Thursday, October 15, 2009

the power of the jesus underground

Sometimes talking about experiencing the Holy Spirit stirs up quite a bit of, well, emotions. Good and bad. One weekend after speaking along similar lines, a woman charged up on stage and literally yelled at me between celebrations. She was so angry she was physically shaking. She shouted that I had said she wasn’t really “saved”, that she wasn’t able to hear God, and she was a second-class citizen in the Kingdom of God.

Wow. I tried to quickly mentally reboot everything I’d said that morning and for the life of me couldn’t think of anything that remotely implied that.

She was shaking her finger in my face. I finally had to say, “Stop it! You need to calm down right now and stop yelling at me.” She glared at me. “I never said anything like that,” I insisted.

She bristled, “Well, you seemed to say that if I didn’t have some sort of weird experience, something was wrong with me.”

Puzzled, I replied, “I’m sorry, but I never said anything like that either.”

“Yes you did,” she huffed. “You said I had to be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

“I didn’t say that—Paul did. He wrote to the believers in Ephesus: be filled with the Holy Spirit. I didn’t tell you how to ‘manifest’ that…or what that should even look like.”

Obviously this is an emotionally charged subject. And too bad…because we shortchange the real purpose of the multiple fillings that the early disciples experienced: a bold passion for people who didn’t yet know Jesus. The extreme views and practices on either side polarize the issue. I cringe when I see some of the ways my charismatic brothers create a subculture of wackiness, often on TV. When Todd Bentley kneed someone in the gut on GodTV for healing purposes, you’ve got some puffed up showmanship that’s gone awry. On the other hand, the mean-spirited and frankly poor exegesis of cessationist John MacArthur who attributes any contemporary manifestation of the classic power gifts of 1 Corinthians 12 to Satan is equally embarrassing to the Body of Christ.

Please. Could we tone things down a bit?

Let’s keep in mind the mission of the church and how the moving of the Holy Spirit complements that. Let’s clearly define the purposes of our different gatherings and contexts. In my reading of Acts, it seemed to me that most expressions of the power of the Holy Spirit were in the street, beyond the church walls. But perhaps in some circles we’ve made the practice of the gifts in such routine Pentecostal expressions, that unless it looks just like that, we assume the Spirit isn’t moving. And on the other hand, evangelicals can have such a narrow view and lack of experience that we simply rule out the possibility of the power gifts. There’s a bit of self-righteousness in both approaches.

I believe God may have a third way. And it may not look how either party wants it to.

Bring it on.


  1. I'm so glad to see you write what I've been thinking for years. I was starting to think that there wasn't anyone else out there who thought this way.

    Admittedly, when I was a baby christian, I was surrounded by charismatic influences and let things get a little out of hand... though there were a number of situations I experienced that caused me to think maybe it was all going a bit too far.

    Just as I was about to rebel against it all, I attended a local christian college that doesn't believe in the gifts at all... and the things they were teaching me went directly against my experiences and what I knew to be true.

    I've known the Cincy Vineyard fell somewhere into the charismatic category for some time now... But I always figured that it wasn't much of a focus, and that how charismatic it got varied greatly from staff member to staff member. It's really encouraging to hear what the Vineyard's formal stance on this is, and that it's a rational one I can get on board with.

  2. Yeah, what Bryant said! Thanks again, Dave for bringing common sense to the table! :) I think the Holy Spirit should decide what way he will manifest with different people in different situations.

  3. I am so thankful for this new vision. I believe He is taking us back to our roots- "Small Things Done With Great Love WILL Change The World". But as you said in so many words Dave, we don't want to just be nice people doing good deeds. Even the world can do that. It's not by might, nor by power, but by His Spirit. Lovin' it and thankful for fleeting opposition. Praying for VCC leadership- you guys are awesome.

  4. I still like the way Mark Driscoll puts it:
    "We are Charismatic...with a seat belt."

  5. Dave:

    When you spoke about tongues in last weeks service, I almost fell out of my seat with joy. This means that Vineyard ( or you) does recognize the Spiritual Gifts throught the grace of God although in a reserved factor I sense.

    Most churches in the past we have attended failed to even acknowledge spiritual gifts.

    After an experience back in July I have became a student of the Spiritual gifts taking to heart of Pauls statement that we should seek out these gifts earnestly in our faith.

    Several books later, I am certainly a believer of these gifts and do understand they are gifts of the Holy Spirit through the grace of God.

    I am not going to say that I do possess any gifts yet but I am sure the ones Baptised in the Holy Spirit do in fact might have more than one.

    Some day I would love to meet with you and cover this more in a personal setting.I promise I will not yell at you.

  6. Dave Part 2:

    I do recall your sermon and this person running up on the stage that week which I though was odd.( the person).

    First of all I found nothing offensive in yor sermon that week. Only edification to God and His scriptures.

    From my studies of scriptures about Jesus, he also seemed to offend many high priest of the time and the Jewish congregation;BUT he spoke the words of God only.Some how they took offense to it ( sounds familiar).

    From my studies of the Apostle Paul, he spoke and wrote frequently of the Holy spirit working among the believers ( filled with the holy spirit if I must say).

    If you are not earnestly seeking the Spiritual gifts and desiring to be filled with the Holy Spirit, I have to suggest one may be on the wrong path in their relationship with God.

    As it has been suggested, one must LOVE above all else God, their fellow persons, and the Body of Christ through santification and service.Then and only then can one experience the mysteries, the peace, and the joys of the Holy Spirit as Paul describes.

    Am I a charismatic or an evangelist? I don't know. I am a believer of God , Jesus, and the Holy Spirit and his gifts.

    Some may take offense to this belief but that is my take and I am sticking to the course until some one can prove me wrong.

    Peace Dave.

  7. All this brings to mind a saying, "God moves in misterious ways, His wonders to perform". Seems to me, it's God and the Holy Spirit who get to decide just how that's going to happen.

  8. oh dave , your job as senior pastor is easy, always the same old ,same old stuff trying to speak the truth about god and loving the sometimes difficult to love. Just kidding dave ,keep speaking the truth and trying to love on people .i think you truly have been gifted by the holy spirit to speak powerfully to the believer and unbeliever alike.

  9. My oldest son called last evening to tell me he had experienced his first and possibly last Pentecostal service. His descriptive words included "wild", "circus", "exhausting", and "scary". My first response was "Now you know why Pastor Dave doesn't encourage the public exercising of some of the gifts in the celebrations." I was raised in a fundemental Baptist church and then ran to the charismatic movement in my early twenties. At age 55 I am thankful to be at a place (VCC) in between where there is a comfort with the gifts of the spirit but where there is a desire for order in the gathering. What I am most thankful for is the fruit of the spirit - love, longsuffering, gentleness, temperance, meekness, grace and mercy. These things transform minds and hearts more often than signs and wonders. However, I can't help but believe that the greatest display of the power of God's spirit is in the fact that His eyes that see our sin still look on us with love.

  10. Wow! Not only the eyes that see our sin - but the eyes that see our silliness.

  11. Abundant thanks for your leadership here, Dave!

    Yes and Amen!

  12. I like to know why nigeria is the only country vcc is intrested in I'm tired of listning about nigeria.