Apr 25, 2011

Cusp of an election

Don't worry, this is a non-partisan message. But I think it would be remiss to not encourage you all to vote. I call you to participate as citizens of this great country God has blessed us to live in. For us who live in the tension of the now and not yet of the Kingdom, our whole lives (what we say and do) should point towards the Kingdom we hope for. Spiritually this means we get to participate with God's redemptive activity in the whole world. We do this on our knees and on our feet. Politically we need to do the same. So pray and vote Ontario.

[Vineyard loving political theologian steps off his soapbox]

Frank Emanuel, Freedom Vineyard, Ontario

Apr 24, 2011

Jesus is alive!

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.
John 20:1

Happy Easter everyone.

Apr 18, 2011

Underground Streams Podcast

The Underground Streams podcast came out of a desire to communicate a message that touches on heart issues and explores truth. We do this through open discussion with a panel of participants. We connect to things that touch on the spirituality of individuals, things that cannot be explained completely by the Five senses.

It is our desire to create a forum that Christians can relate to and
that would be thought provoking and entertaining. We also hope it will appeal to people who are searching for spirituality and connect to it because the topics look interesting. We try to avoid using Christianese language or promote it as a Christian podcast. We want it to have broader appeal.

Christians could use it as a springboard for conversation with those around them who have not yet awakened to the spiritual side of themselves. The highest percentage of people who find Christ is through relationship.

We try to produce a show that has humour, original music and talk. We keep the length short to around 15 minutes.

Our podcasts are recorded on GarageBand software via Skype. That way we do not have to be in the same location and can invite guests to be a part of it. The podcast happens about 2 times per month. To do it this way, it is necessary to know GarageBand software and its limitations.

From a technical and creative aspect, we have a TV, movie, music composer/producer who participates in the podcast and also produces the show for us. We record our conversation on GarageBand around the topic and then he edits and produces the podcast using his software and technology. If others are looking for help, you could hire him to work with you. You can contact him directly through his website.

We have also placed the podcast on YouTube for additional exposure and are working on it being placed on itunes. It currently is on Podomatic. You can also find us on the web. We need to have more followers who would be willing to commit to our podcast to have it make an appearance in the New Age spiritual realm. You and your friends could help us accomplish this if you would become a follower of the podcast. Podcasts only affect the world as they become popular with listeners.

Bob Buckley, Vineyard Toronto Downtown, Ontario

Apr 11, 2011

Blogs that get you Thinking

I call this edition - bragging up my friends. I must admit that the two bloggers I will highlight today have a special place in my heart. Both are seasoned Vineyard pastors with a real passion for deep faith and engaged spirituality.

Matte Downey has found a way to live her faith out loud in her outWORD blog. Matte and Dean pastor the awesome Vineyard Montreal. Matte is also continuing her theological education at Concordia University and brings a real vibrant faith seeking understanding to her blog. She is studying a mystic, Evelyn Underhill, so how cool is that? I say very. I've known Matte and Dean for quite a few years now and they are among my favourite people on the planet. Matte is energetic, passionate, and full of freedom. And it oozes out on her blog. Give it a read, I'm sure you will agree.

Brad Culver is probably the closest thing to a Vineyard mystic that we have. I ran into Brad and Mary at a Celtic Spirituality retreat years ago and have counted them amongst my dearest friends ever since. Mary and Brad planted the Refuge in Cambridge and have since retired to a homestead near Bancroft. Brad does a fair bit of speaking, mostly in the US, and I'm sure your congregation would be encouraged by his faith. Deeply grounded in a love for Christian tradition and history, Brad's blog Living Water from an Ancient Well is full of prayers, blessings, musings, and encouragements. Brad invites us to renew the connection our faith has with 2000 years of Christianity. Check it out, I'm sure you will find it encouraging.

OK, next time I'm going to highlight a couple blogs from Vineyard folk south of the border.

Frank Emanuel, Freedom Vineyard, Ontario

Apr 4, 2011

Thoughtworks Curriculum - Working for You

God Thoughts Year 1 - Naturally Supernatural

Some folks in our church, Freedom Vineyard, are actually working through this course right now. One of the interesting aspects of that study group is that we have one participant who is not from a pentecostal or charismatic background. Naturally Supernatural reads completely differently to someone not familiar with these worldviews. I'll talk about that experience in a bit, but first what I really appreciate about this book.

When I read Naturally Supernatural I can hear Gary Best's voice. If you haven't had the pleasure of sitting in on one of Gary's presentations then I would encourage you to, Gary has been organizing monthly webinars for the Vineyard in Canada which are well worth taking in. For me the experience has been similar to reading Carol Wimber's John Wimber: The Way It Was, another important book for folks interested in the Vineyard. In that book it felt like I was sitting across a kitchen table from Carol and she was telling the honest story about John, good and bad. In Naturally Supernatural it is like sitting in a room full of friends and Gary is on a stool sharing from his heart about his honest stumblings towards a God who calls us to participate in the works of the Kingdom. I use the word stumblings deliberately here, Gary is not pretentious, in fact he lays it all out there including his own mistakes. But over and over the message is that despite our stumblings the God who meets us is ultimately a good and kind redeemer taking joy in our faith. Even when that faith is just tiny.

One of the things that those who don't know Gary might miss is that he is tracking the evolution of a walk with God that he's been on for many years now. This has made the book a bit difficult for those without the same supernatural assumptions as Gary. It has led to some lively discussions within our book study, which is ultimately helpful. I was surprised at details I missed reading it myself, simply because I have been part of the pentecostal/charismatic world for many years now. This problem with the text could be addressed by a little more attention to the context and assumptions at work in the anecdotes Gary tells throughout (but especially in the first chapter). Those of us inside these worldviews will find this book incredibly encouraging. It does a great job of moving the engaged reader to what I find to be a key strength of the Vineyard: situating the power of God in a Kingdom Theology framework.

This framing of the supernatural into the operative theology for the Vineyard is critical for us to wrestle with. It is how Wimber brilliantly made pentecostalism accessible to the conservative evangelical world. This way of understanding the supernatural situates it as a natural part of every believers' world. So instead of talking about special anointings and offices - Gary shares Wimber's view of the gifts as tools in a toolbox as a metaphor for the sufficiency of the Holy Spirit to enable us to live the experience of God in both word and deed. This moves us beyond a paradigm of 'super men and women with the power for the hour' to a paradigm of the people of God working with the Spirit of God to do all the things that Jesus did in his earthly ministry - and dare I say more. As I recently blogged - this is the heart of the Wimberism 'everybody plays'. Certainly there are other ways of understanding a supernatural faith, but this is the view that evokes in me the feeling of "yes! that's what I signed up for."

Like all of the ThoughtWorks courses, this course has an accompanying assignment. Included in that is a short book review and a practical application of the book. This assignment was developed by Cathy Berry when she ran the course in her local church. At our last book club, we made sure to pray for each other - in our group there are some serious health needs. We even had one couple share about their experience of effective healing prayers the night before our study group met. It has been very encouraging.

What have been your experiences of Naturally Supernatural? Have you taken in a Naturally Supernatural workshop with Gary or Joy that really impacted you? We would love to hear your thoughts.

Frank Emanuel, Freedom Vineyard, Ottawa.