That is better, isn’t it?

Hey Jude, don’t make it bad.

Take a sad song and make it better.

Remember to let her into your heart,

Then you can start to make it better.

Hey Jude, don’t be afraid.

You were made to go out and get her.

The minute you let her under your skin,

Then you begin to make it better.

And anytime you feel the pain, hey Jude, refrain,

Don’t carry the world upon your shoulders.

For well you know that it’s a fool who plays it cool

By making his world a little colder.

Hey Jude…

The “How To” Part of the Sermon on the Mount

Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. — Jesus (Mt. 6:1)

The Righteousness of peacemaking, pure heartedness, and inclusive mercy, is developed by intentional disciplines.

“Self-righteousness” is such an effective term for despising hypocrisy that, unfortunately, it undermines its antithesis: actual righteousness. Righteousness is something Jesus affirms. When he is challenged about his decision to be baptized he tells John that it is a righteous thing for him to do. When Jesus gives the beatitudes he mentions the blessedness of righteousness in…

Kintsugi- mending with gold.

Blessed are the peacemakers.

They’ll be recognized as their father’s child.

“You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of Gehenna.

“So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you…

Persecuted for Righteousness (Matthew 5:11–20)

The Sermon on the Mount deconstructs religious assumptions and frees us to grow and flourish.

Deconstructing faith has become a bit of a buzzword over the past few years. It shows up in articles, social media posts, and in no small number of personal conversations. Church growth experts are worried by it, prophetic voice types are encouraged. How can deconstructing faith be encouraging?

When John the Baptist called people to come out and repent he was talking to religious people. They came out from Jerusalem to the wilderness. It was a fresh start. …

Into: Blessed, but not how we might think. Matthew 5:1–10

What does it look like to grow toward living God’s ways?

Persecuted for blowing the corruption curve. 5:11–20

Peacemaking is a practical path between aggression and avoidance. 5:21–26

Pure in heart is character that doesn’t rely on PR. 5:27–37

Merciful because of who you are, not what others do. 5:38–48

How do we make progress without getting tangled in religious weirdness?

Things made right in this world, that is what we crave. 6:1–4

Meek dependence on God’s graciousness helps us each day. 6:5–15

Mourning about what is not yet right breaks bad cycles. 6:16–18

Treasuring what really matters is essential. 6:19–24

What about the challenges that tempt me to lose the plot?

Physical needs are real, but we can pursue things with integrity…

The blessed life, according to Jesus, is experienced as we grow in responding graciously to the struggles of this mysterious life.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of the heavens.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who crave righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

These first 4 beatitudes are affirmations of people who are struggling with the fact that life is hard. Their spirit is less than it could be, they are grieving, they are not brazen, they are not satisfied with the way things are. …

Detail from The Temptation of Christ, by J. Kirk Richards

Matthew 4:

40 days in the wilderness and the adversary tempts Jesus to rationalize in order to get his physical, relational, and spiritual needs met. Jesus rejects the shortcuts.

John the Baptist got arrested (the powers and principalities don’t like being called out). Jesus set up in a gentile-focused area; his goal is more than his own people, it is to care for all people.

From that time Jesus began to proclaim,

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

Jesus called disciples to follow him and to learn how to invite others. They went around proclaiming God’s Kingdom in word…

As we follow Matthew’s build-up to the Sermon on the Mount,

we can see a trend that threatens the fanciful notion of blessing putting one beyond the brutal stress tests of life. Mary’s miracle pregnancy brings great anguish to Joseph, but with the help of an angelic visit, he is reassured. Jesus is born and blessed by noble visitors, only to be followed by death squads sent by a cruel ruler. The blessed family is able to take asylum in Egypt, but the tension of realizing the son of the ruler who sought to kill Jesus was now in charge pressured them to relocate to Nazareth on their return to Israel…

Clearing a Path to the Sermon on the Mount

Tales of a Rotten Tree, by Ellise Rottenwood

John, the one who baptized people, including Jesus, was a prophet. John dressed like Elijah, but he was referred to as “the Elijah that was to come” more for his message than his appearance.

Elijah challenged those who had the lineage of Abraham, including the rooted reminder that being be blessed was a call to be a blessing to all others. Where hypocrisy and corruption showed up Elijah spoke up. Where faith in God’s graciousness was expressed he shared blessings, both given and received. John does the same.

Come Out and Clean Up

John drew huge…

Preparing to Return to Basics via the Sermon on the Mount


*Crown Heart World is a gathering of disciples to Jesus and his teachings. We used to meet together here in Houston, but like so many in these trying times, we now meet via Zoom.

We welcome all who would like to join us here.

2020 took its toll.

2021 is not off to the smoothest start.

How can we find some degree of stability in such tumultuous times?

Wisdom, from the greatest embodiment of wisdom to walk the earth, is where we will be looking over the next few…


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