“Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:1-3). 

Have you ever thoughtfully read the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) in one sitting? I dare you to try it! Do you understand the truths and applications of Jesus’ greatest sermon? It may seem overwhelming and maybe even unrealistic to current readers. Yet many of its passages, principles, and phrases (The Lord’s Prayer, The Golden Rule, “love your enemies”, “go the extra mile”, “the salt of the earth”, “jot and tittle”, “an eye for an eye”, “oh ye of little faith”, etc.) still find their place in modern culture and language. But is Jesus’ message relevant and, if so, what does it all mean? I think that to call ourselves a Christ-follower we must hunger for His truth and His Kingdom (Matthew 6:33). And there is no place better to go and linger than the Sermon on the Mount if we want to better understand Jesus, His kingdom, and what He demands from those who truly desire to be His disciples. 

Both the message and the messenger of the Sermon on the Mount prove unique, distinctive, and powerful. The Lord’s discourse is unlike anything ever heard; it inverts virtually every guiding principle that both humanism and religion espouse, even as it reveals and encapsulates the mind and heart of God. Not before Christ’s earthly ministry or after it has the world witnessed teaching of such authority, received instruction to prompt such radical change, or found education that so thoroughly challenges and inspires. Although following Christ’s teaching is neither for the weak nor the faint of heart, Jesus’ words in this sermon hold life-transforming power! 

And that is why I wrote a book on this difficult passage; my own quest for the truths and applications found in the Sermon on the Mount. In other words, it was my personal journey to understand our King and His kingdom. Yes, much greater writers and theologians than I could ever dream of being have tackled this text with profound insight (although some were so theological and impractical I found them of little personal use). But I couldn’t evade the question: what does this sermon mean to me? And how does it fit into what I believe and how I live? Can I make enough sense of this passage to comprehend, systematize, and practice these powerful truths? My hunger for Him would not allow me to ignore these queries. So I took a leap of faith, dove in, and I wrote about it. And after nearly 800 hours of research, prayer, meditation, writing, editing, and re-writing there is now, for better or worse, another book on the Sermon on the Mount.

Please know this is not some not-so-subtle attempt to market this book. Although available through any book store or on-line retailer (Amazon, B&N, Crossbooks, etc.-:), I don’t personally sell my books but have been led to give my copies away as a ministry. I have no idea if anyone will read Captivated by the King and His Kingdom (though I pray that they do) or or if it will have the same powerful impact it had on me. I believe if God uses it to touch and radically alter just one soul then I will feel as if it was time well spent and truly worth the investment. So, in a sense, I guess this book has already done its work, because this passage and process have staggered me! Jesus’ words in this message absolutely rocked my spiritual world and gave me an entirely new paradigm and conviction as to how we are to serve our King, what it means to be His disciple. Maybe that will encourage you to pull out your well-worn Bible, turn to Matthew 5, and let Jesus’ sermon rock your world and radically transform you. 

Given my opinion that Christians tragically put more focus on reading scripture than we do intensely studying and intentionally applying it, I’m firmly convinced that if you plant yourself in this sermon, open your mind and heart, and ask God to impart the meaning of the message you will begin to experience the reality of Paul’s teaching to us in Romans 12:2: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” And I believe, based upon my experience, that the Holy Spirit’s work of gradually transforming us into the image of Jesus (2 Corinthians 3:18) will be enhanced and expedited in the process of becoming Captivated by the King and His Kingdom as they are revealed in the Sermon on the Mount.

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