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.

April 26, 2009

“Give Me What’s Coming to Me” by David Hanke

April 12, 2009

“Jesus Rose From the Dead…yawn” by David Hanke

following your hunger to dangerous places

We have begun our series on Luke 15, about our Prodigal God.  In response to the grumbling and muttering of the religious leaders, Jesus tells a story about a sheep that gets lost.  The reason sheep get lost is because they are hungry.  They wander off looking for food and can’t find their way home.  Their drive to satisfy their hunger leads them away from their shepherd, away from the flock, and often into pretty dangerous places.

I told a story about how sheep can get stuck on precipitous ledges eating grass and then fall to their death. (I also called my sister’s tibia a ‘tibula’.  This gaff apparently shut down the more medically-savvy congregants.  Apologies)  There is actual video footage of this phenomenon on youtube.  Check it out:

So, we had this video all cued up to play in the middle of the sermon yesterday.  I would have cropped it to just the 30 seconds before and after fall.  At the last minute, I decided to pass and we didn’t play it.  Primarily because it would have been a break to the flow of the sermon and in the interest of time, I could ‘tell’ the video much more efficiently.  I didn’t think I would gain more by showing the video than the risk of ‘media transition’ and ‘media malfunction’ merited.

What do you think?  Would you have like to have seen this video during the sermon?  Do you think I should incorporate more vid clips into sermons?  (no guarantee that I will, but we CAN, and I’m curious if you would like it).  Throw a comment up here and let me know.

Curious about why Jesus tells a story about hungry sheep in response to grumbling religious leaders?  Wondering how your hunger and appetites lead you to dangerous places?

You can hear the rest of the sermon here.  You can jump into the conversation in a Restoration small group here. You can finish out the series with us each Sunday until the end of May…

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