Archives For Pastor J.D.

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In Long Beach, California, you can visit the Queen Mary, a ship that’s been turned into a museum. It was originally launched as the ultimate luxury cruise liner of its time. But during World War II, it was commandeered to carry troops back and forth in battle. You can go onto the ship now and see examples of both setups: When it was a luxury liner, it accommodated 3,000 people with every possible convenience; in wartime, however, it was refitted to house 15,000 people. Rooms that once slept one couple could now hold eight soldiers.

Wartime and peacetime demand different things. The same is true for us.

In his farewell message to the church leaders in Ephesus, the Apostle Paul shares with them the values he’s lived by, values that give us crucial insight into how the Holy Spirit wants all believers to think about their lives.

Paul starts by saying that in his life, he made sure his generation knew the truth: “I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable …. Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:20a, 26-27 ESV).

Paul saw himself primarily as the bearer of a message. As a messenger, he was not responsible for whether people liked the message—only that they heard it. For Paul, this was very serious business: “I am innocent of the blood of all.”

That seems like an odd statement. But Paul uses strong language because he sees the gospel as the life or death message that it is. Continue Reading…

TWS-5

Most people probably don’t read the Sermon on the Mount and think, “Hey, there’s the secret to happiness!” After all, it seems like a list of things you have to do. And not exciting things, either: Be meek. Be merciful. Be persecuted for righteousness’ sake.

That doesn’t really sound like a list of ways to make my heart happy.

But Jesus says that the meek, the merciful, the persecuted … these people are blessed. That’s the same Greek word for “happy.” He must know something we don’t.

The key to understanding the beatitudes is found in the very first one: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3 ESV). In fact, once you get this one, all the others fall right into place.

It might be the key, but it is also probably one of the hardest to understand. What does “poverty of spirit” mean, anyway?

Continue Reading…

TWS-4

I saw a statistic the other day that I thought was fascinating. High school students (not Christian students, by the way) were given a list of possible goals and asked which three were the most important to them.

Surprisingly, only 18 percent listed “achieving fame or public recognition,” and only 25 percent said “working in a high paying job.”

So what scored high on the list? Among others, making a difference in the world (96 percent), having one marriage partner for life (82 percent), and having a clear purpose for living (77 percent).

I think most people, regardless of their age, want to know what their divine purpose is—and that they are fulfilling it. The Apostle Paul explains, in his letter to the Romans, that he had found just that. And while his calling may not be identical to yours, he lays out the path for how you can discover yours. Continue Reading…