Men and Women in the Church

men and women in the church

Over the last two weeks, we have worked hard to understand what is universal and what is tied to a particular time and place from 1 Timothy 2: 8-15.  Paul is writing to Timothy about how men and women should interact in the public worship assembly.  Digging in to this passage has afforded us 2 helpful tools for studying the Bible:

  • The Principle of History affirms that God always spoke his word in particular historical and cultural settings:  the Ancient Near East (Egyptian, Hittite, Canaanite culture) is the background for Old Testament revelation, Palestinian Judaism is the background for the Gospels, and the Graeco-Roman world is the background for the rest of the New Testament.  Every word was spoken in a cultural context.  Our task in the 21st century is to ask which things were tied to that particular time and place and which are normative for all times and all places.
  • The Principle of Harmony affirms that when God spoke these words, He did not contradict Himself.   Thus, the conclusions we draw from reading 1 Timothy 2: 8-15 have to ‘harmonize’ withe what God teaches about the interaction between men and women in the rest of the Bible.

The passage is preached in 2 parts.  Part 1 deals primarily with verses 8-10 and Part 2 gets in to the leadership and teaching roles of women that are discussed in verses 11-15.  Feel free to offer comments or critique below!

My Conclusions

In part 2, I attempt to concisely state my position on the leadership of women in the church.  I include it here as a means to understand how I have chosen to lead Restoration.

I believe the Bible teaches that both men and women are given gifts by the Holy Spirit to equip the saints for the work of ministry and to build up the Body of Christ (Acts 2:17, Ephesians 4:13, Romans 12:3-8).  The Bible teaches that the church is the household of God (Ephesians 2:19, 1 Peter 4:17).  God has called men to have caring responsibility (AUTHORITY) for their household  (Ephesians 5:22-23, Colossians 3:18, 1 Peter 3:1).  Christ is the head of the household of God (the church) and He is the model for how men should have caring responsibility for the family household and for the church.

A church with hierarchical authority (that is, one with pastoral offices that submit to each other– such as presbyter to bishop) is best positioned to both have a male head of household AND to create an environment where women can flourish as leaders, teachers, and in all the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  I believe the Bible teaches that women can be deacons, presbyters/pastors/priests, rectors, and bishops, serving under the authority of a male head of the church.

Restoration facilitates a monthly conversation for men called ManUp and a monthly conversation for women called Women Unscripted.  ManUp meets tonight at 7pm for dinner and then a program start of 7:30 sharp.  Women Unscripted meets next Tuesday (October 21) at 7:30pm.  Both of these conversations are open to anyone.  Bring a friend.  These are issues that affect all of us, that can give us hope, that can stir up pain, that remind us of our need for a Savior who delivers us and offers the possibility of reconciled partnership in the Gospel.

Grateful to be in this with you,


Telling our story

Telling our story


This week, Josh Chambers and I will be giving a seminar at the Anglican Assembly.  I am really looking forward to the conversation we will have as we seek to help churches do a better job telling their story.  Here are some things for which you can pray:

  • For the workshop–  that participants would use their most creative ideas to invite their neighbors and communities to follow Jesus.  Our thesis is that all of us are doing marketing.  But are we marketing what is best about the Gospel and the church or are we passing off a lesser story?
  • For the Assembly–  that participants would be encouraged and that we would affirm what is central to our life together.
  • For Restoration–  we want to be ready for all that God has for us on Quincy Street as we get ready to use our new facility.

Thanks friends.  See you on Sunday at 5pm.  I’ll have lots to share!


Men and Women Formed in the Image of Christ


What do I celebrate?

It’s a question that has been popping up in my journal for a couple weeks now.  I don’t have a refined answer, yet.  But the question has shaped my conversations with God.  When do I jump up and down with glee?  Why do those things bring me such delight?  What do I ask for in prayer?  What do I spend my ‘free time’ day-dreaming about?  What do my celebrations say about what I value?

Those questions have opened great vistas of opportunity for exploring what makes me tick.

One item that came quickly to mind were our 2 series:  ManUp and God and the ‘descriptor’ woman.  These 2 monthly conversations have been a source of great joy for me.  At ManUp we have had over 15 men share a story about how they are experiencing fruit or failure in areas such as humility, courage, decision-making, and sexuality.  On the other side of the gender fence, woman have heard multiple examples of how God has formed them into faithful followers of Jesus.

These monthly conversations have been life-changing for some people in our congregation.  They have realized they are not alone.  They have met up for coffee and lunch with people who can mentor them and pray for them in life’s myriad situations.  They have heard ideas and truth that give them hope and strategies for the stuff that happens.

When I think about that, I celebrate.  Building communities where life-changing transformation can happen is what makes me tick.  And when it happens…  I jump up and down and get real excited.

Thank you God for ManUp.  Thank you for ‘God and the ____ woman’.

One of the topics that came up at both sexuality conversations was masturbation.  Someone in our church wrote an incredibly helpful piece for those who have questions, who are trying to make sense of what’s ok, and who are trying to get past guilt and shame to freedom and life.  I hope it is a grace to you.

ManUp is Tuesday night at 7:30.  Last one of the year.  Probably the most important topic we’ll discuss–  growing the fruit of self-control.  See ya then.



Why do it at all?



We are now 2 weeks in to this 4 part story of how the universe works:  creation, fall, redemption, and restoration.  We have seen that ‘before the beginning’ God was present and fully, relationally satisfied.  He had no needs.  He wasn’t sitting around saying I’m lonely or I’m bored so I guess I’ll create the universe.  He didn’t need us, but He wanted to be with us.

We also saw that God can create something out of nothing.  And he can bring order to chaos.  These are incredible strengths.  They are the kinds of things that get us interested in God.  We look at what feels empty.  We see our chaos.  And we wonder, could anyone do something about this?  This creation story tells us that God can and that He did.  That’s good news.

I got a really thoughtful question by email this week:  Why did God create in the first place when He knew how messed up it would all become?  Why would He put the wheels in motion in the first place?  If God was self-sufficient, complete, & not in need of anything…

It’s a GREAT question.  If God didn’t need anything.  If God is omniscient and knew before He created that it would all become ruined, why would He do it?  It raises these additional questions–  Is God really omniscient?  Maybe He didn’t know that humanity would ruin His good creation.  Is God guilty of malpractice?  If He knew that creation would turn out like this, is God irresponsible for bringing it in to existence.  I would love your thoughts and I would love to hear the other questions that come up for you when you read these questions.

Here’s my take:  The foundational premise is that all of creation was pronounced ‘good’ at Genesis 2.3  Everything was good.  And by Genesis 3:24, when humanity is banned from the garden of Eden, everything has been ruined.  There is a brokenness between people, brokenness between people and God, brokenness with the land, brokenness with our work, brokenness in families.  Everything is ruined.

I don’t believe that God is surprised by the goodness or the fact that it is ruined.  He knew that both would happen.  He ‘put the wheels in motion’ and did it anyway because God wants to be known.  He is relationally complete and satisfied in His companionship and glory between Father, Son, and Spirit.  But He put the universe in place because He wanted the glory and joy that He experiences within Himself to be experienced by humanity.  He created as a gift to the created.

Now here’s the kicker–  God was willing to make something that would become ruined because God knew that when He intervened to fix it, humanity would get to see a part of His character that they would not have seen if everything had not been ruined.  God had to rescue us and we got to see a part of him that wasn’t evident in just His creative power.  Because the goodness of creation was ruined, God got to reveal His grace.  He got to show off His mercy.  Those characteristics are not ‘knowable’ without an event that requires them.  Humanity’s disobedience and destruction of all that was good, provided an opportunity for us to know grace and mercy.  And get this…  and that is good.

Suffering is not outside of God’s good plan.  If we were created to know God first and foremost, the suffering we experience as part of God’s ruined creation is a vehicle for us knowing His grace, mercy, provision, sustaining power, and perseverance.

I still ask–  why did you do it THIS way, God.  Couldn’t there have been an easier way to reveal yourself and to allow us to know you?  I ask it on those days when I see the ways I have ruined His good creation and on those days when I am suffering because of how His good creation was ruined and on those days when I long for my friends, family, and the nations of the world to not have so many painful consequences of God’s good creation being ruined.

Then I am reminded…

Rev. 21:1   Then I saw  a new heaven and a new earth, for  the first heaven and the first earth had passed away…



Fret not yourself…

The Beginning

 Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers!  For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb.  Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.

Psalm 37:1-3

How do I pray for stuff like the Navy Yard shooting?

I was off-line Sunday night and in to Monday morning, tucked in deep in western Virginia with no cell coverage.  So, as I started driving in I-66 on Monday afternoon, and the texts and AP news alerts started rolling in, I was shocked, scared, and wondering what was going on.  Restoration has good friends that work in the Navy Yard and all of us know people who were not far removed from someone who was there.

It brings up a frequent question–  how do we pray in the midst of tragedy?  For what should we cry out to God?   Often in these situations, I don’t know what to pray.  So God gives Scripture that gives me words.  (as an aside– God also gives the gift of tongues and those words are often the most easy to help us pray)

Here are 4 verses that I let season and guide my prayers.  I pray for:

  • Justice:  For the LORD  loves justice; he will not forsake his  saints.  They are preserved forever, but the children of the wicked shall be  cut off.  [Psalm 37:28]
  • Peace:  “Peace I leave with you;  my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your hearts be troubled, neither  let them be afraid.”  -Jesus  [John 14:27]
  • Humility:   Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because  he cares for you. [1Peter 5:6-7]
  • Perspective on the age in which we live:   “And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now  the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers  has been thrown down,  who accuses them day and night before our God.   And  they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for  they loved not their lives  even unto death.   Therefore,  rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But  woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because  he knows that his time is short!”   [Revelation 12:10-12]

Justice is what I want God to do.  Peace is what I want him to give.  Humility is what I need to come in prayer and to wait on His response.  Perspective is what I cling to for understanding why this world seems so broken and messed up.

On Sunday, September 22 at our regular 4pm prayer meeting, we will devote all of our time to praying for Monday’s tragedy at the Navy Yard.  Everyone at Restoration is welcome and please invite friends who don’t normally go to church, but would be comforted by being with praying people.  We will pray for you if you were there.  We will pray for families and friends that were affected.  And we will pray for our world–  that God’s justice, peace, humility, and perspective would come and reign.  I hope you can pray with us on Sunday at 4.

As always, if there is a way that one of our clergy or elders can serve you or pray with you, please don’t hesitate to reach out and ask.  These events shake us.  No one should go through them alone.  Because of the Gospel and the Church, none of us has to.


Breaking Creation

Breaking Creation

 God the Father has reconciled His created but fallen world through the death of His Son, and renews it into a Kingdom of God by His Spirit.

Herman Bavinck

Creation.  Fall.  Redemption.  Restoration.

We each have our own story.  Our story is what makes us, ‘us’.  But ‘us’ is not the end of the story.  We are all caught up in a story that is much bigger than just us.  There is a God who made us.  There is a good creation that was ruined.  There is redemption.  There will be a renewing of all things.  Restoration.

As a church we are in a true season of transition.  Our old building no longer exists.  The materials for our new building still sit in lumber and brick yards.  Many of you are new to Arlington and new to the church.  Many folks are still trying to figure out how to make a 5pm service feasible.  We are waiting.

But it won’t be long.

So this fall, we are creating extra opportunities to help people find their place at Restoration–  to find where they can serve and learn and make friends.  Ultimately we want people to find their place in God’s story of creation, fall, redemption, and restoration.  We want people to see their story in God’s story and in our context, that could mean finding their place in Restoration’s story.

I hope you have signed up for a small group.  They all start this Sunday.  And I hope you are coming to our fall retreat in October.  And I hope you are praying with us on Sundays at 4pm before the service as we listen to God together for the plans He has in store for us.

And I hope you immerse yourself in our sermon series this fall.  We will talk about what God made and how it was ruined:  creation and fall.  These chapters of our story help us understand why ‘things are the way they are’ today.  As we wait and sit in transition, I want us to know this story that makes all of our other stories make sense.  You won’t want to miss a single week.

Here’s some headlines from what you can expect as we walk through Genesis 1-4 between now and the end of November.

  •  Before the Beginning–  Everything starts somewhere.
  • The Poetry of Creation
  • ‘…after our likeness’–  what it means to be created in the image of God
  • ‘Take this job and…’  Vocation and the purpose of our work in the garden of God
  • Naked and NOT ashamed–  marriage in the garden of God
  • I wish I was God–  temptation, doubt, questions, discontentment
  • Naked and Ashamed–  losing our innocence, knowing too much
  • Everything is broken–  true.
  • What blood would say from the ground–  brokenness in families and the exquisite capacity we have to hurt each other
  • Far as the curse is found–  multiplying our bad choices to the ends of the earth.  And hoping that something might make it right.

We will talk about the incredible dignity of being created until the fall retreat.  In November we’ll talk about how that good, good creation got ruined.

We all have a story.  Come hear the one that makes you, you.


What do you love more than Jesus?

Simply put, if you’re not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people, and kiss it good-bye, you can’t be my disciple.

Luke 14:33 (The Message)

If you love your family more than Jesus, you can’t be His disciple.

If you love your life more than Jesus, you can’t be His disciple.

If you love your stuff more than Jesus, you can’t be His disciple.

On Sunday, we talked about Jesus’ dinner hosts, the Pharisees, and the things they loved best.  They loved getting to decide who could do what on the Sabbath.  They loved having an entire day where they could catch people doing what they ‘aren’t supposed to do.’  They sincerely believed that they helping God out by catching all the people who were doing things wrong.  I get tired of the score keepers.

They loved the best seats at dinner.  They loved knowing that other people knew that they were important.  They loved for other people to think about them what they thought about themselves.  And for it to be as public as possible.  It’s exhausting to be concerned about social status, to always be checking on how people feel about you.

They loved having the right guests in the room.  They wanted the kind of people who would feel obligated by their presence to invite them to something extravagant and special.  They loved doing the right things for the right people that would result in benefits that other people couldn’t enjoy.  It made them feel special because they could get something that other people want.

They loved the rules and the good seats and the right guests more than they loved God.  And it made them intolerable.  People weren’t attracted to them–  ha!  People wanted to run the other way.  Jesus said they were salt that lost their saltiness.  Salt has to TOUCH the things it affects–  has to rub into meat to preserve it, has to sprinkle on broccoli to season it, has to be in the dirt to fertilize it.  Nobody wanted to be near the Pharisees so they had no opportunity touch and consequently preserve, fertilize, or season.  They were dead salt.

This is what happens when you love something more than Jesus.

And the life we get on this planet is our opportunity to love more and more things LESS than we love Jesus.  We are all in this process.  The question is will we keep bringing things to Jesus that we love more than Him and say–  help me love this less than I love you.  I would rather be your disciple than in love with ‘THIS’.

What’s this?


Friday Meanderings

The tension of Freedom and the Common Good

This is one of those days when all the tensions of personal freedom come front and center.  I love our country and that we have endeavored to provide a place that provides liberty and self-direction.  But I am reminded that there are limits.  As much as we value liberty, we are not truly free to do whatever we want.  Nor would we want to live in a place like that.  We all give up some of our liberty for the sake of the common good.

We give up some privacy for the sake of security.  We give up some personal money for the sake of collective services that benefit all.  And we give up our ability to choose whatever we want to do, when our actions have consequences for those around us.

The place where we wrestle, fight, and scream at each other is where the lines on those continuums fall.   None of us wants total, self-determined freedom.  We all want to live in a society whose members value each other and take responsibility not only for their own interests but for the interests of all its members.  We know there is an inherent good in collective responsibility, so we are willing to sacrifice some liberty and some personal choice for the sake of others.  May God give us ever more humility, compassion, and wisdom as we live together around issues like marriage, taxes, abortion, and immigrants.  God help us.

My Grandma Dupler died this morning.

She lived a really good life and was so excited to be with Jesus. I will miss playing Uno and going for walks.  She was a bit of a food nut and I loved her ‘really healthy’ bread.  Laurel and I often baked her recipe when we first got married.  She was faithful to be at graduations and my wedding.  I know that she prayed for me every day…  and that it made a difference.

I finally saw Les Miserables last night.

I was a wreck.  Just bawled.  When Laurel and I came out of the theater, someone from our church was in the lobby and I couldn’t even put words to describe what happened to me.  Still can’t.

I am somewhere between the poignant horror of how we can dispose of humanity as seen in Fantine, the gut-wrenching loss of friends for Marius, the Gospel picture of rescue and deliverance as Valjean carried Marius through the sewers of Paris [You want to know what incarnation is??  That’s it.], the inability to receive grace as seen in Javert, and the climactic end where Fantine and the Bishop welcome him into heaven.  So many themes of redemption and so, so sad.

I can’t believe people will watch this movie but not go to church….

Life Around Restoration–

On Sunday we will close all of our small groups, so if you still haven’t signed up…  seriously?

And then on February 3, we’ll close registration for the women’s retreat—  we’ve got scholarship money, people you want to hang out with, and a chance to get out of town for the weekend.  If you are still trying to decide…  let me push you off the fence.  You’ll love it.

Mark your calendar for February 12.  Pancakes and Parish Meeting.  We want to show you the new building design.  We want to tell you about the transition to our temporary space on April 7.  And we want to update you on vision and finances.  We’ll start eating at 6:30 and start talking at 7:30.  If this is your church home, this is your family meeting.


a ladder going down

I really appreciated Ray Blunt’s message to us on Sunday about vocation.  He called us to consider the ladder we are climbing and the wall upon which it is leaning.  Personally, I know that so much of angst and journal writing and late night worry comes from my fear about making it up the ladders I have built for myself.  Climbing the ladders of greatness or significance are both familiar and unsatisfying.  I appreciated the way that someone [Ray] who has had 70 good years [praying for about 30 more, my friend] and been to the top was able to say with integrity:  ‘There is so much more.  And you won’t find it up here.  Don’t put the wrong ladder against the wrong wall.’

Instead, Ray offered to us the example of Jesus:

…who, though he was in  the form of God, did not count equality with God  a thing to be grasped, but  made himself nothing, taking the form of a  servant,   being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by  becoming obedient to the point of death,  even death on a cross.

What would it be like to join Jesus on a ladder that went down?  Instead of always trying to claw our way to the top, what would it be like to intentionally move down?

I was captivated by that question.  It rolled around in my head for a good part of my run yesterday.

First, I realize that there are very few examples of this.  I was trying to think–  who has done this?  And there were not many faces that popped in my head.  Do you know any real people, fictional people, living people or dead people who have made choices to walk down the ladder?

Second, I realized I was not quite sure what ‘going down the ladder’ meant.  🙂  I can articulate what going up is like:  more responsibility at work, a larger home, a better car, more exotic experiences, better schools for our kids, meeting the right person and getting married, getting an advanced degree, etc, etc…  So do you know people who have said no to what seems like ‘everybody else is doing’ as they climb this ladder?

Third, I realized that just because Jesus did it, doesn’t mean I am motivated to do it.  Let’s be honest.  Most people don’t go down the ladder because life seems better at the top.  So what would motivate us to get on a ‘down ladder’?  I think Jesus came down because he wanted relationship with us.  And I think the goodness that is waiting for us at the bottom of the down ladder is relationship as well.  It is hard to invest in people when you are climbing those ladders.  So maybe what God would have for you as come on down is friendship, time with family, even deeper intimacy with God Himself.

People, choices, and motivations.  I’m curious if you have thoughts on any of those as we consider following Christ who did not find equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made Himself nothing.


Want to read more about vocation and God’s calling?  Bill Haley had a nice piece in the Washington Post yesterday.  Byron Borger is one of the best ‘book recommenders’ I have ever met.  I love his blog.  [Thanks Steve Garber for these suggestions…]

Ashes to Beauty

Invite to Facility dreaming at Restoration

I loved singing At the foot of the cross on Sunday.  These words in particular:

Now I can trade These Ashes In For Beauty
and Wear Forgiveness Like A Crown
coming To Kiss The Feet Of Mercy
I Lay Every Burden Down
at The Foot Of The Cross

This song is from Isaiah 61:3

to provide for those who grieve in Zion—  to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes…

As I go through my week, I hear so many stories of longing–  will God heal me?  Can God set me free from this addiction?  Can God restore this relationship?  Can God provide for this ache in my heart?

We walk around knee deep in ashes.  Yes, the image is of mourning.  But knee deep in reminders of our brokenness, of stuff that didn’t work out, of pain caused by us, and pain done to us.

If you pick up ash, it sifts through your fingers.  It’s really hard to hold–  much less ‘to exchange’.  It has little remunerative value.

So I am deeply moved by grace, by a picture of holding as much ash as I can, maybe in my scooped up shirt or a rag or a wheelbarrow and walking up to Jesus…  I know it’s just ash…

And he takes it.  And he hands me beauty.  Stunning.  Priceless.  Unique.  One of a kind.  Beauty that I could never afford, but can hold my gaze for a lifetime and beyond.

I lay every burden down.


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