Clark Pinnock wrote, “I do not apologize for admitting to being on a pilgrimage in theology, as if it were in itself some kind of weakness of intelligence or character. Feeling our way toward the truth is the nature of theological work even with the help of Scripture, tradition and community…. A pilgrimage, therefore, far from being unusual or slightly dishonorable, is what we would expect theologians who are properly aware of their limitations to experience.”
This sums up my feelings towards the new and, I believe, improved Life Unlimited series. For those who loved the old series, for the most part, much of the material is the same, but there are some distinct changes.
1)Repentance is defined as a change of direction. Last year, I don’t remember exactly when, I woke up to the realization that RHM had unintentionally had two goals, two emphases, two aims in its longer ten-day series. This new series is truly an act of repentance. The entire series now has just one goal: presenting Jesus’ message about a Kingdom that is radical, other-centered, inclusive, self-sacrificing , centered in a revelation of God’s character of love. This series is geared for those who either do not know Jesus or have received a religiously abusive version of “Jesus.” The goal is to present Jesus’ message about the Father with intellectual honesty, relational responsibility and cultural relevance.
2)Those who are very familiar with the previous version of this series will notice right away that two presentations are very different. One presentation that has been radically overhauled is the one on finances. Jesus did come that we might have life and life unlimited, but I am convinced we have misunderstood what that Life was really all about. This new presentation abandons a Christianized version of the American dream and focuses instead on what Jesus actually taught about how his followers should use the Father’s resources of which we are simply stewards (including but not limited to our time and money) to build relationships for Him for eternity. Today 40,000 people die every day from poverty-related causes. As victims of the American dream, Western Americanized Christians must wake up and abandon their comfortable stance toward our consumer-driven, materialistic greed. Praise God for the few exceptions, but statistically speaking, Christians are no different in this regard from many non-Christians. Too often we find ourselves striving to be more like the 4% ahead of us than the global 95% who are behind us. We must take seriously Jesus’ command to build up treasure where moths and rust do not corrupt. Seventy-five percent of middle and lower class people in America live at a higher historical standard of living than most kings have lived at throughout history. If all denominations and groups represented under the label of “Christian” in America would take seriously Jesus’ call to the rich young ruler to sell everything and give it to the poor, the Christian religion could go down in history as ending world hunger for good. Compassion would be our greatest apologetic, and the world would see not just the abuses of the Middle Ages but what it looks like when Christians repent and begin to truly follow the Christ from which their name is taken.
The second presentation you will notice as different is the one on healthy living, which has been expanded to include a more holistic approach, tracing the departure of the Christian religion in the second century from the teachings of Jesus to a more Platonic version of Christianity. This holistic approach (which will make more sense when you listen to it) includes not only information about the health of our bodies but also the responsibility of followers of Jesus to take seriously the call to live in responsible and sustainable ways without consumer-driven cruelty to the body, our planet or animal life. As followers of Jesus, we are called to return to our Edenic stewardship, which includes healthful living personally but also encompasses much more holistically. I’m looking forward to lots of good feedback on this presentation specifically.
3)You will also notice not major but nuanced differences in the presentations on the Cross, Hell, Death and the Sabbath. At the center of all that defines us, as followers of Jesus, and gives us identity, assurance, worth, security and value, our life must be first and foremost derived from Jesus and His message to us concerning the character of our Father and His love.
It is my prayer that as you listen to this new series, once again your heart will be strangely warmed and richly renewed as you come face to face and heart to heart with the beauty of God’s character of love as seen through the lens of Jesus Christ and Him alone.
As a side note, we ran into some recording issues with this series, but they have been overcome, and we will begin uploading it to RHM’s website next week. Please watch for it.
Tonight I will be in Lee’s Summit, MO. This is a preliminary weekend for a potential Life Unlimited presentation here this fall. Please keep this weekend in your prayers so that those who attend will be richly and deeply blessed, refreshed and renewed as they encounter anew God’s radical love for each of us.
Thank you, each of you, for your continued support and prayers for me and for Renewed Heart Ministries. I truly feel that my personal discoveries of the last 20 years are coming together at this time, puzzle pieces are falling into place, and I am finding answers to long-held questions that have rambled around in the back of my head for years. I cannot escape the conclusion that something beautiful is on the horizon and that we are called to proclaim God’s character of love in such a time as this. It’s an exciting time to be alive and enlarging the Kingdom.
Keep living in love.
I love you guys,