5 Things You Need To Know About The Story Of God

Last Sunday we started a new journey as a church in our gatherings called the Story Of God.

The reality is we are story-shaped people as humans and as people who follow Jesus we participate in God’s work in the world.  We want to understand, experience and intersect with God’s story.

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Literacy Facts (From Soma Tacoma)

• Over 50% of people over age 16 are functionally illiterate

• 58% of the U.S. adult population never reads another book after high school

• 42% of college graduates never read another book

• 80% of U.S. families did not buy or read a book last year

• Each day, people in the US spend four hours watching TV, three hours listening to the radio and 14 minutes reading magazines. It’s estimated that we spend as much as 80% of our non-working, non-sleeping time in front of a screen – TV or PC.

• Researchers believe that 70% or more of the people in North America prefer non-literate means of communication. (Preferred Oral Learners)

As I rub shoulders with people I continue to see that people often do not see the entire story of the Bible as one big story. So here are some important things we need to understand when it comes to God’s story.

5 Essentials In Understanding, Experiencing and Intersecting The Story Of God

1. The Bible Is A Grand Narrative

2. The Bible Is Not Primarily About Me

3. God Is Primarily Speaking To People In Community

4. The Entire Story Points To Jesus As King

5. We Know The End Of The Story

a theology of work + vocation

A couple Sundays ago we took some time to look at a theology of work as a church community.

If our ultimate goal as the church is not just to fill seats on Sundays but to be priests (bridge builders) that fill the city than the primary place we worship is through our vocation.

My job?  Really?

Yep.

And I made the mistake of waiting over two yeas in the City View story to unpack something that is important and core to all of our lives. The four letter word… WORK.

Things We Learn About Work From The Garden

  • work is pre the curse
  • we were created to work
  • we are image bearers of God
  • the first thing God blesses is man and then puts him to work (Genesis 1:28)

Ultimately, man was to reflect and rule with God in the garden.  There was rhythm and peace and work was good.

But the fall screws things up.

Genesis 3:17-19

cursed is the ground because of you;

in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;

18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;

and you shall eat the plants of the field.

19 By the sweat of your face

you shall eat bread,

till you return to the ground,

for out of it you were taken;

for you are dust,

and to dust you shall return.”

Things We Learn From The Scriptures About Work In This Current Age

  • Work is not the curse, toil and work is the curse
  • One of the primary ways we worship in this current age is through our work
  • We are to work as though Jesus is our boss
  • We each have different vocations but we are all in full time ministry
  • One reason we work is to fund kingdom work

And then we have our future hope as people who follow Jesus!  We believe a day is coming when everything that is wrong will be made right.  Injustice, pain, suffering and the curse will be lifted.

And we will… (drum roll please)…  WORK.

Revelation 22:1-5

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

Jesus, Kingdom + Treasure

This past Sunday we took some time at our gathering at City View to walk through Matthew 6 and what Jesus has to say about Kingdom and Treasure.

It’s true that Jesus had a lot to say (1/4 of his teaching) about treasure, money and generosity. Here are a few things we learned:

Everything is God’s and I get to steward what he has given me.
My finance always goes where my heart is.
If we love the gospel we will give to see it advance throughout the earth.
An implication of following Jesus is that we are people who are generous.

This is what Jesus says in Matthew 6:19-24:

19 “DO NOT STORE UP FOR YOURSELVES TREASURES ON EARTH, WHERE MOTHS AND VERMIN DESTROY, AND WHERE THIEVES BREAK IN AND STEAL. 20 BUT STORE UP FOR YOURSELVES TREASURES IN HEAVEN, WHERE MOTHS AND VERMIN DO NOT DESTROY, AND WHERE THIEVES DO NOT BREAK IN AND STEAL. 21 FOR WHERE YOUR TREASURE IS, THERE YOUR HEART WILL BE ALSO.

22 “THE EYE IS THE LAMP OF THE BODY. IF YOUR EYES ARE HEALTHY, YOUR WHOLE BODY WILL BE FULL OF LIGHT. 23 BUT IF YOUR EYES ARE UNHEALTHY, YOUR WHOLE BODY WILL BE FULL OF DARKNESS. IF THEN THE LIGHT WITHIN YOU IS DARKNESS, HOW GREAT IS THAT DARKNESS!

24 “NO ONE CAN SERVE TWO MASTERS. EITHER YOU WILL HATE THE ONE AND LOVE THE OTHER, OR YOU WILL BE DEVOTED TO THE ONE AND DESPISE THE OTHER. YOU CANNOT SERVE BOTH GOD AND MONEY.”

There is a lot to unpack here, but I do think it leaves every Jesus follower three major questions to ask about what they do with their stuff.

1. Are You Storing Up Treasure In God?

When you hear the phrase “store up your treasures in Heaven” what comes to mind?

I’m assuming that most think of Heaven as some far off place you go when you die. The problem is that when we think like this we completely miss what Jesus is saying.

Many Jews in the first century were so devout that they wouldn’t write the name God. Most would write G-d for fear of someone destroying the page.

What Matthew did in his gospel is he interchanged the word Heaven for the word God in attempts to not offend his audience. So the “Kingdom of Heaven” could be translated “Kingdom of God”. The problem is that when people think of Heaven they often think of investing way into the future.

Now don’t get me wrong. I do believe that when you give financially to God’s work it will affect the future. The problem is that what Jesus is saying in Matthew 6:19 is actually a call for us to store up our treasure in God.

It has very little to do with storing up treasure in a far off place in the future and has a lot to do with storing up treasure in the present!

The question we are all faced with is this: Are we storing up treasure in Earth now? Or are we storing up treasure in God now?

You have to decide that for yourself.

2. Do You Have A Healthy Eye?

What is random is that in verse 22 Jesus begins to talk about the “eye”. Now the eye may not mean a lot to us today but in the ancient world the eye was a Jewish euphemism for how people handled money.

Jesus goes on to say, “If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light”.

The reality is that when you handle money well and exercise generosity it brings health to your entire life.

This has nothing to do with prosperity and everything to do with being under the rule and reign of Jesus.

It’s simple. Jesus followers should be the best at handling resource. They should be the most generous people on the planet!

How is your eye?

3. Who Is Your Master?

Verse 24 is the only place in the gospels where Jesus actually names a rival god. He takes this serious and says you cannot serve God and mammon (the god of money).

Most statistics show that the average person both inside and outside the church spends 97% of their money on themselves. It’s not a money issue as much as it is a master issue. Who rules your life?

Money is not inherently bad yet Jesus sets the stage for all of us. Who are you going to serve? Are you going to be under the rule and reign of Jesus or are you going to be under the rule and reign of money?

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The Christian discipline of fighting temptation is not about self-hatred, or rejecting parts of our God-given humanity. It is about celebrating God’s gift of full humanity and, like someone learning a musical instrument, discovering how to tune it and play it to its best possibility. At the heart of our resistance to temptation is love and loyalty to God who has already called us his beloved children in Christ, and who holds out before is the calling to follow him in the path which leads to the true glory.

NT Wright on Temptation 

Stetzer On Community

It is easier to sit face forward in the stands watching the show on the field (an entertainment model of public worship gatherings). But that is an easy religion not found in the New Testament church. It is easy to watch the show, but it is biblical to gather in small communities and live on mission. God made us for community. A small community owning a great mission for the glory of God and the redemption of the peoples of the world is worth it.

Update

It the fall!  Here are three things we are thankful for at City View.

 1. City View Kids

We are really excited that our kids ministry is growing and advancing.  We are leveraging technology for our lessons to teach our kids the gospel.

We have also moved to two age groups.  We have rented a classroom at Central so that we have both a preschool and elementary school experience for our kids.

The really cool thing is that we have moved to four teams that serve our kids on Sunday.  This means that there are over twenty people serving in our kids ministry on a monthly basis.  This to me says that our kids ministry is in a position for sustainability and growth in the future.

You can see our lessons at www.cityview.cc/kids

2.  Community Groups

Community Groups are really becoming the heart and soul of what we do as a church.  We have coined the phrase that Community Groups are “ordinarily expressions of church in our everyday lives.”

We currently have five healthy groups meeting on a weekly basis to live out the gospel together.

3.  Discipleship and The Mission Of God

Personally, I am excited that little by little disciples are being made, leaders are being mentored and the people are joining God on His mission.

The greatest learning for me is that this takes time.  Making disciples takes time!  Especially as we teach people that church is not just an event on Sunday but something they are every single day.

I am exciting that people are catching the biblical idea that they are the priesthood.  They are the ones who join God to change the city!

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The church is sent into the world to continue that which He came to do, in the power of the same Spirit, reconciling people to God.  Jesus said, ‘As the Father has sent Me, I am sending you’.  No one can say; ‘Since I’m not called to be a missionary, I do not have to evangelize my friends and neighbours.’

There is no difference, in spiritual terms, between a missionary witnessing in his hometown and a missionary witnessing in Katmandu, Nepal.  We are called to go – even if it only to the next room, or the next block.

Leslie Newbigin

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Mission is our committed participation as God’s people, at God’s invitation and command, in God’s own mission within the history of God’s world for the redemption of God’s creation.  Our mission flows from and participates in the mission of God

Christopher Wright

A Note For Parents

Heather and I love what is happening in our kids ministry at City View!  An amazing group of talented and dedicated people have really given their talents, abilities and leadership over the last year to make City View Kids an amazing place.

Many churches that start with a small group like we did don’t start with kids ministry.  It takes months and sometimes years for church plants to establish strong care because of resource and time.  We were fortunate to start with a great group from day one!  We are looking forward to the future.

This morning something amazing happened.  I came into our family room this morning to my kids watching, singing and dancing to this past Sunday’s lesson on our TV!  They were saying the memory verse and bottom line!  It was a cool experience as a parent to see them growing.

We all know that technology is changing the world and we want to utilize that to help you as parents.  We have some amazing kids curriculum and are now putting it online for you to use with your family.  There are video lessons that you can stream online, play through your xbox, Apple TV, or media centre.  There are also parent cues each week and devotions for your kids.

This is just one way that we want to help parents disciple there kids.  As a church we have them for an hour and half but we know the true responsibility lies in us a parents to lead our kids in the ways of Jesus.

We want to do everything we can.  So go on over to www.cityview.cc/kids each week and use the resource!  I’ve also embedded an example of this past Sunday below.

Have a great week!

JUMP WEEK 1