Category Archives: other people's words

The vision of The District Church

Aaron preached this Sunday on the vision of The District Church, and it was for me both a great reminder of what God’s already done (and what we are thankful for) and an inspiring look forward to what we feel like God is leading us into.

Vision Sunday 2014Some quotable quotes (my paraphrase, in some cases):

Vision not birthed in tears quickly turns to pride. Have you wept over our city?

Ask for God’s favor. But remember that God’s favor is not given for our benefit but for those in need.

We are called to lead by serving.

We don’t have as much of a membership process at The District Church as we have an ownership process.

If you want to know what The District Church is about, give it a listen.

Also, just a reminder, we’ll have the amazing John M. Perkins preaching this coming Sunday — come join us at 9:30am, 11am, or 5pm. More info here.

JohnPerkins_landscape-1

Suffering Together

A few days ago, my friend (and big brother pastor) Eugene Cho posted on his blog, urging churches and Christians not to ignore Michael Brown’s death. It’s worth reading in full, but I’ll quote his opening thought here:

The integrity of the church is at stake because when it’s all said and done, it’s not a race issue for me, it’s a Gospel issue. It’s a Kingdom issue. We shouldn’t even let isolated issues in themselves hijack the purpose of the church. The Gospel of Christ is so extraordinary that it begins to inform (and we pray, transform) all aspects of our lives. So, in other words, we talk about race and racism because we believe in the Gospel.

On Sunday evening, I led worship at The District Church’s East Side parish and felt compelled to lead us into a moment of prayer for our brothers and sisters all over our country who are hurting — another young black man is dead. Here in our city, vigils had been held at Howard University and Meridian Hill Park.

In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul says:

1Cor. 12:14   Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many.  15 If the foot would say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body.  16 And if the ear would say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body.  17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?  18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.   26 If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it. 

1Cor. 12:27   Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.

The way God’s kingdom works is not “if I’m okay, then everything’s okay,” but “if you’re not okay, then I’m not okay.” Or as Martin Luther King, Jr. put it more succinctly:

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

Photo by Heather Wilson

The body of Christ is hurting in Ferguson, MO and in black neighborhoods across the nation. (And in Gaza and the Middle East and Iraq.)

We can’t afford to be ignorant. We can’t afford to be apathetic. We can’t afford not to be praying. We can’t afford not to take whatever action is available to us.

For more,  you can read:

(There are so many good and wise and convicting commentaries; these are just a few.)

Photograph taken by Heather Wilson on August 17, 2014.

Slow down

Lake

Hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day. You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.

- Dallas Willard

In the spiritual life God chooses to try our patience first of all by His slowness. He is slow: we are swift and precipitate. It is because we are but for a time, and He has been for eternity. …

There is something greatly overawing in the extreme slowness of God. Let it overshadow our souls, but let it not disquiet them. We must wait for God, long, meekly, in the wind and wet, in the thunder and the lightning, in the cold and the dark.

Wait, and He will come. He never comes to those who do not wait. He does not go their road.

When He comes, go with Him, but go slowly, fall a little behind; when He quickens His pace, be sure of it, before you quicken yours. But when He slackens, slacken at once: and do not be slow only, but silent, very silent, for He is God.

- Frederick Faber

Going slow is difficult for me. Especially since I’ve learned what it means to put my faith into action, and I just want to do it. Especially in a church that’s committed to the work of justice and the renewal of our city, and there’s so much to do. Especially in a city where your value is often based on your activity.

But in these contexts, going slow, even stopping, and learning to listen are particularly important. Because it’d be real easy to think when you’re busy and active that it’s what you do  that matters, rather than who you are and who you are becoming.

Who you are and who you are becoming are far more important than what you do.

So …

  • Remember to sabbath.
  • Build your life on a foundation of love and devotion for God.
  • Spend time tending to your soul by spending time with God — quality time.
  • Make time for things that give you life — whether that’s with friends or on your own (or both).
  • Build in habits of rest and silence and solitude and prayer.

William Wilberforce, the great anti-slavery activist and parliamentarian — I’m guessing he was probably fairly busy — said,

Of all things, guard against neglecting God in the secret place of prayer.

Doing good is good. Doing good is important. But doing good won’t last long if we’re disconnected from God because we’ll constantly feel stretched thin, worn out, and burned out. We weren’t made just to do good. We were made to live with Godto do life with God (and part of that involves doing good).

And doing life with God means we have to move at God’s pace — James Houston wrote, “The speed of godliness is slow.” So slow down a little; don’t miss what God’s doing.

[Both quotes taken from John Ortberg's Soul Keeping: Caring for the Most Important Part of You.]

The truth about dishonesty

A fun animation to go along with Duke psychology and behavioral economics professor Dan Ariely’s talk, based on his book The Honest Truth about Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone–Especially Ourselves. Includes some fascinating insights into confession, forgiveness, and sin, as well as the financial crisis.