Tag Archives: Signs and Wonders

Stories Around The Web About The 2013 Vineyard National Conference

vineyard all inAs mentioned before (here and here), the 2013 Vineyard National Conference in Anaheim, California, was an amazing conference! In fact, I even heard folks who have been around the Vineyard for 20 or 30 years say that it was the best conference they have been too since the 1990’s. They also mentioned that this past conference was the LARGEST gathering of the Vineyard family ever. Yeah, ever. The Anaheim Vineyard church was packed out with over 3,500 people – 800+ of which were youth and 400+ were children under 14. Big family, lots of fun. 🙂

And being a big family, here are other bloggers out there who have written about their experiences at the conference. Knowing that it is always good to get more than one option on a subject, here are some stories about the 2013 Vineyard National Conference:

A Day by Day Account

Luke Geraty (Trinity Christian Fellowship in Stanley, WI) wrote a great four part series detailing the main points and highlights of each day of the conference. If you want to know the ins and outs of what happened, then this is the series to read! (Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 and Day 4)

celtic cross vineyardThe Quick Summary

On the flip side, Jason Smith (Mason Vineyard Community Church, Mason, OH) wrote a quick summary of the conference.  Even though he didn’t details things out as much as Luke, Jason does have some good comments about the state of Vineyard worship and the Kingdom Ministry momentum in the movement.

The Art Piece

Six artists from the Vineyard Boise (Boise, ID) made the trip to Anaheim with one purpose: to create a prophecy piece of art live during the worship sets of the conference. The result was an huge Celtic cross interwoven with symbolism. If you are part of the Vineyard Movement then you NEED to read Jessie Nilo’s description of this art piece as it was created in the middle of a family gathering for the entire Vineyard family.

Deaf No More

One of the individual pieces of art created during the conference and interwoven into the Celtic cross mentioned above was a mold of an ear.  God used this ‘ear’ to start an conversation between the artist and a gal who was deaf in one ear. The reslut …well, you will just have to read the post to see what happens. 😛

Listening and Obeying In A Fast Food Joint

two feetI almost missed it.

It was very subtle and gentle.

But it was there. A quiet voice telling me to ask this lady if I could pray for her.

The problem was that I was at a fast food restaurant with my son enjoying an ice cream cone and watching him play. And there were other people around. Oh, and did I mention that it was at a fast food restaurant and the gal the Lord was telling me to pray for was an employee? Yeah, all kinds of barriers.

Yet the voice remained even after the gall walked away.

That is when I remembered what God had told me last week while at the Vineyard National Conference. Twice that week – once during a worship set and once during a ministry time with Todd White and Robby Dawkins– God had told me to get back into the streets.

Years ago I had enjoyed going to counter-culture environmental and Earth day fairs and praying for folks on the side of the street. It was a blast setting up a booth offering information on how to take care of God’s creation next to nudist colonies, fortune tellers and the like. The stories that came out of those events are a testimonies to the workings of the Holy Spirit.

Sadly as the years went by I slowly got out of the habit of doing that… partly because I became engaged in pastoring a church and raising a family (both of which take time, a precious commodity), and partly – or perhaps ‘mostly’ – because I got nervous and lazy. Come on, let’s face it – praying with folks outside the church walls is scary and counter-culture. Praying for folks, our minds say, is done on Sunday mornings or, perhaps, during the weekly Bible studies and prayer meetings. You don’t do that kind of stuff at a fast food restaurant!

The gentle nudging stayed there. Only conviction increased at each passing second.

How could I, a pastor, ask folks in the church to pray for folks on the streets (which I have) if I was unwilling to do so. Hypocrite.

In the end I really only had one choice: to go find this gal and pray for her.

So I did.

And she cried.

Tears of joy and sorrow for she had a very rough day and just needed someone to love her – someone to tell her that she mattered. The details of her story don’t belong on this blog, it is enough to know that I prayed a blessing over her and her kids (she was a single mother).

The main take away was that was that God taught me a lesson.

A lesson to listen and obey. To listen while not obeying is just as bad as acting without listening. We, the follower of Jesus, need to listen to the Father and obey the promptings of the Spirit.  We have to move from being scared and nervous, move from being too busy, and start, well, doing what Jesus did.

Seven Principles to Staying “ALL IN” with Jesus

steve nicholsonLast Wednesday evening at the 2013 Vineyard National Conference Steve Nicholson outlined seven principles to staying “ALL IN” with Jesus. These principles hold some good truths within their words – truths that are worth looking at and pondering a while. It should also be noted that they come from the lips of someone who has been pastoring and living “ALL IN” the Kingdom for 37 years… so yeah, they are worth looking at.

Seven Principles to Staying “ALL IN” with Jesus

1.    Keep being filled in order to give

While this is true for anyone, it is especially true for those of us who serve the church on a weekly basics. Pastors, ministry leaders, and their spouses can easily get drained as “church” becomes a job to do rather than a time of refreshing. Yet if they – or should I say, “I” – want to continue to give out and love people day in and day out, year in and year out, we MUST find ways and time to receive Jesus’ refreshing spirit and peace. This could be daily mediation, hobbies, or time away at conferences…or something totally different. Whatever it is, we need to be filled up with the Spirit of God in order to give out to others.

2.    We need to keep telling the stories

Stories have a way of building faith and communicating truths that impact one’s daily lives. Accordingly, we need to continue to tell the stories about what God is doing in our lives and communities. Not just the stories of old – which are VERY important, just think for a moment how much of the Scriptures is stories – but current stories. Stories of praying for healings, stories of how Jesus changed lives, stories of stepping in faith, stories of success and failure. And the story tellers need to be folks from all generations as each generation need to be actively walking with Jesus and seeing Him work in their lives.

radicaly in3.    Complete integrity in life and in reporting

The truth will come out so don’t even try to lie or ‘beef up’ what God did. If you prayed for someone and their arm still hurts, say it – don’t try to cover it up by claiming a miracle when nothing changed. The same goes with the number of salvations or people attending an event. If you want a number, count folks – or, at the very least, under estimate the number of folks as it doesn’t help anyone to claim huge numbers. That is just pride.

4.    We need to have a theology of both success and failure

Successes are good. No doubt about that. Yet we also have to have a theology that allows for failure. What happens when you pray and nothing happens? What happens when you take a step of faith and fall on your face? We need to have a theology about how to deal with that – how to get back up and keep going.

5.    Stay in the field of harvest

It is easy to get into a “holy huddle” and stop going out into the streets and telling people about Jesus. We, and I am speaking to myself, need to keep going out and hanging with the non-believers. We need to make sure the organization of the church does not stop us from being the church!

6.    Endure through the desert times

Endurance is hard. It is very, very, very hard. Yet as Tri Robinson is fond of saying, “Keep showing up.” Showing up is more than half the battle – it is most, if not all, the battle. Steve in his talk also pointed out how it was the Holy Spirit that drove Jesus into the desert for 40-days after his baptism. The Holy Spirit. In other words, God may have a reason for taking you into the desert… keep on showing up and following God and He will lead you through the valley of the shadow of death.

7.    Train those who are younger

Don’t just do the stuff. Grab someone younger than yourself, either in age or in faith, and model it with them watching. Then let them do it while you watch – then let them go by their selves. Give away what Jesus gave you for it is His anyway.

Satanic Realism: A Real Devil or Just A Disembodied Concept of Evil?

cross danceThroughout history there have always been folks who have doubted the existence of the supernatural, whether that be God, gods, demons, or satan. The problem is that to do so is to claim that one is smarter and better than all the people currently on the planet as well as all those throughout history who have reported supernatural experiences.  And this includes people of all faiths, not just Christianity as the majority (if not all) religions acknowledge some form of the supernatural. Granted, they may differ as to how the supernatural interacts with the physical world, but it is there.

Yet in spite of this, the endless march of history has created a culture in which for the first time a large portion of the population no longer recognizes the existence of the supernatural. Or, if they do, it is simply a footnote buried beneath the weight of materialism.

Followers of Jesus are no exception to this modern tread. Vast portions of Christianity have removed the supernatural aspects of the Bible, claiming that the miracles recorded in the Scriptures were either literary devices designed to booster the authors message or simply the delusions of folks living in primitive times. (as a side note, this trend away from the supernatural within Christianity has always baffled me as belief in “God” is by definition a belief in a supernatural being…..)

One of the difficulties in accepting the supernatural as depiction within the Bible is the existences of evil, or, more specifically, the existences of Satan and demons. This, I feel, IS the biggest challenge for folks in accepting the supernatural as they do not want to acknowledge that there is anything out there fighting against them. It is a lot more comfortable and easier to believe in a “good supernatural being” than it is to believe in a “bad supernatural being”. This is not to say that there has to be a “bad supernatural being” in order for there to be a “good supernatural being.” The Scriptures tell us that God (i.e. the “good supernatural being”) existed before Satan (i.e. the “bad supernatural being”) and will exist long after Satan and his followers are destroyed (Gen 1; Revelation).

The problem with denying the existences of Satan and his followers is that it leaves parts of human experience inexplicable. As Dr. Roger Olson recently said, “much evil in the world, in my opinion, cannot be explained solely by means of human sin.”

Continue reading Satanic Realism: A Real Devil or Just A Disembodied Concept of Evil?

Faith and Risk

faithPublic Reading: Luke 17:11-19

Sermon

•    Jesus was headed to Jerusalem when ten men with leprosy stopped him

o    Jesus told them to go shows themselves to the priest
o    In accordance to Lev 13:2-14:32

•    The men left

o    They could have went home and continue along as normal
o    They could have walked away laughing at Jesus
o    But they didn’t – instead they started toward the priests just as Jesus said
o    As the went they were healed

•    We know all of them were healed because one of them returned

o    A Samaritan, who took a huge risk going towards the priests
o    He thanked Jesus and let him know what had happened

•    Jesus replied,

o    “Rise and go; your faith has made you well” – Luke 17:19

•    Faith

o    We use this word a lot but do we really understand what it means?

o    Dictionary (Merriam-Webster)

1 a : allegiance to duty or a person : loyalty, b (1) : fidelity to one’s promises (2) : sincerity of intentions

2 a (1) : belief and trust in and loyalty to God (2) : belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion, b (1) : firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2) : complete trust

3 : something that is believed especially with strong conviction; especially : a system of religious beliefs <the Protestant faith>

o    Bible

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. – Hebrews 11:1, KJV

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. – Hebrews 11:1, ESV

•    I would defined it like this

o    Faith = Risk and Action
o    Faith – (Risk and Action) = Unbelief

Continue reading Faith and Risk

It’s Messy and I Don’t Like It

Regardless of culture background or individual personalities I think one of the common factors of humanity is a desire to be in control. We want crave the desire to make choices that effect our lives and, for the most part, having a certain amount of control over what we do, think, act, goes, etc. is a GOOD thing! The opposite of having control is being out of control, which by definition, means that something or someone else is controlling you.

Yet this basic urge to have control over our lives is in direct conflict with the life that Jesus is calling us all towards. St. Paul in Romans 12:1 tells us that are to “offer [our] bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.” While we may want to pretty things up a bit, in ancient days sacrifices involved the killing of an animal. So if we are to be a “living sacrifice”, that means we are to give Jesus everything (our desires, passions, jobs, family, dreams, future, etc.) as if we had died.

In fact, though we are still physically alive and make look the same, when we do give Jesus everything we do “die” in the sense that the “old us” is gone and we have been made anew through the life giving grace and blood of Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17). In doing this, we, as followers of Jesus, take up His mission, passion, dreams, hopes, etc. (this would be the “transformed by the renewing of your mind” that St. Paul mentions in Romans 12:2 right after his “living sacrifice” comment).

C.S. Lewis puts it this way:

“The more we let God take us over, the more truly ourselves we become – because He made us. He invented us. He invented all the different people that you and I were intended to be. . .It is when I turn to Christ, when I give up myself to His personality, that I first begin to have a real personality of my own.”

So far so good…However, there is a catch…Most Jesus followers would be ok with giving up everything to Jesus if it only meant taking up good ethics and living a good life. You know, don’t lie, cheat, steal, kill folks or any of those ‘bad’ things. Unfortunately, Jesus didn’t define things that way. When He called us lose our lives for His sake (Mark 8:34-35), He actually meant giving up EVERYTHING – no holdovers or hidden places where we get to keep a little something for ourselves.

This is where things gets messy.

You see, in most of places of Christianity around the world and throughout time there has been a desire to control the working of the Holy Spirit (who, by the way, is God just as Jesus is God and the Father is God – they are One through the great mystery Christians call the “Trinity”). In his first letter to the Thessalonians, St. Paul addressed this issue and told them not to “quench the Spirit” or to “treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22).

Continue reading It’s Messy and I Don’t Like It

Top 12 Resources From the Vineyard UK/Ireland in 2012

Each week the Vineyard UK/Ireland AVC uploads some new resources for the church – either ones they re-discovered in their vaults or new material recently released. In celebration of the year just finished, they posted a summary of the top 12 popular resources.

Here is a quick list of the resources in reserve order along with a few of my notes. Feel free to navigate over to the main article for more details as well links to specific resources.

12. Creative Evangelism // Alan Scott

11. Developing Fearlessness // Robby Dawkins

A short video by Robby on being willing to risk everything – including looking like an idiot – to tell people about Jesus. What are we willing to risk to share the message of Jesus?

10. Burned for the Bible // James Mumford

9.  Kids Can Too // Nigel & Jo Hemming

Children are not the church of tomorrow – they are the church of today!! The church in general needs to move past ‘babysitting’ kids on Sunday and allow them to participate in the mission of God as a fully functional member of Christ’s body.

8.  Why bother with theology in the Vineyard // Jason Clark

This is a written article based upon a talk Jason gave last year. It is a well thought out article about the importance of theology in our daily lives – give it a read!

7. Songs that reflect a season of the church // Kathryn Scott

6. Everybody gets to play // John Mumford

A great article by the National Director of the Vineyard UK/Ireland on the value of allowing everyone to participate in the mission of God.

5. Serving our Communities // Alan Scott

Continue reading Top 12 Resources From the Vineyard UK/Ireland in 2012

The Words and Works of Jesus (Luke 4:31-44)

We pick the story of Jesus in Luke 4:31 right after he has announced his mission statement to the people of Nazareth:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Lk 4:18-19)

This statement almost got Jesus killed as he left out the parts of Isaiah 61 that called for judgment against the Gentiles. Instead, Jesus offered mercy and grace to all the ‘wrong’ people.

Having been kicked out of Nazareth, Jesus goes to Capernaum, which is located on the northwest shores of the Sea of Galilee. It is there that Jesus sets up his ‘home base’ to reach the nation.

One of the first things that Jesus does after reaching Capernaum is to go into the local synagogue and starts teaching. The people become “amazed” as Jesus teaches with authority of the Holy Father instead of simply repeating words taught to him by this person or another. Think about it – Jesus didn’t have a seminary degree or any “formal” education – but he did have the Holy Spirit!

Amazingly enough, we, as followers of Jesus, have the same Holy Spirit dwelling inside us.  Furthermore, Jesus told us that it would be the Holy Spirit that would “guide [us] into all truth” (John 16:13). Practically this means that we must rely on the Holy Spirit for all that we teach – regardless of our intellect, degrees, or lack thereof. No one who follows Jesus has any excuse for not teaching and sharing the Good News of Jesus. We all simply say what the Father is telling us to say at that moment via the power and authority of the Holy Spirit and the Name of Jesus.

We also have to back up our words with actions. In returning to the Gospel of Luke we see Jesus casting out demons in the synagogue right after he teaches. Furthermore, he then goes into St. Peter’s home and heals his mother-in-law , then a whole bunch of folks later that night.
The Words of Jesus were backed up by the Deeds of Jesus. The words and works. One without the other is worthless!!

Continue reading The Words and Works of Jesus (Luke 4:31-44)

Praying Outside the Church

One of the things that God convicted me of while I was in Montana was that I was I was spending way too much time praying for folks IN the church and not enough time praying for folks OUTSIDE the church. As a lot of folks can testify, it is easy to slide into a routine focused around one’s church family without really noticing it…

To help break this complacency, I decided was told by Jesus to start going down to God’s Community Pantry and praying for folks at least once a month if not more. Not wanting to wait too long (i.e. the Holy Spirit was on my case), I showed up at the pantry this past Saturday and volunteered to pray with folks, carry boxes or whatever else they needed to have done.

At first I was a tad nervous and a little bit out of my comfort zone (which was all the more reason why I needed to go down there!)…but as the day went on, I warmed up and had a great time hanging out with some awesome people and was totally blessed! In fact, I can’t wait to get back down there and say ‘hi’ to some of my new friends. 🙂

One cool experience I had that day involved a gentlemen whose had very little movement in his shoulder and was in constant pain. I prayed a real simple prayer over him, asking the Lord to embarrass him with His love while commanding the pain to be gone. Afterward I asked him how the pain was – as in, if the pain was at a 10 before we started praying, where was it after we prayed. He said it was at a 8 – which is great! The pain is going away…

Continue reading Praying Outside the Church

Changed by the Presence (A Road Trip Summary)

Six days ago I was a different person. True, I had the same name back then and the same general life…but, regardless of the outward expressions of life, I am different now than I was last week Wednesday when I started out on a 1,060 mile road trip with two friends.

Road trips are a wonderful way to spend time with your friends and family. There is just something special about hitting the open road with the best possible company. That being said, you do need to make sure that the car you are driving is big enough for everyone and all their luggage. One of my friends is looking for a new car for his next road trip and he told me that he found the best selection of cars in Newton Kansas on the Conklin Cars website. There are a lot of choices out there, so if you are in need of a new car, you might also want to take a look.

So what happened?

Well, the short answer is that we saw Jesus – and, like someone touched by fire, we changed.

The long answer is, well, a tad longer. Imagine that? =P

Last Wednesday three of us guys climbed into a car to head north to Stites, Idaho, to visit an old friend. The next morning we headed over the Lolo Pass to Lincoln, Montana, for a church conference with all the Vineyard churches in Montana (plus the Gillette, Wyoming, Vineyard church).

The speaker at the conference was Robby Dawkins, pastor of the Vineyard Aurora near Chicago, power evangelist and friend of Jesus. I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Robby over the past five or six years through the Vineyard Missions conference as well as his trips to the Vineyard Boise. Like always, Robby had a ton of funny and insightful stories of following Jesus into the dark places of the world.

If you have never heard Robby, let me tell you that he is a great story teller! He kept all 50 of us on the edge of our seats for two and a half days simply by telling stories about the God’s Kingdom breaking into this present evil age. Only thing is that he didn’t just tell stories for the sake of telling stories – by no means! Each of his stories had a point and a lesson in them that taught us all more about the love, mercy and power of King Jesus.

Continue reading Changed by the Presence (A Road Trip Summary)