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II Timothy 2:15

Salt And Light- Meditations On The Sermon On The Mount

by James Jennings

Are you turned off by religion?

You’re not alone. Jesus was no fan either. In his seminal sermon, Jesus addresses life in the Kingdom of God. Jesus paints a picture that looks starkly different from how many perceive today’s American Church. Did Jesus call us to a life of enculturated religion or did he intend something different?

Salt and Light- Meditations on the Sermon on the Mount is a 43-day journey through Jesus’ best-known sermon. It provides an in-depth study of the Gospel of Matthew chapters five, six, and seven, with personal observations, applications, and devotional suggestions from the author. It explores how the entirety of scripture shines a light on Jesus’ words, and how the culture, environment, and circumstances of Christ’s world reveal clues as to their meaning.

In this study, the author asks questions that are increasingly relevant for today’s American Church:

  • If Jesus is the inspiration for our faith why don’t we look more like him?
  • Do we look more like Jesus or our church culture, secular culture, political leaders, and friends?
  • Who was Jesus addressing in this sermon and what role should it play in our lives today?
  • What are the qualities that Jesus tells us that God will bless? Are these essential qualities demonstrated by most American Christians?
  • What does Jesus say our purpose is?
  • How should we read and apply scripture in our lives?
  • What does Jesus tell us about God’s Law and Ethics in the Kingdom of God?
  • If we found ourselves on that hillside listening to Jesus what group would we likely stand with?
  • What is “the narrow gate” and how can we strive to enter it?
  • How should a follower of Jesus interact with cultural, political, racial, and economic ideology?
  • Have we lost sight of the foundational message of the Kingdom that Jesus taught and how can we recover his vision?
  • Are we following in the footsteps of the early Church and how they sought to establish the Kingdom of God, that Jesus preached, or are we focused on establishing a different Kingdom?
  • On issues where we differ, what role should grace, mercy, patience, and love play in our interactions?

Jesus’ words provide hope for today’s troubled world. Additionally, they should leave us uncomfortable, whether we see ourselves as conservative, liberal, post-modern, or traditional.

This study is for anyone who wants to grasp what it really means to follow Jesus. You may be comfortable in your church, be questioning your faith, or be on a journey through deconstruction. Your experience with Church may seem like a betrayal of a faith you once loved and you may want to return to the basics of a simpler faith. Whatever your situation you are invited to sit with Jesus and reimagine what it means to thrive in the Kingdom of God.

Salt and light- Meditations on the Sermon on the Mount

What people are saying about Salt and Light- Meditations on the Sermon on the Mount

In a clear, easy-to-read style, James walks us through the Sermon on the Mount with practical insight into the heart of Jesus’ teachings and their real-life applications. The book is simple to understand, yet deeply challenging to those who desire to see past surface behaviors and delve into the heart of what it means to be a Christ-follower.
Ron and Cyndi Hawthorne– (MI)

Just as Mt Sinai was the revelation of the Hebrew covenant, James acknowledges the Sermon on the Mount as the revelation of the Christian covenant and seeks to call Christians back to the heart of their faith. James Jennings reminds us through this devotional that Jesus calls us once again to remember what made that revelation so ground-breaking. Never have we needed a reminder like this to return to the simple faith of Jesus Christ. James lays his heart bare as he talks about his own call to return to the simple words of Christ in a time like this. You can feel James’ heart touch Heaven as he struggles to recover the purity of his faith. Let this book challenge you to return to the source of true love as well.

As James discusses the promises available to the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the hungry, the pure in heart, peacemakers, and the persecuted, he reminds us that God is not on the side of those who have it all, but on the side of those who are in need. This book did a great job of bringing me back to the joy of my early days of faith. It reminded me how good it is to live with the awareness that God is big enough to overcome anything I might face.
Dennis Gunnarson– (WA)

In my recent time of a new view on my faith in Christ, I know more and more that todays modern version isnt a representation of Jesus and His purpose 2000 years ago. James’ book gives an in depth perspective on how different the view of Gods kingdom is compared to evangelical’s view of Gods kingdom. When I read each sentence, I see James takes time and reflects on Jesus true love and wants people to open their eyes and know there is good in Christianity, but it cant be mixed with American/Evangelical theology.
Noah Aguilar– (CA)

I met James on Facebook and was always impressed with his insights on a wide variety of topics. When I found out that many of those insights were in book form, I knew I had to secure a copy! In reading his perceptive work on the greatest sermon ever delivered, numerous things became apparent. Aside from his solid exegesis, I was impressed with his honesty and balanced approach when dealing with divisive issues. James does not back down from critiquing those who lean right or left but refreshingly, there is no venom in his critique. While his book is devotional, James also gets into the Greek meaning of some words and phrases to help illuminate the meaning of a given text. I found this beneficial. In an age when some are embracing a more aggressive and militant view of the Christian faith, James calls us back to this challenging sermon, the heart and soul of Christian ethics. When many in the church are seeking to minimize the impact of the upside-down ethics of Jesus, James is calling us back to His profound and life-giving message.

John Marino– (CO)

Prepare to be challenged in your Christian thought and walk. This is not your usual evangelical fluff or lightweight, feel-good then throw away pamphlet, but a thought-provoking devotional with insightful and well-studied Bible exposition with a personal challenge to American cultural Christianity in our lives individually and corporately. Whether you come away from the book in full agreement with the author or not, you will be enriched spiritually by the careful study and the skilled writing. This book is a keeper!

Amazon Customer

Five stars. James Jennings earns it with an unvarnished, juxtaposed yet friendly view of what could be. He openly provokes me and my “kingdom” to see what Christ meant (by what He said) and how He behaved. THAT kingdom is the one that endures, that has our collective best at heart. Having memorized the SOTM in middle school (church school), I appreciate Jennings’ affable tone that reminds me of the kind teacher who helped me recite it (in KJV). Still, this book is prickly, asking why I don’t subscribe entirely to the SOTM. Sitting on the fence eventually hurts the groin. And that’s the point–I won’t move until I’m uncomfortable.

Reader beware– you may need to choose. You will have to ponder. You may start inventorying your mores/theology. This sorting and cataloging is really important for people who have been around scripture for decades. Jennings’ book leaves little place for “DNI” (do not inventory).
Wendell Au (HI)

Our Intent

Live Simply.

Forgive Freely.

Love Fully.

Embrace Truth.

Honor Wisdom.

Listen Openly.

Speak Gently.

Explain Honestly.

Consider Criticism Respectfully

About The Author

James Jennings is a graduate of Emory and Henry College; took classes at Dallas Theological Seminary, Talbot Theological Seminary, and California State University. He is retired from a career in education and Information Technology. He is married and lives in the Virginia countryside, where he does battle with Stink Bugs, cat barf, and an expanding waistline.

As a boy, he was taken with Socrates’ mission as a “gadfly” and has since been an inveterate questioner and pest. He is uncomfortable speaking of himself in the third person. He is a work in progress.

If you have questions or comments about this book, feel free to contact him personally at:

He would love to hear from you. Blessings.

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