God gets a lot more CBM in a recession

Church attendance in recessions: No rush for pews | The Economist.

CBM= ‘Character Building Mileage’

On Sunday I talked about the hard things to which God calls us.  Moses was called to face the most powerful ruler of his day and ask him to release the Hebrews.  Moses had a list of good excuses for why this was a bad idea.

What is God calling you to do that feels really hard?  Are you paying attention to Him?

For all of us who follow Jesus, at some point, God will confront us about our money.  He will call us to something hard financially–  to not buy something, to give more away, to help someone in need, to give sacrificially.  As I talked about God’s call on our finances, I made 2 points:  God will mess with our money…

  1. Especially in such a wealthy area as Arlington (’cause we love it so much)
  2. Especially in such challenging economic circumstances (’cause we are so worried about it)

God gets a lot more Character Building Mileage in a recession.  The Economist article has some interesting poll data about church attendance in recessions–  goes down.  So maybe I’m right.  People don’t want God to mess with their finances, things are hard enough without Him getting involved…

It’s all His.

June 21, 2009

“God Calls” by David Hanke

June 14, 2009

“God Knows” by David Hanke

June 7, 2009

“Christianity’s Best Kept Secret” by Bobby Manning

Summer Sundays at Restoration

The God of all gods and His Rescued People

plaguesOne of the most pleasantly honest features of the Ancient Near East was the attitude of the inhabitants towards ‘gods.’  ‘Gods’ were entirely utilitarian.  You worshiped a ‘god’ because of what that ‘god’ could do for you.  You gave the ‘god’ your food, your sexuality, your allegiance, your children, your time, and your devotion because that ‘god’ got the job done.  ‘Gods’ were supposed to be powerful. Thus there was no place for cultural or nominal religiosity.  Either you feared the god wholesale or you worshiped something else.

The book of Exodus contains the early years of our family history.  Yahweh, the LORD, the One True God (OTG) was forming a nation for Himself.  The book can easily be divided in two:

  • Part 1 (chapters 1-19) tells the story of God’s powerful deliverance.  God shows up and shows off to all the gods of Egypt.  He confronts the other ‘so-called gods’, showing them to be bankrupt and revealing Himself, alone, as true and powerful.  In a milieu of divine attention-grabbing and one-upmanship, Yahweh shows who truly is God.
  • In part 2, (chapters 20-40), God makes a covenant with the people He delivers.  He establishes them as His people, defined by His rules and guidelines.

You might imagine the book as two stories of servitude:  In Egypt, Israel was the servant of Pharaoh; at Mt. Sinai, they became servants of Yahweh.  In the book of Exodus, God rescues a people and forms them into a nation for the purpose of rescuing the world.

At Restoration this summer, we will be journeying through the book of Exodus.  I am captivated by our similar situation–  a people being formed into a community for God’s purposes. God has rescued us, called us to be a church in Arlington, and given us a mission to build His kingdom.

Specifically, we will ask 2 questions each week:  How does God reveal His character in the way He interacts with Israel and their leader, Moses?  How do His law and instruction prepare a young community to be His means of redemption and revelation in a god-congested world?

May 24, 2009

“The True Older Brother” by David Hanke

May 17, 2009

“And Kissed Him” by David Hanke

May 10, 2009

“To Be Called Your Son” by David Hanke

May 3, 2009

“He Came to Himself” by David Hanke

Finding Holes in a Community of Grace

We are spending 7 weeks in Luke 15, specifically the story about a Dad and 2 sons.

The first step of repentance for the younger son was when ‘he came to himself.’  He came to his senses.  He woke up–  like coming out of a trance.  It is very passive.  He did not ‘make himself wake up.’  It was an act of grace.  God gives us 2 gifts to ‘bring us to ourselves’.  One is the Holy Spirit–  our comforter, counselor, and convicter. The second is each other.

On Sunday I told a story about a friend whose son came to him for help in seeing the holes in the yard so he would not fall into them.  The son’s name was Zach.  I invited our community to a posture of ‘Zach-ness’.  Can we come to other people whom we trust and say, help me see the holes in my life and character.  Help me come to my senses.  ‘Hole-spotter’ is not a position we can assume in someone’s life, but it is a position we can invite other people to take.  You can’t assert yourself as ‘official-hole-identificator’, but you can humbly ask others to play that role in your life.  Hole-spotting has to be invited, it can’t be taken.

Here are the examples I gave of holes we could use help identifying:

  • you go to a few friends–  would you listen to the way I talk about my husband?  Am I respectful with my words?  Do I honor him?  Would you point out the holes in my speech?  Do I need to repent of my words?
  • Or you go to some friends–  would you look at the way I spend my time and energy?  Am I giving my best to loving my wife?  Do I know her love language?  Am I giving a proportional amount of energy to loving her that I give to pleasing my clients?  Would you point out the holes you see in my actions of love toward my spouse?  Do I need to repent of my lack of love?
  • Would you pay attention to, talk with me about the ways I spend my money?  Can I show you my tax return from 2008 and talk about my charitable giving?  Can I talk with you about the big purchases I want to make or the hundreds of dollars that I can’t seem to account for each month?  Would you point out the holes you see in my spending and my generosity?  Do I need to repent of my greed or finding my security in wealth?
  • Would you talk with me about the media I consume–  internet, tv, movies, facebook, pornography.  Do I need to repent of my lust or my escapism?
  • Would you notice how much care and time I am spending with my parents?  Do I need to repent of my selfishness?
  • Do you have other categories of where we need ‘hole-spotters’?

In a community of grace, these are safe questions to ask.  We all need courage to be a Zach–  to invite someone in to be used by God to bring us to our senses and wake us up.  The lavish, unprecedented love of the Father is waiting for those who humbly repent.  Let us be a community that courageously lives this kind of grace.

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