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Predestination has to be one of the most misunderstood concepts in the Bible. For most Christians, the idea of God choosing us “before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4 ESV) is pretty confusing. We don’t quite understand how it all works. Even if we believe it, we usually treat it like an answer on a multiple-choice exam. We’ll check the right box, but then we go about the rest of our lives, unsure of how predestination is supposed to apply to us. For many of us, knowing that we’re chosen is the theological equivalent of knowing our social security number—important to get right, sure, but not a detail that impacts our day-to-day lives.

That’s not how the Apostle Paul presented the idea at all. When he wrote to the believers in Ephesus, he began by reminding them of their predestination because he knew that truth would transform their lives. Paul told the Ephesians that they were chosen—and God tells you that you’re chosen—to give you four things:

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Disciples Give More Than They Take

Posted by Pastor J.D. on February 20, 2017
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Just a few weeks ago, President Barack Obama ended his term, handing off the highest office in our land to (now) President Trump. Now, don’t worry: This isn’t a post about Trump, Obama, or politics. But that transition has me thinking about moments in which we have the opportunity to define ourselves, to determine the values we will live by and the legacy we will leave.

When you get elected president—even though your life is much longer than those four or eight years—what people remember about you is shaped by what you do during that time. Almost everything done before or after becomes a footnote to an incredibly intense defining moment as president.

You probably haven’t been elected president of anything lately, but there are still key moments in your life when you have to decide what is going to define the rest of your life and what values and principles are going to shape how you live.

Near the end of his life, the Apostle Paul gives a farewell speech that summarizes the values he’s lived by. He’s saying goodbye to the church leaders in Ephesus, where he’s spent the previous three years. As far as he knows, he’s never going to see any of those guys again. He is headed to Jerusalem and then to Rome, where he assumes he’s going to be martyred. (History tells us that he’s right.)

A man’s final words are probably the most significant; it’s what he most wants others to remember. If you were making a farewell speech, what would you include? A list of your accomplishments? Words of wisdom for how to be successful?

Paul’s last words are about generosity. Continue Reading…

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There Will Be Blood

Posted by Pastor J.D. on February 15, 2017
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Most Bible reading plans start off with the Torah—the first five books of the Old Testament. If you’re following along with the Summit’s Bible reading plan, you’re squarely in the middle of the book of Leviticus. You can be honest: that’s usually about where the excitement of reading the whole Bible grinds to a halt. Genesis is amazing. Exodus is exciting. But you get to Leviticus, and the litany of laws makes you want to jump ahead to the New Testament.

Leviticus can seem like a strange book, to be sure. It’s got a lot of odd rules that don’t make sense to us. But right in the center of the book, we get a glimpse into the most important ceremony in all of the Old Testament—a day so holy and so crucial that the Jews simply called it, The Day.”

This ceremony is just as relevant for us, thousands of years later, because it deals with a deep problem that every single one of us has—the problem of guilt and shame. If you’ve ever struggled with feelings of inadequacy, or had a nagging sense of fear that others will “find out” about who you really are, this is the story for you.