New Year, New Series, Old Questions

alley

 

Happy New Year!

This morning I was thinking and praying about my hopes and goals for 2015.  I love a few minutes of stillness and quiet before everyone else is awake (i.e. chaos happens).  The sunrise was beautiful.

It did not take long for me to realize that my hopes for this coming year were almost the same as my hopes for 2014:  disciplined sabbath keeping, deliberate time with my family, regular practice of my musical instrument, time management that allows my gifts to flourish and not get whittled away by ‘urgent’ needs.  Sure, I made some intentional progress on these in 2014, but they are still important avenues to a full life that need my diligent attention.  New year, same issues.

I wonder if some of you who have been doing this for longer than I would agree that my experience is normal for people who are growing in years, wisdom, and maturity.  The issues and opportunities and places of focus don’t really change, but our regular attention gives more and more views of how we can develop and change–  kind of like turning something in your hand and looking at it from another angle.  We grow up.

Bring your questions

I am really excited about our new sermon series at Restoration.  In the Gospel of John, there are about a dozen significant interactions between Jesus and people who had sincere questions.  The way Jesus answers them reveal a lot about his personality and his core teachings.  As one writer put it, “we see Jesus addressing the big, universal, ‘meaning of life’ questions:  What is the world for?  What’s wrong with it?  What (if anything) can make it right, and how?  How can we be a part of making it right?  And where should we look for answers to these questions in the first place?  These are the big questions that everyone must ask–  and that honest skeptics are particularly keen to explore.”

We’ll start off with Nathanael’s biting cynicism:  “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”  Maybe that’s a question you have asked.  Can anything good come out of the church?  Can anything good come out of this year?  Can anything good come out of me?  We all wonder what will finally make things ‘click’.  At Restoration, we believe that Jesus has answers to our most heartfelt questions.

So wherever you are as you stare ahead into 2015, may God give you grace to keep working hard, grace to know Him more, and grace to ask the courageous questions of life.  We’ll see you at 9, 11, and 5 on Sunday.

-David

Do you love money?

snares

 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils.  It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

1 Timothy 6:10

It was Tim Keller who said, “It is really hard for us to see our greed.  No one thinks they are greedy.  In fact, as a pastor, I find that it is easier for people to talk about their sexual sin then about their greed.  I cannot recall anyone ever coming to me and saying, ‘I spend too much money on myself.  I think my greedy lust for money is harming my family, my soul, and people around me.’  Jesus warns people far more often about greed than about sex, yet almost no one thinks they are guilty of it.  Therefore we should all begin with a working hypothesis that ‘this could easily be a problem for me.’”  Counterfeit Gods

One of the ways we can discern if ‘the love of money’ is a problem for me is by asking lots of questions that come at our emotions and behaviors around money.  You will have a chance to process your answers with your small group this week.  And you can listen to my thoughts on contentment and greed right here.

These are a tool to honestly dig out what is going on in your heart.  Hope they help you avoid the snares and live in freedom.

  • How do you treat people when they ask you for money?  Are you proud that you have something they need?  Are you annoyed that they can’t figure out how to get it on their own?
  • Are you doing a job that you don’t love but you can’t leave because of the income?  Are you loving money more than vocational flourishing?
  • Do you want to be noticed and recognized when you give generously?
  • Do you expect lots of accountability when you give a financial gift–  This better not be wasted or used for something different?
  • Do you only give to a point that it doesn’t affect your day to day life?  Have you ever had to say no to something you want because of the money you gave to someone else?
  • Do you get mad about money?  Do you fight with your spouse about what the other is spending or who makes decisions or who has control?
  • Do you want people to notice what you wear, what you drive, or what you talk on?  Do you like it when people ask you—  ‘where did you get that?’
  • Have you ‘spent all your money’?  Are you carrying consumer debt of any kind?  Do you live beyond your means?  In a weird irony—  sometimes the ability to save money is an indication that you don’t love money.
  •  In a weird irony, sometimes your choice to save is a clear indication that you love money.  Are you ‘spending all your money’ by saving it so that you feel secure?  How much do you need to feel secure?  What’s your number?
  • Do you worry about money?  Are you distracted because you are not sure how much you have?  Do you wonder how you are going to pay that bill?
  • Have you ever just given a lot away?

Tim Keller says that money is a surface idol that can lead us to our deep idols–  the ones that drive us and we aren’t even aware.  Our love of power, approval, comfort, and control.  These are the deep idols that shape how we love, trust, and serve a surface idol like money.  Those deep idols are the ones that can destroy us.  Those deep idols are where we need to be rescued by the grace of Jesus Christ.

God loves you.

-David

We can trust it.

good boundaries

On Sunday we talked about the goodness of the law.  The Apostle Paul instructs Timothy to tether himself to what is rooted, true, and not going anywhere.  That when faced with the temptation for endless speculation and vain discussions, choose to anchor yourself to what is true and good and leads to life.

We all know what it’s like to be asked a tough question–  where the answer may not be well received.  And our temptation is to speculate–  to make something up; or to shave a little off what is true;  or to say things that the person wants to hear so they will like you.

In contrast to those temptations, Paul urges Timothy to tether himself to the law.  In the 1500’s, Martin Luther wrote about why the law is good.  He gave three reasons:

  1. The law is a means to preserve society.  It restrains us from evil.
  2. The law is a summons to repentance and faith.  It exposes the gulf between who we are and who we want to be.  So it leads people to Christ.
  3.  

    The law provides a direction for the church.  It’s a teaching tool that guides people who are trying to be more like Jesus as they follow Him.

If you read 1 Timothy 1: 8-11, you will see that there are both difficult and controversial things that are labeled as ‘lawless and disobedient.’  And when we read challenging instruction about our behavior and choices, we need to be confident that these are the things that God really wants us to do.

The question comes up–  can we trust the Bible?  Can we trust that these boundaries that are laid out in verses 8-11 are the boundaries in which God really wants us to live?  And the answer is:  Absolutely.

We may not like what the Bible says, but we can trust that those things we don’t like are the things that Jesus said and that God wanted us to know.  Here is why…

1.  The Gospels were written 35 years after the events.  There were people who were still alive who could say yes, Jesus really did that and he really said that.  Matthew and John were actual apostles, eye witnesses to the things they saw.  No other historical source from antiquity can say that.

2.  Externally, there are historians that we lean on to understand what was happening in the Roman empire—  Pliny, Tacitus, Josephus.  And they talked about Jesus and the impact his followers had on the Roman Empire.

You can see more about both of these points in a video by an Anglican priest named Vaughan Roberts who helped develop the curriculum for one of our small groups, Christianity Explored.

3.  We believe that the Bible is inspired by God’s Holy Spirit and written in the personality and personhood of the author.  God was writing through the pen of real humans.  It is everything He wanted to reveal about himself and He did it through people like us.

4.  We believe that the Bible is without error.  This means that when interpreted correctly, the Bible is never wrong.  Everything in the Bible is true.  If we deny this, we become the final authority, we wander into speculation and vain discussion.

If you want to read more about inspiration and inerrancy, you can go here.

A very concise resource that has just come out is this small book by Kevin DeYoung called, Taking God at His Word.  It was Kevin who provided the helpful acronym, SCAN (in this interview) to help us summarize what we believe about the Bible.

The Bible is SUFFICIENT: it tells us all we need for life and godliness.

The Bible is CLEAR: the essential truths about God and salvation can be understood, applied, and obeyed.

The Bible is AUTHORITATIVE:  it always gets the last word.  We can trust it.

The Bible is NECESSARY:  we cannot savingly know God without it.

That’s it.  The Law is good and we can trust the good boundaries that the Bible presents.  Thanks be to God!

-David

 

Hello, my name is Timothy

The Apostle Paul by Rembrandt

The Apostle Paul by Rembrandt

 

Wow, I had such a great time on Sunday.  I loved singing as loud as I could.  I loved seeing lots of new faces and lots of folks I hadn’t seen in a while.  I loved kneeling for prayer and communion.  I loved giving thanks for 5 incredible years as a church.  I loved being with people I love.

We talked about a guy named Timothy and a young church that was making the transition from ‘random assortment of people who like Jesus’ to ‘reproducing institution that will change the world and have a cultural impact that has no rival.’

The apostle Paul found Timothy, discipled him, and at the end of his life, sent him 2 letters.  He wanted to give his wisdom and ideas to this young leader who would help transition the churches he had planted into reproducing institutions.  The letters were not just for him but were intended to be read widely and referred to over and over again when questions came up about ‘how things should go.’

‘1 Timothy’, is perfect for where we are as a church.  Restoration is no longer  a church plant, but we are also not ‘all grown up’.  We want to use this new space to mature disciples and to launch new church plants.  And I think this letter will help us as we seek to do both of these things with excellence and in a way that honors God.

To help us get in to it, I want to give you a quick introduction to Timothy:

  1. He was young when he received the letter–  and pretty inexperienced–  probably in his mid-30s(!!).  However, he was also gifted and full of promise—  some of that was his natural talent, some was spiritual because of the ‘laying on of hands’ that he experienced.  Being young and gifted is a dangerous combination.  And it describes so many thousands of people in the Arlington area.  It is dangerous to have great skill with out great character, to have great power without great humility.  So pay attention if you are one of the DC up and coming world changers.  Suffering is always God’s laboratory for teaching character that is commensurate with one’s calling.
  2. He was timid, shy, insecure, and needing affirmation.  When Paul wrote to the Corinthians, he asked the church to ‘put him at his ease’ (1 Cor 16:10) to be gentle and nice.  And in his second letter to Timothy, Paul exhorts him to not be ashamed of the Gospel, to resist a spirit of timidity.  All of us know what it is like to be worried about what others think of us, to be a people pleaser, to be timid about our relationship with God and about the opinion of others.  So pay attention as Paul reminds Timothy of Gospel courage.
  3. He was physically infirm.  It seems that he had some sort of a gastric problem.  At one point Paul exhorts him to ‘take a little wine’ to settle his stomach.  It is a tender, father to spiritual son, moment.  And we are reminded that all of us have weakness that slows us down, that keeps us from feeling 100%, that keeps us humble.  We are reminded that we are desperate for God’s power to do the work to which He calls us.  So pay attention if you are discouraged by a body that get older every day.

And Timothy was circumcised.  You can listen to the story right here.  But the take away is this–  Timothy wasn’t circumcised in order to be reconciled to God.  He was circumcised as an act of love for the people he was pleading to be reconciled to God.  Great love, indeed.

It’s going to be an incredible fall.  See you around the new place…

-David

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

 

DMH Update

Hey folks, a few quick thoughts this week…

GAFCON II

On Saturday, I will leave the fall retreat early and fly to Nairobi, Kenya.  A few years ago, in response to the growing crisis within the Anglican Communion, a new fellowship was created of provinces, bishops, and dioceses who hold fast to a common belief in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It is called the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans.  Next week, this body will gather in Nairobi for the second Global Anglican Future Conference.  I am privileged to be one of four representatives from the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic.

In Nairobi, I expect to meet faithful men and women who are holding to the Gospel in situations of great challenge.  Most of the attendees will be from Africa–  Nigeria, Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya.  There will also be brothers and sisters from Asia, and Latin America.  I am hoping to connect with the leaders of the Diocese of Singapore who over see Cambodia, where our missionaries Jesse and Sarah Blaine are working.  I am sure I will hear great preaching, inspiring stories or perseverance, and meet people who are courageously walking with Jesus.  Thank you for sending me.  I look forward to giving an update on our blog while I am gone.

The sermon…

On Sunday I preached about the Gospel hope of being naked and not ashamed.  I would like to give a couple reflections on the sermon:

I was trying to do 3 things with the sermon–  

  1. Introduce the consequence of gender as created categories that are good
  2. Critique the narrative that is given us by the wider culture–  a story that is destructive and attractive and working it’s way into every area of our life.
  3. Talk about the goodness of marriage as a covenant relationship where people can get what they most want–  which is not sex or gender exploration–  but being known completely by someone else.

I made the mistake of trying to preach 3 sermons on one day.  It was long and unwieldy.  I feel like I introduced a lot of significant ideas, but I did not have the time to unpack all of them.  This is actually always a problem when you talk about gender, sexuality, or marriage.  You have to frame the issues and then make sure you talk about all the ways the Gospel speaks to them.  It is very difficult to do in 25 minutes.  And this one was closer to 35.

I did not try to caveat the goodness of marriage in order to be sensitive to those who are not married and who really want to be.  This was a function of time and information overload.  But at the end of the message, the strength with which I was talking about the goodness and intentionality of marriage would have made a caveat to singles seem like an insensitive nod.  I didn’t want to be trite with those who are experiencing deep longing and pain about being single.

Our best spouse is Jesus.  Everything else is proximate.  He is my best spouse.  He is my perfect help-meet.  He is the one who submitted His will for my needs.  He is the one who is most perfectly committed to my transformation and wholeness.

There are days when that truth is transformative and there are days when that truth just rings hollow.  I know it.  And I try my very best to not give trite answers.  So for my friends who are married and not experiencing the intimacy they long for.  And for my friends who are not married and long for the opportunity to know and be known by another human on earth…  I know that these topics can be excruciatingly painful.  And I don’t know, I can’t know, the pain of your particular story.  But I do know that Jesus is exceedingly committed and exceedingly able to meet your every relational need.  Sometimes He does that by providing a human spouse.  Sometimes he doesn’t do it through a spouse because your spouse falls short or because you don’t have a spouse.  But He is committed to doing it and He will find a way.

-David

Work in the garden of God

 Image: Blue City by James B. Janknegt

Image: Blue City by James B. Janknegt

On Sunday, we talked about rest and work.  Because we are made in the image of God, both of these are gifts from our Maker to us.  On the 7th day, God finished his work.  God rested.  God set the day a part as holy.

 Do you have a ‘finish plan’ for each day?  What is your routine for stopping work?  Some people go to the gym.  Some people put their phone in a place they can’t see it.  Some people go for a walk and take a few minutes to thank God for all that He did.  Each of us should finish each day.  What’s your routine?

We also talked about work.  I quoted from four different books and several people asked me about them.  Here are the titles:

 

Books on vocation

 

Work is creating order out of chaos.   Tim Keller defines work as:  ‘rearranging the raw material of a particular domain for the flourishing of everyone.’  And Dorothy Sayers, writing around the time of World War II, captured this sentiment:  ‘Work is the gracious expression of creative energy in the service of others.’  

May God give you the gift of meaningful labor and good work.

 

Bill Fey

We have been praying for a few months for Bill Fey, the husband of Restoration member, Desiree.  As we were talking about rest and work on Sunday night, Bill entered in to his final rest and passed away.  We will have a funeral for him on Thursday at 11am in the chapel at Little Falls Presbyterian Church.  Please pray for Desiree, Jenny, and Michael as they give thanks for Bill’s life and mourn the loss of his daily companionship.  Death is always a challenging reminder that this life is temporary and we were made for something more.  I am grateful for the way Restoration has consistently prayed for Bill and his family.

-David

Why do it at all?

Creation

 

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…

 -David

 

When the foundations collapse

When the foundations are destroyed

 

In the LORD I take refuge; how can you say to my soul,    “Flee like a bird to your mountain, for behold, the wicked  bend the bow; they have fitted their arrow to the string to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart; if  the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”   The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD’s  throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids  test the children of man.  The LORD tests the righteous, but  his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.  Let him rain coals on the wicked;  fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be  the portion of their cup.  For the LORD is righteous;  he  loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face.

Psalm 11

Last Sunday, we had a guest preacher, The Rev. Patrick Sookhdeo, the International Director of the Barnabas Fund.  Patrick spoke passionately from Psalm 11 about the crisis in Syria, the plight of Christians, and the tactical options that are in front of the United States.  Patrick painted a picture for us of what life is like in a society that has collapsed– ‘when the foundations are destroyed’.  For those of us who sat comfortably in a beautiful sanctuary in North Arlington, with no threat of violence, and plenty of food and clothing, Patrick’s words shook us out of our comfort and made us squirm.

Restoration is a thoughtful congregation and I often receive great questions about sermons.  But I have never received as much email this week as I have about Patrick’s sermon.

And I think a lot of you were holding back.  🙂

The emails ran the whole continuum from

  • ‘The sermon yesterday was awesome’ to
  • ‘bet you wish you were still on vacation’ to
  • ‘We imagine that the choice to bring in such a prophetic voice was to take a risk in a community like ours. But we thought it was as timely as it was bold, and exactly what our community needed to hear–a necessary kick in the teeth.’ to
  • ‘That was the most offensive “sermon” I have ever heard in my life…..by far.’

I LOVE OUR CHURCH!  And I love that there is this kind of diversity and thoughtful engagement.  Some of you were angry and you let me know.  Some of you were really concerned that Patrick was misleading and you gave me counsel.  Some of you appreciated being challenged and reminded of what life is like for much of the world and you said thanks.  I am grateful for all of it.

One of our staff said this:

One of the things I have long valued about the Restoration community is people’s ability to share common theological convictions and then to respect the way that people act on those convictions in politically diverse ways. My prayer is (and from conversations I overheard last night, I am hopeful) that the congregation will do the same with Patrick’s message — to discern theological truth, to wrestle with its faithful application, and then to respectfully live with each other’s differing conclusions.

That is well said.

Here are a few of my thoughts:

  1. Patrick did say some things that were problematic and troubling.  He presented a very particular response to the situation in Syria and he did not have a lot of time (or possibly inclination) for nuance.  He made us uncomfortable.  And he may be wrong about some of his tactical conclusions.
  2. A great character test for yourself:  when you hear something with which you disagree, what do you do?  A good number of you stayed for the Q&A and asked really good questions.  Thank you for engaging and for personally challenging Patrick about his assumptions.  That is healthy.
  3. How many of you have prayed about the situation in Syria this week?  I bet a lot of you have.  How many of you have tried to read more deeply this week?  How many of you made sure you listened to President Obama’s address?  How many of you have prayed specifically for President Obama and other world leaders as they try and choose a course of action?  You and I know that Syria is a chaotic mess.  There are over 100,000 people who have been killed with ‘normal’ weapons.  Our leaders are debating the ‘next’ step, but seeing our way to something that resembles peace and order is a long, long road.  Are you up for praying, sacrificing, and engaging over the long haul?
  4. Part of the shock of Patrick’s sermon was its political directness.  One of the things I love about our Restoration DNA is that we are not partisan.  In our church, we truly have a wide mix of political opinion and political vocation.  It is important to me that our church not become a partisan haven for one side or the other.  However, the tension that I feel about Patrick’s sermon is the difficulty we have discerning the difference between political and prophetic.  Discerning between a political agenda and a prophetic truth can be quite difficult and in our area, narratives are often hijacked for political ends.  So we have to be extra discerning.  Patrick was speaking from first-hand experience about the plight of people in a very unstable place.  God calls us to pay attention to those people who are vulnerable and lacking justice–  to pray, to sacrifice, to do what we can.  A prophetic word can make us uncomfortable but we would be wrong to blow it off because it sounds like a political agenda.  That said, I think a faithful response to the sermon includes:  discussion with peers, praying individually and others for the situation, and continued education from a variety of sources.  My temptation is to ‘just move on’ to the next thing.

This past Sunday was an opportunity to get stronger in your sermon-listening skills.  It was a chance to think deeply about what was being said and to move quickly to prayer about a proper response.  It was a chance to say, ‘I disagree’ and to wrestle with peers about why.  It was a chance to let someone shake us in our comfortable seats and encourage us to stay engaged with a world that is deeply broken and hurting.

Pray my friends.  Discern.  Come Lord Jesus and bring your peace.

-David

If you would like to listen to the audio of the sermon, we have provided it here:

 

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.

-David

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