I have been doing lots of reading on vacation. Working my way through a books series (3 in number) Called the Apprentice Series. The first one is called The Good and Beautiful God, the second (which I am reading now) is called The Good and Beautiful Life. They are books designed to be used in a spiritual formation group and in 2010, I will probably attempt doing just that. I wanted to read them through first to see if they were worthy of that. They are! (At least the first two are – the third one is not yet printed!)

They are written by James Bryan Smith, who is a theology professor at Friends University in Kansas and the Director of the Spiritual Formation Institute there and is a founding member of Renovare (Richard Foster’s spiritual growth group). One of the things that caught my eye was Dallas Willard’s praise of the book… “The best practice I have seen in Christian spiritual formation.”

In a chapter I was reading today, James writes this about the Beattitudes…”The people mentioned in the Beattitudes are not blessed because they are in those conditions. They are blessed because of Jesus. They have hope because the kingdom is available to even them…. People are not blessed merely because they are poor in spirit. The condition is not important. What is important is that these people are not cut off from God. Their life situation does not prevent them from entering the kingdom of God.”

And he concludes that out of that blessing they are to bless the world!

Neat way to think about the beattitudes! We ARE blessed because of Jesus (not because of the condition we find ourselves in) and the blessing we have is the invitation to be part of God’s kingdom and that blessing is for us to share – to invite others into God’s kingdom where they will find love, forgiveness, healing, peace, and blessing!