As a pastor, I’ve interacted with numerous people who have struggled with the desire to have a lot of sex with as many people as possible. Generally speaking, this struggle has come from men, but I’m sure there are women who have this desire. At any rate, many, many, many men have shared with me their sexual challenges and I have worked hard to provide accountability and encouragement for them. As a man, I can be transparent to acknowledge that were I not a follower of Jesus, I’d likely have given into this same set of desires and would have been a compulsive sexual type. This is to say that there are many sexual behaviors that I have found people are struggling through, including the whole LGBTQ can of worms (e.g., compulsive sexual behavior)… and a great deal of people are clearly not struggling with their sexual desires too! [Read more…]
If you have time, check out my friend Thomas Creedy’s Society of Vineyard Scholars’ 2013 paper, “Gathering for the Lord’s Supper – the Table at the Center.” Creedy’s paper is quite good and provides some healthy challenge to the view that I have had in the past and provides some helpful direction towards where I think I am going. I tend to lean towards a “closed communion” perspective regarding who should participate, but I do so with some nuance. I think this paper will help me think through this issue a bit more and will, perhaps, help me sharpen my own view. I’m thankful for it.
Other significant influences upon my understanding of the Eucharist would be John Calvin’s Institutes, Robert Culver’s Systematic Theology, John Hammett’s Biblical Foundations for Baptist Churches, Nathan Finn’s Baptism as a Prerequisite to the Lord’s Supper, Carey Publications’ Local Church Practice, the articles in the book edited by Thomas Schreiner, The Lord’s Supper, Tim Chester’s A Meal with Jesus, and Craig L. Blomberg’s Contagious Holiness. I think those works are some of the finest on the subject. I now add Creedy’s paper to the sources I will continue to count as helpful!
In my early years of ministry, I used to repeat something I’d heard a lot when I was younger: when we gather together for worship, we need to expect God to move. While I don’t want to minimize the value of having expectation or of the importance of Christians gathering together, I think this type of thinking can sometimes be shortsighted. It seems like this is gathering-centered versus being kingdom-centered. And to state it more bluntly, this is often more building-focused than Jesus-focused. Any time that we place at the center of our theology and praxis the idea that a building or people are the most important, I think we minimize that which is most important and essential: Jesus, the kingdom, and the greater glory of God.
In the landscape of the “now and not yet,” the “inaugurated and not consummated,” the “sanctified and being sanctified,” it’s been extremely helpful for me to think about the concept of the kingdom of God through the idea of our world being a “beautiful mess” (think Rick McKinley’s This Beautiful Mess). The kingdom of God breaking through and invading our world is exciting and what Christians long for. Simply put, we desire miracles… and the world thinks we are crazy for it.
Yet this is the very prayer priority that Jesus showed his disciples when he taught them to pray, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:9-10). Followers of Jesus long for the kingdom of God to invade our sphere of living and reveal to us reality. What’s behind the veil is what we long to see.
As I’m reading through Jordan Seng’s Miracle Work, I’m struck by how this type of thinking has become more and more chastened, reserved, and even marginalized within some corners of the church. Our culture works hard to make our sovereign God seem “normal” and “reserved” and anything but miraculous. Or, as Seng says,
“Supernatural ministry is weird by definition. The practice of healing, deliverance or prophecy can certainly feel weird as we do it. But I think the biggest problem among believers is not that we think supernatural ministries are too weird; it’s that we try to make God seem normal.”
In honor of the fact that I’m headed to the Vineyard National Conference in Anaheim, I’m reading Robby Dawkins’ Do What Jesus Did and Jordan Seng’s Miracle Worker: A Down-to-Earth Guide to Supernatural Ministries. I’ve been looking forward to both books for quite some time and I just downloaded them on my Kindle app! I’ll begin reading them this afternoon on my flight to California.
Both authors are involved in the Vineyard and write and speak on what some have called “power evangelism” or “signs & wonders.” I am interested in integrating more of what I clearly read in the New Testament into my “rural-community-missional-praxis.” In other words, I want to be more intentional about taking steps of faith in the community I serve in as I’m sensitive to contextualizing the gospel for those God has called me to serve. This includes both clear proclamation as well as clear demonstration.
So I’m looking forward to reading, evaluating, and integrating what they have to say. I’m sure you’ll be reading about my interaction and reflections soon.