Reordering Our Prayers


One of the clearest indications that we’re growing in our understanding of the gospel is a continuous reordering of our prayer lives.  What we chose to talk about when we’re alone with God is one of the best indicators of what’s important to us.  In a lot of ways, prayer is a wonderful diagnostic tool for our hearts.

All too often, I’m not comfortable with what my prayers reveal about my priorities.  Like most of us, I can be extremely self focused.  My prayers tend to be about me, my circumstances, my needs, my problems, my desires and how God can help me have a better day according to my definition of “better.”  Sometimes, it feels like other people, our church or our city only get thrown in at the end as a formality.  Praying for others is something “professional Christians” are supposed to do, so I make sure that box is checked.  But what often goes unprayed for is my own heart.  It seems like I’m more interested in my circumstances than my heart.

But as we grow in the gospel, that gets inverted.  All of the sudden, we find ourselves praying for our hearts more than our circumstances.  So, the new gospel shaped prayer priorities look like: my heart, others and then my circumstances.  No, there’s nothing wrong with asking for our daily bread or making our requests made known to God.  We’re told to do that (Matthew 6:11, Phil 4:6).  But the psalms filled with far more prayers for our hearts than for our circumstances.  Consider just a few:

  • “Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.” (Ps. 90:14)
  • “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” (Ps. 51:10)
  • “My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.” (Ps. 84:2)

The gospel shaped heart realizes it’s greatest enemy is the sin within, not the circumstances around.  So, we pray for our hearts.

Then, we pray for others.  As God transforms our hearts, we can’t help but look to the world around us.  We see needs, suffering, injustice and people desperate for a knowledge of Jesus.  All of it breaks a heart shaped by the gospel and that shows up in our prayers.

Finally, we get around to praying for those things the Father already knows we need.

So, what do your prayers say about your priorities?  Heart, others, circumstances.  Which gets top billing in your time with God?

Church: A Community On Mission

I’m still having a hard time wrapping my mind around everything God did this weekend. That’s probably because He did so much – our first ever leadership retreat, saying goodbye to Blake as a worship leader at Restoration City, and a Sunday morning gathering focused on the refugee crisis unfolding in the Middle East.  So many different emotions in such a short period of time!  But all of it was a reminder to me that the church is meant to be a community on mission.  When we get that right, everything else seems to fall into place.

I love our leadership team at Restoration City!  They’re an incredible group of leaders, Jesus followers and friends.  I’ve loved watching God build this team over the last two years – we’ve grown in number, in maturity and in respect for one another.  All of that was so evident as we carved out a few hours on Saturday morning to process where we’re headed as a church for the rest of 2016 and into 2017.  I loved listening to our team debate, challenge one another, affirm one another and get to a better place than we ever could without broad input.  I’m grateful for a culture where we see leadership as a team sport.

Saying goodbye to Blake was a bittersweet reminder of what a joy it is to lead and serve in community.  In case you weren’t able to join us on Sunday, we honored Blake as he and Tally get ready to move to Chapel Hill so he can pursue his MBA at UNC.  As excited as we are for them, I’m sure going to miss him!  It was a great reminder coming out of the leadership retreat not to take any of this for granted.  We all need to lean in and enjoy the time the Lord gives us to serve together.

Community is a really big deal for us at Restoration City.  But we’re asking God to create a distinct kind of community – one on mission.  That’s why I loved having Maggie Konstanski from World Relief with us yesterday.  She did such an amazing job of helping us understand the current refugee crisis and think biblically about it.  I loved the reminder that our community doesn’t exist to serve ourselves.  We exist for the good of our city and our world.  We exist to serve and lift others to a new and eternal life in Jesus.

At the end of it all, my heart is full.  I love our church.  I love the community God is building.  And I love the mission He’s given us.  So, let’s keep pressing forward!

Talking Syrian Refugee Crisis This Sunday At Restoration City


We’re going to be taking a one week break from our Sacred Trust series this weekend to welcome a special guest, Maggie Konstanski, to Restoration City.  Maggie works as World Relief‘s Disaster Response Manager and is an expert on the church’s response to the refugee crisis in Syria and Iraq. I’m excited for her to share her experiences in the region and help us think biblically about this issue.  After I take a couple of minutes to set up our conversation out of Scripture, I’ll do an extended interview with Maggie.


Our ability to have Maggie with us goes all the way back to this fall when we celebrated Restoration City’s one year anniversary.  At that time, our church gave to three causes: Casa Chirilagua here in DC, flood relief in South Carolina and the refugee crisis in Syria.  Some of the folks at World Relief heard about the generosity of a little one year old church plant and offered to have Maggie come spend a morning with us – and we jumped at the chance!  She’s a phenomenal communicator who loves Jesus, the local church and seeing that church mobilized to make a difference in the world.

That’s our heart for this Sunday – to tackle a topic that is very much in the national conversation from a biblical perspective.  Sunday isn’t about making a political statement.  It’s about helping us all see that the Scriptures speak to the most pressing issues of our day and giving us a model for how we can engage those questions in the public square.  We want to learn to think biblically on topics like this.

It’s also going to be a great Sunday to invite your friends.  There is deep interest in this crisis and many will be surprised to hear a church is even touching on the topic.  Invite some people to join you – it might be an amazing catalyst to a conversation about God’s heart for justice as expressed through the gospel.

Sunday’s going to be a great day for our church – I can’t wait to experience it with all of you!

Leadership Lessons From Metro


Just a little over five months ago, Paul Wiedefeld became Metro’s new general manager, taking the reigns of a mass transit system in crisis.  Since then, he’s shut the whole system down for over 24 hours and announced a massive safety overhaul that will delay millions of people for months.  Along the way, he’s been subject to a fair amount of criticism and Facebook grumbling.  I get it.  It’s the 2nd busiest rapid transit system in the country with over 200 million trips taken per year.  Shutting the whole thing down messes up a lot of people’s days.

While I don’t know anything about how to run a mass transit system, I’m always looking to learn from other leaders.  From what I can tell, Wiedefeld has demonstrated four attributes of an effective leader:

Consistent With His Values

Before Wiedefeld even started at Metro, he sat down with the Washington Post for an interview and made his values and top priority clear, “I’m going to wake up every morning thinking about the safety of the system, and I’m going to go to bed every night thinking about the safety of the system.”  So, don’t be surprised when he’s willing to shut the whole thing down to get this right.  So many times leaders declare something a top priority but then allow a bunch of other factors distract them.  That kind of distraction blunts our effectiveness.

Realistic In His Assessments

It stands to reason that you can’t fix 30 years of neglect without some pain.  As logical as that is, there’s something in each of us that doesn’t want that to be the case.  We’re always looking for the quick and easy path to awesome results (get out of debt by Christmas, rock hard abs in 3 minutes a day, or whatever).  It just doesn’t work that way – big change takes hard work.  Every leader is tempted to sugar coat the truth in the name of placating people and avoiding pain.  But nothing ever gets better that way.

Courageous In His Decisions

Wiedefeld would have to be a total idiot to not realize that shutting the system down and the upcoming maintenance surge were going to be unpopular.  No doubt he knew the frustration that was about to get directed at him.  But he moved ahead anyways.  It’s a reminder that if we aren’t willing to make the tough call, we have no business calling ourselves leaders.  Leadership isn’t about doing what’s popular.  It’s about doing what’s right – even when that costs us something.

Transparent In His Communication

There’s amazing power in honesty.  As much as people may not like what they hear, they’ll recognize a straight shooter when they hear one.  And, more often than not, they’ll follow someone with the courage to tell them what’s really going on.  This should be so freeing for us as leaders – it means we don’t need to worry about spin.  It also means we had better avoid the traps of half truths, distortions or manipulations.  Just tell people the truth!

My point in writing this isn’t to weigh in on something I know nothing about – running a mass transit system.  But I do want to be a better leader in my context, the local church.  And I love drawing principles from other leaders in the hopes of upping my game.  Wherever you’re leading, I encourage you to do the same!

Parenting Is Discipling


I love that our Sacred Trust series brought us to 2 Timothy 3:14-15 yesterday morning:

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

Talk about the perfect text for Mother’s Day!  My goodness, it doesn’t get any better than that!

So much of the trajectory of Timothy’s life was due to the influence of a godly mother and grandmother (2 Timothy 1:5).  Timothy’s father was greek and most likely not a follower of Jesus.  But these two ladies made sure Timothy grew up knowing the Word of God.  As parents, we must do the same.  The most important people you’ll ever disciple are your children.

Of course, that begs the question of how to introduce our kids to the Bible, especially with young kids.  Let me offer you three suggestions:

  1.  Discuss. This is the easiest one because it’s as simple as asking your kids what they learned during their time at RCCKids.  We aren’t just babysitting your kids on a Sunday morning, we’re teaching them age appropriate lessons from God’s Word.  Ask them about it.
  2. Model.  One of the greatest gifts you can give your kids is letting them see the example of you prioritizing time in God’s Word.  They aren’t ever going to take God’s Word seriously if we don’t.
  3. Read.  Laura and I absolutely love the Jesus Storybook Bible.  As a church, we give it to every family at our Parent Commissioning/Baby Dedications.  But owning one is no where near as good as regularly reading to your kids from it.  Make it part of their bedtime routine.

Every parent knows how much our kids watch and mimic us – it’s painfully obvious when we realize we’re the source of the new word they shouldn’t be saying!  How amazing would it be to take that potential and use it to raise a generation that loves the Word of God.