Posts Tagged ‘paul

15
Jun
10

what true brokenness is

These past few weeks I’ve had quite a few talks with people about what brokenness really is. What does it mean to be broken? And is it a positive thing to be broken?

I am well aware that in regular English something that’s broken isn’t a positive thing. Right now our beloved car is in a body and paint shop, because it’s broken. It needs to be fixed to function properly again. Also, when we talk about people, ‘a broken person’ often means somebody where something devastating has happened to them, and they barely know how to get up in the morning. Maybe their spouse or child died, and they just don’t seem to be able to find many reasons to live, and have in most ways lost hope.

Obviously, I think of something and somebody very different when I think, talk and teach about brokenness and what it means to be a broken person. Anybody in the Bible who is significant enough to be mentioned several times and had positive outcomes of their lives went through brokenness-experiences and came out as broken people ready to live and serve God in powerful, grace-filled ways. It would take too much space to go through all of them, but everyone from Moses, Abraham, Jacob, and David to Peter, John, Paul, and countless others of the heroes of faith in the Bible went through brokenness and show us what it means, in what I believe is a biblical understanding, to be a broken person.

Brokenness is a process we go through, and it can take a few years or it can take decades, where God exposes our fleshly attempts to live life, to have our core needs of love, acceptance, worth, and security met in our own strength, and he shows how it is truly impossible to live the Christian life we want to live and make a radical difference in this world as long as we attempt to do it in our own strength and based on our own understanding and wisdom.

Brokenness is God’s gift to us where he exposes our sandcastles and causes them to fall, so we can learn to rest in who we are in him, and who he is, and build our houses on the only solid foundation of Christ.

Brokenness is necessarily painful, because ever since Adam and Eve fell in the Garden of Eden all human beings ever born have an inbuilt desire to rebel against God, and try to meet our needs in our own ways. We struggle to surrender control, and we often don’t understand, even as Christians, that we truly are free to live the lives we want only when Christ is in control, and I just rest in him (John 15). Therefore God has to use all kinds of ways to encourage and invite us to surrender to him, and his love. But we must always remember that God doesn’t desire for us to surrender to his power, but to his love and kindness (Romans 2:4).

I’ll split this up in two entries and stop this one here. In my next blog entry, I’ll talk about characteristics of a truly, broken person that God delights in and loves people through!

Blessings, Torben

20
Jan
10

Proud to belong to Jesus

It was my 33rd birthday yesterday. I had a splendid day, and I don’t feel too different from those days in my past when I was 32 🙂 A good friend of mine wrote something in a birthday greeting that made me think: “I am glad you do what you’re best at: active service for our Lord that you’re so proud to belong to“. The last sentence stopped me in my tracks. Am I truly proud to belong to God? And the answer from my spirit and heart was a resounding “YES”.

Yes, I am proud to belong to Jesus! I am proud that I belong to the Savior of the world! I am glad that I know, love and follow the only hope for all people on this planet! I am proud that I know the Gospel of truth about Jesus that is setting people free! I am proud to say that I am a very different person today than just a few years ago, because Jesus Christ is changing me! I am not ashamed of the Gospel! I am not ashamed of knowing the truth!

I listened to Delirious?’ old song Not Ashamed of the Gospel, and I felt my heart soar. The song’s lyrics are very true for me. While I am sad to see many people I know who had a stronger desire to follow Christ 10-15 years ago than they do today, I am so happy that I know/sense/feel a much stronger desire in me to truly know Christ than I had 15 years ago or even 5 years ago. Christ has my attention, and I truly want to know him in the ways that Paul so eloquently describe right here:

“But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.

I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead”

(Philippians 3:7-11)

With Paul I boast in the Lord! I boast in who God is!

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16). I have seen the power of the gospel. I have seen God set people free. Just yesterday I had the privilege of seeing a friend stepping out into a greater experience of freedom, because he encountered the Truth who is Jesus himself (John 14:6).

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




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