April 25-26, 2014
To all of you who were praying for this event weekend in Arden, North Carolina, I want to give a deep, heartfelt thank you. Two years ago, I was invited to come to Arden to share a weekend from the content published in my book, Finding the Father. This past weekend was the long-awaited fulfillment of that invitation.
What is unknown to many is that my story of traveling from venue to venue each weekend sharing Jesus’ Kingdom and His radical new way of seeing God, ourselves, and others actually began there in the Asheville area. Just a few miles away from where I was at last weekend was where I gave my first weekend seminar so many years ago now. It is always a time of deep nostalgia for me to return there.
At Arden, we began Friday night right where the book Finding the Father begins…and that is with my own story of my father. This story has become well known to so many of you who follow the teaching ministry of Renewed Heart Ministries. It had been about six months since I shared this story, and I had not revisited this story since the passing of my mother. This produced no small challenge in my sharing, but God blessed. The next day, we quickly moved into Jesus’ revelation of God’s favor and forgiveness—not just for us, but also for our enemies and those we label as “sinners.” Looking at Luke 4, as well as Jesus’ telling of the older brother of the prodigal, we discerned the overwhelming truth: if any are cast into outer darkness in the end, it will not be because they could not accept God’s love for them; it will be because they could not accept God’s love for someone else that they feel should be excluded. (This presentation will be posted as a miscellaneous presentation soon on our website if you have an interest in listening to it as well.)
In the afternoon, I shared some thoughts from Finding the Father on theodicy and the problem of human suffering. And we closed with a thoughtful, contemplative hour focused on the closing scenes of Jesus life and ministry, culminating in His Resurrection and what that meant for the early followers of Jesus.
I’ll wrap up this update with a thought from that presentation:
“Saul was not a ‘sinner’ who found religion, but a deeply religious person who, in his ‘scapegoating’ (of which he was unaware that he was doing), met Jesus: “I am the one you are persecuting.” That identification of Jesus with the victim moved Saul from persecutor to one who stood in solidarity with those he was persecuting. That dynamic is a key part of the Jesus story: identifying Jesus with the one I am persecuting and how that identification ‘converts’ me to stand WITH those whom I once persecuted. To have its salvific effect, our theories concerning Jesus’ death must adequately locate us among the crowd condemning Jesus. WE are the people who don’t see what we are doing, even when our intentions are religiously motivated. WE are the people who always turn to violent means for removing the tensions within our culture, whether political, economic or religious. It was WE who crucified The Lord of Glory. And it is GOD who, through the Resurrection, decisively declared that the scapegoat (whether in politics, economics and/or religion) that we crucified…is innocent.”
When it dawns, THIS Truth sets one free.
Again, thank you to each of you who was praying for us this past weekend. God showed up and Jesus’ kingdom was enlarged. I’ll be returning to Arden in September of this year for a longer, ten-day event for the church there, as well as for the community surrounding the church. I’ll keep you posted.
Keep living Christ’s love, till the only world that remains is a world where love reigns.
I love you guys.