RestoreDC Recap

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Our family had the best time this past Saturday as we joined with this incredible group of people to work a yard sale at Community Lodgings, one of nine RestoreDC partners throughout the city.  We were able to raise some money for the great work Community Lodgings does in transitioning families from homelessness to self-sufficiency and we were able help resident in the Chirilagua neighborhood get some much needed household items at great prices.  I loved knowing similar things were happening at 8 other partners around the city.  All together over a hundred people from Restoration City covered over 165 shifts from Thursday evening – Sunday afternoon.

Whenever we go into one of our RestoreDC weekends, I’m reminded of two passages in Isaiah that capture so much of what we’re asking God to do.  Isaiah 58:12 says, “And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to dwell in.”  And Isaiah 61:4 goes on to say, “They shall build up the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.”  Oh, how I long for us to be the restorers of this city.  How I long for us to shine the light of Jesus into the darkness of poverty, homelessness, and hopelessness.  How I long for our church to have an undeniably positive impact on the community around us….to be a beacon of hope and an unpost of freedom for those who need it.   And I pray we do it all in a way that glorifies God, not ourselves.  Matthew 5:16 makes it really clear that we should serve in such a way that God gets all the credit, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

When our hearts beat for the restoration of this city and for the glory of God, we won’t be content with just doing RestoreDC two weekends a year.  That’s our deepest desire for RestoreDC – that it will be a catalyst to ongoing service throughout the year.  So, if you’re wondering what to do now that RestoreDC is over, the answer is simple.  Go to our website and get information about our external partners, see what their needs are and get involved!

I love the desire for restoration that underlies everything we do at Restoration City.  I’m praying we will all embody this more and more by the grace of God.

On The Field

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Sundays are my favorite day of the week.  Our church gathers to worship Jesus.  My family is there and I’m surrounded by people I love.  We sing, we celebrate, we hear from God, we invest in each other’s lives.  In a lot of ways, I wish every day could be Sunday.

But Monday comes every week.  The church scatters throughout our city.  Life starts happening.  Meetings, soccer practices, commutes and projects threaten to overwhelm us. It’s easy to leave the message of Sunday behind.

What if we learned to see Monday – Friday differently?  What if they become every bit as important as Sunday?  What if we believed the worship of God is carried out through the mission of God in a city desperate for the hope of God?

Here’s how I think of Monday – Friday.  I feel like a coach whose team is on the field while I’m on the sidelines preparing for our next huddle.  Sure, I try to get in the game in my own ways – developing relationships with neighbors and people at the coffeeshop.  But I spend a lot of my week with Christians.  You have the privilege of carrying the name of Jesus to people who know nothing of the gospel of Christ.  They’re in the cube next to you right now.  You had lunch with some of them.  You’ll go out with some of them after work today.  Maybe you’re in a meeting with some now.

Church – you’re in the game!  God has you at your job for reasons that go so much deeper than earning a paycheck and getting health insurance.  You’re an ambassador of Christ (2 Cor. 5:20).  You’re there to work with excellence (Col. 3:23), to put others ahead of yourself (Phil. 2:3) and to be salt and light. (Matt. 5:13-14)  You get to carry the hope of Jesus to your world today.  That’s every bit as big a deal as singing songs and hearing a sermon on Sunday.  In many ways, that’s the point of the songs we sing and the message God speaks to us through His word.

So, as you’re on the field today, know this:

  • I’m thinking about you and praying for you.  I care how you’re doing on the field.  The stakes in the game of eternity are huge and I’m cheering you on every step of the way.
  • Don’t waste this gift.  Jesus has done so much to put you right where you are today.  He gave you an education, a job, the ability to get out of bed this morning and the gift of eternal life.  Don’t waste that by withdrawing from the very people He’s sent you to reach.
  • I want to be the best coach I can be but I can’t take the shot for you.  You are the one God has put in your office, not me.  But He’s given you the power of His Spirit.  That’s a billion times better than having me tag along to answer the tough theological questions people will fire at you if you start talking about Jesus.  You have the resurrection power of Christ in you.  He’ll make you adequate for the task at hand.

Play well today, team.  I love you.  I’m cheering for you and I’m praying for you!

The God Who Restores

There are few people in life more discouraged than Christians stuck in their own past.  But it’s so common.  I have so many friends who trudge through life weighted down by the guilt, shame and secrecy of their past.  In some ways, we’re astonished by just how far we can fall.  In other ways, we can’t get over the devastation caused by our sin.  We’ve left a wake of hurt, of pain, of regret and brokenness and we feel like we’re meant to spend the rest of our lives looking back and letting Satan rub our noses in our failures.

Some of us define ourselves by our past.  You’re the person who had an abortion.  You’re the guy who had an affair.  You’re the girl who was enslaved to pornography.  You’re the guy who stole from family to get out of debt.  You’re the girl who lied.  You’re the guy who cheated at work.  You’re the girl who slept with the boss to get ahead.  You’re the guy who sold the drugs that led to the car wreck.  It’s just who you are.

The crazy thing is we still see ourselves that way even when we know God has forgiven us for our sins.  The forgiveness of sins is the core of the gospel.  We’re broken, we’re sinful, we need a Savior.  Jesus is holy, He’s perfect and He is the Savior.  He lived the life we should have lived and died the death we should have died.  Our life is found in His death.  The wrath of God has been satisfied.  Sin has been paid for on the cross.  Life Himself died that dead men could be made alive.  We’re forgiven and we’re free.

God sees you as son, daughter, friend, redeemed one, adopted family member, part of His body, member of the household, ambassador, light, salt, beloved.  He doesn’t see the shame of your past.  Only the glory of His Son.

What’s more, He promises to restore everything that sin destroyed.  One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Joel 2:25, I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten,” God takes back the years eaten by the locusts of sin.  What sin destroys, God rebuilds.  It’s how the sexually broken find intimacy.  It’s how the lonely find community.  It’s how the fearful are made strong.  It’s how the self centered become loving.  God doesn’t just forgive.  He restores.

Maybe your life has a long chapter of devastation.  Maybe the locusts of sin chewed up all of college.  Maybe you look back at your 20’s and all you see is devastation.  Could I suggest it’s time to stop looking to devastation of the past and start looking to the restoration of today?  The God who makes all things new is for you.  He will restore those years.  He’ll do it in this life and He’ll finish it in the life to come.

You aren’t defined by your past.  You’re defined by Jesus, Christian.