Tag Archives: Lust

Dealing with Enemies


A Commentary by John Stott.

MATTHEW. 5:43-48. Active love (continued).

Words can also express our love, however, both words addressed to our enemies themselves and words addressed to God on their behalf. ‘Bless those who curse you.’ If they call down disaster and catastrophe upon our heads, expressing in words their wish for our downfall, we must retaliate by calling down heaven’s blessing upon them, declaring in words that we wish them nothing but good. Finally, we direct our words to God. Both evangelists record this command of Jesus: ‘Pray for those who persecute (or abuse)you.’ (Mt.5:44; Lk.6:28). Chrysostom saw this responsibility to pray for our enemies as ‘the highest summit of self-control’. Indeed, looking back over the requirements of these last two antitheses, he traces nine ascending steps, with intercession as the topmost one. First, we are not to take any evil initiative ourselves. Secondly, we are not to avenge another’s evil. Thirdly, we are to be quiet, and fourthly, to suffer wrongfully. Fifthly, we are to surrender to the evildoer even more than he demands. Sixthly, we are not to hate him, but (steps 7 and 8) to love him and to him good. As our ninth duty, we are ‘to entreat God Himself on his behalf’.
Modern commentators also have seen such intercession as the summit of Christian love. ‘This is the supreme command,’ wrote Bonhoeffer. ‘Through the medium of prayer we go to our enemy, stand by his side, and plead for him to God.’ Moreover, if intercessory prayer is an expression of what love we have, it is a means to increase our love as well. It is impossible to pray for someone without loving him, and impossible to go on praying for him without discovering that our love for him grows and matures. We must not, therefore, wait before praying for our enemy until we feel some love for him in our heart. We must begin to pray for him before we are conscious of loving him, and we shall find our love break first into bud, then into blossom. Jesus seems to have prayed for his tormentors actually while the iron spikes were being driven through his hands and feet; indeed the imperfect tense suggests that he kept praying, kept repeating his entreaty ‘Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do’ (Lk.23:34).


If the cruel torture of crucifixion could not silence our Lord’s prayer for his enemies, what pain, pride, prejudice or sloth could justify the silencing of ours?
I find I am quoting Bonhoeffer in this chapter more than any other commentator. I suppose the reason is that although he wrote his exposition before the outbreak of war, he could see where Nazism was leading, and we know to what fate his Christian testimony against it brought him in the end. He quoted a certain A.F.C.Villmar of 1880, but his words sound almost prophetic of Bonhoeffer’s own day: ‘This commandment, that we should love our enemies and forgo revenge, will grow even more urgent in the holy struggle which lies before us… The Christians will be hounded from place to place, subjected to physical assault, maltreatment and death of every kind. We are approaching an age of wide-spread persecution…Soon the time will come when we shall pray…It will be a prayer of earnest love for these very sons of perdition who stand around and gaze at us with eyes aflame with hatred, and who have perhaps already raised their hands to kill us… Yes, the Church which is really waiting for its Lord, and which discerns the signs of the times of decision, must fling itself with its utmost power and with the panoply of its holy life, into this prayer of love.’
Having indicated that our love for our enemies will express itself in deeds, words and prayers, Jesus goes on to declare that only then shall we prove conclusively whose sons we are, for only then shall we be exhibiting a love like the love of our heavenly Father’s. *For he makes his sun to rise (Notice in passing, to whom the sun belongs) on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust* (45). Divine love is indiscriminate love, shown equally to good men and to bad. The theologians (following Calvin) call this God’s ‘common grace’. It is not ‘saving grace’. enabling sinners to repent, believe and be saved; but grace shown to all mankind, the penitent and the impenitent, believers and unbelievers alike. This common grace of God is expressed, then, not in the gift of salvation but in the gifts of creation, and not least in the blessings of rain and sunshine, without which we could not eat and life on the planet could not continue. This, then, is to be the standard of Christian love. We are to love like God, not men.

Tomorrow: Matthew 5:43-48 Active love (continued).



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The John Stott Bible Study is taken from The Message of the Sermon on the Mount. The Bible Speaks Today © 1978 John Stott. Used by permission of Inter-Varsity Press UK, Nottingham. All rights reserved

The Weasel Factor

The Weasel Factor

1st August 2010

Sermon on the Mount – Matthew 5

Oaths and Vows

Two main school of thought

  1. Any sort of allegiance or oath to anybody – dangerous to things like governments, and organisations. Example from Jesus’ own trial.

  1. Context of Jesus – People would make big oaths, then be unable to make the vow, and then think, I can get out it. The ancient tradition of making vows, was being abused, e,g. in Matthew 23:16ff – making oaths by the temple or the gold of the temple; looking for loopholes in oaths.

Looks at technical details in Mishnah, how crazy that was.

And we think that this is mad, and then we consider our own culture.

I swear to you

I swear to God with my hand on my Bible

I swear to God on a stack of Bibles

I swear to God on two stacks of Bibles

I swear to God on two stacks standing on my grand grandmothers grave… with my other foot on my other grandmother’s grave, wrapped in an American flag,

Under the statue of liberty,

With a bald eagle flying overhead

And I doubledog dare me to tell truth

But if you weren’t telling the truth

You were crossing your fingers under one stack.

Teaching us to commit all aspects of life, and give that to God,

And to live in God’s world in a non-anxious, trusting sort of way

And we need to learn this now more than ever.

Anger, lust, bread, past, forgiveness – words

How to hold language and words and use them in a non-anxious trusting loving peaceful sort of way

Language and Use of words

19 mins – great interview with Bob Dylan, talking about the joyful use of words

20 mins – Anne Dillard – beautiful words

Telling words and using them to heal – relationship between father and son from Sting

Or words that we do not quite get the meaning of, but still evoke and inspire

Houston Smith in the soul of Christianity “the infinite has doorways but not doors”…

Augustine said God is like a circle whose centre is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere

Or Romans 8 and the words that we are not separated from the love of God.

Some words are like a rocket – that continually launch us into new understanding

Or Stephen Wright “Everywhere is within walking distance if you have enough time”

And there are other ways to used language.  Jesus is saying that if you have to swear at all, then we might need to rethink things

We pause and ask “Why do I need to add words, why can I not just say it is true?”

Sometimes the reason that we add words because we are aware of our lack of credibility.  The Essenes would say “The one who is not believed without recourse to God is condemned already”

Words are not for filling in gaps between character.

The idea is that we are living in the world in such a trusting, hoping, believing way, that we do not need words to bolster credibility.

There are some ways to use words which are about evoking new worlds, and then there are words which are about filling in gaps in character.

Words which refer

Talks about experience of watching movies with children, and the problem with building up movies, and the children are completely underwhelmed compared to the hype that had been given to movies.

Hype is destructive in this relationship. The joke is “Dad doesn’t hype, he reports”.

This has been a profoundly convicting thing, and we learn through the profound trivial things that these are not profound trivial things, and in them our children teach us a lot about ourselves.

We need to let things happen.

The situation when we built a friend up, and we need to let them just meet them.

We hype things by trying to control them.  Judging is controlling people through negativity.

Control is a big thing in the sermon on the mount.

Our words can become a form of coercion and manipulation, and so using hype in this sort of way is an attempt to control and manipulate people’s perceptions through the use of words.

Think of the negative stories we have been told about someone, and the time that it takes to get rid of the negative perceptions we have of each other.

There are destructive ways to control language.

The use of language in advertising.  And we are not even shocked by that, we just know that language is stupid, and we get bombarded by language, and this insanity just manipulates us.  It causes a situation within us about language.

Humanity flourishes not in inauthentic language, but where our “yes is yes, and our no is no”

Tensions Anxieties Relationships

In relationships, one person as assumptions and expectations.

We live in the reality between our reality and what people want us to be.

And our words are to live in those tensions, anxieties and realities; and the awkwardness in language is about venting those things, about living in that painful place and trying hard to explain it away.

In that place we simply have to let our yes be yes and our no be no.

Jesus Driven Ministry


Persecuted for Christ

Key Words Persecution
Source Jesus Driven Ministry
Author Fernando, Ajith
Page 40
Quote The great Indian preacher Sadhu Sundar Singh was disowned and poisoned by his Sikh family when he became a Christian. Some time later he was preaching close to his family home, and he decided to visit his father. Sundar Singh reports what happened: “At first my father refused to see me, or to let me in, because by becoming a Christian, I had dishonored the family. But after a little while he came out and said, ‘Very well, you can stay here tonight; but you must get out early in the morning. Don’t show me your face again.'” Singh says, “I remained silent, and that night he made me sit at a distance that I might not pollute them or their vessels, and then he brought me food, and gave me water to drink by pouring it into my hands from a vessel held high above, as one does who gives drink to an outcaste.”He related, “My father, who used to love me so much, now hated me as if I was an untouchable.” It was very hard to bear. “When I saw this treatment, I could not restrain the tears flowing from my eyes.” At that time he experienced what I believe was the fullness of the Spirit. He says, “In spite of all this, my heart was filled with inexpressible peace. I thanked him for this treatment also… and respectfully I said, ‘goodbye,’ and went away. In the fields I thanked God and then slept under a tree, and in the morning continued on my way.” Many years later Sundar Singh’s father also became a Christian.
References Blessed are the persecuted (Matthew 5)


Biggest problems

Key Words Humility
Source Jesus Driven Ministry
Author Fernando, Ajith
Page 14
Quote D.L. Moody is reported to have had more trouble with D.L.Moody than with any other person he had ever met.


Secrets of a long life

Key Words Conscience Forgiveness Sin
Source Jesus Driven Ministry
Author Fernando, Ajith
Page 35
Quote After retiring from running his orphanages, George Mueller (1805-1898) launched into an itinerant evangelistic ministry at the age of seventy and continued until he was eighty-seven years old. During those seventeen years he traveled 200,000 miles, ministered in forty-two countries, and preached to about three million people.These figures are amazing, considering that this was before the time of airplanes and sound systems.

Someone asked Mueller the secret of his long life. He gave three reasons. 1 The second was the joy he felt in God and his work. The third was the refreshment he received from the Scriptures and the constant recuperative power they exercised upon his being. The first reason is pertinent to this discussion “the exercising of himself to have always a conscience void of offence both toward God and toward men.”7 He was alluding to Paul’s statement to Felix (Acts 24:16). The word (asked) translated “exercise” (KJV) or “take pains” (ESV) means “to apply oneself with commitment to some activity.”8 This practice is something we do with great dedication. It is a huge bur¬den to go through life with unsettled spiritual business. The burden of guilt drains us of our energies and leaves us debilitated and devoid of the fullness of the Spirit.


Prayer when under attack

Key Words Conflict Anointing Strength Prayer
Source Jesus Driven Ministry
Author Fernando, Ajith
Page 39
Quote When we are under attack, we really need the wisdom and boldness that comes from the Spirit. This is why in such situations it is vitally important to wait upon the Lord for his direction and strength. Usually our first reaction when we face a problem is to get busy trying to solve it. Often we go to prayer only after all the other things we tried did not work.
The biggest crisis I have faced in ministry came a few years ago when some of the staff were upset with certain decisions. They felt that I, as their leader, had betrayed them. I experienced some deep hurts as I listened to their anger. During this time God taught me a principle that I found extremely!, helpful: In a time of crisis, before we meet hostile people, we must first meet God. Our ministry is primarily not a reaction to the anger and rejection of people. It springs from God’s acceptance of us as his valued servants and from the filling by the Spirit to meet the challenges that we face.
Sometimes during this crisis, I would just stay in my room alone for hours: thinking, praying, and reading his Word, conscious that I was in the presence of God. I would then go to meet the people in the strength of that time with God. I believe it helped me respond to their anger in the Spirit rather than in the flesh. In this way I trust that, without contributing to the prob¬lem, I became an agent of healing. Jacob’s all-night encounter with God, when he heard that his brother Esau was coming to meet him with a large army, is a good example of this principle (Gen. 32:22-32). We note that he went to that mountain as a fearful man, but he left the following morning with a rich blessing from God to face the challenge before him.
References Wrestling with God (Genesis 32)


Dying to George Mueller

Key Words Death Sacrifice
Source Jesus Driven Ministry
Author Fernando, Ajith
Page 82
Quote George Mueller, when asked for the secret of his service for God, said, There was a day when I died, utterly died: died to George Mueller, his opinions, preferences, tastes and will died to the world, its approval or censure, died to the approval or blame even of my brethren and friends and since then I have studied only to show myself approved unto God.”


God’s work in God’s way

Key Words Supply Sustenance Providence
Source Jesus Driven Ministry
Author Fernando, Ajith
Page 86
Quote From Hudson TaylorGod’s work done in God’s way wil never lack God’s supplies.


Sin And Guilt

Typology of guilt

Key Words Forgiveness Guilt Sin Rebellion Atonement
Source Finally comes the poet
Source Author Brueggemann, Walter
Location 13-41
Quote Notes taken from my reading of the chapter about the need to move from forgiveness to guilt.

In this Brueggemann says
1. Sin has been greatly reduced – p13
2. There are alternatives? P 14
3. The action of God

He outlines the drama of guilt and forgiveness
1. Candour at the throne of God
2. The anger of God
3. The hurt of God (pages 18-22)
Refs also to Jer 5, 3 and 31

The resolve of the priest is to
1. Make reparation – Leviticus 6 p23-33
2. God deals with the residue
– we cannot work our own healing
– healing requires the submission of something of value
– healing is the enactment of atonement
– God finally puts the poison away

He then talks about New Testament aspects of this in Matthew 5 and Hebrews (I think 9:19-23) on p35

There is a good quote on p36 and 41
Summary on p37
Refs to Jeremiah 30 and 31

References Candour at the throne (Jeremiah 5:25-28)
Anger of God (Jeremiah 3:19)
Hurt of God (Jeremiah 31:20)
Reparation (Leviticus 6:1-7)
Resolution of Guilt (Matthew 5:23-26)
Resolution of Guilt (Hebrews 9:19-23)
Further aspects (Jeremiah 3

Christian Living

From Sermon by Martin Allen:

Spoke about the sermon on the Mount introduction
Someone has said
“If the theology of the New Testament can be summed up in the word Grace
Then the ethics of the New Testament can be summed up in the word Gratitude

Broke down into points about being saints, therefore HALO (although middle two went in the wrong order)

Heart – about ethics that run deep
Someone has described American Christianity as 4000 miles wide and 2 inches deep
Contrasted this with the Mosaice commands – 613 (248 positive, 365 negative)
Jesus did not add to this, but wanted something deeper

Law – Christ who keeps the law for us, bears its penalty and through us allows us to live by the law

Action – about action
Radical action in dealing with lust
Immediate action when dealing with anger
Delicate action when dealing with divorce

Outsiders – That our actions should speak to outsiders
People who make a commitment at Billy Graham do so after an average of 31 significant contacts
Someone has also said that the Christian Church needs less salesmen and more free samples

Fitzroy – Handout

Heaven Moves An Inch

Some Common Entanglements

1.     The Multiple Choice Exam

Tick “b”

2.     Elevating Heaven By 100km

Heaven = Shamayin

The Word Appears in Genesis 1:8

Jesus – The Kingdom Of Heaven Has Come Near

3.     Inserting The Ginoskontes

The Word Absolutely Fundamentally Utterly Does Not Appear in Matthew 5:3 (ever)

The Jesus Life

1.     Secrecy – An Audience Of One

(Matthew 6:1-20 – praying, dieting, generosity and accounting)

2.     Priority – Kingdom First

(Matthew 6:33 – the opposite of anxiety)

Kingdom people seek first the Kingdom of God, and its justice; Church people often put church work above concerns of justice, mercy and truth.  Church people think about how to get people into the church; kingdom people think about how to get the Church into the world.  Church people worry that the world might change the Church; Kingdom people work to see the Church change the world David Bosch

3.     Relationships

(With relatives – Matthew 5:21-26; with lovers and the beautiful – Matthew 5:27-32; with the aggressive – Matthew 5:38-42; with competitors – Matthew 5:43-48; with the seemingly inferior Matthew 7:1-6)

Fitzroy – Kingdom

The language of being saved is something that is used in the New Testament, the opening to Colossians talks of what God has done for us in this language

“He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved son.”

But there emerges the myth that once you are in, this is all that counts.

Dallas Willard, whose writing lies behind quite a lot of what I want to talk about today, says that this is bar code religion.

The job is to get stamped with the right bar code.  The “She’s one of us”, “He said the prayer” bar code, and then wait around until the great and almighty scanner at the end of time, and if the bar code gets picked up properly, then we get dumped into the shopping bag that carts us off to paradise.

And faith is about getting the right stamp.

It’s also a faith which grotesquely distorts God, portrays him as nothing more than an examiner in a multiple choice exam.  The exam has one question:

Who is right

  1. Buddha
  2. Jesus
  3. My own inner voice
  4. Alan Sugar and the money brigade
  5. Mohammad
  6. Vishnu
  7. David Icke
  8. Karl Marx

Those who answered “b” get to go to eternity.

As if life were purely reduced to the right answer.

This not only distorts God,

But also distorts our view of this present humanity.

This place becomes simply a waiting around place until the last judgement

It is the story that an American airline will not employ a Christian pilot and co-pilot because in the event of the end of the world, both will be taken to heaven and the plane will crash

More worryingly, the American politicians most approved of by the Right Wing Christian alliance are exactly those with the worst voting records on the environment.  Why care for this place, if everyone is going to be zapped up; it would be like students attempting to look after rented accommodation, there is no real motivation to look after the place, you don’t even lose your deposit.

It means that the quest for social justice is a distraction

The question for environmental justice is pointless, since this world is like a old car being run down until the new model is available

It means that the God parts of life – the going to Church part and the sins forgiveness part; are somehow dealing with the future, and the parts of life now which matter to do with health, money, relationships are of little use, other than as tools possibly for enticing others into ticking the right answer.

Now I exaggerate greatly

I imagine that most of us have low energy light bulbs,

Many of us have at least thought of purchasing a Toyota Prius

And order our groceries from local sourcing vegetable producer

And our wine, our chocolate and our flowers normally carry the Fairtrade lable.

But I want us to go deeply into our own jaundiceness, our own cycnicism, our own flawed relationship with these things.

Particularly because if don’t make certain connections then we will grow faint in understanding that our life can be transformed by a power which enables us to live with the brightness of Jesus

Mike Yacconelli once wrote that he in the light of scandals, in the huge personal flaws he had witnessed in Christian Leaders, that Christian magazines no longer bothered to report scandal in Church leaders, unless the leader were particularly notable, that he had given up thinking about the change that Jesus could bring within us.

“Whatever the change is, it is not so much inward as outward, This difference that God makes is often visible to God.”

Only God has the scanner that can pick up righteousness, and yet Jesus said that we would know each other by our fruit.

And we will grow weary of fair-trade if sense that the future of this world is one of destruction, and that the capitalists and the militarists will have the last word.

That Obama will have one Whitehouse Term and then we have Sarah Palin until 2020.

And I want to address these things by doing some basic Hebrew and Greek to get behind two basic errors that have occurred in our translations of the Bible.

Notice that neither of these errors were present in English translations of the Bible until about 30 years ago.

Not that these sensibilities have been lost,

But by attending to what is flawed, we might come close to some of our own futilities, our own mistakes that do not help us in growth as people of God

As sons and daughters of the Father, as brothers and sisters of the Nazareth carpenter.

Elevating Heaven

The first error is that of elevating heaven.

To get to this error, we only have to know one word in Hebrew, and the word is the word for Heaven – Shamayim  Myima#$a , and sometimes in Hebrew you say the “The Heaven”and here it is here

In the beginning when God created the Heavens and the Earth.

Now look at this verse, It’s Genesis 1:8

And let’s look at how it is translated in the Good News Bible

It’s translated

8 He named the dome “Sky.” Evening passed and morning came—that was the second day.[1]

Now let’s look at this verse in the Hebrew, and you might be thinking, we don’t know any of the Hebrew in this verse, none of our one word Hebrew vocabulary appears in this verse.  Let’s have a look.

Note here,

Yes it’s heaven

The space in between the clouds and the sea at this point (the earth has to wait another day) is heaven.

This space here is heaven.

But by putting the word sky here, we elevate heaven by the height of the atmosphere which is about 30 miles.

Jacob’s ladder, the one he saw with the angels ascending and descending has just received a several thousand extra rungs.

Now, someone might be saying, that’s just a feature of Genesis, in other parts of the Bible, Heaven still has it’s remoteness.

So to deal with this objection, lets learn some Greek, and the Greek word for heaven is ouranos, or in the genitive, which just means “of heaven”, it’s “ouranou” which is a word that Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer used to use in Shooting Stars.

Now let’s look at Matthew 6:26

In the Good News version of the Bible, this is

“Look at the Birds, they do not plant seeds”

And in the New International Version it says

“Look at the birds of the air, they do not sow”

And let us now go and have a look at the Greek, and once again you are thinking, we with our one word Greek vocabulary do not know any words in that sentence, what chance do we have?

But look here, does anyone see a word that they might recognise, yes it is the word Ouranou.

What the Good News called “Birds”

And the New International called “Birds of the air”

Jesus refers to as “The Birds of heaven”

This means that the bird that flies from that tree here to that tree over there will have to have flown through which place.

Yes heaven.

So the first error that our English translations have done is that they have elevated heaven,

They have placed it very far away.

There is a proverb from Donegal

“The height of heaven is three foot above a man’s head”

But actually it is even closer than that.

Kingdom Of Heaven

Now the Kingdom of Heaven is the phrase that we are going to be coming to soon.

And Dallas Willard notes that the kingdom of Heaven is the place wherever the will of God is obeyed.

And that is just about everywhere,

It is obeyed in the planets which circulate according to God’s laws

It is obeyed in the air, where the molecules operate according to laws

One of the laws is Boyle’s law, which looks something like this:

Boyles’ law – pV = k

So heaven is very near,

And the kingdom of heaven is the place where the will of God is obeyed.

Message Of Jesus

And we are now in a position to come to the message of Jesus, which we read in Matthew 4:17

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Now someone at this point might make the point that “Heaven” here is simply a respectful way of saying God, after all the equivalent verse in Mark does says “Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand”

However, I don’t think this argument has too much merit, since Matthew seems quite happy to use the word God elsewhere,

Rather what he is attuning us to things.

One is the nearness of the place where God reigns and God inhabits.

This place is very near.

This is the point that we have been making, that Haven is near.  Jesus’ message begins with this very emphasis, something more than linguistic pedantry, heaven is near.  The new life starts with this realisation.

And then something which is new.  “Has come near” is the sense in Jesus message.

It is this, that the kingdom of heaven has penetrated the human heart, it has penetrated it in the person of Jesus, whose mind whose soul, whose passions, whose imagination, whose sexuality, whose appetite; all is attuned to the kind reign of God.

And that this is a possibility open to all,

All who are burdened by a sense of failure, a sense of the impossibility of goodness,

Jesus says “It is near”

And it is significant that he uses a mind word, the word “Repentance” means “Change of mind”

The mind here is the place where we perceive what is around

It is the place where the will is it work, where we decide how we relate to this world

It is the place of passion, flourishing

And this place is changed, because heaven is near

And with it the possibility that the mind, the seat of human being-ness is a place where the will of God might be done

As it is in the air

As it is in the planets

This is the new kind of life that Jesus invites us into.

The kingdom of heaven can move 2 cms

If you change, if you open yourself to the possibility of change.

Second Big Error – Adding the Ginoskontes

The second error requires us learn one more Greek word

And the word is ginwskw, or to know;

And the form we want it in is ginwskontej which means “Those who know”

And the verse that we are going to look at

Is a second foundational verse for Jesus.

The first verse was the foundation verse in all his teaching

And this is the foundation verse in his best known sermon.

It is in Matthew 5:3

And in the Good News Version of the Bible this is translated

“Blessed are those who know they are spiritually poor”

And the word that we are looking for is ginwskontej

So here is the verse,

And can anyone spot the word

The point is that it isn’t here.

But we have inserted

And even though the New International Version of the Bible gets this one right, I have still heard countless sermons on this verse which say that this verse is about God blessing those who have their attitude right.

And the next verse says “Blessed are those who mourn” is about those who mourn their sinfulness.

But this is so far from Jesus point here.

This is not a new law that Jesus is giving here

That the sermon is Leviticus 2.0

Less stuff about Milldew in your houses and avoiding women who bleed and men who shed skin

And a bit more about turning other cheeks, and not worrying and being perfect as your Father is perfect

But the context is the same,

Get it right and God will like you

And get it wrong and God will not

But the whole foundation of this narrow way is not the ability to live perfect lives

But to orientate our lives to this radical piece of grace that it is the poor in the Spirit

It is the messed up whom God blesses

And we are resistant to the scandal of this and so add a word in ginwskwntej

We add it in, because heaven and the kingdom of Jesus is the place where the people who do the right stuff get to belong.

Blessed are the geeks

Blessed are the nerds

Blessed are the wimps

Blessed are you when you have blemishes and dandruff and wrinkles and all manner of bad breath

Blessed are those who have no fashion sense

Blessed are the unco-ordinated

Blessed are the middle managers

Jesus says “You are not a loser”

Jesus says “My party is for you, you can be riotous and celebrate at my table”

Blessed are the anxious

Blessed are the unemployed

Blessed are the divorced

Blessed are the homeless

Blessed are the drop-outs and the burnouts and the left outs

Blessed are the chronically ill

Blessed are the sexually addicted and the sexually frustrated

Blessed are the mentally ill

Blessed are the HIV+

Blessed are the parents who failed

Blessed are the children who ran away

Blessed are the barren

Blessed are the pregnant out of wedlock

Blessed are the failures

New Life

This time is about how to avoid an Iris

How to avoid the error of making the mistakes

Of having a badly disordered life underneath the veneer of religious respectability.

It does not come by trying harder

Nor does it come by trying to get sufficient time between us and our wrong doing

So that it’s memory becomes duller

And the ability we have to say to God

“I know I did that bad thing, but look at all the good stuff since”

No, it comes in this foundational stuff

The kingdom of God is near

The kingdom is for those who have messed up, who do not add the ginoskontes

And this reordering comes from this fundamental reorientation.

What Happens In Secret

It is about what happens in secret.

Have you notice that the sermon in the Mount

Is predicated on the fundamental risk that God sees stuff

And if God does not see, then our actions are utterly pointless.

It is about praying in secret

It is about fasting in secret

It is about giving in secret

And the risks are transferred again to the possibility that God and heaven are real

So the treasure we accumulate is the treasure that heaven values

Not the treasure that earth accounts as wealth

God had better be real

Heaven had better be near


“Seek the kingdom”

It is the setting of priority that counts

Seek first the kingdom

Not seek first the Church

Not Seek first control

Seek the kingdom

David Bosch Makes this quote

Resolving To Deal With Relationships

And it is the resolve to deal with relationships that are wharted

Not to visit violence on the other

But to deal with the pain of relationship gone bad

Not by running away

Nor by crushing the other

Which are two responses based on whether I can win or not

Rather the way is this way that accepts pain

But refuses to look away.

Shaine Claiborne tells the story of a woman who hears a burglar coming up the stairs ** Claiborne story

This was what was told Laurbach

** Story from Laurbach

It is proved in the storm

One final thing about this kind of life

You cannot much tell the difference it would appear from Jesus story at the end of the sermon on the Mount.

In his depiction of the builders who build the house on the rock

The test of the house is not when the weather is fair

They both appear to be find houses

The life of Jesus is detected in the storm.

It is detected in the life of Anne McGuinness whom I committed last week,

And whose life in the discovery that she could not have children

And the early death of her husband

And in the tenderness with which she, a Jean Brodie type figure embodied her calling not to be a mother but to be an aunt, to her nephew Bill and his partner William

And whose atheism was not shaken by the clever argument

Nor stridently expressed opinion but by a woman with courage in the ward of a hospice

It appears that the life is not known

Until that kind of a place

Or at the funeral of Chris’ sister Margaret

** Picture of Margaret at Rob’s wedding

Where Norman Jardine read from her diary

“I know this sounds like a cliché, but God really has been with me these past few months”

It is the collapse of our own failure

And the discovery of grace

That the life of Jesus is thus discovered

Might we in the company of Ann, Margaret and Iris

Discover the power of this life

The kingdom is near

And it belongs to the poor in Spirit

We are indeed blessed.


[1]None. Good New Translation – Second Edition (electronic ed.) . ,: :

Blessed are the geeks

Blessed are the geeks

Blessed are the nerds

Blessed are the wimps

Blessed are you when you have blemishes and dandruff and wrinkles and all manner of bad breath

Blessed are those who have no fashion sense

Blessed are the unco-ordinated

Blessed are the middle managers

Jesus says “You are not a loser”

Jesus says “My party is for you, you can be riotous and celebrate at my table”

Blessed are the anxious

Blessed are the unemployed

Blessed are the divorced

Blessed are the homeless

Blessed are the drop-outs and the burnouts and the left outs

Blessed are the chronically ill

Blessed are the sexually addicted and the sexually frustrated

Blessed are the mentally ill

Blessed are the HIV+

Blessed are the parents who failed

Blessed are the children who ran away

Blessed are the barren

Blessed are the pregnant out of wedlock

Blessed are the failures


Rob Bell – 6th December 2009

This is Rob Bell on the internallising of the Sermon on the Mount, that this is a life that flows out of us, that it is not just a new set of commands.

There is an analogy with being taught to ride a bicycle, and the lack of good that getting instructions gives you.  Its not instructions that is going on here.

This is basically an analysis of the hypocrite condemnations that happen in Matthew 6,

This is a refusal to accept the rewards that God has for us, the best kind of reward, and telling God to butt out so that we can receive our reward from other people now.

There are references to Jeremiah 31 and the shift from bad things to good things at about 5 minutes.

A point that Bell makes is that Jesus assumes that his disciples are generous, and that if anyone wants to understand God better then they should give, they should not arrive at God by hearing the answer that shifts things for them.

In the hypocrite section there is much theatre language and there is speculation that Jesus may even have been involved in the building of the theatre that has been excavated not far from Nazareth.

God’s reward is the best reward

Blessed are Those In Ethical Confusion Over Sofas

This is Rob Bell speaking on “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”

Bell starts with a reflection on ache – the ache for a nuclear free world, or for a marriage to work.

He then deals with a traditional understanding of the beattitudes and “exemplary attitudes”, and quotes one commentator:

“Those who intentionally devote every aspect of our lives and every molecule of our being to embrace, adopt and become morality upright without guilt of sin.” (16 mins)

But Bell, being a good disciple of Dallas Willard, rightly rails against this interpretation as “new law”, “Blessed are those who get it right.”

Instead he talks about those who have the ache for something more, and who sense they are far from it; who do not have the righteousness, but yearn with physical desperation for something more.

There is a section on this in Habakkuk.  Talks about having a Habakkuk day.

He talks about friends unsure of whether to buy a sofa or donate to Developing world water projects.  One understanding is that once they get the right answer then God will bless, but Bell says that God blesses us in the tension, in the place of not knowing.

Blessed are you when you ache because the world isn’t as it is supposed to be

Blessed are you when you come to the end of yourselves

Blessed are you when you get frustrated enough to throw up your hands and say “God, I can’t do this.”

Blessed are you when you can’t make the tension go away no matter how hard you try

Blessed are you when you run out of willpower, ideas, self-control, hope, fortitude and energy

Because it’s in that place

In that state

In that pain

In that ache

In that longing

In that desire

In that awareness

In that  hunger

In that thirst

That Jesus announces

“God is with you”