Posts Tagged ‘life

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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12
Nov
10

i will trust you

Hopes turned to fear. Joy turned to tears. Life turned to death. And I sit here again. Not knowing what to do. Not knowing what to say. Not knowing what to feel.

Lost in time. Lost for words. Thinking ahead makes no sense. Thinking about yesterday hurts. So today is all I’ve got. I feel like hiding. I feel like hibernating. I feel like disappearing. But here I am.

Your plans are good. Your plans are perfect. Your love is perfect. You are perfect. You love me. Just the way I am. You don’t judge me in my darkness. You call me into the light. I want to come, but I can’t. Not yet. Not now. You wait. You invite me. It’s okay to say no.

You will always be there. You will always guide me. Even when I don’t believe that you will. You are not mad at me. You embrace me in my disappointment. You cry with me. I cry so much. Tears are tiring.But tears are all I have.

I can’t express what I feel. What’s there to say. Nothing I say will change what happened. It hurts. But I will trust you. I choose you God. The ball is back in your court. I trust that you will bring life, joy, and hope back in me again. I don’t have it in me. But you do. And you will give it to me. The way you see it’s best.

I know trust is shattered. It’s okay. You don’t judge me for my apprehensiveness. You will rebuild the trust. That’s your job. Not mine. You are the one who works out my salvation. Not me.

 

Thanks for being here. Somewhere. I will trust you!

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”

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

28
Apr
08

Find me in the river

I really enjoy this Delirious? song Find Me In The River. It’s a simple song with very simple, but interesting lyrics. The song, as far as I understand it, tells a story about a believer who has run dry. A believer who has tried on his own. A believer who has been living a surface Christian life. But now this believer has run dry. The well of self effort and religion can only sustain you for so long. It will run dry eventually. And now this believer is admitting that “we didn’t count on suffering, we didn’t count on pain, but if the blessing is in the valley, then in the river I will wait“. It’s so true that we often don’t count on suffering and difficulties in our walk with God. Even though Jesus made it painfully clear that we would experience problems and tribulations as his followers (John 15: 18-27 is just one example), we forget that. We forget that there is a cost to real, authentic discipleship and life and intimacy with God! Our flesh needs to be crucified. We need to lay down our ideas, thoughts, opinions, desires, dreams and allow God to call the shots and direct us. And he will lead us through the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23), because he wants us to come to the place where we say that we will wait and endure anything as long as we will receive God’s life and blessings!

Torben 

22
Feb
08

Listen to your life

This week’s quote is from the American minister and author Frederick Buechner who among many wise things has said this:

Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery that it is. In the boredom and the pain of it no less than in the excitement and the gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy, hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace
Abundant life in Christ is not something for tomorrow, it’s something for today. No matter where I am, no matter what my circumstances are, no matter whether life is fun or hard, no matter what I have or don’t have: if I learn to listen to my life and see God in my everyday trivialities, transformation happens. I start seeing the world, God, others and myself for who we really are. Ordinary becomes special and the lost sense of wonder, joy and mystery is rediscovered.
Torben
16
Feb
08

How to avoid life and growth

This week’s quote is from good, old C. S. Lewis, and it talks about the way to avoid life with God and growth in your Christian life:

Avoid silence, avoid solitude, avoid any train of thought that leads off the beaten track. Concentrate on money, sex, status, health and (above all) on your own grievances. Keep the radio (and the TV and the computer, we might add here in 2008). Live in a crowd. Use plenty of sedation. If you must read books, select them very carefully. But you’d be safer to stick to the papers. You’ll find the advertisements helpful: especially those with a a sexy or snobbish appeal
Torben – our lives and our character are, at the end of the day, a sum of our choices. Am I making choices that produce the life that I want to enjoy?



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