Posts Tagged ‘grace ministries international

20
Jun
11

it’s all grace

Here is a neat message by John Lynch, author of TrueFaced. I love the way he expresses God’s endless love for his children. Accept Christ as your Savior, allow Christ to show you who you are in him, and your life truly will change – it sounds too simple, but it is the truth! And this is the message that I have the privilege of sharing with people here locally and internationally through counseling, conferences, teaching, and personal relationships!

Jesus is not far away. I’m in him. And he’s in me. Hallelujah!

Blessings, Torben

18
Jul
10

You can’t disown what you don’t own

I had a blast this past weekend teaching around 30 people from a number of different churches and from all age groups about who we as believers are in Christ at a Grace Ministries International Grace Life Conference. It was a beautiful time of sharing, hearing peoples’ honest hearts, pondering their brilliant questions, and just enjoying the wonderful fellowship of being among teachable people who realize that they don’t have it all together and who are hungry to truly encounter the Truth, Christ, who’ll set them free. I’m like a fish in the ocean in that type of context. I enjoy myself, and I become the best version of myself: the honest, open, excited, caring version of myself. The one who displays the fruit of the Spirit best. In short, it was great to experience real church – not the buildings or the organizations, but the living organism of the Body of Christ!

Teaching about identity in Christ is becoming semi-popular it looks like these years. That’s obviously exciting, because we badly need more teaching about and  revelations of who we are in Christ. A number of problems, however, have been troubling me for a while when I hear a lot of the teaching that is running around in Christian circles in many countries where I know people. This blog entry will just focus on one of the problems in some of the identity in Christ-teaching.

I hear pastors, leaders, conference speakers who think that all you need to do is to tell people who they are in Christ, help them focus on appropriate Bible verses, and then almost automatically people will start to live and function in a different way, and will rest in who they are in Christ. So the method seems to be that there is little or no talk about some of these huge problems that many believers face which include:

a) we don’t know who God really is and often relate to him based on our (mis)understandings of him,

b) we know ourselves very poorly, and are often so filled with self-rejection that just hearing that I’m okay with God doesn’t really fix how I see myself,

c) most people are still taught directly or indirectly that while they have their identity in Christ, they also still have a sinful nature. This lie has incredibly strong influence deep into the lives of churches and believers!,

d) we know very little about what the Bible talks about when it teaches about flesh and indwelling sin (Romans 7:18). so we don’t know who or what our real enemies are, and we keep on trying to fix ourselves.

Three levels of knowledge

There seems to be an understanding among many that we “just have to leave our past, and our present problems at the cross and then just embrace who we are in Christ“. As a theory it sounds nice. It may even sound spiritual. But as I see day in and day out in my little counseling office, that’s just not how life works for most people. There is a principle in counseling, and in life in general that goes like this: “You can’t disown, what you don’t own

You can’t refuse to have anything more to do or be controlled by something (disown), if you don’t realize what has been controlling you (own).

While I strongly agree that all Christians need to hear more about who we are in Christ as God’s children, we certainly need to remember that factual knowledge alone will not set us free to live lives of freedom.

There are three levels of knowledge that are essential to know the difference between:

1. Factual knowledge – information, we all have tons of this stuff. It’s good. It can be helpful. But just  memorizing 100 Bible verses about your identity in Christ doesn’t necessarily change anything if it just stays in your brain.

2. Revelation knowledge – this is where God turns the light bulbs on. You see and understand something you hadn’t seen before. A Bible verse seems to jump right out of the page. Exciting stuff, but there is a third level that we need to go to, and we can only go there with Christ:

3. Experiential knowledge – I need to experience that I’m okay with God both when I sin and when I worship, when I’m in the valleys or on the mountain, when life is all as it should be or when I walk through the wilderness. These experiences will change me forever!

Not only do I need facts, revelation, and experiences of who I am in Christ, I also need the same three things about who I’m not! In order to: “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles” (Hebrews 12:1), I first need a revelation of what it is I need to throw off! I can’t throw off something I’m unaware of. We first need a revelation of the mess we’ve created by listening to our flesh and trying to have our basic, God-given needs for love, acceptance, worth, and security met in our strength, through accomplishments, relationships, etc. Most people have no clue what their particular brand of flesh looks like. And because we have lots of blind spots when it comes to ourselves, it’s often very difficult to see on our own. That’s why we need each other in the Body of Christ. I saw people starting to see some of their blind spots during the conference I taught this past weekend. I saw lots of both revelation, and experiential knowledge happen – God was very good to his people gathered in a basement conference room in Marietta, Georgia!

I hope and pray that more people who teach about identity in Christ will also teach about and help people understand what their real problems are, and how God, in Christ, have provided solutions for those problems through our co-crucifixion (Galatians 2:20), co-burial, co-resurrection, co-ascension (Romans 6), and co-seating in Heaven (Ephesians 2:6) with Christ and in Christ!

Blessings, Torben

28
Sep
08

Not just a sinner saved by grace!

Another eventful and packed week of the nine weeks of Exchanged Life training is well over. We were told at the beginning that at times it would feel like we very drinking water from a fire hose these weeks. It’s intense and hard at times, but incredibly rich. I was smiling about it the other day after we had just had three hours of teaching about the first 19 verses in Romans chapter 5. Three hours to sit and wrestle with the richness of what God through Paul’s writings revealed first to the first century church in Rome, and now to a group of three Americans, two Bulgarians and a Dane in a classroom in Marietta, Georgia. 

I feel extremely privileged to have the opportunity to do these nine weeks. It’s a rich experience to sit and share and hear other people be transparent without any masks or pretenses. The truth is being shared. The truth about pain, hurts, good times, bad times, exciting times, and times when we have encountered The Truth of Jesus Christ in our lives. It’s holy ground when somebody shares directly from their hearts. And I feel honored to sit with this group day in and day out and be allowed to be real. 

This week has been a roller coaster ride with extremes of coming home Wednesday and yelling and even cursing at God (trust me, he much prefers raw honesty which sometimes includes very bad words to religious “we have to sugar coat what we say to God, or else he might get hurt or his throne might break”-thinking) to a sense of quiet peace of just sitting with God without an agenda, without expecting anything and just allow him to be God and me to be his son. I still have much to learn in the area of God being my heavenly, perfect father. That’s definitely one of the big themes of these first couple of weeks. God wants to correct my misconceptions of him as a father, and he wants me to not just know, but also experience the truth about him as my father. He wants me to know him not just at an intellectual and theological level, but also at an emotional level. God is a God who created us as three part beings with a spirit, a soul, and a body, and he wants us to encounter him at all three levels. 

I really enjoyed the truths that were shared from Romans chapter 5-8 this week. These chapters are so rich and so stockpiled with truth, that even though we spent nine hours talking about them, we’ve only scratched the surface. I love the book of Romans for the clarity that Paul brings to what it looks like to live like God’s child, and how he shows how frustrating life is when you, even as a believer, yield to the evil desires of your flesh that always bring death. 

How important it is to understand for a believer that we are new creations (2. Corinthians 5:17). We are free from the law. Jesus fulfilled the law. We are free from the law, and we don’t have to submit to our flesh and Satan’s desires any more. We can walk in the Spirit (Romans 8 ) which simply means living out of who we are as opposed to living out of who we are not any more (Romans 7 describes very well the experience of countless Christians who don’t know who they are in Christ, or just don’t live out of their true identity, and who try to live a Christian life in their own strength and end up frustrated and tired). It’s a question of seeing your identity and life in Christ, and living out of who you truly are.

All sociologists agree that we live from what we perceive to be true about ourselves. If you as a child of God see yourself as: “I’m just a sinner saved by grace” you will live your life with your head down and very rarely, if ever at all, experience the abundant life that Christ promises to his followers (John 10). If you get to see the truth of the New Testament that you’re not a sinner any more if you have accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior. You may sin occasionally, but that doesn’t change your identity as a saint. You’re a child of God. You’re a co-heir with Christ (Romans 8). You’re perfect in your Spirit, which is who you truly are (Hebrews 10:14). This is not bragging. This is the truth from God’s own word about who those who are in Christ Jesus truly are. There is life, freedom and joy here!

I could write much more, but I will call it a day for now. I sense that God is up to something very interesting in me these weeks. He is touching on some areas in my belief systems about who he is and areas of my relationship with him and significant others where I sense there is still pain. But he is always gentle, and he always only brings up as much as he knows I’m ready for. How wonderful it is to know that God always knows exactly what he is doing, even when it doesn’t feel great. He has given me many challenges this past week, and I’m still thinking about several of them. How good it is to know that God won’t get mad at me, if I’m not ready to go even deeper with him at this point in some of these areas. He is patient, and will keep calling on me and wait until I’m ready for more life in him. 

I enjoy the safety of sharing life with my new friends at Grace Ministries International. How rich it is to journey together on our individual journeys with God. 

I’m looking forward to seeing what this next week will bring!

Blessings, Torben

04
Jun
08

Coming to America!

This morning I finally received my passport with my new and fancy looking visa! I am now a Permanent Resident of the United States of America, so I’d better practice this song the next few weeks before we leave for the States:

It’s been a long and tiring process these last five months, since we knew that God wanted our next step to be some years in America. A lot of paperwork, a lot of dollars spent, a lot prayers and a lot of thoughts about this next step. And now we’ve bought our tickets for July 14. And that will be the day where we say goodbye to Ukraine after 2,5 years here in Kiev.

We’re excited to see what God has for us in Atlanta, Georgia. We are looking forward to Jeannette getting an opportunity to study at Kennesaw University, and we’re excited of the prospect of me working for Grace Ministries International and maybe some with Youth With A Mission Atlanta. We have many thoughts, (financial) worries, and questions regarding moving to the States – but more than anything we’re excited to see what God has for us in this next chapter of our lives with him. We’re very different people after 2,5 years here in Ukraine than when we arrived here a cold January evening in 2006, and we’re looking forward to getting to know God better and getting to know ourselves better as we continue our journey with him in the big land over there these next years!

Just wanted to share the happy news of my visa with you, dear blog readers! 🙂

Blessings, Torben




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