Thursday, 23 November 2017

What we are

A Vineyard Church is an ‘Empowered Evangelical Church’.  This means we are first and foremost evangelical, embracing Christianity as taught in the Bible and expounded upon in the great creeds and confessions of the historical church.  

For this reason the Vineyard also embraces the power of the Holy Spirit known to the church since its inception as signs and wonders.  We believe that every disciple of Christ, from the moment of salvation, is baptized in the Holy Spirit and has been given spiritual gifts for the purpose of advancing God’s kingdom and the service of the saints (Romans 8.9).  

This point distinguishes Empowered Evangelical churches (like the Vineyard) from Pentecostalism (a twentieth century doctrine with a heavy emphasis on tongues and a belief in a post-salvation baptism of the Spirit).  In other words, a Vineyard Church is not a Pentecostal Church in doctrine or church culture, but we do embrace the present ministry and manifestation of the Holy Spirit, making us both a Word and Spirit church.

The Vineyard is both a teaching church and an experiential church.  We believe that the Word of God is powerful, living and active (Hebrews 4.12) and that it is divinely inspired making it useful for correcting, rebuking and equipping the people of God for every good work and ministry (2 Timothy 3.16).  We hear teaching from the Bible that explains the meaning of Scripture while bridging those ancient words to practical, real-world situations of people living today. 

We encourage Spirit-led ministry, giving people an opportunity to respond to the message and to experience the power of the Holy Spirit. We encourage people to seek and receive prayer, and there is an expectation that there will be gifts of the Holy Spirit. 

We also believe in praying for the sick, release from oppression and bondage , and other manifestations of the Holy Spirit’s power. However, we do not believe in making a show or treating the work of the Holy Spirit as something for church amusement.  We believe all ministry should glorify God more than the ones administering it.

The Vineyard is not a denomination per se, but we do share a common set of values, a statement of faith and a philosophy of ministry.  The Vineyard movement began in 1977 as a single Vineyard Christian Fellowship within the Calvary Chapel denomination.  As more Calvary Chapel churches adopted the Vineyard name a new leader emerged among the churches by the name of John Wimber. John was a musician, and a part of the Righteous Brothers before coming to Christ.  His early Christian experience and ministry as a pastor was among the Friends Churches (Quaker).  Later he served as part of the faculty of at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, and as the director of the Fuller Church Growth Institute.  

That loose network developed into an association of over 600 churches in the USA and over 2,000 Vineyard Churches worldwide. The association has continued to maintain its loose affiliation of autonomous churches linked by a shared statement of faith, philosophy of ministry, values, and through cooperation, rather than a system of trans-local government and oversight.
Image result for kingdom of god
Vineyard churches share and seek to model five core values;

     2. Experiencing God
     3. Reconciling Community
     4. Compassionate Ministry
     5. Culturally Relevant Mission

We endeavour, by God’s grace to let these values color our character and activities as a church beginning with the kingdom of God.

Jesus’ primary message in his earthly ministry was the Kingdom of God (the kingdom of God is upon you, the kingdom of God is near you, you are not far from the kingdom, the kingdom of God is like . . .) and his teaching was accompanied by the works of the kingdom, both natural and supernatural. As this was the focus of Jesus’ earthly ministry we seek to also make his teaching and practice of the kingdom our focus as well. 

We believe that the Kingdom is not just the future universal reign of God, or simply the Christian Church. We believe that the kingdom of God is the rule and reign of God (Βασαλια) both in its present manifestation (salvation, deliverance, healing, etc. Mark 12.34, Matthew 12.28, 9.35) and it its final manifestation (the new heavens and new earth Revelation 21).

Experiencing God is not just our commitment to know about God, but to know him intimately, encounter him through worship, prayer, salvation and the present manifestation of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers, and in divine guidance (dreams, visions, prophecy, words of knowledge, words of wisdom, discernment and much more).  

To reveal the Father heart of God to those who do not know God, and to come into a full knowledge (heart, mind and soul) of his great love for humanity, and for the individual.

We believe also that the church of Christ is meant to be a reconciling community in as much as Jesus reconciled us to himself by taking on himself our sin and not counting our sins against us as we deserved and gave to the church the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5.18-21).  In this way we have been called to share this gospel of reconciliation by pointing others to this same forgiveness and reconciliation with Christ, and by demonstrating this same spirit of forgiveness by forgiving others and by not harboring bitterness and resentment in our hearts toward others.  As well, Jesus put to death the enmity that exists between male and female, Jew and Greek, slave and free through his body so that we might be one (Ephesians 2:14-21).  We are called to be a people of peace and reconciliation and not to contribute to the sectarianism of the world.

Fourth, we believe it is not enough for us to be right or even what we say to be true, but our actions must reflect Compassionate Ministry.  The works of the church should be filled with compassion even as the Father heart of God is filled with compassion. Jesus did not come to the earth simply because he was duty bound, or it was the right thing to do.  He was not compelled by the law or anything greater than himself, but the love of the Father for the world, that no one should perish but through faith in Jesus Christ they should have everlasting life (John 3.16).

Finally, we believe that ministry should be contextual, treating every place the gospel is preached as an outpost of the kingdom of God, translating the good news into the vernacular of the recipients. This means having a Culturally Relevant Mission Mindset.  

Life is constantly changing.  What was culturally relevant a few years ago is no longer relevant today.  As well, in as much as we have been saved and set apart, we no longer think like the people like those who belong to the world.  We recognize that our values are different, our worldview is different, and our priorities are different.  Therefore even in the place that once was our home we must be like missionaries, learning afresh how to speak the language of our city, the next generation, and the people of this world.  This should never mean compromising the truth, lowering the standards of right and wrong, or messing with the message.  It should mean that we go afresh to the old, old story, and think through what is culture and what is the Word of God. That which is culture can be rethought, and repackaged.  That which is Scripture must be held onto and fought for without change or compromise.  We don’t mess with the message, but we do adjust the medium by which we share the message.

These five core values are central to our identity and define the way that we do ministry, and how we understand the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Our highest priority is worship; not just music, but the all-encompassing concept that everything we do should be a spiritual act of worship (Romans 12.1).  For this reason we begin most every meeting with a time of worship, in praise to God. It also means that the focus of our lyrics is directed to God more than singing about God to one another.  In our songs, we seek to directly exalt the Lord!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Originally posted by BNORMAN8 on NOVEMBER 13, 2017 Citrus Vineyard

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Of sausages and saviours

Once upon a time there was a ‘pie company what done good’ They had a wonderful selection of all things pie and pasty related…. and a lot more besides. We are happy, it would appear, to regularly pay this company for the privilege of walking the streets advertising the greatness of their pies.  We do this ever so subtly (but proudly) by displaying the tell tale crumb trail from face to feet via our tracksuit. A badge of honour for us and great product placement for the purveyor of pies and assorted other pasties and pastries.  A win win for sure.

However, we had no idea what was to come…. It was truly breathtaking. The aforementioned pie emporium had been sitting on a secret for over 2000 years but decided, during our lifetime to reveal this ‘mystery of the ages’. This is certainly  ‘the greatest story never told’ and it is a story, the revelation of which the world had been waiting for while holding its collective breath. What privileged times we live in.

Little had we realised that some of the greatest feats of human goodness, some of the wisest teachings in the world, the motivation and driving force behind world transforming activities and initiatives were inspired by a 2000 year old ………….. sausage roll, 
Who knew?

In light of this truly overwhelming revelation I propose we make some minor amendments to the greatest book in the world …..

John 1
In the beginning, the Word was already there. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things were made through him. Nothing that has been made was made without him. Life was in him, and that life was the light for all people. The light shines in the darkness. But the darkness has not overcome the light.
…….and, the Word became a …….
sausage roll…………..

There was a stunned silence in heaven….. until one brave angel tapped God on the shoulder and said

 ‘ Good job big yin, we didn’t see that one coming, it takes left field to another level!’ How’s it going to work then?

‘Or, maybe’, saith the Lord, ‘there is a company who are great with pastry but terrible with history and maybe they did holdeth a meeting to find out who was the least creative, least imaginative, least innovative marketing agency they could find and then they did engageth this company … who did bloweth it big time.

‘However’, saith the Lord, again, ‘they have unwittingly provided a great opportunity to put the historical record straight….. we have unearthed evidence that shows the gospel according to St Greggs has strayed into error due to an unfortunate, although perhaps understandable, mistranslation of the original Greek.  

Where the record states that the giver of life changing teaching, of hope, a future, inspiration, the demonstrator of God’s love and power was Ιησούς Χριστός (Jesus Christ) they thought it said ‘sausage roll’…. Who hasn’t made that mistake before?

However, they’ve ‘fessed up’ and they have unwittingly provided great opportunities to talk about Christmas and Jesus, despite not because of their inept marketing advisors… so, all’s well and all of that. Happy CHRISTmas.

Monday, 29 May 2017

What money cannot buy

This is a devotional reading I read based on Acts 8:18 - Simon the Sorcerer and it is fully credited to Annette LaPlaca ( also referenced at the end)

I was reading a new book by a Christian author who pointed out how often we use the language of finance when we talk about relationships. We “value” a friend. We “invest in” a relationship. The author went on to say that we commonly use our love in the same way we use money: to get what we want.

I had to stop and check my own marriage relationship: Do I give/withhold courtesy, attention or affection to/from my husband, depending on whether David’s behavior pleases or upsets me? In all honesty, I had to admit that sometimes my love is conditional toward him. Sometimes I do use love like money.

This is not the way of grace and mercy. This is not Christ’s way. This is not kingdom behavior. God’s love does not depend on my good behavior; there’s no way I can earn his approval or salvation. Jesus gave his life for me, and God accepts me and welcomes me into his family because I trust Christ’s work on my behalf.

Simon the Sorcerer failed to realize that some things in life are priceless. When he saw the powerful effects of the apostles’ prayers, Simon wanted to buy what was in their “bag of tricks”: “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit” (Acts 8:19). Peter’s response was to rebuke Simon sternly, saying, “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money!” (verse 20). Simon the Sorcerer hadn’t figured out that the gifts of God are given by God’s grace and goodness alone; they cannot be earned or bought.

I’m afraid my attempts to freely offer love and kindness to others, as Jesus would, will be a lifelong challenge for me. My consumer mentality seems too deeply rooted. But I want to love others without considering what they might think of me or what they might “owe” me. At home, that means choosing to love David through all my actions and attitudes, whether or not I think he’s “earned” my affection.

Many times when one spouse behaves with grace and love toward an undeserving spouse, the spouse reciprocates with a renewed attempt to be gracious and loving, but there are no guarantees. In the end, I must choose to give my love freely, not in an attempt to manipulate my husband or get him to treat me well, but only because I want to please the Lord.

Money can’t buy lasting love, and I don’t want to use my love like money. In the end I’ll be more gratified in receiving David’s love and affection if I know I haven’t manipulated his attention with a bag of tricks or with strategies of conditional love. My goal is to love him freely, the way God has loved me.

—Annette LaPlaca

Taken from NIV Couples’ Devotional Bible

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, 3 April 2017

Apples of Gold

(Taken from a devotional reading on YouVersion)

In the 1950s, Mary grew up knowing she was different from other kids . . . and she hated it. Because she had a cleft palate, she had learned to steel herself against the jokes and stares of children who teased her about her misshapen lip, crooked nose and garbled speech. Mary was convinced that no one outside her family could ever love her . . . until she entered Mrs. Leonard’s class. Mrs. Leonard had a warm smile, a round face and beautiful brown hair. All of the children liked Mrs. Leonard, but Mary grew to love her.
In those days, teachers administered a hearing test in the classroom. Unfortunately, Mary not only had a speech impediment due to her cleft palate, she was also partially deaf in one ear. Determined not to let the children have something else to tease her about, she thought of a way to cheat on the hearing test: She could pass the “whisper test” by covering her bad ear and turning her good ear toward her teacher. On the day of the dreaded hearing test, surely God put seven words in Mrs. Leonard’s mouth that changed Mary’s life forever. When it was time for Mary’s “whisper test,” she clearly heard the words: “I wish you were my little girl.”
Solomon called these kinds of words “apples of gold in settings of silver.” They are words that can erase years of pain and sorrow. They are words filled with love and acceptance. They are words that are priceless to those who hear them.
If someone listened in on your conversations, would their lives be changed for better or worse? Would they hear you speaking about the character flaws of others as if they were physical defects or would they hear that you consider others as beautiful in God’s eyes? Ask yourself if your words build up or tear down. Do your words push others away from you or draw others near? Most important, do they draw others to God?
It’s never too late to dispense apples of gold in settings of silver. Seek someone who is downcast and whisper a word of encouragement. You never know who needs to hear the words, “I wish you were my friend.”

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Why I don't consider myself to be a Christian

In my opinion, the biggest life changing question asked in the Bible can be found in Matthew 16:15, Jesus arrives in the region of Caesarea Philippi. He asked who the people thought He was. The disciples said John the Baptist returned, Elijah, Jeremiah or another prophet. Clearly the people thought whoever this Jesus person was He was under the authority of God. The reality was He was not recognised for who He really was, the Son of God and The Saviour of the World. 


Jesus then turns to His disciples and in Matthew 16:15 says, "who do you say I am?" At this point Jesus is recognised as Messiah and Son of the living God and on this foundation Jesus said, "I will build my church". This question at this point changed everything,  Jesus' suffering on the cross and His resurrection was close and that God's Kingdom was ever closer.


This question is as powerful  today as then. "Who do you say Jesus is?" And that's why I struggle to call myself a Christian, as I learn more about Him. Christian for some people is used to describe someone who loves and follows Jesus. For others it is more a label used to describe a life style, a type of person, a type of music, something ticked on a demographic form or a type of insurance. I remember a musician talking about a particular conference and describing it as very 'Christian'. Almost as you would describe the Motorshow being very automotive. The funny thing is, I went to that very conference the following year and ran into the same chap and I have to say it was very 'Christian'. It's very surreal being sold Christian motor insurance!


The point I'm trying to make is that this word Christian seems so far removed from that moment when Jesus asked that question to His disciples, "who do you say I am?" It's not enough to stick a label on ourselves and call ourselves a Christian, but do we know and acknowledge who Jesus is. He wants to have a 'real' relationship with us and see our lives changed so that we can live life to its fullness.


I am Andy Mitchell and I am learning to follow King Jesus.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Going on an ADVENTure

“Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him.”
Luke 2:25 NIVUK

I have just started a new 25 day reading plan about preparing for Christmas, as an addition to my regular reading plans and it has got off to a great start... well for me it has.

After the reading and some devotional words, each day has sections that encourage you to spend some time that day doing things based on the reading. These sections are things like 'Exploration, Expression, Experience and so on.

Today, day 1' the Exploration section invited me to consider how my life, or our lives, can reflect the kind of anticipation that we see in Simeon and Anna in our reading from Luke.

They had both experienced and heard from the Father, they both knew what the nation needed and what God had promised and they were waiting for Him and preparing themselves for Him. They were way ahead of the rest of the people who really were 'singing from a different hymn sheet' 

Odd, is it not, that they had all read and been taught the same scriptures and they had all heard the same prophetic warnings, promises and encouragement. 
But then of course we need to layer onto this the agendas of those who did the teaching, the willingness of people to believe without exploring ( or sometimes even thinking) for themselves, the personal and cultural agendas that we are often blind to ourselves but which massage the message to suit our personality and desires and probably other stuff we are unaware of! Nonetheless, God showed, through Simeon and Anna, that none of this stuff need actually prevent the powerful, life changing 'truth that sets us free' from breaking through our self constructed or 'others imposed' barriers and filling us with Holy anticipation. 

Simeon and Anna not only knew what Gods word said, they knew what it meant, they knew what it meant for them, what it meant for the nation and what it meant for the world.

When they saw Jesus, even as a baby, they saw in Him the entire hope of the world - this is the One they had been anticipating and, on seeing Him, they knew that God was among them.

So, how on earth do or should or can we even begin to match anticipation like this?

Firstly, read Gods word and seek not only to know what it says, but to understand what it means. Then, viewing the world through the filter of Gods Word, expect to see Jesus in your circumstances and situations today.... not simply looking forward to tomorrow, but expect and anticipate that you, and through you, others, will come face to face with Jesus, today. Watch out for Him in your everyday - anticipate Him and be excited at the prospect.

Monday, 21 November 2016

Hope in Hard Times

I read this devotional today that contains a lot that is perhaps hard to accept but nonetheless seems to get to the heart of grace and faith......

I suppose there has never been a marriage between two honest, self-examining people that at some time has not reached a seemingly irredeemable low point. There have been moments in my own marriage when the wall between my wife and me seemed too high to hurdle, too thick to break. We found it hard to muster hope. It was not easy to be confident that somehow the barriers blocking our oneness could be removed. . . . Too many unhappy spouses claim promises that God never made as their foundation of hope. They trust that if they do all they can, God will change their spouses into the loving Christians they should be. But a reason to live never consists of a guarantee that “Things will get better” or that “God will save your husband and help him stop drinking.” The hope of the Christian is far deeper than a mere change in someone else. The hope of the Christian is inescapably bound up in the grace of God.

It would be easy to quote a few verses from Hebrews (especially 6:18–19), and speak glowingly about the sure hope in Christ that serves as an anchor for our souls. But if you are plagued by chronic despair that results in a “Why bother” attitude, then prayerfully consider the following.

The Lord has not promised to put your marriage together for you. The hope of the Christian is not that one’s spouse will change or that one’s health will improve or that one’s financial situation will become good. God does not promise or rearrange our worlds to suit our longings. He does promise to permit only those events that will further his purpose in our lives. Our responsibility is to respond to life’s events in a manner that pleases the Lord, not to change our spouses into what we want. Even if we respond biblically, we have no guarantee that our spouses will respond in kind. Though they file for divorce or continue to drink or nag all the more, there is reason for us to persevere in obedience.

Certainly if both partners build on the foundation of hope and strive earnestly to live biblically, even the worst marriage can be turned around. Either way, there is reason to hope. This reason is bound up in the grace of God.

In God’s presence, there is never cause for despair. Our spouses may not do what they should to restore our marriage to happy, fulfilling relationships. But if we remain faithful to God, pouring out our emotions before him, renewing our commitment to seek him, trusting him to guide us in our responses, then he will sustain us through our trials and provide rich fellowship with him. There is reason to go on. There is hope. God’s grace is sufficient.

—Dr. Larry Crabb