Mark 13 Catch-Up

If you weren’t able to make it to Community Group this week, here’s the video we showed to catch you up on Mark 13.  Carve out 22 minutes, open your Bible and enjoy:

Mark 13 Community Group Intro Video from Restoration City Church on Vimeo.

Once you’ve watched the video, take a few minutes to journal your answers to these questions:

  • Why is it that so many Christians find the second coming of Jesus harder to believe than the first? What does it say about our view of Scripture?
  • How often do you consciously think about the return of Jesus? How would your life be different if you thought about it more often?
  • When you think about the return of Jesus, does it seem more frightening or comforting to you? What does your answer reveal about your understanding of Jesus’ character?
  • Titus 2 links our hope in the return of Jesus with our godly living today. What’s the connection? How does Jesus’ return provide motivation for godliness today?
  • Why do you think God hasn’t told us exactly when the 2nd coming is happening? How does the unknown heighten the impact of this on our lives?


Shoveling & Loving DC

Snow In Chinatown.jpeg

I’ve had a lot of time to think the last few days.  Most of it has come while shoveling.  I’ve been thinking about snow, our city and the mission of God.

As one of my neighbors said at some point over the last few days, “snow brings people out.”  It’s true.  We got to meet a neighbor who moved in three doors down two months ago and hasn’t been seen since.  I found out a neighbor I always thought was a jerk is, in fact, a really nice guy.  People are genuinely happy when you help them shovel and there were many chances to make people happy in our neighborhood.  There’s more waving on my street these days and more smiles.  We’re greeting each other by name.  It’s all rather pleasant.

It’s also an incredible demonstration of how we’re called to love our city.  Our hope of reaching DC is directly tied to our willingness to relationally engage and sacrificially serve.  It’s a beautiful thing when the church gathers.  And it’s a powerful thing when the church scatters, if we’re scattered with the mandate to engage and serve.  You don’t need to fly somewhere to take a mission trip.  You need to walk out your front door.  

My love for this city has only deepened in the last few days.  It’s filled with extraordinary people doing their best to get by in a city that can be really lonely and overwhelming at times.  There’s no other place I would rather pastor.  But I don’t want to just preach to the saints on Sunday.  I pray we would be the best neighbors on our block or in our apartment buildings.  I pray we would be the relationship builders and I pray we would be the servants.  It’s funny.  When we’re willing to engage and serve, God opens doors to share. Yes, He’s what our city needs most.  It’s our job to make Him as visible on our streets as He is in our sermons.

Restoration City, we’re a people on mission.  We aren’t creating a comfortable gathering for us.  We’re fighting for the good, the life and the salvation of our city.  Don’t sit on the sidelines!  Engage, serve, share.

It’s how streets get shoveled and lives are transformed.

Restoration City’s Snow Plan

RCC Snow Plan

When I first saw the forecast for this past weekend, I prayed a simple prayer, “God give me wisdom and make it really clear whether or not we should meet on Sunday or cancel our weekly gathering.”  So, I had at least one really clear answer to prayer this week!  It honestly wouldn’t have been possible or safe for us to have meet in the Synetic yesterday.

Fortunately, we saw this coming and have a plan in place that I think is going to serve you well.  On Friday, we recorded a shorter version (20 min.) of the sermon that has already been sent to your Community Group leaders.  So, when you go to Community Group this week, it’ll look a little different – you’ll watch that video and then shift into discussion and prayer time.  So, get to Community Group this week, if you can.  Even if you aren’t in a Community Group, this is a phenomenal week to check one out.  They’re all listed on our website.  If you can’t make it to your Community Group (I understand that’s going to be particularly hard at the beginning of the week), we’ll post the video and study guide to this blog on Friday morning so you can catch up over the weekend.

When we gather next Sunday, we’ll be right back in Mark’s gospel without missing a beat, which is great because we’re on track to finish Mark on Easter morning with the resurrection.

Enjoy Community Group this week!

Don’t Waste Your Blizzard

Waste Snow

You may have heard there’s a little snow heading to DC.  It seems like the only question is how much.  While we all wait to see the answer to that (and whether or not we’ll gather as a church on Sunday!), let me suggestion another question: how do we avoid wasting the blizzard?

It’s going to be incredibly easy to waste the next few days.  Some of us will be tempted to waste it on a massive Netflix binge.  Some of us will be tempted to waste it in ways that lead to even greater regrets.  I can’t tell you how many young couples I’ve talked with over the years that felt like they should spend the night together for safety and somewhere along the way, safety turns into sex.  But this weekend doesn’t have to end in a lazy, unshowered, media saturated storm of regret and waste.

Here’s three thoughts on how not to waste a blizzard:


Get some sleep!  Do your body, mind and soul a favor – take a nap or sleep in or do both.  So many of us are running in a state of near constant depletion.  We’re tired, ineffective and constantly stressed.  The world is going to shut down for the next two days or so.  Give yourself permission to do the same.  How awesome would it be to emerge from this weekend feeling rested?


I mean this one in two different ways.  Yes, there’s part of me that is thinking books in general.  I’m currently reading three different books and if this weekend lets me make a little more progress than I had planned, I’ll be thrilled.  But I’m also thinking about the Bible.  This is an opportunity to linger in the pages of Scripture – to read, to pray, to meditate, to process.  Don’t rush through your daily reading.  Have an extra cup of coffee and enjoy the chance to really engage with Jesus.  Even the most boring weekend can become extraordinary if you believe Jesus is speaking to you through His Word.  Netflix isn’t bad – but an 8 hour movie marathon accompanied by a neglected Bible is a tragedy.


At some point over the weekend, you’re going to get a chance to put the book and hot chocolate down and go serve someone.  Shovel a sidewalk, help dig out cars, check-in on a neighbor, invite a neighbor over for dinner.  I bet you anything there’ll be someone living within 1,000 yards of you that will need help this weekend.  While you’re out there helping, meet some people.  It’s honestly going to be a great chance to meet neighbors, build relationships and develop a little community with people that live right be you.  Be salt and light!

Who knows what the weekend is going to hold, weather wise.  My prayer is that whatever happens, we’ll use it for the glory of God and the good of our city.  Don’t waste the blizzard – be safe, be smart, have fun and use it well.


Thrilled To Serve

Serve With Us

Yesterday we gave everyone at our gathering the chance to get involved in serving through Restoration City.  There’s so many different ways to get involved – everything from RCCKids to parking to mentoring students through Casa Chirilagua.  And I really want you involved with us.

Serving in the church isn’t about what we should do.  It’s about what we get to do.  It’s not a long list of things that have to get done.  It’s an invitation to bring your God-given gifts, talents, interest and personality to a team of people pursuing the greatest mission in the world.  I’m not at all shy about asking you to do something that is going to be so phenomenally rewarding.  I don’t ever want to guilt you into serving.  But I’ll inspire you into it all day long.  Here’s my top three arguments for why you owe it to yourself to be serving:

Your Passion

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Eph. 2:10)  God has designed you to accomplish things in this world.  Some of them are through your job, some through your relationships and some are through His church!

You will fully come alive when you start serving in the area God has created you to walk in.  Don’t worry about what the church needs.  Ask what You want to do.  We want you serving wherever you are most excited, passionate and interested.  You’re not trying to satisfy God’s needs.  You’re trying to exercise your gifts.

God’s Mission

Everything we do as a church is rooted in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20).  We want to make disciples – to lead people to a saving faith in Jesus and then mobilize them in the work of God.  That’s what this is about.  Parking cars isn’t about crowd control.  It’s about welcoming people who may be so uncertain about visiting a church.  Serving in RCCKids isn’t about keeping the main gathering distraction free.  It’s about discipling the next generation.

There is nothing as thrilling as being used by God to accomplish His purposes in the world.  It’s not the kind of thing you can learn about by reading.  It’s the kind of thing you just need to experience for yourself.

Our Team

I love the team of people who serve at Restoration City.  They’re an amazing group of people who love Jesus and love each other.  We work hard but there’s no other group of people I would rather be in the trenches with on a daily basis.  If you’re looking to deepen relationships, get connected and have fun, this is the team for you!

The good news is you haven’t totally missed the opportunity.  Just go to to get connected with one of our teams.

Unique & United

Unique and United

I’ve been thinking a lot about the current increase in tension in the Middle East and snowflakes.  I know, I know…it’s hard to come up with two more unrelated things than snow and conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran.  Here’s how they meet in my brain.

From our vantage point, the whole conflict between Sunni Saudis and Shiite Iranians seems strange.  Sure, we can understand that there was some controversy 14 centuries ago over who would succeed Mohammad and I’m sure if I was a Muslim, I would have an opinion.  But why are they allowing it to distract from the overall point – they’re both Muslims!

If you think that’s an interesting question, try asking it of the Christian church in America.  We’re phenomenally good and dividing ourselves into little cliques, tribes and factions.  We waste a ton of time comparing, condemning and criticizing others who come from a different stream.  And we waste a lot of time making our little stream as comfortable as possible.  Whatever your persuasion, there’s a conference, blogger and pastor for you.  We do it over whether we sprinkle infants or dunk believers.  We do it over music, preaching styles and whether we can have a beer or not.  We take shots at each other on social media and then write blogs responding to the twitter controversy.

It’s all so silly.

And snowflakes would help us a lot.

You’ve probably heard this before but every snowflake is unique.  There are no two that are exactly alike.  It’s what makes them beautiful.  Yes, they have a lot in common since they’re all made of crystalized water.  But they’re distinct.  That’s they way it should be with churches.  If your church is a carbon copy of another, you’re following a formula not a Risen King.  Similar churches? Sure.  Identical? Nope.  We need to learn to be okay with that.  So, yes, I have opinions, convictions and beliefs about all the issues I mentioned above.  There’s a reason I’m a Baptist, not a Presbyterian.

But blizzards don’t come from single snowflakes.  Blizzards come when all the unique flakes are flying in the same direction, with the same purpose, driven by the same wind.  That’s when cities are blanketed with the glory of fresh snow.  Imagine the potential of our individual snowflakes uniting to blanket our cities with the glory of God.

We would criticize less.  Celebrate more.  Stop transferring people from church to church and start reaching those with no church.  We would stop trying to outdo each other with cooler events and start working for the good of our cities and those who won’t come to a church event, no matter how cool.

I love the local church.  Bill Hybels was right, “It is the hope of the world.” But that hope will shine brightest when we stop critiquing the other snowflakes and lean in towards a blizzard of redemption and restoration.

The Grace Response

Grace Response.jpeg

How we respond to bad behavior says a lot about our understanding of the gospel.  In saying that, I’m not so much thinking about our own bad behavior as I am thinking about our response to the bad behavior of others – whether it’s our kids, spouse, co-workers, friends or family.  When other people mess up, we find out what we believe about Jesus.

If we really believe that Jesus answers our greatest failures with the costliest of grace, how can we withhold grace from others?  If Jesus died for our sin, how can we be so quick to crucify others for theirs?  We’re commanded to love one another as Jesus loves us (Jn. 13:24).  Jesus doesn’t just love us when we have our act together.  He loved us when we were still enemies of God (Rm. 5:8-10).  If we really get that, we’ll respond to the failures of others with love and grace.

We all know that.  Here’s what we forget: when we meet failure with grace, lives change.  So often we think that we’ll produce change in others by withholding affection, lashing out, complaining or getting angry.  But it rarely works.  Even if we beat on someone’s behavior long enough to see a shift, we aren’t getting anywhere with their hearts.  But grace works!  Grace softens, changes, molds and transforms.

Grace works.  So, the next time you’re getting ready to blast someone, try loving them first.  Try assuming the best, stepping into their world and offering to lift and encourage them in some way.  You’ll be amazed the response you get.

What Do Your Resolutions Say About You?


With the exception of Christmas and Easter, New Year’s is my favorite holiday.  It easily beats the 4th of July, Memorial Day and even comes in ahead of Thanksgiving.  It’s not the parties that do it for me.  To be honest, I can’t even remember the last time Laura and I stayed up to watch the ball drop.

It’s the opportunity to look back and look forward.  I love looking back over the past year and reflecting on all God has done.  2015 saw the arrival of Aidan into our family, a season of growth for the church and some major work in my soul, to name just a few highlights.  And I love looking forward.  What will 2016 hold?  How can I leverage my life more for the glory of Jesus and the good of others?  Where do I need to make changes?

All of the reflecting, dreaming and praying inevitably leads to some form of New Year’s Resolutions in my life.  I know some people hate them, some people are obsessed and some people make them every year and forget them by Martin Luther King Day.  For what it’s worth, I’m a fan.  I don’t create a whole laundry list of everything that needs to change in my life.  I try to identify one or two major themes for the year, an area I’ve neglected and new habits I want to develop.

But here’s the real question: what do your resolutions say about you?  This is a particularly good question for those of us who consider ourselves followers of Jesus.  Here’s what I’ve noticed in talking to a lot of Jesus people about New Year’s Resolutions over the years – our resolutions look very similar to our non-Christian friends.  There is nothing distinctly Christian about wanting to get in shape, pay off debt, have more meaningful vacations and make more time for friends.  There’s nothing wrong with any of those either.  But what do they say about our love for Jesus?

Shouldn’t our resolutions look different?  And I’m not just talking about adding in a token spiritual resolution (go to church more, read the Bible daily or find a place to serve).  I’m talking about a whole orientation that is shaped by Jesus.  Shouldn’t our resolutions talk more about honoring Him than improving us?  Shouldn’t they be more about His standing in the world than ours in the office?

Here’s what I know.  Jesus holds all of 2016 in His hands.  He’s King of it all.  Nothing will come into your life in 2016 that He doesn’t allow and that He isn’t greater than.  He sees every high and low.  He loves you.  He died for you.  He’ll carry you every step of the way.  The smartest thing you and I can do is walk into 2016 looking to Him and asking Him to become our greatest treasure and the goal of all our resolutions.