The roar of the leaping, dancing, screaming, weeping, hands-in-air crowd, the intense, pulsating beat shaking the floor, and shaking hearts – no, it’s not a football game. It’s the opening fifteen minutes of every session of this Vineyard family reunion here in Phoenix. So that you don’t feel left out (and I don’t want you to feel left out!), once you’ve had your Wheaties and/or caffeine fix, here’s one of the songs that is big time rocking everyone’s world here. It’s epic. It’s powerful. It’s huge! If you’re ready, crank up the volume higher than normal and be prepared to join in with the 2000 or so Jesus-loving Vineyardites standing in for you in Phoenix: https://youtu.be/BfdOP8139i4. You might want to stand up, too. Just sayin.’
The theme for the day on Tuesday was the power and presence of the Kingdom in the Person of the Holy Spirit. Sessions included looking back at the early days of the Vineyard movement when regular Divine Appointments would occur with wild healings, stunning, face-down-on-the-carpet conversions, deliverances and restored soul passions for Jesus. Those are our roots, our beginnings, but they are reference points now, directional arrows for how we are to move into the future: altars, not idols. Constantly recurring in all sessions was the culture of honor within our movement. Young, vibrant, on fire leaders giving honor, thanking the elders (making them cry), and the elders speaking words of encouragement and grateful appreciation for the willingness of these young people to give their lives away that the Kingdom might advance through them in this day and well into the future. One young African American pastor noted that, 25 years ago, someone like him probably wouldn’t have been speaking on the National Conference stage, at which point all 2000 people in the room jumped to their feet in roaring applause that lasted a very long time while he wept, head bowed, at the outpouring of loving support.
The theme for the day yesterday was Justice. Another of those threads running through all of Scripture – references to the just and the unjust, the poor, the alien, the widow, the lonely, the thirsty, the hungry, the naked, the prisoner, the Good Samaritan, the neighbor to anyone in need, and on and on and on. Again, looking back, caring for the poor has been a central emphasis of the Vineyard movement. Of course, we live in a world filled with injustices, evidence of our fallen nature, our tendency to see issues rather than people, our own darkened hearts wanting first place, main recognition. We pressed in to the tough realities facing us in our day, always keeping an eye on Jesus who makes a way was there is no way (see song above). We were encouraged to not focus on what we haven’t done, but to focus on what Jesus is asking us to do today and tomorrow and the day after that (kinda like giving up all hope of ever having a better past). So we confess. We repent. We ask for forgiveness. We receive all of it as we are swept along in the tsunami of God’s grace and lovingkindness. We ended the day tear-stained, exhausted, carrying our greatly expanded joy tanks back to our hotel rooms where we crashed in blissful sweet dreams. And there’s more to come today!