Easter Is Almost Here

Easter 2018

It feels a little strange to be writing about Easter in the midst of the worst snow storm we’ve had all winter.  When I look outside, I want to write a Christmas sermon but when I look at the calendar, I realize I better get to work on Easter…it’s a little more than a week away!!

But I’m not the only one who needs to get to work on Easter; we all do.  I’m not just talking about planning the weekend, the outfit, the meals, and the relaxation but also planning how to use the incredible opportunity of Easter to deepen a relationship with someone who doesn’t attend a local church or know Jesus.  Easter Sunday is the single greatest opportunity we have all year to invite people to church.  I say that for two reasons.  One, there are a lot of people who don’t normally go to church who still see church as part of their Easter ritual.  And, two, people in D.C. don’t travel at Easter the way they do at Christmas.  This city is a ghost town on Christmas Eve but people love to stay here or come here for Easter (as long as the snow melts by then!!).  This means many of your co-workers, friends, and neighbors are likely to be around and thinking about going to a church.

The real question is how we’re going to respond to that opportunity, which really is a question of how much we’ve been changed by our 15 month study of the Book of Acts.  I’ve tried to bring a different aspect of the story of the early church to life every Sunday we’ve been in Acts but those aspects are all in service of the overall story: God intends to accomplish His mission through His people by His power.  God “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.“(1 Timothy 2:4)  That desire is so strong that Jesus gave His life on a cross to make it possible.  God’s heart beats with compassion for the lost, the lonely, the hurting, and the broken of our city.  If the Spirit of that God lives in us, then our hearts should beat for the same things.  We should be bothered by people going to hell and by people living without the hope that comes from knowing Jesus.  And we should do whatever we can to join God in His mission of reconciling the world to Himself (2 Corinthians 5:19).

Can you imagine Paul’s reaction if he saw Christians approaching the opportunity of Easter with casual indifference?  It’s tempting to think of the fiery evangelist ripping into an audience of lazy, indifferent, self-centered Christians.  And maybe there would be a little of that – he didn’t hold back when he needed to confront Peter about his hypocrisy.  But I’m also sure his rebuke would be tempered by grace and the invitation to remember was God has done for us.  He writes something along those lines to the church in Ephesus, “Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called ‘the uncircumcision’ by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.“(Ephesians 2:11-12) Remember what it was like to have no hope, to be alienated from God, to be judged by people.  Remember what someone did for you so that you could come to a knowledge of the truth.

That’s my challenge and invitation to us as a church – be willing to do for someone else what someone did for you in light of everything Jesus has done for us.  Pray that God will give you opportunities between now and Easter to talk to people about Jesus, to invite them to church and to start a spiritual conversation with them.  I honestly believe this is going to be the best Easter yet at Restoration City and I want you to be a part of it.  Not simply by being there but by being there with someone who needs to find a church or needs to find Jesus.

Don’t waste your opportunity!

Leaky Tires & Emotionally Healthy Spirituality


A couple of weeks ago, I was taking one of our kids to school when I noticed one of the tires on the van was a little flat.  So, I took it to the gas station, filled it up and went on with my day.  Well, by noon the same tire was close to flat again and I knew we had a leak.  So, I brought it to another gas station, they sprayed some kind of liquid on the tire, found the leak, patched it and inflated the tire.  Problem solved, back to life.

None of that is a big deal when it comes to a tire but when we approach our relationship with Jesus the same way, it’s a very big deal.  Over the course of the week, we become aware that our lives are leaking a bit – we see flashes of anger, hints of selfishness and bursts of lust.  We know something’s off but we aren’t quite sure what, so we go to church on Sunday and I spray a little liquid on the tire of your life during the sermon and help find the leak.  “Oh, I’m angry because I’m struggling to trust that God is using His sovereign power for my good.”  Then we patch the leak with a little forgiveness, some fresh inspiration and a whole lot of determination.  But over the course of the week, we see a leak so we go back to square one and start the process all over again.

It’s a totally reactive way of living the Christian life.  You’re always fighting to get back to neutral and never growing into a stronger disciple of Jesus.  It’s settling for sin management when Jesus has called you to Kingdom impact.  There’s no growth, just damage control.

And it will stay that way until we learn to address the deeper issues that are causing the tire to leak in the first place.  That’s why I’m so thrilled to be offering Pete Scazzero’s Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Course this spring at Restoration City.  It’s an in depth discipleship course designed to help us explore what’s going on under the surface of our lives – where the leaks are coming from and why we struggle with some of the things we do.  The course combines a robust understanding of emotional health, a biblical understanding of spirituality, and the life changing power of the gospel of Jesus Christ in ways that will be tremendously beneficial to your soul and life.

All of this fits perfectly with our deep commitment to the centrality of the gospel in all things.  At the end of the day, the gospel is not only the patch on the tire but also the way to stop the leak at it’s source.  EHS isn’t presenting an alternative to the gospel – it’s helping us see where and how to apply the gospel in our souls and lives.

I believe this course is so foundational to where God is leading us as a church that I’m  teaching all 8 weeks.  We’ll be meeting from 12.30 – 2.30 at our WeWork offices on Sunday afternoons starting on April 22nd and going through June 17th with the exception of Memorial Day weekend.  If you’re willing to take the journey with me, get registered today at rcc.church/ehs.

Mid-Day Prayer

mid day prayerA few months ago, our staff team added a new rhythm to our daily schedules – stopping to pray at 11.30.  These prayer times are really simple, nothing complicated at all.  We spend a few minutes in silent, personal prayer and then come together to read God’s Word and pray.  When we first started moving in this direction, I knew it would be good for our team and for my soul.

What I didn’t know is how hard it would be to carve out this time.  And I don’t mean that in some sort of “poor, overworked pastor” kind of way.  In fact, my job should make it so much easier – I’m paid to pray and it’s still a challenge!  The problem isn’t my schedule – it’s my heart.  By that point in the day, I’ve gotten a decent amount of work done (hopefully) but there’s also been enough time for a decent amount of work to pile up – emails, questions from our team, texts, phone calls, you name it.  And whatever has piled up always feels so urgent right at 11.30.  How can I stop to pray when I haven’t gotten back to so and so yet?  How can I stop and pray when I have unanswered emails?  What about that meeting this afternoon? And on and on and on…

But that’s really the point.  There’s always going to be another email to answer, a text to return and a phone call to make. Always.  Whether I pray or not.  So, my only real options are (a) some undone work plus time with the Lord or (b) some undone work and no time with the Lord.  Trust me, I feel the pull towards option b but I know my soul needs option a.

In fact, I’ve learned that the harder it is to stop, the more I need it.  I need to be reminded that the future of this church doesn’t rest on my shoulders.  Jesus is the head of the Church, not me. (Col. 1:18)  Yes, I want to lead with diligence (Rm. 12:8) but that diligence absent the power of God won’t accomplish anything. (Jn. 15:5).  Yes, I want to do my work as unto the Lord (Col. 3:23) but productivity can never take the place of sitting at the feet of Jesus. (Lk. 10:42)

I’m sharing all of this because I want to invite you to join us in this rhythm.  If you can do that in person, great.  I’m serious – we would love to have you come join us in our Crystal City offices any time you can make it.  Just email Alex (alex@rcc.church) and she’ll get you everything you need.  But if you can’t be with us at 11.30, set an alarm on your phone.  When it goes off, pause and pray.  If you can only carve out 60 seconds, that’s better than nothing!  But my guess is you could carve out 5-10 minutes if you got creative.  And, just to state the obvious, there’s nothing special about 11.30 – if that doesn’t work for you, pick another time.  Just be consistent because it’s that consistency that ingrains it in your daily rhythms.

Adopting this rhythm might be one of the more significant changes you make in your relationship with Jesus this year.  It’s a beautiful reminder that our hope in in Christ, He provides the grace our lives run on and He’s with you in the midst of the trials and temptations of your day.  Don’t just spend time with Jesus in the morning to check a box.  Lingering at His feet for a few minutes in the midst of the chaos of our days reminds us that His grace really is sufficient for the challenges of our real, complicated, broken lives.