October 20, 2017

Shaped By Jesus I

By Chaplain Mike

Now that Michael Spencer’s book has been released, and people are reading about “church-shaped” spirituality vs. “Jesus-shaped” spirituality, I’d like to explore more of what it means to be shaped by Jesus.

For this series, the Gospels will be our main source material. These will not be in-depth studies but sign-posts pointing to Jesus’ teaching and acts as the soil from which Christlike discipleship grows.

Our Lord’s “discipleship program” is described in his calling of the apostles in Mark 3—“And he appointed twelve, whom he also named apostles, to be with him, and to be sent out to proclaim the message, and to have authority to cast out demons.” The key phrase is “to be with him.” Companionship with Jesus—watching him at work, listening to him teach, asking him questions, assisting with his ministry, being entrusted with ministry of their own—this was the original approach. It was apprenticeship; learning in life.

The Spirit enables us to be with Jesus today as we live our daily lives in the context of the Biblical story. As we contemplate the words and acts of Jesus, and as we live in a conversational relationship with him, our minds and imaginations discover that Jesus is the Way—not only the Truth we believe, and the Life we receive—but also the pattern of life which shapes ours.

We begin with the Gospel of Matthew. Many scholars believe that the first Gospel is actually a “handbook for discipleship,” a manual designed to teach people to follow Jesus. For example, Matthew arranges Christ’s teaching material into five “discourses” or sermons and concludes his book with the commission to make disciples by teaching them to obey all that Jesus taught.

With his five major blocks of Jesus’ sayings (Mt 5-7; 10; 13; 18; 23-25), Matthew clearly wants to emphasize Jesus’ teachings (28:19-20). Many scholars even suggest that Matthew intends Christian scribes to use the collections of Jesus’ teachings in his Gospel as a teaching manual.

…Matthew probably functions as a discipling manual, a “handbook” of Jesus’ basic life and teaching, relevant to a Jewish-Christian community engaged in the Gentile mission and deadlocked in scriptural polemic with their local synagogue communities.

Craig S. Keener, Matthew (IVP NTCS, p. 27, 35)

This Gospel, therefore, gives us an ideal place to begin talking about what it means to be “Jesus-shaped.” We begin with Matthew’s first block of teaching, the “Sermon on the Mount” (Mt 5-7).

Grace, Poverty, and the Coming Kingdom

Matthew 5:1-12 (NRSV)

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
‘Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.’

I have given my interpretation of this passage in a previous post. The Beatitudes are pronouncements of grace. They announce that:

  • those who have little or no hope,
  • those who appear to have little to offer to the world,
  • those who are on the fringes of society (and religious society in particular),
  • those who live in ways that the world considers weak, unproductive, and unsuccessful
  • those who are considered the “losers”—

—all are welcome to share in the Kingdom blessings that Jesus brings. There is no human situation that excludes one from being blessed in Jesus. The world and its evaluation of who wins and who loses will not have the final say. In Jesus, God has the last word: The last shall be first.

So…

  • Even if you are spiritually bankrupt (poor in spirit),
  • Even if you are overwhelmed by the sadness of life in this world (those who mourn),
  • Even if you are the kind of person who doesn’t stand up for yourself or assert your rights (meek),
  • Even if you are fed up with and broken by injustice (those who hunger and thirst for righteousness),
  • Even if your heart is soft, you are always giving to others, and easily taken advantage of by needy people (merciful),
  • Even if you are so concerned with having a clear conscience that others think you a prude (pure in heart),
  • Even if you are always trying to pacify others and care more about diffusing conflict than any other objective (peacemakers),
  • Even if your convictions and actions get you in constant trouble with those who set the rules (persecuted),

God’s blessings are yours in Jesus!

No human condition, no matter how hopeless it may appear, no matter how despised by the world, no matter how “unsuccessful” or insignificant others may deem it, disqualifies anyone from God’s grace in Christ. Jesus is making this pronouncement: “Blessed are the losers; in my kingdom they will be the winners!”

Jesus starts his teaching where we should all start: with an emphasis on pure grace. The Beatitudes tell us that the favor God bestows and the the blessings of his Kingdom are available to even “the least of these.”

It doesn’t matter who you are. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done. It doesn’t matter how much or how little money you have. It doesn’t matter where you live. It doesn’t matter what kind of a personality you have. It doesn’t matter if you have a good or bad reputation. It doesn’t matter if you’ve had a lot of success in life, or have been a miserable failure. It doesn’t matter if you’ve gotten all the breaks or if you’ve been broken again and again. It doesn’t matter if you come from a good family or are homeless. It doesn’t matter if you are religious or skeptical, bookish or pragmatic, political or a-political. Your ethnic background is not an issue. The color of your skin makes no difference. Man, woman, or child, you are welcome. You can be of any age, physical condition, or mental capacity. You have emotional problems? It’s OK, you can come in. An introvert or an extrovert? There’s a place for you.

Jesus highlights the poor and powerless of the world in order to show that God does not judge as the world does. We do not earn his recognition or experience his blessings by becoming successful in this life. Every person in this world is equally needy and dependent on God’s grace and forgiveness in Jesus. This is one reason “God has chosen the poor in the world” (James 2:5). It is not because the poor are more “worthy” than the rich. Rather, in Jesus’ ministry to the poor God gave us an object lesson to convince us that heaven’s values are not ours, and that even the most unlikely people (in our eyes) have access to God’s gracious acceptance in Jesus.

If this is the way Jesus came to the world, if this was his focus, if this was the “topic sentence” of his ministry, then what does it say to us about being shaped by Jesus as his followers?

First, it tells us that we enter the company of Jesus just like everyone else: by God’s grace alone. All the initiative, all the pronouncing of blessing, all the action is his. We hear, we hold out empty hands. We trust. We receive. Period.

Second, it shows us that Jesus puts a priority on relating to the people the world rejects. Once again, this is not because the poor are more “worthy” than anyone else. They are not necessarily more spiritually receptive or open to the Good News. They don’t “deserve” our attention more than any other segment of society. But focusing on the poor and those on the fringes of society communicates a powerful, subversive message of grace and acceptance to the world. I heard someone say recently that if our churches are not filled with the kinds of people whom Jesus attracted, then perhaps we are not proclaiming the same message and doing the same kind of ministry he did.

Third, it puts our relationship with Jesus in proper eschatological context. The Good News Jesus proclaims in the Beatitudes involves a promised future that is breaking into the present through Jesus himself. We will only fully experience these “blessings” when the Kingdom arrives in its fullness. However, the pronouncement of blessing is given now and applies in the here and now. In Jesus, we begin to taste the future blessings of God. No matter our earthly condition. He does not promise to change our circumstances, but he does promise that we can begin to know the blessings of God in the midst of them. As we “hunger and thirst” for God to make all things right in the new creation, newness dawns in our hearts through Jesus’ presence in our lives.

So, to summarize:

To be shaped by Jesus:

  • We live in and by Jesus’ grace alone.
  • We join Jesus in living among and ministering to the poor.
  • We live now in the light of the new creation Jesus is making.

Comments

  1. FIRST!!!!!

    Just kidding.

    I find this interesting because I have always heard the Beatitudes as saying “Blessed are the (poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, etc)” as if there is some intrinsic value to each of these states and that one should pursue them in order to attain the blessing of God. This turns it around: Even if you are in any of these states, there is still room for you in the kingdom of God.

  2. Eagerly awaiting for this title to arrive. Amazon says it should be here by tomorrow and I can’t wait. I still miss Michael and I’m sure by the time I’m finished, I’ll miss him all the more.

    Thanks for whetting the appetite, Mike.

    Brad

  3. I’m going to be honest here and admit that I have struggled with the meaning of the beatitudes for years. many have given an interpretation but it never satisfied my yearning to understand. Most have been as Joe describes.Thanks so much for this, at last the light bulb has come on! AND I feel encouraged!

  4. JoanieD says:

    I think this is one of your best posts, Chaplain Mike. Thank you!

    • praying for your husband today….maybe because I have relatives (thankfully not my wife) who think the whole Jesus thing is silly as well

      sometimes perplexed, but not despairing
      Greg R

  5. “The Spirit enables us to be with Jesus today as we live our daily lives in the context of the Biblical story. As we contemplate the words and acts of Jesus, and as we live in a conversational relationship with him, our minds and imaginations discover that Jesus is the Way—not only the Truth we believe, and the Life we receive—but also the pattern of life which shapes ours.”

    You mean we should not be focused on a 4 week sermon series on parenting? Surely you jest.

    • David Cornwell says:

      Yeah, and you can probably buy those parenting sermons, all done, with illustrations and jokes. Just add a personal story of how you are a perfect parent, then it’s all ready to preach. Just download, fill in the blanks, and preach!

  6. Dallas (Willard, not Seminary) would be proud of you.

  7. kenneth gallagher says:

    chaplain mike,

    but he does promise that we can begin to know the blessings of God in the midst of them. As we “hunger and thirst” for God to make all things right in the new creation, newness dawns in our hearts through Jesus’

    my hair is standing on end, well said!
    God bless, kenny

  8. Crumple says:

    Oh, wow. All this time, I’ve read “Jesus-shaped” as meaning “shaped LIKE Jesus” and not “shaped BY Jesus.”

    And I thought it was the weirdest expression and wondered how a spirituality could be shaped like a man we’d never seen.

    Duh.

    Boy, do I feel like a doofus.

  9. Sometimes we actually DO see these themes come alive: I arrived at a weekly Bilbe study last night (book of Hebrews) to find out that one of our members had a severely flooded basement. Our leader said: “Well, we could either TALK about these things, or go help Brian…” Almost the entire group just up and met at Brian’s. I think this is a matter of seeing Jesus STILL walking the earth, and doing stuff, and following HIM.

    Greg R

    • That Other Jean says:

      This. A thousand times this. Why do so many Evangelicals see helping people as “works righteousness” instead of doing what Jesus said to do?

      • Because a focus on helping people rather than enforcing the correct rules would make them “liberals” and we can’t have that.

        • Johnson, your response makes me happy to call myself a “liberal.” But even then, I am not a very good liberal. I am too lazy. Sometimes it’s all I can do to work a full day, go home and do what needs to be done there and do it all over again the next day.

          • Savannah says:

            JoanieD, happy to call myself a liberal in this sense (and many others), too, with the same struggles.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Because a focus on helping people rather than enforcing the correct rules would make them “liberals” and we can’t have that.

          Because how could you play One-Upmanship games unless you’re enforcing The Correct Rules?

          “I Thank Thee, LORD, that I am nothing like that Filthy Publican over there…”

      • After-effects of the Reformation still lingering, I imagine. Yet another thing you can blame us Romans for. 😉

        With its emphasis on the seven spiritual and seven corporal works of mercy, plus the natural human inclination to take the easiest way out, a lot of the rich who were happily grinding the faces of the poor or living lives of immorality took the way of donating to the Church either by ostentatious gifts of alms sunk into ambitious church-building programmes (er – how different from our own day, eh?) or establishing chantries to have Masses said for their souls.

        The Reformers lashed out at this kind of behaviour by quite rightly saying you can’t buy your way into Heaven.

        Unfortunately, their spiritual heirs were (still are?) so afraid of anything that smacks of Romanism that ‘social justice’ can be a dirty work and the practical application of charity gets smacked down as ‘works righteousness’.

      • Christopher Lake says:

        ThatOtherJean,

        It’s an imbalance, a misunderstanding, on the part of some evangelicals. Happily, at least in my experience, many evangelicals do care about helping people and don’t view it as “works righteousness.” Maybe my experience has been unusual, but in the last three evangelical churches where I have been a member, there was a strong emphasis on helping people (both physically/materially and spiritually).

        Two of these churches were, and are, Calvinistic in theology. In one of them, the main pastor warned strongly about the dangers of the “Social Gospel” overtaking the “Biblical Gospel”– yet in this very same church, I found the most caring, involved-in-the-community-and-the-world body of believers that I have ever found anywhere.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Then you’ve made a rare find.

          Very often the reaction against a Social Gospel without personal salvation is a Gospel of Personal Salvation and ONLY Personal Salvation — equally out of balance in the opposite direction.

  10. Steven Carr says:

    ‘Companionship with Jesus—watching him at work, listening to him teach, asking him questions, assisting with his ministry, being entrusted with ministry of their own—this was the original approach. It was apprenticeship; learning in life.’

    Being with Jesus, listening to him teach, assisting with his ministry, learning in life…. No wonder they deserted him, one of them even betraying him for money.

    Those disciples really didn’t have the faith of modern Christians did they?

    • Like all disciples, they were miserable failures and needed Jesus every moment. See point #1.

    • There are several “D’oh!” moments in the Gospels where the disciples show themselves to be indeed our spiritual fathers and our similars in spectacular demonstrations of missing the point, particularly in places like Matthew 16: 5-12

      5And when his disciples were come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread.

      6Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

      7And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread.

      8Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread?

      9Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?

      10Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?

      11How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees?

      12Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. ”

      I get an uncomfortable sense of recognition from that, because yes, I too am one of those who need the Idiot’s Guide to the Parables where the Lord has to do the dumbed-down, point-by-point explanation of what He means: “No, I’m not cross because you forgot to pack your sandwiches, guys.”

  11. I think ‘Jesus shaped’ (or the life of the believer) should look likea picture of Baptism.

    Dying and Rising (over and over and over again).

    Repentance and forgiveness (over and over and over again).

    A life of returning to trust admidst the unbelief that resides in our own hearts, in the world, and the attacks of the devil.

    This is the theology of the cross. I know it’s not popular. It never has been…and it never will be.

  12. This is a great introduction of the “meat and potatoes” (er, the bread and wine 🙂 of life with/in Jesus in the Kingdom of heaven.

  13. For me, this definitely ranks in the top ten best ever posts on IM, at least for the couple of years I’ve been hanging around. Thank you, thank you, thank you. The Kingdom is and will be full of losers and failures, proof of Jesus grace and beauty. This is also the heart of the much needed antidote to the immediately victorious, overcoming, happy-all-the-time, Jesus is my buddy pop theology of modern evangelicalism.

  14. I’ve read this interpretation of Matthew 5 before (Dallas Willard), but has this interpretation been common in Church history?

  15. Second, it shows us that Jesus puts a priority on relating to the people the world rejects.

    This offers a very shap counterpoint to the theology, not heard as much as it was in the 90’s, methinks, that we are to focus on ‘influencing the influencers’, to focus on outreach to those who are in positons of influence and decision making. After they’ve been saved , they will use that influence for the Kingdom…….very pragmatic, of course,and sometimes Jesus hung out with the influencers, but more often than not, HE didn’t. And HE didn’t seem too constrained or moved by their agenda, He already had HIS….

    • Really good thought. It’s not the politician or movie star who “could make such an impact for Christ” if only they were converted that we should be worrying about—just that sentiment in and of itself shows that the power to make a difference is coming from the person, not from Christ. The focus belongs on those who can’t possibly accomplish anything, but yet, through Christ’s power alone will.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Celebrity Converts.

      Which end up just reinforcing that only CELEBRITIES matter, not Nobodies like you or me.

      And that God is on the side of the Rich, Powerful, and Famous. God pats them on the head when they ride the rest of us booted and spurred.

      “They- they call Lord Shardik the God of the Slave Traders!”
      — Richard Adams, Shardik

  16. Some Guy says:

    So, Jesus isnt saying that you should be peacemakers, he is just saying it is OK if you are..

    Seems a rather easy cop out. The beatitudes to me seem to be a set of things Jesus wants you to strive towards. Jesus is always telling his followers that they need to be better, that they need to DO things.

    • Jeff Lee says:

      I think you are correct. The historic interpretation always involved our action. If I extend the notion that he is really saying “even if…” to all of the beatitudes, we must therefore reach the conclusion that Christ is saying, “even if you are merciful, even if you are a peacemaker, even if you are pure in heart, you can receive my blessings.” As if its preferable to be otherwise? That really doesn’t work. These are references to the way we should seek to be. For instance, the first line, the poor in spirit, St. Chrysostom interprets thusly:

      “What is meant by “the poor in spirit?” The humble and contrite in mind. For by “spirit” He hath here designated the soul, and the faculty of choice. That is, since many are humble not willingly, but compelled by stress of circumstances; letting these pass (for this were no matter of praise), He blesses them first, who by choice humble and contract themselves.

      But why said he not, “the humble,” but rather “the poor?” Because this is more than that. For He means here them who are awestruck, and tremble at the commandments of God. Whom also by His prophet Isaiah God earnestly accepting said, “To whom will I look, but to him who is meek and quiet, and trembleth at My words?” For indeed there are many kinds of humility: one is humble in his own measure, another with all excess of lowliness. It is this last lowliness of mind which that blessed prophet commends, picturing to us the temper that is not merely subdued, but utterly broken, when he saith, “The sacrifice for God is a contrite spirit, a contrite and an humble heart God will not despise.” [Psalm 50 (51):7] And the Three Children also offer this unto God as a great sacrifice, saying, “Nevertheless, in a contrite soul, and in a spirit of lowliness, may we be accepted.” This Christ also now blesses.”

      • I disagree regarding the Beatitudes, and Luke’s parallel confirms this interpretation. There is no way Jesus’ sayings in Luke can be taken as virtues. Some of the characteristics in Matthew may have some “virtue” emphasis, but not in the way you are suggesting. Jesus is emphasizing types of people the world considers “losers,” and the world looks down on us for many reasons.

        However, this is only the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount. Your points about Jesus wanting us to pursue virtue and do things will be evident soon enough and with great force.

        • Jeff Lee says:

          Not to dwell too long on this, but a couple of points.

          The first is that you seem to be espousing an exegetical approach that says you will come up with an interpretation that appears to be valid for another, shorter, parallel passage. Then, you will apply that interpretation to a longer passage that has more detail, more clarification, if you will, of what is being discussed. However, that interpretation is strained, at best. It seems to me that this is eisegesis, not exegesis.

          Next, you dismiss out of hand one of the great fathers of the Church. I realize that in your faith tradition it is uncommon to listen to anyone much older than the 19th century regarding the interpretation of Scripture, but I would think St. Chrysostom merits more than a mere dismissal.

          Finally, a previous poster asked if your interpretation is the historical interpretation. I think I demonstrated it isn’t. However, I was curious as to how the parallel passage in Luke would be interpreted by the Fathers. I found the following in Blessed Theophylact’s exposition of the Gospels:

          “These words of the Lord are directed to the disciples. After ordaining them, the Lord uses these beatitudes and teachings to guide them into a more spiritual life. He first blesses the poor, whom you may understand to mean either those who are humble or those who live without greed for money. Simply put, all the beatitudes teach us lowliness, humility, self-effacement, and self-reproach. And accordingly woe awaits those who are rich and propserous now, in this life, those who the Lord says have received their consolation, meaning that in this life they have enjoyed revelry, laughter, feasting, and the praise of men. Let us tremble, brothers, to hear that Woe! awaits those who are praised by men. First we ought to live such a life that will draw down upon us the praise of God, and then others will indeed speak well of us.”

          • Whoa Jeff. You make a lot of assumptions in your criticism.

            I have studied many different approaches to the Beatitudes, ancient and modern. I meant no disrespect to Chrysostom or any of the fathers. But there have always been disagreements in the church about the interpretation of Scripture, and in the end, I am a Protestant, which means I value the privilege of reading the Bible for myself. Don’t take that as prideful—I certainly don’t mean it that way. I try my best to consult as many of my brothers and sisters from church history and current scholarship as I can, and I hold every interpretation with an open hand, ready to be shown a better one. That doesn’t mean, however, that I am not willing to defend the conclusions I’ve come to at this point in time. That’s what lively debate is all about.

            All you have done is quote a couple of ancient sources. That’s not dealing directly with the text or answering the interpretation I’ve advanced. What did you expect, that I would just change conclusions I’ve come to after decades of study because you gave me a quote from one or two church fathers?

  17. You notice all through Jesus’ ministry that he tended to attract people that the religious establishment of his day missed. Jesus saw people for who they truly were, all the dark spot and yet loved them anyway. Not accepting their sin, but forgiving it.

  18. Thanks, Mike. As someone who’s always getting caught in the middle of fights between people I care about — someone who can flip channels between excessive pride and self-flagulating humility one hundred times a day — someone who wants to do what is right but rarely pulls it off — someone with big dreams and high ideals rendered impotent by a short supply of ambition and self-confidence — as a living contradiction of strengths, weaknesses, frustrations, evil inclinations, and good intentions, I find great encouragement in knowing that I’m one of those “blessed” people Jesus was talking about. Thanks again.

  19. Hi Mike,

    What a great post. I whole heartedly concur with your thoughts. Our lives should be shaped by a Jesus centred spirituality. The compassionate Jesus of the biblical witness calls his redeemed people to a life of radical and costly discipleship; to be a compassionate community sharing God’s unbounded love and mercy by living and proclaiming the kingdom of God in deed and word, life and lifestyle and in our relationship with others both in and outside the community of God’s people.

    Perhaps if we did more of this there would be fewer people leaving the institutional church and more people wanting to know Jesus. Over here in Australia, church decline has been steady over the past 50 years but there has been a growing interest in spirituality among the young over the last few years. It is a great pity that this spirituality is far from Jesus shaped and most churches are not tapping into reaching these people.

    Many thanKs for your post. May God continue to inspire and uplift you.

    Shalom,

    John Arthur

  20. ISTM that a problem with promoting pursuing a personal “Jesus-shaped spirituality” versus (the apparently negative) “churchianity,” as apologists for Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy will and do point out, is that it was Jesus who said “I will build My church…” and also that one should “tell it to the church” when an errant brother or sister refuses to repent.

    I.e., the locus of spiritual life, growth and worship, and perhaps even salvation, or at least some aspects of salvation, was the community, the ekklêsia, and not primarily one’s individualistic shaping by, or imitation of, Jesus. We see this in Paul’s 1 Cor theology/ecclesiology of the body and his one anothers in Eph and Col, in the exhortation in Hebrews to continue to meet together and stimulate each other to love and good works (interestingly, the Greek word there is the source of our word “paroxysm” – Heb chp. 10 vs. 24), James’ commands/instructions, etc.

    Though Paul had his personal encounter with, and discipleship by, the Lord Jesus, Paul went around establishing and building churches, not personal spiritual growth programs or monasteries.

    I.e., it seemed that being in “the church” was important.

    On the other hand, there are other parts in the NT that seem to focus on personal, individual responsibility and discipleship. For we will all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.

    In some ways the church is like the opposite sex: You can’t live with it and you can’t live without it. And if there is a church, the law of spiritual entropy and sin means that it will eventually decay into “churchianity” (or sometimes even start with “churchianity”) and be influenced by what the members bring into it till it needs to be reformed or torn down and rebuilt.

    Ad infinitum ad nauseam.

    • You have misunderstood what iMonk means by “churchianity.” His complaint is not against corporate faith or even institutional religion, but against the dominant culture of evangelicalism with the expectations it has placed upon church-goers that have nothing to do with the Gospel or Jesus.

  21. alvin_tsf says:

    hi chaplain mike.

    i rarely comment but an avid reader and follower of the blog. iMonk has made me think, angered, humbled and basically just surrender to Jesus numerous times with his writings.

    wanna say that you’re doin a great job continuing his legacy.

    this is a great post. the sermon on the mount is one of my favorite passages. i needed to hear this today. grace. grace. grace.

    thanks again and have a blessed day.

    btw, i’m from the philippines, i do hope iMonk’s book will be available here soon. but i’ve already asked my relatives there to send me a copy. can’t wait to read it.