Love One Another

Relationships.

They are often some of the most fulfilling and the most challenging aspects of our lives. Friends, spouses, parents, roommates, kids, colleagues, siblings — all have ways of bringing out our best and our worst selves. Figuring out how to cultivate healthy relationships is hard, good work. And it’s what we’re going to be talking about over the next five weeks.

There are about a million books out there on healthy relationships, and probably nearly as many sermons. So why are we adding to the pile? Because we’re convinced that there’s something fundamentally different about what it means to cultivate healthy relationships when you’re part of a church community. Marriage looks different when you’re part of a church. So does friendship. Parenting, too. And while we don’t pretend that we’re the only ones to have ever had this insight, we know how easy it is to live as if all those things weren’t true. And so we think it’s worth spending some time digging in to these questions and seeing what it might mean for the ways we live together. David, Clay, and I will be sharing this series, and we’re all really excited for it.

Jesus’ approach to relationships was summed up in three little words, words he shared with his disciples at their last meal together: “Love one another.” It’s a deceptively simple instruction, because I think it actually contains a wealth of wisdom — on what it means to be part of a church community, on how being part of that community impacts all of our relationships, on what it means to love someone at all. Those are great questions to ask together, and that’s exactly what we’ll be doing between now and Thanksgiving. So join us.

– Erin

 

Building an old/new cross

In case you haven’t seen it, there is a new cross in the Sanctuary.  It’s a gift from a guy who likes wood and likes to make stuff out of wood.  Here’s the story behind it . . .

Building an Old/New Cross

By Steve Brooks

September 11, 2011

My dad is a retired furniture refinisher and as a kid I worked with him sanding table-tops, stripping off old finishes and fixing broken furniture. Every time I smell lacquer or see a cool power tool, fond memories bubble up from my childhood.  I am reminded of the countless hours working with my dad, brothers and friends in his shop.  My dad is a true craftsman and he taught me how to fix furniture and make stuff.  He also taught me how to appreciate all things made of wood.

I love the smell of newly cut wood, the colors and visual affects of stained wood, but most of all, I love creating something from a piece of wood.  I don’t do it often, but when I do, I have a hard time stopping until I finish – I just can’t wait to see the final product.

My most recent wood project was building an old – well, new – cross for our church.  It’s actually an old oak barn beam and is now a new cross for the sanctuary.  The beam from which this cross was cut came from a barn in Pennsylvania that was built circa 1830.  So the wood in its current form is about 180-years-old.  The actual tree from which the wood was cut – if we are counting growth rings – is estimated to be between 600-800 years old.  When this cross was a living organism, Scottish rebel William Wallace was leading his ragtag band of Scottish clans to victory against the English Monarchy.

I came across this piece of ancient oak at a small company in Pennsylvania that reclaims old wood from barns, factories, houses and churches.  They buy the wood from people tearing down these places and they re-cut the beams and make flooring or furniture.  Or they sell it to people like me who want a new/old fire place mantel.  I was searching for a beam for a mantel in our house and ended up buying two beams – not knowing which one would look the best.  So I used a 170 year-old hand-hewn piece of American Chestnut for the mantel and decided I had to make something out of the unused oak beam.

As the oak beam sat in my garage, I had a vision of making a cross and figured I could make it without a lot of fuss.  A few cuts here, some sanding there, then oil and a final finish – 40 hours later and after coaxing my neighbor Joe into helping (he has some really cool tools) it was finally finished.  Joe was great.  He listened as I told him the whole story of Restoration and what led me to build this cross and I took the opportunity to tell him how I came to know Christ.

When I presented the cross to David Hanke, he said how my working with wood is a “labor of love.”  And it is, but more.  When I work with wood –- especially in making this cross – it was a very spiritual time for me.  I listened to music, talked to God, listened and thought a lot about my life and family.  I couldn’t stop thinking about how God restores us in all things.  His restoration goes beyond a few cuts here, some sanding there – then oil and a final finish.  His restoration brings us back to life.  I can’t do that with an old barn beam, but He can do it with us.  And I am thankful for His Restoration.

-Steve Brooks-

2 books. 2 men of influence.

If you ask me:  “Who are the 2 pastors that have most influenced your theology and understanding of the pastoral vocation?”  That’s easy.  From the sheer volume of real estate that they occupy on my bookshelves:  John R. W. Stott and Eugene Peterson.  (Thousands of other people who have answered the call to serve the church would say the same thing.  I didn’t say I was creative 🙂 )  Stott’s gift is clarity.  Peterson’s gift is vision.

Stott is a theologian who acts like an evangelist.  He lives on the other side of complexity and invites us to worship our Maker there.  Stott explains fundamental truths in a way that expands our trust and love of God.  His gift is clarity.

Peterson sees Christ in everything.  Perhaps I could say he’s a monk who lives like a statesman.  A public figure with a deep, deep interior life.  He makes God so big, yet treats Him like He is right there.  Peterson lives and writes about life that is SO interesting because God is in all things.  His gift is vision.

In the past 6 months 2 books have come out about their lives.

I am almost done with this biography of Stott, Basic Christian.  Its strength is in its subject, not in its author.  I have grown in my appreciation of how hard Stott worked.  Writing and preaching and leading are hard–  nobody gets around that.  Stott labored and labored to make things clear.

I can’t wait to start the memoirs of Peterson, The Pastor.  I can see from the chapter titles that a lot of the stories have come out in other books, but I can’t wait to spend some long hours reading them all at once.

I am always encouraged by the stories of the faithful.  Maybe one of these books will encourage you too.

What do you think, “worshiply” speaking?

A post from Matt Hoppe:

Below are a few quotes concerning worship from people you may or may not recognize.  I’m curious about your responses to some of their quotes and was wondering if you had some perspectives or thoughts of your own.

“A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.” – C.S. Lewis

“Business underlies everything in our national life, including our spiritual life. Witness the fact that in the Lord’s Prayer, the first petition is for daily bread. No one can worship God or love his neighbor on an empty stomach.” – Woodrow Wilson

“I come from the performance world, but the idea of a worship song is different. It’s useful music.” – John Tesh

“I never knew how to worship until I knew how to love.” – Henry Ward Beecher

“I’ve explored the worship side, the pop side, and the film scoring side of me.” – Michael W. Smith

“Man, so long as he remains free, has no more constant and agonizing anxiety than find as quickly as possible someone to worship.” – Fyodor Dostoevsky

“The highest form of worship is the worship of unselfish Christian service. The greatest form of praise is the sound of consecrated feet seeking out the lost and helpless.” – Billy Graham

Does any of this resonate?  Does any of it make you shudder?  Tell us about it.

Come Celebrate

Sunday is going to be a great day!

For the last 70 years, the people of Trinity Baptist Church have been faithfully worshiping God together here on North Quincy Street.. For the last 2 years, they have been gracious hosts to Restoration as we’ve undertaken the adventure of planting a new church. We are grateful for their generous partnership and for their faithful witness over the years in North Arlington.

This Sunday, August 29, the people of Trinity Baptist will worship together for the last time. We’re honored to get to join them in a special joint service. We’ll look back on and celebrate all that God has done in and through them over the last 70 years. And we’ll look forward to and celebrate what God will do in and through Restoration in the years to come.

Please join us for this special service at 10:00. And after we worship together, we’ll break bread together with lunch for everyone out back. There’ll be a big tent, lots of barbecue, even a moonbounce. And lots of fun and laughter and fellowship.  You’ll want to be there!

For you early morning folks, we’ll have a service of Morning Prayer at 8:30.  Our own Andrew Thompson will be preaching.  It will be great.  Even if you’re not an early morning person, it will still be great — and you may have a better chance of getting a seat than you will at 10:00!  Then come back and join us for lunch.

Worship. Celebration. Food. Fellowship. It doesn’t get much better than that.

See you Sunday!

Anglican Insights with Os Guinness

As part of a series called “Anglican Insights” orchestrated by the ADV, Os Guinness spoke in TFC’s Historic Church last Tuesday evening. Arriving a bit late, I sat in the back row, thinking this strategic – I could leave early if it got too boring without incurring any disapproving looks. But the lecture was far from boring. Guinness had a way of addressing some tough issues head on without raising the defenses of his listeners. An author and a social critic, Guinness made it clear that there are dire issues facing the Western Church as we know it, but he did so without raising accusations or pointing fingers. In his opening remarks, he stated that the real problem facing the Church is not secularism or militant Islam, the problem is the Church. Guinness went on to issue seven challenges to his listeners in order to combat further crumbling of the Church:

  • Appreciate our Anglican heritage with realism. The Reformation of the sixteenth century was a rediscovery of the Gospel, renewed the emphasis placed on Scripture, and allowed for the laity to participate in communal worship. Indeed, the Reformation was one of the leading contributors to the rise of the modern world. But, Guinness gently reminded us, history is never simple. The Reformation had many sins of its own: iconoclasm destroyed many great works of art. Even with the new emphasis on the Gospel, Protestants were continually outshone by Catholics in terms of mission: the Jesuits had mission hubs in Asia and Latin America by the close of the sixteenth century. Political entanglements also pervaded the work of Reformers: as Anglicans, we certainly know this to be true. Reflecting realistically on our past will help us face the future.
  • Face up to the cultural transformations of our age. There is no denial that there has been a shift from the Industrial Age to the Information Age, which has certainly made our globe seem much smaller. There has also been a shift from Singular Modernity to Multiple Modernity, a concept which may be a bit more difficult for us, as Americans, to accept: Modernization no longer equals Westernization. This is especially evident in the recent events concerning the Anglican Church during which the Church of Nigeria came to the rescue of orthodox believers in North America.
  • Be prepared for a war of spirits. Immanuel Kant predicted that rationalism would necessarily lead to “perpetual peace.” We need to look no further than our daily news outlet to see that this has not been the case, nor does the trend seem to be headed in that direction. Existing in the same societies are completely different world views with completely different values, accounting for the culture class. Culture wars are fueled by holy wars, whether between religions or between denominations. The war of spirits has also seeped into individual believers. The acid of pluralistic relativism is eating away at the orthodox beliefs of individuals. (52% of American Christians believe that Jesus is not the only Way.)
  • Keep the challenge of secularism in perspective. Secularists seem to have a lot going for them: they are often among the educated elite, they seem to have a lot of fuel against any religious worldview. But, Guinness reminds us, all their great ideas are baseless. Secularists, and Atheists in particular, really have no grounds for morality. (In one of Richard Dawkins’ books, he expresses a sort of moral outrage at the idea of boiling a lobster alive. I wonder whether he is able to defend his averseness from an evolutionary standpoint.) Guinness also characterizes secularists of having an extraordinary “tone-deafness”: they cannot pick up the music by which ordinary people live their lives, they are indifferent to the richness and mystery of life.
  • Keep the challenge of Islam in perspective. The Islamic passion for justice, as well as its great moments in science and scholarship are admirable. But Islam is increasingly becoming de-territorialized and de-confessionalized. In short, it is beginning to face the problems of modernization. We need look no farther than the current conflict in France over the burqa to see this. No matter which side of the matter you take, it is obvious Islam is having to face modernity head on.
  • Face up to the lethal distortions of faith in the modern world. Guinness states: “The modern world has done more destruction to faith than all the persecutors of Christianity combined.” He cites three factors: a shift from integrated to fragmented faith; a shift from authority to preference; and a shift from exclusivity to syncretism. The shift from integrated to fragmented faith is obvious in our lifestyles: where we work and live and worship are no longer within the same spheres. I can’t walk to work,  nor can I walk to church. The demographics in my neighborhood are much different than those in the neighborhood where Restoration is located, and these different spheres have different world views. The shift from authority to preference is illustrated in there being no cohesion between belief and behavior. (Evangelical behavior certainly, more often than not, does not reflect belief.) The shift from exclusivity to syncretism is a reflection of modern consumerism: take what you like, leave what you don’t. Consumerism has pervaded even our worship.
  • Pray and work for Reformation revolution in modern times. Bizarre things are happening in this country in the name of Christ (the Michigan “Christian” militia group comes to mind). We, as Christians, need to hold the distortions of Christian doctrine in the same contempt Luther held Tetzel’s indulgences. Remembering that the Church has a doctrine of its own failure, we continue to have hope that the Church can be awakened. Our faith should be such that it survives the teeth of modernity and continues to influence culture.

In short, Guinness challenges us to analyze the modern world to understand the difficulties it presents to Christian living. The Church may have been temporarily crippled by modernity; indeed, it seems to have gone terribly astray, but we have theology and history to give us hope. So we continue to live and work for the building of the kingdom, knowing that we need not fear, for He who is greater than the world is within us.

New Year’s Resolutions… or Not

I don’t know about you, but at New Year’s, I am resolutely anti-resolutions.  I think it’s the recovering perfectionist in me.  Somehow, setting goals for myself — which I then inevitably don’t meet — ends up leaving me feeling guilty, discouraged, or inadequate.  None of which really seems to contribute to  the “abundant life” that Jesus promises his followers.

Which isn’t to say there aren’t many things I wouldn’t like to do better or do more of this year.  More exercise, less TV, more books, more intentional time-spending, less unintentional time-wasting.  Perhaps most of all, more discipline to create time for myself simply to be in God’s presence.  (I told you I was a recovering perfectionist; it doesn’t take me long to compile a list of oughts and shoulds a mile long!)

But I’ve found that all those oughts and shoulds don’t get me anywhere good.  So this year I’m trying something else.  I’m simply going to ask God for more.  More of his grace, more of his healing, more of his transformation, more of him.  Because, while I don’t think God’s been holding out on me on these things, I do know that he can only give them to me as much as I’m willing to receive them.  So I’m praying that he’ll give me a heart that’s increasingly willing to receive what he  so passionately desires to give.

If resolutions work for you — and I know they do for some people — that’s fantastic. Share them with me, and I’ll be thrilled to cheer you on along the way.  In return, I’ll ask that you ask me from time to time about how I’m doing with not having resolutions… how I’m doing with just asking God for more of him… how I’m  doing at simply receiving God’s grace, instead of trying so very hard to earn it.

So resolutions or no, I pray that in the year ahead, the Restoration community will continue to be the encouraging, challenging, welcoming, grace-ful group of folks so many of us have already found it to be.  It’s a blessing to get to be among you.

Happy New Year!

Can’t wait to see you Sunday  morning as we continue to explore Psalm 139!

Nicholas Lubelfeld and Larry Martin at Restoration

This Sunday, August 23rd, we have the privilege of welcoming two gifted ministers to lead our worship.

The Rev. Nicholas Lubelfeld, Pastoral Ministry Associate at The Falls Church, will be leading the service and celebrating communion.  Many of you know Nicholas already; if not, you are in for a treat.  Nicholas is known for his warm heart and good humor, and he will bring great energy to our worship together!

The Rev. Larry Martin — one of Restoration’s very own members — will be preaching to us from the Word.  Larry is the Senior Vice President for Education at International Justice Mission, where he also serves as Dean of the IJM Institute.  Larry travels throughout the country and the world helping churches get connected to the amazing work that IJM is doing to fight human trafficking and to care for some of the world’s most vulnerable.  We are privileged to have Larry preach to us and know that his rich ministry experience will open new perspectives on God’s Word.

Come worship God with us on Sunday!

A Giant Falls

The bankruptcy of General Motors: A giant falls | The Economist.

I am struck by how similar the prosperity and ‘golden age’ of American Car Manufacturers and American Mainline Protestant Denominations coincided.  In the 1950s everyone drove their Buick to the local United Methodist Church (my Grandpa Hanke being the posterboy for this).

That time is over.

For both.

The article gives some great history and some reasons for the collapse of GM in particular.

In my world, I am curious about now–  60 years later.  American cars are pretty much dead.  Mainline denominations are pretty much on life support (not being pejorative, just looking at the numbers).  But there are still strong American companies that dominate–  Apple, google, movies based on Stan Lee comic book characters…  What have they done to build a brand, to meet people where they are at, to give them what they want?

What is the corresponding church of 2010?  Restoration is a young church with an old soul.  We speak lots of words during our service.  We compel people into smaller communities during the week.  We love ancient liturgy and nights of Wii.

The Gospel hasn’t changed.  We believe that it is the only means to true life here and everlasting life there.  What’s a church look like now?

Graduation!

One of the things I really love about being part of the Restoration community is the way we get to celebrate life with each other. Just yesterday, we cheered a new baby’s birth (her sleep-deprived dad was even there working the sound board—way to go, Graham!), celebrated two baptisms, and welcomed a whole bunch of folks as the first official members of Restoration. What a day!

Also up this time of year: graduations. We’ve got a lot of folks in the Restoration family who are graduating—from high school, college, and graduate programs. We’d love to celebrate all of you this Sunday, June 7th. At both services, we’ll invite anyone who has graduated (or will) this season to come forward so we can give thanks with you and pray for you.

If you are graduating (or know someone in the Restoration community who is), will you let us know? We’d love to know what school or program you’re graduating from and any future plans you might have, so we can be sure to congratulate you and continue to pray for you through this transition time. Tell us about it in the comments below, or send us your info through the contact page.

And congratulations!

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