Sunday, February 11, 2007

a healing community

This past week I reread one of my favorite books The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey. Yancey’s titles reveal an author whose religious paradigms have been shattered not a few times: Disappointment With God, Where Is God When It Hurts? The Jesus I Never Knew, Church—Why Bother? What’s So Amazing About Grace? He often raises big questions that don’t have simple answers with a vulnerable honesty not always evident in Christian books.

In one chapter on grace he admits that because of all the suffering in the world, it’s not always easy to believe in the love of God. During a radio talk show he was on, a youth pastor called in with a horrifying story of how his young wife and baby daughter were dying of AIDS from tainted blood in a hospital. On the phone he cried, “How can I possibly talk to my youth group about a loving God after what has happened to me?” Yancey struggles—and rightfully so—with the issue. Though unresolved, he writes:

“One question, however, no longer gnaws at me as it once did, a question that I believe lurks behind most of our issues with God: ‘Does God care?’ I know of only one way to answer that question, and it has come through my study of the life of Jesus. In Jesus, God gave us a face, and I can read directly in that face how God feels . . . By no means did Jesus eliminate all suffering—he healed only a few in one small patch of the globe—but he did signify an answer to the question of whether God cares.”

That little paragraph created more philosophical and theological questions for me than it was satisfying. If God does care, then why doesn’t He cover more than “one small patch of the globe”…after all, He is God. But it made me think.

First, it's obvious that eliminating suffering is a whole lot more complex than we think. But second, God does have a way of healing beyond “one small patch of the globe”—it’s called the Church. And God has put us in a specific patch to do the same things that Jesus did: feed the hungry, heal the sick, drive out demons, release the oppressed…while being driven by the compassion of Jesus. To me, the Healing Center is a God-challenging opportunity to take ourselves seriously as a healing community…to put our money where our mouth is. For whatever reason, God's strategy involves distributing His power through human beings who have experienced redemption. Perhaps the best salesperson is a satisfied customer.

We may not have all the answers for healing, but I’m pretty sure we are commanded to make the attempt.

“I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” John 14:12 (NIV)

32 comments:

  1. Dave,

    I'm super excited about the Healing Center and the whole Luke 4 Challenge! Big things are going to continue to happen!

    On a side note, I've heard from many people and was kind of shocked myself this weekend. What was the purpose of saying the word "freakin"? I don't know if it was just my interpretation, but it seemed like it was forced out for other purposes than to emphasize the actual point. Frankly, it seemed very childish and immature if it was intended to "stretch people". But I very well could be wrong and assuming the wrong things.

    Did I misinterpret?

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  2. Dave,

    Keep on saying "Freakin'" for Pete's sake! Please say it three or four times this coming weekend in fact! I understood that the Vineyard was a place that was in large part designed to connect with people who "don't yet get it..." Not a subculture for those who have found their version of the church smorgasbord with the precise "taste of church" that appeals to them.

    Those who think "freakin" is "very childish and immature" are self-descriptive in fact - "childish and immature" spiritually. This is a perfect example of making something out of absolutely nothing.

    Then again, those who live in a Chrisitian ghetto and don't invest in relationships with not-yet believers have to spend their energy on something. I'll take a wild guess and say those who say such things haven't invited anyone in the "not yet believer" group to VCC in a long time if ever. If they had they would realize that people who live in the honest to goodness mainstream culture are not one tiny bit put off by such expressions and in fact are encouraged to see such transparency coming from leaders.

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  3. I don't want to get in the middle of it, but I always thought that "freakin" was a substitute for the "f-word"

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  4. bmwguy,

    First, Happy Valentine's day to you too. Way to spread the "love" in a very practical way.
    Second, I believe you totally misinterpreted my point. I stated that the deliverance of the word "seemed very childish and immature" - not the word itself. And no, DiscoveryLand is not my prime hangout.
    Third, to my knowledge, Jesus didn't sleep around just to minister to prostitutes or collect taxes in an unjust way to eat lunch with tax collectors. He was a leader by example.
    Fourth and finally, Mother Theresa had a pretty good point. Small things will change the world. But whether they are done with great love or no love, they can and will change the world.

    Your friend,

    -misterman

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  5. Not to get off the topic of "Freakin': To Be or Not To Be", but I read that book a few years ago you talked about -- "The Jesus I Never Knew". It was one of those books that helped me look at Jesus from yet another perspective.

    I am rooming with a fellow co-worker out here in St. Louis for my job training over the next month or so, and he has grilled me quite a bit on my faith. He brought up some of these same points about how a "loving" God could let so much bad stuff happen. How could a loving God allow a Hitler to be born instead of taking his life preemptively?

    I tried to answer these questions the best I could using the example of a father watching his children hurt themselves. But that only goes so far. I know in my heart that God is looking at the big picture, but to try and explain that to someone who doesn't even believe in Him tends to sound like a cop-out.

    Finally, the best I could come up with was that if He really wanted to know this God, I suggested he just start talking to Him and be really honest with Him about where he is right now in his beliefs and questions. And as for my part, even if I can't quite find the words or answers, my prayers for God to move in His life are probably far more important anyway than anything I might be able to say to him.

    And one final thought, I'm with you Dave, whether you choose to say freakin or not :) I'm still laughing at that clip you showed from "Talladega Nights" where the little boy shouts out how he likes to imagine Jesus jumping around fightin' Ninjas! That clip was priceless!

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  6. Dave, keep being real. That's what its really about. Being REAL. Jesus was real. He was real when he hung out with prostitutes, tax collectors and low life's. And because he did the Pharisees attacked his character. This is basically the same thing — Dave is being "real" and "genuine".

    And thus people that are REAL say things like FREAKIN.

    Give Dave a freakin' break people.
    What would you rather hear? Dave speak in cotton candy coated sugary words and terms? Or speaking in honest, real dialog?

    Keep being real Dave.

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  7. I'm very excited about the Healing Center and the Nigeria water project. This is my "first ever" blog...so I'm excited about that too.

    I recently finished a book entitled "Revolution in World Missions". It was a fascinating read. The author, K.P. Yohannan, writes candidly about evangelism and how it is best received from someone completely embedded (living) in the culture as well as from the same race and language. I'm leaning towards agreeing with him. Yohannan states that our responsibly as Christians is to sponsor, support and partner with the our brothers/sisters that are spreading the Good News in different countries via our local church, personally or both.

    Peace,
    Tabitha

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  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  9. Due to the excitement of posting my first blog I failed to comment on the "fricken" post. I did not hear the message this weekend...I bagged out on church...perhaps it caused quite a flutter. I do feel like misterman was seeking to understand the intent and motivation vs. firing bullets.

    Misterman...you keep your chin up brother.

    Later,
    Tabitha

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  10. i find it utterly hysterical, in a very sad way, that we again, have completely missed the brilliance of the message in order to pick apart a moment-a flutter of speech, which seems to some much more exciting than the passage of God's words.

    why do we persist in putting folks like Dave (in an absurdly difficult position) in some sort of analytical box in which we can dissect their intentions and dialect, as though our relationship with Christ rested, in its entirety, upon his shoulders...good grief folks.

    as a side note, the word is merely used as an intensifier-and i have it on good authority that Paul (yes, that groovy fellow from the Bible) used the word "scubula" in several chapters of the original translations, which in essence is the "naughty" form of doggy poo.

    and mr. dave-caught sight of this, thought you would dig it:
    sorry, you may have to cut and paste...i'm "freaking" challenged with this blogging jazz...
    http://today.reuters.com/News/ArticleBlog.aspx?type=scienceNews&w1=B7ovpm21IaDoL40ZFnNfGe&src=blogBurst_scienceNews&bbPostId=Cz5RNIcvq9RZnCz9foi90fYGdvCz8lTmFGWR8TsCz23e0Yt2nwMJ

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  11. I watched the message on line this morning. I loved the message and am feeling an incredible amount excitment over the Healing Center. Why? Because "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." (Luke 4:18-19)

    Shalom,
    Tabitha

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  12. I just had to comment on "Mother Theresa had a pretty good point. Small things will change the world. But whether they are done with great love or no love, they can and will change the world."

    My understanding of I Corinthians 13 is that no matter what I do, if I do it without love, nothing is gained.

    Mother Teresa said: "We can do no great things, only small things with great love."

    If we want to change the world, and we can only do small things, we'd better stick with SMALL THINGS DONE WITH GREAT LOVE WILL CHANGE THE WORLD!

    love!
    house

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  13. if you read between the lines, i think it’s not about using the word freakin. It’s about what’s coming next at the sake of the churches morality to “be cool.” I’m not a character from footloose that talks about not dancing in church. In fact, I’m in college and very much immersed in the church being relevant. After all, as mentioned earlier, Jesus did hang out with the prostitutes and society’s outcasts. But did he participate in their culture to be accepted? No. The reason it was so revolutionary is because he didn’t become a part of it, yet he was involved in it.
    I’m not a traditionalist by any means. In fact, I’ve been to several very liberal churches where they even used the word “badass.” However, I see mr. man’s point of view. Being relevant through music, dress, video, medium, etc. is one thing. But trying to be relevant by using specific language (yes freakin’ isn’t the hugest deal) could be deemed as crossing that line of trying too hard to be relevant and being too afraid of being “church.” The moral backbone of churches (especially mega churches) is something I see of as a potential problem. Chruches like this have been labeled as trying too hard to be seeker friendly, and thus, have the potential of watering down the upstanding moral fiber of what the church is supposed to be. Does that mean that the Vineyard is morally declining and spiraling downward? No. But they, as well as other churches like it, also need to keep that relevance factor in check. I’ve been through a church plant and saw that “trying to hard to be relevant” be the downfall of its existence and even have a negative impact on the community because the line was too blurred. What they were seeking in truth and balance wasn’t being accomplished. Should church be relevant? A resounding yes. It’s clear that people feel more comfortable in this environment. Should churches be aware of HOW relevant they’re projecting themselves to be? A resounding yes. People do go to these type of churches because they are relevant and seeker friendly; but they also go to church to escape the culture and seek a moral, spiritual and “sacred” culture; not to a place where you can’t tell the difference between the two.

    Yes, perhaps mr. man was a bit too caustic about the use of the word freakin. But the bigger picture does exist: At what cost is the “church” willing to go to be relevant? Is this relevance indeed forced and fake? While I fully advocate being relevant (probably more than this is letting on), a definitive line still needs to exist between the two cultures.

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  14. I enjoyed all the comments here. Reminds me that the church is made up of people from every angle. I love you all. No kidding. Keep up the conversation.

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  15. Dave,

    I am ashamed! After knowing me for over twenty years, the best piece of knavery you can pull off is using a rough-hewn gerund like “freakin” to get your point across? Alas, how the mighty have fallen. Next time try a bit of Shakespeare for your imprecation so you can offend these poor overly sensitive people with too much time on their hands with flair and in iambic pentameter!

    Any of these colorful expressions might work:

    bat-fowling, clapper-clawed, fly-bitten, earth-vexing, knotty-pated, pox-marked, plume-plucked, gleeking, mammering, spleeny, sheep-biting, tickle-brained, unchin-snouted, fen-sucked, malmsey-nosed, scurvy-valiant, pigeon-liver'd, tickle-brained, swag-bellied, flap-mouthed, spur-galled, shard-borne, milk-livered, clay-brained, beef-witted, or even beetle-headed.

    Your fellow of infinite jest,

    --Ken

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  16. dave,

    i'm a HUGE fan of yours. and i don't think any of us that reply to your posts think otherwise. i see the holy spirit in you and am glad to call the vineyard my home. in no way was that a personal attack, and i don't think that being falsely labeled "a poor over sensitive person" captures who i am, nor my point. being militant isn't my speed...when it comes to me commenting on a blog. i'm just throwing ideas out there to chew on, and i dont think that's a reason for responders to get ultra defensive. it's just me after all.

    (the previous responder)

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  17. I hate to say this, but I find these comments quite humorous. Everyone is basically labeling me as the "sensitive" one when in fact, they are all the sensitive ones. My initial comment was seeking understanding in the use of a semi-risky word straight from the source (my buddy DW). It was an open question and I admitted that my interpretation could be wrong. I was openly seeking understanding. (Still haven't received an answer).

    But then people felt threatened and began to criticize me personally. I find this ironic given that I have the so-called "sensitive" point of view.

    Anyway, above all else, I respect the fact that everyone is different and we all have different opinions. I've read everyone's comments to see where they are coming from and have thought a lot about this. But most Importantly, this is important in ALL spiritual matters no matter what magnitude. My mother and father taught me what a backbone is and we all need to take stand for what we believe in.

    But I don't think this is the place to continue on an endless virtual debate.

    Perhaps if we had a message board? (nudging Dave or whoever has the admin privies to do that). It would probably need a disclaimer and some monitoring, but I think it could be fun for all virtual nerds like us!

    Peace Vineyardites!

    Your friend,

    -misterman

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  18. misterman said: "My initial comment was seeking understanding in the use of a semi-risky word. . ."

    Semi-risky?

    This is fast becoming a brawl of the ridiculous (With apologies to Prince Hal).

    To be honest, I didn't even remember that Dave used the expression in his message. I had to go back and listen to it online to find out what all this "sound and fury" is about, and it really does "signify nothing." If you really feel that was a bad word, I am thankful you weren't born a few centuries ago. If you had been within earshot of Martin Luther, who was quite well-known for his colorful metaphors, especially when exhorting the church, you really would have been offended.

    After viewing segments of the message over again from 2/11, I realized that the reason I didn't catch the whole "bigger bucket" comment was because I had been so profoundly impacted by everything else that led up to that.

    Semi-risky?

    Be not hasty in confounding my meaning when it comes to suggesting that some folks are "overly sensitive." It is important that you not dismiss the correction and wisdom in that. If you have time, go back and watch Dave's facial expression right after he finished exhorting the church. We should all be upset that he had to wince and mutter "yeah some of you clap and laugh now" as he imagined what his email and blog would look like because he made the choice to push us. This blog proves that. What is sad is that he would not have needed to be so emphatic if we would just answer the call and get ready for the flood that is coming. When I press in and ask God to just give me a glimpse of what that looks like, the word "freaking" is rather tame when it comes to describing just how big that bucket will need to be.

    All I can say is that if Dave's gentle nudge to get you into the shallow end of the pool has you vexed, I hope you take swimming lessons soon, because you do not even want to know how deep it will be when the surge starts kicking up.

    I plan on having some fun--I hope you get to experience it too.

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  19. Hey Ken
    Would you stop trying to impress everyone with your long wordy comments and let Dave give a response to the "Freakin" statement he made.
    Thank you.

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  20. I just read this blog and will pray that the division satan is trying to pull here gets resolved by prayer! Stick together people, there is enough division in church already!

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  21. I watched the message on-line. Personally I could have done without the 'fricken' comment. It seemed rehearsed. I have been known to drop the f-bomb. Most of my f-droppings are at work and are often followed by a quick conviction in my Sprit. It's mixed with guilt and fear that I might be responsible for contaminating someone's walk simply by the words that flow out of my mouth.

    My Father LOVES me and extends me an abundant amount of grace. I need it and return for refills often. I'm not offended by Dave's comment. Nor do I feel a need to vehemently defend him, act like we're friends or tell him he's super cool. I do feel Misterman was attacked and that bothers me. I'm new to this blogging business. Maybe I should be hiding behind a screen name until I get a thicker skin or until I realize I'm not cut out for blogging. Are blogs for 'opinions' only? I want to learn something. Learn and hear personal testimonies about praying, prophecy, healing, love, Spirits, discernment, spiritual warfare, miracles, what brought you to Christ and how God is moving in your life.

    Peace,
    Tabitha

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  22. Wow, much ado, about not very much...Here's the deal, if Dave was being Dave, then awesome and right-on, dude! If not, if he was just being "shocking" for shock-value, then naughty, naughty. These are words, words, words.

    Those who are concerned about what others think and are asking gen-u=ine folk to edit themselves, should find something better to do...

    Newcomers and not-yet believers, and for that matter, all of your teenagers use certain powerful words as if they were sprinkling powdered sugar on their waffles...just listen to teenagers discussing school (of course, they can't know you are listening...)

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  23. To Anonymous (Thursday, February 22, 2007 6:52:00 PM EST)

    First, if you are going to assert yourself and call out Dave as if he must answer to you (or call me out for that matter) why not introduce yourself, anonymous? Why does Dave have to explain his exhortation to us to get ready for the big move of God that is coming? For those of you still offended by the tame word "freakin" to exhort the church to be ready for a wonderful move of God, well, I suppose we could submit it to prayer. Maybe you need a more emphatic and personal communication from God? We could always ask Him to appear as a burning shrub in your backyard and speak directly to you.

    Hopefully you will be putting as much energy into the Luke 4 Challenge as you do into picking apart Dave's message. We need that kind of energy and attention to detail!

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  24. This is my final comment on this post. Ken,I'm asking Dave for an explanation,not you.Could you please just let it happen? It's busybodies like you that just stir the pot for your own amusement that ruin the blog for people like me who just ask a question. Dave, if you would rather not comment just say so . I'll be quiet. Please don't sick your secretary of defense on me.
    Thank you.

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  25. What greater evidence of our need for a "healing community"- for all of us. We are indeed all wounded healers. I can't think of a greater place to encounter Christ on earth than the place this vision evokes...... Go Jesus!

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  26. Uh…I don’t think I was ever cool. And I’m fairly sure “freakin’” was not for shock value…only because it doesn’t sound that shocking to me. I guess I just slipped more into conversational mode than preaching mode…and I’m pretty sure that’s how I actually talk when I get jazzed. I think if I was trying to be more culturally relevant, I’d be hipper and more outrageous to the church crowd than that.

    Anyway, it certainly got this gang talking. Keep up the comments…just temper them with a little grace. But don’t be shy. I’ll try to pop in periodically and hopefully it will stay interesting.

    I just don’t want these posts to suck.

    Oops.

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  27. Hey Dave,

    Thanks for answering my original question!

    Your friend,

    -misterman

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  28. This is awesome. A fun read for those of us who really care about the more important things in life. That about sums up how i feel.

    Sincerely,
    Mr. Sarcastic

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  29. "This is awesome."

    Something tells me this isn't really how he feels.

    Thanks for visiting, Mr. Sarcastic.

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  30. I find this whole comment about language about freaken a bit flaky.

    I think words have power for good and bad.

    Dave and all of you people its all under the blood. Just remember to forgive and being forgiven.

    Just let it go people, btw, what was the point of the message that you all keep looking at freaken.

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