I only have a few minutes before I have to gather my belongings and make the walk to Municipal, but I hit the pillow last night determined to wake this morning and post more of my thoughts, observations, quotables, and insights from Day 2 of the Renovare’ Conference for all to enjoy. More commentary to come later.
Kang, Abraham, and the Simplicity of Words
The conference kicked off at 9:00 a.m. at Municipal Auditorium. I arrived early, grabbed a seat, and prepared myself for worship. We began our time singing Taize’ style, voicing the words of the Psalms. I was blessed. During one song we sang in Latin, “Veri Sancte Spiritus” meaning, “Holy Spirit, come to us,” and I felt this invitation was an appropriate way to begin our time together. It was a sound reminder that our knowledge, love, affection, and service to God begins first with God’s movement toward us, providing us with the grace to do those things God would have us to do.
Following the time of song, the message was given by Joshua Choonmin Kang. What made this occasion unique was Kang’s decision to preach the sermon in Korean while one of his associates translated. Here are some of the things I jotted down from Kang’s sermon on Abraham, sacrifice, resurrection, Mt. Moriah, hope, evangelism, and the power of God:
- “The reason we like to travel is to find a place to revisit. We read books to find a book we would like to reread. Mt. Moriah is a place we like to revisit. There we find new perspectives…”
- “We cannot see the best thing God has prepared for us until we give up that which is most precious to us.” Abraham did not see the ram caught in the thicket until he had fully prepared to give up his son. Only when Abraham make his final move did he see the ram that had been provided.
- “One of the important points of spiritual formation is to empty oneself.”
- “God wants us to have the best of the best. But in our spiritual lives good things are the enemy of the best things.”
- “The most important thing to our spiritual formation is the Jesus Christ way. Glory to the Lord. God bless you.”
Workshop :: Day 2
During my second session with Jim Smith and friends we discussed “Apprentice Principles.” Jim drew a diagram on the board that illustrates the four components of transformation. Here it is:
For persons to be transformed, Jim challenged us to discover a synergy between these four components. We must adopt the narratives of Jesus as our stories over and against any other stories that may dominate our thinking, engage in “soul training exercises,” and undertake this task with a community of others seeking to follow after Jesus. This will take place due to the guiding and direction of the Holy Spirit, who operates in a somewhat sneaky, mysterious manner.
As we discussed these components, the most significant insight that I had was during our discussion of community. A member of Jim’s ministry team said that when we are in community we are in reflection and dialogue with others who are on the same path. That has been my challenge. I am on the way of Jesus. I am friends with others on the way of Jesus. But at times it has been challenging to find others with whom I am of one mind. We work, we dialogue, and we reflect on our journey after Jesus, but what I am seeking after is a community of disciples with whom I can share common doctrine, common practice, and common passion. I will discuss this more in a future post, and expand my thoughts.
During the first afternoon session we heard from Chris Webb, newly appointed President of Renovare’. You can check out a picture of him at the new Renovare’ website (they are still fine-tuning the site).
I didn’t write down too much from Chris’ talk, but not because it lacked depth or radical insight. The man spoke in solid, narrative blocks. There are times in which you find something so solid, so dense, that it is difficult to extract a simple sentence or a few one-liners. That was the case with Chris. His sermon on the life of David was engaging, complex, and challenging. His basic, underlying point, is that David was a sinner, much like us. Actually, David was a radical sinner (all you have to do is read the Bible to discover this, and this goes beyond his murder of Uriah and affair with Bathsheba). Chris reminded us that David, unlike most of us, was a sinner, yet one after God’s own heart, and we see this with greatest clarity in the Psalms. The Psalms reveal that despite David ruthless, exorbident life of sinfulness, David was brutally honest with God in his writings. Our failure, most times, is that we are not truthful with God. We are sinners, but we do not tell the truth about our sin–not to God, not to others, not to ourselves. Chris said, “We do not tell the truth about sin. We do not tell the truth about ourselves. But only those who deal with the truth about themselves can tell the truth about others. And only those who can tell the truth about others can love them.”
After Chris’ sermon we had a short break, and resumed our time together with song and a message from Dallas Willard. Jim Smith introduced Willard, saying, “When you learn from Dallas you think you are going to get a drink of water but you get a fire hose right to the face.” How true.
Dallas’ talk was on servanthood, the prophet Isaiah, and the radical ministry of Jesus. His three key concepts were Exile, Kingdom, and Servanthood. Here are a few quotes I wrote down:
- “The actual human condition is one of exile.”
- “Being a servant of people displaces our judgment of them.”
- “Kingdom precedes Servanthood.”
- “You have to learn how the servant God comes into your life and turn your kingdom over to him.”
- “You find the kingdom God when you enter the action of God.”
- “The Kingdom of God emerges out of exile.”
- “Being a servant is not a matter of particular acts, being a servant is a matter of your whole life.”
Willard proposed that a Christian entrepreneur could do well by introducing something beyond W.W.J.D. (What would Jesus do?) and ask, rather, “How would Jesus do it?” This is a question of means, not ends, and entails that the actor understand the thinking and the heart of the Master one chooses to follow. We would not only act as Jesus acts, but we would be as Jesus would be. Good stuff.
In addition, Willard’s discussion of servanthood included an exploration of John 13. Willard noted that Jesus’ knowledge of where he was from and where he was going (to his death) enabled him to humble himself, take a towel, wrap it around his waist, and wash his disciples’ feet, modeling servanthood for them. Jesus served out of abundance–God had provided and taken care of all things. Most operate from a scarcity mentality, rather than the abundance mentality that should mark life in the Kingdom of God for the follower of Christ.
Evening on the River Walk
After a long day, I walked the River Walk, worked up a sweat, finally sat down for a burger at Fuddruckers’, and then went to Starbucks for a couple of hours to record my thoughts. As of now I’m late for our first session (this post will go live moments before I hit the streets). More reflections will come later!