RCC Summer Sabbath Devotional Guide


Welcome to Restoration City’s Summer Sabbath.

Today is a huge gift to our church from God. He’s led us to lay down our schedules, lay down our commitments and simply sit at His feet and receive from Him. The goal of this time isn’t to complete a devotional. The goal of this time is to be with Jesus and to hear His voice. When this guide is helpful in that, use it. When it’s not, follow the Spirit’s leading in your life. Either way, I pray you encounter God in a really unique way today.


Our souls are a lot like boats. When you turn off the engine on a boat, it doesn’t stop moving immediately. It takes time to decelerate and come to a complete stop. My guess is your soul is still moving as you’re reading this. There are things on your mind. Maybe today isn’t going the way you had hoped. Maybe you’ve already fallen into sin today and you’re tempted to write the whole day off as a result.

Wherever you are now, take some time to decelerate. Shut your phone off. Sit silently for a few minutes. You don’t need to do anything, pray anything, think about anything or say anything. Let silence and stillness work into your soul. As you sit, things are probably going to pop into your mind – if they are things to do, jot them down in your notebook. You can come back to them later. For now, just write it down and forget it.

Silence and stillness were regular components of Jesus’ life here on Earth.

In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there. Simon and his companions searched for Him; they found Him, and said to Him, “Everyone is looking for You.”

– Mark 1:35-37

 Jesus was a busy guy. People would hunt Him down while He was off praying – they needed things from Him, they had things for Him to do, He was in demand. But He also knew He needed time with His Father more than He needed to fulfill those demands. Jesus didn’t have time to rest. Jesus made time to rest. He woke up early, snuck away and spent time with the Father.

If Jesus needed that space, how much more do we?

Take a few minutes to pray and ask God for the grace to slow down. Ask Him to slow the boat of your life down so you can hear His voice today.


Rest cultivates gratitude.

When we neglect rest, one of the first casualties in our lives is gratitude. Thankfulness erodes and stress, worry, anxiety and fear start to creep in and fill the vacuum. All of the sudden, we’re more aware of what’s wrong with our lives than what’s right. Grumbling and complaining replace receiving and rejoicing.

As we rest, we recapture gratitude.

I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart;
I will tell of all Your wonders.

 I will be glad and exult in You;
I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.

– Psalm 9:1-2

King David wrote those words thousands of years ago. He was acutely aware of how much He had to be grateful for in His life. He had seen God do wonders. His joy in God was rooted in gratefulness to God.

When was the last time you reminded yourself of the wonders You have seen God work in your own life? Take some time and write out the ways God has blessed you in the last week, in the last month and over the last year. Think about answered prayers, new insights into the gospel, ways He’s molding your character, times He’s fought for you, unexpected blessings and little evidences of His grace and provision in your life.

If you have a notebook with you, start writing. Make a list. Be specific. Don’t rush through this.

Look back over that list and spend time praising God just like David did in Psalm 9. We’re not trying to forget the hard stuff but we are reminding ourselves of the grace we’ve received even in difficult seasons.

It’s only when we’re aware of just how good God has been to us that we can truly rest.


If the trail of our gratitude doesn’t lead us to the gospel, we’ve missed the most significant thing of all.

For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

– Colossians 1:13-14

Our sins are forgiven. We’ve been purchased. King Jesus has given us life that will never end. We once walked in darkness but we now we are children of light.

Take a minute to read all of Colossians 1 in your Bible.

The words we just read aren’t some philosopher’s opinions. They are promises from God. We don’t want to just read His Word. We want to pray through how that Word speaks into the current circumstances of our lives. Here are some questions you might want to consider:

  1. Where are you in need of “knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding?” (Col. 1:9)
  2. Where are you currently struggling to “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord”? (Col. 1:10) Confess specific sins to God and receive the forgiveness that is ours though the gospel.
  3. Verse 17 says all things are held together by Jesus. What are some specific places you need Him to be working in your life; places where you need help holding everything together?
  4. How conscious are you on a daily basis of “Christ in you, the hope of glory”? (Colossians 1:27) Are you living like this is true?

These questions are meant to prompt you as you meditate on Chapter 1 of Colossians. But don’t feel constrained by these questions – respond to the text however God is leading you.


We want to end where we started – back in Mark 1.

He said to them, “Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby,so that I may preach there also; for that is what I came for.”

– Mark 1:38

Don’t miss the significance of this. Jesus comes away from His time with His Father with a renewed sense of clarity about what God is calling Him to do in life. He doesn’t simply respond to the demands of the crowd. He doesn’t even go where people expected Him to go. He goes where His Father is sending Him and He does what His Father is telling Him to do.

Rest renews clarity on our mission.

In this last section, we want to spend time hearing from God and asking Him to speak vision into our lives. This isn’t so much about asking Him to bless our plans but much more about asking Him to fill us with passion for His plans.

This fall is going to be amazing for all of us. We’re going to have the privilege of seeing a church come to life. We’re going to celebrate baptisms as a community and, by God’s grace, see people transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. There’s so much ahead for us this fall.

What is God asking you to do? What’s His vision for you in this upcoming season?

Spend some time dreaming, thinking and praying about what these next few months could look like if you lived in the power of “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”


Feel free to linger with the Lord or jump into the rest of your day. Whatever you do, I hope it’s restful. I hope you enjoy it. I hope it fills your soul with life.

Rest Requires Preparation

There has probably never been a group of people more uncomfortable with the idea of rest than the Israelites during their time in the desert. After fleeing Egypt, Israel spent 40 years in the wilderness before entering the Promised Land. As you might imagine, food and water were a pretty big deal for them during that time.

Just to make things more interesting, God Himself was providing for Israel on a daily basis. Here’s how God explained the arrangement to Moses, “ Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether or not they will walk in My instruction.”(Ex.16:4) The idea was simple – go collect what you need for the day but nothing more. The test for Israel was whether they would trust God for fresh provision the next day or try to store up extra from today in case God didn’t come through tomorrow. In case you’re wondering, Israel failed that test pretty badly and quickly discovered that the bread, called manna, went bad at the end of the day on which God had provided it so hoarding really wasn’t an option. (Ex. 16:20)

Here’s where it gets interesting. While all of this was going on, God commanded Israel to observe a weekly Sabbath. He wanted them to take one day per week and devote it to Him – to rest and to worship. (Ex. 20:8-10) That’s perfectly lovely but how were they supposed to eat on the Sabbath? The bread from the day before would go bad but they were not allowed to go collect more on the Sabbath and there was no other food source available.

Fortunately for them, God had already thought that one through. “On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather daily.” (Ex. 16:5) If Israel prepared properly, they would have plenty of bread to eat and a day off!

Even today, rest still requires preparation. Our issue isn’t collecting additional food. Our issue is planning to carve out space. Today’s preparation paves the way for tomorrow’s rest.

As a church, we’re not gathering tomorrow so we can rest. But that rest isn’t going to happen without a little preparation today. So, take some time now to plan what rest is going to look like for you tomorrow. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Decide now what chunk of time you want to devote to resting and to being with Jesus. Maybe you’ll block out an hour or a morning or the whole day. The length doesn’t matter – what matters is designating that time now and protecting it.
  • Where can you go to be alone and connect with Jesus? Maybe it’s a park, a lake, your back yard, your room or a coffee shop. It doesn’t matter where – just make sure it’s a place you love and a place where you won’t be disturbed.
  • This is the one that might induce a panic attack – you need to shut your cell phone off (also, your Blackberry, your computer, your iPad or whatever else keeps you connected). Leave it in the car, put it on airplane mode, power it down, do whatever it takes to disconnect for your designated rest time. Trust me, both you and the world will be just fine.
  • Approach rest with the expectation that you’re going to meet with God. Bring your Bible, a pen and a notebook. Print out the devotional guide I’m posting tomorrow morning. But approach all of this with excitement – you get to be alone with God!

The reward for our preparation is undisturbed time with Jesus.   Israel knew the joy of receiving bread from heaven. We know the joy of communing with the One who is the bread of life.(Jn. 6:35) Manna satisfied hunger. Jesus satisfies souls. If Israel cherished God’s provision, how much more should we cherish Jesus knowing that man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. (Deut.8:3)

Tomorrow we rest. Today we prepare.

Why RCC Isn’t Meeting This Sunday

What kind of slacker church plant takes a week off from meeting?!?

That’s a decent question for us to consider since that’s exactly what RCC is doing this Sunday. We aren’t meeting – no service, no leadership meeting, no project to love our city, no prayer gathering…absolutely nothing.

It’s not because I’m on the verge of burnout. It’s not because we figured out we get along better as a church when we’re not together. Nor is it a chance to visit other churches!

It’s about Sabbath rest. It’s about intentionally creating space in our lives to breathe. It’s about reminding ourselves that we are not the ones building this church; Jesus is building His church.

When need to make a big deal of rest because our whole culture is pretty bad at it. Life in DC is fast-paced, intense and driven. I think it’s safe to say the same thing about our church – we push hard and I wouldn’t want it any other way. But all of that can suffocate our souls if we’re not careful. I talk with people who have gotten to the point where they’re uncomfortable with rest; they feel guilty for slowing down. If we’re honest, some of us may have even forgotten how to rest.

We need to reclaim the value of rest. It honors God. It reminds us of our limits. It keeps us happier, healthier and more productive. Most importantly, it nourishes our souls in deep and important ways. As author and pastor John Ortberg writes, “the soul craves rest. The soul knows only borrowed strength. The soul was made to rest in God the way a tree rests in soil.”

Sunday is a chance for us to borrow more strength from God. It’s a chance to push our roots deeper into the soil of grace. It’s a chance to worship.

To help guide your time of rest, I’ll be posting a devotional guide to this blog and our email list on both Saturday and Sunday. My prayer is that the weekend will lead your soul to rest and receive much from Jesus.

Sunday Recap – August 3rd Edition

I spent some time last evening reflecting on how unbelievably good God has been to us in this journey of planting Restoration City.  It was so cool to see a number of family and friends visiting from out of town join us on Sunday morning – makes me feel like we’re a real church!

If you missed Sunday, here are the three events you need to make sure are on your calendar:

1.  Monthly Worship Gathering – August 24th in The Synetic Theater.  If you are interested in checking out Restoration City or have friends you want to invite to the church, this is a great weekend to invite them.

2.  ServeDC – September 6th.  We’re going to be doing our first service project as a church on Saturday, September 6th.  We’ll have more details this Sunday but hold the morning of the 6th on your calendar to serve with us!

3.  Baptism Service – September 14th.  If you’re a follower of Jesus Christ but have never been baptized, we would love to baptize you at Restoration City.  If that’s something you’re interested in, email Dan Iten and we’ll get you more information.

One final thought: God is allowing us to be part of something really unique in the planting of this church.  Spend some time this week thanking Him for all He is doing and allowing us to experience!