Posts Tagged ‘truth

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

Advertisements
23
Aug
10

Is that really worship?

What would you call a relationship between two people where only ‘positive’ feelings such as happiness, hope, excitement, passion, etc. were shared, but no ‘negative’ feelings including frustration, anger, sadness, bitterness, etc. were part of the discussions of the two people involved? “Shallow” seems to be the obvious word that comes to mind.

At the numerous churches I’ve attended over the years, I’ve heard the phrase: “worship is an expression of our relationship with God” countless times. If that’s really true, then I’m afraid a lot of church-goers are caught in very shallow relationships with God!

I believe corporate worship can be a place of honesty, and a beautiful expression of life, but in the majority of the churches, I’ve visited in the 40 countries I’ve been to so far, I’ve more often had the feeling of the little boy in Hans Christian Andersen‘s fairy tale, The Emperor’s New Clothes, who is the only one who has the audacity to express the truth about the Emperor in the parade through the city: “The Emperor is naked!“. I’ve often felt like that. This is so empty. This is not what it’s supposed to be, or even what it could be. I know from my own life, from people in my counseling office, and from countless conversations with discipleship training school students and the average person in our churches that none of us have this happy-clappy-life-is-always-great-relationship to God that we often sing about. It simply doesn’t exist. Life isn’t like that. We end up fooling ourselves. And surely the God of the Universe who knows all our thoughts and feelings must at times be as bored with our charades as I am…?

I’ve heard much teachings over the years about what worship is, and I’ve always sat in the pews with a feeling and a thought of: “there is more to this, than what I hear here”. This simply isn’t as good as it gets. To me, worship boils down to one word: HONESTY! I believe that God, above all else, is looking for us to be honest with him. Honesty is the key factor in any relationship. If you are not honest with somebody you call your friend, and you feel you have to fabricate certain feelings in order for the two of you to be okay, it’s a shallow and empty relationship. I fear that too many of God’s children see God that way. When you examine the lyrics of  most of the popular worship songs each Sunday in our churches, it’s hard to see most of them as expressions of honesty. We have to keep up appearances. We must be happy. We must rejoice, even when we’re depressed. We must this, we should do that, we ought to feel this…..all of this points to an Old Covenant/Law mentality and understanding of who God is.

The God I know, love, and serve is interested in who I really am, and how I’m really doing. He wants to be known by me, and he is inviting me to let him know me intimately. He who is all Truth, desires nothing more than to see me live and breathe and express what I really believe, feel and think to him.

Therefore, I believe the following to be true about worship:

worship songs about God’s true character and nature are always relevant and appropriate

– worship songs about my feelings towards God are great as long as they express all different kinds of feelings I may have. Again, a relationship where I can only express what I deem to be ‘positive’ and ‘okay’ feelings, is extremely shallow

worship songs about my promises to God (“I’ll do this and this, and I’ll NEVER do that or that”) are irrelevant, since I have no clue how I’ll react in whatever difficult situation I may face in the future. On the contrary, my relationship to God is built on HIS promises to me (“He’ll never let me go, leave me or desert me!”), and that’s worth singing about!

– worship songs – and there are lots of them these days – that describe a relationship to God in sensual terms that belong more in private bedroom conversations between a husband and his wife are inappropriate and show a misunderstood view of what real intimacy with God is

– worship songs that talk about promises that God never made are obviously tragic, especially since the average church-goer doesn’t know the Bible very well, and often gets a lot of his or her theology from worship songs

– worship songs that teach Old Covenant-realities to New Covenant-believers make no sense and keep people in fear-filled relationships to God (I often New Covenantify songs that we sing at different churches – I refuse to keep inviting God to come, since he’s already in me, and I refuse to ask that God won’t take his Holy Spirit away from me, since he has joined his Holy Spirit to my spirit and would never do that!)

– worship songs that preach what God demands of us are misunderstood. God doesn’t demand anyone to know him and share life with him. He invites me to know him intimately and to be completely known by him. But the nature of any real invitation is that I can choose to say no to it, and I’m still okay with the person (God) who extended the invitation

– worship songs that teach that God doesn’t care about the consequences of our choices or isn’t mourning our sin and the death (Romans 6:23) that we experience because of that are un-biblical and filled with lies

worship songs that hint at an understanding saying that ‘negative’ emotions are a problem that we just have to get over ASAP, so we can show God our ‘positive’ emotions, end up creating guilt and shame in God’s people who need space to be honest and real

– worship songs written by people who haven’t personally experienced what they’re writing about is….a waste of time!

worship songs that don’t show that forgiveness is something God already has given to his children (IT IS FINISHED!), and not something we only get if we ask for it and repent in the right way, don’t understand the freedom of the New Covenant, and the peace and rest that Christ wants his children to know and live in.

Blessings, Torben – you’re – as always – free to comment, agree, or disagree with my words on worship!

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?:-) 

06
Jan
08

Bible highlights

Top 12 Bible passages  – it was very hard to pick! God has been good and has revealed much of himself through his Word in 2007. 

Matthew 5: 3-12 – The Beatitudes – I could talk for hours about the impact these verses have had…! (Maybe some other time!) 

Psalm 23 – this wonderful and well-known Psalm has come alive these past seven months. Wonderful description of my journey with God “even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me!”

Romans 8:15 (really all of Romans, but I’ll pick one verse for this purpose) “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry ‘Abba, Father’”

1. John 3:16 “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers” Universal truth. We actually do know what love is, because Jesus demonstrated it for us!

John 8: 31-32 “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free!” I have loved this verse for years, but I see the simple truth of this verse more in more in my life and in other people’s. If you encounter and live in the truth in any area in your life, it really does set you free!

John 6: 28-29 “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” Nothing more, nothing less!

John 7: 38 “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him” When I believe in Christ and abide in him, the life of Christ flows through my broken cup

Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” I’m dead, Christ is alive in me. He does his work through me, and he gets all the glory!

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” It’s all about God’s revelation. Without that all is just words and information without life.

2. Corinthians 12:9My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness” When I’m weak, I’m strong – kingdom of God logic!

Hebrews 10:14 “because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy” in Christ I AM PERFECT!! And nothing can or will change that!

Matthew 1:23 “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel – which means, “God with us” God is with us. God is here. God is alive, and because he drew near first, we can draw near to him who will then draw nearer to us.

 




Blog Stats

  • 145,970 hits
September 2017
M T W T F S S
« Jun    
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
252627282930  

RSS Unknown Feed

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.