Posts Tagged ‘steven curtis chapman

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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17
Apr
11

the god of paradoxes

I wrote a blog entry about Rob Bell’s book Love Wins, where I found God to be described in terms that may have made perfect sense to Rob Bell, but in my opinion is far from the more complex picture of God that we find described in the Bible:

God is love, but he is also holy.

Jesus is the lamb of God, but he is also the Lion of Judah

Life comes from death

The first shall be last

If you want to be a leader in the kingdom, serve

The real leader uses a towel to dry peoples’ feet not a stick to control people

God wants for all people to choose him as their God, and he has made provision for that to be possible through his son Jesus’ death on the cross, but he is also aware of the tragic fact that some people will not choose to receive the free gift of life and righteousness that he is offering them

Blessed are those who mourn…

These are just some of the many examples of the paradoxes of who God is, and what he is up to. I can’t figure him out completely. I don’t understand a lot of the things he does or chooses to not do. I just don’t.

God is God, and I’m not. He created me in his own image. I have a spirit that has come alive when everything in me that was against God was crucified and buried with Christ (Galatians 2:20). So I am joined to God and rest in the fact that nothing and nobody can ever change that (Romans 8). I rest in the fact that my faith doesn’t have to make perfect sense. I rest in the fact that a lot of it makes sense anyway, but I’m not inclined to desperately try to make sense out of the paradoxes that are in the Bible. These paradoxes cause me to wonder, think, chat with God, and essentially worship him.

A Christianity without paradoxes is flat, weak and ultimately very uninteresting. It may feel good for a little while, if I can explain away the things in Christianity that I don’t understand or agree with, but it has a very short shelf life, because it’s not founded in the truth of who God is. Lots of people throughout the ages of the Church have tried to explain away the paradoxes about God that they are uncomfortable with. There is nothing new under the sun, when that happens.

I will end this blog entry by quoting an excerpt from an excellent review of Love Wins from Christianity Today:

“This brings us to the other problem with liberalism: Ironically, its passion to make Jesus more accessible to the contemporary mind ends up making Jesus less interesting. To be fair, many people become Christians as a result of hearing the liberal gospel. And one suspects that Bell’s book will have this effect for some. But liberalism has never been able to win a large following for Jesus. Too often, its Jesus sounds like an ideal people already believe in, so why bother? (…)Most Christians grasp that to demythologize one doctrine is to make the others less coherent. They recognize that a Christianity that teaches about “a God without wrath [who] brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a Cross” (H. Richard Niebuhr’s classic summary of liberalism) does not reflect the thickness of biblical revelation nor lived reality. And they see that when all is said and done, there is no painful contradiction between the love and justice of God. That in the end, not only does love win, but justice, too.”

So, I guess, at this point in 2011, I land in an interesting, and seemingly small camp in terms of what I believe: I am a young(ish) man who is too liberal for the conservatives, and too conservative for the liberals 🙂

Blessings, Torben

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

 

05
Nov
10

you are faithful

Another beautiful song by Steven Curtis Chapman that puts appropriate words to the pain I’m going through these days, and what I choose – completely opposite of what I feel – to hold up as truth: GOD IS FAITHFUL!!

Blessings, Torben

04
Nov
10

jesus meets me there

I’m glad he does.

Torben

22
Jun
10

Jesus will meet you there

Here is another beautiful song from Steven Curtis Chapman’s incredible CD Beauty Will Rise, Jesus Will Meet You There.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me, Your rod, and Your staff they comfort me” (Psalm 23)

Blessings, Torben

03
May
10

“it is what it is”

I have many bad habits. One of them happens to really upset my wife. And with good reason. It’s a sentence I say a bit too often. It’s a sentence of giving up, giving in, and resignation. It’s not a statement of surrender, but of resigning and accepting that things just won’t change no matter what I say/think/do. It’s actually a statement of believing in something along the lines of fate.

Often I say this when things just don’t work out the way I wanted them to. My hopes are crushed, and I say with a sigh of resignation: “it is what it is“. It may sound harmless enough, but too often it’s very ugly and starts me on a downward spiral where I forget that God is in control. Even when things are messy and life doesn’t turn out the way I wanted them, or even according to God’s own best case scenario, he is still in control.

Yesterday, as we were driving home from church, I was lamenting about my own shortcomings and the ugliness of my flesh that comes out when I accuse myself of not doing enough to get to know people at church, not caring enough about them, or whatever aspect of my life it is that my flesh chooses to attack on that particular day. My wife stopped me in my tracks, when I had, once again, concluded that it is what is. She heard the resignation, and the hopelessness in my voice. “Will it ever be any different?”, was one of the questions behind my frustrations.

Jeannette told me how troubled she is when she hears “it is what it is“. And she explained what she hears, when I say those words. An hour later I was in our car on my way to play a football game, and somehow I knew I needed to listen to Steven Curtis Chapman’s remarkable CD “Beauty Will Rise“. This CD may be the most personal and intimate CD I’ve ever listened to. It truly is Steven Curtis Chapman’s own journal set to music as he has been walking through the grief process after losing his 5-year old daughter Maria Sue in a tragic car accident two years ago. I have listened to that CD several times, and it always brings tears to my eyes. I haven’t lost a small child, but I know parts of the pain Steven so bravely shares in these songs. Yesterday, God used one of these powerful songs to minister to me.

The song is called Our God Is In Control, and it speaks about the true hope we have as Christians of someday living on a new and re-created earth where all evil is gone and everything is just the way it should be. A couple of lines spoke to me about my situation here and now, and it added some valuable truth to my “it is what it is” statements.

Steven Curtis Chapman writes these precious pieces of truth:

This is not how it should be. This is not how it could. But this is how it. And our God is in control“, and “This is not where we planned to be when we started this journey. But this is where we are. And our God is in control

Tears were streaming down my face as God spoke to me about this truth. It’s true that there things that just have to be done, and there are lots of circumstances that turn out differently than I hope. And sometimes, “it just is what is, BUT (and the truth about what you and I really believe always comes after the “but” in our sentences!) God is in control!”

There is a huge difference between just saying “it is what it is“, and saying “it is what is, and our God is in control

I appreciate this reminder. I appreciated hearing God’s heart for me. He understands that it’s easy for me and his other children to get discouraged. But he also knows that I need to be reminded that HE IS ALWAYS IN CONTROL!

Blessings, Torben – here is a video with the beautiful song Our God Is In Control




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