Winning Ways - from Hillcrest Baptist Church, Austin, Texas 
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What Are You Chasing?
by Tom Goodman
October 1, 2014

Our Declaration of Independence tells us that "the pursuit of happiness" is a fundamental human right.  But if you don't know what will really make you happy, it's futile to pursue it.

I read about an enterprising lady in New York City, where there are very few places to bury a deceased pet.  The city authorities will take your pet off your hands for $50, but this woman advertised the same service for half the price.  When she got a call, she showed up at the client's apartment with a second-hand suitcase she had purchased at the Salvation Army for two dollars.  She would gently place the deceased pet in the luggage and leave the apartment.  Then she would take a ride on the subway, setting the suitcase down and acting like she wasn't watching.  Invariably a thief would steal her suitcase, and she would look up and say, "Wait.  Stop.  Thief."

My guess is the people who stole those suitcases got a real surprise when they got home!

Some of us are like those New York thieves.  We keep grabbing what we think will give us happiness, but we end up with something that doesn't quite deliver.  Maybe that's why only 20% of the people in the U.S. claim to be happy according to one study.  The right to pursue happiness is no guarantee that you will find it.

That's why we're going to look at Jesus' definition of happiness in the Beatitudes.  Eight times Jesus declared certain people "blessed" and explained why.

The Beatitudes stand alongside the Ten Commandments and the Lord's Prayer and Psalm 23 as the most beloved passages of the Bible.  But what do they really mean?

That's what philosopher Dallas Willard asked in his award-winning book, The Divine Conspiracy.  "The Beatitudes are acknowledged by almost everyone to be among the highest expressions of religious insight and moral inspiration," he said.  "We can savor them, affirm them, meditate upon them, and engrave them on plaques to hang on our walls.  But how are we to live in response to them?"

For the next four Sundays we'll figure out how to answer that question.  Bring someone to the study!  Just forward this email to them with an invitation to join you!  We meet for worship at 10am for an hour, and then we encourage everyone to stay another hour for small-group discussion.


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