Patterns Week 5: Patterns Of Less

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READ: ROMANS 7:14-20, 1 TIMOTHY 4:7-10

Deeper Conversation

John Ortberg has said that “Habits eat willpower for breakfast. “What is a desire or appetite that, despite your best efforts, you’ve struggled to overcome?

Dallas Willard says “Grace is not opposed to effort, it is opposed to earning.” How do we differentiate our efforts in growing spiritually from our attempts to earn God’s favor?

Engaging The Scriptures

Read Romans 7:14-20, 1 Timothy 4:7-10, 2 Peter 1:3

In Romans 7, Paul identifies sin, yet doesn’t identity with that sin. How can we acknowledge our sin without allowing shame to make it part of our identity?

In 1 Timothy 4, Paul uses the metaphor of physical fitness to speak of our spiritualWANTS growth. What similarities do you see between physical health and spiritual health?

In 2 Peter 1:3, we’re told we have everything we need for our spiritual lives. If this is true, how might this shift the way we go about walking with God each day?

Practicing Together

Practice Fasting And Sacrifice

This week, identify an appetite or desire that seems to plague you. Maybe it’s a food, time on social media, sweets, etc. First, name that desire before God. Second, in prayer, submit it to him. Third, choose an intentional period of time to go without this appetite in order to tune your heart towards God and strengthen your spiritual muscles.

Recommended Resources for Choosing Less

The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place – Andy Crouch

The Common Rule: Habits of Purpose for an Age of Distraction – Justin Whitmel Early

Fasting – Scot McKnight

You Are What You Love – James. K.A. Smith

Patterns Week 4: Patterns Of Generosity

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READ: 1 Timothy 6:17-19

Deeper Conversation

Community is about relationship. Take time to listen to and engage in one another’s stories.

A posture of scarcity believes that ultimately, God is holding back – and there’s not enough to go around. How do you see scarcity shaping our world… or your life?

On the flip side, a posture of abundance believes that God is generous, and there’s always enough to go around. How have you been impacted through the abundance of God through the generosity of others?

Engaging The Scriptures

Read 1 Timothy 6:17-19

We’re always tempted to “trust in wealth,” no matter how much money each of us have. How have you been tempted to make money your source instead of God?

What are some of the ways we can keep our mindsets free of scarcity so that we can see our finances through a kingdom perspective?ABUNDANCE

As you consider you’re own life, what shifts might God be leading you to in order to free up more opportunities to be generous?

Practicing Together

Practice Generosity

No matter how much money we have, we have the opportunity to be generous. This week, look for the abundance of God in your life. Time? Money? Resources? Gifts? Whatever it is, ask God to give you an opportunity to practice abundance and live generously this week.

Patterns Week 3: Patterns Of Prayer

Click here for our 5 Day Prayer Guide

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Read: Matthew 5:6-13 Message

Community is about relationship. Take time to listen to and engage in one another’s stories.

Deeper Conversation

Growing in prayer requires implementing intentional, daily habits. What barriers in your own life currently stand in the way of you growing in prayer?   

There is prayer that’s driven by obligation… and prayer that’s driven by love. As you consider these two postures, how would you know the difference? And which have you been more prone to in your own experiences?

Engaging The Scriptures

Read Matthew 5:5-8

Jesus warns against the hypocrisy of maker prayer a performance. What are some of the markers of turning prayer into a lifeless show – personally or corporately? 

Jesus encourages us to withdraw from the world to spend time with the Father. Looking at your own life, where might this place be for you?realprayer

Jesus reminds us the Father already knows our every need. If this is true, how does this change the way we see the purpose – and the practice – of our prayer?

Practicing Together

5 Day Prayer Guide

Join our 5 day prayer guide through the Lord’s Prayer – you can find it in the lobby or by visiting

Patterns Week 2: Patterns Of Presence

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READ: Luke 5:12-16, John 5:19

Deeper Conversation

Community is about relationship. Take time to listen to and engage in one another’s stories.

If life is about obeying to get God to show up in our lives, our walk will be filled with obligation rather than devotion. Be honest – which has been a more common experience in your spiritual journey?

How would you describe the difference between a Christian life where God is always present and at work…compared to one where we hope He “shows up?”

Engaging The Scriptures

Read Luke 5:12-16, John 5:17-19

As you read the Luke story, what can you infer about Jesus’ pattern of ministry? How did he understand his role in the demands He faced? already

In John 5, Jesus says he only does what the Father is doing. How does this redefine the way we, his followers, understand our walk with God?

How often to do get to withdraw from the work and expectations of your life and simply be with Jesus? What obstacles stand in your way?

Practicing Together

Solitude. One of the most under-utilized and yet deeply needed disciplines of the Christian life is solitude. When we pull back from the world to be alone with God, apart from the noise of digital (and literal) distractions of our day, we can hear the voice of the Father far clearer. This week, spend a period of time alone with God – no phone, no noise, just you and God. Maybe it’s only 15 minutes, but that’s a great place to start!

Patterns Week 1: We Are Being Formed

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READ: Romans 12:1-2

Community is about relationship. Take time to listen to and engage in one another’s stories.

Deeper Conversation

What’s a habit (good or bad) in your life that you do repeatedly and perhaps… unknowingly? Looking back, how did this habit take shape in your life? 

What spiritual habits – or lack thereof –  currently shape the way you see and experience God? If you could add or improve something, what would it be?

Engaging The Scriptures

Read Romans 12:1-2

Paul tells us to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice. Why do you think he says this as opposed to our minds, hearts, or lives?

In order to sit conforming to the world’s patterns, we need to be aware of them. What “patterns” do you see forming our minds and hearts in the world around us?

Instead of obeying God’s will to be changed, Paul pushes us to be changed in order to liveyourwayknow God’s will. How does this shift our perspective on how to follow Jesus in our day to day lives?

Practicing Together

Pay Attention To Your Life. Self awareness doesn’t always come easy. It takes intentionality to not only look, but be honest about our lives. This week, pay attention to the habits and patterns that are shaping your life. What are the habits that are de-forming you away from Christ? What are the habits that are re-forming you to be like Him? As you pay attention, talk it over in community.

Faith In Exile Week 4: Faith In The Fire

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Read: Daniel 3

Deeper Conversations

Community is about relationship. Take time to listen to and engage in one another’s stories. 

God is always present and at work in our lives – even in our suffering. Can you think of an time of suffering you’ve had when you experienced God’s presence in a real way?

Be honest – what are the “fires” you find yourself in right now? Where do you need God to show up?

Engaging Scripture

Read Daniel 3:1-30

Throughout this series, we’ve talked about standing strong against the compromise of both assimilation and condemnation. How do you see this in Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego?

Read verse 18. The threat of death did not scare these young men into submission. How inthefirehave you seen faithfulness to God be a powerful witness in the face of loss – or even death?

As modern followers of Jesus, what can we learn from this story about how to live faithfully in our own modern Babylon that calls our allegiance away from God?

Practicing Together

Pray For The Persecuted Church. In America, we are often blind to the plights of Christians around the world that face persecution for their faith. Last year, it was reported that 245 million Christians experienced high levels of persecution. Visit and learn how pray for and support persecuted Christians!

Faith In Exile Week 3: Putting Down Roots

LISTEN: iTunes | Spotify | Download   |||   Read: Jeremiah 29:4-14

Community is about relationship. Take time to listen to and engage in one another’s stories.

Deeper Conversation

In our culture, commitments are often seen as limiting our freedoms.  How does living a rootless life impact our spiritual health?

In our fast-paced society, slowing down and being present is a discipline that we desperately need. Be honest – at what speed are you currently living? Are you hectic? Rushed? Exhausted?

Engage The Scriptures

Read Jeremiah 29:4-13

Homes, gardens, and families have one thing in common – they take time! What role does patience play in experiencing God’s mission in our lives?

God ties the prosperity (shalom) of his people to that of those who brought them into captivity. What does this speak about God’s mission for our lives?

We are promised hope and a future… yet not a way out of exile. How does hope transform not just our future, but our present?

Practice Together

Pray For Your Neighborhood And City. Part of the command of God for his people in exile was not just seeking shalom for their city – but praying for it. As you spend time with God in prayer this week, make a point to pray for your city and neighborhood. Ask God to help you see it with His eyes. Ask Him to give you opportunities to be the hands and feet of shalom!

Why Do We Serve? 3 Very BAD And Very GOOD Reasons

Some questions seem so simple and obvious that they never really get asked. And after long periods of going unasked, their answers become assumed. As a result, these assumptions go unchallenged, unengaged, and over time, become distorted. One such question has popped into my mind of late, and I wanted to ask it: why do we serve?

With the last 3 months of the year approaching, there are new and important opportunities at Restoration to meeting tangible needs in our community. As we prepare to roll these opportunities out to the Church, I don’t just want to make it clear what we are doing – I want us to know our why.

From the beginning, serving those in need both inside and outside the walls of the Church has been central to our identity and calling. As our 3rd year as a Church approaches, it is humbling to know that we’ve developed a reputation as a community for being willing to step into places of need and impact in our neighborhood and beyond. We’ve almost never had to go looking for places to serve – opportunities come to us!  To 38404798_1877978382506810_6961954275270328320_nbe honest, there are more needs that are presented to us than our little church plant can handle. In each, we try and discern whether we have both capacity and calling to engage without losing the roots of where God already called us.

So with the end of the year approaching and some big opportunities coming, I wanted to slow down and remember why we serve – to ask the question afresh and encourage us as we step into the places God calls us. But before we answer this question rightly, we need to confront some very wrong reasons why we serve in our community. Why? Because doing good things for the wrong reasons distorts God’s call and burns us out.  I’ve seen it happen to many times. And in some cases, I’ve seen it happen to me. So – what are some of the wrong reasons to serve?

3 Terrible Reasons To Serve

To earn God’s approval. This may seem obvious, but I’ve heard it out of many people in some form or fashion – both implicitly or explicitly. Usually, we feel some sense of guilt, shame, or regret about our own spiritual lives, and to numb the pain and make ourselves feel better, we get out and serve. Internally, a scale tips back and forth, and a few good deeds might make up for a few bad ones, right?

Overtime, you begin to notice – the scales don’t budge. We still feel shame, guilt, and fear about how God sees us. So we either try harder… or fall away. In the end, the problem we face is at the heart of the Gospel. Our good behavior doesn’t impress God. By putting our faith in Jesus, the internal scale has been destroyed, and we have God’s acceptance and approval as a son or daughter of God not on the basis of the good or bad we do, but rather on grace. Here’s the truth – we serve from the approval God has already given us in Jesus, not for it.

Because Those People Need Us. This one is subtle, and like the attempt to earn God’s approval, we can dress this reasoning up in religious language and crusade into issues of poverty and justice like the heroes we think we are. We have resources, they don’t, right? This well intentioned, often-beneath-the-surface mentality pervades a great deal of ministry to those in need, and I’ve found myself unconsciously assuming this posture if I’m not intentional about my motives.

It’s well intentioned, but this mindset relies on false assumptions that are not only unbiblical, but offensive. First, we are not “bringing Jesus to these people.” Jesus is already present and at work among those we seek to serve. Second, all of the resources aren’t in our hands. The poor and marginalized are often rich in ways that we are very poor – like having a deeper, dependent faith, an interdependent community of care, and a perspective on God that is not blinded by privilege. We are paternalistic in our posture if we act otherwise. Here’s the truth – we need the poor and marginalized as much – if not more – than they will ever need us.

To Tackle “Issues” In The Community. When you drive through downtown Lexington, many pressing needs will come to light (if you want to see them). You’ll see the homeless population, panhandling or wandering through the streets of the city. You’ll see poverty impacting neighborhoods and populations in pockets spread all over Lexington. You’ll see men and women impacted by addiction. You’ll notice the racial disparities and continued separation or outright segregation in housing in our city. And so on. If you want to see it, it’s there.

And while you may be seeing issues, you’re likely not seeing people and their stories. You’re not seeing the PTSD that’s driven someone to the streets. You’re not seeing the parents who can’t find good work and therefore daycare for their kids because of felonies in their distant past. You’re not seeing the death of a parent that drove someone into addiction. The closer you get, the more complex stories become. Issues dissolve, people come to the forefront. Long story short, people don’t want to be treated as “projects” or “issues.” Here’s the truth – tackling “issues” and loving people where they are are two separate things. If you’re not in it for the relationship, for the presence, for the solidarity, then you’re in it for the wrong reasons.

What About The Right Reasons?

If we’re not gaining God’s approval, trying to be saviors to people who “need” us, or tackling big issues at the exclusion of actual people, why should we serve? What should drive us to meet people where they are and serve them? Let me give you a few why we do what we do.

It’s Where We Find Jesus. If you want to find Jesus, you’ll find him among the poor and marginalized. It’s not to say he’s not present in the lives of those of us with more wealth and resources, but the Bible makes it clear that Jesus is so deeply in solidarity with those in need that when we serve the poor and marginalized, we are serving him. Look in Matthew 25 at this stunning promise from Jesus: “‘For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger and you took me in; I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you took care of me; I was in prison and you visited me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and take you in, or without clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick, or in prison, and visit you?’ “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me (Matthew 25:35-40).”

This passage makes it clear – when we look into the face of those we serve in need, we are looking at Jesus.

It’s Shows The World Our Future In The Present. Jesus taught us to pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10).” In other words, the life of heaven – the shalom of God, where nothing is missing and nothing is broken – is the reality we are called to live right here on earth. When we stand in the gap and bring restoration in relationships and neighborhoods, both in tangible and spiritual ways, we point to the reign of God here on earth. As a result, heaven becomes far more than a disembodied future – it becomes a present reality and pursuit among us.

It Is The Overflow Of The Love We’ve Received. The truth is, we can’t give what we’ve never received. 1 John 3:16-18 tells us, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth (1 John 3:16-18).”

What is John telling us? If we’ve received the love of God in Jesus Christ, loving those in need will be the natural overflow of our lives. There are thousands of motivations to serve, but only one of these motivations can sustain us for the long haul – love. Paul reminds us that all of our frantic busyness and importance in serving is, well, meaningless without love: “If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing (1 Corinthians 13:3).”


This fall, we’ll be painting faces, providing meals for hundreds of kids and families, serving and encouraging men overcoming addiction, handing out candy to kids in our neighborhood at Halloween, providing diaper bags and essentials for moms overcoming addiction, and making Christmas a reality for kids families impacted by that very same addiction. That’s a lot!

So before we start, let’s remember our why: the only why that can sustain us and empower us for generosity and service: love. May we receive it in Christ, and as we do, give it away freely to those God leads us to serve.

Faith In Exile Week 2: A Creative Minority

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READ: Daniel 1:1-21

Deeper Conversation

Community is about relationship. Take time to listen to and engage in one another’s stories.

It’s not a question of if we are being discipled – but rather who is discipling us. What are some of the sources and voices that are shaping Americans today – for better or worse?

As followers of Jesus, what makes us different does not make us superior. How can we be both distinct AND humble in our faith?

Engaging The Scriptures

Read Daniel 1:1-21

As you read through verses 1-7, what type of emotions and feelings do you think the Jews would be wrestling with in captivity?

Daniel & his friends remain faithful to God while serving a foreign king. What can we learn about living in the tension of our spiritual & political allegiances?

What are the tensions you feel in your life now between the practice of your faith and the world around you?

Practice Together

Prayer. This week, read Daniel 6. At the end of his life, the faith of Daniel was still being challenged by the powers around him, yet he remained faithful in prayer – following the patterns that he knew in Israel decades before.  Look at your schedule. Where can you carve out consistent, scheduled place in your life for prayer?