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?

-David

Send us now into the world in peace…

Send us now into the world in peace, and grant us strength and courage to love and serve you with gladness and singleness of heart…

I was so excited on Sunday by the picture of God sending us into the world.  God is raising up and developing leaders for His church and leaders for His Kingdom.  Sunday gave me so many tangible things for which to say, ‘thanks!’

  • Clay’s ordination was a fantastic celebration of our dependence on God.  Tommy Hinson exhorted us to pray and to trust God for the growth of His church.  The Bishop gave this word to Clay as he prepared to ordain him:  ‘Be mindful that you cannot do this on your own…  therefore you ought, and need, to pray earnestly for His Holy Spirit.’  We all walked away feeling like we want to spend more time studying the Bible and more time praying for our friends and family and more time waiting for God to fill us.
  • I loved seeing Jesse, Sarah, and Clara Blaine who were back in the US for a bit from Phnom Penh, Cambodia.  They gave us a quick report and then they prayed for our church.  We are all so proud of the work they are doing and the work that God is doing IN them.
  • We prayed, blessed, and sent Kate Raymond to Bolivia for 6 months to be in a spanish immersion school.  Kate has worked as an ER nurse in DC for several years.  Now she is exploring how God might use her nursing skills in a spanish-speaking context.  We love how her heart is open to God’s direction and she is courageously walking in the opportunities that He provides.
  • At the 4pm prayer service, I saw 20 or so volunteers plus another 10 or so people who were praying for the service and praying for God’s Kingdom to come in Arlington and asking that joy would rain down in the sanctuary and longing for people to be set free.  If you have not prayed with us at 4, you are missing something!!
  • I have watched a great team of people plan and prepare for our PartyAuction on Saturday at 6:30pm.  They have used their administration and hospitality gifts to create an environment where we can give thanks and celebrate all that God has done here.

I love that God is stirring people to follow Jesus to new places.  Maybe God is doing something new in you, too?  We would love to hear about it and pray with you.  Hang on.  It’s never a dull ride.

-David

How are we doing?

We’re five weeks into life at Little Falls. We’re all still settling into the new normal. There’s a lot that I love about our new home, and there are a few things that are still challenging. I imagine the same is true for you.

Would you let us know how you’re experiencing Restoration life these days?

We’ve put together a short survey. It shouldn’t take you longer than three minutes. (We timed it.) Your response will help us know how best to serve and lead our congregation in the weeks and months ahead.

Just click here to take the survey.

Thanks so much. I love being on this journey with you all.

– Erin

Another Fun Weekend…

Hi Restoration,

Hope you have had a great week.  I really enjoyed looking out over the lawn last Sunday evening and seeing so many of you munching and talking and chasing and laughing.  A beautiful sight.

This weekend, our bishop, John Guernsey, will join us to worship, to preach the Scriptures, and to lead us at the Lord’s Table.  Here is why I am thankful that God has given our church this particular shepherd:

  • Bishop John is dependent on the Lord in prayer and has modeled for us what prayer-full leadership looks like.
  • He loves the global Anglican church and always has stories of how God is working around the world.
  • He is a thoughtful critic of culture and his insights help me to connect the dots between ‘stuff Jesus said’ and ‘stuff happening around me.’
  • I really appreciated his blog post on the tragedy at the Boston Marathon.  His connection between people running towards the victims to help and our churches running towards those who are far from God was particularly inspiring.

On Sunday, Bishop John will be confirming a few Restoration people.  I love confirmation!  It is exactly what it says–  someone stands and says to their community, “I want to confirm the vows that were made on my behalf at baptism.  I want to confirm before my friends and ‘fellow followers of Jesus’ that I believe Jesus is the only one who can forgive me and He’s the best one to lead me.”  You will hear some of each person’s story.  These get me so fired up!  After they are done, Bishop John will put his hands on their head and pray these powerful words:

Strengthen, O Lord, your servant with your Holy Spirit; empower him/her for your service; and sustain him/her all the days of his/her life.

Don’t we ALL want someone praying these things for us?  That we would know God’s presence through His Spirit and that we would use our gifts to be a part of what He is doing.  Yep!

After the service ends, we’ll have dinner together.  The weather is supposed to be lovely, so we will eat out on the lawn–  lots of space!

Encouragement…

This has been an emotionally hard week for lots of us:  the tragedy in Boston, the tragedy in Texas, the hard fight about gun legislation (no matter where you fall, the fight took a lot of energy), the news about The Falls Church property, the challenges in our own vocational world, the complexity of relationship.  Over and over I have returned to these words from Peter:

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.  [2Peter 1:3]

It is a comfort to know there are resources that are always available to me.  God has provided everything that I need to do the tasks and to be the kind of person that He wants me to be.

Thank you, God.  I’ll cling to you.

-David

This is it.

This is it.

Easter.

Resurrection.

Our last Sunday in this building on Quincy Street.

The finale of the top ten reasons that Little Falls at 5pm is going to rock.

Come early.  Be flexible.  Sing loud.

This is it.

Good Friday

I am so grateful for the last words that Jesus spoke from the cross.

I am so grateful that God made sure they were recorded and remembered.

I am so glad that we know what was on Jesus’ mind as He suffered and died.

Every year, 7 people from our congregation take a few weeks to sit with one of those last words.  They allow the things Jesus said to work their way around their soul, to disturb them, to give them hope.  And then on Good Friday, those 7 people courageously share with our church the things that Jesus’ words have been doing in them.

As I listened and worshiped last night, I was struck by the breadth of brokenness and heartache that was dealt with on the cross:  our insecurity and lack of answers, our longing to see the fulfillment of the tastes we get of paradise, the destruction of poverty and the agony of waiting for children, the despair of seeing intractable problems day in and day out in our work, the unsatisfaction of chasing what the world says will slake your thirst, the sorrow of being present at a life that is finished, the courage it takes to trust every bit of our momentary lives to our Heavenly Father.

There is so much pain.  Jesus took all that we can see and that we can’t.  Hallelujah!  What a Savior.

“Man of Sorrows!” what a name
For the Son of God, who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim.
Hallelujah! What a Savior! 

Tonight we will gather at 8:30pm to welcome the resurrected light of Christ and to shout the first Alleluias of Easter.  Bring a bell.  Stay for the party.  Be tired when you show up on Easter Sunday.  It’s a great story.  And it takes a while to tell it.

-David

 

groaning in sadness

Over the last year and a half, Restoration has prayed every week that God would heal Carolina Handall.  Carolina and her family are dear friends of some Restoration leaders.  As our church took on praying and hoping, we got to meet Carolina and her sweet family.  We grew in love and care for all of them.  We rejoiced when there was good news and we grieved when things got worse.

On Monday, Carolina died.

It has been our highest privilege to watch her fall in love with Jesus and to trust him.  She has wrestled with the hard question of ‘why’ when it comes to cancer.  But she has demonstrated trust and faithfulness that God is good and will care for her family.  For those of us who knew her, this death is heartbreaking.  We were praying for a miracle.  We had hoped that her cancer might end in a different way. We grieve for her parents and brother, her daughters and husband.  Because of who she was, her life will be celebrated on three different continents over the coming weeks.

 

 

Tomorrow, March 7, at 11am, we will have a worship service of thanksgiving for her life and a celebration of our hope in the resurrection.  All of our Restoration family is invited to attend.  Cherrydale Baptist on Military Road will be providing their parking lot and our shuttle will be transporting folks from there to Restoration.  We invite you to join us and to pray for Carolina’s family and to give thanks for her life.  There will be a reception at Cherrydale Baptist following the service.

We know from our time in Luke that sometimes Jesus chose to heal people–  and everyone around would marvel and rejoice.  We know that someday there will be no more need for healing because there will be no more sickness, or tears, or pain.  Sometimes, Jesus chooses to bring that future promise of grace into our present.

We also know that sometimes Jesus doesn’t do what people request.  John the Baptist’s circumstances made him waver and wonder if Jesus was actually who He says he is.  When our disappointment and pain get exposed, it raises all sorts of hard questions.

Carolina’s death is one of those times when we might say, why God?   Our sadness is real and our longing for a different conclusion is real.  Romans 8:23 says that creation and people like us groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption…  for redemption.  Death is always a reminder that this world is incomplete.  And that in spite of how we might spin it, we really have no control over how things end.

So, God gives us words of hope–  words that offer an invitation of faith…

What then shall we say to these things?  If God is for us, who can be  against us?  He who did not spare his own Son but  gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

Do you trust this?  Even as we mourn and groan and wait?

God IS for us.

-David

 

new wine

But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins…

 

I have always found this to be a challenging instruction from Jesus.  Particularly because as Christians, so much of our understanding of life is rooted in what has happened in the past– in what is old.

  • We believe the center of history happened on a cross and was finished with an empty tomb.  Everything before it pointed to it and everything after it has been profoundly affected because of it.
  • We believe that God inspired people to write down stories and prophecies and poetry for thousands of years.  Then He instructed his people to hold that collection of inspiration firm–  to trust it, to submit to it, to learn from it.
  • We believe that Jesus established a means to remember him through bread and wine that is to be the centerpiece of Christian worship whenever the church gathers in His name.
  • We pray old prayers.  We sing old songs.  We study old Scriptures.

We are people who have hope for the future and who love God in the present BECAUSE of the way He has shown himself to be trustworthy in the past.

Just because something is old does not mean it is wrong.

Yet, Jesus is saying as clear as He can:  I am doing something new.  I don’t fit into the old systems.

Please note, JESUS is saying this.  We are not free to let anybody who wants to say it, say it.  We are not free to say–  ‘you know what?  These rules don’t work for me.  That limitation is old-fashioned.  We should re-interpret this teaching to mean something a little more socially acceptable.’

Jesus got to say it.  We don’t.

Jesus was saying that HE was something new.  He was not saying that anything we think is new should be given pride of place over the old.  There is much that is old that points to Jesus and much that is old that deepens our relationship with God and much that is old that is very, very good.

But Jesus was new.

And if you are stuck in a system of trying to behave the right way to get God to like you.  Or you are mired in so much guilt that you can’t ever imagine God would accept you.  Or you prefer revenge as a means to make things right.  Well Jesus has something new and he doesn’t fit in programs where you are graded on performance or serve an eye for an eye.

If you try and put his wine in that kind of a container, it’s just gonna blow up.

-David

more than songs and a nice speech

Restoration,

I am so thankful for our musical worship on Sundays.  There is so much thought that goes in to the sets each week.

I am so thankful that we are a teachable community.  We come wanting to learn about the Scriptures and how they point to our need for a forgiver and one who can lead our life.

I am so thankful that our worship is more than songs and a nice speech.

I love our liturgy–  that we are connected to a pattern of worship that has happened for thousands of years.  I love that it is ‘the work of the people’–  that we play a part in our responses, our prayers [Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer], in our posture [we stand, we sit, someday we will kneel].

And I love this passage from 2 Samuel 6:

17 And they brought in the ark of the LORD and set it  in its place, inside the tent that David had pitched for it.  And David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the LORD.  18 And when David had finished offering the burnt offerings and the peace offerings,  he blessed the people in the name of the LORD of hosts 19 and distributed among all the people, the whole multitude of Israel, both men and women, a cake of bread, a portion of meat,  and a cake of raisins to each one.  Then all the people departed, each to his house.

David lead a worship service that feels a lot like the rich liturgy we follow each week.

  • They set the ark of the Lord in its place.  We enter the building and we are called to worship.  We are called to lift up our hearts.  We are called to shift our attention from the details and noise that has been clamoring at us and to be attentive to what God is saying to us.  We remind ourselves of Jesus’ rightful place.
  • They had burnt offerings and peace offerings.  Each week we are given the privilege of confessing our wrongs against God and against our neighbor.  Each week we are reminded that we are only forgiven because of what Jesus did on the cross and as far as it depends on us, we are to live at peace with those around us.
  • They were blessed.  To be blessed is to be given a gift.  It is to receive the wholeness and kindness of the Lord.  We make the sign of the cross as we receive blessing.  It is an ‘action prayer’.  It is using our body to receive what was prayed.
  • They were given special food.  Every human needs a certain amount of calories a day.  Needing to eat may be our most ‘in common’ need.  God is so deliberate to build eating into worship.  The message could not be clearer–  I have food that your soul needs.  I have means of sustaining you that are similar to putting in calories, but they feed your spirit.

Worship is so much more than some nice songs and a pretty speech.  King David said, ‘I was glad when they said, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord” because he knew that being with people in worship met one of his deepest needs.

I am looking forward to being with you tonight at 7:30 at Restoration as we continue to dream about our new facility and the way we will use it in our worship!  Hope you can be with us.

 

-David

Tuesday of Passion Week

So I never knew that the week before ‘Holy Week’ is called ‘Passion Week’.  Thank you, Show me the way and Henri Nouwen.  Apparently, the 5th Sunday of Lent was called Passion Sunday.  The Gospel reading from the lectionary is usually one of Jesus’ predictions of his death [His Passion].  I have been challenged by our conversations about paradox during Lent–  all the ways Jesus flips what the disciples were expecting in a Messiah and what they were expecting for themselves as they followed Him.  These are the teachings to which I consistently need to return with my assumptions and comfort.  This is where I need a prayer for humility and teachability–  Jesus help me be faithful to you and what you rightly expect of me.  Help me not to recreate you in my own image and understanding.

This week I talked about our love of money.  Specifically, that the best way to deal with the amount of real estate money takes in our heart is to generously give it away.  To that end, here are a few reminders:

  • If you are a member of Restoration, remember that you have committed [to the Lord and to each other] to give a deliberate, annual portion of your money to the work God is doing through our church.  Making an annual commitment before the Lord helps you avoid the traps of impulsiveness, consumerism, and convenience.  It helps you plan.  It helps you to pray and talk as a household about the number that gets returned to God as an act of generous, cheerful worship.  Remember how we prayed Psalm 116?  

What shall I  render to the LORD for all his benefits to me?  I will lift up  the cup of salvation and  call on the name of the LORD, I will  pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people.

There are other opportunities to be generous in the weeks to come…

  • We are collecting items to create care packages for homeless folks.  We want to be deliberate and prepared as we look at those who are expressing need around us.  Theses packages [prepared ahead of time] will give us something to give.  According to our FB page, we still need white socks, individually wrapped wet wipes, and shaving cream.  Check out our FB page for details on how to give these.
  • During Holy Week (the services on Thursday, Saturday, and Easter Sunday) we give all of our offerings away to people outside of Restoration’s normal context.  This year, we are giving all of our offerings to a non-profit that is serving severely struggling folks in Syria.  It is a way for us to include all of our visitors in the generosity opportunities and a way for our church to practice radical generosity that helps us say no to the love of money.

Money is such an amazing resource for good.  And money is so dangerous to our souls.  Because we can trust and serve and worship it.

So as we prepare for the passion and death of our Savior, let’s humbly invite the Lord to put this ‘love of money’ in its right place.  I invite you to generous and cheerful giving.

See you on Palm Sunday!

-David

Good Morning…

I am praying for your process of being conformed to the image of Christ for the sake of others.

-David

St. Paul with Priscilla and Aquila

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