24 entries categorized "Religion"

A giant of faith and prayer

On our way to the mountain area for a few days of vacation and picking cloud berries we visited a man of God: Bjørn Olav Hansen. He is our longstanding friend, but more important he is a praying saint, a giant of prayer. He. is one of my heroes of faith.

image from https://erling.typepad.com/.a/6a00d83451f06569e202b751ae7531200c-pi

We have co-authored the book we are holding in our hand: The Big Family Prayer Book. It is a collection of prayers covering the entire life span, from birth to death.  Some of these prayers have been prayed by the people of God for hundreds or thousands of years as some are taken from the Bible and some from throughout the entire church history. Several of the prayers are written by the two authors behind the book.

Bjørn Olav Hansen was a journalist for several years before he became a Baptist Pastor. He is one of the founders and leaders of the Norwegian Prayer Council. He has been very important in the prayer movement in our nation.  Constantly he is ministering in all kind of churches helping the people of God into a fruitful prayer life in the power of the Holy Spirit. That he is still doing this, is a miracle to me. For many years he has been suffering from the Parkinson desease as well as many other serious sicknesses. He is no longer able to stand while he is preaching and teaching, often we see him in a wheelchair, but he is never quitting! By faith he overcomes many obstacles.

He is also an excellent writer and have authored many books. But through his blog,  he is reaching many more people than through his books. What he is writing on his blog he also publish on Facebook and his writings are a great encouragement to thousands of people. I admire him that he in spite of his many health challenges every day share his insight and wisdom with us through social media. He is also very transparent and makes himself vulnerable by sharing with us his struggles. This adds weight to everything he writes and publish as we understand this is real stuff not theories.

I want to encourage all my friends to keep Bjørn Olav in prayers, that God may strengthen him and enable him to continue in his important ministry!

Dear reader, thank you for taking time to read what I write. As I have been hacked and blocked from my social media, I ask you to share posts from my blog on your social media. You may just click on the logo of Facebook and Twitter under this entry to share it with your friends. and followers. Thank you for spreading the message!

Text: Erling Thu

When discouraged and heavy thoughts creep into our soul.

Psalm 119,50 It is my comfort in my sufferings that your word gives me life.

Once again, we see how truthful David is when he talks about life. It's one of the things I like most when I read the Psalms. David and the other psalmists are so brutally real and honest in what they say. They do not hide their disappointments and difficulties. They depict bitter and bad feelings. They put words to dark and heavy thoughts. But they take us along to the jubilant high points in life when they celebrate God's salvation.

In this verse, David is in trouble and is having a hard time. From the context we understand that this misfortune is something his enemies have inflicted on him. His opponents have made life miserable for him. Problems pile up and he sees no visible solution. Everything is dark around him and he feels alone. He is in great distress. It is in such moments that discouragement and heavy thoughts creep into our souls. Then we need God's comfort, as David did.

David found comfort in God's word. The Word created faith and life. The Word gave him hope and refreshed him. I have experienced the same many times. When the pain has been great and the heavy thoughts have been painful to fight with, I have time and again found comfort and new courage in the Word. I do not live by bread alone, but every word from the mouth of God gives me life. God's Word is a source of life. In the middle of the darkness and the bad news, I find comfort in the fact that what he has promised has enabled me to live through the bad and come out on the other side, - alive in God's power and grace.


Lord, in all my trials and difficulties I find great comfort in your promises, because they keep me alive!

The woman behind

Yesterday I wrote an entry about the well-known Bjørn Olav Hansen – a giant of faith and prayer. Today I like to share with you a little bit about the woman behind the man. This woman is a great woman of God and a giant in the Kingdom of God. There is a popular saying going like this: Behind every successful there is a surprised woman. I like to change this sentence to a better version: Behind every man of God there is a praying wife or woman! The praying woman behind a man of God is more important than we normally understand. The humble woman behind is often not appreciated nor honoured in the way she deserves.

image from https://erling.typepad.com/.a/6a00d83451f06569e202c1b25cea6c200d-pi

May Sissel Hansen is such an important woman behind the man of God that I want to honour her. Whenever I see her, she is a big smile, but I believe that behind there are many burdens and tears shed in the secret place of prayer. Her husband has a big name among believers in Norway, he is well-known, but what about his precious wife? Is she appreciated for her selfless service, her humble assistance of her husband?

May Sissel is always serving. She has the heart of a true servant of God. She is looking for opportunities to serve and to bless people. She has the gift of showing hospitality and are blessing the many visitors they have in extraordinary ways. Solveig and I had the privilege of enjoying a wonderful meal at their home quite recently. We really enjoyed the food but even more we enjoyed the company, the blessed fellowship of being together.

Whenever I see Bjørn Olav speaking at a conference, I observe that May Sissel is in the background. He is in the front, he is visible, but she is always the important person behind. Often, she is not seen at all, but she is always there behind the scene ready to assist. She has an eye for what he needs at any time, and she is always there to help and to serve. She is really a hero! She is the woman behind the man of God.

I am sure May Sissel have had the same experience many times that Solveig and I had recently. I had been invited to preach in the Sunday morning service in a church. At the beginning of the meeting, I was warmly welcomed to the by the leader from the front when the service started. Solveig was not mentioned at all. We were sitting together, but she was totally overlooked or ignored. I felt bad but choose to keep quiet. The precious woman behind the man of God was not appreciated. What a shame. It was not the first time she was overlooked; I am afraid it happens to often to the important women behind the man.

Whenever I am asked to preach, I spend time in prayer and preparation of the message. Behind me there is a prayerful wife who is travailing more in prayer for me than I do myself. Sometimes she brings me words or visions from God that helps me in my preparations and enables me to bring the Word of the Lord to the churches.

May Sissel is having a similar function towards her husband. She is a prayerful lady. I do not know exactly the many ways May Sissel is praying for Bjørn Olav, or how her prayer and spiritual insights helps him in his ministry. But I know that she is behind him and share a vital role in his fruitful ministry. Without her he would not have been the man of God that he by the grace of God is.

I like to honour May Sissel for her humble and prayerful ministry to the Lord. She is an example of godliness and holy devotion to God for everyone, whether we are men or women.

Dear reader, thank you for taking time to read what I write. As I have been hacked and blocked from my social media, I ask you to share posts from my blog on your social media. You may just click on the logo of Facebook and Twitter under this entry to share it with your friends. and followers. Thank you for spreading the message!

Text: Erling Thu

Understanding to observe the law

Psalm 119:34 Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart.

I like the burning zeal David has to learn from God what man could not teach him. God has given all human beings a measure of intellectual capacity to think and learn, but here David teaches us that we can ask God to give us grace to use that ability to understand what tends to our peace. He asks to know how to keep God's law. He prays that the Lord must enlighten his mind to understand God's will.

We need wisdom and understanding to keep God's law. Therefore, we also find in the New Testament that the apostle Paul often prays that the Holy Spirit must give the believers enlightened eyes to understand and take possession of  our inheritance. He calls the Spirit the Spirit of wisdom and revelation. The Apostle John says: we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ (1 John 5:20).

In this Psalm, David does not ask just for understanding to keep the word. He also prays for grace to observe God's law wholeheartedly. In Hebrew thinking, understanding and knowledge are not anything theoretical and intellectual, but are always linked to life. We only understand God's Word when we live it. If we do not live by the word of God, we have not understood it. If we truly understand who God is and what He says we should do, we would not dare or want to do something other than obey. When we have come to know God through Jesus Christ, we also have the urge to do His will.

There are some translations where this last sentence is not a prayer, but a promise: Truly, I shall observe it with my whole heart! There is no contradiction between its two ways of translating this sentence. Whenever we give a promise to God, we do it in prayer for grace to fulfil it. Whenever we commit ourselves to something for God, we do so in the belief that God will help us. Our prayer and promise go in the same direction. Both are turned to God. It is him we want to learn from. It is His will that we will do, and it is His grace that will help us. We pray wholeheartedly, and will gladly keep and observe His law of our whole heart.

"Give me an understanding heart, that I with burning zeal can know and obey your truth!"

Seeing glimpses of God

To be somebody is to see glimpses of God

at unexpected moments

in the song of a bird

in the sparkles of light on water

in the scent or the sight of the ocean

in the hint of springtime on a mild winter day

in the innocent smile of a baby

in the wrinkles in the face of your mother

in the enduring love of your wife

in the care of your neighbours

in the green sprout of a dandelion break through black tarmac

in an eagle soaring the sky

in an old fashioned postcard or a modern text message on the cell phone

Written after having read "The secret message of Jesus" by Brian McLaren

Longing for God

To be somebody is longing for God

-above everything else

Longing for God is not longing for an experience

It is longing for a true relationship

It is not about having some knowledge of God

But it is about knowing him

-as a person

-as a friend

-as a confidant

-as a companion

Not to become high on him

But to be conformed to his image

Not to learn more, to increase knowledge

But to love him more

I am somebody when I realise

-I am created to be a God-lover

I am somebody when the very purpose of my life

-is to love God

I am somebody when I am longing for God

-only because of love

My life

Blessed be the Lord!

He is the music of my life

He is the song of my life

He is the melody of my life

He is the lyric of my life

He is the text of my life

He is the poem of my life

He is the word of my life

He is my life

I am somebody in Him

Being a poem

I am somebody because I am a poem

Everyday I can enter into human lives

-at the workplace and in the neighbourhood

With grace from God to bless

I can come as a poem

A poem that is touching the inner longings

-conjuring up dreaming melodies of the heart

-painting colourful images of the soul

A poem that is putting words on the sprouting faith

-calling forth cries for salvation

-giving birth to prayer for forgiveness

I am a poem written by God

I am a work of God

I am a masterpiece of God

I am God’s own masterpiece of art

I am somebody

I am born again

I am somebody because I am born again

I have been born twice

I have been born through my parents and by the Spirit

Humans can only reproduce human life

That which is human falls short of God’s glorious standard

That which is born of the Spirit is spirit

Only those born from above can enter the Kingdom of God

I am born again by the Holy Spirit

I am born into the family of God

I am a child of God, the Eternal Father

I belong to the Kingdom of God

I am a Kingdom person

I am a Spirit person

The invisible Spirit moves me

-through new life from heaven

I am somebody when I am moved by the Spirit

Because of my birth

I am somebody because of my birth

I am born into the most prestigious royal family

My father is the Sovereign Ruler

-of the entire universe

Because he is the almighty creator

-of everything that exist

My brother is the Redeemer

-of the human race

Because he conquered death,

The evil powers of darkness,

Selfishness and sin in all its fashions

My personal assistant is the Sustainer

-of the whole world

Because he is the eternal life-giving spirit

He assisted my father

-in bringing the world into being

He assisted my brother

-in bringing him back from the death

I am somebody because of my relationship

With the mysterious triune Being

Who loved me, chose me, and planned me

Even before the universe existed

Only because of his marvellous grace

I am born into the Kingdom of Love

Friendship with the Living One

Turns a nobody into a real Somebody

Knowing the Invisible

To be somebody is to know the Invisible

By living in a personal relationship

Through everyday life with him who walks with you

-when no one else is there for you.

You touch him

-even though you can’t feel him with your hands

You hear his tender voice of thunder

-even though your ear don’t register a sound

You see him clearly

-even though your eyes only see the natural world

By faith only you know the Invisible

-for faith is the art of hearing him

Through hope you cling on to the Invisible

-for hope is the art of believing him

Through love you get close to the Invisible

-for love is the art of trusting him

To be somebody is to hear, believe and trust

In him who no one can see

-even though he is ever present

-even though he constantly reveals himself

The Invisible can only be known in an intimate relationship

(Inspired by some phrases in Summoned to Lead by Leonard Sweet)

Having a dream

To be somebody is having a dream
That consumes you like a fire
Giving you no rest but
Motivating you to make great sacrifices
Preparing you for bold initiatives
Stirring you to adventurous living
As you are pursuing your dream with joyful hope

To be somebody is having great dreams
Nor only for yourself and your own people
But having dreams on behalf of the underprivileged,
And having dreams for your affluent society
Or the many suffering groups in the world

When you are dreaming great dreams
Of a changed society and a better world
You will lay down your life as a seed of hope
As a fruit everyone will see
That you are really somebody
For you are not living for yourself

Telling your own story

To be somebody is tell your own story
To share your own life with others
Trying to communicate hope, faith and love
That comes from your convictions
And your compassionate heart
That the best thing in life
Is to be like you
Completely dependent on God
Fully alive and aware of his presence
Totally abandoned to his grace
Free to enjoy his marvellous acts of kindness!

Unique strawberries

To be somebody
Is to marvel at the biological facts
Of the spring fruit strawberries
For strawberries are unique
- Not only in taste and beauty
But in their very construction
It is the only fruit with seeds on the outside skin
Birds and people indulge themselves
With this unique and delicate fruit
The birds become the source of spreading the seeds
Thus ensuring that we will always have the fruit to enjoy
People cultivate and grow strawberries
Some to make a living
And others to help people enjoy life

To be somebody is to marvel
At the simple facts of life
Giving thanks to God for the details of nature
As we worship him who keeps us alive
In mysterious and artistic ways

(Written after reading a comment by Jerry Mabb on my first strawberry poem.)

Free to create a new lifestyle

To be somebody is to be free
From dead forms and unnatural rituals
- of the old traditional religion
Not giving in to artificial patterns
- of modern Christianity
Not serving inhuman systems
- of political ideologies
Not giving in to any thing that stifles life

To be free is to create your own lifestyle
By submitting to the design of your Creator
Only when you choose to be the person
You are designed to be in the image of God
You are enabled to create a beautiful life
Because you are free to choose the beauty of holiness

To be somebody is to realise
That freedom and bondage
Depend on your own decision

Pushing yourself forward

To be somebody is to push yourself forward
It is to lift your head above the mass
Avoiding being choked by the boring sameness of sin
Or being imprisoned by accepted rules
It is to make yourself free from conventional views
As you follow the Truth in ministering Grace
Liberating people around you to breathe freely
Even in the hostile environment of consumerism
As they keep looking steadily into God’s perfect law
- the law that sets people free

Having young people for dinner

To be somebody is having young people
Eating dinner with you in your home
And enjoying their company
Sharing our life with one another
As we talk of many different aspects
Of our life with God and our families

To be somebody is enjoying
Interaction with grown up people
Belonging to a different generation
That could have been our own children
But not noticing age at all
Because we all enjoy being God’s children
Having fun together
Appreciating one another’s company

Character formation

To be somebody is to be marked
By the very character of God by having
- love written all over you
- joy crafted in your face
- faithfulness inscribed on your heart
- peace carved deeply into your spirit
- patience chiselled into your very soul
- kindness imprinted on your entire being
- goodness penetrating your nature
- gentleness sculpturing your actions
- self-control engraved on your will

To be somebody is to be in the hands of God
Gratefully allowing the great artist of life do want he wants:
- remove sexual immorality and
- delete every impure thought
- wash away eagerness for lustful pleasure
- deliver from idolatry and participation in demonic activities
- take away hostility, quarrelling and outbursts of anger
- uproot jealousy and selfish ambitions
- plot out the feeling that everyone is wrong except your own little group
- set you free from envy and drunkenness
- rescue you from wild parties and other kinds of nasty behaviour
To install divine values into your inner being
For the real beauty of holiness to be seen
As you are radiate with the glorious grace of God

Giving thanks - leaving comments

To be somebody is to give thanks
For the small things in life
It is to leave a comment
On a poetic blog of a stranger
Expressing appreciation with one word: cool!
Telling how you will use it
In blessing relatives and friends

When your footsteps are a trail
Of thanks and appreciations
Of positive and encouraging words
Of real and virtual smiles
Then everyone you encounter
Will think that you are really somebody

To be somebody is not to take things for granted
But allowing yourself to be surprised
At any little token of goodness
And every expression of kindness
Giving glory to the Creator
He is the source of the beautiful life
Of a grateful heart

Leaving an impression

To be somebody is to leave an impression
Of depth and purity, integrity and love
On the people you spend time with
It is to make a lasting impression
On precious people created in the image of God
As you touch them with your life
Of honesty and transparency
Even though they seem indifferent to you

To be somebody is to leave a beautiful mark
Of the loving presence of God
On persons you interact with