A Value: Story over Sin

We all like a good story. A good story simulates our souls and evokes our emotions. I went and saw The Last Jedi. People have such divided opinions on the movie because of how they are connected to the largest Star Wars metanarrative.

I will indict myself in this next number, but in America 490 billion dollars are spent watching movies and being entertained watching stories.  The average American spends 5 hours and 4 minutes daily watching tv, which increases when you have a streaming service. That kind of money and time into being entertained by stories either that we can relate to or that we can escape from (watch something non-sensical). We have been hard-wired by our Creator to be drawn into stories in a real way—we kind of need them. Think about it: before movies, there were plays, campfires, dinner tables, cave walls. We were created in a story and for a story.

The problem of our consumption of stories is that stories shape us and disciple us. They give us a worldview, a way of seeing the world around us. According to Matt Chandler and Tim Keller, in our American context, there are five false narratives which we consume that conflict with the narrative to which we as Christians submit.

  • Consumerism: the good life means that you have the kind of stuff that people would look to you and see – the meaning of life is getting more stuff. More will make you happy
  • Secularism: all there is what you can see and verify. The happier you will be is once you realize there is no supernaturalism.
  • Nationalism: success and supremacy of our own nation from political purity would make our world a better place.
  • Progressivism: just keep making forward progress that we will move our way toward utopia.
  • Cynicism: nothing can be trusted, everyone is in it for their own gain, nothing is beautiful, doubt anything good or beautiful. The only trusted source is self.

Trying to live life under one of these false narratives is like continuously picking up rocks. You have to keep picking up rocks. Eventually, the rocks you pick up crush you. In the world, real people, your neighbor, your co-workers are being crushed by these narratives.

We are drinking these narratives in with every movie, idea. Because we all consume something, we will stumble back into one of these narratives. When we act on and adopt these narratives we are lead to sin. Ultimately, each of these narratives entices us to believe the lie that we are at the center of the story.

Christians are not immune to the pervasiveness of these lies. When we reflect on our life we can often see God as one of the characters in our story. We look for him when we need him and expect him to be grateful when we serve him. He is a lovely piece of our story, but we still think of it as our story. But it is not our story. It is God’s story as creator and rescuer. We exist to expand the goodness of His story throughout the world.

The story God as told in the Bible is the only true narrative. Our disbelief in who God is and how he acts leads us into sin–defining right and wrong according to our perspective instead of God’s. God’s story shapes everything.

Christians have one true story really well so that we can spot the false narratives. This involves the ones we believe first, those that the culture spews second, and those others believe third. Before we can move past this point, we have to know how God’s story intersects our individual stories.

There is a murderer turned missionary named Paul in the Bible who started a church in the ancient city of Ephesus. While in prison, He writes back to the church as he awaits trial in Rome for sharing the story of Jesus and it’s implications.

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins in which you previously lived according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler of the power of the air,the spirit now working in the disobedient. We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love that he had for us, made us alive with Christ even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! He also raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus,so that in the coming ages he might display the immeasurable riches of his grace through his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— not from works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do. – Ephesians 2:1-10

For believers, you and I have this story in common. We have a shared story. I do not know about you, but the first time I was made alive was in the second row of a youth conference where God took me from death to life. It is the place where my self-created identity failed and God said, “Mine.”

“Dead in trespasses and sins” and the consequences of destructive actions explain where we come from and what’s wrong with the world. Into the brokenness, God sends the Son to save.

The sending of Jesus did not happen because God was putting together a team of super people. We were not saved because our parents were good disciple-makers. We were not saved because God looked at our unique skill-set and said: “Oh I could use some of that in my kingdom.” We were not saved because we used to do bad things and now we don’t. We were saved because God is gracious and kind and in His mercy he saved us.

This common story transcends all of our differences Which is why the church can come together being politically, socio- economically, racially different. So you have where we come from, what went wrong, how God has fixed it, and our purpose in life all in 10 verses. This is our story and this story is incompatible with the five false narratives. You cannot embrace our story and embrace these other narratives. There is no group hugging these narratives together.

What do you do to help you reorient yourself to the one true story?

Likely, you attend Sunday worship services and at most, you spend 2-3 hours weekly to reorient you to the grand narrative. Now compare that time allotment to the 5 hours and 4 minutes you spend daily consuming false narratives (feel free to lump in social media for you non-tv watchers).

We cannot just reorient ourselves to God story when we gather, but the story has to be evident when we scatter. We have to be so caught up in God’s story that we choose story over sin. When we filter every area of life through the gospel we put God’s story over sin.

The gospel is: God himself has come to rescue and renew all creation through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

Every area means every area…the good and the bad. We can apply the gospel to all areas of life. Here are a few worldview examples…

Our story compels us to be generous, while consumerism says hoard or get your own. Our story is that everything that has been given to us is by the grace of God and should be held loosely at our fingertips eager to give it away and be generous to others.

Our story drives us to see the beauty and goodness in God’s world, while cynicism says there is no real good. Our story is that God has been kind to us even when we did not deserve it and were even not kind in return. Therefore, we should strive to cultivate beauty, justice, and trust just as our God did for us.

Our story acknowledges that we cannot solve our own problems, while progressivism says we will eventually find a manmade solution. Our story is that God provides the solution to sin and brokenness in Jesus Christ through his selfless love. One day He will bring full restoration and right all wrongs. Therefore, we can serve and love self-sacrificially with no strings attached.

Our story sends us to hear other’s stories and testify about the one true story before we condemn anyone for their sin. Jesus does not expect us to become the saviors and behavior modify people out of sin. We are invited to live in response to the story of the savior. God’s story overcomes our sin.

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CP Parents Taking Home the Word (10/4)

 The GATHERING

This week we continued our series called, “Lies We Believe.” This series is based out of a resource that has impacted my walk with God called The Gospel Primer by Caesar Kalinowski. Throughout this series we will be working from the perspective that every sin in our lives comes from disbelief in the character of God (Romans 14:23). When we cease to believe God is who He says He is we rebel in our depravity. We exchange the truth of God for a lie (Romans 1:25).

When we cease to believe that God is good…we think we can find satisfaction in other things or people. Hence, why we try to fill that God sized hole with awards, food, alcohol, sex, approval, lack of stress. Ultimately, we try to seek comfortable stress free easy lives, which proves our satisfaction and happiness is rooted in stuff other than God. We make choices that make life easier, rather than involve God in the choice process. We become selfish and self-absorbed when we believe the lie that God is not good. However, when we realize that God is good…we don’t have to seek comfort, but pleasure that truly comes from Him

We challenged your students not seek postures of influence of comfort, rather surrender their life over to a God who loves us for exactly who He created us to be. He is good, so we can live lives of faith that reflect His goodness in our priorities and character. In order to do this, we must abide in Him to discover that He is the only one who sustains us and fulfills us. Because, once again, if we truly believe that God is good, that He is more important and we find true satisfaction in Him, then we can rest and repent of stressing out over people, circumstances or your future. We must walk by faith that God is good even in the midst of pain, suffering, and brokenness.

“We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” — C.S. Lewis

Parents, does your child fear stress or demands? Or, do they constantly want for life to be easier?  Do you sense that your child seek comfort in the midst of tough situations? Do they desire to quit when things get tough or stress gets high? I’d encourage you this week to lift God up as good.

The good news is that we can live a free life because a good God exists. We can let our redeemed and rescued lives reflect that God’s story is bigger than our own.

KEY TEXTS: John 6

CRITICAL QUESTIONS: What does it look like to believe God is good? Do the conversations about whats important reflect God’s goodness, or satisfaction in something else?

CP Parents Taking Home the Word (9/27)

 The GATHERING

This week we continued our series called, “Lies We Believe.” This series is based out of a resource that has impacted my walk with God called The Gospel Primer by Caesar Kalinowski. Throughout this series we will be working from the perspective that every sin in our lives comes from disbelief in the character of God (Romans 14:23). When we cease to believe God is who He says He is we rebel in our depravity. We exchange the truth of God for a lie (Romans 1:25).

When we cease to believe that God is gracious…we think we have to prove ourselves (to ourself, to others, to God). Hence, why we check Instagram or Facebook to see how many likes we are up to. Ultimately, we try to impress God with our lives so that he will bless us or be happy with us. We think the same way with other people. We even seek positions or postures of power over others in potentially destructive ways. However, when we realize that God is gracious…we don’t have to strive, we can simply respond in gratitude.

We challenged your students not seek postures of influence or power over others, rather surrender their life over to a God who loves us for exactly who He created us to be. He extended us grace, while we were still living wrongly. We must live lives of gratitude and grace where we don’t pressure ourselves to earn respect or fear humiliation. Because, once again, if we truly believe that God is gracious, that He is more important and His grace-filled relationship to us carries the utmost importance in our life, then we can rest and repent of stressing out over people, circumstances or your future. We must walk by faith that God is the most gracious not what we can see with our own eyes.

Parents, does your child fear humiliation or a lack of respect? Or, do they constantly argue for control over situations?  Do you sense that your child seek approval from others to be accepted, or fears rejection from friends? Do they struggle with jealousy and envy? I’d encourage you this week to lift God up as gracious. As a parent you don’t have to prove yourself, stop trying to prove yourself and your value through the success of your students. Make a conscious effort to encourage your student to follow God in such a way that Jesus’ name is made famous, more than your family name & more than their name. If you struggle with validating your parenting through the success of your children, check out Trophy Child.

Grace is the free and unmerited favor of God in response to our sin by sending Jesus Christ to pay the penalty of our sin. We didn’t earn our salvation, God gracious extends it to us. Let’s let grace characterize our relationships, attitudes, and posture.

The good news is that we can live a free life because a gracious God exists. We can let our redeemed and rescued lives reflect that God’s story is bigger than our own.

KEY TEXTS: Matthew 6:25-34

CRITICAL QUESTIONS: What does it look like to believe God is gracious? Do the conversations about whats important reflect God’s glory or proving oneself?

CP Parents Taking Home the Word (9/20)

 The GATHERING

This week we continued our series called, “Lies We Believe.” This series is based out of a resource that has impacted my walk with God called The Gospel Primer by Caesar Kalinowski. Throughout this series we will be working from the perspective that every sin in our lives comes from disbelief in the character of God (Romans 14:23). When we cease to believe God is who He says He is we rebel in our depravity. We exchange the truth of God for a lie (Romans 1:25).

When we cease to believe that God is glorious…we think we have to fear people. Thus, we have to keep up an image or put on a good face for people because we fear disapproval. We even seek affirmation from others in potentially destructive ways. However, when we realize that God is glorious…we don’t have to fear what others think.

We challenged your students not seek affirmation or affection from others, rather surrender their attention and their life over to a God who loves us for exactly who He created us to be. We must live courageous lives and fear only God. Because, once again, if we truly believe that God is glorious, that He is more important and His relationship to us carries the utmost importance in our life, then we can rest and repent of stressing out over people, circumstances or my future. We must walk by faith that God is the most glorious, not what we can see with our own eyes.

Parents, does your child fear your disapproval? Or, do they look for affirmation from you? Maybe your opinions and your standards have been held up as more desirable that God’s? DO you sense that your child seek approval from others to be accepted, or fears rejection from friends? I’d encourage you this week to life God up as glorious. Make a conscious effort to encourage your student to follow God in such a way that Jesus’ name is made famous, more than your family name & more than their name.

The word glory means “weighty,” as in “a person of importance, a weighty person.” Who do you seek to bring glory to?

The good news is that we can live a free life because a  glorious God exists. We can let our redeemed and rescued lives reflect that God’s story is bigger than our own.

KEY TEXTS: Matthew 6:22-24, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

CRITICAL QUESTIONS: What does it look like to believe God is glorious? Do the conversations about whats important reflect God’s glory or fear of man?

CP Parents Taking Home the Word (9/13)

 The GATHERING

This week we kicked off a new series called, “Lies We Believe.” This series is based out of a resource that has impacted my walk with God called “The Gospel Primer” by Caesar Kalinowski. Throughout this series we will be working from the perspective that every sin in our lives comes from disbelief in the character of God (Romans 14:23). When we cease to believe God is who He says He is we rebel in our depravity. We exchange the truth of God for a lie (Romans 1:25).

When we cease to believe that God is great…we think we are in control of our own lives. Thus, we need to live out our plan for our life. However, when we realize that God is great (powerful, sovereign, mighty)…we don’t have to be in control of every situation or person.

We challenged your students not be anxious or worry about controlling their destiny, rather surrender their plans and their life over to a God who is in control of everything. We must be good stewards of what God has given to us in our lives. Because, once again, if we truly believe that God is great, that He is large and in charge of EVERYTHING in life, then we can rest and repent of stressing out over people, circumstances or my future. We must walk by faith that God is in control, not what we can see with our own eyes.

Parents, I know you want what’s best for your student, but are you forcing them to think through every detail of their life in advance? Are you letting the culture of the educational system in Lexington cause fear and anxiety in your student that they may not get the best schooling? The opposite of worry and anxiety is peace. Does peace characterize your student when it comes to their future? Here’s two stats:

  • 58% of Gen Z’s are either somewhat or very worried about the future.
  • 77% believe they will need to work harder compared to those in past generations to have a satisfying and fulfilling professional life.

The good news is that we can live as if a powerful God exists and let our redeemed and rescued lives reflect that God’s story is bigger than our own.

KEY TEXT: Matthew 6:19-21

CRITICAL QUESTIONS: What does it look like to believe God is in control? Do the conversations about the future reflect God’s sovereignty or our planned life?