The Fruit of the Spirit: Self Control

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August 30, 2015 – David Hanke

1 Corinthians 9.24-27,10.6-13 : Psalm 141 : Mark 8.34-38

Listen to the songs here.

Gentleness and the Call to Civility

Public Square

 

We are coming to the conclusion of our summer sermon series on the Fruit of the Spirit.  These are 9 characteristics that St. Paul listed out in Galatians 5:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  Outside of a relationship with God, they are character traits that we admire in people and most of the world aspires to have more of these.  But for those who have a relationship with God, these 9 traits are not a wish list of what would make someone a better person.  These are the promised manifestation of the Holy Spirit’s presence in the life of one who follows Jesus.  As we let Jesus lead more of our life, this fruit is what happens in us and what people notice about us.  Christians aren’t ‘trying to be more joyful or patient’.  No, they are trying to know God, trust Jesus, and be filled with the Holy Spirit–  as those things happen, the fruit of joy, patience, and others comes out.

In talking about gentleness, I mentioned 2 universal relational realities that will always require gentleness but will always tempt us to choose a posture that is harsh and protective:  relating to those with whom we disagree and relating to those who are far from their Father in heaven.  In spite of our natural inclination, choosing to be gentle results in the possibility of real life change for those with whom we disagree and real ‘rest for your souls’.

There are 3 contexts where we could work on the fruit of gentleness, what the secular world calls ‘civility’.  Civility in our households, in our interaction with those who choose to not belong to a church community, and in the public square.  As I talked through those contexts, I quoted a variety of people who have thought deeply about the role of civility and gentleness in our day to day discourse.

In 2011, Tim Keller wrote about backlash and civility for his church newsletter.  Keller gives some ‘rules for civility’ and helps us understand the historical scope of this conversation by interacting with Robert Putnam and David Campbell’s book American Grace:  how religion divides us and unites us.  That book has been very helpful to me as I imagine the kind of church that Restoration could be in the midst of hard and contentious cultural conversations.

In 2008, Os Guiness wrote The Case for Civility:  and why our future depends on it.  Os is so good at providing historical and societal context that is clear and persuasive.  He argues that much of the answer to whether or not we’ll learn to live with our deepest differences depends on rejecting two erroneous responses to the culture wars. First, we must say no to a “sacred public square”—a situation where one religion has a position of privilege or prominence that is denied to others.  We must also say no to a “naked public square”—the situation where public life is left devoid of any religion. This is what is advocated by the new atheists.  The alternative to both is a “civil public square.” one in which everyone—peoples of all faiths, whether religious or naturalistic—are equally free to enter and engage public life on the basis of their faiths, as a matter of ‘free exercise’.  

Tim Challies had a great interview with Os and developed some of these ideas more fully.  It was helpful to me as we imagine Restoration as a place that promotes truth, embraces the reality of pluralism, trusts that the good news of the Gospel will rise above the cacophony of voices, and (maybe most important of all) refuses to demonize those with whom we disagree.

I hope having access to some of the original sources that I was quoting will help you as you talk to God about gentleness and choose civility as your posture with those whom you disagree.  May God, by the presence of the Holy Spirit, use our opportunities to be gentle to make us more like Him.

-David

 

The Fruit of the Spirit: Gentleness

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August 23, 2015 – David Hanke

2 Timothy 2.22-26 : Psalm 18.25-35 : Matthew 11.25-30

Listen to the songs here.

The Fruit of the Spirit: Kindness

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August 2, 2015 – David Hanke

Titus 3.1-7 : Psalm 145.10-21 : John 15.12-15

Listen to the songs here.

Wardens’ Report: July 2015

The Wardens’ Report: a brief summary of highlights from monthly Vestry meetings, designed to demystify our work and provide some information about our growth, finances, priorities and progress towards our strategic plan.

Our prayers this month were highlighted by gratitude for the way God continues to lead us through the web of amazing opportunities and complex issues: the hiring of Nathan Dickerson; the not-yet-hiring of a youth director; the conversion of our building loan to a long term mortgage; the creation of a building maintenance reserve; and the adoption of next fiscal year’s operating budget.

For the third month in a row, our primary business was the operating budget for the fiscal year beginning September 1, 2015. Thankfully, the staff and the Finance Team’s hard work provided clear information that allowed us to nudge the budget across the finish line. In the coming year, we’re projecting financial growth of about 15% — and remain prayerfully willing to experience more than that. Budget details will be made available at the next parish meeting on September 9 at 7pm.  As we’ve mentioned before, spending changes are driven largely by the priorities set forth in our strategic plan: hiring a new Associate Rector for small groups and church planting; absorbing the implications of a newer, larger building as home base for increased discipleship; and loving our staff well by shielding them from health insurance cost increases.

During the last couple of months, the Outreach Steering Team (“OST”) has been hard at work evaluating applications for outreach grants for the coming year. Since inception, our church has chosen to use 10% of all offerings for outreach purposes.  The vestry created the OST to do the heavy lifting of receiving and evaluating applications and making spending recommendations to the vestry. During our meeting, the vestry reviewed and adopted the OST’s recommendations to make about a dozen different gifts, totaling about $100,000. To learn more, visit the Outreach page, check out the 2015 Outreach guide, or reach out to Liz Gray or our Vestry representative to OST, Hannah Royal.

The Treasurer’s Report for June was an encouragement.  Year-to-date operating income is 99.9% of plan.  We’re not kidding;  it was that close to the target.  Thanks be to God, and thank you for your generosity. Operating expenses are 98% of plan. Thanks be to God, and thanks to David and staff for being good stewards of our resources. Second quarter average Sunday attendance was 535, about 25% higher than any prior second quarter in Restoration’s young history. With the third quarter come summer vacation and a predictable drop in attendance to 392, which matches the highest third quarter in our history.

Finally, some of you may have noticed that the home directly behind the church is for sale by owner. We all recognize that this is a special opportunity for the church to purchase an adjoining lot. It is easy to dream about the possibilities – more green space or a potential parsonage. Not without some pain, we decided not to pursue the opportunity as a church, at this time. The reasons are as varied as there are people on the vestry. Most notably, there isn’t clearly a tight fit with our strategic plan to plant churches, and we have a brand new building with a significant mortgage burden. We would love for a friend of Restoration to own the property. If you’d like to talk to someone about this, feel free to reach out to Carolyn Weimer or Mac Wheatley – or just go have a look and check it out!

If you have questions, concerns or words of wisdom or encouragement, please know that we are open to your feedback on all aspects of our life together on Quincy Street.

You can read an archive of past Wardens’ Reports on our website or Vestry Meeting minutes on CCB, under the ‘Files’ tab in the ‘Entire Church Group’.

-Carolyn Weimer and Ramsey Wilson, Wardens

The Fruit of the Spirit: Joy

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July 12, 2015 – David Hanke

Isaiah 12.1-6 : Psalm 16 : Matthew 13.44-46

Listen to the songs here.

Cambo A: a learning opportunity for pastors

Cambodia Pastor's Retreat

 

Last week, I had the incredible opportunity to participate in a unique learning opportunity in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.  Restoration was invited to partner with Christ Church of Austin in facilitating a retreat for leadership of the Anglican Church of Cambodia.  We are all there in the picture above:  7 people who currently live in the United States and over a dozen folks who are scattered across the Kingdom of Cambodia, doing ministry in the name of Jesus Christ.  I was overwhelmed and humbled by the reality that so much of the leadership of the Anglican Church in Cambodia was with us.  We were praying for a movement and longing for an explosion of churches and gospel life across the country.

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We came together for 3 nights in a place called Sihanoukville on the Gulf of Thailand (lower left corner of the picture).  Our purpose was to learn together about listening to God.  Specifically we spent a lot of time learning to pray… by praying.

Our days started early and ended early because it’s hot.  Really hot.  This was our routine…

At 7:30am we would gather for morning prayer.  We shared language leadership.  On some days, we would pray the entire Anglican office in Khmer and then English.  Sometimes just Khmer.  Towards the end we would do one office, switching from Khmer to English as we moved from collect to readings to creed to prayers.  What a great experience to work together on a familiar form, but in a different language.

Breakfast was at 8–  think fried rice, noodles, and abundant deliciousness.

At 9am we would gather for an hour of Lectio Divina.   We had chosen 3 passages that corresponded to our themes of listening to God, listening to temptation, and listening to others.  The Scriptures were read in English and Khmer with breaks in between to pray, to journal, to talk with each other about the things God was saying through His word.  All of us were renewed in our love for God’s word and the gift of His revelation to us.

Around 10am, I taught out of Mark 1.  I had an excellent interpreter and we quickly learned how to work together.  It is hard work to capture what someone is saying and to put it in to someone else’s heart language.  He was great.  Over the course of my 4 talks, I wanted us to think about

  • listening to the voice of God that tells us we are loved
  • resisting the voice of temptation that tells us we are not enough
  • responding to the voice of Jesus who calls us to leave what has given us security and go with Him into hostile places
  • saying no to all of the good things that could consume our time and energy for the sake of saying yes to the few things which God has prepared for us to do.

These talks usually took about an hour and then we would have a fun application exercise before lunch.

After lunch, we spend the afternoon praying for each other–  small groups of soaking, listening prayer.  These were powerful times of intercession.

Dinner was somewhere in town and authentically Khmer and bedtime usually started with an 8…  The pace was not fast but the content and context was intense.

We were united across language, culture, and ethnicity and asking for God’s Kingdom to come with light, hope, and freedom.  These are things that require our very best and our deepest dependence on the power and grace of God to sustain us and breathe life into our words.  I was so grateful to be there.

Here is a good pic of the affection we built and the exhaustion we felt…

Khmer Bus trip

 

I hope you are still praying for our team that is doing VBS this week.  God us used our church in a significant way…  Thanks be to God!

-David

Build houses, plant gardens, pray for the city

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June 21, 2015 – David Hanke

Jeremiah 29.1,4-14 : Psalm 112 : Mark 10.23-31

Listen to the songs here.

Parish Meeting Report

Parish Meeting

On June 2, we had a wonderful parish meeting–  complete with pizza and drinks.  If you were not able to attend, you can view the slide deck here.  (This is a link to CCB, our on-line database.  It requires a username and password.  You will find the deck under files in ‘Entire Church Group’.)

Here are the highlights…

  • We will not have a 5pm worship service from June 28-Sept 6.  This is a chance for us to deliberately insert some margin in to our life together.  It creates space for our staff and our volunteers to slow down for a few weeks.  On Sept 13 we will come roaring back with Kids’ Small Groups and 3 worship services every Sunday.
  • Hannah Royal gave a spotlight report on outreach in the past year that revealed how we strategically gave the 10% of our annual income to our partners and the needs of the world.  The Parish Meeting Slide Deck in CCB has all of the info.
  • David gave some updates on work that is being done by our staff.  We are excited about…
  1. the immigration aid center
  2. the incredible service of our Kids’ Small Group leaders (Regan, Mike, Jen, Scott, Andrea, Christine, Natasha, Leigh, Timon, Becky, Rachel, Patricia, Grace, Nan, Megan, Isaiah, Heather, Patty, Susie, Robert, Carra, Whitney, Phyllis, Oyin, Simon, Jerry, Morgan, Erin, Eric, Sara, Ryan, Nate, Liz, Edna, Stef, and Nathalie)
  3. The incredible success of Women Unscripted.
  4. Our faithful liturgical volunteers and vergers who are present every week.
  5. The beautiful and creative work of RestoArts to help us engage with Lent, Easter, and Pentecost.
  • Chris Belen and Christine Jones gave an update on the plans for David’s sabbatical in 2016.
  • We announced the hire of Rev. Nathan Dickerson as our new Associate Rector for Small Groups and Church Planting.
  • Ramsey Wilson provided an update our parish finances.  All the details are in the Parish Meeting Slide Deck.  In addition we made one more clarifying request that all capital campaign contributions be completed by July 31, 2015.
  • Carolyn concluded our evening by reminding us of the good work that has happened in the past year on our strategic plan—  we have grown to 550 people in attendance at our services each week on Quincy Street, Jesse Blaine is now a postulant for ordination and moving forward in his calling to plant a church in Cambodia, and the hire of Nathan Dickerson gives us a critical staff addition who will help us focus on small groups and church planting around Arlington.

Let us rejoice and give thanks.  God has been abundantly generous.  You, His people, have been faithful.

-David

The Rev. Nathan Dickerson

The Dickerson Family

Nathan and Stephanie Dickerson
Lizzie (5th grade), Maggie (Kindergarten), Rachel (3rd grade)

 

It brings me great joy to introduce you to our new Associate Rector for Small Groups and Church Planting, Nathan Dickerson!  Nathan and his family currently live in Minnesota, but are planning to move to Arlington later this summer.  We can’t wait to have all five of them here.

Nathan will be coming to Restoration from Church of the Redeemer in St. Paul where he has served as the rector since 2011.  Before that he was an associate pastor from 2005-2011 at Church of the Apostles in Raleigh, NC where he coordinated small groups, new member classes, and provided oversight for men’s and women’s ministries.  Prior to that role in the local church, Nathan was on staff with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at NC State from 2001-2005.  In 2002, he received the Master of Divinity degree from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, IL.

In a few weeks, we will give Nathan and Stephanie the opportunity to tell us more about their family in this space.  In the meantime, I invite you to pray for all 5 of them as they embark on a major transition from MN to VA.  Specifically pray for a home in Arlington County and for the girls as they finish school and anticipate school in a new place.  And give thanks to God for this very good gift to Restoration and the work we are doing.

-David

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