This beatitude builds from the previous three, but really ties to those that mourn.  The idea is that Christian believers will have a hunger in other words go after the idea of righteousness.  That righteousness isn’t just merely the idea of being “right.”  Stott says there are three aspects to the righteousness being discussed in this beatitude; legal, moral, and social.  The legal an moral are most comfortable to us and what we have traditionally spoken of before.  Legal is simply having that right relationship with God and would tie to law and standards very well.  Moral is about the conduct and character we have.  Social is the seeking of people’s liberation from oppression.  I agree with Stott and see how Jesus came not to abolish the law, but to fulfill it.

In the end we use our time of mourning to weep for the sin in the world and this proves us meek and in need of God which leads us to a hunger for that oppression of sin to be liberated into righteousness.

Try this activity:

As you pray before your meals, pray not only for your food and its blessing, also pray for a hunger for having that right relationship with God, conduct and character that honors God, and the liberation of the oppressed.

Answer this Question:

How do you personally hunger and thirst for righteousness?  How does your church hunger and thirst for righteousness?

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This beatitude must be seen in the light of the first beatitude, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  In fact there is less to say about this beatitude because it is a direct corollary to the first.  I have two viewpoints I want to share about this beatitude.

Building on each other:

It seems as though the beatitudes are building on one another.  Although Meek and poor are similar, they are separated by mourn.  Maybe Matthew was breaking up the monotony or maybe he’s building his case.  Those that are poor have found that they must rely on God for everything.  This realization leads them to mourn over their sinfulness and the sinfulness of others.  That process of mourning leads to a meekness which is not necessarily timidity, but rather an appropriate self-view, lived through quiet gentleness.  That idea of having an appropriate self-view will lead to a real hunger and thirsting for righteousness, which is the next beatitude.

Meekness, what is it?

Growing up I have always thought of being meek as being timid or shy or even weak.  However, being meek is a discipline of reserved power, a character trait of quiet gentleness, and a mindset of having an appropriate self-view.  Stott uses Dr. Lloyd-Jones summary, “Meekness is essentially a true view of oneself, expressing itself in attitude and conduct with respect to others…The man who is truly meek is the one who is truly amazed that God and man can think of him as well as they do and treat him as well as they do.”  In other words it is important for us to be meek to see ourselves as God sees us without overcompensating to be proven weak. 

We are to be meek people and our blessing will be the inheritance of God’ rule now and forevermore.

-Mercer

Blessed are those who mourn…

September 29, 2008

Continuing in our beatitude series, mourning is the concept for the second beatitude.

What does it really mean to mourn?  Usually we think of loss, grief, hopelessness, bereavement, and other forms of sadness.  However, there is more to mourning than just losing a loved one to sickness, injury, or death.  There is more to mourning than overwhelming emotion due to a tragic event in life (death, divorce, loss of job, economic failure).  Although, Jesus is not leaving these ideas of mourning out, he is actually calling us to more. 

Basically, this beatitude is about those who mourn the sin of others and their own sinfulness.  These are the ones who will recieve the ultimate comfort from God.  That comfort will be here on earth and in heaven.

When was the last time you had a good cry over the sins of our world?  When did you last weep for the greed of our nation?  When did you last lament over the senseless deaths of every age?  When was the last time you poured out your soul to god on the behalf of those who curse his name and slander others?  When we can mourn over the sins of our world then we will be comforted.  We will realize the poverty of life and soul.   We will realize that kingdom life means anguished prayer over how the world has wronged our God.

When was the last time you wept over your own sinfulness?  We mourn and we grieve over our sin and how it separates us from God.  We cry out and scream for repentance.  Not that we don’t have grace, but that we desire grace so much and understand our deep need that we won’t allow sin to not be felt…grieved…mourned!

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted!

-Mercer

This is the end statement to the first beatitude.  The term kingdom within the new testament has been a hotly debated topic in the last 50 years or more.  What exactly is the kingdom of heaven.  If you read only the gospel of Matthew and read for face value (without understanding the author’s context) you might think that the kingdom is heaven.  However, Matthew is a Jew writing to Jews and the idea of saying or writing God’s name is too holy to conceive of.  Therefore Matthew uses heaven instead.  Matthew does use Kingdom of God in his gospel, but sparingly.  The idea for Matthew isn’t about a place as much as it is about what God does.  Basically, God Rules!  The kingdom of heaven is God’s Reign.  That can be in Heaven, on Earth, and in the entire universe.  The good news is that we don’t have to wait to the end to live in God’s reign, which is the perfect place to be.

So…”Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  When you remember that without God you cannot exist, survive, or thrive then you will continually long for him and when you continually long for God in the deepest of ways you are blessed with living in His reign!  Therefore the poor inherit the now and eternal riches of God.

We must live today with a deep longing (poor spirit) for God that is only enriched by the reign of God (kingdom of heaven) over everything in every dimension.

-Mercer

This week I have been studying and thinking a lot about the Beatitudes.  I thought I would share some things about being “Poor in Spirit”.

The idea of being poor is mostly related to money, but was taken on by the spiritual scene even before Christ’s appearance.  He chooses to use secular language to make his spiritual point when he gives the beatitudes.  You are given a deep longing of joy when you choose to live the Kingdom life as someone who is fully dependent upon God.  It is more than humility, it is knowing that not another breath will take place without God’s mercy and sustainment.  I want to share some poetic words from John Stott’s book, The Message of the Sermon on the Mount .  He writes,

Nothing in my hand I bring,

Simply to thy Cross I cling;

Naked, come to thee for dress;

Helpless, look to thee for grace;

Foul, I to the fountain fly;

Wash me, Saviour, or I die.

How can we know the richness of Father, Spirit, Son without participating in the poverty of the spirit?

Middle School Camping Trip

September 8, 2008

One of my favorite times of year is fall, the other is spring.  In the couple of days that we have each of those seasons I really enjoy the crisp air and the not too cold/not too hot atmosphere.  It goes hand in hand that two of my favorite youth events are in these two seasons; Middle School Camping Trip and 3D Retreat.

The Camping trip began a while back when the group went to see The Promise; a play about the passion of Christ.  They would camp nearby to keep their cost down.  A few years ago we decided to change the trip to just camping with devotionals throughout the weekend.  This helped keep our cost down and focus on reaching in. 

This year we will go to Lake Brownwood State Park and camp there during the weekend of October 10-12.    During that weekend we will camp, eat, have team building games, swimming, and devotionals.  This is a great time for our Middle School Students to get to know one another better in a fun environment.  We celebrate God’s beauty through nature and through the ultimate; relating to one another in His name!

Join us by signing up starting September 14.

 

-Mercer

6th Grade Parent Class

September 3, 2008

Today Sarah and I begin a three-week Wednesday series for 6th grade parents.  We like to do three things with this class.  First we like to educate about the current adolescent culture that these new sixth grade students are entering.  Second, we like to bring in a veteran parenting couple who can share their wisdom on parenting adolescents.  Third we like to bring in our youth ministry elders who can provide wisdom on spiritually directing your adolescent.

We hope that you will join us for this exciting series.  We are glad that we can partner with you in this faith journey!

 

Mercer

Intern Farewell

August 13, 2008

This is our last week with our summer Interns, Kenneth and Sylvia.  They have worked really hard this summer and spent countless hours building relationships with your children.  The Lord has blessed them with many gifts and we were very elated that they chose to spend their summer with us.

When you get the chance this week, take some time to encourage them as they enter into another year of school.  Thank them for their ministry and keep them in your prayers.

The school year is beginning soon and our ministry is already beginning the transition from summer to school year.  Don’t miss our Parent/student meeting on August 24th during bible class to get all the information about this year.

 

-Mercer

Crossing Over

August 1, 2008

Crossover is our High School in-town retreat that welcomes our new 9th grade students and helps us bond as an entire group.  This event has become a favorite among high school students at Highland and is the highest attended single high school event.  This year our theme is, “Rock the World.”  We will be covering how Jesus is our Rock, His radical nature, and how this impacts us.  The Senior class has been heavily involved in the planning of this weekend, but there are still some surprises coming there way along with everyone else.  We are going to have a great weekend in worship with our very own Logan Pringle and hearing the word from Lee Fletcher.  We will serve our church through a service project that will have a house painted in one day that could have taken weeks.  There are 75 students signed up and 25 adults helping throughout the weekend.  This is going to be a great weekend and we are all excited at how this will kick off our entire school year.  Please be praying as the ninth graders cross over into high school and as we cross over into a deeper image of Christ.

 

-Mercer

His Grace Reaches Us!

July 21, 2008

If you had a child attend ACU Leadership Camps this summer, chances are you have had a discussion about Grace!  I just finished Kadesh 3 this past Friday and it was an amazing week.  We had 20 students at camp last week and I’m sure there were others at other sessions.  Kadesh always holds Bible Study and relationships as its top priority.  Their message is solid and our students grow after each session.

Why Grace?  Don’t we talk about Grace a lot in church now?  Could there be a better message for our students to hear?  I don’t think so.  As I worked with my group during Kadesh it was obvious that we have a grasp on forgiveness, but grace is still foreign.  Grace is foreign because of it being free and that God cares enough to give it to us.  It is truly troubling when you think about how you don’t deserve grace at all, yet God sent his only Son to die for you anyway.

“His grace reaches us!”, is an intentional title.  His grace does reach me personally, but His grace is for the communal body as well.   We are desperate seekers of His goodness and when we find grace personally, our entire community of faith is strengthened.  When we participate in a community of faith that not only receives grace, but extends it, we become Kingdom people who can change our world through being the incarnate Jesus! 

God’s Grace is for us all!

-Mercer