’t do/say/think/feel, they humbly agree with it. They understand that superior pride is saying that I’m more than God says I am, and that inferior pride is saying that I’m less than what God says I am.

Broken people are teachable. They understand that God can speak through, challenge through, and bless through anybody of whatever age, gender, educational level or race. They understand that being teachable also means that you’re willing to admit when you are wrong, and they freely do that resting in God’s unconditional acceptance of them.

Broken people don’t control other people. They understand that control is an illusion that insecure people cling to. They embrace the freedom to make choices and live their own lives, and they extend this freedom to other people to make their choices, whether good or bad, without needing to control them.

Broken people are forgivers. They understand that they have been fully forgiven for Christ for all sins and short-comings past, present, and future, and they know that true freedom is hindered if I choose to not forgive other people, myself, or even God (!).

Broken people embrace themselves in their brokenness. They are aware of their sins, faults, and weaknesses. And while not using any of their weaknesses as excuses for making poor choices, they are free to embrace and accept themselves, even when they screw up, because they know that God does the same. They understand that God loves us in light of our weaknesses, not in spite of them. And they understand that Henri Nouwen was right when he wrote: “Self-rejection is the single greatest enemy of spiritual life, because it contradicts the voice that calls us the Beloved

Broken people know that they can’t do anything of real, eternal value in their own strength. They don’t say the absurd sentence “I need to work on that in me”, because they understand that life as a Christian is never about them trying to fix themselves or others. They understand that only as they rest in Christ, and allow him to do his work in them and through them, will their lives have lasting, life-giving impact.

Broken people are in the process of being healed. They understand that they can’t fix the wounds that they have own their souls. They cry out to God to reveal the wounds and idols (Psalm 139:23-24), and for him to heal the wounds (Psalm 23:3) and bring down the idols in their lives, and set them free to live lives of abundance.

Broken people are open and honest. They understand that they are free to live, make mistakes, and be the people that God wants them to be. They see no need to hide who they really are and even the mistakes they make when they try to meet their own needs in their own strength. They are open and honest with people and know that their security as people is not based on what other people think of them.

Broken people are truth-seekers. They know that Jesus is all Truth. And they know that if there is an area in their lives where they are not experiencing full freedom, it is because they still haven’t encountered the Truth in that area of their lives. They have seen and testify to Jesus being the Truth that sets people free (John 8:32)

Broken people are Kingdom-oriented. They understand that they are first and foremost citizens of God’s kingdom that’s breaking forth here on planet earth. They understand that what truly matters is getting to know God more and getting to know who I am in him, and then all other things shall be added as God pleases (Matthew 6:33)

Broken people have laid down their rights in front of God. They understand that we don’t have rights to family, friends, great places to live, health, wonderful stuff, mind-blowing vacations, etc. Because they have laid down these felt rights, and live in the reality that God is the giver of all good gifts, they are excited, surprised and thankful when great things and experiences come their way, but they also accept and embrace the fact that life doesn’t always turn out the way they hope.

Broken people are free to love. They love and accept people where they are, but with their lifestyle of love, acceptance, worth, and a sense of security they draw other people to the only One who is love, God (1. John 4:8).

Broken people don’t have to know everything. In a day and age obsessed with knowing everything that’s going on, always having a plan, and being in control, broken people rely on the fact that they don’t need to know everything. They rest in their Father, trusting that he always knows, and if he chooses to, he’ll let them know what they need to know. They live in the assurance that it’s okay to cry out and admit: “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you” (2. Chronicles 20:12)

Broken people rest. They know and have experienced that believers are just called to ‘hang loose’ in Christ as grapes on a vine (John 15). They rest in who they are in Christ, and they bring a fragrance of rest to all the stressed people around them. They have experienced that when you rest in who you are in Christ, you can experience both love (Ephesians 3:19), and peace (Philippians 4:7) that surpass understanding, even when circumstances are crazy, and you feel like your boat is about to go under (Mark 4:35-41)

These were just a few of the characteristics of the precious people that God is truly making a difference through, the truly broken people. I pray that God will take me further on this road of brokenness, that I may display all of these characteristics more and more fully.

Blessings, Torben

30
Nov
09

The healing power of forgiveness

There is nothing quite like it. Nothing that has the same power to set you free. Often there is nothing quite so difficult. Often you have to practice it over and over again. Often it doesn’t produce change in anybody else but yourself. And yet, it’s always well worth the agony of doing it. We’re talking about forgiveness!

It’s essential to forgive to live in freedom. There is no way around it. I know many people who don’t live in forgiveness with other people and who are suffering because of that. I have been in situations where I didn’t forgive people. I was also suffering. A wise person once said these clever words:

Unforgiveness is the poison I drink while waiting for someone else to die!

These are powerful and true words. It’s always sad when you see people who choose not to forgive. So often it’s small things that hinder deeper and more fulfilling relationships. Words were said, value statements were put on people, and people choose to hold a grudge, stay in a place of self-righteousness, and the cancer of bitterness grows inside of you. It’s always like this. Whether you agree with this or not. Whether you are a Christian or not. Unforgiveness is a cancer that kills. It slowly takes life out of you. Whatever person you choose not to forgive, you’re tied to. You give the other person power. Power to control your life. You think about the other person, and you know that you lack peace and joy inside of you. It’s the power of sin. As Christians, as children of God we are forgivers per nature. We have been given a new nature, the very nature of Christ. And since he forgave us of everything, we are free to forgive other people for whatever they may do to us.

It’s the way of freedom. It always brings life. It always builds up relationship. It’s the road of brokenness. It’s the road less traveled. It’s always easy to find people, inside or outside the church, who will agree with you that it’s not reasonable for you to forgive, and that you’re right in holding a grudge. But the truth is that forgiveness has nothing to do with ‘fairness’. It’s a choice of life or death. If you forgive, you experience life in your relationships to God, yourself and other people. If you choose not to forgive, you experience bitterness and a lack of life.

Is forgiving easy? No, it rarely is. True forgiveness is painful. Often very painful. But it’s also freeing. I let go of the right I feel to judge and condemn other people, and I’m free to just be me, a human being who is aware of the fact that I often make mistakes myself and hurt other people and need their forgiveness.

Unless you’ve been broken by God and understand the power of living as a broken cup and relying on his strength and not your own, it’s nearly impossible to forgive. Why would you? You can always finds reasons why you shouldn’t take the first step towards forgiveness. Your flesh will tell you that your anger and lack of forgiveness is well justified. And other people will too. Misery attracts company, so it’s often fairly easy to find somebody to sit and whine with. It doesn’t bring any life at all. It just fans the flame of bitterness inside of you. Forgiveness is the highroad that’s painful, but life-giving to travel. It’s the road where Christ is and leads you. “Forgive them Father, they don’t know what they’re doing” were some of Jesus’ lasts words. He left us an example of how to live our lives. We are free to forgive, because we’re forgiven. Forgiveness, like anything else of great value in the Christian walk, is a response. We forgive, because God forgave, just like we love, because he first loved us, and we can draw near to him, because he first drew near to us.

I encourage you to forgive whatever wrong people may have done to you. It will bring life. Guaranteed.

Blessings, Torben

I love one of the first lines in this song: “You are strong when you feel weak, in your brokenness complete”

21
Dec
08

“In his name all oppression shall cease”

peaceAt church today we sang the old hymn “O Holy Night”. Today one line stood out to me. We sing about Jesus’ birth and we proclaim this interesting truth:

“IN HIS NAME ALL OPPRESSION SHALL CEASE!”

In Jesus’ name ALL oppression shall cease. All of it. All oppression in the whole world. Shouldn’t it have said something like: “some oppression will cease some day …maybe… possibly…at least in some places…and in a number of people…definitely maybe….“.

Some people may even take offense when they hear a line like that, because their experience is the opposite. The feel oppressed and burdened by people who claim to follow Jesus. Many atrocities have been committed in the name of Christ, and it’s hard for people who have been hurt to see the truth about Christ as the Freedom giver. 

I love Jesus’ mission statement in Luke chapter 4, verse 18-19 where he stands up and quotes Isaiah 61:1-2, and says the following about why he has come to the earth:

The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor

He came to set the oppressed free. How thankful I am that this is true. For more than 20 years I mistakenly thought that Jesus “just” came to set people, including me, free from Satan’s power and free from the punishment of sin (eternal condemnation in hell). This is part of the good news of Christ, but it’s only some of it. He also came to give me life today. And he has. And he is. He is setting me free from lies, misunderstandings and wounds in my life that use to define my relationship with him, with myself and with other people. He is tangibly, even for a slow learner like yours truly…, giving me more and more freedom and peace. He is doing exactly what he promised in the Scripture from Luke/Isaiah: He is preaching the good news of freedom, peace, joy, meaning, and purpose today, tomorrow and forevermore to me who is poor in myself. I can’t make myself experience abundant life. I am dependent on Christ within me – he is my only hope of glory! 

He is bringing me to places in my walk with him, where I get to experience more freedom. It’s a road of brokenness, and it’s a road with many tears, but it’s bringing me real freedom. I can feel free, and peaceful in the midst of hard times and good times. And he is opening my eyes to see more and more of who he really is. He is not the distant, disinterested, harsh God that I imagined most of my life. He is very different. And he has begun to reveal more and more of the truth about who he is, and who I am in him to me. 

Hopefully that’s what you see when you read through many of the blog entries on this page. It’s thoughts, insights, revelations, questions, frustrations, fun stuff, and randomness from a young(ish) man from Denmark who is on an interesting journey with Jesus Christ, who is not only the reason for the season, as the bumper stickers proclaim, but he is the reason for my life, my joy, my peace, my experience of love, and my hope for today, tomorrow and the rest of eternity. 

I wish all of you dear readers a very Merry Christmas! May you meet the child in the manger and see that he is the Messiah. He is the promised one. He is the one who is setting people free. And may you see your own freedom and Christmas peace in him!

Merry Christmas!

Torben

12
Nov
08

Embracing my humanity

I’m lying here in my bed with my right leg elevated. I got myself a calf strain in this Sunday’s football (soccer) game and have to accept the fact that walking is a difficult discipline these days…Friday my nine week discipleship training program with Grace Ministries International ends. I have so much I need to spend more time evaluating, thinking about, processing and praying through from these past few months. They’ve been incredibly rich, and I can only say that one of the big things that God is starting to show me more and more is that it’s okay to be me.

It’s okay to be myself. To just be Torben. It’s a process of embracing my humanity. Embracing what I like about myself, and what I’ve enjoyed in my life. But also embracing what I would prefer to change and what has been difficult in my life. Getting to know who you are in Christ, and experiencing his life in you, doesn’t mean that your own personality and uniqueness is eradicated. Jesus is not interested in little Jesus-copies running around. He wants unique expressions of who he is through each of his children formed and shaped in a unique way. I have spent much time this past 1,5 years wishing that I was “better” at living out some of all the exchanged life/identity in Christ stuff that I’ve been learning. I have wished I was better at being quiet, so I would be more reflective. I have wished I was better at hearing God’s voice or getting pictures from him, so I would feel closer to him the way I see other people experience closeness. I have wished that I was nicer and more friendly, so I wouldn’t end up scaring people away from me. 

I have looked at the grass of other people, and as it is always the case when we move down the well-worn and death producing path of comparison, my grass came up short. It simply wasn’t green enough. 

But my grass is my grass. My life is my life. My personality is my personality. When Paul exclaims his majestic and life giving/changing verse in Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” he is not saying that my personality and my unique expression of who God is died on the cross with Christ. My old self, my dead, unregenerate spirit died with Christ. My sinful self died, and I am now a new creation in Christ: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2. Corinthians 5:17).

I am free. Free to be me. Free to embrace my new identity in Christ and free to explore who the real me is. I’m free to express myself the way God has created me. I’m free to look the way God designed me. I’m free to use the gifts God gave me. I’m free to lead, teach, train, write and challenge, because that is what God has called me to do. I’m free!!

I’m free to love myself. And I’m learning more and more about that. Embracing my humanity means loving myself. “Love your neighbor as yourself” is mighty difficult to do if you don’t love yourself. How can you love other people unconditionally, if you only love yourself when you live up to your own standards (or what you perceive as God’s standards)?

I’m free to accept my limitations. I’m free to receive my weaknesses and accept that God loves to work through my weaknesses and show his strength. I’m free to forgive myself for wrong choices 10 years ago, yesterday and today, because I have been forgiven for all sins past, present and future. I am free to say yes, and I’m free to say no to people. I am free to not try to save or rescue people, because I don’t have nail marks in my hands, and that means it’s not my job anyway. I am free to experience the lightness of burden and the peace that Jesus promised his followers.

I am free to freely forgive people when they hurt me, because I don’t allow other people to determine who I am, so at the end of the day it doesn’t matter what other people think of me. Only God’s opinion matters, and he thinks I’m great! 🙂

I am troubled by the enormous amounts of people I know and love who don’t know who they are in Christ. They are forgiven. They are believers. They are headed for heaven. But they don’t know who they are, and their lives are not expressions of life and joy. I want to help. But I acknowledge that only God can bring about the revelation of who we truly are in him. That’s what he is in the process of doing with me. For 30 years I had no clue who I really was. For 30 years I thought that I was too hard a nut for God to crack. But God knew when he could start getting to me. God knows best.

I know most of my blogs land on this sentence these days: God knows best. But I guess it’s not a bad place to end. 

Blessing, Torben

Faith is the courage to accept our acceptance“, Paul Tilich

The poverty of uniqueness is a lonely yes to the whispers of our true self, a clinging to our core identity when companionship and community are withheld. It is a courageous determination to make unpopular decisions that are expressive of the truth of who we are – not of who we think we should be or who someone else wants us to be“, Brennan Manning in “Abba’s Child

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?:-) 

07
Jan
08

Revelations

And to conclude the list of top experiences of 2007 here is a little list of some of the greatest revelations that God gave me during a very interesting, hard, frustrating, fruitful, joyful, exciting, passionate, and fun year:

 – I’m loved just the way I am, NOT in spite of who I am or the way I am 

– I’m a friend of God

– I don’t have to defend, promote or explain myself, because I know who I am in God, and he’ll do all of that if he sees it’s needed 

– I don’t have to do anything to improve myself, even if I all I do is sit in a chair and eat donuts the rest of my life, God wouldn’t love me any less

– I’m a broken cup, and God’s water will run through me, bless me and bless other people around me. Brokenness is a life long experience for me as a Christian (brokenness: having been fractured or damaged. No longer in one piece or in working order)

– All God asks of me is to abide in him and believe in him, he will love and live through me and change me and the world through me. It’s never about me pulling it together so I can make a difference!

 Wow…..I’m amazed just sitting here writing about some of the wonderful things the living God has chosen to reveal to me in the past year. And I continue to pray that he’ll give me the spirit of wisdom and revelation so I may know him better and better (Ephesians 1:17)

Torben 

 




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