Thursday, September 23, 2010

Fall in Tijuana

The DTS is off on their outreach to Mexico City and points south, until the end of October. I am really proud of how well the young DTS staff team did, considering they had never down this before.

I am taking two weeks of "stress leave", due to burning myself out with the intensive schedule that running a DTS entails (when you're short-staffed and also doing on-the-job training with the staff you do have). But there's good news: I get to build houses again as part of my recovery.
I'm about mid-way through my de-caffeine-ation project, which means I've been mixing regular and decaf coffee beans as an intermediary step. By next Monday, however, I should be finished with that particular coffee bean concoction, and will explore the world of decaf coffee.

I have missed the Homes of Home component over this past year, to be honest. Planning and running a Discipleship Training School (DTS), without the presence of a usually-prerequisite administrative assistant, is really doing two jobs at the same time. During the DTS, we all had the opportunity to build a house as a team, which was great, but it also reminded me of how much I enjoy house-building, and how rewarding it is to serve the poor in this manner.
So, after taking it easy these past couple of weeks, I will be investing my weekends from now until at least the beginning of December in building houses in the colonias again.
I've been recovering fairly quickly, all things considered, although my case of shingles is still a (literal) pain. But even that is fading noticeably since I took some time off. I'm hopeful that I will be back to normal very soon.

Whatever "normal" means for me, anyway. :)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Do we have the Holy Spirit, or does He have us?

I'm still reading through -- and highly enjoying and recommending -- Naturally Supernatural, by fellow Canadian Gary Best.

Here's an excerpt that really got me thinking today:
"Imagine I came to work for you, hired because of my international reputation as a chef. Perhaps our relationship works perfectly for some time -- we are both happy because I have a good work environment and you are eating better than you have for years.

"Then one day, you arrive home to discover two of the walls of your home are missing.

"When you run to me for an explanation, I respond, 'Didn't you know? I am not only a world-renowned culinary expert, I am a carpenter on the side -- I am renovating your home!'

"What would your response be? Other than calling the police, it may sound something like this, 'I'm sorry, but I invited you as a chef. I never asked you to renovate my home.'

"That is part of our problem with the Holy Spirit...

"Th(e) indwelling Spirit came upon (the early believers)... to propel them into mission." (emphasis added)
That's a great insight: that we often seek after the presence of the Holy Spirit to touch us, equip us, or in some way move in us, yet we don't want Him to do any renovations to our home heart.

And when I think of all the people I've known over the years who spend incredible amounts of time chasing "the anointing", I wonder if it's ever occurred to them that perhaps they aren't getting what they want because they only want it for themselves. A badge of honour. A symbol of acceptance by God. A reassurance of their "special-ness". An experience that aids them in finding their place on some imaginary "pecking order" of who's spiritual and who's not.

What if "the anointing" can only truly be experienced in acts of service?

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Getting Back to the Roots

When I first got more involved with the Vineyard movement, you could walk into almost any church and see -- to greater or lesser degree -- something with a bunch of grapes pictured on it. During a music tour in Eastern Canada last century (1999), we played in one Vineyard that had grapes everywhere -- even the flower vases on the welcome table were shaped like big grape clusters. It got kinda comical at times.

But there was a great sense of belonging to a similar-minded group of Christians; people who believed in the reality of "the already and the not yet" understanding of the Kingdom of God, who believed in all the gifts of the Holy Spirit but were committed to avoiding hype or hysteria, were committed to serving the poor, and kept "the main and the plain" of the Bible front and centre.

Of course, the early and mid-1990's really challenged that in the Vineyard, between the Kansas City Prophets and later the "Toronto Blessing". It made quite a mess, and it's taken literally years for the Vineyard to recover from the damage.

When we get the chance, our family really enjoys taking a road trip into La Jolla (north end of San Diego) to attend Coast Vineyard. It has weathered the storms of the 90's hype & hysteria, and while not stuck in any Vineyard-shaped rut, has successfully maintained that early Vineyard dynamic that was so appealing to Wendy and I back in the day. Through Coast, our youngest daughter Renee recently attended from a youth-oriented conference at the Anahiem Vineyard, returning with a book that she'd received as part of the "training-and-doing" that the whole conference took part in.

So now I'm reading Naturally Supernatural, written by Gary Best, who is well-known as the National Team Leader for Vineyard Canada, the speaker at the conference my daughter attended, and -- somewhat less famously -- as the guy who first jokingly called me an "ecclesiastical anarchist". Gary's book is a wonderful reminder of what the Vineyard has always held at its core: that we will see the Kingdom continue to break in, as we deliberately choose to partner with the Holy Spirit in proclaiming the words and doing the works of Jesus.

And like our occasional visits to Coast Vineyard, reading Gary's well-written and engaging book stirs me to dig deeper into my Vineyard roots.

Well done, Gary. Highly recommended.