Rule of Life

On Tuesday, July 31 from 6:30-8:30pm in the sanctuary at Restoration, I’ll be leading a mini-workshop on how to create a personal rule of life.

A Rule of Life is a tool rooted in the monastic tradition and it used take inventory of all aspects of our life, to create intentional goals, and to measure our progress toward our God-given callings, goals, and responsibilities.

The idea started by a monk named Benedict to help create order and stability for the monks in his monastery. He wasn’t the first to try such a thing, but he was the first to create a rule of life that was actually livable. So despite it being strict, it was helpful because it led to flourishing and growth for those in his monasteries. And there are still Benedictine monks to this day living by his rule for life.

If you feel like your life is overwhelmingly busy. Or if you are in a season of questioning and discerning your calling, especially as it relates to work. Or if you feel like you are doing things you don’t want to do and never getting to the things you actually want to do. Or if you feel like you have been in a spiritual rut and not growing, it can be helpful to press pause, take stock of where you are going and what you are doing in order to see if it is taking you where God wants you to go. Creating a personal rule of life is a helpful tool to do that.

It is just a tool, and it certainly isn’t the only thing you can do. You can go for a walk, call a friend, pray, lift weights, take a deep breath, journal. But some of these things might be habits you want to regularly incorporate into your daily schedule and rhythms. A rule of life will help you find a place for them in your already packed schedule… 🙂

That’s the gist.

We’ll spend a bit of time talking about what a rule of life is and how to put one together for yourself.

I should note I learned about all of this from a good friend and mentor named Steve Macchia who wrote the book on creating a personal rule of life. I’ll be using it to structure our time together. Feel free to buy a copy for yourself if you want to go deeper. It is very well done!

I hope you will consider coming next Tuesday, July 31st. Bring a journal or notepad.

If you have questions or want to let me know you are coming, email me. Thanks!

– Scott

Small Group #12 – Discussing the Spiritual Classics

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Deciding which Small Group to join? Perhaps this group is the one for youSmall Group #12

We will be reading Spiritual Classics, which looks at spiritual disciplines, such as meditation, prayer, study, solitude, service, confession, worship, etc. The book has excerpts from various classic Christian writers, including Simone Weil, Thomas More, Augustine, AW Tozer, George MacDonald. If you want to join us, please try to buy the book for the first meeting. We hope to see you there!

– Barb Bradley Hagerty, Elizabeth & Wray Fitch

Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Small Group

Hey Restoration,

I’m excited about a small that Cathy Guiles and I will be leading this trimester.  Cathy has provided a description below, and I hope you’ll consider joining.  We’d love to have you!  – Clay

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“It’s impossible to be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature.” – from “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality” by Peter Scazzero

Do you agree or disagree with that statement? Are you wondering what it means to be spiritually and emotionally mature? Are you dealing with depression, anxiety, grief, loss, anger, conflict or disappointment? Are you interested in how Christian spiritual disciplines can relate to and shape your emotional health, and vice versa?

If any of these apply to you — or even if they don’t — I encourage you to sign up for the “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality” small group this trimester. I was first introduced to Peter Scazzero’s book by a pastor at my former church when I was going through a difficult time, and it helped me a lot. Each week, we’ll be discussing chapters from the book as well as a Bible passage to address subjects such as how our families of origin affect us today and how to correct Christian misunderstandings about our emotional lives. We’ll be using the main book along with the accompanying workbook and prayer book, which together cost about $30 (the church has funds to cover these costs if that’s helpful, so don’t hesitate to ask!). 

My hope is that, unlike Cloud Cuckoo Land in “The Lego Movie,” where there’s “no negativity of any kind” and Princess Unikitty has to always put on a happy face, this group will be a safe place where you can open up about the negative stuff in your life, work through it, get tools to help you in the future and grow closer to God and other believers in the process.

So, come join us Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. in North Arlington. We look forward to seeing you!

– Cathy Guiles

15 minutes

For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.

Psalm 95:3

Sock Puppy

Sock Puppy

On the way home from church, I told Helen that I had introduced the congregation to Sock Puppy.  “Why?”  She asked.  I explained that the ‘fluff’ represented God’s Words.  She interrupted and said, “Oh!  Was the sock our heart?”

I smiled and said a prayer of thanks for Louise Brooks and our incredible Kids’ Small Group Leaders.

“Yep.  The sock is our heart.”

Isaiah 50 tells us about a servant who has a regular experience of stuffing God’s word into his heart.

The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of those who are taught,   that  I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary.   Morning by morning he awakens; he awakens my ear to hear as those who are taught.

It’s amazing how much stuffing you can get in a sock.  And it’s amazing how much of God’s word you can stuff in your heart.  Here are some ways at Restoration that we can push the words of God deeper and deeper into our soul.

Sundays

During our service, we intentionally read Scripture, sing Scripture, pray Scripture, and use Scripture to invite us to the Lord’s table.  We all know that lectures are not the most effective way to digest information.  But hearing the Word of God is a great place to start.  And you hear a lot of it in our worship service.

 Small Groups

In our church, if you make a membership commitment, you commit to being an active participant in a Restoration small group.  That is a huge ‘next step’ from just showing up on Sunday.  It’s a choice to carve out another 2 hours during the week.  It’s a choice to be vulnerable–  to let people know you, pray for you, and apply the Scriptures with you.  It is another step of contextualization that allows you to talk about your specific situation and what this passage means to you.  It gets the words in you.

15 Minutes

There is one more level of immersion…  Morning by morning, every day, the servant is receiving words from the Lord God.  The servants has words to give because he has received words from God.

Do you spend 15 minutes every day reading the Bible and listening to what the Lord God wants to say to you?   Morning by morning, every day, is how you get enough Scripture to handle the increasing difficulty and complexity of the tests in life.

 A few simple ideas:

  1.  You need a chair.  For these 15 minutes, it really needs to be a place where the voice of the Lord is the only one you can hear.  So reading Bible on the metro, praying to God while you drive—  these are very good and I encourage you to not stop—  but this 15 minutes is different.  In this chair, you’ve pushed away distractions.  You have literally left your phone in another room.  You’ve said no to other things like sleep.  You have built expectancy and anticipation that when you sit in that chair, the Lord will open your ear to hear.  So, where’s your chair?
  2. You may need a plan.  The bible can be an overwhelmingly big book.  Here are 12 Bible reading plans that can guide you through the Bible in a year.  My favorite is the M’Cheyne Bible Reading Plan.  It’s a bigger chunk each day, but it takes you through the New Testament and psalms twice, plus the Old Testament every year.
  3. It must be a priority.  Like everything that matters, ‘morning by morning awakening your ear to hear’ will leak.  Something will always seem more important.
  4. One thing you don’t need (and this may surprise you).  You don’t need to have a lot to say.  YOUR words are not the most important words in these 15 minutes.  You will talk for the rest of your day.  And God will listen to everything you say directly to him and everything you say directly to someone else.  But in these precious moments, His words are paramount.  Reading His words in the Scripture.  And then being still, listening for anything the Holy Spirit would say directly to you.

A place, a plan, priority, and silence.  15 minutes.  Every day.  Letting the words of the Lord God fill you and push into every space of your soul.  So that in this life, you may be faithful to Him, and in the age to come, have life everlasting.

-David

 

‘Forming’ Small group

Is anyone else overwhelmed by all of the awesome options for small groups this trimester?  I feel like a kid in a candy store or better yet, an adult in the Apple store! 
I’m so excited to invite you to a wonderful new small group that’s focused on learning to hear God’s voice.  We’ll be using curriculum called Forming by David Takle, which is part of the Thriving Recovery Life Model suite of materials.  bklet_front_page2-page72
 
This course has changed my life.  I used to be spend my quiet times praying monologues, waiting for God to speak to me but often just hearing silence. The harder I would try to change my life or listen to God, the more discouraged I’d become.  I became tired of performance-driven, “row harder” approaches to spiritual growth.  
 
Because of this and other Life Model course, I’ve learned to dialogue with God and listen to his voice.  I’ve heard the Lord tell me things that range from profound to deeply healing to really funny.  Instead of rowing, I feel like I’m sailing: catching the wind of the Holy Spirit, joining with what He’s already doing to create change in my heart and life.

If this sounds like something you’ve been longing for, check out this brief video about Forming and sign up for Small group #26 on Thursdays at 7pm.

Please note: Books and materials are $40 per person. If this is prohibitive, please ask for a scholarship!

–Amy Kress with Elizabeth Boesen and Brian Barnett

After you believe

I hope many of you are enjoying reading N.T. Wright’s book, After You Believe. This is the second year we’ve invited the whole congregation to join together in reading the same book during Lent. It’s been a rich experience.

Restoration member Ardeth Hines has been eagerly working her way through the book. Here she offers her reflections on what she’s been reading and learning:

Bishop  N.T. Wright promises to explain what a kingdom-focused life might look like.  He explains the shift in understanding of our world with the Jesus’s entry into and encourages us to grow into citizens of His kingdom.

Wright opens with a clarification of how our world is in conflict with God’s plan–  explaining  three major philosophies that undergird contemporary thinking without our even being very conscious of it– and captured my attention.  So I have been considering where my actions reflect romanticism, which teaches that my unfettered intuition is my authentic self, to be nurtured and allowed free reign.  Or it might be existentialism, which urges me to make instant decisions in difficult situations without reference to anything other than my first impulse.  The third Wright refers to is emotivism which insists ‘that all moral discourse be reduced. . .to statements of likes and dislikes’, which of course is totally relativist and renders all choices equal.  These three world views all combine, bubbling together, and can all too easily enable me to live an ethically slipshod life, without plan or structure.   Challenging, surely.

I am reading eagerly ahead, to find out how to live a Christian life in the midst of all these choices without slipping into legalism.

What does Wright have you thinking about? Share your insights and questions in the comments!

– Erin

PS: Wonder what Wright sounds like? Want to get a sense for the way he reasons and talks? Check him out on YouTube talking about the book!

A down payment, or…

To be honest, we’d been talking about the capital campaign for some time before it really dawned on me: ‘Oh, right… This includes me, too.’ (Sometimes I’m not the quickest one in the room.) And then I started to get a little bit nervous.

It wasn’t the idea of giving money that made me hesitant. For years, I’ve been giving regularly: ten percent off my paycheck to the church, plus a little more to support missionaries and organizations dear to my heart. I had no trouble giving away that money… But wasn’t the rest of it mine?

And so I started to pray. I literally sat down in front of my laptop with my bank accounts open on the screen, and said, “God, tell me what you want me to do with this.”

A funny thing happened: over the next days and weeks, a number kept coming to mind when I thought about the capital campaign. It was a number I was excited about giving; it was also a number I had no idea how I would give. I am well compensated for my work at Restoration, but no one goes into ministry to get rich. Taking the amount I was thinking of out of my month-to-month income over the next three years felt really hard.

So I went back to God and back to my bank accounts. And another funny thing happened. I started thinking about this separate pot of money I have in its own designated account. It’s money I was generously given by some family members, with the intention that it would be used for “something significant.” Something like part of a down payment on a house.

I’d considered that money off-limits as I’d thought about the capital campaign. Because I knew what that money was for: that money was going to help me buy a house. Someday. In a place with much lower housing costs than Arlington. But still — a house.

But I felt God nudging me; maybe this money was part of how he wanted me to reach that number I had been thinking of giving. As I thought about it, I felt both resistant and eager. Or, perhaps more honestly, I felt scared and thrilled.

The scared part was easy to explain. It’s hard to imagine replenishing that account anytime soon. And as a single person, mine’s the only income from which an eventual downpayment would come. To give that money up felt like giving up my only shot at owning a home, at least anytime soon.

And that’s when it hit me. I had been using that money as a sort of shield: a shield against the fear that I might never have a husband with whom to buy a house together; a shield against the self-doubt that said I had to own a home in order to be a “real” grown-up. As long as I had that money sitting there, I didn’t have to face any of that fear or doubt. But I became pretty convinced that God wanted to use this capital campaign to get me to do just that.

To my surprise, that’s when the excitement kicked in. Not just excitement over the new building and how my contribution could be a (small) part of making it a reality. But excitement over the freedom I felt like God was offering me: freedom from fear, from self-doubt, from the exhausting and unending effort to try to take care of myself. “Let me take care of you,” I felt like God said to me, and my heart leapt up: “Yes, please do!” I don’t know how God will take care of me in this way. But I have new, God-given confidence that he will.

So my contribution to the campaign, my way of responding to God’s graciousness to me and to Restoration, entails giving much of that down-payment money to the church. (A sort of down-payment on God’s house, maybe?) I also wanted the discipline of making regular, ongoing contributions; to practice the habit of saying no to some good things in order to say yes to this very, very good thing. And wouldn’t you know that amount of the one-time contribution and the amount of monthly contributions I wanted to make added up to that number I’d been excited about in the first place?

On Sunday, we’ll all turn in our commitment cards, reflecting our prayerful response to God’s grace. It’s been such a privilege to see the way God has worked in me and in many of you as we’ve walked through this part of Restoration’s life together. Witnessing people’s lives be transformed as they give sacrificially for the building of God’s kingdom… This is the good stuff. I’m so grateful to share it with you.

– Erin

Photo by David Sawyer. Used under Creative Commons license.

prayer walking Tuesday 28th

Did you know that Marymount University is a 4 minute drive from our church? One of the wonderful ways you can get involved in our community would be joining us in prayer walking around this beautiful campus on THIS Tuesday night at 5:30pm. Come alone, with a friend or with your whole family. All are welcome. We would be delighted to bring in this new school year with prayer for the 2500 students that attend this neighborhood campus. Would you consider joining us? Whether you can only spare a few minutes or can take the time to really pray around the block a few times, we would love to have you

Meet at the ‘B’

Directions: From the church, head North on Quincy St and take a left on Rte. 29. In half a mile take a slight right on to Old Dominion Dr. Take a right at 26th St N. We will be meeting at the Public mulch pile (where Yorktown Blvd deadends to 26th St) on Tuesday 28th at 5:30pm to prayer walk around the campus.

Andrew Powars

Find Your Sacred Space

RSVP to the Invitation to a Holy Lent

We’re two weeks into the Lenten season, a third of the way through to the “Allelulia” shouts of Easter morning. On Ash Wednesday our priests invited us to a Holy Lent. Did you RSVP?

Are you finding a rhythm in your sacrifice? Have you forgotten or slipped up in your fast? If so, know you are in good company. I’ve had a few “oops—I gave that up” moments. No matter how you started, remember that this season is precisely about coming to grips with our shortcomings and pointing us to the perfect provision of Christ.

So often we do the same things the same way and find ourselves in the same ruts with the same disappointments. That’s an irritating amount of sameness. Observing and engaging the liturgical seasons have given me a way to push back on the monotonous march of sameness.

Although the Lord certainly calls for us to do our good works in secret, (prayer closets, ambidextrous giving, and fresh-faced fasting references come to mind), it can be helpful to know we are working out our salvation in community—with others on the same journey with the same goal.

So two weeks into Lent, it’s a good time to remember–Restoration is observing this season together.

This could be a season where God could be giving you a chance to be vulnerable in your faith walk in new ways. You could be surprised at His provision from unexpected people. He may awaken you to needs in unexpected places. Whatever he is teaching you, share it!

As roommates, we (Megan and Erica) have fasted according to the traditional Byzantine Great Fast . That spiritual exercise took a lot of intentional effort—and boy did we look forward to the Easter Vigil!

Now that we don’t live together, we’ve made our fast choices independently this year. It was so much easier…together–we shared groceries and made food choices together. This year, I’ve been keenly aware of the gift of sharing my Lenten fast with a fellow sojourner.

As a community, may we find sacred space together. A few suggestions for sharing the benefits of a Holy Lent:

  • Chat with someone in your small group about your favorite bits from the Henri Nouwen devotional that week
  •  Pray with your roommates or spouse, giving thanks for how God is meeting you in newfound sacred spaces
  • Reference the  Barnabas Aid Lenten Prayer Guideto talk to your children about the plight of the Persecuted Church and pray together for their relief (pick one up in the back of the sanctuary).
  • Ask a friend to keep you accountable to a financial gift that the Lord may be challenging you to give

There are so many other ways to experience sacred space together.  When you find it, what does this sacred space look like? How are you sharing that space with the Restoration family? With the curious?

We are called to be secretly steadfast in our spiritual disciplines; YET, the effects and lessons are meant to be shared!

“So, you’re planning for a Holy Lent, too? …Wanna carpool?”

– Erica Chapman

Soak in it and Live it Up

I am reminded again how potent the book of Proverbs is.  I am using the format of the One Year Bible to read through the Scriptures.  Every day I (try to) read a couple chapters of Old Testament, a chapter of New Testament, about ten verses of a Psalm, and sometimes only two verses of Proverbs.

Only two verses of Proverbs?!?

What’s the point of that?  As an academic, I am trained to look at context to understand the overall ideas that are being presented; but I have been realizing/remembering that once context is established, going back to soak in just a little portion of the Scriptures can be so mind altering.  (Not a new concept – I recognize this.)

Two quick thoughts that have caused reflection are below:

Proverbs 9:6

“Leave your simple ways, and live, and walk in the way of insight.” – This quote from Wisdom has caused me to reexamine my view of “living.”   It seems to contradict what we often mean when we say, “Live it up!”  And the idea of living in the wisdom of God as being a rich, life-giving state of being has been a recurring theme in my life since I read this.

Proverbs 6:27,29

“Can a man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned?…So is he who goes into his neighbor’s wife; none who touches her will go unpunished.”  This one seems pretty obvious, and I love the blunt parallel.  Yet what makes up much of the unnecessary drama in this world?  Adultery or Inappropriately defined/directed love.  Many (if not most) of us have scars and charred clothing from carrying fire next to our chests.  Lord, have mercy.

What short passage has smacked you upside the head causing you to soak and live these past couple weeks?

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