New every morning is your love, great God of light, and all day long you are working for good in the world. Stir up in us desire to serve you, to live peacefully with our neighbors and all your creation, and to devote each day to your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

"A Liturgy for Morning Prayer," Upper Room Worshipbook

Used by permission from the Book of Common Worship, © 2018 Westminster John Knox Press. All rights reserved. This prayer appears in “A Liturgy for Morning Prayer” in Upper Room Worshipbook.

The Power of a Focused Heart

8 Life Lessons from the Beatitudes

Mary Lou Redding • December 2005

BUY Print $14.99

BUY eBook (Available in ePub or Kindle) $9.99

Looking to simplify your life? quiet your mind? find your unique spiritual gift(s) and make a difference? Turn to the Beatitudes!

Sometimes teachings from well-known biblical passages are so obvious and preached so often that we overlook other helpful, not-so-obvious lessons. The Beatitudes are celebrated as being the template for humble Christian living. Dig deeper and you'll also find practical applications for living a simpler yet more spiritually engaged life, especially in this distraction-heavy and frenzied world.

"…the Beatitudes are not easy sayings we can glibly incorporate in our way of life," writes Redding. "Like so much of what Jesus said, they invite us to move beyond first impressions and surface meanings. They challenge us to explore."

Using Jesus' teachings about the kingdom of heaven and how that message spurs us to critically evaluate our priorities, Redding says we must learn to say no to some things to say yes to God.

The book's brief chapters are just-right for today's busy schedules and can be read in minutes. Daily exercises following each chapter will help you consider and practice lessons learned and respond to scripture in a self-guided study. Also included are meeting plans for an 8-session small-group study of the book.

Categories: Discipleship, Generosity
Mary Lou Redding is interested in many disciplines — art, literature, music, science, philosophy, religion, politics. She is a writer, a thinker, a feminist, a loving mother and grandmother, an outspoken and direct person. She loves to bake and cook, creating her own recipes. She designs and sews clothes, watches Star Trek in all its versions, roots for the Atlanta Braves, and plays word games at every opportunity. From hardy, hillbilly stock, Mary Lou is in the first generation of her family to be born outside Kentucky since her great- [x 20] grandfather George Gideon Ison came to Letcher County in the early 1700s. Her hillbilly heritage of fierce independence and hard work is sometimes evident in negative ways. She is one of seven children and has over 50 first cousins. Mary Lou’s only child, an adult daughter, is the mother of her two nearly perfect granddaughters, Rosalie and Arianwyn. Spending time with them and with other younger members of her huge extended family brings Mary Lou great joy. Before becoming an editor and writer, Mary Lou taught basic and advanced prose writing and business communication on the college level. Teaching — both writing and the Bible — is one of her great loves. Mary Lou has a master of arts degree in rhetoric and writing and worked professionally as a writer and editor for many years, retiring as editorial director of The Upper Room magazine in 2012. Of all the writing and editing projects she has been part of, Mary Lou most treasures helping to create the Spiritual Formation Bible, published in 1999 by Zondervan and republished in 2007 by Upper Room Books as the Meeting God Bible. One of her major interests is the intersection of personality and spirituality, and she is certified to administer and interpret the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, a personality-preference inventory. Mary Lou completed the Academy for Spiritual Formation, an intensive, two-year experiential and academic program in Christian spirituality.

ISBN: 978-0-8358-9818-8

Kindle ISBN: 978-0-8358-1758-5

EPub ISBN: 978-0-8358-1759-2

Imprint: Upper Room

Pub Date: December 2005

Trim Size: 6 in (w) x 9 in (h) x 0.347 in (d)

Page Count: 162

BISAC Categories: RELIGION / Christian Living / Spiritual Growth

BISAC1: REL012120



"The spiritual life is not about performance but about growing dependence on God, and one of the best markers on the pathway to deepening the relationship with God is the Beatitudes. Writing with clarity and offering personal examples and a well-designed study guide, Mary Lou Redding leads and challenges us to become truly centered in God and to know the power of a focused heart. Blessed are those who read this book."
— Larry J. Peacock Author of Openings: A Daybook of Saints, Psalms, and Prayer Director of Rolling Ridge Retreat Center (North Andover, Massachussetts)

"I am over 90 years of age and have preached for 68 years. I've read thousands of books. The Power of a Focused Heart is one of the best and most timely books I know. It's a self-help book for individuals who want to discover the true meaning and purpose of life. It's also a wonderful resource to use with a discovery group of kindred folk. If you mean business about discovering who you are and why you are here, I recommend that you read this book."
— Dr. Kermit Long Founding Pastor, Friendship House (Phoenix, Arizona) Former General Secretary, Board of Evangelism The United Methodist Church

"In her succinct and powerful manner, Mary Lou Redding reveals the spiritual essence of the Beatitudes, using concrete terms we can apply easily to ourselves. Her insight into Jesus' teaching not only encourages individuals to reflect and examine themselves as Christian disciples but also motivates local congregations toward social action and community ministries. Redding challenges those who want to be transformed into dynamic servants of Christ, motivating them to take God’s grace to hurting humanity."
— Rev. Jennifer Bryan Minister of Outreach and Evangelism Lenexa United Methodist Church (Lenexa, Kansas)